There are a plethora of self-help books available offering various theories and approaches to dealing with the rooted issues of negative emotions and behaviors. Modern day psychology is valuable in understanding the soul (mind, emotions, and will). This is the area that gets sick. The rooted systems in our life can make our souls extremely sick. A psychology approach can diagnose the problem and offer solution. However, since the solution offered is rooted in humanism and, therefore, manmade, there is no true long term healing that can occur. At best it can help change behavior, and give you tools for self-discipline, or positive thinking. That is not freedom.
There is no lasting victory because it does not deal with sin. It does not allow for the blood of Christ to cleanse us and change us. It merely puts a band-aid over symptoms. It may address anxiety, depression, outward manifestations and symptoms of deeper issues – but often the first solution offered is medication and never gets to the root. So people are not getting the true healing they are seeking.
As Christians, we know that only God has the power to heal us from the inside out and set us free. That is true victory. He doesn’t just change behaviors; He transforms, renews, restores, redeems and breaks the chains of bondage. Psalm 147:3 says “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Isaiah also tells us that God is the “Wonderful Counselor.” John 14:6 says “the Holy Spirit is the Counselor.” Therefore, true freedom is found only by applying biblical truths to the wounds of our heart. Jesus is the balm of Gilead. He is the ointment that heals the wounds of God’s hurting children.
A huge barrier to forgiving others is the misconception about, forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration. Many people believe that by forgiving they will continue to live as doormats allowing sinful behavior when nothing has changed. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Forgiveness focuses on the offense. It only involves one person and has nothing to do with what the other person chooses to do. Reconciliation focuses on the relationship. It requires two people engaged in the process.
Forgiveness is the choice to release the offender. Reconciliation is the choice to rejoin the offender. It’s being brought back into a relationship where there has been a wall of separation erected. Restoration is the process that makes that possible. Restoration of a relationship takes far more than forgiveness. It requires confession, repentance, and a strong commitment on both sides to work on the relationship and rebuild trust. And it often takes a much longer time.
For example, if a loved one is engaged in drugs, alcohol, abuse or some other harmful behavior they may ask us to forgive them. Of course, God’s heart is always that we forgive but if they ask that we go back to the way it was the answer is a resounding NO! That’s not what we do at all. Love holds people accountable. Love protects. We do not have to allow harmful behavior that hurt us and our families. Thus, there may be extremely toxic, unhealthy people who may need to be removed from our lives.
An example of this would be a relative who sexually molested us as a child. We can forgive them as God has called us to but having a relationship with them may endanger ourselves and others. So forgiveness does not mean we have to have any kind of relationship with the offender ever again. Forgiveness is an act of obedience that blesses the heart of our Father in Heaven and sets us free. And like Beth Moore is fond of saying “Sometimes you just gotta love people from a distance.” There is great wisdom in that.
“And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.“ (Ephesians 4:32)
People in love engage in healthy mutually satisfying give and take relationships. They want the best for each other and bring out the best in each other. They know that love requires sacrifice from time to time and they know what it means to die to self. They don’t expect the other person to fulfill all their needs because they understand that no human being is even capable of doing that because only God can meet all our needs. Only His love truly satisfies. People in love are emotionally healthy individuals who find their value and worth in Christ alone not looking to others for self-worth and identity. True love brings forth life and grows deeper and stronger with time.
People in need operate out of brokenness, not wholeness. They attach themselves to unhealthy people who they think have the power to meet their desperate need for love, security and significance. But because brokenness attracts brokenness they tend to draw emotionally unavailable people, who are often abusive, struggling with addictions or have an array of other issues, who do more taking than giving and are incapable of meeting even the basic of needs required for a healthy relationship. This causes a lot of pain and heartache and brings forth death and destruction resulting in extremely toxic and unhealthy relationships that only get worse with time. And yes! Even Christians can operate out of need instead of love. The church is full of hurting people engaged in unhealthy relationships.
Are you in love or are you in need? If you are in the latter, understand that relationships will not work until you start operation out love. Sadly many believers do not fully understand what love is because they have never been modeled it, never have experienced it. They don’t know their value and worth as a precious child of God because their basic human need for love was not met growing up. So they take matters into their own hands and like the song says go searching for love in all the wrong places and settle for the counterfeit version that never satisfies.
Oswald Chambers wrote —-“No love of the natural heart is safe unless the human heart has been satisfied by God first.” The love of God has the power to change us from the inside out. But there is a marked difference between knowing about the love of God and receiving it into our hearts. It is only when we truly encounter and accept the authentic, undefiled Agape love of our Savior that we are then able to “Love the Lord with all our hearts, soul, mind, and strength and love others as ourselves.” (Mark 12:30). “ We love Him because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) This is the key to engaging in healthy mutually satisfying relationships. It’s the biblical formula that has the power to heal, transform and empower us to engage in love based not need-based relationships.