Some days I wake up, look back at the day before, and wonder, “Was that me? Surely not.” Had a date with my wife last night and I was looking forward to it. At some point in our evening, during a pleasant conversation, she said something and it triggered feelings of hurt, guilt and failure for me. Of course, being a trained, educated and licensed therapist, I handled it expertly-I withdrew into irritability, self-pity and self-condemnation. This morning, after a few hours of restlessness and discomforting dreaming, I awakened to a deep sense of conviction, rather than the self-condemning guilt I had felt only hours earlier. That is when I asked the question-“Was that me?”
I recall hearing Rich Mullins (singer, songwriter and college classmate) tell the story of being in a train station in Europe, talking with a close friend about their struggles with sin and temptation, only to have someone from behind tap him on the shoulder and ask, “Are you Rich Mullins?” To which Rich thought, “Well, let’s see, in light of what this guy just heard, am I Rich Mullins. Yes, I guess I am.”
Somehow I doubt that Rich and I are the only ones who have felt that way. Most of my clients have heard me speak of our “Parts,” these sub-personalities, of sort, who have become either pained Exiles or Strategic Protectors for us as we negotiate life with all its pitfalls. Perhaps it can bring some encouragement to you to know that most of us clinicians in the field of mental health have not mastered this internal complexity either. Please keep that to yourself as I wouldn’t want that to get out.
By the way, my first act this morning, after a thorough teeth-brushing, was to text my wife the most difficult words any man can utter, “I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you.”
“But I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members” (Romans 7:23).