Aimee Thompson

Frisco,Texas

Life is messy. Hope is real. A good listener is powerful. Your story matters.

Author's posts

Emotions Don’t Define Us: Reconsider Your View of Them

Emotions Don't Define Us

I’ve written quite a bit about emotions and their purpose for us. They give us information and they are wise friends who speak truth into us. Yet this morning I am reflecting on the idea that often we allow our emotions to define us. Emotions were never meant to define….that is a distortion we create when we misunderstand their purpose.

Emotions were never meant to define us. Click To Tweet

They are information givers. I love this quote I heard on Anne with an E (an awesome show on Netflix): “Emotion is rarely convenient and often intolerable but I find in the moment that I don’t mind it. Grief is the price you pay for love.”

Grief is the price you pay for love. Click To Tweet Emotion is rarely convenient and often intolerable but I find in the moment that I don’t mind it. Click To Tweet

She gets it. We don’t have to feel good to be okay. We can be okay no matter how we feel because emotions are not definitions. They indicate something has happened in our past or present that needs attending to.

Emotions indicate something has happened in our past or present that needs attending to Click To Tweet

Maybe it’s grief that is being processed to incorporate loss into life. Maybe it’s shame from abuse in the past that needs to be challenged. Maybe it’s fear telling us something is wrong and we need to look at it. These are valuable tools for growth and change. Listening to them and seeing the problem helps us grow, mature, and change.

Listening to emotions and seeing the problem helps us grow, mature, and change. Click To Tweet

I’ve walked in my own story of grief over the last two months and I am sure it will continue. I find sadness and grief come at unexpected times, indicating to me it’s time to stop and honor my memories, my sadness, and acknowledge my loss. I sit with many people whose emotions give them clues to healing and change that needs to happen.

Please don’t dismiss your emotions as invaluable or unimportant. Please don’t let them define who you are but allow them to be what they are…beautiful signals communicating to us information that we would be wise to consider. Need help understanding what your emotions are saying, a counselor can help.

Permanent link to this article: https://counseling4hope.com/emotions-dont-define/

Video Blog: Anxiety and Philippians 4, Reading it Differently

This week I am trying something new…a video blog….and now apparently a YouTube channel. Yikes! Not sure about this. It feels super vulnerable but I’m hoping it is a new way to share helpful content with you guys.

Anxiety is something we all face and I am sure you’ve heard Philippians 4:6 and maybe you even get irritated with that verse because it is asking you to do something that seems impossible. How can I really be anxious for nothing?? I want to challenge us to look at this scripture with new eyes as we start in verse 4 to get the full context.

What stood out to me the most as I was talking was how God does this work in us of reducing our anxiety….it’s not from us…it’s from Him. Now that is good news.

Things I have learned already about video blogging: landscape mode is best!! Oh well, one take and here it is. Please feel free to leave comments or direct message me on topics you would like to see covered.

I’ve attached the scripture (with my notes) below!!

Originally posted on my YouTube Channel: Counseling4Hope

 

Anxiety and Philippians 4

Permanent link to this article: https://counseling4hope.com/philippians4/

Ladies, Trying to Control Everything Might Actually be Hurting You

Trying to Control Everything May Actually be Hurting You

Calling all busy moms and wives trying to do it all. Do you find yourself exhausted? Worn out? If your answer is yes, let me say. Stop, sit down, take a deep long slow breath in, hold it, then let it out. Take a few minutes to just be fully present in this moment. I have been where you are and I am hoping to bring you good news!! Get comfortable and take five minutes to yourself, to keep reading.

Back to how tired you are. I have a few more questions. Is your fatigue because of all you have to do OR is it because of a very busy mind. Caring for others comes with worry. Worry leads to control because if we are in control then we don’t have to worry. This brings chaos.

What? That makes no sense. Control keeps things in order, in place and helps me protect my family.

Yes, it appears to be a good thing that seems protective. I know you’re thinking if I’m in charge of what goes on in my life, then I can rest. That’s true if you actually have power over something. But worrying and the mental exhaustion that comes from predicting every possible outcome so you can be prepared, actually creates inner chaos. This is anything but rest.

You see there are certain things in life that you have no power over. I think they fall in 3 broad categories.

Forces of Nature: We have no power over the weather, natural disasters, or laws of the universe.

Emotions: Emotions happen and bypass our prefrontal cortex. They are a felt experience that gives us information like our senses. (For more on emotions, click here).

Other People: This encompasses the largest part of life that is really outside of our control. We have no power to actually change another person or chose what they do (or don’t do). Yes, that even includes your kids and your husbands. You can make requests, have influence, and even rules with consequences…but another person’s actions and choices belong only to them.

Controllers (and we all wear this label at times if we are honest) actually create for themselves inner chaos. Why? Because controllers are focused on where they are powerless. To do this they travel many exhausting mental loops trying to figure out a problem that has no solution that is actually within their power. Chaos results.

The answer? Accept what you can’t control and embrace what you can. You see focusing too much on the things we can’t control drains us of our personal power to act. When we focus on we have power we can harness that power into action. So what can you control? Oh, so much.

Your response, actions, reactions, choices, decisions, thoughts, beliefs, values, boundaries, who you chose to be in relationship with, and so much more. Shifting our focus is empowering and freeing.

Focusing too much on the things we can't control drains us of our power to act. Click To Tweet When we focus on what we can control then we harness that power into action. Click To Tweet

If you are a Christian, accepting what you can control allows you to surrender to the sovereignty of God….the one who really does have power over all. The one who loves your kids and husband more than you do. When we as believers try to control everything, we are stepping into God’s domain, violating God’s boundary. There are certain areas that are only His to control, this is what can truly bring rest.So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”  Matthew 6:31-34

So beloved, rest in what you can control and let go of what you can’t. Only then will you find true peace. It’s not a perfect process, we all will over-control things at times. Recognizing it, giving ourselves grace, and shifting our focus again; we move on. If this is a huge struggle for you? Consider working with a counselor who can help you make this shift.

“We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.” Dolly Parton

We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails. Dolly Parton Click To Tweet

Permanent link to this article: https://counseling4hope.com/control/

Wanting an Instant Fix: How Our Instant-Upload Culture has Distorted Our Perspective on Change

Instant FixInstant fix. Sounds nice doesn’t it? Isn’t that what we’ve come to expect….a instant quick fix. I wonder if we have the right view of change? That may sound like a silly question. But seriously, how long do you think real life change takes?

You see I’m wondering if we have unrealistic expectations when it comes to a lot of things, especially change. It’s not our fault. The rapidly changing world of technology has lulled us into this mindset.

Today we can quickly take a picture and immediately edit it and share it with all our friends. There’s an actor’s name we can’t remember or some information we need…no problem, just grab your phone and search for it. Need to know how to get somewhere, just type it in the maps app and bam, up come directions. Want to see a movie? Check for times quickly on your phone and even get tickets.

The rapidly changing world of technology has lulled us into a instant fix mindset. Click To Tweet

I know I’m about to sound really old…but I remember a time when we had to WAIT for all of those things. We had to drop film off (praying and hoping we took one good picture) and wait a week to pick it up. We had to drive to the library to research anything. We had to find a map, figure out the route ourselves, and figure out how to fold the darn thing back up. We had to call the movie theater and hope it didn’t have a busy signal (that’s the beeping sound when the line was busy…man I’m feeling old) so we could sit through the list of times recorded by the theatre….or better yet and simpler, we would just drive to the theatre and pick a movie that was showing.

I’m not even scratching the surface of how life has changed over the last 30 years.

Now I am a HUGE fan of this advancement in technology. Cell phones and apps have revolutionized everything and I am grateful. So much has been simplified and streamlined. Yet, we’ve lost a few things along the way.

 

So much comes easy now that we’ve forgotten life's not that simple. Click To Tweet

So many things come so quickly and easily now that we’ve forgotten that not everything in life happens that way. Sometimes things happen in life and there isn’t an instant fix. In fact, an instant fix would not really even solve the problem. Some things in life are meant to take time.

Some things in life are meant to take time. Click To Tweet

Now we are willing to wait for pleasant things (aka…standing in line for concert tickets, roller coasters, meeting someone famous, really good food, etc.) But, are we willing to wait for things that aren’t as easy but take time? Things like:

Healing from Betrayal

Healing Relationship Problems

Healing from Anxiety

Healing from Depression

Healing from Trauma

Healing from Abuse

Changing Distorted Thinking

Healing from Perfectionism

Walking through Grief

No one wants to walk through those hard things. No one. But we all will face one if not several in our lifetime. So many come into counseling and want to rush the process. They don’t like the emotions they feel, it takes too long, it’s not easy, or simple. So they avoid, numb, deny, or distract themselves with more technology, another relationship, or some other dysfunctional coping strategy. This delays real healing.

So many come into counseling and want to rush the process delaying healing. Click To Tweet

Healing the body, the mind, the soul, or relationships takes time. It’s not a quick insta-change process. Yet real healing and real change is worth the wait and perseverance it takes to get there. Don’t be afraid of a slower process. It’s normal, good and necessary for lasting change.

Yet real healing and real change is worth the wait and perseverance it takes to get there. Click To Tweet

 

Permanent link to this article: https://counseling4hope.com/instant-fix/

The Troubled Journey: A Parable of Life, Obstacles, and Hope

This week I am excited to share a parable written by my son.  It’s an amazing picture of what I’ve observed personally in my own life and as a counselor who sits with many people on a troubled journey.

Troubled Journey

There was once a person, who sat, troubled. For this person had been on a journey, and had come to a cliff blocking their path. They saw no bridge to cross it, and saw no way around it for the air was too dark. So they sat, wondering if their journey had come to an end. After what seemed like a very long time of sitting and staring, they began to question if they need only walk off the cliff. And up they stood, with rash, to walk off. 

But then they saw something approaching them in the darkness. A spirit had come to them. The spirit seemed to have a familiar face and they greeted the spirit as one does. Then the spirit turned them around. And all of a sudden, they felt comforted by a presence that had always been with them but they had never noticed. They saw that the path behind them was light, and they saw many faces all smiling towards them. Many faces of which they knew as old friends, and many faces of which were unknown to them.

Guided by the comforting presence they walked to the smiling people and told them their problem. Then all of the smiling people walked to the edge and began to form a bridge. All together the smiling people formed a bridge and for the first time the person, once troubled, could see the other side of the cliff. So they walked across the bridge with the comforting presence. While walking across, they almost fell many times, but whenever they did the comforting presence carried them back to balance.

Eventually, they crossed the bridge and stood at the other side that once did not exist to them. The smiling people stood together with them and they began to walk the new path they saw. And through the time walking this path they crossed many cliffs where the smiling people made bridges for them, and they helped make many bridges for others of the smiling people who then frowned. But they could always tell that the comforting presence was with them, either guiding or carrying.

Written by Nathan Thompson

Everyone sees something a little bit different in this parable. Please comment below with your thoughts and reflections. Like it? Please share it on social media. There is always hope!

Permanent link to this article: https://counseling4hope.com/troubled-journey/

Peace, Rest, and Joy are the Gifts You Really Want

rest peace and joyI’ve written several Christmas blog posts over the last few years. All have been geared to help us (women in particular) eliminate stress this time of year by letting go of the idea of a perfect Christmas. To read them click here (The Not Perfect Christmas and  Hope for the Holidays)

This year, I’ve been thinking more about what I really want for Christmas:

Peace.

Rest.

Joy.

These words jump off the page and fill us with longing. No matter how life is going for you right now, whether mostly good or horribly difficult….my guess is you still long for peace, rest, and joy. You get glimpses of each throughout each day yet we all go to bed weary longing for more. 

Our experience of peace is directly connected to our ability to surrender and abide in the true vine, Jesus. John 14-17 is full of a mixture of Jesus talking to his disciples about peace but also worldly sorrow and struggle. Its interesting because struggle and peace don’t coexist in our minds very well. I wonder if we believe on some level that peace means the absence of trouble? Yet scripture doesn’t teach that at all. Here Jesus tells his disciples that they will definitely have trouble in the world. He had trouble and his biggest trouble was about to happen when he is arrested in John 18. To expect a trouble free life when our Savior’s life was full of trouble doesn’t make a lot of sense. Yet we do….deep down we long for things to go well. Maybe that’s the part of us that knows the world is broken and longs for real peace. Our mistake is seeking it apart from Jesus or seeing the pain in this world as something God has inflicted upon us..

Our experience of peace is directly connected to our ability to really surrender. Click To Tweet True rest, peace, and joy only come from Jesus. Click To Tweet

True rest, peace, and joy only come from Jesus.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

Every other place and thing we expect to bring us true rest, peace, and joy doesn’t last. They are only a taste of what’s available when we abide in Jesus and a taste of what is to come when all things are made new.

To experience true rest, peace, and joy we must abide, remain, or dwell with Jesus. Click To Tweet

To experience true rest, peace, and joy we must abide, remain, or dwell with Jesus.

“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. ” John 15:4-5

This idea is a continual connectedness. Clearly Jesus is talking to believers in this passage because he says they “are already clean” (John 15:3). So it seems that we can be saved and chose not to abide in Christ. I think stress, busyness, pain, difficulty, struggle, and selfishness are all things that distract us and contribute to a lack of abiding. Abiding is a moment by moment choice to surrender to God and not a one time thing. Salvation (justification) is a one time thing.

Abiding is a moment by moment choice to surrender to God. Click To Tweet To experience true rest, peace, and joy we must let God's love flow in and out of us. Click To Tweet

To experience true rest, peace, and joy we must let God’s love flow in and out of us.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other. John 15:9-17

There are two parts to this: accepting how much God loves you and loving others. For many, accepting how much God loves you is really hard. We all know how broken we are and how much we’ve done that we know violates God’s law. It’s the story written throughout scripture, starting in Genesis. God loving a people that can’t obey his law. There was no one that earned God’s love. In fact, God loved us all so much that he sent Jesus to fulfill the law on our behalf. It’s a pure, sacrificial love of a unlovable, unfaithful people. That’s the love God has for you, not based on what you’ve done or not done or what’s been done to you…but a love based on the gracious, mercy of the Giver. As I reflect on how amazing God’s love is, I’m in awe. It’s this love that we pour out to others…not because they’ve earned it but because we’ve been on the receiving end of undeserved love….now we get to give it…not in our own strength but through the power of the Holy Spirit.

God loves you, not based on what you've done or not done or what's been done to you. Click To Tweet To experience real rest, peace, and joy we must expect hard times and find our anchor in Jesus. Click To Tweet

To experience real rest, peace, and joy we must expect hard times and find our anchor in Jesus.

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.”  John 15:18

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

I’m not sure why we are always so surprised by stress and struggle but we are. Somewhere we have an expectation that life should be easier than it is. Jesus never promised an easy life…but he did promise to provide us with peace in our difficult life (Romans 8) and hope for the future (Revelation 21). As we walk into a very busy, stressful season of the year, one that is meant to point us to the amazing time where God gave us the gracious gift of Jesus, let us remember rest, peace, joy, and hope. Rest that you don’t have to do anything to earn your salvation…Jesus did it all for you. Celebrate the peace you have with God because of Jesus and pursue the internal peace that comes from abiding in Jesus. Allow joy to overflow because of the love God pours into you. And, claim hope because one day all things will be made new and we won’t have to any longer choose to abide with God because he will physically be with us.

“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.” Revelation 21:1-7

This Christmas, I want to give the greatest Giver of all my moment by moment surrender. Let’s not just give lip service to the idea of surrender but think about what it means to really lay down all to Jesus. The amazing thing is that as I give this gift to Jesus, he gives me what I really need….peace, rest, joy, and hope. Is it easy? No. Will I fail? Yes. Beloved, God knows our weaknesses. He doesn’t expect perfection. He is our perfection. He just wants a surrendered relationship with his beloved.

This Christmas, I want to give the greatest Giver of all my moment by moment surrender. Click To Tweet

Permanent link to this article: https://counseling4hope.com/peace-rest-joy/

Parenting Struggles? Master the Art of Understanding

understandingWe all want be heard, seen, valued, and understood for who we really are. We desire unconditional love and acceptance. This isn’t debatable. We all recognize this desire, right? Isn’t this behind all the fairy tale romance stories and the cry for tolerance? See me, know me, love me, warts and all.

Maybe we focus so much on being understood that we forget to really understand those we love. Enter our children. Did you know they have that drive too? Kids need to be fully known, loved and accepted first by their parents. I’ve sat with people who did not experience this in their childhood and are dealing with the impacts this has left on them. The opposite of being understood is rejection. If a child doesn’t feel fully understood and accepted first at home, they may be sensitive to rejection in the future.

Now, I know we are put on this earth to guide, teach, train, and discipline our kids. Yet, I think sometimes we focus only on the externals and we miss what is going on in their heads and hearts. We miss their insecurities or their fears. Our kids are more than grades, athletic accomplishments, or artistic performances. They are more than their behavior.

We all want be heard, seen, valued, and understood for who we really are. Click To Tweet Maybe we focus so much on being understood that we forget to really understand those we love. Click To Tweet

If their behavior is rebellious, ugly, or emotional, they may be struggling in a way that they don’t feel safe to share with you.

If their behavior is always good, they may be attaching their identity to never making a mistake and this is a recipe for anxiety.

Behavior is just one component of personality. We are physical, mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual beings. Behavior is the physical domain. It seems to me that as parents we focus a lot on that aspect of our children and less on the mental, emotional, or spiritual domains. Why is that? Well it’s much easier, right? But I know you want to raise a child who is confident in all areas of who they are, not just that demonstrates good behavior. And what if, by seeking to understand them in all areas you have an impact on their behavior.

I have witnessed many kids who have great behavior but are stressed and overwhelmed trying to maintain the “perfect” life. Just looking at their achievements and grades, you wouldn’t know how much they are struggling. But there are moments that it comes out. You see, the danger of focusing only on behavior, good or bad, is raising kids who focus on the external things they do or ahieve for their sense of value. Now I am not anti-discipline, this is needed  (ask my kiddos we have rules and limits in our home). However, relationship and understanding your kids comes first. How do you know what discipline will work if there is no understanding?

Let’s face it, feeling understood is extremely powerful.

Let's face it, feeling understood is extremely powerful. Click To Tweet

Pause and think of a time you felt completely seen, loved, and accepted for who you really are? Visualize the moment. Who gave you that feeling? How did they do it? What would you have done for that person? How did you feel toward them? It’s an incredible feeling right? Did you know you have the ability, the superpower, to give this experience to your kid? Can you see how it might change everything?

So how do you learn understanding and give your child the experience of being understood?

  • Get to know them. Use the phrase “tell me more”. Tell me more about  (what’s behind the tears, the emotional outburst, the difficult situation, etc.).
  • Validate their feelings. This sounds fancy but it is simply letting their feelings be valid and real, no matter what they are. Regardless of how you would react in the situation, their perspective and feelings are what they are. Let them be that. Tell them you see it and remember a time you felt that way. “You really seem happy about something, tell me about it” (see how I combined them both) OR “Wow, you are really upset about this, tell me more about how that hurt you”. “That’s so sad, I’ve been sad to and it’s hard”. Let it be okay for them to feel what they feel. Be a safe place for their feelings. This helps them learn to validate their own feelings as they grow.
  • Learn what matters to them and how they are struggling. Listen to understand and not fix things.
  • No matter what, start and end things with how much you love them.
  • Compliment effort not results. “Wow I saw your grades, it took a lot of hard work and I admire how much time you invest in your studies”.
  • Be real about your own struggles.
  • Spend time with them. Have fun. Be silly. Take a genuine interest in what interests them. (don’t ask me how much I know about all kinds of things that I wouldn’t know if it weren’t for my kids….star wars, star trek, magic the gathering, pokemon, legos, marvel comics, etc etc etc.)
  • When in doubt, ask them for guidance. Just be real

I challenge you to look at your kids differently this week, whatever their age. Seek understanding. What are their passions, who are their friends, what’s the latest thing they are interested in, what are their fears, or current struggles? Warning: don’t ask all that in one sitting. LOL. It doesn’t work. Understanding comes over time as you deliberately seek to take the time and opportunities that present themselves. I think learning about my teens and watching them grow into who God designed them to be rocks! I have to set aside my agenda sometimes but that’s okay…my stuff will be here long after they are grown. Let’s seize the moment when it comes.

Seize the moment when it comes to really understand your kids. It's your parenting superpower. Click To Tweet

Permanent link to this article: https://counseling4hope.com/understanding-parent/

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: https://counseling4hope.com/not-worthless/

The Happiness Myth: Embracing The Power of Radical Acceptance

radical acceptanceAre you happy? How much time do you spend thinking about happiness? Everyone seems to be chasing it. The pursuit of happiness is ingrained in Americans. Do you think happiness is an achievable, permanent state? I think a lot of us do. Most clients mention happiness as one of their goals for counseling. I hear a lot of people say things like “I’m just not happy”; “I just want to be happy”; “Life shouldn’t be so hard”.

As I listen to people speak about happiness, I’ve observed a common definition of happiness. Most view happiness as the fulfillment of personal desires and pleasure and/or the absence of struggle, conflict, or pain.

Unfortunately, this definition of happiness describes a fleeting, temporary experience not a permanent state. This collides head on with our expectation that happiness be permanent. We freak out thinking something is wrong with us because we aren’t happy. If our expectation of life is perpetual happiness, we will find ourselves continually frustrated. Because life is full of difficult circumstances, painful emotions, and challenging people.

There’s a great concept in psychology called radical acceptance. I’ve thought about this idea a lot this week. Basically radical acceptance is accepting all of what is instead of resisting reality. You may not think you resist reality but you probably do. Radical acceptance involves accepting your circumstances, your emotions, your past, and your pain.

You see, we add to our pain by resisting. We resist reality, we resist emotions, and we resist our circumstances. One way we resist is by dwelling on how awful something is and wishing it were different (or desperately praying for God to intervene and change it). Take a moment and think about what situation or emotion you are resisting? How are you resisting? Radical acceptance involves accepting reality for what it is even if it isn’t what we want it to be.

Radical acceptance involves accepting reality for what it is even if its not what we want. Click To Tweet

Acceptance isn’t approval. Much of life falls outside our control: we may lose a job, a close family member dies, a marriage ends, a traumatic event happens, or we may become ill. All of these situations are not things we would choose or approve of. However, we can radically accept that they are a real part of our life. Failing to do this actually increases our suffering and delays healing, growth, and problem solving.

Acceptance isn’t approval. Click To Tweet

Acceptance is also not surrender. We accept what is in our past and in our present moment. Change comes by what we do next…in the future. Accepting reality allows us to let go of what we have no control over and look at the power we do have. It is a shift towards resilience which is the ability to recover from difficulties. Resilience first begins with accepting that the difficulty exists.

Acceptance is also not surrender or hopelessness. Click To Tweet

This is not easy. Radical acceptance is a deeply internal and difficult experience because our nature fights against this idea.

Radical acceptance  involves accepting:

  • reality for what it is
  • that everything has a cause
  • that life can be worth living even during painful circumstances.

Now I think radical acceptance is a part of faith for the Jesus follower. The Bible teaches that God is sovereign and that suffering is a part of life. Jesus radically accepted that he must go to the cross even though he experienced suffering and betrayal. Paul radically accepted tremendous hardship for the sake of spreading the gospel. Nowhere in scripture is happiness taught. What is taught is contentment in all circumstances (Philippians 4:11-13).

So here’s what blew my mind this week….contentment requires radical acceptance. Contentment is a deeper satisfaction despite circumstances. This is sustainable.  Unlike happiness, contentment is rooted in acceptance: acceptance of reality as it is and the acceptance of God’s unchanging truth.

Unlike happiness, contentment is rooted in acceptance. Click To Tweet Contentment requires radical acceptance of reality and God's unchanging truth Click To Tweet

These two ideas increase the power of radical acceptance

  • I can radically accept reality. We live in a broken world with broken people.Whatever is going on in your life that is outside of your control, accept it. That difficult person, accept them for who they are. You may wish they would change but you have no power to change them.That challenge you are facing (loss of job, physical disability, loss of a relationship, unfair treatment, large amount of work for school, the political chaos right now etc), accept it. It is what is.

    Wishing circumstances were different doesn’t change reality and doesn’t empower you for the next moment. Accept it. Change, growth, and hope begin with acceptance.

    You can radically accept reality Click To Tweet

  • I can radically accept God at his word. God is good and works all things for his glory and my good. His definition of my good may look very different than mine. Yet, I can trust what God says and walk by faith regardless of what I feel.I can radically accept myself because of who God says I am (Psalm 139, Ephesians 1).I can radically accept that I am saved, justified, and made right because of Jesus.

    I can radically accept that I live in a broken world and will have trouble. I can radically accept that God has overcome (John 16:33).

  • Radical acceptance brings contentment, peace, and rest. (Matthew 11:28-29)You can radically accept God at his word. Click To Tweet

What are you resisting accepting?

How has this resistance increased your suffering?

How might acceptance empower you for what’s next?

Struggling or want to learn more about radical acceptance? Follow my social media this week for additional articles and information. Need help, reach out and contact a good counselor.

Permanent link to this article: https://counseling4hope.com/radical-acceptance/

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: https://counseling4hope.com/negative-emotions/

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