“I wear the chain I forged…”
~Jacob Marley, A Christmas Carol
In A Christmas Carol,the classic tale of redemption by Charles Dickens, Jacob Marley, Ebenezer Scrooge’s deceased business partner, appeared to Scrooge on Christmas Eve as a ghost.
Shackled in “ponderous chains,” Marley told Scrooge, “I wear the chain I forged in life,”…I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will…”
You may recall the story. Throughout that night, three ghosts appeared to Scrooge.
The Ghost of Christmas Past showed Ebenezer how painful childhood events played a formative role in the chain that held him.
The Ghost of Christmas Present showed him how his current everyday “bah-humbug” behavior was regarded and how it impacted those whose lives were touched by his.
The Ghost of Christmas Future revealed what would most surely lead him to a future much like Jacob Marley’s.
Ebenezer Scrooge made a dramatic turnaround. Overnight, he turned from being a miserly, hard-hearted businessman into a jovial, generous philanthropist.
Although a work of fiction, A Christmas Carol is a good picture for words from Psalms about prisoners who cried out to God for help,
He [God] brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness,
and broke away their chains. (Psalms 107:140)
Many hearts are bound in destructive chains, and like Jacob Marley and Ebenezer Scrooge, those chains were formed link by link.
Links formed in childhood by harshness, abuse, neglect, or conditional approval.
Links of anger, guilt, unforgiveness, intolerance or shame.
Links of comparison, criticism, distrust, stinginess, or jealousy.
Links of manipulation, insecurity, intolerance or worry.
Links of addiction, loneliness and harmful habits.
Links of fear. Oh, yeah, always there seems to be lots of fear.
It’s unlikely you or I will be freed from our chains because of an epiphany following ghostly visitations.
I suppose there’s a remote chance that, like Ebenezer Scrooge, freedom will come overnight. More likely, however, chains binding our souls will be disassembled link by link. As we pray about the specific links, listen to and partner with the Spirit and accept help and encouragement from a caring community, I believe we will begin to feel lightness of spirit as “link by link, yard by yard” chains become less and less ponderous.
The process will be challenging, but with my own eyes, I’ve observed that the very same God the psalmist spoke of still listens to our cries for help.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been facilitating a Boundaries group at a local community center. Many participants in the group have been lugging around heavy chains far too long, but, these folks have resolved to get rid of destructive links. As a result, while they learn and practice holistic wellness, they’re enjoying newfound lightness in their bodies, emotions, thoughts and spirits.
These folks inspire me and challenge me to deal with some of my own burdensome links.
How about you?
What have you been carrying around?
What small change might you make today?
When was the last time you cried out to God for help?
Who might help you eliminate links in the chain bogging down your soul?
I’m praying for God’s blessing in your life as you explore links in your own “ponderous” chain…