Too Much of a Good Thing

I love Starbucks. I love the coffee. I love the pastries. One of my most favorite are coffee frappuccinos. I recently decided that since I liked the small size so much, why not try a large just to enjoy it all the more. Half way through the venti frapp, I came to appreciate the saying that there can be too much of a good thing. My good thing turned on me. No longer was I enjoying it, but was becoming rather sick in fact. As I stood over the trash can getting ready to throw out the remainder, it hit me that this was a good metaphor for many things in life. A good thing overdone can become the very thing that makes us ill.

There is a huge difference between doing something because we can and doing something because the anointing of God is on it. If we fail to follow PRECISELY where God’s anointing is, we can burnout in our human effort to do more than God has asked us to do. I have seen many people take their gifts and talents and push themselves beyond where God has asked them to go. The thinking goes something like this; “God has really blessed me in this area so I guess I need to work longer and harder and be blessed more!” Well maybe not. Maybe the blessing was truly on the smaller thing done well rather than the larger work done in chaos and burnout.

I am happy to report that I have returned to enjoying coffee frapps but I only order a small and enjoy it thoroughly without a desire for more.

Living with Regret

Regret. It’s a terrible emotion. It can take hold of your heart and soul. You hardly think of much else but that one thing you wish you had done, you had not done, wish you had said or not said. You replay the scenario again and again in your head and wish you had done things differently. Regret. It is such a waste of time but yet the pain of regret can be soul piercing.

If regret is so awful, how can it be avoided? After working with many clients who have dealt with this emotion, I have seen a pattern of behavior that often leads to regret. One of the most common factors of feeling regretful happens when you take action based on what other people say you should do. If you follow through on advice that you are not completely in favor of, you run the risk of experiencing regret once the dust settles on the decision.

What are you to do if you are living with regret? The first step is to do everything possible to correct the situation. Try to regain what was lost. Take whatever steps you can to bring restoration. If it is not possible, then you have no choice but to move on. How? The first step is to be very honest about your feelings of regret. The next step is forgiving yourself for your mistakes. This is probably the hardest part. It’s hard to move forward sometimes when you see that your own actions have brought pain.

The best way to avoid the pain of regret is to always seek God’s wisdom before making any decision. Never allow other people to influence you into a decision that does not settle well within your own spirit.

Domestic Violence and Teenagers

Domestic violence is an issue that many people believe only happens within adult relationships, but sadly it frequently occurs in relationships involving teens. The issues of power, control and manipulation are not restricted to adults. I was reminded this week that the lasting affects of teen violence is that it produces young women who believe lies about themselves, men and utlimately about God as well. Teaching young women how to live balanced lives is a very important step in equipping them to resist violence in their relationships.

As adult women, we need to be positive role models of not allowing our romantic relationships to become all consuming of our time and attention. We need to show young women how to have healthy girlfriend relationships, how to spend quality time alone and how to hunger after God’s will for our lives. Teen girls that tolerate violence in their relationships have often made a boyfriend their primary social support. They isolate from their girlfriends, spend less time with family members and stop particpating in hobbies that they once enjoyed. Their world revolves around their boyfriend and that is where trouble can begin. As parents, let us be sure that our daugthers understand what a balanced life should look like and help her to attain that for herself – even if she resists.

Letting Go

There is a phenomenon in counseling that is very real and hard to understand how it happens. For years, I and other therapists, have noticed that we will often have a cluster of new clients that all come in with a very similar concern that they want to work on. The issue could be marriage, parenting, grief/loss or any number of other concerns. My most recent cluster have come in to talk about and work through the process of letting go of something.

Letting go of a job that is no longer, letting go of a life dream that has not worked out or letting go of someone special in their lives. The theme of letting go has been very present within the office lately. Why is letting go so hard? Even when we know something has changed, reshaped and transformed itself, why do we have such trouble allowing it to happen and then moving on?

I think one of the main stumbling blocks to letting go of something is that we remember the best of something. We want to regain the “glory years” if you will of when we remember being most succcessful at our job or enjoying a special closeness and connection within a relationship. We want what once was but may never be again. There is a death of sorts that occurs when we lose something very special to us and we have no way of resurrecting it.

How do we let go and move on when the circumstances require us to do so? We become very honest; atleast with ourselves if no one else. We honestly take an inventory of our feelings and emotions related to the loss. We allow ourselves to be completely transparent with God about our feelings. He knows them anyways and wants us to be real with Him. We allow ourselves to grieve as if a real death did occur. We cry, we pray, we thank God for what is good in our lives and we allow Him to heal us over time. We are not surprised by the depth of our saddness but look for things to be grateful for in the middle of the loss. We also do what God has commanded us to; which is to live one day at a time. So for today we can try to let go and pray for God’s help to wait expectedly to see what He has planned for us next.

“Stop-It” Therapy/Pastoral Counseling

Don’t ever participate in “Stop-It” therapy or pastoral counseling.

How will you know if you have a “Stop-It” therapist or counseling pastor? He or she will point out the error of your behavior and immediately tell you that you just have to stop it. Stop looking at pornography, stop feeling angry, stop feeling depressed, stop being anxious, stop being emotionally bonded to someone other than your spouse, stop it, stop it, stop it!

While I agree that those issues need to be addressed, the approach to getting the behavior to change is the difference. When a therapist/counseling pastor tells you to stop a certain behavior and you do, then the problem is solved, right? But what if you are living as a “dry drunk” from the pull of the temptation? By this I mean that an alcoholic can stop drinking but be white-knuckling it everyday. They never figure out the root of the addiction; they just stopped drinking excessively but are struggling. A stop-it therapist or counseling pastor will feel that a victory has been achieved if the ACTIONS change. However, what about the true condition of the heart? This is where some faith-based counseling falls short.

Stop-it counseling is much like gardening. Pulling off the top of the weed will make it look like the weed is gone – but the roots are still there. The weed will grow back given the right soil conditions. This is the same as sin. You can stop yourself from committing a certain sin but if you don’t spend adequate time understanding why the sin was appealing to begin with, the sin can often “grow” back.

Another symptom of a stop-it therapist/counseling pastor is that they will often encourage change within two or three sessions. This is usually not adequate time to get to the root of the issue and practice the new way of living without a particular sin. While I completely believe that the power of Holy Spirit can do amazing things quickly within someone’s heart, the path to healing and complete restoration is often a process that takes patience and time. You need a therapist/counseling pastor who has the patience and time to walk with you. If they cannot, do not feel bad if you need to find another person to partner with you for the journey.