Cresenda Jones wrote, Spiritual Maturity: God’s Will for Emotional Health and Healing in 2014, which is used by individuals and small groups throughout the United States to facilitate growth in our emotions and spiritual life.
You Are Not Alone: The Power of Healing Discussion Groups
You probably know Michael Jackson’s great song, “You Are Not Alone.” He sings about love and isolation in desperate and anguished times. Michael’s songwriter says in the song that his friend is in his heart and that he will be there for them. Most of us wish for a dream relationship with someone who will always be there for us. Many of us would love to be rescued every once in a while from the troubles and hardships of our lives.
Personally, I’m ready for heaven and with John I will say, “ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus ” – Revelation 22:20. Once we are in heaven, we will be with God forever. But we don’t need to wait for healthy relationship connections until then! The good news is that as disciples we are commanded to love, bear with, forgive, encourage, agree with, build up, honor, accept, instruct, greet, submit to, be devoted to, confess our sins to, teach, admonish, and pray for each other.
God also calls us to live in harmony with each other. He instructs us to be kind and compassionate, to have equal concern for, to be at peace with, and offer hospitality to each other. There are numerous scriptures that discuss how we should relate to one another. God wants us to spur one another on and tell the truth to each other. As the body of Christ, we are all connected to each other. With God’s fellowship, we are never alone.
The even greater blessing is that Scripture promises us that our God himself is always with us in the now:
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13
And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. – Matthew 28:20
As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you . – Joshua 1:5
How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! – Luke 11:13
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. – John 14:26
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” – Acts 2:38
Disciples know these scriptures but unfortunately, some express that they haven’t felt them in their heart and soul. Though we have the head knowledge that there really is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9), we are frequently tempted to believe that our struggles, sins, emotional battles, insecurities, infirmities, anger, wounds, fears, and thoughts are vastly different from everyone else’s. A number of disciples, in an unhealthy way, believe that their sins are far worse than anyone else’s. But, God assures us that they are not and that he is with us. He will carry us through.
You have probably heard many sermons, pep talks, motivational speakers, and teachers. Constructivist educators and social researchers have attempted to impress upon teachers and speakers the fact that the least effective way of helping others is through speaking alone. Information is least retained through such means. While personal transformation can begin with listening to a speaker or reading a book, it rarely comes to fruition without reflection, processing, and discussing areas of desired growth. A safe place is needed for emotional growth to occur.
Next to God’s word, David Seamands’ Healing for Damaged Emotions Workbook is my all-time favorite spiritual book. The workbook discussion questions provide a framework for the most powerful type of capacity-building and life-changing sharing I have ever witnessed. Using this tool, groups of courageous disciples and friends have met over the past few years to discuss ways to grow in our hearts and souls and to more effectively deal with situations that have impacted our lives.
I highly recommend that single-gender discipleship groups, community groups, and other kinds of groups work through Seamands’ book with twelve-step-like guidelines for group sharing. Unlike typical discipleship groups led by one person, this type of group operates as a safe place for people to think through, discuss, uncover, and focus on their own lives, struggles, sins, shortcomings, and infirmities. Twelve-step-format guidelines for starting a discussion group are available on my website.
Psychotherapy (professional counseling) and the group of women I regularly met with in this type of setting helped me tremendously in my journey of emotional healing and growth. Past issues that have not been effectively processed cannot be left behind. Christian psychologists note that despite the age-old adage, time does not heal all wounds.
Though I discussed everything I could think of in 1985 as I went through a Bible-study series on how to become a disciple of Jesus, I came to understand that there is a major difference between talking about situations and emotionally resolving them on a heart and neurology level. In order to recall and process my most impactful life events and emotions, I desperately needed the women in the group to hear my stories and I needed to hear their stories. The group helped me to feel that I am not alone in my pain or my emotional health goals. I also greatly benefited from a breakthrough process using Time Line Therapy®.
Through the testimonial stories shared in my book, many have found comfort in knowing that they are not alone in their thoughts, feelings, pain, and efforts toward recovery and personal growth. Additional sections in this third chapter of Spiritual Maturity: God’s Will for Emotional Health and Healing include: Family-of-Origin Issues; Helping Each Other Embrace God’s Forgiveness; Depression; Satan’s Deadliest Weapons; Perfectionism; and Reaching Out.
REFLECTION: Which scriptures resonate most with you? Why? Do the “one another” scriptures describe your personal relationships in your fellowship?
Cresenda Jones was baptized in 1985 in Charlotte, NC. She published Spiritual Maturity: God’s Will for Emotional Health and Healing in 2014. Since 2004, she has facilitated 12 Healing for Damaged Emotions (by David Seamands) workbook discussion groups with women and just completed the first group for men in our Miami, Florida fellowship. Cresenda has a Masters in Professional Counseling from Liberty University and became a Florida Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern in 2018. She most enjoys facilitating breakthroughs, using Time Line Therapy®, where clients release negative emotions and limiting decisions/beliefs from the past and thus change unhealthy neuro-programming. Born in Washington, DC, Cresenda is currently transitioning to Brevard County, Florida from Southern New Jersey. For more information, visit cresendajones.com.