Healing the Soul
Do you sometimes have thoughts you can’t control? Do you find yourself reacting to certain situations in self-punishing or hurtful ways? Do you sometimes feel stressed, anxious or depressed? Do you ever feel like nobody cares?
If your answer to any of these questions is “Yes,” you are like most Christians; you suffer from symptoms of an unhealed soul. These symptoms are the voice of your soul crying out for help—crying out for rightness—crying out for God’s love.
If we as Christians do not understand this, our lives can be frustrating, confusing and depressing. After all, we are Christians. We are born again. The Bible tells us that we are supposed to be joyful and loving. Jesus promised us life and life more abundant. Yet, sins and weights still pull us down. Our relationships with self, others and God are sabotaged.
But, take heart. There is hope! Understanding (1) how God created you, (2) how Satan uses lies to mess with God’s plan and (3) how God made a way for His truth to replace the lies, will help you become an active participant in the healing journey.
How God Created Us
God is a triune being; He is Father Son and Holy Spirit. And God created us in His image. We are of three parts—spirit, soul and body. First Thessalonians 5:23 says, Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Your body is the physical part of yourself. It keeps you alive on earth and gives the hidden parts of yourself—your spirit and soul—a resting place in this world. First Corinthians 6:19 says, Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you.
Just like your body connects you to earth, your spirit connects you to heaven. When you accept Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes in to live in your spirit and you are born again. Your spirit is now full of the truth of God’s love. Romans 8:16 says, The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.
Your soul is the link between your body and your spirit. It is the house for your mind, will and emotions—your nature. When you accept Jesus in your spirit, your soul does not automatically change and take on God’s nature. Adam’s nature still fills your soul.
What is in your soul (not what is in your spirit) determines the way you think, the emotions you have and how you interact with the world. If you feel depressed, your body shows it. If you are full of joy, your body shows that. Our body shows the world the hidden contents of our soul. Proverbs 23:7 says, For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.
Clearly it is the soul part of us Christians that is messed up, but why? What is the nature of the disease that afflicts the mind, will and emotions?
Lies Distort the Soul
Our mind, will and emotions are messed up because our souls are not filled with God. Our mind, will and emotions do not know and experience God as He really is—full of love for us.
God created you to be loved. Every soul has a deep desire and need to be loved. This basic fact has been proven over and over again in psychological research. Children deprived of loving relationships early in life—such as those raised in understaffed orphanages or by abusive caregivers—suffer emotional and relational problems throughout life. We humans were created for love.
God is love (1 John 4:16). If my spirit were filled with the God of love and my mind, will and emotions knew His love, then my body would radiate that to the world. Satan does not want that! The “enemy of our souls” does not want us looking like Jesus! That would spell his ultimate defeat. So the “father of lies” fills our soul with lies—lies about the God of love.
Especially when we are young and vulnerable—when our developing brains are most malleable—he infects us with lies. Because Satan begins planting the lies when we are preverbal children, they do not have words (by which we could more easily identify them as adults). Rather, they stay hidden beneath conscious awareness, in the framework of the mind.
The “father of lies” uses early experiences and traumatic events to shape our brains around one basic lie: “You are not loved.” Each individual carries a different derivative of that lie: “You are not loved because . . .” What comes after the “because” differs for each person: “because you did ______,” “because you didn’t try hard enough,” “because you are irreparably bad at the core.” Satan is creative in his evil scheming to keep us from the love of God.
All of us were raised by imperfect parents (who were raised by imperfect parents, who in turn were also raised by imperfect parents . . . clear back to Adam and Eve). In order to survive and make sense of the ways we were raised, our young minds formulated reasons for why we were treated in hurtful ways.
For example, a young girl may feel neglected and unloved . . . because she feels unattractive . . . , because she feels she can’t do enough good things to earn recognition . . . or because she feels she is inherently and shamefully unworthy. Any one of these “becauses” gives “rational” for her feeling neglected and unloved.
Patterns of thought developed in childhood persist in adulthood. In the above example, the girl who feels she is unloved because she is unattractive may grow into a young woman who is overly concerned with her looks or who believes she is so unattractive that she lets herself become grossly overweight. In either case, she lives out the lie she believes.
This is a simplified example, but it serves to illustrate the point. Early experience affects brain circuitry, which in turn affects thought/feeling/behavioral patterns. In this way the brain is wired by early experiences to reflect the lies. It is not like we were taught these lies; they were not hung, like facts, on existing brain structure. It is more like we caught the lies; they actually became part of the brain structure itself.
And tragically, the lie-based way our minds came to understand early caregivers and how they related to us, colors our understanding of God and how He relates to us. We see self, others and God through the darkened filter of the lies.
If the girl believed growing up, “My dad would love me if I were pretty,” she will attribute the same to her heavenly father and think “God would love me if I were attractive.” Then she might try and try to look nice—all the while unconsciously refusing God’s freely offered, unconditional love.
Psalm 51:5 gives a concise summary of the problem. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.
Lies are the problem, but what is the cure? How do we cooperate with God to let Him heal our soul?
Restoration of the Soul
Just as God had a cure for your spirit, He has a cure for your soul. When we accept Jesus by faith, our spirit is born again. When we come to know and believe God’s love for us, our soul is renewed. Getting Satan’s lies out and God’s love in is what healing of the soul is all about. Knowing how much God loves you gives you joy, peace, value and self-worth.
There is hope. Psalms 51:6-7 continues, Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and the hidden parts You will make me to know wisdom. Purge me with Hyssop, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness.
Romans 12:2 encourages us, Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you might prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. When our minds—our souls—are transformed so that we know the love of God, we will show His love to the world.
But transformation of the mind—changing brain circuitry—is not easy. Old brain programming has to be rewired with truth. Just because we can sing the words, Jesus loves me this I know . . . does not mean we know the God of love.
So how is it that transformation happens? Scripture gives a clear first step: Open your mind, will and emotions to God. Be completely honest with Him. Ask and trust Him for help. David prayed, Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24).
After this initial step, the Bible does not give us a step-by-step formula for healing. The same formula will not work for each person and the diverse array of hurtful lies they carry. But here are some ideas.
- Just being aware that problems in your soul spring from lies crafted to keep you from the love of God, will give you knowledge, courage and strength to fight those lies.
- As best you are able, surrender to the God of love. Tell Him you are powerless, but that He is all-powerful. Ask Him to show you the lies as you can handle them. He will not overwhelm you by revealing the lies all at once. Ask Him as your Counselor to replace the lies with the truth of His love for you.
- Be aware that situations we face in everyday life may open old wounds. Something as small as a wrong look from a stranger or being late to an event can trigger a cascade of hurtful emotions. As a general rule, if the emotions last more than three minutes and are outside the range of what would normally be expected in the situation, a lie lurks in the subconscious. Hurtful thoughts, feelings and behaviors are the voice of the soul crying: “Help! Something is not right. I am not loved.”
- When negative thoughts, feelings or behaviors give clue to a hidden lie, take some time with God and trace the emotions back as far as God lets you. He may led you to the initial event(s) that provided the hurtful environment for the lie to enter. If you get an image of an event, let God into that memory. He was there loving you despite whatever traumatic circumstances Satan used to perpetuate his lies. Let God show you how He is reaching back in time, healing that hurt and loving you.
- Lies are like landing strips for enemy aircraft; they allow demons access. As a believer, demons do not have access to your spirit and they cannot possess your soul. But they can take up residence in areas of the soul darkened by lies. When the lies are removed and replaced with truth, the demons cannot return.
- If a wrong thought comes into your head, fight it with God’s truth. Replace the hurtful thought with the exact opposite truth. Use the word of God. If the voice in your head says, “You are worthless,” say, “No, I am precious in the sight of God. Scripture says, I was redeemed with the precious blood of Christ (see 1 Peter 1:19); that makes me valuable! Continually thinking and feeling with truth—continually living in God’s love—will rewire the brain.
- Be obedient to God’s leading in the healing process. If you think God is telling you to do something, and that something is backed by scripture, do it. Sometimes memories will require that you forgive someone or ask someone for forgiveness.
- Sometimes working these issues through with a counselor, pastor or trusted friends is helpful.
- Meditate on God. Let Him say to you, “I love you, (your name).” If you feel yourself resisting His words, voice your resistance honestly to Him. Let the “buts” come. “But Jesus, how could you love me? I did . . .” “But Jesus, how could you love me? I am . . .” And let Him answer each excuse with the truth of His love for you.
- Healing will take time. But all the while you will be moving forward in God’s love. Gradually He will remove the “buts,” until every lie is gone and every nook and cranny of your soul is filled to overflowing with the love of God.
Don’t stop this process once enough of the lies and their hurts are gone so that you feel OK. God wants you to live continually in His love. He wants your soul to know and experience the truth of His unending love for you. God intends for His love in your spirit, to continually flow through and purify your soul, and pour out of your body to others. You were designed to be a spirit-soul-body channel for the love of God.
Go child of God! Give yourself to God and let Him replace the lies with truth. Only believe. Believe in God as He really is—full of love for you.
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