I ended last week sharing how the Lord wrote down on a scroll for Ezekiel 'lamentations, mourning, and woe', and then told him to eat the scroll, which was bitter to see it written down, distasteful. But if you read chapter 3, the actual taste in his mouth was as honey. Why is that?
The Lord had showed Ezekiel the value in writing down the 'lamentations' (loud wailing song or cry of sorrow), 'mourning' (a quiet inward taking account of the personal loss felt), and 'woes' (the realization of the consequences of the new reality and sorrow accompanying that realization).
The eating of the scroll detailing those bitter events was sweet in taste because he had allowed himself the process. It was Ezekiel's own 'turning a corner' towards healing. It was a willingness to accept the moral injury, and the start of rebuilding his new internal moral structure. He still didn't understand, but he was willing to move on.
Upon looking back, it was bittersweet. They in hindsight could see the Lord's goodness in the midst of it all. They wouldn't want to go through it again, but the Lord had turned that which was intended to destroy, into something no longer bitter, but sweet in the value of godly character gained. Paul said the value of knowing Christ in the midst was exceedingly greater than any difficulty he had gone through. (II Corinthians 4:17, 12: 9, etc) How did they turn that corner?
Again, a moral injury is an injury to the moral framework of our right/wrong, good/evil through which we understand and interact with the world. That moral framework helps define what and who is safe and secure, or unsafe and dangerous. Our morals are our standard of behavior by which we judge right and wrong.
That framework becomes part of us from earliest age. A violation of our moral framework causes a moral injury, and is always perpetrated by a person or agent in authority. For a child that person may be a parent or other older person, for a soldier that authority may be a commander or the overall purpose for being at war.
Boys and girls...
...grow up to become men and women, and if they suffered a moral injury when they were children like abuse, neglect, divorce, or the death of a loved one, they carry that unhealed moral injury forward into life. They think they are more or less whole, except in that one area, very private, and it is there they don't trust God or man.
Moral injury alters how self, others, and circumstances are understood
I go into more detail in part 2 of the current series offered above, 'Shattered Lives', but there are several Bible examples of people who had suffered a moral injury, which resulted in an altered version of life. They looked at themselves differently, they understood others differently than what was intended and accurate, and understood circumstances in an altered way.
Years ago a woman in our church was having constant marriage troubles. She confided that when she was growing up her mother had men in and out of their lives, and each one of them hit her mom. As a young girl, when her morals were just being formed, part of that understand was that love is communicated between a man and a woman by the man hitting the woman.
So when she came to the Lord she carried that understanding into her new life in Christ, and into her marriage. She was always trying to provoke her husband into hitting her, and she even hit him on many occasions trying to provoke him - but he was a good man and didn't hit back. She eventually realized what had happened, and changed her moral structure into God's way of thinking about relationships between men and women. The result was her healing.
Very often little is done when children suffer injuries to their soul and moral framework - no time is taken to talk through, to think through what they experienced. A little girl tells her mom that her father molested her, and the mom ignores her or puts the blame on her - and so the bruise is set within the girl's self-image, her view of men, marriage, her mother and father...and she grows up. She grows up. Internally confused, feeling no one can love her.
The employee ripped to shreds emotionally from an abusive boss either cries or feels like crying, pauses, and returns to work the next day, but with a deep bruise in their soul. They start looking at coworkers, their boss, the company very differently than they did before. Their moral structure of how they saw that company, its people, and their place in it, was destroyed. If they can't rebuild or repair that moral structure, they will soon look for another job...and so it goes.
Turning the corner to healing
The process of healing is a difficult process. It is highly personal, extremely private, and takes time. .I can't think of a single example in scripture of healing that came to someone's moral structure by a single touch from the Lord, by a single prophetic word, by attending a single teaching at the feet of Jesus. It is a process.
Consider Joesph. Genesis 37 details the story of the arrogant 17 year old boy, secure in his favored status above his older brothers - some of them no doubt in their 30's. He was their boss and he let them know it. He had a quilted coat which was his pride and joy, a personal gift from his father. (Genesis 37:3)
His moral structure was secure: His dad loved him, provided for him, his brothers hated him but they were his brothers and subordinates. Life was good. Then one day the brothers conspired to kill him and lie to their father. Only when the oldest intervened was his life spared, and Joseph was sold into slavery.
His moral structure was now destroyed. All that he had held safe, secured, loved, was gone.
Over the next 13 years that arrogant teenager was transformed - not in a moment of time - but by a process that involved moving in his spiritual gifts (interpreting dreams) and natural gifts (administrator/organizer). It also involved false accusations and prison time.
Joseph had to rebuild his moral structure. The old one was destroyed. He had to rebuild himself from the inside out in what turned out to be a 13 year project. He did it by looking for who he was; who was Joseph? He knew himself, he gleaned the good memories from his past, from his successes. He allowed himself those truths about himself. We must do that. Acknowledge and embrace what is good about us, what God built into us.
He knew he had run a multi-faceted business overseeing more than a dozen employees. He took the time and allowed himself the grace to give himself credit for who and what he was. He came to value the good he had in him, and worked through his arrogance and pride by the force humility he suffered.
Allow yourself to take with you in life, the good things of who you are and what you have to offer. Allow yourself to embrace those good things. In the midst of moral injury, look for and find and embrace the real you, the one beneath the injury suffered, and love that part of you. That is where love of self begins, by seeing what God created. That cannot be destroyed for the 'real you' is of God.
That Joseph did that very thing is self-evident. The same gifts for dream interpretation and administration were evident in Potiphar's house and jail, and later at age 30, as 'Prime Minister' over Egypt. He took with him through the trial that which he knew was good and valuable of himself. That is how his own personal 'bitter scroll' turned sweet to the taste. We must do that same thing...and I'll pick it up there next week. Until then, blessings,
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