Want to know why you feel so screwed up? Well, it is probably from wounds created by sin that has you believing a lie in which you have then made vows to do or not do this or that ever again in an attempts to get control over your pain or fear or distrust or feelings of powerlessness. How do you fix it? Read on.
(This is a long piece and meant only for those who desire to understand what their root wounds are that are causing such great suffering in their lives due to a life of neglect, trauma or abuse).
From the very beginning of the Bible sin is defined as separation from God. It is also spoken of as a transgression, which means to violate the law. Since the law is meant to protect us and the world we live in, we see that sin is not only a violation of God but a violation of us and of all creation. When we sin we separate ourselves from God, transgress against his will and against one another and against all of creation. This is the condition we live in due to original sin.
The word sin can also be understood as missing the mark. Greek archers used the word sin when an archer would aim for a target but miss the mark, they would fall short of their target. Many of us aim to please God yet we all fall short of the glory of God.
So with these biblical definitions I think we can agree that we are all sinners. All of us live in that place of struggle in which we miss the mark, transgress upon the will of God and in doing so violate one another and ourselves
So all of us are sinners and our sin has it’s effects by creating wounds. Sin always wounds. Our sin wounds us every time. But we are also wounded by the sins of those around us. So it seems very clear that we have no possibility of living in this world without being wounded.
Sin is like cancer in that if it’s ignored it will grow in our bodies. As Christians we are called to be the body of Christ. We are to make Christ visible in and through our lives. We are to be living signs, our families an icon of the Trinitarian love of God revealing truth, life and love to the world. When we sin, the effects of our sin spreads in three directions thus marring our ability to reveal Christ to the world.
Sin spreads socially, to all those around us.
When we sin, we diminish Christ’s glory, not that Christ’s glory can be diminished but certainly our ability to be an icon that reveals His Glory can be diminished. How can someone see Christ in us when our sin is the first thing someone sees when they look at us.
Scripture tells us in Genesis, Exodus and Deuteronomy that sin also has an effect for generations. Some scriptures say ten generations. Many of us are not only dealing with our own sinfulness but with sin that has had it’s effects in our families down through the generations. For people who have been abused, simple affection can be difficult to give to their children. Those children then have difficulty with affection and so you see that the same affects of the sin from abuse has its affects down the generations.
When I began my journey in inner healing and realized my own sinfulness as a result of my wounds I discovered that the same wounds that had been passed down through the generations to me did not stop there. I realized I was in fact responsible for bringing the same kind of pain to the people in my family. This led me to become overwhelmed with grief.
How can we prevent hurting our own children? The answer is we can’t.
The only thing we can do is to continue to clean up our hearts. The cleaner our hearts become the better we can love those around us. It is like our heart is a vase meant for holding flowers but with sin and wounds our “vase” is cracked and holds sludge instead of water. When we clean out the sludge and allow Christ to heal us, we can retain His grace to love others the way He loves and the water is not tainted with the sludge.
The reason why we are struggling in this world is not because we are somehow strange or because we are not faithful or pious enough, it is because we live in a world that has been divided because of sin. Being faithful and growing in holiness can help us in our struggles but unless we address our wounds we may find ourselves carrying a larger struggle than God desires for us to carry by ourselves.
“There are many kinds of wounds but what they all have in common is that they affect us in such as ways as to give us a taste of hell.” Says Dr. Bob Schuchts, founder of the John Paul II healing center and creator of healing retreats in Tallahassee Florida. These retreats are what I believe have saved my marriage and saved my own children from growing up even worse off than perhaps I was. While taking his course “Sexual Healing and Redemption” at the Theology of the Body Institute, he spoke of 6 common wounds that many of us carry. He bases that number off of the Theophostic Healing research done by Ed Smith’s work who lays out 7 common wounds. Dr. Bob has condensed the list to 6. He lists them as follows:
1) Abandonment Wounds. “I am all alone and I will always be alone”.
2) Fear or terror wounds. “I can’t trust anybody.”
3) Shame. “I’m unworthy, I’m unlovable.”
4) Powerlessness. “I have no ability to do anything. I can’t change anything.”
5) Rejection. “I’m unacceptable, I’m disgusting, I’m repulsive.”
6) Hopelessness. “I can’t change anything.”
7) Identity Wounds. “I am garbage, I am nothing, I do not matter”.
When events in our lives cause us suffering, the devil, the enemy of our soul, comes to us in that moment and proposes a lie to us much like a groom would propose marriage to us. If we believe the lie he proposes, we are then opening ourselves to him. This is a foothold. St. Paul tells us how sin can becomes a foothold using anger as an example.
“Do not be angry and sin in your anger and give the devil a foothold”.
We are either in relationship with God or relationship with the devil. We are either walking in truth or walking in a lie. When Eve was in the garden of Eden, the devil came and proposed his lie to her that God could not be trusted, that he was keeping something back from her by not allowing her to eat from the tree of knowledge. He was proposing that God did not love her. When Eve ate the apple, she was accepting the proposal of the devil, she accepted his lie and just like any marriage there was fruit that came from her accepting the proposal. The fruit was death. When we accept the lies that the devil proposes to us we too our severing our union with God and are uniting ourselves to the evil one. With our free will, we are chosing to be in relationship with the liar and this foothold we have given him, will grow like a cancer if we ignore it. Like cancer spreads in our bodies, so too does the affects of the lies we consent to believe in. These footholds turn into strongholds.
“A stronghold is any pattern of behavior in your life that you know is against the will of God but continues to persist even when you try to change it.” ( Dr Bob Schuchts Anatomy of a wound audio http://www.OnlyPeople.net).
This pattern is a result of the barriers we have built around our heart, brick by brick, lie by lie and vow by vow in an attempt to protect ourselves from being hurt or suffering in some way. The problem with putting up walls around our hearts is that we keep out the good along with the bad. We become like a prisoner within a castle and the stronghold keeps us there.
Counseling can bring us temporary relief, can teach us coping skills and can give us a means by which to deal with the distress symptoms that result from us believing the lies but they cannot change the stronghold or bring it down. Medication can offer us some relief as well, perhaps helping us manage our anxiety that is related to the stronghold but this is not a chemical imbalance we are talking of. A stronghold is an action of our free will and unless we take it down with our own free will it will not be moved by medication. Praying is helpful and is definitely a step in the right direction as God is the one that can help to expose the lies so we know where to start but unless we are using the weapons spoken of by St. Paul then we are only managing the our pain rather than finding true freedom.
Dr Bob Schucht’s goes on to say that “Every thought and imagination that exalts itself against the knowledge of God results in a stronghold.” (Anatomy of a wound audio). So in the name of Jesus Christ, through the power of God we can break strongholds. Without the power of God we are just using our will to do something or not do something. If we try to overcome stronghold by own own sheer will we will end up frustrated or giving up all together.
They are pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed and sloth. Dr. Bob Schucht’s reminds us that “It is interesting to note that they are dispositions or attitudes of our hearts before they are sins. These are attitudes of our hearts that orientate us towards sin. Each one of them has an idolatry of something that exalts itself above God.” (The Anatomy of a wound audio on onlypeople.net).
Anger is an idolatry of control.
Pride is an idolatry of self.
Greed is an idolatry of things.
Lust is an idolatry relationship.
Gluttony is an idolatry of substance to comfort.
Sloth is an idolatry of comfort to avoid pain.
Envy is an idolatry of the status position or privileges of other people.
To explain this further let me clarify the relationship of sin, idol, wound, lies and vows. When the enemy proposes a lie, and if we accept his proposal, we then turn away from God. When we turn away from God, we then are turning towards something else. This “something else” becomes our idol. If we are feeling powerless, the enemy may propose the lie that “we must be in control or we will be hurt”. We then accept his proposal and profess to him our vows to unite ourselves to his lie. Our vow may be “I will make sure I always remain in control”. My idol is now control and not God. When I am feeling powerless I no longer turn to God and believing that he will protect me and his hand is guiding my life for my well-being. Instead, my heart has closed itself to God, instead my new idol of control is what I live by to protect myself from feeling powerless. I have exalted control above God. When I cannot control a situation and begin to feel as if I am losing control the result is my anger. I sin out of my anger in many ways and they are the distress symptoms. You will see my outbursts, my nit-picking, my perfectionism, my passive-aggressive means of manipulating others you will see me rage.
For every wound there is an idol and for every idol we worship we manifest sinful actions. Every sin has an effect and those effects are usually very visible to the people around us. (I have made a chart and attached it above to give an understanding ow how they all go together. I have used the information that I learned at several healing retreats taught by Dr. Bob Schuchts however, I could not find a chart that put together the connection of all of the components to make it easier for people to discover what their wounds are so I created my own.
We begin to make God’s out of all of those things because we think they will give us some satisfaction yet they are all characterizations of the devil so if we begin to engage in the lies that he tells us, we allow him the very foothold upon which he can ensnare us.
So how are we going to break free from the strongholds? We must be willing to suffer. When we are willing to suffer the original thing we were running away from and turn back to God and ask him to help us, then and only then do we acquire the actual graces to practice the virtues necessary in overcoming a particular sin in our life. If we have experienced abuse, trauma or neglect as children then the powerlessness we experienced in those moments may have resulted in our attempts to control everything and everyone. Most likely it also resulted in distrust, fear and un-forgiveness. When we forgive people who have hurt us we then begin to embody the merciful heart of Jesus Christ. Anger cannot remain where one has softened their hearts and become forgiving and merciful. Anger cannot abide where a heart has turned to God and begins to relinquish it’s power in exchange for his grace and his will in their life.
The only thing that overcomes pride is humility. Humbly acknowledging your pride before God and asking Him to take it away. If you think you can work on your pride then you are being prideful. The sin of being prideful or self-justifying comes from identity wounds. When we grow up in homes where we might not have been affirmed and loved as unique and unrepeatable person we begin to self-justify. If the only thing we were affirmed for was being attractive, this may become our new idol. This is vanity which is a form of pride. When we were only affirmed for being smart we make our intellect or academics our idol. The only way to overcome these things is to acknowledge that these are gifts from God meant to bring souls to Christ.
The only thing that overcomes our greed is generosity because greed is the control over our possession because of insecurity. Many people who hoard money or objects (there are even shows on television showing the lives of hoarders) desire to keep as much “things” around them and with them because they have entered into a relationship with objects that are safe and cannot “hurt” them. Greed is a “distress” symptom of a wound. We sin in our greed in attempt to stop feeling insecure or afraid about our well-being. We do not trust that God will care for us.The irony is that they are hurting because of the isolation their greed may cause. This is like a cycle that repeats itself. The only thing that can overcome greed is trusting in the generosity of God and then becoming generous yourself. Generosity is saying and believing that you trust in the providence of God. So if you think your issue is greed you are wrong, it is a fear wound and a trust issue.
The only thing that overcomes lust is not “getting yourself under control” and saying to yourself “I just won’t look at the person or that pornography.” Our issue is a rejection wound. Out of that place of feeling disgusting or that no one can love you a false idol is made out of disordered relationships of intimacy where the other can not “in-to-me-see”. Intimacy is about seeing deeply into an other and allowing oneself to be deeply seen. When we come to see the beauty and purpose of the human person made visible in and through our bodies we begin to heal. Theology of the Body is the antidote and chastity is lived out because once we understand our sexuality we desire to “speak” a language of love in and with our bodies. It is then that we can come before God and beg him for purity of our eyes and our hearts and of our bodies. Chastity is seeing the awesome creation of our sexuality “male and female” He created us.
The only thing that overcomes gluttony is abstinence and fasting. This can come from shame or hopelessness wounds and so we begin to consume a substance that comforts us rather than go to God and ask Him to fill the hole inside our hearts. We begin to forget the spiritual life and rely only upon the pleasures of the body. It is disordering our very personhood. This often times leads to sloth.
The only thing that overcomes sloth is diligence. This can come from feeling powerless. We become bound up in sloth when we believe the lie that we are powerless in some area of our life or in life in general and so we avoid the pain of trying to effect change by being slothful. It is in being diligent and willing to do the things that God is asking us to do especially when it is difficult that helps us to get free from Sloth. This is a common attack as it has to do with keeping the body of Christ from realizing we are in a spiritual battle. If we feel powerless and so then give up and become slothful the enemy can make more ground. I would say fortitude and diligence as well as courage and perseverance are important in overcoming sloth.
The only thing that overcomes envy is kindness. The wounds here can be from identity wounds. When you grow up feeling that you do not matter and that you are garbage, it is easy to begin hating your neighbor whose life may seem so much better. Envy is not just desiring your neighbors goods or status it is also believing that they have gotten something that you deserved to have. Is the reality that you deserve to be seen as good and worthy? Yes, but when one suffers from identity wounds then the lie is that you don’t matter and so envy builds up in our hearts turning it even more cold and hard against others. When we can be kind to others, be truly concerned for others this hardness softens. When you begin to see that each of us are called into being by our creator, each of us are unique and unrepeatable persons, then we see that our own worth and dignity is God given and are no longer angry about the good fortune of others.
Sometimes we can’t truly choose to become free from something so we may begin by choosing to become free in something else. We may chose to abstain in a smaller area which will then give us the strength to deal with a more powerful stronghold later. This helps us overcome the hopelessness of feeling that nothing will ever change.
These are just some of the examples of how sin and wounds and lies work together and how once discovered and the virtues sought can enable us to brings some real healing into our lives. None of us are any position to judge one another yet I am sure all of us can identify with one or more of these sins. All of us struggle with these sins and virtue is the way in which we will get free.
Once your identity a sin in your life that you cannot seem to get free from you must then begin to identify the lies that you believe. You must then renounce those lies and ask Jesus to forgive you for making a false idol in an attempt to deal with your pain alone rather than to open your heart to God. This is where healing comes in. If I have truth to undo the lie, if I believe the scripture that tells me that I should not worry about what I eat and what I wear because I trust in God’s providence then all of a sudden I can have security, real security because the stronghold lie begins to crumble. In asking forgiveness for making a false idol and renouncing the lie in Jesus’ name the enemies power is broken. Now the drawbridge has been lowered so that the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete can come in and be the divine physician.
So how do we begin? First you must ask the Holy Spirit to come and help you. God knows what you are ready to deal with and where you must first get free in order to have the strength and courage to press into the other wounds. If you go into areas you are not ready to deal with it will feel as if the enemy is rubbing salt in your wounds and you may be to afraid or feel to incapable of handling the pain associated with it.
I started with a distress symptom, an area of my life I felt was creating a pattern of sinful behavior that I just could not seem to get free of. I then asked the Holy Spirit to show me what He wanted me to know about it. For me, he showed me a memory. I then asked the Holy Spirit to reveal the lie in my heart that I believed. I then asked Him to reveal the judgment I had made about God and about the other person. I then asked God’s forgiveness for the believing the lies, making the judgments and for turning to a false idol instead of to Him. I then asked God to help me forgive the person for what they did. As for the lies, I renounced them in the name of Jesus Christ. It was as if I broke off my union with the enemy had re-united myself to my true Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. The effects were immediate. The peace was beyond anything counseling or anxiety meds or alcohol or food had ever done for me.
When I contemplated the lie again, I laughed out loud because it sounded, AND FELT, so ridiculous. It no longer had any hold over me. Who would have thought that freedom would and could be so instantaneous. This is because it is by the power of God. So why did this work when nothing else seemed to? Because God does not and will not violate our free will. He can supernaturally heal us but before that we must first surrender our will to God and invite him in. It is, to use the castle analogy, as if we must lower the drawbridge to give him access.
St. Peter says “Anyone who is willing to suffer in the flesh is done with sin” 1 peter
Jesus is the only person who experienced all of the same wounds we have and yet did not sin out of his wounds. He was abandoned “My God, my God why have you forsaken me”. All his friends left him. He was abandoned, yet did not sin.
“He was rejected and despised among men” IS 53, but he did not give into the rejection, he continued to love in the face of that rejection.
He was complete helplessness on the cross, but he chose to surrender his will to the father.
He tasted the greatest despair on him from our sins in the garden and on the cross but he never gave into despair or sloth.
He experienced every single wound in the mystery of creation and chose to be obedient. He took on every wound for us and the sins and penalties of the wounds and the sins. He did this for us. He also identified with us so that we can see that we can identify with him in our suffering and know his compassion for our pain.
Am I saying that healing our wounds is as simple as bringing our suffering to Him on the cross? Yes I am. It is not simple or easy to do but it is simple in choice.
Are you still afraid? Are you still feeling hopeless? Are you still not sure how to begin? Then start simply. You can say “I can not overcome this Jesus, but you can”. “I can not bear this Jesus, but you can.”
In scripture, it says we have a mighty savior that will wipe away every tear and comfort every infirmity and remove every sin for those who believe and trust in him. Instead of despair we shall have the oil of gladness, instead of shame we shall have double honor, not just in heaven but here in our lives, progressively as grace perfects our nature.
Take some time to journal. Take an area of your life, some place of distress in your life. Pray and ask God to show you what the lie is that you believe in your heart. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what the root wound and the root sin is. Ask him to show you where it is rooted in term of memory and experience. For some it may be a recent event for others something farther back.
This part is important. Allow yourself the chance to feel the pain of that. Bring that to Jesus and ask Jesus to reveal the truth and bring his healing love there.
He who is willing to suffer in the flesh is done with sin!
God will meet us. It’s a matter of walking there so don’t be impatient with yourself. It is a process and He is not going to give you something that is more than you can bear.
I want to give you hope that as you walk through this, to know that there is such joy on the other side of healing. It is awesome and worth every bit of the pain you might go through as you look at events or people in your lives that wounded you with their sin. Keep your eyes, your focus on Jesus. He is the author and perfecter of our faith. He will bring you to the joy that He promises. That may be hard to believe, especially for those who might have been dealing with deep hopelessness wounds for a long time. Let me encourage you to not give in to sloth, remain diligent, keep going forward even if it is very small steps, that is still progress and you will be greatly rewarded.
This information comes from Dr. Bob Schucht’s work on “Healing The Whole Person” and other great Inner Healing work he provides for those desiring real freedom. You can find more information on how to attend his healing retreats by going to his website The John Paul II Healing Center .