We are emotional beings. No matter how much we try to bury them, our emotions find a way of surfacing. We need healing in order to not have animosity and a lack of forgiveness in our lives. What is healing? It is the process of spiritual, intellectual, emotional and physical restoration under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I’d like to focus on emotional forgiveness.
The need for emotional forgiveness can occur in many ways. It can be from childhood, school, friends, love relationships, work and a variety of situations. It often occurs in our relationships with our parents. That was true for me.
My father was one of 11 children. He believed in being a good provider. Children were to be seen and not heard. In fact, he usually ate alone. If we were there, we were forbidden to talk.
I was active in school, specifically with sports and in student government. There were a number of events that my parents were invited to attend. Often neither of them attended. My mother occasionally showed up, but I can never remember my father coming to any sporting or school event other than my graduation.
What did that do for me? It made me feel that I wasn’t worth anything. Everything else was more important than me. It led to my seeking attention from the opposite sex and in general, addictive behaviors, particularly overeating. I have had some degree of depression for as long as I can remember. I always felt that I wasn’t good enough. Whatever I did, it was never enough to “fill my bucket.”
I was driven. It expressed itself in performance of some kind. In college, it was a high grade average. Later, it was climbing the corporate ladder. I was always trying to win the approval of my parents, especially my father. Nothing seemed to work, no matter what I achieved.
It wasn’t until I discovered the love of my Father in heaven that I was on the road to healing. Growing up, my relationship with God the Father was close to zero. I equated Him to my earthly father. Therefore, it was too painful to deal with Him or to try to have a relationship. I never prayed to Him because I felt I wasn’t good enough for Him to listen to my requests or needs.
Everything changed when I gave my heart and soul to Jesus Christ. My eyes were opened to unconditional love. Previously, I didn’t have a clue to what that was. Love to me was based on performance or what one could do to please another person. When I read Romans, everything changed:
Romans 8:1 “Hence, now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Wow! What did that mean to me? God was not condemning me? God loved me unconditionally? I read further in Romans 8 and it changed my life:
Romans 8:33-35, 37-39 “Who will bring a charge against God’s chosen ones? It is God who acquits us. Who will condemn? It is Christ [Jesus] who died, rather, was raised, who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. What can separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? … No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
What did that mean to me? It meant that I could forgive myself for not being perfect because God loved me unconditionally. When that went from my head to my heart, it changed me from having to prove myself to God to just being me. I felt relaxed and not stressed all the time.
My inner healing was enhanced when I read Ephesians:
Ephesians 1:3-5 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ in accord with the favor of his will.”
That was almost too much for me to comprehend. I was blessed and holy. I received grace and spiritual blessings because I was His adopted son! How could I be depressed or feel badly about myself if I meditated on this truth? I realized that I had to surrender to the love of my Father in heaven, a Father who I had never connected with or even wanted to connect with or have a relationship.
While this was life-changing, the devil wanted me to continue to live in bondage. There was an inner war going on inside me that continues to this day. This meant that I had to surrender my unconscious to the will of my Father for me to experience inner healing. The importance of 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 became obvious:
“For the weapons of our battle are not of flesh but are enormously powerful, capable of destroying fortresses. We destroy arguments and every pretension raising itself against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive in obedience to Christ, and are ready to punish every disobedience, once your obedience is complete.”
The enemy always tried to put thoughts into my head that I am not lovable, not worthy, not forgiven or worse. Reading and memorizing these Scriptures is important. We must understand how much God loves us in order to grow in holiness. God will show us His love when we open our hearts to Him and look for it. Every time we think otherwise, that God doesn’t love us unconditionally when we sin, know that the enemy is trying to get us discouraged and defeat our mission.