Hands-On Healing

Jackie Clark & Jim Still-Pepper

Sometimes talking about our inward pain is helpful. So is writing about our pain. At other times we need to touch our pain. These hands-on exercises will give you a chance to do all three.

rejection balloonBalloon Pop

Grab a balloon, a thumb-tack, and a permanent marker. As you blow up the balloon, think about each breath representing the hurt and pain you are experiencing. When the balloon is as full as you want it to be, tie it off. Write on the balloon one or two words that name the hurt you feel. Write in large letters. (I wrote “PAIN” and “REJECTION” on my balloon.) Now you are going to pop the balloon, but you have a choice. You can pop the balloon so that it makes a loud noise by poking a hole in it with your tack. (Do not pop the balloon near your eyes.) Or you can poke a hole right above the knot, and the pop will not be loud. Once the air is out of your balloon, look at how the writing has changed. What does the change have to do with your hurt and pain? You may want to talk about this with a trusted friend or adult or to write about it in your journal.

Changing Over Time

Grab a paper napkin, a marker, an eye-dropper, and a bottle of rubbing alcohol. Make a few small ink dots on the napkin, putting a lot of pressure on the marker as you make the dots. Add a few drops of alcohol to each of the dots, and observe what happens. Talk with a friend about the following questions, or write your answers in a journal.
+  What do the dots, napkin, and alcohol represent in your life?
+  How did adding the alcohol change the dots and the napkin?
+  What do you notice about the end result?
Allow the napkin to dry. Keep it as a reminder that God can bring beauty out of pain.

Monster2 TSP 466182125 copyMonsters

Grab a piece of construction paper and some markers, crayons, or colored pencils. Draw a monster that represents the abuse and pain you experience. (Set aside your inner critic; simply let your mind and hands go to work.) Again, you may want to talk with someone or to write about your monster and the pain it represents. Did you use certain colors intentionally? If so, what do they represent? What makes the monster scary? Monsters almost always have a weakness that can be used to defeat them; what is your monster’s weakness? How can someone else help you to deal with your monster?

Touch the Pain

Have a friend secretly collect three, four, or five different substances for you to touch. Encourage him or her to be creative (and safe)—play dough, a hairbrush, some leftover spaghetti noodles, and so on. Close your eyes and take your time feeling each of the items. Describe what you experience. For each item, while your eyes are closed, answer this question: How does the substance you are touching relate to your pain?

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The purpose of healing is not simply to get rid of pain, but to learn from it. Spend some time writing in your journal or talking to a trusted friend or adult about what you learned from these exercises and from the stories in devozine this week. Sometimes, writing a letter to your pain (not to the people who hurt you but to the pain itself) is helpful. When you finish your conversation or your journaling, read and reflect on Philippians 4:11–13.

Jackie Clark & Jim Still-Pepper are from Zanesville, Ohio. Jackie finds that a hands-on approach in counseling and ministry provides an avenue for healing. Jim, a counselor. uses these techniques with teens to help bring about healing.

—from devozine (May/June 2014). Copyright © 2014 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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