Bringing Our Healing Home
……..By now, most of us are aware that there is a way out of our devastation if we surrender our lives to Christ. As adult children, we don’t have to stay stuck in our present struggles or remain paralyzed and handicapped in our relationships or functions. We are now able to recognize that it is God’s will for us to be whole. We can feel certain that his desire for us is to be healed by the Holy Spirit. We can "…take heart, for I have overcome the world." JOHN 16:33 (NIV). We are "…more than conquerors through him "who loved us." ROMANS 8:37 (NIV). God wants us to be healthy and mature so we can begin to reach out and bring comfort to our loved ones as we continue to grow. Once we begin to experience recovery, we can offer encouragement, comfort and support to others in our lives who suffer from damaging, pain-filled family systems. "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." 2 CORINTHIANS 1:3-4 (NIV).
While moving through our pain and dysfunction into Christ-centered recovery, we start feeling good about ourselves, and our lives become more joyous and productive. It is through our own recovery and our new relationship with Christ that we can begin to have a positive influence on those around us.
It is important to proceed cautiously and gently as we work with other people. We will do well to follow the example of how benevolently Christ works with us. He does not expect us to impose our new lives upon others in a self-righteous attitude; instead, he calls upon us to set a good example as healthy, functional and fulfilled people. "…I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." EPHESIANS 4;1-2 (NIV). It is vital to remember that we can only change ourselves and our own behavior. We cannot force change on others, but we can share our lives our recovery slowly and gently so that by our examples others may how they might change their lives. "And be ye kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one other, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you." EPHESIANS 4;32 (KJV).
There are three fundamental principles that we need to apply if we going to experience satisfactory recovery and be able to share our very with others. They may be contrary to our previous beliefs and behaviors, but they are critical to our success in becoming healthy role models. These principles are:
¾ I can change no other person.
¾ I can only change myself.
¾ Others can change by seeing and understanding my change.
It is important that we acknowledge and practice these principles in order to set a good example for our family and friends in guiding them toward healthier living. The following prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr can be a helpful tool for us as we attempt to practice these healthy behaviors.
Prayer for Serenity
God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;
taking, as Jesus did,
this sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it;
trusting that you will make all things right
if I surrender to your will;
so that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with you forever in the next.
It is through consistent serenity, courage and wisdom that we maintain our own recovery. We can let go of others and release them to God’s care. We are finally able to trust in his timing and believe that he will care for. us and our loved ones. As we surrender our self-will, and focus on changing ourselves instead of others, we model for others the healthy, functional adult life that is now becoming ours in Christ.
We must remember that we cannot change everything all at once. We need to proceed slowly, taking one day at a time and one problem at a time. It helps to become a regular participant in a Christ-centered support group with people who readily identify with the struggles involved in moving from dysfunctional to functional family living. We need to be as open and honest as possible with God, ourselves and those around us. When we can live comfortably in our present reality, our past failures, or future fantasies are more easily accepted and understood.
In order to bring our healing home, there are certain guidelines we can use. If we are willing to focus on these principles, we can expect to see some qualitative shifts within our family system.
Some of these guidelines are:
– Provide healthy, godly role models in our homes.
– Establish clear rules and boundaries for our family’s security and protection. Apply these rules equally to every family member, including ourselves. Establish appropriate consequences for violating rules that are consistent and fair.
– Develop an atmosphere of trust, openness, honesty and communication among family members.
– Provide a time and place for family prayer, devotion, worship and celebration.
– Respect the personal space and privacy of everyone in our home.
– Live by a system of priorities that is clearly observed.
– Encourage rest, relaxation, play and creativity.
– Provide an atmosphere of hospitality, warmth and caring for anyone who comes into our home.
– Develop wholesome, meaningful family traditions.
– Refrain from trying to buy love or control and manipulate others with things.
– Provide alternatives for negative influences that come into our home.
– Do away with performance orientation. Let others know they are loved unconditionally.
– Provide opportunities for learning about and forming healthy values, morals and ethics.
– Model healthy nurturing during every stage of our family’s development.
– Live by a mutually-agreed-upon covenant with mutual and loving accountability. Make real and vital commitments to family and friends.
Recovery requires the elimination of unhealthy family patterns and the establishment of healthy practices. For a family to be fully functional, there are numerous conditions that must be present.
Some of these are:
– Unconditional love and acceptance of one another..(This does not mean condoning unacceptable behavior.)
– Acceptance of problems as being a normal part of life.
– Open communication.
– Clear goals and objectives.
– Consistent and firm guidance and nurture.
– Encouragement and positive affirmation.
– Celebration of one another’s joys, accomplishments and growth. Comfort for one another’s failures, mistakes and losses.
All family members benefit when positive family experiences outnumber negative ones. Giving and receiving hugs is an easy way to communicate warmth, love and good feelings. Families can function well by using words positively for edification, guidance, discipline, sharing and intimacy. Family life stabilizes when we provide structure for our interactions and appropriate expectations for ourselves and others. People thrive in an atmosphere of flexibility, growth and healthy change.
After becoming involved in the recovery process, many of us develop unrealistic expectations of ourselves. When we find they are not being met, we become discouraged and can easily relapse and interrupt the progress we have made. Also, when we are working with others, it is important to stay focused on our own recovery goals.
Following are suggestions for avoiding some of the pitfalls others have experienced in recovery:
Don’t place unreal expectations upon ourselves, other family members, or those we are helping .in the recovery process.
It is important that we allow ourselves and others to learn from our mistakes. It is not wise to force unreal or premature recovery upon those who are not ready for it. If we are working with family units, we need to let them grow into their maturity naturally, according to God’s time table rather than ours.
Trust that maturity and healing are God’s will for everyfamily system. We need not accept the status quo if it is unhealthy or destructive. We can strive for the maturity and healing that are clearly part of the New Testament promise.
Realize that healing is a process.
In most cases, healing takes time, especially when we are working to create new, healthy family systems. The Holy Spirit works in us to heal our inner wounds when we are ready. It helps to trust that God knows what needs healing and when. For our part, we must make a true commitment to change, understanding that pain and effort will be required of us."…work out your salvation (healing) with fear and trembling (trauma)…" PHILIPPIANS 2:12 (NIV).
Acknowledge that maturity is a process.
In recovery, we sometimes tend to be like the child who is seven, going on 17. We want to face the reality of our immaturity one day, and then be perfect in our Christian maturity the next day. If not, we are discouraged with ourselves and everyone around us. Maturity entails a process that is ordained by God. An oak tree does not grow from a sapling to a full-grown tree in one year, and we cannot expect to grow into a fully mature adult overnight.
Jesus confronts this situation in LUKE 13:6-9 (NIV),.. A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now, I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ ‘Sir,’ the man replied, leave it alone for one more year and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not,
then cut it down.’" . .
It is important to allow ourselves and others time to mature. We must be nurtured and cared for like the fig tree, God knows what is best for us, and we can safely trust his timetable. If we do, we can be assured that the fruit we bear will be the fruit of the Spirit; "…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." GALATIANS 5:22 (NIV).
Don’t sidestep the real issues of healing and maturity with defense mechanisms.
When we have been repeatedly hurt, disappointed, or discouraged, our natural tendency is to defend ourselves from further pain. We deny reality by refusing to admit our problems or project the blame for them to others. In recovery, we can come to believe that Christ is our defender and that we don’t need to deny or blame as a protective shield.
Don’t mask dysfunction with adaptation.
We learn early in a painful family system how to pretend that everything is normal and right. We adapt ourselves to the situation at hand, believing it is our duty to change, rather than face the reality of our circumstances. The problem is that we develop a warped sense of what is reasonable and accept pain and confusion as normal. We may clown or laugh our way through stressful experiences and sincerely believe that we have emerged untouched. We pretend that what happens in our home is really okay. In so doing, we are adapting instead of changing.
Don’t allow functional-dysfunctionalism.
We may come to the conclusion that dysfunction is our lot in life and we might as well get used to it and make the best of it. We learn to cope with our environment by developing skills such as people-pleasing. This is a tragic mistake and does not support healing and maturity. This type of behavior is not a permanent solution to any problem and only provides a temporary escape. We may present a facade of being functional but still be very dysfunctional under the mask of our coping skills. Our insides can be wrenching, while outside we appear happy and cheerful.
Deal with our inclination to be reactionary and judgmental.
Many of us react inappropriately to people, places and things in our past and our present, instead of learning how to respond in a healthy manner. This can lead to bitterness and judgment instead of forgiveness and healing. Jesus said, "Do not judge, or you too will 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. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the Plank in your own eye? How can you say to our brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye’ when all the time there is a Plank in your own eye? Thu hypocrite, first take the Plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye." MATIHEW 7:1-5 (NIV).
It is important that we act according to our own motives and remain consistently accountable for them. We can safely leave judgment of others to God.
Maintain clear recovery goals.
The Bible exhorts us to move onward: "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching." HEBREWS 10:23-25 (NIV). The day of our wholeness is approaching, and we need to have goals that motivate and encourage us in the direction of maturity and fullness of life in Christ. .
Clearly defined recovery goals serve to move us from dysfunction to function, from pain to healing, from immaturity to maturity, from childishness to childlikeness and from despair to glory. We need to give and receive the consistent encouragement and confrontation of other members of the body of Christ to keep us on the path to recovery. In his letter in 1 CORINTHIANS 12:26 (NIV), Paul says, "If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honored, every part rejoices with it." Our task toward one another is to suffer with those who are suffering and rejoice with those who are rejoicing.
In what areas do those close to you need comforting and healing?
Describe two situations that indicate you are "bringing your healing home."
Who in your life do you want to stop judging and relinquish to the care of God? Describe the judgment you need to let go of.
What things in your life that you cannot change do you want to learn to accept?
What are the two most valuable contributions you have recently made to your family?
What is your reaction to the fact that you cannot affect change in others – that you can only change yourself?
Recovery Tool: Worship
Worshiping God must have a high priority in our new lives in recovery. Worship the Lord your God and serve him only," LUKE 4:8 (NIV). "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and Pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship." ROMANS 12:1 (NIV).
Step Three of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous expresses a significant concept that serves as a foundation for worshiping God: "Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him." Before we began recovery, many of us may have pursued false gods or used other things in place of a spiritual God. In some cases, the thing we cherished may have been alcohol, drugs, food, or another person. We may have spent a lot of time and energy meeting the demands of these other gods-putting our faith and trust in them. When our lives begin to revolve around these false idols, they can become the primary basis for our values, goals and decisions.
When we "turn our lives over to the care of God," we begin to embrace his standards and values as set forth in the Bible. Life becomes different. Christ becomes the central influence and focus of our lives. "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." PSALMS 37:4 (NIV). If God is to be the most important influence in our lives, we must be true to him and "have no other gods before me," EXODUS 20:3 (NIV) as we were taught in the Ten Commandments. Worship is one way through which we remove any false gods that we may have previously served.
If we look carefully at our past, we can see how destructive our false gods have been. Through their influence, we may feel guilt or shame about the past, disillusionment with the present and anxiety about the future. God generously forgives the past, gives fulfillment and purpose to the present and extends hope for the future. As we worship God, we become the beneficiaries of these realities.
God calls us to honor him because he loves us and desires that we be whole and healthy. Through worship we encounter the Lord in new and fresh ways. God made us to be in community with all of his creation. Worshiping together strengthens and renews us. When we revere and
respect the Lord, the Holy Spirit is released within us uniting the body of Christ in ministry for the common good.
As recovering adult children, worship is vital to our lives. Staying on the road to recovery requires that we maintain a healthy relationship with God, ourselves and others. Veneration humbles us before the Lord, curbing our tendency to be self-centered and prideful. As we turn to Christ, we remove the attention from ourselves and become more in touch with God. During worship, we are open to receiving significant insights. God helps us see our strengths and our successes as well as our weaknesses and shortcomings. Worship enables us to stop blaming other people and accept responsibility for our own attitudes and actions. It helps us see the beauty in all of God’s creation as well as the good in ourselves and in others. We praise and thank God for forgiveness, healing and our new lives.
For those who are suffering, there is encouragement. God who comforts us is able to empower us to minister comfort and healing to others. Confusion is dispelled and faith is reinforced as we worship together. There is peace and rejoicing as the surrounding community observes and is drawn into the
Finally, when our lives include worship and praise offered to God, we can concentrate on what is most important to us. We may at times feel overwhelmed by seeing all our problems at once. If we commit to focusing on one issue at a time, we can put our heart, mind and soul into healing that specific area. We can learn to set realistic priorities and deal with each issue in its turn.
What traditions or rituals are important in your home now?
What is your main recovery goal? Describe your progress in attaining this goal.
Which fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) do you most strongly want to improve upon or introduce into your life? Explain.
"If one falls down, his friends can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!" ECCLESIASTES 4:10 (NIV). How does this relate to the work you have done to date with your Christ-centered support group?
Share a meaningful experience in using the journal as part of your recovery process.
What is your prayer request for yourself or others?