Watch: Jeff’s testimony
Jeff struggled with his heart’s instincts and how he felt he needed to behave. As he sought the Holy Spirit’s counsel together with other brothers-in-Christ, God showed him how his spiritual gift of compassion had been corrupted as a result of constant negative reinforcement and a significant traumatic experience as a child. As a result, Jeff felt relieved and free to be himself. Praise God!
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What is this voice that I’m dealing with? What is this voice? What are these instincts that I’m trying to figure out?
I don’t know. And so rather than use this voice, it became a harsh tone of judgment.
Hi, my name is Jeff. I work at a church. I love running. I love eating. I’m also a life coach and I do a lot of guidance counseling. Now in my time as a life coach and as a guidance counselor, I’ve noticed two key actions that really limit people and it removes their pursuing of a goal or a gift.
Now, the first point I want to highlight is constant negative reinforcement.
Now as a child, I was always drawn to the lonely, those in the classrooms that didn’t have friends and I was moved towards them, but I didn’t know why. And as I grew up, I would constantly help people. I would spend time with them. I would loan out money.
And what happened was my parents recognised this behavior and they said, “Jeff, why do you trust people so easily? Don’t trust people all the time. You’ll get hurt. You’ll get blamed. You’ll get in trouble.” And they negatively reinforced what was coming instinctually from within.
I also remember a time when my parents were arguing at home and, as a child, I would see my parents fight.
My mom would cry. I’d bring a box of tissues. I would interject, “Mom, don’t say this. Dad, don’t say that.” And my mum would say, “When adults talk, children shut up.” And I began to internalise that, and I began to negatively reinforce myself and silence myself.
When I would see something happening, I would say, “Jeff, just keep it quiet. Don’t say anything.”
And as a result, I would notice other people and instead of using my voice, I would judge people.
“Why aren’t those people being kind? Why aren’t they stepping up to help out?”
The second point was actually significant traumatic experiences. And so, an event happened when I was around five or six years old. My sister and I, we had an argument at home, as kids do. What happened was my sister told her teacher and that teacher then called me from my class to her class. I stood in front of that classroom and I was made to apologise in front of my sister and in front of all those kids.
And so, what happens as a five- or six-year-old? You cry, you look stupid. You don’t know how to fight back. And so, that entire classroom laughed at me, as did the teacher.
So, this significant traumatic experience took away my voice of standing up for myself.
I can’t be mad when things don’t work out. “God, why?” I can’t ask these questions. And so my faith with God became quite compliant. It wasn’t freedom-based, it was more obligation-based. “God, if You are good, then You wouldn’t have…” It became judgment-based.
Because of this negative reinforcement, because of these significant traumatic experiences in my life, the outcome was that this led to the silencing and the suppression of my voice.
There are many times of frustration and anger, and I didn’t know what these emotions were.
And so, my brothers-in-Christ helped me to understand the consistencies of what was actually happening in my life. They prayed for me. They asked the Holy Spirit to guide the conversations and soon, we identified that there were very specific situations that triggered these feelings and these emotions.
And there was a common trend that surfaced and these common trends would often involve brokenness, or some sort of injustice, or unfairness where somebody was disadvantaged as a result. And the natural inclination was that when I would see these situations, I would go up to these people.
And what it eventually revealed was that it was actually a voice of compassion. It was a spiritual gift of compassion.
I realised that not everyone had the same inclination. It was just me. Why didn’t that person go and do that when this happened? No, it was just me. And so, knowing this gift was a divine gift, actually freed me. It allowed me to go in-depth on this God-given voice. It allowed me to really drill down on what it meant to be a voice of compassion.
It validated my feelings and my heart responses.
These weren’t voices that need to be silenced. They needed to be broadcasted. These feelings, these actions of compassion, is needed in the world.
With such a great weight and backing of this particular gift, I recognise that this God-given voice must not be used as a weapon of destruction. Now occasionally, I fail, but I resolve that it must not be used as a weapon of destruction. It can only be used from love; building up and most certainly, not tearing down.
It allows me to not only stand up for others, but also to stand up for myself. I need to be compassionate with myself as a man. I don’t just suck it up. I don’t just internalise it. I need to voice out, not just for myself, but for other people.
Now as men, what about us? What is instinctual to you yet isn’t to others? What do you notice, yet others don’t?
Now just as I noticed my gift to compassion, what is your gift? The more we know our divine design, I believe the more that we can live and love others out or freedom. So what is your gift?
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