As I was flying out of Dallas last week, God gave me a download on the six steps needed for someone to move into the office of personhood. Since then, I have been busier than a plywood salesman before a hurricane, but now find myself flying back to Dallas with some time to build out the seminal ideas.
My basic hypothesis at this point is:
-There is a right model that happens quite casually through the normal events of life for most people.
-That model can be broken, leaving us without the office.
-When we are not in the appropriate office, we will not thrive in some areas.
-When we are not in the office, we will seek compensations, many of which are unwholesome.
Ultimately, however, God puts in front of us the experiences we need so we can grow to the place where He will place us in the office we missed the first time around. Our goal is to hit the balls He so patiently keeps pitching us.
The Original Plan
Personhood is, I think, supposed to be developed in the womb first through an intimate connection with the mother where the two are one.
Originally, the spirit and God were one. As God crafted the spirit out of the light that He is, there was definitely some degree of “otherness” but broadly the two were of one essence. There was also a huge degree of togetherness. The dignity the human spirit had came from the essence of God and the joy Father had in the existence of this spirit which was a part of His nature and the product of His creative brilliance.
In an ideal situation, it is a fairly small step from the two being one in heaven, to the two being one in the womb. Again, there is shared essence of bodies and great joy on the part of the mother that she could share her essence with the child.
The Plan Gone Wrong
When a child is rejected in the womb, this can be an attack on their personhood. I think a lot depends on the cause and the intensity of the rejection. When a child is a surprise and the parents do an attitude adjustment in a few weeks, I don’t think there is massive trauma.
But when the mother vehemently did not want to be pregnant and maintains the posture of the baby being a hostile invasion of her life, deep damage is done. There is nothing the baby in the womb can do to redeem himself or herself. No noble achievement will offset the fact that the baby is “wrong” for simply existing and that the mother’s deepest wish is for non-existence to occur. No partial fixes exist for the child. They are simply awful for having committed the involuntary crime of existing.
When the two are not one in the womb, and the two are actively toxic to each other (or there is the perception of that), personhood is stripped from Father’s masterpiece before birth.
There are two other situations that lend themselves heavily toward the loss of personhood. One is being born into slavery and the other is being born into a home situation where there is some other highly needy person, and the baby’s only identity is relative to the needy person.
Initially this means the baby has to be silent so as not to disturb the parent, the special needs sibling or whoever is in need. Ultimately it means the child becomes a quasi-slave of the needy person whose life defines the family’s cadence.
Consequences and Compensations
When an individual is robbed of the office of personhood in the womb, they are much more prone to exploitation and victimization as adults. While anyone can be victimized, the non-person is most likely to be used with impunity because of their need for acceptance which generally causes them to be quite compliant in their endless, futile pursuit of personhood through service.
There are some predictable compensations we see in individuals who are not in the office of personhood. There seems to be a crude attempt to re-establish the “two who are one” dynamic which was missed in the womb.
-A fantasy life is the most common compensation. For some, they indulge in a heavy immersion in fiction, either written or video, in order to escape the loneliness of being a non-person. For others, they put themselves in the stories, envisioning themselves as the perfect sidekick to their hero.
-A variation on this is a real time hero worship where the individual dresses, acts or talks like their designated role model. While this behavior is quite common among teens and can be non-toxic, there is a toxic edge to it when the non-person is trying to establish their missing oneness with some other adult who often is not welcoming of the attention. This can develop into a form of emotional or spiritual stalking.
-Serial mentors is another variation that is not so obvious. The non-person finds a skill of some sort that interests them and seeks to be mentored by the best person in that field. Their intense pursuit of excellence in the new field causes them to be brought into the inner circle of the master for a while. Soon however, this proves non satisfactory to both parties and they drop that hobby and pursue another one in a few months.
-The previous two dynamics can combine into a person becoming a conference groupie. Even though they don’t have personal contact with the “mentor” they are vacuuming up everything he or she says and does, seeking to learn the other person’s world so as to become a part of it somehow, even if only in their imagination.
-I wonder if sex fits in here. Are a lot of the guys who are addicted to pornography being driven by their lack of oneness in the womb to seek a connection with the mother figure through their messy connection with random females? I don’t know, but I wonder. I am sure this is not the only drive behind pornography, but I wonder if it factors in with some guys.
Eventually, in order to be restored to the office of person, the non-person needs to experience deep intimacy where the two are one. I am sure that this plays into some inappropriate sexual relationships. The non-person is seeking the deep emotional bond that will validate their personhood, while their partner often is simply using them as an object, thereby making the wound deeper.
So what does healing look like?
Remember, this is only one of six components that I think need to be in place for the personhood to be restored. My sense is that they can come in any particular order.
I have seen healing, joyous intimacy happen on both the emotional and spiritual level.
An Emotional Connection
I watched one woman struggle with lack of personhood in the religious sector. She was involved in a series of different organizations, with both high structure and low structure groups.
She had high utilitarian value to the groups initially and was placed in positions where she could contribute. Very soon, however, she became first invisible, then under-resourced and eventually was shunned and made into a scapegoat for various pieces of nonsense before she was discarded like a used napkin.
God took her through a variety of healing situations but the graduation party consisted of a very significant spiritual ministry that she did with another woman. The task God assigned her was complex, one of a kind, involving a lot of travel with ever changing circumstances.
This is the kind of situation that so often in the past would turn into either her being the designated “grunt” doing all the dirty work or her being run over by some other personality on the team.
In this case, the other lady was able to synchronize with her magnificently during all of the ups and downs of the trip. While my friend was definitely the leader in the sense that God gave her this assignment, her partner walked with her as an equal. They each heard from God in different ways at different times, contributing to the whole process as God had equipped each of them.
Beyond the successful trip, there was fun, honor and mutual life giving. Neither was needy, yet each gave to the other in appropriate ways. The two were one at a level that my friend had never experience before. I think it mattered a lot that the other person was a woman, since it was clearly her mother who had not bonded with her in the womb.
The evidence that she entered the office of personhood after that assignment is that people in leadership in the community began to treat her differently. She was seen as part of the community and good people did good things for her when there were potential problems.
In the past, when bad things happened and she asked for the kind of help everyone is entitled to (police protection, insurance payoffs, contractors to do work), she was treated as a nuisance who was invading people’s lives. Now significant players in her secular world are reaching out to her PROACTIVELY to be life giving to her in areas she has not requested.
This is solid, sustained evidence of her walking in the office of person for the first time in her life.
A Spiritual Connection
The other person went on a spiritual pilgrimage. God did three things. First he stripped her of most of her community. Second, He stripped her of some of her most vital core resources. Then He gave her an impossible task to do – with nothing to do it with!!!
In the journey that followed, she was extremely vulnerable. Many times she did not know if she could do life, never mind execute the project. Through it all, God micromanaged the project. “Do this. Do that. Don’t do anything for weeks. Now do a double portion today when you are at your worst.”
The intimacy she experienced as He did miracle after miracle through her, to enable her to do her assignment was a classic picture of the two being one. Even though she had to “do” the assignment, it was His hand over her hand every time she did it. It was His words coming out of her mind.
She is no stranger to intimacy with Christ: public worship, private worship, ministry times, warfare, intercession, miracles and sundry other forms of contact with God were all familiar to her. But the oneness she experienced during this long process was unprecedented.
When the assignment was finished, she discovered that in the business sector of her life, things changed. She had struggled to hold her own in business over the years. Ordinary things like getting insurance or paying taxes or calling the landlord had often been high drama events. Her requests were ignored, twisted or made to seem highly unreasonable.
Now two business people are competing for her business with great personal attention, not just good pricing. The company she opted to use has gone out of their way to treat her with uncommon respect and to show deep commitment to keeping the relationship for the long term.
What Do YOU Do?
These are two very fresh pictures of people who have had a “graduation exercise” and are now treated differently by some sectors of the community. Not everything has changed for them, but enough has changed to be significant.
While the two being one is the first point of establishing personhood in the normal sequence, it was the final step in these two situations. We have not been exploring this long enough to say whether this step can fit anywhere in the sequence.
I am, however, pretty confident that there has to be some deep shared experience, where both parties are freely and extensively life giving to each other, and there is joy in both parties over simply being together. Clearly it can happen between two people or between a person and God.
This last point is quite important to me. When someone has not been a “person” for a long time, they tend to be quite isolated in the community. So much of the current teaching on healing protocols begins with instructions on how to leverage your community for better healing, and when a person has no community to leverage, that really mocks their woundedness and leaves them feeling helpless.
God is certainly capable of crafting a situation where you and He experience life together in a mutually life giving, highly enjoyable context.
If you are one of those who recognized that you were deprived of personhood in the womb and have consequently had primarily utilitarian value ever since, what do you do to go forward?
First of all, remember that this article is simply one of six steps God showed me. I think most people have to deal with each of those six items before making the transition, although I can’t say that for sure. Stand by for the rest of the series as I have time to write.
Then remember that we “deal with” those six action items by stepping into circumstances that God has created for us. By definition the circumstances will seem less than desirable, but if you can differentiate between the events the devil has designed to slam you some more and the ones God has designed to heal you, then you can step up with some level of confidence.
For this exercise, the components seem to be a task that is too big to be real, the inability to execute the task precisely because of your issues, and the exquisite partnership with either God or another person as you do the task anyway.
And remember that the task might be a week long, like with the first person, or months long, like with the second person.
Copyright October 2011 by Arthur Burk
In and above Dallas, on my way to Memphis