We can envision our memories as videos with happy or tragic endings. Your happy ending video may be a memory of a special birthday or Christmas. Anything that reminds you of Christmas gives you a warm feeling. Oyster soup gives me many wonderful memories. In my home on Christmas morning everyone was hurrying to get to church in time for the Children’s Christmas Program and making sure that we children remembered our parts. In the morning there was no time to think of Christmas gifts.
After the program our family would come home to my Mother’s special Oyster soup. My Parents still followed the German tradition of putting our presents on the dining room table and covering them with a bed sheet. After eating our fill of oyster soup, we would gather at the table at the place where we would normally eat, then they would lift the sheet and our presents were right in front of us, without even being wrapped.
This time was immediately following the great depression and the number of presents was still greatly reduced. But this time I had 2 gifts: a ball with a cat’s face and a book. I remember shouting “Oh, a book and a ball!” and grabbing the book with one arm and the ball with the other. I was so happy!
But then my three older sisters told me that I had been entirely too noisy. They had wanted to hear what my one-year-old sister would say about her cat faced ball. I had been so noisy with my things that they couldn’t even hear what she said. That always leaves a little bit of a sad note at the end of that Christmas video. But all Christmases were very good at our house.
But suppose my father would have been an alcoholic, and we would have known he was outdoors somewhere drunk and probably wouldn’t come home at all, or when he would came home he would be so aggressive that he would beat my mother and us children, or if both my Mother and Father had been on drugs we might not have had a Christmas celebration. What a different video that would be! I would have learned to hate Christmas and would not have known how to make a happy Christmas for our children.
There are many people who have many traumatic memories so painful that they try not to remember them. They are told “Don’t go there. Think of something nice. Keep your mind busy thinking good things.”
However, Jesus said, “Cast your burdens on Me and I will give you rest. ” In order to cast our burdens on Jesus, we need to remember them. We need to show Jesus what we see when we remember what happened
The healing of traumas functions like forgiving sins. If we say, ”Oh, yes, God, I did something that was wrong. I think it was about 2 years ago. I can’t really remember exactly what it was but please forgive me.”
With this kind of confessing of sins, the person wouldn’t sound very repentant. To confess our sins we must name them one by one to ask forgiveness. In the same way if we want God to heal our traumas we must show him what we keep seeing and feeling so that we can give our burdens to Him.
The following story of Julio shows what terrible traumas some people are carrying. (His name has been changed).
Julio was forty-five years old, married with five children. He had trouble relating to his family and difficulties with his job. Several times he had been admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Now the whole family had accepted Jesus as their Savior, and all of their lives were changing. But Julio still felt depressed by his past.
Julio’s childhood had been very difficult. His father was a commander in the army and ran his home in the same way. He tried to make his son tough by cruelly beating him for the slightest misbehavior. I asked Julio to make a list of his painful memories. He was unable to do this because his whole past was one long episode of pain. Mixed in with his own pain was the pain of seeing his mother and younger brothers and sisters being beaten, and a deep anger that his mother would not defend them from his father.
“Julio,” I gently urged him, “let’s ask Jesus to go back with you in your memory to the house where you lived and suffered all that pain. Can you remember how the house looked where you lived?”
“Yes,” he said, “I remember it very clearly. I see it in my memory like a video.”
“Then let’s ask Jesus to walk with you, back through your memory, into that video of your house. As you take Him to the front door, describe to Him what you see.”
“Lord Jesus,” Julio prayed, “I walk up to the door of the house. It is hot and the door is open. I take you into the living room.”
Suddenly he cried out, “Oh! No, no! No, Dad, no!”
“What is happening in the living room, Julio?” I asked urgently.
“My father is angry at me.”
“What is he angry about?”
“He thinks I stole something from the neighbor’s store, but I didn’t,” he cried. “He won’t listen to me. No, Dad! Don’t hit me! Don’t hit me!”
“What is he doing to you, Julio?” I asked.
“He’s dragging me into the bedroom to punish me. He says he has to beat me with the buckle end of his belt sixty times to teach me not to steal,” Julio sobbed.
“Take Jesus to the door of the bedroom and describe for him what is happening in there,” I urged him.
“Jesus, my father is beating me with the buckle of his belt. He is counting the times he hits me. He gets up to thirty. I beg him to stop. `Please, Dad! Dad, no more! No more! I’ll never do anything that displeases you! I promise! Please, Dad, please!’
“He says he has to do it sixty times, or I’ll never learn! Oh, oh, oh! Finally he finishes. He throws the belt into the corner and stomps out of the room,” Julio sobbed brokenly. “I’m lying on the floor, bleeding. My back is ground up like hamburger. My mother picks me up and puts me into bed. She had seen the whole thing and didn’t do anything! I can’t get up for two weeks.”
“Julio,” I said urgently, “imagine with me: If Jesus would have walked into your bedroom when your father was beating you, would have bent over you and protected you, and the buckle would have fallen on His back, what would have happened to little Julio?”
“Oh,” he said, “I . . . , I would have been free. Nothing would have happened to me.”
“Yes, Julio!” I exclaimed. “That is exactly what Jesus came to do for you! Let’s ask him to come into the video running in your memory and protect you.”
“Jesus,” I prayed, “In Julio’s memory, come into that room and stand between him and his father. Take the memory of that beating on your own back. You were beaten for Julio, so that he could go free. Touch his bleeding back and heal that ground up skin and muscle. Heal the horror of that experience.”
“Julio,” I turned to him, “tell Jesus the truth. Tell Him that you have been carrying the horror of this memory all these years and that you cannot carry it any longer.”
“Yes, God,” wept Julio. “I can’t handle it anymore.”
“Now, Julio, stand at the door of that bedroom in your memory, beside Jesus,” I continued. “Imagine yourself bending down and taking the floor and rolling it all the way over to the other side of the room. Roll into it your angry father, the little Julio that’s being beaten, the bleeding boy in the bed, the mother who didn’t stop the father, and anything else that you can think of. Fold the ends over and stomp on it and smash it until it is in small pieces like ashes. Now see how Jesus holds open the spiritual bag for you so that you can throw everything into it.
“Tell Jesus, `Jesus, I roll up this floor like a rug with the memory of my father and his anger and cruelty. I roll into it the memory of that little boy with all his pain and terror, and my mother and her helplessness. I roll it all the way to the other side of the room. I fold it over and stomp on it until it’s in tiny little pieces. Now, Jesus, hold open a bag for me. I take this whole pile and throw it all into your bag. I cannot carry it any longer.'”
Julio followed the prayer with all his heart, throwing into Jesus’ bag everything he could remember. When there was nothing more left in the room to throw into the bag, we closed the bag in the name of Jesus, and gave it to Him to carry to the cross.
“Julio,” I told him, “Jesus came from heaven to carry all your pain and horror to the cross so that you can be free. With your inner, spiritual eyes which the Bible calls ‘the eyes of your heart’ (Eph.1:18), see Him hanging on the cross with your bag on His shoulder. God Himself paid for what your father did to you so that you can be free. When He dies that bag falls back into hell, where it came from, and disappears.
“And now resurrected, Jesus comes to you. Imagine yourself looking into His eyes, and seeing His love for you. Open up that place inside of yourself that was so full of hurt, and ask Him to fill it with His love. Watch how he fills that place to overflowing with His love and forgiveness, His compassion, understanding and tender care. Tell me when that place inside of you is filled.”
When Julio finally saw that painful place inside of himself filled with Jesus’ love, I continued, “Julio, look back into that room where everything happened. What do you see in there now?”
“The room is empty,” he replied. “Only the bare floor and walls are left.”
“Good, now ask Jesus to put something beautiful into the room. The Bible says that God will restore the years the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:24 KJV). He has promised to give you beauty in exchange for your ashes (Isaiah 61:3 KJV).”
“Jesus,” prayed Julio, “please put something beautiful into that room for me.”
“What does He put there, Julio?” I asked. “With your inner, spiritual eyes, the eyes of your heart see what He shows you.”
Julio hesitated for a moment, “I see Jesus in there with me. He is sitting on the couch between my father and me.”
“What is Jesus doing?’
“He’s playing with me,” he answered.
“How do you feel sitting there playing with Jesus?”
“I feel safe. He’s taking care of me. Nothing bad can happen when He’s there!”
“Lord,” I prayed, gently laying my hand on Julio’s head, “engrave this picture so deeply and thoroughly into Julio’s mind that each time he remembers the time his father beat him, he will also remember this scene of you playing with him and protecting him.”
Julio took Jesus through all the rooms of his house and described what was happening there. We rolled up everything, threw it into Jesus’ bag, watched Him carry it to the cross, and asked Him to give Julio something beautiful to remember in each place. In this way, we got rid of the horror he had experienced, and closed all the doors to the Kingdom of Darkness. This did not mean that Julio couldn’t remember that his father had beaten him. It meant that every time the video of what happened ran in his memory, at the end Jesus came in, protected him, carried his pain to the cross, freed him from the terror of his father and began healing his psychological wounds.
If you have memories that have not been healed, ask Jesus to come with you and take Him to the place where the memory happened. Tell Jesus what you see when you think of the memory. Then roll it all up and see how Jesus holds a bag open for you and throw everything into it. Keep on throwing until the room, or whatever place it is, is completely empty. Then watch how Jesus carries your bag of pain to the cross. He died to heal what you threw in there.
God said He would give you beauty for your ashes (Isaiah 61:3 [KJV]). Now look back into the place where all this happened and ask Jesus to put something beautiful into the place where your painful experiences happened. Look what He puts there. Are you protected and happy? If you are not completely protected and satisfied, ask Jesus what it is that keeps you from being completely protected and happy. Whatever He shows you, just give it to Jesus until you feel completely sheltered and content. This will now become your hiding place when life gets rough.
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