You may remember that my home was hit by a tornado back in April. My children and I were outside in the storm for a couple of minutes, debris blowing all around us. While we weren’t hurt physically, the terror of that moment left a mark on our spirits.
The three of us have utilized a combination of tools—spiritual and psychological—to recover from the trauma. If you’ve read my guide, Ten Tools for Inner Healing, you will be familiar with some of the spiritual tools.
What’s so interesting to me is how both approaches put the imagination to work.
Like a Child
As I wrote in my last blog post, children have no qualms using their imaginations. It’s natural to them. I’ve guarded and nurtured Micah and Sara’s imaginations by limiting screen time (so they have plenty of time for imaginative play) and reading aloud to them from the earliest years.
One of my great joys in parenting is watching them act out stories—from the Bible and from literature—in their own play. It’s clear they have no problem imagining characters, landscape, and action.
A healthy imagination lends itself to all parts of life. Children transfer their imaginative capabilities from one activity to another with ease. Even as an adult, I’m able to do the same thing if I’m intentional about it. For example, I use my imagination in cleaning, homeschooling, cooking, reading, writing, ministry, business ideas, gift-giving, prayer, etc.
I want my kids to realize that a surrendered and sanctified imagination is a gift from heaven to be treasured and used throughout their lives in all tasks. So we work at it together.
Both of my kids are believers and have been using inner healing prayer tools for well over a year, so they encountered no obstacles when we applied them to the recent “tornado trauma”. They now expect to hear from God when they approach him with their problems.
And that brings me to an important point--practice and expectation matter, and these have to be developed over time. (If you try this with your kids, be patient, sensitive, and encouraging. You may also want to purchase the Children’s Sozo Manual by Sue Elliot for further help and ideas.)
Using the Tools
The day after the storm, I was a storm. Waves of guilt, self-judgment, and condemnation kept crashing over me. I didn’t have to ask Jesus for the lie I believed. I confessed it aloud more than once.
I felt terrible for not moving to the shop sooner. Because I hadn’t, my children were traumatized.
When I was ready to hear it, I asked God for the truth. “You aren’t stupid,” he said. “You’re human, and you’re wise. You are human, and I am God.”
I am dust. Not enough. But that’s okay. God is God, and he is enough. He is wisdom, and he lives inside of me.
God gave Sara an unsolicited truth that day. She told me she had “a picture in her mind” of a flower and a butterfly, and she heard the words, “God is life." I love her openness and ability to receive.
A few days later, I was cooking dinner one night, and Sara said a telling thing—“I wish I hadn’t said I wanted the tornado to come.”
I turned to her, stunned to find tears in her big brown eyes. “Is that what you think, Baby? That because you said that, it came?”
Her face scrunched up, and she began to cry. I picked her up and whispered in her hair, “Ask Jesus if that’s true.”
A moment passed. “No,” she said. “He said the devil had to do with some of it.” And then she renounced the lie and declared the truth.
That same night, I sat down with Micah. He was worried about the storm forecasted for the following weekend and the possibility of tornadoes. Because Micah doesn’t hear truth and lies as easily as Sara, I encourage him to ask questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no”.
He asked Jesus if every thunderstorm made tornadoes. “No.”
Then, he asked if every tornado comes to our house. “No.”
Finally, he asked Jesus if he was safe. “Yes.”
And then I felt like Micah needed to forgive me.
I told him it was okay to be upset with me for waiting so long to move out to the shop and asked if he needed to forgive me. He wanted to deny his feelings, but admitted, “I wanted to go out when you called Daddy and asked for the key.”
I apologized and led him in a prayer of forgiveness. Afterward, he asked Jesus to come into the memory in which he wanted to go out to the shop.
Micah closed his eyes and smiled. “I see him, Mama. I see him when you were looking for the keys and said, ‘Jesus!’ He pointed to the keys, and that’s when you saw them.”
Y’all, I could not hold it together. I was completely undone. Through my son, God ministered to me in my traumatic moment.
Micah then made an observation. “God and Jesus look the same. They both wear a white sheet that glows.”
How about that?
Not long after that night, a friend who is a psychologist, came to our home to treat the kids and me using Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), which is a treatment that has helped people with PTSD.
Our friend asked the kids to imagine different moments during the tornado, rate their emotions on a 1-10 scale, and then do some deep breathing and tapping to help their brains process the trauma.
Their drawings were very interesting to me.
Sara’s most traumatic memory is represented in the first picture she drew, in which I had slipped in the mud and fallen while looking for Micah’s owl.
Micah’s first picture captured the same moment, but his trauma had to do with losing the owl more than my fall. The third picture is of the metal electricity box that had fallen where he and Sara had stood waiting for me to unlock the shop. The last picture shows the oak that fell in my parents’ yard.
But the second picture? The one of the chair that he drew after the first round of treatment?
That’s him sitting in Jesus’ lap. His emotional number here is a 0. Perfect peace.
Did he imagine that? Yes.
Is that where he really sits?
“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” ~Ephesians 2:6-7
Yes. Yes, it is. Imagine that.
For more ideas about how to incorporate these tools into your prayer life, be sure to download my guide, Ten Tools for Inner Healing.
For more thoughts on the sanctified imagination, check out my Facebook Live video, Your Sanctified Imagination: Why God wants you to use it and why the world needs it.
And for those of you who have been Following the Thread with me, how have you been using the tools (and your sanctified imagination) to let God heal the trauma in your past? Shoot me an email or comment below! I love to hear your stories!