Restoring God's Image The Narrow Gate to Healing and Transformation presents God's plan for healing and restoration as a set of simple, clear, concise instructions based on scripture. Through thousands of hours of therapy, research, and personal experience, John Del Grosso has experienced great success in helping Christians find release from emotional pain and sinful behaviors.
Love is more than an emotion. Love is an action. With divorce rates over 30 to 40 percent at present, it
is clear that many persons misunderstand the way in which we as persons learn to love. Jesus stated that we are to love our enemies. It is easy for someone to love those that love us. But what do we do when we are faced with persons who choose at times to not love us. When persons in our lives downright break their promises to us.
First we need to understand something about our minds. Our minds hold emotions and memories in the hippocampus and the amygdala. When we are older , unresolved material, that which is connected to pain and suffering gets triggered by current events. These current events are interpreted through our old beliefs and feelings. So as Jesus stated. First we must see our planks before we can clearly understand the other persons specks.
Those, it seems, who are the closest to us, such as husbands, wives, family members, children, trigger these old feelings more than a mere acquaintance would. That is the way it is with our old unresolved issues. This is true usually because our old unresolved issues are often time created as children, and most of our old wounds are received at the hands of family and close friends. Of course there are many exceptions. However, even with the child who is molested by a neighbor, the way the parent responded or did not respond usually caused the greatest pain and wound.
When we feel pain from these unresolved wounds our minds experience them in much the same way and depth as when we originally experienced them as children. With this said, Jesus gave us a very clear pattern of how to deal with our pain. First we are to remove and have our planks (experiences, perceptions) removed before we can see clearly as to the motivations of anothers’ heart. We are not to judge others simply because our perceptions are always determined by our past experiences.
Love believes all things. You see, we are commanded to always give mercy, even as we are granted mercy. Forgive as we are forgiven. So how do we treat a spouse, or friend, or person who has hurt us? First we choose to forgive. Second we ask god to show us what the real source of our pain is. We must go beyond blaming the present situation. We must look for the root cuaue of the pain. The unresolved wound that our now current situation is triggering and connecting itself to.
This is the way of the cross. My book “Restoring Gods Image” will sow you how to accomplish this in your life. It is time to stop leaving our marriages and fighting to allow God to teach us how to love unconditionally. This can be accomplished.
I thought today I would talk about the process of therapy. For many people the idea of sitting and telling someone your problems is apprehensible. What will that person think of me? Do I really need someone to tell my problems to? Do I really have any problems at all. How can someone who does not know me know how to fix my problems, and after all, this is the way I have been all of my life. How can I or why should I change?
What happen to friends that you could count on to hear you out and give you good advice? Somehow, it seems like those days are over. In many churches , pastors do very little counseling and have stepped aside for professional counselors. I for example see between 30 and 3 people a week. That’s over 1500 hours a year of talking and praying for persons with varied problems. Just because of sheer numbers it makes sense to find someone who has lots of experience.
There are some things that everyone should know about therapy. One is that things could get worse before they get better. Why is this? Because material in your mind that has been hidden and suppressed for years is being brought to the emotional surface as the brain is being stimulated to process. Often this is painful information that we have been unwilling, or unknowingly repressing since youth. And after all , no one likes pain.
But sometimes, pain is a good thing. Pain tells us that something is wrong and in the right hands therapy can help identify what that wrong painful thing is.
But be ready, there are no quick fixes. And be ready, there is no gain if there is no pain. So it could take at least a year to work out all of your debilitating stuff. And many times more than this.
First a therapist develops a rapport with his client. This means that as a client you will be entering into a relationship that demands honesty. Of course this may not happen immediately. But if you are unwilling to take the plunge, forget it. Withholding will eventually keep you from getting the help that you need.
Second, you will discover emotions that you may not be willing to own. Overwhelming at times. But remember, nothing in your past had killed you before. They will not now.
Next it may be important to have a good support system in place. Friends, family, therapist, etc. the stronger your support system the better.
And remember. Good therapy will uncover underlying motions, beliefs and motivations that will be disturbing at first, but with time will give way to truth that will bring freedom.
So go for it. If you have never had counseling, every person can and will benefit. I hope to hear from you soon.
A very important part of dealing with life is learning to forgive past hurts. But many people that I meet live under the axiom;”forgive and forget”. But what does that entail? Here is a little information I received from the marriage Sherpa.
Has your spouse ever told you to “get over it?” Maybe the affair was 6 years ago, or 6 weeks ago and they expect you to forgive and move on.
From what I’ve read, brain research reveals that “getting over it” is virtually impossible. You also may be interested to hear what this means for the age-old idea of “forgive and forget?”
Until recently, it was thought that the hippocampus was the most important brain structure involved in memory.
New studies suggest that there are different types of memory, and that different brain structures play prominent roles in these different types of memory (LeDoux, 1994).
Your hippocampus is responsible for declarative memory (memories about facts and details), but the amygdala, which is the small almond-sized structure located at the top of the brain-stem, is mostly responsible for emotional memory (LeDoux, 1996).
Neuroscientists have long suspected a brain structure that triggers emotional reactions quickly and independently of the thinking brain. This explains why a Vietnam veteran who experienced traumatic situations in combat may experience a surge of anxiety years later when a helicopter flies over head.
This also supports why you experience feelings of anxiety when your spouse comes home late (even with good reason) after you are trying to rebuild the trust after an affair.
The amygdala (or the emotional memory) will actually detect features from current circumstances to decide if they are close enough to past emotionally significant events to warrant an emotional alarm (Atkinson, 2005).
So, if you are struggling with anxiety when a thought comes to mind or something reminds you of the painful event, the good news is that you aren’t going crazy.
But that’s not all…
If that’s not enough, research at New York Rockefeller University, led by Bruce McEwen showed that excessive and chronic exposure to stress hormones may lead to the death of neurons in the hippocampus (Siegel, 1999). This supports why some people forget the details of a traumatic experience.
But in contrast, stress enhances the function of the amygdala. What this means is that while someone may forget the details of a stressful event, they still may be emotionally hyperactive to future events.
So even if we may want to “forget it” and we may… we may not be able to “get over it”, at least not without a little help.
Me Again …
Forgiveness can be accomplished. Current work through EMDR has recognized that memories can be healed of the emotional negative charge, or pain, as I see it. In working with my clients, I have experienced total removal of the pain in a memory through receiving the truth into that memory. It is the negative beliefs that cause that pain. Beliefs such as “I am worthless, or I am nothing.”
Forgiveness involves working out the negatively painful material, or beliefs. Forgiveness takes place when we no longer are angry or bitter at the person or situation that caused our pain. Since unforgiveness is sin, this necessitates repentance of our resentment in order to attain forgiveness. I must learn how to forgive others. In my work with people I have noticed that resentment is a habitual life pattern of hardening our hearts in order to protect us from the pain of the lies that the events in our lives caused us to believe. These lies cause us to react emotionally to current circumstances. In this study above, the lies would be what they consider to be the emotional memories.
One thing that I teach is that we as human beings learn to resent in order to self protect. As we give up this pattern of resentment and begin to live in patterns of forgiveness, we eventually retrain our brain, and self to respond differently to others. We become more like “Jesus”. This ability is given to us through the power of His Holy Spirit.
I often have the task, or should I say the pleasure of working with marriages at the end of their rope. One or both of the persons is “done” with the other. So much anger and resentment present, killing any chance of reconciliation. But, is this the best course for these marriages?
I have seen marriages reunited and successfully put on course. It takes work. It takes hope and it takes faith. We must be willing to put feelings aside and believe that God can restore long lost love.
I recently was sent information on a study from the University of Wisconsin’s National Survey of Family and Households.
They followed 645 couples who were extremely unhappy. Five years later they re-interviewed the couples. What they uncovered was amazing.
AmericanValues.org, in its executive summary of this study listed the following three conclusions that shocked so many.
1. Unhappily married adults who divorced or separated were no happier, on average, than unhappily married adults who stayed married. Even unhappy spouses who had divorced and remarried were no happier, on average, than unhappy spouses who stayed married. This was true even after controlling for race, age, gender, and income.
2. Divorce did not reduce symptoms of depression for unhappily married adults, raise their self-esteem, or increase their sense of mastery, on average, compared to unhappy spouses who stayed married. This was true even after controlling for race, age, gender, and income.
Here’s the best part…
3. About two-thirds of unhappy spouses who avoided divorce ended up happily married five years later. The unhappiest marriages experienced the most dramatic turnarounds: 78% of adults who said their marriages were very unhappy and who avoided divorce ended up happily married five years later.
These findings are very surprising in a culture that teaches us divorce is an easy way to end your problems quickly.
What I have recognized in working with marriages is the marriage is healable is the parties are willing to follow Jesus’ advice to remove the plank from their own eye. This is the first priority in any healing. Whether from the hurts of marriage, or the trauma of the past, our pain comes from what we believe, and is further aggravated by our years of resentment.
Following the plain directions of scripture moves us toward decreased pain. Low self esteem gives way to increased God esteem. My book identifies simple ways towards this healing.
But first we must stop the choices to leave and turn back towards our spouse and toward our God. Are you one of the 78% of those that can find renewed happiness? By just sticking it out. It is time to work just as hard to restore our relationships as we have worked to get out of them.
I am continually amazed at the power for confession. The simplicity of asking God to forgive sin can release years of being stuck. This is what happened to V. She had spent ten years of her young life using drugs to forget the pain of her youth. The drugs covered her feelings of inadequacy. The more she used drugs however, the more she continued to fail in her life. The continued failure brought feelings of deep resentment toward herself. It also brought her to believe that she could no longer succeed in anything and therefore she feared moving forward. In our session she simply asked for forgiveness for the years of resenting herself. That week she was able to go forward with plans for school and felt free from the stuck feelings.
Not forgiving oneself is rarely seen as sin, or dealt with as such, but it is just as debilitating as unforgiveness towards others. In fact, it can be more debilitating. It must be dealt with as all sin is dealt with. Through asking for forgiveness of god and then changing our behavior and attitude towards ourselves.
Relationships can be difficult. The divorce rate in this nation pushes 30 to 40 percent for Christian couples. With the influence of psychology on our culture we have been taught to set boundaries to protect ourselves from abusive behavior by others, whether that behavior is physical, sexual or emotional. Now of course it is right to defend yourself from abusive behavior. And it is also right to protect others from the same.
However, many boundaries become impenetrable walls in our lives. We begin withdrawing ourselves from people who we feel hurt by. We put up a wall in our heart to prevent further injury. Unfortunately the injury continues to persist. But not only does it persist, but it worsens. Why? Because as we build walls of resentment in our hearts, the subsequent pain worsens. Our mind now, not only feels the pain of the present, but it also adds to it the unforgiven pain of the past, adding to it insult upon insult.
That is why when setting boundaries against others that are sinning against us, what we must do is not withdraw our love from such people, but like our Lord, act in love toward them. But what would this look like?
The wife, who is being controlled by her husband through jealousy and fear, must learn to love her husband in a way that calls him to account for his bad behavior (sin). All too often the woman feels like a victim. She believes negative things about herself, resulting from both this relationship and her past. These beliefs cause her pain. And these beliefs keep her in fear.
But once she learns how she is loved by God, she can stand up and love her husband in a way that interrupts his sin. Now she refuses to allow her husband to sin against her. She refuses, because she loves, to participate in His sin. She now picks up the mandate to “turn the other from their sin, to save them from destruction”. No longer do we set boundaries, as victims, but now we pursue love. Not as victims, but as those that Love.
That may mean calling the police on a violent spouse, for their benefit. Instead of being afraid to call for fear of what my husband may do later, or to not get them mad at me. Love does not seek after its own, but does what is best for the other. That begins with calling others to account for their sin. She now encourages right behavior and right thinking in God.
We don’t protect at the cost of our hearts becoming callous and hard. We stand daily, dealing with our unforgiveness, both present and past. We set a new boundary stone, just as the good Pharisees did in biblical times. We set a boundary to keep us from transgressing Gods’ law. We Love God with all of our hearts, soul and strength and we love our neighbor as ourselves.
John recently did an interview with Randy Zachary from “Randy & Monica in the Morning” on KAMB Celebration Radio (http://www.celebrationradio.com)
Here is part 4 of 6 be sure to listen to the whole informative radio interview. Click to listen to part 4 of 6