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I Don’t Do That Anymore

by Amy Sander Montanez

My client hurried up the stairs ahead of me, saying as he climbed, “I can’t wait to tell you something.” We sat across from each other and l gave my full attention to him as he began to recount his story.  His summer had been spent in another state, working part-time at a hospital. He had been assigned to work on the psychiatric unit, and while doing that, he revisited memories from many years ago when he had spent a week on a similar unit, as a patient instead of a doctor. As a teenager, a major depression had left him unable to go to school for a while and had involved periods of time when he engaged in self-harming behaviors. He shared with me that the memories were often intense, detailed and vivid, reminding him how sick he had been during that time.  When he came back to town at the end of summer, a romantic relationship ended, and he felt a depression coming on again. He thought about engaging in the self-harming behaviors that he had used in the past. He witnessed himself moving in that direction, planning how to injure himself. And then, all of a sudden, he was overcome with this thought:

I don’t do that anymore.

Our eyes locked. I felt my eyebrows raise. He said it calmly, slowly again.

I don’t do that anymore.

And then both of us, eyes fixed, realized the importance of that statement. As he continued to speak, it was quite apparent that refraining from self-harming behavior wasn’t just an act of will. He had learned to will himself out of doing that years ago. This thought, this conviction, was much deeper than an act of will. It was an understanding of who he is. It was an acceptance of his wholeness. It was an alternative definition of himself. I don’t do that anymore. That’s not who I am.

“ That’s a true healing,” I said. “ A transformation.”

“Yes. Exactly.  That’s how I feel.  Healed, from the inside out.” He was letting the experience of the healing wash over him right in front of my eyes.

I don’t do that anymore. What is it that you don’t do anymore? What is it that has been healed in you?

This might be a helpful way to think about the possibility of healing. Perhaps you don’t yell at your children anymore, or belittle your spouse anymore.  Maybe you have stopped binging, or cursing. Do you stay out of abusive relationships, speaking your truth instead of shutting down? Maybe you don’t overwork anymore, valuing yourself and prioritizing those you love. Maybe you don’t anesthetize your pain anymore with alcohol, drugs, food, shopping, technology, or sex. Perhaps you have stopped lying, manipulating, or cheating those around you. Maybe you are not a bully anymore. Maybe you don’t waste resources and are a better steward of all that is given to you.

Jesus had a model that looked something like this. “ Tell me what is wrong.  You are forgiven. You don’t have to live that way anymore.”

Metanoia, the Greek word used for repentance, literally means to turn around and go 180* in the opposite direction. Not a little bit off the trail. Not a slight detour.  Completely turn around and go in the opposite direction. You don’t do that anymore. You have repented. And you can no longer have that definition of yourself.  You cannot hold on to that idea about yourself.  It is no longer you.

I don’t do that anymore.

Copyright © 2013. Amy Sander Montanex, D.Min, is a licensed professional counselor, licensed marriage and family therapist and spiritual director in practice for more than twenty years. Building Faith is proud to have one of its faithful contributors now a published author! Moment to Moment: The Transformative Power of Everyday Life (Morehouse, 2013) was recently published. 

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