By Mario A. Ramos
La versión en español está disponible al final de este documento.
About two years ago, my wonderful wife, Linda, asked me to fix her NordicTrack ski machine. She had worn it out. There were a number of parts that needed to be replaced. I thought it would be easier just to buy a new one. But they don’t make them anymore. You have to order the parts and they don’t come with instructions. You have to call a guy and ask for guidance, and he is not very good at giving instructions.
So after spending $130 on parts and working hours and hours on the machine, I finally came close to finishing this very frustrating project. I put the parts together and took them apart and back together more times than I can remember. All I know is that on the final day I was eager to get done with this machine. I called my wife to try out the machine, believing I had successfully rebuilt it. So I said, “Linda, please get on the machine and see if it works.” As she was getting on the machine, she noticed a small mound of loose nuts and bolts on the floor. She asked, in a small inquisitive voice, “Mario, what about those nuts and bolts?” I lost it at that moment. In a much louder and firmer voice than I had anticipated I responded, “Get on that machine and see if it works!!” She quietly got on her NordicTrack. It worked.
I walked back to the study and prayed. I was surprised by my overreaction and that what she had said bothered me, no, hurt me so much. While in prayer, a thought came to me that said, “It sounded like your father.”
I grew up with a verbally abusive father. Throughout my childhood, I heard hurtful words and phrases trying to convince me that I was incompetent, a loser. And that I couldn’t do anything right. It was an emotional wound that had been revisited by Linda’s innocent question. She had no idea that I would interpret what she said by what my father had said, but I did. Because I had taken a class called Faithwalking, which is a spiritual, emotional and intellectual journey of self-awareness, I understood the dynamics of how our emotional wounds affect us today and why it hurts so badly. But I also learned that I can overcome this vicious cycle of shame.
I thanked God for helping me understand my unpredictable response and I was also able to ask Linda to forgive me. Since Linda had also taken Faithwalking, she understood my request for forgiveness which she gave graciously.
What would have happened if Linda didn’t respond so maturely? What if my mean-spirited retort irritated a wound in her life, causing her to respond to defend her dignity? What if she gave tit for tat and responded with equal venom? I can only imagine the escalation of anxiety, stress, anger and conflict.
So many of us do not understand why we do what we do, why we think such reoccurring negative thoughts, why we overreact over minor occurrences, why we take things so personally. These and many other reactions have little to do with what is currently happening but are the result of emotional woundedness.
Faithwalking helps us become more self-aware. It is designed to help us understand: how our emotional wounds have affected us, how we have believed lies that we carry with us today, how we have made vows that dominate how we deal with anxiety, how we have developed defensive behaviors to be safe as we live our lives, how this leads to unintentional destructive behaviors that undermine our relationship to God, ourselves and others. Through the spiritual direction of the Holy Spirit in God’s Word, prayer, accountability, learning spiritual and psychological principles and mutual support in the small groups and coaching, Faithwalking students are able to become more self-aware and experience healing as they bring their wounds to our Lord. They find freedom from the vicious cycle of shame and sin, and improve their significant relationships.
Because of my father’s verbal abuse, as a child I believed the lie that I wasn’t good enough. I believed that I was unworthy of his acceptance. I felt worthless. I felt shame. Guilt is feeling that we have done something wrong. Shame is the feeling that we are wrong. It is an issue of identity. This lie formed in my subconscious. It is very painful for a child (or any person) to be rejected by someone who is supposed to love him/her. The child develops vows/promises to protect him/herself from being hurt again. Because of my father’s verbal abuse I made a number of vows. One of the vows was, “I will please everyone” (because I did not want to be rejected). You can see why I had a very difficult time saying “no” to requests for help. I wasn’t primarily motivated by love or mercy but by the subconscious fear of being rejected.
One can imagine what happens to people like me. We burn out; we begin to secretly resent people who take advantage of our weakness. We are easily manipulated. We overcommit and fill out calendars with too many promises to keep. It was through taking the Faithwalking course that I came to discover the hidden forces that motivated me to unhealthy behaviors. I came to better understand that my worth is found ultimately in my relationship with God. Our worthiness is reaffirmed in our creation and redemption through Jesus Christ.
I am constantly amazed at the commitment and desire of students who come to BUA to keep serving Christ, and through him to keep experiencing a more abundant life. However, due to my years in the classroom, I know, too, that many of them have experiences in their past that wounded them like my childhood experiences wounded me. Thankfully BUA’s faculty and administration saw the value of making Faithwalking available to those students, as a way to help them to start their healing process.
Working on personal issues is hard and challenging, but it is worth it as it opens the possibility of richer lives. Students often say: “Faithwalking changed my life.” This course is simply a tool used by God to bring about much needed healing in people who are willing to go through a process of growth. I have spent years in the pastorate and in education, and teaching/coaching Faithwalking has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life because of the transformation I have seen in myself and in our students.
I invite you to consider ways in which you can grow in this area of your life. One approach that I highly recommend is enrolling in a Faithwalking course. For more information please visit https://www.faithwalking.us
Dr. Ramos teaches Practical Theology at the Baptist University of the Américas. He earned his Master’s degree in Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theology Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas and his Doctorate in Ministry from George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University. Ramos has pastored in different churches in South Texas for more than 15 years. He is married to Linda for 41 years. They have three grown sons of which two are married and have four grandchildren.
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