Spiritualization of emotional wounds

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Spiritualization of emotional woundsSpiritual Warfare and emotional wounds

In the last post: The prison of emotional trauma I compared the Christian’s spiritual battle to a boxing match in which one of the two fighters is repeatedly pummeled by the opponent. God always gives us the means to gain the upper hand in the conflict but often Christians become victims and suffer devastating trauma in the conflict. Even though the situation does not seem to be very serious on the surface, and others may not even imagine what is happening inside, the person feels the pain grow deeper and deeper each time he suffers defeat and failure in testing.

Repeated failure imposes a slow process of spiritual death on people. This explains the apathy and spiritual depression that assails many people’s lives. Trauma has the terrible power to penetrate the soul progressively each time that a person goes through it. In the same proportion that the pain deepens and becomes rooted in the soul, many harmful behavioral tendencies begin to manifest themselves. It is merely a matter of cause and effect, of roots and fruit. From this a subtle process of spiritualizing hurts begins to emerge.

Imagine a person involved in alcoholism, drugs, immorality, etc., who has just converted. Together with a conversion to Christ, he or she also receives the label of “believer”. Many people in the church superficially define a believer as someone who does not drink, smoke, go to bars and nightclubs, no longer practices immorality, etc. of course these things should be avoided, but not by imposing abstinence to satisfy the newly adopted religious pattern without considering the root causes that sustain them.

For example, let us suppose that a new convert has suffered the painful process of conjugal infidelity, or suffered violent sexual abuse in childhood. The resulting residual pain lodged in his or her wounded memory not only nurtures sinful bonds, but also demonic influences that begin to manifest themselves in his or her behavior.

As long as this shame is not removed by an adequate and sufficiently deep treatment, the person continues to subject themselves to various types of defense mechanisms and compensation in pursuit of relief from the emotional and moral pain that is felt, that all which only reinforces the spiritual problems that he or she is confronted with.

Since this person has now become a believer, feeling obligated to abandon worldly behaviors, the tendency is to migrate from “worldly vices” to “Christian vices. Some take refuge in music, others in church related activities, and others in theological study, etc. We can call this the spiritualization of emotional wounds, it is very common but also very destructive.

We commit a grave mistake in discipleship when we only deal with people’s sins and vices without dealing with the emotional pain and moral shame that these people carry. We cut off the plant while leaving the roots intact. Naturally the problem will return to manifest itself, except now in a more “Christian” and “spiritual” manner since the sap proceeds from a contaminated root.

An intense religious activism arises from this root of shame and pain. Although such people become tremendously cordial and helpful, their inspiration comes from emotional need and an anguishing attempt to make up for or cover up the shame that they feel. At the same time that these people attempt to serve God’s purposes, they also find themselves under a strong demonic oppression.

The truth is that this religious activism is spiritually passive. It is the disguise of the wound. As impressive as a person can be in what they accomplish, spiritually speaking, everything that they do produces minimum results in the spiritual world. A sick motivation destroys spiritual effectiveness of those who try to work for God. No matter how much a person grows in position due to his or her activism, his or her spiritual life is undermined and their work is compromised.

This speed of defeat and fragility acts as a dormant weapon that can be activated when a person begins to react and threaten the spiritual scheme imposed by the enemy. As long as the person remains quiet, in darkness, all is well. The enemy may even permit a certain growth. However, when this person begins to react and to do something that represents a threat, Satan activates his stronghold by attacking the person’s weak and vulnerable points.

These types of situations are unfortunately very common. People are put forth and promoted too fast and all the sudden a great scandal destroys everything. Those who neglect to recognize this settled scheme of spiritualizing wounds remain clueless: wondering how that person who was so spiritual, so active, fell in such a grave and absurd mistake.

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