Tag Archive: trauma

Oct 25

Broken is NOT Worthless

 

broken is not worthlessSuper excited this week to share with you a blog written by my sweet friend and fellow CCA counselor, Allison Hutson. It’s a tremendous blog!! Allison is joining me out at our McKinney location and is currently scheduling clients. She is the counselor, I send all my friends to. Her blogs and social media accounts rock! Find her online at http://www.stewartsgift.com or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram @StewartsGift.
When you hear the word “broken” what comes to your mind? Close your eyes and visualize “broken.” What do you see? Sit here, mindful of the image of brokenness… what feelings are you experiencing? … Sit deeper into that feeling and image… where do your thoughts travel to? Being aware of all your senses right now, what stands out to you as you are focusing on brokenness? How would you put into words what this exercise has been like? Be descriptive… use colors, verbs, details… now open your eyes and shift your focus away from the brokenness.
As you open your eyes and shift your focus, you are probably finding it difficult to move away from this experience. You are probably feeling a bit dazed. You are probably noticing a weight that has come over you. You are probably feeling stuck in the images, emotions, and thoughts even though I have asked you to shift your focus. This is because brokenness does not go away just because we will it to vanish. Brokenness is a total body experience that lingers long past its welcome. Broken likes to fragment… Broken is many pieces. Broken is complex. When life is broken it too is complicated and fragmented. Brokenness in life is not relieved by a simple resolution or merely willed away.
When life leaves us broken, we feel worthless. Click To Tweet
When life leaves us broken, as it so often does, we tend to equate broken with worthless. If we break a material object we consider it trash and throw it away, right? We have learned that broken is trash, it has no value, it has no purpose, it no longer functions properly, its worth is no more. Scripture says, “I have been forgotten like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel” Psalm 31:12. This is not a new feeling or experience, it is how people CHOOSE to conceptualize brokenness. But what if brokenness was not worthless or trash? What if broken was not lacking in purpose or value?
Scripture says:
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3
“Well, that’s great and all…but I am still broken…” I know, scripture is not magical and does not take away all of our pain. But my prayer is that you begin to see brokenness from a new perspective. I want to share some pictures of artwork created by artists from broken materials.
Broken Glass:
‘Glory Window,’ Chapel of Thanksgiving, Dallas, Texas
Shattered Glass Sculpture by Daniel Arsham
 “Echo” by Caleb Nichols
 Broken Ceramic:
Broken Dishes by  Li Xiaofeng  
“Broken Things” by Chilean artist Livia Marin
Sandra Shashou ceramic art sculptures
Broken Pottery:
 Restored Vase
 Re-purposed Flower Pot
These are materials that most people would have thrown into the trash. The flower pot breaks and no longer pots plants so we throw it in the trash. The dishes shatter so we quickly label it useless and sweep it into a trash bag. But the images above portray a new possibility. The images above declare trash, in the hands of an artist, can be a new creation full of value, purpose, and beauty. No one would call any of the artwork above worthless, trash, without value… people are drawn to this art! In fact the original form of the dishes are significantly less in value than the re-purposed art piece!
 Ephesians 2:10 states, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Isaiah 64:8 reiterates, “But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.”
You are the artistic masterpiece of God Click To Tweet
YOU are the artistic masterpiece of God…he has created YOU and has the ability to take YOUR broken pieces and re-purpose you with intent for you to be purposeful, valuable, beautiful, and to function fully! The reason why we are broken is not fully important… it matters, but there is no reason too great that would prevent the Master Creator of the entire Universe from making YOU a masterpiece!
 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” Proverbs 3:5-6. I love this verse because it implies that the paths we travel in life are broken. They are crooked. They lead to dead-ends, hurt, pain, and grief. The further we attempt to fix our broken pieces alone the more broken our path becomes. We take the path that allows us to be numb (alcohol, drugs, etc.). We take the path that attempts to experience life or feeling of sensations again (self-mutilation or self-harm). We take the path that will possibly end life and the broken worthlessness we live with (suicide). We take the path that paralyzes us (anxiety). But here in Proverbs we are told not to trust our own understanding of what creates life; we are encouraged to trust in our Creator (the ultimate artist) to put the pieces of our broken life together so we can travel a straight path that is appealing and satisfactory!
An artist sees opportunity where others see no potential. When God looks at you he sees your brokenness and whispers, “You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you” (Song of Solomon 4:7).
Life breaks us taking the fabric of life and shredding it into many pieces leaving us tattered. What makes us feel like worthless scraps, God can knit and sew into a beautiful tapestry perfect, valuable, and adored.
 Quilt Made From Scraps of Fabric
Broken is increased worth and value. Broken is untapped potential. Broken is a testimony to new beginnings. Broken is opportunity for restoration. Broken is a beautiful masterpiece.
Are you broken? Is life complicated? Do you feel fragmented and worthless? There is hope! You are the masterpiece of the greatest artist…God of the Most High…who is desperate to restore you, re-purpose you, and let you experience your full potential. Let God work in your life to double your value!
“Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy.” Isaiah 61:7
This blog was originally posted at StewartsGift.com

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/not-worthless/

Oct 03

Help I Feel Bad. Are Negative Emotions Really a Bad Thing?

emotionsEmotions get a bad wrap in our culture. Somehow we have decided that it is okay to accept some emotions while labeling others as negative or bad. In doing that we somehow communicate to ourselves and our kids that certain emotions are normal and others are abnormal.
I can’t begin to tell you how many people come into my office with problems because they:
  • think they are crazy for having feelings
  • ignore their feelings and now they are too big to ignore
  • they see no useful value in feelings yet are confused as to why they are stuck
  • they are frustrated with some relationship in their life
Let me first say, EVERYONE HAS FEELINGS!!!! (There, I FEEL better).
It is perfectly normal to feel, emotions don’t make you crazy but actually NORMAL. Yes, that is right, feelings are perfectly normal. WHAT?? Even the “bad” ones like anxiety, grief, sadness and anger? Yes, even those are completely and totally NORMAL!
It is perfectly normal to feel, emotions don’t make you crazy but actually NORMAL. Click To Tweet
Somehow, we have lost an understanding of the purpose and benefit of emotions.  Unfortunately, this has led to a lot of problems like: clinical anxiety disorders, major depression, relationship problems, and addiction issues.
Emotions are a God given, God designed signal system, similar to our senses. Click To Tweet
One of the ways that humans uniquely image God is our emotional nature. Click To Tweet
God and EmotionsEmotions are God given. God is an emotional God who feels all range of emotions, even the ones we label as bad. One of the ways that humans uniquely image God is our emotional  nature. God designed emotions to be a signal system, similar to our senses. We collect information about the physical world through our five senses (sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch). No one labels one of these senses as bad, just because they smell something bad. Your nose is just giving you information. There is a bad smell; I think I should leave the room (this may or may not happen a lot in my house…because I live with boys).   Our senses serve to protect and guide us through the physical world.
Emotions work in a similar way. We get information about the relational world through feelings (sad, angry, afraid, happy, content, shame, safe, love, alone etc.). Emotions give us information. They tell us what we need and give us energy to take action. Emotions serve to protect and guide us in the relational world.
If you ignore a feeling, that is trying to give you information and you aren’t listening…it will get LOUDER. I mean, wouldn’t you get louder if you were trying to get someone’s attention?? So ignoring, stuffing, numbing, or denying a feeling only creates louder feelings. These louder feelings are what send some into panic, depression, or fits of rage. Not only that, if you ignore, stuff, numb, or deny the “bad” feelings…then you mute the “good” feelings too. This is not at all what we want. We numb or ignore because we want the good feelings…but maybe that’s not the way to get them. Maybe we must accept that there are times when we will feel needed hard feelings like sadness or fear and that is okay, normal, and healthy.
Emotions serve to protect and guide us in the relational world. Click To Tweet
Another reason people avoid emotions is because they don’t like the feeling and are concerned they will get “stuck” in a certain emotion. Emotions are not permanent states of being. We feel a variety of different things throughout the day. Emotions ebb and flow like running water. Yet not acknowledging or accepting a feeling does cause it to linger and sometimes it takes a while for us to process something that has happened.
Emotions are not permanent states of being. Click To Tweet
So what can you do to start paying attention to the signals your emotions give you:
  • Give yourself permission to feel.
  • Validate your emotions. Let it be okay, seen, and experienced.
  • Pay attention to the emotions as they flow throughout the day, name them, write them down.
  • What message is the emotion giving you, what do you need? Contemplate this before you act.
  • Share your emotion and need with a safe person (someone who loves you as you are, flaws and all).
  • Watch the movie Inside Out for more help on understanding feelings and their purpose (such a good movie…I can’t even begin to say how much I love it and how accurate it is in explaining emotions).
  • Seek help. Counselors can help give you language for emotion and will walk you through this process with a specific focus on you, your history, and your issues.
Feelings serve to help us identify needs, connect in relationships, and heal from hurts and traumas. To deny this aspect of your self is like living life on mute instead of full stereo sound OR in black/white instead of full color! Let’s live life in full color and embrace a life full of emotions.
“Don’t be afraid.  Don’t give up.  The Lord your God is with you.  He is mighty enough to save you.  He will take great delight in you.  The quietness of his love will calm you down.  He will sing with joy because of you.”  Zephaniah 3:16-17

If you like what you read, please comment below or share on social media. ❤️

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/negative-emotions/

Jun 14

Criticism or Compassion?

Which do you prefer…criticism or compassion? Seems like an easy choice right? I mean…who would choose compassion over criticism? Criticism hurts, it arouses our defenses, and brings with it self-doubt and pain. So who would willingly choose criticism over compassion? No one right?

Well, maybe not from other people but many choose criticism over compassion toward ourselves on a regular basis. We each have a critical voice that develops over our lifetime. Some of us have a harsher, stronger critical voice than others. It speaks harsh criticism with words like “you should have” or “why didn’t you” or worse barraging us with words like “loser”, “failure”, “worthless”.

There are many reasons why this inner voice develops. Sometimes it is an internalized voice of a critical important person in our lives, like a parent. Sometimes it is the result of abuse and trauma we experience. Sometimes it develops to keep us achieving at a high level, which we call perfectionism. And, sometimes it develops to keep others in our life happy with us. Mostly, it exists because we are all sinners living in a broken, fallen world with other broken people and as a result we experience shame. The shame emotion says “there is something wrong with you”. Let’s face it, there is something wrong with us….it’s called sin. Shame didn’t exist prior to the fall (Genesis 3). And since then, we have lived under shame’s tyranny.

Now if someone were speaking shaming criticism to us on a regular basis, we would consider it abusive and it would create deep sadness, fear, and pain. If we heard someone speaking to a friend that way, we would rise to his or her defense. Yet, inner criticism gets free reign in our mind and heart. It impacts our emotions and relationships. Instead of questioning it, challenging it, or defending ourselves we try harder to be perfect, please others, or quiet/numb the voice through a variety of addictions.

Inner criticism gets free reign in our mind and heart impacting our emotions. Click To Tweet

Sadly we don’t even recognize it as criticism…it just becomes our inner dialogue. Yet with this strong inner critic come feelings of sadness and anxiety. That is the natural result of living under constant criticism.

So what is the solution? Compassion….self-compassion. We understand nurture and compassion for others but often are mystified on how to give it to ourselves. Learning self-compassion, giving ourselves permission to be human, and embracing our imperfections is the road to peace and freedom.

Learning self-compassion and giving ourselves permission to be human is the road to freedom. Click To Tweet

Beloved Jesus followers, let me share something incredible. God sent Jesus to die for all of our sin and shame. ALL of it was laid on Him on the cross. When we believe in Him…we not only have ALL of our past, present, and future sins paid for but we receive His perfection! That perfection we strive for is already ours. God sees us always and forever as covered by the blood of Christ, perfectly righteous. So embracing your imperfections allows Jesus to be glorified. Embracing this and laying down the slavery of abuse and perfectionism is good news!

God sees us always and forever as covered by the blood of Christ, perfectly righteous. Click To Tweet

“For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” Hebrews 10:14

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Persmission to be Human is Self Compassion

 

For more on this topic check out Dr. Kristin Neff’s Self Compassion Website. Here you will find a great description of self-compassion and exercises to help you grow it. You can also check out a few of my previous blogs on the topic: Embracing Imperfection and Finding Freedom and Be a Friend to Yourself. Need more help, find a good counselor. There is always hope!

 

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/compassion/

Sep 28

Deep Feelings and the Gospel

Loss hurts. Change brings fear of the unknown. Struggle is hard. Trauma changes us.
Sadness, anger, shame, and fear can feel overwhelming leaving us stuck and frozen, not knowing what to do.
“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” Psalm 42:5
“My tears have been my food day and night” Psalm 42:3
How much do we identify with the Psalmist? How much do we struggle with loss, sadness, anger, fear, and shame? How many nights have we wrestled and cried.
Frequently we think it is wrong to experience normal feelings or that somehow it means we don’t have enough faith.
Life in this fallen world hurts. Feelings don’t show a lack of faith but that we are normal humans, living in a broken world.
Feelings don’t show a lack of faith but that we are normal humans Click To Tweet
The Psalmist reminds us that our souls are thirsty for more…..
“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God for the living God.” Psalm 42:1-2 

deer2

The water our souls thirst for is found in Jesus. He is Living Water. Every other relationship on this earth will fail to satisfy.
Loss and hurt is a reminder of our need for Him.
Shame and the pain of trauma is a reminder of the deep brokenness of creation and our need for Him.
It’s not wrong to feel. It’s not wrong to be overwhelmed. It’s human. Click To Tweet
It’s not wrong to feel. It’s not wrong to be overwhelmed. It’s human. God is pained over the brokenness of the world, too. God can handle your questions. Your feelings communicate needs.
God is pained over the brokenness of the world, too. Click To Tweet
In this Psalm, the writer knows he needs to praise God and remember how faithful and loving the Lord has been to Him. He challenges his inner dialogue and reminds himself of the truth!
“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation, and my God
My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar
Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God, my rock; “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, “where is your God?”
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” Psalm 42:5-11
God is good. God is faithful. He has proven His love for me time and again. Remember. He loves us with an everlasting, initiating, unconditional, redeeming, restoring and rescuing love.
He loves us with an everlasting, initiating, unconditional, and rescuing love. Click To Tweet

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/feelings/

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