Day 15 Love is Unravelling and Breaking Bondage

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Amazingly, around the same time I started experiencing crippling flashbacks of my mother’s last hours, I had purchased a book written by the Christian psychologist, Michelle van Dusseldorp, who had emigrated from New Zealand to the Netherlands with her young family. This book, written in Dutch, entitled, if it were literally translated, I Can Change, came into my hands because of my contact with a woman who I had met at church when I gave my testimony. After being amazed by our connection of having lost a family member to the exact rare form of cancer, we exchanged contact information and she came to my house for coffee a few times.

On one of those occasions she brought Christian magazines with her and I happened to read an article written about Michelle van Dusseldorp and her book in one of these magazines. I found it fascinating, both because of her ministry in Christian counselling (my mother accepted her Diploma in Counselling about four months before she passed away) and her New Zealand connection. I ended up looking online to see if I could order the book, but then decided not to. A few weeks later I was standing in the Christian book store in our town, when I happened to see the same book lying there. I picked it up and just felt I needed to purchase it.

I didn’t start reading it until after I started experiencing the flashbacks. But when I sat down and started reading it I was amazed. I read about so-called neuro-networks and how memories can trap us, when the same emotions we felt during that time are somehow triggered. This was exactly what started happening to me, when family members became ill and I was left feeling helpless in being unable to make them better. Then, because both the author and my Community Bible study readings were focused on the Spirit’s role in transforming our heart and mind, I started seeing how this resurfacing of these old emotions (such as fear, helplessness, anxiety, guilt, shame) and coping mechanisms (numbing through distraction or suicidal thoughts) were Spirit-led. The Spirit of God was opening up old wounds to allow truth to be spoken into them (see 2 Corinthians 12 and 13; Ephesians 4: 22 – 24).

So, then I sat down and, with the help of Michelle van Dusseldorp’s I Can Change, tried to think of all the type of negative emotions I feel, then tried to think of when I feel these and the underlying reasoning attached to them and then how I respond to cope with it. I then considered the lie attached to the reasoning and God’s truth which spoke against the lie which was crippling me:

  • anger= my youngest daughter waking in the night= lack of control= shout/raise my voice at her or turn the anger into tension holding my body: Satan’s lie= you need to be in control, God’s truth= God is in control, trust Him and give it to Him
  • fear= possible conflict (e.g. confessing sins to others, or sharing my faith, or telling people they have hurt me)= wanting everyone to like me= keeping things bottled up to avoid conflict: Satan’s lie= seeking other people’s love and affection will make you into someone important and happy and losing that will make you into a nobody and unhappy; God’s truth= you are loved and accepted by me as you are, there is no need to seek it from other people, just accept my grace and trust me
  • anxiety= making mistakes/ doing something wrong= working till I drop and not asking for help and seeking approval in compliments (perfectionist tendency)= inner critic working constantly (you’re not good enough, if you don’t watch out others will see that too): Satan’s lie= you aren’t good enough and you need others’ approval/compliments to be a somebody in life and to be happy; God’s truth= you are good enough as just you because I have made you in my image and love you more than anyone else ever could and because of my death and resurrection nothing you do will ever stop me from lavishing grace upon you
  • pain/heartache= death, sickness, seeing others hurt that I love= coping mechanism= either suicidal tendencies or denying the existence of pain by distracting myself, or telling myself I’m exaggerating things and other people are more deserving of comfort= Satan’s lie: there is no hope in life, we are made for suffering, you are not worthy of love and comfort= get over yourself: God’s truth= suffering is caused by the Fall in the Garden of Eden, but it didn’t end there because my son’s death and resurrection give everyone who trusts in me hope in eternal life after death on this earth and I love you so very much and want to offer you peace, security and comfort in your pain. I understand you better than anyone and have taken on all your suffering (Isaiah 53), so know exactly how you feel and what you need. Also, I want you to remember that you have a home in heaven waiting for you where there will be NO more tears and where you will be reunited with all those you have lost on this earth who also believed in me on earth.

I learnt that every feeling we feel as a small child is attached to a rationalisation cognitively. Michelle van Dusseldorp explains that humanity’s break with God exposes people to Satan’s hold over these rationalisations. These rationalisations based on lies can then become films in your head that replay over and over every time a person experiences the same emotions. Even children raised in homes of faith can be exposed to such rationalisations, as parents are not perfect and are not capable of being there right next to a child to reassure them every time they experience fear, hurt, anxiety and so forth. However, Scripture has the power to break the hold of these harmful rationalisations. Even research shows that these films, of emotions attached to crippling rationalisations, can be broken down and replaced with new films of truth, if these new films are replayed enough. So, how can we do that:

2 Corinthians 10: 5

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

And our powerful weapon for doing so, is the Word of God. Hebrews 4: 12 -13 tells us:  

His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what.

And thus, the Spirit of God works through Scripture to open up, or expose our brokenness and to bring it to His healing Light. If we then obey His Word, by allowing ourselves to “be made new in the attitude of [our] minds” (Ephesians 4: 23), by  speaking the truth of His Word against the lies that form in our mind every time old emotional films are replayed, these lies will eventually be broken and replaced by God’s Truth, a truth that sets us free.

I have experienced this many times and one thing that has helped me, is to place Scriptures on my fridge, Scriptures that feed truth into the vulnerable places in my heart. I have also memorized particular verses, such as “When my anxious thoughts multiply within, Your consolations delight my soul.” (Psalm 94: 19, New American Standard Bible).

However, in the midst of these post-traumatic stress caused flashbacks, I soon felt led to reach out for more professional help, as I struggled to stifle a deep-rooted anger within me, realized that hurt too easily rooted in my heart in response to small things and became fearful of the flashbacks returning. I would soon discover God’s hand in this important step and His desire to draw me into even greater freedom.

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6 thoughts on “Day 15 Love is Unravelling and Breaking Bondage

  1. Wonderful post! I love the verse that we need to bind up human rationalizations, or human reasoning. It’s so true. The second we start using our logic to try to “figure things out” or resolve them on our own, we are in trouble!
    Thank you for sharing the lies you believe, I can so clearly see these in my own life, as well.

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    1. Oh yes, I so often fall into this trap. Going through therapy for PTSD, in which God’s Presence was powerfully evident, however, has helped unravel and loosen the hold of some of the more powerful films that were crippling me. I still struggle, but God’s Word and His Presence are a powerful weapon in the fight! Thank you for your encouragement here.

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  2. Anna such a beautiful and encouraging post. Thank you for being a blessing and inspiration. I believe that the lies you shared are something we can all relate
    To in one way or another.

    Don’t you love how God kept putting the book in your path, until you picked it up? He is SO good!

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  3. This encouragement is so perfectly timed. I loved your insights and sharing of others insight.
    I don’t have the flashbacks. But my daughter did. Side by side we battled though them. God is good. He is faithful and loving. Am so glad I found your blog. I look forward to reading more.

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    1. I have been blessed by your words as well. I’m so sorry that your daughter has also been through flashbacks, but so glad to hear you’ve been able to be with her through it all. It must be so hard grieving not only for yourself, but also for your four daughters. Praying God’s deep joy into your day today.

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