Editing the Movie:
As you practice King David’s Search (KDS), your painful memories will begin to emerge. Just be aware that the main purpose of the KDS is to worm your way through your defenses that block the flow of memories. That’s why you’re doing it. That’s why you’re asking the Lord to search your heart, because you’ve blocked it.
Otherwise, your memories would just flow into consciousness—and you could deal with them. (And, as I noted in my book, our dysfunction and pathology are not our painful memories. That is, our suffering is not our pathology. Instead, our defenses against the truth of our suffering are our pathology. Defending against truth is what creates so much dysfunction in life…and in relationships. It is like what the apostle Paul noted in his letter to the church at Rome. He asserted that we take the truths of God and turn them into lies. Then, proclaiming ourselves wise, we become fools. So too with our defenses against truth about life.)
Once our memories emerge, what do we do with them?
For all human emotional suffering and trauma, we need to cry to heal. And that’s true whether we’re male or female. Women tend to know this intuitively—and have cultural support for it as well. In fact, women wisely have the expression “to have a good cry.” Men typically have neither the expression nor the idea. That’s why war trauma can be so tough for male soldiers. They’ve been trained growing up that big boys don’t cry and then as soldiers to be tough and unflinching. Crying is for wimps; just ask General Patton.
To use an expression from formal logic, crying is a necessary though not sufficient condition for healing. While more has to happen in order to more fully heal, crying is necessary. You can vow to go forward with a stiff upper lip. That’s true. You can plow ahead; you can tell yourself to let sleeping dogs lie; you can convince yourself that the past is the past; and you can celebrate that the Lord has shown you the way through. But the fact is, unless you cry, the unshed tears will remain deep within your psyche continuing to mobilize your fight or flight reaction. (And we’ve already discussed what happens then.)
So, the fundamental principle for healing from emotional suffering and trauma is that we must allow ourselves to cry or sob as intensely…as long…and as often as our hearts need to cry. Until our hearts are done crying. (Some of us, however, will never be completely done crying from our trauma on this side of the grave. But that’s the way it is.)
We can think of emotional pain as an intrapsychic tank of our unshed tears housed deep within our minds. As we open the valve at the bottom of the tank—that is, we cry—we release pain. It may not feel that way because the backlog of our dearly held pain may be enormous. Over a number of years as a young man, if I had sobbed out my traumatic pain from my infancy and early childhood once, I had sobbed it out literally hundreds of times. And later I had to sob out the pain of my midlife traumas. It seemed my crying—and my pain—would never end. Innumerable clients have felt the same. But the crying, and with it the pain, will indeed subside.
It is yet a mystery…these tears of ours. And shedding them seems such a strange ordeal. We double over with emotional pain, sometimes groaning, sometimes heaving, as we push water mixed with salt and other chemicals out our eyes and down our cheeks. Science will no doubt spend hundreds of years ahead analyzing the psychochemistry of our precious tears—and how it is that these little drops are able to carry our pain out our bodies and minds. Still, what we do know clinically is that our tears, and the heaving we do when we sob, drives pain up and out of the psyche to be washed away in our tear flow. It is an incredulous reality. But the more times we “have a good cry,” the freer our minds and emotions will become from the once buried emotional pain.
That freedom “makes room” for other feelings and other ways of viewing the world.
- Renew Your Mind
The apostle Paul called us to forge our new identities through a renewal of our minds, meaning that we need to transform how we see both God and the world around us in order to become a new creation in Christ. We need to see life more through God’s eyes as revealed in Jesus Christ and his resurrection.
Consistent with the apostle, psychologists today also use a renewal of the mind to transform lives. We change lives by changing beliefs that are not based on the truth when such beliefs do harm to themselves or to others. Take, for example, a young man who thinks he is not worthy of love because his father had repeatedly yelled at him as a young boy that he’d never amount to anything. As a result of such tragically sadistic brainwashing, he now keeps emotionally distant from his wife—damaging his relationship to her and robbing both of them of the joy of intimacy. A psychologist would help him discover his erroneous belief (that he is not worthy of love) and help him face that that belief is still from a child’s point of view. That, as an adult, he needs to discern that his father sinned against him…for whatever reasons residing deep in his history. He needs to viscerally “get it”— that as a child it was natural to believe his father, but now as an adult it is neither reasonable nor accurate. It is in “getting it” that he’ll allow the pain to emerge and sob. And in getting it and crying, he’ll sense the deep, inner freedom—the gut-level leverage—to change.
For such a young man in Christ who had been verbally abused that way, he’d also need to differentiate his earthly father who abused him emotionally from his heavenly Father who actively loves him in Christ. Standing on the truth of God’s love—and the fact that his wife finds him worthy of her love—sets the stage for transforming his life…forging his new identity in Christ through a renewal of his mind.
Once we “get it” and cry, then what?