God’s design for healing emotional wounds
By Steve Prokopchak
When we suffer a deep physical wound, we are rushed off to the emergency room to have that wound receive necessary and immediate attention. It gets cleaned, anesthetized, and sewn up from the inside out so the healing process can begin. We are administered antibiotics to ward off infection and told to go home to rest and take our pain medicine as prescribed.
When we receive an emotional wound, rarely do we treat it with the same attention. We tell ourselves that it’s OK, it’s not too deep, and in time it will go away. But what if it doesn’t? What do we do then? I have yet to see an ER for an emotional wound, but I believe God knows just how to administer healing to the wounded soul and spirit.
When discussing healing of emotional wounds, the first question to be asked is, “What are we desiring to heal?” In his book Healing for Damaged Emotions, Dr. David Seamands states, “As trees have rings hidden under the bark of the tree which help to reveal its history, so we as humans have concealed pain under our protective skin.” Inside we have recorded “rings of our lives.” Dr. Seamands goes on to point out that these rings “deeply affect our concepts, our feelings, our relationships. They affect the way we look at life and God, at others and ourselves.”
What Are some of These Damaged Emotions?
One of the most common is rejection—a feeling of unworthiness and inferiority. Other damages occurred when our security and significance were threatened. A perfectionistic parent can place unattainable expectations upon a child, or fears may be handed down from a fear-filled parent.
Healing these areas means we must be willing to crawl down into the trenches of our lives and others’ lives when the Holy Spirit has made preparation for this. Pushing our way in will only do further damage. If a person is unwilling and not ready to face his or her childhood abuse, then we have no business forcing our way into that situation. Jesus does not add to the scars. If He opens us up to operate, He never leaves us exposed. He completes His work by sewing us up, healing us, and even removing the scar.
There are two scriptures that come to mind concerning this level of healing:
I Thessalonians 5:2: “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.”
Romans 8:5-11 (v. 5-6): “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”
God’s Spirit through our spirit longs to heal our minds and emotions. He desires our whole being to be in health.
There are three very important steps we can take to enter into this level of healing:
- Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal areas of deception and denounce them.
- Ask for Jesus’ cleansing through an honest and sincere confession to have Him purify us of all unrighteousness.
- Maintain humility, hide nothing, and confess everything.
General areas of emotional wounds are areas that we can all work through. An excellent assignment is to ask the person to write or journal any memories (positive and negative) on paper from their earliest years. This will help provide the agenda for a prayer time together.
This could include areas like previous generational issues, conception and birth, school encounters, relationship with parents and siblings, fears, teenage emotions/turmoil, rebellion, dating and premarital life, marriage, accidents, and any other trauma-filled memories.
Hebrews 4:13: “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
Philippians 3:13: “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.”
All of us have memories—memories of things that happened to us. Memories are real and often factual, but at the core of human pain is often a lie—something that is not true. Most of what we do is based upon memory. Memory is a wonderful thing unless there is a lie connected to the memory.
The Lord does not wipe clean our memory banks, but He will bring the truth to any lies we are telling ourselves which perpetuate the wounds. Often people know the truth, but do not apply it to the lie. The pain is not coming from the memory, but the lie within the memory. The consequence of believing a lie is that it may as well be the truth; the consequences are the same. We then perceive life through the lies in our memories.
Paul told the Ephesian church they were to “put off” their old and corrupt desires while “putting on” a new attitude of the mind in order to reflect righteousness in becoming like God. Our Counselor, Jesus, must reveal to us our old self and the lies that support those wounds. He then chooses to be the truth so that we can put on the new self of His creation, reflecting the likeness and character of our Savior.
I, for one, am so grateful that my Lord is not put off by my “old self,” but fully embraces a process of changing me from the inside out to become a “new creation” and the “righteousness of God.” (See II Corinthians 5:17, 21.)
About Steve Prokopchak
Steve serves on the DOVE International Apostolic Council and has been involved in the Christian counseling field for over 20 years. He earned a master of human services from Lincoln University. He is the author of several books, including Called Together, a premarital counseling workbook. He also travels throughout the world teaching and imparting to the lives of many, especially leaders. Read more about Steve or catch up on his blog.