Weekly Reflections and Archives

Grace And Personal Responsibility
An Essay On Deep And Light

The following paragraph is from the essay "Grace And Personal Responsibility – An Essay On Deep And Light" written by James O. Henman, Ph.D. It is followed by some thoughts to consider after reading the paragraph. Dr. Henman has had the opportunity to spend the past 28 years as a psychologist, intimately involved in the process of change in the lives of his clients. He noticed the obstacles that prevented people from making healthy choices. Over the years he began to recognize patterns of these obstacles, and particularly what prevented Christian clients from accessing God’s power for healing. People were often unable to see accurately the underlying assumptions they were making in important areas of their lives. Each paragraph in the essay explores a dimension of assumptions regarding Christianity and recovery/change. This is paragraph #1:

  "This essay explores the impact of faulty perceptions on our Christian experience. In Changing Attitudes In Recovery – A Handbook On Esteem (Henman, 1990) it states: "Our perceptions are filtered through our beliefs and assumptions, our internal dialogue (thoughts) and images, our physiological and behavioral responses, and our emotions. All of these interact to form a filter through which we experience the world." As Paul states in 1 Corinthians 13:12 "For now we see through a glass, darkly." We will examine some of the underlying assumptions and beliefs forming our perceptions of spirituality and recovery. It is important to digest each paragraph slowly and give yourself the gift of prayerful thought as you apply what you learn in the process of your own recovery. (Stop and Reflect)

    Our concept of God is often significantly influenced by our early childhood experiences with our parents and key people in our lives. If these key people were harsh and demanding, we tend to see God having these same qualities. At an emotional level, we would perceive God as someone we would have to be perfect in order to please. If we have not experienced grace in our primary relationships growing up, we have a difficult time believing God’s free gift of Grace is for us, at a feeling level. Intellectually, we can understand the concept of Grace but often cannot accept or apply this healing Truth of God’s Loving Grace in our lives personally.

    Take a moment to think about how you see God. Let yourself experience, for a moment, the quality of the relationship you have with Jesus Christ. Is it intimate and personal? How often do you think about His Personality and Style? What is your perception about His Nature and Attitude toward you personally? What is it like to have a personal, intimate conversation with Him? What does His voice sound like? What do you feel inside as you experience Him sharing His Truth with you? Do you feel loved or ashamed as you receive His feedback? Do you feel His strong, carpenter’s hand on your shoulder, in loving support, or do you feel Him pointing His finger at you in angry disgust and rejection? Do you feel the urge to defend what you know is wrong, or do you feel free to look accurately, knowing He will help you make the necessary changes through His Spirit, while loving you perfectly, right where you are starting?

    What assumptions are you making regarding the process of change? One of the filters in the CAIR Handbook is called: "That’s Just How I Am! That’s Just How You Are!" This filter states: "This assumption confuses a person within an action. As human beings, we are all capable of change and in fact change is the natural state. The fact that a person has been a certain way to this point does not state what is possible right now in the present. The fact that we have followed Old Program all of our lives, does not mean that we have to keep doing so. The problem is that when we believe these statements they become true for us. How do we feel about these two statements? (Stop and discuss.)"

    Take a moment to notice the kinds of assumptions you’re making regarding the process of change in your life today. Consider areas of your life that you would like to have different. How are you approaching the process of making changes in these areas? Are you following God’s plan or trying to make the changes under your own power?