“When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves” Viktor Frankyl
We’ve all been hurt at some point in our lives, and we need to understand that coming to Jesus is only the beginning. Our wounds will not be healed automatically. This implies that there is a process called inner healing which restores us of all our past. Neither can we hope that time will heal us, because this will not happen. Only inner healing by the word of God and the anointing of the Holy Spirit can set us free.
I had an encounter a few years ago, a man (described by all who met him as calm, prayerful, anointed etc) the eloquent description usually given to a Christian bachelor (one the desire of every single man) had gotten married amidst a lot of fanfare with so many of the single sisters wishing he was their catch. A few years (3 years to be precise) later they were in my clinic for counselling. That fateful wedding night, the bride had made an awful discovery, this man had all the while been addicted to pornography and later on masturbation. This was however the first of several discoveries to follow, as he also was given to anger in fact rage, resulting in things turning physical. Communication on sensitive things easily resulted to blame, accusations and him feeling challenged. In the midst of so much tears, feeling disappointed and betrayed she sought counselling. While assessing both of them, I discovered that the husband had been molested/abused sexually as a boy of 9 years by his paternal uncle and this had gone on for as long as the uncle lived with them. The wife also had lost her mother as a young girl, this had been traumatic for her and she had felt unwanted after her father married another wife.
What is the implication of all of this? We constantly face the risk of being wounded as we travel through life and these wounds if left untreated affect us later on in life.
PHYSICAL EFFECTS OF EMOTIONAL WOUNDS: I want to begin where it is usually obvious. Pietrzak et al (2012) observed that people who suffered from trauma were likely to be diagnosed by a healthcare professional with hypertension, angina pectoris, tachycardia, other heart disease, stomach ulcer, gastritis and arthritis. Such people also reported worse physical functioning.
The stages of our lives in which we can be wounded include: the prenatal years, during childhood, during adolescence, during the adult years and during the stage of marriage. This calls for inner healing.
Inner healing is directly related to a person’s past. There is no space or time in emotions. That which has affected a person’s past, either during childhood or as an adult is still in force in the present. There is a saying in the secular world that time heals wound, but this is not true as Jesus is the only one who is able to heal the broken hearted. Jesus Christ paid the full price for those of us who go to Him with our past emotional wounds. He heals us and delivers us completely.
1Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:1-5
WHY DO WE NEED INNER HEALING: many believers who have been born again will go to heaven, are children of God and have the Holy Spirit living within. Nevertheless they are still bound to the past and bear its pain. We fall prey to bad habits, depression, feelings of rejection, sexual bondages, fear and insecurities. We drag around “curses” and have the tendency to feel inferior to others which is why we need inner healing.
FACING THE TRUTH: we hide behind the door of wounded emotions and we need to go back through that same door in order to be set free. Are we hiding because the truth is painful? Each area to be freed requires us to confront a painful truth, and this will always cause pain. It is essential for us to keep in mind that any hidden pain, traumas, and sin are like rotten food in a refrigerator, we perceive there is bad odor coming from it but cannot pin point exactly where it is coming from, though we are sure it is coming from somewhere inside our refrigerator. Eventually this odor will contaminate the rest of the food.
Let us step back a little and based on our story establish some few facts. Man is a spirit, he has a soul and lives in a body. When the man confesses Jesus as Lord, his spirit is saved (2 Corinthians 5:17). Based on Isaiah 53:1-5 we see that the redemptive work of Christ covers all the three areas of the human existence (spirit, soul and body). Confession of Lordship of Jesus Christ with the mouth and believing with the heart (Romans 10:9) leads to a change in the spiritual nature of an unsaved man, from unsaved to saved.
However as in our story above and is also true today where people go from place to place seeking “deliverance” and asking where is my problem? Am I really saved? We take a look at the second part of our existence as humans and that is the soul. The spirit of a man at the cross is saved but his soul needs renewal and transformation which is not an immediate thing but is a continuous process all through life. How would this renewal and transformation take place? We must understand what the soul is comprised of.
THE WILL: this part of the soul is where decisions (right or wrong) are taken, it’s where we make our choices and these are influenced by our personalities, what our motives are, who our parents were and our socialization process. If we have been wounded or traumatized in life, it will show up in the kind of choices or decisions we make.
How do we deal with our will?
- We surrender it: as we put off our old selves, as we by the word of God grow into Christ, there are certain mindsets that will drop off. This is where the power in God’s word is as we constantly submit to it. We renounce our old life style, putting to death our old ways of living. This must be done in full and total surrender. However most people who have enjoyed the “victim” life are reluctant to put off his old man.
- Break it: as a younger Christian, there used to be a lot of talk about being broken, just like you can’t ride a wild horse without breaking it so you can’t be used by God without being broken.
- Take up God’s will: in living by the Word of God, we learn God’s way of thinking I particularly love at this time to look at Ecclesiastes 5:1 “Guard your steps when you go into the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know what they do wrong.” We need to get acquainted with who our Father is as this will help shape our mind. You can’t take up Gods will when you don’t know it. We get to know the will of God through illumination/insight, revelation and hardships. The knowledge of God’s word should change our thinking.
THE EMOTIONS: this is the part of the soul that contains our feelings and affections. There are mainly two things that happen here. Inspiration – which is a knowing that comes from within and is imparted by the Holy Spirit. Then there are emotions which are usually provoked by external circumstances. I always say that there are several voices that speak to us constantly. God’s voice, and our intellect/emotions, we must be able to decipher which as I believe that a lot of the confusion in Christianity today with regards to God said is based on these several voices that we are not able to decipher. This is why we will hear “the Lord said” and then it either does not happen that way or we change our mind as if God changed His.
How do emotions affect our lives?
- They affect our relationship with others in terms of rejection, low self-esteem which can lead to defensiveness.
- It can also hinder out faith making it difficult to believe the word of God because we are basing our faith on what we see or is tangible.
It a situation where individuals have been wounded in life, how does the mind defend itself?
Defense mechanisms: these are behaviors individuals use to separate themselves from unpleasant events. Many believers don’t talk about their problems (shut off), other hide the pain deep in their heart.
- Denial – refusing to accept that we have been hurt and so do nothing about it.
- Self-justification – justifying our conduct by the excuse that we have been hurt
- Isolation – choosing to live alone with our pain
- Repression – hiding away the thoughts or memories of the event
- Projection – accusing others of thoughts or action that you are doing. Like saying people dislike you when in reality it is you who dislikes them. Some women who hated their fathers based on a trauma of childhood would find themselves constantly fighting men including their husbands without being aware of it. The constant need to dominate a man.
- Displacement – directing strong emotions and frustrations at a person or object that is not threatening. Maybe you had a bad day at work and then you take it out on your children or spouse.
- Regression – in an anxious or threatening situation a person goes back to earlier behavior for escape. This is usually more obvious in children but is also seen in adults. Behaviour such as sleeping with a stuffed animal, overeating, smoking, chewing pens and pencils.
- Rationalization – attempt to explain undesirable behavior with your own set of facts, they change the facts of the story to make them feel comfortable with their choices.
- Intellectualization – removing all emotions from your responses and focusing on the quantitative facts alone.
All of the above can be viewed as some kind of self-deception.
How can you remedy this?
- Find accountability – friends and family that can help you recognize these defenses. Such people can help you by drawing attention to your unhealthy choice and as they do so can then guide you onto what you really need to do.
- Learn coping strategies – through therapy with a mental health expert Psychologist, Psychotherapist etc you can learn to cope with the pain of the past and be able to go on in life without it affecting you negatively.
- Face the truth – this is done with the guidance of a counselor to re-live the truth of what happened and heal from it.
- Confess the hurt
- Renew your mind by focusing on the truth of God’s word.
With this, the husband and wife in our story began their journey to healing and a better relationship with each other and other members of the society.
Remember – the mind is Man’s ability to reason and make choices it must be guarded.