The Experiential Model: I am my experience.

Last week we discussed the truth model of human growth, as discussed in How People Grow (Cloud & Townsend, 2001). This week we will cover the experiential model. The experiential model urges you to find the pain in your life and deal with it.

When I think of this model, I picture laying on a fainting couch and having Sigmund Freud hypnotize me to find long-buried memories of how my parents or loved ones tormented me in my youth and past. While this isn’t quite what this model espouses, much of the model does rest in rooting out pain and resentment and processing it out of the body. Again, as with all the models, the model has merit. The Bible talks about coming to the communion table with a clear conscience (1 Corinthians 11:28), and much of our pain comes from our own sins and sins others commit against us. We also know that God created our bodies so intricately as to feel our emotions in the body viscerally, and, often, when we have been traumatically hurt by another person’s sin, we need the power of the Holy Spirit to be able process those emotions and to grant forgiveness.

However, one of the potential pitfalls of this model emerges in the form of victimhood. In my own life, I have been sinned against through addiction, abandonment, and the breaking of marital vows. As I have tried to process those hurts and offer true forgiveness to those who sinned against me, it has surprised me how often well-meaning loved ones and even counselors and pastors have tried to help by painting me as the victim. Again, don’t get me wrong, I was the victim of someone else’s sin against me. But the gospel promises ensure that I live as a victor, not a victim. As a victim, I remain stuck in the past, tragically tied to an identity marred by my own and others’ sins. The gospel truth tells me that if I confess my sins, and give forgiveness to others who have sinned against me, I will be free and can go into the future as a victor.

How has the experiential model worked in your life? Have you ever fallen prey to identifying as a victim rather than a victor?

Next time, we will cover the supernatural model of human growth.

Contributed by Liz Hunt


Cloud, H., & Townsend, J. (2001). How people grow: What the Bible reveals about personal growth. Zondervan. The Experiential Model: I am my experience. The Experiential Model: I am my experience. The Experiential Model: I am my experience.

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