“If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.” Brene Brown Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

There are eight of us women, sitting together in a circle of comfortable chairs, sharing our hearts with each other. The topic, however, is anything but comfortable. We are talking about our shame.

We are remembering how, as children, our moms or dads made statements or comments to us that were shaming. How our friends and fellow students put us down and we felt “less than”.  How even the shame carried by our parents was unknowingly placed on our own shoulders and became our burden.

Shame is subtle and sometimes difficult to name, much less to remove. This is our hope as we sit together for these upcoming weeks. To make at least a start at ferreting out this most painful of emotions. We are looking for the beginnings of freedom from shame.

The author of the WDA RYH Conquering Shame Workbook, Lee Tolar, has this to say about shame:

“In my 25 years of leading RYH groups I have found that shame is much more common than most of us think.  There will always be some people who have an obvious struggle with shame exhibited by “a poor self image”.   However, many of us mask our shame behind perfectionism, defensiveness, a false self, emotional numbness or low-level depression. Thus our shame is not so easily recognizable to ourselves or other people.”

“Shame originated with Adam and Eve.  After the fall, they felt guilty about having committed a sin and shameful of whom they now were (sinners).   They came up with the original defense mechanism: hiding from God.  This desire to hide our shortcomings has been passed down to us with our sin nature.

“25 years of leading RYH groups has helped me to see how extensive the problem of shame is in other people but it has also helped me to see and understand my own shame.  As I have recognized my own shame, I have been able, with God’s help, to release a lot of it, become less defensive, face and deal with my shortcomings, and to appreciate who He made me to be.”

WDA’s Conquering Shame Workbook helps people recognize what caused their shame, what their particular symptoms of shame are, and most importantly how to release and recover from these toxic beliefs and emotions. It is based on Biblical principles.  My favorite chapter deals with recognizing each person’s strengths.

Like our other RYH workbooks, Processing Pain and Understanding Emotions, it is designed for use in a confidential small group setting with a trained RYH facilitator.

A recent participant in a Conquering Shame Group had this to say about her experience:

“I want to express my gratitude to you and to those who have contributed in writing the manual for the ” RYH Conquering Shame group”!  I have been dealing with shame issues since I was a young child.  This group was able to clarify what shame is all about, and I clearly understand how damaging living this way is.  Shame affects every part of your being and it greatly affects your relationship with God. I believe the group dynamics and interaction, really enhanced the discussions.”

“The biggest breakthrough for me, was telling/hearing our shame stories!”

“Being able to verbalize what has been inside of me, in that dark place and bringing it out into the open (the light) with “safe” people was so healing. Actually, it was the first time I had been able to tell a group this story.  After hearing and telling my own story, I felt a great release in my spirit.  It’s freedom from the bondage of shame!  I have a changed mind-set about my shame- yes, that stuff did happen to me and it’s very sad, BUT that’s not who I am.  The lies that I have believed about myself for so long have lost their powerful hold on me.  Restoration is a process that takes time, and in my case many, many years.  Little by little, the Lord has nudged my spirit to take another step in the healing process.  God always knows what I need and at just the right time. One day, I will have total restoration when the Lord returns for, “HIS CHURCH” and that will be a glorious day!”

As our group concluded the 17 weeks together, dealing with our shame issues, we all felt lighter. I think most of us suffer from shame to one degree or another. Sometimes we feel shame but don’t even recognize it for what it is. We just have this nagging feeling that something is wrong with us but we don’t know what or why. Sometimes just being able to name shame is a powerful, freeing experience. It is definitely the start of conquering shame.

Our hope is that as the RYH ministry grows, more people will be able to benefit from participating in a Conquering Shame group. I certainly learned a lot about myself and gained some freedom while experiencing it.

Do you have areas in your life that have caused you shame? Maybe this article while be an incentive to start addressing those areas and begin to heal from them.

To learn more about shame, we recommend any of Brene Brown’s books. She is a leading expert on shame and vulnerability and her books are eye-opening, informative and honest.  Link to Brene Brown’s Ted Talk talk on shame.

Note: We do recommend that anyone who would like to participate in a RYH Conquering Shame group has first gone through our other two RYH workbooks, Processing Pain and Understanding Emotions.

bandages

Each day that I sit in my counseling room, I listen to people share their stories. Stories that come with pain and stories that come with questions. Am I going to get better? Am I crazy? Will this ever end? Why did God let this happen to me?

To find answers and to feel better, people must experience the slow process of healing. And when there is pain, time always seems too long.

To help people understand the significance of time in their healing process, I have found a helpful metaphor. It is simple and understandable.

The healing of a heart wound is like the healing of a flesh wound.

Everyone has had a flesh wound and watched it heal. We all understand that.

 

The flesh that has not been wounded is like our heart when we are born, clear and undamaged.

Then the injury comes. To the flesh – a cut, a burn, a puncture. To the heart – abuse, yelling, neglect. The area becomes inflamed, agitated, irritated.

To heal well, a wound must be attended well. Here is what happens when a wound is not taken care of properly.

To the flesh, a hasty bandage is applied, maybe not adequate, but what is handy at the time. There may be no cleaning agent or antibiotic available.

To the heart, a crudely fashioned coping mechanism is applied, frequently by a child who has no idea of the extent of his injury or how to take care of it. Usually the adult who should be helping is not able. Or that adult may have caused the injury.

The flesh wound heals on the outside and for a while looks better. But underneath the skin, the poisons are brewing. They are destroying tissue, breeding infection and creating pus. This brewing poison can only be contained so long before it erupts through the skin.

A heart wound heals on the outside, too. A hurt child learns how to function and cover up the pain. Maybe to friends and neighbors he looks fine. He might do well in school. Inside, the child’s heart is secretly being destroyed. The poisons of hurt and pain are festering out of sight from the world. Just like a flesh wound, these poisons can only be contained for so long. Eventually they will erupt; acting out rebelliously as a teenager, drug or alcohol addiction, bad relationships, the inability to function at work or anger.

Once an eruption occurs, flesh or heart, the wound needs to be be dealt with. The exposed infected flesh is not pretty. The exposed hurt heart is not pretty. However, the good thing is that exposure allows healing to occur.

The pain of the eruption is harsh. The pain of the treatment will be intense. When an infected flesh wound is cleaned out, it hurts. It was already painful, now it is being hurt again on top of the original hurt. When a heart wound is cleaned out, it hurts. It was already wounded, now that tenderness is being touched again. When a person tells the story of how they were hurt, they feel that hurt again.

However, once the cleaning out begins, relief can come. The poison is being removed. The pain of abuse and the trauma of the wound are being healed. It has to hurt worse before it can begin to feel better. Cleaning out a wound is painful.

A flesh wound will not miraculously heal overnight. It will gradually begin to feel better, a day at a time. Likewise with a heart wound. God does not usually allow a fast healing. If we didn’t experience the process and learn from it, if healing were instantaneous, we might not be so careful with our flesh or with our hearts. We might not protect them well. We might be more likely to re-injure them.

A flesh wound usually leaves a scar. Depending on the severity of the wound it may be a big scar or a little scar. If it is a small wound and leaves a small scar, we will probably not remember how much it hurt. If it is a big wound and leaves a big scar, we are more likely to remember not only the wound, but also how it happened and how we survived it. With wounds of the heart, the scar is not visible to the naked eye. However, the scar is very visible to the eyes of our heart. It reminds us of the pain and how we survived it.

One way we let others see our heart scars is to tell our story. The telling of our story is healing, both for the teller and for the person who hears the story. If the person who hears has experienced a similar hurt, he feels hopeful. Someone else who knows the pain, who understands the experience, has healed.

Since each person has a different personality, a different temperament and a different experience, each person’s wound will be different. And yet, all wounds heal the same way. They are re-opened and cleaned. As the scar forms, there is relief and the freedom that comes as people discover who they really are.

We can’t heal our heart wounds alone. We need help. Help is what happens in a counseling room.

If you have a wounded heart, there is a healing process for you. There is hope and there is freedom.

[A counseling room is not the only place where healing occurs. At WDA, we are committed to helping the Church become a place where heart wounds can be healed. For more information, click here for Restoring Your Heart.]

Do you have heart wounds that need healing?

What are your heart wounds?

To understand more about how we get hurt, read How Emotional Problems Develop, a free download from WDA. Click here to access.

Brazil

Translation Team Established for Brazil! Partner with us to help!

Hello! How are you? and God bless you!

From Brazil.

WDA in Brazil

Rio Tinto, Brazil is a city of about 25,000 with a huge catholic church right in the middle of town. The whole city spreads out around this very visible church. And in this city of Rio Tinto, there lives a very interesting man named Fernando Frincu.  One of the interesting things about Fernando is that, even though he lives in Brazil, he is Romanian. Fernando and his wife Carolina are associate staff members with WDA.

Everette Albrecht, who is on the WDA Equipping Team at Purdue University, has been to Rio Tinto about seven times over the years to teach discipleship principles. The pastors in that area were learning a lot about how to disciple others and in the course of their training, Everette starting teaching them about the importance of emotional healing. Just like everywhere else, the emotional needs are huge there and the pastors wanted to learn more.

So, in the summers of 2010 and 2012, Margo and Jack, from the WDA Restorative Team headed south with Everette, to teach and train about emotional healing and the importance of this in the discipleship process. They had the privilege of returning there again in August of 2013 for another three weeks and this is their report…..

Testimony of God’s Healing Work

Last year in Brazil, Margo had shared her own story of healing and redemption with some of the women. Talking about her struggles empowered the women there to open up their own hearts.

“One lady (Helen) came up and thanked me for sharing my testimony in Joao Pessoa. We had chatted with each other last year. She shared more of her story with me this year. God has brought healing in her life. She has asked her Pastor for permission to lead a Restoring Your Heart (RYH) group in her church.

M., another young lady with whom I met last year, told me that hearing my “history” had helped her in the healing process. Since I’d seen her last summer, M. had participated in a Restoring Your Heart group and as a result, had forgiven her father. She told me with a smile that she was going to buy a gift for him for Father’s Day! She also wrote him a letter to apologize to him and tell him she loved him. M’s father wrote her back and asked her for forgiveness as well!

A highlight of our time was hearing feedback from a group of men and women (in Rio Tinto) who had participated in RYH groups during the year since we had been there. Each person talked about what they had learned, their initial concerns, the benefits to them and their desire for more healing in their lives. They all plan to continue participating in RYH groups.”

The seeds planted over the last two years had already born much fruit!

Discipleship and Emotional Healing

One of Everette’s goals for this trip was to introduce church leaders and seminary students to WDA’s philosophy of ministry, in two new areas, Joao Pessoa and Campina Grande. Everette has such a gift for teaching and has a huge amount of experience training seminary students in both Mexico and Brazil.

Fernando, Carolina, Everette, Margo and Jack in Brazil
Fernando, Carolina, Everette, Margo and Jack in Brazil

The team was encouraged by the fact that Fernando and Carolina both have a strong vision for discipleship and emotional healing. Since one of WDA’s objectives is to train people in the countries we visit, Margo, Jack and Everette spent extra time this summer with Fernando and Carolina.  They were able to share more advanced training in both restorative and discipleship principles and practices. This will allow Fernando and Carolina to better train the people in their own community and thereby spread the process. We feel this is the best way to multiply the blessings of healing and growth. Fernando’s schedule will allow him to do future training both in Brazil and also in Romania and their contacts will open the doors for WDA to hold even more seminars in Brazil.

“We work so well as a team with Fernando and Carolina. They are so teachable and it is a joy to be in partnership with them. We are very blessed to have them on staff with WDA.”

 Next Step: Translation of Materials

With most of the objectives of this trip being accomplished, including forming a translation team to work on both discipleship and restorative materials, Margo, Jack and Everette are looking forward to returning again next August. They plan, among other things, to do seminars in three large churches in different parts of Sao Paulo, a city where news of God is desperately needed.

We ask that you would pray with us for the trip next year, for Fernando and Carolina and for the people of Brazil. Many of the areas we visit are very dark and very much in the stronghold of sexual sin. There is a huge need for healing there, both emotional and spiritual.

Note: It is expensive and time consuming to have WDA materials translated into other languages. If you would like to contribute financially to this effort or to the ongoing training in Brazil, please click the button below. Your donations will be gratefully received and used to advance God’s Kingdom.


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To find out more about the WDA International Ministry and all the amazing places we go, click here.  To find out more about the WDA Restoring Your Heart Ministry, click here.

winding path

winding pathThis was advice given to me by one of my professors when I expressed my distress to him over not being able to find a job immediately after graduating form my Master’s program. Needless to say, that was not exactly what I wanted to hear. I would rather have heard, “Oh, I know someone who is hiring and you would be perfect for that job. I will call them right away and you will probably have the job tomorrow.”

Yeah, that would have been nice. Nice and easy.

Trusting the process doesn’t sound quite as promising or quite as easy. But, having no other choice, I began trusting the process. And it wasn’t easy. In fact, it was rather hard.

However, through a series of steps, God led me to the perfect job that He had in mind just for me.

Trusting the process, that seemingly scary walk down a path of unknowns, is exactly what is required for emotional healing.

And of course, the first step to trusting the process is entering into the process. This is a step that most of us do rather reluctantly. We already know it won’t be easy, it may be long and we will get tired and discouraged along the way.

God, in His infinite love for us, has designed a healing process for emotional problems a process that has many components. Since we all need healing in different areas, in different degrees and in different ways, God Himself directs our healing process. And true to God’s character, He tailor makes a healing process just for us.

Read this week’s Pocket Principle, “Healing from Emotional Problems” to learn more about how to begin trusting your own process towards emotional health.

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

For more information visit the WDA Store.

Clock Face 8 am

Last week I finished meeting with a group of ten ladies that have become very special to me.  These ladies were selected to be part of a training group by the leadership of their church. The WDA Restorative Team  is helping their church launch a Restoring Your Heart emotional healing ministry. My ladies have now completed the majority of their training to be Restoring Your Heart (RYH) group leaders. Most of this training was accomplished by actually participating in RYH groups and working on their own self-awareness and dealing with their own hurts and pains. Sounds like fun, huh?

Here is a bit of the story of our journey together.

Last January, we met for the first time on a cold windy Sunday morning. My co-leader and I did not know exactly what to expect, the other nine group participants knew even less of what to expect. Let me start off by saying that 8 AM on a Sunday is not exactly the ideal time of the day or week to dig into your past and take a long look at your hurts. Yet this was the time allotted for the training, so we began.

In a typical “first group session” for RYH, we spend some time introducing ourselves and getting to know each other. This is one of my favorite parts of the group because we all know nothing about each other. It is always interesting to notice what people reveal about themselves, and I love the beginnings of getting to know each person. This group was no exception. Each lady told a little bit about herself and what she hoped to get out of the group. We are all usually very cordial and congenial and somewhat guarded when the group begins. After some sharing time in that first session, we went over the Group Covenant, which is basically the “rules” of the group. This is important because one of the primary “rules” is confidentiality. This is so important to make the group a safe place for healing. A person can be asked to leave a group if confidentiality is violated.

After talking a bit more about what to expect and what we hoped to accomplish, I asked the group members in that first session if they had any thoughts or questions. There was silence for a minute. Then one lady spoke up and said, “To be honest, I don’t know if I will feel safe sharing anything with this group. I have been hurt by gossip in the church in the past and I just don’t trust people in the church.” I nodded and said nothing. Then another lady spoke up and said basically the same thing, “I don’t know if I will feel safe sharing, either.” I waited a minute to see if anyone else had a comment or thought. Then I said, “You must only share what you feel safe sharing. Hopefully, as the group gets to know one another better, trust will form. But, YOU will be the one to decide what to share and when to share it.” Half the group still seemed uneasy; the other half nodded expectantly.

That was a year ago, two workbooks ago, numerous trainings ago, and many tears and laughs ago.

Over the course of our time together, the two ladies who were most unsure in the beginning have become two of the most hard-working, courageous, gut-sharing members of the group. It took some time and patience with each other. It took baby-steps of sharing and trusting. It took the powerful healing work of the Holy Spirit moving among these women and in their hearts.

These 9 ladies have bonded in a supernatural way with each other. They have shared things about their pasts and their hurts and their hearts that they have never shared with anyone else before. They have gained insights about themselves and new ways of thinking and acting. They have learned to express their feelings in healthier ways and they have learned the meaning of safety. They have disagreed with each other. They have confronted each other. And in so doing, have come out on the other side of their disagreements and confrontations even more connected and bonded. They have encouraged and supported each other. They have prayed for each other.  They have learned how they impact other people and why they do the things they do. Each lady, in her own unique way, has healed and become more self-aware. This is the beauty of a Restoring Your Heart group experience that is guided by the Holy Spirit.

These ladies have also learned a lot about the emotional healing process and group dynamics. They are all excited about using what they have learned and experienced to help other women heal: women who are also afraid to trust, women who have deep hurts from their childhood, women who want to grow and don’t know how.

When I end a training group, it is always a little sad and a lot exciting. It is sad for me because I grow so attached to the women in my groups. I hate to end our time together.

But it is also exciting to think back over how far they have come and to see the growth in their lives. It is exciting to see them want to share with others their experience of healing.

Ultimately, this healing is because of the power of the Holy Spirit, working in us and through us. However, the Spirit employs us as His co-workers and lets us work along side Him as He does His mighty work. I am encouraged by what is happening in these women and at their church. I am looking forward to seeing what God does next.

 

Have you ever been afraid to trust others, especially in the Church?

Have you ever wondered why the Church should be a safe place and sometimes isn’t?

Have you experienced emotional healing in the Church?

We would love to hear your comments or experiences.

 

PostScript:  At this church, there was a men’s training group going on at the same time. These men will also now be helping other men begin their healing process.

For more information on emotional issues we refer you to our Pocket Principles:

Created with Emotions

Understanding Emotional Problems

Healing From Emotional Problems