HH Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
The physical heart muscle, fed by arteries, pumps and regulates the blood flow that carries oxygen and nutrients throughout our bodies. If we exercise that muscle through cardiovascular workouts and feed it healthy nutrients, it grows stronger. But let it languish and feed it toxins, and we all know what happens: the muscle grows weak and the arteries get clogged.
The same is true of our spiritual hearts. The heart is the seat of our passions; it drives and compels us to be who we are and act as we do. It is the essence of our character. So what happens if our spiritual heart is fed toxins and we let it languish? It too grows weak, gets clogged, and sends those poisonous toxins pumping through our lives. When shame has been pumping through a heart, over time the heart itself grows toxic. When we are wounded, we leak toxic waste, and that waste poisons us and the people around us — even when we are completely unaware of it. The reality is:
Hurt people hurt people. Broken people break people. Shattered people shatter people. Damaged people damage people. Wounded people wound people. Bound people bind people.
Many of us have been hurt, suffered offence, and then lived with it unforgiven in our lives. All of my shame-filled brokenness and patterns of behaviour were hurting those around me, but I didn’t know it. Sometimes we have experienced so much abandonment and rejection that we choose flawed defence mechanisms to try to soothe those broken places in our lives.
As I grow older I realized that there were things I couldn’t change even though I was willing to do it. My arteries were very clogged with toxins and I didn’t know how to rid my spirit of such. All in all, God was talking to me and I couldn’t hear because I was caught up in my own ways. That day finally came and something was happening to my benefit but I couldn’t accept it, it wasn’t looking real because of my blocked arteries.
I know what it is to find all sorts of toxins clogging my heart and pumping through my life. I was that way in my first years of faith. I had suffered so much abuse and carried so much shame that my heart was choked with perfectionism, unforgiveness, bitterness, guilt, and anger — and I was taking it out unknowingly on anyone that was in my path. When we carry toxins within us, no matter how hard we try, we still leak them, infecting those around us, ultimately destroying the relationships we value.
When we’re bound by shame, we might not even realize that our reactions are shame-based. I knew that God had a great purpose and destiny for my life, and oh, how I wanted to step into that! When I began working hard in this ministry, full steam ahead, I wanted to change lives and change the world for Jesus. But there was a disparity — a vast gap — between what I wanted to do and be and what was going on in my inner world.
This, I believe, is where so many of us who suffer from shame get stuck in the wilderness! We feel that painful gap between what we know should be going on inside of us — love, forgiveness, kindness, joy, patience, peace, and so on — and what is actually going on inside of us — anger, blame, impatience, jealousy, turmoil, judgment, suspicion, and so on.
I [decided to get] personal with God. I talked with Him about my scariest, ugliest thoughts, feelings, and memories. I chose to be vulnerable — something shame teaches us not to do — and seek counsel and accountability from seasoned, trustworthy mentors. When I did, God began to cut through my thick, hardened defence mechanisms. I began moving from deliverance to freedom in this area — from the wilderness to the promised land.
But none of this was easy. It’s difficult to allow God to cut out defence mechanisms that have been clogging our hearts. After all, they have been a source of protection. We put them there for a purpose. I remember how at one point I tried to shut everyone out of my life, out of fear that no one could possibly love me if he or she knew how bad I was on the inside.
How many times do we shut people out of our lives because our defence mechanisms are trying to protect our hearts?
But as I allowed the Lord to heal my heart, my faith, strength, and courage rose. I turned from constantly trying to protect myself by controlling every detail of my life, to giving myself over to the Lord, bit by bit. A supernatural, divine exchange was occurring. God was replacing my clogged heart with His heart of flesh because healthy hearts create healthy and fruitful lives (Ezekiel 36:26).
That exchange began subtly. But over time I grew from a person with a wounded heart to one who began to have a capacity to help others. After all, only free people can truly free people. Yes…
Hurt people hurt people, but helped people help people. Broken people break people, but rebuilt people build people. Shattered people shatter people, but whole people restore people. Damaged people damage people, but loved people love people. Wounded people wound people, but healed people bind up wounds. Bound people blind people, but freed people lead others to freedom.
My choice to allow God to change me then is a large reason why I am leading a ministry now.