Chapter 15 The Campfire - Enhancing Inner Dialogues in Therapy - The Holy Campfire. - How to do Dialogues with Jesus. - When is Anger Healthy? At times emotional healing requires us to have the chance to confront those who have abused us. We need a chance to express our anger. We need to speak up and confront through some drama or action. See: Karen’s Story. My training in Gestalt Therapy had introduced me to The Empty Chair Dialogue as a way of dealing with a stream of inner negative thoughts. Because of my long involvement in Psychodrama I felt comfortable doing this on my own. See: My Empty Chair Dialogue. It is so important as to be an essential of following Jesus that we learn to listen. In the Dialogue with Jesus you go to your calm safe place - like the Father’s Garden -and talk with Jesus. The Holy Campfire The Campfire can be a safe place to express healthy anger and to confront the abuser that a child may never have been able to face before. I found that, by providing this outlet for our angry thoughts towards a parent or an abuser, a client can often find closure and experience healing for their wounds. This empowers the victim. The anger often breaks through restrictions and overcomes fears that, up to that point, have blocked someone from talking about their abuse. This can be an essential part of inner healing. Karen’s Story As an example, ‘Karen’ (not her real name)came to me with the suspicion that she had been sexually abused as a child. She did not have clear enough memories to affirm or deny sexual abuse occurred, but she had some reasons to suspect it. This kind of problem requires a real professional. You cannot in any sense lead the client to fulfill your judgement or expectation. There must not be suggestive in any way or make use of leading questions. We pursued inner healing with great care. I was careful not to make assumptions or to direct the process. Soon enough, the sessions seemed to confirm that she had been sexually abused.She came to identify who was responsible. She came to believe that her abuser was a farm hand. There was much inner healing until, toward the end of the healing process, Karen felt that everything was finished except for one thing. She know that she really needed to confront the man and express her anger towards him. The man was, by now, deceased. But I knew it would be important to let karen experience this confrontation. Therefore, I prayerfully arranged an imagined encounter where she would be able to express her anger at this man. Karen was able to express her anger at the abuser, to direct her words at him and rebuke him, God allowed this to become an avenue for healing and restoration. In her prayer imagination she got a response of contrition from the man. Thus Karen was able to express her heart and get resolution and peace. This is one example where expressing anger can be helpful for emotional healing. Karen felt it was the final step in the path of dealing with this memory and gaining wholeness.
What is the Campfire Prayer Drama? The campfire is a holy place filled with the light of God; a place that radiates with His loving presence where our inner child can confront important people in their life or from their past. Sometimes those others have a voice and will respond but the Inner Child is safe here with God’s healing presence. Of course, Jesus is always present.His presence make the Campfire a safe place for us.Jesus can also handle questions and confrontations from the inner child and respond. There can be a dialogue with Jesus - Listening Prayer - as The Inner child asks Jesus for God’s perspective – His truth and light – on a situation. Usually, Jesus sits next to the inner child and together they face the person the child needs to confront who sits across the campfire from them. From this vantage point, the child can talk to the parent or the abuser and speak without fear because Jesus is sitting right beside them. Jesus is an available source of courage, love and protection. He is there to help them express their anger, say what they needed to say, process their emotions, or to ask questions, as they engage with their memories and emotions.
How to do Dialogues with Jesus? You can also imagine yourself in a calm safe place where you can talk to Jesus. You can use the Father’s Garden of Chapter One. One way to do this is to imagine Jesus as the listener and just tell him how you feel and about all the negative thoughts in your head. Then picture you there with him and be still and relax with him.
A second way to do this is to ask simple direct questions to Jesus based on the worry thoughts. Tell him the negative thoughts you hear in your head and ask for his truth. Then listen to him. Just be still and wait there with him in silence.
A third way is to write a letter to God with all your worries and what you are feeling. Then on the back of your page write back what you think God is saying to you. This is To bring Jesus into the empty chair dialogue simply take any persisting negative thoughts to Jesus. Tell him that this is what you hear in your head and ask him for his truth. Then, be still and listen.
Enhance your listening times with bilateral music. Accessunder ‘Bilateral Music,’ EMDR Music Therapy, or ‘Bilateral Stimulation.’ Bilateral music stimulates the integration of mind, heart and spirit resulting in healthy integration similar to what happens in dreaming during sleep.
If any persistent negative thought is anchored in a memory then it would be useful to use the Healing of Memories approach to heal that memory and overcome the negative thought. See Chapter 5 for a description of the Healing of Memories through Listening Prayer.
Is Anger Healthy? While hate and bitterness are unhealthy and hurt both others and ourselves. There is anger that isnot associated with hate or bitterness. For example, anger is an important source of the passion that we harness for communication, rebuke and discipline. Communication: One healthy purpose of anger is to motivate us to speak up and open communication with one we believe has wronged us or dealt with us unjustly. Rebuke: Paul dealt with the Christian communities with rebuke. Parents can channel their anger at a child into a clear message directed at the child’s wrong action. The anger gets the child’s attention. The parent makes direct eye to eye contact with the child and repeats the rule and expresses disapproval of the child’s behaviour. Discipline: Adult authority is enhanced by moderate levels of passion (calm anger).When you stand for truth, your anger/passion may catch people’s attention and add a tone of authority to your message. In these examples, anger is an energy that helps to get us in motion and motivates us to express ourselves and confront people directly. You may need to learn to focus truth on the issue but speaking up if far better than sarcasm, gossiping about them or sulking alone in the corner. When and Why can Anger be Unhealthy? Here, when we say ‘anger’ we really mean our attitudes of resentment and hate. Our desire to hurt the person back who hurt us. That ‘anger’ is dangerous to our social network, our emotional, physical and spiritual health. Social Network: Our attitude of revenge/resentment is harmful, both to ourselves and to others. Jesus taught us that such an attitude acts like a curse and in our spiritual social networks is equivalent to murder. Such wisdom He had! Physical Health: Anger in the form of resentment and hate is not good for our health. Perhaps that is because unforgiveness come between us and God, block the communion, the flow and, therefore, our access to grace, health, peace and joy. We cut off the resources of heaven. Spiritual Protection: On the threshold of the kingdom and in the year before I said ‘Yes’ to giving my life to God I had an unexpected discovery of God’s protection of my spirit - my Inner Child. Right in the middle of a marital argument something deep within me (my spirit) decided to stop hurting back. The end. And at the same very instant the verbal knives of my wife bounced off and could not reach my heart. It seemed that I accidentally triggered one of God’s principles. God began to shield me from the bitterness in the words of my spouse. As long as I maintained the attitude of not hurting back this sense of divine protection remained in place. I learned that my desire to do harm her blocked the flow of God’s protection and that when I let go of that intent I experienced God’s protection. That means that you can experience God’s principles at work right in your marriage. You can let go of resentment (forgive) and God will step in as your protector and you will experience safety.
Theology ‘Be angry but sin not.’ Too often anger is selfish and unloving in the words it uses.
However anger can also be confrontative and loving. It depends on what is said and the intent. The anger that sins not speaks the truth in love. Ephesians 4: 15, 26.
Exercises: 1. Where you have been angry write out the full sentence beginning with “I am angry.” In the sentence name who you are angry with and the reason you are angry with them. 2. If the anger you feels needs expression then set up the campfire situation in your imagination and speak to the other what you need to say. 3. Tell Jesus your sentence about your anger and ask for his love, courage and wisdom. Take time to be still and listen. 4. It there is a negative critical voice in your head try to use the empty chair technique to express the negative from one chair and an answer to that from the other chair. 5. Note: if the critical voice is persistent you may benefit from Chapter 7 on the Inner Judge.