What made you angry is not what keeps you angry
The Bible tells us to be angry, but to sin not, and not to let the sun go down on our anger. “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.” (Ephesians 4:26-27)
There are two different types of anger, lie-based and truth-based. Truth-based anger occurs when a person sees or experiences injustice and becomes angry. Lie-based anger is found when that anger is held on to years later. The reason that the anger first occurred is very legitimate, but the reason anger hangs around is another story. Anger that has been held on to is doing something for you. Sometimes it protects more vulnerable painful areas in the heart, while other times it somehow keeps the offender from getting away with it. Often we find lies behind anger which keeps it in place. These lies might look like:
- “If I forgive them, they will get away with it”
- “If I let go of this anger, I will get hurt again”
- “If I forgive them, it makes them right in what they did”
These types of lies will cause a person to hold on to their anger for years if not a lifetime. Your anger is doing something for you, and that’s why you hold on to it. Anytime a person is hesitant to let go of their anger and give it to Jesus, you might ask if there is a hesitancy or resistance to letting their anger go. Ask what it means for yourself if you let go of your anger. Then offer that up to Jesus and see what He wants you to know about letting your anger go.
Another thing you need to know about anger is that it is often a protective emotion, and behind it lies a very vulnerable emotion that the anger is somehow protecting. If you let go of the anger, you may feel very vulnerable. It’s a good idea to look behind the anger to see if there’s a vulnerable emotion that it (anger) is protecting. Again, what is anger doing for you? What if you let go of the anger? Is there resistance to letting go of the anger? Why?
Guilt will prolong grief
When we lose a loved one, we will feel sadness, and there is a very legitimate grieving process that we should go through in order to fully heal from that pain and loss. If we don’t let ourselves grieve we won’t heal from the loss. But did you know that guilt will often prolong the grieving process and cause it to be a much more painful and heartbreaking experience than God intended? If we are beating ourselves up concerning the person whom we’ve lost, it will keep us from healing or at least prolong the healing process. For example, you might be beating yourself up because you weren’t there like you wanted to be there for them, or maybe you never told them how much you loved them. Perhaps you really should have done something differently? In such cases, you may need to work through some self forgiveness issues before experiencing freedom in this area.
Dealing with sin-based pain
Another kind of pain is sin-based and requires you to turn from the sin and receive God’s forgiveness. You need to receive the finished work of the Cross and the payment that Jesus made on behalf of your sin. Now if you repent of your sin but still feel guilty, then there’s a lie you are believing such as “I am not forgivable.” Addressing this lie is just like any other lie-based negative emotion.
A lot of times when a person struggles with guilt/shame over something(s) they have done in the past, there’s often lies in place that need to be uprooted. If you suspect you are dealing with some self-unforgiveness, you might ask some questions like, “What are the 3 worse things you’ve ever done in your life that you regret the most?” Then follow up by asking about those 3 things and how you feel about your forgiven status, for example, “So thinking back to that time when you ____________, do you feel peace there or do you still feel guilt or a sense of shame, like you haven’t been forgiven of it?” Repeating back to yourself your previous response is a good way to trigger the emotion (if shame or guilt is present), in order to identity the lie that you believe. You may still need to forgive yourself.
Ask yourself “If it pleased Jesus for you to forgive yourself, would you do it?” By beating yourself up over past failures, you are actually denying and mocking the price that Jesus paid regarding that sin. The Bible tells us that without faith, it is impossible to please God (see Hebrews 11:6), so if we aren’t receiving (believing to be true) the payment Jesus made for our sin, then we are not pleasing God. It pleases Jesus when we receive and believe to be true the work that He did for us on the Cross. It’s important to deal with the core lies that keep you from forgiving yourself.
Dealing with addictions
Each and every one of us have a God-designed need to be loved. Most all addictions are rooted in our inability to receive love from God and others as God has intended. In order for Satan to get us in this position, he has to damage our heart in some way then feed us a lie such as we are unlovable or worthless. When we believe such a thing about ourselves, we unconsciously reject love because we believe that since we aren’t lovable that the love we are given must not be real or is somehow too good to be true. Sometimes there’s a fear of receiving love, lest they be hurt again. Now this doesn’t mean that you cannot receive love at all, it just means that you’re capacity to receive love into your heart has been greatly diminished. Dealing with these types of lies is crucial to breaking free from the strongholds of addictions.
Verifying if the healing is genuine
After a person has received truth from the Holy Spirit, the next step is to test it by revisiting the painful memory and see what it feels like. If it’s completely healed you should feel a sense of peace. Keep an eye out for numbness, which is denial or suppression and lack of feeling, and is not the peace of Christ. It is also possible for you to feel better, even much better, but not receive complete healing in that area. That is completely normal! The best way to test for this is to ask on a scale of 1 to 10 how strong that old feeling (shame? fear? worthlessness? etc.) feels now. If it’s say 5 out of 10, then it means the lie that you received truth on was half the problem, but your half way there. There’s other lie(s) that need to be uncovered. Continue asking yourself to feel that remaining negative emotion and ask why you still feel that way. What you’re looking for are other lies, sometimes very similar lies that also need to be uncovered. Another good way to word the question is, “Does it still feel true that you are worthless?”
Sometimes you will try so hard to hear from the Holy Spirit, that you end up “filling in the blanks”, so to speak. The voice you hears wasn’t the Holy Spirit, but your own answer as to what you thought God would say. Even if the answer is correct, if you don’t feel an increased level of peace afterward, then it probably wasn’t the Holy Spirit. Is there true joyous peace present when you revisit the memory or numbness? Numbness is a lack of feeling, and is a symptom of denial or pain burying. That’s not true freedom but rather suppression of the very pain that needs healing.
The cost of healing
You must be willing to face the pain of their past wounds, because it is through feeling the emotion that allows you to see the lie(s) that you are believing. It’s also a process, and while you often get a wonderful breakthrough each time God shows up, there are often other lies that need to be dealt with. Is it worth the journey? Absolutely!
Make sure your expectations are realistic. It took you a lifetime to create the mess you are in, and it won’t likely all unravel in 2 days. God is eager to move you along as quickly as you will let Him! He is eager to get you free and healed, so that you don’t have to spend a day more than necessary in your places of pain and struggle.