Truth-based Pain: Principles and Protocol – Part 1
Understanding Truth-Based Pain
- Some negative emotions are based upon the truth.
- Truth-based emotion consists of the feelings one may have that are genuinely associated with particular truths which God believes. They are feelings that flow from knowing the truth from a heavenly vantage point.
- Truth-based emotion flows from the truth whereas, lie-based emotion flows from lies.
- Truth-based emotion is not caused by beliefs about oneself or about God, but rather about the truth of our circumstance.
- Unlike a lie-based belief, receiving the truth will not resolve truth-based pain. It is because of the truth that we feel badly.
- In the same way that it is impossible to avoid being infected with lie-based belief while living on this earth, it is also impossible to sidestep the truth-based pain that will surely come our way.
A common question asked concerning painful negative emotion is, “Are all negative emotions rooted in lies?” The short answer is, “No.” Some emotions that would be described as negative are actually based upon the truth. Some anger, grief, disappointment, regret, and remorse, etc., can at times be based upon the truth. However, these same emotions can just as easily be rooted in lies. However, there are some emotions that are never truth-based, such as: anxiety, worry, stress, feeling abandoned, fear, doubt, and, etc. Emotions such as these flow from not having God’s perspective.
In this article we will look at what actually defines a truth-based emotion and how to determine if what is being felt is truth-based or not. We will also discover protocol for addressing legitimate truth-based emotion when it surfaces during a ministry session.
Truth-based Pain Defined
Simply defined, truth-based emotion consists of the feelings one may have that are genuinely associated with particular truths. Truth is that which God believes. It is His perspective from a heavenly vantage point. If what I feel is based upon God’s perspective –the way He sees things– then I am feeling what God is feeling. God’s emotions are based upon truth. He always feels what the truth feels like. When God feels anger, grief, disappointment and regret then it is because of what is true. There are examples in the Scriptures that describe what God feels.
- Anger/indignation – “God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.” (Psm. 7:11 ESV)
- Regret and grief – “… the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.” (Gen. 6:6 ESV)
- Disappointment – “I [God] will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” (Gen. 6:9)
Some examples of truth-based emotion we might experience may include:
- Feeling grief over the loss of someone or thing you loved.
- Remorse about your sinful behavior.
- Disappointment over having had your childhood “robbed” from you because of abuse, neglect, etc.
- Feeling sad about a loved one dying without Christ.
Distinction between lie-based emotion and truth-based emotion
Painful truth-based emotion is different from painful lie-based core belief in several ways. The most obvious being, truth-based pain flows from the truth whereas, lie-based emotion flows from falsehood. Another distinction of painful truth-based emotion is, truth-based emotion is not caused by core beliefs about my self-identity (how I view myself) or my state of being (how I view God in my life). The truth (God’s perspective) about myself (self-identity) or about God (state of being) does not produce any painful feelings. When I know the truth about myself and about God I will feel what the truth feels lie; joyful. peaceful, assured, confident, blessed, etc.
Painful truth-based emotion comes from beliefs that accurately reflect the truth of a painful situation. For example, “It grieves me to realize that what my father did to me robbed me of a good childhood.” Or, “I deeply regret that I wasted all of those years rebelling against God.” Or “I am overwhelmed with great sadness by losing my child last night from her battle with cancer.”
Someone might say, “What I feel toward my husband is based upon the truth. He is a jerk and treats me badly and that is the truth!” It may indeed be true that her husband’s behavior is inappropriate, but what she is feeling about him is based upon how she is interpreting what he is doing. Whether what she is feeling is based upon the truth requires we identify the belief from which her emotion is flowing. Typically, this sort of emotional experience is not truth-based, but rather a lie-based interpretation of what is happening that may in fact be the truth.
Examples of Self-identity, State of Being, and Truth-Based Emotion:
- Self-Identity Emotion: “My dad hated me so I am worthless and I feel worthless.” What I believe about myself.
- State of Being Emotion: “They left me and never came back. I am all alone and abandoned. I feel lonely.”
- Truth-based Emotion: “I feel deeply grieved because my child was killed this week by a drunk driver and I will not see him again until eternity.” Truth about the situation.
Whether what we feel is truth-based or lie-based, there is a distinction in how each is addressed. When we are addressing a lie-based core belief we need the truth to resolve it and displace it. However, with truth-based pain we do not need truth since we already possess it. It is because of the truth that we feel badly, so more truth will not resolve our pain and could make us feel even worse.
Example, the grief someone might feel over the recent death of their child would be truth-based. Offering this person more truth in the midst of their deep sorrow will likely do little in resolving his or her pain. There may be some encouragement in their hearing, “Your baby is with Jesus and in a better place,” but it does not make the deep pain of the loss decrease. Our offering more truth to someone bearing truth-based pain will not relieve the pain felt that is flowing from the truth.
However, as is so often witnessed in a TPM session, when we believe a lie and feel its pain, our receiving truth from the Holy Spirit can completely dispel the belief and the peace of Christ can fill our hearts. So we see that protocol for dealing with truth-based pain must be different from dealing with lie-based emotions.
Truth-based emotion is unavoidable
In the same way that it is impossible to avoid being infected with lie-based belief while living on this earth, it is also impossible to sidestep the truth-based pain that will surely come our way. Having truth-based emotion is an unavoidable part of living in this world. However, we need to have strong assurance that the Lord is present and will walk us through it and know that He is willing to carry it when we are ready to stop trying to bear it ourselves. Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Truth-based emotion is unavoidable, but the Lord is available and faithful to resolve it for us. He has a present remedy.
There is a time for feeling truth-based pain
- When we know with our heart that the Lord is carrying our truth-based burdens, there is no reason for us to continue to try to bear it ourselves and the perceived weight of the burden will dissipate.
- If we continue to “carry” the burden after knowing that the Lord has already bore it, then there will be a lie-based belief present that keeps us from letting go.
- The time for “weeping” (bearing truth-based emotion) is the amount of time that it takes for someone to come into the experiential reality of viewing the “loss” (the truth of the life situation) from God’s perspective and recognizing the fact that we do not have to carry the burden ourselves
- Unlike God, we cannot carry truth-based pain for very long without devastating consequence.
- If we had to carry truth-based pain for eternity, having to do so would be hell.
It is never good that we live in lie-based emotion; however, it is good that we feel it when we feel it. But we only need to feel it for as long as it takes to identify the lie-based belief behind it, so we might be in a position to receive the Lord’s perspective. Lie-based emotion serves a vital purpose, but there is no reason to carry it any longer than needed.
Whereas, with truth-based emotion, there is an expected time to carry it. As the Scriptures say, “… there is a time for weeping…” (Ecc. 3:4). There is also a time for feeling anger, disappointment, regret and remorse when these emotions flow from the truth. Unlike lie-based pain, our knowing the belief causing the truth-based pain and receiving more truth about it will not resolve it.
There is a time for weeping, but it is not to be held for a lifetime or even a long time. For example, with anger it is to be released before the “sun goes down.” (Eph. 4:26) There is an appropriate time for feeling truth-based pain; however, God does not intend for us to carry the pain throughout life. As a matter of fact, His will is that “… we cast all our burdens upon him …” (1 Peter 5:7)
The Bible is clear about how we are to find release of all truth-based pain we may carry. It may be surprising to discover that it has nothing to do with our doing something, but rather our realizing something. Listen to Isaiah the prophet who declared:
“Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.” (Isa. 53:4-5)
According to this passage there were three things dealt with as an outcome of the Lord’s suffering and death; our grief and sorrow was carried, our sins removed, and our healing. Most believers understand that their sins were taken away by the death of Christ, but the idea of their grief and sorrow being carried seems difficult to comprehend. The main reason for this is, they still feel the weight of it. The fact that we still feel what we feel makes it really difficult to believe otherwise. Nevertheless, the truth is the truth no matter how we feel about it. So then, if we feel our burdens even though Jesus is carrying them, then something is amiss.
Actually, according to this passage, the Lord has already taken upon Himself all our griefs and sorrows as well as any other truth-based burden even if we may be trying to carry them ourselves. When we came in faith to Christ for salvation, this was a part of the package. So whether we realize it or not, our grief and sorrows are being carried, just as our sins have been removed. This is where belief comes into play. We believed with our heart that Jesus’ death paid for our sins and we were saved, and in like fashion, when we are able to believe with our hearts that he has borne our grief and our sorrow, we will cease to bear it ourselves. When we know experientially that the Lord is carrying it, there is no reason for us to continue to try to bear it ourselves and the perceived weight of the burden will dissipate.
So then, if we are trying to carry our own burdens then one of two things are at play. 1) We either do not believe that the Lord is carrying them and it is required of us to do so, or 2) we believe something about letting go that hampers us from trying to carry them ourselves. In the second case, there is something being gained by holding on to them that causes us to hesitate or resist letting them go. When we know with absolute certainty that He took upon himself all of our burdens when he gave his life for us on the cross, they will be lifted from us, just as our sins were lifted.
How long is the “time for weeping?”
The time for weeping is the amount of time that it takes for someone to come into the experiential reality of viewing the loss from God’s perspective and recognizing the fact that we do not have to carry the burden ourselves. We can say we believe He carries our burdens, but until we stop carrying it, our belief about this remains intellectual assent and is not realized experientially. However, the moment we know this truth, we will stop trying to carry it ourselves.
Read the truth again, “Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried.” Does this truth feel true for you? The fact is, whether or not this passage feels true to us has no bearing on its validity. The good news is that God carries our truth-based pain; end of discussion! Someone will surely say, “But this Bible passage does not feel true. If Jesus is carrying my burdens, then why do I still feel what I feel?”
Until we come into the experiential knowledge of the truth we will feel whatever we believe. The fact that we may be carrying around our truth-based pain is an indication that we have yet to enter into the reality of what the Bible says. Memorizing the Bible verse is not knowing it. The reason that we feel what we feel is because we believe the burden is ours to carry or we have something to gain by holding on to it. When we are able to come into the truth and reality that the Lord is already carrying this burden, and that any reason we may have for not letting it go is a lie, we will then stop trying to carry it ourselves.
Time does not heal anything, it only passes
God’s time frame for His children to bear grief and sorrow is not a lifetime; certainly not eternal. There is a time for feeling our truth-based pain, but if the pain continues for too long, then something is wrong. Sharon and I (Ed Smith) experienced the death of one of our children in the earlier years of our marriage. It was emotionally devastating. I honestly did not think we would survive. This was my first experience with intense truth-based pain. However, we did, and the Lord’s grace was sufficient.
However, though the first couple of years were difficult, the pain grew noticeably less and less with the passing of time. Even without the tool of TPM, we processed our grief well, and after about eighteen months we felt ourselves make a positive turn and move forward. It was only later that we discovered the principles of TPM, and the Lord completely cleaned up the remaining lie-based pain that came forward with us from that experience.
During the early months after our daughter’s death, we decided to attended a “Grief Recovery” support group. The first night we attended the meeting, each person was invited to share his name and a little about his or her journey. We were dismayed at what we heard. Person after person described the deep pain they still felt after many years of grieving. Some were still grieving even though they had been in “recovery” for over a decade. We were also informed by some of those in the group that we would never get over the death of our child. It was suggested that we would just have to learn to live with the grief. This was a lie we were unwilling to shoulder! It is true that grief is real and unavoidable for a time, but only for a time.
We both decided that this was not the program for us. There is a time for truth-based emotion, but it is not for a lifetime. The Lord wants us to come into the truth of Him carrying our burdens as quickly as possible and enter into His rest. He wants us to “… cast [our] burdens upon Him for He cares for [us.] (1 Pet. 5:7) However, until we know this truth experientially we will probably continue to try to carry our burdens ourselves.
What is the difference between my feeling what I felt the moment my child died and what I felt years later? Someone might quote the old adage that says, “Time heals all wounds.” The truth is, time heals nothing, time only passes. If time healed all wounds then all people would be “healed” over time. We know that this is not so. However, what happens over the course of time with our belief, has much to do with what we feel a year later. When we come to experientially know the truth of the passage that Jesus “bore” our grief and sorrow we will stop trying to carry it ourselves. However, until we know this reality we will remain under the perceived weight of it.
So then, how long we “weep” is entirely dependent upon how long it takes for us to see our situation from a heavenly perspective. It is the time between my becoming experientially aware of the “painful truth” of my situation and the moment that I am made experientially aware of a more complete perspective. Some people do not know the truth because of ignorance and may carry their “grief and sorrow” all the days of their lives. Others may be able to quote the verse and yet are unwilling to let go of carrying the weight because they believe that there is either some benefit for doing so, or letting go will create an additional loss.
If you are in His wagon, he is carrying your pack too
A very dear friend of mine and pastor (Rev. L.D.Kennedy) once told me a story about a man walking down an old dirt road carrying a very heavy pack on his back. He was overburdened, weary and tired. A man in a horse drawn wagon came upon him and stopped to ask, “Say friend, would you like a ride?” The weary traveler replied, “Why yes. Indeed, I am very tired and being able to ride with you would be wonderful.” The driver declared, “Climb aboard.” The traveler climbed upon the wagon and stood up behind the driver and positioned and steadied himself holding tightly to the seat rail in front of him. But strangely he left his heavy pack on his back. The traveler said, “Okay, I am ready. Move on.” Confused by the traveler’s strange behavior, the driver said, “Why don’t you take off your heavy pack and come and sit here beside me on this seat?” The man humbly responded with, “Kind Sir. You were more than gracious to offer to give me a ride. I am deeply appreciative. However, I could never expect that you would carry my pack as well.”
When we came to Christ in faith our belief brought about our salvation. Our sins were taken away and we were reconciled to God. When we came to Christ we climbed up into His wagon. When we did so, we also brought all of our grief and sorrow (burdens and weighty things) with us. The truth is –whether it feels true or not– the Lord is carrying us and everything that we brought with us. If we feel the weight of the pack on our backs it is because we are trying to carry that which He too is carrying. God desires that we put down our weighty packs and sit beside him on His bench. It is time to rest. The writer of the book of Hebrews gives this encouragement, “… let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us.. ” (Heb. 12:10) Notice that both the weight and the sin are mentioned here as well.
Truth cannot be changed. If the reason for our pain is because of the truth, then there really is nothing that we can ever do to resolve it. The truth is the truth, therefore, the emotional pain that flows from the truth is expected and perpetual. This is why our only true option is to realize that He is carrying it.
The truth is, we are incapable of successfully carrying truth-based emotion for very long without negative consequence. I remember the first year after our daughter died. There were times when I could not even get out of bed. I was overwhelmed and beat down with the weight of that loss. I knew the truths that she was in a better place, that God had a plan, there was purpose in it, etc. However, none of these truths could resolve my pain. If I had been required to carry this pain throughout life, it would have negatively impacted me in ways I cannot even imagine.
Only God is capable of eternally carrying truth-based pain
God is continually bearing truth-based pain and will do so for all eternity. For example, it is the truth that millions upon millions of people will be tormented for all eternity separated from God. This is a horrible reality that brings with it much emotional pain. Nevertheless, God is fully aware of all the lost souls destined for destruction and feels great sorrow for their condition and will continue to do so forever. In like manner, if our emotional pain is coming from the truth, and the truth is always the truth, then the pain will always be a part of it. However, unlike God, we cannot carry truth-based pain for very long without devastating consequence. We could certainly not carry it for eternity. If we had to carry truth-based pain for eternity, having to do so would be hell.
Can you imagine what heaven would be like if we had to carry the truth-based emotions associated with the knowledge that our loved ones who rejected Christ are in eternal torment? This is the truth. People we know and love will spend eternity in hell while we are in heaven. If we had to carry the weight of emotion that this truth would foster it would be unbearable; this is not expected of us. As stated, He will be fully aware of all those who will dwell in outer darkness, and He alone will bear this burden. When we enter into His eternity we will not feel this deep sorrow since “… He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Rev. 21:4) If this were not so we would be forever miserable in heaven. In heaven we will fully know and realize the truth of Him carrying all our grief and sorrows.
Scripture is true whether it feels true or not
Our emotions are not indicators of what is true. They only indicate what we believe to be true. If we are unaware (ignorant) of the truth that He has borne our burdens, then this will be reflected in our actions and perceived reality. Even though He is carrying our burdens, because of what we believe, we are trying to carry them as well. We are riding on the wagon with our weighty packs on our backs. The truth is, God is carrying the full weight of our burdens while we are also attempting to carry them.
The issue that needs to be resolved is not the burden, the pain that comes with it, or even the fact that we attempt to “carry” it. Our focus should be on the beliefs behind our attempt to “carry” it.
Truth-based Emotion can show up anytime during a ministry session.
Emotions such as grief, disappointment, regret, remorse, etc. can surface at any point during a ministry session. Nevertheless, do not assume that what is reported is necessarily truth-based simply because it appears to be so. A general rule to follow is treat all emotion the same until the end of the session. Addressing truth-based emotion is typically one of the last things that you will do in the ministry session.
There is no need to be concerned about truth-based emotion until you are the end of the ministry process and have tested the belief for transformation and the lie no longer feels true, and you have asked the EMOTION Box question, “How does that make you feel?” Or “What are you feeling now?” The emotion that they report here determines what direction you will follow. If they report feeling fear, worry, anxious, abandoned, overwhelmed, helpless, powerless, rejected, shame, anger, etc., then you are probably still dealing with a lie that is triggered. However, if they report feeling sadness, regret, disappointment, remorse, etc. then you MAY BE dealing with truth-based emotion.
So then, the only reason that you would consider the possibility of the emotion reported as being truth-based is, you are at the end of the ministry session and there are no lies being reported and the emotion they feel appears to be truth-based. Even so, you will still deal with this emotion in the same way you would deal with any other emotion revealed. You are in the EMOTION Box and asking the EMOTION Box questions.
For example, if their lie-based belief no longer feels true, then you will then asked the first EMOTION Box question, “How does that make you feel?” or “What are you feeling now?” If they say they are feeling something like “sad, grieved, disappointed, regret, etc.” (even though this may be truth-based) you would still proceed to the second EMOTION Box question; “As you focus on the sadness what comes to your mind?” They should either report an earlier memory or report the truth about their emotion. If they report a memory, you may have have moved toward the MEMORY Box and should follow protocol. Protocol is to keep asking the EMOTION Box questions until no new memory comes to mind. When this occurs you ask the MEMORY Box questions.
A person may report what appears to be the truth about their sadness, grief, disappointment, etc. and after asking the second EMOTION Box question no memory comes to mind. Rather they may repeat the same statement of why they believe they are feeling what they are feeling. If they say something like, “No memory comes to mind, but only the reality that I am sad because my dad died rejecting Christ.” Or, “I regret that what I did to her caused her such pain.” Or “I am very disappointed about how his life turned out. I made so many foolish and sinful choices,” then you may be dealing with a truth-based emotion.
However, up until this moment, all emotion should be treated in the same fashion as any lie-based emotion. Therefore, if a person begins his session by sharing how he is feeling grief, disappointed, regretful, and etc., for any given reason, we should not assume that it is truth-based and therefore, we should treat it as we would any other emotion and ask him the EMOTION Box question, “As you focus on your sadness, what comes to your mind.”
What follows in the next article is an expanded discussion of the protocol to follow when truth-based emotion is suspected.