What Missionaries Ought to Know about Healing of Memories

  • Approximate Time Commitment: 20 minutes

What Missionaries Ought to know… does not mean that the author sat down and decided what missionaries ought to know, but that missionaries themselves asked about these topics. During the author’s 35 years of college teaching he learned that if one person asks a question, others probably want to know the same thing—and if two people ask, it was certainly a topic that others need to know about. These are things missionaries need to know because several missionaries have asked about each of them at one time or another.

To read more from the What Missionaries Ought to Know series


Resource Description

You may have had a difficult experience at some time in your life and its effects are still with you.   This may have been something that was apparent to others present, such as physical or verbal abuse in your family.  It may have been hurt that no one else realized, such as being laughed at for your answer in first grade.  Sometimes people need God’s spirit to bring healing to these damaged emotions, healing of memories.

The story of Joseph, a third culture kid and cross-cultural worker, is found in the last ten chapters of Genesis.  As a teenager his jealous brothers hated him so much they couldn’t even say a kind word to him, they plotted to kill him, and they actually sold him into slavery.  The emotional baggage from these experiences was apparent in chapters 42, 43, and 45 where Joseph was unable to control his weeping when he saw those brothers decades later.

You may have experienced similar things at some time in your life, and the emotions related to them still influence you years later.  You may have prayed about the situation and tried to forget about it, but the feelings are still there—the emotional part of forgiveness has not taken place.

Following are steps that can lead to healing of these memories.  God does not give you amnesia about the events; however, he can remove the damaged emotions the memories arouse.  You may be able to walk through these steps yourself, or you may find it helpful to have someone else guide you through them as a friend.

Thank God for gifts given.

The first step is to thank God for the gifts he has given you.  This is not an ego trip or bragging.  It is simply a matter of recognizing that God has blessed you with good things in life.  He may have given you athletic ability so that you can kick or throw a ball more accurately than others.  He may have given you intellectual capacity to grasp abstract concepts that most other people cannot understand.  He may have given you musical talent for a particular instrument or a voice that can sing beautifully.  He may have given you a face that others in your culture see as beautiful or handsome.  He may have given you a personality that others like to be around or the ability to relate so well that people want to be your friend.  The list goes on and on.

When talking with his brothers more than two decades after they had mistreated him (Genesis 45), Joseph pointed out that God had sent him on ahead to save their lives.  He noted that God had made him “father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household, and ruler of all Egypt.”  He said to tell their father about the honor given to him in Egypt.  These were not boasting, just statements of fact.  He told his brothers not to be angry with themselves because God used what they did for good in his life—and in theirs.

Think of yourself made in God’s image and thank him for making you.  If you are going through these steps alone, it is best to actually write down the good things God has given you.

If someone is there with you, talk about gufts together and rejoice in what God has given.  People with the severest damage to their emotions may be the ones who most need someone else with them.  These others may be able to identify gifts or blessings taken for granted—overlooked because the person is so focused on the damage.

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