Deadly Disease of Denial
"The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth."1
I've worked with hurting people and taught in divorce recovery groups for a number of years. If you asked me what I thought might be the number one problem in so many of these situations, I would say, "Denial. And the second is like it—playing the blame game."
Over and over I hear people say with variation on the theme: "My husband did this. My wife did that." "And what did you contribute to the breakup of your marriage?" I ask. "Nothing … my spouse did such-and-such. He was such a jerk." "And why were you attracted to such a jerk?" I ask! "Have you ever been attracted to other jerks?" Silence ...!
No matter what struggle we are in, we are always contributing something. I've seen husbands berating and blaming their wives for their marriage problems when in reality they were very angry at their mother and were taking it out on their wife. I've seen wives do the same thing when they are really mad at either their father or some other significant male who hurt them deeply in the past.
Many spouses are angry about something in their past. Others are too "nice, weak and/or passive" (codependent). Others are over-dependent and smother their partner. But do they see their problem and their contribution to the situation they are in? Many, if most, don't. Far too many of us are in denial about our own deficiencies. The reason denial is so deadly is because, as a Daily Encounter subscriber exactly described it: "'D'on't 'E'ven k'N'ow 'I' 'A'm 'L'ying."
Deniers are avoiders of personal responsibility. They tend also to be blamers. And as I have said many times, if I play the blame game, I will "b-lame"—and will never get well. Only as we acknowledge the truth and reality of what we are contributing to our problems, will we ever have any hope of recovery and becoming well. The reality is that the only person I can ever change is me, and as I change, others are almost forced to change in relationship to me in one way or another. This is not always for the best, however, as some people simply cannot stand or handle our change. To get well this is the risk we need to take.
The only people counselors—and even God—can help are those who willingly admit: "I have a problem. I need help."
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, in every conflict or difficult situation I am in, please give me the courage to see and acknowledge anything that I might be contributing to the situation I am in and lead me to the help I need to overcome. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen."
1. Psalm 145:18 (NIV).