August 29, 2014
IN THIS ISSUE
Crossing the Threshold of Self-Acceptance
by Sarah Groen-Colyn
"The true self is the self that abides in Christ and collaborates with Him, the justified new creation, the soul that is saved and lives eternally, which we joyfully and in great humility and thankfulness accept." Restoring the Christian Soul, p. 26
Self-acceptance is an "authentic and necessary Christian virtue, one that is available to all who seek it" (Restoring the Christian Soul, p. 32). The journey from self-hatred to self-acceptance is the bridge over the line from immaturity into maturity, from being under the Law, a law, or many laws into the walk in the Spirit, and from listening to many voices (of the unhealed heart, the world, the flesh and the devil) into listening to God (RCS, p. 25). Why is self-acceptance absolutely necessary for life in Christ? Without it, we are unable to practice God's presence. Self-hatred is the antithesis of self-acceptance, and puts us at odds with our God, for He wants to give us life even when we are still His enemies (Romans 5:6-11). "The acceptance of oneself, like all that is great and valid in the Christian faith, can never be a secondhand experience. We must, each of us, apprehend Christ and the fullness of His salvation for ourselves. To so apprehend Him is to come into our full uniqueness... 'To me to live is Christ'" (RCS, pp. 53-54).
To meet His gaze we must be open to His view of us, and we must also be prepared for Him to see all of what is true about us in any given moment. Shame and self-hatred block honest dialog with our Father as we are motivated, often without realizing it, to censor and filter what we share with Him about our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Self-acceptance often begins with facing painful aspects of our selves and lives.
I recently had the privilege of providing pastoral care to a dear woman who began her journey to wholeness in just this way. Rosemary sought help to heal a toxic level of conflict in her marriage. Early in our conversations God highlighted deep-heart connections between this current strife and the wounds of insecurity and rejection in her childhood. I believe Rosemary's condition at our first meeting is representative of many believers today: a faithful Christian, active in prayer, devotion, and service to Christ, yet burdened by shame and humiliated by her powerlessness to right the difficulties in her soul and relationships. As we talked, I could readily hear Rosemary's self-hatred, as well as the plague of shame and its counter-balancing sin of pride that manifested in a critical spirit toward others.
The door to Rosemary's healing journey was opened by the key of self-acceptance, and her entry into self-acceptance came through God's gentle, merciful conviction of her own fallenness. As we prayed through some key wounding moments in her childhood - moments when her parents' sin and failings misnamed and deprived her - God blessed her with a broken heart over her own grievous reactions to these sins. Almost simultaneously, as she cried out in sorrow over the ways she'd lived out of her wounds, wounding and dishonoring others, she heard her Father's voice of acceptance for the first time. When shame and pride had blocked her from this true experience of prayer, she'd been unable to hear His blessing. But from this new place of humility, Rosemary received the healing word of truth from her Father: the sin patterns in her soul and relationships are not her true self, and the woman she truly is, and will be for all eternity, is good, loving and loved. Once Rosemary encountered this truth and crossed the threshold into self-acceptance, she began to dialog with God as a daughter who is accepted by Him and can therefore be open and honest with Him. Her prayers have become true conversation, her needs and flaws come into the light of mercy, and her desires are honored. By crossing this line into the journey of self-acceptance (a journey she will continue for the rest of her time in this world), Rosemary has gained access to all she needs to seek healing and wholeness in her soul, relationships, and ministry.
Like Rosemary, for any of us the first willful step into self-acceptance comes through knowing ourselves as fallen and in need of forgiveness through Christ. "The humility that acknowledges ourselves as truly fallen is a first priority in coming to accept ourselves... The humble acceptance of myself as fallen but now justified by Another who is my righteousness is the basis on which I can accept myself, learn to laugh at myself, be patient with myself. And then, wonder of wonders, be enabled for at least part of the time to forget myself" (RCS, p. 51). Acceptance of the self is best understood as a virtue because it will not be automatically acquired in the process of living but must be pursued and cultivated. Self-acceptance is born in the waters of baptism. As we rise in Christ's life, we are empowered to seek freedom from the self-hatred and rejection of the true self that are endemic to the old man.
My husband is a civil engineer, and he works as a project manager for massive-budget bridge and tunnel building. I've learned the term "critical path" from him, which means the action that must happen in order for the project to stay on a successful trajectory. In the project of becoming a whole human being in Christ, and the project of becoming effective in ministry, self-acceptance is on the critical path. Why? First, because without self-acceptance we cannot truly practice God's presence. As Rosemary discovered, aligning with God's acceptance of her has ushered her into a new place of hearing His voice. And once a disciple can hear the Father's voice, all manner of healing and becoming are possible! Secondly, self-acceptance is mission-critical because we cannot offer a love to others that we have not appropriated for ourselves. God has loved us while we were yet enemies, and even in the aspects of our lives and souls in which we are still estranged from Him, He freely pours out His life to us. As we drink deeply from this well, Christ's life within becomes an increasingly potent source of living water that flows freely to others. As Rosemary practices His presence, she is discovering a more tender, compassionate, and wise love in her heart toward her husband and all those God calls her to minister to. It is the virtue of self-acceptance that enables us to "celebrate our inadequacy, our smallness, knowing Christ to be our full sufficiency" as well as to pass affirmation on to others, to "see and call forth the real person in others" (RCS, p. 41). Praise Father, Son and Holy Spirit, our Holy G od who is making all things new!
The 2015 Wheaton Ministries of Pastoral Care School
will be held Sunday, July 5 through Friday, July 10!
Registration dates and prices to follow, but please mark your calendars for July 5-10, 2015! We pray you can join us for next summer's Wheaton school.
I am writing to say thank you for things that are too great for words - things too holy and sacred. Like Mary, I have been pondering great things in my heart.
I am not sure I will be able to communicate fully to you what all has happened. In fact, I know that is actually impossible, as I am well aware that there are hidden things I have yet to see and understand. How could I possibly communicate them?
June 2014 was my first experience of an MPC school. I will forever be thankful to my therapist for sending me Leanne Payne's book Restoring the Christian Soul last November. I was at a very critical point in life - actually a life and death point. I had exited a same-sex relationship a few months prior and had hit rock bottom, as the saying goes.
I had lost all hope as I tried everything from reaching out to my church, counselors, isolation, work, and other addictions. Of course, nothing works without addressing root causes. I love what one of the speakers said: "God doesn't heal you of same-sex attraction; He heals the wounds that caused the behavior."
I resonated completely with the statement, and a whisper of hope permeated my soul. In that moment I thought, Is it possible, God, that there is truly hope and help here? I would find out by week's end that there was.
The week started with confession, where I was free to confess and repent and receive forgiveness. The prayer ministers were loving and kind and yet spoke only truth, not appealing to my feelings. The sin went to the cross, and the cross was enough. I began to experience Jesus, the lifter of my head.
I continued to absorb the teaching and the practice with each session. Moment by moment I was receiving things that will continue to be unveiled in the days, months, and years ahead. There is a saying: "You had to be there," and truly that would be appropriate in this case.
But the moment that has had deep meaning for me was the desire-of-the-heart prayer. I closed my eyes and began to walk toward the boat with Jesus. He asked me to come with Him. I got in the boat, and He rowed us out a bit on the beautiful water. When we were a ways from shore, He stopped and pointed down into the water. I looked and saw a treasure chest on the bottom of the ocean. Excited, I swam down to see it. The top was open, and I looked inside. There was a big, beautiful gem in the shape of a heart. It was quite large and had a chain attached to it so it could be worn as a necklace. I immediately thought of the valuable necklace in the movie Titanic, but that was only a movie, and this was real! I took it and swam up to the boat. Excited, I showed it to Jesus, and He put His hands under mine as I held it. He was as excited as I was! We both rejoiced over how precious and beautiful it was. I then gave it to Him, and He gently pushed it back into my hands and smiled. He said, "It is your heart; I have been keeping it safe for you." Somehow I knew it was mine. I took it and placed the chain around my neck. The heart seemed to melt right into my body. Jesus rowed us to shore. I got out and began to walk inland. Jesus stayed in the boat. He just smiled as I walked. He was so proud of me.
The dream was so meaningful for me that I could hardly contain it all! I live in San Diego, and I spend a lot of time at the water. When I am overwhelmed, it is to the beach I go to find solace. I understand why now. My heart has been in the ocean. God has been keeping it for me. Though prior to MPC, I was not ready to have it back, after so much healing, He gave it again to me. The picture of Jesus staying in the boat also has great significance. I believe Jesus trusted me to go forward in life, knowing that He is always with me. He is present in my heart. I am never without Him. That may sound small to some, but as one who has experienced abandonment as a child, I found much deep meaning in it.
The final prayer for healing of memories is something that I will only try to put into words. Who could ever explain how God met you in your mother's womb and healed you in a mysterious way? But that is what happened. I do know that during the prayer, I was very aware of being with Jesus and visiting myself at different stages of my life. I saw the womb, the hospital, my first years of life, and more. And as Jesus and I journeyed, He healed me of many sins. I know because I was there and with Him. Yet even now I cannot tell you the mysteries I saw or how it all happened. I only know it did happen.
The experience was so profound that I remained unable to talk the rest of the day. I had a late flight, and God provided for me as I found a prayer minister waiting for a late flight as well. Together we found the chapel and sat and prayed. She covered me, and I felt safe to simply be.
Arriving at home, I am finding that I feel like a foreigner. I have never felt so at home in my heart as I do now; yet I feel like a foreigner with everything else. Gina (a prayer minister) told me that is how we should feel. We are not of this world; our home is heaven. Yet we are called to work while it is day.
So I am finding my way by holding on to the truths I received at MPC. I know that my understanding is really quite small right now regarding what has been done in me, and I know not to push or examine. My spirit tells me to trust and allow Him to be the revealer. So that is what I am doing. Yes, it feels odd. Some days I feel quite out of place. But I am home, and I never have to be split off from that again.
Thank you, Gino, Cesli, Sarah, Lori, and all the other ministers. I will never be able to fully express my gratitude. I hope this testimony strengthens your resolve to continue the precious work you do.
Work while it is day.
In His love and with all my heart,
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Registration open for both the 2014 Germany school
and the 2015 New Zealand school!
It isn't too late to register for the 2014 Germany School which will be held at Allgau-Weite from October 18-22, 2014. The conference center is located in Sulzberg/Moosbach, Germany. This school will be presented in English with German translation.
The 2015 New Zealand Ministries of Pastoral Care School will be held from Sunday, February 22 through Saturday, February 28, 2015 at the Orama Oasis Retreat Center
which is located on the Great Barrier Island off Auckland, New Zealand. Early registration rates are in effect through the month of September!
|Great Barrier Island|
We pray that you are able to attend one of these exciting international schools.
For more information on the various packages and costs, or to register, please click here
or visit www.ministriesofpastoralcare.com
It is incredible to ponder the many places God has led us as we serve Him and His people through Ministries of Pastoral Care. We believe that God is calling us to pray that Leanne Payne's books remain available to all who would seek healing from Him.
In obedience to that word, we are praying that God would provide funding and resources for "The Healing Presence" and "Restoring the Christian Soul" to be translated into Italian. We believe that He has faithfully called us to give an MPC school in Italian speaking Ticino, Switzerland, in October of 2015. It is our hope that these books will be made available in Italian so that those He calls to the school and to serve His people through healing prayer might have this gift and comfort.
Would you all please join us as we pray for Leanne's books to be translated into Italian for the good of all our Italian speaking sisters and brothers in Christ? I know that our prayers availeth much and are a sweet fragrance to our holy and almighty God.
If during your prayers you happen to receive a word, a picture, an image, would you please email that to us for our encouragement and instruction?
Love and blessings in Christ Jesus,
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Donate to MPC
For those of you who would like to donate to MPC, please visit our website
and click on the "Donate Today" button at the bottom right of the page. You may also send a check or money order payable to MPC to:
Ministries of Pastoral Care
P.O. Box 3792
Peoria, IL 61612-3792
Ministries of Pastoral Care Inc. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Federal Tax ID# 27-1707421