A Breif Primer:
For those of you readers out there who weren't at the 2012 Ekklesia Prayer Bivouac (much more accurate term than "retreat") I will summarize the tools we learned. For a more in depth, secular look I recommend "The Tools" by Stutz and Michels. I'll try to pair my summary to Scripture so you can get that side of it more clearly. One way or another, this will not cover the topic in full.
Feel and Release: Getting after God's heart concerning emotions
The Basic Premise: God wants us to be free and feel deeply (Scripture: The Psalms!)
The Basic Problem: We often find ourselves in one of two extremes that keep us from the ideal.
-The Minimizer: Buries and numbs emotions to keep them from controlling their life.
-The Maximizer: Amplifies emotion to feel deeply, but is often controlled by emotion.
The Tool: When emotion is threatening to control your state, allow yourself to feel it fully. Once you've felt it fully, give that feeling over to God and release it. There are a lot of methods for doing this, use what works, but the two that we explored were:
-Can I let it go? Will I let it go? When will I let it go?
-"Coal in the Ocean" the hottest coal of emotion is quickly fizzled in God's grace
Bring it on: Overcoming Pain
The Basic Premise: God wants us to act on his will without fear, even when it hurts.
The Basic Problem: Running towards fear or pain is hard! Especially when it's easy to turn back.
The Tool: Any time you're hesitating to do something you want*** to do. Go through these 4 steps:
1) Imagine the worst possible pain you could experience while doing the task
2) Begin to approach that pain (think of it as a cloud) while thinking (or saying) "Bring it on"
3) While you are in the cloud think/say "I love this pain" ("Consider it pure joy when you face trials")
4) After you've passed through the cloud, imagine the unlimited possiblilities on the other side of that pain, and think/say "Pain sets me free"
The Minimizer's Dilemma:
With all that in mind, the Minimizers (like me!) out there who have tried that first tool can testify that it is really hard to know when to use that tool. Chances are we have decades of emotions we've buried, precisely because we didn't want them to control our lives. I wanted to get all that stuff out but I was afraid to feel it!
- I'll go crazy if I try to bring all that stuff up
- I'm not supposed to get angry
- I can't even remember all the reasons why I feel this way it's been so long
- I'm just not built that way, I handle emotion differently
- If I let someone know how much I felt, they'd think I'm hyper-sensitive/weak
- The strong thing to do is to grin and bear it
- Et cetera, ad nauseum and that's just the list that I could come up with.
The fact of the matter is that I've gotten disconnected from my heart, and I've got to break through a few walls before I can rebuild that pathway. There are layers of *numbness* and layers of *pain* between me and my heart. Breaking through numbness is a story unto itself, one that I don't fully understand. Breaking through pain, on the other hand, is where the second tool comes in.
How all that works:
The Goal: I want (and God wants me) to be able to feel the anger/resentment/guilt/junk that has been blocking the path to my heart for so long, and then give it to God.
How To Get There: 3 ideas (Paired with Psalm 55:4)
"In God I will put my trust"
1) Trust and Obey: If I'm going to become a man after God's own heart, I need to be connected to my own heart. God is going to provide the strength and help to get through that transformation. I will trust in God.
"I shall not be afraid"
2) "Bring it on": I want to feel that pain, however emotionally taxing, so that I can get that much more connected to my heart, and God's heart. I will run ahead and not be afraid.
"What can man do to me"
3) "Feel and Release": Once I can run at that pain full speed, I can allow myself to feel it (the anger/resentment/guilt/sadness) fully and release it to God. No matter what that pain is, nothing anyone (including myself) has ever done to me can overwhelm God's ability to feel, forgive, and strengthen.
***A note on "Should": In my experience anywhere you say should is a place you need to use the "Bring it on" tool, but more importantly I recommend removing "should" and "ought" from your vocabulary all-together. That's a blog post or speech in and of itself.