Tag Archives: faith

Memories: Changing the Cycle of Pain and Automatic Reactions

Sometimes we hold ourselves back from certain people, places, dates and times, experiences and other aspects of life because of a painful or traumatic memory.

Unconscious intrusive triggers might inhibit us from participating in good aspects of life because we get hung up on the somatic (physical) and psychological (mental) effects of remembering. We don’t want a repeat of a painful “last time,” and try to avoid such occurrences. Such memory recall often triggers episodes of reliving an experience adding to and even reinforcing the negative experiences we had.  THis may also act as a reinforcer unhelpful belief patterns. When this occurs, PAIN becomes our counsellor, and even sometimes, our governor. What can we do? 

One thing you often can do is to overwrite an old memory by making a new memory with the present opportunity you have. We are constantly overwriting old memories with new material unconsciously. We can consciously do so too with some intention and belief it is possible. Hope is a strong motivator.

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The Brain is powerful in the cognitive function of plasticity. Scientists used to believe that memory was hardwired and once formed, permanent. However, since then it has been discovered through neuroscience and cognitive psychology that each time we recall a memory, it changes in subtle ways. We unconsciously edit a memory with minute subtractions and additions, and the memory becomes re-consolidated (reconstructed and saved) in a new way. 

This is in part why some parts of memory stand out more than others, some parts fade, others increase in intensity and quality, and sometimes other people’s recall of a same event is different than our own. Occasionally our minds even fill in the blanks with color or other details we have forgotten, aren’t true or didn’t actually occur. E.g. “I could swear that motorcycle Joe had was red, not blue.” 

Particularly salient parts of memory are more likely to stand out and last longer. However, even memories of traumatic events such as 9-11, are, and can be, edited as we remember them. An interesting area of study on salient events involves eye-witness cases, which have high inconsistencies and are now considered as somewhat unreliable evidence in courts of law. We can embellish memories or micro-delete aspects unconsciously or by deliberate choice. Memory is influenced by numerous variables and is an interesting study on its own.

This fact also means we be active in choosing how we want to remember by reconstructing a memory association.  I am not advocating telling ourselves lies or myths to cope. This is what I do mean…

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Memory works strongly with associations such as taste, smell, touch, sight, sound, and other senses such as feelings/emotions. E.g. people may forget what you said, but they’ll never forget how they felt when you said it.

I rephrased this popular saying because, regarding emotions (which differ from our physical yet are interconnected) we have power and responsibility in part for our feelings and how we manage or act on them even when another is an initiator of negative events. We may be on a learning curve on how to do this, but ultimately, its within our power to decide how we will allow things effect us long term, and what we will do to begin the process and fulfillment of healing.

When pain and fear anchor as primary emotions in our memory consolidation process, it can create a reinforcement cycle of the memory like a well worn path. Further, painful social situations activate the same nerve and brain areas as physical pain does. This is why we experience heartache as a physical pain, or get pain symptoms in various parts of our bodies (soma-symptoms). However our bodies can learn to release trauma and pain from soma and muscle memory as well.

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dendrites flickr.com

We usually have understanding of the problem of our pain, but are often uncertain how to get our minds out of memory holding patterns. This pattern is what needs changed to heal. By the same principle of the well worn path, a pathway barely used becomes overgrown. In the case of brain patterns and memory, when dendrites and synapses (our brain’s tree branches and leaves, or highways and intersections) are not in frequent use, the brain prunes our memory tree, closes road.

Then as we learn or adapt our thinking, it regrows new branches or paves new roads or adds an overpass, which function differently.  This principle of use and disuse is quite noticeable in things like second languages, directions, or placing a name to a face.

We don’t have to revisit every painful memory for this to happen, like scientists and therapists used to believe. We can actively make new memories in place of the old. It is like overwriting old code. This removes old triggering associations, by creating new ones.

This memory flexibility and resilience underlies certain professional psychological treatments for trauma, phobias, and general cognitive restructuring. The brain gets rewired as to what our focus is on, connects to new associations, forming patterns in our memory, which then re-consolidates into a new framework, or schema. Thus we can remember events or other things without pain or triggers when this change occurs.

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What we focus on expands and magnifies.

 If you find certain places, people, objects etc are triggers for you, you might want to give making new memory associations a chance. It may not happen the first time you try, you may feel very uncomfortable at first. It may even feel worse to begin with, but with persistence and support from others, the memories, experiences,  relationships, etcetera that you want to keep but with new healthy associations, can happen for you. I have shared this concept with personal friends and have started receiving good feedback about its affects.

In reality, we don’t ‘unlearn’ things- we learn again- the overwriting aspect. This plasticity is also a mechanic of the spiritual reality of renewing our minds to truth, and shifting belief patterns. You can be free of negative past associations. Let’s get creative.

*Not every memory is one we want to keep; some we are better off losing completely– I don’t mean repression. Depending on the severity of trauma and our personal experiences, this type of overwriting may work great without other’s involvement, or, people may find they need assistance in this process, whether a friend, counsellor, or by supernatural means.

For those of you whose hope has been crushed by being told you have a disorder that can’t be healed, only managed, I encourage you to seek counsel and wholeness through Jesus our Healer. The greatest helper, Jesus Christ, is the master physician and counselor for memories that have crushed one’s spirit. I, and, many others can personally attest to His healing power and loving process to heal memories.

For further interest, this book was recommended to me by my oversight (a practicing psychiatrist) in my undergrad course Abnormal Psychology  regarding my course project: investigating  DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) and Depersonalization–Derealization Disorder (DDD–which is in fact more common than generally realized by practitioners). For those who like a little more scientific info, or wonder about the mechanics of how focus affects any number of our systems including spiritual focus see:

New York Times Bestseller, FOCUS: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, by Daniel Goleman.

 

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Standing in the Heat of Conflict

Much of the time when the Bible speaks of warfare, our part is simply to stand and withstand, immovable. In trusting quietness and confidence we engage His strength (Isaiah 30. 15). In one of the most challenging personal & corporate skirmishes I’d encountered, God had someone send me this word–It’s challenging to summon words to express my gratitude, and how it helped me endure through the length of the difficulty, which is one of the functions of prophetic words. Edification, fortification.

My prayer is that in sharing this vision, your spirit and soul will be emboldened and strengthened to stand, and having done all–stand firm. If it helps you, or you have a similar story to share, please leave a comment!

I was simply acting from a place of knowing, a place of rest, being still in my heart and mind. Being unmoved. Knowing that regardless of what was occurring or the backlash that was coming in the natural through people being influenced, that I just needed to stay in this place of stillness, responding and not reacting myself.

Honestly, there were days it felt more than terrible in the natural, but in the spirit, I was learning how to move with God and keep my stance in the heat of the conflict. This is for those of you who may find yourselves there now, or are wondering what you could have done different.

The Lord is good and kind. I didn’t share to prayer chains or ask for prayer about this (not that it would be wrong- I just didn’t feel that was needed) The Lord Himself had this sister contact me.

“I feel I’m supposed to tell you that you need to stand on whatever promises He’s given you. You need to stand.

And I see you, and I’m not used to having visions/dreams like this, but I see you with flaming red hair and you look like you’re almost dancing the way you are blocking every fiery dart that’s coming your way. There’s no effort in it, just that you seem to know exactly where to move ahead of time to the next position. You’re a warrior- that’s how I saw you.

Details of Dream:

It was early morning and I was just coming out of sleep. Picture a light baby blue background. There is one mountain with airy cloud 3 quarters the way up. It stretched horizontally across the mountain in the vision and the mountain was encompassed in this foggy stretch of cloud.

Now this mountain was very high and there was nothing below other than clear blue. You were in the heavens…this definitely represented spirit realm. The top of the mountain was like a small space. 3 ft by 3ft.

Your hair was long and red and orange and it looked like crackling fire. Now there had to be a wind like force as you rotated around combating. I say this because you hair wasn’t dangling but being fanned back with tension, but not enough to remove the wave/crackle.

Now the angle that I could see this from was way higher. You were wayyy below wherever I was being shown from. I interpret this was from the 3rd heaven. A specific” honing in” on this platform. You were in white straight leg cotton pants 6 inches above your ankles.

I saw your right foot briefly fairly detailed. It was a strong foot. I could see when I prayed this morning a few veins around the ankle. I could see the blood in them was light blue but what I got out of this was healthy in a physical sense. Your toes were gripping and moving firmly as you required them to.

No sign of being shaken or challenged. They were still very much female feet and they really had no sign of wear and tear. Like no dead skin. Fresh. I was going to say like baby skin but that’s not accurate.

The word that cut that thought off was-the foot was alive. Like the foot of Eve before she fell. Able to meet the demand easily because you had done this many times and had the skill and precision as a nature above all instinct to do so. Auto pilot is a good word. I did not see any callouses or abrasions. I only recall seeing the right foot briefly in a staggered stance with your right leg forward.

Because I don’t want you to think that this image was intended for you to think about the feet more than the rest of it. Your top was v necked. Not really low but an inch under the collar bones. It had a 2 inch thicker hemming or additional white fabric. 3 quarter length arms were loose but a thick white material too. Like a cross of cotton and potato sac. The bottom of the top would fall just passed the hips. There were small v slits on each side.

I didn’t see much about the 2nd belt you had on but must have been a 4 inch. The first one just tied underneath built in to pants. white. He also gave me scripture but I’ll get into that.

So what I saw coming at you were wooden arrows traveling by a force that wasn’t made to known to me. So the source of where they came from I didn’t see. But you didn’t actually make contact with them and they were snapped in half from my viewpoint looked like 6 inches. So from where you were was nowhere near as close. They came from far enough away that they were moving quickly but you were prepared before they were close enough to be an issue and were already moving into the next position without looking at the next one.

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What I thought was awesome was the way you moved–like fluid and to me….. what this says is the laws of the natural were not applicable to you. They were overridden.

You’re facial expression was focused but not fearful. Just anticipating, really precisely and quickly. Like as if you were being told what to do…not because you were so focused on the arrow. You were skilled, not so much toward the arrows, but skilled on knowing where to be next. You just had to move to the next position. You’re limbs would just respond to your body’s shift. Your force didn’t even need to be that close to the arrow. But no fear at all, and easily breaking these things.”

This is what “warfare” is meant to look like when backlash or an attack comes. Quiet, attuned, confidence. Sometimes it comes because we have done the right thing, not the wrong thing. We stay focused on His voice and the deep knowing– this is faith. Being in faith doesn’t always immediately shift how other’s react; it does shift how we respond. A number of times, someone that would never know my situation, has commented to me that they had an assignment to help me make it through the heat.

Some times we may feel very alone in our battles, yet He has stirred someone out of their sleep to pray, or has someone composing a prophetic encouragement to share. Sometimes we never know at all, due to the sensitive nature of our struggles, that He has someone praying on our behalf. All we may know is we made it through!

I can think of some situations right now that I have prayed for and never breathed a word to the persons involved–my assignment was only to pray, and safeguard the secret that God was keeping for them. He is faithful. And having been made like us, for a time, a compassionate and powerful strength. May you be encouraged and confident in the heat just as in the cool and calm.

 

 

 

The Word Opens Up Encounters

By faith we inherit…Therefore inheriting the promises is the outcome of faith and depends entirely on faith, in order that it might be given as an act of grace, to make it stable and valid and guarenteed to all his descendants… Romans 4 (Amplified).

Grace, Faith and Promise

By grace through a promise we receive. Takes a load of performance pressure off doesn’t it? Whatever point of our journey, God is anticipating using our experiences as opportunities to reveal Himself to us that we might know Him- not just doctrinally, but experientially. One of my favorite things is noticing a verse or paragraph and then experientially understanding it, or having some encounter with God and then finding a verse that affirms it. This is a story about that. Encountering God experientially after meditating on a passage of scripture for a time- Romans 4.

Singing a Love Song

I love to sing. More to the point I love to worship through song. Since I was a child, who discovered she could carry a tune and do a half decent rendition of Dolly Parton’s Jolleen, I have sung my way through life’s joys and sorrows. I grew up on Country and later imagined myself singing Jazz and Blues in the nightclubs (it was the only place I knew where crooners would be welcome).

To hone my craft, I joined school and church choirs, moved on to duets and finally “solos” then on to weddings, christian ladies brunches, and funerals. For a very short stint, I was the singer for a band called Sweet and Nasty– I was the sweet, and other members were the nasty. We had one gig at Klondike Days (K-Days) in the Christian Motorcycle Group’s tent and then I faded into obscurity. I was later invited to join another band that had some small time tour plans but by that time I had a beautiful 5 month old son, and my priorities had shifted. My band days were behind me.

At some point I decided my voice had been given by God and belonged to purposes that put the spotlight on Him alone, so I never did croon the jazz and blues as I had dreamed. But He was attentive to my heart desires and opened up a place for me to lead worship in the church, something that I had prayed secretly for but had not voiced. I was delighted! This is the background upon which my personal encounter with Him became staged…

Trial and Pain

Somewhere between singing and diapers I began to experience pain on the right side of my jaw. I ignored it as long as possible until I began getting headaches as well and sharp biting pains that would move from my jaw up the side to the top of my head, and my jaw began to click when it opened and closed. A little trauma at the dentist as a child made me anxious-avoidant but the pain became too frequent to ignore, so I made an appointment. The x-rays showed my wisdom teeth on both sides were turned and impacted. One tooth kept trying to move up into place but because of its orientation it was pushing against the molar in front of it instead. This was what caused the jaw and headache issues.

At the time I didn’t know much about the authority and power given to believers for intervention or how miracles came about, so I made my next appointment with the specialist, and began scrimping to save the cost of the surgery, around $1500 dollars. The day arrived and the doctor came out to speak to me as a preview to surgery. He asked a number of medical questions and what I did for hobbies. I shared with them that I was a singer, I sang in the church and a few other places.

He left and returned after a short examination of the x-rays with some unhappy news. One of the teeth was oriented in such a way that it appeared to go through the nasal cavity. This would mean that when they removed it, it would change my airways and my sound when I sang. Basically it might ruin my singing. Further, because it was an awkward surgery, it would be about $300 more than they had quoted me. I’ve heard this is the same reason Barbara Streisand chose to leave her nose as it was, the nose or the song. If it’s true, I’d say she chose well. Wind Beneath My Wings is a great song.

Laying it Down, Choosing Faith, Believing

This became a hard decision to make in a matter of minutes. I didn’t have more money- not in paper or plastic. And I loved to sing- I couldn’t imagine not singing. But this pain was becoming somewhat debilitating and I couldn’t see myself trying to live with it any longer. As I sat in the waiting room I turned to the Lord and offered Him back His gift I had used for His glory, as best I knew how. I said simply, “You gave me this ability to sing, and I really don’t want to lose it–but this pain is too much. I’m going to have the surgery and I’ll leave it to you whether I can still sing or not when I wake up.” I had an expectancy, and I was willing to entrust it all to Him.

An Encounter with my Beloved

I remember waking up from my own cry feeling drugged and nauseous, the nurse assuring me of where I was, that I was okay, but I must “breathe deeper”. Others had come after me and left before me, and I was having a difficult time waking up from the anesthetic. Yet before the fog lifted from me and consciousness returned, I experienced something that feels just as profound to me now as it did in that moment. It’s a little hard to describe, but I’ll attempt it and hope you can imagine how it would feel to you.

The thick cloaking presence of God was moving over and around me- I imagine like in Genesis, where it says the Spirit of God hovered over the face of the deep. Simultaneously I heard the most masculine, deep, strong with authority, voice speaking to me saying, “Abraham believed God”. Then I woke with a start by my own cry of pain. Please, close your eyes for a moment and imagine the sense of God’s spirit hovering and moving over you and hearing a deep voice speak the Word you have been studying back to you. It is a sense of sacred, of holy, and of power. I was in wonder and awe. I still am.

The Word Is Reality

I no longer would merely muse about Romans 4, and what that might look like in my life. I had a living encounter with my Lord, who using a short phrase and a foreknowing of circumstance chose to personally reveal Himself and His word to me in a deeper way. When I was conscious enough, the dentist informed me that although it had been scrupulously close to the nasal cavity, the tooth was not through it; I could continue to sing to, and about, the one I love. As an odd sort of bonus, a cyst was found on one of the teeth which would allow them to file a type of claim and reduce the cost of the surgery back to the original amount. I was given more than I thought to ask for.

Mediating on the Word sets us up for personal encounters with Him. Believing Him is our most basic need, and our glory. Years later I’m still singing, sharing how faithful He is to watch over His word to perform it, and that He is no respecter of persons. He will meet with each of us and perform His word.

Father, You are amazingly Good. We anticipate meeting you in both typical and unusual places and circumstances. The everyday life is a doorway to encountering your loving kindness. Thank you that your written words are gateways to meeting You, the living Word. Help us to honor your Word, make it alive to each of us, that we may intimately know you, and love you more.

 

The Difference Between Lack of Faith and Unbelief

My guest post today is by my beloved friend Yvette Dempster of The Adoption Ministries. I know you will benefit tremendously! That’s why I’m sharing. 

Have you ever heard someone say they needed to increase their faith? Or have you ever said–when you didn’t see an answer to prayer– that something must be wrong with your faith? Have you ever thought you had a lack of faith? If so, I have good news! You don’t have a faith problem!

http://the-adoption.org/the-difference-between-lack-of-faith-and-unbelief/

The Glory Doorway

I reached to access a storage container and stopped still, staring. Brilliant sparkles winked and twinked in the air before me. There was nothing special about this corner of the room, or the room itself. I hadn’t stood up too fast, I hadn’t bent over; I wasn’t “seeing stars” but I was seeing … Starry lights. Then they disappeared as quickly as they had appeared.
I was left in wonder…

They next time they appeared, I was telling my son something about Jesus. I was multitasking and in next room as we dialogued, but as I walked into the same room as he, I stopped abruptly. Dancing before my eyes, and in a cloud like cluster about a 1×2 feet in depth and breadth were these effervescent diamonds. Slowly turning my gaze, I sized up the cloud.

I asked if my son saw them. “No.”  

But I saw them, as clearly as I was seeing anything else in the room. 

Filled with wonder…Awestruck wonder. 

This must be glory

Now, hope rose in place of surprise. 

This. Was. Real.

Scientific training has had its use; considering correlations, one was definitive. I had been shifting my focus considerably- it was all on HIM: Jesus, Dad, and the Holy Ghost. Something was changing. Joy was becoming a constant companion. Praise and worship came in bursts and raptures. It felt like a endorphin high only better and longer lasting. And then…the glory began to appear. It. Was. Beautiful! 

This encouraged me to engage with Him even more. I was dazzled. This was how things were meant to be! Heaven in Earth; as above, so below. 
I often listen to messages as I fall asleep at night. I like the first and last of my day specifically centered on the Giver and the good news of the kingdom. Following the treasure clues, I often stumble upon Gold. Around that time I discovered a Joshua Mills podcast- it was truly the title that caught my eye. 

      JESUS IS THE GLORY DOORWAY.

I listened attentively, absorbing the beauty of Jesus. Then my prophetess friend asked the next day if I knew anything about Jesus & a glory door, because Holy Spirit mentioned it- I shared the link and happily went on to part 2.

However, this particular night, the glory doorway appeared differently in my dreams. 
Glory spilled out, it’s golden luminescence beautiful, but inaccessible except for the sliver of beauty I could see from the crack beneath the door. The door was shut tight, leaving me in outer darkness. I could only stare at the door with a sense of loss.

Consciousness began its work, and with it came a sense as though joy had dropped through the bottom of a trap door. It felt sucked away and in its place was an adipose, nauseous sensation. 
Feeling drugged, I realized I’d been “slimed” by an enemy. It was the best my mind could offer at the moment. For several days afterward I felt that spiritual residue I had encountered in spirit via night vision, affecting me inwardly and outwardly. I couldn’t seem to shake the sense of gross residue.
 My thoughts often returned to that crack beneath the door where glory awaited me on the other side. Worse, a void replaced the joy and passion building in momentum beforehand. Everything I had been experiencing now seemed inaccessible and far removed. I didn’t know how to get back to where I’d been. It all felt so real, so affective, and so continuous.

Days passed and with them the slimed sense. Still, I felt rather defeated somehow, and I didn’t understand how this had occurred. I wanted the glory back! The union I’d been experiencing with God was the best sense of life I’d had yet, I knew it was supposed to be my everyday normal, and somehow…I’d lost it. 
Soon, as the Lord taught me, I came to realize that I’d fallen for an old trick. Perception is a powerful sensory experience! The defeated enemy has limited strategies to work with but they’re not going to just go quietly into the night without a final last attempt to influence our beliefs. They know how reliant we can become on our senses and feelings, and they will manipulate our perception if they can. They will try what they can to distract us from engaging with God to the fullness- good thing they’re no match for us and the Giver of good gifts.

It was partly through this experience I began to learn to walk more by faith than my senses, or lack of. Because my senses felt locked out of the glory, and the gross residue felt so tangible, I behaved as though it was true. My feelings led the way. In reality it was nothing more than illusion. A magic man’s trick. We don’t have to be poisoned by a negative experience. 

As I learned about truth trumping feelings, and sense, I began to stand in the knowledge of Him. Jesus Is the Glory Doorway. Jesus is the Door (John 10:7) What He opens cannot be shut and what He shuts cannot be opened (Revelations 3:7) especially by a defeated enemy. The door stands open for all who are willing to enter. (Revelations 4:1)
For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8: 38,39)

I paid less attention to how things felt or seemed, and studied about our union with Christ, our oneness. I chose truth; truth trumps feelings, senses, and experiences.

In that manner I learned strategy: to know the enemy was still beneath my feet, even if he managed to lob a smoke bomb,  and my emotions are subject to the spirit of Truth. The schemes of the enemy backfired. 

As this became my greater reality, I briefly caught a sparkle again, and realized they have been there all along. It was only my awareness that changed. Now, I often see them, without thinking about it. They are part of us.

“I have given to them the glory and honor which You have given Me, that they may be one [even] as We are one…”             (John 17:22)

Being one spirit means we won’t be separated. We have an all access pass- His name is Jesus. When we know the truth, we know we are free. Free to live in the Glory and majesty of God all all times.