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01.01.1970 01:0000    Comments: 0    Categories:     Tags:

 

Mary was referred to me by her medical doctor who had diagnosed her as clinically depressed, and suffering from sexual dysfunction, compulsive behavior and unpredictable episodes of panic. She was barely managing these symptoms with several different psychiatric medications. Her doctor had concluded that much of her pain was rooted in her unresolved childhood sexual abuse that she reported she had experienced. 

     During our session, Mary's first exposure to Theophostic Prayer Ministry (TPM), she was willing to focus on her symptoms and emotional pain and revisit the memories of abuse. As she relived the trauma in my office she curled up in a fetal position and began to rock back and forth, crying. When I asked her what she was feeling, she said she felt alone, fearful, dirty and shameful. She described a memory of herself curled up on the bathroom floor as a little child, bleeding and feeling deep physical pain from the rape that had just occurred. 

     Following Theophostic principles and protocol I asked her why she felt alone and she replied "Because there is no one here to protect me." I asked her why she felt afraid and she said, "Because he is going to do it again." I asked her why she was feeling dirty and shameful and she said, "It was all my fault." These words revealed what TPM refers to as lie-based thinking.

TPM assumes that our current emotional pain emanate from what is believed in a memory and not because of what actually happened in the event. Belief at the experiential level in memory can differ from what one logically knows to be true in our logical adult mind. Therefore, the Theophostic approach assumes that we feel whatever we believe. If my current emotional pain is an outcome of what happened to me then I am doomed to these feelings since what happened cannot be changed.  However, if what I believe is a lie there is hope for freedom if I find truth.  However, as long as I believe a lie it may as well be the truth since my believing it will have the same emotional consequences as though it were true.  Mary felt shame in the memory, not because she was raped, but because she believed the rape was her fault even though logically she knew it was not. The fact that she was raped cannot be changed, but her belief that spawned her overwhelming emotion of guilt could.  TPM believes all the negative emotion in a specific memory can be completely resolved when the lies and distorted thoughts and beliefs that are producing such emotions are replaced with truth from the presence of Christ.  However, up until that occurred Mary was tormented by feelings of shame and panic each time something happened in her present life (such as her husbands sexual advances) triggering her lie-based thinking.

     TPM assumes that present emotions match our inner, core beliefs and that this presenting emotion is a bridge back to the original lie-based belief. Because emotion flows from our belief, the outcome of the TPM process is not called inner healing or "healing of memories" but rather mind renewal (Romans 12:2).  TPM does not teach or believe that memories need to be healed since it is the lie and not the event that is causing the problem.

     What happens in a TPM session is about exposing lies and having them divinely replaced with truth.  When a person identifies and holds their falsehood up to the Lord and He grants a change in thinking, it is renewal of the mind that occurs, not healing.        

     Healing occurs when something is restored back to a formerly healthy condition.  Mind renewal is not about restoring my mind back to a healthy place or even a former place, but rather replacing my old thinking with new.  TPM assumes that mind renewal involves more than just the accumulation of knowledge, but is relational and experiential.  The Holy Spirit does not heal my thinking, but rather replaces my thinking as I encounter the person of Jesus Christ in my places of pain where I harbor lies.  An exchange takes place of my falsehood for His truth.  When the Holy Spirit replaces the lies I believe with His truth the emotions change to match the truth resulting in the peace of Christ.  What follows should be life transformation. If transformation does not follow then renewal did not occur. 

     Since it is understood that a person's pain flows from their belief, wrong beliefs are the target of TPM and not "healing" of anything. The memory is merely a container of information, so it is the interpretations it holds (not the memory itself) which cause the emotional pain and dysfunction. Mary believed she was unprotected, that her abuser was going to hurt her again, and that the abuse was her fault. These beliefs were each creating emotional and relational consequences in her present life.

     Before I began to understand TPM principles, I would have told someone like Mary the truth (the abuse wasn't her fault and that she was safe now) and then expected her feel better. However, I have learned that just providing people with knowledge rarely does much more than make them a little smarter.  They usually still struggle with their painful emotions and their symptoms often remain. Some determined people manage to push through their pain and choose to do or try to feel the right thing, but at best they are miserably victorious. Genuine victory is more than, "white knuckling" it and "doing the right thing."  Genuine victory is always Christ-accomplished and Christ-maintained.  

     When I met with Mary I followed TPM protocol and did not try to replace the lies she believed with truth, recommend steps of action, or supply her with wise counsel. I did not try to diagnose or resolve her condition.  She had plenty of wise counsel and people "telling her the truth", but she still continued to struggle with emotional pain and feeling badly about her life. A basic guideline of TPM says that if a ministry facilitator does anything to move a ministry session in any direction that he thinks it should go then he is not doing TPM.  Instead, I asked questions reflecting only what Mary reported to me, to help her discover what beliefs were causing her pain.

     Once we identified the core beliefs harbored in her traumatic memory that were causing her pain, I asked her if she was willing to receive God's perspective on them. As we offered up her lie-based thinking to the Lord, Mary said she sensed Him say to her that He was there with her, that the man was not going to hurt her again and that it was not her fault. Immediately she looked up through her mascara-blackened eyes and said, "It's gone! I felt the fear and shame just lift off of me." 

     That session occurred several years ago. Today Mary maintains that none of the previous pain ever returned and all that remains in the traumatic memory is the peace of Christ. Her depression lifted, her doctor took her off the medication and she no longer has difficulty being intimate with her husband since those sessions. This is what Romans 12:2 calls transformation (Greek = metamorphose); the outcome of mind renewal.

     Each of us is able to hold opposing beliefs at the same time. We can logically know the truth of the Word while experientially holding a lie. I can quote "My God shall supply all my needs..." while fretting over my finances. The Bible calls this being double-minded (James 1:8).

     Mary knew logically that she was safe in my office and that the abuse was not her fault, but her experiential knowledge told her something contrary. The truth that calmed her heart and mind that day was something I could have told her myself, but I would not have been able to speak into the memory that was causing her grief. There are some things that only Jesus can do, and setting people free of lie-based experiential knowledge is one. 

     Theophostic Prayer Ministry is intentional, Spirit led, focused prayer with the desired outcome of an authentic encounter with the presence of Christ, resulting in mind renewal and subsequent transformed life. It is defined by very clear guidelines and protocol. TPM is not Recovered Memory Therapy, Exposure Therapy, guided imagery or deliverance ministry or any other practice that is inconsistent with the stated guidelines. This ministry process fully honors a person's free will. Everything that occurs in the session is seen as directly connected and flowing from the person's own personal belief and consequential choice. 

     While the TPM can bring quick and dramatic breakthroughs, I don't want to oversimplify what can often be a complex process. In cases where the abuse is severe, or where dissociation, denial or suppression occurs. The work can be slow and tedious, not because God is unwilling to reveal His Truth, but because people choose on a deeper level for their own defenses to slow the mind renewal process. Nevertheless when TPM protocol is followed, good outcomes are expected. TPM is based upon God's faithfulness to His word and to the principles of neuroscience that He also authored in creation and people willfully choosing to go to their pain and cooperate with God in allowing Him to renew their minds.

     TPM does not hold itself out to be the "magic bullet" for all that ails us.  It is a tool among tools that God has apparently chosen to use to care for hurting people.  Lay ministers taking the basic training are strongly encouraged to network with the Christian mental health community and function in unity as the Body of Christ.  No one should attempt this process without full training because overlooking the specific principles involved could result in unfavorable consequences. For additional information go to www.theophostic.com.

 

 

 

 

 
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