Thursday, February 19, 2015

Hearing the Truth in Counseling

I am not always a fan of hearing the truth. Example: my doctor tells me I have low energy because I don’t exercise enough – not because there is something wrong with me medically. I just wanted to hear that there is a quick fix – a pill or something. This news requires that I make an effort to take action. It will alter my lifestyle and schedule and take away a certain comfort I have gotten used to over the years.

It’s the same in counseling. Most people want to hear that someone else is to blame for their problems. They want to shift the responsibility of having to change on to someone else. It might be a spouse or other family member or a co-worker or a friend – anyone besides the person looking at them in the mirror each morning.

I have a lot of compassion for these people. It’s not easy to embrace truth when we have spent a lot of energy building fortresses around our false beliefs. Pulling down these walls requires embracing the grief process which begins with breaking the denial of what is really true – that the problem lies within me. 
“I have a problem.”
With those words there is real hope of things getting better. It may bring sadness at first, especially if the realization is the result of a crisis, a serious rejection or significant loss.

  • My wife left me because of my drinking 
  • My boyfriend broke it off because I was too clingy and controlling 
  • I lost my job because of my anger 
  • I didn’t speak up and someone else got chosen 
  • I allow myself to get distracted and I don’t accurately hear what people say. 

Do you get upset and angry when people point out your shortcomings? Do you beat up on yourself and feel defeated? Or instead do you reflect on their words and try to use them to grow?

A counselor always holds your positive growth as their goal for you – never condemnation. Can you receive it that way even when the truth is painful? I (Dave) was in counseling for three years. Some of those sessions with my counselor were not easy – and others were downright perplexing – but I always knew that he was for me. 

God is also intensely for us and corrects us because of His love for us – but we must be willing to receive it for it to benefit us. Any thoughts? 

Monday, February 2, 2015

The 18 Red Flags Of Relationships (Danger)

If you have attended one of our pre-married/pre-engagement classes you have already seen this list. For those who haven’t and are considering marriage, this is a wonderful time to pause and do some serious evaluating.

Not all of these need to be considered deal breakers, but once the wedding process is on “full speed ahead” it is very difficult to stop it or slow it down. But I assure you – it would be better than proceeding when there may be factors in the relationship that are particularly troublesome. It is so much easier to deal with issues before joining your lives together. Once the rings are on, some people are not willing to face the painful places in their lives. Do it while you both have a stronger motivation and before inertia has set in.

So look over this list carefully and don’t minimize or rationalize away the problems. Marriage should be a lifetime commitment and it takes both your brain and your heart to be in sync when you make the second most important choice in your lifetime.

  • You’ve known the person for less than a year
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Over dependency on family
  • Over dependence on partner
  • Serious quarrelling (or uncontrolled anger, raging)
  • Many significant people in your life are uncomfortable about your relationship
  • If there is a serious problem that is unresolved
  • Significant financial problems or serious debt
  • You feel pressured to marry due to age, sex, etc
  • You believe sexual involvement must lead to marriage
  • Both are 18 or younger
  • You just have to get out of your parent’s house
  • Pregnancy
  • Strong cultural, social or economic differences
  • There’s no plan for your relationship – no goals
  • God is not as important to your partner as to you
  • Unaddressed abuse in either person’s background (physical, sexual or emotional)
  • Physical abuse – even once (get out) 

So what did you notice? Are there any items that made you uncomfortable? Or are you smiling because nothing applied to your relationship? You may have to dig a bit deeper into the relationship to find out some of the answers. You may have to ask family or friends or other trusted people in your life what they see. Weigh their answers carefully, especially from those who are not overly critical or overly positive by nature.

By the way, if you were wondering about the first most important choice in your life: it is making a commitment to follow Christ.