C-17°|F1°Let's face it, Christians do have emotional hang-ups Don't we? Few of us, if any, can deny having suffered some level of emotional hurt in our life time. We would be lying to ourselves if we did. The fact is, the hurts we've experienced often scar us in the subtlest of ways. While physical scars are clearly visible on our skin, the scars of emotion hide beneath our projected personalities. Though we may not realise it, recognise it, or we may deny it, it is there (and it affects our behaviour). To illustrate by borrowing an analogy used by Seamands (2004), our memories get progressively covered-up by other memories as we grow and age, much like the rings of growth under the bark of a tree. Embedded in the wood are rings that tell of the years of severe drought, of disease, and even when the tree had been struck by lightning. Naturalists are able to trace historical climatic changes by studying the cross section of a tree. Just like the tree, our projected selves or our "bark" conceal the "rings" of our life; memories that record our hurts, disappointments, betrayal, shattered dreams, abuse and embarrassments; every little assault on our emotion or self-esteem, it is part of our make-up. No one is free from emotional scarring; it is part of life, of growing up. We just cannot avoid the impact of living in a fallen world. Some of us are more severely scarred, some thankfully less. We have hang-ups and some of us are just better at concealing them or have developed ways to cope and be better adjusted. Be as it may, God wants to heal our emotional hang-ups as much as he heals us physically. In order to receive help however, we must first admit to having a problem. The pressure to deny We often wear a mask to hide our hang-ups because we think that it isn't a good testimony. The show of being happy and together sometimes becomes misinterpreted as integrity and the church often parades such people as examples of what every Christian should be like. But looking on are fully committed and long-suffering Christians who are left feeling that something must be wrong with their own spiritual lives; feelings of guilt, dismay and disillusionment are stirred deep within. Ironically, this reinforces denial rather than help us to come to terms with our hurts and hang-ups. As for the people paraded, they often get sucked into a vicious cycle of concealment lest the truth damage their integrity and testimony. But of course, the general congregation doesn't help either because many wait at the sidelines eager for an opportunity to aid the accuser (Revelation 12:10); to pounce upon and judge any weakness (gossip) and tear down the individual for being human, for having emotional hang-ups and problems just like everyone else. But here's the thing, denial it isn't a good testimony. It is not the same as being joyful despite adversity; trusting the Lord despite the raging storm. Denial is hypocrisy and it imputes a refusal to actually go to Him to seek freedom from the hang-up. The false hopes of modern Christianity Modern preaching can sometimes give people the mistaken impression that the new birth and being Spirit filled equates to an automated cure of all our emotional hang-ups. Feel good messages often fill up stadium sized halls with promises of happiness now and the bliss of Heaven forever. Testimonies confirming comfort are often publicised and altar calls invite those "thirsty" for the good life to respond to Christ. Perhaps salvation has become somewhat marketed upon such false hopes. But we know that receiving Jesus is only the beginning of our salvation. Receiving Jesus requires us to acknowledge our shortfalls and recognise our need for Him thus surrendering to a sometimes painful process of transformation. No honest Christian would say that salvation comes with automatic instantaneous attainments of perfection but for some strange reason we often behave as if it is. The truth is that we are all work in progress - in the process of being moulded, refined and tested even - to develop the character of Christ. Selling salvation as a "be happy now" solution is just another form of denial. The simplistic pat down answers And while modern preaching often take the overly optimistic, sugar coated view of Christian life, the more traditional streams of Christianity may drive an individual into thinking that hang-ups show either a lacking in faith or an inadequacy of being in the word. We would preach the overly simplistic pat answer to overcoming emotional hang-ups (or for that matter, everything). We say, read the bible more; meditate more; be more committed in church; pray more; have more faith in God - if you were spiritually okay, you shouldn't have hang-ups. Sound familiar? Sometimes we even go as far as to make the observation of religious discipline the formula to overcome emotional issues, stating that the bible prescribes it. Putting it into such simplistic terms is actually a cruel denial of the problem and saying that the bible prescribes it compounds the callousness. It piles more weight on the person who's already struggling and in pain, making it seem as if the emotional problem is entirely their fault for lacking in some religious observation or discipline of Christianity. Actually, in this respect, it isn't too different from modern preaching at all. Someone with emotional issues already feels bad enough about it. It is no use adding to the burden by giving them more guilt and feelings of inadequacy. Prescribing more religious discipline is far from the answer and closer to an insult to anyone who suffers such while frustrating those who actually minister in the area of inner healing. The Bible does not prescribe disciplines as cures but rather leads us to the healer who is Jesus. We are being entreated to come into an understanding of God's heart that deeply desires to reconcile every hurting person with Himself and thus sending His only begotten Son. Life is not found in the logos of scripture but in the Person of Jesus alone, through Whom we are reconciled with God. It is not about what we can or should do but about Who we can and should go to (John 5:39-40). Our Healer is Jesus and we should keep our focus on Him (Numbers 21:9; John 3:14,17). I'm not saying that stuff like meditation on the word doesn't help but that the reason why it does is because it keeps us on the right focus. Yet we miss the point when we prescribe religious discipline rather than helping someone approach Jesus. It is tempting to deny and avoid the problems for which we have no ready answers. It is tough to have to face our struggles or realistically address the struggles of others but if we don't do it we only maintain a conspiracy of pretences and strengthen denial. And some blame demonization Another extreme position often practised assumes that a demon is responsible and we launch into casting out imaginary spirits. Extreme caution and matured spiritual discernment is necessary before ever resorting to this area of ministry. As valid as this area of ministry is, engaging in it prematurely or erroneously can cause more damage than a person had to begin with and it complicates picking up the pieces after. Frankly, in the area of emotional hurts and inner healing, a "truth encounter" with the Love of our Lord provides a far quicker path towards healing and rarely is the "power encounter" (in this case, a deliverance confrontation) necessary. Love would show compassion Jesus was always and still is filled with compassion for all of us. And following His heart, we need to be compassionate towards those who struggle emotionally. There will always a Christian brother or sister struggling with emotional problems. The realities of life are just such that we inevitably and invariably face struggles and disappointments. And some battle depression, addiction or phobias etc. Whatever it is, we shouldn't feed the monsters of denial and guilt. We need to be understanding and allow the Spirit to work the healing while refraining from unfairly criticising or judging too harshly. And if we know how to minister inner healing we should, or at least learn how we can support someone in need and "lead them to the inn" so to speak (parable of the Good Samaritan). The writers of our Bible (inspired by God) did not deny suffering, illness or emotional trauma. They were not alien to suffering. We find that the Bible speaks about faith because life is difficult and our hopes do get dashed. The Bible shows us God's love because no matter what we go through we can never be apart from His love for us; and through this assurance we can draw comfort. We are told to trust God because we will face situations where we will be assaulted by doubt. We are given Jesus who suffered the worst injustice and understands every emotional hang-up being fully man - He knows how we feel. And from Jesus we have grace to help us overcome and the Holy Spirit to comfort us. There is a realm of problems we face that requires a deep level of healing by the Spirit and the best place to commence healing and growth is to humble ourselves to acknowledging that the problem exists. Then, we can invite the Holy Spirit to help us face the reality (but not wallow in it), accept responsibility, forgive those who have hurt us and go on to being healed and made whole by Jesus. There's Good News The good news is that God wants to help us deal with our emotional hurts; no matter how deeply embedded they may be. He did not leave out this aspect of our healing. God wants to heal us emotionally and mentally as well as physically. In scripture, Isaiah 61:1 tells us clearly that He came to heal the broken-hearted and surely - the word is "surely"! - He has borne our grief and carried our sorrows. By His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:4-5) - and this includes emotional hang-ups. Emotional struggles are not actually such a bad thing when we come to terms with how to handle them correctly. In spite of the worst things life throws at us, recognising His love should drive us to pursue Him all the more when we struggle. And as we face our inner struggles, we must be willing to clean our cups from the inside-out (Psalm 51:6). Rather than press on by managing our behaviour and pretences, we should press into a renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). Through a deepening relationship with God we can also receive a new heart and a new spirit (Psalm 51:10; Ezekiel 36:26). Sometimes we're thrown curve balls in life precisely because God wants to get our attention and speak with us through our humbling experience so that we can deepen our relationship with Him. God being God sometimes allows us suffering only to restore us to greater joy when we persist in the path of pursuing Him. And Crabb (2007) surmises that until we acknowledge and face up to our inner struggles... "we will not pursue Christ with a passion of deep thirst. Or, to put it more simply we rarely learn to meaningfully depend on God when our lives are comfortable." Often, the nature of spiritual growth requires some painful pruning or the searing away of chaff only to reveal new growth or enable something purified and beautiful to show through. It took me a while to understand and experience that He really does make our hearts whole. Emotional hang-ups are something that He readily extends His hand to heal us of and on our part, we need to face up to them. It is not an issue of lacking in faith or of failure nor is it a bad testimony. It is just a part of life that makes up our testimony - and we wouldn't have one if it weren't for our shortfalls that He has transformed. [sup]Primary References (and recommended reading)[List=1],Seamands, David A., Healing For Damaged Emotions, 2004 (pg. 11) ,Crabb, Larry, Inside Out, 2007 (pg. 92) ,Sanford, John Loren & Paula, God's Power to Change, 2007 ,Kraft, Charles H. , Deep Wounds Deep Healing, 2004 The subject of inner healing is a topic on which many books have been written and the authors above are among some of the most well known. Though I cannot do the subject justice in a single blog, I hope to introduce a reader to a general appreciation of the subject and hopefully interest further research. We cannot deal with emotional issues in a flippant and simplistic manner. There is much more to inner struggles than sometimes suggested or admitted by us Christians in general. [sup]
My dear brother Doulos,
Thank you so much for sharing what God has placed in your heart. The words you wrote penetrated deep into my heart because they are so true. I hope everyone at CB has an opportunity to read this blog and allow the message it contains to penetrate their hearts.
God has been teaching me this lesson all year and maybe...just maybe I am starting to get it. Jesus did not just minister to the crowds, he ministered to his closest followers. Paul did not minister to the lost. No, his writings were addressed to Christians! If we do not minister to those within the Body of Christ, we cannot possibly hope to minister to those on the outside!
This past year, I know I have encountered some people who think I'm in "La-La Land" with all of my talk about hope, light, etc. Others are not fooled for an instant. They are well aware of my cries in the night when I couldn't see past the darkness and pain, despair and fear would overtake me. You cannot experience the joy of victory until you have fought the battle. You cannot appreciate freedom until you have been set free.
A good friend (I wonder who that could be :wink:) once told me that God was writing my testimony. I will never forget that. It is our trials and tribulations that we truly learn that God is bigger!
Thank you for imparting this wisdom. Not long ago I felt the Lord was leading me to dig up my past hurts, name them, and then give them to Him. See, I had been thinking that of my siblings, I had come through our home life and childhood unscathed. By spending some diagnostic time with the Lord, I was able to recognize that I had been hurt more than I realized and understand why I had done some of the things I had done.
Thank you all for your comments.
As K points out, I really appreciate having brothers and sisters in Christ who have been there to support and minister to me when I've needed it. And having been on the receiving end, I've experienced many occasions of good intentions but with no idea how to help. When I did get helped, it was always through love and understanding from someone who just knew the right things to say to turn me towards Jesus. I cannot doubt that these helpers were vessels of God bringing words of wisdom, comfort and healing. Not that I'm that messed up ;) but I do recognise my shortfalls and as did Gracie, I've gone through some "cleaning of the cup".
And as PK adds and Despot reflects, sometimes we fail to reach out adequately to and are ill equipped to help people with pasts. A church can sometimes seem like a very hostile environment if it measures people by standards rather than allowing grace for shortfalls. And your responses, Vettie and KiwiGirl, are also much appreciated.
May God continue to bless you all...
thanks Doulos... that was beautiful... I am reminded of something Joye Meyer said... "God uses cracked pots, for His Glory to shine through the cracks." We all, at one point or another in our walk with Christ want to be used by Him to bring Him glory... but in order to do so we have to experience life, with all of its' ups and downs... it is our humanity that makes our testimonies so compelling.
LOL Blackrose, I'll say Amen! to that. As cracked (and leaky!) as we can be, He still shapes us into something pleasing to Him and it is God's Glory shining there for sure! :) And thank you Peru for your kind response. Blessings...
Totally agree, (wow Jedi speed...I just dropped my phone and then caught it before it hit the ground)...anyways.
I think there is a huge problem that you address. In fact I'd say that when you say there are believers with emotional hang-ups, I'd go farther to say every believer has emotional hang-ups, thought maybe not always. I would quote John Eldrigde, who observed accurately I believe that when he goes into a church he finds the men look bored and the women look tired. What else is that but the sign of unrested emotion beneath the surface.
And I agree, how could it be instantaneous? Side stepping any debate over freewill, the mechanism God uses is our choices. Will God force change upon us against our wills? Certainly not, if it were so then every pain and sorrow in the world could justly be laid at God's feet. So then what is the difference between forcing a person's will and making a choice WITHOUT someone's will? If the mechanism God uses to heal and fix people is not in cooperation with their choices, then why does he command certain choices? Why tell someone to seek peace with all men in truth, if God was going to do it and get the glory regardless of our cooperation? Certainly God could do that, but it wouldn't fix us, it would only fix the world.
In fact, if God were to "rewrite" us without our cooperation, then did he fix us at all? If the person ressurrected is not the same person who went into the ground, then no ressurection took place. For God to heal us, we must still be us in the process of healing. So then the healing cannot be instant, it must be a process of God offering and us engaging.
One thing I would disagree with. I agree with what you said concerning formulizing religion as a way to in fact suppress or drown out our emotions. But I think if you take any emotion and trace it through scripture, you will find that emotions are neither good nor bad, they are only in line with God or not in line with God. And the way an emotion is brought in-line is by realizing the truth. Ie, if you're afraid realize the truth that nothing good can be lost because God is the establisher of every good thing. If you're feeling guilty and you have repented than realize that God said that God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins (when we confess) and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Paul wrote in Romans that how shall anyone believe unless they hear the Word of God?
If all things are process, then simply telling someone to have a deeper experience with Yeshua (Jesus) is not enough. God has expressed himself in many ways, the scripture, other believers who are living according to God's commands, the Spirit...and while a formula would be wrong, a discipline is not. We must seek God in the ways he has expressed himself if we are to know him, and thus also know the truth that will align our emotions. Then whether that emotion be joy or pain, we can accept it as it is because we know God has it for our good.
Thank you for your contribution to developing the perspective further.
Writing this, I hoped to get an appreciation across that we need to recognise we have suffering Children within the Body; and that with love, compassion and understanding we ought to be equipped to help these people (as well as get help ourselves). Facing the truths and accepting our emotions is of course the first step as denial is a non-starter. I agree also with your observation about tracing emotions through the Bible. To focus on the positive promise of healing here, I was also hoping to impress that damaged emotions are something we don't have to ashamed of and that God wants to heal us in this aspect also. And I think had agreed with you before you commented that discipline is not wrong.
As I mention also in a footnote, I cannot do justice to the subject of inner healing through one blog. We are constrained by reasonable lengths (which already, I tend to push the envelope of :# ). We are can't really satisfy every nuance of a subject matter in a blog. I can see from the comments you have been leaving around that you have much to contribute and I look forward to reading your entries :)
Anyway, thanks again and also: Welcome to CB!
Blessings to you,
Totally agree Doulos. We need to recognize people are hurting. You are right on that, no criticism was intended. That's actually one of the biggest turn offs to me whether it be a synagogue or a church, is when everyone is smiling and telling you how great God is...which don't get me wrong neither of those things is bad, it's when I can tell they pulled it out of a can and the thought never really connected with what was going on inside. But I'm guilty too of saying I'm "fine" when I'm not.
Ironically, learning to say "I'm not fine" when I'm not was one of the gifts (?) cancer gave me. I saw what happened to those who would attempt to cover it up. I also heard a lot of stories from people who had tried to cover it up, "successfully" made it through treatment and back into the world only to find themselves fighting to keep from climbing out on a window ledge. Over and over I heard people say they thought they could handle this on their own and they were wrong.
That was one reason I tried to be as transparent as possible this past year. Sometimes, when people misinterpreted you, it really hurt. Other times I would need to remind myself that we all suffer from Foot-In-Mouth Disease at one time or another. My turn would come soon enough. It was still really hard sometimes but I found that overall, people really can be pretty amazing and healing and encouraging words far surpassed hurtful ones. I gained far, far more than what I lost and I think I have learned a lot because of it.
Hello Doulos and all in the group,
Enjoying every bit, although sometimes not comprehending all, but do sense the light of the Lord shining and dispelling a lot of darkness hiding here and there. Chanced to see this blog and agree with what is being discussed. We all need a lot of help to meet the high quality life that is ordained for the followers of Christ. The Bible talks about day to day activities of people's lives, not omitting their failures, their names, sometimes even boring, seamingly meaningless details. If we look at the religions of today they talk about heavenly, superhuman, or mostly complicated things. But Jesus was interested to associate with common folks, what a relief, that He is active in day to day affairs, and willing to help us in our holiness walk, by our association with the people who seek Him as this community here. I need His healing presence to live this life fully. God bless you all and do continue streaming in your valuable inputs.