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December 14, 2021 5:00 am
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Family helped me by giving me hope when my marriage was gone apart and gave me a reason to push forward Jennifer almost gave up after her husband's affair. But today they're still married.
There's always more to learn and I'm always another go on Jim Daly this season. Help us give families Hope and when you give today. Your donation will be doubled donated focusonthefamily.com/joy when you change your thoughts.
If you change your life and that's like something that people are so passive about what's on replay think twice about it. We've got work to take inventory aforethought in the Bible says take every thought captive and counseling. We call that cognitive behavioral therapy. You know that God thought of it long ago, transforming our mind and making sure that was flowing out of her mind is bringing health and not the other way around Deborah for later is our guest on today's best of 20, 21 Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. Thanks for joining us I'm John Fuller.
Life can be pretty stressful.
I think we can all attest between work relationships and other obligations of the pressure builds and we lose sight of who we are, what were about its unit, nipping at us all the time, but the last year or so has shown us that it's more important than ever to take care of ourselves, including our emotional and physical health. God wants us to do that first Peter 57 tells us we can cast all our anxieties on him because he cares for us and that's a great promise.
Do we believe it is a question Focus on the Family we want to help you bring healing and restoration to you and to your family with trusted Christian perspectives and bring you. Hopefully that emotional, mental, physical, and most importantly spiritual health that will keep you in a good place throughout your entire life and working to do that today and are just as a citizen, Deborah, for later and she's a licensed professional counselor, a national speaker, a relationship expert, a podcast or she's written a great book will be discussing today. Are you really okay. Getting real about who you are, how you're doing and why it matters, and we have that here at Focus on the Family. Just click the link in the episode notes Deborah I think John Wesley, the most amazing part, mother of four. Love that one the most yeah we just welcomed our fourth child three months. I love it and you're actually sleeping through the night. We are that talk about helping with emotional health and let you know what's so good about that is that's wonderful for moms to hear you're a professional mom, you've got the kids you just had a child you're living the dream. You may not get enough sleep to be dreaming, yet it makes all the difference. We should be surprised when those small physical things like a lack of sleep actually begin to impact the other areas of our life as well and you know to get serious about it. You are professional counselor that your main thing and your husband. John's a physician and you probably individually, obviously, but as a couple to me.
You know a lot of people dealing with emotional, spiritual, mental health issues etc. and even though a lot of us put our best foot forward.
The reality is in our hearts were really not always okay which is the whole point your book are you really okay what motivated you to write this what you sing in the culture in your own friendships your own relationships that made you feel like and maybe were putting a mask on and I would say this book was motivated by two different things. First and foremost the things I was seeing as a licensed counselor in my practice and am working with amazing men and women who are spiritually mature but not emotionally healthy and not mentally healthy and working with pastors who are struggling with burnout or anxiety or depression and things that were not always comfortable sharing about but the problem is, then the stigma grounds and were afraid to share about it when were struggling emotionally and mentally. And secondly, I've been through my own journey of mental and emotional health. I have battled depression and anxiety. Being a licensed counselor doesn't make you immune to those things and so because of those two reasons I'm just very passionate about this important message. In fact, to kind of pull the audience and so they can hear your heart you had one of those full-blown panic attacks for people that have not had that experience, I have not had that experience describe for me and for the listeners. What is that like and what was your particular circumstance what happened and how to grab you and that way I panic attack is essentially a physical manifestation of emotional distress. They've got all these underlying emotions but they come out to the form of the physical manifestation so you might feel dizziness, lightheaded. You might feel like your heart rate is skyrocketing.
You might even feel tingling or sweating, and inability to breathe and many people really believe that something is happening physically.
A lot of my clients described as going crazy and die and usually run to the emergency room, only to find out that there's nothing wrong with you physically and it's an emotional response. That's actually affecting your physical health. What happened in your case though you are traveling somewhere to go on a field trip or something a few years back I actually went through a very traumatic miscarriage. When I lost the baby, but I also almost lost my life. I started hemorrhaging and it was a very traumatic variance with the thing about trauma as it doesn't always affect you in the moment, usually in the moment, you're in survival mode and you don't have time to face the trauma will about two years after that, Safari Park with my kids and my husband in and all of a sudden I started having these symptoms that I would describe as a panic attack, but what I didn't realize was that my body was now starting to process the stress that I had gone through many years before, but never really taken the time to face and deal with and heal. That's amazing, though. Two years later. If you think about it when soldiers go off to war right in the middle of the battlefield. They are not there to process the trauma. It's when they get home and they're not in survival mode anymore. When things have calmed down. Oftentimes that's when trauma begins to impact you as you spiritually from a Christian perspective.
What is God doing in the makeup of his creation. Why do we go through that what is the helpful aspect of it and what's the thing that we have to look out for all. I think I design is a beautiful process because it shows you that God understands how human beings work you know is that when we're in survival mode and where dealing with the stress of what's going on today. We don't have the capacity to also process it in a healthy way. So he allows us to sort of hibernate in a good way and then later on he brings it to us when were ready to heal, layer by layer healing happens.
I think if it all happened at once.
It would be quite overwhelming and not only that, I don't think many of us would be able to survive through it in the bookmark you point to something I think you call the baseline for general health corresponds with greatest commandment. Describe the Scripture and Mark that caught your attention as a counselor that helps people. I think the most important thing to remember as we talk about the Scripture is just because were Christians doesn't mean what healthy and Jesus calls us to love him with our heart, soul, mind and strength. That's what we read in Scripture.
We look at that heart represents our emotional health soul represents our spiritual health.
Mind represents her mental health strength represents our physical health. So we shouldn't be surprised when we face struggles in those areas because of what you love God with the Hartsell mind and strength.
You better believe the enemy is going to try and attack us in our heart, soul, mind and strength. So instead of being surprised by the struggle as Christians, we just need to be prepared for it. And you know the reality is we are in this world Scripture tells us were in this world. Paul told us were going to struggle in this world that were wired spiritually, particularly for life eternal with Christ in heaven but in that context. Christians who do struggle with anxiety with depression. That's part of my wife's story she's been on the broadcast before her family has really struggled in those areas biochemically how to win the Christian community communicate positiveness about the idea of seeking help.
Don't hold back. It's okay. I think my wife would say Jean would say she struggled with the concept that if I'm a believer in Jesus, then I should pray that he takes us away but that can be traumatic over a decade or two, and you're not getting help in that regard.
So speak to those anxieties. Christian should do know those are truly unhealthy beliefs that hold us back from healing member once when I was in the presence of a pastor. I had just come out a dark postpartum depression and he didn't know that and he said true believers don't suffer from depression because they have the Holy Spirit at work in them and I was devastated to hear that he didn't know what I had just come through and what did that make you feel like as a Jean and I talked about this specifically less than yeah like I'm not I'm not good for God right it makes you feel like you don't have enough faith you don't have enough strength or maybe there sin in your life, rather than seeing it as a chemistry issue. We see it as a character issue and that's flawed because many times was actually happening underneath the surface is a chemical imbalance and that could because by many different things with Ruby past trauma, whether it be hormonal imbalance. There is a plethora things that can be caused by we have to understand that we can't just point to it being a faith issue and leave it at that and the idea that you know I want to also acknowledge their spiritual things that occur around the world. I've seen things that you know you pray against you. Pray for that person. So those are realities as well. Spiritual bondage, etc. but so often in this area of mental health. It is exactly that it's chemical issues that are occurring in the physical nature made up with everything is holistic in the sense that when we are faced with a problem mentally or physically. We do bring it to prayer. I think it will do is better to use the comparison of the cancer diagnosis and when you're diagnosed with cancer.
First of all you don't blame yourself, you know you don't say. Maybe I didn't have enough faith or strength you you look at the cancer and you say how my dinner attack this eco-get medication you go get help. You go get whatever you need to prayer partner community supports you.
They bring you meals. They lift you up in prayer. We don't always treat depression and anxiety, which is an illness of the mind and the brain in the same way. And Mark think you're pointing to the Scriptures here oh Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength and that's what your reinforcing tests and some people, especially those that are struggling with mental illness. That's a daunting task. Just hearing that while I don't know if I can accomplish that speak to the inadequate feeling of inadequacy that I can give that way to the Lord, you know, with all my heart, with all my mind with all my strength. Do people come into your practice asking how can I do the stepper.
I think it can seem overwhelming when we look at the blanket verse love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and we have to remember this is step-by-step little by little, one thing at a time when were trying to align who we are to who God has called us to be. This isn't an overnight process of healing. We don't overnight get to a place where were struggling and we don't overnight get to a place of healing and so I think we have to give ourselves grace and realize that healing in all of these areas is layer by layer. It's a cyclical process to steps forward a couple steps back a few steps more forward, but were moving in the direction of sanctification right and that's exactly the word is used. Life is the process of sanctification and the Lord knows that for us and hopefully were growing closer to him more deeply in him every day until we die and were with him ballpoint debit. What's a good way to survey how our past affects us. I know that something we look at. We've had many guests on the program talking about family of origin issues how much attention should we pay to that family work in the household.
We grew up in.
I think the best indicator of how the past is impacting us is what's happening in the present describe when we find ourselves dealing with unsurmountable emotional struggles or relationship conflict that doesn't seem to be going away or maybe an inability to control her emotions are anger. These are usually signs that there's something that needs healing in our life and often times it's something from our past that we haven't identified so I called them these emotional black and blues that happen in the present. You know when there's a big reaction to something maybe feel like it's an over exaggerated risk onto a situation. Often times, these emotional black and blues are sore spots from the past when somebody presses up on them in the president's they hurt so now they notify us that something is going on and in those emotional patterns then what are some of the patterns that you notice maybe in your life. I think often times what happens is we learn from our past experience for the good and for the not so good. And many people listening might say what pretty good childhood that was an abuse that wasn't loved I Felt Love Dr., Christian parents while I come from that type of the background of good home. Good family.
They love the Lord my grandfather was an evangelist all across the Middle East, but they were patterns that I wasn't aware of that I needed to deal with that were impacting my emotional help. For example, when you grow up in an immigrant family. You kind of learned that you need to do need to work hard.
It's almost like a productivity factor and sell it for me.
I equated value with how much I was able to accomplish because that's what they did. Coming from a different country starting new in America, even though it was a Christian home and focused on ministry. I began translating that into my life as I need to do in order to be valued by God. And when you get to the point of doing too much for the wrong reasons you reach burnout empty. You've got nothing left to give. For me, I reached a place of depression and so even though it was a healthy family.
There were still unhealthy patterns that were passed down to me that I needed to deal with Deborah in the book you use a couple of metaphors one the iceberg and the volcano itself, describe what the iceberg represents in the volcano. You know the iceberg is kind of our tendency to really stay superficial. The reason I call this book.
Are you really okay is because it's easy to answer that question and say yeah I'm good now I'm fine without really going deeper but just like an iceberg. There's always more a lot more going on underneath the surface and I think this past year for so many people 2020 was a year of dealing with a lot of emotions. I call it the year of exposure because emotions are like a volcano in the sense that there's always pressure building underneath the surface when you don't identify those emotions and deal with them in a healthy way.
They will find the point of least resistance and you will experience an emotional explosion for me was a panic attack. For you it might be an anger outburst or disconnecting from your spouse emotionally maybe are withdrawn and depressed, but that's the key is learning that to be emotionally healthy. We've got to learn to go underneath the surface and figure out what's really going on inside of us.
You know, and when you say it in that context, Deborah. I would think that spouses are typically the recipient of the explosion. Yeah Right right is relationship conflict gives you a signal that there's a lot more going on underneath the personalized unit one thing before he moved to spiritual health and talk about the when you asked the question, are you really okay. Sometimes I think people respond like yeah I'm fine because they kind of in further. You really don't want to know this is a cultural gesture, speak to that as well. Are we really ready to hear somebody say well sit down because I've got a lot of baggage I tell you about it right. It is a cultural gesture when you see somebody at the store and if you do unload your publican to be looked at like something wrong with you right.
The friend will avoid you in the future.
The problem is we take that cultural gesture that thing that's been normalized through social media. You know, and Instagram are only posting the highlights where were presenting this picture that were doing okay so much to the point that we actually start believing. That's really all there is to us and we don't take the time to dig deep and we don't have people in our life. We can really open up with that would be my question to you. Do you have people in your life where you can honestly answer that question. I'm not saying you need to answer it to everyone you run into in the store or on Instagram or social media, but you need to have people in your life that you can really begin to take a little deeper and begin to unpack how you're really doing. That's a great suggestion and develop those friendships where you can have that to three people is all it really takes to be able to be that vulnerable, that honest let's move to the spiritual component and spiritual well-being that we need to seek what is it even look like that like emotional. I'm not sure that we know outside of going for annual physical site become lost will first of all let's start with what it's not spiritual health is not a checklist of things were doing right I'm reading my Bible and going to charge on praying every day you can do all those things and not be spiritually healthy. When my husband was in medical school. This guy off the street snuck into the hospital and wore a white coat and pretended to be a doctor all day just for a prank. And it took all day for people to recognize that he was a fraud, he wasn't really a doctor just because you are white coat doesn't make you a doctor what doctors wear white coats, but that's not what makes you a doctor and I think spiritual health is the same. Just because we go through our spiritual checklist doesn't make us spiritually healthy.
What makes us spiritually healthy is ultimately why and what our beliefs about God. Why were doing the things were doing what is motivating us and what is our view of God and sometimes that view of God can be tainted with doing things for God out of shame or fear or guilt rather than because God is love. Unconditional because of his kindness and I think if our view of God is faulty. Everything else is going to be faulty that outflows from them while you may be describing all of the ills of Western civilization. At this point.
That's a big statement you just made Deborah you had an experience I believe in the psych ward when you doing your counseling and had to do your student hours or something like that. What happened in that context, and what did you learn from when I was first starting off as a counselor I worked at a psychiatric unit and I was in charge of this young man who had psychosis. What she was hearing and seeing things and I was doing an assessment to see how he was doing and I was asking these questions and I started twirling my earring with my finger. Kind of a nervous habit will.
Little did I know that he comes from a abuse history of a mother who used to also twirl her earring and the second he saw me doing that he transferred all of his feelings onto me. He started screaming at me. You ruined my life. I hate show that within counseling. We call that transference where you put all of your hearts on an innocent bystander.
Sometimes we do the same thing to God because of our past wounds things we've experienced in our family. Maybe an absent father or a critical mother. We tend to then see God do that same lens we transfer those hurts onto him and we see him with flawed eyes and honestly I think that's the number one thing that inhibits our spiritual health is let me dig into that for moment because it's one of the most difficult questions that all good when I speak I talked about my testimony is basically an orphan child but mental come up to me, particularly in the say how did you know become bitter toward your alcoholic father.
It's one of the most difficult questions for me to answer because I never did. And I think in that context for me healthy.
Even as a child I had a kind of a healthy understanding.
This was his problem not my problem yet. I want to be tender to those 50 men that are standing in that line and basically saying the same thing to me there. 4050 60 years old and they're asking me I'm still bitter at my dad for what he did to me.
How do you help that person to say you gotta let go of me what your father did to you. Your father owns. You do not own this right.
I think one week when it comes to dealing with these difficult experiences.
It's important to acknowledge how we feel. You know not to try to sugarcoat it not.
I love that you had such a healthy reaction. But I'm also aware like you said not everybody does. And that's okay. That's the starting point right to be able to say I do feel better I do for it's okay to do that it is okay because as you are acknowledging that what you're doing is you're starting to diffuse those underlying emotions underneath the surface of that volcano you're acknowledging them you're putting words to them and I think for some people to the process of things like counseling, you begin developing empathy for the people that hurt you in seeing that hurt people end up hurting people rightly we hear that phrase often but when you start having empathy and compassion and see where that her person came from to begin freeing yourself from the pain that you carry.
It's a process. You know it's not something that happens overnight, and I really believe that even when you forgive somebody the process of forgetting can take time and energy and work and you might never forget that you are at least able to put that on them and take ownership of what is on you.
What about that person who maybe has carried that burden for decades and they get it out there. I do have this bitterness acknowledge that they may have had that discussion with the Lord, you know, the shaking first God, why have you done this to me, and they're still in that part of the cycle.
They haven't really made it to the letting go what encouragement do you have for them for them to say yes I'm okay I'm in the really moving from I'm not okay to. I'm okay I just would remind them that healing happens in layers and not to expect themselves to get to a wonderful place overnight we think about past abuse and how many days it takes for you to experience how many years you've been through that type of thing to have the expectation on yourself that you can heal from that overnight is unrealistic.
Putting too much pressure on yourself. If it takes years to get to a place of bitterness. It might take years to unpack my take months to unpack some of those that's a process that the journey is it. Again, it's a journey of sanctification and you're not alone. Through it I when I think about blame. It tends to happen in three ways. First, we put the blame on ourselves my did something wrong. The next level. As we put the blame on God. He did something wrong but I think the third place where we should land is putting the blame out word on this world, this sinful fallen broken world and the enemy that lurks within when we can leave the blame there.
We can begin to move away from Deborah for later this best of 20, 21 Focus on the Family broadcast bringing a message of hope and healing and I do trust that you been encouraged by what she had to share today. Deborah is outstanding at communicating with the overall picture of health. Looks like she's so compassionate toward people who are hurting, and here Focus on the Family. We feel that way too. That's why we have a team of caring Christian counselors right here on staff.
You can set up a consultation with one of them. They will listen to your specific situation.
Pray with you and provide a path forward. It may include some resources or referral to a counselor in your area in that initial consultation with our counselors is free. We know the Christmas can be a really tough time for couples who are really fractured in the relationship and families who are experiencing a crisis parents who don't know what to do about their child or mothers who are considering abortion so please get in touch today. It's also the time for us to share the hope, healing, peace and grace and joy that Jesus Christ came to give each one of us this Christmas. You can come alongside those who are struggling and give families hope through your support of Focus on the Family and when you donate today. A gift of any amount will send you a copy of Deborah's book are you really okay. Getting real about who you are, how you're doing and why it matters is our way of saying thank you and now through special urine matching opportunity. Your gift will be double dollar for dollar God will use your gift to bring healing and redemption to twice the number of families so on behalf of those families that you're going to be reaching and helping through Focus on the Family. Let me say thank you. Donate today and get your copy of the book by your guests. Are you really okay with all the details in the show notes or call 800 K in the word for plan to be with us next time. As we continue the conversation with Deborah for later.
For now on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team on John Fuller and putting you back. As we once more help you and your family thrive in Christ. I was shocked when she gave me the divorce papers.
I was so done I had reached my breaking point. I was desperate for a shred of hope. So I called the hope restored team. It Focus on the Family they they listen to me and they asked about what was happening in my marriage. They encouraged me and my wife to attend one of their marriage intensive's for couples in crisis and they prayed with us. They help me believe that my marriage could be saved. I agreed to go but was skeptical that anything could help us but the whole environment was so safe and nonjudgmental. I felt my heart open up as we work with the counselors. Both of us still have work to do in her marriage but for the first time in a long time we have hope again Focus on the Family's hope restored marriage intensive program has helped thousands of couples who thought that their marriage was over. Find out which program is right for firstname.lastname@example.org