The heading for the Psalm 3 in the translation I’m currently reading is “Confidence In Troubled Times.” I don’t think I would take issue with that, however, that’s not really where God took me with it this morning.
David wrote Psalm 3 as he was fleeing from his son, Absalom. Absalom was loved by his father and the people. He was charming, good looking, loved to play the part of royalty. He often rode in a decorative chariot with fifty men running before him. From the outside, there was a lot to admire.
But, Absalom was ambitious and self-centered too. He had a way with words and dropped many hints to the court officials and to the people that he would make a great king. After wooing the hearts of the people, Absalom organized a revolt against his father and declared himself king. Consequently, King David fled for his life beyond the Jordan River.
That’s the context of this Psalm. The context is “betrayal”. And, that’s what God brought up for me this morning.
For years, I’ve helped people learn to tell their stories; how they were shaped, who shaped them, for better or for worse, and what God was revealing through it all. Part of that exercise is to identify our wounds, and the corresponding “agreements’ we’ve made with them about our identities. One of the things we always look for is wounding themes; serial wounds. Wounds that keep coming through different people, but are essentially the same at their core.
There’s great value in that. First, because it points to our unique calling. That is, Satan knows where we would shine the most if we were left unwounded, so he delivers repeated arrows to precisely those areas in our hearts. It is a brilliant strategy of our enemy. It is always good to know how the Enemy has been at work to steal from and destroy us. Awareness is the best first step for anything.
Second, recognizing serial wounding forces us to face the agreements we’ve made with them. For example, a person who has experienced betrayal multiple times would likely develop an agreement like, “I’m not worth much.”
Those kinds of statements are fuel for the False Self. The False Self loves to be in control and will do about anything to make life work in a more comfortable manner. So, it is going to figure out a way not to “feel” the effects of the serial wounds. And, it is going to show up in how we live our lives.
Third, after identifying the strategy of the Enemy to our hearts, the corresponding agreements, and then identifying our False Self tendencies, we can begin to take responsibility for our role in the serial woundings. That’s the starting place for healing.
From My Story
O.K, O.K, my turn I suppose. I’ll walk you through one of my own serial woundings and how it plays out in all these areas.
Betrayal is a serial wounding of mine. It started early, as most serial wounds do. I could cite many examples, but I’ll be brief. Several of my early romantic relationship ended because of betrayal. Most of those did not just involve my girlfriends wandering at the time, but wandering with guys that I considered close friends. As another example, one job I loved and poured myself into several decades ago, helping a new company get on its feet, had no need for me once they “made it”. They wanted to keep the business “all in the family”.
So, those are several wounds around the theme of betrayal. What are some of the agreements I made with them?
I’m not worth anything.
I have nothing to offer.
Somewhere, somehow, I will get screwed.
No one cares about me.
I exist to be used by others.
Those were all very, very powerful agreements. The Enemy had done his job well. While I would rarely ever be able to put those into words in my day-to-day life, they were all statements I had made right after the wounds, and an identity that I would often live from, mostly unconsciously.
Further, and without really knowing, I would project those agreements on God, as if He saw me that way too. In order of the above, my agreements about God would be:
I’m not worth much to God.
He didn’t really give me much to work with.
Anything good He gives me will be taken away.
God really doesn’t care about me.
I’m just a pawn in his game for the benefit of others He favors.
Needles to say, early on, it was kind of hard to love and serve a God whom I did not trust very much. I often viewed him as I did the people who betrayed me. And, that’s just not who He is at all!
The False Self
So, how did this prop up my False Self? Simply, I had to prove myself to others. I had to impress them with what I could do. I had to convince them of my value. I had to negotiate for approval. I worked very hard to please people. I would remain loyal well beyond what was healthy, proving how dedicated I was. Every time I was let down, I would work that much harder to “be needed” so that I would not feel useless.
But, not only do agreements fuel the False Self and make living our true identities in Christ nearly impossible, they become self-fulfilling. This is what I mean by taking responsibility. Think about it. Operating out of these false beliefs, I would draw people and circumstances into my life that would reinforce what I already thought about myself.
People tend to treat us how we train them to treat us. And here, I’m going to say, how our agreements desire to be validated. Each wounding event deepens the wound and provides more evidence for the false belief. “As a man thinketh in is heart, so is he,” cuts both ways. Great if you are thinking straight; not so great if you are thinking lies.
I’m not saying we are responsible for everything that happens to us by others. Not by any means. But, there is great value in recognizing our role in how we got there. How we may have contributed by living from our agreements. And that my friends, is often an area worthy of repentance. I mean, we did make agreements with the Enemy after all.
Thankfully, as we live into our new identities in Christ, seeking healing of past wounds, and breaking agreements where we have made them, we don’t have to live from our False Selves. I love how David, in the midst of a deep wounding experience, refuses to make an agreement with the Enemy (verses 1-2) and reminds himself of who he is in God (verses 3-6):
O Lord, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
2 many are saying of my soul,
“There is no salvation for him in God.”
3 But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.
4 I cried aloud to the Lord,
and he answered me from his holy hill.
5 I lay down and slept;
I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.
6 I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
who have set themselves against me all around.
I started to wake up to all of these things in my life back in 2011 or so. And man, what a process. Today I am reminded, by the grace of God, how far I’ve come. Several years ago, I experienced a true Absalom character and his small, but influential court of well-groomed “yes-people” running before his chariot. It was painful for sure. But, there was something different about this experience.
I was able not to be the “victim” of betrayal, though I was betrayed. And, I chose to walk away from this unhealthy situation. Years before, I would have sat in the middle of it and tried to please all sides. My issue of “loyalty even when unhealthy” surfaced, but I chose differently this time. Was it a wound? Yes. Could it have validated old agreements? For sure. Did it? No. Thank God, no!
And, in time, once my anger subsided, I was able to see how it was the False Selves of others, doing what False Selves do. And, in humility, God even showed me ways that I’ve participated in that kind of behavior in other places, without even realizing it, thinking I was virtuous and hearing from God. I was eventually able to say, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” I don’t think they knew what they were doing…most of them anyway.
And, as I write, I’m also aware of the soul work I have left to do in so many areas. There’s plenty. I suspect there always will be. But, every time we press in, a little bit of our False Self sheds, and our True Self comes out. It is worth effort. And, often what is learned in one area of our lives can be applied in others. In that way, healing can be exponential.
Jesus, help us to see all the places we’ve been wounded. Help us to see all the agreements we’ve made with the lies of the Enemy. Help us to see where we’ve misinterpreted our lives and then lived from that. Help us to identify our False Selves, the impact they have on others, and where we are responsible for contributing to situations that reinforce our agreements.
Jesus, for those who have experienced the serial wounding of betrayal, we thank you that you identify with us in all things. You understand. Jesus, you above all know what it is like to feel betrayed. Your friends left you on the cross and your Father seemed absent. And yet, you were not just saying polite things, but truly expressing your desire, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” May we have the grace to do the same.
Thank you, Jesus, for the healing you have already done in our lives. Let it be a reminder to us for your desire to see us living “life to the full” and that you are always ready to go into the darker places of our story, calling us into our glory. Bring your healing, Jesus. Amen
Where are some of the places you’ve been wounded?
Are any of those serial? Do you see a theme?
What agreements have you made with the Enemy about the interpretation of those events?
How have those agreements been projected on the Father?
How has that shown up in your False Self?
How has that contributed to the recurring patterns?