It was a difficult and trying weekend for the Case household. Early Saturday morning, we were awakened by Baby, one of our resident felines. We’ve been awakened by cats before—with us, it’s almost a lifestyle—but this wasn’t the usual “rambunctious cat” wake-up call. Baby was sick—VERY sick—and she woke us up looking for help. A headstrong, independent cat like Baby seeking help is, by itself, a notable wake-up call. We scrambled, found the cat carrier, and made a beeline to our vet’s office. Baby had a badly infected uterus, a problem that our vet said sometimes occurs with females who are not spayed and never have kittens. Unfortunately, the infection had festered undetected for some time. The vet was optimistic, but honest; This sort of infection is usually fatal if untreated, and Baby was a very sick little kitty.
We were getting ready for church on Sunday morning when the phone rang. Sharon got to the phone first, and I picked up just in time to hear our vet say, in his kindest, gentlest voice, “I’m sorry, Mrs. Case. We’ve lost her.” Our hearts sank with a collective thud, as we faced the necessity of telling our daughter, who had a special bond with Baby, the bad news. I didn’t want to hear it myself, and I sure didn’t want to face telling Sara. We did tell her, of course, and it was a sad morning indeed in the Case household.
I found myself thinking about Baby’s condition—the usual series of “if onlys” and “why didn’ts”—and I realized that the only one who really knew there was a problem before Saturday morning was Baby herself. If she had sought help sooner, she might have survived. We look at Baby and her situation, and it’s easy to conclude that it was her own stubborn independence that cost her life. Perhaps the reason that we find that so easy to see is that we can identify with it—it’s a pattern of behavior that we humans generally practice quite well. We often fall prey to that powerful force called denial, that inner drive to ignore obvious problems and symptoms in hope that they will go away. It may be a physical symptom, it may be a heartache, or it may be a spiritual crisis point—but all too often we insist on “toughing it out” instead of seeking help early on in the crisis. Unfortunately, like Baby, some folks suffer terribly—and even die—while trying to convince themselves that their obvious problem isn’t really there.
Perhaps the saddest form of this denial is spiritual. We’re surrounded every day by people who have an inner sense of their own spiritual need for a relationship with their creator, yet choose to deny that gnawing inner vacuum in favor of trite lies like “I’m just as good as the next guy—I don’t need God,” or “I’m a good person, I do good things, and I even go to church sometimes. Surely God won’t let a good person like me go to hell,” or the ever-popular “all roads lead to God, so it doesn’t matter what I do or what I believe, as long as I’m a good moral person and believe something.” Even though their hearts keep crying out for God, they prefer to keep Him at arm’s length—close enough to support their denial, but far enough to keep Him from interfering with their agenda.
Whether it’s denial about an addiction or bad habit, or denial about your need for Christ, all forms of denial have one thing in common—left alone, denial will destroy you, just as it did to Baby. The only way to defeat the powerful hold of denial is to face the truth head-on, and be totally honest with yourself, with others and with God. Admit to yourself and to God that you have a problem—be it substance or sin. It’s the first step to sobriety, the fist step to healing for your broken heart, and the fist step toward eternal life through Jesus Christ.
Our story has a somewhat happy ending. Though the urge to deny that our special friend was gone was almost overpowering, we chose to confront that denial, and seek healing for our broken hearts. As a result, we now have not one but two new four-legged theologians in the Case household, who are carrying on in Baby’s pawsteps.
You can beat denial, too. Face yourself honestly, trust Christ with all your heart, and your new life can begin right now.