|Inner Healing by the
(An experience of the inner healing of a childhood memory
by Bob Boutwell, prepared for a Healing Committee Workshop
at Salisbury, VT 10/29/00)
Inner healing has to do with what is in control of our lives.
We often think that we are pretty much in control of our lives
but we may not realize that other forces are at work in us.
We may have come to believe lies about ourselves, about God,
or about the world we live in and those lies can begin to
control how we live and how we respond to the world. For example,
perhaps when you were small someone told you; "You are
really dumb!", "You are a bad child!" or "You
never will amount to anything." and at the time you believed
them so you recorded that lie about yourself in your subconscious.
Later on when something bad happened your subconscious played
back that recording, and you thought, "That's right,
I am really dumb." so it was reinforced over and over
and gradually became a self-fulfilling prophecy or a life
commandment controlling you.
When I was growing up I heard many lies. My grandfather told
me some things about God that were not quite true. He told
me about a family that skipped church to go fishing and were
nearly killed when the lightning, which God sent, struck their
boat. Naturally I believed that if I did anything that displeased
God I would be struck by lightning. My mother told me that
people would not like me if I did not behave. Naturally I
believed that I had to behaved properly so everyone would
like me. I was told that I must control my sexuality or I
would be out raping women like my uncle. My father told me
never to trust people with light blue eyes. Some things also
happened to convinced me that the world was a very dangerous
and frightening place. I came to believe that I must always
be on the defensive and protect myself. Vulnerability was
It took about 40 years for the truth to begin to dawn on
me that fear was controlling my life. I was afraid that God
might not be pleased with me. I was afraid that some of my
parishioners wouldn't like me. I was afraid that something
terrible might happen against which I could not protect myself.
At one point I was afraid that I was having a heart attack.
I became so depressed that all my emotions shut down. I did
however have some inner resources. I had come to believe in
God as revealed in the Old Testament and delighted in the
psalms. I once had a wonderful experience of the healing presence
of the risen Christ, but I knew nothing about the Holy Spirit.
Gradually many things began to come together. The people of
my congregation loved me. They gathered around me, laid their
hands on me, and prayed for me week after week. I was encouraged
to seek the help of a therapist for my depression. I learned
from Morton Kelsey about the Holy Spirit's activity and the
sacred gift of sexuality. I attended a "Life in the Spirit"
seminar. Francis MacNutt laid hands on me and prayed that
I might be open to the Holy Spirit. While at a Calling and
Caring training program I remembered a terrifying experience
of early childhood and two later experiences which were similar.
Gradually I began to let down my guard and open up to allow
the Holy Spirit do whatever inner healing was needed and to
take control of my life.
One day when I was meeting for prayer with my prayer partner,
Dan Price, I told him about having remembered that terrifying
experience of early childhood and how I felt that it had been
affecting my whole life. Dan laid his hands on me and prayed
that the Holy Spirit would bring healing to that memory. Then
in prayer he led me back to that dark night when I was walking
home alone under the stars. I looked up and saw the vastness
of the heavens and I felt the same terror that had gripped
me then and so often since. I put my head down covered my
eyes and started to run as I had done that night so long ago.
Then Dan said, "Jesus is there with you, can you see
him?" Suddenly there was someone standing in front of
me preventing me from running away. I knew that it was Jesus.
"Yes" I said. "What is he doing?" Dan
asked. Although I knew it was a prayer of my imagination it
was very real. I felt Jesus lift my face, my terror was completely
gone and now I could see the glory of God spread out across
the broad expanse of the starry heavens. My feeling of terror
was replaced with glorious wonder at its beauty. Then Jesus
took me by the hand and walked with me the rest of the way
to my home. "Will you be OK now?" Jesus asked. "Oh
yes! Thank you Jesus!" I said. I no longer felt that
I needed to rush inside, crawl into bed and cover my head
under the blankets. I was healed, I had been set free from
the feelings of anxiety and terror that had been controlling
my life. With that also came physical healing of the allergies
which had often caused my voice to fail while leading worship.
I had courageously opened myself to the Holy Spirit trusting
that God would be gentle and loving with me. I had allowed
the Holy Spirit to discover and reveal the fear that had controlled
and poisoned my life and I had discovered that Jesus, the
risen and living Christ, was there with me to heal that memory
and transform an experience of terror into one of joy. Since
then, by comparison, my life has been absolutely glorious;
no more anxiety attacks, no more terrifying nightmares, no
more fear of not pleasing God, no more worrying about people
not liking me, no more anxiety about my masculine sexuality,
no more depression. My self-esteem no longer depended on what
other people thought of me. Henri Nouwen taught me to see
myself as God's beloved one. Now I am sorry if you don't like
me, but I have learned to like myself anyway.
With the Holy Spirit to guide and protect me I am not afraid
of losing control of myself or my emotions. Through Holy Communion
the presence of the living Christ in me is renewed so that
Jesus is always with me in my body and in my blood. When confronted
by troubles, trials or temptations I become aware of the angels
God sends to minister to me and protect me. When I fail I
discover anew God's gentle kindness and forgiving love. I
praise God and give thanks for all the people who have helped
me discover the freedom, power and gifts of the Holy Spirit
and I am delighted that God has blessed me with this healing
ministry so that I may offer these gifts of God's healing
and redeeming love to other people in Jesus' name.