While starting a new page in my journal, I wrote these words,
Learning to Heal.
And as I sat there and read those words slowly over and over again, I knew the journey ahead of me that I needed to take. And although I was a little scared, it was only because I knew, only to a very small degree, what it would mean. I would need to fully open myself up to God’s thorough care and completely trust Him with my wounds, every single fear, my pain, and completely place bare my heart. And as I wrote those words, I knew … that it was time for me to begin learning to heal.
Since writing those words, it’s been through videos, (that I have added at the end of this blog), titled, “Therapy and Theology” with Lysa TerKerust and her friend and Licensed Professional Counselor, Jim Cress, and her friend and Director of Theological Research, Joel Muddamalle, who have helped me understand more deeply the meaning and application of those words for my life. But before watching the videos, I needed to look at the words I had just written across the page in my journal a little more closely and prayerfully…
What does that word mean in personal application? For me, it’s meant to intentionally position myself to the Lord with my broken heart. Admitting that my heart is not whole and that sorrow is in it. Not just a smidgin’ of sorrow, but a deep heaviness. Learning has meant that I stop trying to hide pain and thinking I’m doing the ‘right’ thing in doing so. To take all the hurt and the pain and stuffing it into an imaginary garbage can and putting the lid on it is not the will of God. He never wants us to feel that what has caused us to suffer is trivial to Him. And He surely doesn’t want us to ignore it, muster up a smile and move on. What hurts us, He is not slapping a label over it that says, “this too shall pass.” He cares more than that and He definitely does not want us to mentally attempt to suppress hurt, or relationally mask it, or parade around as ‘Little Miss Sunshine with No Feelings.” We all have feelings and those feelings matter to our Father. The word ‘compassion’ literally means in its original Hebrew language, ‘to suffer with.” He is a compassionate Father who deeply, more deeply than any of us can fully comprehend, longs to not only suffer with us, but He chooses to suffer with us but toward our healing.
Also, for me to learn, it has meant for me to bare my soul to Him. Writing on 3×5 index cards the facts of my pain. I wrote down the facts of everything that has hurt me, caused me to cry, triggered emotions, surfaced trauma wounds and suffering. (Mr. Jim Cress had Lysa do this same practice in order to heal.) Then, on the other side of that card, I’ve written the impact of each fact. What did it do to me? What did it cause me to feel? What did it cause me to think? What actions did I take as a result? Then, not only did I need forgiveness and need to forgive, (for that is a mandate from God), but I began to see how the healing from so much I had written on the cards had not happened in my life. Jim had Lysa place red felt over her cards, symbolizing the blood of Jesus, addressing certain things that she wasn’t able to forgive, yet. So, I physically placed the only thing that I had in the house that was red – rose pedals from flowers Rip had given me – over every single card that I knew was still having an effect in my life. The red rose pedals symbolized not only the power of forgiveness, but that Christ’s blood is powerful enough to cover all that has wounded me, and powerful enough to heal me. “By His wounds, we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
But as I looked at each fact and each impact, I also realized that forgiveness wasn’t the issue. And God knew that. He knew that in my heart, I was holding no offense against anyone. Because when you pray for people who have hurt you and who you love, you ask for His perspective of them, then He does what He longs to do…He gives you His heart (His view). So, you instinctively may hug them when you see them, you spontaneously smile at them, you genuinely see them as created in the image of God and that causes you to see how they are infinitely valuable. Therefore, you have agape [unconditional] love for them. But what do you do when it’s not reciprocated? What do you do when they shun you? When they size you up and you feel their accusations and disapproval as they cast their stones? What then? What does the Bible say to do and not to do? And what about the actions you have projected from your pain onto someone else? Do any of those questions resonate with you?
Then these videos with Lysa Terkerust will speak to you. She addresses:
- forgiveness – what it is and what it isn’t
- narcissism – the behaviors of someone with narcissistic tendencies
- heartbreak – the realness of it and the healing process of a heart
- trust-building – establishing healthy relational boundaries
- reconciliation – redemption is possible when reconciliation isn’t
- grace – what it is and how we can distort it
- how to help a friend who has experienced infidelity – what to say and what not to say
- the impact of pornography, which is infidelity/adultery, and the one and only way to true freedom from sexual addictions
One truth I am learning is that although forgiveness is a mandate from God, healing is a process, and that process is no less imperative in our walk with Him as is the decision to forgive and the acts of forgiveness.
Forgiveness wasn’t the foundational issue for me, as I wrote on the 3×5 cards. The real issue, the thread of my reality that was running through each card was this – I never saw nor have ever seen myself worth enough to be made whole. That is where the struggle was because that is where the enemy seemed to camp out with his lies. My own worthiness. I saw all the impact of all the hurt and wounds through the lens of, “I’m not worth the time, the energy, the attention, or the effort toward healing. My pain, in the scope of things, was trivial and not worth much attention. And to even desire that attention made me selfish.” I truly believed that God had more important things to do – (people needed salvation, delivered out of poverty, rescued from human trafficking, etc.) and s0 I needed to suck it up, rise above, bury it all, put it behind me, take the high road, be little miss sunshine with no feelings … and every other cliche’ that fits the fallacy that ‘true forgiveness means never fully acknowledging and addressing the impact their actions have had on you.’ True forgiveness, through my faulty lens, meant I was to be the peacemaker at all costs, even at the cost of my own life and healing; and especially never acknowledging the impact their actions had on my own heart.
Friend, please hear my heart on this … God’s Word never teaches us to do that. There may be people in your life that just want you to ‘get over it’ and move on. But that is not your Father. He is a heart God. Man looks at the outward appearances…but not God. God looks at, cares for, holds and tells to beat again THE HEART.
Learning is never without impact. And that is what has been happening in my life.
I haven’t just been watching these videos, but with the help of my husband and the Holy Spirit, I’ve been doing the work, the hard work talked about in these videos. And because of how much they are helping me, I just wanted to share them with you. My journal pages are covered in words, phrases, and sentences taken from all of these videos. But most importantly, Jesus is with me as I’m learning to heal from wounds, from trauma, from rejection and betrayal, from emotional trauma and triggers, from believing the enemy’s lies, from not setting healthy relational boundaries, and from allowing hurts and heartbreaks to set courses of my life. But the last two words of that phrase in my journal are these:
Learning is the work, to heal is appropriating and experiencing my eternal inheritance. Learning is the journey, to heal is to continually encounter the goodness of God. Learning is sanctification, to heal is to embrace the holiness of God. Because His holiness is His personal power! Learning is inevitable for us to be whole.
Grief is part of life. Every human experiences it. But the healing from what grieves us is conditional. And these videos have helped me to see those holy conditions, defined by God, that is so tenderly walking me through my own journey of …
leaning to heal.
Therapy and Theology Videos by Lysa TerKurest – I will post 3 in this blog post and then more videos in posts that follow dividing them into categories. These three videos today address:
Forgiveness – Redemption – Reconciliation
The next set of videos in my following blog on Monday, March 22nd, will address:
Narcissism – Codependency – Healthy Boundaries
The next set of videos on Wednesday, March 24th, will address:
Dealing with Anxiety – Trust Issues – Cure for a Heavy Heart