Sunday, September 1, 2019

Christian Mental Health: Healing from Past Traumas and Hurts

Audio Message:

John 5:1-9 NIV: "Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked."

Today we’ll address the topic of mental health: healing from past trauma. In the fallen world in which we live there are many times when we experience things that harm us. We have to go through hard times. Each of you I’m sure could list off traumatic experiences that you’ve been through. Whether we were soldiers in combat, or children who went through abuse, or those who struggle with drug addictions, or those afflicted with the blackest depression, we all have scars along the journey of life.

I’ve been through a lot in my life. And I’d like to share a bit more of my story, as I have in the past, and then transition into 3 ways of healing.

From birth on, it's been a struggle. Just after I was born, I would experience terrible stomach pains. When I began to learn to talk I developed a stutter, and had to work through that. In school I got bullied a great deal and spent a lot of time as an outcast. When I was 17 I was expelled from my high school and shunned by my former friends. When I was 18 I experienced being locked in a mental hospital. When I was 20 I became a serious drug addict. That same year I experienced serving jail time for the first time, for marijuana charges. I struggled with alcoholism and addiction for years after. I fought severe depression and anxiety on a daily basis. When I was 21 I became addicted to cigarettes. When I was 23 I was physically assaulted. When I was 25 I was hospitalized in intensive care for a drug overdose. I attempted suicide twice. I went to rehab and detox a dozen times.

But, this is key: I’m not a victim. I’m not a victim. I’m an overcomer. I’m a redeemed, born again, son of the most high God. Because Jesus came to save sinners, I need never be a victim, and the moment I let myself believe that I’m a victim, I’m no longer able to heal. Life is messy. And sometimes terrible things happen. But I have to keep fighting. We all do.

Jesus changes everything. The ultimate source of healing is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the doorway, God the Father is the architect & guide of the plan, and the Spirit is the indwelling healing presence.

Jesus Christ does the mighty work within us. But it isn’t finished there. We still need to heal and grow. There is work to be done. Faith without works is what? Dead!

So let’s look at three ways to gain healing from past struggles and traumas in our lives.

First, Step 1: Writing in powerful. Writing in a journal, on a daily basis. One of the best ways to experience healing is through study and writing things down. I keep a journal, where I write down my deepest thoughts and pains.

Write it down. Write down what you’ve gone through. Create a timeline of your life, so you can better understand your story. I did that once in treatment, and it was amazing to see how my life went from good to bad, and bad to good, and all over the place.

I’m convinced many of us don’t experience the fullness of God’s presence because we have too much wreckage from our pasts built up within. But when we clear out those past struggles, we make room for the Spirit of God to fully consume us.

All one need do is write out a timeline of our lives, emphasizing important events, from birth to present. Then working from the timeline, write down in journal format with the deepest honesty exactly what happened. Once having this inventory completed, the writer takes it to a trusted friend, colleague or pastor and “confesses” it to them. And through this, healing is found.

As it says in James 5:16 “confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”

Pray about it, maybe God is leading you to write out some of your past traumas to gain healing. If you'd like a more detailed inventory guide Google search "fourth step inventory guide." You'll find quite a few documents that you can print out to guide your inventory process.

Secondly, step two: Study, learn and grow. Books, sermons on youtube, workbooks. Get these resources, and use them for healing.

The first book I studied on healing was called “The Bondage Breaker” by Neil T. Anderson. It was an excellent book on how to challenge the lies of Satan with the truth of God’s word.

Another powerful workbook I went through was called the "Freedom from Depression workbook" by Frank Minirth. It helped change a lot of my perspectives about the world.

I could list off a lot of extremely helpful books, I read a lot, but I would recommend the life recovery study bible, and the celebrate recovery study bible. But overall just immerse yourself in healing, listen to youtube sermons on Christian healing. Get that right message in your mind!

Thirdly, make sure you have a good network of support. That is always key. And its usually one of the hardest things for those with past traumas to do. When you’ve been through hard times it tends to make you feel different from others. It makes reaching out and connecting with people a very hard thing to do. But we have to force ourselves to socialize, because hiding away doesn’t help anything.

That is a powerful thing, to have friends and mentors who speak into our lives. We have to have people we can share anything with. Otherwise it stays locked inside of us. A lost art is that of young people finding older, wiser people, who can they learn and grow from. Trust me on this, seek out a good mentor.

We need community, group support. One of the best options for this sort of healing is found at a program called Celebrate Recovery. Celebrate Recovery is a place to come with your hurts, habits, and hangups. It’s a great program. Other programs are also available for those with alcohol, drug, or gambling problems like Alcoholics anonymous, Narcotics anonymous, and Gambling anonymous. The healing is found in these programs through blunt, honest, real discussions. It’s so powerful to open up and talk about these pains, believe me, it’ll change your world.

When I work with teens in ministry, I always try to engage them in deep, real conversations. I try to get them to express their deepest thoughts, and share the struggles they go through. You’d be amazed how these blunt, real conversations can help shine the light of healing.

So those are the three best ways I've found to address the issue of healing from past struggles. And we all have those struggles.

In closing, there is something very important to remember about healing. What was the first thing Jesus asked the crippled man? The first question Jesus asked him was: “Do you want to get to well?”

I say “yes” to God today. With every issue and sin that crops up in my life. Because there are always more things to work on. So I have to say to Jesus time and again, yes Lord, now I’m ready and willing that you should have all of me. I want to get well.

The cool thing about our savior Jesus Christ is that he takes people like you and me, and heals us, and then compels us to go out and help those with the struggles we have gone through. So let me challenge you, if you’ve been through some stuff, think about how God can use that to bless others who are hurting.