All right, Lord, I’ve been reading about what a good Christian should do and how I should live my life, but I want to say to You that it’s not working for me. You promised me joy, You promised me peace, You promised me wholeness, and I’m not experiencing any of this. My life is a total disaster. There’s got to be another way. I do not doubt Your promises, but I don’t understand how to find them.
~Betty Walthour Skinner
From the depths of our common humanity, Betty Walthour Skinner’s cry of the heart emanates and resonates. Whatever our given lot or chosen path, we have a deep sense that there must be more to life than we are experiencing. And there is so much more. There is treasure hidden within our soul; it is our true self—the person God perfectly and wonderfully created in His image to love and to do His work in the world.
We haven’t learned how to access and live out this reality, though, because throughout our lives we have all been wounded. Innocently and unconsciously, we have walled in our hearts with layer after layer of thick casing for protection, creating another self—a false self—keeping our true self hidden from others and obscured from ourselves; moving us further and further from the perfect freedom and peace we were created for. We then wound others and those we love out of the embedded fear, shame, and unhealed pain of the false self we have constructed.
Betty, now in her nineties, dared to take this journey inward out of desperation and desire and has lived all the fullness of its pain and joy. Her intense yearning ultimately led her from terrible suffering with clinical depression into that promised place of peace, rest, and fulfillment that awaits us all.
Hers is a story of a modern woman who, without any of today’s drugs or fancy therapies, embraced the burning fire of her pain and found her way to healing and wholeness.
Ironically, scientific research has now caught up and affirms and documents that everything she did in her healing journey was based, however intuitively, on a solid scientific foundation.
Since the first publication of The Hidden Life: Revelations from a Holy Journey in 2006, many, many people have written to tell us how deeply Betty’s journey resonated with them and blessed them. During that same period of time, neuroscience began to be able to document and affirm the healing steps that Betty had intuitively taken, inspired only by trust and deep desire.
Also since the release of the first edition, Cathy’s professional career has deeply immersed her in this burgeoning field of brain research.
Neuroscience is growing in its capacity to map, through stunning new technology, how our thoughts, emotions, and choices register in the brain by a cascade of physical and energetic changes in the structure of its cells. Scientists now affirm that how and where we focus our attention dictates the content of the brain structure we create. By choosing to focus our attention (mindfulness and prayer) on uplifting emotional content (positivity and hope), and sustain¬ing that moment for twenty-five seconds (installation), we little by little change our brain structure, which changes mental activity, which changes biochemical communication in the body, which epigenetically changes gene expression and thus our physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
The effects of this self-directed neuroplasticity are cumulative, so every time we make a choice for hope, we are turning the part of us that chooses into something different than it was before. Just as it takes more than one footstep, though, to create a new path in the ground, it takes more than one thought to make a new pathway in our mind. We have to choose to cultivate the good we want in our mind over and over again. Somehow, the Apostle Paul understood this when he said, “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
It is our heart’s desire to offer you the gift of a spiritual friendship with Betty to accompany and encourage you on your journey to renewal in the hope that her life’s story might light a path for your own healing into wholeness, and make you a little more homesick for God.