A popular counseling technique is called the “reframe.” Reframing is a therapeutic technique that assists individuals in broadening restricted perspectives. Reframing is taking heart issues and seeing them from a positive perspective; however it is not just positive thinking. Reframing uses our hurts rather than ignoring them or minimizing them. Reframing expands our understanding of the truth. Reframing helps us see things with the whole truth rather than our limited understanding. For example, while I used to wonder about the pain of my past, I now look back and see how God has used it to give me insight into the clients I counsel.
If you’ve ever seen Sheila Walsh speak at the Women of Faith conferences, you know that when her father got ill, he lashed out at her. Even though Sheila could forgive her father on a rational level, she could not get over the emotional pain his behavior had caused her. She was telling someone that her father had picked her over all the children to vent his anger. The friend said, “Sheila do you think maybe he lashed out at the one person he knew would never stop loving him?” See, the friend didn’t try to minimize Sheila’s pain or what her father did to her. He tried to give her a broader perspective that helped her get unstuck.
Again, reframing doesn’t ignore current losses. It doesn’t negate your truth or minimize what was done to you. Reframing uses events to make a situation better. Reframing helps us develop a life that has purpose and meaning; it turns our misery into a ministry. And reframing is a process — it doesn’t happen instantly.
Reframing actively, creatively, and productively helps us decide what we’re going to do. It uses what’s in our past or present. If someone hurts us, reframing helps us decide we’re not going to be a victims any longer. Recently, I was reading Invading the Privacy of God by Cecil Murphey (author of the huge bestseller Ninety Minutes in Heaven). He was raised in a large family where his father clearly favored his oldest brother. Cec concluded he was the biblical Esau (the one God hated) and that his brother was Jacob, the favored brother. He knew on a theological level he could trust God, but on an emotional level he spent his life trying to be good enough for God, fearing there wouldn’t be any blessing left over.
One day, while alone in the woods, Cec screamed, “I’ve tried so hard to be good. I’ve tried to be the Christian you wanted me to be and look at the way you treat me!” It still took him years to realize that he was trying to earn God’s love, however it was the beginning of a more important truth: One morning he heard himself say, “Wait a minute, I’m not Esau, I’m Jacob.” He realized his Heavenly father was very different from his earthly one, and that he didn’t have to do one thing to earn God’s love.
What belief have you framed your life with? Could it be there is a broader truth? If the pain is so great that you can’t see this perspective, perhaps you may need another person to help you process the situation. Commit to talking with a trusted friend, pastor, or counselor today.