This post is a little long but it covers some real problems I have found some significant answers to. I hope it brings some light to others who find themselves mentally locked up with no visible hope of getting out. This is not meant to be a formula but a path to freedom.
Question…How can we be delivered from the emotional or mental prisons we find ourselves ‘locked up in’ whether they are made by ourselves or others?
The Way Out
I know how bad it can get when you’re “locked up “in a self constructed mental prison. It seems that when I have so much negative stuff going on in my brain, my soul (emotions and thoughts) becomes so loud it’s all I can hear. It robs me of sleep, joy, peace, and erodes my faith.
There is a way out of these ‘prisons’, but it will not come by dwelling on the screams (fear) of our emotions or the constant debates that go on in our minds. To find our way out we must begin a conscience, deliberate mental shift.
As previously stated, the help we need won’t come from our mind or emotions; it will come from what the Lord speaks to our spirit. The problem is that we never get quiet enough to hear what He is saying. That’s because of the noise of our feelings and the unsettledness of our thoughts. So, like King David, the first thing we need to do is address our soul’s emotional fears and or depressing mental meanderings.
“Why are you depressed and discouraged O my soul? And why are you so afraid and upset? Hope in God. “For I shall yet praise Him, (for He is) the help of my disposition and my God". (Psalm 42:5)
The eyes of our hope must begin shifting from the frantic searching to try and understand what’s going on, what’s going to happen or even why it happened. Our focus must be deliberately turned to the scriptural promises of God’s unending love for us. This process begins with searching out what God has previously stated about His care and concern for us. So get a bible and start searching.
Didn’t He say He would never forsake you and be with you till the end of time? (Matthew 28: 19, 20) Didn’t He say He will make your crooked paths straight? (Isaiah 42:16) Didn’t He also say no weapon formed against you will prosper and every tongue that condemns you will be condemned? (Isaiah 54: 16, 17) If we purposely turn our thoughts to these promises, slowly an amazing change will begin to take place.
Your heavenly Father will change your ‘prison’ into a ‘classroom’. You might be asking what difference will that make? There is a great difference in how we feel in a classroom and how we feel in a prison. In a prison there are bars, locked doors and guards to keep us confined. In classrooms, there are windows, open doors and teachers to help us learn.
And what you’ll learn in those classrooms that you mistakenly thought were prisons, will become the most comforting and powerful help to any who find themselves trapped in those same situations. So, after you have addressed your soul and told it to change its focus from grasping answers to God’s promises, you will then need to address the Lord and tell Him all your anxious fears .
My heart is severely pained within me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fearfulness and trembling have come upon me, and horror has overwhelmed me. So I said, "Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. (Psalm 55:4-6)
Then tell Him that He alone is your help and that all you want in life is what He has for you.
“I cried out to you, O Lord: ““You are my refuge, my (only) portions in the land of the living, Listen to my cry for I am brought very low; deliver me from my persecutors, for they are stronger than me. Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise your name…” (Psalm 142:5-7)
Once you begin to mentally leave the ‘prison’, make another deliberate choice to stay in the ‘class room’ till you have learned all He desires to teach you.
I have been thrown (or stumbled) into terrible emotional prisons and have been relentlessly taunted by my ‘jailers’ who seemed determined to keep me incarcerated. There seemed no escape and the thought of remaining in that condition felt worse than death. It wasn’t until I acknowledged three things that the transformation from prison to classroom took place.
Three Spiritual Truths
The first consist of believing that no one is ultimately to blame for my condition but God. Now that may seem like a cop-out but it really isn’t. Ultimately I am in this condition primarily not because of choices I made or that others have made; I am here because… God allowed it.
Any good parent who knows the ultimate responsibility for the child’s choices actions, and overall welfare belong to the parent and not the child.
I know, I know, you are going to say… “But there are other people responsible including myself”. While that is true it is not the most important truth. In the end, don't we believe that God is the one ruling the conditions and circumstances of my life? Couldn’t He have stopped what happened to me?
If your focus remains on other people or even your own personal failings and not on your Heavenly Father, you will not be able to avoid becoming bitter. Bitterness always has serious repercussions. We must understand that to allow bitterness to have its way with us is to possibly lose the key to our ‘prison’ door… forever.
Yet if your contention is with God and not ourselves or others, then ultimately what you will have to come to is this; it is by His doing (or not doing) that I am in this condition. Now it helps to know that. Because if God is the one who allowed this to come into our lives and not just the devil, other people or even worse… my own failings; then whatever this is, it has come for my ultimate good.
If He allowed it, then He either has something He desires me to learn through this circumstance or wants me to allow myself to be shaped by it. His dealings with us are always totally redemptive. He has allowed me to come to this place for my benefit. Accepting this fact allows me to change from seeing a prison to seeing a place of learning. It can even make being there… a little ok.
It's not ever wise to leave a place of learning before learning what one has been brought there to learn. We may choose what is less than best for ourselves to avoid pain, but our Father won’t.
Slowly you will begin to see the people you thought were “afflicting you” are really just chosen teachers sent from God. It is much easier to love teachers than persecutors.
There are people down the line who will thank your persecutors (teachers) for their help in making you the kind of person God wants you to be. That is if we learn to see the ‘classroom’… and not the ‘prison’.
The second lesson comes when the first is completed by saying ...I am here by your hand ...let me learn what you would have me learn. Then we may even begin to see why He brought us there in the first place.
That being …to learn about ourselves. It is not when things go as we expect or desire that we find out what is really in us… that revelation comes precisely when things don't go at all as we would wish. Without seeing clearly what is already in us we will never cry out for deliverance and thus never be delivered from our flesh.
Remember…. People and circumstances don't cause problems in us they only reveal them. We have been brought to this learning place to learn about us.
We must see our lack...of love, strength, patience, tolerance, or even ability to care for others for what it really is. In short, we must see how very little we love. This is painful. Many people refuse to stay in this learning place long enough to see anything about themselves, so consequentially they never learn to how to love. We usually need to hear the 'cock crow 3 times' before this really sinks in.
We have a saying around the Village..." You don't understand the length of the answer because you haven't realized the depth of the problem".
Let Him show you that what you hate most in others is also in you. Remember; He who is forgiven much ....loves much. Learn from the classrooms He puts us in and He will teach us to love. Bible studies and sermons only serve to help you stay in this sacred place of learning. They don’t impart the actual revelation of self. Do not refuse the light that "illuminates every man" showing us what’s really inside us. And always remember the Light that illuminates what God hates in us will also destroy it.
The final lesson to be learned is that everything He does is for your temporal and eternal good including the timing of your deliverance.
"Bring my soul out of prison that I may praise your name (and then) the righteous shall surround me….” “Return to your rest, O my soul, For the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.” (Psalm 142:7) (Psalm 116:7)
The Lord knows when we have completed the lesson we don’t. If we learn all three of these lessons our joy will return and we will be a blessing to those around us. Remember you must believe that He is in your situation and that He is a rewarder of those that seek to know Him as God in that situation.
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Heb 11:6)
One of the first and most ancient words for worship is “to bow down and kiss the hand". Until we learn to bow down and kiss the circumstantial hand of God we have not traveled very far on the road with Christ. We might not have chosen this way ....but He did… and we will overcome all trials the same way he did....by uttering, “not my will, agenda, timing or outcome Father but Yours be done”. None of us would have chosen the cross for Christ, but God did.
Aren’t we glad He did? Accepting God's classroom is not only a way to 'stay out of prisons' but a real way to live a life that is pleasing to Him.