Emotions are the Language of the Soul

There is an illustration of a train, which anyone who grew up in western evangelical society has probably heard more than once. That train has obedience as the engine, facts as the middle car, and emotions as the caboose. This tells us that we are simply to obey. Our obedience is backed up by facts, and then feelings, the caboose, will magically follow. At least, that’s what I always thought. The only problem was that the feelings never seemed to follow. My life consisted of two cars…..the engine of obedience and the caboose of facts. There was no room in my life for emotions. I prided myself on being an intellectual, a philosopher, an apologist. I didn’t need emotions.  Emotions were not to be trusted. They were fleeting, irrational, and would lead me astray. Besides, if I really were to pay attention to my emotions, I wasn’t sure that I would be able to handle it.

Through a series of events, a perfect storm so to speak, Jesus forced me to acknowledge a part of my being that had long been neglected- my feelings. In the face of pain so deep I could not ignore it, I came to realize that feelings are not just a nuisance to be stuffed and ignored, but an integral part of what it means to be human. I realized that I was made in the image of a personal and emotional God, and that this very personal God wanted to know me. But how could I open up my heart and emotions to God, when I didn’t even know how to look at them myself?

Emotions are the language of the soul. With them, we connect to ourselves, and to God. Emotions have been given a rather negative connotation in Western Society. We hear that word, and we immediately think of verses such as Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick, who can understand it?” And we do not apply the context of the rest of the Word such as the Lord’s answer to Hagar’s desperate emotions in the desert, David’s deeply emotional cries to the Lord in the Psalms, or Jesus himself as He wept and cried out to the Father. We take verses such as Jeremiah 17:9 out of context of the rest of the Bible and wrongly conclude that our emotions are not important to God.

The fact is, Western Christianity has done a very poor job of communicating the importance of emotions. While it is true that we are not to be led around by our emotions, being tossed about by them as a rickety raft by the waves of the sea, we are also not to ignore them. They are not to lead us, but we are to acknowledge them and care for them. We are to present them to God in order to hear from Him. Our emotions are an essential part of our communication to the God of the universe. He did not create us with emotions by mistake. Emotions were not a part of the curse at the fall. Rather, emotions were present from the beginning, and they were good, and they were a means of communication and connection to God. But somehow, in Western Christianity, we have made emotions themselves out to be the enemy, especially negative emotions. In doing so, we deny ourselves a vital part of the human experience. And not only that, but we leave ourselves hollow and empty. When we ignore our feelings, we are left with nothing more than what we can do or produce. It is this very type of performance oriented life that Jesus condemned in the Pharisees. When we have no value for ourselves in Christ apart from what we can do for Him, we become harsh and critical toward ourselves, judging ourselves based on our performance. When we treat ourselves that way, we will always treat others that way as well. Thus, not taking care of our emotional needs leaves us empty, hollow, and often harsh human beings. I believe this has greatly contributed to the negative perception of Western Evangelicals. We are guilty of being a “get things done” group of people, thinking that things like emotions and feelings merely get in the way of getting God’s work done. When in reality, God wants to use our feelings and emotions to draw us closer to Him, to move us out of our brains only and into our hearts with Him. He wants to connect with us emotionally, in a way that is so dynamite that everyone around us sees our love for God and others. People feel love in our presence when we are connected to God this way.

It is possible, then, to devote our entire lives to God’s work, and to completely miss God Himself. All the while, turning people away from the gospel with our harsh and critical natures which will eventually become too difficult to hide.

When we pay attention to our feelings, not being tossed about by them, but bringing them before God in communication with Him, we will experience revolutionary change, heartfelt love for Jesus and others, and a sense of wholeness in Him that cannot be shaken.

It is a time for a revival in Western Christianity. We need to be shaken out of our performance oriented religion and into emotionally charged, heartfelt communication with God as He intended when He created us as emotional beings. We need to do away with the negative connotations that being emotional makes us less rational or trustworthy, and accept the truth that being emotional is a vital part of the human experience, and a vital part of our connection with God.

End Note Citation: These themes and ideas were planted in my heart by Peter and Geri Scazzero and their Emotionally Healthy Spirituality ministry.

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10 Warning Signs of Approval Addiction

  1. Your heart sinks when you have to say “no” to something that someone has asked you to do.
  2. You often feel trapped, in a kind of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” circumstance. Whatever choice you make, you feel guilty.
  3. You are more aware of what other people want than what you want.
  4. You will make your day much harder (often at the expense of those closest to you such as your kids and husband) in order to make someone else’s day a little easier. You draw on the help of those closest to you so that you may go far out of your way to help people you barely know. You tell people your service is “really no problem”, when really you went way out of your way, disrupted your whole day, and even had to call in reinforcement to help cover for you.
  5. When you do an act of service for someone and they seem less than grateful, you either flat-line emotionally or blow up aggressively.
  6. You do a lot of negative or even hateful self talk when you feel you have failed to live up to someone else’s expectation of you.
  7. You lie awake at night obsessing over things you said that may have hurt someone’s feelings, came across wrong, or sounded stupid.
  8. You would not dare say “no” to your boss, even if you dread the extra workload he or she has asked of you.
  9. You are not really sure what you enjoy doing.
  10. You care a lot more about what others think about you than what God thinks about you.

Approval Addiction

I am an approval addict in recovery.

Sometimes, the most difficult addictions to identify are the ones that do not come in the form of pills or needles.

I lived most of my Christian life as an approval addict. I didn’t realize it until it was almost too late.

As an approval addict, my whole sense of worth as a person came from my husband, my church leaders (one of whom is my dad), and a few other key people in my life. My addiction was no fault of theirs.

I spent my evenings devoted to discipleship and outreach. Any spare moment was spent trying to keep up on the house or get the laundry caught up on. I was running myself into the ground, and all for the approval of people.

As our family grew, I was becoming more and more and more tired. I was growing more and more frustrated. I was unable to keep up with the demands that I placed on myself and the demands that I felt others had placed on me.

As my demands grew, my stamina diminished. I would often let people down, and then beat myself up about it. I would forget an important meeting or fail to get the house in order.

The more I tried, the more tired I became and the more tired I became, the more I fell short. The more I fell short, the more I hated myself. The more I hated myself, the more tired I became.

This went on in an absolutely viscous cycle that left me disoriented, unsure of who I really was, and far away from the love that God intended me to experience in Him.

One fateful night, it all came to a screeching halt. My thought life had become so dark, that I was genuinely convinced that everyone would have been better off without me, even my small children. I would not have attempted to end my own life, but I remember calling out to God,

“God, why am I even still here? What good am I doing? Why can’t you just take me home to be with You? I can’t understand why I’m here. I don’t want to be here anymore.” 

I meant it from the darkest depths of my soul.

It was in that moment that I realized that there was something very very wrong with. I realized I needed help. My life was not working for me anymore, and finally the fear of living the rest of my life that way became deeper than my fear of what people would think of me.

Looking back, the night that I realized I desperately needed help was the turning point. The worst night of my life turned into one of the best things that ever happened to me, because out of that darkness, I finally realized that I was not okay.

I began to see a Christian therapist. When I walked into the office for my first visit, I had no idea that those once a week visits would help me to completely turn my life around.

My therapist helped me to identify things about myself that had long been buried under the demands of others and my desperate need for their approval.

They say the biggest step toward recovery is to admit that you have a problem. That was true for me. As soon as I admitted that there was something desperately wrong with me, I took the steps necessary to get help, admit that I had an approval addiction, and start healing.

I began to truly believe in my heart that Jesus already approves of me and that nothing I do or fail to do will change His love for me. I began to enjoy life again. I felt that I had the freedom to say, “no” when people asked something of me. I felt that I had a right to enjoy the things that God placed within me for me to enjoy. I started writing again. I started running again. I started getting out into nature again. And most importantly, during all of these activities, I began to practice the presence of God. No longer did I feel like I had to meet every single need that crossed my path. No longer did I feel a sense of guilt whenever I was not helping someone, sharing the gospel, or engaged in a church event. I began to experience God in every little beautiful detail of life. I began to experience the joy of His presence in my children’s laughter, the sunrise, the smell of rain after a hot spell, the feeling you get in your lungs after a long hard run. I felt Him everywhere and in everything. I never could have regained that sense of myself and that sense of Him if I had not first admitted my approval addiction and sought recovery.

It was not as easy as I make it sound. It seems easier now that I have been practicing my new way of thinking for so long. But at first, it was an uphill battle. My brain was already trained to seek the approval of others. Getting their approval was like a drug. It felt good. I felt I needed it to survive, to feel a sense of purpose. Saying “no” or letting someone down felt bad at first. I felt like a failure. I felt like I was letting everyone in my life down. I felt ungrateful and sometimes even selfish.

But the real act of selfishness had always been my relentless pursuit of approval from people. You see, I was never really doing any of it for them. It was all for me. I wanted them to make me feel like I was worthwhile. I loved the feeling of martyrdom that I got from making a huge self sacrifice in order to serve someone else.

Saying “no” and making time for “self” was really just putting a stop to my drug of choice. I had to stop getting approval in order to really cleanse my mind of this addiction. I knew that at some point in my life, I would go back to serving and helping people as Christ called me to do. But I also knew that during this cleanse, I had to take time away. A sabbatical if you will. An extended Sabbath. I had to stop putting that drug into my system long enough to re-train my brain not to seek the approval of others but to bask in the approval of God, which was unconditional.

So I took an extended period of time in which I did not do much for anyone. I said “no” more often than I said “yes”. With the help of my therapist, I learned to recognize the warning signs of slipping into my approval addiction. When I noticed those signs, I prayed through my emotions to uncover the truth. I did this multiple times a day. At first, it was really difficult. Every part of me cried out for approval from my husband, my extended family, even my kids. It felt like death to deny myself of seeking their approval. But what resurrected out of that death was more beautiful than I ever could have imagined.

I never imagined that life could feel this good. Even in the tough times, God is there, an everlasting source of peace and the only approval I will ever need.

I have been able to move back into serving again, but it comes from a totally different motive. I noticed that other people’s ungratefulness no longer has an effect on me. When I serve now, it is because I genuinely believe that it is an act of service to God, and something that He has specifically placed on my heart to do. So I am able to do that act of service out of a genuine love for God, and it matters nothing whether anyone else notices or not.

More importantly, however, I do not feel that I need to meet every need that I am made aware of. I do not feel that I need to do everything that everyone else asks of me. My heart does not sink when I decline. Instead, it soars, knowing that I now have the power and the right to decline, and God’s love for me does not change one bit when I do so.

An excellent source for further reading on this subject is The Emotionally Healthy Woman by Geri Scazzero.

 

Faithful are the Wounds of a Friend

Let’s talk about reproof. Yeah, I know, not a very popular topic, but it merits discussion as the Word of God talks about it. I will attempt to answer some common questions about why it is important that a church actively practices biblical reproof.

When should I reprove someone?

Go for restoration, not revenge.

When someone has wronged you, and your heart is right toward that person, reproof is the next step. How do you know if your heart is right in reproving someone? Ask yourself, “Do I want to speak to this person for a sense of revenge and justice? Or do I genuinely care about this individual and want to see her free from entrapment in this particular sin?” If you can honestly answer with the latter, then the next right thing is to go to that person in love. If you attempt to reprove someone out of anger or a need for revenge or the desire to put that person in her place, it is likely to go really really poorly, leaving more hurt feelings and bitterness than before. The goal of reproof should always be restoration and never revenge.

What if that Person does not Respond Well? 

If you have already spent time praying for this person, and you are certain that your motivation in talking to this person is coming out of a love for God and for them as well as a desire to see them grow, change, and benefit, then you have no business worrying about how they will respond. How you reprove someone is your deal. How someone responds to it is their deal. The only time that there is an exception to this general principle is when someone has a stacked history of blowing up in response to loving rebuke. In such cases, perhaps it is better simply to pray for that person. I’m not claiming to be an authority on this. This is just my thought. If you find yourself wronged by someone and with a heart that genuinely has that person’s best interest at heart, but that person has a history of blowing up in the face of loving reproof, I might consider talking to a pastor or elder before you make a decision about what you are going to do.

What if someone reproves me, but I really don’t think I did anything wrong?

This can happen. Perhaps you did something wrong, perhaps you did not. But either way, this person is coming to you saying that you have offended or sinned. The first thing to do is to remain calm. Give the person coming to you the benefit of the doubt. Assume that they are coming to you out of love and genuine concern for your well-being. Then ask yourself, “Is there any morsel of truth to what they are saying?” If there is, acknowledge it and commit to bring that area of your life before Jesus. If you believe that what you have done was the right choice, at least commit to praying about it and asking God to search your heart. Always thank the person for being concerned for your well-being and for your spiritual life and growth. Even if this person came to you with an angry and vengeful heart, they will likely be taken aback by your humble response, and you will have helped move the relationship toward restoration.

Lack of Reproof leads to Gossip

Gossip usually doesn’t happen because someone wakes up one day and decides they are going to slander someone and turn people against them for no reason. Gossip usually happens because someone has felt hurt, maybe even violated. It happens because people want to feel validated. They want someone to hear their side of the story and to sympathize with them. It is rarely as malicious as you might think. Gossip usually comes from hurting hearts- hurting hearts that have not been restored to the person who hurt them. When someone is hurt and prays to God for help in forgiveness, makes his heart right toward the person who hurt him, and goes to the person in love, gossip has no chance. It is stamped out before it even begins. A church free of gossip is a beautiful thing. But even when gossip does happen, you can still apply all of these same principles of reproof and go to that person. Otherwise, you will end up gossiping about someone who was gossiping. A bit hypocritical, wouldn’t you say?

I don’t like confrontation. Why should I bother?

Because if you don’t, Bitterness has opportunity to rule in your heart.

Without active reproof, churches will fall apart as bitterness festers in hearts. Members will come and go, but few will remain and see the fruit that comes from lasting relationships. When people wrong us, we have a few choices. We can try to forget about it and act like it never happened. But even if we forgive the person who hurt us, we will not have the opportunity for a deeper relationship with them, and all of our friendships will remain surface level.

We can let it fester and grow bitter. Now, this is obviously not the right choice, but unfortunately it is the one many people choose because it just sort of feels good to hang on to that resentment. Too often,  people intend to forgive and move on, but they never actually forgive. As much as they intended to forgive….as much as they wanted to forgive….when they hear that person’s name, they cringe. When they see that person in the lobby at church, they look the other way. A person who leaves enough bitterness to fester in his soul will, when once enough people in the church have wronged him, eventually leave and start the whole process over at a new church, thinking there will be better people there when the truth is, the problem was in his heart all along. The only real solution to deal with someone who has wronged you is reproof. Reproof, when done in a biblical manner, restores and deepens relationships, builds trust, and keeps a church  functioning together for the long hall.

“Faithful are the Wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” Proverbs 27:6

 

 

Does Your Life Stink?

Imagine you injured yourself, and it led to a gaping wound. Now imagine you did not go to a doctor or even attempt to clean that wound, but tried to cover it up. You use bandage after bandage, but the wound gets infected and festers. Eventually, it begins to stink. The infection begins to spread to other parts of your body, and before you know it, your life is in grave danger, all because you hid your wound instead of taking care of it properly.

Emotional wounds are like that, too. When we are wounded, we often hide it from ourselves and those around us because we do not want to be vulnerable, or because we simply do not have the skills and knowledge to grieve healthy. So, we cover it up. We use coping mechanism. We ignore our feelings. We find pleasurable outlets in a vain attempt to forget our wounds. Over time, perhaps you will forget the wound on a conscious level. But subconsciously, it is still there wreaking havoc on your life as it spreads to every aspect of who you are. Eventually, you become a stench to those around you. That emotional wound which you thought you could cover up begins to stink. You begin to reach out to people for validation, but they will never be enough to validate you. You will begin to drain your friends and family with your constant need for attention and validation. Eventually, they will not know how to help you anymore. So you will believe that everyone has deserted you, that no one cares, that you are utterly alone in the world. You will turn to more pleasurable outlets, some of which may be destructive to your life. You will look for your sense of worth and value in other people and other things. But always, you will be left empty and alone.

You will be left empty and alone because the wound is still there, gaping, oozing, festering, and stinking.

In order to feel whole again, you have to acknowledge the wound. Once you have acknowledged it, you have to uncover it. You have to stop pursuing your distractions, and look at the wound. Once you have acknowledged its presence and stripped away the coping mechanisms and distractions you have been covering it up with, you will need to clean it.

Jesus will help you clean it. All along, you have been hiding the wound from yourself. Jesus knew about the wound, but you wouldn’t let Him see it. You wouldn’t even look at it yourself. Now that you are willing to acknowledge the wound and stop covering it up, it’s time to ask Jesus to take a look at it. He is the Great Physician, the Healer. He is the remedy for the wound.

If your wound tells you, You are not enough, Jesus tells you, I loved you enough to die for you. 

If your wound tells you, You are so stupid, Jesus tells you, I don’t create stupid things. 

If your wound tells you, No one could ever love you, Jesus tells you, I have loved you with an everlasting love. 

As you begin to allow Jesus to speak the truth which is cleansing ointment for your festering wound, it will slowly begin to heal. It will hurt at first. Sometimes it will be more pain than we thought we could endure, but Jesus will be there with you as you go through the pain of uncovering the wound, letting Him see it and apply His truth to it.

Soon, the wound will begin to show signs of healing. The infection is gone. It is still tender, perhaps, but it no longer stinks. It is getting better and better by the day as you look at it, tend to it, and apply the healing ointment of truth to it.

Others will notice you are no longer a stench. You do not cry out desperately for attention and validation to cover a festering wound because the wound is healing day by day. We will not be fully healed until that day when we are with Him in heaven. Healing is a journey, but once we start walking that path of healing, we begin to look more and more like Him. We become closer and closer to Him. One by one, our wounds begin to heal, and we become a pleasing aroma to those around us.

Psalm 147:3 “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

Jeremiah 30:17 “For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, declares the Lord, because they have called you an outcast: ‘It is Zion, for whom no one cares!’”

Isaiah 1:6 “From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and raw wounds; they are not pressed out or bound up or softened with oil”

Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Transformational Prayer Ministry

When my husband and I found ourselves in an unexpected storm, a Pastor introduced us to a form of therapy called Transformational Prayer Ministry or TPM. I had heard of others finding freedom, peace, and success through TPM before, but I had myself been unwilling to try it. The reason I was unwilling is because I did not like the idea of going into my emotions and memories. The past is the past, right? Why worry about it? Why dig all of that up? I was so wrong. I did not realize just how much my past was affecting every single part of my life. It was affecting my relationships. It was affecting the way I was parenting my children. It was affecting my marriage. Finally, when I all but lost everything, I realized that the past cannot be ignored. It was a lesson I probably should have learned the first time I watched the Lion King, but I digress.

After having experienced something that was nothing short of a total life transformation, I began to eagerly tell people how God had healed my heart through a Christian therapist and Transformational Prayer Ministry. The type of healing that took place in my heart was deep enough to go back to my earliest childhood memories. I was healed not only in the present situation, but from words that hurt me as a child. I began to look at the world in a whole new way. I saw people as hurting, rather than antagonistic. I saw myself as valuable independent of anyone’s opinions of me. My relationships began to flourish. My children changed. My marriage changed. My heart felt light. I felt closer to Jesus than ever before.

So you can imagine my surprise when I was met with some resistance from fellow Christians. Some of them believed that a person should be able to find that complete sort of healing from reading the Bible alone. I have been a lover of the Word of God for many years. So why did I not experience healing change until I was willing to go into my memories?

I believe it is because as much as I read the Word of God, God was not going to force me to open up the areas of my heart that I was not willing to open up. He was not going to force me to go places I did not want to go. I had to make the choice to go there. And when I did, I saw that God was there waiting for me all along.

To practice TPM or go to a therapist does not in any way undermine the authority of the Word of God. It does not take anything away from sound theology. It is simply a method,  and one that works, to open our hearts to the voice of the Holy Spirit in a way that coincides with God’s design of the human mind.

TPM does not command the Holy Spirit to do our will….to drive out demons or to heal a sickness. TPM simply assumes that the Spirit wants to speak to us…. and asks Him to do so.

As medicine and knowledge of the physical body peaked, many Christians and church leaders resisted it,  believing that it somehow undermined the authority of God and believing in Him as the Great Healer. However,  as time went on, we are now able to see that God has designed our bodies a certain way, and given us this knowledge through discovery of His creation.  We know that if we break a bone, it must be set and put into a cast to heal. We don’t resist this, opting to read the Word of God and memorize scripture instead.  Could God heal that broken bone without a cast? Of course. But it is nonsensical not to use our knowledge of God’s design of the human body in order to seek healing.  

The same is true of the human mind.  It has a design. It works in a certain way.  Our memories are tied to emotions because God created us that way.  The human mind, heart, emotions, and body are designed by God in His image.  Whatever we discover of the way that it works causes us to marvel at His greatness and His intelligent design.  Therefore, to discover the way the human mind works and to invite the Holy Spirit into our hearts and minds through prayer is not to undermine the Word of God but to obey it. 

This is not to say that the TPM method is the only method and that all who do not practice it are in disobedience to God. No,  I don’t mean that at all. But I do mean that it is a good way. It is a way that works. It is a way that is backed by science and all that we have discovered about the emotions of humankind.

I have visited a Christian Psychologist and therapist quite a few times in my journey of emotional healing.  Having never heard of TPM before, this therapist has asked me the very same questions you see on the TPM prayer map. Why? Because she has devoted her life to the study of how God designed the human mind and hopes to use that knowledge to help people heal from emotional pain.  She knows that certain questions will guide people to the deeper memories and emotions they will need to access in order to heal. TPM does the same thing. 

My grandfather is the founder of Recovery in Christ ministries,  a program much like AA designed for addicts in recovery who are seeking to live a life surrendered to Jesus.  I showed him the TPM map. He nodded and said, “Oh yes, this is all very familiar. I’ve never seen it in a map format, but I ask these questions probably a hundred times a week”. He is a substance abuse counselor and follower of Jesus.  He took a picture of the map to take with him.

My point is this: TPM is not the one and only method of hearing from God. That being said,  it is an effective method of digging up emotions and seeking healing in a way that works because it is based on what experts know about God’s design of the human mind and emotions.  

To be opposed to the practice of TPM can be equated to being opposed to modern medicine.  God designed the body. God designed the mind. There are methods to discover His design and work in cooperation with it.  

Consider the following passage of Scripture:

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,  even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.  “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.  In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”  Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.  Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
John 14:15‭-‬27.

If you are in Christ, the Spirit of truth is within you.  Does it not make sense to quiet yourself to listen to that Spirit? Jesus himself said that he would manifest himself to you through the Spirit of truth He has given you! He also said that the Spirit of truth would be your teacher, the Spirit that would bring to remembrance all that Jesus has spoken.  You can see that He is talking about the voice of the Holy Spirit in conjunction with the Word of God. Study His Word. Obey His Commandments. Listen to His Spirit.

To believe that the Holy Spirit can and will speak truth to you and bring to remembrance the Word of God at just the right moment is every bit as Biblical as reading and memorizing scripture.  Both concepts are embedded here within the same passage,  because they are meant to work together. We do not simply read and memorize and expect that to change us without opening our hearts to the Spirit of God and believing that He can and will teach us.  

TPM is simply a method of inviting the Holy Spirit to do just that in a way that coincides with God’s intelligent design of our minds.  We are made in His image. TPM is a way in which to cooperate with God. Please note, I did not say it is the ONLY way to do this. But to be opposed to the practice of TPM is to be opposed to a practical and effective method of understanding our minds and emotions and inviting His Spirit in to heal.

Do you have another effective method of tapping into your pain and emotions and inviting Jesus in? Wonderful if you do! If you do not….if you have never made this a practice of your life… then TPM is a simple way to begin obedience in hearing from the Holy Spirit,  that Helper He sent to be with you forever. That Teacher he promised would bring to remembrance all that Jesus taught when He walked the earth. We have the Spirit of truth in us. Take the time to get before God, open the rawest of your emotions to Him, and invite Him in to heal.  

If you are interested in learning more about Transformation Prayer Ministry, visit https://www.transformationprayer.org/

Giving their Problems Back

I am a classic peace keeper. I have done it since before I can remember. As the oldest of five siblings, it came naturally, and it flowed over into my adult life. I’ve made a habit out of playing this peace keeper game, always thinking that I was doing good to those around me. I realize now that not only was I doing little good for them, but I was doing harm to myself.

I would try to rationalize with people when they came to me upset about this person or that person. I would try to gently stand up for the person they were talking about by saying things like, “Oh, I’m sure they didn’t mean it that way.” Or “You know, that person really has been through a lot, maybe you could think about it this way.” Always, I would try to get together with the other person and see if I could also get that person to think more positively about the person with whom they were in conflict.

I was taking their problems, making them my own, and trying to fix them using my own judgement.

It was all an extremely unhealthy way to live. I thought I was doing so much good, keeping the peace, trying to help people see the good in each other.

But I was doing more harm than good.

Why? Because, let’s be real, I have no idea what this person or that person meant when he said this or that. I have no idea if harm was intended. I have no control over whether one person forgives another after a conflict.

And yet, I in my oh so great wisdom, was trying to force peace and forgiveness and reconciliation on people.

And you know what? Sometimes I was dead wrong.

Sometimes someone did mean to be harmful. Sometimes a person had to cut ties with another person for their own mental and emotional health.

Sometimes, I was so wrong. And in my meddling not only offered no help to those around me, but created turmoil within my soul.

I was endlessly trying to figure out who was right and who was wrong. I was incessantly trying to see the good in all people as it became harder and harder to see.

I was frustrated when people didn’t see things my way.

I was frustrated when I couldn’t make sense of what went wrong.

I was frustrated when I couldn’t fix people.

It was after describing my frustration to my counselor that she told me, “You can show compassion, but you have to give people’s problems back to them.”

What she meant was this. When someone comes to me with a conflict they are having with someone else, instead of trying to get inside their heads, reason with them, and force forgiveness, I can say something like, “Wow. I am so sorry that happened to you. That must have been a very painful experience. What do you think you are going to do about it?” Asking that last question places the responsibility of action right back where it belongs. I could also respond with, “I feel for you, and I am so sorry that you are hurting and you feel wronged. What do you think God would want you to do about this?”

When someone comes to me with problems, however deep they may be, I can take that problem into my hands for a moment in order to sympathize and express compassion. But I can’t keep that problem. Once I have shown compassion and sympathy, I have to take that problem and give it back to its owner.

Don’t take this the wrong way. This is not to say that I no longer have compassion on this person. It is not to say that I no longer care. I do. But it is the subtle realization that this problem is between them and God and the other person involved. It does not involve me, and I can rest in that.

If other people’s relationships fall apart, I can grieve it but I cannot blame myself or attempt to fix it.

It is a crucial skill I have learned- to take a person’s problem, sit with it for a while, show them compassion, and then give it back.