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COUNSELING

A Biblical Model for Healing the Mind

By Timothy R. Jennings, M.D.
Guest Writer

CBN.com -- Excerpted from Dr. Jennings' book, Could It Be This Simple? A Biblical Model for Healing the Mind.

Joni seemed to be a frightened child – hurting, longing for comfort, for help, yet afraid to reach out, terrified lest she be hurt again. Her hands trembled nervously, and her dark eyes darted back and forth, clearly seeking to avoid meeting my gaze. The striking features of this 23-year-old woman showed traces of childlike innocence hidden behind a wall of pain and fear. She spoke softly and hesitantly, her voice quivering uneasily. As I escorted her down the hall to my office, I thought, What will she tell me? What could be troubling her so? Why does she seem so frightened and insecure?

Entering my office, she immediately broke down and began to sob. Tearfully she described how she had once been an outgoing vibrant young woman who thought nothing of organizing her friends for a weekend outing or giving a presentation at school. With a slight smile she told me of being president of her senior class. She remembered when she had been popular, energetic, and fun-loving, but all of that had changed when, at age 19, she had married her high school sweetheart. During the first few months their relationship had seemed perfect, but soon after the honeymoon her husband had begun drinking, and over the years had become increasingly demanding, critical, and controlling.

If Joni wanted to go out with one of her friends, he forbade her, and if she attempted to resist his demands, he became hostile and threatening. Whenever he took the notion, he ordered her – regardless of what she was doing – to strip and lie down where she was so that he could gratify himself. If she said no, he hit her. Finally she stopped resisting and instead submitted whenever he commanded.

By the time Joni came to see me she was depressed, confused, insecure, uncertain, fearful, unhappy, and hopeless. The startling change in her marriage had completely demoralized her. She neither understood what had gone wrong nor knew what to do about it. In this universe we have a law – ordained by God Himself – called the law of liberty. It is not a rule or a legislative enactment or an arbitrary command by a powerful potentate. Rather, it is a universal reality, s with the law of gravity. Think about the law of gravity. You don’t have to know about it for it to work. In fact, you can deny that it exists at all. But If you ride the elevator to the top of the Empire State Building, proclaim that no such thing as the law of gravity exists, and then jump off, you will quickly find yourself under the jurisdiction of the law whose reality you deny. Violating the law of gravity has accompanying consequences, whether or not one anticipates them.

The law of liberty works in a similar manner, regardless of whether one believes in, acknowledges, or recognizes it. And violations of this law of liberty always result in damaging consequences in very predictable ways.

A Proposal Without Freedom

Imagine the case of a young woman dating the man of her dreams. One day after they have known each other for several months he takes her to a special restaurant and then out for a romantic walk in the garden. With soft music in the background he kneels down and asks her to marry him.

Realizing the importance of the decision, the young woman asks for a few moments to contemplate her answer. Her hesitancy making him insecure, he reaches into his pocket and pulls out a pistol, points it at her head, and states, “Look, I’ve taken you out, bought you flowers and gives, and pent my time and money on you. Now, you better marry me and you better love me, because if you don’t, I will shoot you where you stand.”

What do you think happens in the young woman’s heart? “Oh! You’re the storng man I’ve been waiting for”? Of course not. We all recognize that such treatment would cause fear, revulsion, and disgust, ultimately resulting in rebellion. She would want to get away from him as soon as possible.

Our illustration reveals the first two predictable consequences that occur when someone violates the law of liberty: it always destroys love and incites rebellion. It happens wherever and in whatever circumstances our freedoms get violated….

Shirley’s family physician had sent her to see me because he was worried she might be suffering from depression. Getting a history form the 46-year-old woman was quite difficult. She sat with her hands between her legs, avoided all eye contact, and spoke in quiet tones with essentially no modulation to her voice.

If she responded at all, she tended to answer most questions with “I don’t know” or “I guess.” After long minutes of silence and patient questioning, this modestly obese woman who dressed rather plainly began to disclose her painful history of physical abuse by her husband.

Hesitantly she described one incident in which her husband told her he wanted dinner ready at 5:00 p.m.: she had worked diligently preparing the meal, but served it at 5:02 p.m. She cried as she related that her husband had begun to beat her, breaking her nose and blackening her eye. And while he was punching her, he stated, “I hate it when you make me do this. Why do you make me do this? If you would only serve dinner when you’re supposed to, I wouldn’t have to hit you. Don’t you know I only do this for your own good, because I love you?”

As Shirley recounted her ordeal, I made a comment criticizing her husband for his behavior. It was then that she looked up and made eye contact with me for the first time and said, “Oh no! It wasn’t his fault. If I would have had dinner ready on time, he wouldn’t have had to hit me.”

The third predictable consequence when one surrenders to the violations of the law of liberty is that it will destroy individuality. When a person submits to the control of another for a sufficient period of time, it slowly erodes both his or her unique identity and the ability to think and reason for oneself. The submissive individual begins to think through the eyes of the controlling person rather than with his or her own mind.

Shirley was not an unusual case. No longer thinking for herself, she had surrendered her identity to her abusive husband and accepted his version of reality as her own. She had become little more than a shadow of her husband. Not only does the violation of freedom destroy love; if rebellion doesn’t restore freedom, then individuality itself vanishes and only shadows remain.

Order Dr. Jennings' book: Could It Be This Simple? A Biblical Model for Healing the Mind

Dr. Timothy R. Jennings' Web site: www.comeandreason.com

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Timothy R. Jennings, M.D.Timothy R. Jennings, M.D. is a board certified Christian psychiatrist, master psychopharmacologist, lecturer, international speaker and author. Dr. Jennings was recently voted one of America’s Top Psychiatrists by the Consumer’s Research Counsel of America, selected for membership in the Southern Psychiatric Association and been named Medical Director of Christmas Creek Village (a private Christian retreat). Dr. Jennings is a frequent guest on a variety of radio and television programs and has a private practice in Tennessee. His book and other materials can be obtained at his Web site www.comeandreason.com

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