“and He said…You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it…You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets. Matthew 22:37-40
Yeah, but what does that look like?
In July, I had an opportunity to share during the sermon time at a local church here in Denver. In my past few blogs I’ve unpacked some of the different points I made, which you can read here and here. Growing up in a fallen world, our hearts and souls haven’t escaped unscathed. There are wounds, words and circumstances, which have left those core parts of who we are damaged and broken. We feel unworthy of love. And, we can unknowingly embrace a false story of shame about who we are. Healing seems to come from an awareness of our desperate need for God. To embrace our own inner poverty, being vulnerable and accepting our flaws. Jesus longs to put us back together again piece by piece.
That all sounds wonderful, right? But I did laugh when I met the pastor of that same church for lunch one day and heard some helpful feedback on my teaching. He thanked me graciously for sharing my own story so vulnerably. The scriptural truths I presented were right on also, no problem with that. But it seemed some of the congregants hungered for more information—“We get we’re broken and God heals us…but what does that practically look like?”
Yes!—the million dollar question. For those who are seeking God diligently and trying hard to cooperate with His purposes in their lives, it’s a legitimate one. What is needed is to offer some “signposts” to follow along the journey.
What exactly is God restoring and transforming?
So much about shame, addiction and brokenness is about “disconnecting.” We hide, disengage and run from the very thing for which we were designed by God—true belonging and connection. Though Jesus didn’t necessarily use it this way, the above passage in Matthew gives us clues about who we are to be deeply “connected with.”
When I walked through the doors of Where Grace Abounds decades ago, all my relationships were in a shambles. They were in urgent need of God’s healing. I had left a string of broken relationships in my wake, including my parents, brother and many friends. I was fearful and tentative in my relationship with God—does He really love me? And much to my surprise, I had a fractured relationship in regards to my own self. I suffered from a colossal lack of identity and was filled with shame and self-hatred. Much in the way of forgiveness and restoration was needed in each of these areas
Moving Towards Wholeness: Jesus Heals Piece by Piece
Now, to the hungering congregants’ question of “what does God’s healing look like practically?” The way God will work in each person’s life is unique and only He knows their path. Here are some of the areas He addressed in my own life–healing relationships with self, others and God. As you peruse these lists–what questions resonate with you?
Finding Out Who You Are
How have I been “getting to know” myself lately? What brings me enjoyment/rest/refreshment? Am I utilizing my gifts and talents? Am I exploring new gifts and talents? Do I have a sense of “vocation” or “calling” on my life? What do I feel passionate about?
More Self-Care/Less Coping Mechanisms
In what ways am I caring for myself and relying less on my coping mechanisms?
How am I caring for my physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual needs? How am I managing stress in my life (road rage, anger, anxiety or depression)?
Gaining a Healthy Belief System (in line with reality)
Are the false beliefs I have affecting my relationships? What beliefs have I been challenging lately?—how are they aligning with God’s reality? Rather than living in denial or trying to escape reality, in what ways have I been “facing into” truth?
Awareness, Managing and Honoring My Emotions
Rather than discounting or repressing my emotions, how have I been “honoring” them or expressing them with close trusted friends? How have I been managing my emotions lately? Do I handle grief, anger or anxiety in a mature way?
Comfortable with who I am as a Man or Woman
Rather than just settling for our cultures reliance on gender roles and stereotypes, how am I exploring what it means to be a Man or Woman of God? (What does that even mean to me?) Do I feel comfortable and confident in my masculinity/femininity? How comfortable am I living in my body these days?
Healthy Boundaries—Where I end and you begin
Is it OK that I exist on the planet? How have I been appropriately sharing my thoughts, opinions and preferences lately? How have I been appropriately “standing up” for myself lately? Is it OK to say “no?” Are my boundaries too low, and I get stepped on? Are my boundaries too high, and I don’t let anyone in?
Disentangling Love, Sex and Intimacy
Am I worthy of love?—in what ways am I living that out? Do I have a capacity to give and receive love? Am I afraid/uncomfortable/unaware of how to give and receive love? Has sex taken its proper place in my life? (less addictive, destructive, desperate) How am I deepening the intimacy in all of my relationships? Am I finding true ways of connecting rather than seeking “false intimacy”?
Restored Relationships (God, Family, Friends, Self)—Forgiveness
Am I harboring anger or bitterness at anyone in particular currently? Can I work through conflict constructively? Can I forgive myself, others and God? Am I harder on myself than others?
Support Network of Relationships
Do I have a network of relationships that can offer support when I need it? Do I have a wide range of different kinds of relationships (acquaintances, buddies, trusted friends)? Am I connected with a community where I am known consistently? Do I have people in my life that can reflect to me who I truly am? Are there people in my life who can offer guidance or counsel?
Loving God: He First Loved Us
“But what I would like to say is that the spiritual life is a life in which you gradually learn to listen to a voice that says something else, that says, “You are the beloved and on you my favor rests.”… I want you to hear that voice. It is not a very loud voice because it is an intimate voice. It comes from a very deep place. It is soft and gentle. I want you to gradually hear that voice. That voice speaks the truth, our truth. It tells us who we are.” Henri Nouwen-Life of the Beloved
Where Grace Abounds offers healing opportunities through community and relationships in our weekly support group. For more information on the ReSOULutions series check here.
A staff member since June of 1992, Scott is a key player in the WGA discipleship ministry. He plans, organizes, and implements every aspect of the Thursday night support group. In addition to public speaking, counseling group participants and training leaders, Scott maintains personal contact with many group members and it is to Scott’s credit that many group members feel personally welcomed, cared for and loved.
Although he holds a degree in graphic arts, he attributes his ministry qualifications to the “school of hard knocks.” God’s abundant grace continues to be the instrument of growth in his life, and he desires to be firmly grounded in the forgiveness and freedom of relationship with Jesus Christ.
Scott attends a Presbyterian Church.