Wounds


Excerpt from manuscript I’m working on:

When God designed our bodies he instilled in us a natural healing process for when we get injured or when we get sick. Just watch the way a cut heals for an example of this.

The healing process doesn’t always happen in the way or the timing that we want though. This is because we are not in charge of our own healing, God is. The healing is God’s choice, it’s always God’s choice. For example, God may choose not to heal the physical or mental illness. He may choose, instead, to give us the inner strength, peace, and resources to cope with the illness.

When it comes to emotional and spiritual wounds, however, I believe that God wants to heal us. I believe he wants to heal us so we can be effective instruments in furthering his work in the world in the specific way he chose for us to do that. In his book, The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren states “Before God created you, he decided what role he wanted you to play on earth. He planned exactly how he wanted you to serve him, and then he shaped you for those tasks. You are the way you are because you were made for a specific ministry.”

God wants us to fulfill the purpose he chose for us, and he wants us to fulfill it effectively. Therefore, he gave us the skills, abilities, talents, and gifts to fulfill that purpose. In addition, he gave us a passion to do it. By giving us everything we need to fulfill his purpose for our life, he wired us to succeed. We will not succeed however, if we are unhealthy emotionally and/or spiritually. Therefore, if we want to successfully walk in God’s specific will for our lives, it is imperative that we allow God to heal our emotional and spiritual wounds.

Remember though … God is a gentleman. Just as he doesn’t force his invitations for relationship on us, he also doesn’t force his healing on us. He gave us free will. This means we have the power to make choices, and the choices we make can either allow God to heal us or can hinder him from healing us. Our choices can either facilitate the natural healing process or can block it.

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Healing is a choice. It’s not our choice though, it’s God’s choice. It’s always God’s choice.

God created a natural healing process. When we get injured or when we get sick there is a natural healing process that takes place. Healing doesn’t always happen though. Sometimes people get injured or get sick and healing doesn’t occur and they die or live broken lives. OR, the healing doesn’t happen in the way or the timing that we want. For example, God may choose not to heal the physical or mental illness. He may choose, instead, to give us the inner strength, peace, and resources to cope with the illness. How and why this happens I haven’t a clue. Healing is God’s choice. It’s always his choice.

When it comes to emotional and spiritual wounds, however, I believe that God wants to heal us. I believe that he wants us to be healthy emotionally and spiritually so that we can better serve him. He also gave us free will, which means that we are able to make choices. The choices that we make can either allow God to heal us or can hinder him from healing us. Our choices can either facilitate the natural healing process or can block it.

The first choice we need to make re: emotional and spiritual wounds is whether or not we want to get well. Believe it or not, not everyone wants to get well. We can become comfortable with our wounds and want to hold on to them. Though they may get in the way in some area or areas of life, they may be our best friends or protectors in other areas.

The next choice we have to make is are we willing to do whatever it takes to get well. Sometimes there are things we need to do, doctors that we need to see, medicines that we need to take, procedures that we need to undergo, therapy sessions we need to go to, recovery meetings we need to attend, etc. in order to get well. The question then becomes are we willing to do whatever is needed.

(Some of the above content is paraphrased from Steve Arterburn’s book Healing is a Choice)

There is an event recorded in the gospel of Luke about a man who did what he had to do to be healed. “One day while Jesus was teaching, some Pharisees and teachers of religious law were sitting nearby. (It seems that these men showed up from every village in all Galilee and Judea, as well as from Jerusalem.) And the Lord’s healing power was strongly with Jesus. Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a sleeping mat. They tried to take him inside to Jesus, but they couldn’t reach him because of the crowd. So they went up to the roof and took off some tiles. Then they lowered the sick man on his mat down into the crowd, right in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the man, ‘Young man, your sins are forgiven.’ But the Pharisees and teachers of religious law said to themselves, ‘Who does he think he is? That’s blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!’ Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he asked them, ‘Why do you question this in your hearts? Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.’ Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!’ And immediately, as everyone watched, the man jumped up, picked up his mat, and went home praising God” (Luke 5: 17-25).

Here’s a song about this event. I invite you to take a listen.
Joy Gardner – Healer In The House (Live)

As I have journeyed through life I have had different purposes for different seasons of my life.

When I was a senior in high school I took a psychology course. I was fascinated by the concept that there are reasons why people do what they do and feel what they feel. This course was the beginning of a lifelong desire to understand what makes people tick. I subsequently majored in psychology in college, went to graduate school where I earned a master’s degree in clinical social work, and embarked on a career as a psychotherapist. I also engaged in therapy myself as a client to understand what made me tick.

The desire to understand what makes people tick grew into a passion for helping people live healthy, happy lives emotionally and relationally. When God called me to lead a Celebrate Recovery ministry in August 2003, I was given another avenue through which to help people heal the hurts, habits, and hang-ups which impeded them from living the lives they were created to live.

In July 2014 God narrowed this passion to focus on women. He lit a fire in my heart to help his daughters be set free from the belief systems and practices that tell them they are second-class citizens, and stop them from being who God created them to be. I put form to this passion and calling by writing When Going with the Flow Isn’t Enough, Swim Upstream. In this book I focus on how the Christian Church has contributed to maintaining gender inequality in the United States. I hope that the men and women who read it will be encouraged to swim upstream against gender inequality wherever they either see it happening to others or experience it themselves. I finished this manuscript about one month ago. The publishing process will begin in January.

I don’t know what else God may want me to do. I don’t need to know right now. I just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other, trusting that he will let me know what he wants me to do. “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

turn turn turn the byrds lyrics

My name is Mary. I’m a recovering people pleaser and approval seeker.

Growing up I learned that other people’s opinions were very important, that their opinions were the source of my self-worth and of love. I, of course, didn’t realize at the time that I was learning these things, however, I grew into an approval seeker and people pleaser PAR EXCELLANCE!

I lived this way for my first forty years on the planet. I then became a follower of Jesus Christ and my idea of where my self-worth and where love came from slowly began to change. As I walked with Christ he taught me that my source of self-esteem and self-worth does not come from the approval of people. It comes from my relationship with him. I am a child of God and therefore I have worth. He loves me, period. Jesus taught me that I cannot and do not need to earn his love. I cannot make him love me and I cannot make him not love me. He loves me no matter what, and he knew me and loved me before he placed me in my mother’s womb.

Fairly early in my faith walk (mid to late 1990s), I started experiencing a nagging sense that I was supposed to do something for God. It kept gnawing at me inside and wouldn’t go away. Though I had this sense, I didn’t have the faintest idea what God wanted me to do. In an effort to try to understand what it was I was supposed to do, I served in a number of different ministries. Though each of these were good and enjoyable and somewhat fulfilling, not one of them felt like the right fit. Each one felt like putting on a jacket with shoulders that were too tight or sleeves that were too short. I didn’t give up though, and eventually I found the right fit.

In 2003 God let me know beyond the shadow of a doubt that he wanted me to be a Celebrate Recovery leader. As I served in that capacity I knew I had finally found the right fit. I knew I was walking in the will of God for my life. This knowing was accompanied by a profound inner peace and joy that was unlike anything I had ever experienced. Soon after this I developed my personal definition of success, i.e. to faithfully fulfill my God-given purpose. That definition has not changed. I am now living my life for an audience of One. I am living to please God, not to please human beings. This extends to all areas of my life, not just the ministry I serve in. My ultimate measure of success, which flows naturally from my definition of success, will be to hear, when I stand before God, “Well done good and faithful servant.”

Since I put God in the driver’s seat of my life, I have not always been successful in leaving him there. There have been times when I put myself back in the driver’s seat, doing life my way. When I allowed God to be in the driver’s seat of my life, I experienced an internal peace and joy that surpasses all human understanding. The reason for this is that kind of peace and joy can only come from God. When I put myself back in the driver’s seat of my life, I was looking for that peace and joy to come from human achievements and human relationships. What I received was the peace and joy that the world gives. Having experienced both of these scenarios, I can tell you that the peace and joy that the world gives is hollow compared to the peace and joy that God gives. Nothing can compare to that deep certainty you feel when you know you are right where you are supposed to be, doing exactly what you were created to do.

I was recently talking with a young woman who was physically, sexually and psychologically abused as a child. I said something about trusting God. Her immediate, and angry, response was “Why should I trust God, he didn’t protect me as a child!”

Now that’s a tough question. My reply to her was “I don’t know what to say to that. I need to think about it.”

Twenty four hours later I remembered a Celebrate Recovery teaching on this very issue and sent her the following message: “Don’t be mad at God for what your parents did. He gave us all free will. If he took away your parents’ free will He would have to take it away from all of us.” I haven’t heard from her since. I hope she’s chewing on this.

This past weekend I was a vendor at The Pink Event, a women’s expo in Baltimore. A woman who was looking at my books asked me what my ministry is about. That started me thinking about the need to boil my ministry down to its core. I then came up with the following purpose statement: Isn’t Enough Ministries exists to help individuals overcome the following obstacles to becoming who God created them to be: unhealed hurts, destructive habits, and crippling hang-ups; religion instead of relationship; the stained glass ceiling; and refusal to wait on God.

After writing my last post I was reminded of an article I wrote a number of years ago titled 12 Steps=the Christian Walk. Here is the article beginning at Step 2:

Step 1, if worked properly, leaves us feeling empty and ready for Step 2 – We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. When we begin to see that help is available to us and as we reach out and accept what our Higher Power has to offer, we start to feel hopeful that our life will improve and we’ll feel better. To take this step we need not understand what lies ahead. We need to trust that God knows what lies ahead and that He loves us and will take care of us.

Taking Step 2 positions us to take Step 3 – We made a decision to turn our lives and our wills over to the care of God. In the first 2 steps we became aware of our condition and accepted the idea of a power greater than ourselves. Step 3 is decision time. When we take Step 3 God becomes the manager of our life and we learn to accept life on His terms. Many of us initially take Step 3 by turning over only certain parts of our lives to God. We are willing to turn over the problematic parts of our lives when we see they are making our lives unmanageable, however, we hold onto other parts of our lives thinking we can manage them just fine thank you very much. We eventually realize, however, that we cannot barter with God. We must surrender our entire will and every area of our life to His care if we really want to recover. When we are finally able and willing to accept this reality, our journey to wholeness begins for real and we are ready to work Step 4.

Step 4 – We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves – opens our eyes to the weaknesses in our lives that need changing and helps us to build on our strengths. We examine our behavior and expand our understanding of ourselves. As we begin to see ourselves clearly, we learn to accept our whole character – the good and the bad. As our self-discovery unfolds, we begin to recognize the role that denial has played in our lives. This realization is the basis for embracing the truth of our personal history. An honest and thorough inventory leads to self-acceptance and freedom.

Step 5 – We admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs – gives us the opportunity to set aside our pride as we see ourselves through the lens of reality. Step 5 is a pathway out of isolation and loneliness, and results in freedom, happiness and serenity. Working Step 5 lays a new foundation for our life of relationship to God and commitment to honesty & humility. Our growing relationship with God gives us the courage to examine ourselves and reveal our true self to ourselves, to God and to another human being. Self-disclosure is an important part of our Christian walk. We were created to live in community with both God and people. Authentic community requires disclosure. It is tempting to believe that telling God is all that is necessary because He ultimately forgives all sins. While this is true, confession to another human being provides special healing and wholeness and releases the grip of hidden sin. Once we share our inventory with God and with another human being we are ready to move on to Step 6.

Step 6 – We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character – provides us with a needed rest as God works in us to create needed change. Our task in this step is to develop the willingness to respond to God’s desired action in our lives. We may believe the saying “God helps those who help themselves, so get busy and change.” This, however, is not true. Change comes from God, not from our self-will, and it comes when we are willing to Let Go and Let God!

In Step 7 – We humbly ask Him to remove all our shortcomings – we Let God. We work this step on our knees in humble prayer, asking God to remove our shortcomings, one defect at a time. Asking God to remove our defects is a true measure of our willingness to surrender control. For those of us who have spent our lives thinking we were self-sufficient, surrendering control can be an extremely difficult task. It is also an extremely freeing task. It takes much faith & trust to work this step. We need to remember that God hears us and wants to answer our prayer. We also need to remember that God works on His timetable, not ours. He will remove our defects when He knows we are ready.

Step 8 – Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all – begins the process of healing damaged relationships. Up to this point in our recovery we have been looking at and dealing with how our hurts, habits and hang-ups affected us. We now begin to look at how they harmed others. Reviewing our Fourth Step inventory helps us determine who belongs on our list. Once our amends list is done we are ready to move on to Step 9 – We made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. This step gives us the opportunity to take concrete action to heal the damage of our past and to move further along on the pathway out of isolation and loneliness. Accepting responsibility for the harm we’ve done to others is a humbling experience because it forces us to admit the effect we have had on people that we care about. It requires much courage to successfully complete this step. It is not easy to admit to someone face to face that we have hurt him or her and to ask for forgiveness. Doing this, however, leads to increased self-esteem, serenity, and peace, both in ourselves and in our relationships.

Steps 8 & 9 help us repair our past. Step 10 – We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it – is a maintenance step that is designed to help us stay on track in our recovery. Doing a daily inventory and making amends as needed strengthens and protects our recovery and is a vital part of walking a healthy Christian walk.

Step 11 – We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and power to carry that out – is another maintenance step. Our relationship with God is our most important relationship. In order for that relationship to be vibrant and alive, ongoing honest communication is critical. As we draw near to God in prayer and meditation, we draw close to our source of power, serenity, guidance and healing. To ignore communication with God is to unplug our power source.

Step 12 – Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs – is an action step. Step 12 calls us to reach out to those who are hurting and struggling, and to share with them our experience, strength and hope. 1 Peter 3:10 tells us: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have”. The most powerful way that we can work Step 12 of carrying this message to others is to actually WALK the Christian walk, to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. When working Step 12 a good rule of thumb is “Actions speak louder than words”. There is no more powerful witness of God’s transformational love and power than a transformed life that lives that transformation day in and day out.

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