The Rebel Heart :: by Sharell Lee

We all come into this world the same way—focused entirely on ourselves and guileless of any possible harm that could be done to us or that we could do to others. We are open and vulnerable, completely dependent on having all of our needs met by someone else. We don’t even consciously think of them, we simply express with helpless cries all our needs until they are satisfied.

We are entirely self-involved, so much so that any thought of hurting others never crosses our minds. We don’t lie in our cribs thinking, “If mom doesn’t get here in the next five minutes to feed me I’m going to bite her when she does!” No, we are innocent of any such vengeful thoughts. But something happens over time.

Somehow that innocent but self-involved infant grows into a child and then an adult who gains a strong concept of right and wrong, justice, and punishment. The Scriptures teach us that our concept of right and wrong is inborn (Romans 2:15), and even the infant, while lacking the sophistication to take cognitive action, knows it’s right that he be fed and wrong if he’s not.

As we grow up we develop our abilities to conceptualize what is right or wrong to a more sophisticated degree, but often find we are still as powerless as infants in the face of injustice or personal wounding to take any preventative or remedial action against our offenders. With the exception of what is referred to as “Acts of God” every conflict and struggle we have in life has to do with wounded people—ourselves and others, and how those wounds are addressed.

Such a wounded person, feeling impotent against real or perceived abuse, carries around current and past hurts as wounds unhealed; and as with physical wounds untended, they become infected, bleed on, and contaminate those nearby. Such a person tends to come across as either a “poor me” professional victim or is said to have a chip on his or her shoulder. It’s to the second person I wish to speak, to the person with a rebel’s heart.

Dear Rebel,

I  understand. Unlike the profession victim, you are a person held in scorn. The professional victim gets pity. You get contempt. They don’t understand, do they, those that would scorn you, that your rebellious heart is simply an attempt to prevent further wounding, that it’s a cry out in pain?

You experience the world as unfair and unkind, and so you have your shield in place. Like the Wizard of Oz you project yourself large, but inside are constrained by your afflictions. Those observing can’t understand that what they see as stubborn willfulness is simply self-defense. They take your rebellion as a challenge to inflict even more punishment upon your head and shoulders.

They don’t see the unaddressed wounds you carry, the wounding that makes you stagger under the burden of brokenness; and so they strike you and strike you again because you dare to jut your chin up to the sky in self-defensive ire. They truly don’t understand that you may be at the breaking point, drawing your last breath, as they rain down upon you blow after blow. They can’t see that you are already broken.

You, rebellious one, have seen the self-described victims; and while you have compassion for their powerlessness, you have sworn an oath to yourself that you will never be like them—that you will never lie down to be a door mat that someone else wipes their feet upon (at least not willingly). Unfortunately your stiffened neck against your abuse only invites further wounding from those who don’t understand.

It seems, whether a doormat or a rebel, there is no defense against the abusiveness of those who have power over you. Victim and rebel alike wear their impotence in the face of wrongs like a black shroud that swallows up their hope, their potential, and their very lives. Like Eeyore, a dark cloud follows them everywhere they go.

What is the end of these two states? To be forever pitied while concurrently being considered “less than” is the state of the professional victim; but at least the professional victim gets pity and help from those who consider themselves to be “better than” those kind souls who pat themselves on the back for holding out a hand to the less fortunate.

Professional victims also get a free pass. After all, what can be expected from crippled souls who’ve been so grievously wronged? The ones with rebel hearts only get publically pillared when they refuse to collapse in the face of their fate and play the game of “poor me.” They are those whose heads, though bloody, are unbowed. They are those who suffer in a silence that the world doesn’t even try to understand.

What can a person do, then, in the face of suffering and abuse when being neither a victim nor a rebel works? There’s denial. You can try that, but emotions under pressure become explosive and eventually, “Thar she blows!” out all the rage and wounding comes, spewing emotional lava upon any and all within range. Such stuffing can lead to homicide and suicide. I don’t recommend it.

So what do we do?

First, we must realize that we are all wounded to a degree and are likewise guilty of wounding others. We struggle against each other, but in reality we have a greater enemy. The Scriptures tell us we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12).

So we must keep in mind that the person or persons we are contending with are not the real issue in any conflict.  Looking beyond the face in front of you to the powers behind that seek to destroy you and others can help you keep your situation in the divine perspective.

Second, we must keep in mind that we are only sojourners here. The world passes away and the lusts (wounding, and rages) thereof (1 John 2:17). Jesus warned us that in this world we are to expect troubles, so we shouldn’t be taken by surprise when they occur. He comforts us in our troubles. However, with the knowledge that He has overcome this world and its abusive systems.  This world with all its troubles is but a mere fleeting moment in the light of eternity.

The Lord promises believers healing:

“I will restore health to you and your wounds I will heal…(Jeremiah 30:17). To the wounded victims and rebels He declares, “I will heal you because they have called you an outcast.”  It still is true that all things work together for good to those who love Him (Romans 8:28), and that His plans for us are for our good, not for evil, to give us hope in the face of affliction and trials (Jeremiah 29:11).

In the face of afflictions we must remind ourselves not think it aberrant that fiery trails try us, as though some extraordinary thing is happening just to us; but instead to rejoice in knowledge that we are partakers of Christ’s suffering, that when His glory is revealed we will be exceedingly glad (1 Peter 4:12-13).

With this eternal and abiding hope we can dance in the presence of abuses present and past as God guides us to resolution and healing.

“You have turned my mourning into dancing…you have clothed me with gladness” (Psalm 30:11).  Dance, dance in the rain. Dance in the dark for morning breaks. It is near.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).

Wounded soul, boast all the more of your weaknesses and wounds, lean on Him and the power of Christ will rest upon you (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Lastly, never forget these faithful words of Christ:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” ( John 14:27).

“I go to prepare a place for you; and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself that where I am you may be also” (John 14:2-3). Amen.


Sharell Lee