"Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety." -- Proverbs 11:14
I believe in seeking the advice of many counsellors. When you become the `counselee' of just one human being, an unhealthy relationship becomes established. One-on-one counseling can be an effective tool, but all helpful advice and tools must be submitted to the supreme Counselor who dwells within us, the Holy Spirit.
Here are some other big helps towards my healing:
* Regaining the hope that I will be healed and made whole according to God's Word
* Asking for prayer and praying for myself, as well as praying in tongues
* Studying God's Word and replacing my warped view of God as Father
* Basic courage and tenacity
* Cutting off communication with my family for a season, so that when I reopened it, it was on my terms, not theirs (Empowerment and rebuilding of proper boundaries)
* Exposing the truth about incest to my family and not receiving their denials and accusations
* Reading books on the subject: When Victims Marry , Healing Victims of Sexual Abuse
* Watching movies on the subject: Liar, Liar; Fatal Memories, Ultimate Betrayal, and The Kissing Place (about a boy remembering his real family before he was kidnapped).
* Individual and group counseling
Look for those who desire to be facilitators in God's process of healing you, and avoid controlling individuals who want to play God in your life. The finest arrangement we had was through Christian Counseling Services. A male doctor of psychiatry and a female gifted in producing emotion-provoking study and resource material facilitated the Holy Counselor's work in the midst of a Christian group comprised of three couples and four single women committed to being together for twelve weeks. The agenda for the twelve weeks and each two hour meeting were clearly established. The facilitators provided the subject and activity for the evening, and allowed all of us to interact in one another's healing, and then we had assignments to do before the next evening meeting. We even had times of worship and prophecy toward the later meetings since we had become a body in Christ through our love for one another. It was the first time I had experienced humble leaders who served by equipping the saints for works of ministry (real church). We could also take advantage of individual counseling at reduced rates during the day.
Counselors need to include spouses in the healing process as much as possible (or provide counseling or criminal justice for an abusive spouse). Women especially need to be careful that the counselor does not become the new "head of the family". The husband is the primary source of the wife's protection from the world. A wise couple will discuss and pray about all forms of "therapy" before agreeing to them, and even so, a husband might want to sit in on a couple of sessions to make certain his wife is safe. Counselors may suggest helps toward sexual healing, but sexual practice between spouses remains a decision between the married couple before God in accordance with 1 Cor. 7:2-6.
Peter, my husband! He accepted my problem as "our" problem and gave me his full support. I am ever thankful to God for the man I married. I realize many women reading this book do not share a similar blessing, which may make the healing process more difficult.
Don't sacrifice your marriage for memories and personal healing. Next to God, your relationship with your spouse is most important. It is vital that the couple embrace the abuse as "our problem that we can struggle through with Jesus". If your spouse is an unbeliever, maybe you can at least agree to go through it together. But if your spouse is unwilling to go through the healing process with you, it may be wiser to wait and pray for God to unite you before beginning such a painful endeavor.
At first we did not have the "our problem" mentality, and I set my need for healing above my husband's needs, creating much marital tension and unnecessarily hurting him.
Hebrews 13:3-6 "Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body. Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me."
Though verse three has to do with prisoners, it can be applied to any who are in bondage and suffering. Spouses need to be "one" in their pain as well as their pleasure. They are assured their sexual union is pure before God, and that those who practice sexual perversion will be judged by God. It gives Peter and I much relief to know that we don't have to take revenge on my abusers. If they don't repent, God will vindicate me; they won't escape His judgment. My dad made threats in the midst of his denial, and I have been afraid for the physical security of my family, but I try to rest in knowing God protects my eternal being regardless of what man can do to me in this world.
I lost my singing voice from the shock of the first memories. Though it is commonly known that emotional trauma can cause individuals to lose the speaking or singing voice, I've found little written on the subject. I found one article which linked stuttering and spasmodic dysphonia to central nervous system dysfunction. "Stuttering affects approximately 1 in 100 persons in the United States, and spasmodic dysphonia, in which spasms of the larynx choke off words as they are uttered, is thought to affect about a tenth as many. . . . Unlike stuttering, which almost always begins in childhood, spasmodic dysphonia typically has an abrupt onset in adulthood, often following some stressful or traumatic occurrence such as mild head injury. Devous found that the disruption in vocal motor control that characterizes persons with this disorder is frequently associated with biochemical abnormalities of brain function and seldom associated with abnormalities of structure." 
It was a year after I began counseling that I discovered I had hereditary hypothyroidism (which exacerbated my depression). I began taking supplemental thyroid but my mood swings at the onset of menstruation have not been balanced by it. I considered entering a Minirth-Meier facility at a local hospital. They might have detected my low-thyroid. I considered asking for a mother's helper or maid, but decided I didn't want a stranger in the house just then.
Some medications are being used to correct mental and emotional imbalances. Lithium can restore balance for manic depression. Research in brain chemistry is a blossoming field. We need discernment and gentleness in helping those suffering mental and emotional distress. May God give us wisdom, and faith to bring healing.
Coming to realize that people you love and honor have lied to you and abused you is very traumatic. The reality you once trusted is not what it seemed. Plenty of people are ready to accept you again if you will just put the veil of denial back on. They may even threaten your job, other relationships, or your life if you do not agree to their view of reality. So who's crazy? You for holding onto a shred of truth with little, if any, support, or them for holding onto lies with many supporting them on their way to destruction? (Matthew 7:13-14)
Personality changes are not Multiple Personality Disorder; otherwise every woman would be diagnosed MPD because of her menses. MPD is not demon-possession. When the man with the legion of demons spoke, there were not separate voices or personalities for each demon. The man exhibited consistent crazy behavior, not a variety of different personalities. Our concepts of demon-possession often match our speculations about MPD before we actually consider the behaviors of each. Those possessed by multiple demons are not recorded as exhibiting MPD.
Just because you are in counseling doesn't mean you can't serve Jesus. Don't succumb to a victim mentality. You've already survived the bulk of the pain, and God accepts whatever service you're willing to provide when you are ready. Even if you are still hating God or the church system, you can still minister to His people (Matthew 25:40). God does not bar people in pain from ministering (Gal. 4:13-14). Try not to serve under obligation or guilt; Jesus understands the need for rest and recuperation (Matt. 11:28 and Mark 6:31).
I had blocked out memory of the sexual abuse and years of my childhood. God provided the people and the tools to work it back to a conscious level. Using right brain activities of drawing and writing with the non-dominant hand helped me unlock buried emotions and memories. But the first emotions were anger and rage; emotions I didn't know how to handle as a Christian.
When drawing pictures of my father's and brother's abuses of me, I drew a lot of holes. Truly they had pierced my body and soul many times, so much so that I felt like a sieve. Anything good said about me just sifted through, having no foundation on which to rest; but all the lies and cruelties stuck.
Ecc. 5:3a "For a dream cometh through the multitude of business."
Business is 'inyan in Hebrew meaning occupation or toil, from the root 'anah meaning depressed, afflicted, or downcast. God sent dreams to believers and non-believers.
God often sent dreams to warn people (See Genesis 20:3,6; 31:24 and Matthew 2:12,22; and 27:19). God also sent dreams and visions to reveal Himself to people (See Genesis 31:11; Numbers 12:6; and 1 Kings 3:5). God sent dreams and visions to verify His prophets (See Jeremiah 23:28 and Joel 2:28). God sent dreams and visions to give instruction (See Matthew 1:20 and 2:13; and Acts 10) or to answer a request (1 Samuel 28:15). In Judges 7:9-15 God encourages Gideon to attack the Midianites through one of their dreams. God uses dreams to communicate with people; we might not always interpret them correctly, but that doesn't nullify His communication through dreams.
I remember my mom bought a book on dream symbolism when I was a child, and I read dreaming of watermelons meant you were pregnant. I don't think a book of symbols can interpret your dreams for you. Read Genesis 41:1-40. Pharoah sent for all his wise men, but none could interpret the dreams. He sends for Joseph, who had correctly interpreted the dreams of the baker and the cupbearer, and Joseph rightly declares that it is God who interprets dreams. The dream "troubles" Pharoah, but it was sent by God to reveal to him what He was about to do, and Pharoah wisely prepares for the future shown him. We also need someone "in whom is the spirit of God" to help us act upon our disturbing dreams.
Daniel also realized only God can reveal the mysteries of dreams. He asked his friends to pray for enlightenment concerning Nebuchadnezzar's dream, and God revealed it to Daniel in a vision (Daniel 2:17-19, 27-28). Nebuchadnezzar's dream was also given by God to reveal the future; and the king, like the Pharoah, recognizes God's hand in the revelation, and makes the servant second in command. In Daniel 4:27, his interpretation comes with advice to repent. From chapter seven to the end of the book, Daniel has his own dreams and visions from God of the future. For one interpretation he diligently fasted and prayed for three weeks, and was told an answer was sent the first day. If God is so eager in helping His servants understand the future in order to prepare, how much more so is he desirous of our understanding our past so we can be healed.
Record the overflowing emotions and thoughts in a notebook or on audio tape. I recorded my dreams on a word processor so I could make copies for my counselors. Keeping a daily journal and recording dreams helped me to see progress in my healing. Putting feelings into words also makes them more objective.
Part of regaining wholeness is regaining a personal history. Many trauma victims have memory difficulties. Many incest victims block out the traumatic portion of their childhood. Reviewing past and present films, videos and photos of yourself and your family will help you create a timeline of your life. I was intrigued that while making my timeline there was a period of a few years when I had two distinct lines, a double life.
Francine Shapiro discovered EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) in 1987. One of her disturbing memories seemed to dissolve as she rapidly moved her eyes back and forth. While pursuing her doctorate in psychology, she studied neuro linguistic programming which includes eye position during thought: eyes up accesses visual pictures, eyes down accesses emotional and physical feelings, eyes centered and left to right accesses spoken and written words.  (A television broadcast of "Beyond 2000" documented research of how babies learn. The researchers discovered that babies quickly moved their eyes back and forth to teach themselves to see.) Shapiro "refers to EMDR as a 'therapeutic power tool,' and believes it activates some neurophysiological survival mechanism that enables people to move on in their lives, even in the wake of devastating setbacks. It is as if EMDR jump starts a part of the brain, loosening the grip of emotionally incapacitating thoughts and feelings, often tapping into unfathomable and formerly unreachable resources of courage, wisdom and heart."  "Shapiro theorizes that the eye movement, and perhaps other, yet undiscovered forms of neural stimulation, allows long-delayed learning to take place. Traumatic memories, she thinks, are like unlearned lessons locked in the brain by the surges of neurochemicals that occur in times of great stress. These undigested experiences, she suggests, remain for years, tied in their own biochemical package, impervious to the lessons of countervailing, less devastating data. Somehow, the eye movement unties the package and reconnects the previously isolated neural networks to the rest of the brain." 
"The trick, Shapiro says, is to keep the client anchored in present time, while keeping the memories flowing; it's trickier than it sounds. 'I didn't realize at first how much emotionally disturbing material it could open up, and how dangerous it could be for people who have suffered multiple traumas,' she says."  EMDR is not something to try on yourself or a friend. Find a trained therapist.
Post-traumatic stress disorder was originally called shell shock in WW1 and battle stress in WW2. The men exhibited the following symptoms: "twitching and shaking of limbs, catatonic states, inability to sleep or relax, manic behavior, depression, loss of speech and memory, and even paralysis."  A study of PTSD involving 715 twin pairs, some of which served in southeast Asia (SEA), produced the following results: "The prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder was 16.8% in twins who served in SEA compared with 5.0% in co-twins who did not serve in SEA. There was a ninefold increase in the prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder (95% confidence interval, 4.8 to 17.6), comparing twins who experienced high levels of combat with their co-twin who did not serve in SEA. Our results demonstrate that nearly 15 years following the end of the Vietnam War, there remains a substantially increased prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder among veterans who served in SEA."  Vietnam Veterans who are willing to work through the painful horrors they experienced are finding great relief through EMDR. After treating five hospitalized Vietnam combat veterans with chronic PTSD with Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), there was enough noted improvement for the authors of the studies to declare EMDR might become a powerful clinical tool in the treatment of PTSD.  "By 1993, a small but influential group of her [Shapiro's] converts, including research psychologists associated with universities and V.A. medical centers, had seen enough preliminary studies to suggest that EMDR was, in fact, a watershed treatment for PTSD." 
"PTSD, especially among Vietnam veterans, was widely considered so intractable that some neurophysiologists speculated that intense trauma produced permanent changes in brain chemistry." 
"They show that in actual clinical practice, well-trained therapists achieve significantly better results with EMDR than with traditional treatments for PTSD."  I highly recommend reading Post-Trauma Stress by Frank Parkinson, who once served as a minister. He understands the religious implications of experiencing loss without getting preachy about it. He documents the facts clearly, and systematically details the psychological debriefing process which he has used successfully across the country. The two following quotations are from his book. "There are many situations in life where the stress generated becomes "dis-stress" and we may find it very difficult to cope. This can be the result of a bereavement, divorce, moving to a new home, being laid off or fired or some other incident involving change and loss. This stress can then be experienced as post-trauma stress, because the feelings generated at the time of the incident have not gone away, but have become more difficult and distressing. . . .it must be emphasized that post-traumatic stress reactions are not abnormal or signs of weakness of inadequacy; they are normal responses to abnormal events." 
"Unfortunately, you do not "get over" grief or post-trauma stress, you only go into it and either stay there or go through it. Perhaps the most difficult thing to realize is that the pain experienced contains within it the seeds of healing and renewal. Normal grief and stress reactions are not signs of an illness or sickness which needs medication or psychiatric help." 
Rapid Eye Movement (REM) occurs naturally while one dreams, and I found recording my dreams and discussing them with my husband and a counselor and the Lord very helpful. After a year of doing so, it became rather frightening to fall asleep. Then I was blessed to find a counselor who used EMDR. With EMDR I chose which memory I wanted to explore and I could stop it whenever it became overwhelming. The therapist quickly waved her hand up and down and side to side as I followed it with my eyes and the memory came into focus. The therapist did not suggest what I might be seeing, hearing, or feeling; but asked me questions about what I was experiencing. The focus was on rediscovering the truth for myself, not on the therapist analyzing my experiences. EMDR was an incredible tool for regaining detailed memories while in control of my faculties.
After 20 years of paralyzing fear and using several different therapies, a skeptic tried EMDR. Rika Fiske, her new therapist, told her, "Some people get a lot out of EMDR, and others get almost nothing. We'll just have to see."
"Somehow, during the EMDR process, I could both allow myself to really feel the feelings -- let them take their course without immediately trying to stop them -- and report on them without embarrassment or shame. And, because I could stop the process any time I wanted, I had a sense of control over any panic that came up." 
"False Memory Syndrome is not a recognized medical or psychological diagnosis and does not appear in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual III-R, or the soon to be released DSM-IV." 
"FMSF was founded in March 1992 by a couple whose adult daughter, a doctor with degrees in psychology, had privately accused them of sexual abuse and molestation. The daughter did not make her charges public until August of 1993."  EMDR is not "false memory implantation". "False memories" is a wicked ploy of the enemy to keep people from coming to a knowledge of the truth; with either the counselor covering the truth with lies, or by the family accusing the victim's true memories of being false. Thankfully my brothers concur with some parts, though not all, of my memories of molestation.
EMDR is not hypnotism. Hypnotism is not mentioned in the Bible. Even though my first Christian counselor suggested it, there are some scriptures concerning the mind and control which led Peter and I not to allow hypnotism: Romans 6:16; Colossians 3:1-2; Ephesians 5:15-18; and 1 Corinthians 14:14-15, 32. The three Greek words translated "mind" also include self-control in their definitions. I don't consider giving someone else control of my mind to be safe or necessary for healing.
The Society of Clinical Hypnosis opposes EMDR, as do other branches of psychology. It often takes time and assurance of financial gain before new procedures are accepted. Because EMDR is so effective, it drastically cuts the time a person is in therapy. Therefore it has been blackballed by the bulk of psychologists who see EMDR as a threat to their pocketbooks and their careers.
During the process of uncovering the first memory, it is not the time to counsel the victim to forgive the abuser or to not be angry. The incest victim was not allowed (or was too shocked or confused) to express anger or defend herself/himself against rape. The years of internalized rage (which might have been creating physical, mental, or emotional problems) can be likened to a pressure cooker. As long as there's no heat, the inner feelings can just continue to ferment, but when heat is turned on, toxic steam begins to escape, polluting the air. Those nearby know something bad is brewing, but to take the lid off a pressurized pot is dangerous; so often they just hold their noses and leave. Those willing to stick around until the pot cools down must also be willing for the fermenting stew to be exposed if it's going to be cleaned out. To me it meant exposing the facts and expressing my feelings of the incest memories.
Though a counselor may suggest a time, place, and method to express the rage, a victim should not be manipulated through it. It must be expressed in a safe environment through safe means, with the goal of confession of bitterness afterwards. In order to reestablish the victim's link with her/his emotions and God-given defense mechanisms, the intensity of the initial expression of rage may be frightening to the individual. I don't think subsequent expressions of rage have to be as demonstrative as the first. I don't think taking years to express the rage is reasonable, but neither do I think a few minutes is sufficient for an emotionally deficit person to reacquaint themselves with the emotion of anger.
For me the initial angry outburst lasted about thirty minutes. Though I began the forgiving process two weeks afterwards, there was continued smoldering for a couple months before I actually forgave my abusers.
During a PBS Bradshaw On The Family episode I viewed a woman safely express her anger with a foam bat. I hit my bed with a cane while telling my abusers what I thought of them. I threw and kicked balls against a wall and broke old framed photographs of them. I also had some shouting matches with God, but found He was even more angry about spiritual and sexual abuse than I was, and I entrusted Him to judge and to take proper action.
It's important to release your anger using inanimate (non-living) objects: break pictures or sticks, throw pillows at the wall or rocks into a field, hit your bed with a bat or hit a punch bag. Your root of bitterness, which has been festering all these years, may spring up and defile many (Hebrews 12:15) unless you direct your anger appropriately. If you physically or verbally abuse another person, you are responsible to repent and seek forgiveness.
It was very difficult to receive God's forgiveness the first time I committed homosexual acts, and after the second relationship I thought I was hopeless. But God graciously helped me to repent of my sins, and to trust Him to help me avoid another homosexual relationship. God made it clear to me that, since He meets all our needs, He would meet my sexual needs by providing a husband. Some would say I didn't need to take full responsibility for my homosexual acts based upon seduction, childhood incest, or the degree of the acts and involvement. By not taking responsibility for my own actions, I would have declared others as being in control of me; thus making them my masters and lords. By stating a sin is anything less than a sin is to proclaim Holy God is less than holy. As long as people blame others for their sin, they remain in bondage to those people. As long as people excuse their sin, they remain in bondage to that sin.
Before I remembered the incest, I went through the process of forgiving my parents, I made a list of all their sins against me. I wrote "I forgive you for . . ." and filled in the blank. Then I wrote down my immediate thoughts. I was amazed at how I excused and minimized sins. Only when I could write a clear "I forgive you" statement without excuses was I able to go onto the next sin. I also made a list of sins I had committed against them. I was emotionally raw and overwhelmed. I was not prepared to face them yet, so I received forgiveness from God for my sins, and considered theirs pardoned.
I also tried having a close friend tell me I was forgiven for each of the sins I had committed against my parents, and for her to say she repented of each of the sins of my parents in their stead, but I'm not sure that was wise. My parents were still alive, and I needed to face them. I was eventually able to face my mother about some things.
After recalling the incest and its anger, I forgave my family. They have chosen to deny their wronging me, and so, refuse to accept my forgiveness. This is the state of God and fallen man: He already completely humbled Himself and forgave us all, but some choose to deny they've wronged Him, refusing His gracious forgiveness. There can be no relationship where sin is denied and forgiveness is rejected, only a deep aching remains. Jesus knows what it's like to be mocked (John 7:1-10), manipulated (John 2:1-11), misunderstood (Luke 8:19-21), and rejected (Matthew 23:37 and Isaiah 53:3).
Exposing and leaving the cult, and studying the scriptures helped me regain a firm foundation after the spiritual abuse. Though I forgave the pastors, the sting of their words remained. It wasn't until I dealt with the rage over my childhood incest that I could allow myself to get angry at the pastors and forgive them. Forgiveness just doesn't work on a "mental only" level (Mat. 18:35).
It's as if God placed a video screen and a mirror before us, while He as Spirit stands behind us. The mirror reflects our present live action, but we can set it to record our own personal videos to be viewed later. If we view any personal video, we will eventually see God's Spirit at work in the background in all of them. All our mirrors come to us with an irremovable film of the sin nature on it, distorting our view of ourselves and God. Then each sin (those we commit and those committed against us) adds a smudge, which can be cleaned through giving and receiving God's forgiveness. Those who offend children (or new believers in God), are like those who splash black paint on the mirror. Some offenses are so violent that part of the mirror shatters and shards are imbedded in the person (boundaries of self become nebulous). Christian friends and counselors are like field medics who are not able to get every shard, but will help to extract enough of them so you can see yourself and seek Jesus again.
I chose to spend the bulk of my time viewing the Bible and rejoicing in His light, but that created a longing in my heart to know God better, and every time I looked in the mirror, I only saw darkness and an uncertain self. Where did my personality stop and God's begin? I did not know. I knew none of the darkness was in Him, but He created me in His image and then made me a new creation; what new good part in this light was me? I just kept serving God and others until I could bear the darkness and questions of self no longer.
The shards were part of my past I could not remember, and the pain of remembering was intensified by the anger that was internalized with the memory. The feelings combine with the memory; to disregard the anger would be to disregard the truth of the memory. In order for the shard to be completely removed, the anger must be expressed with it.
I also spent a lot of time viewing the Bible video to understand the healing process for darkened mirrors and shards, as is represented in this book; until God revealed to me through Mark 12:30 (see notes in Trust and Obey), that regardless of what state I'm in, He accepts my love for Him. It's one thing to know God loves you; it's another to know He receives your love.
As a woman I can picture myself like the sinful woman who anointed Jesus in Luke 7:36-50. She was known and despised and sexually used in the town. According to the Law she would never be accepted. She had heard Jesus' teaching of forgiveness and new life. She went home and decided to break from her past. She agonized over her sins and the guilt, with tears stinging her eyes. Would God really accept someone like her? There was one way to find out. She would no longer need the expensive perfume to please her "lovers," so she took the alabaster jar with her. She entered a Pharisee's house and approached Jesus from behind still weeping. She wet Jesus' feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. Neither the Pharisee nor Jesus kicked her out. Now she was weeping with joy and kissing His feet and pouring the perfume on them. She was accepted! Then the Pharisee brings up her sinful past, but Jesus tells him one of His stories and turns towards her. Jesus declared her actions were more loving than the Pharisee's.
Luke 7:47-50 "Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace."
I know that Jesus was suffering with me during my sexual abuse, carrying the pain for me and my family as well. Jesus is one with believers (John 17:22). He continues to be abused by what evil men do to His people: "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?" refers to Saul's assaults on Christians, the body of Christ. Because He is eternal, I know that He took my painful abuse with Him to the cross so that I might now receive healing by His resurrection power. (See 1 Peter 2:21-25 and Romans 8:11).
To weed out the warped earthly father characteristics I attributed to my heavenly Father, I studied 1 Corinthians 13. Since "God is love," I could insert "God" for the word "love" in the chapter. The following notes are part of that study. As you read what Love is not, if you have pictured God acting that way toward you, take the time to ask God to erase the old images and to form new pictures of Himself acting lovingly toward you and others.
God is not a hot-head towards me. He is not run by emotion. He is clear and calm and decisive in His love towards me.
(See 2 Cor. 11 and 12.) When God says to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? . . ." It is not to strut His own stuff in pomp and pride, but it is in genuine awe of a righteous man, who lives in the midst of a perverse people, in whom He can have pride. God, like any loving father, is quick to pull out His photos of His children to all who come near and to quickly point out all of each child's strong points so that the viewer can also appreciate them as He does. My heavenly Father is very proud of me, and He speaks well of me to all who come near. But God is not proud in the negative sense, as is described in the study on pride below.
Write the opposite on the right side.
* persecuting of the poor - Ps. 10:2
* flattering - Ps. 12:3
* contemptuous against the righteous - Ps. 31:18
* cursing and lying - Ps. 59:12
* violent - Ps. 73:6
* disrespectful of authority - Ps. 86:14
* wordy - Ps. 94:4
* err from His commandments - Ps. 119:21
* scornful/mocking - Ps. 119:51
* deceitful/slanderous - Ps. 119:69
* perverse - Ps. 119:78
* entrapping - Ps. 119:85
* oppressive - Ps. 119:122
* shameful - Pr. 11:2
* contentious - Pr. 13:10
* careless/foolish - Pr. 14:16
* full of strife - Pr. 28:25
* base and of low position - Pr. 29:23
* impatient - Eccl. 7:8
* drunk - Is. 28:1; Hab. 2:5
* self-exalting - Jer. 48:29
* accusative - Jeremiah 43:2
* stumbling, unstable, or unreliable - Jer. 50:32
* divisive - 1 Cor. 4:18-19
* lacking knowledge - 1 Tim. 6:4
* vain - 2 Pet. 2:8
* blasphemous - Rev. 13:5
I thought God the Father was the harsh taskmaster and the angry punisher of sin often described in the Old Testament, and I attributed much of my father's abusive characteristics to Him. An abuser uses his power to hurt, shame, and violate us; leaving us vulnerable. God uses His power to heal, forgive, vindicate, and bless us; thus protecting our souls. Like Thomas, I couldn't see the Father in Jesus. I repented of my false images of God, and accepted Jesus as the Father's true representative of Himself; gentle and compassionate toward me, and angry with spiritual abusers. This has been a process over years, as God shows me the difference between the lies and the truth, between false images and His true Person.
God knows it would kill us if we looked directly at Him, so He speaks to us through the Bible using terminology we understand. But though Father, Teacher and Lord are terms we commonly use to refer to God; the individual names must not be mistaken for the reality of the Person we call God. If one or more of the references to God are negative names to you, you won't be rejecting God if you reject that particular name. The names were meant to be positive illustrations to lead us to worship Him in spirit as Spirit. Jesus and the Holy Spirit are Persons of the Godhead. Those who reject "I AM", Jesus and the Spirit are rejecting God, not just names referring to Him. To have a relationship with God is not to have good feelings about all the names by which He represents Himself to man, nor is it to have God become a substitute for a relationship which was negative or lacking altogether.
Exodus 3:13-14 "And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you."
God's Name in relation to His infinite Self is "I AM THAT I AM" (or "I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE"). But how does a finite human relate to an infinite "I AM"? The "I AM" manifested Himself through His actions. Creation is still a primary illustration of God, even with catastrophic flood damage. He also related to people in the Old Testament and proclaimed names of who He was to them at particular times in their lives: to Hagar He was Lahai Roi, the Living One who sees me; and to Abram he was El-Shaddai, God Almighty. These are now pictures we can look at to gain insight to His Person. Then Jesus revealed how God would react to humans as a human Himself; He showed us God's heart and sent God's Spirit. All these illustrations of God interacting with people are recorded on one long video tape called the Holy Bible. (Note: You don't relate to God so that you can understand the Bible better, you try to understand the Bible so you can relate to God better.)
My first memories of incest came as an answer to earnest prayer alone with God one night. Other memories have been pieced together through dreams and photos and bits of information. Some came through different types of counseling and therapy: writing letters to myself, drawing pictures with the opposite hand, and EMDR. I can not justify nor negate some of these tools Biblically, so I asked God which ones were right for me (Romans 14:23).
I would sometimes picture myself being with God while I'd pray, but I didn't feel safe visualizing God as a person for years after remembering the incest. Then I pictured Jesus relating to the prostitute and the adulterous woman, and knew Jesus would also be kind and understanding toward me. Before I felt safe visualizing Father God again, I related to God as my Refuge, the Rock of my salvation, and a High Tower. I felt safest praying to God outdoors with my eyes open. This may be best, especially for those who have been led in mass hypnosis through a cult leader's visualization process.
It is not necessary nor even beneficial to attempt to visualize God when you pray. "God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." (John 4:24) But it is important to pray person to Person, not person to Force. During personal conversations, one can effect another's outlook or decisions. Abraham effected God's criteria regarding Sodom's destruction. Moses effected God's method of destroying the unbelieving Hebrew slaves.
Shame is the feeling of guilt whether or not you have actually committed an offense. In order to feel shame, you need to believe someone else considers your person, thoughts or actions to be shameful. Jesus knows what it is to be shamed. He was crucified naked (John 19:23) after being so brutally beaten that he was no longer recognizable.
Hebrews 12:2 "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher
of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross,
despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of
Despising is kataphroneo in Greek; meaning condemn, disdain, or think little or nothing of.
Shame is aischune in Greek; meaning disgrace, dishonour, dishonesty, or the confusion of one who is ashamed of anything. The root aischos means disfigurement.
Still today, many will not accept Jesus as the crucified and risen Savior, only as a good teacher. They refuse to associate with the innocent Lamb of God who has been tortured and murdered by men. Yet the cross is where we must begin our relationship with Jesus, sharing our sufferings at the hands of sinful men, and forgiving them and committing ourselves to our Father who will then resurrect us.
The lepers cry "unclean" so that healthy people will not come into contact with their diseased bodies. Physical disfigurement can also illicit rude responses from healthy people. We were created in God's image, yet that image has been marred by sin and disease. We know we are not physically what we were meant to be. Shame is attached to imperfect physiques, but each person and each society decides how much shame to attribute.
I didn't understand why Christians avoided me while I was in pain and so desperately needed their compassion. I think they could not bear to see a child of God so deeply marred, because it struck at their comfortable lie of "Christian fatalism" - that God controls all events and imposes His will upon man's will. Though Jesus was disfigured beyond recognition, his mother and John knew who He was and wept with Him. May God give us eyes to look beyond the wounds of sin to see His Image in one another.
Genesis 9:22-23 "And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness
of his father, and told his two brethren without. And Shem and Japheth
took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward,
and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward,
and they saw not their father's nakedness."
Nakedness is 'ervah in Hebrew; meaning nudity, shame, shameful exposure, indecency, or improper behavior.
Deut. 25:11 "When men strive together one with another, and
the wife of the one draweth near for to deliver her husband out of the
hand of him that smiteth him, and putteth forth her hand, and taketh him
by the secrets."
Secrets is mabush in Hebrew; meaning "that excites shame", private parts, his privates, or male genitals.
The first response to Adam and Eve's desire to know good and evil like God was to be aware of the need to cover their sexual organs. There remains inherent shame in exposure of sexual organs.
If we are responsible for the actions of another (like parents for children), than the other's actions can bring us shame.
Genesis 34:14 "And they said unto them, We cannot do this
thing, to give our sister to one that is uncircumcised; for that were a
reproach unto us."
Reproach is cherpah in Hebrew; meaning taunt, scorn or disgrace.
Psalms 4:2 "O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory
into shame? how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Selah."
Shame is klimmah in Hebrew; meaning disgrace, reproach, shame, confusion, dishonour, insult, or ignominy.
Psalm 35:4 "Let them be confounded and put to shame that
seek after my soul: let them be turned back and brought to confusion that
devise my hurt."
Confounded is buwsh in Hebrew; meaning to put to shame, be ashamed, be disconcerted, be disappointed
Psalm 35:26 "Let them be ashamed and brought to confusion
together that rejoice at mine hurt: let them be clothed with shame and
dishonour that magnify themselves against me."
Confusion is chapher in Hebrew; meaning to be ashamed or abashed or embarrassed (through the idea of detection).
Many carry the fear of being shamed if something about them were to be discovered. The way to annihilate this fear is to disclose the secret yourself to God and to a kind-hearted believer.
2 Samuel 13:13 "And I, whither shall I cause my shame to
go? and as for thee, thou shalt be as one of the fools in Israel. Now therefore,
I pray thee, speak unto the king; for he will not withhold me from thee."
Shame is cherpah in Hebrew; meaning reproach, taunt, scorn, or reproach because of disgrace.
Tamar asks the question of all rape victims, how can I get rid of this shame? She begged her half-brother to speak to their father to arrange a marriage instead of proceeding with his plot to rape her. She would have preferred to become Ammon's wife than to endure the disgrace of being raped and scorned by her community.
Exodus 32:25 "And when Moses saw that the people were naked;
(for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies:)."
Shame is shimtsah in Hebrew; meaning scornful whispering (of hostile spectators).
Others are so accustomed to being shamed, their own self-talk becomes scornful whispering. Some people try to shame others by scornfully whispering about them to someone else (that's called gossip). If what another believer is doing is sin, go reprove your brother or sister, don't shame yourself by discussing it with another (Eph. 5:11-12).
Judges 18:7 "Then the five men departed, and came to Laish,
and saw the people that were therein, how they dwelt careless, after the
manner of the Zidonians, quiet and secure; and there was no magistrate
in the land, that might put them to shame in any thing; and they were far
from the Zidonians, and had no business with any man."
Put to shame is kalam in Hebrew; meaning to wound; but only figuratively, to taunt or insult.
I think our country would benefit by using public corporal punishment to shame juvenile delinquents into acceptable behavior. Shaming adult "johns" by putting their names in the paper seems to be working. Shame can be a useful tool to exact right behavior in society.
Hebrews 10:1-2 "For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins."
Hebrews 10:19,22-23 "Having therefore, brethren, boldness
to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, Let us draw near with
a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from
an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold
fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful
True is alethinos in Greek, meaning sincere, real and genuine; that which has not only the name and resemblance, but the real nature corresponding to the name.
Evil is poneros in Greek, meaning full of labours, annoyances, or hardships; pressed and harassed by labours; causing pain and trouble; or bad nature or condition.
Jesus took away the sin of the world, He took the punishment for our guilt, and His blood atoned for our shame. We can hang on to those truths because Jesus is true. Sin, guilt, shame, and fear of punishment are what cause people to separate or to stay away from others. Recognize these weapons of our enemy, and stand firm in your faith in your Redeemer.
My heavenly Father is honest and pure in relating to me; He will never cut me down or mock my attempts to please Him. His trials are to test my faith and to purify my heart, not to "catch" me in a sin. He will not treat me in a perverse manner, nor play mind-games with me. My Father does not accuse me or shame me or make me feel guilty; that's what "the accuser of the brethren" does.
When God's Spirit convinces me of sin, it is so I can regain closeness to Him through confession. When He requires my thoughts or actions to reflect a greater revelation of Himself, it is not so I will bemoan the past. When a young child asks an older child to dress up and play house with him, sometimes the older child will deride and devalue the younger's type of play as beneath him. The older child doesn't realize that pretending to be an adult was a major stepping stone in his own development. Christians grow through different stages, and we should not shame ourselves or others as we develop. We need not feel guilty for former building blocks to our faith.
2 Corinthians 5:21 "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."
Our guilt warranted punishment. Jesus became the guilty one in our place: "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (Gal. 3:13a)." I gave, and continue to give, Jesus my guilt by faith that He already took my punishment. I must exchange my fears of punishment and mental torments of rejection, with acceptance of His redemptive love and hope that someday I will be like Him. I have a wonderful husband who reminds me that guilt no longer belongs to me, but to Christ at the Cross.
1 John 4:18 "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment (punishment). He that feareth is not made perfect in love."
Romans 8:1-2 "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death."
Peter and I knew I accepted the blame of guilt as a coping mechanism growing up in an incestuous home, but we realized I was continuing to use it as a defensive weapon against possible hurt. I would blame myself before someone else could hurt me, and by doing so, I would negate their feelings or opinions and end communication on the subject. I repented of using blaming myself in this way. I rejected blaming myself of guilt as a part of my identity, and I accepted Jesus as the guilty one in my place. I rejected my own defensive weapons in order to receive Jesus as my Defender and Shield, who can protect me from undue harm. I am now more vulnerable to pain and hurt, but to joy and love as well.
Read 2 Corinthians 7:8-13. "Godly sorrow" is often equated with guilt in a Christian's life, but it appears to me that Paul falsely accused the Corinthians in another matter of which they proved themselves to be innocent. "This matter" does not appear to be the case of incest first referred to in 1 Corinthians 5, which seems to be concluded in 2 Corinthians 2:5-11. In the process it grieved them that he would think they could do such a thing (something that was worse than boasting about an incestuous relationship in the church).
James 2:26 "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."
I have to believe God accepts me every day because of the complete sacrifice Jesus made for me. I must fight the good fight of faith against the bad/guilty conscience (Hebrews 10:22) resulting from my past and the fiery darts of the accuser, and to fight the dysfunctional desire to "toil" for God's approval instead of fully relying upon my Father's love for me.
2 Corinthians 5:9 "Wherefore we labour, that, whether present
or absent, we may be accepted of him."
Labour is philotimeomai in Greek; meaning 'friendly value', 'fond of honor', earnest, strive, or study.
Accepted is euarestos in Greek; meaning 'well-pleasing' or fully agreeable.
2 Corinthians 5:10 and 15 "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again."
When I doubt God accepts me by faith, and I feel ashamed and guilty about my performance; I must force myself to look into the eyes of my Savior on the cross, "Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame." His "joy" was seeing me being saved, set free, healed, made whole, and brought into oneness with Himself. He has sealed me with His Holy Spirit as a guarantee of our future oneness. Jesus has already prepared a room for me in our Father's House, and He will return to take me Home. Until then I desire to be pleasing in His sight and agreeable with His will for me.
As a parent I do not dictate to my son Andrew when to play; I expect him to play as a normal part of being a child. We establish boundaries in which he can be safe while he plays with the good gifts we have given him. I often interact with him while he plays. I also reaffirm him when he stays within the boundaries, and discipline him when he transgresses them. But it's not my intent that he should focus on the boundaries and disregard his toys; on the contrary, I give him boundaries so that he can safely enjoy his toys all the more. I expect Andrew to come to me readily when I call. It would be foolish for him to try to read my mind as to when I might call, or to refuse to play with his toys because he "fears" if he plays, he might not hear me when I call. I am able to get his attention when I need it.
My heavenly Father does not command me to play, recreate, and relax because these are a natural part of being human; but He does give me certain boundaries in which to enjoy His good gifts: "Put no unclean thing before your eyes" and "No coarse jesting;" as well as instruction as to how to properly use His spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 14). I refuse to feel guilty for enjoying good gifts given to me, and I refuse to try to predict what God wants me to do, or to busy myself with "works" to which God has not called me. I am ready to obey when He calls my name, and I know He won't get mad if I put my toys away first.
James 2:12-13 "So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment."
God has shown me mercy through my Lord Jesus Christ. My words and actions should exhibit that mercy by being merciful to myself and others. I can replace put-downs and harsh evaluations with words of encouragement and constructive criticism. Now when someone tries to entangle me in their destructive critiques of others, I can counter with positive statements about them, or change the subject, or excuse myself.
Lies about myself might be more difficult to recognize and reject, especially if they are similar to lies I received repeatedly in my youth. The holes of my soul which were made by sarcastic remarks and intentional lies are still being patched with truth in the power of the Holy Spirit. As certain areas are healed, I can actually receive praise for how God made me; but in other areas, the complements just slip through the sieve, having no concept of self or worth yet to rest upon. But I trust as Christ brings me from glory to glory into His image, that He will make me whole.
For non-believers, sometimes needing a miraculous healing is what brings them to faith in Jesus. For believers, sometimes God asks us to accept our sickness or disability to build our character and our faith in Him (2 Cor. 12:1-10). Some of us get furious when God doesn't heal us according to our preconceptions; much like Naaman in 2 Kings 5:1-19. Some sicknesses and disabilities are caused by Satan and demons, and some by God (Ex. 4:11), some by our own sin (1 Cor. 11:29-30) and some by the sins of others (Is. 53:5), and some because we live in a corrupt world (1 Tim. 5:23). There are various causes and trials and remedies and timings.
Ecclesiastes 3:10-11 "I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it. He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end."
The important thing is that we retain hope in God's desires for our lives and His loving kindness toward us.
Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end."
Romans 15:13 "Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost."
 Marsha Goldsmith, "Brain Studies May Alter Long-Held Concepts About Likely Causes of Some Voice Disorders," Journal of American Medical Association, vol. 261, no. 7, 1989, p. 964.
 Richard Bandler and John Grinder, Frogs into Princes: Neuro Linguistic Programming. Moab, Utah: Real People Press, 1979, p. 25.
 Richard Simon, "From the Editor," The Family Therapy Networker (November/December 1993), p. 2.
 Katy Butler, "Too Good To Be True?", The Family Networker (November/December 1993), p. 25.
 Ibid., p. 28.
 Ibid., p. 18.
 Jack Goldberg, PhD, "A Twin Study of the Effects of the Vietnam War on Posttraumatic Stress Disorder," (JAMA, March 2, 1990, vol. 263), p. 1227.
 Lipke, Howard J; and Botkin, Allan L. "Case studies of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) with chronic post-traumatic stress disorder," Psychotherapy (ISSN: 0033-3204), v. 29, no. 4, pp. 591-595 (Winter 1992).
 Katy Butler, "Too Good To Be True?", The Family Networker (November/December 1993), p. 25.
 Ibid., p. 24.
 Ibid., p. 26.
 Frank Parkinson, Post-Trauma Stress (Tucson, Arizona: Fisher Books, 1993), p. iv-v.
 Ibid., p. 84.
 Emma O'Brien, "Pushing The Panic Button," The Family Networker (November/December 1993), p. 37.
 Ibid., p. 38.
 Craig Lockwood, Other Altars, p. 246.
 Ibid., p. 247.
© 1997 L. Eve Engelbrite