November 18, 2015

Muscle Memory or Phantom Pain?

Lately, the Lord has been unfolding a new thought to me...

It's something beyond my understanding,
but I feel anointing and wisdom and breakthrough all over it. 
So I wanted to share it with you because, of course!
Who couldn't use a bit more anointing... increased wisdom... 
and some breakthrough in one area or another (or 12!), right?

This is what He keeps asking me when pain arises from within... 
"Is that muscle memory, or phantom pain?"
We have ALL been hurt... we've all had things not work out, hearts broken, been wounded and left unattended... 

We are human, living in a fallen world and oh my goodness how we let each other down.

I was invited to speak a couple of weeks ago for our Sunday service and the topic (--we're in the middle of a series) was based in Daniel 5 and was about how sometimes it seems like we have lost influence.

I don't know about you, but I have had seasons where it has seemed like that. Where it FEELS like I have lost influence or at least like nothing was happening, growing, or flourishing at all.

I have found that those are most often the seasons where God is at work cultivating and growing us underneath the surface, right?

As I prepared my message, I reflected back over the times when my heart felt broken, when hope was deferred, and when I felt like I had lost influence or been called to give up my 'ministry' or a part of who I thought I was...

"Is this Muscle Memory or Phantom Pain?" I began to ask myself.

I shared about a season years ago when we were called to lay some things down... things we thought God was building in us, with us, for His purposes.  Suddenly it felt like we were wrong... or maybe ahead of schedule. And then, a decade later, it felt like we were way, way behind!

Eventually, thankfully, we found our tribe at Soar - a Bible School of Spiritual Transformation. I slowly felt the Lord reawaken the desire to minister and much like when a weight lifter returns to lifting or a runner gets back to training for a race, my ‘muscle memory’ was strong and it felt good to be back with my people, using the gifts that God had given.

After a year at Soar, once again – we were called to step away and step back. We didn’t know if it would be a year or ten, but I had to be willing to lay it all down again and start over –eventually, or – you know – not!

It scared me… but I had to remember that no matter what, it’s His Presence that I long for. I don’t need lights and a mic for that… in fact, sometimes that is the last thing I need.
It felt like losing influence and momentum all over again and it was not easy, but we did it. It was the right thing to do for many reasons and God was gracious and we were able to return to Soar.  Now just a year or so later, here we are -church planters, at Dad's House!

Our goal for Dad’s House is not platform, but Presence… 

When God called us to lay down what we thought He was building with us, it felt familiar. It hurt and suddenly, my heart was tender and my head was swimming with thoughts of Oh no! Not again…

But instead of muscle memory,
   I battled phantom pains.

Our muscles remember.

We can train and push and grow, and our body is made to heal and strengthen and thrive!

God has been speaking to me about Muscle Memory for awhile and recently He pointed out the difference between Muscle Memories and Phantom Pains.

Muscle Memories remind our flesh of victories past and they stir us up and encourage us onward.  They are like the little cheerleaders in our heads and oh my goodness, how we need them!

Phantom Pains, however, are different.

Phantom Pains point our hearts back to old wounds, old injuries and hurts, and they lie and mimic the old pain. 

They are convincing, but they are liars. 

They steal our joy and rob us of victory.

They cause us to pick at old scars and hold on to things that we already let go of!

Some of us look at old wounds and see the scar and it sure FEELS real – but Phantom Pain is not Muscle Memory.

We need to re-wire our brain and rework our thoughts and remember our victories…
Perception is a tricky thing, right?

So how do we pay attention to the hurts that are all around us and not give in to the lie of phantom pain?

We don't allow our thoughts to line up with what the enemy of our soul says about us. Instead, we take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ and if our self-talk is filled with 'phantom pain' lingo that rips us apart, tears us down, or holds us back --it has to go!  

Instead, we allow Muscle Memory to speak louder... to remind ourselves of testimonies and of how God has healed, has forgiven, has made whole... 

We speak life and make declarations according to the Word...

We wait on God and we remind our muscles of truth… and we no longer partner with those phantom pains.

We are no longer slaves to fear!

We stay poised for His Presence… and we release it wherever we go!

We choose to trust that God has a plan and a purpose for us... and that He really does use all things together for our good...

It is phantom pains that whisper to us that we have lost influence, that we'll never be well, be better, be whole… but phantom pains only SEEM to be true. 

It’s muscle memory that reminds us that, with Him - we can do this!  We are victorious and we are overcomers and we are not alone...  

It's muscle memory that tells us again and again:

It is finished...
      it's just that sometimes we forget!

I'd love to wrap this post up in prayer... Join me?

Father God… We pray that You will replace any phantom pains today with muscle memory of how You are good, of how it is finished, and of how Your Kingdom is ever increasing.
Help us to re-wire and retrain our hearts and minds to hear muscle memory that cheers us on, and block out the phantom pain that tries to lure us in to believing lies.  
Help us to remember the power of testimony, and rather than entertain hope deferred, let us instead entertain the Hope of Glory!
In Jesus Name, Amen!

P.S.  I'm linking up with these lovely writers:


So what do you think of the whole Muscle Memory vs. Phantom Pain theory?  Can you look back and see how you've been tricked by 'phantom pain' before? Have you felt that muscle memory kick in and help cheer you on? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!


  1. Beautiful prayer friend. And THIS: "We choose to trust that God has a plan and a purpose for us... and that He really does use all things together for our good..." I can totally see where I've been tricked by phantom pain. I'd much rather have muscle memory.

    1. Oh me too, my friend! Me, too! Muscle Memory lifts us up and cheers us on, while Phantom Pain tears us down and holds us back! Thanks so much for stopping by! xoxo

  2. This reminds me of this theraphy mirror box thing that they use with amputees (I'm sure there's a technical name for it). Amputees feel phantom pain, but they can trick their mind into feeling whole and healed by using the abovementioned mirror box that lets them see their limb as whole (using a mirror that reflect the other limb or something--I only saw it demonstrated, you know, I'm not very good at describing it ;)). By envisioning the limb they can imagine the pain in a different way and 'see' relief. So much of our lives is lived silently in our heads. We need to use each other as a mirror-therapy boxes to encourage each other to get over our phantom pains and let our muscles remember that we are beloved children of God (who doesn't make junk).

    1. I love this so much, Anita! I actually read an article in Psychology Today awhile ago that described that box therapy! So I absolutely love that (even though I removed that section from this post) - you thought of that! (This post was taken from my notes from a Sunday message that I shared a few weeks ago, and that box therapy was included in my original message!) xoxo

      So much amen!

  3. A lot of truth in this post, Karri. Nicely done. I'm not big on pain anyway (phantom or otherwise), so I need to let go and focus on remembering what I can do through Him. Thanks for the encouragement!

    1. Dori, my friend! How are you? It's so nice to 'see' you hear! We need to have a coffee date or a walk (I type quietly as it is snowing!) - it's been, once again, too long!


Thanks so much for stopping by! I always love to hear your thoughts! Remember to: Speak Life - Be Love - Shine On!

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