The following excerpt of “The Journal” is quoted from the book Mercy Triumphs over Judgment written by Joanne Highley. Mercy Triumphs over Judgment. Copyright 2016 by Mercy Triumphs, Inc. The Journal, pages 223-226.
It’s clear that people who work through their residual emotions to the point where they can write about their inner thoughts and feelings find that they enjoy better mental and physical health. Dr. James Pennebaker, a professor of psychology at Southern Methodist University notes: “Writing is a powerful tool to organize overwhelming events and make them manageable. The mind torments itself by thinking about unresolved issues. By translating the experience into language, people begin to organize and structure the surge of overwhelming thoughts. Once organized, they are easier to resolve.”1 Pennebaker explains that writing about emotional experiences produces as much benefit as sessions with a psychotherapist. Also, writing about traumatic experiences was found to raise the level of T-cells to fight infection and viruses, and can be viewed as “psychological preventative maintenance.”
We have found that the greatest tool toward freedom for the person trapped in addiction is writing in a journal. This should be done daily to gain the greatest benefit. One should sit down with the Bible, the journal, and pray that the Lord connect the mind and the emotions, and then write what one feels. After that, the person should write what God has to say about what he or she feels. Then, a Scripture to reinforce this truth should be included in the journal as well. Also, the person can write what he or she chooses, such as “I choose to live” or “I choose to be what God created me to be.”
The journal is a powerful tool because a person in bondage to ungodly thoughts and emotional patterns cannot sort out the lies from the truth by thinking only. The thoughts produce a clouded or “futile” state in the brain given over to ungodly patterns, and those patterns cannot be perceived unless put on paper. Setting down thoughts and feelings on paper make them real. We are used to relating to our unhealthy thoughts and emotions in a pre-set pattern that stays in place until challenged by the truth. When we write something on paper, we have a wholly different approach. Our school experience has generally taught us to relate rationally to what is on paper.
Also, when we put our feelings on paper, they come from within and go through our brain to our hand, and the eye takes them back into the brain. We have much greater contact with what we feel this way than if we just feel and think in old irrational or unhealthy pre-set patterns. As we challenge our thought and emotional patterns by looking at them next to God’s truth, we begin to break down the kingdom of lies and deception in our emotional pool that has been established and held fast there for many years.
The goal of journaling is to exchange lies for truth: “Surely You desire truth in the inner parts; You teach wisdom in the inmost place (Psalm 51: 6).” What most people miss about this process is that not only must they understand their condition and know and turn from their ungodly reactions to hurt and rejection, they also have to open the canister of emotions and allow truth to come in. One example of this is that most people caught in addiction have closed the place in their emotions where the “love of the father” belongs. This also shuts out the love of our heavenly Father because we often relate to God as we relate to our earthly fathers until the truth is applied and the lies are revealed. It is important for us to choose to open that place we’ve closed to protect ourselves from the hurt of our earthly fathers. We open it through choice, the spiritual work, and the walk of faith in understanding and honoring our fathers. Then the place is cleansed and opened to the love of the father and to God the Father.
Furthermore, the place of intimacy reserved for our mate many times has been opened to people to whom we are not committed enough for them to merit such intimacy. This must be cleansed, and our intimacy saved by choice for the one to whom we will commit and share our lives in marriage. Justification of sin because we have been hurt must be confronted and done away with. Resistance to repentance because of old patterns of justified rebellion against those who abused their authority and abused us must be seen for what it is — sin — and be turned from. Old reactions to the opposite sex because of past molestation or incest must be closely considered, faced, and cleansed through prayer. We must realize and turn from our own rejection of our God-given sexuality. We will need to train ourselves to agree with God and the Scriptures on every subject. For those who have been hurt and abused, have a case against God, and justify their sin, the journal is invaluable as a means to reveal the problem. This is how to get in touch with our emotions that lay buried, and to cleanse out old patterns and replace them with truth in the inmost parts.
With day-to-day entries, you can begin to trace the emotional and thought patterns that conspire against God’s truth and against your own spiritual health. Then a battle plan can be drawn up to fight the old patterns of emotional reaction and ungodly beliefs. This plan is not just a set of Scripture verses or a mechanical method. It is a personalized set of statements based on the findings of the journal that will help you overcome the lies. It should be carried with you, and used whenever you feel the old emotional barriers and mental cloudiness arise, the helpless and hopeless feelings, the old false identity, or other lies that keep you in bondage. Through this work, a person can counteract the ungodliness and become a bearer of truth, no longer subject to Satan’s lies.
Here is some practical advice on journaling. Always state the battle plan in the positive. It should not be “I give up lies,” but “I accept the truth.” It should not be “I am no longer weak,” but “I am strong in the Lord.” There is resistance to journaling because of the pain of letting go of these emotions. They have been our friends, our refuge, and our means of dealing with situations that seemed hopeless and helpless. Because these patterns were established so early in life, they are not based in truth, but rather in fleshly childish reactions. It is difficult to push through the pain and to realize that what was done to us does not sustain our pain, but our ungodly reactions do and our godly response will set us free.
Many people feel great pain when they open the canister of the emotions, especially for the first time. They dread looking at what’s inside for fear it will be discovered that they are truly as bad as people told them they were. The emotions held in are part of the coping mechanism for survival, and many feel they will shatter into a million pieces if they look at the emotions or go through the pain. Some have deliberately avoided pain and confrontation for years. Many have a buried storehouse of resentment and feeling of revenge against people who hurt them. May have justified judgment of others as protection. Because they felt they could not speak to the angry, raging, irrational parent, they directed this anger at themselves in frustration, and now feel they must continue to hate and beat themselves or otherwise they are unacceptable. Many feel this pain, or this reaction to the pain, as part of them and wonder who they will be if they let go. Many fear any kind of change. Most feel they must be in control or their world will fall apart, and going through these emotions to clean them out means relinquishing control of a fragile, held-together persona they feel they need in order to interact in the world.
Thus, there must be a dedication to take the Lord’s hand and push through — the pain, fear, anger, grief, vengeance, self-pity, control, fear of change, self-hatred, fear of breakdown, panic and
rage — or whatever is in there — to the freedom of the truth on the other side of the pain. It is a brave and glorious adventure. The path to freedom is through pain to truth. It is vital that we do the emotional work before undertaking the relational work. Some relational work can be accomplished during the emotional work, but actual relating must be rooted in healthy responses — not in old patterns of ungodly, emotional expectations or dependency.