Father and son

Five Cardinal Points and Knowing your Enemy

I am a psychologist who identifies with the scientific model of the pursuit of Truth. And I am also a Christian who also believes in the supernatural model of the pursuit of Truth. The Truth sought by the two models is not in contradiction and should not be in contradiction. Faith and reason are not enemies but like the two wings of a bird.

With this in mind, I try to find out the healing of the human person both psychologically, using the best practices available as a psychotherapist, but humble enough to acknowledge the transcendent nature of the person. Religion, for centuries, has filled a need that humans have in their nature. The fact that religion is thousands of years old, and science as such is only 500 years can only mean that either those people who lived in pre-scientific times were stupid or that religion meets needs greater and more important for the healthy existence of individuals than science does. I will go with the latter. Even today, religion plays a major role in people’s lives and there is no evidence that a majority of scientists for the last 500 years have been atheistic.

So, why healing of the family tree? There are five cardinal points that the author of the book The Healing of Families (quoted in full at the end of this article) gives and I would like to summarize them even as I enrich them with my own understanding.

1. We are created of both a physical and spiritual nature.

Christian scriptures hold that we existed in the mind of God before we existed within time and space (before I created you, I knew you). This dual nature does not entail conflict or simple coexistence where I do spiritual things occasionally and in other moments, I engage with physical things. It is instead a symbiosis. It is constant reciprocity. In fact, until very recently, many cultures did not have the secular vs the sacred. The physical affects the spiritual and vice versa. When I sin with my body, it affects my spirit and when my spirit yearns for God, it affects my actions. When my spirit is at peace, I experience physical and psychological health.

The author poses the question of how consonant or in concord is our spirit with those we value or are important to us. When we like someone and are comfortable in their presence, even our body shows; we face them, smile, laugh, are interested in them, and possibly even hug them. Our bodies indicate consonance. It is important that parents and children, husband and wife, employers, and employers have a sense of spiritual harmony. What is going on in their spirit? The author makes an important claim that our spiritual nature, authored by the supreme author, is sensitive to authority. We need to help our spirit respond to this supreme author because it no longer knows Him as easily and automatically as it used to due to the Original Sin. This weakness can be taken advantage of by the deceiver.

2. We are created attached to other people

We are born part of a larger family. We are born and we find that we have certain parents who will always be our parents, even if we don’t know them. We have siblings. We belong to a community. We are intensely social. This need to be attached is so grave that there is very strong evidence (confer Harvard Study of Adult Development) that the best predictor of a good life is the quality of one’s attachments. Do you have good friends and family or are you lonely and isolated? Loneliness and isolation may be bigger killers in our times than nicotine which kills in the excess of 5 million people annually, globally.

This attachment is biological and psychological. You inherited certain biological (e.g., genes), psychological (temperament), and situational (social status) advantages from your family tree but also certain disadvantages (diseases, temperaments, and/or poverty). The same case applies to the spirit. If there are blessings in your family, you benefit from them without having to lift a finger other but you simply are blessed by belonging to that family. If there are sins and deals that were made with the devil, these too affect you and you cannot simply accept the blessings and walk away without the “curses” too. I am because you are. My problems are you problems because of this attachment and my blessings are your blessings. No wonder the individualism of our current times hurts so many of us and could be a strategy of the evil one to cut us off from the source and security of our being.

What do you think?

3. Our most important and fundamental choices in life are made for us by others.

This was a difficult one even for me to accept. But it makes a lot of sense. Did you decide to be born? Did you choose your parents or siblings? What about your social-economic status, the food you ate, and the family culture that you grew up in? What about your being male or female? Your country, culture, or community? What about whether to go to school or not and to which school? What about teachers? You could be a substantially dissimilar person if other choices than the ones that have been made for you so far were different.

What this means is that whatever the choices our parents made for us affect us physically, psychologically, and spiritually. Whether they were aware of those choices, good or bad, the impact of those choices remains the same. If they chose well, it will be visible in their children and their grandchildren. If they did not, the same goes. The same case applies at the spiritual level. What choices, consciously or not, did your parents, up your family tree, make that are affecting your family tree? What are you grateful for and what needs to be healed?

4. The Power of Spoken Words

The author indicates that God created with words. Speech is powerful and creative. Jesus is referred to as “the Word that was with God and was God.” With words, God created. Since we are created in the image and likeness of God, we can “create” with our words. We can bless and we can curse. The Bible is littered with this unique power among humans to create and to curse. Since we are body and spirit, we are attached to others and those others, especially our parents, make significant choices for us, their words, of blessings or of curses, can promote or prevent our access to God’s blessings. Our words do affect the body but they also affect the spirit. The Bible warns us about the dangers of the tongue. Jesus warns against swearing. Let us not despair; the same tongue that can curse, can also bless. We can choose.

One of the most beautiful ideas that I got from this book is when the word of God urges us to “bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse them” Rom 12:14. When you curse someone who is hurting you, you are increasing their evil and thus the capacity for them to hurt you more. When you bless them, you are breaking the evil that has a hold on them that is leading them to hurt you. Consequently, blessing someone who is hurting you is not so much for them but for your own survival! Loved it!

All of us have the authority to speak words of blessings and we should to everyone we meet. However, those in authority, starting with parents, have the highest level of authority over those who are under their care. When a parent calls their child stupid or the devil, what doors are they opening?

Since God’s gifts are irrevocable. A metaphor might help here. God has given parents a “sword” to defend their children. However, parents can use that very sword to cut down their children. That doesn’t make the sword any less a gift from God because they have chosen to use it badly and neither will He take the gift away because it is His nature to give and not to take away. Or again, imagine you gifting a nice pillow to a newly wedded couple. Every time they use the pillow, they remember you and are really grateful. One day, in a fit of anger, one suffocates the other using the same pillow. This is your gift used badly but that does not mean that the gift was bad. So is the same with the authority given by God to our parents.

This capacity to bless is not limited to our parents. Everyone has the opportunity to bless. Be a channel of God’s blessings wherever you are. Bless people on the bus in the silence of your hearts. Bless your classmates, passersby and workmates.

When we know words that should not have been spoken were spoken over us in the past, we don’t need to despair because there is Jesus.

5. The Power of the Name of Jesus

In Acts 3:16, Peter openly claims that he healed the cripple in the Name of Jesus. In Acts 4:7-12, again, it is repeated that there is no other name on earth by which anybody can be saved except the name of Jesus. Jesus promises His disciples that they would do great things in his name. His name is synonymous with His power.  Those who want to heal can confidently turn to Jesus to heal their families.

Conclusion: Knowing your Enemy

Before you go to war, you need to know your enemy. Even Jesus advises so. If you were to hear about your enemy’s playbook, wouldn’t you purpose to read it in order to know how he or she acts? Too many Christians do not hear about the devil enough and have come to ignore him (like he would like), and thus downplay his power and impact. To several Christians, he is not even real. This makes us vulnerable when he attacks us since we are not ready.

But Jesus leaves his disciples with the capacity to cast out demons. We need to understand how the devil works, that he has power, but more importantly, that we have the power to cast him out in the Name of Jesus.

The healing of Families – How to pray effectively for those stubborn personal and familial problems – Fr. Yozefu Balikuddembe Ssemakula
Chapter Three – The Five Cardinal Points and Knowing your Enemy

PS: I’d love to hear your thoughts and perspectives.

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