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Can a Christian have emotional baggage?

Posted By:  Mkpoikanke Otu on April 24, 2020  

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Some Christians feel that the unpleasant things that happened to them in the past suddenly disappear when they come to Christ. Other Christians assume that someone has to conduct deliverance and break curses and covenant for them to be free. Well, they may be right, depending on what they mean and what they understand. But I would like to create an understanding regarding this, in line with some scriptures. Try and read the scriptures, even in different Bible translations and also read the comments that follow.

I know that once someone repents, believes and confesses Jesus as Lord (He whom the person belongs; Master) he is saved from sin (Acts 2:38; 3:19-21; Romans 10:9-10). But what happens to make someone saved is that God forgives the person’s sin and make him righteous the moment he put his faith in Christ. Thereafter, the person will have to abide (remain; continue) in the word of God as a disciple of Jesus to know the truth and be free (John 8:30-31). If the person does not remain or continue in the word of God –through studying the Word and obeying the word, he may not be able to attend the level of freedom that is in Christ.

I also know this: 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV) 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

The fact of being in Christ through baptism implies that we have the potential to become new creations. The new creation of old ruins God is planning for us in the future (Revelation 21:5) begins in our life when we accept Christ. To this end, we must work towards becoming new creations (Philippians 2:12-13). We must go on further than just being baptized into Christ to learning His words to become more like Him.  

James 1:21-25 (NLT) 21 So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.

The way God operates in our hearts depends on how we receive His implanted word. The word we receive makes us slow to speak, slow to wrath, and help us to lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness and other manifestations of negative emotions (Ref. Hebrews 12:1; 1Peter 2:1; Ephesians 4:25; Romans 13:12).

Thus, the emotions generated from past unpleasant experiences someone had do not just disappear when he is baptized in Christ. But the emotions are disappearing as someone keeps receiving specific words that address the emotions. For instance, an emotion of deep-rooted anger disappears the day one receives a word that addresses it. This is why some Christians never believed that they have any negative emotion they should release until they open their heart to receive the word that addresses the emotions they carry.

When you are aware of this, stop arguing! Humble yourself like David and ask God to search your heart and see if there is emotional baggage and make you free (Psalm 139:23-24).

Is it possible for someone to be without emotional baggage?

Yes! It is very possible. Joseph suffered many things but he did not sin (Genesis 37-39). This implies he did not have emotional baggage to compel him to do what is not right. He had several unpleasant experiences that would have left him in perpetual trauma, but he released all the energies (emotions) created by those experiences. Nothing was controlling his behaviour except the Holy Spirit (Psalm 105:19).

Also, Jesus had more unpleasant experiences but He did not have emotional baggage in His life.

53 Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of the dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him. 3 He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4 Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. 9 And they made His grave with the wicked— But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth. 10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. 11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors (Isaiah 53, NKJV). 

Thus, no emotional baggage or trapped emotion was recorded against Jesus despite the suffering he had (Isaiah 53; Hebrews 4:14-15). If Jesus did, we can do it. The understanding of this will help us to let go of whatever we have experienced. If holding unto the past is not making you better, why not let it go? If you are not behaving like Christ in terms of seeing every suffering as legal responsibility you will struggle to let it go. If you were raped, kidnapped, maltreated, misused, abandoned and rejected, I counsel you to see it as something you needed to experience to qualify for the glory that is to come. Don't do anything to revenge or protect yourself from future suffering. Allow yourself to continue to suffer until Christ comes.

21 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered[a] for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. 22 He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone.[b] 23 He did not retaliate when he was insulted,  nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. 24 He personally carried our sin in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed (1 Peter 2:21-24, NLT).

 

REAL LIFE EXPERIENCE OF A CHRISTIAN WHO HAD EMOTIONAL BAGGAGE

The story you are about to read is a real-life experience of person who overcame emotional baggage. Her name has been changed because of keeping confidentiality law. She gave consent for the use of her experience in this article.

Mrs. A

I was the second child in a family of four. So I was neither the first nor the last. I was aware of my inadequacies as early as a child. The first thing I noticed was my inability to speak without stammering. I didn’t start talking early like most children, and when I eventually did, it was with great difficulty and effort. I would stamp my feet on the floor several times and make several attempts before I could say ‘mummy’. Sometimes visitors would come to our house and leave a message for me to deliver to my parents. I would take such a long time to even mention the name of the visitor, and my siblings would burst into laughter. They didn’t know any better; I mean they were kids themselves. They laughed at me each time I stammered that I would often end up crying out of frustration and shame. As a result of this, I started developing an inferiority complex because I felt I was disadvantaged when compared to other kids my age and even my siblings. Consequently, I gradually refused to talk in public and even at home. Thus, I withdrew from social activities and became isolated.

My condition was further worsened by my lack of ‘physical beauty’. I got accustomed to people telling me how my sister was more beautiful than I. Everywhere I went, people would always compare me with my sister who was so beautiful, very fluent in spoken language and very social. It’s amazing how people would throw their opinions at me even when I didn’t ask them for it. They would attack me and ask me why I was not as beautiful as my sister. My parents did not verbally tell me that I was not beautiful. But I could tell from how they treated and acted around my sister; and how they would boast about her beauty when we went for any social gathering. It was easy to tell that they were proud of her and not of me. This made me believe that something was wrong with me. I didn’t have many friends because I was not outgoing. A part of me wanted people to notice me and draw close to me, but they rarely did. So I started feeling rejected and unloved from as early as I can remember.

As I grew up, I accepted the fact that I was not beautiful or special. I was still not very talkative because I was still stammering. Somehow, I noticed that my grades were good and this often brought about praise from my dad. As a result, I put in more effort in my academics and came out with good grades. This made my father continue praising me while telling my siblings to emulate me. This was how I got the idea to compensate for my inadequacies. That is, I realized that I could do certain things to get approval and recognition from people. And thus my journey of hard work, perfection, submission, teamwork, and discipline started. I started looking for opportunities to render help or fix a problem and I became good at it. I became known as a ‘good’, ‘hardworking’, ‘well-behaved’ and’ ‘respectful’ girl. At last, people were finally affirming my worth.

My turning point

Even though I was doing the right things and gaining a good reputation, I was full of bitterness and anger.  As a young adult, I was of the belief that the world was wicked and people only wanted me for what they could get from me. Nothing was ever given for free; even love. And yes, I was doing everything possible to continue having something to offer, so people wouldn’t look down on me or make me feel insignificant. I was also working to help others not to experience what I had experienced. I grew up in a Christian family and was brought up in the ways of the Lord. I loved God and had grown to trust Him. I was involved in church activities and committed to knowing more about God. I was everywhere (retreats, services, convention, etc.) and doing everything I could to be closer to God. My turning point came when I was pursuing a programme at the university. During this season, I was spending a lot of time listening to messages, godly music, studying my bible, praying and just loving God. I started praying the prayer in Job “that which I Know not, show thou me……….” I asked God to reveal my heart to me and He did. God showed me my real motivation, attitude, and spirit. I saw how self-righteous and bittered I was. I saw that everything was a competition to me and even the ‘sincerely’ good things (like helping and giving to people) were done out of a wrong spirit (that is, a wrong motive). I saw my filth, deception, and craftiness. I saw how damaged I was from my childhood experiences. That was when I cried out for help. I didn’t want to continue being that person. I wanted to know real joy, peace, and love. I was tired of the burden of always having to be perfect. God answered my prayer and I felt such relief and peace. He used scriptures to teach me what love is and also to show me the kind of person He wanted me to be. 

My journey since then

I confess that I have made mistakes here and there, but my motivation has been right. What is motivating me now is to do what is right and pleasing to God. And that means doing things out of love, hope, and faith. I stopped trying to prove people wrong. Even when I stumble, I get back up again because my Father loves me and has great plans for me.



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