Please note, this series on healthy relationships is not dealing with abusive relationships, please seek professional help, dear one.
For each of us this ‘home improvement’ will look different. Your ‘home improvement’ may be maintenance work or a complete reno (with your own demo day). Before we start any work and before we get to love, trust, respect and understanding, we have to make sure there is a solid foundation to build upon. So, let’s continue with our analogy of “looking to buy a fixer upper”. If while you are assessing the condition of a house, you see a crack, you take notice. You take a closer look. Some cracks are a huge issue! Large, jagged and diagonal cracks could indicate a structural problem(damage), which is cause for concern! A reputable builder or engineer needs to be called in; only someone with the right qualifications can diagnose the problem, solve the issue and repair the damage.
Now it’s time to assess the condition inside us. Do we have any large, jagged and diagonal cracks that have caused damage? As we journey through life, we have experiences that are filled with joy, and at the other end of the scale, we can have experiences that are filled with pain. These painful experiences can cut deep, creating emotional ‘cracks’ that affect every part of us, causing damage. God created us as beings that experience emotions – theyare an important part of life.
• Designed to create alertness – let you know something is going on in your life.
• Are not to rule you – emotional perceptions can misinterpret truth (pay attention to what you are feeling, then evaluate your emotions thoroughly before believing your emotions and acting on them).
• Allow you to respond to the joys and sorrows of life.
• Can be used as a tool by Satan to bruise you and hold you captive.
Just like we’d need to call in a reputable builder or engineer to the house– one who is qualified who can pinpoint the cause of the damage, solve the issue and repair the damage. We can ask the ultimate Engineer, the one who designed us to bring healing in our lives.
Sometimes we base our perceptions of God on how we were treated by others. We think God will treat us like others have, e.g. if your Dad was angry, you may think God is angry. And we also tend to base our feelings about ourselves on how we were treated by others. But dear one, accurate beliefs about God, come from His Word, not our experiences. And accurate beliefs about ourselves, come from what God says about us..
God wants to bring inner healing to your life, e.g. healing to your mind, memories, emotions, etc. Emotional healing usually is a time taking process. It takes time because God wants to “free us from the pain of past wounds, [and] He is also [wants to] bring us into maturity, both spiritually and emotionally” “Jesus suffered the injustice, rejection, affliction and pain on the Cross so that you don’t have to carry pain, grief andburdens (see Luke 4:18-19, 21). Dear one, God wants to comfort and heal you.
When Jesus noticed him lying there [helpless], knowing that he had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to get well?” John 5:6
Inner healing also includes understanding forgiveness and our identity. Let’s begin with forgiveness:
• We ask for God’s forgiveness and receive it
• We ask others for forgiveness and God also instructsus to forgive others.
“Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive].” Col. 3:13
Forgiveness is a big subject; we will only briefly look at forgiving others.
Forgiveness is not “agreeing with what the person said or did that caused you hurt” (it wasn’t okay)
Forgiveness doesn’t mean the person is allowed to commit the same wrongs again.
Being hurt or wounded is like being caught on a big fishing hook. This hook in you keeps your wounds raw and open – you can’t heal. Being on this hook, ties you to your past, with all the pain and resentment. It allows the past to dictate your present. But you can choose to take the hook out, and allow the wound to heal; this action is compared to forgiveness. The word, forgive, in Greek, means release”. This choice is saying, I will take the steps necessary to break the past’s hold on me.
Forgiveness is a decision. We don’t wait till we feel like forgiving, because our thoughts and feelings can be out of sync. The facts go to the ‘thinking part’ of our brain first, it’s analysed and then passed onto the ‘emotionpart’ of the brain (limbic system), which produces feelings. So when a person makes the decision to forgive, there is a time difference (limbic lag) for feelings to step into sync with that choice. Forgiveness is a process, and it takes time, the deeper the hurt, the longer the process takes. There are books written by Christian counsellors who cover the process of forgiveness, if you need further information.
Sometimes we base our feelings about ourselves on how we were treated by others. The pain was real, so you think the message from those wounds must be true. But, dear one, true accurate thoughts about who you are come from what God says about you.
Understanding true identity starts with “…understanding who God is and then being reconciled to Him.” God seeks us, so that we seek Him and love Him, and that ends the search for identity. In Him we have a new heart, beliefs and identity.
If you want to be more secure in your identity, the answer to “what is God’s opinion of me?” is where you will find your true identity (and healthy self-esteem). Knowing your identity in Christ, answers:
• Who you are: you belong to God (security, sense of belonging)
• What you are: you’re good and acceptable for He has redeemed you (self-worth)
• Why you are here: you have a good destiny (significance); being created in His image, redeemed for His glory, serving Him and living forever with Him.
People tend to prefer their own opinion of themselves than God’s”; for some it can be a struggle to believe or trust anybody, including God. “Your self-esteem and identity are gifts from God. They cannot be earned through achievements, nor are they based on what other people say about you, do to you or fail to do to you.” The key step is accepting what God believes about you. It’s important to keep confessing the truth of your identity in Christ (use Bible verses on who God says you are), until its reality, self-acceptance and healthy self-esteem will follow.