By Rebecca Caputo
When I was handed a little green book several years ago, I didn’t for a moment expect it to rock the foundation of my beliefs or my life. In my early 40’s I read, “Living From the Heart Jesus Gave You” by Dr. Jim Wilder et al and it changed, well, literally everything. It gave clarity, deep insight and language to aspects of myself that explained why I was drawn to toxic traits in others and ongoing unhealthy relationships with them. It explained why I continued to make unwise decisions from fear, anger and shame, and why I just couldn’t break dysfunctional cycles and behavior by sheer willpower and years of counseling. But once I read this gem of a book, I realized I had significant unhealed trauma that kept me stuck in some areas, living in trigger and reactive mode and that I had some maturity gaps that supported cyclical patterns of self-sabotage and self betrayal. Ouch.
Through learning more about how the brain develops (or should develop) from this book from the time we are born, I began the journey of understanding where emotional gaps form and how the familiarity of some dysfunctional patterns feels correct and right, and even comfortable, despite the pain they can cause. I realized that dysfunction, unhealed trauma and wounds were actually comfortable to me in several areas, despite the inevitable pain they cause and that they were actually what I unconsciously knew to be ‘normal.’
It was so helpful to understand that my brain had developed in a way that didn’t allow me to experience certain healthy patterns or relationships without discomfort, intimidation, fear and sometimes even pain because of the unfamiliarity. And the unhealed parts of me thought love looked like disrespect and abuse in particular areas. What I didn’t realize is that I was choosing unhealthy patterns and relationships without even knowing it, because it was all familiar to me and what I knew. I wasn’t drawn to really healthy people. I was emotionally unhealthy and I didn’t even know it. But I sure knew how to navigate dysfunction within my gaps of maturity. And it was stunting my growth and fruitfulness in so many areas.
When I started counseling in my twenties, I gave a hearty attempt to begin the healthy emotional habits and healthy decisions I was being introduced to. But, unknowingly I continued to re-create dysfunction in my life while touting to my counselor “I’m learning to set boundaries and make healthier decisions for myself!” Yet, many of the same patterns continued to emerge and leaks sprouted in the new areas that I didn’t know how to handle well. I was making decisions from willpower and forcing behavior that felt awkward, unfamiliar and sometimes unkind. Inside, I felt unsteady on this path. It was hard. I may have made a few better decisions for myself, but I wasn’t transforming from within. Dysfunctional root systems weren’t getting plucked out. I continued on this path for a really, really long time always learning and trying. How helpful it would have been to have this information several years ago!
Years later, when I was reading this book, it explained to me,
• The maturity stages and the skills I needed to learn along the way and what it looked like as an adult if I didn’t have them
• How unhealed wounds and trauma deeply affect our growth and overall emotional health and spill over into every area of our lives
• That being wounded in relationship will take healthy, safe relationships in which to heal
• How to connect to Immanuel in a two-way conversation
All of this, combined with the brain science Dr. Jim Wilder was unpacking, revealed to me how from a young age my brain hadn’t received all that it needed for me to emotionally thrive as an adult in many areas. I was learning the reasons behind why I was living more from my hurt than my heart.
Up to that point it seemed I just couldn’t really change, heal, or get better at making sustainable, healthy decisions. Which led me down a rabbit hole feeling as if I was not going to be able to have a good life, one that didn’t hurt on many levels and plain wear me out to the point of despairing often.
Living from the Heart Jesus Gave You gave me a roadmap. An emotional growth and healing roadmap that would help me navigate into new, unchartered territory of healing, self-respect, emotional skills and a life that wasn’t so painful and exhausting. A path where my brain could actually change and grow in ways that would foster this new way of thinking and being. I had been in counseling off and on for over twenty years, read many self-help books (Christian and secular) and tried many techniques to repair the damage of some extreme dysfunctions and abuse when I was young. But as I learned to lead an Immanuel prayer lifestyle, I experienced a Jesus who was very present in every one of those dark details of my life, a Jesus who brought healing to the black parts and dark nights of my soul, a Jesus who helped to complete those memories and bring healing salve to those deep crevices of my heart.
In addition, God gifted me with a small community of women who wanted this for themselves as well and we journeyed together in a regular rhythm, being glad to be with each other despite any circumstance as we grew in relational skills together and celebrated emotional victories along the way. Growing and healing in this little community of women helped to bring forth clarity, strength and the most authentic versions of ourselves that we had experienced. This community breathed life into each of our identities and the copious amounts of joy building over many, many charcuterie boards was undeniable.
In between conversations, encouragement, support, laughter and sharing our stories, we scoured this book together once we had formed a deep bond, and found that yes, indeed, we do heal in community. Joy levels do rise in being glad to be with each other, identity does emerge when building joy together and Jesus does meet us in every step along the way of this incredible transformation. Our healing and growth path went to an entirely different trajectory as we forged together on this healing journey. And it’s changed everything for each of us women today.
The green book has been edited since I first read it, and has a completely different cover today. Kind of like my life. We both look so different than we did years ago, and the peace between my ears is priceless. I am ceaselessly grateful for the impactful and pain shattering insight I have learned from reading this timeless Kingdom treasure of a book as I soldier on in my emotional healing and growth path. There’s no going back.
I hope you feel led to check it out some time if you haven’t already and may it bless you abundantly. I’m so for your emotional health and healing journey!