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Heart Keepers

Jeremiah 17:9 “ The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?"

This verse was reiterated time and time again throughout my coming into womanhood. I was an astral child who loved to write and create and to be surrounded by loveliness; a voracious reader who dreamed in color. Feelings-oriented and emotional, my artistic soul gradually came to understand that these things were the backbones of deception. Slowly I adopted the conflicting message that for some reason, God made me the way I was--and yet it was not godly to be that way.

I learned that it was not safe to be me. It was not safe to whisper what I felt or thought, not safe to share the words which inked their way across lined pages in swirling eddies, while tears splattered from lashes. I shut myself inside, torn over guilt and confusion. Why had God allowed me to be born, when He knew I would be this wicked, by feeling and emotionalizing to such an intense degree? If He created me to be unique, loved, and special, with my own personality and interests and abilities, like others told me, why would such things as stupid and evil as I was led to believe?

I, an emotional young woman, was my own worst spiritual enemy.

My father loved to quote a line from an old Bogart movie, The African Queen . . .
“Human nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we were put on this earth to overcome.”
Had God made me an emotional person so that I could learn to overcome myself? And so, my mission: to learn to rise above the callings of the flesh which manifested daily through the passion and exuberance of living, through tears and poetry, and by such catch phrases such as I feel and I want and I need. Others knew best what I needed; the Bible revealed what I should want, and feelings were just plain bad.


Disclaimer

Less anyone think that I advocate rampant emotions or that one should let feelings govern our lives, let me hasten to add that this is not the case. I believe there should be balance. From experience I have found that many authoritarian families discount these with heady zeal and religious fervor; it is to those who have been abused in this manner that I address my remarks.

Emotional abuse is not limited to women or patriocentricity. Men and women everywhere hide deep voids where intimidation, lack of validation, berating, degrading, manipulation, fear, or shame have worn away any sense of healthy self worth or esteem. Although I address the subject of emotional abuse towards daughters who ache from the devastating consequences of unbalanced religious and patriarchal upbringing, many other wounded hearts will find that these words apply.

Eqi.org (a secular site) has developed a test to help determine how well your emotional needs have been met. As you read the following questions, consider how you would have answered while you were young . . .
Do you feel secure in all major areas of your life?

Do you feel you receive enough attention?

Do you give other people enough attention?

Do you feel in control of your life most of the time?

Do you feel connected to some part of the wider community?

Can you obtain privacy when you need to?

Do you have an intimate relationship in your life (one where you are totally physically and emotionally accepted for who you are by at least one other person)?

Do you feel emotionally connected to others?

Do you feel you have status that is acknowledged?

Are you achieving things and feeling competent in at least one major area of your life?

Are you mentally and/or physically being stretched in ways that give you a sense that life is meaningful?

The answers to these will give distinct hints as to the homeostasis of your youth. If you find that many still apply today, know that it is to you that Jesus has come--the son of God, whose ministry is is to free the oppressed and mend the hearts that have been scarred along the way.

Psalm 147:3

He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.

Those who are from a Quiverfull family know the distinct philosophy which states according to the book of Psalms that children are a blessing and a heritage from the Lord. How many of us have felt that we are a blessing only if we conform to the image of our earthly parents, and their ideals of what a good daughter should be? Or that perhaps we were a blessing as a child, but as we grow and mature, begin to question and develop the mind God has given us, that we become more of a burden than a blessing? A source of grief and shame? A trouble maker or problem child?

As we wrestle with these things which are burdens themselves, the subtle inferences and manipulations become ingrained into the core of our being. What we learn from this is akin to emotional abandonment. We have been taught Proverbs 4:23, Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. This is true. The heart is known as the seat of our emotions; why is it that all to often we bear the responsibility to guard it so, and yet be subjected to all kinds of emotional onslaught?

As women created in the image of God, we bear a soul, a spirit, a mind, and a body. Each of these have the ability to reflect Him, to love Him, and to bring Him glory. Thus recognize the truth of the situation: as His creation, proclaimed good, and redeemed through His Son, the elements that make us who we are can all be celebrated as gifts from the Father for expressing our identity in Him.

This includes our emotions.

If you labor under the weight of teachings which have overemphasized that feelings, responsiveness, sensitivity, and the like are just the result of human nature or sinful flesh, here is a raw, gaping wound that needs the healing presence of Christ. Do I mean that significant choices should be based on feeling? No. We need to seek the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, pray earnestly, and search the Scriptures for guidance. As believers however, and filled with the Spirit of God, we need to learn discernment through what He has given us. This takes time and practice, for it is an undoing of that which we have always done. It requires faith. Just as it would be unwise to rely solely upon our emotions regarding a matter, it would also be unwise to omit them in life, as though proclaiming bad what God has affirmed and bestowed to be good. To live in this manner denies His character and exalts ourselves dangerously.

Signs and Symptoms of Emotional Abuse

Consider the following; many of these items are always present in occurrences of emotional harm:

  • excessive criticism
  • refusal to provide unconditional acceptance or love
  • high expectations with a sense that they are rarely met
  • denigration
  • chronic disapproval
  • humiliation
  • isolation
  • worthlessness
  • rejection
  • invalidation
  • hatred
  • ignoring, or neglect
  • lack of verbal affirmation
  • mis-use

For more: Types of Emotional Abuse

It can be a tumultuous journey to begin to learn how to live emotionally free. Overcoming the shaming and hurtful messages of our past are only finished through the work of God our healer. Rest in the knowledge that He wants you to taste and see that He is good; that the life He offers abundantly has plenty of room for expression. Your feelings are what bring brilliance to the skeleton of life--through emotion, our world comes alive. Stifling these as ungodliness perpetuates the errors of a faulty creed.

As you continue to seek wholeness in your life, I beseech you to petition our loving and gracious heavenly Father to teach you the proper balance for incorporating these things back into your heart. Come to Him, with the wonder and heart of a child; for of such is the Kingdom of God.
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edited to add links

4 comments:

  1. Very good article. Thanks for posting it. It is very helpful.

    ReplyDelete
  2. one thing i would note is that our soul spirit mind and body are not component parts like a stereo system. they are fully integrated as a single person. there is no dissecting one from another in dealing with sin or redemption and all are part of being an image bearer.

    scripture reveals that god is an emotional being who reasons. he displays wrath and mercy. jealousy and compassion. and our god dares to dream. no creator - no artist - can be dispassionate and mechanical lest their art reflect it and his artwork in us is full of life and emotion but also of reason.

    the need then is to find the balance in his spirit between emotion and reason and to build our understanding from there.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thankyou for this blog and this post, I will return to read more, keep writing you have a loely lyrical style which sounds like it comes straight from your heart.

    I will add your blog to my blogroll, although I deal with spiritual abuse, blogs like this are a gentle comfort.

    Kind thoughts,
    Meg.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Conformity. Regardless of the reasons given for it...it presses us down and squeezes the individuality out of us. Do we dare to be all that Yahweh has created us to be? Especially if we are told that Yahweh wants us to be something different than we see in His word?

    I look at the list of things present in emotional harm. Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!

    You write about hard things, yet you write with grace and balance. So many people seem to throw the baby out with the bathwater in an attempt to free themselves from the extreme behaviours they have been exposed to. You don't do that...and that is something I appreciate about you. You seem to truly want to be accepting of what our heavenly Abba really wants.

    ReplyDelete

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