Legalism

The Girl in the Dungeon

Me at 4 years old
Me at 4 years old

“Little Me” was locked in a deep, dark dungeon. It was too risky to let her out. She got me into all sorts of trouble. She said things that made people ridicule me. She sent me to the principal’s office a few times. She made the teacher angry. She made me lose friends. She humiliated my family. She just couldn’t get her act together.

She was always begging me to be let her out, but I constantly had to walk into the dungeon and shove a pillow over her mouth to shut her up. Sometimes I was too exhausted to hold that pillow over her mouth and her shrieks were just too loud, so I opened up the cage and set her free for a little while. In those moments of freedom she would explode all over the people whose voices she had been taught to mimic for so long. I grabbed her, beat her up with ugly words, and resolved to find better ways of keeping her screams under wraps.

Sometimes a ray of light would enter that dungeon and would remind the little girl who she really was and who she really belonged to. It gave her hope that she didn’t have to live in that dungeon forever. The light spoke words of love over “Little Me” and encouraged her to share those words with me. Sometimes I would sit with the little girl in the dungeon. I would bring her treats and let her tell me about the words the light had shared with her. She would hug me, sit in my lap, play with my hair and sing to me. The tears would flow, and I wanted to believe, but instead I would tell her to be careful with the light. I told her the light could not be trusted. There were certain things she had to do to remain in its grace.

I taught her how to live in the world outside the dungeon because her shrieks could no longer be contained. I brought her a variety of masks that were given to me. We embellished them together. I taught her all the rules. I gave her the checklist that I learned about in the big building. I taught her the right things to say and the right people to spend time with. I told her to stay away from certain people. I taught her to stay away from different types of music. I taught her what to read and watch on TV. I taught her how to appease the One who sent the deceptive light.  I taught her how to smile even if she wasn’t in a smiling mood. I taught her that crying wasn’t something we do…at least not in front of others. I taught her that grief had a time limit and should happen behind closed doors. I taught her that if she broke a checklist rule that she should tell no one. I taught her how to act when she entered the big building. I taught her how to keep people at a distance. I taught her to keep quiet about her past. I encouraged her to strive to show people she was smarter, stronger and better than she really was.

It took weeks to teach her everything she needed to know. She listened intently to all my instructions and said she would comply. My suspicions remained, so I kept paying the lease on the dungeon just in case. 

 

Please note: This is a fictional story about a very real struggle to break free of legalism and my desire to rest in the finished work of Jesus.

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