The first step in recovering from our hurts, habits, and hang-ups is to recognize we have a problem. This can be difficult because most of us have a hard time seeing our own flaws, or where we may have issues. It’s easier for us to see the flaws in other people; and we aren’t alone in this. This is not something that’s new. This has actually been true for thousands of years. Jesus Himself told us to remove the log from our own eye before trying to take the speck out of our friends eye (Matt.7:5). We can see how this goes down in the workplace, in our marriages, and even in politics. However, that is still looking outward, Jesus told us to take care of our eye first. So, looking into the mirror, I know that there have been many times in my life where it was easier and more comfortable to focus on someone else’s issues rather than my own. But, that didn’t rid me of my problems, it only prolonged them.
Unfortunately, some of us just don’t ignore our problems in the hope that they go away. Some of us are in straight denial that we even have an issue with being in denial. It is easier to force that smile, find that perfect photo filter and make life seem absolutely wonderful online, while on the inside we are falling apart. It isn’t a problem, right? It’s just a little harmless flirtation. It’s not adultery, it’s just porn. It is not a real fling; it is just sexting on Snapchat. What’s the problem with a little weed? It’s natural. Jesus wouldn’t care about five or six beers, He turned water to wine. Does any of that sound familiar?
Some of us can’t relate to any of that. We don’t have those issues, can’t be in denial about something we don’t have. Right? But, what about being told that your blood sugar is off the charts and you have Type 2 Diabetes? But, you’re fine, the Metformin will handle those donuts, that soft drink and that bag of chips! What about being diagnosed with a mental health condition such as PTSD, Clinical Depression, or Bi-Polar Disorder but every time you level out on your meds and you’re doing good, you think you’re doing so well that you choose to come off of them because you don’t need them now? Denial comes in so many forms.
But, what exactly is denial? Denial is a phony system of beliefs that are not based on reality.[i] For example, if you’re someone who gets your sense of self-worth from the way other people see you, and you constantly put yourself in vulnerable, risky and dangerous situations to fit in, but you tell yourself and others that it’s all under control because they’re your friends—that’s a bogus system of beliefs not based on reality. If they were truly your friends, they would not be trying to get you to smoke weed when they know it is illegal and could cost you your job. If they truly were your friends, they would not be pressuring you into straightening someone out by teeing off on them with your fist in a bar.
Denial allows us to justify and rationalize things that are irrational. In many ways, denial is our coping mechanism gone wrong. Denial allows us to look back at our childhoods and see everything through rose-colored glasses. Denial allows us to say to other friends, “Don’t take that to heart, that is just who he is…” or, “Oh, she just doesn’t have a filter and sometimes things come out wrong…” Denial allows us to look at our own brokenness and convince ourselves that we are just a little bent. Denial allows us to excuse our own actions because we just need a couple bowl hits on the weekend to decompress and it isn’t a problem because it isn’t hurting anyone. Denial.
Denial costs us more than we realize, though. It causes those who see that we are in denial to pull away after a while because they feel that they can’t talk to us about it. It’s like talking to a brick wall this denial. It breaks down relationships. It creates barriers. It alienates us from God, too. How will you know God’s will for your situation or life, if you are in denial that a glaring-sin-issue is happening in your life? If you are living in unforgiveness, if you are in denial about being emotionally abusive to your spouse, if you are in denial about living in a state of habitual sin…that is going to affect your spiritual walk.
Consider this for a moment, you are committing spiritual adultery by looking at porn, or you’re actually committing physical adultery, either way you are DEFINITELY sinning all over your marriage. This is clearly going to hinder your prayers. As believers, we need to know this! In 1 Peter 3:7, God shows us that if we are not being considerate of our wives and treating them with respect, we run the risk of our prayers being hindered. But, did you catch that? It doesn’t say that if we are sneaking around with a screen or another woman that our prayers might be hindered. It says that if we are not considerate and respectful of our spouse. What might that look like for you?
Further, maybe you are great with your spouse. However, maybe you drink too much. Or perhaps you smoke weed. The Word of God tells us that we are to be sober-minded and drunkenness is spoken out against (Ephesians 5:18 for example and Titus 2:6). I can tell you that I never smoked a joint or a bowl with the intention of remaining sober-minded. My sole purpose for smoking a joint or a bowl was to get stoned. Alcohol—someone can make the argument that one or two beers is not drunkenness. Most people can pass a breathalyzer with one beer. However, I have NEVER been able to take even just one puff of marijuana and not experience some sort of mood alteration. Even the sound of just being a little high does not add up. Plus, even if the argument is made that it is natural, the fact remains that it is federally illegal. As a believer, we are called to submit to the authorities, whether king or those in power, and looking at the Apostles examples, we should do everything to honor our authorities except that which would cause us to deny our faith in Christ (1 Peter 2:13-17).
These are just some examples of how we might be living in denial and how our sin in our denial could affect our relationship with God. There are many more examples that I could continue with, anger—the Word tells us to be angry but not to sin; and one of the biggest ways we can fail in this is to become angry with someone, foster a resentment toward them and then withhold forgiveness with them. This is shown repeatedly to be an issue throughout Scripture, especially when our own Lord instructed us to pray and ask for forgiveness as we have forgiven those who have trespassed against us (Matt. 6:12, Luke 11:4). Perhaps someone did you wrong, hurt your feelings and it ticked you off—are you in denial about whether you have forgiven them? Bear in mind, we can forgive people and offer them up to God in prayer that His will with them is done and not welcome them back into our lives. Sometimes, that might be the only way. But have you done that or are they still unforgiven in your heart? Do you realize that you are forgiven as you forgive others?
Denial does not save us from the pain that we carry. Denial does not solve our problems. Denial does not change the elephant in the room to a different color. Only by stepping out of denial can we look at what is slowly destroying us, eating us alive from within or causing our prayers to go unanswered and our relationship with God to be stagnate.
So, what areas of your life are you in denial about? What area’s do you need to turn over to God and ask for forgiveness? In what way is your denial hurting your family? Your friends? Turn to God, confess it to Him and turn away from the denial so that you may discover His love, forgiveness, grace and mercy.
Until Next Time,