Steve's Story: Damage Assessment
Excerpt from Rescued from Hell, Chapter 7: Journey to Healing
One of the things the Holy Spirit helps us with is assessing the damage. This takes thoughtful observation because to our unschooled way of thinking, ongoing damage may seem to be the enemy's work through and through. Like water seeking a leak, the enemy searches out all of our wrongheaded thinking and wounded emotions to hit us where it hurts or uses temptation to gain access to our will where we are weakest. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit works through these attacks to show us where the damage lies. Many of us have buried the sources of our emotional pain, spending a fair amount of both mental and emotional energy and effort to keep them "under wraps." Almost all of the coping strategies we come up with are things of the carnal nature that must be abandoned if our true life is ever to emerge. If we are not careful, we may use basic discipleship like a lawn mower to keep the weeds down instead of pulling them up by the roots. We need inner healing to get at the roots. Take it as gospel that wherever there is bad fruit there is a root that has been feeding it (Matthew 7:17; Hebrews 12:15). At the beginning of my walk I was mowing down weeds constantly!
As it happened I didn't come into awareness of every area in my life that needed healing all at once. I'm sure no one could handle it, even if they could be shown all areas. I'm also sure that I'm still being mended as I go along - heaven alone provides the final cure. But I will list my main roots and weeds so that you can see and perhaps relate to at least some of the issues. In the remainder of this section I will be showing you how the Lord brought me healing. He won't do it in exactly the same way for you, but He will work through many of the same methods and by means of many of the same truths. People say that His ways are strange. They're not. They make perfect sense once you have the advantage of hindsight. It's we who are strange. We are the ones who resist entrusting ourselves to His truth, love and mercy; therefore, we need a lot of convincing that His ways really do work.
Here's the laundry list of my strange ways:
1) Shyness: Practically the first thing I noticed that needed fixing was that I was so incredibly shy. I had no comfort level around anyone except June, not even with our kids one-on-one. Deep down I was fearful of everyone and very nervous in group settings, especially if I had to speak. Yet, I was convinced I was called to preach. This motivated me to get it mended.
2) Hurts from Others: The night of my conversion I blurted out to the Lord, "I want everyone who ever hurt me forgiven!" Right away, I started discovering just how many and how deep were the wounds collected from childhood. If the heart is meant to be like an open hand to others, mine was a fist holding on to every past wrong. The motivation to be healed of this was weak at best.
3) Self-Hatred: I hated myself! I was so angry with myself that I would have spit in my face if the wind was right. I couldn't get over how much hell I had literally put myself through. I kept myself under "house arrest," always coming down hard on myself for even the slightest infractions. I didn't feel like I was a human being, and I hated myself for it. How could this be fixed?
4) Feeling Rejected: No one could love me, or so I was convinced. My past was bad enough, but even my present would run people off if they only knew me better. I was still wounded by the massive rejection I endured by the god who sent me into hell and by all the imagined rejections of others.
5) Grieving the Losses: My "soggy heart" was a part of me that was brimful of tears that I had never shed in grief over people I had lost along the way. This was a heavy, hurting weight I didn't want touched by me or anyone else. Not even by God.
6) The Father Wound: This felt like a sharp pain lodged in my heart. I did not feel that I had ever bonded with my own father, and I was terrified at the thought of Father God losing patience with me. I feared Him, not in a good way.
7) The Occult Legacy: There were shadowy sides of me that seemed ghostlike and unreal. There was a deep fear of going back into the delusion again; the true sighting of hell I had glimpsed seared me. Perversely, I became angry with the God who saved me, but hadn't spared me, from hell on earth.
That's not all, but it includes the major pieces of my brokenness. I hope my list gives you hope for your own healing if you are one who needs it. Someone once said that Jesus can mend your broken heart, but you have to give Him all the pieces. It's quite a puzzle from our perspective, but He's already had millenniums of experience working with others. He comes to us with an excellent track record as the best Puzzle Solver out there. I have often joked that the thing which qualifies me for leading a healing ministry is that I was so badly broken by my fall that only a great God could put me back together. I simply took notes on how He did it. Those notes became whole sections in our Healing Streams workbook.
Damage assessment should also include what survived the crisis - the things you can count on that are still working. In addition to having kept my family together and giving me a business to run, the Lord got me started with a truckload of mending that first night. That was a huge advantage! It really, really helps to know Him, to know His Word is truth, to have His Spirit living in you, to be a part of His Body on earth, and to have your sins forgiven. There's much more to our inheritance in Christ, but almost everyone knows that the big five I just listed are part of their "starter kit." We never grow out of these truths by the way, we keep growing into them, and as we do, a whole lot of liberation comes our way. Everyone who receives faith in Jesus gets this same starter kit. Few, however, are fully mended by these five things alone.
I was also liberated by being set free from seven demons, from classic paranoia, from schizophrenia, from the delusion of hell, from an addiction to pornography and from a handful of illnesses. All of this had happened in less than an hour. It amazes me that so many Christians head out to the secular world for their mental and emotional healing. Perhaps we do not know how much is available to us; perhaps it's not readily available in our area. I have to admit that I didn't know what was actually available in terms of Christian ministries, only that I was convinced that God was going to heal me in every way and that He would be using His own methods and His own believing people to do it.
To make things easier for you to track along with me on this journey I have numbered the following chapters to match my list of wounds. They are not in sequential order, so you can jump ahead to read up on ones that may match your particular needs or simply take them as they come. My main purpose in setting these areas of healing before you is so that you can see ways that you, too, can bring your own heart to God for healing, if you need it, or help the ones around you who may be wounded in these ways.
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