The Lion in the Cellar: Down into the Darkness of Our Past
- Tuesday, September 20, 2005
The sessions were wrenching and painful for her, once she finally decided to share her secret shame and stop pretending to be okay. But she did it. She asked me to walk with her—one slow, small step at a time—down into the “dark cellar” of her past. Once there, it took enormous courage for Carla to begin the process of sifting through the various stored artifacts of her girlhood, fearfully, tearfully. When the air grew too thin down there, we would come back up, and breathe, and thank God for not having swallowed us up. Each successive trip down we were able to stay a bit longer, and uncover more things… beautiful things, mostly, photos of parents who did their best, and loved as they were able, giving more gifts than curses, more sunny days than storms.
But we also found things long buried and covered in dust…verbal shaming and affairs and alcoholism and sexual abuse. We discovered broken promises, broken hearts, broken dreams. Ultimately, Carla stumbled upon the kind of treasure that crushes before it heals. She found fading photographs of those she had once-upon-a-time worshiped as perfect and powerful. But then, daring to look more closely, her eyes finally adjusting to the dark…she instead saw images of broken gods who all along had been nothing more than human.
Word Has Been Sent
Often, someone will ask: Why go back? What good will it do to dig up the past?
We go down into these long-neglected recesses of our memories not in an attempt to blame anyone, but to discover the origin of those wounds that were never faced and never healed. We make this journey not to accuse, but to surrender. Ultimately, we return to our past so that we might find our way to our true future.
Carla is happier now. It has had little to do with me, of course, other than God putting me in her path to serve as a companion. She’s been willing to do the work, to fill in the blanks, to seek support from others who can relate to her holy longing. She met a terrifying beast in the cellar of her past, whose power transformed her fear into forgiveness and hope.
“I’m longing to see him,” said Peter, “even if I do feel frightened when it comes to the point.”
“That’s right, Son of Adam,” said Mr. Beaver, bringing his paw down on the table with a crash that made all the cups and saucers rattle, “And so you shall. Word has been sent that you are to meet him, tomorrow if you can, at the Stone Table.”
Word has been sent. We are to meet Him. Each of us, commanded by the Word to go to the Stone Table, and stand face to face with a massive, man-eating lion. God desires that I should walk up to this creature and willingly offer myself as supper. It is, of course, death that will result. And it is this death of our old selves that terrifies us so, and often causes us to take the most circuitous routes imaginable towards our true selves.
Coming face to face with our wounds requires great courage indeed. Daring to step through the unlocked gate of our emptiness, down the stairs into a forbidden past, we move beyond our broken hearts, sacrifice our shame, and face our fear. At the risk of death—and the greater risk of not dying—together we must stride right up to the Great Lion, and stare into His glaring, golden eyes.
And in them, find Love.
Jim Robinson is a successful songwriter, musician, speaker, author, and recovery counselor. A graduate of Christ Center School of Counseling and Addiction Studies, Robinson is founder of ProdigalSong, a Christian ministry utilizing music, speaking, counseling, and teaching to convey healing for the broken spirit. Jim’s web site, www.ProdigalSong.com, contains information about his ministry, numerous recovery resources, and additional articles he’s written. To subscribe to Jim’s monthly newsletter, click here: http://www.ProdigalSong.com/contact/index.htm.
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