I would be surprised if anyone could grow up in this sinful world without emotional scars. Theres too much cruelty, selfishness, lust, anger and fear to escape. And even those who do grow up in a safe family sooner or later engage the larger society and the damage begins. Not only are we wounded when bad things are done to us, but we also end up wounded when we do bad things to others. As the years pass we become both victim and perpetrator. There are people we need to forgive, but there are also people from whom we need to beg forgiveness. And through it all our subconscious mind is recording everything. Even if we succeed in driving these thoughts out of our conscious mind they dont disappear, they merely go underground. And the passing of time doesnt heal the damage either. A lifetime can go by with the scars of childhood or youth still influencing a personality as if they happened yesterday.
So we end up carrying around toxic memories that seep their poison into our feelings, attitudes, thoughts and emotions, though were unaware its happening. A reaction today is actually a reaction to something that happened long ago. Fear, low self-esteem, depression, anger, sexual vulnerability, shame, greed, lying, etc. often have a root thats buried in the soil of the past. And toxic memories accumulate so its possible to end up with so many we become unable to find peace. We think we must be crazy. We consider suicide just to get relief.
Two minds (Ro 8:5-8)
Paul contrasts two minds: the mind of the flesh and the mind of the spirit and then appeals to us to follow one and warns us of the danger of following the other. In order to do this I first have to learn to distinguish between the two and recognize which is talking to me at the moment:
1) The mind of the flesh: In each of us, even after we become born-again, there remains a flow of thoughts that arise not from our spirit, but from our physical brain:
Programmed thinking: Thoughts actually produce physical pathways in our brains and the longer we think those thoughts the deeper those pathways become. It takes a concerted effort to repattern our thinking (Ro 12:2).
The subconscious: Theres a part of our mind that records reality from our perspective (whether true or false). It doesnt distinguish whats real from whats being pretended. So its usually full of toxic memories and distorted reality, but it constantly influences our thinking, usually without our being aware of it.
2) The mind of the spirit: After were born-again we become aware of new thoughts and feelings that present themselves to our mind. This happens much more intensely and more frequently when were consciously close to the Lord in worship and prayer. A new thought or attitude can suddenly envelop us and everything looks different. Hope arises, were sure God will answer, the right decision becomes obvious, we recognize a new option we never saw before. My spirit is now thinking Gods thoughts, its following after the Spirit.
Heart-Searcher (Ro 8:27)
Negative memories are a significant part of the mind of the flesh that Paul tells us to deal with as born-again Christians. Such memories dont disappear when we get saved, but the One who can heal them arrives. Paul calls Him, He who searches the hearts and says He knows everything there (Ro 8:27). David says the same thing (Ps 139:1-6), and so does Barnabas (Heb 4:13).
And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do (Heb 4:13).
He can heal our memories, but such healing doesnt take place in one event. Its a process, a walk, not a quick fix. In Romans 12:2 Paul says,
be transformed by the renewing of the mind
and the verb tense he chooses tells us its an ongoing process. He says as this renewal takes place we will discover and enter into Gods will for our lives.
For me the process took about two years, though I still come across stray memories now and then. I recognized I needed healing and invited Him to search my heart. I put the matter totally in His hands. He brought up what He wanted, when He wanted to. Each time I responded as follows:
1) Ask the Holy Spirit to bring to remembrance those memories He knows you need to deal with, and keep back those you do not.
Do not induce vomiting
Dont systematize this: What happened when you were 3, 4, etc.
You can still feel an impact from certain memories when you think about them.
The Holy Spirit will bring to mind memories when and where He wants to.
2) Deal with each matter biblically
In certain cases action may be required (go, call
Sit down and do this in a careful, focused way.
3) Visualize Jesus in that memory
See Him in your mind
He was present
Dont ask: Why did You let that happen?
He didnt condone the sin, He wasnt indifferent, but He does allow awful things to happen. I think Hes given the human race far more freedom than we realize.
4) Lay hands on yourself or have someone else do it.
You can effectively lay hands on yourself
Pray for the memory to heal just like a physical illness
God will remove the poison so it wont effect you anymore. You can still recall the event but you no longer get the feelings when you do.
Just as our bodies may still contain illness after were born-again, our physical brains may still contain memories that torment us. Yet these can be healed. Some of us may already be quite whole and dont need much of this, but some do. Some are really damaged and need to be set free. And isnt our God wonderful, if I ask Him to, Hell search my heart and pull out the memories that are effecting me and break their power so I can discover who I really am in Christ.
1) Sometimes God doesnt wait for us to ask Him to heal a memory, He may draw us into a conversation with Him during worship or listening to the Word or while taking communion. Has this ever happened to you? Tell us about it.
2) Do you have an example of a healed memory you would like to share?