Imagery in Heart-Healing

“From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from His dwelling place He watches all who live on earth—He who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.” –Psalm 33: 13

“Tell them this: ‘These gods, who did not make the heavens and the earth, will perish from the earth and from under the heavens.’” –Jeremiah 10: 11

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” –1 Corinthians 10: 5

New Age style counseling uses spirit guides and guided imagery, as in hypnosis. A passive “subject” surrenders with eyes closed to the direction of a therapist who orchestrates an inner journey. Often the leader asks the client to imagine a “special helper”, a “wizard”, or “wise favorite talking animal” to speak “healing words” into the mind of the relaxed individual. In this type of visualization, an event or experience such as a childhood memory is often “re-seen” according to a spoken new script from the “healer”. The purpose is to change the old negative picture to a more affirming one.

For several reasons, we do not condone these procedures. First, we don’t believe that memories can or should be altered. Memories are our personal history, and their healing never changes the content of the memory itself. Rather, the power of a memory to cause present pain is greatly reduced or removed when Jesus brings His love into an event of past suffering. We do, however, at times ask Jesus to enter a memory and speak or do whatever He wills. Our justification for this is the fact that Jesus is omnipresent outside of time (Hebrews 13: 8). His healing can be perceptible now or in the remembered past.

Another danger lies in asking a person who is not naturally visually oriented to “see” a memory. At such times the sufferer’s recalled perception may be in the form of a “sense or feeling”, a sound, a thought, a word or phrase that comes to mind, or a bodily sensation rather than an inner picture. If we insist that she picture a memory, we may confuse and discourage her, preventing God’s direction in the moment. Trying to follow the Holy Spirit’s lead, we must always proceed with caution, even when the individual is merely reporting what she perceives.

Once in a while the person receiving ministry may try coming up with something on her own, just to please the counselor. Dealing with this requires discernment and sensitivity. Also, the concern must be stated that it is possible for the sufferer to see “another Jesus”, a counterfeit spirit that comes from her own unhealed heart. If she has never known the true love of parents, she may identify Father God with a perpetrator or evil presence from her childhood. We are cautious about prematurely asking Jesus into a memory when we suspect this may happen. Instead, we wait until the person has gained some insight through deep forgiveness.

In heart-healing counseling, the sufferer sometimes encounters “abreaction”; i.e., she feels the buried emotions of the memory as if they are being experienced for the first time in the reality of the present. This occurrence is not uncommon and is sometimes necessary when long-suppressed hurts are finally being processed. Specific techniques for helping the wounded one through these moments of anguish are found in the article Abreaction and Grounding. As for using a “spirit guide” at times like these, we believe the only true guiding spirit is the Holy Spirit. Encouraging a sufferer to call on a spirit guide is tantamount to asking for false input from a demonic presence, which may be masquerading as a messenger of light and truth.

Cognitive templates and belief systems are often accessed through these memories and sense fragments, which have definite individualized associated meanings for each of us. When the Holy Spirit brings back incidents or sense impressions from the past, He often uses them to reveal false core beliefs, self-identities, life themes, and curses in a person’s life. There is a big difference between the Holy Spirit’s speaking through the eyes of the heart, and someone telling you what to see, in what order, and how to see it. God’s communications through time and space are personal, and perceived directly by the individual. These revelations can be delightfully surprising, even life-changing.

As we pray to bring up a “root memory”, emotion, or impression God wishes the individual to deal with, we are careful not to dictate the content, but instead we merely wait until something comes into the injured one’s consciousness. After that happens, we “follow the memory” as he reports it; questioning and helping the sufferer clarify its contents and implications.

After we have prayed for the touch of Christ on the person we sit in silence with her as she reaches out in faith. We simply watch and quietly meditate, often sensing together the profoundly loving and powerful presence of God in the room at such times. After a while, we invite the individual to share her thoughts or experience of the previous moments if she wishes. Perhaps her inner awareness has revealed a picture of the Lord, or some other expression of what the Holy Spirit was doing inside her heart. Spiritual phenomena such as these are difficult, at best, to communicate verbally.