I’ve been blogging lately about multi-level marketing in the church using as a foundation the content of my first book, Consumed by Success, Reaching the Top and Finding God Wasn’t There. I wrote the book over 20 years ago, yet as I share it anew I can see the same vulnerabilities that drew me into unhealthy behavior then continued to be a stumbling block so many years later as I took my detour into deception.
In 1993 God convicted me and His kindness drew me to repentance for so many things…causing people to covet what I had and be discontent with what they had, leading them towards the world instead of towards Jesus, rewarding dysfunctional and unhealthy workaholic behavior, targeting friends and family and the body of Christ for my own personal gain…I could go on and on.
As I analyzed my behavior in the pages of my book, it was uncanny to see some of the same justifications in my thoughts:
- turning a blind eye to warning signs,
- convinced I had the truth and others who didn’t go along were just blind,
- and digging my heels in because I didn’t want to admit that I’d made a mistake and believed something was good for me when it really wasn’t.
When I started seeing the behavior in that situation as similar to my thinking process while taken in by the cult, I wondered why my public repentance in writing the book about my unhealthy MLM experience didn’t guard me from falling into the same type of trap, albeit religious rather than career related.
The similarities are haunting.
He quickly reminded me of the missing ingredient. The one action I took after I left the cult that kept me from the victim mentality and blaming the situation or abuser for my circumstance.
The one question I never really asked when I walked away from MLM for the final time.
The question I DID ask when I walked away from the cult and Jesus used to truly set me free.
What was wrong with ME that I would believe a lie was the truth?
I didn’t ask that question to beat up on myself or drown in self-pity or guilt. I asked it so that I could own my part of the horrible tragedy that cost me so much, so that He could teach me where I was vulnerable. That question helped me see what I did to open the door to deception, so I could fully repent, accept His forgiveness and grace, and move on with a greater understanding of how to guard my heart in the future.
Just today I proofread a book we are publishing at Redemption Press entitled The Orphan Syndrome: Breaking Free and Finding Home by licensed professional counselor and marriage and family therapist, Dr. Nick Eno. I was so encouraged to see myself on the pages as one who couldn’t grasp the fatherhood of God in my life, but also as one who broke free from my unhealthy and warped perception of God’s love, finding home through authentic healing and restoration. One of the steps in his roadmap to finding true freedom was “We must own our issues.”
Healing requires we acknowledge our participation in the breach. We are either perpetrators or reactive victims who disconnected or lashed out in return. We must commit ourselves to become stewards of connection again. Bitterness, unforgiveness, revenge, withdrawal of affection, active or passive wickedness, vicious backbiting, etc., are all symptoms of disconnection from the bond of love. When we fail to discern the body of Christ (the church), we choose to forgo vital, life-giving fellowship in exchange for alienation and morbidity. This invariably leads to death even before we die. This is where diseases of the spirit, soul and body are conceived. When we approach the Lord with lowliness of heart and contrition, he promises to lavish us with his grace and the power to overcome all the ravages of sin.
That was me at one time.
Because I did not allow the Lord to heal me, and instead brought my long buried wounding and unhealthy workaholic behavior into my Christian life, I did not accept His love. Instead, I disconnected from the body of Christ where I would have found true fellowship and healing and instead lived a life of alienation. When I did ask that question and began to “own” my choice to follow a lie, He truly did lavish me with his grace and the power to overcome all the ravages of sin.
Amazing how one simple question could be the key He used in my life for me to finally make that journey of finding home in His love.