Healing, Mental Health and Restoration

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well- balanced mind and discipline and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:9 AMP)

The Bible promises Christians a sound mind.  Mental illness, personality disorders and any form of psychological damage may result from childhood trauma, domestic abuse, demonic activity or disobedience to God (Deut 28:15, 28).  Thoughts are jumbled, chaotic and there is an inner turmoil that feels like torture.  A chemical imbalance in the brain can cause mood swings, aggression and depression.  Sometimes medication is needed.  Sometimes therapy, one-on-one counseling or a support group is needed.  But one thing for sure, CHRIST IS NEEDED!download (1)

I believe for some people that going to professional secular help is necessary.  It was for me.  Equally important is help from our pastor and keeping a biblical perspective about our emotions and thoughts.  God desires us to be whole.  This would involve every aspect of our life—spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically.

So how do you get to that point of healing?  Healing is certainly a process.  It can be an ongoing thing, but I also experienced an “instant” healing that changed my life!  I have another article titled “The Freedom of Forgiving Myself”.  I will tell you…I am a hard case.  I don’t know why that is and I wish I wasn’t like this because I could have saved myself from years and years of hardship and suffering if I would have just listened and followed God’s will for my life.

I’m one of those who has to experience everything for myself all the way down to rock bottom before I say, “okay, maybe you’re right”.  In the meantime, I become a self-hater, self-loathing, never understanding why I do the things I do or why I want to do the things I do.  Blaming others doesn’t work.  Feeling sorry for myself doesn’t work.  But God’s grace does work!

And you know, the bottom line is this….it doesn’t matter what others think you should do or how you do it, or what you do to get well, or how you do it to get well.  What matters is the connection between myself and God.  God is the only One who knows my heart.  He is the only One who knows what I need and how and when I need it.  So in a sense, for me, being healed and restored involved me being selfish and not letting anything or anyone influence me in the process.  It’s between me and God.

If my heart is aligned with His heart and my thoughts are aligned with His thoughts, them I am living on purpose and according to His will.

So the healing begins by allowing me to forgive myself.  To allow myself to put my foot down and say, “this is what I have to do to help me.”  It may seem very self-centered and selfish to those looking from the outside.  But let me reassure you…once I was able to forgive myself and allow Christ to heal my inner being, I came out a better person and a more likable person.  This opened the doorway for me to get well and stay well for longer periods of time.

I certainly haven’t perfected this whole sobriety thing, but I’m much healthier mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  I understand now what God means when He says He wants us to be made “whole”.  In this wholeness I found inner joy and peace.  I know that God has healed me from the guilt and shame I carried because I am able to open my eyes to things I couldn’t see before.  He has opened my ears to things I haven’t heard before.  Because of what Christ did for me on the cross, I can be healed and restored.

 

 

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Our Emotional Life

God created us to be emotional, feeling human beings. Managing our emotions is an important skill set for anyone who wants to help others deal with life situations and life circumstances. I know from personal experience that it is very difficult for me to learn from someone who may be strong in their knowledge of the Word of God but in their emotional life they are a wreck.

It is equally important for our own personal peace and happiness to get a handle on our emotions. As Christian believers, our emotions play a major part of being “in His image”. Jesus was emotionally expressive during His ministry and portrayed a life of self-control, and situational discernment. He experienced anger, sadness, grief, excitement, joy, love and even experienced feelings of abandonment.

Our feelings are every changing. They seem to fluctuate with no apparent reason. We can go to bed feeling good about our day and in good spirits, and the next morning wake up irritable and tired. We often ask ourselves, “Why am I feeling this way?” It can be very frustrating and confusing. The good news is we can learn how to manage our emotions instead of our emotions managing us.

It’s important to know that even though we feel bad, we can still choose do what is right. Our feelings are neither good nor evil. Our feelings cannot always be trusted though and they are usually unreliable. We are to follow wisdom not our feelings. The Holy Spirit will convict our hearts to follow wisdom instead of our emotions. For example, something may feel (emotion) right be we know (wisdom) it to be wrong. Paul explains his own struggles with sin in Romans chapter 7 and I believe he is not only telling us of the sin within us but also the emotions and feelings that go along with this struggle. We know what’s right but sinning would feel good or feel more comfortable than doing what is right. Paul also tells us in Romans 8:5-8 that if we have the Spirit of Christ living within us that we are to be controlled by the Holy Spirit, not our old nature.

“Those who let themselves be controlled by their lower natures live only to please themselves, but those who follow after the Holy Spirit find themselves doing those things that please God.” (Romans 8:5)

My emotions and feelings have run amok as an adult and although I have definitely “grown up” and matured in the last couple years, I still have much more work to do in this area. Just about my entire adult life has been consumed with drugs and alcohol I have heard that my emotional maturity stopped at the age of 18, which is when I started drinking and using on a daily basis. I have also heard that our emotional maturity ceased to grow at the onset of abuse and neglect. Any form of abuse, addiction or trauma greatly affects where we stand in our emotional lives.feelings jpg

I want to explore the Christian’s emotional life deeper and will be writing more posts on our feelings and how we can learn to do better in this area of our lives. We should do our best to model the emotional life of Jesus and I will be exploring more of how He managed His emotions when He walked on this earth. It is my hope that I can help you learn some practical ways to manage your emotions and we can mature together in how we handle our feelings on a daily basis. The transforming power of the Holy Spirit will help us heal our emotions from past hurts and with His help we can learn to develop a stable emotional life. As followers of Christ I believe it is our responsibility to develop and mature our emotional lives to a level that is pleasing to God and in return it will enable us to live a life of peace, joy and a sense of contentment no matter what is going on around us.

Sensitivity To God’s Will

“So then, my beloved just as you have always obeyed, not as in My presence only but now much more in My absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;  for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”  Philippians 2:12-13

I want to further my understanding of what this means—-to work out our salvation.  Charles R. Swindoll wrote a booklet God’s Will.  In it he explains the above verse,

“Closed doors are just as much God’s leading as open ones.  The believer who wants to do God’s will must remain sensitive and cooperative not forcing His way into areas that God closed off.  The Lord uses circumstances and expects us to “read” them with a sensitive, alert conscience.”

He goes on to say that what it means to work out our salvation in fear and trembling essentially means maintaining a sensitive heart.  As part of my prayers, I usually ask God to keep me sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading.  I have a true desire to know His will for my life.  God tells us in Psalms 32:8 that He will instruct and teach us in the way we should go.  So how do we know if we made a right choice?

One way is the fact that no matter the outcome, whether it is happy or horrible, we have inner peace.  It’s difficult for our human minds to comprehend having inner peace in the midst of a horrible outcome.  But I have experienced this personally.  It can and does happen.

I love one of the lyrics written by Heather Williams,

In spite of it all…..Hallelujah!

Every person wants the feeling of satisfaction.  It’s the feeling that we are making the right choices in our life and from those right choices we feel happiness.  I question that I made a right decision recently, but in spite of it all, I am leaning on God and I know He is instructing me and teaching me as I go.

The Confidence Killer

Satan is the enemy to those who want to follow Christ, to those who are called according to God’s purpose.  Satan is the enemy even to unbelievers.  We as Christians know that the devil hates us.  He hates us because we love God.  I wish unbelievers knew just how much Satan really hates them too.  He may “appear” to be happy with them because of their pride, immorality, and material possessions.  But he hates them just the same.  Satan likes to see people do his work on this planet, whether they are Christian or not.

Satan’s true hatred is toward the Almighty God.  He wants to do everything he can to us so that we grieve the Holy Spirit, demean Jesus Christ, whatever it takes.

I think what the devil loves most is stealing and destroying any kind of joy in a Christian’s life.  I think he gets his biggest kicks out of doing this to us.  Sometimes I feel like I fall so easily to this sneaky trick.  Doesn’t it anger you to think he does this?  Even worse, we allow him to do it!

One way Satan kills our joy is to doubt ourselves.  I’ve been doing this allot lately!  And quite frankly, I’m tired of allowing him to steal my confidence and my joy.  Today was a very stressful day at work but I find my peace and rest when spending time with the Lord and reading his Word.  The Lord has been reminding me that He is there and will take care of me; to not stress and to do the best I can.  God will even put people in our presence to give us encouragement and to remind us that He is watching and is with us.

I had a customer tell me that I have a “light” about me.  Comes to find out, they were a Christian and we had a quick talk about Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  It made my day for someone to see me like this.  I wasn’t sure I ever really portrayed a difference by my mannerisms.  It reaffirmed my love for Christ and that even in the midst of chaos we can still allow Jesus to shine through us for strangers to see.  Satan tried to steal my confidence and joy that day but,

 “Greater is He that is in me, than he that is the world”.

….take THAT Satan.

Step 6 – Attitudes and Actions

BIBLE READING: PHILIPPIANS 3:12-14

Step Six – “We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”

Getting entirely ready to have God remove “all” our defects of character sounds impossible. In reality we know that such perfection is out of human reach. This is another way of saying that we are going to do our best work toward a lifelong goal that no none ever reaches until eternity.

The apostle Paul expressed a similar thought: “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be…Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven” (Phil. 3:12-14).

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This combination of a positive attitude and energetic effort is part of the mystery of our cooperation with God. Paul said: “Be even more careful to put into action God’s saving work in your lives, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, and giving you the desire to obey Him and the power to do what pleases Him”.

We will need to practice these steps the rest of our life. We don’t have to demand perfection of ourself; it is enough to keep moving ahead as best we can. We can look forward to our rewards with the hope of becoming all that God intends us to be. God will strengthen and encourage us as we do so.

The Twelve Steps

1. We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him.

4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7. We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. We continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11. We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us, and the power to carry that out.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of those steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Step One: Dangerous Self-Deception

Bible Reading: Judges 16:1-31

We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction and that our lives had become unmanageable.

When we refuse to admit our powerlessness we are only deceiving ourselves. The lies we tell ourselves and others are familiar: “I can stop any time I want to.” “I’m in control; this one won’t hurt anything.” And all the while, we are inching closer to disaster.

Samson was one of Israel’s judges. As a child, he had been dedicated to God and God had gifted him with supernatural strength. But Samson had a lifelong weakness—the way he related to women. Samson was especially blinded to the dangers he faced in his relationship with Delilah. His enemies were paying her to discover the secret of his strength. Three times she begged Samson to tell her his secret. Each time she set him up and tried to hand him over to the enemy. Three times Samson lied to her and was able to escape. But each time he got closer to telling her the truth. Finally, Samson revealed his secret, was taken captive, and died a slave in enemy hands.

Samson’s real problem can be found in the the lies he told himself. By not admitting his powerlessness, he remained blind to the obvious danger that his pride and desire for beautiful foreign women were leading him into. This caused him to gradually inch his way toward an untimely death.

We need to be careful not to fall into a similar trap. As we learn to acknowledge our powerlessness over our addictive/compulsive tendencies daily, we will become more aware of behaviors that will likely lead us to destruction.