Some of the harshest allegations are the ones we impose on ourselves. Being falsely accused is nothing compared to accusing ourselves falsely.
I was five years old. My father left home one evening and never came back. No, he didn’t die. He just moved on, eventually into another marriage. “It’s my fault. It’s because of me that he left.” I repeated this to myself until I believed it and every circumstance reinforced it. Thus, for the better part of my life, I held myself responsible for what was much bigger than I would ever know. I accused myself of my parents’ divorce. “My dad loved me to bits. I was a typical Daddy’s little girl. If I did nothing wrong, why did he just leave without a hint?”
My parents fiercely contested my older sister’s fiancé until I stepped in convincingly and pushed her wedding through. Years later, her marriage hit rock bottom and I blamed myself for the turmoil. “If I didn’t push the wedding through, she would not have gotten married to this man, only for it to end up badly.”
Now before you start establishing divorce as a “bloodline pattern” in my family, you’d be happy know my sister’s marriage survived the tough season.😊 😊😊
We had a great connection. It seemed like he’d pop the question that Father’s Day when he asked to see me after Church. He handed me one of the most beautiful envelopes I’d ever seen. I opened it and lo, it was an invitation – to his wedding! I maintained an awkward excitement and poured congratulations. All the while thinking, “I must have done something wrong.” Like the song in the classic musical –The Sound of Music– suggests, I was persuaded that: Nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could, So somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something
My celibacy journey has been fraught with some of the most absurd self-blames…
“What did I do wrong?” Or worse, “What’s wrong with me?”
So it was, on this day. The flight had been long and bumpy. Standing in the queue for immigration clearance felt like forever. Waiting for my luggage took eternity. The cab driver couldn’t go faster. I was eager to get home. Ah, the welcoming smell of my house. Throwing down my luggage, I hurried to the toilette. “Oops” I said, as I sprinted back to the living room for an indispensable piece of the puzzle – my cell phone. Then, I dashed again to the toilette where I settled for the sacred moment I’d been waiting for. I watched YouTube videos and caught up on social media, even answered a phone call, while emptying my bladder and bowels. It’s called multitasking. (Before I continue, please allow me to take a moment to congratulate all the extraordinary human beings, who’ve never needed the company of their cell phone in the bathroom/toilette). Anyways, when I said “Amen,” I washed my hands, checked myself out in the mirror and posed for a selfie. Aren’t bathroom selfies the best?😊😊😊
Now I was ready to unpack my luggage … but my mind took a trip, back to social media: to that photo of a friend and her husband on vacation; that YouTube video about the Princess of Monaco who taught her six months old baby to swim; that newly engaged 17-year old popstar…
Soon enough, I am brooding: how can I be single at this age and she’s engaged at 17? And then, the floodgates of accusations open: I must be a bad girl, unattractive, unlikable, too intense, too churchy, intimidating, too strict, unfriendly, too educated, not sociable, too principled, too slim, too breasted … and yes – too old 😊
Other times, I’ve told myself things like:
- I must have missed God’s timing.
- I must have missed God’s “perfect will” (chosen husband – whatever that means)
- I must have made bad choices.
- I must have had misplaced priorities.
- I must have exhausted my God-given “second chances.”
- I must have been cursed.
The list is inexhaustive, but it boils down to the same thing – “It’s all my fault,” “I must have done something BAD.” Where does that leave grace?
Each time I go down this road, I wind up in depression land, self-battered, prayer fatigued and spiritually paralyzed. I vow to stop blaming myself. But I do it again, over and over. A huge proportion of the depression I have suffered has been erroneously self-inflicted. Why do I do this to myself? Why do I sometimes hold myself responsible for things well beyond my control? Three immediate thoughts:
- Because, somehow, I managed to convince myself that everything is about me. That’s where I’ve got me all wrong. Everything is NOT about me. Surely, there’s a larger purpose – God’s glory, intimacy with God, transformation into God’s image, greater good…etc;
- Because, I have subconsciously internalized/ subscribed to some of the “trash” I’ve been told (some of which I wrote about in a previous post – « conversation with a pastor gone wrong? »)
- Because, as painful as it is, self-blame suggests an easy explanation to my “mystery.” It’s like I want answers so badly I unconsciously buy into what I know to be false; that despairing search for truth which results in resignation to lies; the refusal to let mystery be mystery. #Let Go, Let God
PS: By the way: How can I expect others to get me right, when I’ve got me all wrong?
God bless you
The Christian Bachelorette
This post follows the previous on “Navigating singleness-induced allegations” found here
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