Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure.
But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving,
because their minds and consciences are corrupted.
Such people claim they know God, but they deny him by the way they live.
They are detestable and disobedient, worthless for doing anything good.
Titus 1:15, 16
This one is a little long. I didn’t know how to make it shorter. If you read it, hope you find it worth your time.
Negative thinking was one wall I had to push through on my journey to overcoming manic depression. I took sick pride in out-negativing everyone I met. I wanted to prove I was a worthless piece of crap who never should have been born.
My dad sometimes spit in my face, claimed he created a monster, and told me I would die in a gutter. He said it was my fault our family had to move around so much. When I was an infant I had Encephalitis and almost died. As far back as I could remember Dad reminded me of how sick I was and that he wished I had died.
I spent more than forty-five years believing what my dad said. I spent most of my life trying to kill the monster. I mega-dosed on LSD for three years, injected heroin into my veins, and drank myself stupid. I pushed myself beyond my limits with my work and forced myself not to sleep at night. I holed up in my study, trying to write myself into insanity. Because I was a monster, I found many ways to be ugly and violent toward others.
I wanted to be like my dad. I thought he’d be proud of me when I started smoking and having migraine headaches. After my dad committed suicide, for many years I wanted to commit suicide too.
A former employee, Richard, recently died from a gunshot accident. In 2007, I was trying to clear negativity from our company and privately confronted Richard about his negativity. He told me, “I argued with my dad one day and that night he shot and killed himself.” Richard couldn’t shake his negativity and couldn’t stop using illegal drugs, so we had to let him go. It’s possible Richard followed his dad’s footsteps. I understand his pain. Maybe I didn’t understand it enough then. Maybe I could have, should have, tried a little harder to help him.
Richard’s conscience and mine were so defiled, we turned everything positive into a negative. I think Richard claimed to be a Christian. How can we claim to follow Jesus and hate ourselves and everything around us? Perhaps it’s because we inherited our earthly father’s perception of love and life and don’t understand Jesus wants to heal our pain, so we can see life from fresh, new eyes.
I understood this more profoundly in 2009, when I caused a meltdown in a weeklong leadership retreat in California. I knew the Bible so well I could use it to manipulate people into noticing me. I was using God for my advantage instead of allowing God to change me. I was devastated by the conflict I was causing but didn’t know how to reverse it. John, one of the facilitators, told me, “Take responsibility for your own growth.”
I received what John told me, returned home, and took his advice. At first the way seemed impossible. I spent long hours soaking in the Bible and other good teaching. I began to exercise and eat and sleep right. I learned to be kind to myself and others. I started seeing life through God’s eyes.
That was a turning point that ushered me into a life fuller and more beautiful than I ever imagined life could be. I no longer live like many of the Southern Gospel songs that go, “Life sucks. Jesus saved me. Just hold out for heaven.” Life is so good, I only want to go to heaven if it’s better.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. I cannot be a Christian with my earthly father’s mind or any mind other than his. I must allow Jesus all the way in to clean out every trace of my old mind and teach me how to see and do life through his mind. Then my conscience will be clean, and my life will reflect God’s character.