Connecting the Emotional Dots

Rev. Michael Barry, Director of Pastoral Care, CTCA/ERMC

"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." - John 8: 32

Matt. 13:15-16: "For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise, they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them. But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear."

Dear friend,
You told me an amazing story about yourself this morning -- about how you were fired from your job and that you are convinced this traumatic experience led to your getting cancer.

It's true there is a connection between our emotions and our immune system. Emotional traumas can lead to a wide range of chronic diseases, including cancer. However, you're feeling this way, because you're still nursing the wounds of your dismissal.

I wonder why people so often choose to hold on to painful experiences. I don't think it's a conscious decision, although it could be. Usually we hang on to these hurtful situations, because we've never learned how to get ourselves out of the webs of our pasts.

One of the ways to process our pain is to write about our lives in an honest way. Groucho Marx once said it's easier to write about others: We can fudge a few details here or there. But when we write about ourselves, if we don't tell the truth, we know we're liars. The truth can set us free, indeed.

Writing about hurtful experiences forces us to have an encounter with truth. As we write, we begin to connect the dots of our lives. We begin to see a more coherent picture of our lives and the decisions we made leading to the situation or circumstances that caused us pain. If we really believe that "all things work together for good" (Rom. 8:28 KJV), perhaps some of our anger and pain is because we haven't connected all of the dots.

Here's the way it works: The more dots you connect, the better you'll understand how and why you got where you are. The better you understand that, the less stress you'll experience. The less stress you experience, the better your body will be able to fight disease.

Pick up some paper and a pen. Connect some dots through honest reflection. Connect not only the positive experiences, but also the negative experiences, even those times when you exercised poor judgment and made wrong decisions.

How many conversions to Christ have come about when people have connected the dot of sinful behavior to the dot of God's love and forgiveness? Connect the dots -- all of them -- and trust that as you do, you may experience a truth that will set you free.

Father, why is it that life is so painful sometimes? Why is it that we often make life harder than it needs to be? Why do we avoid truth, even though it will set us free from pain and often disease? Give my friend the desire to connect the dots of her life -- day by day, one thing leading to another. Help her to understand her past so her present may be filled with peace. Amen.

Reprinted by permission of the author from his book A Season for Hope and through the courtesy of the publisher, Cook Communications Ministries.

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