What’s under the surface in your heart will continue to define you until and unless you deal with it. All the little addictions you use as Band-Aids to cover up the junk only work for so long. When you’re sick enough of the dysfunction and ready to deal with your stuff, how do you do that?

Praying and asking for prayer are always appropriate. Trauma therapy is immensely helpful for many. Life coaches, healing seminars, books/podcasts/Christian media, accountability partners, and Spirit-infused gatherings of Christians can be helpful in many ways.

But there are some important ingredients that are always necessary in order to find lasting freedom and healing. The details of the process God has for you will be as unique as you are, but these elements must be a part of it if you truly want to deal with what’s under the surface.

Bring It Into the Light

Light disinfects. Hospitals know that ultraviolet light can eliminate even the most resistant dangerous bacteria.

Bringing what’s under the surface into the light has amazing power to disinfect the shame. That begins with owning your own story. Remember, Jesus sees you! This is about coming out from hiding, taking off the fig leaves, and allowing the light to shine on the junk. And not just about your current situation, but about what got you here.

Being curious about your junk is an invaluable way to do this. Make the conscious choice to refuse to listen to the shaming messages the enemy keeps shouting at you, and ask curious questions. “What was going on in my heart when I did that? When did I first learn to respond in that way? What wound was I trying to medicate? What lies have I believed that fed into this?” And keep asking such curious questions.

This kind of curiosity shines the light on what’s under the surface. I believe journaling is usually the most helpful way to do this. You can do this anywhere, but being alone in nature or in a chapel setting may be helpful. Bringing your stuff into the light requires quietness, reflection, honesty, and a lot of courage.

Find an Ally

God designed us to grow – and heal – in community. In the Old Testament God directed any person among the children of Israel who had sinned to bring a sacrifice to the tabernacle. In part, that public sacrifice was bringing the healing from the community to bear on that person’s soul and conscience.

And in the New Testament the same principle applies. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” (James 5:16) While God is the Source of forgiveness, He designed healing to usually come through other members of the body of Christ.

This doesn’t mean parading your stuff on social media or requiring public confession of sins in front of the church. There may be infrequent occasions where a public sin requires such public repentance. However usually this means sharing your story with a safe godly ally who can minister as Jesus to you.

Choose prayerfully and thoughtfully. You may need to share your story with a Christian counselor, pastor with skills in this area, or some other professional. A support group such as Celebrate Recovery, DivorceCare, GriefShare, or other group may be immensely helpful. It may simply mean sharing your story with one or a few godly fellow believers, and accepting their insights, prayers, and love.

Give Jesus Access

Many people feel frustrated when they pray, feeling as though God doesn’t answer. Perhaps you’ve prayed something like, “Jesus, help me not to be so angry.” Or, “Jesus, please take away my lustful cravings.” Or, “Jesus, I’m depressed. Please make me better.”

And the next day you erupt in anger again, or find yourself searching for porn, or feeling so sad you don’t want to get out of bed.

Why isn’t God helping you?

If all you give Jesus access to is the symptoms on the surface, you’re likely to remain frustrated – or worse. You need to give Him access to what’s under the surface.

You can do that by inviting Him right into the middle of your messy story.

As you journal, or after you do so, imagine Jesus right there with you. When your father shouted “you’ll never amount to anything!”, when your mother manipulated you with shame, when an older kid used you sexually, where was Jesus? Imagine yourself back in that place, and then imagine Jesus right there with you. How close is He to you? How is He looking at you? Is He saying anything to you?

A few evenings ago I was talking with a group of ladies about doing exactly that. One of them said, “Oh, that’s hard! I don’t want to go back there!”

And it’s likely you won’t feel like going back there either. But if the same problem keeps showing up in your life repeatedly, isn’t it time to deal with it? Stubborn problems are an ideal place for Jesus to do His healing transforming work.

Embrace Healing

God doesn’t usually “douse” you with healing like some plane getting deiced before taking off on a winter day. Almost always it’s something you have to embrace and choose to take into your being.

While God provides physical food in abundance, He leaves it up to you to decide when you’re hungry, to find and choose healthy food, and actually take into your body. It’s the same with healing. It’s available! But it’s your role to find it, choose it, and decide to actually take healing into your soul.

The speed is much less important than the process.

So, investigate your story. Bring the “stuff” into the light.

Tell someone. Find a safe ally, and share your story.

And invite Jesus right into the middle of your story. Go to that place where you were broken, and sit there long enough for Jesus to do His amazing work.

And next week, we’ll talk about the glorious results you can experience from embracing that process.

Your Turn: What feelings arise as you imagine getting under the surface? What area do you most need to invite Jesus into the middle of? Leave a comment below.

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