|Written by Ken|
You are sitting in your sixth counseling session with your Christian counselor and you blurt out, “How can I validate my wife’s feelings when they are not valid! How can I assure her that I understand and accept her feelings towards me when most, if not all of those feelings are not true!?”
The counselor looks over her glasses at you and calmly replies with a smile, “You don’t need feelings to be valid to be able to validate them. Validation is often more about being present with a wife during her upsets, being understanding and accepting that this is how she feels. Even if she is projecting her bad thoughts and feelings that come from her painful childhood on to you, and such feelings have no basis in what you have said and done, you can still validate her as a person and be understanding, without believing that what she is thinking is true. By being with her, holding her hand, speaking kindly to her and telling her you understand that she feels this way, you make her feel heard, and you keep her from feeling silly, stupid, or defective for having her feelings.”
“Got it,” you say, “But we are on our sixth session with you and you have not yet told her that these feelings she has towards me do not originate with me, but are found in her bad thinking. You have yet to speak any Biblical truth into her life and explain to her that she no longer has to carry around a backpack of sinful hurts and pains from her past because Christ has taken them all and placed them on the cross. All I hear from your coaching is not be realistic and truthful, but instead I am to learn the 10 Steps to Validating my Wife and go on this journey to learn Splanka so that our marriage can be healed. Hey, I guess I can try anything to heal my wife and marriage, but why not just tell each of us what the Bible says are our individual responsibilities and challenge us to live up to them? Why do we dance around her feelings?”
This scene is playing out across the country in many sessions where counselors are trying to help mend Christian marriages with a small dose of Biblical teaching and a heavy dose of modern psychology, sometimes mixed with Christianized eastern mysticism. I don’t want to be hard on Christian counselors as they are more often than us in the same tough spot that Lori and I find ourselves when mentoring; recognizing that past emotional interferences, especially a poor bonding experience with parents, now play havoc in a marriage. And if they go too fast, or say the wrong thing, their patient bolts for the door, still lost and unwilling to listen.
It is the healthy spouse who catches the stream of misdirected negativity and blame from a broken spouse's soul. Lori’s tireless work to try and get as many mothers as possible to stay home with their young children, and develop their souls, is in part from seeing the regular soul murder perpetuated by the neglect of young children as they are robbed of the ability to properly bond with their parents when handed off to a Day Care even before one year old. When parental bonding fails, many emotional disorders appear later in life from the damage, seen and unseen, wrought decades earlier.
Our work, and the miraculous healing we have seen and heard from the testimonials, stands firmly on our understanding of New Life principles as found in the Word of God. The understanding that no matter what our past, all our sins and the sins committed against us can be placed at the foot of the cross and healed if we choose to give them all to Jesus. This simple yet powerful promise that we can indeed be dead to sin, freed from sin, and made alive in Christ Jesus, springs forth from all over the New Testament, and is predominant in the apostle Paul’s writings (Romans 6-8; Ephesians 2, Colossians 3). Paul, the murderer of Christians, got it. He could hand his baggage of guilt, shame and remorse, to Jesus who would dispose of it on the cross in 30 A.D. Beyond this he could hand his Pharisaical legalisms and Jewish disdain for the Gentile to find freedom that only Christ can give (Galatians).
I am not opposed to using any reasonable means for helping those trapped in their emotional prisons to find a way to be released, including using meds for a time, to bridge the body, mind, soul connection when some Believers find themselves in depression, anxiety and despair. My questions are:
“Have our counselors first established the important Biblical framework necessary for proper healing? Have they fully shown their patients what God says about their past, their wrong thinking, and raw emotions that have little resemblance to being like Jesus? Will they tell their sick patients that they are indeed walking in sin when they will not reach down into their Will and choose to believe God’s Word over their mismapped or faulty amygdala’s?”
If you are one of the large percentage of people who suffer from some form of mental or emotional pain and upset, my heart breaks for you. I have watched too many who suffer with their emotional sickness go into regular upsets, broken relationships, anxiety and depressions. There are no definitive answers for you in psychology or counseling, but a counselor can help expose wrong thoughts and projected feelings to a place where the light and truth can help to heal them. But I have yet to see anyone get healed apart from their own desire to be healed. To reach into their God given Will and fight to replace their lies with the truth.
Jesus came to set the captives free. “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” he says, and “The truth will set you free.” In no case can a counselor, or husband help free a wife who is not choosing to be free. God does not trample on our choices, even as He brings truth and circumstances to move us to where we need to be to grow up into Christ Jesus. But to get to healing, the Believer must use their own Will to surrender it at the foot of the Cross, and in turn to their godly spouse who should be their best coach, and trust that God can and will make them whole if they are willing to let go of the past and hold onto Jesus and God's promises.
I was sitting across from a couple whose wife suffered greatly with hypersensitivity and upset. Having spent hours explaining who she was in Christ, and God’s demands upon her life and behavior, I noticed what I felt was a hesitancy to grab a hold of God’s truth and apply it. I said, “I sense that even knowing the truth you still are not ready to apply it to your life. What keeps you from surrendering all of this past hurt, pain and continual upset at the foot of the cross, and beginning to do 'all things Christian?'” The question was met with a shrug. She could not understand herself what it was that kept her racing back to the pit of despair and unhappiness, except that it was still a part of her. A part that she most likely was feeling unable to give up, because to do so may mean giving up the self-justification as to why she has behaved as she has for far too many years.
That poor little girl inside who longed to be bonded with Mom and Dad was being asked to give up the few strands of false self-value and shreds of self-worth that Satan had left attached to a series of lies and emotional distress for a leap of faith into the arms of Jesus and her loving husband. It was a leap too far, even as she tried so many times to make it. God’s Word seems so beautiful and so full of hope, but seemingly impotent against a broken, emotionally broken soul. Or is it?
If you asked those who have come through the awful emotional pain of significant childhood interferences what finally gave them relief and healing, most would say it came when truth properly applied with love was allowed by their stubborn will to help them break the strands of self-love and begin to bond to Christ and others in a new, yet scary way. To recognize that what they have now is only a shell of reality that needs someone who loves them most to speak the truth with love into their new lives, now fully surrendered to God. It is a false self-love, that leads to self-protection and self-justification and keeps them from releasing fully that little thing called a "Will" to do what they know is the right thing to do, but can’t seem to be able to do it. To begin to remap their emotional brain with new pathways based on truth so they can properly process their feelings and hypersensitivity. To recognize that their anger or rage comes from past hurts and circumstances and not from their loving spouse who can help heal them if they will only trust them enough to listen and follow.
If you are continually finding yourself at odds with your own self, regularly going against what you know to be true to try and chase down a feeling, self-justification and control, then begin to see the pattern for what it is. You may have attached your self-worth and feelings of well-being to a series of lies planted long ago by the Father-of-Lies. Your salvation has come in Christ Jesus, and yet to experience it you must use the same faith that saved you for eternity to believe that He can save and grow you up in Christ right here, right now. Our faith is not one that just saves us for the future, but one that saves us for the here and now. But you and I must turn over our stubborn Wills to Him and allow His Spirit and His truths to set us free.
With all the difficulties I see trying to get some Believers to give up their emotional past and lay them at the foot of the cross, I am not opposed to any reasonable counseling that can help bridge a Christian from their current state of emotional and mental distress to the promises of Jesus. What I do oppose is an extra-Biblical primary focus instead of using God’s Word as the final arbiter of truth. Apart from God’s promises we are all doomed, and “His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3). Or is this promise not true for all Believers? God forbid!
So practice your validation skills, and learn your Spalanka if you like. Even trust that your counselor is trying to find the bridge to help move your spouse out of their prison of raw emotions and bad thinking into the glorious light of the truth. They may be trying to get him/her to discover that they need to surrender their Will to the Lord and to their godly spouse without biting the helping hand. Often when such delicate approaches are not taken the patient may bolt from the counseling with more self-justifications, holding tightly to their dear friends of emotional pain and misery. There is no logic to such self-anilinism, but if you tell them this. they will erupt with years of passionate anger and hide even deeper in their past emotional pain.
Oh for the one who will take their God given Will and reach out and grasp by faith all of God’s promises, deciding to walk therein. If there is one thing that both modern psychology and the Word agree upon, it is that apart from the surrender of the Will to the truth, there is no real hope, or personal growth, for one whose soul has been damaged by their past emotional pains. Whether it is early on in counseling, or years later, the final solution is often the same: “I decided to grow up.” To grow up personally by beginning to treat others with common human decency in everything I say and do. To grow up emotionally by no longer trusting my raw feelings without a healthy dose of skepticism to my hypersensitivity. To grow up spiritually by believing in God’s Word and walking in His promises by "doing all things Christian in my home."
How our heart breaks for Christian couples who regularly experience the Crazy Cycle of emotional upsets where one spouse pushes away the other to feed their broken soul with a fuel of lying feelings. It is so flabbergasting for the godly spouse to watch as every little thing seems to cause an upset striking a blow to a fragile ego. Even when the truth is given nothing seems to penetrate the person who is in bondage to their emotions. To have the answers all plainly given in God’s Word, but to watch no healing come because of the stubbornness of heart, or the person’s inability to process the truth because of their emotional state of mind. Is this the fulfillment of the promise that "if you live according to the flesh you will die" (Romans 8:13)? It's a slow death of the body, mind, spirit and relationships.
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for the promise that we, as Christians, can choose to believe that we are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, and can put to death the deeds of the flesh. We will always give the Believer hope that someday soon their spouse will be delivered from the bondage of sin by the Spirit and Word of God; freedom from their sins and the sins committed against them. Hold tightly forever to the Word of God!
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.