How Jesus Healed a Long-Hidden Fear

A guest post by Janet Eriksson …

After nine years in seminary, the big day had come. I was graduating! I should have been excited, and I was. After all the hard work, I could finally celebrate and enjoy the moment.

But as I made my way toward Orlando, Florida for my graduation, I felt something stronger than excitement. It was fear.

Fear? Seriously? What in the world did I have to be afraid of? I had done the hard work already. Successfully completed 96 credit hours of papers and exams. Shown up for classes on campus in Florida and Kentucky, exhausted and disoriented, after driving for hours to and from my home in Georgia.

What was left to be afraid of?

After some reflection, I was able to identify my fear. I was afraid of showing up at the graduation ceremony and not knowing what to do.

Seriously? I’m 53 years old. I’ve traveled all over the world into stranger situations. What in the world?

“I’m pretty sure they will tell you what to do,” said my friend who accompanied me on the trip. “That’s why you’re having rehearsal that morning.”

But as Orlando loomed closer, this knot of fear began to grow. I wanted to enjoy this weekend. Not only was it my graduation celebration. It was also a visit to one of my old home towns of Orlando where I don’t get to visit much anymore. One of my friends had surprised me with a day at Animal Kingdom as well. Surely I could set aside this fear and just enjoy my time.

Inner healing prayer

I tried to do exactly that. I was determined: I will enjoy this weekend. I will not be afraid. And I did have a great time at Animal Kingdom. But whenever the thought of the next day’s events crept into my mind, the knot of fear increased. By the eve of my graduation ceremony, that fear had reached unreasonable proportions.

All along, I had been asking God to help me and was wanting just to trust Him. I kept reminding myself, “God will be with you. What do you have to be afraid of?” But the fear kept growing stronger. Why did it have such a hold of me?

“Why won’t they tell us what to expect?” I kept asking my friend. “Why can’t they send us instructions for the ceremony, so we will be ready?” As if a bunch of graduating students wanted yet another set of instructions to study.

“I’m sure they will tell you at rehearsal,” my friend kept saying.

Finally about 10 pm the night before the ceremony, as the fear began morphing into terror, I asked God what I should have asked all along: “What is going on that makes me so afraid?”

Immediately He showed me. He brought to mind a scene from when I was four years old. I was graduating from nursery school, and I was the “valedictorian.” My teacher asked me to give a speech at graduation, a speech that I wrote myself and rehearsed until I had it memorized.

I was so short that I looked even younger than my four years. My head could barely be seen over the podium. But I wasn’t afraid to address the audience. I have always loved public speaking, even way back then, even as a shy kid. Put me in a room of people I don’t know and ask me to mingle, and I shut down. Put me in front of a crowd and ask me to speak, no problem. I love it and always did.

“Lord, what does that nursery school graduation have to do with my graduation from seminary? I already know I wasn’t afraid to give that speech when I was little. And I’m not even speaking at this graduation.”

As I pressed further in prayer, the Lord brought something to mind that I had not thought of in close to 50 years. I had been afraid at that little nursery school graduation, but it wasn’t the speech that caused my fear. It was my teacher. She never prepped me on what to do logistically – when to stand up, when to approach the podium.

I had tried to ask her for the details. It’s the way I am wired. I have to know how to map things out. I can’t just “show up.” I need some idea of what to expect. Neither my teacher nor my mom seemed to understand that about me.

My teacher kept saying, “Don’t worry. I will cue you.” For a little kid on stage, what does that mean? What’s a cue? Will I know it when I see it? What if I miss it? Is there a backup plan?

As adults, we can look at this situation and realize it’s no big deal. But put yourself in the mind of a four-year-old kid. Everything is riding on this cue, and you don’t even know what a cue is.

All my mom told me was, “Just follow your teacher.”

Great. So I couldn’t even enjoy my nursery school graduation ceremony. Because my eyes were glued to my teacher.

And the stress. Oh my goodness, the stress. My heart pounded every time my teacher made a move. I couldn’t hear her or see her half the time. Why are my fellow students so squirmy? Why won’t they be quiet and hold still? Don’t they know everything is riding on me not missing the cue?

Inner healing from fear
Nursery school graduation 1970. I’m the tiny one in the middle.

Everything I felt in that moment at four years old had been stored away in my heart as a big bundle of fear. It had never been dealt with or resolved. It just got pushed way down into my heart. When my seminary graduation day approached, that door in my heart was unlatched. All of that four-year-old fear rose to the surface.

“Lord Jesus, show me where You were on graduation day when I was four.”

He was right there, kneeling beside me, holding my hand. And smiling the proudest smile I have ever seen.

“I’ll show you what to do,” He said. “And we will go up there together.”

Immediately my entire being was filled with calm and peace. I could breathe. My heart stopped racing and settled into a calm rhythm. I was holding Jesus’ hand. With His big strong hand wrapped around mine, there was no way I could miss my cue. All I had to do was let Him lead me up there to the podium. When I got up to speak, He stood there with me the entire time. Then He led me back to my seat when the speech was over. I didn’t miss a beat because He had my hand in His. And He knew what to do.

Which is exactly how it happened. Because that little nursery school speech in Miami, Florida in 1970 had gone off without a hitch. Jesus had been there with me all along. And now that I knew He was there, and I believed He was more than able to care for me, I could let go of fear.

And just like that, all the fear was gone. Deep breath. Exhale.

“Thank You, Jesus.”

With the help of my friend, I was able to pray through repentance for fear and lack of trust. I was able to forgive my teacher and my mom for not sensing that I needed more help with instructions. Back to the present moment, I was able to forgive the seminary for not telling us much ahead of time. I was able to tell God, “I trust You for the ceremony tomorrow. I just want to enjoy it with You.” And I meant it with my whole peaceful heart.

I was able to sleep well. I woke up refreshed and excited for the day.

When I got to the graduation site, I finally understood the lack of advance instructions. The ceremony was so complicated they could never have explained it ahead of time. If they had tried, no one would have shown up!

But it was so well-planned and implemented. We had lots of leaders guiding us at each stage, numerous prompts and cues, with extra fail-safe measures folded in, and plenty of rehearsal time. I was so impressed by the graduation crew, how well they had planned it out, how diligent they were to triple check that everyone was in the right place at the right time. It was a well-oiled machine.

And Jesus was right there, leading everything and everybody. Smiling, proud as can be of all His kids.

I enjoyed the events of the morning so much. The minute we put on our robes, I was grinning from ear to ear. My excitement was through the roof – as it should have been. I had no worries. And my smile never left my face. It was a day I’m sure I will always remember. And I am so grateful to God for healing my heart from fear so I could enjoy that amazing day with my friends and with Jesus.

*****

Janet Eriksson is a prayer minister, writer, editor, and teacher in Dahlonega, Georgia. She loves conversation with friends, front porch swings, sweet tea, and spending time on lakes and rivers. The author of eight books and editor of many more, Janet blogs and teaches online at https://adventureswithgod.blog/.

Healed of fear

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The Ripple Effects of Little Wounds

Christian inner healing
Photo by Skitterphoto at Pixabay

A guest post by Janet Eriksson …

I am always amazed at how much God desires to remove the smallest of wounds from our hearts. I am equally amazed at how much this freedom from a minor childhood incident can change our lives today.

Throughout my adult life, I have undervalued myself in my working life. I also struggle to charge what I’m worth. A friend (a prayer minister) and I were talking about this one day over lunch. I was looking at a particular client writing opportunity, and I was already disqualifying myself, and certainly not wanting to charge a market rate.

“Why do you always undervalue yourself?” my friend said. “You know you can do the work, and you know what it should pay. Why do you always struggle with this? Have you asked God?”

In fact, I hadn’t asked God. However, I had complained to God a lot about this situation, without listening for His response.

She asked if we could pray together.

“Sure.”

God began to show me the root of this problem that had plagued my adult working life. As He peeled back the layers, I saw several incidents of my early adulthood where I had struggled with the same problem. My friend led me in repentance for undervaluing and disqualifying myself. She also prompted me to forgive those who had taken advantage, and especially to forgive myself for selling myself short.

Finally she said, “Why do you always give your authority away?”

Boy, that bumped up against a deep wound because through tears I said, “If I give it away, no one can take it from me.”

“Where does that come from, Lord?” my friend asked.

God showed me an incident long forgotten. I was 11 years old, just starting 6th grade, and I had been with our Girl Scout troop since Brownies. Our troop leader had told our parents she was going to make sure the new 6th graders would be the patrol leaders for the coming year. My mom told me what to expect.

At our first meeting, the troop leader divided us into patrols and left us to choose our patrol leaders. I guess she thought we older kids would speak up and assert the authority she intended to give us. But I was shy and not assertive. A 5th grader took over the discussion and volunteered herself as the leader. One of the newbies said to her, “I pick you.” The 5th grader looked at me and said, “How about I’ll be the leader, and you’ll be the assistant leader.” It happened so fast. I simply nodded. But I was deeply disappointed, really to the point of shock.

We went to our troop leader to tell her what we had decided. She looked at me funny but didn’t say anything. She was the kind of adult who wanted kids to figure things out for themselves. In hindsight, I realized she had wanted me to stand up and assert my authority. That was something I simply couldn’t have done without help. Later when I told my mom, she asked me why I didn’t speak up. It never occurred to her I was only 11, very shy, and didn’t know how to speak up.

You wouldn’t think such a seemingly minor moment in childhood could have such long-lasting consequences. But the wound I took into my heart that day would affect my entire adult working life until, at age 53, I finally prayed with my friend to invite Jesus into that wound. I forgave my Girl Scout leader, my fellow Girl Scouts, my mom for disappointing and hurting me. I forgave the adults for not teaching me how to be assertive and for not helping me to overcome my shyness.

Christian inner healing
Photo by jeffjacobs1990 at Pixabay

I forgave God for allowing the incident to happen. God didn’t do anything wrong, but sometimes we need to forgive Him to release our own unforgiveness that we hold against Him. My unforgiveness against God had grown over the years. Each time I gave my authority away and saw the results (not getting the jobs I wanted, not earning the income I needed), I blamed Him. My unforgiveness against God was even stronger because the Girl Scout leader who had not spoken up for me was a Catholic nun. So she represented God to me as well.

I also repented for giving away my authority that day and many days (years) since then. I repented for undervaluing myself and underpricing my freelance business contracts. I repented for not standing in the authority God intended me to walk in as His daughter. And I came out of agreement with the lie I formed in my heart that young day: That if I give my authority away, that’s better than someone taking it from me.

The change that followed these prayers was significant. I was able to raise my professional prices, to pursue work opportunities I would have shied away from, and to grow in the confidence that I could do jobs I was well trained for and well experienced in. I stopped disqualifying myself and was able to see clearly, “Yes, I’ve done this job before and done it well. I can certainly do it again.”

God is with us in the big things that come against us. But He is also with us in the little things. And those little things can cause deep pain and have lasting consequences. Often these little roots are invisible to us until we invite Jesus in and ask Him, “Why does this keep happening to me?” The answer is often surprising. A seemingly minor incident can be a big deal for a child, and those roots grow deeper in our hearts, affecting our adult lives many years after the incident was forgotten. But Jesus knows, and He desires to free us and heal us, so we can live the lives He intends for us to live.

Thank You, God, for Your love and for the freedom You desire for us.

*****

Janet Eriksson is a prayer minister, writer, editor, and teacher in Dahlonega, Georgia. She loves conversation with friends, front porch swings, sweet tea, and spending time on lakes and rivers. The author of eight books and editor of many more, Janet blogs and teaches online at https://adventureswithgod.blog/.

Christian inner healing

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Who’s Afraid of Death?

A guest post by Janet Eriksson …

You don’t realize how long you’ve been holding your breath until you finally start to breathe. I am living now in a depth of peace – mentally, physically, spiritually – that I’ve never experienced before. Everything is different. I’m not making it happen. It just “is.”

It started three days ago. I knew my prayer ministry session would be big by how stirred up I felt. I was almost resistant. The last time I felt that way was the breakthrough that saved my life from cancer 11 years ago, when I repented of “death wish.” So I knew this would be big. But I couldn’t have imagined what was coming.

In prayer ministry, we start with the fruit (what we’re struggling with in our life) and ask the Holy Spirit to show us the root (where that struggle first started). We invite Jesus in to heal it at the root.

My fruit was that no matter how much I try to stay in peace, I can’t. I practice contemplative prayer. I have learned how to respond and not react (for the most part). I listen to worship music when I am stressed. I’ve had trauma prayed off me so many times. These have all brought deep and lasting changes in my life. But I can’t quite stay in peace.

Last week, I nearly had a meltdown over a circumstance beyond my control. I kept asking God to keep me in peace. I ended up in fetal position on the couch with a pillow over my head, sobbing, “I can’t do this, God.”

That’s the fruit I presented to my prayer minister, along with a question for God: “Why do I always fly off the handle?”

All my life, I’ve had hair-trigger emotions. My dad used to lovingly call me Sarah Bernhardt. My meltdowns could go from zero to 80 in two seconds. Through inner healing, I have come a long way from that level of reaction. But I still struggle to hold my peace when something comes at me. “Why, God?”

We went into prayer. God is very visual in how He communicates with me, so it’s almost like being in a movie. As my prayer minister prayed, I could see myself as a baby in the womb. Hands and feet were flailing. My prayer minister asked what emotion I felt. “So frustrated.”

The scene shifted, and I was a kid in elementary school on the playground. So much chaos. As a kid, I hated recess. All the kids were bigger than me – running wild, jumping, screaming. I just wanted to hunker down. The first time I enjoyed recess was when I got into sixth grade and found a group of friends who sat under a tree listening to music.

In that chaotic playground scene, I noticed a man standing behind the fence, staring at me. I knew immediately it was a demonic spirit. It was clear it had a right to be there and wasn’t going anywhere.

My prayer minister invited Jesus into the scene. My perspective shifted, and I was curled up like a newborn. I’ve had glimpses of this scene before but never knew why. I believe it was the Lord preparing me for this moment. I saw myself in the hospital delivery room lying on a scale where they weighed me as a newborn. The doctor was concerned at my frailty and weakness, and he spoke what seemed like a death sentence over me.

My mother had a high-risk pregnancy (for that era). I was small and physically weak, and the doctors worried I would not respond well to life. They spoke their doubts, concerns, and limitations over me. I absorbed all of that into my little being. I felt like I was sentenced to respond to how they saw me. I was born with a compromised immune system, had trouble getting nourished, was sick all the time, and had trouble recovering from illness. I remember always being frustrated (there’s that emotion again) because I wanted to do what my body wouldn’t let me do.

Later I came to realize that a curse of premature death and spirit of death had come down both sides of my family line. Hence, my flailing in the womb. Death was trying to knit itself into me from the moment of conception. Unfortunately, as a little one, I allowed that spirit of death to torment me. I gave the doctors power and authority (above God) to speak life or death over me. I believed their words instead of God’s – the God who made me and gave me life!

No wonder I’ve never known the feeling of true rest. I’ve always felt like “I won’t make it.” As a child, I shied away from activities that would have grown my physical strength because I was afraid those things would hurt me. I didn’t “choose life.”

Of course, I judged them all – my mom, the doctors, and even God for making me so weak. In reality, God did not make me weak. He made me little and super sensitive for His own delight! It was that mean old spirit of death – and my agreement with it – that made me weak.

As I watched that scene unfold of me as a newborn on the scale, with the doctor hovering over me, I realized the doctor was holding a clipboard, and he scratched my name out of the book of life. (Keep in mind, this is all symbolic. The Lord gave me that vision so I could “see” what happened spiritually. My mom’s doctor didn’t actually do that, but the enemy used the doctor’s words spoken over me to convince me that I did not have life.)

The Lord showed me three spirits had teamed up – the spirit of fear (I was always afraid of death and scared to fully experience life), the spirit of jealousy (“God, why didn’t You make me strong and healthy like the other babies?”), and of course the spirit of death. These critters are all part of “the enemy.” Demons get assignments just like angels do, and this bad bunch was assigned to thwart God’s plans for me.

The spirit of death was by far the strongest. I had given that spirit power over my life. My words say, “Jesus has conquered death,” but my heart has always believed the lie that Jesus isn’t more powerful than death. (In case you were wondering, that’s a sin.) In my heart, Jesus always pales in comparison to the power of death. That’s a bad place to be – a place of no peace and rest.

In my prayer vision, with me as a newborn in the delivery room, the spirit of death sunk its claws into my head. It said, “She is mine.”

My prayer minister said, “Janet, would you like Jesus to come into this place with you?”

“Yes, please.”

In a split second, in my spirit, I heard the music from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. The door to the delivery room flew open with a loud crash. Jesus came in! He walked straight over to the spirit of death and punched it in the face. Sent it reeling. The spirit fell to the floor, and Jesus pinned it with His foot.

Jesus said, “She is Mine.”

Jesus looked around the delivery room. The spirit of fear and the spirit of jealousy were cowering behind a crib. Jesus looked at them and said, “Any questions?” Those other spirits left the room.

Jesus looked at me and, never taking His gaze off me, He took the clipboard from the doctor and erased the marks where my name had been scratched out of the book of life. Jesus blew on the eraser dust, smoothed the page, drew a beautiful design around my name, and smiled.

The spirit of death was still in the room, pinned under Jesus’ foot. I knew I had to repent for allowing that spirit to control my life. I repented, and the critter shrank to the size of a cotton ball. Jesus picked it up in His hand, set fire to it, and the thing burned into a pile of ash.

The pile of ash did not disappear, so I knew something else had to be done. My prayer minister asked God what was left to do. Jesus told me, “You always turn your head and look away from death because you are afraid and you can’t deal. Come and look at death in my hand and you will see who I am.”

I moved closer and looked straight at the pile of ash in Jesus’ hand. I repented of always hiding from death, and for my lifelong fear of death. Before my eyes, the ash shriveled up, disintegrated, and was gone.

I repented for judging the doctors, my mom, and God. I gladly accepted the life God intended for me to have all along.

Where death had tried to weave itself into my life, Jesus’ untangled and renewed me. My prayer minister asked the Holy Spirit to fill me with His Spirit of Life. I felt a surge pumping through my physical arteries. It was the breath of life God had breathed into me at conception that I had never allowed myself to experience.

All this took place spiritually in the “delivery room” (I was delivered!).

In the next hour after the session, I experienced an immediate drop in the high blood pressure I had been struggling with. I chose (and desired) to eat healthy food for dinner instead of the “bad for me” food I always crave.

Immediately after the session, I received an invitation from a client to bid on a freelance project. I’ve had a long habit of bidding too low on projects and undervaluing myself. This time, without hesitation, I bid twice as high. There was nothing in me that would have allowed me to lower my bid. If the client rejected my offer, I would have stood firm, just as I did with three other conditions of the project. Without argument, the client hired me.

I asked God what had changed. He showed me that since I was no longer choosing to align with death, I was free to earn a “living.”

Fear of death had always been strongest for me at night in my bedroom. Because of soundproofing issues, I had moved my computer into the bedroom for my session. So the whole thing took place in the very space where the enemy had tormented me. That night when I went to sleep, I felt a peace I had never known.

Two days later, I encountered another moment of frustration like the one that began my session. This time, I was immediately able to step away from it, re-center myself in peace, and let the Holy Spirit resolve the situation. I love how God often gives us a “before” and “after” so we can see the changes from our healing.

Since that time, I am walking in a deeper place of peace. My insides have changed. I feel like my very DNA has been cleaned up, recalibrated, and restored to life. I can’t wait to see what Jesus will do next along this journey of healing.

*****

Janet Eriksson is a prayer minister, writer, editor, and teacher in Dahlonega, Georgia. She loves conversation with friends, front porch swings, sweet tea, and spending time on lakes and rivers. The author of five books and editor of many more, Janet blogs and teaches online at https://adventureswithgod.blog/.

 

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God’s Not Going Away

A guest post by Janet Eriksson …

About 10 years ago, I took an inner healing class where I learned that the way we see God as adults can be shaped by the way we saw our parents or primary caregivers in childhood.

Parents Can Affect the Way We See God

For example, if a parent abused me, I might expect (in my heart) that God will abuse me somehow. Even though I say, “God is good,” I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I never quite trust Him.

This expectation can be very subtle. My heart may hold onto a hidden belief that God is against me. I keep seeing evidence of that expectation, even though I say out loud, “God is good.”

As another example, if a parent wasn’t around much in my childhood or didn’t spend time with me, I might expect the same from God. So I struggle to sense His presence. I don’t expect God to show up when I need Him most. I try to take care of myself instead.

Or if a parent didn’t seem interested in anything I had to say as a child, I might conclude God isn’t interested either. My prayer life suffers because even though I talk to God, I don’t really believe He wants to hear from me. Mom or Dad modeled that for me.

Because these expectations are often hidden in the heart, I don’t realize I’m seeing God in this skewed way. But if I start to explore these areas where I struggle in my relationship with God, the Holy Spirit will bring to mind those childhood experiences that affect how I see God.

As I learned about these kinds of situations in that inner healing class, the examples made sense to me. So I asked God how my parents might have affected the way I see Him. I was shocked at what God showed me.

Why I Feared God Would Die

My dad died suddenly when I was only 15. It was a terrible trauma for me. I had been locked into that trauma for 27 years. I couldn’t even talk about my dad or think about him. Memories of the event and memories of my life with him were shoved into a closet in my mind, with the door bolted. I avoided the subject of death. When people talked about someone who died, I grew very uncomfortable and left the room. 

When I asked how that affected my relationship with God, He showed me that I also thought God would die and abandon me forever. I thought when it came my time to die and go to heaven, God would already be gone. No wonder I was terrified of death.

Inviting Jesus into that Place of Trauma and Death

My prayer minister and I invited Jesus into the place in my heart where I was stuck in trauma. I felt like Jesus understood my shock and grief. He wept with me, and He lifted the trauma off of me. Jesus showed me He was there with me when my dad died. I could literally see the memory of the paramedics taking away my dad, but Jesus was still standing there with me, holding onto me, and He never left me.

As suddenly as my dad had died, that’s how sudden the peace was that filled my heart. I could breathe again. I felt joy instead of sorrow because I knew my dad was absolutely alive – still the vibrant and fun-loving person I remembered. He wasn’t lying in the ground somewhere. He was hanging out with Jesus. And finally I knew, with my whole heart, Jesus would stay with me too. He wasn’t going anywhere!

I repented for judging God – for believing the lie that He would die and leave me – and for not really believing He was eternal. That unbelief had been hidden in my heart. I always said God was eternal, but in my heart I didn’t believe it. That’s why I struggled so much around “death.” The truth I spoke with my lips – that Jesus gives eternal life – was not what I held in my heart. You can see where that creates a constant struggle.

Thanks to Jesus, a Lot Has Changed

Since that time, so much has changed. I’m able to talk about death and able to mourn with people when they lose someone they love. My wonderful memories of my dad have returned. I can talk about him with my family and can see the ways I resemble him (my sense of humor, especially). I have found old photos and set them around my home (where before, I only set out photos of my mom).

This Christmas, as a special treat, my sister showed a DVD she had made from old home movies. For the first time, I got to see my dad in his younger years, before I was born. I loved every minute of watching him and have asked for a copy of the DVD so I can watch again. I never could have done that without the healing Jesus brought into my trauma.

inner healing
God’s Not Going Away!

*****

Janet Eriksson is a prayer minister, writer, editor, and teacher in Dahlonega, Georgia. She loves conversation with friends, front porch swings, sweet tea, and spending time on lakes and rivers. The author of five books and editor of many more, Janet blogs and teaches online at https://adventureswithgod.blog/

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