Trusting Our Senses
……...Being reared in a dysfunctional home can deprive us of a true faith
in God and a healthy understanding of the world around us. Many of us may not have been taught to trust our senses. As a consequence we have developed faulty perceptions and beliefs which need to be confronted and changed. Only then can the process of healing through Christ become real and ongoing.
From the moment we are born, we are being shaped and influenced by our senses. At first, our impressions of our surroundings are not clear. As time passes, we become increasingly focused on our environment what we see, feel and touch. If we are frightened and our world is painful because of our parents’ alcoholism, drug addiction, work-aholism, or other dysfunction, our understanding and perspective of life can become warped and destructive. We may grow up assuming that everyone lives like we do because we do not talk with others about what their lives are like. To us, others might appear well adjusted, and we may want to adopt their characteristics and behave as they do. However, something inside may keep nagging at us, trying to get our attention. Our inner voice may say, "Ask somebody, see if other people’s lives are like this." But we seldom do, because we have been taught not to discuss such things.
There are various ways in which we respond to our environment. Some of us want to be good, follow the rules and avoid "rocking the boat." Others are less concerned with being good and behave in a disruptive manner that causes turmoil within the family. For many of us, isolating and withdrawing from the chaos of the family environment was our means of coping. These negative behaviors lay the groundwork for developing self-destructive tendencies in adulthood.
At some point, many of us realize that we don’t like what we see in our home, but we still comply, adapt and seldom ask questions. We may be old that it’s wrong to hit our brother, but we may see our father beat our mother. Our grandmother might tell us drinking alcohol is bad for us, but we watch our grandfather drink until he passes out. Mixed messages such as these can only result in pain, anger and confusion.
As we begin to look outside of our home more and more, we see people smiling and being polite, often saying. one thing and doing another. Although this may feel uncomfortable to us, we usually keep hiding our pain and anger. Many of us draw the conclusion that we are the abnormal ones-that everyone else is normal.
Many of us adapt so well to our surroundings that we become insensitive to our feelings and begin to adjust to the behavior of those around us. We may even engage in those behaviors ourselves in order to escape our own reality. We might drink excessively, work too hard, or overeat. In many cases, we find that such behavior can numb our pain and distract us-if only for a short time,
As we fall further and further under the spell of self-destructive behavior, .our understanding of God may become very distorted…It might be quite difficult for us to believe in a God who loves us and who wants the best for us, when the worst is happening to us. We may have trouble believing in the Lord at all because we can’t understand how he could allow such pain.
We cannot know all of who God is-we can only get occasional glimpses. It is hard for anyone to understand why God permits suffering. But he has given us free will to behave as we desire, and he also gives us the promise that he will be present with us in our suffering. God gave us his son, Jesus, to help us understand part of who he is-to model ways of behavior for us and to die on the cross for us.
God appeared to us many times in the Bible in father images. If we have an earthly father who is abusive, absent, or dysfunctional in other ways, we may believe that God, our Heavenly Father, is just like our dad-totally unconcerned and wrapped up in his own little world. We may believe that God is absent, violent, or unfair. We might say to ourselves, "If God really cared, things would be different. If he really is in charge, why would all this be happening?
As our doubts begin to increase, our view of God may become more distorted and cause us to reject standards of behavior that we know in our own heart to be right. It may be very difficult for us to find any/evidence of God in our lives.
If we come from a dysfunctional home, our view of life needs adjusting. As our perception of reality is challenged, we may come to admit that what we have seen all along might not necessarily be accurate. Healing, recovery and maturity begin as we change our view of our environment. To correct our vision, we need a "new pair of glasses" with which to view the world and rid ourselves of our painful perspective.
If a loving, caring God was not introduced to us, we might not know of the Holy Spirit’s healing power. Our perception of how we can be healed may be narrow. Through "’Christ this can be changed. In REVELATIONS 8:18 (NIV) Jesus said, "I counsel you to buy from me…salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.."
Healing and recovery become possible as we receive and accept Christ into our lives. When we accept God’s unconditional love, our shame, emptiness and pain can be exposed safely, and our healing can begin.
Christ revealed to us that God is consistent, caring, present, understanding, concerned and faithful. When we choose to live. in his radiance, he lights our path to recovery. In the light of his glory, we can finally begin to see and accept reality. As we draw closer to Christ, his arms are open wide to each of us. We may start to admit to ourselves that God is not as unrealistic or unfair as we might have imagined. We learn that God is not unjust or all the time and accepts us the way we are. One of the most powerful experiences of all is to finally realize that God loves us even though we are imperfect. He wants us to realize our full potential and when we make the decision to change, he is there to help us if we let him.
As we start to recognize our potential for change, others will look different to us. Dad and mom may no longer seem so threatening. Our brothers and sisters may appear different. It may be easier to accept our spouse and children just as they are. Focusing our lives on Christ helps us see a new reality. "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…" HEBREWS 12:2 (NIV). When we look to Christ more and more, our dysfunction can become function, our pain can turn to joy and our relationships can begin to work.
Dramatic change is possible with the help of the Holy Spirit. We can learn to thank God for our circumstances, instead of becoming discouraged and disillusioned. Rather than being disappointed in others, we may learn
to see the reflection of Christ in them. And in looking through the eyes of Jesus, we can learn to experience delight, wonder and awe, instead of pain and despair.
The more we turn to Christ, the more possible it is for us to be changed from despair to glory. "And we, who with unveiled faces reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit" 2 CORINTHIANS 3:18 (NIV). As our lives become more focused upon God, we start to look for godly male and female images. We search out healthy role models to mirror reflections of Christ for us and to show us how to live as functional adults.
Paul instructed us to look at the model of his life in order to know how to follow Christ and grow. "Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." PHILIPPIANS 4:9 (NIV). It is up to us to do as Paul instructed. We must stop focusing on the ungodly role models that are so pervasive in our society and focus on Christ, living in his light and truth.
Our ineffective behavior developed as we adapted to our chaotic environment. To the best of our ability we trusted our senses-often we guessed, at how we were to behave and react in various situations. By participating in a Christ-centered recovery group, we learn to distinguish
between behaviors that ate self-destructive and those that are mutually supportive to ourselves and others. We also gain a better, understanding of our thoughts and feelings. Learning new ways of relating often comes from what we discover as we share our lives with others who are also seeking wholeness through Christ’s healing power.
What mixed messages did you receive in your childhood home?
In what ways did you adapt to the pain in your home of origin?
How have you imitated the destructive actions you observed in your home?
What misperceptions of healthy behavior and beliefs do you wish to change in your life now?
What did you do as a child to "keep peace" and not "rock the boat?"
What is your current view of God?
Recovery Tool: Personal Behavior Self-Examination
It is often easy for us to become sidetracked, especially when we have lived in denial, self-deception and delusion for much of our lives. We stay on track in our recovery by asking ourselves probing questions as well as praying for and receiving God’s guidance.
This Personal Behavior Self Examination is useful in keeping us on’
course and helping us to recognize when we are falling into old behavior patterns. The questions and related Bible passages are designed to help us look closely at our behavior toward God, ourselves and others. Answer these questions alone first and be honest with yourself. Then ask your friends in recovery what they perceive your answers might be and look honestly at any discrepancies between your answers and theirs. By performing this exercise, you can obtain some useful clues about progress YOU have made and behavior that needs changing.
Behavior toward God
"Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place." PSALM 51:6 (NIV).
Give a recent example of how you asked God to help you express your thoughts and feelings freely.
"See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many." HEBREWS 12:15 (NIV).
How do resentment and bitterness interfere with your relationship with God?
"I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’" PSALM 91:2 (NIV).
How are you learning to put your faith and trust in God?
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." PROVERBS 3:5-6 (NIV).
In what ways have you asked God to enable you to trust?
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." JOHN 15:5 (NIV).
How do you visualize God?
"Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded." JAMES 4:7-8 (NIV).
How have you started submitting to God in the healing process?
"That if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." ROMANS 10:9 (NIV).
In what ways do you show your trust in Jesus Christ, your Lord and Savior?
Behavior toward yourself
"He is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does." JAMES 1:8 (NIV).
What difficulty do you have in making decisions?
"For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you." ROMANS 12:3 (NIV). . What steps are you presently taking to achieve flexibility and balance in your life?
"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."1 JOHN 4:18 (NIV).
How does fear of rejection and failure affect your life?
"For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." MATTHEW 6:14-15 (NIV).
What relationships cause anger and rage to build inside you?
How are you dealing with compulsiveness, denial of feelings and helplessness?
Behavior toward others
"Simply let your ‘}1!s’ be ‘}1!s, , and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one." MATTHEW 5:37 (NIV).
How do you feel when you say "no" to people?
How are the "don’t talk," "don’t’ trust" and "don’t feel" rules affecting you now?
What unhealthy family rules are still operating in your home life?
"Do not judge, or you too wiU be judged. For in the same way you judge others,you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
MAITHEW 7:1-2 (NIV).
How might your harsh and unforgiving judgments of others hinder your own recovery?
How are you learning not to project blame onto other people?
What was your childhood image of God?
What is your image of God now?
List two painful or negative memories from your childhood. How are these memories affecting you today?
List two pleasant or positive memories from your childhood. How are these memories affecting you today?
What is your major resentment toward another person? Describe how this resentment has negatively affected your life.
What is your prayer request for yourself or others?
Complete the following Family Group Prayer Requests.
__________________________________is praying for me.
I am praying for _______________________________________and his/her prayer request is: