On Knowing Better
Written by Karissa Curtis
“Theodore! You know better!” the two-year-old’s parents warn. But their words have no effect on their rambunctious toddler.
My nephew knows he will get in trouble for banging his toys against the wall, but he continues to do it anyway.
“You know better.”
I say it to my toddler nephew, but I hear the words being said to me.
How often do I do things against my better judgment? How often do I knowingly sin? Well, I’m human, so my answer is—all the time.
When I act from a place of brokenness—when something in my environment triggers my shame, or a wound, or my fears and insecurities—I do things I don’t really want to do. Romans 7:15 could be the first, middle, and last song on the soundtrack of my life.
Though we are made in the image of God, in this life we remain imperfect. There will always be broken places in us that cause us and others undue pain and regret. But guess what—
There is grace for our broken places.
Our broken places, otherwise known as our shame, traumas, wounds, and fears, are the very places from which we react. A reaction can look like lashing out at a spouse in the middle of a dialogue, or it can look like a 3-month-long extramarital affair. Without our hurts, we wouldn’t hurt others. If we weren’t broken, we’d be perfect—and we’d always behave perfectly.
Jesus died with a crown of thorns on his head because God knew His children would always have thorns in their flesh preventing them from behaving perfectly.
If Romans 7:15 is the vinyl, then our thorn is the needle that causes the record to repeat.
Grace and brokenness are not excuses for us to sin (see Romans 6). Rather, they are reasons for us not to feel shame when our humanness gets the better of us. When our brokenness causes us to stumble, grace is the Hand that reaches down to pick us back up.
Because of grace, we have the space to begin the healing of our broken places.
Don’t be fooled: healing is an arduous process. It’s a lifetime of work, and those who take even the slightest steps in facing their brokenness are some of the bravest and wisest among us. You can recognize a redeemed sinner by the kindness in his eyes and the gentleness in her voice. Grace changes people—but you have to first be willing to change.
What does it look like to address those parts of ourselves that hide behind our anger, depression, rage, and fear? The process of healing looks different for everyone, but one of the first steps must be admitting you are broken. It’s important to recognize that you will fall in your journey toward becoming whole—and to know you will fall a lot. But it’s equally important to give yourself grace. You are making progress whether you can see your growth or not.
Also, there is no need to worry about disappointing God. The Lord longs for you to be healthy—and He is patient in your journey toward wholeness.
How will you know when healing has begun?
When you notice yourself reacting less from a place of shame and responding more from the heart God gave you, Love has started to fill the cracks in your soul.
We all do things we “know better” than to do, but I think the very fact we already know what the “better” is is proof the process toward wholeness has already begun—all that’s left is opening ourselves up to let Love do the rest.
Karissa Curtis is working on a Master’s degree in Counseling at Trevecca Nazarene Univeristy. Karissa believes people’s pain is holy and sacred ground, and she strives to honor the story of each individual. She is committed to providing a safe, non-judgmental space for her clients to grow and find healing. Karissa is available to see clients at Insight Counseling Centers’ offices in Nashville and Brentwood. Contact Karissa to schedule an appointment.