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Throughout all of Scripture, God promises He will meet our needs for value, security, acceptance and connection

Throughout all of Scripture, God promises He will meet our needs. In the second chapter of Genesis, God says that it is not good for the man to be alone. That’s because when God formed the man from the dust and blew His breath into him, He blew in the needs for value, security, acceptance and connection. And by creating a woman for the man, God was meeting those needs. He was at once revealing Himself to the man and drawing the man close to Him.

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When I was a kid, my family lived in Dallas, Texas. It so happens that Dallas is the hometown of the famous department store, Neiman Marcus. In the 1950’s, Neiman Marcus was THE place to shop in Dallas. There was only one location, and it was downtown, since the shopping mall had yet to be invented. A visit to Neiman Marcus was a special adventure.

My daddy, who was a family-oriented kind of guy, was pretty involved in my life, especially for activities that were outside the home. So, around the age of 5, when I needed new “dress shoes”, my daddy took me to Neiman Marcus downtown to get them. The only details I remember about that outing were actually being in the shoe department of the store and spying THE shoes. They were soft black suede Mary Janes with rhinestones all around the front edge. I instantly fell in love with them and saw no need to look at any other shoes. I remember trying them on and my daddy saying, “Now are you SURE those are the ones you want?” They were indeed the ones, so he bought them for me. Although I don’t remember many details of the outing, I DO remember the feeling of being loved by my daddy. He wanted me to have the shoes I liked and was taking the time to make sure I was satisfied. And not only that, he was glad to be with me as I picked out something he otherwise would have no interest in at all. He wanted to be with me and he wanted me to be pleased.

In just that one simple outing to buy new shoes, my daddy met my needs for value, security, acceptance and connection.

Why do I remember that one random outing with my daddy?

When that memory plays back in my head, I instantly feel valued, secure, accepted and connected. Since those are the emotional needs that God Himself created within me, when I remember that day, not only do I feel all those things from my daddy, I also feel them from God. Remembering makes me smile.

When we are children, our parents (or other caregivers) don’t always adequately meet our emotional needs. When they don’t, we as children will figure out some way to get them met, and it usually won’t be a very healthy choice. When our needs aren’t validated by an adult, we might assume that our needs are wrong, or that there is something wrong with us for even having needs.

The beauty of the RYH process is that it helps us understand and accept those needs. We learn to look to God and also to healthy relationships with people in order to get our needs met. In the process, God reveals Himself to us and draws us close.

 

God is in the business of healing. He came to heal us from the damage of sin, as well as to enable us to grow in our relationship with Him. In fact, if we do not heal from the damage sin has caused in our lives, our spiritual life will almost certainly be impaired.

At the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry, He quoted from the Old Testament Book of Isaiah (Luke 4:18-19) defining what His ministry would be like, what it would include. It is very clear that Jesus’ ministry would be a ministry of healing as well as of salvation.

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on Me,
because the Lord has anointed Me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim freedom for the captives
And release from darkness for the prisoners,
To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
And the day of vengeance of our God,
To comfort those who mourn,
And provide for those who grieve in Zion-
To bestow on them a crown of
beauty instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness instead of mourning,
And a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
A planting of the Lord for the
display of His splendor.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins
And restore the places long devastated;
They will renew the ruined cities
That have been devastated for generations.”
[Printed text – New International Version]
(Isaiah 61:1-4)

Oak Tree in Field - In these verses an interesting scenario is presented. The prophet Isaiah is speaking about One who will preach the good news of the gospel, free those who are in bondage, heal the brokenhearted and comfort those who mourn. All these are healing ministries. The person who will come to do this is Jesus Himself (as He made evident both through His statements and His ministry). The text goes on to say that those who have experienced these healing ministries of the Lord will become “oaks of righteousness” which means that their righteousness will be their strength. He goes on to say that these “oaks of righteousness” will be the very ones that will restore what is ruined in the culture. They will become powerful change agents in their cultures.

He makes it clear that only those who have come to know Christ and have been set free from their emotional issues will impact the world for God. It is only those who have been healed from their spiritual poverty, emotional wounds, bondage to addictions, and distorted thinking who will be able to help others be restored from the damages of sin, renew their minds, restore broken relationships and build healthy families.

How does this healing come about? Believers can deal with emotional issues by completing the following process.

Identify emotional issues.

The following list describes unhealthy ways emotions may affect us, thus indicating that something needs correction or healing. See if any of these items are descriptive of your experience. (List can be found on Handout “Checklist of Inappropriate Ways to Handle Negative Emotions”)

  1. You are numb and do not feel your emotions.
  2. The emotions you feel are mainly negative.
  3. You tend to overreact or be supersensitive in certain situations.
  4. You do not know how to express your emotions appropriately.
  5. You are afraid of certain emotions.
  6. You try to distract yourself so you will not feel certain emotions.
  7. You believe that certain emotions are bad and that you should not have them.
  8. You are often confused by some of your emotions.
  9. You are depressed for no clear reason.
  10. You do not know how to deal with pain.
  11. You are bitter, negative or simply unable to enjoy life.
  12. You take out your anger on people that are not the source of the anger.
  13. You are not able to control your expression of anger.
  14. You feel out of control most of the time.
  15. You are afraid to stop and be silent with just your emotions.

Everyone has emotional issues to some degree, at some time. This is part of being human and living in a fallen world. If even one of these statements describes you, it indicates that there is an emotional issue you need to deal with. If more than one of these statements describes you, there are more serious emotional issues to attend to. Although these statements indicate that something is wrong, they do not tell what is wrong. Determining that will take more time and careful analysis.

Understand the healing process.

Emotional issues may affect many areas of a person’s life. Therefore, we must look at many areas of life in order to understand the healing process. Following is a list of actions that may need to be taken for a person to heal from emotional problems.

Stop abusive relationships – If a person continues in a hurtful relationship, emotional problems will worsen. It will take all of his energy to just survive the relationship, and therefore, there will not be any energy left to work on emotional issues. In hurtful relationships, self-worth is destroyed, distorted thinking patterns emerge, and the person is cut off from what he needs. Therefore, it is necessary to stop these relationships or change them in order for healing to occur (Psalm 1:1).

Control addictions – Severe addictions hinder a person’s ability to deal with emotions because these addictions exist, at least in part, to keep the person from feeling their painful emotions. Addictions also destroy relationships and are an escape from the real issues of life. Addictions must be brought under control before a person can make any progress in healing (Romans 8:12,13).

Learn to view and express emotions properly – Emotional problems begin primarily from not being able to deal with emotions appropriately; and therefore, it is crucial that a person learn about emotions and develop the ability to deal with them and express them appropriately (Ephesians 4:26).

Grieve pain and losses – Everyone needs to learn how to grieve losses from both the present and past. A person with emotional problems almost always has unresolved emotions from the past that are stored internally. These emotions must be felt and released, a process called grieving, for the person to heal. (Isaiah 61:2,3; Matthew 5:4).

Understand needs and how to get them met appropriately – God has created everyone with needs, and whether or not a person is aware of his needs, he is still driven to meet them. In order to live a healthy life, we need to be able to identify our needs and learn healthy ways to meet them (Matthew 6:32).

Learn to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy thinking and behavior – People who are hurting tend to think in extremes. They may discount positive things that happen or maximize bad things that happen. They may jump to conclusions with little evidence or deny that painful events bother them. Behaviors follow our beliefs, so if our thinking is wrong, it will lead to unhealthy behaviors as well. In order to become healthy one must develop correct thinking about oneself, others and God (Romans 12:2).

Develop healthy relationships and a good support system – One of the primary ways God meets the needs of people is through relationships with others. Therefore, we need to be able to develop healthy relationships. Because no one person can meet all the needs of another person, we need to have a network of good relationships, a support system. People were not created to live in isolation, and all of us need caring relationships, validation and helpful feedback in order to function well in life (Hebrews 10:24,25).

Learn to grow spiritually –Emotional healing and spiritual growth occur simultaneously. You cannot have one without the other. Therefore, it is important to focus on both at the same time. They need to be intermixed. Jesus wants to help you grow spiritually and heal emotionally and relationally at the same time (Matthew 5:3,4).

The first two actions in the list (stop abusive relationships and control addictions) must be addressed first because failing to address them will prevent the other six from happening. The last six do not happen in any particular sequence. Rather, they may occur simultaneously during a group session or in personal counseling. In order to explain them and show their importance, they are noted here as separate issues.

One might ask: Why is this so complex? Why are there so many areas that need to be addressed for a person to get better? The answer is that people are complex. We are made up of several interrelated systems: physical, emotional, mental, relational and spiritual. When something goes wrong in one of these systems, the others are also affected because everything about us is interconnected.

It is like a problem I recently had with my car. A rock was temporarily caught between a pulley and a belt and stretched the belt. Because the belt was not tight enough, it began to slip on the alternator. Since the alternator wasn’t turning fast enough, the battery ran down. Neither the battery nor the alternator was producing enough electricity to run the car so the lights would not work and the engine would not run. When one part failed to function properly, other parts that were dependent on it also began to fail.

It takes a great deal of work to align all the systems in our lives. But when our lives begin to function correctly, it leads us to new levels of maturity and enables us to function in a healthy and effective manner.

Seek outside help to deal with emotional problems.

People often need help dealing with emotional problems. In fact, God never intended for us to deal with them alone. Scripture tells us to “confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16). It is usually only when we can be totally honest, in the midst of safe people, that healing will take place. When we bring our struggles out into the open they lose much of their power over us, and we can find needed support and help to overcome them.

There are many sources of help for emotional issues. Sometimes several of these sources need to be employed at once, or over a period of time. The following is a list of such sources: (in no particular order)

1. Personal counseling

2. Support groups — These groups focus on a single issue that all the group members have in common (e.g. death of a child, divorce, etc.)

3. Addiction groups — These are also called 12 step groups. They focus on controlling a specific addiction. For example Alcoholics Anonymous focuses on controlling alcohol. Over Eaters Anonymous focuses on controlling eating. There are groups for almost any kind of addiction.

4. Restorative groups — These groups focus on developing emotional and relational health. Their goal is to help people learn how to handle emotions correctly, grieve past losses, think correctly and develop needed relational skills.

5. Involvement with the body of Christ — The church can provide a lot of help in the healing process. We can find encouragement and help to grow spiritually. A growing knowledge of the Word of God teaches us how to think right. It can also provide safe and supportive people who will encourage us and hold us accountable.

6. Medication — Stress due to emotional problems can cause brain chemical imbalances and other physical problems that may require medication. (E.g. A common problem is the development of clinical depression that requires an anti-depressant to restore brain chemical balance.)

There is always hope for healing from emotional problems because nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37). God wants to transform our lives from the inside out. If we change on the inside, external aspects of our lives will change also. Some people are able to effectively apply principles of recovery to their own lives after they hear or read them. Others need outside help over a longer period of time before their healing is complete. Regardless, it is the people who work hard at all aspects of recovery and who look to God for strength and guidance in the process who make the fastest progress in recovery. Recovery is hard work, and there are no shortcuts.

Application Suggestions:

• Read Psalm 146. List and meditate on the ways God meets needs and acts on our behalf (note verses 5 through 9).

• Using the “Checklist of Inappropriate Ways to Handle Negative Emotions” identify any inappropriate ways you deal with your negative emotions. (See Below)

• If, after reading through the list, you are concerned about how you handle negative emotions, talk with someone who has experience with emotionally-based problems.

Evaluating and Dealing with Emotional Issues

Checklist of Inappropriate Ways to Handle Negative Emotions

  • You are numb and do not feel your emotions.
  • The emotions you feel are mainly negative.
  • You tend to overreact and be supersensitive in certain situations.
  • You do not know how to express your emotions appropriately.
  • You are afraid of certain emotions.
  • You try to distract yourself so you will not feel certain emotions or you do unhealthy things to alter your mood. People often fixate on things outside themselves (food, sex, work, cleaning, shopping, spending, alcohol, drugs, etc.) in order to avoid dealing with internal painful emotions.
  • You believe that certain emotions are bad and that you should not have them.
  • You are often confused by some of your emotions.
  • You are depressed for no clear reason.
  • You do not know how to deal with pain.
  • You are bitter, negative or simply unable to enjoy life.
  • You take out your anger on people that are not the source of the anger.
  • You are not able to control your expression of anger.
  • You feel out of control most of the time.

Get this Pocket Principle in Understanding People, part of Cornerstone  from the WDA Store

For more information visit the WDA Store.

the heart tree

the heart tree

Because children interpret events with their emotions, it is important to protect your child’s heart. Many of the people I work with have been wounded by parents who have not been protective of this treasure. Some of their parents have been wounded themselves and have done the best they could. However, their own woundedness has driven them to make decisions that are harmful to their children. The following story was written by a 26 year old that I work with and is being shared with permission. It describes the events of a day that turned her life upside down. (All names have been changed.)

“That Day”

“That day. I will never forget it. It’s etched in my mind, clear as yesterday. It’s like a slow motion scene playing against the backdrop of melancholy violins. My world changed forever. The foundation broke beneath my feet into a million pieces. I was sinking, but there was no one to pull me out. I can see that little girl on that fateful day in my mind’s eye. She stands still, frozen as the unimaginable scene unfolds before her eyes; it seems unreal, like she is watching some twisted movie.

“This can’t really be happening,” I thought to myself. I had just returned from playing video games and eating chips and salsa with my brothers. My big brother, Charles, whom I loved and admired so much, had just given Richard and me the time of our lives at El Azteca. I remember on that sunny Saturday afternoon how happy I was to feel so loved as I played packman with my brothers at the local Mexican Restaurant.  In that blissful moment, I had no idea that Charles was shielding us from the hell that was unleashing at home. I had no idea that in a matter of hours, minutes, life as I knew it would change forever.

When we pulled up to the house, immediately, I knew something was going on. My dad’s car sat in the driveway with clothes piled high in the back seat. The car door was open. The front door of the house was open. My dad walked out of the house, still in his work clothes from the day before…only the front of his white collared dress shirt was unbuttoned, exposing his undershirt.  He carried a box in his hands. He didn’t look at us. He walked towards his car, and then I saw his back. His shirt was torn. He had scratch marks, and he was bleeding.  Confused, I stood there, not knowing how to make sense of what I was witnessing.

Charles put his hands on mine and Richard’s shoulders like protective wings. The fight must have drug out longer than he had expected. He must have brought us back too early, and now he was trying to figure out what to do. He led us inside, perhaps hoping that the worst was over. I was confused when I walked in by what I saw- objects overturned, broken glass, wax, presumably from a lit candle that had been thrown, plastered in dripping runs on the wall. WHAT WAS HAPPENING!? I didn’t understand. I heard my mom yelling. I can’t remember what she said, but I knew it wasn’t good. Every time my dad made his way up to the stairs to get another load, more screaming…I think I heard “GET OUT!”

I don’t remember how long this went on…time didn’t exist in that moment. But, I do remember, that whenever my dad would come down the stairs, he would offer Richard and me this sad look…of regret?  We stood still, absorbing this surreal reality. Once the car was packed, my dad made his way over to Richard and I as we stood in the dining room. He was lost for words, trying to explain to us what was happening with pain in his eyes.  My mother made her way over. She was furious, high on adrenalin, and impatient with my dad’s stammering. She butted in and, with vengeance in her tone, blurted out, “Your father slept with another woman last night in a hotel!”  Time froze.

I immediately looked at Richard who is two years younger than I.  He stared in shock.  Although, at his age, he could not comprehend the full extent of what my mother was saying.  However, at 11, I could.  “You have something blue on your lip,” I commented to Richard about the residual stains of the blue gumball he had chewed at the Mexican restaurant. “I don’t care,” he said, not breaking eye-contact with my parents. The details of what happened after this world shattering news are a blur to me.  At some point, it was explained to me that my dad was leaving to live somewhere else. I ran to grab a recent art project I had made at school, and I gave it to my dad to remember me by.  It was a box cut-out of a magical, beautiful world of flowers, rolling hills, and a majestic sunset, like the sunset I had watched with my parents set over the Gulf of Mexico just a few short months earlier on our first beach vacation. That time seemed like a different life now. My whole world was turned upside down in a matter of moments. I didn’t know if I would ever see my dad again.”

This young person’s self image has been wounded by the events of her life. The power of the Holy Spirit is enabling her to heal and recover. **We appreciate so much the prayers and support you give staff and to all the people with whom we work. Nancy currently is meeting with about 15 people on a regular basis, all of whom have been wounded by people who loved them. Our prayer is not only that their hearts will be restored but that all parents with young children will learn how to protect their children’s hearts.

**Please consider making a regular part of your prayer life, praying for the individuals who participate in our Restoring Your Heart Groups but the individuals many of our staff and restorative staff meet with regularly.

Other blogs relating to this subject:

 Hide and Seek: Where did I hide my emotions

The Philosophy of Pain by Nancy Higgins

More by Nancy Higgins

[edited by our communications team]

Children Playing HIde and SeekWhen I was a kid I loved to play hide and seek. We would hide in the house sometimes and I had my favorite spot. I can still years later picture the hiding place in my mind. It was a pretty good spot! I would dig underneath the pile of work clothes that my dad had put in the corner of his closet, way back underneath the hanging clothes in the corner. As a little kid I could make myself as small as possible, curled up in a little ball and stay quiet as possible.

I remember telling my sisters years later about the hiding place. They remembered looking for me. “I looked there!” I remember them moving the hanging clothes and moving a few items around, expecting to be found at any moment! I learned to hide well!

I also learned to hide other things well! As I have been working through WDA’s Restoring Your Heart Workbook called “Understanding Emotions” I realized that I hid my emotions from myself. Somewhere, I began to stuff my emotions down into the corner of my own closet. Curled up in little balls that I couldn’t find. The thing about hidden emotions are they don’t like to stay hidden or at least some of them don’t like to stay hidden.

Another memory of growing up was the face that my mom seemed to have a sixth sense regarding my emotional state. In fact many times I didn’t have to say a word for her to “read my face.” So the funny thing about this game of hide and seek I have been playing is that I’m realizing that these emotions I have been hiding from myself are not hidden from others. Just because I can’t feel them doesn’t mean they are safely hidden away!

This discovery happens often in my home. I lived as a single guy for 37 years until God put my wife and two daughters in my life. All of a sudden, I had a house full of people watching me. I discovered that I had a “tone of voice.” Emotions were leaking all over my family in “how” I was saying things! I remember how frustrating this was and still struggle with this! I always considered myself as a pretty self aware person. But as I had been given a wife who was able to see me all the time and mirror back to me they way I react, what I say, how I say things, and explain how that makes her feel, God began to help me unpack all these emotions. I began to understand some of them.

This has not been fun! Let me tell you! However, Jesus is showing up! I still am in a huge renovation project inside my head. The process of Understanding my Emotions is a life long venture. The cool thing is that I have someone to walk with who is able to bear my hidden junk. I’m not talking about my wife here, not even a Christian counselor or the people in my Restoring Your Heart Group. I have someone who actually knows me! He is quite fond of me!

The Message by Eugene Peterson paraphrases Hebrews 4:15-16 this way… “Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.”

Jesus is completely aware of our reality! He has experienced it all. He knows my negative emotions and my positive ones. He who was completely human and perfectly God was able to know exactly what it means to feel emotions. Jesus wept and got angry over death of his friend, Jesus got furious at the temple as worship was exchanged for making money. Jesus loved and felt compassion for those who the world didn’t even acknowledge.

So here I am playing my own game of hide and seek. Jesus is helping me find my emotions! Some of them are not hidden very well. He is helping me know where to look and even helping me understand them. Consider taking time to look at your heart. Are you playing hide and seek with your emotions? How are you feeling today? Are you dead and dry? Are you furious? Are you depressed? Are you happy?

Consider one thing today. Jesus wants you to know and embrace your emotions. He created you with them for a reason. The challenge you and I face today is to learn to Understand them and GROW to have a healthy and emotionally mature life. Part of growing to maturity in your relationship with God also means you should be willing to be emotionally healthy too! Jesus wants to walk with you into your heart and help you find your emotions. Take some time to begin to play hide and seek with Jesus. (He’s pretty good at the seeking part.)

Search me O God and know my Heart….

23  Search me, O God, and know my heart!
    Try me and know my thoughts!
24  And see if there be any grievous way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting!
Psalm 139:23-24 English Standard Version (ESV)

Begin by reading this free ebook- How Emotional Problems Develop. (pdf)
Second consider learning more about WDA’s Restoring Your Heart Ministry and curriculum.
As you learn about RYH consider joining a group and going through Understanding Emotions.

problem modelWhy is Life so unfair sometimes? Why do I have to suffer the consequences of someone else’s behavior? Ever heard those questions before? Ever asked them?

I know I have. And I have heard those questions asked numerous times in counseling sessions with other people.

None of us like it when somebody else messes up and it affects us. It leaves us with the responsibility of figuring out how to correct the problem. One of the biggest areas that I help people work through in counseling has to do with their fathers. Many fathers are absent, neglectful and hurtful towards their children. Some fathers don’t even realize what they are doing, or the effect it might have on their children.

When these children become adults, the fallout of their father’s interactions with them can cause major problems. When they show up in my counseling office they are suffering from the results of someone else’s behavior. Together we have to figure out how to correct the emotional damage done to them. The good news is that there are solutions. The bad news is that the solutions involve going through a process that takes time and hard work. Yet there is hope and healing during the process.

 

In the Pocket Principle (Fallenness of Man) , I noticed many similarities between the counseling process and the solution God has provided for man’s fallen condition. They both involve a change of heart and a process of restoration. Read on to discover the good solution that God has given us for the consequences of Adam and Eve’s bad behavior.

Get this Pocket Principle in Understanding People, part of Cornerstone  from the WDA Store

For more information visit the WDA Store.