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Entries in healing (4)


Why the "Correct their stinking thinking" model doesn't always help.

Most Christians have been given the Corrective Thinking Model of helping:  "This friend isn't able to heal because they've got 'stinking thinking' that's preventing it.  They're not able to receive the healing because they are holding stubbornly to misguided, destructive, even faithless thoughts." 

While on the one hand, this may be true in some cases, it often isn't helpful to tell the person that they're believing and thinking wrongly, and it may not reveal the true problem.   I've discovered when using the Corrective Thinking Model that it only proves mildly helpful because it often can't bring about the recovery needed: Besides the person may already be well-aware of their destructive thought patterns, yet feel helpless to overcome them.

The Corrective Thinking Model [Just Fix What's Wrong With Their Bad Thinking] is rooted in an Analysis Model that assumes:  "If we can diagnose the why, then we've healed the what."  This model assumes that analysis equals healing.  It does not:  Just like determining why you broke your leg during a skiing accident doesn't, in and of itself, heal the bones.  Answering the "why" only gives you revelation not restoration.

Agnes Sanford, in her classic on prayer, The Healing Light, describes the hazards of the "Correct their bad thinking" model:

"You mustn't think that way!"  cries the would-be helper.  "You'll never get well when you think that way!  My dear, let me tell you ..."   And [the helper] proceeds to hold forth upon her own line, to hand over her own ready-made cure-all.  ...

Sometimes it happens to fit the need of the sufferer, and sometimes it does not.  And the one who longs to help mourns that the patient has no spiritual understanding. 


Sanford offers this counsel to would-be friends and helpers: 

The sick mind does not respond to reason.

[Notice what Sanford indicates:  In our frustration as helpers, we often blame the patient for a lack of spiritual understanding, rather than questioning the approach used.]


A better model:

We often jump in with the Corrective Thinking Model because we sincerely want to help, and it's the only model we've been given.  A more helpful question than, "How do I correct this person's poor thinking and bad beliefs about themselves or God," might be,

"Jesus, you got here before I did.  What are you up to?  Before I got here, you were already initiating my friend's restoration.  Help me understand what you're doing as you love my friend.  How can I join you?"  


There's no shame in this: We're simply being invited to learn from Jesus, who is a gracious teacher. 

Recommended resources:

Note:  This is an issue I've addressed in the past in other places, especially in a two-part podcast with author Dwight Edwards ["Revolution Within"]:

  1. Podcast:  "Revolution Within," Part One
  2. Podcast:  "Revolution Within,"  Part Two



Disarming shame: Will 'naming it' alone really help?


Shame derives its power from being unspeakable.  That's why it loves perfectionists - it's so easy to keep us quiet. If we cultivate enough awareness about shame to name it and speak to it, we've basically cut it off at the knees.  Shame hates having words wrapped around it.  If we speak shame, it begins to whither.  - from "Daring Greatly," by Brene' Brown

Do you agree with this? What is true about Brene's claim?  What might be missing?

I have a great deal of respect for Brene' Brown, the quote's author.  I think her analysis of shame - what it is and how is disables us - is dead-on.  And I agree that we need to be talking about shame more, bringing its debilitating deception into the light.

Yet, I wonder if merely exposing shame by talking about it, "wrapping words around it," really heals it.  Yes, putting words to shame and how it hurts might makes us feel less alone because we've realized that shame is a universal kind of brokeness.  "Speaking to shame" might even help us gain more clarity around:

  • the underlying causes of our husband's distance and anger, 

  • or the sense that I'm never enough for anyone; despite my best efforts,

  • or why we end up believing that God's heart is set against us, rather than believing his intent is always deliverance, as mysterious as that deliverance often is. 

"Wrapping words around shame" may help us realize, "Oh, so that's why I feel so afraid of showing up with my full heart; or taking risks; of entering in." 

But does this mean the shame is healed?  - As in, that it no longer has power over us; and something more redemptive and glorious has taken its place?  I don't think so.  Only healing heals.

Think how often over the last ten years you've talked about that betrayal that haunts you; or the time that you were fired for no reason; or the years that the church leadership abused your trust.  How many different conversations have you had about it....yet the wound seems so unhealed, despite you naming it and understanding its effect more clearly?

My prayer for us is this: 
Father, heal the wounds of shame that have lied to us for too long.  Heal them with your affection.  And as you do this, we invite your Spirit to release the noble goodness of our new-hearted, Christ-given identity - knowing that we are now more worthy and valuable than we could possible imagine.




"I have come that you might behave?"

We were handed the wrong lens:
You will read Scripture through whatever lens you’ve been given. For decades, I mis-read the Scriptures as a way to behave better so that I could act like a good Christian. Others I know have been mislead as well. In fact, one man I know told me, “The four Gospels are about how we behave.”

Is that what Jesus came for? —“I have come that you might behave.”?

The commands of Jesus as well as Paul’s strong guidance to young churches felt heavy and wearisome to me. The commands became admonitions to avoid certain behaviors and take on other ones, lest God be displeased.

I was never told Jesus had given me a new and pure heart or the supernatural power for good that comes with it. I was left reading the New Covenant through an Old Covenant mentality [ a distorted lens]. After a while, one begins to resent God and despise the Christian life for requiring something, without providing the power to carry it out.

And that's the point:  the new heart Jesus gave you, tended by the Holy Spirit, gives you the power to change, to live well and to relate well.   As long as you believe your heart remains 'wicked' and 'prone to wander,' your healing will be sabotaged and the work of Jesus will be short-circuited.

[Excerpted from Jim's book, Recover Your Good Heart - Living free from religious guilt and the shame of not good-enough]

I will give you a new heart.  - Ezekiel 36:26


Deep tissue healing

Medical students will tell you that in a deep wound two kinds of tissue must heal:  the connective tissue beneath the surface and the outer, protective layer of skin. 
- Philip Yancey, What Good is God?

Let's use the idea of deep tissue vs. surface healing as a metaphor for healing the whole person:  What is 'deep below the surface' must heal if the person is to become well.  The layers below the surface must be knit together in wholeness. 

The heart [deep core of a person's identity] must be made well if the person is to recover from the Fall.  For too long, the Church has focused on getting the outer layer to look good, to behave well; as if apparent health on the surface was necessarily indicative of the reality on the inside.  [We all know that appearances can be faked.]

The new paradigm for spiritual [and therefore mental, physical, social] wholeness is this:  heal the heart [the reality below the surface] and you begin healing the whole person.  Health radiates from the Christ-follower's new heart [deep core] outwards.  The focus for God is not on proper outward appearances -- the surface layers:  Rather, His goal is the well-being and restoration of the heart/spirit deeper within; and the subsequent nourishing and release of the life-giving resources of that new heart.

This has already occured in the Christ-follower.  The sickly and sin-ravaged heart has been replaced.  A transplant took place when you said 'yes' to Jesus:  the Son dies to give his heart to the wounded and dying.  The wounded one receives the Son's heart so that he can live well.