Dysfunctional is the new normal. Years ago being “dysfunctional” or coming from a “dysfunctional” home was not really the social norm. Now a days being dysfunctional is normal. It is not unusual to hear another’s story that includes abuse, broken families, or a slew of other childhood baggage.
Ignoring our pain has also become normal. We all have it. Pain that is. It is deep in our core. It is lurking around our deepest memories waiting to show it’s ugly head. Instead of working through it we have ignored it. We have convinced ourselves that we are over a certain pain or situation. However, every time certain situations occur we find out very quickly that thing we convinced ourselves that we were over was only being covered up.
If we are honest with ourselves we would recognize how messed up we really are. Somewhere in our minds we want to truly believe that we are healthy individuals. That our emotions, thoughts, actions, and behaviors all match up in a very positive way. The truth is that they often times do not. We struggle to control our emotions. Our thoughts often times are dark and brooding. So much so that we mask our true thoughts with good actions.
The ravages of sin are apparent. The pain, the hurt, the dead feelings we experience, and the denial of truth. All of it raging in our souls. All of it fighting to overtake us. To make matters worse not only are we fighting our own sin and pain we are also dealing with other peoples pain. We are trying to work through our own junk while others are projecting their junk on us. However, the same can be said of us as well. We project our issues and junk onto others. In truth, we are damaged and unhealthy in our soul.
We would prefer to cover up our damage instead of finding healing. This is the most heartbreaking news. To hide damage and convince ourselves, and others, that we are really okay, but in reality we are not okay. We need healing in our soul.
Soul Health, also known as emotional health, should be the goal we push towards. To work towards finding healing so that we can operate at the potential that God has placed in us. In reality, if we are not healthy then we will continually sabotage our lives and potential. That has to be one of the hardest things to swallow for me. To know I am full of potential, but I can potentially destroy my ability to obtain it, because of the sickness in my soul.
Emotional health is a word that is used often with no definition. So let me define it for you. Emotional health is not the absence of emotions, but it is your ability to understand the value of your emotions and use them to move your life forward in positive directions. The more emotional health you have, the more self-esteem you have. This means you do not frequently react with knee jerk responses, anxiety or panic to the events that occur in your life. Instead, you are usually calm and patient with yourself and others. You are an emotionally safe person to be around because you feel emotionally secure.
Emotionally healthy people do not judge or criticize others. This is because they have learned not to judge and criticize themselves. Emotional healthy people are able to erect strong boundaries in their lives and not feel insecure about them.
Emotionally healthy people know the value of relationships and do all they can to grow and maintain them. Emotionally healthy people are able to be vulnerable. Emotionally healthy people are able to maintain emotional security in the face of others unhealthy expressions of their brokenness.
We must push towards emotional health. The greater level of soul health the great our contentment with this life. The reason many of us are so miserable is because our pain continually drags us down. Let me give you a few things that may help you on your journey towards emotional health.
1. Recognize that you need healing.
The hardest step is admitting that you need help. To admit that we need help is to admit that we are not as whole or as good as we want to believe. Admitting you need help takes courage (lots of it) and vulnerability. Especially when you realize that everything you are going through is truly caused by your responses. Sure others have a part to play in the issue, but you are the master of your response not them.
Let me give you a word of caution. Sometimes our soul is so damaged that we cannot see that we are the problem. If the same issues are happening over and over no matter where you are at then you are the problem. Let that sink in. You are the source of the problem. Once we can accept that we can move on with our healing.
What is revealed can be healed. Recognizing your weak spot is the key to your inner healing. Once you are aware of your need for healing then you can get on with your healing. If we don’t come to a place of recognition of our need for healing then we will never find the healing that we need.
2. Accept that God is the only one who can heal us.
Time doesn’t heal all wounds. God heals all wounds. God uses time. However, we must always remember that it is God who heals and not time. I think this is tough for us to grasp. We hope and pray that time will cover and heal, but all time does is gives us distance from the pain. The greater the distance the more we can ignore it.
God wants you healed more then you do. I think we forget this. God loved us so much that He sent Jesus to die for us. In the crucifixion we can understand that healing is involved in God’s plan for salvation. Not only has God given us access to heaven (ultimate healing), but he also wants us to experience healing (inner healing) in this life. God has sacrificed everything for us. His desire for us is great then we can comprehend. If God was willing to sacrifice Jesus then we have to know that He is willing to do whatever it takes to bring about our healing.
When we take it out of God’s hands we lose the power needed to find healing. So many of us have the “I can do it” attitude. We think that we don’t need anyone. That God is there as a spectator and not a participator. When we live our life from this perspective then we are left powerless and unable to find healing. God is the creator and sustainer of all life. Through Him we can find healing. God is not a spectator and desires to participate in our lives.
3. Recognize that we have a part in our healing.
God is the healer. There is no greater truth. God expects you and I to take responsibility in the healing process. No one else can do it for you. The greater the degree we own our healing the greater the level of healing we can achieve.
God uses different methods. The interesting thing with Jesus is that you couldn’t pin Him down to a method. He had progressive healing, instant healing, and healed through others. There was consistency in healing, but there was no consistency in the method. Sometimes Jesus spit in people’s eyes and other times He just prayed. The method shifted, but the results (healing) was going to happen.
Our response and ownership of God’s methods can enact or deny our healing. We are naturally rebellious. We don’t want to do anything we haven’t deemed adequate. We see this best in the story of Naaman. He went to the prophet Elisha with a contagious skin disorder. Elisha told him to wash in a certain river. Naaman refused, and was not healed. Then Naaman was c convinced to bath in the river. Naaman was healed. When we obey God’s ways we will find healing. When we ignore God’s ways we will not find healing.
4. Take practical steps towards that healing.
a. Keep a journal. One of the most therapeutic methods to find healing is journalling. When I journal I do it prayerfully. Armed with an attitude of prayer I can write my pain and allow my words to intersect with God’s Spirit. This simple act can produce powerful results.
b. Reach out to close friends. You can’t do life alone. We all have to have someone to talk to. I am not saying talk to everyone. That would be unwise. I am saying to find 1 or 2 people that you can trust. If you say “I cannot trust anyone” then that statement should be an indication of how unhealthy you are. We all need to trust someone. We are not an island, but a community. We all need someone.
c. Don’t be afraid to see a counselor. There is this running fear of counselors. They are trained professionals with the tools we need to move forward. We have to get over our fear and realize God uses doctors. Luke, The Bible writer, was a doctor. If Luke was a doctor, and he wrote a Gospel book, what makes you think God won’t use one now? If you are hitting a wall in your healing then I HIGHLY suggest you see a trained professional.
d. Pray. Continually stay in contact with the ONE who made you. When we stay in contact with the creator then He can lead the created (us) into the path of healing. With every step we make we have to pray. When choosing friends, doctors, or methods of journaling we need to pray. Pray. Pray. Pray. Then pray some more.
Over the next several post I am going to chronicle the difference types of emotionally challenged people. I am also going to help define some ways to overcome each type.
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