I was sitting on the couch in the living room messing around on my laptop when one of my roommates, we'll call him John, came home.
We chatted for a bit when I noticed the pull, like there was a black hole hidden somewhere inside of his body, silently pulling on my spirit.
I ignored it. I had been planning to go on a walk in a few minutes and if I opened that door, I knew that what was behind it would prevent me from being able to go on my walk and get to sleep at a reasonable hour.
He sat down next to me and pulled out his laptop.
We settled in, silently doing our own separate things for a moment when he piped up, "I had this really strong urge to play video games today."
"You did?" I asked, still tapping away at my computer.
"Yeah. I haven't played a video game in months and today, I suddenly wanted to play one really bad."
"Interesting." I mused. I assumed his sudden desire to play video games was coming from an emotional need to feel comforted. Maybe video games was a way he used to cope with unwanted feelings.
"What?!" He asked.
"You're thinking something."
"I'm not thinking anything." I lied, my hopes still on that evening stroll. I also was realizing how presumptuous my thought was, maybe he really just wanted to play video games. Why do I assume things so quickly about people?
"You looked like you had a thought." He asserted.
"Well, there's probably a reason you want to play video games all of a sudden." I offered.
I decided I would throw something out and see if he wanted to have a conversation or if he was just talking.
"I'll bet you used to play video games to drown out unwanted feelings of pain or fear or frustration or anger. Something probably happened today or the past couple of days that you need to work through."
"Hm. I can't think of anything that might have happened the past few days. Everything is pretty good actually. If something is off, I'm not aware of it."
I wasn't deterred by his lack of awareness of his emotional state. I persisted, "You're going through BSSM First Year, things are changing and shifting. Your mind is using its creative powers to find a solution to the pain you're feeling."
I could feel the pain he was experiencing. I pressed on- "In the past, the solution was probably video games. They are making you feel better. You're looking for comfort."
"What's so funny?" I challenged, taking note of his awkwardness around the word 'comfort.'
"I don't know...it's just, that word "comfort..."
"What about it?"
"I don't know." He confessed and got serious again, "I'm not actually sure why I'm laughing."
"Does the word 'comfort' make you uncomfortable? We all have needs and recognizing those needs is important for us to get them met in healthy ways and live to our fullest. You think needing comfort is a sign of weakness. That it's not manly- Comfort is for pansies and girls and children." I gave voice to the accuser in his head to validate it's not just in his head.
"Yeah..." he offered lamely.
"It's kind of a problem when you won't admit you need comfort. I mean, it's a functional role of the Holy Spirit in your life. He's The Comforter and you're not okay with being comforted. I imagine it's difficult for you to receive what God is giving you because you reject the way He comes to love you."
John's face became grave. He was beginning to feel the weight of our conversation and how close-to-home it was.
He spoke up, "Yeah, I used to be open to people. But I realized that people can give some pretty crappy advice and they're not actually listening to you, they just want to tell you what they think. So I gave people advice but they didn't really have much to give in return."
I heard what he said but I also heard, underneath all of that, in the spirit, 'I don't trust people and have elevated how I see myself in delusion because I'm so much more aware of how smart I am over what other people have to offer. I have agreed with pride and arrogance to the point where I am totally blind to the gifts and anointing of others. I'm lonely. I'm tired. I'm jaded. I'm a little scared that life kinda sucks.'
"I'm gonna throw something out there for you." I replied. "You've had some difficult experiences and been in some lame relationships. You've agreed with spirits in that place to help you interpret what's happening in the world you live in and how you're going to respond. You've partnered with spirits to help you get results you want and to protect yourself. I'm not trying to make this super spiritual but I also refuse to ignore what I see influencing what's happening. Spirits bring a perceived benefit. But you have to realize, they actually corrupt your ability to recognize reality; the truth, for what it is. They slant your perspective."
I went on to explain the spirit of rejection as an example. I explained how a spirit of rejection speaks to us, how it affects us and how it affects other people around us when we agree with it. I could tell he was identifying with the symptoms I laid out, this spirit was all too familiar to him.
I continued, "The aim of these spirits is to destroy you, to steal from you, to rip you off. It sucks."
"Yeah, I've noticed with my mom, there are times where she'll say or do something and I feel all of these emotions that I'm not proud of but I can't help it. The truth is, I love my mom and I want to get better at loving her. But sometimes she just drives me nuts. While you were saying all of that, a memory with my mom kept coming up in my mind." He ended up explaining a situation when he was fourteen with him and his mom. She didn't respond to his vulnerability and creativity like he had anticipated and he was devastated.
As soon as I heard this part, I knew it was time for things to escalate, simply conversing wasn't enough anymore, it was time to address the spiritual powers at work in John's life.
"Hey, the good news is, we can do something about this. If you're up for it, I can pray with you and we can take care of some of this. That memory is probably coming up because God wants to do something about it. Sometimes God rewrites our past and gives us His perspective on what happened rather than what we took away from a specific memory through the lens of pain or fear." (I refrained from using the word 'sozo' so as not to elicit any undue fear or walls.)
"Okay." He agreed.
"Your life is about to change...you're welcome." I said with a smile. "You're going to be the barometer. I'm going to look to you to tell me what's going on inside. What you're thinking or feeling. You're going to think things that aren't actually coming from you, but they're going to use a voice you've assumed is yours. They don't like what's about to happen. They're probably going to try and subvert me in your mind. Thoughts sounding like, 'this is ridiculous, none of this is real, Mike's crazy.' Just pay attention to that stuff and keep me in the loop."
"Okay." He laughed nervously but I could tell he was beginning to put faith in what I was telling him.
I asked God to take John back to that memory with his mom. He did. I led John through some prayer and had him repeat some statements after me. "Your confession is powerful in your own life." I explained.
Though we did directly address a few things that came up, he seemed in his head and remained unaffected. Sensing his disconnection had me concerned, "Maybe I missed it...maybe he's not actually ready to deal with any of this. Maybe he doesn't trust me. Maybe he isn't comfortable enough to actually feel anything." I reasoned in my mind.
I persisted, asking Him what God was now saying.
John responded, "God said, 'The reason you're mad at your mom, John, is because you've distanced yourself from her and have only looked at her as your enemy. You've only thought about how she hasn't measured up and didn't realize the things she was dealing with."
The accusation and condemnation in this voice surprised me, "That's not God." I thought.
So I put my hand on his back, "God, thank you that John has ears to hear you. Any spirit not of God, I command you to be quiet in the name of Jesus. Father, would you speak to Him in the silence?"
We went at it again. John seemed a little more hesitant this time. He had a vision of his mom as a child. She reminded him of his niece, whom he loves dearly. He explained to me hesitantly how God saw his mom.
It was then that the conversation veered to his relationship with his grandma. He was very angry with her. We stopped praying for a bit and just talked. He explained some things about his grandma. He had so much anger and resentment towards her. He cussed a couple times and we prayed. I was still unconvinced that we were getting anywhere. His demeanor remained mechanical, but at least the content of his thoughts and feelings began to become more colorful.
I had him forgive his grandma, speaking to her directly. I would first specify things for him to repeat after me that he was forgiving her for. Then I left it up to him- "Grandma, I forgive you for...now you fill in the blank..."
Then it hit.
He started to list the things he was forgiving her for and the tears started to flow. He persisted through the pain and embarrassment, releasing his grandma of things he had held against her for years, even from his childhood. Tears and now snot. They ran together down the end of his nose. I grabbed a towel near us and handed it to him.
For five minutes my roommate continued to suck out the poison from his heart towards his grandma. The tears came so intensely, he had to stop at times because of how overcome he was. And I just sat there, rubbing his back, affirming his choice to be brave.
"Okay." He said finally, exhaling, "I think I'm good."
"Okay, do you think we could talk to another person now?" I asked.
"I want you to forgive your mom. Could you do that or are you spent?"
"I'm spent." He said.
"Okay. There's one person I want you to forgive before we're done here."
And as if on cue, a fresh exchange with God began. More tears and sobs erupted out of John and I could only respond with "Wow" and "Whoa" as I caught parts of their sweet conversation.
As John was going through this intense experience, I found myself laughing inside. I could have pulled the plug so many times earlier in our conversation. God had trained and equipped me for moments like this and I was glad that I stuck it out with Him. This guy's life was changing before my very eyes and I got to be part of what God was doing there. What a privilege. At some point, I became effective at showing a person the way out of their anger and nightmare's. I could show them the door to truth and freedom. The gifts God gave me were able to lead this son into His heart, and that was humbling.
What a cool experience.
I looked into John's bloodshot eyes as we wrapped up and shrugged, "All that from wanting to play video games."
We both chuckled.