By Mary Ellis
As Christians we are commanded by God, “love thy neighbor as thyself (Mark 12:31). However, many Christians do not love themselves; consequently, they have a difficult time loving others. The pain of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse and the resulting feelings of hurt and shame can linger for years. Unhealed hurt can manifest in a myriad of ways such as controlling others, dependency on others, chemical addictions, social anxiety, distrust, or acting out in many ways. People with this type of pain often sabotage themselves and their relationships. However, healing is possible. There are many steps to emotional healing, but the
first is to take God’s offer seriously regarding the healing power of His word: “He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions” (Psalm 107:20).
First, God’s Word will correct distorted thinking so that we can determine true guilt from false guilt or condemnation. God’s written Word—not comparison to other people—is our moral compass in determining right from wrong. We can accept responsibility for true guilt, which results from sin we have committed, and let go of shame for something done to us by someone else. The remedy for true guilt is repentance, which is confession (admission) of wrong doing to God. When we truly have a repentant heart, God’s grace empowers us to make the needed changes. A clean heart results in a sense of relief and peace. Moreover, it replaces confusion with vision and direction.
Pain or trauma can make one feel powerless and as if life is out of control. It is common for one to react to this by becoming a “control freak.” Controlling behavior is an attempt to feel secure, but it can wreck relationships and lead to exhaustion from the continual strain of pushing away the pain, the memories, and the emotions. God’s Word provides a paradoxical solution. Instead of the strain of staying in control, one should give up control by submitting to God. (See Matthew 11:28.)
Pain can also come from distorted perceptions in relationships. Who has not experienced
rejection at some time in life? Some people are able to let it roll away like water off a duck’s back. Others dwell on their experiences and anticipate further rejection. As a result they often perceive rejection where none exists. The Word of God can renew our minds so that we are healed and free of distorted perceptions. (See Romans 12:2.)
Reading God’s Word daily can wash and cleanse our minds from worldly views of what makes us worthy and valuable. (See Ephesians 5:25-26.) We need our minds cleansed from the distortions of a perfectionist mindset which make us feel as if we are never good enough. The truth is, we are not good enough! When you realize the goodness of God and His great gift of salvation, then your response to Him is love. “We love him because he first loved us” (I John 4:19). When you truly love the Lord, you will desire to keep His commandments. “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (John 14:21). As the truth of God’s love for you is revealed to you through His sacrifice and His Word, you will find a love like you have never known, a love that flows into your deepest wounds and the darkest corners of your heart. It brings healing and light.
If you are hurting or lonely, I encourage you to pick up your Bible and let God’s Word bring healing to your wounded heart—healing from the inside out.