Friday, November 4, 2011

Do You Have a Chip on Your Shoulder?

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

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Matthew 26:46-49

Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
 47 While he was still speaking, 
Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. 
With him was a large crowd armed 
with swords and clubs, sent from the 
chief priests and the elders of the people.  
48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal 
with them: “The one I kiss 
is the man; arrest him.” 49 
Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, 
“Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.

I was going through a little study this morning and the topic was about "Having a Chip on Your Shoulder". You know the pent-up anger or moodyness that can show up at unexpected or at in-appropriate times and generally has nothing to do with the present situation. It is from some wounded place and the scars that have been left. Some of those scars can become so hard that they are like bone chips that work thier way to the surface. As a teenager I had a massive chip on my shoulder regarding my parents divorce. I was angry and dissapointed with them both and at the same time loved them both. I could not understand how if I could love them both, why they could no longer love each other.  That chip spilled over into many of my relationships. I could desperatly want emotional intimacy and at the same time not let anyone really know me much beyond the surface. Some relationships helped me take down some of the walls only to later build them back up higher and wider.

For a long time my mental image of myself was of a princess trapped in a tower, just waiting for the prince to come and free me. Sadly most of the princes that I've met are trapped in thier own mythic prisons. I've realized through the years that if I want out of my tower I need to start removing the bricks and stones that I have used to create it. Really the only prince who truly has the power to help me change is Jesus. He does indeed ride into the final battle astride a white horse. He does indeed come to set the captives free. So for every prince trapped in a dungon or princess trapped in a tower there is hope. The journey to freedom sometimes seems very long but I have learned to keep my eyes and heart focused on the Lord. Others will dissapoint me but He will never leave or forsake me.

For me trusting the Lord is pretty easy. I just look back and remember all the time that He has helped me in the past and I know he will help me in the present and in the future. The hard one for me has been to trust people. I have had to make an effort to let people in. I've come to accept that they will likely disappoint me at some point. I conversely am likely to disappoint the people in my life at various points. We can choose to live lives in lonely isolation or we can forgive when we are hurt, ask the Lord to heal us and decide that deep friendships and emotional intimacy out weighs the inevitable risks of being hurt by those same people. Jesus after all was betrayed by a kiss.

I have a guitar student, a little 10 year old boy. He loves all the old 80's musicians like James Taylor, The Beatles, and Simon and Garfunkel. I try very hard when picking music to choose age approprate music. I really like Simon and Garfunkel but some of the stuff they sing about with a great beat and a catchy tune in my mind is kind of questionable for 10 year olds. One example would be the song Cecillia Your Breaking My Heart. I have moved to allowing my students find and choose their own music. So one of the songs that we have done recently is I Am A Rock by Simon and Garfunkel.
I found myself smiling as this delightful child sang his heart out and had no clue about what the song meant. So I started asking him questions. What is one word that you could use to discribe the person in this song? Lonely he finally answered.  Does this person sound like they might have been hurt by someone important to them? Yes he answered. Do you think he is choosing to deal with that hurt in the best way? He has chosen to be locked up in his room with his books and poetry where no one can touch or hurt him again?  The discussion led on to me asking if he knew the word forgiveness. I got to in that moment plant a seed of  biblical truth in the heart of a child. Forgiveness is the better way to respond when someone hurts you. It does not mean that what they did to you was right. You however keeping them caged up in your heart and memeory really only torment yourself.

So today in thinking about the subject of chips on the shoulder. I find myself wondering what other scar tissue might the Lord want me to deal with in the near future. I know I have plenty to choose from. I've learned to let some things rest until the Lord brings them to my attention. I have found that he does not always fix things in the order that I think he should. Quite often there are deeper wounds that he goes after and he leaves the one that seems urgent and on the surface to me, and goes after the deeper things. I have learned to trust Him as the Great Physician. He who formed my inmost parts and knew me in my mothers womb also knows how to deal with the damage I have sustained and sometimes brought upon myself by not doing things His way.

I have learned through the years that there is indeed an enemy of my soul and he does not shoot at us with nurf bullets and he also will manipulate and use well meaning people but misguided people to be his hands and feet to inflict pain and damage. To help reinforce wrong behavior and ways of dealing with our pain. Our society has created a self centered, look out for number one, mentality that is contrary to how Jesus does things in His kingdom. The last will be first, and seek first the kingdom, give and it shall be given unto you, are just a few examples of how backwards God ways are to those of the culture we live in. Every day we must choose to pick up our cross, to crucify our flesh and carnal nature and put on Christ. I want to be his hands and feet, an ambassador of a far better kingdom and way of living.

So I look at the scars and the broken places that the Lord has healed and I am often thankful for them because he pours his Spirit through them so often when I am praying or encouraging others around me. It is through my brokenness that God seems to minister the most strongly to others in need. I am surprised how many people are taken aback that I understand the pain they are feeling. It seems that most of my scars have turned into compassion and understanding for others. I have had to choose to live in the real world rather than the safe virtual world of the tv- watching reality shows. When I have had a choice of paths to take, I have chosen in most cases the more difficult one. Why you might ask? are you a glutton for punishment? No, but I have discovered that on the more difficult path I get to see Gods wonder working power in an astounding way. I have had the privilege of walking side by side with Jesus. It is an adventure of being led by His Spirit through my days that I would not trade.
My reason for getting out of bed in the morning is that I get to spend all day with Jesus. Some of the things we walk through together are hard and difficult but He is the best guide. He knows how much danger and excitement I can stand. Its generally more than I realize. In the process He has helped me to see my weakness and to find my inner strength in Him.

Dear Lord,
Thank you for walking with each of us on our particular journey. I pray that you will allow us to experience life to the full today. That we will choose to trust you to help us take down walls and remove the chips from our shoulders and heal the wounds of our heat. Make those scarred places areas of our life that are rich with compassion and mercy for others. Allow us to be your hands and feet and your ambassador to the broken and hurting world today. Help us get our eyes off our own problems and to be instead your instrument of blessing to bring living water and hope to others.

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