Saturday, April 23, 2016

Healing Emotions That Have Gone Underground

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Isaiah 54 is the Lord's Sonnet to Israel, but as with most Old Testament writings, there are applications for God's modern Lady, the Church, and personal applications for individual believers.

Great Will Be Your Children’s Peace

Isaiah 54:13
All your children will be taught by the Lord,
and great will be their peace.

Every Christian parent wants to know that their children are following the Lord and that they are walking in peace with Him.

Proverbs 20:7 (NIV)
The righteous lead blameless lives;
    blessed are their children after them.

We have the promise as believers that God cares for our children and makes them a priority. We also know that our children can choose to go a different way. Nevertheless, we must stand on this promise that sooner or later our children will be redeemed. Notice that it says our children will be taught by the Lord. Parents who know the Lord when their children are little have the opportunity to introduce them to the Lord and His word. But after they are grown, we parents have to step back and allow our children to be taught by the Lord, which may mean watching them struggle and deal with consequences as He teaches them to walk in His ways.

Hebrews 12:11
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Sometimes as parents we feel obligated to rescue our children from their bad choices, especially when we know that as broken people, we contributed to the brokenness of our children. But according to this verse, if we do that, we are robbing our children of that harvest of righteousness and peace that will be theirs after they have been trained by the discipline of the Lord.

“Basement Children”

With that said, I would like to switch gears and approach this verse in Isaiah 54 from a completely different perspective- the perspective of our own inner life. I want to talk about how Jesus wants to heal  the hurts from our childhood. I was hurt many times in many ways during my childhood. Most of us were. To varying degrees we all have been ignored, undervalued, invalidated, criticized, treated unfairly, falsely accused, bullied, and inappropriately punished. Some of us were severely abused and tormented, sexually abused, verbally abused, physically abused, or severely deprived of basic needs of food, clothing, shelter, and safety. When these things happen, those wounded parts of ourselves often “splinter off” and go into hiding for safety.

There are parts of ourselves that have been hiding in the basement of our psyche, stuck at whatever age we were when certain things happened. From this hidden place, the basement of our inner life, these child parts of ourselves cry out to be heard, noticed, validated, and loved. The angry child who was never validated might be crying out in the form of uncontrollable angry outbursts or depression. The creative child who was never praised might be crying out in the form of a substance addiction. The ignored or unloved child might be crying out in the form of a sex addiction, pornography addiction, promiscuity, or prostitution. The controlled child might be crying out in the form of an eating disorder. The rejected child might be crying out in the form of a series of broken relationships. The criticized child might be crying out in form of perfectionism or workaholism.

If you were hurt as a child, it is time to bring those child parts of yourself up from the basement so God can heal them and bring them peace. To do this you might need the help of a therapist, accountability partner, or support group such as Celebrate Recovery, a Christian 12 Step program that offers groups for all your Hurts, Habits, Hang-ups, and Codependency. Books can also help. There are many books on the subject. A good one is Changes That Heal by Dr. Henry Cloud. But beware: you cannot heal in isolation. There is a good chance that too much isolation is why your development went haywire in the first place. It might have been the lack of a relationship or the presence of a destructive relationship, which also brings emotional isolation. Healthy development happens in a healthy community. If that gets thwarted somehow, we need a healthy community to bring that development back online. So make sure you find a support person or group to help you walk through your healing journey.

To heal your broken inner child, you will still need to have your alone time with God in prayer, meditation, and Bible study. Ask Him to guide you to the right place to find connection with others who will accept and love you while you openly grapple with your issues. You have to feel safe to do this, so if you go to a therapist or group that does not feel safe, keep looking and praying until you find one that does. Over the years and decades people who have unresolved childhood trauma seem to also manifest physical ailments such as chronic pain, or find themselves getting diagnosed with multiple psychiatric disorders. To learn more about this, read The Body Keeps Score by Bessel van der Kolk, MD. If you are struggling with physical or psychiatric issues, please try to find a doctor who understands the ramifications of developmental trauma, and don’t underestimate the power of God to heal you completely through prayer and the laying on of hands (James 5:14-16).

Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
Do you struggle with any habits that might the result of a “basement child” crying out for attention?
If yes, do you know where to go to get help?
Can you, as your adult self, offer love and guidance to those basement children?
Father, there are parts of me that have not been brought to You for healing. Please show me where these parts are, how they are affecting my life, and what I need to do to bring them to You for healing. I know you want every part of me to be healed and whole so my life will bring you glory and so I can have joy in knowing You and loving You with every part of me.

Sit in a comfortable place with no distractions. Shift your body so it is well supported. Gently close your eyes and focus on your breath, breathing in slowly and deeply and allowing your muscles to relax as you exhale slowly and fully. Take a few more deep breaths as you become more relaxed and focused.
Imagine you are standing in the backyard of a house on a warm spring day.

The sun is shining brightly, and green leaves from the surrounding trees frame the deep blue sky. It is one of those lazy, quiet afternoons where you can just relax and let yourself drift. There is nowhere you have to be, nothing you have to do. The grass is thick and tender under your feet and you feel like you could lie down.

But before you do, you notice a door at the side of the house, leading to the basement or cellar. You feel drawn to this now. As you walk up to this door, you sense that someone is beside you. You sense overwhelming love, protection, and absolute acceptance from this person, and you know that you are completely safe. You know this person is here to do a healing work.

And now you realize it is time to open this door. When you do, small hands give you an even smaller baby. The baby is crying. You hold this baby snugly in your arms and rock it gently to soothe it. You realize this baby is you. Your Healer touches the baby and finds out what is wrong. Your healer instructs you to look into the baby’s eyes and tell the baby it is safe and loved. Then place the baby in the healer’s arms. Next, a one year old child crawls out and reaches up to be held by you.

You pick up this little one, too, snuggle and rock the baby, and tell the baby it is safe and loved. Tell the baby anything else you think it needs to hear. Listen, and see what else the Healer instructs you to say or do. You can now hand this baby over to the Healer, too.

As you face the door once more, out comes a two year old. Notice how this one responds. What does this little one need from you? What does your Healer instruct you to say or do? Hold and snuggle this one, tell this one, you are safe and loved. Follow the Healer’s instructions and hand this one over to the Healer as well.
Once again, you face the door, and here comes the three year old you. You gather this child into your arms and say, you are safe and loved. You offer other words of encouragement and acceptance to this one, too.

You notice the Healer has spread a large blanket on the grass and all the little you’s are starting to gather around. You send your three year old self over to join the Healer and welcome the four year old who comes out of the door.

One by one, year by year, your child selves emerge from underground and into the sunlight. Listen carefully to what each one needs from you at this moment and be sure to look each one in the eyes and affirm them with love and safety.

When everyone has come out of the basement, sit down with them and your Healer for a refreshing drink of healing, sparkling water. Notice the brightness and the laughter of these children as they are in the presence of the Master. If anyone is sad or troubled or sick, lay that one is the Healer’s lap for extra care.

Tell everyone that this is the beginning of a new life. From now on you will listen when they cry and acknowledge them when they are angry, and celebrate them for being just who God made them to be, no more will they be rejected or ignored.

You can express and honor these child parts of you with art, dance, waving of flags or tassels, playing games, or just resting. You might also help them express their emotions through journaling.

And now, leaving all the child parts of you safely in the hands of the Master, knowing you can visit many times a day if you need to, it is time to make your way back from this journey. And now, take a couple of deep breaths, wriggle your hands and feet, let out a big, big, sigh, and when you are ready you can open your eyes.
Action Steps
Try doing a two way journal with your wounded child/children. Write down a question such as, what do you need? Wait, listen, and then write down the child’s response. Write affirmations to the child and write down the child’s response.

When you have a reaction or behavior that seems out of character for you, check to see if a wounded child self is driving that reaction or behavior.

Visit the meditation in this chapter several times to hear what your wounded child/children need from you to get better.

Practice daily sending positive messages to your child selves as often as you can. Bring them to Jesus every day.

Matthew 19:14
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

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