Sometimes when a client has negative thoughts and emotions aimed at an individual in their life, therapists will have the person write a letter to that individual. Often this is done not with the intent of sending the letter to the other person but rather as a way of expressing their thoughts and feelings and then destroying the letter. Sometimes the letter is burned or shredded and symbolizes the “letting go” of those negative thoughts and emotions. This is certainly not a new technique and can be useful when the targeted person has passed away or there is no benefit seen in confronting the person. It is helpful in the later when the client is coming to terms with the fact that they cannot change the other person or there is not a healthy way to facilitate the confrontation. Letting go of those negative emotions and thoughts can provide relief for the individual and can be a powerful symbolic representation.
However, there is another aspect that is may be overlooked in this process: allowing God to redeem those thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Scripture points to God redeeming our life. God wants to redeem our story so that our life brings glory to Him. By letting go of our negative thoughts, emotions, and experiences without giving God the opportunity to redeem our story, falls short of the best of what God wants for our clients.
So here’s what we do. Have the person write the letter or their story but before destroying it, symbolizing letting go, go through it with the person asking how can God redeem this part of their story. By going through the letter in this way, the client gets the opportunity to explore the lessons learned about God, His purpose, His strength, how He provided perseverance, forgiveness, restoration, peace and many many more ways that God may redeem their story. Once this process has been done then go through the process of “letting go” but instead of just letting go of the whole story they are letting go of the negative aspects while still seeing God’s redemptive story in their life.
Obviously the client will need the wise counsel of their therapist to help process through and learn to see things from God’s perspective rather than only looking at their story from their own woundedness.
Feel free to let us know your thoughts about this and how you may use it in your practice. Here’s some verses to look at (although there are many more that point to God redeeming our lives):
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