Healing is a Spiral Staircase (for those seeking to understand a difficult journey)

I had a dream about a person in my life who I sometimes pray with, where I was shown the big-picture structure of their woundedness.

I was shown a foundation of the structure, which was revealed to be the intense emotional and physical abuse they had regularly suffered at the hands of their own mother (who was a sociopath, in my amateur opinion). I was given a sense of the nature of the abuse, how it affected them, producing great insecurity and deep problems with self-worth.

Then, I saw that there was a ceiling to the structure which presented to the outside world, how this person had learned to survive by compensating for their deep sense of self-deprecation and vulnerability through a hard-core, tough as nails survivor persona. They had this side to them that could be described well with such terms as: “all or nothing,” “black and white,” “no compromise,” “boldly confrontational,” and even sometimes, “take no prisoners.”

Between the foundation and the ceiling of this structure, the walls or support system was made up of large spiral pathways which traversed the circumference of it all, and I woke up either unable to remember what these spiral pathways meant, or not to have comprehended them in the first place. I have since gotten to pray a little bit with this person, and have seen significant breakthrough, along with hearing later about how the Lord himself met with them and brought some further healing on their own time.

More recently, I have been praying for a while with a friend who has come from an even more intense background of abuse. I see a lot of progress in this person’s life overall, and on a good day they do as well, but at other times they have struggled with feeling like the same or similar issues to what we have prayed over already, which were apparently healed for a few days or weeks, would always come back to haunt them once again. When they experience these feelings, it is more than a little discouraging and confusing. For the sake of confidentiality, I’ll call the issue “abandonment.”

There are times where one prayer session produces (apparently) complete and long-term resolution for a serious, seemingly life-defining issue. I love those instances. They are like a bit of heaven on earth to me. (They are a bit of heaven on earth, but really no more so than the healing the other person is receiving in the midst of a more difficult process.)

This person’s process involves healing for a lot of very hurting fractured parts, many carrying a similar theme of wounding from abandonment, and I’ve tried to assure them that abandonment issues surfacing after a part or a number of parts have been healed from the same or similar thing doesn’t mean that the previous ones weren’t truly healed or that any problems actually “came back.” It only means that, as I’ve seen plenty of times before, another wounded part or parts are surfacing in the person’s overall system which need the same kind of healing as the previous ones.

As more parts get healing, the difference becomes more noticeable in the person’s life overall (as it already has for this person in very significant ways), until all the parts and related issues are healed and it completely goes. If the abandonment (or any other) theme of woundedness is particularly deep, this journey is likely to feel worse before it starts permanently feeling better, as the person’s system opens up in a safe, trusting environment to their most vulnerable areas and they start to get in touch with deeper, previously hidden layers of more severe pain, leading to the most significant experiences of permanent healing as a result of letting the Lord minister to the places which had been so walled off before.

The good news is that, unlike simple deliverance of a surface level stronghold, when such deep healing is accomplished, it becomes impossible for the issue to ever return. For the problem to ever come back, the person would need to become a child again, at the level of when they were originally wounded, and go through exactly the same things all over again, not as the adult they have become with a strong psyche, strong coping skills, and a strong relationship with God, but as that defenseless, vulnerable child who they never again will be after receiving healing. Where people are used to a deliverance mentality of fighting off demons who would “come back” to an “empty house” (where the demonic was removed but where truth and righteousness had not been established), this simply cannot happen when you heal the person, because they are the house. When you heal the person, you are changing the “house” itself at the most profound level to now be incompatible with the demonic.

So, if the enemy and the woundedness can’t ever just “come back,” why do so many in healing processes from severe hurts experience such ups and downs, where it seems like they are whole and free for an evening, a few days, or maybe a week or month, and then they are right back in a pit that feels almost exactly like the hopeless, miserable pit they were in before? If they really examine things logically, they usually find that this pit is slightly different than the previous one, with a slightly different lie behind the pain, a bit different of a trigger, that it is a bit different flavor of the same theme. But in these states of overwhelming emotions, it may be difficult to take mere logic seriously. Pain has a way of overriding that until it gets healed, and it can often be easily healed in the same way as the previous pain was healed. The lessons learned in applying healing to layers one through five often apply to layers six through nine in the same person, and so it becomes smoother and easier in this way as you go.

This is just how all humans process healing in real life, in layers rather than all at once. When there is a major and severe lifetime theme of a certain type of issue, you can bet that there will be more than just one or two layers of it needing to be ministered to, more than just one or two fractured parts carrying a lifetime of extreme abuse and neglect. Often, as the person just continues on receiving healing rather than giving up because their whole life didn’t change after a small number of prayer sessions, looking to the Lord as their answer rather than putting all their hope in a certain human or a certain methodology, much more ground begins to be taken from the enemy and from the woundedness, the balance begins to shift, and fruit becomes more and more evident.

For those saying, “where is that in the Bible,” consider that no biblical character was ever “completely healed and delivered.” All of them were in a lifetime healing process with ups and downs, with re-occuring issues, and with unresolved issues up until the end. We may be used to certain hyped-up preachers making things sound different in an effort to whip up our emotions and keep the money coming in, but most of us have seen that the long-term fruit of that is usually pretty shallow.

All the people Jesus ministered healing and deliverance to still needed more. Jesus warned them that their house had been swept clean and empty and that the enemy would return seven times worse. (They had only received a surface level of healing and deliverance so far, because it was all they were willing to receive.) In alignment with Jesus’ prediction, the same multitudes who received from him to some degree in his earthly ministry went on to participate with the powers of darkness in shouting, “Give us Barrabbas!”, “Crucify him!” and, “Let his blood be upon us and upon our children!” The apostles who spent three years living, praying with, and being discipled by Jesus all failed him in his final hours, revealing that they had remaining issues in their lives and had not yet been “completely healed and delivered.”

Peter struggled with legalism, hypocrisy, and fear of man years after the resurrection and after his experience at Pentecost. Paul confessed to having “fears within” in the beginning of 2 Corinthians, and to harboring an “angelos of Satan” near the end of the same letter, which he was apparently not yet ready to be delivered from. All the apostles (except possibly John) died at the hands of persecution, which couldn’t have happened if the enemy didn’t have some kind of access to them. The Pentecostal/Charismatic fantasy of coming to a meeting, getting hands laid on you and becoming perfectly fixed in five seconds of prayer has simply never played out in scripture or in anybody’s real life experience that I’ve ever met.

Getting back to the story, this particular person going through major ups and downs, like many in the midst of such a process, was struggling with doubts over whether they were really being healed at all, whether they were only being deceived and played games with by an enemy who was letting them feel like they got total healing just to get their hopes up for a few days or weeks, but then smacking them back down to reality every time. They reached out to friends who had experience with deeper healing, asking for opinions beyond mine. Also, they began desperately praying to the Lord for input.

They were shown a vision of a spiral staircase, and they began to understand that their healing was like this spiral staircase, moving upwards but in a circular fashion. In a sense, it could feel like they were only going in circles as they experienced times of peace and freedom from feelings of abandonment, then times of feeling major abandonment strongholds coming to the surface until they received ministry to the batch of parts carrying them, then a time of feeling peace and wholeness until the next batch of wounded, abandoned parts would surface once more, needing the same kind of healing. The good news was that they were not just going in circles, but making real progress.

Immediately checking back with one of the people they had sent messages out to, they read an answer from one with lots of experience. The message began, “Think of it like a spiral staircase…” Further good news was that they went forward with receiving healing for the areas which had recently surfaced, encouraged that they were, in fact, making progress.

Hearing this person’s journey and revelation, I began to understand a bit about the spiral staircases I had seen in walls of the structure in my dream. This is a revelation in process of course, but it seems that all of our healing processes are spiral in nature rather than linear. We face some issues and get healing for them, then some more come to the surface, and we get healing for those, and anybody I’ve ever known has been in a lifetime process of this.

Some run up the spiral very quickly, experiencing the ups and downs on opposite sides daily or weekly if they are really getting help and digging deeply. Some are going through such intense battles internally that they are forced to move this quickly or to just wallow in despair and denial. Others walk up the spiral casually, without much focus on such things, preferring to make slow progress without the stress of facing too much too quickly. More people probably wander aimlessly back and forth on the spiral, not knowing if progress is even possible or that there is anything they can do to expedite it, maybe just camping in one place for years at a time with no hope of moving forward other than if God somehow “sovereignly” came down to push them forward. I think these are the people who got “totally healed and delivered” ten or twenty years ago and don’t need any more such “new Christian” experiences or “striving.” (I’m not saying striving is good; I am saying that many people use the term to avoid anything that involves facing things they don’t want to face.)

I would say our experience of these things tends to get lighter and more peaceful overall as we move farther up, but I don’t want to make it sound like anybody’s process is going to be totally comparable to anybody else’s. It seems to me that everybody’s stuff is so different that, while the basic principles are universal, the practical expression is never quite the same.

This is often a hard reality to consider though, that we are in a lifetime journey up a spiral staircase rather than an instant arrival at having it all together. It is true that the work was finished at the cross and that we are considered perfect in that greater, eternal realm outside time and space. Still, there is also the practical side of things that, within time and space, we are walking out our redemption day by day, receiving grace and partnering with it to bring what has already been won for us into this realm. Sorry, it’s still a spiral.

A common objection sounds like, “If God is really God and he wants me healed, why can’t he just bypass all the parts and issues and spiral staircases and whatever else, and just fix everything instantly, right now in response to my cry for him to rescue me?” I agree that the suffering I witness some people living in, even in the midst of their process of healing and of earnestly crying out to God for help, completely SUCKS ASS. At the same time, we need to realize that God is not only all powerful and all loving, but that he has perfect integrity.

This means that he will not, no matter what, violate his own commitments and principles of righteousness. He has given us free will and has given us an environment of freedom to operate in where he refuses to control us or to control our outcome. This requires that we humans have the ability to dig ourselves and those who follow us into some deep and intricate pits. For God to remain integrous, he cannot just violate our freedom and our process, take away the sovereignty he has given us and the parts of our hearts which have come into agreement with the enemy, and force us 100 levels up the spiral at once. If he were to do that, he wouldn’t be who he is anymore, but would be an almighty being with the character of the Devil, which would actually be a lot scarier than the prospect of needing to walk through a process.

So, instead of bypassing all the steps we have created within us (or inherited, or have allowed others to create in us during times of vulnerability,) what I’ve been shown and what I believe is that he empowers us to move up the spiral faster than humanly possible, but still at the pace we and the relevant, deeper parts of our hearts choose, to break through barriers humanly impassable. He does this with promises to somehow make it all work out for the good, that somehow the suffering of this present time will not be considered worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18).

I could testify to you of someone just recently who, after two quick prayer times of healing in the womb, has been brought out of a place of near suicide into a stable place of peace and joy with no such suicidal ideations. At the same time, I could mention those in the roughest processes who I have prayed with over and over with barely perceptible if any known results, and I could probably tell you about every level in between.  Some people’s experiences of healing sound like the greatest news ever to come straight out of heaven’s publicity department, yet, still, some other people’s current experience in their process… really sucks… (I won’t literally say that twice in the same post).

I don’t believe God is holding anything back from the second group that he gave to the first, but I’m convinced they are merely on a different place in their spiral, as well as being on a different spiral altogether, as everybody is on a very different journey.

I’ll leave you with this: If God would throw away his integrity, violate our sovereignty over our own process, and just make everything instantly better because we want everything to be better, one would think he would do that for the entire world, and that if such a thing were possible, we would be living in an instant utopia rather than co-laboring to bring redemption to creation one step at a time as we actually are.

On second thought, if God were to throw away his integrity like that, I’m not sure he would any longer be a person interested in making the world any better. I’m pretty sure that would lead to an actual cosmic proportioned sick joke much worse than what the enemy is able to play on us for the limited period of time that he currently is.

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