Jim shares his Immanuel Story powerfully in the video at the bottom of our home page (alivewell.org) and in a 2014 blog post. Now, three years later, he adds an update of how that Immanuel session, and other involvement with Immanuel-related classes before and after that session, have impacted his life and marriage.
My counselor recommended Immanuel Prayer to me because of the abuse and trauma I experienced as a child. As I prepared to receive my first Immanuel Prayer ministry session, I was so full of fear and shame messages (lies I believed about myself) that I brought a friend with me for security. During the prayer session, the Lord very gently showed me that deep down, I had been believing lies – that I was broken beyond repair, that I was unwanted and unworthy of love – more than the truth. The truth is that I am His, that He loves and delights in me. I had been living out of fear. Fear of being found out, fear of rejection. The facilitator had me hold both the lies and the truth in my open hands, and he invited the Lord to speak to me. The scales began to shift until the truth became more real than the lies. My heart flooded with joy and my eyes with tears. I was connecting with how He felt about me – not just knowing it in my head, but really experiencing it!
I received several more prayer ministry sessions, including the one with the amazing experience of Jesus baptizing me that I shared on video in 2014. (And I stopped needing to bring my friend with me.) My wife, Ann, and I also attended the Restarting class. We felt like we couldn’t get enough of “the Immanuel stuff,” so next we signed up for Forming and for Alive and Well’s Immanuel Lifestyle class at the same time!
But life was still a very bumpy ride. I was triggered often, including in my marriage. In looking back, I think the greatest effect the Immanuel process has had on our marriage is in growing our capacity for joy as we interact with the Lord as He truly is. Along with that greater joy capacity has come a greater capacity for dealing with conflict and doing hard things. Ann and I realized very early on, while reading Living From the Heart Jesus Gave You that we didn’t have love bonds. Rather, we were bonded by fear. We understood we needed to strengthen our love bonds with Jesus first, and grow our capacity for joy, and then we could work on replacing our fear bonds with love bonds.
Around that time we actually tried doing some of the bonding exercises that are in Chris and Jen Coursey’s book 30 Days of Joy: For Busy Married Couples. Some of these exercises are also taught at Thrive training. But we couldn’t do it. Our fear bonds were too strong then, and it just didn’t feel safe, so that book went back on the shelf. When we finally went to Thrive last summer (2016), a lot had changed. We were ready to go deeper. We had a willingness to be vulnerable and go to new levels of intimacy. We were discovering the freedom to live out of our true hearts. We were discovering new things about each other. I saw a playfulness in my wife I hadn’t really seen before. They had us do an exercise where we prayed for each other, and it really touched us. The whole week was very meaningful, as if God was giving us a glimpse of how life could be. We understand we aren’t there yet, that there are more hills to climb and more traumas to be healed. But it gave us so much hope! Hope for continued healing, for wholeness, and for freedom to act like ourselves and live out of the hearts that Jesus gave us!
Besides being active grandparents who build joy with their kids and grandkids, Jim and Ann are now both trained Immanuel Prayer Ministers serving the Chicago area community. They also co-lead Immanuel Lifestyle classes at their church.