In my last article, we looked at how our souls can get the best of us, leaving us to be tossed back and forth, and our emotions running wild. In Part 2, we will look at how our personalities and our soul can cause emotional, mental, and at times, physical issues so which can wreak havoc in our personal and relational life.
Let’s start by looking at the model of the Body, Soul, Spirit.
When we come to the Lord, many of us have had wounds, hurts, and pain from our family of origin and from previous relationships in our lives. After salvation, we have so much joy and excitement that our cares seem far from us. As time goes by, these wounds, hurts, and pain begin to surface in our lives and we may find that our emotions (soul) are leading in making our decisions.
While in theory, we know that our emotions should not run our lives, at the same time they are very powerful and can feel like the “truth” about who we are, our circumstances, and even God’s love towards us. Our feelings can be so strong that they begin to override our thought life and our spiritual life, causing us to feel like our lives are out of control and that God is distant.
Again, the soul is comprised of the mind, will, intellect, and emotions. Some of us have lived so much in this realm that it is hard to discern whether it is us making this up, or that our thoughts and feelings are the “Truth” in our lives.If we leave our soul in charge, we can end up having issues with others which negate the truth within us and undergird negative belief systems which have been laid down by our childhood and past relationships. This then causes an avalanche of negative thoughts which then jade how we look at others, ourselves, and yes, even God. Let me give you an example to help explain.
Joe has had a hard childhood. His father never showed any pride in him and instead took every opportunity of what Joe remembers, to either let him know that he wasn’t good enough or to find something wrong with every one of his accomplishments.
Later in life, Joe has given his life to Christ, is married and has two kids and finds that he is worn out trying to be perfect at work, at home, and in his relationships with friends. As a result, Joe becomes very negative towards everyone and always has an excuse to not become intimate with anyone. “After all,” Joe thinks, “they will never love me for who I am so I’m better off keeping a wall up of protection.”
Now Joe comes into therapy complaining that he has no real friends, that his marriage is struggling, and he is depressed. So how does this tie in with the soul? When Joe gave his life to Christ, he had some joy, but as time wore on, the old wounds which he never healed began to crop back up in every relationship he had.
This led him to believe (negative belief system) that no matter how hard he tried; he would never be “good enough.” So, to ease this pain, he pushed everyone close to him away, even his wife, who he adored. He stated that even his relationship with God is almost non-existent. He feels as if everyone is against him and he doesn’t know how he got here or if he can ever be “happy” again.
This is a prime example of how our early childhood into adulthood wounds can affect us. Our soul wants to hang on to hurts, protect us, and remind us of all the bad in our life. If we do not listen to the adult (the Spirit of God in us) we can believe lies and deception about ourselves and those around us.
So how can we change? Scripture states it this way, “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies (child) a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be transformed conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12-1-2, NKJV, emphasis mine).
God knew in His perfectness that our minds, our psyche, would pose the largest battle against us. Our soul wants to stay in authority and our emotions and minds want to “figure everything out.”
We feel that our emotions and thoughts are stronger than the Word of God. They, in turn, become our truth instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to have full sway in our souls, so that our mind, will, intellect, and emotions can be under the protection and authority of the Holy Spirit.
There is another way that I have observed this occurring. Sue is a wonderful lady, but everyone knows that if she gets mad, watch out! When she is confronted by someone she states, “Well that’s just how I am. I’m a red-headed, Irish woman, and we all are quickly angered.”
Here’s another example: Bob and Sally come into counseling seeking help in their marriage. Bob states that his wife can be overly critical. Lately, however, Sally has been communicating her feelings more appropriately and is trying to be less critical and more positive towards him. One day, Bob gets mad, cursing and yelling at her. When this is talked about in session, Sally states that when the fight was over, she tried to tell Bob how his words hurt her.
Instead of apologizing, Bob says, “Well now you know how I have felt when you’re critical to me.” This can be seen in relationships where one or both parties are extremely selfish, but both accuse the other of this, or when a person in a relationship always has an excuse for their poor behavior but does not allow others to be given grace. It is also seen in persons who expect others to be kind, but they themselves are not kind.”
Our soul gets provoked quite easily. We can be kind, gracious and forgiving, and in the next breath can be mean, selfish and bitter. There are times when our soul and spirit are in such a battle that we can feel like we are schizophrenic. How can two voices be residing in the same person?
We then can see how James writes, “But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire wanting nothing” (James 1:2-4, KJV). Patience is a word that many of us dislike. Waiting is the hardest thing. Patience is defined by 2 words in Greek. These words are makrothunua and hupomone.
Makrothunua means: to tolerate; to endure or forbearance or longsuffering. Hupomone means the force of consistency. This shows us we must be consistent with placing the Truth before ourselves consistently. Scientists now know that we can change the path of synapses with consistency and habitual training of our mind. God created us able to.
So, when false beliefs raise their ugly heads and tell us that no one cares, or we are not good enough, or that we will always be rejected; we must turn to the Truth (capital T) which tells us who God says we are. And as we are getting healed we need to constantly be placing the Truth before ourselves through the reading of the Word, being around others who remind us of the Truth, and journaling the lies we have believed through the world, others and ourselves.
One of my favorite songs, “The Voice of Truth,” by Casting Crowns, makes a wonderful expression of this. The Chorus states:
But the voice of truth tells me a different story
The voice of truth says, “Do not be afraid!”
The voice of truth says, “This is for My glory”
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth
The soul (teenager) above all wants to be in control and pursue self-preservation. You know the “saving face, don’t embarrass me, let me be right, defend my position, have my way” soul. We must fight against this pull every day.
We know we are operating in the soul if our pride or ego is offended by the Word of God or by His Truth being spoken through others. We can see fruits of complaining, selfishness, contention, anger and anger outbursts, and having to be in control. The soul is strong in us and it will make excuses for our poor behavior which is being played out in our personality.
Excuses like our examples above: “I am a redheaded Irish.” “They deserve it.” “You did it to me first.” “I’m really stressed out.” “They should have known better than to ask me a question while I was busy.” “They don’t deserve my forgiveness.”
The root of the matter (no pun intended) goes back to the Garden. The soul always goes to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil for answers because it appeals to the intellect and senses. It wants to be self-sufficient, inconsiderate, showy, flashy, obnoxious, intimidating toward others, is full of insecurities, critical and judgmental, self-seeking, self-reliant and not God-reliant, and is always focused on, “What will this do to me/for me?”
Our personalities cannot be independent of God. I once heard that principalities work through personalities. Do not misunderstand God’s Truth. He gave us our personalities with all its quirks and multi-faceted, but we also have learned some bad habits along the way.
Ephesians 4:22-24 states, “…that you put off, concerning your former self, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the Spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (NKJV).
The best way to get over the lies which we have believed about ourselves and others is to expose them. Once exposed, they can be healed by the grace and Truth of Christ. If we are unwilling to be vulnerable to God, ourselves and others, we can remain in a place of stunted spiritual, personal, and relational growth.
You may be asking, “Why is it that I hear Truth and it can last for a little while, but then it seems to disappear?” This can be explained in several ways but allow me to use this one. Let’s say that you are driving, and you become aware that the speed limit is 35mph because you saw a sign.
You know have knowledge of the truth. You are running a little late, so you go 8-10mph over the speed limit. There’s no harm in that, right? Then suddenly you see a policeman’s lights in your rearview mirror. You get a ticket. Now you have a revelation.
After the ticket, you start driving the speed limit wherever you go because you don’t want a ticket. You now are in the transformation stage. If you continue to use consistency in this practice, then you start manifesting the Truth in your life and so now you are in the manifestation stage of this Truth and you drive the speed limit every day.
But let’s say during the transformation stage, you get a little lax in your consistency and begin slipping back into old patterns of speeding here or there, making rationalizations that its okay to speed a little (everybody does it) and besides I’m not hurting anyone. What happens is that we never make it through the manifestation phase and so our emotional control is up and down like a crazy rollercoaster, until the next ticket.
In order to stand up and take command of our emotions so we are not tossed to and fro, we must do the following:
- The soul (teenager) which is comprised of the mind, will, intellect and emotions needs to be brought under the power of the Holy Spirit (adult) in ourselves.
- We must recognize the attributes of the soulish realm when we display them. We can recognize them easily. It is usually anywhere we are making excuses for our poor behavior, strife, envy, lack of emotional control, self-serving qualities, rebelliousness, contention, and self-preservation. Once revealed we can seek healing.
- Once we have a revelation we must use patience (hupomone) which is a force of consistency that causes transformation in our lives to finally produce manifestation. We do this by consistently placing the Truth before us with God’s Word, people of the faith, and by using reflection and meditation to reverse the effects of faulty belief systems from past wounds and hurts.
- We must walk in the Spirit and place our eyes on Jesus so that our love for Him is greater than our love of self.
- We must be willing to deny the soul and wean it from self-reasoning.
- We must learn to calm and quiet our soul in Christ.
- We must anchor the soul by magnifying God. Psalm 103:1-3, “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!
- Be open to become vulnerable with others and seek counseling for the healing of past wounds and hurts so that the negative belief systems may be revealed and healed.
If you need help finding healing, please contact us here at Spokane Christian Counseling. We are here to help you find healing in your journey.
Diagram by Rikki Gruen, copyright 2018; “Thinking,” courtesy of Ben White, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Worthy of Love,” courtesy of Tim Mossholder, unsplash.com, CC0 License; Lights on top of the police car, courtesy of Curtis Dean Wilson, Free Stock Photos, CC0 License