Working Through Hurts in a Relationship (part 4)

Dottie Pickett

Forgiveness and Freedom! As you may know, I’ve been writing a
series of articles on Working Through Hurts in Relationships.  The
steps I have already covered include: identifying your feelings
surrounding the situation, looking at the situation and person who hurt
you in context, and finally, examining how you may have contributed to the problem. The fourth step in working through hurts is forgiveness. I believe that we as Christians talk about forgiveness a lot, but often don’t do the work of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is one of the main things that sets Christianity apart from the world. The world says don’t forgive unless the other person is sorry for what they did. God says forgive no matter what (Mt. 18:21&22, Col.3:12 &13). God knows that forgiveness equals freedom for those doing the forgiving. In the world’s way of forgiveness, our freedom depends on another person. I love what Anne Lamott says about un-forgiveness, ‘it’s like drinking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.’  When there’s un-forgiveness we almost always suffer more than the person we are not forgiving.

Some people use forgiveness as an avoidance tactic. They forgive people without giving thought to what the person did or how it affected them. In the Steps to Freedom in Christ’ by Neil Anderson, there is a wonderful forgiveness prayer that reaches deep into one’s heart rather than glossing over painful feelings. The prayer goes as follows:

‘Lord, I forgive (name the person) for (say what they did to hurt you) even though it made me feel (name all the painful memories and feelings).’

Once you have dealt with every offense that has come to your mind, and you have honestly expressed how that person hurt you, then concluded by praying:

‘Lord, I choose not to hold any of these things against (name) any longer. I thank you for setting me free from the bondage of my bitterness toward (name). I choose now to ask you to bless (name). In Jesus name, amen.’

I really believe that leading people into forgiveness is probably the most significant work that I do as a therapist. In my practice, it often seems that the person that my clients have the most trouble forgiving is themselves. I know there is little else that makes Satan happier than when we play God and hold things against ourselves or others.
(II Cor.2: 10 &11)

Just because we’ve made the choice to forgive someone, doesn’t mean we should automatically plunge into trusting them again. (John and Henry make an important distinction between forgiveness and trusting.) Certain boundaries may need to be set so we don’t continually get damaged by the same people over and over.

Let us walk together in the freedom of forgiveness. God bless you.

On our own we cannot forgive–this is a work of God’s Spirit in our hearts.  If you need some help forgiving the painful hurts in your life, we invite you to join our Forgiving the Unforgivable group at our next New Life Weekend.

How We Talk to Ourselves

Susan Eppley

I’m hearing voices”’

‘I blew it when I ate those chocolate chip cookies,’
‘I’m a failure’again,’
‘I’ll never be able to do this.’

Of course these voices are not part of a major psychotic process, they are your very own thoughts.

Your Self Talk.

It is important to note that we all have self talk. We all talk ourselves through the day, planning, acting, evaluating, and making judgments about our behavior. Because this is so much a part of our lives, it becomes essential that we monitor our self talk just as we monitor our food intake and exercise.

Psychologists say that it takes seven positive comments to someone in order to erase one negative comment. I believe that this is also true for our comments to ourselves- one negative comment such as ‘I’ll never be able to lose weight’ and we need to have seven positive statements to erase it!

Most people with food and weight issues are highly self critical. They wage an internal war of guilt and shame against themselves. That internal struggle is often reflected in their negative self talk which all too often becomes a habitual way of thinking.

In 2 Corinthians 10:5, it tells us that we can control our thoughts, ”and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.’

Negative self talk is a waste of time and energy, but beyond that it is just plain wrong! Think about it, not one of the self statements at the beginning of this article is true! Here are some examples of self statements which are true (and far more positive!)

‘I am a work in progress ‘ God’s work and God’s progress!,’
‘I am not perfect and that is ok,’
‘I may not have been on track today with my goals for eating and exercise, but with God’s help I will gather the strength to get back on track tomorrow.’
‘Failure is not a person, it is an event.’  ‘I have mastered other difficult challenges in my life, and I can master this challenge.’

We at Lose it For Life believe in being gentle with ourselves. That leaves no room for paralyzing guilt, self-flagellation, self loathing or other forms of negativity. Neither, however, does it mean that we become passive, coddle ourselves and shun self discipline. Indeed, we persist in our diet, exercise, and emotional learning for the purpose of making ourselves the best imperfect person we can be!

Hearing voices can and should be a healthy part of our day. Exchanging negative for positive self talk is one way to honor our bodies and in the process honor our God who made us in His image.

As Christ Loves the Church

Dave Boyle

No doubt you have heard about all the publicity surrounding the new Mel Gibson movie called ‘The Passion of the Christ.’ Perhaps you have gone to see it yourself. In any event, you probably know that it depicts, in very horrifying and graphic detail, the last twelve hours of Christ, and the emotional and physical turmoil that He went through. The movie shows just how much Jesus suffered and endured to be our sacrifice and die for our sins. Basically, He gave everything He had.

OK, you’re saying, I believe that, and I’m eternally grateful to my Lord, but what does that have to do with where I’m at, as someone who was or is struggling with sexual integrity? Well, the parallel can be found in a verse found in Ephesians chapter 5, verse 25. ‘Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church.’ Too often the next part of the verse is preached on, the part about wives submitting to their husbands, and this verse is ignored. ‘Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church.’

One of the basic tenets of recovery is that it is always better to focus on doing something that is positive, rather than not doing something that is negative. The man who says, ‘I’m not going to drink tonight, I’m not going to drink tonight,’ usually ends up drinking that night. The woman who says, ‘I’m not going to eat that ice cream, I’m not going to eat that ice cream,’ usually ends up with at least two scoops. In our terms, telling ourselves repeatedly all day that we’re not going to get on the Internet porn sites after our wives are comfortably tucked away in bed, quite frankly does not work. We end up going there, and experiencing the guilt and the shame and all that goes with it.

‘Husbands, love your wives as Christ loves the church.’ Go see the ‘Passion of the Christ’ and get in touch with how much Jesus loves the church, which, brother, is you. And then process in your minds and your hearts how you’re going to show your wife that love. It may be something simple like foot rubs. It may be giving up a Saturday to go to the kids games or take her shopping. It may be learning what her favorite flower is and getting her a bouquet. It may be sitting down a couple of times a week and reading ‘Every Woman’s Desire’ together. But if you’re going to love her as Christ loves you, you’re going to have to be prepared to give up everything. But the great thing is, as you emotionally and spiritually attach and bond with her, the power of that false intimacy on the computer screen starts to fade, and the recovery begins. Focus on doing something that is positive, rather than on not doing something that is negative. And if you’re single, this same principle applies. Learn how to relate emotionally and spiritually to other guys, and to women as friends. Loving others, unconditionally and sacrificially, is one of the greatest tools in your recovery arsenal. Don’t be afraid to use it.

What’s the next step after attending Every Man\’s Battle? Join us (with your spouse if you’re married) at our next New Life Weekend.

The Meaning of Stress and How to Live with Less of It

Julie Davis

‘Life is stressful.’ It seems that this is a common statement nowadays. We go about our daily activities accepting traffic, late appointments, long lines and noise as a part of life. Unfortunately, heart attacks, migraines, depression and addictions are also a part of life, and many research studies have concluded a link between stress and these physical ailments.

God’s purpose for stress:
Stress was designed to keep us motivated. Before grocery stores, motels, and clothing outlets, stress from nature and physical needs kept us working fields and animals in the summer so that we would be clothed, fed and sheltered in the winter.

Man’s abuse of stress:
Most of us do not have to worry about our next meal or clothes on our back, yet we are more stressed than ever. Modern society applies a lot of pressure to look, feel, think and behave certain ways. We strive to live longer, maintain beautiful bodies, drive faster cars, raise perfect children and manage successful careers; and we stress ourselves out in the process.

The cost:
There is nothing wrong with wanting a comfortable life; but at what cost? Every choice we make has an emotional, physical, spiritual price tag. We work long hours, take care of others, focus on what we don’t have; and the cost is neglect of God, family and our health.

Reclaiming serenity:
God doesn’t want us to live all stressed out! We can’t do his work when we are tired, sick, or depressed. So how can we reclaim God’s gift of peace and serenity? Here are some tips that may help. If you find yourself unable to de-stress on your own, if you can’t pull out of ‘the blues’ or if you worry constantly, you may need to find a pastor or therapist to help you.

(Call 1-800-NEW-LIFE to find a counselor in your area or to schedule an over the phone appointment with a Christian coach).

Exercise:
Stress puts the body on ‘red alert,’ ready for action. Without exercise, a revved up adrenaline system taxes the immune system causing sickness and disease. Find an activity you enjoy and get to it!

Nature:
With modern technology, most of us are far removed from growing and living things. Gardening, bird watching, grooming a horse, and playing with the dogs are all ways to re-connect with nature.

Water:
Not only drink a lot of it, but lay in it! Studies show that soaking in a hot bath can relieve stress up to 60 percent.

Music:
Learn to play a musical instrument. Even at the beginner level, playing the piano or guitar or whatever will calm you down (at least it may make you and others around you laugh!).

No:
Learn to say this valuable word.

Now:
Most people are living in the past (sadness, guilt, depression) or living in the future (stress, anxiety, worry). What about right now right here? ‘Carpe diem, seize the day,’ is as sound a philosophy today as it was 1,000 years ago. We must learn from the past and prepare for the future, but living is right now, right here.

Connection:
Having good relationships ensures you will have social support, which is critical in reducing stress. Listen to people, be more empathetic, more tolerant. Involve yourself in family, church, activity groups.

Serenity Prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

Amen,

Preparing for Your New Life – Are You Ready for a Change!

Becky Brown

The New Years resolution is a faded memory and you’re feeling like life
is never going to be any different than what it is right at this
moment. Instead of quitting and going back to your old routine, prepare
yourself for your new life as a healthy person enjoying life and all
God has to offer!

First step is to get real about your goal. We all would like to look like the perfect human specimen, however, that may be unrealistic, since there isn’t a perfect person to be found! The closer your current weight is to your goal weight, the more likely you will reach your goal. This new life is a process, something that will be different than what you have been doing. So quit dreaming and wake up to a new way of doing life.

Second, there is no ‘magic’ pill! The sooner you quit looking for ‘the one thing’ that will make the difference, the sooner you will get serious about changing your life. If it came in a pill, we would have all taken it by now! It is about discipline, training, and consistency.

Know what doesn’t work for you. Sheila had lost 30 lbs. over a period of a year, and everyone was asking ‘How did you do it’? Her answer was ‘It doesn’t really matter how I did it, it’s about how you need to do it.’ Knowing your eating habits, triggers, body needs, and schedule, will ultimately prepare you to do your life the way you need to do it, not according to a celebrity, author, or magazine article!

What prevents you from exercising? Is it convenience, time, lack of accountability? Whatever it is, assess and make a plan of incorporating it into your daily (not every other Thursday!) schedule. Call a friend to walk around the block, park far from the door of your office or mall, take the stairs, sign up for an exercise class. Whatever is preventing you from moving your body, get rid of it!

Take responsibility for your life. Its not someone else’s fault that you have gained 50 pounds. You choose the food that goes into your body, you hold on to feelings of resentment, and you sit and watch TV instead of taking the dog for a walk. It would be great if that was all someone else’s responsibility, but its not and the sooner you accept your life as your job, you can move into your new life.

Lastly, think healthy not thin. Your goal should be to have your body in as highly functioning order as possible. Don’t focus on others bodies, magazines, etc. Love yourself and your body and you will take care of it!

If you haven’t already attended Lose it For Life, we encourage you to join us at our next New Life Weekend.  You will laugh, hear life transforming truth, and by the grace of God be changed forever.

WHEN HUNGER STRIKES – Dealing with that hungry feeling

Jennifer Cecil

One of the challenges in our journey to triumph over obesity is dealing
with the physical sensation of hunger. True physical hunger is
regulated by an area of the brain called the hypothalamus. This small
region at the base of the brain contains our hunger and satiety centers
among other things. A complicated physiological process takes place that dictates to us whether we will feel hungry or full. Our task is to manage those feelings and adopt a food plan that will allow us to ingest fewer calories than we expend, producing weight loss.

The problem is that WE DO NOT LIKE TO FEEL HUNGRY! We are a generation of consumers and instant-gratification seekers. We do not want to be without for too long and we know where to go to quickly satisfy our yearnings. We ask ourselves, ‘ Why didn’t anyone tell us that we would have to suffer hunger pangs on the road to becoming ‘right-weighted?’

It may be time in our journey to consider this issue of hunger.

First, we will need to accept it as a reality of our struggle. If we eat until all hunger goes away, we will be consuming too many calories to lose weight. Portion control is everything in weight-loss and it will be sabotaged if we are unable to tolerate the physical sensation of hunger.

Second, we need to tell ourselves the truth about our hunger. It is not deprivation, it will not kill us, and indeed the feelings will subside if we are patient.

Third, hunger can be our teacher if we let it. It will tell us about our bodies, that we are not consuming too many calories. It will teach us that ‘we can do hard things’, that we are not soft and fluffy, but can overcome and endure unpleasant things.

Fourth, the Bible teaches that we are blessed when we hunger and thirst, for we will be satisfied (Matthew 5:6). Although the context is spiritual hunger, I am wondering if the same promises hold true for us. What would happen if we brought our feelings of physical hunger to God and asked Him to satisfy us?

Finally, in our hunger, we can identify with those throughout the world who experience chronic hunger as a way of life. We also can feel the feelings of Jesus on the Cross, who was unable to satisfy His hunger and thirst. We become humbled and grateful for all that we have. Isn’t that why fasting is such a powerful spiritual discipline? We can contemplate and reflect and let God speak His thoughts to us as we quiet ourselves.

May we resolve at the beginning of this New Year to alter our perception of the sensation of hunger and fully embrace it as a part of our journey!

A Heart of Discontent

David Wever

In my devotional time of late, I have been studying the life of David. I have done this study before and have been looking forward to further insights about this man after God’s own heart. But, I have been struck more by another man in the story, Saul: a man with a heart of discontent.

Saul has often been studied and taught about as a ‘leader gone bad’ example. I think I often times have felt more like Saul than David if I honestly look at my heart. Saul had so much going for him. Saul was the first king of Israel and had a reign of forty-two years. But early in his reign, something went terribly wrong. We see the weakness of Saul’s heart come into focus. In I Samuel 13, shortly after Saul took office as king, he found himself in a quandary. He was going into battle with the Philistines and Saul had agreed to wait for the Lord’s prophet, Samuel, to arrive to anoint the army for battle and to sacrifice the burnt offering prior to battle. Seems simple enough, wait for the Lord’s man to arrive before beginning the task at hand. And it seems logical enough from Saul’s perspective that when the guy doesn’t show up for a meeting on time you go on ahead without him with the task at hand. Besides, Saul was king and in charge.

But Samuel was not any ordinary guy and this was not any ordinary task or arrangement. In Saul’s haste, fear, and discontent he decided to take matters into his own hands, and he disobeyed the Lord’s command. When Samuel arrives on the scene he asks Saul in verse 11, ‘What have you done?’ Saul’s response resembles his fear and his thinking, ‘When I saw that the men were scattering and you did not show at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Micmash, I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the Lord’s favor. So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering” (I Samuel 13:11-12). Samuel replies, ‘You acted foolishly. You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you” (v.13).

Saul felt compelled to take things into his own hands. What drives a man to make a decision like that? Why didn’t he remember his commitment and the Lord’s command? What came over him? I think I know because I have been like Saul. I have jumped into the deep end before looking.

Saul’s example brings up some painful memories in my own heart. Memories of times that I have made quick decisions out of discontent. Looking back over my recovery I have had to ask myself some tough questions. How many times have I in my discontent made a quick or rash decision? How many times have I, out of fear that my wife won’t see my needs, moved towards pleasing myself and breaking covenant with her? What is it about that discontent that causes me to take things into my own hands and not wait patiently for the process or for the Lord to come to me?

I wanted so badly to be like David, a man after God’s own heart but I first had to look at the Saul inside of me. Discontent often consists of two ingredients: impatience and self-centeredness. We see it with Saul’s decision to not wait for Samuel out of his concern for how his army would see him and his need to be in control and in charge. For me as an addict those two things were two key ingredients that led to my immediate gratification of what I desired most. Now I don’t know if Saul was a sex addict but he seems to have had some of the same underlying features that I have seen in my own discontented and shame filled heart at times. No matter what condition of the heart Saul struggled with, sex or otherwise, his discontentment led to some pretty impatient or immediate decisions to gratify his heart. A discontented heart is often soothed through immediate gratification.

Immediate gratification has been something my heart has known well. If emotional intimacy was too overwhelming or if anger raged in my heart or if fear gripped my soul, soothing those ills through sexual acting out brought immediate relief.

I wonder if Saul felt trapped. I can imagine him saying in that moment when he saw his troops running away, ‘I’ve got to do something. This is too much. I’ve got to be seen and in control. Why doesn’t God answer me?’ Do you ever feel like Saul? Trapped and feeling like there is no Samuel on the way or no help just around the corner. Or maybe you have often felt like you have waited long enough. Like Saul, time to go ahead and sacrifice the burnt offering. The pain and discomfort is too much. You might hear yourself saying something like, ‘Why must I continue to always take the high road? Or why doesn’t she let up on me and see me for what I have been doing for her and our life together?’ Out of our discontent we have chosen too often the path of least resistance. I don’t believe we do this just because we are rebellious or bent on destructing our lives. I believe we do it out of moving towards what we have trained ourselves for years to do in those situations.

The answer to this dilemma lies in the waiting. We have got to learn to wait. Wait. Man, have I at times hated that word. To wait meant I was not necessarily going to be in control of the outcome. To wait meant that I was not always going to get a quick end to my situation. To wait meant I would have to trust. Trust. What if Saul would have waited, trusted, and obeyed? What if I had waited so many times before choosing to gratify myself in sexual sin? What I have found is that when I wait I grow a little less likely to make haste out of my discontent. When I wait, a little more of that tendency to immediately gratify myself diminishes. When I wait, I grow a little bit more in resting and taking refuge in the promises of the Lord rather than retreating to the doom of my shame and contempt of my sin.

 ‘I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry” (Psalm 40:1). Written by Saul’s successor to the throne. The man after God’s own heart seemed to know something about waiting. My dear brothers, when you feel the weight of discontent on your heart, wait and take refuge in the Lord. He will hear your cry and turn to you.

Lord, help me to wait for you. Take away my discontent and replace it with Your peace. I trust You will hear my cry and turn to me. Hold me as I wait. I love You and trust You. In Jesus name, Amen.

The Importance of Building Connections

Steve Arterburn

Is Food occupying the place of real human relationships in your life? How does this happen and what can you do to change it?

Sometimes we don’t connect because of lack of experience. We don’t know how to interact with others, either because we haven’t been shown or our past experience has taught us it’s painful to connect. Fear may be present, ‘what ifs’ start to appear in our mind. We worry about things that are beyond our control. Pride can also lead us to feeling that we don’t ‘need’ to connect. Shame, either our own or being shamed, keeps us from building relationships.

Food initially is the fearless, safe, and shame free connection. There are no expectations from food and so we build a connection with food instead of people, and food becomes our friend. But it doesn’t bring true satisfaction and eventually despair.

In order to connect with people in true, healthy relationship, there are requirements as well as rewards. Real relationships require humility to help us bond. A sign on a child’s backyard clubhouse says ‘Nobody act big, Nobody act little, Everybody act medium.’

Acceptance that disconnection is part of the problem and connection will be part of the solution is necessary for building relationships. Courage and perseverance will also play a part as you experience people who are difficult. Look at each experience as a learning experience.

A love for God and understanding how He loves us will help create love for others. And surrendering your life to God ‘who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to His power that is at work within us (Eph. 3:20). The rewards of connection with God are eternal and will strengthen us to build real relationships in our daily life.

So how do you start building connections? Join us at our next New Life Weekend–you’ll laugh, learn how to connect, and, by God’s grace, will find find healing from your dependence on food.

How to Choose a Diet Plan

Janet Carr

The New Year inevitably brings a fresh barrage of diets on the market.
If losing a few pounds is on your list of resolutions, you want to make
sure the diet you turn to has merit and is not simply a fad diet.
Therefore, prior to committing ask yourself the following questions:

1. Do the claims that the diet makes seem reasonable?

Certain diets claim that by taking this pill or ingesting this drink, you can burn huge quantities of calories while watching TV. Claims such as this lack legitimacy. The fact is, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

2. What kinds of food are involved; are there good foods and bad foods; are only certain foods allowed?

If the diet is highly rigid as to what you can and cannot eat, consider it a red flag. Your body needs balance. Without it, you may become anemic, suffer from low energy, or experience liver or kidney damage. Though current high-protein diets seem to work initially, studies now indicate they often fail over time.

3. Is this a diet you could sustain for the rest of your life?

If you can only stay on a diet short-term, permanent weight loss will not occur; the diet will only serve as a band aid. The definition of true weight loss is losing 10 percent of body weight and maintaining it for more than five years.

Fad diets often translate into failure. Check out next month’s article for solid, helpful information on weight loss.

If you’d like something more reliable than a diet plan…if you would like to see real transformation in your life, we encourage you to join us at our next New Life Weekend.  Join our Lose it for Life group to, by God’s grace, find healing from your dependence on food.

Finding A Safe Structure

John Townsend

Most people who struggle with their weight need an external structure
to help them. They lack the internal discipline to lose weight, so
until that is developed, they need the discipline to come from the
outside. That is the nature of any good discipline that is part of the
life of God. It may not be pleasant, but it produces good things: ‘No
discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it’ (Hebrews 12:11).

Structure has to do with the ability to be disciplined and ordered, to tolerate frustration for a larger goal, to have patience and diligence, and to delay gratification. Many people have deficiencies in structure, often stemming from a lack of good parental structure in childhood, and they have little ability to rein in their impulses when they feel hunger. Like a small child or a drug addict, they live only in the now and have a hard time postponing something now for something better tomorrow.

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People who have
SUSTAINING, SUPPORTIVE RELATIONSHIPS
tend to lose more weight!

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If you have some of these tendencies, you will need to find or create a structure of relationships, love, and accountability that can build those things inside you. The type of structure you need depends upon what will work best for you. You may not need to be in a weight-loss group if you have a regular group of people with whom you can meet, open your life, and grow. As long as you can be vulnerable, be honest, give and receive truth, and talk about your weight issues, a growth context may be enough.

If you need more, an individual counselor can help you work through any underlying causes of your struggle with weight control. A great deal of healing can be gained when you are in therapy with someone who can work with both the emotional issues and the weight issues that are involved.

However, you may need something intensive, focused, and specialized that concerns weight alone, such as a formal weight-loss group. In these groups, the only subject is weight, including victories, defeats, tips, and advice. A client of mine tried everything but a weight-loss group because she really didn’t want to think she had ‘that bad of a problem.’ So she kept struggling until she bit the bullet and attended a weight-loss meeting. There, she found some good people, a good program, and the missing piece in her weight-loss plan. We talked about the principle that God doesn’t heal until we know we are sick: ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick’ (Matthew 9:12).

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The more KNOWN we are
The more HEALED we become!

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A regular exercise routine can provide another necessary structure. Workout buddies, classes, and trainers can help you stay motivated and committed to consistent physical exercise. Left to ourselves, we tend to create our own worlds and distort our goals and values. However, when we make a commitment to someone else, and that person expects to see us at a certain time and place, it helps keep us in the world of reality, outside of our heads.

If you haven’t already attending Lose it For Life we strongly encourage that you start your journey of connection and weight loss by joining us at our next New Life Weekend.