recovery in Christ when life is broken

Showing items filed under “June 2015”

How To Make Amends With Someone Who Is Dead Or Unavailable

 

Making amends is an important part of recovery and God's peace-making process. It involves engaging those you have hurt to do your part to repair the damage of your sin. A Biblical amends makes no excuse for your sin and carries no expectation of receiving any good in return from those you have hurt. 

But what do you do when a face-to-face amends meeting is not possible or may cause more harm than good? Consider writing a letter.

Letters can be useful tools when making amends. Letters organize your thoughts before a face-to-face amends meeting. Using a letter can be a safe way to contact someone if you are unsure of his or her availability, or if a meeting could potentially cause greater damage. When someone is dead, unavailable or godly counsel advises against an amends meeting, an amends letter can be effective tool for healing. Read the example below of an amends letter from a dad to his child.

 

Dear David,

This is your dad. Until recently, I would not acknowledge that I had lost a child. But today, I need to be honest. My sin contributed to the loss of your life. When your mother told me she was pregnant, we were starting college. We were not married. We were terrified. I was selfish. I did not want to give up my life for anyone. I told her, “I will support your decision but I cannot be a dad now.” Then, I stopped talking to her. I cannot imagine what it was like for her to be alone at that time. A week later, she told me that our problem was taken care of—she had aborted you. Initially, I felt relief but then I could not forget you. Relief was replaced by guilt, then shame, then emptiness. Soon our relationship ended. I realize now you were not the problem to be taken care of—you were our child who we did not care for. My sin and selfish plans for life were my real problems. I was supposed to protect and provide for you. It was my job to care and be a voice for you. But, I loved me more than you, God or your mom. I was wrong. Over time, my emptiness grew. I tried to fill the void with everything until I finally broke. That’s when our Heavenly Father showed up to take care of my problem. He showed me that he loved me despite my sin. His Son laid down his life to pay for the sin that wrecked my life and yours. When I accepted Jesus’ sacrifice, I accepted God’s forgiveness for my role in your death and God began to heal me. I wish I could say this to you face–to–face, but a letter is the best I can do. Will you forgive me too? I cannot repay you but I can begin to honor your life. Until now, you have not had a name, a dad, or anyone other than God to love you and say that you matter. But, today I am naming you David. It means “beloved.” I will not be silent about you anymore, David. Your dad will tell the story of your short life, my sin, and God’s grace. I pray that God uses your life to protect others, to offer hope, to bring healing and to reveal his love and mercy. Your life matters. I love you. You will always be my son.

Love, Dad

 

Romans 8:1-4, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."

Romans 13:8, "Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law."

 

If you would like more examples of how making a Biblical amends can change your life, watch Melody's story or watch re:generation's Step 9 teaching.

 

How To Know If You Are Codependent (according to The Giving Tree)

 

Giving Tree

 

The world has long loved The Giving Tree. It was read to me as a child and, now, as a new parent, we received copies (plural) to read to our little boy. I sat in his nursery one night and pulled it from the shelf. But instead of a great story, it read more like a great warning–this is because it is a picture-perfect depiction of the (difficult to define, but easy to observe) struggle we call “codependency.”

Allow me to explain (and destroy a childhood memory of yours)…CLICK HERE for a reading of The Giving Tree by author Shel Silverstein.

Boy meets Tree. Boy swings on Tree = “And the tree was happy.” Teenager wants money + Tree gives apples to sell = “And the tree was happy.” Young man wants a house + Tree gives branches = “And the tree was happy.” Middle-aged man wants a boat + Tree gives trunk = “And the tree was happy.” Old man returns + Tree states it has nothing left to give + Tree offers to be sat on = “And the tree was happy.”

 A few sad observations:

  • The boy only comes around when he wants something. He doesn’t want the tree; he wants what the tree has to offer him. In time, it’s clear: he’s a taker of the tree; not a lover of the tree.
  • The tree is only happy when the boy is around. And the tree can only keep the boy around by giving itself away, to it’s own loss of dignity and eventually destruction.
  • Ironically, the tree calls the male figure “boy” throughout the entirety of the story–which is fitting giving the boyish, lustful, selfishness nature and total disregard for another (even though it is a talking tree, which should probably be cut down for being creepy).
  • In the end, both tree and boy have searched in vain for love in each other and not found it, and yet still with a nasty, old man sitting upon it, that old victimized codependent voice says “And the tree was happy.” Happy being used and abused and manipulated right until it’s a worthless old stump only good for another’s rump.
  • The Giving Tree is no longer a living tree.

 

A Christian might say, “But aren’t we called to give?” And “Aren’t we called to forgive seventy times seven?” Yes, and we are also called not to have idols (1 John 5:21). To give yourself away to another to earn/keep a person’s love, to lose yourself in another, to become so enmeshed you are no longer whole in Christ alone, is to idol-ize a person and become codependent. Codependent relationships can be defined as: a type of dysfunctional helping relationship where one person supports or enables another person's addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement.1

So if you’re reading this and thinking, “Wait a second…this all sounds so familiar. I give and give and get nothing in return.” “Why won’t [fill in the blank] love me when all I do is give and forgive them when they hurt me?” Perhaps you, like the tree, are desperately struggling with codependency: giving away yourself to make another happy, because your happiness is dependent on their happiness. But their happiness from what you gave them is fleeting and they always want more of you. And your happiness from them being happy is fleeting and you always want more of them. It’s relationship addiction. It’s codependency. It’s sin that leads to death. They are a parasite and you are a willing host. Sound harsh? It’s much harsher to live it to the bitter end. But…there’s hope.

Jesus. 

ONLY Jesus can fill that person's void and your void. Only Jesus can provide eternal satisfaction and joy. Which is why Paul by the Holy Spirit wrote in Acts 17:28, “In God we live and move and have our being.” Not in a lover or any other, but God alone through His son, Jesus Christ–who died for your sins and rose from the dead. Be whole in Christ. People are finding freedom, healing and new healthy patterns through recovery in Christ. Listen to Nancy's story of recovery in Christ from codependency!

So here’s your new memory verse, fellow codependent (aren’t we all at some level?!):

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)

 

For more information, check out Codependency in the Struggles section of our website.

 

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recovery in Christ when life is broken.