It’s been said, “painful emotions buried alive, never die”. But God can rebuild any soul on His love.
A few months into my marriage, my new bride asked me,
“Why do you tense up whenever I touch you?”
I was floored by this realization! She was right. Anytime she touched me, I would recoil. In fact, any expression of intimacy in marriage seemed to elicit some knee-jerk reaction in me—I’d start clenching up and become overwhelmed by anxiety.
The truth is I had an inability to receive love— and it worked itself out in a thousand little weird ways in my relationships, including my relationship with God.
I tried to comb over the issue. Just ignore it, and hope it went away. Because you know, I had things to do! I was on a mission for God. He had interrupted my life in the bar scene of Gainesville, Florida and had spoken to me about my great calling to preach His Gospel. I had a mission to accomplish. And I thought I could just go out and make it happen— I’ll never forget telling the cocktail waitresses of Jewels Bar that I couldn’t DJ anymore because I was supposed to be a pastor. You should of seen the look on the girls’ faces. “WHAT?? You want to be a priest?!”.
I was zealous for God, but the problem was: painful emotions buried alive, never die.
After pushing on past the pain for years, God—and my wife, who I call “Holy Spirit Jr”— finally got me to see I needed to deal with my junk. I started to really seek God about it. Also, I took advantage of some free therapy sessions offered through my wife’s work. I prayed to the Great Counselor to send me to the right person in hopes of gaining wisdom for the health of my soul.
I thank God He answered my prayer and used a clinical Psychologist to give me insight into my brokenness. She diagnosed me with severe Attachment Trauma, also known as “insecure attachment”. Many mental health professionals consider it a form of PTSD that occurs when developing infants suffer extreme abuse and/or neglect from their primary caregiver. At a foundational level, the child does not learn to trust others, that their needs will be met, they feel as if in constant danger, and fail to form attachments with any future caregivers. This deeply-embedded fear creates all type of problems for the child’s development.
The late Christian Psychologist Dr. Karyn Purvis did great work in the study of Attachment Trauma in efforts to help adoptive parents understand how to care for their children—many adopted children, whom Dr. Purvis called “children from hard places”, exhibit the same tendencies.
So what did God show me? I had a wound at the deepest level of my soul.
But God has also shown me that His love can rebuild any soul. No matter how deep a wound. No matter how painful the past. Whatever you’ve lost, whatever you’ve suffered, you can become “deeply rooted and grounded in love” from Him.
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” – Isaiah 49:15 (NIV)
Here’s three practical things I’ve learned to personally receive love from God. I’ve been sharing these at our Sub30 class on Wednesday nights.
- Realize Everybody is Messed Up. (You’re not beyond God’s love)
- Remove the Mask. (Stop pretending)
- Receive Revelation from God. (The Word must go from information to revelation in you)
We’ll take a look at these three in more detail for Part 2.