Emotional Grounding

We all know people who have little or no emotional grounding.  The smallest disturbance in their world (real or imaginary) causes them intense turmoil.  Some are paralyzed by their internal conflict and others become high maintenance projects for whoever happens to be around them.

These are identified problems which have received a lot of attention (and demeaning labels) over the years.

There is a far deeper problem, however, and that is people who are very stable because they are deeply grounded — to the wrong thing!

Land is a common source of wrong grounding.  I can’t really relate to that.  I have traveled (literally) millions of miles around this old globe.  There is land I detest, land I am fine with and land I really love.  But I can be on land I find quite odious and be thoroughly uncomfortable, without becoming ungrounded at the core.

I have marveled at people who absolutely cannot consider moving out of a particular region into a kind of land/topography/vegetation that is markedly different from what they are accustomed to.

It is simply not right to be emotional grounded to geography.

Guys can become emotionally grounded to winning, whether their competitive field is sports, sales or fishing.  Failure to be the first, the fastest or the biggest destabilizes them unduly.

It isn’t right to be emotionally grounded to competition.

The most common emotional grounding is to comfort.  Some people become an emotional wreck when there is a crying baby in the airplane seat behind them, or their health is compromised, or their economic realities demand a radical downsizing in car or house or the amount of mad money they can spend in a month.

This is not a viable place to be grounded either.

Many more people are grounded to a relationship.  Whether it is their spouse, best buddy or the community at church or work, they are simply shattered when the relationship ends by death, change or conflict.  It is right that we should have deep relationships where we give and receive much, and we should grieve deeply when those relationships end, but it is simply unhealthy to have our emotional grounding depend on a relationship.

God designed us to be emotionally grounded to Jesus Christ.  Colossians 1:9-13 is the passage we use when teaching people how to pray for their leaders.  It is all about the different ways we are to be grounded to Christ.

Colossians 2:9-10 drives it home even further.  “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given the fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.”

Again in 3:1-3 our practical connection is reinforced.  “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right had of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”

It is because of this that Paul could say in Philippians that for him to live was Christ and to die was gain.  In Romans he said that nothing could separate him from the love of Christ. He was grounded in the extreme to the only stable source of grounding and that was Jesus Christ.

Against that backdrop, the ongoing exodus from the institutional church takes on a whole new look.

According to George Barna, about a million people a year have left the institutional church over the last decade.  Some have walked away from their faith.  Some have privatized their Christian walk.  But a good many left with deep tears and profound regret, and have continued to walk out their Christianity without the Sunday functions.

I have observed a pattern.  There are often a couple of years of struggle before people finally resign to the inevitable, and accept that there is not a place for them in the current institutional format of Christianity.

When they leave, it is quite traumatic because they were emotionally grounded to their pastor, or to the community of faith or to the act of corporate worship.  Leaving exposed that wrong grounding in them, and they suffered considerably before they found a way to ground themselves to Christ, without the help of community.

Often it is a couple of years after leaving before people settle their legitimacy issues, and then another couple of years before they are no longer feeling ungrounded in their aloneness.

Then, almost inevitably, they begin to be life giving.  Each one who is now solidly connected directly to the Head, Jesus Christ, finds so much life within themselves, that they must connect with people who need what they have.

So across the country, millions of mature saints are interacting with other people, outside any structure, allowing the life of God to flow in life giving ways through their design, to the people God brings.  It is simple, functional, unguided, somewhat random, and it leaves a lot of holes unfilled.

However, when we step back and look at the bigger picture, excitement builds.

The real story behind the last decade is not the supposed failure of the institutional church.  It is still there, still meeting every Sunday, still bringing in millions of people who are blessed and edified by their ministry.  God never did intend to eliminate the church as we have known it for centuries.

However, what He HAS done is to raise up an army of Noble Subjects who have been weaned from their wrong emotional grounding, who have learned (unwillingly at times, but learned nonetheless) how to be emotionally grounded to Jesus Christ, without the help of community, and who have learned how to let the life of God flow through them without a human boss or structure supporting them.

THIS is an incredible resource in the hand of God.  This is an army that can endure hardship, make changes, go where they need to go without pining over their familiar geography.  They can endure hardship and loneliness without compromising the mission.

And for God to take so many people through such an intense period of disengagement from all the familiar wrong sources of grounding, means He is getting ready to do something really, really huge.

He is a shrewd businessman. He does not acquire inventory for His factory that is not going to be used for manufacturing.  He does not raise an army for a parade.  He does not equip people with skills they won’t need.

Clearly if God has moved so intently to develop a tribe of people who get their emotional grounding from the Head, and nowhere else, then there is going to be a violent upheaval coming which will shatter many, but the Kingdom will advance because the King has an army of Noble Subjects who can embrace the call in the midst of chaos because they are no longer emotionally high-maintenance people — like most of us were before going through this desert time of isolation from a local community of faith.

Copyright December 2010 by Arthur Burk

Written at home, on Christmas evening

This entry was posted in Perspectives, The Kingdom of God. Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Emotional Grounding

  1. Grace Julia says:

    After reading almost nearly everything you have written in your blog, I went back and read them again. I can’t remember which one (s) I laugh so hard I cried, or cried because of that familiar healing touch that released me to Him a little bit more through understanding ‘grounding’ and ‘design’. Thank you.

  2. Glenn says:

    I hope everyone will faithfully pursue Father’s heart on the matter of personal grounding for the coming year. Arthur you have addressed a caution and concern of Father that He spoke clearly to our small church of 100 on January 2nd by directing us to read and study John 15:1-17.
    This was a word specific to the folks in our gathering, but I also received it into my spirit as an admonition for those who desire to live as sons and daughters to become prepared now for what Father wants to accomplish in the very near future. It is not about us and our circumstances. It is about our source, King Jesus.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you for this encouraging article. Our family have each gone through this training over the past three years and through it we have found we love all sorts of expressions of worship because it means we are flowing in an experience God is blessing with the Body wherever we are at the time. It is the same and sometimes even better when it is one or more who visited us in a critical care hospital room for a few months and the same when someone visits in our home and we focus on the ‘oneness’ opportunity that has occured in our presence. I love the freedom and God’s love and presence in this.

  4. Michelle Wallis says:

    Dear Arthur, What a wonderful Christmas present your posting was! It described my journey over the last 4 years perfectly, and I so needed to know I wasn’t alone in this, as my entry into the desert began with the death of my last family member so it has been a brutally intense training period, but your article just gave me the boost to keep on going on!! God bless Michelle

  5. Kelli Pelham says:

    I have known the pain of separation of Church and reality. I must say though, my sorrow does not come from not knowing who my Father is, or not knowing how to live outside the confounds of church and all that goes with it.. My sorrow comes from a desire for relation with fellow beleivers who have a love for Him as I do and that being enough.. I desire like mindednes, burden sharing, love and encouragement… My Father loves me this I have no doubt it… But I also know that I am only living in part of what He has for me.. I want more!

  6. Lorna says:

    Thank you Arthur! This hit home after a particularly difficult day!

  7. John Plummer says:

    For myself I needed to be grounded first in relationship with Jesus and Papa and HS then I could include relationships with others that would not be corrupted. For me to be functional in the institutional church, in small groups, in any relationships I must have my grounding outside of them and in Him.

  8. Grace says:

    Very accurate, Arthur. I love it when you put my experiences into a new light by using different language than I’ve used previously. Can’t wait to share this one with others.

  9. Roslyn Koelle says:

    What I saw as I was reading is a picture of a person walking out of a bombed out place like the movies show, with the pillows of dust all around yet emerging whole and smiling, face determined, single eyed, steadfastedly triumphant.

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful Christmas present to our King with us ~ It’s giving me courage to once again walk out the doors of religion once for all and into the Lovely Arms of my King ~

  10. Erica says:

    Although I never intentionally left the church because of woundedness or not feeling I fit in, I just didn’t perceive that it could give me what I really wanted, which was a deeper more intimate relationship with the King. I stayed away for a long while hungry for Him and tired of the “up front voices” with a new thing to try or a new perspective or more and more information or even singing songs I wasn’t sure I believed or the people around me believed. It was still a very painful and inelegant process as several other emotional attachments where also removed. I could write a book on it. So many years later I found myself sort of reluctantly returning to a church and finding that because of that season I had something beautiful to offer it, but have also found that it has blessed me more than I thought possible and so I’ve come to feel very at home there. As I read this I actually had to ask the question if I’ve grown over attached to it, which lead me into reflecting on the hard season, which lead me back to the true intimacy I have with the Father which helped me to loosen my grip on it. Thanks.

  11. Grant Moxley says:

    I usually sit in the wings and marvel at what Our King draws out of people through you. Today I am prompted to be a contributor and not just a passive receiver.
    Like all the others responding, I have traveled the separation highway (there’s too many of us to call it a road). I have a different take on the future of the traditional expression of being a “believer”.
    First a little background. I am gentile and have known and served my King most of my life. I’ll be 65 in a couple of weeks. In my 50’s the King lead me to a group of Jews who had found their King to be the same as my King. I starting understanding things about my journey the King had injected during my teenage years. I had never known such joy and excitement. I wanted more and He provided teaching through a web site devoted to teaching Torah (the first five books of the Bible) from a “Christian” perspective.
    By this time I was on my way down Separation Highway. I, like you Arthur, am a redemptive prophet but not nearly so right brain. I see relationships when someone like you points them out but the redemptive prophet in me is always looking for things to fix.
    The kind thing to say is that the church is simply another form of God’s expressions of love.
    Look for patterns and parallels in Scripture, always. Relationship is stronger (more important) than matter.
    The Book of Ruth provides a very dramatic insight into this change from Ruler Season to Mercy Season. In type, Naomi is the children of Israel. Outside of the Promised Land and without headship of her Man. Her offspring are a picture of the church: gentile women connected to God’s promise through the heritage of an out of place wife. The wife decides to return to the place of promise because life in her present condition has nothing. The two daughters-in-law decided to go with her. Both start the journey but Naomi can promise nothing and recommends separation. Orpah (the contemporary visible church?) finishes her crying and returns to her people and their gods. Ruth sings a different song, drawn by Naomi’s God. When Ruth observes that the kinsman redeemer is paying attention to her, her gentile background leaves her clueless as to what to do. She goes to the daughter of Abraham to receive instruction. The advice seems very strange to us, but results in a marriage.
    Notice that Boaz pays attention to this gentile outsider because of her devotion to the old learned child of Abraham. The romance is sparked by Ruth’s devotion to one of God’s chosen people.
    Orpah returned to her people and her gods. I can see the liberal church clearly here. Even the more conservative portions of the church seem to be less than devoted to God’s chosen people and their promised land. Their gods seem to be size, program, manipulation, and stature.
    For us that have journeyed the separation highway, I think the time is approaching when we will crawl in bed with the kinsman redeemer and demand that He fully redeem us, that our status be changed. Instead of functioning as a slave in the harvest field we become the vehicles of tremendous promise and blessing, people in the line of promise.

  12. Dawn Veldman says:

    I so appreciated this article. I can see myself somewhere in there; just have to figure out where LOL

  13. Anita Coutu says:

    This article speaks volumes. I have walked this walk and I’m better off spiritually then I’ve ever been. I go out to some special speakers and conferences and find my tribe amongst this like people. I’m also connected to a couple of services on the internet. I’m freerer than I’ve ever been. I spend more time than ever with My Lord. I run a soaking center in my home twice a month and a Prayer Ministry -ministry/business three days a week.

    The Holy Spirit did tell me to leave the institutional church and I’ve never been happier or more connected to a body of Believers than I am now. I have my tribe of people from many walks of life and areas of the earth and we don’t find it difficult to love each other.

  14. Sue M says:

    Arthur, you have an amazing way of explaining a difficult process very simply! And the reality is that the difficult process resulted in simply amazing stability on many levels in my life! Thanks for explaining it so well!

  15. Janet Howden says:

    Interesting thoughts there Arthur regarding the course of ‘the church’ over the last many years. Moving into the Mercy season sure has shaken the structures established during the Ruler season.

    What you wrote gives words to those who have never felt that they belonged in the church or that they were never welcomed by the church for they did not fit the Ruler mould no matter how hard they tried. After 30 years of trying I like so many others have given up trying. It does not mean that I do not attend church on occasions, but rather that I no longer try to get my legitimacy from whether the pastor or leadership understands me or others like me–I now know that they will not and it is okay, for I have found those from many regions of the world who do understand me, for God the Father has connected us together. And I have learned that I march to a different beat, one which God the Father hears and knows very well. I rest in his acceptance and love, knowing that he and I walk together hand in hand on this journey called life.

  16. Sandra Brinkley says:

    Excellent, I appreciate that it only takes a couple of years for this process 🙂 I think it only took me 30 years to finally understand that wonderful process, I guess I am a slow learner but a good student.

  17. Devi says:

    Thank you, Arthur, for once again helping to create a bigger picture for us to see. My perspective on not participating in an institution any longer is a little different in that it has rarely ever felt like a fit for me. But in the beginning it was the only place to begin because of not knowing anyone else around me who knew God. Later, because of it being my spouse’s career choice, the expectation and pressure from outside of me to be present in the institutional setting and, as Mary-Anne wrote above, the outside pressure to search for hidden disobedience or stubbornness increased. And the pressure inside of me to not be there increased.
    I understand the pattern you discovered. I experienced it in a similar way with an exception. The exception for me was not experiencing the trauma part or feeling ungrounded, because I had not emotionally grounded myself to the church or the people. The legitimacy, the peace, the freedom, finally feeling settled came as soon as I made the decision to back off and be how I was created. But my spouse went through the trauma of me leaving it. He said he understood, but still attempted to pull me back in several times a year for a while. Now it’s down to once or twice a year.
    So, I am not one of the ones who walked away with deep tears and profound regret. My Love and I are skipping through meadows and dancing through gardens!

  18. K, Francisco, Kalda says:

    Thank you Author, It’s the same for us who have been going to the same church for fifteen years and been unable to make close friends or bocome active in the church. just existing. Thank you again for giving us value and a voice.

    • Clare says:

      Merry Christmas, Arthur! What a wonderful post! How wise to see that God’s intention and design for those of us who left the institutional church was to learn to obtain our emotional grounding in Christ – and it has worked!! As always, you have expressed in words something I have been feeling, but unable to convey clearly. What a beautiful Christmas present to your readers. It’s like holding up a prism, turning it slightly to display another gorgeous color of His infinitely variegated Wisdom. Thank you for listening to the revelations of our God.

  19. Cynthia says:

    Arthur, this is so beautiful. Thank you. Bless you.

  20. Jana says:

    I am one of the Army!!!!!!

  21. Carol Brown says:

    Wow! This is the perspective I have been looking for! Makes sense of the past few years. Thanks.

  22. Rosa says:

    Tremendous insight, and very settling within for me. Thanking God for your gift of articulating so very clearly.

  23. Hanne says:

    You absolutely have no idea what a balm this has been to my spirit and soul. You have correctly identified me and my family here. The complete shattering of a faith community. A violent thing. It did NOT have a good outcome. It was community carnage. That was back in 1994!! I was 16 years old. The effects have taken YEARS to walk through. You said it truthfully- this stuff takes years.
    I always felt guilty for not “getting over it” fast enough. And yet in the last few years I have realized that the Lord has been walking with me through it all, honing me, training me, loving on me, disciplining me, being silent with me, watching over me, seeming very, very far off from me and yet still with me as I have slipped, faltered, ranted, raved, collapsed and been shell shocked. Groping for His Hand in the dark, not knowing that He was fully carrying me and I was closer laid upon His heart than I had perceived.
    He is intricate in all that he does. I just lose sight of that sometimes.
    Thank you for this! What a great, great encouragement.
    I’m not crazy- Through every wounding and every stretch of confusion, He has a plan and a purpose.

    • “Being slient with me..” There is another point of wrong emotional grounding. Some people are fine as long as God is communicating with them in some form that they define as right and necessary. If God goes silent, or if God changes the way He meets with them, it wrecks their stability at the core. For us to lay down as you did, the right to define how God will interact with us, is another huge step in becoming truly emotionally grounded to Him — on His terms.

      • Ivan says:

        This is a very interesting observation. I didn’t think before that grounding in the way of communication with God is also wrong.

        God had recently changed they way he communicates with us and it is still a little difficult for me (not for Julia) 😉 .

        It used to be loud and clear voice, literal dreams and visions for me. Now I get these very very rare, but I have to really press in to hear His still voice whispering to me. So again I am going through “trial and error”, almost empirical, process of rediscovering this new way of God communicating to me.

        Thank you, Arthur.

      • Hannea says:

        “Being silent with me.” revealed deep rooted fear in me based on performance based religion. I was so terrified that I had displeased the Lord in some way. I was literally beating myself up every day because I could not hear Him. I did not “see” Him in my situation. I “felt” abandoned by Him. Then I got angry at Him, and I see-sawed back and forth alternately clinging to His hand begging Him to love me and then being absolutely convinced that He did not love me and had abandoned me, and perhaps I should only “do” a bit more to “prove” to Him how earnest I was in my desire to be devoted to Him, and Him only.
        And one day I heard very clearly, “I want peace in my House.”
        It was not “angry” it was grieved.
        And then Holy Spirit led me to “Be still, and KNOW that I am God.”
        Wow… that shut me up lol and after a few months of MUCH restlessness (and fears that I was not “doing it right”) I settled down and the most amazing peace …. ahhh
        Has it always been that way? No… God has such a personality. I never know what He will do next. And I still battle those fears. My “default” had been “I’ve disappointed Him, I’m not doing enough. I have to try harder. Do better!” This has been so, so hard to get free of. But I am more free now, than I have ever been before!
        Baby steps, are still steps.
        So, I guess you could say, I was “emotionally grounded” to “Performing”. And not just performing, but performing PERFECTLY. Well, if that were possible, what need have I of Jesus?
        He is so merciful and patient!

  24. Trisha says:

    Yet again I’m blown away reading this…
    Words will only get in the way of explaining how I’m feeling right now…


    SO glad to find a home base, an oasis, where God’s reassurance is present, in the midst of what at times feels such isolation.
    I so want to send this to all my friends who counsel me at length for having left the institutionalised church.
    But that would only feed my wrong emotional grounding to people’s acceptance of me!

  25. Mary-Anne Simpson says:

    Boy does this ever sound familiar and bring me into a whole new pace of liberty where it has finally sunk in that I am not alone in this walk.
    More importantly, this post allows me to replace the shame of not being part of the traditional church structure with dignity that comes from knowing that this walk is not as a result of some hidden (from me) disobedience or stubbornness on my part. But is a strategy of The King and the result of a knowing on my part that this IS where I am meant to be, even if I did not understand the why.
    After digesting this, I no longer feel the urge to explain why I have not settled in a church, when asked the dreaded question: “So, where are you fellowshipping?” that always brought with it deep shame and made me feel a lesser Christian.
    I haven’t formulated the correct response to “that question”, but in time I will and will not feel the need to justify.

  26. Sonia says:

    Well said Arthur. Father has been revealing the wrong groundings and in His Mercy redeems them to himself. I have had to shatter, break, cutoff and destroy many beliefs so I could know what Jesus is really doing. Yes I am very excited too! It is incredible to truly acknowledge God doesn’t waste any skills. Blessings to you Arthur for being a voice, a calling out for those who Father has been fast tracking! It is awesome to know we are not alone. We are part of a grander picture! Everything God does is magnificent!

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