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By Rev. Jim Innes

In one of the recent Sunday services, we read a bible story called The Parable of the Talents.

It is a story about a Master giving three slaves money to invest. Two slaves did as asked, increased their holdings, and, after settlement with the Master, were rewarded. The third slave decided bravely, or foolishly, to bury the money. And at settlement, offered nothing but dirty coin.

Looking past all displeasure loaded within the Master-Slave relationship, traditionally, this story describes God's hopes for our actions. God wants us to invest our giftedness, including our money, in building up the kingdom of God. The more that we give, the more we get. When we fail to participate, we fail ourselves.

It's not my intent to preach a sermon. I mention this story and its usual interpretation because it points to an issue I want to explore. And it will be an easy read. Why would someone believe that God is harsh or unfair and consequently hesitate to participate, at least entirely, in investing their God-given talents?

As I see it, this issue, which many struggle with, arises from injury. Simply put, people have been hurt by the Love that God represents. They don't easily trust. In a world where betrayal, violence, and abuse rears its ugly head, many struggle to accept Love as a power worthy of investment. And if they have suffered any manner of abuse or profound loss, it is often too much of an ask to let down defenses that have kept them safe.

To some, not trusting anyone is a matter of survival. Many have come from unbelievably challenging backgrounds where they have had to learn to keep their heads low, their expectations in check, and their hearts shut down. A loving God is another authority that can do them harm.

It has been my journey, and the journey of many like myself, that childhood trauma broke Love. Life was welded together by self-protective habits, engrained so deeply that even in old age, the wary eye scans a room before entry.

Broken Love can result in PTSD or depression. The number of folks who suffer can be counted highly amongst the addicted, the ill, the imprisoned, and the ‘lost’. It can be seen eating away at creativity, leaving behind heavy shame.

Broken Love is at the root of most, if not all, marital separations. It triggers choices, leading to hostility and, eventually, estrangement. And if the broken Love is not addressed, it will lead to increased antagonism and overly controlling behaviour.

Love can be a frightening vulnerability, giving it but mainly receiving it. It can be easier to bury it, push it away, rather than struggle with its threatening demands. And in terms of investing in a God of Love, withdrawal is safer than deposit.

Naming the dynamics at work (after an experience of broken Love) does not make the issues mentioned above any easier to manage. Once your world has been coloured blue or red, it is challenging to begin seeing it as green or yellow. So, I hesitate to end this article with pastoral niceties. Instead, I will offer a prayer…

"Gracious God, forgive our debt. Lead us courageously into the darkness of our lives. Let us see the light of Love waiting to warm our broken souls. Amen"

Rev. Jim Innes is the rector of St. John's, Grand Bend with St. Anne's, Port Franks.