The deepest question we can ask ourselves is who am I? From the moment we begin to live on this planet, we try to find our place in our world. Maybe you are the only son of a single mom. Maybe you were one of 4 children lost somewhere in the middle of trips to soccer practice. I remember how frustrated my mom would get at use kids and started to call for me and instead started with my sister and running down the list of family members including the dog…Lisa, Dede, uhhh, Dean, Midnight…. dang it.. Buddy come here right now!
What if God had trouble remembering us in the line up of the universe. “Adam, Abraham, Jacob, David, Joseph, Mary, Sue , John …. ah yes, Buddy, what can I do for you?” No, our heavenly Father has known our name from eternity past and not only that has created us in His image!
So how does being created in the image of God change the way I view myself today? Does it matter that I am not just here by chance? A bundle or randomness? Does it matter that I am not merely a product of my DNA and Genetics and every human has value?
This weeks pocket principle continues to look at what it means to be made in the image of God. It also reminds us that we are not all that God has created us to be! We have fallen from our place of perfection to a place of brokenness. Understanding People begins with Understanding Myself. We are created in the image of God. Who we are effects how we treat others as well. This pocket principle helps us consider how others view humanity vs how Christianity describes us.
How does knowing that you are created in the image of God change how you view yourself and others?
Pocket Principles® are currently offered along with Guided Discussions. The content of the Pocket Principles® will reinforce truth learned in the group discussion. Each workbook is formatted for use in a small group, where pocket principles may read prior to each discussion. Also, if a group member misses a meeting, he can read the corresponding Pocket PrincipleTM to review the information missed.
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: