Friday, 23 November 2012

Haunted By Your Past

Nicolas Ellen
It seems that I have recently written on the topic of being deeply hurt by past life events, but then I figured it will probably take more than one blog to heal you.  In a blog by Nicolas Ellen entitled “4 Wisdom Principles for Dealing with Your Past” I found some advice that is worthy to pass on.

Principle # 1: Seek to Overcome Past Desires in the Present (Numbers 11:1-6)
You must begin to adjust your desires to fit your situation. Accept that God may not allow you to have what you want right now at the level you desire it. Seek to enjoy what God is allowing you to have while obeying God in the responsibilities He has given you. Accept His sufficiency above your preoccupation with protecting yourself and providing for yourself.

Principle # 2: View God According to His Character and Not According to Your Past (Genesis 50: 15-20)
Your view of God shapes your decisions concerning every problem you encounter. If you truly embrace the facts that God is in control, He knows the best course of action to bring about His glory and your greatest good, and God always has your best interest at heart, it could change your perspective of the past.

Principle # 3: Confess Present Sin from Past Experiences (Proverbs 28:13-14)
You must identify your present ungodly actions, which have developed from the past experience, and turn away from them. Look at the way you act around people as a result of your past experience. Are you unloving or unkind? Confess, repent, and replace those actions with kindness, and politeness. Freedom comes as we deal with the sin properly instead of rationalizing and justifying ourselves. We must fess up where we messed up, let go, and move on!
This step may be hard to swallow since you are the one who feels like the victim.   Unfortunately it is not unusual for someone who has been hurt to hurt someone else.  You may put unreasonable demands on a relationship because of wounds from the past.  You may have even copied the behavior that so adversely affected you.

Principle # 4: Pursue the Future Prize in Christ (Colossians 3:1-4 and Philippians 3:13-14)
You must set your mind on things above instead of things below. If you don’t do this, you will find yourself disobedient and unloving in the present towards God and others because of past experiences. You must set your mind on things above instead of things below (Colossians 3:1-4). If you don’t do this, you will find yourself disobedient and unloving in the present towards God and others because of past experiences. You must enjoy what God has provided now without being consumed with what you believed you lacked in the past.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

The Cost of Marriage Counseling

A recent blog posted my Mort Fertel (the Marriage Counseling Blog) addressed the real possibility that for some the cost of marriage counseling is prohibitive. He then gave some suggestions for ways a couple might reduce some of the burden.

He suggested:

Check with Your Health Insurance Company

Investigate your company’s Employee Assistance Program

Work with a Mental Health Agency to help interpret your insurance policy

Re-Evaluate Your Budget (and Priorities)

Inquire About Resources through your doctor, try to negotiate a payment plan…

Self-Help Resources

I would add, talk to someone where you worship.  Counseling can be very expensive and can last an extended period of time.  Depending on whose statistics you choose to believe much marriage counseling is ineffective.  What follows is my cynical, biased assessment of marriage counseling.

It will be most effective if:

·       You are both committed Christians and have a covenant marriage.  This means there is no exit strategy; you are “lifers”, for better or for worse.

·       You have been married less than ten years. 
      You are both willing to come to counseling.

·       You both accept and acknowledge that you each need to change and that you are coming to learn how you can be a better husband or wife NOT coming to change your partner.

·       You accept the premise that the purpose of marriage is to glorify God.

·       You seek a Biblical or Nouthetic counselor, i.e. one who truly uses Scripture in an attempt to bring healing and change.

·       You seek a counselor who specializes in marriage counseling.

Certainly there are secular counselors who have had a successful track record.  Obviously I am suggesting that the fewer of the above criteria that you as a couple meet the more difficult it will be to have satisfying, long-term results.

 I am fortunate that I work for a church.  I am able to provide counseling for free.  My biggest concern is that my counseling may be worth what I am charging.  There is often a gap between the aspirations of any counselor and his/her ability to deliver.  That is particularly true when as a counselor you not only want to serve the couple but God as well.


Monday, 19 November 2012


In his book The Me I Want to Be John Ortberg refers to FTT, a medical diagnosis that gets entered into the chart of an infant who, for unknown reasons, is unable to gain weight or grow.  “Psychologists have begun to speak of what is perhaps the largest mental health problem in our day.  It is not depression or anxiety, at least not at clinical levels.  It is languishing – a ‘failure to thrive’ (FTT).”  Ortberg then goes on to define languishing as “the condition of someone who may be able to function but has lost a sense of hope and meaning.  Languishing is not the presence of mental illness; it is the absence of mental and emotional vitality…a weariness of soul and an inability to delight in life.”

Unfortunately these terms describe far too many married couples who claim to be Christians.  I do not want to offend anyone or presume that I know the condition of someone’s heart.  One’s salvation is only known by the Lord.  However, I do believe that the primary purpose of marriage is to glorify God.  To that end I believe God wants us to be filled with his joy.  We as Christians should need lose hope or meaning.  We need never lose our mental or emotional vitality.

Before you get to ticked or say “you have no idea of what being married to _______ is like” I would say you are right.  I also believe that God is more concerned about our holiness than our happiness.  I know even the most committed of Christians experience some horrific tragedies.  I know that some of the most sincere Christians that have ever walked this planet have suffered from depression, anxiety and other maladies.  I also know what it was like to be in a difficult marriage prior to the untimely death of my first wife.

Robertson & Muriel
I know too that God doesn’t want us to look to our circumstances to give us joy; to look to another human for hope; or to depend on what we have or don’t have to give our life meaning.  If your marriage is failing to thrive it is not glorifying God.  One only needs to hear the Robertson McQuilkin story to understand how even in the midst of incredible emotional pain a child of God can express joy.  McQuilkin was the president of Columbia International University in South Carolina as his wife, Muriel, battled Alzheimer’s disease. At the height of his career he resigned to take care of his wife.

If yours is a marriage that is FTT, seek a Biblical marriage counselor.  God wants you to have a marriage that is flourishing.