To Forgive or Not to Forgive That Is the Question

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Crucifixion is a method of capital punishment in which the victim is tied or nailed to a large wooden beam and left to hang for several days until eventual death from exhaustion and asphyxiation.  The Romans always beat their prisoners in a very cruel way. The law of the Jews allowed them to beat men no more than 39 times. The Roman law had no limit. When their prisoners fell down, the Romans picked them up. Then they began to beat them again. Sometimes they killed their prisoners like this. The prisoners’ backs became like a field that a farmer has ploughed. Pieces of skin hung from their backs. The Romans had decided that Jesus must die. Now they beat him, by Roman law. Jesus was publicly scourged, or beaten, with a leather-tonged whip before his crucifixion. Tiny pieces of iron and bone chips were tied to the ends of each leather thong, causing deep cuts and painful bruises. He was mocked, struck in the head with a staff and spit on. A prickly crown of thorns was placed on his head and he was stripped naked. Stake-like nails were driven through his wrists and ankles, fastening him to the cross where he was crucified between two convicted criminals.  259427-jesus-christs-crucifixion-reenated-in-czech-passion-play

What must Jesus have looked like by this time? They had beaten him with hands and whips. They had pulled his beard. They had forced the sharp crown on his head. People have painted pictures of Jesus on the cross. None of them can really show us what Jesus was like by that time.  Isaiah writes a simple vivid description of Jesus appearance.

Isaiah 52:141Just as there were many who were appalled at him-his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness

Are you formulating a mental picture in your mind yet?

th-7What was Jesus response to such cruel treatment?  This is the situation in which our Savior cried out to His father, “Father Forgive them” Luke 23:34 Jesus, as only our Savior could so perfectly do; prayed to His Father (our Father) to provide the forgiveness His death grants us.  He chose to forgive.  Holy. Completely.

Have you been hurt?  Do you struggle with memories of a painful childhood?  What trials and tribulations have you faced?  What grudges do you harbor?  Do you struggle with unforgiveness?

There are probably moments in our own lives that give us glimpses into what Christ was feeling. Betrayal.Abandonment. Unfair treatment. Unfair Judgement.  I would venture a guess that our trials pale in comparison to what Christ went through and yet Jesus chose to forgive.

  How Can We Do Any Less?

 Colossians 3:13 “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” God tells us flat-out, forgive as the Lord forgave you.  God commands us to forgive.  Forgiveness is not an option that we can choose to opt out of.  Whether the sin is big or the sin is small according to our earthly measurement system, sin all looks the same to God.  Sin is sin is sin.  We are all sinners before God.  If God forgives you for your sin and Jesus forgave the Romans, Peter, and all of the rest involved in His cruel crucifixion, how then can you withhold forgiveness? I would be so bold as to say that when you withhold forgiveness that you are in effect saying you are better than God.

There is a common misconception about forgiveness.  Forgiveness does not say what the person did was ok.  Forgiveness does not mean that what has happened to you is ok, because it is not ok.  (Do not confuse forgiveness with permission to remain in an unsafe environment.  If you are in an unsafe situation please remove yourself and go to a safe place.)  But other than you have been wronged, forgiveness has nothing to do with what happened to you or who did it. th-3 Forgiveness is not about them.  Forgiveness is about you. Forgiveness is about finding freedom in letting go.  I have heard some say that unforgiveness is like walking around drinking poison hoping the other person would die.

 Are you drinking bitter poison?

 Here is the thing…. walking around spewing hatred to anyone and everyone who will listen hurts no one but yourself and it makes you look like a fool.  Why are you spending your energy and precious time focusing on your betrayal?  abandonment, unfair judgement?  It is time to take back your life.  It is time to begin living again.

It is Time to Forgive

How do I that? Especially if my heart is not in it?  It starts with a simple act of obedience of God’s command.  Being willing to think about forgiving is a start.  Pray, asking God to give you the heart forgiveness.

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Here is my challenge:

  • I challenge you to practice forgiving out loud in private. (Ex: Jane I forgive you)
    1. Be specific in what you are forgiving. (Ex: Jane, I forgive you for making me feel like I did not have any worth when you made fun of me at lunch)
    2. Remember Jesus example on the cross. He could have forgave in His head but He chose to speak forgiveness out loud.
  • Forgive yourself
    1. Whatever your trespass God has forgiven you. And if God has forgiven you what right do you have to withhold forgiveness from yourself?
    2. Breath in deeply God’s forgiveness for you.
    3. Don’t be stubborn let God heal you.
  • Forgive the memories of the past that threaten to over-take  your present. Choose life and forgive.

You will be given many opportunities to practice forgiveness.  One-time forgiveness is not enough.  Remember that forgiveness is not a one-time thing. There is no limit to the number of time you are to forgive just as there is no limit as to how many time Jesus will forgive you.th

Forgiveness will shed pounds off your life.  Forgiveness gives you permission to put down the heavy burden of bitterness and start living again.  People will see it in your face you will notice it in your spirit. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32

Forgive… Walk in Freedom…. Forgive

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Taken in apart: The Christian Chick’s Guide to Surviving Divorce by Susanne Reeves

Lightening the Load

th-6This morning as I read my morning devotion in Jesus Calling I was struck with the stark realization that my “backpack of life” has been getting very heavy.  I have gotten very good at stuffing it full of moments that I will refer to as “Not Being My Best Self.”  Those moments consist of poor decisions I have made, memories of the times that I have hurt people both intentionally and unintentionally, times when my vocabulary has been filled with venomous words that were designed to bring people down and not to build them up, times of selfishness, times when I neglected those that I love, things that I should have done and things that I did not do.  Each of those moments adding weight to my journey of life. Each of those moments an epic failure in my thinking that “I” can do better. “I” can be better.  “I“can think better.

th-2Oh, THAT DEVIL!!!  He sure is tricky.  Look at how he has encouraged me to fill my backpack with memories and ideas that    place focus on me and what have or haven’t done and distracted me from taking those “”Not Being My Best Self” moments to my Savior and laying my weighted load at His feet and leaving it there, focusing on what He has done.When our sinful nature leads us to focus on ourself instead of our Savior and His forgiveness we are robbed the peace that His grace and forgiveness provide us. Our load is not lite and there is no peace.

How much weight do you carry? Is your “backpack of life” filled with past sins that you can not forgive yourself for?  Is it filled with thoughts, looking back and wishing you could undo decisions or actions you wished you could change?  How much energy do you spend in the past or worrying about the future?  How heavy is your load?

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,  because we are sinful humans we will continue to make mistakes.  To think that we could live an error-free life is faulty thinking. (In the mental health world we would call that maladaptive thinking)   Our God is able to take even our worst mistakes and bring good out of them.  Our mistakes, regrets, and poor decisions can be a blessing reminding us of our dependence on our Lord and teaching us how to better love those around us.

Worries, hurts, and regrets are heavy when we try to bear the burden on our own and place our focus on ourself.  Trust your Savior.  Talk to your Savior.  Take your burdens to Him.  Let Him carry the load and don’t pick your load back up after giving it to Jesus. Leave your load with Him.  He tells us in Mathew 11:28-29,  28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

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Unpack your “backpack of life” lay your heavy worries, regrets, and hurts at Jesus’ feet.  Lay in His presence with your lightened load and rest.  Feel His peace.  Feel His love. Feel His Grace.

Blessings my friends,

Terri

 

 

Does this Look Familiar?

Although anxiety is a part of our everyday lives, one-fourth of all Americans are dealing with a more persistent issue termed Anxiety Disorder. Anxiety disorder is marked by not only having these feelings of worry and dread but experiencing them at a level where  they interfere with daily functioning and sometimes resulting in feelings of panic.

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 People dealing with Panic Disorder experience a sudden attack of overwhelming anxiety coupled with physical reactions including: sweating, dizziness, rapid heart rate, increased breathing, chest pains, and a tingling in their extremities. People often fear they are having a heart attack or are about to die. Often people rearrange their lives due to a fear of having a panic attack in public or not being able to leave a situation when a panic attack occurs. Panic Attacks can lead to phobias such as Agoraphobia (fear of leaving the house) because of this fear. Specific Phobias are intense fears of a specific thing or situation. Common phobia include: fear of elevators, enclosed spaces, open spaces, heights, germs, fear of flying and fear of leaving ones home. When faced with the fearful situation or item people with a specific phobis often experience a panic attack.

images-2 copySignificant research has proven cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to be the most effective treatment for panic attacks and panic disorder. In numerous studies, CBT has far outperformed all other psychological treatments, including anti-anxiety medication. Scientific studies have consistently found that CBT is more effective at reducing symptoms, the treatment is briefer in duration, and the results last longer for more people, than traditional talk therapy.

Cognitive behavioral therapy for panic attacks and panic disorder lasts about twelve sessions for most people, with most people reporting improvement after the first few sessions. Some people respond more quickly, needing fewer sessions, while others need more than twelve sessions due to other complicating factors such as depression or OCD.

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Cognitive behavior treatment for panic attacks and panic disorder usually involves some combination of the following interventions:

 

  • Relaxation Training: can be helpful in beginning stages of treatment for panic. Often people have become increasingly anxious over time, so much so that their bodies are Unknown-1overwrought with muscle tension, making them even more susceptible to additional anxiety. Usually relaxation training involves relaxation breathing or progressive muscle relaxation, ways of decreasing physiological anxious arousal. This then helps to reduce future vulnerability to anxiety.

 

  • Cognitive Restructuring: is a method of becoming more aware of anxiety-provoking thought patterns, and replacing them with more balanced, less anxious thinking. By reducing the Unknown                                        intensity of your reactions to panic symptoms and feared situations, you can further reduce your anxiety, and decrease the frequency, intensity, and duration of panic symptoms.

 

  • Mindfulness: A meditative technique borrowed from eastern traditions of meditation, mindfulness as a tool for overcoming anxiety is increasingly becoming the focus of a great deal of scientific research. In treatment for panic disorder, it is used to help teach people to experience unpleasant physical sensations without reacting negatively to them, thus short-circuiting the vicious cycle of fear and panic.

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  • Exposure treatment: Once people feel less anxious about future panic attacks due to using relaxation training, mindfulness, and cognitive restructuring, they are more able to confront anxiety-provoking situations. Systematic Exposure is an intervention that helps people face what they normally avoid. By purposely putting themselves in challenging situations, they defuse the fear associated with them, and no longer fear the situations in the future.

 

  • Stress Reduction: For some people, reducing stressors can be an important part of treatment for anxiety. A combination of 1) learning to react to different situations more calmly and 2) reducing unnecessary stress, can be helpful in reducing overall anxiety and improving quality of life.

Psychoeducation, relaxation therapy, cognitive restructuring and exposure exercises proved to be extremely effective in stopping panic attacks.  With the help of short-term CBT,  learned how to better manage the physical symptoms of anxiety and ultimately reach your  goal of being panic free.

Blessings my friends,

Terri

 

If you live in the Vancouver Washington Area and experience feelings of worry and dread but experiencing them at a level where  they interfere with daily functioning and sometimes resulting in feelings of panic call  Eternal Hope Christian Counseling and Coaching to schedule your appointment and begin your healing! 360-718-8636

The Voice You Believe Will Determine The Future You Experience

thGod has given us the ability to choose the dialogue we believe and respond to. 

Winning the war of words inside your mind means learning to defy your inner critic.  Charles Spurgeon warns, “Beware of no man more than of yourself; we carry our worst enemies within us.”  The internal chatter, those lies that we carry inside ourselves and believe, keep us from accurately and actively hearing God’s voice.

Our most immediate problem isn’t the devil on our shoulders but a deeper reality about the condition of our hearts and minds.  Eighty percent of our thoughts are not only devoid of any power to help us but actively work against us.  Those thoughts are filled with incoherent, repetitious speech.   They are incessant and compulsive in nature, filling our minds with wearisome talkativeness. These thoughts inundate us, they are designed to wear us out until we don’t want to try or until we have no idea what to do or how to answer our growing list of doubts and deficiencies.  Most people go through life thinking God never speaks to them when in fact He’s always speaking.  To everyone.  Always directing.  Sometimes warning.  Sometimes affirming.  But we hear so little of what He says because our consciousness of His voice is obscured by our mental static.

At its worst this static prevents us from becoming what we could be.  It leaves deeds that could have been accomplished lying undone.  It is the Enemy’s (Satan) goal to lure us into accepting his lies and limitations at face value.  Insecurity is a powerful source.  When we allow the static of our thoughts to produce insecurity we allow insecurity to override God’s purpose in our lives, implying that God did not get it quite right.th-2

 

Here is the thing…..  The voice you believe will determine the future you experience.  God has not chosen us blindly.  He has chosen you while totally knowing even the worst parts of you, then you no longer have to live up to anything. Insecurity cloaks itself in the guise of comparison.  Nothing can kill contentment and feed insecurity like comparison.  Remember: every weakness you know about yourself, God knows in greater detail than you could ever imagine.  He knows the defect as well as what causes the defect.

 

th-1Before you were born-before any of your defects were apparent you-they were absolutely apparent to God.  That did not stop Him from calling your name and setting you apart.  He placed you on the earth at certain time for a purpose, His purpose.    Because in Christ, who you are matters infinitely more than anything you can or cannot do.  God has created you, has given His Son for you, has sent His Spirit to live inside you.  He restores broken people and gives strength to the weak.  You are now empowered though your identity in Him and His strength in you.  This is the antidote to insecurity.

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God has given us the ability to choose the dialogue we believe and respond to.  Winning the war or words inside your mind means learning to defy your inner critic.  The voice you believe will determine the future you experience.

What is the static inside or your mind telling you?

(Source credit: Crash the Chatterbox by Steven Furtick)

How to Benefit from Counseling

How to Benefit from Counseling

  1. Be honest with the counselor.
  2. Be present during the session. We recognize that your life is full of academic and social commitments; therapy can be a time to reconnect with yourself away from the distractions of social media and texts or the stresses of studying.
  3. Be honest with yourself. Try hard.  Don’t sabotage counseling because your confidence is at low ebb.
  4. Identify your goal.
  5. Do the activities at home that your counselor asks you to do.
  6. Your counselor is a guide who will help you develop solutions that work to promote love, work and faith.
  7. Stick with it. Sometimes talking about what you’re experiencing can lead to more      intense feelings and you may feel worse; however, continuing to talk with a            provider about your concerns will often alleviate your symptoms over time.

Anxiety! Who me?

ANXIETY! WHO ME?

Do you worry that something bad is going to happen but you don’t know what?

Do you get uncomfortable in social situations?

Do you feel like life is happening TO you rather than feeling in control of it?

Do you find yourself lying awake at night worried or agitated? 

If you often feel fear, uneasiness and have problems sleeping, you may have an anxiety disorder.

We most often suffer more from what we FEAR than what actually HAPPENS, so it’s important for you to learn how to evaluate what you are thinking. Things always look less fearful when we face them head on vs. running or distracting ourselves into TV, alcohol, food, or work.

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Anxiety or panic attacks can include rapid heart rate, difficulty breathing, racing thoughts, difficulty concentrating, inability to stay still or calm, sweaty palms, insomnia, loss of appetite, tightness in your chest. It can also cause a “fight or flight response” which is a physiological reaction when your brain wants to protect you from danger. It prompts you to run away from the situation or to defend yourself, regardless of how rational that reaction is.

 TREATING ANXIETY

With anxiety disorders, knowledge and understanding are key. The more you understand about your anxiety the more in control you feel. If you are suffering from an anxiety disorder, understanding it, identifying triggers that cause anxiety and learning effective and specific interventions to cope with it as it happens will bring relief from symptoms.

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Becoming more aware of your anxiety, labeling it, and defining what purpose it serves can help you. Additionally, through implementing skills taught and beginning to experience success in managing your anxiety, you should see your symptoms start to dissipate. The goal is to reduce your anxiety to a level where you can cope with it instead of it controlling you.

Anxiety can often be an isolating experience leaving you embarrassed and causing you to avoid activities you would otherwise enjoy. Individuals with anxiety disorders tend to have a need to be in control and feel uncomfortable when they can’t predict or control a situation. These situations are difficult to avoid and it’s impossible to control every aspect of our lives. Anxiety can also cause irrational thoughts or beliefs. Intellectually, you may be aware that they are irrational but the thoughts still FEEL real. Your significant other or family may not understand your anxiety or feel helpless and lost in their attempts to comfort you. This can result in frustration which causes distance in relationships. No one likes to feel like they can’t help their loved one.

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If you live in the Vancouver Washington Area and experience anxiety call Eternal Hope Christian Counseling and Coaching to schedule your appointment and begin your healing! 360-718-8636