Random Blog Clay Feet: November 26, 2007
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Monday, November 26, 2007

Removing the Viruses

Today is our 30th wedding anniversary. Of course we both have to work today, but we are glad that God has held us together for all of these years. Like most other people we have a great deal of problems that we wish were not in our lives, but we are committed to pursuing our healing process and trying to deepen our relationship with each other.

I suspect that much of my problem is because I approach solving problems too often with my left brain which is the only way I feel competent to do it. I feel terribly insecure and inexperienced using my right brain and so I remain stuck but very frustrated because I don't like being stuck.

We are both feeling the rather intense emptiness of our home after watching 9 people leave over the past 24 hours. Two of our daughters just left last night and I am noticing how awkward and uncomfortable I feel. I am trying to stay aware of my feelings and remain in a better state of mind in maturity instead of just succumbing to my feelings and immersing myself in some escape activity. Even this kind of writing holds potential to help me avoid facing myself if I am not careful.

On the other hand, I feel that if I remain aware of my feelings and connected to God and stay in a mode of being responsible for my feelings then I have an opportunity to go through this emotion differently than I often do and could learn valuable lessons that may not have to be repeated so many times in the future. It is an opportunity to grow and move another step in maturity and stretch my container for wisdom or my capacity for real joy. The Bible says to rejoice when I go through trials/tests that are designed to help me mature more and tone up my emotional and spiritual muscles.

I watched the first video last night from a set by Craig Hill called Wonderful Counselor. He used a very good illustration of a computer to describe the difference between our mind and heart. This morning after waking up my mind began to ponder this much more and a lot more details are beginning to emerge.

I also am trying to understand better how to effectively deepen our relationship. While we have always chosen to never consider any alternative to staying married we have also not enjoyed the depth and richness to the extent that we know should be a part of our relationship. I know that I had a great deal of baggage and spiritual confusion that I brought into this relationship and I realize that my wife had her share as well. That is certainly not unusual, but it is what God wants to heal in His desire for our marriage to reflect more completely the wonderful relationship that is enjoyed by the Trinity in heaven. I want to go much deeper in my own healing journey and learn what it means and what it looks like to truly live from my heart and to nurture and cherish and feed the heart of my wife like God desires to do for me.

As I thought about how our brain functions as illustrated by the computer analogy, some insights began to emerge. In Craig's illustration our brain is like the hard drive in a computer that is segmented into two sides separated by a firewall. The two sides of our brain – mind and heart – in many respects are like parallel recorders that store all the experiences we have in life. But because they view reality so very differently, what they perceive and record in the same experience are vastly different and sometimes almost unrecognizable by the other.

The left brain, the most familiar part to most of us, records the information, the data and facts and maybe pictures along with how they relate to our beliefs and ideals. It has intellectual opinions about those memories and indexes them according to some system of which I am not quite yet sure about.

The right brain, or the heart, also records information, possibly much more information than the left brain, during each experience that we pass through. But unlike the left brain, the right stores it according to how it makes us feel. The memories are indexed by the emotion associated with that memory. This part of our brain also has opinions about experiences but they are emotion-based opinions and are often not rational or explainable. Even more important, included in our emotional opinion about an experience is information relating to our perceived identity and value at a very deep level that is usually sub-conscious. But the compilation of these identity opinions from our various emotional experiences create a very deep sense of who we really think we are whether or not it coincides with the beliefs about ourself in the left brain.

It seems to me that the left and right brain have parallel or mirror functions that approximate each other and potentially can compliment each other when they are not in severe conflict about their opinions. Both sides store information about the same memories, though from very different perspectives. Both sides have opinions about our identity, though much of the time they are also quite different. And both sides seem to have something that is called our will, though they may be exercised or stimulated in different ways. That is why when we go to exercise our will we are sometimes confused with the effectiveness or outcome.

I think that ideally our will has roots in both sides of our brain (sort of like the description of the Tree of Life in heaven with roots on both sides of the River of Life). We are quite familiar with the exercise of our will intellectually and cognitively. But we are also often aware of a seeming sabotage of our will by some mysterious impulses that weaken and divert it from what our mind desires to do. This is because the part of our will that draws its strength from our right brain or heart is not in alignment with what our left brain or mind has decided it wants to do.

We often react to this problem by trying to force our left brain decisions onto our behavior by simply bypassing our right brain since it does not seem to want to cooperate. We come up with all sorts of behavior modification techniques to force ourselves to live according to our left brain ideals, most of which tend to more and more isolate our heart and right brain from its proper place in being the power source for real living.

We were originally designed by God to live from our heart, not primarily from our head or left brain. The passion for life which is the fuel that we are designed to operate on, is based in the right brain and is the only fuel that will successfully connect our hearts in the kind of bonds with other hearts that cannot be broken. But sin has found an insidious way of defeating this marvelous synergistic setup that God created. It breaks into our heart, especially in our formative years, and implants virus programs in the form of lies that are embedded into very emotion-intensive memories in our right brain. This usually takes place during events full of emotion or trauma and often through abuse or abandonment.

The effect of this is that every time we experience anything that arouses a similar emotion for the rest of our life, that virus program is activated and quickly replicates itself into the storage of each new experience and memory. Thus in every succeeding memory there is a chain of lies hidden in the right brain that distort our self-perception as well as our perception of what God is like. These virus-lies provoke very strong negative emotions that display themselves externally in various ways that are very disruptive to our relationships and the life that God wants for us. They also create an atmosphere of blame so that the real identity of the virus can be avoided. This blame can either be directed at others who we perceive are the cause of our negative emotions or they can be turned inward to reinforce our feelings of low self-worth.

The typical protocol for dealing with these lies is to run a virus-check program and see what viruses show up. But the problem is that when the left brain runs a virus check it only has access to the left brain half of those memories and so the virus scan can only check the left brain database. If we have been working diligently to clean out our cognitive belief system and get a correct information in our left brain we will often come up with a clean slate after a virus check and think that we don't have a problem. But at the same time we also cannot avoid the fact that each time we are faced with an event that touches that trigger that the effects of a virus become quite evident. So it becomes very discouraging to repeatedly run virus checks over and over only to come up with little or nothing that apparently needs fixing.

Because these lies are in the right brain memories and seldom found in left brain memories, they are completely immune to extraction even when they may be identified and partially exposed through left brain tools. We can try all we want to delete them or mask them or counteract their effects in our lives, but they will still remain to torture us and make fools of us every time we enter another experience that elicits that emotion.

At this point we often resort to either giving up and declaring that we are a hopeless case and just giving ourselves over to wherever our emotions take us, or we launch into applying all sorts of patching programs to try to fix or discipline our external symptoms so they do not appear so objectionable. As Craig Hill puts it, we believe that the problem lies in the application programs instead of the deeper systems so we work very hard to get updates and fixes for each individual program that malfunctions believing that the problem is isolated to those particular applications. This may make us look and function better for a time, but it is only temporary and is not the answer that God wants to supply for us.

The only real solution to our problem, which really lies at the root of our sin problem, is to be healed from the lies that are deeply embedded in our hearts that cause us to pervert our natural responses and cause us to feel and act in distorted, sinful ways in reaction to incoming experiences and stimuli. It does no good to follow the common religious approaches of labeling the external reactions as the base sin problem and struggling through all sorts of ways to manage, suppress, self-discipline or even live in denial of these symptoms. The core problem is the lies that remain embedded in our right brain memories that work to twist and distort our perceptions of our real identity and work even more to darken our picture of how God feels about us. These virus-lies in our right brain are out of reach of any attempts by left brain virus programs to eliminate and dislodge them.

I have observed that a growing number of ministries throughout the world are learning that the only real and effective solution for this problem is to bring our hearts into the presence of the original Designer of our computer and allow Him to run a proprietary virus program on our right brain hard drive, bringing to our consciousness the identity of these embedded lies. He only does this with our full permission for He is very jealous of our freedom to choose what we want for our own life. For real love can only exist in the atmosphere of complete freedom, and what God wants most is our unforced love in response to His love for us.

When we allow Him full access to our right brain/heart, the most vulnerable and frightening part of our brain, He is faithful to always reveal where the root problem lies. If we are then willing to recognize, acknowledge the presence of these lies and take responsibility, He again awaits our permission and request to take the next step of removing and replacing them. If we submit to His authority and give Him our permission He will then extricate the lie and replace it with what is called “experiential” truth, or truth that is perfectly designed to fit into that place in our right brain memory that was previously occupied by the lie. In reality it is the very truth that was supposed to be there in the first place but was preempted by the insertion of the lie through deception, abuse or violence.

When that deepest root lie is replaced with truth a most startling thing happens in our right brain. Not only does that memory now contain peace and calm as the emotions associated with that formerly painful memory, but all the other memories that were infected with the same virus throughout all of our life are now suddenly free from the replicated virus and are also filled with peace and calm. Furthermore, from now on whenever we experience circumstances that formerly ignited the triggers linked to this virus we find to our joy and amazement that those triggers are no longer in operation and the compulsive emotions and reactions that we are so familiar with are no longer in control of our life. When the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!

This is the type of ministry that I want to be involved in and that I want to experience much more myself. There are many variations of this to be found in different ministries in place today. Some of them are specialized for certain situations like marriages, individuals or certain classes of problems. But the underlying principle is the same if they are operating faithful to what God has designed for our salvation.

Salvation comes from a Latin word which means to heal, to make whole again. What I have just described is God's method for making us whole again so that we can return to our original design of reflecting the image of God Himself. The more healing we experience in this way the more our lives will naturally exude the perfume of God's beauty and loveliness. As our lives become more attractive and whole more people will become hungry to experience the healing and restoration what we are experiencing. God's reputation will be glorified and He will be able to bring healing to even more lives. That is what true evangelism is supposed to be about; I believe that this is what true, effective evangelism should look like.

I want to see more clearly what my Father is doing and learn to imitate and cooperate with whatever that is (John 5:19). Living from my heart by watching for what God is doing with the eyes of my heart precludes or propels me far beyond a life based on formulas and multiplied, rigid rules. It does not mean that rules and principles not longer apply or are no longer true, but it means that the driving force of my life will be the increasing presence of the passion of God burning like a fire in my bones and the guiding force of my life will be the leading of the Holy Spirit that will always lead me in harmony with the Law, which is simply an external, left brain description of what life will look like when we live like God from our heart.