There is hope. Recovery from rejection in our inner child, co-dependency or any kind of compulsive behaviour and addiction is possible if we submit to God’s wonderful redemption process and supernatural healing. Adversity is often a catalyst for people to surrender themselves to God for healing and restoration. Recovery is a process, to simply put it, is called progressive sanctification and is a life-long process. It is learning to surrender to God daily.
Some people believe that we have not chosen our addictions; they are all the result of childhood abuse! To simply believe this eliminates personal responsibility and prevents the healing process. Taking personal responsibility for healing and for the wrong choices we make is the beginning of recovery. Denial and nurturing out pain is a victim mentality, it is self- pity and self-defeating and delays recovery.
People make their own choices. Ultimately, nobody can blame any other person for their choices. The bible tells us that “all people will die for their own sins” (Jer.31:30).
Some feel that Christians should not talk about their hurts or express negative emotions as these are weaknesses - this is a great deception of the devil as it causes people to live out a fabricated personality. A hurting heart is like a huge hole in our hearts. If we believe that this void will never be filled and fully accepted that as ok, we will stop trying to fill the void with meaningful relationships and began to build our life around the void instead. So in other words, the rejection and the void become incorporated into us, we are cautious of it and at the same time cautious not trying to fix it. We learn to live with it and not recognizing that we are actually being victimized by it. Denial or suppression of inner hurt internalizes unhealthy emotional energy which can lead to depression or some mental disorder.
As much as we believe God for salvation, physical healing, provision, etc. we must exercise faith to receive his emotional healing.
“Your affliction is incurable, your wound is severe…you have no healing medicines” (Jer.30:12-13)
In this passage, the Lord is speaking of man’s inability to cope with the problem in his own strength; his burdens are too heavy, and many carry the shame, guilt and bitterness of our wounds without any medicines. However, in verse 17, He promises healing “For I will restore health to you and heal you of your wounds, says the Lord.”
In Jn.10:10, Jesus says “The thief does not come except to steal and to kill, and to destroy” but He “has come that we may have life, and that we may have it more abundantly”. Many interpret this verse as a contrast between the work of Satan and Jesus. Though that is true, but what Jesus is also saying is that despite the devil successfully stealing, killing and destroying us, He can still redeem, restore, heal and give us abundant life. So this verse is not just a contrast but most importantly the “despite”.
In Luke 4:18, Jesus says that the “Spirit of the Lord” was upon Him and “anointed” Him to “preach the gospel to the poor…and heal the broken-hearted”. Yes, Jesus was sent to save, and heal our spirit, soul and body. He came not just to die for us but also to bring healing to our inner child, heal those suffering from rejection and co-dependence and restore the real self to those living in the false self.
If Jesus came just for the purpose of our salvation, all He needed to do was to die as a sinless man to take away our sin. We are saved by His righteousness and His sacrificial blood “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous” (Rom.5:19)
His betrayal, death on the cross, the thorns on His head, his nakedness, etc. all have additional significant meanings to our overall salvation. However, it is not our premise here to address all these in details. Our focus is on how God brings healing to our inner child and what our responsibility in the process is.
Like sanctification, healing our inner child, healing from rejection and co-dependence are both an event and also a process.
1) Awakening - Identifying our Hurts and pain
“You who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were hewn and to the hole of the pit from which you were dug…” (Isa.51:1)
Underlying issues must be examined and be fully resolved for the recovery to occur. We need to identify where is the root of the problem, commonly known as family of origin. This is necessary as it helps us to understand why we behave the way we do, so that we can prevent negative history perpetuating itself and become victims of an unhealthy virtuous circle.
Because our true self is so hidden, and because our false self is so prominent, awakening may not come easy. At this time, we often begin to experience confusion, fear, sadness, anger, etc. and these mean that we are beginning to feel again. We begin to get in touch with who we really are – our child within, our real self. Some may choose to retreat back to their “comfortable” false self because these feelings are frightening.
However, becoming aware of our feelings and constructively dealing with them is crucial in the process of healing our inner child. However, one should also be cautious not to be too introspective, always digging for the root cause but not constructively seeking for healing. This can be an addiction in itself as it gives us the attention we desire and makes us feel ‘wanted’ by people.
Our feeling is the way we perceive ourselves. Without awareness of our feelings, we have no real awareness of life. We have two kinds of feelings or emotions – joyful and painful. Joyful feelings make us feel a sense of strength, wellbeing and completion. Painful feelings sap our energy and can leave us feeling drained and empty. However, even though painful, they are indicators that some things need our attention.
2) Be Vulnerable - Sharing our Story
“Confess your trespasses to one another…that you may be healed” (James 5:16)
The three main leading characteristics of dysfunctional families are “don’t talk”, “don’t feel”, and “don’t trust”. However, in recovery, it is important to learn to talk honestly and openly, to express feelings and to trust.
People who grew up in troubled or dysfunctional families tend not to get our needs met and that often make us feel hurt, pain, frustrated and confused. An effective way to facilitate knowing and experiencing our feelings is to talk about them with safe and supportive people. It is always helpful to talk, even if at first we stutter or ramble. One of the reasons people don’t have enough support in their healing process is that they don’t open up their lives. Take the risk and express exactly how we feel, even if it is anger, shame, guilt or whatever, no matter how unimportant it might seem to us.
When this is done it has powerful healing dynamics. Telling our story is a powerful act in discovering and healing our child within. It is a foundation of discovery progress. In “baring our souls’ or ‘having a heart to heart talk’, it helps to reveal ourselves and we become aware that we have actually experienced trauma, abuse, loss, suffering and hurt. Only then can we make a commitment in facing our emotional pain and grief. We cannot heal our shame alone. We need others to help us journey the healing process.
Our story can tell us a lot about ourselves. In telling our story, we begin to see the connection between what we are doing and what happened to us when we were little thus is a powerful act in discovery and healing our inner child. This simple act causes our brain to perform several tasks at once, including the merging of feelings, behaviour, conscious awareness and sensation. During this process, we realize and reframe life events, behaviours and emotions into a more insightful and healthier whole. The more integrated our brain is, the healthier it will be.
An important part of successful recovery is learning to accurately name what happened to us and the components of our feelings and learning to tolerate emotional pain without trying to medicate it away. As we grieve our buried pain and work through our core recovery issues, with patience we will slowly release our past unresolved internal conflicts. We gradually discover that our future is a destination not yet determined. Our life is in the present, which is where we can eventually find peace.
Thus, it is important to recognise that healing doesn’t come from retrospective perspective, it must be prospective. It is too easy to be heavily preoccupied with our past issue, and keep nursing it without coming to a point of closure. We may build up resentment which eventually leads to stress-related illnesses, and we become a victim of the cycle.
One of the most profound principles of healing is learning to live ‘one day at a time’. Although healing takes a long time, having this outlook can help shift our perspective immediately, making the journey not only tolerable, but meaningful, and anchoring at the present moment.
It is also very critical to recognise that ultimately healing is the work & function of the Holy Spirit, so it’s important to be led by the spirit and not just flow with the technique. If we do not have safe people we can talk to, we can write down our feelings and stories. As we read what we have written over time, we will also discover how we feel and learn to face our pain and grief. Sometimes we just have to confess to God and sometimes to man.
The first step to healing is a true desire to be whole. Unfortunately and sadly, though many people seek counselling for their emotional hurt yet secretly prefer to be nourished and fed through their wounds and deep down inside do not want to be healed. They cannot bear losing the attention or “pet weapon” for fear of being ignored. These people go from counsellor to counsellor, going through the same issue again and again but not willing to be healed.
One of the most common reactions people have towards emotional hurt especially rejection is to list all their faults, lament all their shortcomings, and chastise themselves endlessly. We then convince ourselves we somehow deserve it. We do this in the hope that someone will tell us we are not so bad, that our shortcomings are common to everyone, and that we are accepted. Yet, by kicking our self-esteem when it’s already down, we are only making our psychological injury worse, deepening our emotional wounds, and significantly delaying our recovery. We need to stop throwing self-pity parties and determine the roads to restoration.
Begin to connect to those who appreciate and love you. We all have the need “to belong”. One way to settle and heal our emotional hurt is to reach out to our core group—be they friends, colleagues, or family members—to get emotional support from them. We need to humble ourselves to allow others to contribute to our healing process.
Forgiving those who hurt us, wounded us is absolutely necessary in the process of our healing. However, we need to receive forgiveness from God fully in order to forgive others. Receiving God’s forgiveness removes guilt and forgiving those who have hurt me removes resentment. God’s will is for us to be completely free from guilt and condemnation.
The word forgive in the Greek simply means “release”. It is setting a person free as a judicial act. Hence, forgiveness in its simplest form is releasing another from personal judgement.
“Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain King who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.” (Matt.18:23-25)
In this passage, it is possible that the servant never truly received his master’s unconditional forgiveness in his spirit. He only received what he asks for – an extension of time to pay back the debts. Because he hadn’t received forgiveness in his heart, he also could not give it. The unforgiven will be unforgiving and the unaccepted tends to be unaccepting. Locked in hurt, we hurt others; feeling rejected, we reject others.
Many have not truly experienced the unconditional love of God the Father, we only accepted and received it cognitively and for that reason we tend to struggle to release forgiveness to others, which we need to do before we can receive the healing we needed.
We have difficulty receiving forgiveness from God because as humans we find it difficult to forgive easily. Those from very dysfunctional families, in whom the development of basic trust has been damaged, will especially have difficulty in believing and receiving God’s full and free forgiveness.
Resentment is not only unhealthy but is also self-destructive. Resentment and anger is a leading feature of all addictions, it opens the door wide to all kinds of serious ongoing problems. A root of resentment can arise up from an early age, usually against parents, and continue with its devastating effects right through life.
Very few things are spoken about so strongly in the word of God as the subject of forgiving others. Healing is blocked if resentment and bitterness are there.
When we talk about boundaries, we think of limits. Boundaries give us a sense of what is part of us and what is not part of us, what we will allow and what we won’t, what we will choose to do and what we will choose not to do. This leads to responsibility and love. The opposite is enmeshment, fusion or people dependency.
Co-dependence victims are dependent on others for their self-esteem and sense of who they are. They lost the inability to say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ at the right time which leads to the loss of control of life and also loss of assertiveness and honesty with their own feelings. They simply become like a doormat and allow others to take advantage of them and ride all over their feelings. They don’t seem to have any needs, desires, or wants; and give into all the needs, desires and wants of others.
Learning assertiveness is an important part of recovery as is bound up with identity and esteem issues. Assertiveness is not aggressiveness and disrespect. In fact, those who are assertive attract the regard and respect of others. It is also not contrary to the Christian virtue of laying down our rights but one of honesty. It is speaking the truth in love, it is saying ‘yes’ and ‘no’ when necessary and is an important part of recovery, not only for co-dependence, but also in many other situations.
6) Letting Go
Psalm 46:10 – “Be still and know that I am God”
Co-dependence victims tend to take people’s problem unto their own shoulders and try to solve them for them. This only encourages further dependency and hinders the other person working through their own problems. It is necessary to let go over-responsibility, control and manipulation of others, and hand them over to God’s care. We really can’t change anybody!
Those suffering from co-dependency are constantly seeking to change others, especially those close to them. The truth is that no one can change anyone else. It is hard enough to change oneself, let alone change others.
Grieving is good and necessary, for it is a healthy release of our emotion. However, unhealthy sustained grief, the failure to release from one’s spirit the loss of someone or something – the loss of a dream or perhaps a failed expectation can cast a shadow over our entire personality and even affect our countenance.
In this imperfect world, we must learn to accept our losses. Those who fail to do so become permanently disabled in their heart. That is when the heart cannot accept the loss of love and drowns itself in extreme behaviour of the pendulum in rejecting all love for people and things or in settling for the shallow love of things or people.
Jesus said “Offences must come” (Mt. 18:7). How we regard or react to the offences determine whether we become a better or bitter person at the end of it. Unfortunately for some of us, when Satan strikes, we worsen the impact by pressurizing the wound – we aggravate and trouble it further by driving that spear or arrow deeper into ourselves. How do we do that to an emotional wound? By paying more attention to our hurts than what’s necessary. Inadvertently, the more we look on our hurts, the more pitiable we see ourselves to be. Soon, we come to believe ourselves as being the victims of the world - totally abused and beaten. It then becomes no longer possible, for a sick man who is caught up in combating his own illness, to minister help to another suffering soul.
The problems themselves often do not hurt us nearly as much as the increasing stress, worry and anxiety that arise in those circumstances. Yet, in the midst of all these trials and trauma, God flashes a brilliant promise for us to look to: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me…to give them beauty for ashes” (Isa.61:1-3). Indeed, we, as heirs of the promises of God are guaranteed of God’s intervention in our lives to turn every situation of ash into a masterpiece of beauty. This is the truth, but how we often forget! The Greek word for truth is “aletheia” which literally means, “not forgetting”. To know the truth means to remember it. Remembering the truth will make us free. We must know and hold fast the promises of God so that we can go through this life victoriously. In darkness there are treasures, and these treasures are only found in darkness. So, instead of being bitter over the experience, gather as many “treasure of darkness and hidden riches” (Isa.45.3) as possible so that we do not suffer defeat meant only for people who do not know God and therefore have no access to claiming His promises for themselves. Remember, God will work out “everything beautiful in its time” (Eccl.3:11).
7) Blessing Others
“…to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh? Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily.” (Isa.58:8)
There is so much grief and hurt in our world of fallen humanity, a fallen world over which deep darkness and obscurity rule cold and severe. This darkness is a thriving place for all forms of ills and disorders – arrogance, self-centredness, unfaithfulness, jealousy, brutality etc.; they shatter and cause tears and jerks to relationships, leaving behind pains and hurts to haunt the human heart. Pain and suffering surround us every day, in every conceivable way. We know the pain we bear and the hurt we feel, but how about the pain in the people around us?
Sometimes, healing comes when we minister to others. Jesus experienced one of life’s most painful betrayals when He was rejected by the very same people He created! In His love, He healed many and delivered thousands, yet, He was waged with the most cruel and humiliating death. Yet, even by that death, our Lord used such injustice and turned it into an instrument of redemption and deliverance for the world. For it is by Christ’s work on the cross that you and I stand redeemed today.
It is by the stripes suffered by the Lord that we are healed. In the very place where He was wounded, He received the authority to heal. The same principle works for us. Many of those with the greatest healing ministries have endured painful physical maladies themselves. Many who had compassion to minister to drug addicts; child’s abuse victims and homosexuals tend to be victims once themselves. After the blood and tears flow, healing follows. What they do is that they turn their hurt into healing and allow healing to flow from their “wounds” instead.
If one has never undergone a crisis, the basic inclination is intolerance towards those who fumble in managing the calamities of life. But if we have been slighted before in certain areas of our lives, we remain sensitive in those areas even after we are healed of the pain. This sensitivity becomes something God can use to help us identify with the same sentiments in another person. It infuses compassion in ministry and enables one to carry out a more effective ministry when dealing with hurting people.
We know that God minister through us in the power of His Spirit, however, God many a times cause His Spirit to work through our emotion and mind. Didn’t the Bible say that “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Cor.1:3-4).
This is God’s turning the tables back on evil. When we refuse to succumb in depression to evil committed against us, but instead find a chance to use it for the benefit of others, it delivers us from the evil visited upon us. As God’s image-bearers in the world, it is not uncommon for us to suffer trials and hurts, but instead of being torn down by them, we can take them as opportunities and fully exploit them to demonstrate and manifest God’s love for mankind. Sufferings and trials are surely not pleasant, but they are aides in revealing and delivering us from evil tendencies. They also provide some of the greatest opportunities to minister God’s love.
Dearly beloved of God, learn from our Lord Jesus. Turn every wound we suffer into healing gauze. Let the blood that bleeds from our hearts and the tears that flow from our depths be turned into healing oil and a fountain of life for others.