Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Disappointed in Life

     So many people I speak to are cynical about the negativity they see and feel and about pain they observe in the world, loved ones, and friends.  People often struggle with the observation of injustice.  Why do some evil people prosper and good people struggle?  Why do evil people get away with injustice and a good person is persecuted?  Why are children starving and victimized? Why is there so much violence?  Those are the very tough questions we all have at one time or another.  Those are the doubts that threaten to take hold of the heart of the person of faith and render them powerless.  Those are the questions the atheist, agnostic, or nihilist ask to test our faith in a loving God and test our obedience to a Higher Power.  

     What if, the world, the creation (a creationist premise there) was not cursed or broken?  What if, when the fall happened God had only banished Adam and Eve and disciplined them but had not placed the curse on the rest of creation (the earth and all creatures)?  So, essentially humans keep their internal struggle but externally the blessing is still on all of the creation and the external struggle is not there.  The ground easily produces food, the elements remain perfect for habitation, the animals don't attack or destroy one another and remain herbivores, life is plenteous.  Well, my first response is humans having a nature of self protection and self reliance would then make the earth and all its resources a type of heaven and would be satisfied getting all their sensual needs met right here.  There would be no further need for the creator because we are provided for on our own, without Him.  That is our nature.  

     God did strike the earth and the animals with a death sentence and struggle and turmoil.  We all experience this struggle in our everyday life.  Family life is trying and takes hard work and is never free of disappointment. Work can/may be hard, exhausting, and sometimes/often lacking enjoyment.  Getting along with neighbors can/may be exhausting and trying.  Cooperating in organizations, groups, churches, schools, etc can/may be very testing.  And as we all know, picking leaders, managing our neighborhoods, cities, states, and nation can/may be very trying and disappointing.  If you have your hands in all of these areas at once and for some of you maybe more areas of life than this things can get very difficult, complex, frustrating, and then disappointing.  Why?  Because it seems there's always conflict!  Things get going good and you're bopping along and then BOOM!  Conflict is present again. Why can't it just stay fixed?

     We all seem to expect to some degree ease and comfort in this life.  And if we will press ourselves deeper we probably expect a lot more than that.  It seems like some sick joke when we wake up every day to conflict or struggle when we expected happiness and comfort.  Its like being asked to go out to eat to a nice restaurant and your driven to some cheap drive through food.  You eat the burger but leave psychologically wanting.  The expectation of the "nice restaurant" still calling for fulfillment.  You may feel lied to, cheated even.  You may even drive to the fancy place down the street later in an attempt to fix or quiet the unfulfillment.  Being human is much the same as this illustration.  Being human, we expect to be treated fairly, justly.  We expect to be loved, needed, valued.  We expect to prosper, get what we want, have pleasure and live in peace. And we expect to watch others live the same.  When life takes us to the proverbial McDonald's or garbage can for dinner we react with, WHAT?  This cannot be.  Did I do something wrong?  Did someone else do something wrong? This is not right!  I demand answers! I demand justice!  I demand this to be fixed!  All this in an attempt to create a sort of comfortable environment. My or your personal garden of Eden.  

     Sometimes these demands take up an entire lifetime.  Attempting in many ways to force life to be seamless, placid, comfortable, peaceful, fair, just, etc.  This only exhausts and consumes those of us who attempt any one of these impossibilities.  That's because when we strive for "Eden" we are striving against a law set in motion that will not be undone by any human.  Realistically admitting, facing, and accepting the experience of being disappointed by life may be very freeing.  It also may allow the mind to finally realize, "Why do I have this demand for perfection or perfect peace and comfort and justice?"  Admitting your disappointment with life may also assist you to connect with your thirst for a REAL place of perfection, Heaven.  In fact, I believe that is the purpose of the curse on the creation.  To keep us longing for the "more" of heaven and for God himself, a very real place and person.  It is not an error in God's computer system that things are dysfunctioning down here!  I believe His intention is to allow need so that we will look beyond this world and its chaos for our needs and we will find the possibility of safety, love, and peace in Heaven.

     I am not attempting to explain all evil.  That's definitely another blog.  I am merely contending that disappointment in life is inevitable and so is the human struggle to extinguish it.  Its not possible.  Life is never going to stay, Le Bernardin NY.  God does not promise freedom from struggle and He doesn't promise heaven on earth living.  He does promise His love and His presence no matter what and the hope of a future living with Him.

"Against its will, all creation was subjected to God's curse.  But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God's children in glorious freedom from death and decay" (Romans 8:20-21, NLT).  
                    

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Do the 12 steps lead a person to a specific religion?


The quick answer to that question is no. The 12 steps are a spiritual program developed through Bill W and others’ own experiences of being in the grip of alcoholism. Bill W. was not the first, but was himself the beneficiary of another recovering alcoholic’s testimony of the power of working a spiritual program for recovery from alcohol. Bill W. explained in the Big Book that before recovery he was not an atheist and did not believe many people really were. It was his assertion that atheistic belief would mean, “...blind faith in the strange proposition that this universe originated in a cipher and aimlessly rushes nowhere (Big Book, 2001, p.10). In fact, his scientific heroes of the time even “...suggested vast laws and forces at work....I had little doubt that a mighty purpose and rhythm underlay all. How could there be so much of precise and immutable law, and no intelligence? I simply had to believe in a Spirit of the Universe, who knew neither time nor limitation” (Big Book, 2001, p. 10).

            You see the 12 steps of recovery have one goal in mind: to bring those who become entirely willing to obediently choose honesty and humility 24 hours a day to a spiritual awakening not just once but again and again, each and every day that the steps and relationship with a power greater than themselves are practiced and applied through faith. Not blind faith, but faith that the steps combined with power from our higher power sought out in prayer and meditation consistently and daily WILL produce sobriety for sure! Then on top of sobriety the steps will build strength, endurance, hope, direction, maturity, self-control, the power to deny destructive selfishness, openness, community, belonging, accountability, self-respect, freedom through the gift of forgiveness, the reordering of behavioral choices, inner peace, mental clarity, joy in living and pleasure in serving others.
            Bill W. taught that he had a sort of profound awakening in which past memories aligned with the present testimony that was being shared with him such that God was able to remove his unwillingness to believe in a power greater than himself. The question from his friend, “Why don’t you choose your own conception of God?” (Big Book, 2001, p. 12), led to the realization, “It was only a matter of being willing to believe in a Power greater than myself. Nothing more was required of me to make my beginning” (Big Book, 2001, p. 12). You see, in the 12 steps there is a beautiful freedom given to each participant. Come as you are, where you are, and know that if you will acknowledge where your beliefs stand today and obediently and fully commit to working the steps that the God of your understanding will bring you to the faith you need to live the program successfully. This was called moral psychology by William D. Silkworth, M.D.; a doctor who worked with many alcoholics and whose writing is included in the Big Book. In Silkworth’s experience, alcoholism was a death sentence of sorts. He had not witnessed successful life change or recovery until he witnessed Bill W. share his story and his steps with those in the then institution for alcoholics. What Silkworth reports is that through what he terms “moral psychology”, Bill W. and the men he led out of alcoholism were able to achieve “unselfishness...the entire absence of profit motive...community spirit...[belief] in themselves, and still more in the Power which pulls chronic alcoholics back from the gates of death” (Big Book, 2001, p. xxvii).

            Dr. Silkworth had been convinced that emotionalism, merely focusing on behavioral band aids, or psychological tricks was not enough to help alcoholics. He said, the approach had to have, “depth and weight” (Big Book, 2001, p. xxviii). Silkworth testified of his own experiences of powerlessness when faced with healing an alcoholic and how he innately felt deep down that there had to be a power greater than the alcoholic sickness to heal it because human medicine/psychiatry had no cure. This has also been my clinical and personal experience with addicts of all kinds. This includes anyone that has a compulsive pattern, an addictive cycle, a “bad habit” they seemingly cannot overcome and it is bringing any level of brokenness into their life, their relationships, or their social/vocational functioning. The experience of powerlessness when attempting to help the mastered is quite profound. It is not until I, even I, surrender control of the healing to my higher power can I be of any assistance to my broken client. Many people, many addicts, are skeptics of the 12 steps and its programming. If that person is reading this, in the Silkworth tradition, I would encourage you to read the AA Big Book front to back, slowly and carefully with your ears open to hear and receive.  As Silkworth said, “perhaps [you’ve come] to scoff, [but you] may remain to pray” (Big Book, 2001, p. xxxii). The 12 steps will not lead you to a certain religion but they will lead you to a relationship; a relationship with a Power greater than yourself that is the power you need to change your life for the better.                       
Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. Big Book. NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.,         2001.                      



Thursday, October 25, 2018

His Way or Your Way

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS
It is in the middle that human choices are made; the beginning and the end remain with God. The decrees of God are birth and death, and in between those limits man makes his own distress or joy.  Shade of His Hand, 1223 L

https://utmost.org

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

My Way vs God's Way

Recently, in a clinical session an image came alive.  Since then, this image has continued to communicate very deeply with me to explain so many struggles I see in most of my clients lives, my loved one's lives, and in areas or circumstances in my own life.  I would like to share it with you.

Remember your favorite playground from childhood?  There were so many fun places to play.  One favorite for most children is, the slide.  And oh, how slides have gotten more exciting right?!  Slides now are child safe, curly, and held by a massive pile of wood chips or bouncy mats.  Kids now have it very nice.  Think back to that time, childhood.  Maybe even a beautiful fall day, running through the cool breeze and sunshine, wearing your favorite sweatshirt, swinging, sliding, and going round and round on the merry-go-round and then, how children would congregate at the slide.  Everyone wanted to go again, and again, and again.  Some children would just naturally run to the stairs, climb, slide, and back to the stairs as fast as they could for another go!  Other children would naturally run to the bottum of the slide and attempt to climb up the actual slide-slipping, grasping, getting a couple feet, slipping, grasping harder, getting slidden into and then flying down to the bottum (and maybe onto the ground), with the current slider.  Laughing, wrestling, or maybe even arguing about who did it wrong or who hurt who.

Typically, kids as a group will either join the "slide-climber" or they'll join the "stair-climber" because cooperation and group-think make social time much easier, serene, and more enjoyable.  Order.  Eventually, we all learn that taking the stairs is just easier and more safe. 

Of course there's always that mom who would re-direct that kid who just would not stop climbing the slide backwards no matter how many times he/she was knocked down by a slider.  That's the kid who is a true creative!  Maybe even a true rebel, at heart.  However, maybe that is the child who has learned that there are no rules because mom and dad cannot be trusted, do not care, are distracted, or do not approve of anything I do anyway.  So rules (made by parents and thus adults), become irrelevant and the new rule that can be trusted is, "I can trust in me.  I wont let me down."  But there's that mom who cannot sit back and watch the slide climbing and steps in to redirect. She has accepted that truth that the stairs are clearly easier and more safe, plus IT'S THE RULE!  WE MUST KEEP THE RULES!  Right? 

The belief of the broken child above is the base belief that exists in those who struggle to submit to life's rules.  Consequently, a person with this belief regularly experiences being up against an oppressor, blocked by a wall, opposed by loved ones, kept out of their dreams and just shy of a goal/s.  See, there are hidden or dynamic rules that play out between humans.  There is not even a requirement of actual relationship for these rules to apply.  They apply small scale in such interactions as with a retail clerk or behaviors out in public, medium scale as with co-workers or in employment relations, and large scale in our homes between spouses, parents and children. The rules seem to be universal, innate, divine, and unshakable.  They are bound to the way we want to see the world operate: with order, not chaos. 

In order for order to exist, people must function within a particular continuum of behaviors, cognitions, emotions, perceptions, choices, etc.  This does not mean they do not experience the aforementioned characteristics that land outside the particular continuum.  But in order to keep order in every area of their life they withhold their extremes of self and funnel them into other more positive activities or expressions.  A great sublimation, as Freud would say!  To put this thought into image, look to the childhood slide again.  Do you see it in your mind?  Where are you standing? Are you standing away from it but looking at it?  Are you standing at the bottum or climbing from the bottum?  Are you standing at the stairs or climbing the stairs?

Rule keepers tend to go to the stairs every time without error.  They may consider the bottom but will thwart themselves from such trouble-making curiosities in order to not make waves.  This is the safer option of the two as order is created and maintained, but individuation is smothered with unquestioned or little-questioned rule keeping.  Rebels or those who heavily rely on themselves tend to go to the bottom of the slide every time or most of the time because no one is going to tell me what is right for me!  And no one is going to control me, no matter what!  The self and its evaluation of faithfulness to its natural inclinations is valued over relationship with others.  

Where did you see yourself in relation to the slide?  This may be your innate or root self speaking to you about your own tendency towards being a rule follower or a rule breaker.  Do you think that never deviating from the stairs, no matter what comes is orderly?  Most likely this would create disorder or chaos in the face of a need for individual expression, crisis, loss, disaster, or change.  To counter that thought, do you think that always taking the bottom of the slide to climb up is honoring yourself or being true to yourself??  To the contrary, it will become imprisonment to all the demands within yourself and all the emotions, thoughts, and impulses a person can and when fed, will experience. 

Again, some of us learned early that the rules were not fair, did not make sense, and maybe even caused us harm.  And so to counter that harm, rules (with many being societal, relational, spiritual, and unspoken but expected), became something to be challenged, defied, resisted, and ignored.  Sadly, this consequently causes blindness over time.  See, the consequences of consistently ignoring or defying these types of "rules" is that of growing and burgeoning emotional pain.  Having used denial to counter the anxiety over defying or breaking these "rules" we then become blind to the "hows" and "whys" of our negative internal condition. We forgot to follow ourselves, watch ourselves because we told ourselves what we were doing was right!!  Now, we may have a tendency towards anger, selfishness, self-sabotage, isolation, blame, hardness, and being emotionally unavailable.  

Ask yourself:  Have I never realized that its more work to climb the slide from the bottum??
Ask yourself:  Have I never realized that I exist too and I can climb the ladder my way and                                          sometimes a different way?

Its all about the combination of heart condition and disciplined actions.  In-other-words, order is supremely more important than chaos, but it takes a wee bit of chaos to make order sweet!!  A person must make sure that they are an individual in their world, but remember individuality is not defined by rebellion or resistance or even defying order.  In fact, individuality is most often found when willingly submitting to a higher power, service to others, a shared value system, virtue and its behavioral framers, sacrificial love, and universal human values.  Individual expression is healthy chaos to totalitarian order.  But individual expression is not destructive to the self or others in any way.  It will build you, your personality, your relationships, and your ability to function peacefully in your world.  There is a strongly submissive element--an acceptance of what "works" but, there is also freedom to make what "works" my own. 

So, step out from the place you have been stuck in.  Step out and consider the other option.  What scares you about making that choice?  Confront those fears with Gods love and His ability to protect, provide, and care for all your needs.  Where have you been unwilling to obey God?  Most likely in the things/ways hidden or more difficult for others to see or talk to you about.  But you know!  And that is what counts.  Break free from ambivalence and start the process of growing your motivation to obey your higher power and do what's been nagging your heart!!  God will meet you there.  He has been patiently waiting for this moment.


"Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand” (Zechariah 4:10, NLT).






      

Monday, May 21, 2018

Hello again!

Are you struggling with physical symptoms such as digestive upset, food intolerances, unstable moods, low energy, sleep disruption, lethargy, skin/hair/nails issues, allergies, imbalances?  Has your mental health become depressed, anxious, or unregulated?  Do you just want to feel better again but dont want to take a handful of pills???

Give Rachel a call at Shekinah Wellness!  Rachel provides holistic health services including: 
  • comprehensive lab testing 
  • bionetic body stress scan
  • health recovery plans
  • laser therapy
  • natural remedies, supplements, nutrition and other methods
  • a personalized nutritional plan to meet your specific needs 
  • spiritual and emotional guidance.

Give Rachel a call today at 763-923-8112 or check her out on the web at https://www.shekinahwellness.com/

"Applying Biblical Principles to Health and Healing"




Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Banana Duck

Are you stuck in a rut of cynicism, negativity, or just burdened down with worries or concerns?

Did you know that our Heavenly Father has a sense of humor?  He does.  Let me tell you a story.  Yesterday began as every other day.  The alarm, uuuugh, shower, calling out kid names to keep them on task, racing around to get ready for work, driving one to school, coming back to finish running around, fixing lunches and having a cup of coffee.  Well my last two kids and myself finally made it to the truck to be off for the day.  My daughter says, "Mom! There's a duck in a tree!"  Of course, Im like, whaaa?  "Theres a duck in a tree!"  Shes pointing.  "It's up there Mom!  Its over the neighbors house!"  I tried but I could not spy it.  The trees are very tall, towering many feet over the house.  I got out of the truck and looked up and there I saw it!  It was a mallard literally sitting up in the top of a tree, out on a branch, looking right at us!  It was like he was smiling at us.  He had to have been becaue it was so crazy!  We all broke out laughing!  My son was eating a banana and so he blurts out, "Its a banana duck!"  Then we laughed more.  Well, things got serious next because we began our daily prayer on the way to school.  Everyone takes a turn.  As I listened to my children pray I wondered, what do I need to pray for today?  The Holy Spirit whispered, "Look.  Im in charge of that duck.  I put him there to show you that even I have a sense of humor.  Dont get so caught up in seriousness and schedules and human functioning that you cannot see the humor around you and experience joy!  Thank Me for the banana duck!"  And so,  when it was my turn to pray I gave thanks for the banana duck and Gods great sense of weirdness and humor and His will that our hearts experience laughter and joy and not get bogged down in struggles.

Struggles are real and the pain they produce is also real, but Gods greatness and His world is so awesome and His people so special there has to be something you can find today that can bring even a twinkle of joy into your heart!  It will be a choice you make to see God in the midst of your pain, your struggle, your testing.  Hes there friend!  Reach out to Him.

Proverbs 16:15 "When the king smiles, there is life; his favor refreshes like a spring rain" (NLT).   

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Still Fighting???

Every human experiences emotional pain.  The awareness of this pain in each individual exists on a spectrum from total awareness to no awareness.  Very few exist on the poles.  Those that do are very sick and often in the news for some tradegy they caused or were a part of.  Most of us exist somewhere in between.  There is no perfect center of awareness and acceptance and even if there were we would not know we had arrived there and would not exist there very long.  Humans are incapable of perfect peace.  Dont be fooled, even the most balanced person experiences emotional pain in the quiet of their heart and mind.  Lonlieness, fear, doubts, sadness, demandingness; no one escapes the humble condition of imperfection.  The term "emotional pain" is my terminology.  It has been termed psychological pain, mental pain, algopsychalia, psychalgia, psychic pain, social pain, spiritual pain, or just suffering by secular psychologists, scientists, and philosophers.  Emotional pain is experienced inside of and outside of relationships, inside the self, between us and God.  Emotional pain is also experienced through physical manifestations such as heaviness in the torso, pressure or tension in the head/skull, tension in the neck, back, and shoulders, unexplainable pains in the body, tightness in the chest, weakness, excessive energy, excessive drowsiness, etc.  It is realized to some as intense discomfort, often a need to relax, a need for a vacation, a desire to drink or have sex to relax.  Some people have a growing compulsion to buy things, sleep too much, escape into television or video games, masturbate, throw parties and entertain, stay up late, exercise too long, eat too little or too much.  

All of these things listed above (in moderation) are just activities with no intrinsically evil properties.  The problem enters when we are not aware enough or too much aware of our emotional pain and use these activites to deny, resist, fight, feed, or run away from the state of our internal self.  Instead of staying with or sitting down in the pain to feel it (acceptance), identify it, put it beside me so that its with me, and then keep moving forward in Gods healing power, we may instead use self defeating and faith killing tactics to deal with/cope with our emotional pain.    

Those that exist on the "not aware to some extent" or "denial using" side of the spectrum tend to fake it, wear masks, be superficial, have poor self-care, are constantly busy, may be very productive, may be very effective at completing tasks, maybe well organized or even seem controling to their environment or tasks. They are good at managing being distracted, using denial, resisting the pull of their instincts, fighting the body's demands for unmet needs, running away from any emotionally charged situation, using achievement/completing tasks to mask intimacy, keeping rules etc.  However, in relationship with a person on this end of the spectrum you may experience an inability to connect, poor communication skills, pride that inhibits connection, hiddenness, denial of reality in some form, control, demandingness, high expectations or unrealistic expectations, discomfort with intimacy as it is too vulnerable to emotional pain, selfishness through the demandingness to meet their expectations and needs, etc.  There are so many attributes I cannot nearly name them all.

Those that exist on the "too aware of my emotional pain" side of the spectrum tend to be drama queens/kings, emotionally controlling (their emotional states control situations), self-obsessed, inwardly focused, victimized by everyone and everything, entitled to retribution/pay-back/revenge/hate when "wronged", immature, unforgiving, pleasure seekers to extremes or identifiable levels, lacking in faith or tend to abandon faith in times of struggle, passionate, easily distracted or quickly obsessed, etc.  Again, there are many characteristics and positive ones as well but I gave mainly perceived negative characteristics as thats how people often identify a place of struggle. 

There is most definately a third type that exists and that is the person who mixes the two extremes: over identifying with emotional pain and numbing out all emotional pain.  This is often those therapists and psychologists identify as those having a personality disorder.  A personality disorder is not a pathology that a person is born with but instead a mixture of social construction, biological tendencies, and personal psychological patterns of processing information with a great emphasis on social construction.  The mixing person may become very confusing for loved ones but also very confusing for themselves due to their very oppositional perspectives and demands.  A deeper look into attachment may be needed in these cases.  Often people struggling in this category are so self-protective that they become their nurturer and their own protector.  Its as if they take on the role of the mother and father they did not have or did not relationally have.  Just an FYI...personality disorders can and do exist on both sides of the continuum as well, not just when the sides are mixed togethor.  One more FYI...I think its common for most people to mix between the two sides of the continuum also just in a much less extreme presentation and with much higher ability to function in life.

I bring up a good point in "self-protection".  All of the above types presented in a person who exists on the continuum outside the safe zone of behavior have learned that they have to protect themselves and that being vulnerable is the most threatening thing there is to the safety of their identity or sense of self.  Even when a person feeds their feelings, they are now not really feeling their true feelings.  Their feelings become so intense that they are distorted even distorting the mind, the thinking and perceiving, then triggering physical manifestations that thus re-trigger the emotions to an even higher level state of distortion.  Sadly, this escalation cycle can and often does go quite high even for average folks leaving people in a state of panic, depression, intense anxiety, phobic, raging, whatever.

I believe, this is one of the most important topics of our time: The acceptance of a constant state of human emotional pain (constantly varying in intensity).  The fighting of this state of human emotional pain and the desire to eradicate all pain has actually become social movements!  It is folly.  It is delusional and grandiose to attempt to eradicate pain.  This attempt, whether on a large scale or an individual scale only breeds more pain!

When we are raw, that is when we feel our sense of smallness and can see that the tidalwave of pain will destroy us if there is NOT a power greater than ourselves!!  It is in these moments we have the will to believe there's a God, there must be a God!!  And if we begin to have a mustard seed of faith to believe there is a God we may begin to tempt ourselves to think that He may be able to help me, no, He may be able to bring me to sanity!!!  It is NOT in our strength and proud moments, our self-reliance, our "I got this!" attitudes that we can connect with God!  It is when we are nearest to our powerlessness, brokenness, smallness, humility, our neediness that we can all of the sudden imagine there is a God that may love me AND may be able to and may WANT to reach down into this deep pit of emotional pain Im in and get me out!  And I, may want Him too!

Check out this sermon from Constance E Free Church!  A great Biblical perspective on this topic.   

Constance Evangelical Free Church: Saved by the Blood

Below is an emotional pain map that I developed to give this discussion visual learning for us creative types!  ;)




Emotional Pain Map PDF

Psalm 131:2, "Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, Like a weaned child with his mother; Like a weaned child is my soul within me" (NKJV).

http://www.truthliveshere.net/