Psychology professor gives tips about healing from fear, giving all to God

Theresa Balick

Staff Writer

A psychology professor at Franciscan University of Steubenville explained how past wounds manifest fear and how to overcome those fears in a talk Monday that pushed the Gentile Gallery to its capacity limit.

Matthew Breuninger, who holds a master’s degree in theology and a doctorate in clinical psychology, addressed students on the topic of healing from past wounds, specifically wounds that have caused defects in character, such as self-deprecation or procrastination.

“Most of the problems you have in your life today — the panic, the fear, the worry, the sadness, the loneliness — can be traced back to one of these defects in character,” Breuninger said.

Breuninger gave a five-step plan that explains the healing process. The steps — admit the defect, admit a wrong image of God, make a list of defects and where they stem from, bring that list to God and others and commit to serving the Lord wherever he may call — were compiled from different sources to create a map for those searching for healing.

“This is about a radical conversion back to Christ,” Breuninger said. “It is about saying many times throughout the day, ‘Thy will be done.’”

Breuninger also described the two types of healing Christ offers.

“When we offer the Lord these defects of character, the first type of healing is removal … but there’s another type of healing that’s important … I’m calling this redemption,” Breuninger said.

Breuninger said his idea of redemptive healing is based on St. Paul’s experience with accepting God’s will despite God not fully healing him of his defects.

In order to experience healing, Breuninger said that people must be willing to hand everything over to the Lord. He used an example from C.S. Lewis’s “The Great Divorce” to illustrate that, despite the pain that might come from handing over the problem, the freedom that comes after is worth the pain.

“In order for Christ to touch us, we have to hand him the wound,” Breuninger said. “All of it, holding nothing back.”

The Rev. Jonathan St. Andre, TOR, pointed out the beauty of Breuninger’s talk occurring on the Feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross.

“The people of God look up to the cross for their healing and for their life,” St. Andre said.

The talk was sponsored by Franciscan Life and was the final event of the Gift of Human Sexuality Symposium.