Category Archives: Self-Discipline

Your relationship with God

There is nothing that will prepare you for a real, effective, healthy, productive, successful, and meaningful counseling ministry as much as developing a real and personal relationship with the Lord. Your strength will come from Him. Your wisdom and discernment, without which you are of no use to anyone at all, will come from Him. Those times of rest, when counseling drains you to your very soul, comes from Him. He is your all in all, and there will never be a substitute.

The question then is, “How do I develop this real and personal relationship?”

Make a decision, before you start counseling, or as of this very this moment, if you already have been counseling, that God will get all the credit for all the success you will ever achieve as a counselor. That will mean, from now on, that your counseling and therapeutic skills and abilities will be completely dependent upon Him. If this becomes true. Then you must let Him guide your development as a counselor. This means that you constantly look back the His Word for further guidance. That you do not allow what you believe to be true, right, correct, fair, or the best, interfere with His teaching and principles.

God chooses certain people to become His counselors. One of the traits that Christian counselors have, for the most part, is the uncanny ability to persuade people with just their words. There are many people in life that use the words of their mouths to make a living. Car salesmen and other salespeople depend strongly on their natural abilities to use words to persuade customers to buy their products. God has gifted these people with this ability. It is up to the person to use His abilities for the work of the Lord. You were chosen by God for several reasons, some I will be able to identify for you, but others may be so specific for you that I would have to know you personally to get to know what they may be. I am able to discern these traits because I am also one of those who have been called by God to counsel.

He sees something special in you that even you may not see. As I mentioned above one of those traits is the ability to persuade others with just our words. In the Christian world, we find many of these people in the roles of pastor, leader, teacher, evangelist, apostle, and so forth.  When the Scriptures say that many are called but few are chosen, it is not kidding. You are among those few. And because you have this ability to persuade others with your very words, you are also held to a higher standard of responsibility and accountability by God. God expects that, besides earning a living, you must also use your ability for His glory. He will not force you to do His will, but He will also not release you from your responsibility just because you will not meet your obligation to Him. Because you have this gift, you have noticed that often you were able to gain personally from this gift. Whether through the subtleness of your words others felt they should “repay” you for your seeming generosity to them, or because you strongly implied an obligation on their part and they gave to you from that, or because you obviously used your gift to manipulate some type of personal gain, it is all the same. You are either just using this gift for your gain, or you will choose to use this gift for His glory.

God has no problem that you must use your personal skills to earn a living. On the contrary, He wants you to do so and is ready to bless you further, but he just wants you to also use them for His purposes. He wants you to want to use your skills for Him. To accomplish what He believes is the more important use of your talents. He wants you to see your ministry in that manner.  You can gain that perspective. You can gain it by working harder on your personal relationship with Him. Whether or not you feel strong, confident, able, and so forth, choose instead to seek His strength instead. Seek His counsel, even when you already know what to do. Show Him that you need Him, even when you don’t really feel it. Even when your wisdom and discernment tell you that you have identified the root of the problem of that client of yours, still ask Him what He thinks about the whole thing.

Make time to just sit in His presence, saying and thinking nothing. Just basking in His presence. This is the place where you will find peace and rest. You need those times to recharge your counseling “battery” to be ready for the next case that will always come along. You don’t ever have to worry that people may not come to you, your “worry” (if I may call it that) is whether you will make time to go to your Lord and Savior.  Make time for prayer. Even when you really don’t feel like it. If you are a parent, then you know how it feels when your children don’t spend time with you. Worse yet if they don’t want to spend time with you. I have two grown sons, and there are times when neither one makes even a short time to just sit with me. Those times are lonely times for me. Well, God feels the same way. He wants you to spend time with Him. He waits for those times with anticipation.

He wants you to want to be with Him, and not just because you have to, or should.

When you pray. Drop the religious stuff once in a while and just speak with Him in your natural words. Treat Him like He is really there. Speak to Him and not at Him. He cares to hear what you have to say. He does not want you to try to impress Him with how many “hallelujahs,” or “Praise the Lords” you can say in a minute. Leave the big impressive religious sounding prayer language to us Pastors and such, since we have too often prayed in public and they expect that kind of thing from us. No, in your personal time with Him, be for real, be natural, and be there because you want. Your relationship with God will help you through some of those difficult times when you feel like you have to go to a counselor yourself, but are just too proud to even really consider it.

In your counseling ministry, you will be tempted to do wrong, say the wrong things, behave questionably, and sometimes maybe even lash out at those difficult clients. It is in these times of weakness, that your relationship with Him will make you strong. As I mentioned before, your family life is way more important than your counseling ministry, but your relationship with the Lord is most important in your life. Do not confuse them.

Cognitive Distortions

Understanding the problem to understand the solution. People do the things they do, because they BELIEVE the things they believe. This is the key principle for the counselor to use in guiding the client to a healthy mental and spiritual life. However, to ignore this principle, is akin to running around in circles but expecting to go down a straight road anyway. It will not make sense. You cannot fix a problem that you do not know exists. Once you identify a faulty belief, for example, then you are better able to identify the distorted thinking process (relating to that belief) and replace the faulty belief with the truth. It is putting the truth into practice that will actually bring about the necessary changes in the client. Therefore, we will consider ten beliefs that adversely affect people.

The Ten Forms of Self Defeating Thoughts

1. All or nothing – thinking

You see things in black-and-white categories if a situation falls short of perfect; you see it as a total failure. When a young woman on a diet ate a spoonful of ice cream, she told herself, “I’ve blown my diet completely.” This thought upset her so much that she gobbled down an entire quart of ice cream!

2. Overgeneralization

You see a single negative event, such as a romantic rejection or a career reversal as a never-ending pattern of defeat by using words such as “always” or “never” when you think about it. A man and his wife were arguing and he decided that to keep arguing would be fruitless, so she gets even angrier and yells, “you never talk to me,” when he obviously was talking to her up to that moment.

3. Mental filter

You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively, so that your vision of all of reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that discolors a beaker of water. Example: You receive many positive comments about your presentation to a group of associates at work, but one of them says something mildly critical you obsess about his reaction for days and ignore all the positive feedback.

4. Discounting the positive

You reject positive experiences by insisting they “don’t count.” If you do a good job, you may tell yourself that it was not good enough or that anyone could have done as well. Discounting the positive takes the joy out of life and makes you feel inadequate and unrewarded.

5. Jumping to conclusions

You interpret things negatively when there are no facts to support your conclusion. This includes the following.

Mind reading: Without checking it out, you arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you.

Fortune telling: You predict that things will turn out badly. Before a test, you may tell yourself, “I’m really going to blow it. What if I flunk?” If you are depressed, you may tell yourself, “I’ll never get better.”

Self-fulfilling prophecies: Like fortune telling, you predict that things will turn out badly, except in this case you end up contributing to the problem. For example, you tell yourself that people are not going to like you at a new job you are starting. Therefore, you go to work the first day with a chip on your shoulders because of what you are expecting, therefore the people at the new job think you are just a jerk. This, to you, becomes proof of what you were expecting.

6. Magnification

You exaggerate the importance of your problems and shortcomings, or you minimize the importance of your desirable qualities. Also known as the “binocular trick.” Kind of like looking through the binocular from both ends.

7. Emotional reasoning

You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: “I feel terrified about going on airplanes, so it must be very dangerous to fly.” “I feel guilty, so I must be a rotten person,” or “I feel angry, so this proves I am being treated unfairly,” or “I feel so inferior, and this means I am a second-rate person,” or “I feel hopeless, so I must really be hopeless.”

8. “Should statements”

You tell yourself that things should be the way you hoped or expected them to be. After playing a difficult piece on the piano, a gifted pianist told herself, “I shouldn’t have made so many mistakes.” This made her feel so disgusted that she quit practicing for several days. “Must,” “ought” and “have to” are similar offenders. Should statements” that are directed against yourself lead to guilt and frustration. Should statements that are directed against other people or the world in general lead to anger and frustration, “He should not be so stubborn and argumentative.” Many people try to motivate themselves with should and should not, as if they were delinquents who deserved punishment before they could be expected to do anything. “I should not eat that doughnut.” This usually does not work because should and must can make you feel rebellious and you get the urge to do just the opposite.

9. Labeling

Labeling is an extreme form of all-or-nothing thinking. Instead of saying, “I made a mistake.” you attach a negative label to yourself: “I’m a loser.” You might also label yourself “a failure” or “a jerk.” Labeling is quite irrational because you are not the same as what you do. Human beings exist, but “fools,” “losers,” and “jerks” do not. These labels are useless abstractions that lead to anger, anxiety, frustration, and low self- esteem.

You may also label others. When someone does something that rubs you the wrong way, you may tell yourself: “He’s a jerk!” Then you feel that the problem is with that person’s character or essence instead of with their thinking or behavior. You see them as very bad. This makes you feel hostile and hopeless about improving things and leaves little room for constructive communication.

10. Personalization and blame

Personalization occurs when you hold yourself personally responsible for an event that is not entirely under your control. When a woman received a note that her child was having difficulties at school, she told herself, “This shows what a bad mother I am,” instead of trying to pinpoint the cause of the problem so that she could be helpful to her child. When another woman’s husband beat her, she told herself, “if only I were better in bed, he wouldn’t beat me.” Personalization leads to guilt, shame, and feelings of inadequacy.

Some people do the opposite. They blame other people or their circumstances for their problems, and they overlook ways that they might be contributing to the problem: “The reason my marriage is so lousy is because my spouse is totally unreasonable.” Blame usually does not work very well because other people will resent being made the scapegoat and they will just toss the blame right back in your lap. It is like the game of hot potato – no one wants to be stuck with it.

A Poem on Giving Up A Cognitive Distortion

Letting Go

To “let go” does not mean to stop caring,

it means I can’t do it for someone else.

To “let go” is not to cut myself off,

it’s the realization I can’t control another.

To “let go” is not to enable,

but to allow learning from natural consequences.

To “let go” is to admit powerlessness,

which means the outcome is not in my hands.

To ” let go” is not to try to change or blame another,

it’s to make the most of myself.

To “let go” is not to care for, but to care about.

To “let go” is not to fix, but to be supportive.

To “let go” is not to judge,

but to allow another to be a human being.

To “let go” is not to be in the middle

arranging all the outcomes,

but to allow others to affect their own destinies.

To “let go” is not to be protective,

it’s to permit another to face reality.

To “let go” is not to deny, but to accept.

To “let go” is not to nag, scold, or argue,

but instead to search out my own shortcomings

and correct them.

To “let go” is not to adjust everything to my desires,

but to take each day as it comes, and cherish myself in it.

To “let go” is not to regret the past,

but to grow and live for the future.

To “let go” is to fear less and love more.

– Anonymous

“My Story”

The following is from an email sent to me by a precious person who also was a client of mine a while back. I wanted to share this story with you to give you a glimpse into the struggle that many Mexican immigrants have as they enter and live in the United States. I changed some details (names and such) which would identify the person, but the story is real. – @PastorJuan

Good evening Pastor Juan,

I just finished reading your post called “Open Letter to the Republican Party.”

Within the first couple of paragraphs, I could not help but cry. (You’re probably not surprised being that I cried almost every time I met with you for counseling.) I even stopped a few times and sobbed as I held my cry in so that my roommates would not hear me.

I believe that I did not read your post by coincidence, but it was sort of used to bring some healing, peace, comfort and strength into an area of my life that I had never shared with anyone so openly like I am about to do now.

When I met with you for counseling back in 2013, I briefly shared about a law that had been passed in 2012, a law that benefited people in a situation like mine. Due to the high opposing comments said from the pulpit of my former pastor, I felt that I could not accept the benefit because “it was wrong” like it was said. I mentioned it to you, and I think you said, something along the lines of “Why not?” Your words quickly encouraged me to go for it, to apply, and go through the process and eventually be granted DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

If you are not familiar with this program, it basically states that anyone who was brought by their parents to the U.S. before reaching 16 years of age, Entered Without Inspection (EIC) or Overstayed their Visas and was at least 31 years of age by August 12, 2012, could apply for Deferred Action and a work permit that is renewable every two years. Because of this, being granted DACA, the last four years of my life have changed quite a bit. As you know, I was able to save money, purchased my first car, got a new job, I got braces, I moved out, and I received an external scholarship for $29,000 that will help me finish my bachelors’ degree. The latter one was granted by millionaires who believed in people like me and decided to give us (me) a chance to study, since we are not allowed to obtain federal aid for school. But, it was not always easy to talk about who I am. Though I could talk to friends, high school mates and coworkers of where I came from, I have never actually mentioned how I got here.

Back in Mexico, sometime before 2000, I vaguely remember my parents talking about moving to “el otro lado” (the other side). They never really mentioned it to me or my sisters until a few days before we left Mexico. Though we had already visited in ’95 with our visas, it never crossed my mind that one day I would be living here. But, in July 2000, two months before my 13th birthday, I remember getting ready to go. One of the things that I clearly remember is using a shoebox that I neatly wrapped in two separate pieces to put all my belongings: posters of the Backstreet Boys, music cassettes, a tiny fairy toy doll that held glitter dust in a container under the skirt, a ring that was given to me by my parents when I started first grade, and a drawing I made of a house I dreamt to have. I also remember the morning when we left. It was early, though it was summer, there was a cool breeze my mom’s dad, who is (was) a U.S. citizen, picked us up in his long brown car. We drove up the street and I remember looking back, waving goodbye to my dad’s dad, Guelito (Grandpa), Tia (my aunt) who stayed the night to say goodbye, Tio (uncle) who lived up the street, and our neighbors, Tio (other uncle) and Tia (other aunt). I never once thought that I would never see some of them again, except through social media and one who would come visit every year.

Near the border, it was a nerve-racking and a different experience from the first time we visited the US. This time we were told “Si te preguntan a que vienes, diles que a visitar” (If they ask you why you are coming, say to visit). Though I was in my preteen years, somehow I knew I could not mess up

otherwise I would be in trouble. I also recall one of my Tias (aunts), who was also a resident in the States, taking my one-year-old sister before we crossed the border. I did not understand it then, but came to find out later that my sister did not have a visa, so she passed as if she were my Tia’s daughter with my cousin’s birth certificate. At checkpoint, I recall an officer; I would still recognize his face if I were to see him now. He looked at my passport and then looked intently at me; Nervousness pulsing through all of me as he asked me if I was the girl on the passport and I nodded. We crossed and made it to Houston, then three weeks later to Dallas to live with my dad’s sister.

From then on, I knew and grew up with a different mindset than from the kids who were born here in the States, but I did not know how difficult it was going to get, at least emotionally. The constant reminder of “fear the cops” as mom would throw herself back on the passenger seat when dad would drive by a police car. Or, hearing “joking” remarks about being “illegals” from relatives and even those in the church. Or, hearing indirect remarks of how they will not struggle in taking “us” to a trip if there are going to be checkpoints on the way. But, perhaps, the toughest one was, not being able to begin a normal teen life, such as applying for a learner’s permit or a driver’s license and apply for colleges and scholarships due to me not being a U.S Citizen.

I am not looking for pity. I have come to trust you, Pastor Juan, as the Lord has helped me in so many ways through your counsel.  I know that you receive my open heart in a very objective and helping way if I may say so, and, that is the reason why I can talk openly about this subject that had haunted me for quite a while.

I continue.

Fast-forward to this year, after DACA, and the many accomplishments I have been able to fulfill because of it, I cannot help but feel so much gratefulness toward those who believed in me. The day I received the email that congratulated me on receiving the scholarship, guess what happened? Yes, I bawled! I was in doubt; I did not think that they would want a woman of my age using their money. However, I guess they liked what I wrote on those essays, saw my accomplishments and grades, and believed in me. I truly believe the Lord fulfilled those desires I had back when I was 18: getting a driver’s license, finishing college and moving out of my parent’s home, as some of my friends did when they got out of high school.

However, again, the reason why I wrote to you is that I wanted to share my story and share the fear that was in me if ever I was to share this with anyone. I was afraid of being rejected, being called out, being an outcast, being seen as inferior. Hey, there are times when you think your own Raza (race/people) will stick up for you, but it is not always like that.  I saw it many times when my dad was underpaid (even by relatives or other Latinos), and he could not say a thing, otherwise they would threaten to stop giving him work.  I remember seeing tears of frustration. Something that he hardly does, as he is not very open with his feelings and emotions.

Back to DACA, I do not know if you are aware but there are 10 states that are being led by Texas’ Attorney General and they are pressuring the president to end the program, just as he said he would when he was campaigning. Since then, president Trump has warmed up a bit to us (immigrants) and has not decided, but the 10 states made it clear that they wanted an answer by September 5th or else they would take it to court. There are also two Senators, one from Illinois and one for South Carolina who want to introduce a bill that would give us permanent residency, given that we’ve been good citizens through DACA.

One of the many things that I learned while counseling with you and in my own experiences and times with the Lord, is that no matter what, I will be okay, because the Lord is with me. I have learned that it is appropriate to prepare for unforeseen circumstances, but I learned not to allow, “What could be,” to shake my peace and control my present decisions to the point that it brings me down to fear and doubt. If anything, I know that no matter what, the Lord will guide me and take care of what I need, just as He has in the past no matter the outcome. Nevertheless, I think deep down there were certain fears and emotions that I bottled deep down in me, which is the reason why I bawled while I read your post.

Last week, the scholarship board sent a questionnaire for us awardees to fill out. Some of the questions asked to share our story however open we wanted to be; I did not share much as I did with you just now. But, one of the questions went along the lines of “What would you say to those in office would like to stop DACA?” And, just as you described Latinos on your post, I described myself as who I am. Hard worker, wanting to give back to a country that although does not recognize me as a citizen, I consider myself as one because I have lived here longer than I have been alive.

This is all I know (more than any Mexican history), this is where I grew up and became who I am now. And, I do not feel entitled to anything as might some people who were born here, but I feel privileged to be here. It is always an honor to pledge allegiance to a flag that although is not from the country I was born in, I am prideful to recite what it stands for: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. And, like I told them on my answer, any time I am at a ball game, I cannot help but secretly shed tears and truly pray the song “God bless America” because I truly love Her, knowing that anything that happens to it, happens to people who live here who came from all parts of the world, to friends, to relatives, to me, to my family (and future family.) To people who struggled to be here, to find hope, safety and the American dream. I told them this and now that I have shared my story with you, I feel this huge weight lifted from me.

Thank you, Pastor Juan, for taking the time to read my story. All I wanted was to pour it out on someone and I know it fell on good ears.

What Does Love Feel Like?

While sitting through the movie, “The Shack,” along with my wife, I was struck with an odd idea. Well, to be honest, odd to me. The main character was going through a dilemma which tore at his very soul. On the one hand, he blamed himself for the death of his daughter, and on the other hand, he was angry with God for not saving her life. The main point, I think, at least regarding him, was that he was blinded to what he was really struggling with because his anger and bitterness kept getting in the way. The “odd” idea which came to me was whether I was going through something similar.

At the age of 3, I remember playing in the living room of our West Dallas project’s apartment in which we lived at the time. Movement caught my attention, and I turned to the window and saw my father looking in as though he was looking for something. I walked over to the window and stood there looking up at him. After a while, he turned away and I never saw him again for the rest of my life. The point here is that the one thing which has stayed with me for over 62 years is that he never looked down at me, as though I wasn’t even there.

When I was around 5 years old, my mother had a “nervous breakdown,” whatever that is. I think she just became so angry at the world that she introverted herself, and dove wildly into an emotional depression. The result was that we (my brothers and I) were taken into custody by the state and placed in a foster home. I have no memory of being transported to the foster home, which gives me the idea that we may have been asleep at the time. I do remember the abuse we suffered at the hands of those people. During the whole time we were there, we lived in constant fear. And, to myself at least, it seemed we were there forever. Those foster “parents” should never have been allowed to get near children. Their treatment of my brothers and I was atrocious. I, as the oldest of the three, was the butt of their attacks. At least to the best of my memory, it seemed they enjoyed making me suffer. I remember them laughing at me, calling me names, and to scare me even more, they would mistreat my brothers in front of me to cause me even more fear. At one point, my youngest brother, George, pooped on himself, and the foster “parents” found it hilarious when they forced me to eat some of it because I had not taken care of him. I learned to hate while in that house. I learned to hate, and I learned well.

One day, after what seemed years (which was probably only a few months), we were cleaned up and dressed nicely. We were going to have visitors. Actually, two ladies arrived. One seemed familiar, but the second was completely unknown to me. I could tell that something was different from normal, the foster “parents” were behaving like nice people. That only made me more apprehensive, as I was expecting some sort of abuse to occur at any moment. I remember the three of us brothers standing together, huddled, and afraid. One of the ladies, the one that did not seem familiar to me, began speaking to us. She was speaking in English and I did not fully understand her. I could tell by her hand motions that she wanted us to come to her and the other lady, the familiar one. Our response was to huddle even closer. One of the foster “parents” came to us and grabbed my arm, and gently (but forcefully) pulled me forward to the ladies. My brothers came along with me. The first lady spoke again and said, “Mama,” as she pointed to the other lady. I looked at the first lady, then I looked at the second lady, and back to the first. I did not know what was happening, but I was beginning to catch on that she was trying to tell us that this was our mother.

That is my brother Joe on the left, then me, and George is in our mother’s arms.

Our mother smiled and called to us in Spanish. My young mind struggled to bring to memory her picture in my head. The abuse we suffered at that home left me confused and fearful. A part of my mind told me that we were being fooled again. She seemed confused that we did not just run up to her immediately. She stepped forward and reached out to us. I tried to back away, but the grip of the foster “parent” was stronger. “Soy tu mamá,” she said (I am your mother), and she knelt before us. It was then that I remembered her. My mother, the one we loved. The one we missed so terribly during those torturous months in that hell house. The one who sent us there. The one who was responsible for all we had suffered at the hands of those evil people. All of my fears, anger, and hate swelled up in me. I felt as though I was going to explode. “I hate you!” I screamed at her, “I hate you. I hate you.” I finally had the chance to release all that pent up fear. I was staring straight at the person who was responsible. I hated her so very, very, much.

I have scattered memories of abuses and violence which we suffered, too many of those memories are of things which happened to me personally. The way my mother handled all of that was with lots of screaming and yelling on her part. She had a mean streak. She blamed us for everything that went wrong in her life. Her favorite attacks were when she would scream “Hijos de su p**che padre (sons of your f***ing father). I had no idea what she would go on about, but I quickly learned that she hated that man. I have yet to learn the truth about all that happened between them, but I no longer care. At the time, though, it was her ammunition against us. He left her, and she was angry, and she was going to punish us for it. I especially took the brunt of much of her anger, because I was the oldest and was supposed to “know better.”

In those years I sort of remember trying to love her. I mean, come on, what other choice did we have? We were as stuck with her as much as she was with us, and she did not make that easy. My memory of her, during that time, was that she was mean. Her anger was her most obvious quality to me. Like her, my anger was my most familiar companion as well.

The trauma and abuse I (and my brothers) suffered at the hands of an angry mother, and a coward of a father who abandoned his children, left me scarred with an emptiness of the heart, and blindness of the soul, that to a point still haunts me to this day.

So, what is love? I have learned to rationalize things in my life. I compartmentalize, put things into separate “boxes” and learn to keep each thing in its place. I have specific rules I follow, which guide me in how to act and react to situations and circumstances in my life. The Bible teaches me that if I love someone I will do what is best for them, even if it means they must suffer consequences for their actions and choices. I understand that, I understand pain and punishment, so “suffering the consequences” of my actions and choices is not something altogether strange to me. Since I was little, I have known that when you do something that displeases those in control, they will make you suffer for it. I learned to accept that as a truth of life. So, when I first read in the Word of God that he punishes His children (Hebrews 12), I rolled with the punch and accepted that for what it says. I began my “walk” with God understanding that He was the Lord. By “Lord” I mean the Boss, the one in charge, the controller of my life. This meant to me that He can do whatever He wants with my life, and that there is nothing I can do about it. It means that He can choose for me to go through hard and difficult things, situations, and circumstances, and that I am supposed to just “grin and bear” it.

I first came to know “God” as my new owner. I was “owned” before by the hatred, fear, and bitterness which permeated every pore of my body, all the way down to my soul. Love had no place in my life. I want to believe that there must have been someone in my young life who actually loved me, but if there were, no real evidence comes to my mind. Now, don’t get me wrong, and misunderstand my words, I believe that there were people who “cared.” I know that I cared for my brothers and sisters, in fact I still do. I hope they cared about me as well, but when we were younger, all of us, brothers and sisters, suffered our own demons in various ways. None of us “children” of that woman came away unscathed. For many years, and maybe even to some point up until now, we drifted apart and dealt with our own separate lives. I, along with my brothers, Joe and George, tended to spend more time with each other. My brothers, Larry and Rick (sons of a different father), were often left to themselves. My sisters, Connie and Diana (from still another father), tended to spend more time with each other, and later on, with my youngest brother, Don, who had the same father as my sisters. We all care about each other, at least to the best that we are able while dealing with the traumas and emotional damage we suffered as children.

So, what is love? I know one thing clearly and without any doubt, before turning my life over to Christ, I had no earthly idea what is was. And, now as a Christian of about 35 years, I am still working on it. As I said I have learned to rationalize love. When I have been asked to define love, I always revert to my standard answer, “The Bible teaches that love is what we do.” I have always given that answer, because it works with my understanding of what I perceive love as being. But, what I rationalize and what the Bible actually says, may not be the same. The verse which always comes to mind is John 14:15 (NASB), “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” It does not say, “Keeping my commandments is HOW you love me.” It says, If you love me…” If you “love” me. “Love.” I have always seen this verse differently. To me it always read, “Obedience is love.” So, I committed myself to doing what God wanted so that I could thereby prove my love. The way I interpreted the instruction was that I did not have to concern myself with feelings, but only with doing something. So, I gave in to God, as He started working on me, out of obedience. I conceded to changes in my character, out of obedience. I responded to God’s call on my life for the ministry, out of obedience. I tithed and gave offering faithfully, out of obedience. I prayed for people, counseled people, and pastored people, out of obedience. I have lived a life of service to others for all of my Christian life, out of obedience. Why? Because this is how I have always understood love. Love is obedience, and obedience is love. This way I was never expected to feel anything, I was expected to obey, and that I could do without too much trouble.

Again, do not misunderstand my argument here. I am not speaking out against just obeying God for the sake of obedience. There are many benefits from that kind of response to the Lord. And, remember when I use the word “Lord,” I am speaking about the Boss, the controller of our lives. I am referring to the part of God that expects all of His children to do what He says regardless of how they feel about His orders. He wants done what He wants done, and He does doesn’t want us to do differently. When you do obey Him, the biggest perk is that He will bless (reward) you for your obedience. There will never be a time when you obey Him and He will not bless you for it. Why? Because that is one way He shapes your life, and mine. When we obey, He blesses us, so because we liked getting blessed we will obey Him again, and, every time we obey we change a bit more. So, because we change a bit more, we want to obey Him a bit more, and we will, which will result in Him blessing us again. Get it? It is not a matter of how we feel, but whether we obey. The benefits to seeing your relationship with God in this manner are obvious, when you think about it. On the other hand, it is also a great way to avoid having to deal with feelings.

So, what is love? The Bible clearly states that God is love, but is love God? I don’t know the answer to that one. I am also not one of those people who just accepts some nice sounding words, act like I actually understand them, and then start spouting them out of my mouth. To me love is still not what I feel, it is what I do. But, that should not be interpreted as though I am saying I am not open to learning the truth, if I am in error as to the truth. Though, I still want whomever it may be to use language (when explaining “love”), that is not just a bunch of emotionally meaningless terms and expect me to understand. Truth does not hide behind vague emotional drivel, though I will admit that “love” may not fully be explained with logical, rational, terms which have clear meaning. I am willing to listen to some emotional terms, as long as that is not to whole of the explanation. For example, the Bible teaches on many concepts and ideas. Thankfully, the Lord did not resort to using only ambiguous terms and language. Even the most difficult themes and arguments in the Scriptures can be studied and understood with time and effort. The reason being that God provides enough logic, rationale, reason, and evidence, along with the “touchy feely” parts of the Word of God.

The dictionary defines the word “love” as, “an intense feeling of deep affection.” Yea, that really makes it clear right? First of all, what is meant by “intense” and “deep?” And, tell me this, how does one “love” God “intensely” and/or “deeply?” These two words are subjective, in other words dependent on the feelings of each person as to how they would define them. The dictionary is of little help, you see it defines “intense” as, either (1) of extreme force, degree, or strength, or (2) having or showing strong feelings or opinions; extremely earnest or serious. The second definition may be closer to what we are trying to understand, but still we just have more adjectives to work with, and we are no closer to a clear understanding. So, let’s instead look at the word “affection,” in the definition. It means, “A gentle feeling of fondness or liking.” Gentle? What happened to “intense?” I’ve decided the dictionary is of no real help.

So, what is Love? Let’s turn to the Bible as our source for trying to get a clear understanding of this elusive word. The Scripture teaches that:

  1. It is as strong as death. (Song of Solomon 8:6)
  2. It is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 14:15)
  3. It is patient, kind, and is not jealous; it does not brag and is not arrogant, it does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not (easily) provoked, it does not take into account a wrong suffered, it does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
  4. Greater than faith and hope. (1 Corinthians 13:13)
  5. The fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22)
  6. The perfect bond of unity. (Colossians 3:14)
  7. It is from God. (1 John 4:7)
  8. It casts out fear. (1 John 4:18)
  9. “This is love, that we walk according to His commandments.” (2 John 1:6)

If I use only the above references from the Bible as my basis for deciding what love is, I have to conclude that it does not involve feelings at all. All nine of the references speak of actions and decisions. They speak of what is, not how something feels. None of the nine require a person to feel this way or that. So even by using the Bible as my sole resource for finding the answer to what love is, I still don’t seem to have a clear understanding regarding whether feelings are supposed to be part of the formula. If I follow the teaching from the Word of God, specifically the nine references above, I have to conclude that love is what I decide and choose to do, not how I feel about something. For example, 1 John 5:3 says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.” John 14:24 says basically the same, notice, “He who does not love Me does not keep My words…” in other words, those who do “love” Jesus show it by obeying Him, not by how they “feel” about Him. So then if we “love” (obey) Jesus, we have to obey His commandment to “love” one another (John 15:14). It seems to me that it means that we show love to others by obeying the Lord. Hmmm.

So, what is love? It is the decision to treat someone else as more important than yourself. It is the understanding that someone else has priority over you, in this case it would be God, through our Lord, Christ Jesus. It is the decision to do what God has instructed us to do in regards to others, and not allow our feelings to cause us to choose to do differently. It is the decision to obey the Word of God, when our feelings tell us that we should instead do what we believe is right.

Even after writing almost 3800 words in this article, I still don’t understand love as a feeling. The idea of it is foreign to me. I understand hate, anger, rage, bitterness, frustration, depression, and vengeance. I understand those words, and I even have a personal knowledge of how they feel. I can stir up anger in milliseconds, and can feel the rage flow through me. I have lived with those feelings for so long in my life that I have an intimate acquaintance with each of them, but “love,” I have no concept of how that feels.

I love my wife. That means I make her my priority, treat her as more important than myself, and will always choose behavior and actions which will benefit her and not damage her. I will obey God, and His Word, in regards to what I will or will not do with or to her, or allow in our lives, regardless of how she feels. Her feelings cannot ever override the instructions of the Lord in my life. If I let that happen, then, according to my understanding of “love,” I will prove I don’t “love” her. The concept is a logical and calculated one. It is practical and clear. There is no ambiguity in that form of love.

When she is not around me, I miss her. If she were to die before I do, I would want to die as well. I know that this world means nothing to me if she is not here to share it with me. Because of her I want to be a better man. I treat others better because she has taught me how through her sacrifices and actions in my life. I have learned how to submit to God because she has taught me how through her submission to me. I want her to always be with me, and I am not as happy when she is not around. She makes my eyes to smile when I see her. She makes my heart feel better just because she is alive. I thank our Lord with all of my heart for allowing me to have her in my life.

But, my “feelings” of “love” for her are flawed. I sometimes don’t like her, just as she sometimes does not like me. We sometimes hurt each other’s feelings. We don’t always agree. There are many things we both like similarly, and there are other things we like differently. I talk more than she does, but I don’t listen as well as she does. I am more educated, but she tends to be wiser. I know she loves me, but I know this by her actions, choices, and decisions. I don’t always know how she feels about me, but I am aware of her behavior and I see her decisions in action. These two things prove to me that she loves me.

I may never learn how to love someone else by feelings alone, and I don’t know if that is really necessary. Throughout my whole life, my feelings have neither hurt nor benefitted anyone else, but my decisions, actions, and behavior have. No one has ever told me that they know I love them because they can tell how I feel about them, but many times I have been told by someone that they knew I loved them because of what I did, or did not do, to or for them. I guess I will leave things the way they are. I will probably have to wait until I get to heaven to “feel” love, and that is okay with me.

 

 

Getting Lost in the Story

ListeningNew counselors have one bad habit they must work on to become better counselors. They must learn not to get lost in the story.  By this I mean that the counselor will get so focused on what the client tells them is going on, or that the counselor begins to side with one person over the other. In either case, the counselor has become less effective as of that moment. Good and healthy counseling requires that the counselor be objective when dealing with opposing points of view. When the counselors chooses sides, they are no longer the best counselor in the case. As well, when the counselor gets all focused in the client’s story, he or she is in danger of choosing sides, or at the very least, may start jumping to conclusions before he or she has all the needed data.

Getting lost in the story means that the counselor is so wrapped up in the details of the client’s complaint or arguments that the counselor loses sight of what is more important. The important thing is that counselors need to listen for clues and symptoms which will help them identify what the root problem may be. The goal of all counselors must always be to find out what is going on wrong with the client’s life, not just what the client says is wrong. This way the counselor can better help the client find the answers they actually need as compared to the answers they want.

Counseling 1As well, when the counselor gets “lost in the story,” he or she limits themselves in scope as to what questions they will ask of the client. This is extremely important because if the counselor is already jumping to conclusion early on, they will not ask questions they need to ask to get data which will better help them to find the real problem, and therefore the real solution.

As an example, one counselor had a client who presented with the complaint that her husband was abusive and violent. The counselor, also a female who had suffered a bad relationship with a husband in her past, immediately began notifying the client of her legal options. As the counselor continued questioning the client, along the lines of the “abuse,” the client began to become uncomfortable. The counselor counseled the client that she should meet with a lawyer and consider divorce proceedings. The client responded negatively to the counselor, “I don’t want to lose my marriage!” The counselor was suddenly confused, “But … you told me that your husband was abusive to you?” “Yes, I mean, No,” responded the client, “He sometimes gets really angry, but he is not that bad.” “But, you said he hurt you,” responded the counselor. “Well, yea, he did push me, but that was after I started hitting him,” said the client. “You, were hitting him!?” asked the counselor, quite stumped, “Why?” “Because he was not listening to me,” said the client, now starting to cry. “oh,” said the counselor, now catching on to what was actually going on, “Do you mean that he was not listening to you, or not agreeing with you?” “Well, yea,” said the client sheepishly, “He was not agreeing with me, so I hit him.”

It is the responsibility of the counselor to stay on point. it would have been easy for the counselor above to quickly conclude that the husband was some mean ogre who needs to be dealt with immediately.  Instead the counselor found that both persons were in the wrong. It is this important ability, that of paying attention to the details and searching for the real problem, which will actually help the client with their issues.

Staying on point means asking questions, even when you think you know the real problem. It is important for counselors to verify whether they actually have concluded correctly. Let me make the point clearer this way. When a client comes to a counselor the present a case. This means they explain their point of view on what they believe to be the problem. When a client presents they are making an argument. No, I don’t mean they are arguing, they are making an argument, sort of like a lawyer in a court setting.  Counselors, in a manner of speaking, must become judges, which after hearing the arguments must make a concluding decision.

 If the counselor pays attention to the argument, and verifies or disproves the premise, then he or she will come to a more likely correct conclusion, and therefore a better means of helping the client. 

There are two types of arguments, deductive and inductive. The first refers to arguments made using facts which can be verified, and the latter refers to arguments which are based on opinion. Clients tend to argue inductively, their arguments are heavily colored by their emotions. Counselors have to wade through facts and opinions, stated and unstated assumptions, relevance, biases, personal perspectives, and the truth. All of this means that the counselor must pay attention. Not just to the client, but also to what, and how,  the client says and does not say.

To come to correct conclusions, the counselor must understand premises. Premises supply the evidence on which an argument is based. For example, a client might argue that she believes her husband is having an affair. This is a premise. The counselor’s job is to verify the premise. This is done by asking the client questions which help to either confirm the premise or to prove it erroneous. In this example, the counselor might ask the client what evidence she has which cause her to come to the conclusion. Lets say she tells the counselor that she saw her husband speaking with a woman at work. The counselor would likely tell the client that this alone is not sufficient evidence to reach the conclusion her husband is having an affair. Then lets add that the client continues, “But, I have text of her contacting him on his cell!” The counselor reads the text and it reads, “Hi, Jack, thanks for your help, I appreciate it very much. I’ll see you tomorrow.” The counselor will ask the client, “what did she mean be ‘tomorrow?'” The client might answer, “They work at the same place, I think she was the woman with whom I saw him speaking.” The counselor would likely state that the evidence, so forth, still does not seem to imply the husband is having an affair. Realizing that the client’s argument is not supporting her premise, the counselor could then question her real reason for her fears.

If the counselor pays attention to the argument, and verifies or disproves the premise, then he or she will come to a more likely correct conclusion, and therefore a better means of helping the client. This may seem a bit involved, but for the counselor which wants to be the best counselor possible, learning new techniques and skills is valuable. I hope this may have encouraged you to take a course in Critical Thinking. It will be the best thing you can do to improve your communication skills as a counselor.

Unconditional Love? … I’d Rather You Liked Me.

The-Flip-Side-of-LoveWe are instructed to “love” one another, but we don’t have to like anybody. In the Bible, the word used as love has three Greek meanings; Eros, Phileo, and Agape. I will not go into all the translation details in this article. You can “Google” “Greek words for love” and get plenty of information on the subject. My point, though, is to emphasize that there is no one way to “love” others, and that depending on the way you are “loving” someone else, there are conditions.

In my 30 years of counseling people, I have heard countless of times how much couples “love” each other. Men who physically and emotionally abuse their wives will argue about how much they “love” them. Wives who committed adultery will, after they get caught, cry about how much they “love” their husbands.

According to Holman’s Concise Bible Commentary, love is an “undivided allegiance and unswerving obedience” to God. This definition of love does not involve a person’s emotions as the determining factor. But, there is a clear object of this “love,” it belongs to God alone. The question I am dealing with today is not about our “love” for God, but, rather, in how we feel about one another as humans. The question is are we expected to love one another “unconditionally?” Keep in mind that I used Dictionay.Com’s definition of the word. “Conditionally – imposing, containing, subject to, or depending on a condition or conditions; not absolute; made or allowed on certain terms: conditional acceptance.” Therefore, if someone will or might benefit from something they do, then there was a condition. I searched the Bible to find any reference which would lead me to believe that I was to love someone else “unconditionally,” and I came up with zero verses.

On the other hand, I also searched the Bible for any references which would, at least, give the impression that some condition was tied to loving someone else, and came up with a bunch. For example, let’s look at, Matthew 5:43-45 (NASB), “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” I added the bolding, underline, and italics to emphasize the condition for “loving” our enemies. (See also Luke 6:32) Notice the very next verse, Matthew 5:46a (NASB) “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?” Did you get that? Why mention a, “reward,” if loving our neighbor is to be done “unconditionally?” Doesn’t “unconditionally” mean you are not supposed to get, or look forward to, a reward?

God understands that humans are driving by selfishness. Even those of us who have learned to also be selfless, still deal with some selfishness. God understands that when we humans are rewarded for what we do, we are more likely to continue to repeat the behavior.

Let’s also look at Matthew 19:19 (NASB) “HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER; and YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” Did you notice the condition? “As yourself,” it said. Not just “love” your neighbor, but love him or her as you would show that “love” toward yourself, that is the condition in this case. It means you have to evaluate how you “love” yourself. Identify what you do which demonstrates love for yourself, and then do the same for others. That is conditional “love.” There is a principle which will help us better understand this concept, “You can’t give away what you don’t have.” If you do not “love” yourself, then you will have a difficult time trying to “love” someone else. You must first “love” yourself, and see the benefits, so that then you can give it to others.

Human “love” is almost always some emotional soup made up of distorted perspectives, selfish desires, and mixed in with self-serving manipulation and abusive control over the object of one’s affections.

Do you get it now? No? You want more proof? Okay, let’s look at Luke 7:41-42 (NASB), “A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” The obvious answer is the one who owed the most money. Why? Because this “love,” which the Bible recognizes as affected by human feelings, is swayed by the condition by which it is promoted. See, the Bible understands that people’s love is likely conditional.

Confused LoveThis word “love,” in the Greek, has different connotations, for example in Luke 11:42 ((NASB), “But woe to you Pharisees! For you pay tithe of mint and rue and every kind of garden herb, and yet disregard justice and the love of God; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.”), it is the Greek word: ἀγάπη. Transliterated it means: agape. The definition is: love, goodwill, and is used in the New Testament 116 times. On the other hand, the Greek NASB Number: 25 (John 8:42 (NASB) Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.), used as love is: ἀγαπάω. The have the same root, from which the words come from, but this one is transliterated as the word: agapaô. Its definition is: to love, and is used 143 times in the New Testament. The first word “agape,” is used to mean, “Doing good unto others, because you want to do the good.” The second word, agapaô, is used to mean, “An emotional attraction and desire for something.” Between the two, the closest one which could be considered as unconditional is the first, “agape.” But, even then, the person is “loving” others because he or she wants to, this means that their feelings, motivation, and/or desired outcome affects their “love.” These feelings, motivation, and/or desired outcome is the condition upon which this “love” is based.

You see? Love is not unconditional with humans, nor does God expect it of us. But, my goal in this article was not to argue against “unconditional” love. I have a different objective, I want to argue in favor of another word used for love in the Bible, “Phileô.” This word is Greek NASB Number: 5368, φιλέω. It is transliterated as the word: phileô. The definition is: “to love,” and is used only 25 times in the New Testament. The meaning of the word is better understood by replacing the word “love” with “like.” Yes, I mean, “Like!”

Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines the word like as, “to enjoy (something), to get pleasure from (something), to regard (something) in a favorable way, to feel affection for (someone): to enjoy being with (someone).” The great majority of the time, when people use the word “love,” they are actually using this definition. We use it for, “I love hamburgers,” or “I love my dog,” or “I love my wife,” or “I love writing long boring articles.” In either case, we are not really meaning “agape” or “agapaô.” We are really saying, “Phileô.”

 

I was counseling with a couple once where the wife found out her husband was having an affair. When she threatened to divorce him, he agreed to come to counseling. I asked him why his wife should even consider staying with him, he argued that he loved his wife!”

In my 30 years of counseling people, I have heard countless of times how much couples “love” each other. Men who physically and emotionally abuse their wives will argue about how much they “love” them. Wives who committed adultery will, after they get caught, cry about how much they “love” their husbands. Parents who have physically (and sometimes sexually) abused their children, will then turn around and adamantly claim “love” for the children. I will often have couples in my counseling office, who will spend an hour or two accusing each other of horrendous things, calling each other names, putting each other down, blaming each other for countless of wrongdoings, and when I ask them why they even want to be with the other person, they say the “love” them. There is no way they are saying they, “agape” or “agapaô” the other person. What they are saying is they “Phileô” the other person. In other words, they want the other person around, because they have some level of like for them. If you really “love” (“agape” or “agapaô”) someone, you don’t do things on purpose which can damaged them.

Chicho - LoveWhat is the one main factor in why marriages fail? Most people will say that it is because people stopped “loving” each other. I disagree. I believe that the real reason marriages fail is because one or both of the two stopped “liking” each other. Real “love” develops over time, or it is done intentionally, as in, by obeying God. “Love” at first sight is a lie which has deceived many couples into relationships which turned out terrible. The truth is that we can have “like” at first sight, and then get to know each other and start learning to “love” one another with time. True “love” (“agape” or “agapaô”) has a condition, and that is that the one who “loves” does so with the intention of giving the other the fullest benefit. In other words, that the “love” results not be solely selfish in actuality. For example, when a young man says he loves a young woman, is he saying, “I want to do for her all that will be in her best interest, even if that means she won’t end up with me? (“agape” or “agapaô”), or is he saying, “I want her to be with me, because it will make me happy? (“Phileô”). Everyone reading this article, will know that he really means that second kind of “love” (in other words, “like”) right?

I am a counselor, I don’t lie to, or deceive, myself as much as I am able. Just because people use certain words, it does not mean they actually mean what they say. Truthfully, most people say one thing but mean something else. In their own minds they know what they intend to say, but the will choose words which say something different. For example, I went to visit a friend, a while back, when I knocked on his door he yelled out “It’s open!” I glanced at the door and it was not open. I responded to him indicating the truth. He yelled again, “Yes, pastor, it is open!” I glanced back at the door and saw clearly that it was shut and that it was not even slightly ajar, much less actually open. I stood at the door waiting. He walked to the door and opened it, and the said, “See, it was open.” “No,” I said, “You opened it.” “No,” he said, “I meant that it was unlocked.” I smiled and said, “Why didn’t you just say that?” “I did,” he said grinning, “I said it was open.” If you look up the word “open” in the dictionary, you will see that it does not define “open” to mean “unlocked.” He was saying one thing, while he clearly meant something else.”

People who really like you will not willingly
make choices which will harm you.
Scary Love

Do You See How MUCH I Love You!!!!!!!

The word “love” is the same. People use the word, but, more often than not, they really mean “like.” When most people define the word “love,” they mean something like, “I want, I need, she or he is mine, it makes me feel good, I should not be deprived of it,” and so on. Human “love” is almost always some emotional soup made up of distorted perspectives, selfish desires, and mixed in with self-serving manipulation and abusive control over the object of one’s affections. Too many times human’s “love” is displayed by jealousy, abuse, violence, and traumatic behavior. Why? Because, they are not actually speaking of “love” (“agape” or “agapaô”), they are speaking of something which has no resemblance to real “love,” any more than a duck resembles and dog.

On the other hand, one thing I don’t see in my counseling office, is a couple who is there because they are having problems because the “like” (“Phileô”) each other. When people “like” someone they go out of their way to spend time with that person. They miss that person when they are apart. They look forward to those times they spend together. A couple who is dating (and also “like” (“Phileô”) one another), write poems to each other, buy flowers for each other, will sacrifice time with friends to be with each other, will spend lots of time talking about practically nothing, just to be with each other, they care how they dress, smell, and look to each other, and so forth.

Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Treasures are those things which we consider important to us. If your wife or husband is your treasure, your desire is for them. You want them to like you, because you like them. “Phileô” (“love” that is really “like”) is an emotional choice to desire someone or something. People who “Phileô” each other tend to stay together much better than people who just claim to “love” each other.

I was counseling with a couple once where the wife found out her husband was having an affair. When she threatened to divorce him, he agreed to come to counseling. I asked him why his wife should even consider staying with him, he argued that he loved his wife!” I asked him two questions, “If you had not been caught, would you have already quit seeing the other woman by now?” and “Were you loving your wife while you were having sex with the other woman?” He just sat there silently, because he knew the truth, and he didn’t want to make things worse. If that is love, I sure don’t want any part of that. On the other hand, I asked the wife why she wanted to try to save the marriage. “I love him,” she said, “I know that he was wrong, and I know that he deserves for me to divorce him, but I want to give him a chance to prove to me that he really loves me by making the necessary changes.” Now that, dear reader, is love. She was willing to make a sacrifice and take a chance he would just hurt her again, solely because if it worked, it was the best thing for the relationship.

So, what was my point to begin with? Well, it is this. I would rather that people liked me than “loved” me. People who claim to “love” you, too many times, are actually referring to a conditionally motivated, self-serving, self-satisfying, and ego-centric, emotion. On the other hand, when people truly like each other they want to spend time with each other, spend time speaking with each other, treat each other with respect, do enjoyable things with each other, and so on. Someone can “love” you and abuse you, attack you, lie to you, manipulate you, control you, be unfaithful to you, be jealous of you, fool you, and so on. People who really like you will not willingly make choices which will harm you.

There is no such thing as “unconditional love,” even God has a condition for His love (“agape” or “agapaô”), regarding us, He wants to end up with His children in eternity with Him. God does not “love” us just for the heck of it, with no intention, desire, motivation, or personal benefit from that “love.” He wants something for that “love.” He wants you.jesus_wants_you

Conflict Resolution, Before or After?

Conflict is best resolved when two persons are able to communicate their separate concerns and together are able to reach compromises which work in the favor of the relationship. The question is, “Do I want to win, or do I want us to win?”

The difference is demonstrated by the approach that a person takes, when dealing with the issue of conflict. There are two options which will produce very different results:

  1. The Fireman Approach – waiting for a fire and using various techniques of putting out the fire.
  2. The Fire Marshall Approach – identify circumstances which could lead to a fire, and take preemptive action to avoid the fire altogether.

Most people take the first option, waiting for some problem to start working at resolving it. The problem with the Fireman Approach is that you have had a fire. Fires damage things, and sometimes even to the point of total loss. And as with real fires, sometimes the only real solution is that you may have to tear down the complete structure, to be able to build a new one in its place. In human terms, concerning relationships, this means that the couple has a greater chance of ending up in divorce.

Another danger with real fires is that even if the structure itself is not complete destroyed, the loss of personal items, many which will never be replaced, can impose a major emotional trauma on people. Relationships can have the same result; the couple may resolve some traumatic event in their relationship with each other (such as an adulterous affair), and still have linger circumstances which might remain for the duration of their marriage (the loss of full confidence in each other).

Taking the Fireman Approach to a relationship, means that the couple is not willing to commit themselves to the task of learning how to identify possible problems, work out solutions in advance, and then comply with the expectations as agreed. The Fire Marshall Approach requires that type of commitment. A Fire Marshall can inspect a home or building, and identify any situation or circumstance which may possibly lead to a fire, and offer steps which may be taken to avert the possibility of a real fire.

HOW DOES THE FIRE MARSHALL APPROACH WORK?

I call it the Marital Agreement Process.

The idea here is for the couple to identify areas of conflict in the past, and establish agreements that can prevent the same behavior, on the part of both, in the future.

  1. Select an issue, problem or a topic of concern (money issues, relatives, sex, friends, people of the opposite sex, etc.).
  2. Discuss the intended outcome; what you think should happen in that circumstance or situation in the future.
  3. One of you offer a possible solution (I.e. “We could agree to do things this way at those times.”)
  4. If the other disagrees, they should offer a compromise (i.e. “What if we did this instead …?”)
  5. If the first person still is unsure, they could offer another compromise (i.e. “That’s better but I see a problem, what about this…?”)
  6. Once both agree on the intention of the agreement, it needs to be written down on paper.
  7. Once written, someone needs to read it out loud. The purpose is to listen to the words.
  8. Is there a loop-hole somewhere in there?
    1. Are there words that may have different meaning to each of you?
    2. Does the agreement bring up other questions?
    3. Do you both find the agreement acceptable?
    4. Can either of you think of any reasons (good ones) for violating that agreement?
    5. Do both of you give your word that you will comply with this agreement?
  9. If you find any loop-holes, then either change the written agreement until there is no loop-hole, or add an additional agreement that would cover the loop-hole.
  10. If there are any words that could mean different things to each of you, then write down the words and define the meaning that both of you agree upon.
  11. If the written agreement prompt other questions, then either correct the agreement to deal with them, or save them for later to deal with separately.
  12. Do not make any one agreement too long and convoluted. It is better to have several short and to the point statements.
  13. If either of you can think of any (good) reasons for violating any agreement, bring it up now. Later on you will be seen as a liar who should not be trusted.
  14. Once you have reviewed the written agreement, understand it, and agree with it, go on to the next agreement.

Each of you should have their own “copy” of the agreement. Neither of you is responsible for reminding the other of the agreements. Each person is responsible for keeping his or her own word. But, both of you are responsible for imposing consequences on the one who violates an agreement.

The issue is TRUST. The consequence needs to reflect the same. Each time trust is violated the consequence must be bigger and longer lasting than before.

Savior, But Not Lord!

Not long ago, while counseling a client, I came to a conclusion I had not thought about before. The client was struggling with “trying” to follow the process I counseled, but kept failing. The client was struggling with the desire to view pornography and the desire to be a “good” Christian, at the same time. He and I began the counseling months ago with exploring various possibilities of why he got started and why he continues. Each aspect we discovered and dealt with helped him to understand another part of his character, and cause him to become more determined to change. Though he would have success, he would also fail again. We were almost to the point of running out of probable answers, when I received an inspiration from the Lord.

Before I explain, let me make one point clear, there are no “good” or “bad” Christians. There are just Christians who are in the process of change and growth. They are not responsible for changing themselves, that is the Lord’s work (Hebrews 12:2 (AMP), ”… Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection].”) Our job, as it were, is only to obey Him. As we obey, we change. Little obedience, little change. Big obedience, big change.

Now back to my earlier point. I received an inspiration from the Lord regarding what was happening to the client. I could tell he was serious in his efforts to curb the watching of pornography, but I could also tell he could not understand why he still chose to do it.

untitledhi3“When Jesus died on the cross,” I explained to him, “one of the things He accomplished was giving us liberty. That means complete freedom to do as we choose, right or wrong.”

Galatians 5:1 (NASB), “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” We used to be under the power of Sin, and therefore we would not do what is right, because it had a hold on us and moved us to do so. The death of our Lord on the cross set us free from the bondage of Sin, and we do not have to continue doing what is not right. On top of that, as you can see from the Galatians verse, we are told not to “be subject” (which means to not put ourselves under the control) of Sin again. This clearly means that we have a choice to stay free or go back to slavery under Sin. At the same time it also shows that we have been given freedom to choose. This means the freedom to choose to disobey God as well. Freedom is not freedom, until it is freedom (the complete liberty to make our own choices). If God is controlling our choice about something, then we do not have the freedom to choose.

When God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth,” in Genesis 1:26 (NASB), I believe that the “likeness,” referred to there, includes the ability to (as God can) freely choose to obey or not to obey. The only way we truly seem “god-like” (as in “Our image”) is that we can actually choose to disobey the creator and Lord of this universe. When the Christ died on the cross, He did not take away our freedom to disobey, He freed us from the power of Sin, which used this ability against us to get us to choose not to do what is right. But, I contend, that the Messiah maintained that freedom when He freed us from Sin, as pointed out in the Galatians verse above. Notice also the following argument made in Galatians 5:13 (NASB).

“For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Notice the wording here, “do not,” as in, “You have the power to do or not do.” The Lord would not tell us (through Paul) that we could keep our freedom from turning into “an opportunity for the flesh,” if we could not make the decision (have the freedom) to do so. God has given us a gift that is beyond my words to express the greatness and unfathomable measurement of it. In essence, and to a point, it gives us the ability to go beyond the control of God, as no other creation of His can. Though He is God, Creator and Lord, over all of the creation, He has chosen to limit Himself to this certain aspect of the human condition; we have self-will (complete freedom to choose not to do what is right), and the Lord did not take that away on the cross.

In fact, 1 Peter 2:16 (NASB) shows as much. In that verse, “Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God,” we are told to “use” our freedom. Only free people can “use” their freedom, and, if they are not able to choose the manner in which they use this freedom, they are not truly free. When Jesus set us free through His death on the cross, it was for true freedom; the liberty to live and choose as we want. Right or wrong, we are to make that choice.

I explained to my client that this was part of the problem he was struggling with. He was expressing his freedom, even from God Himself. He may have accepted Christ as his Savior, but he had never accepted Him as his Lord. The Apostle Paul understood this clearly. In 1 Corinthians 10:23 (AMP), “All things are legitimate [permissible—and we are free to do anything we please], but not all things are helpful (expedient, profitable, and wholesome). All things are legitimate, but not all things are constructive [to character] and edifying [to spiritual life]. Notice the words carefully, “We are free to do anything we please.” Yes, that’s right, anything, but not all things are good for us.

The problem my client was having, was that he still had “rights.” He still saw himself as this free Christian who could do as he pleased. And, isn’t that what the Christ wanted for him anyway, freedom? Of course He did, but not to do what is not the right thing. Remember, as it says in James 4:17 (NASB), “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” The word “sin” here means to fail to do the right thing. See the words? “Knows,” and “does not do.” These are clear indicators that the person is in full control of their decision. They have freedom; the liberty to do what is not right.

So what’s the answer? The simple answer is accept Him as your Lord. Reread 1 Peter 2:16 again, and you will run into the phrase “bondslave.” What is a “bond-slave?” Well in Peter’s time, when people owed more money than they were able to pay off, they would either be taken into slavery, or volunteer to become slaves, until the debt was paid off. Some people owed so much that they would often be someone’s servant for many years. Every once in a while, some of the slaves would serve enough time to be set free, and the debtor (master) would inform them and tell them they could leave. In some cases, the freed people would consider their circumstances. While they were slaves, the owner provided all their food, their clothing, a place to live, in some cases even took care of the wives and children, paid all the bills, and so on. If they left, freely, they would have to get jobs, find a place to live, pay rent or mortgage, buy their own food and clothing, basically meet all their own needs. In many cases, they chose instead to remain slaves to the master. They rationalized that being his slave was better than being free.

This is what the Apostles Paul, Peter, and the rest came to understand. That being free was not what is was cut out to be. Freedom meant that you would probably choose not to do what is right. They may not have done this specifically, but I believe they weighed the differences in their hearts, if not in their minds. I can use this freedom which the Christ has given me, and I can make all my own choices, decisions, live as I believe is the right way to live, and obey the instructions I believe are right. I may “sin” once in a while, but I have already been forgiven of all my sins anyway. Or…

I can give up my freedom. I can acknowledge Christ Jesus as my Lord, and willingly become His “slave.” In which case, He will decide what I want, and when I will want it, what I am to choose, how I am to feel, what I am to believe, and who I am to be. I will become His servant in ministering to other people. I will become His eyes, His mouth, His hands, His feet, and His heart, when it comes to fulfilling His plans. I believe that the Apostles chose a life of “slavery” (bond-slaves) rather than to live a life of freedom, because this was what God wanted from them.

I told my client, God wants you to accept Him as your Lord. He wants you to willingly choose to become His “slave.” He wants you to give Him control over your life so that He can keep on with the work of changing you. My client asked, “Will that mean I won’t sin anymore?” “No,” I said, “Humans “sin,” as you say, just because we are human. Humans will always struggle with failure and error. This is “sin” too, just not the kind you are thinking about.” James 4:17 says that “sin” is when someone knows the “right thing to do and does not do it.” This means that even when we are trying to do the right thing, and get it wrong, or do not do it perfectly, we have sinned (we failed or erred). On the other hand, there is the other kind of “sin.” This is where we willingly choose to do the wrong things. To get to this point, the person must first not do the “right thing.” The “right thing” in this case is to obey God. If we choose to disobey God, we then will be able to choose to do all the wrong we want. If we choose to obey God (be His slaves and let Him do the choosing) then we take away our ability to do what is wrong. The two concepts cannot continue at the same time, in the same person. If we choose one, then, and therefore, we choose against the other. We will either live as though we have rights, or live as though we are servants of God.

“So,” he said to me, “If I make God my Lord, and place myself under His control, then I won’t do wrong against Him?” “Yes,” I said to him, “If you give up your freedom to Him, allow Him to make your decisions for you, and if you obey His instructions, you will never do wrong against God.”

All Christians have accepted Christ Jesus as their Savior, but too many have yet to accept Him as their Lord. How about you? Have you?

Do you REALLY take time to pray?

The question of prayer has long been an obstacle over which I have had to prevail. No, not that I have had problems with whether we should pray or not, that has been made clear in the Bible. We are instructed to pray always (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and for everything (1 Timothy 6:17). The problem I struggled with for many years is that of when, how, for how long, and for what to pray. You may not have struggled with this, and think I am being silly. Because of my character, I tend to do better when I have rules to follow, than when I am supposed to freelance it. For example, if the Bible were to tell me that I was supposed to pray, and give no instructions on what is to be expected of me, I would become confused and frustrated. This would only result in my praying less often, and for smaller amounts of time. It definitely would not be one of my favorite things to do.

Early on in my walk with God, I learned several truths about the Lord that has formed my understanding of my God since. For God to be a true God (at least in my opinion), four things, at minimum, must be true:

  1. God must be omnipotent (all powerful – Matthew 19:26, Ephesians 3:20).
  2. God must be omniscient (all knowing – John 3:10).
  3. God must be omnipresent (able to be anywhere and everywhere, at the same time).
  4. God must be perfect (incapable of error or failure – Matthew 5:48).

If even just one of the above were not true of our Lord, then he would not be God. In this case, though, as the above Scriptural references will sustain, He is definitely the One True God. But, it was the second point above which threw the proverbial wrench into the works for me. If God knows everything, then why must I tell Him again what He already knows? Of course, that also created a conundrum for me. Watch this, since God knows everything, this means He knows what I am going to say before I say it, right? (Matthew 6:32 and Luke 12:30) So if I don’t pray, because I believe He already knows what I am going to say, then He also knows I didn’t say it, because I didn’t pray. But, if I pray so that I actually say it, then I know He already knew what I was going to say which means I did not have to say it to begin with, right? It is confusing at times.

Secondly, His omniscience means He already knows everything going on in my life. Since this is true, then why must I have to tell Him about it? The Bible teaches that God loves me (John 3:16), and that He wants me to live in joy (John 16:24). It even emphasizes that nothing is impossible for God (Mark 10:27), so then why doesn’t God just meet those specific needs, without us having to pray for them specifically? Is there something inherent in praying, or does He like hearing us ask Him for things, or what? Since God already knows everything, and He knows the desires of our heart (Psalms 37:4), why doesn’t He just meet those needs to begin with? This way we could cut out all that begging and crying on our part (this was said “tongue-in-cheek”).

As a believer, I know that God meets all my “needs.” This means that whatever God decides are my “needs,” He will meet those “needs”. This does not mean that He will necessarily meet my perceived (from my perspective) needs. Let’s say I ask God for money for some expense or desire (telling myself that it is a “need”), and hoping He will agree with me, and give me the money. God will, for example, instead, and without question, meet the need of my learning patience by putting me through a series of situations and circumstances which will result in my learning the characteristic. In God’s eyes, I need to learn patience (Hebrews 10:35-36), so that is a need He will supply whether I ask for it or not. I may or may not get the money I asked for, that will depend on whether He decides if indeed it is a need.

On the other hand, Scripture says we “do not have” because we “do not ask” (James 4:2). But, then when we do ask for what we think we want, we are told that we do not receive because we ask with wrong motives (James 4:3). Yet, the Scriptures do not go into detail as to what is specifically considered “right” or “wrong” motives. Remember, all humans are selfish. We were born that way. It is our nature. That is the way God created us. Why do you think Adam chose to disobey God? Our sinful (selfish) nature. So, with that in mind, everything and anything we want will be tarnished by our selfish nature. Even when we convince ourselves that we are being selfless, there will still be some inner, unspoken, selfish motivation. The truth is that nobody does anything for nothing, we always have some personally satisfying motive for what we do, even if it is just that we feel good about what we have, or are doing. That is our nature.

So, even if we play like God does not already know what we are going to pray about, there are certainly some “rules” we have to follow when praying!? And, I thought I would just be able to open my mouth and start spewing out all of my requests and demands (just kidding). Nevertheless, there should be no argument that there are “rules” which must be followed.  To begin with there are two from the James verses above:

  1. Ask or you may not get anything.
  2. Ask with the “right” motive.”

Then, we run across Matthew 21:22 and Mark 11:24, they tell us that we have to “believe” that we are going to get what we pray. And, what does the word “believe” mean in that verse? Does it mean that we are to know we are going to get that for which we prayed? How can someone know that something is going to happen when it is dependent on someone else (like God) doing it according to their own opinion and perspective? Have you ever prayed for something that you never got? I have. Maybe I was asking in the “wrong” way (there, that’s one way to make excuses for prayers that fail).

On the other hand, some people do pray in “wrong” way. Matthew 6:5 basically states that some people like praying in public (that probably means where people can hear and see you praying, like in church [??] for instance). Instead, the next verse (v.6) instructs us to pray privately (uh, does that mean not to pray at church either?). Likely not. Still, we are told to pray privately. In fact, we are told to go into our “Prayer closet” and pray there (I guess that could mean that someone has a private room in which they normally pray). It goes on to say, “And your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” Does that mean our prayer are to be secrets, or that we should pray secretly?

If that was so, then why would our Lord, Jesus, publically teach the disciples how to pray? In the books of Matthew, verses 9-13, and Luke 11:2-4) He gave them a pattern by which they could pray. Still, I will agree that He did not tell them to pray publically at that time either. I was about to write that Jesus often prayed around His disciples, but then remembered that He would walk away from them to be alone and pray (for example, Luke 22:41). On the other hand, James 5:14 tells the sick to call on the elders of the church to come and anoint them and pray over them. This obviously cannot be done in “secret.” The “secret prayer will not have the intended result, that of comforting the sick person, and them hearing that their sins have been forgiven.

Besides all of the above, there seem to be a couple more “rules.” It seems that the disciples, at least at times, had trouble staying awake during prayer time. In the book of Luke (18:1), our Lord had to get onto the disciples for falling asleep during prayer time. Have you ever fallen asleep during prayer time? I have. Lots of times over my 33 years as a Christian. There were those times when I was praying along just fine, and ran into a block. What I mean by this is sort of like a “writer’s block.” That means that someone is writing a book, or novel, or something like that, and they come to a point where they suddenly cannot think of the next word they need to write. They might be having a problem with where to head the story, what problems to create for the protagonist, or whatever. The point is that they hit a mental wall, a block. I have had many of these in my prayers. I suddenly just stop and try to come up with something else I am supposed to say, but cannot think of anything. Some of those times, I fell asleep thinking of what I was supposed to be saying.

Of course, another question is, “Are we supposed to do all the talking during prayer? You know, non-stop? I mean, it’s not like we get an audible response from God right? Or, at least, I never have. I think if I did, I would faint from fright, and my prayers would end there anyway. Of course though, regardless of what obstacles we do encounter during prayer, we are urged not to give up praying (Luke 18:1). Just because we often cannot think of the next word, this does not mean to pray less. Instead, we are also urged to lean on the Holy Spirit for His support. Romans 8:26 and 27 speak of the way the Holy Spirit will help us when we are having trouble praying. Since God’s Spirit lives in us, then His Spirit in us (who knows all of our thoughts and desires) speaks to the Father directly and prays on our behalf. At those times, we may start speaking in a language that we do not understand, but since the Father and His Holy Spirit do understand each other, they know what is being said. I have found that when I run into these prayer blocks, it is easier for me to begin speaking in tongues, and turn the prayer over to the Holy Spirit and let Him speak for me. He has a better grasp on this prayer thing than I ever will.

One more important point, and that is that we are supposed to be praying directly to the Father. Jesus plainly says this in John 16 verses 23-24. I think He is trying to get us to concentrate on our relationship with the Father as being the primary source of meeting our needs. As a father myself, I love it when my sons come to me for help, as well as them just spending some time with me. Often, just helping them meets a need in me. If the Father is in any way like that, I would say He longs to bless His children, for two wonderful reasons:

  1. Because He loves us.
  2. Because He wants us to hurry back and spend time with Him (and He doesn’t mind “bribing” us with blessings).

Truly there are some “rules” which are to be applied to our prayer life. The following are some I have identified in this article:

  1. Ask, or you may not get anything.
  2. Ask with the “right” motive.”
  3. Don’t pray just to impress
  4. Pray in secret, unless you are praying for a person in need.
  5. Follow the prayer pattern which Jesus taught.
  6. Don’t ever give up praying.
  7. Don’t fall asleep while praying.
  8. Allow the Holy Spirit to intercede for you, when necessary, by praying in tongues.
  9. Direct all your prayers to the Father, He wants to hear from you directly.

Please don’t decide that I am being religious about these “rules.” I believe that God is more interested in you just making the time to spend with Him, than He would care about all the “rules” together. On the other hand, our Lord is a God of order. He created overall plans for creation, set them in order, and enforces the rules which keep His plans furthering towards the intended goals. I’ll tell you what, why don’t you spend lots of time with Him asking Him about all of this J.

So, I go back to my initial question, “Do you REALLY take time to pray?” After writing this article, I will confess something to you. I pray, not only because we are supposed to, and but also because I love it when God blesses me. I have a great big, selfish, desire, for more, and more, of whatever God wants to bless me with. Let it rain down on me, Lord!

8 Marital Principles That Can Work, Starting Today

Are you struggling with that hard-headed husband who seems to never grow up? Does your wife sometimes make you wish you weren’t married? Does he constantly make promises and then not keep his word? Has she been going on spending binges, when you have bills that have not been paid? Are you unhappy with the way some things are in your marriage? Today you will get answers that CAN force change in your married life, if you’re brave enough to use them.

PRINCIPLE ONE:

IT TAKES TWO TO MAKE A MARRIAGE WORK, AND IT TAKES TWO TO DESTROY IT.

While it is true that one person can do something that is obvious to hurt their marriage, it is also true that the other person does NOT do something that they could have to keep the bad behavior from continuing.

DOING SOMETHING does NOT mean: crying, nagging, screaming, cussing, locking yourself in your room, praying and praying, wishing things were different, complaining to friends and relatives, lying about what happened,  making excuses for him, hoping things will get better,

Those things may be expressions of your feelings, but they are NOT ACTIONS.

When a wrong is committed, ACTION means you allow the violator to suffer a consequence; see the second principle for more explanation.

THE WRONGDOING OF ONE SPOUSE THE LACK OF ACTION BY THE OTHER
If there has been violence in the marriage for some time That means that the one being violated has NOT called the police, separated and possibly considered divorce
Most of the time when she does call the police She will also be the one who bails him out of jail the next day, and then won’t press charges
If one commits adultery The other will tend to forgive without the violator suffering any real consequence
If one deceives the other (lying, keeping harmful secrets from, doing something that can harm without telling, etc.) The other usually gets mad for a little while and then acts as though nothing happened.
When other people find out that one spouse has been abusive The other will defend the violator, lie to the people, and hide the truth of the abuse.
One of the spouses does not do their part in the care of the home and marriage The other tends to just get angry and nag.
PRINCIPLE TWO:

WHERE THERE ARE NO CONSEQUENCES, THERE IS PERMISSION

Every time that your spouse does something that is not acceptable, they must suffer a consequence. This will teach them not to repeat the unacceptable behavior.

What is NOT a consequence? What IS a consequence?
Nagging is NOT a consequence. The possibility of really losing something they do not want to lose.
Telling them off is NOT a consequence. If you stop doing something they want you to do (i.e. sex, massaging, paying attention to them).
Crying is NOT a consequence. If you make them do for themselves things you have been doing for them.
Complaining is NOT a consequence. If you separate for a day or two.
Showing them the error of their ways is NOT a consequence. If you separate for a long period of time.
Reminding them is NOT a consequence. A consequence is when someone is about to lose something they do not want to lose if they keep up their unacceptable behavior.
Pouting is NOT a consequence.
Screaming is NOT a consequence. A real consequence has REAL results.
Yelling at them is NOT a consequence. IN OTHER WORDS, A CONSEQUENCE HURTS.
Threatening is NOT a consequence.
PRINCIPLE THREE

PERSONAL BOUNDARIES IN YOUR LIFE WILL PROTECT YOU, AND HELP YOU HAVE HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS.

A personal boundary is like a rule you give yourself that you will follow if a particular thing happens. Below are examples of personal boundaries:

Personal Boundary The Action I Will Take
If someone cusses in my presence I will leave the area or end the conversation
If my spouse commits adultery I will separate from them until they get counseling and make character changes in themselves
If my spouse physically assaults me (hits) I will call the police and press charges, and will separate from my spouse until they get counseling and make character changes in themselves
If my spouse make fun of my food I will stop cooking until they promise not to do that again
If my spouse promises something and does not keep his or her word I will choose not to trust them again until they prove they will stop lying, and I will stop being intimate with them until then
If someone take advantage of me I will cut off the relationship until they prove (not just say) that they will not repeat their actions
If someone lies to me I will not believe anything that say again, until I see a change in them
If my spouse repeatedly (more than once) hurts my feelings on purpose I may choose to leave home for a day or two, or until he or she apologizes and promises not to do it again.
If I find that my spouse has a friend of the opposite sex that I am not aware of I will consider it the same as adultery and follow the same steps
If I learn that my spouse has committed crimes I will separate from them until they resolve the legal matters.
If my spouse does not want to go to church I will go without them, in obedience to my Lord
IF THIS HAPPENS … I WILL DO THIS …

BOUNDARIES THAT HAVE NO CONSEQUENCES ARE JUST A LOT OF HOT AIR.

PRINCIPLE FOUR

WHERE THERE IS NO VISION (rules, laws etc.), THE PEOPLE ARE UNRESTRAINED

Have clear and written rules for your marriage, home, and children.

Proverbs 29:18 (NASB) “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, But happy is he who keeps the law.”

Everyone and everything that wants to succeed has rules they live by.

WHO ARE THEY? RULES THEY LIVE BY?
Businesses Policies and procedures; employee handbooks; job descriptions
United States of America Constitution of the United States, and Articles of Independence
Society State laws; county regulations; city ordinances
Gangs Gang rules that members have to follow
God His Word; the Bible
Married couples Little to none
Homes rules Little to none
  • Most of society’s problems come from persons who were brought up in homes without clear and fair rules.
  • Most marriages in the United States end up in divorce within two years, due to the lack of clear and understood goals and objectives. Example: If you don’t know where you are going, you won’t know how to get there.
  • True Marriage and Home rules are written down on paper.

Only a fool argues that you don’t have to write down rules.

  • Businesses do, The USA does, Society does, many gangs do, and especially God did.
  • Everyone and everything that wants to succeed writes down their rules and follows them.
PRINCIPLE FIVE

FOR THE HUSBANDS:

SUBMISSION WORKS BOTH WAYS, BUT THE HUSBAND IS THE EXAMPLE

Ephesians 5:21 (NASB) “and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

Your wife has the RIGHT to do Anything You Do.

  • If you check out other women, they should be able to check out other men.
  • If you daydream about other women, they should be able to daydream about other men.
  • If you flirt with other women, they should be able to flirt with other men.
  • And so on. Right?

Ephesians 5:23 (NASB) “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.”

Ephesians 5:25-28 (NASB) “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies.”

What does it mean to be the Head of the wife?

  1. You are to serve as her example in everything; 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NASB) “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.”

You should be able to say to your wife:

“You have the right to behave like I do, mess up like I do, lie to me if I lie to you, don’t do things for me if I won’t do things for you, don’t give me attention if I don’t give you attention, and don’t show me love if I don’t show you love. Imitate me in the same way that I imitate Christ. If I am just fooling like I’m imitating Christ, then you also have the right to fool me.”

The way in which a husband is subject to his wife is that he makes himself accountable to her to judge his actions, and then for her to make decisions based on those actions.

PRINCIPLE SIX

FOR THE WIVES

TRUE SUBMISSION IS A SPIRITUAL PROTECTION FROM GOD TO YOU

What is submission?

  • Nowhere in the Bible does it teach that a wife is supposed to obey her husband.
  • True submission is when a person already knows what is expected of him or her and goes about doing it without having to be instructed to do so.
  • Waiting until someone tells you to do something is called obedience.
  • While submission is part of obedience, obedience is not part of submission.

Submission is always done to an authority.

  • Submit to your pastor
  • Submit to your leaders.
  • Submit to the elected officials and laws of the United States.
  • Submit to Christ.

If the person violates his authority, he has no authority to which to submit.

  • If a police officer commits a crime, he or she loses their authority as a Peace Officer. We do not have to submit to them.
  • If the husband is fulfilling his authority in Christ by living according to His word, then the wife must submit to her own husband in obedience to God.
  • If the husband violates his authority, then the wife is to obey God and wait until her husband starts to fulfill his authority again.

The mistreatment of the wife.

Malachi 2:13-16 (NASB) “This is another thing you do: you cover the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping and with groaning, because He no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ Because the LORD has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit. And what did that one do while he was seeking a godly offspring? Take heed then to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth. For I hate divorce,” says the LORD, the God of Israel, “and him who covers his garment with wrong,” says the LORD of hosts. “So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.”

God hates the mistreatment of the wife.

A woman is never expected to submit to a man who is violating and mistreating her. But she is instructed to submit (willingly follow and support) her husband who is loving her and caring for her (Ephesians 5:25-28 [NASB]).

PRINCIPLE SEVEN

CHANGE IS NOT CHANGE UNTIL THERE HAS BEEN CHANGE

Women say and men do.

Women tend to express their feelings by verbalizing their emotions concerning things that bother them.

Men tend to express the feelings by acting out and behaving in one manner or another.

  • If a woman tells you that she will change and that she will behave differently, she most likely means it, but she will convince herself that just saying it is the same as doing it.
  • If a man tells you that he will change and that he will behave differently, he most likely knows it is not really the truth, but he wants you to believe it is just because he said so.

The truth is that WORDS CAN BE LIES, BUT THE ACTIONS ARE ALWAYS THE TRUTH.

The truth is in the actions

  • Stop listening to what they say, or what they tell you is true.
  • Pay attention to what they do, and the results of their actions.
  • If your spouse does something new just one time, or a few times, there has still been no change.
  • If your spouse has been doing the new thing for 3 to 6 months consistently, MAYBE then it might mean he or she really is changing. Notice I said changing, not changed.
PRINCIPLE EIGHT

WORDS CAN BE LIES, BUT THEIR ACTIONS ARE ALWAYS TRUE.

Actually, it is the result of their actions that are true.

  • If they promise something and don’t keep their word, they are lying.
  • They say they believe something, but they do the opposite, they are lying.
  • If they say they’ll TRY to keep their word, they are lying.
  • If they actually keep their word, they’re telling the truth.
  • If they actually do what they say they were going to do, they are telling the truth.
  • If they say they believe something and actually live according to that, they are telling the truth.

Don’t get distracted by your spouse’s sincerity. Don’t listen to their words. Watch their actions, that’s where the truth will be found and obvious.

What is MY Calling?

This is an excerpt from Rev. Juan M. Perez’s book, “What Does God Want From Me?” You may find the full book, for FREE at: SmashWords.

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As a young child, I lived a life of uncertainty. My father and mother split up when I was three years old. They had a rocky relationship which seemed to always turn sour over any little thing. My mother “suffered a nervous breakdown” when I was five or six, and me and my two younger brothers were left with a foster family who terrorized and traumatized us. I grew to hate my mother, almost, if not more than my father. I never felt safe, but I was always angry. I started out a sissy, picked on by everybody and their grandmother at school. I then turned into a bully who had little to no mercy on the weaker kids. I got into a gang as soon as I was old enough, and got into many legal predicaments in my youth. It seemed to me as though I served more time in Juvenile Centers, than free time on the outside, from age 13 to 17.

I quickly learned one thing about myself, I had the ability to use my words in ways that others around me did not. I learned I could make people believe things just because, and how, I said them. I humorous time I remember, I had been arrested in Fort Worth, Texas, for some tickets I owed. They took me to jail that Saturday night. When I arrived I noticed I was the only Chicano, and there were three scraggily looking white guys at one end of the jail tank. I immediately became afraid, because I thought that they may decide to bother me.

I walked to the opposite end of the tank and sat there staring at the wall in front of me as though I was trying to figure out what it was. The guys at the other end were laughing and would constantly turn to look toward me. I figured they were trying to decide what to do about me. As I stared at the wall, I noticed one of them got up and walked over to me. He was taller than me, and seemed bigger. I realized that in a fight he might beat me, and then there was the question of whose side his friends would fight on. Right?

When the guy got near me, he asked, “Why are you in?” I thought about it for a moment and slowly turned to face him. “Murder,” I said, without showing emotion. The guy hesitated a moment and then asked, “Who did you kill?” I slowly turned back to stare at the wall and said, “This guy who was bothering me.” The white guy turned around and went back to his place with his friend and they left me alone.

Throughout my younger life I was constantly confronted with the awareness that I could use my words to manipulate people. I started using this technique on people on purpose to see if really would work, and I found that the more I did it the better I got at it. The weirdest thing of all of this is that even though I was obviously a manipulator, many of those around me would still, on occasion, come to me for advise on how to do this or that.

By the time the Lord saved me, I had become an expert at verbal manipulation and coercion. It seemed to me that I was constantly having to use this skill to get this advantage or that opportunity from others. Though I was conscious of this ability, I never considered using it for anything but my selfish reasons. I found that I was overly conscious of how I used my words. I had just gone through a near divorce due to a terrible marriage where I used my words (and physical violence) to hurt my wife. I helped her in destroying her own self-worth, her self-esteem was at the lowest in her young life, and I recognized my part in damaging her in the way I did.

As a new Christian, I still noticed that people would listen to me. I realized that as a Christian, some people might not fear me as much. When I was approached by others concerning problems in their lives, I noticed I was able to help them see other options that were available to them, when they had already come to the conclusion that there was no solution. I came to accept that the reason I could use my words so effectively was because I could deal with the abstract better than some people around me.

Abstract is the ability to express something apart from the object itself. In other words, and for example, I could imagine a globe of the earth in the air in front of me, and I could “see” the clouds moving over the globe. If you were to point to a spot on the “opposite” side of the globe, I could tell you what country you were indicating. I started applying this new knowledge of myself to the things of the Lord. Where some people would hear one thing from the Bible, I found I could hear more.

I started asking myself some hard questions regarding God and why He did what He did. As I continued, I started getting more and more answers. Most specifically, I paid attention to the promises and principles taught in the Scriptures. These were also words. Yes, God’s Word, but nevertheless, words.

I mentioned to my pastor some of these insights that I was having. Though he seemed not to completely understand what I was trying to explain, He recognized that it was something that God was working in me. He started out teaching me about counseling. After a short while of him trying to teach and encourage me, I realized he was unable to take me further. I appreciated his help, but I took over the training process.

I started reading every book I could get my hands on, and that interested me, regarding counseling. I began reading the Bible through the perspective of counseling, and found that I was understanding many teachings in ways I had not before. I developed a love for studying the Bible to see how much I could gleam from it to help in my counseling. Even as a pastor of a church for 13 years, I still continued counseling people and still continued studying to enhance my skills and abilities in this area.

Without realizing it, I had found my calling from God. I recognized the calling came in three forms; primarily as a counselor, secondarily as a teacher of the Word, and finally, also as a pastor.

During the first years as a Christian, I got involved with many ministries. I helped feed the homeless, I found I did not like doing that. I went to prisons to minister to the inmates, I found I didn’t like doing that. I helped pass out leaflets and brochures on the streets, I found I didn’t like doing that. I preached at the local city jails, I found I didn’t like doing that. I tried many different things, and each time I found I didn’t like doing that.

But, when it came to teaching the Bible or counseling, I was as happy as a fat flea on a lazy dog. I loved it. I jumped at every chance I got to either counsel or teach the Bible. As a pastor, I had countless opportunities to preach. I enjoyed preaching, but I enjoyed much more the opportunity to move people in the direction God wanted them to go.

I find that I am still able to manipulate and control, but now I am conscious of how I use my words. I am fully aware that God is ever-present and wants me to use these skills and abilities of mine to serve others. Service to others is the primary reason why I now exist. God will keep me on this planet until he decides it’s time for me to rest.

I found my “calling” by trial and error. I tried some ministries and found they were not for me. But, I did not just wait around for God to send me some sign, a sun ray from the sky, or for some other person to give me a “word from God” about what God wanted me to do. You will probably need to do the same. Don’t wait for something to happen, it may not. Instead, you speak to your pastor, ask him or her to help you identify your calling. If they are unable, then ask them to help you find someone who can. Once you start getting ideas of what your calling is, then get out there and start “working.” Remember, you are allowed by God to get it wrong. You may also find that some ministry or other is not to your liking. That’s okay.  But, I promise you, if you get started, and you keep it up, you will learn what you calling is.

Please make time to read the story of Elisha, in the Bible, You will find a man who was called by God, ran into obstacles trying to fulfill his calling, and finally became the person God wanted him to be. You will find the story started in 1st Kings 19:19-21 and it picks up again in 2nd Kings, chapter 2, verses 1-14. Elisha had many reasons to just quit and do nothing but believe in God, instead he decided to follow his calling, and he became a great tool of God for service to others.

Many Are Called, But Few Are Chosen

The statement, “Many are called, but few are chosen,”, found in Matthew 22:14, comes from a parable that Jesus told his disciples. In the parable a king is having a wedding celebration, and the people he invited rejected the invitation, and in many cases, they even harmed or killed those who came out to invite them. After taking action to show his displeasure against those who rejected his invitation, the king decided instead to invite the general public. Both good and bad people showed up, but, as the king made his rounds at the celebration, he noticed a man who was not dressed appropriately, and he challenged him. The king wanted to know why he was not dressed as expected. The man could offer no adequate response, and so was no only kicked out of the celebration, but arrested.Text Box 1

The most likely lesson which the Lord wanted learned was that God the Father was the King in the story, that He and those who preached the gospel in those times were the ones who went out to invite the initial guests. That those guests, the Jews, harmed and killed those who the Father sent to preach the Truth. The general public is to be understood as the Gentiles, all of us who are not Jews. The man who was not dressed appropriately demonstrates that there is a particular protocol which the Lord requires for entry into the celebration (salvation), and of course that is solely through our Lord, Jesus Christ. Pretending that someone is saved will only result in that person coming to a rude awakening; you cannot sneak your way into the kingdom of God, there are consequences.

From the story, we can make a few conclusions, and learn some Biblical principles.

  1. God wants to end up with a people who are willing to do whatever will be expected of them.
  2. He wants to have as many as possible, but that He will accept even a few, if they will do as He wishes.
  3. There is a condition to being one of the few, and that is to be “dressed” appropriately.
  4. Being dressed appropriately means complying with the established protocol.
  5. The established protocol is recognizing, accepting, and living as though, Jesus Christ is the “way” into an eternal relationship with the Father.
  6. This then stipulates that someone’s personal beliefs, doctrine, theology, and/or opinions (their personal choice of “dressing”), have no bearing on their status as one of those “chosen” to celebrate that relationship with the Father.
  7. That those who pretend (and/or deceive themselves into believing) they have a relationship with the Father will be rejected.IMG_0033

With this in mind, the question which all counselors should have is, “What does this have to do with counseling?” I’m glad you asked. :-)

Every time I have held a counseling training course, I have found people attend for different reasons. Some take the classes:

  • Because they want to begin a ministry as counselors to the general public and therefore obey the calling on their life by God, or,
  • Because they want to learn about counseling, so they may use the various techniques and methods to deal with issues in their own, or loved ones’, lives, or,
  • Because the like the idea of taking a course which involves physiology, and it may give them the upper hand when dealing with others, or,
  • Because they are those type of people who are always learning and never growing. These people attend each and every class offered, regardless of the theme, content, or intent. Their own motive is solely to “learn” more.

Of the three groups above, I want to stress the first. Why? Well the third and fourth groups will be of no use, in the long run, as far as actual counseling ministry is concerned. These two groups might even give you the impression that they want to learn about counseling because they feel a “leading of the Lord” to take the class, but all the time it is their own personal motives which are driving them. The third group will be somewhat useful, if they can get past their selfish motives. For example, once they use their new learned knowledge to help resolve some issues within their immediate family, or in themselves, they then begin help others as well. I have seen this in the past.

So then, does every person who takes the counseling training course actually want to counsel? No. What is the usual percentage, of people who take the classes, who actually end up counseling? The number is small. For example, I trained a group of 25 persons in a church in North Dallas. After the training was over, only 2 persons, to my knowledge, have continued counseling. In another case, I trained 18 persons in a church in Arlington, Texas. After the class, again to my knowledge, only one of the trainees has continued to counsel. There are reasons for this, and I will explain. I have held training for counselors throughout the Metroplex, and the results have always been similar.

Why has this been the trend? I knew you would ask that question? Well, there are factors. First of all many of the persons who took the classes fell into the third and fourth groups I defined above. These persons were not going to continue and counsel, no matter what. Counseling takes time, it demands for you to make it a priority in your life, and it costs. By “costs,” I mean that you have to make some sacrifices along the way. If you have to ask what the costs will be, then you should not even consider becoming a counselor. Anyway, this trend of ending up with only a few counselors, has become the norm due to the following factors:

  • Other than the case where people were just not going to counsel anyway, motivation plays a large role. In some cases, after the training was over, the pastor placed an individual over the counseling ministry to oversee it. This, in and of itself, is a good thing. The problem comes when someone who is already busy and plays a leadership role in the church is assigned additional workload on top of what they already have to contend with. They will start with holding a meeting soon after the counseling training is over, but with time the meetings become less frequent, to the point that the leader no longer makes an effort. The newly certified members, who are not involved in an active counseling ministry will keep waiting for the leader to set a meeting, and will eventually come to accept that it just won’t happen. With time these counselors get drawn into other activities and the idea of counseling becomes a dim memory. The fault here is primarily of the leader, the pastor, and the church. They had a useful resource, and they not only did not use it, but they disregarded it.
  • One special situation comes to mind, for my next point. The training class was comprised of 14 student counselors. The pastor was excited about the prospect of having a functioning counseling ministry in his church. He had mentioned often, to me, that he always dreamed of a team like this ministering to the public. He knew, he said, that as people were helped by the counselors, and then accepted the Lord as their Savior, that they would inevitably choose to go to church where their counselor went. I completely agreed with him. We held the training classes and all 14 successfully completed the course. As the classes were wrapping up, the pastor appointed a church deacon (who also completed the course) as the overseer of the ministry. After the raining had completed, I attended the first ministry meeting of the church team. Everyone was excited, I could see the hope in their eyes. The leader led the group in coming up with several points which need to be addressed, and these were presented to the pastor.
    1. First, they asked that the pastor assign an office or private location for the counselors to use to hold the sessions.
    2. Then, they asked that the church either open a new phone line, or ask the already burdened church secretary to receive the calls for counseling and give them over to the Lead Counselor.
    3. They also asked the church to pay for a mass mailing in the zip code area where the church resides, to inform the public of the availability of the counseling service.
    4. Finally, they asked the church to print either some business cards or brochures for the counselors to give out to prospective clients.

What was the response? The pastor informed them that he had to consider the requests, because he had to be a “good steward” of the money, and that he could not just spend it on every whim (yep, he said that word) of church members. As for a private location or office for counseling, the pastor said he would be looking for somewhere that would work. In regards to the mail out, he said that it was not in the budget for that year. He told the counselors that they could print their own business cards, but that they could not put their own names on the cards. He wanted only the church’s name and phone number on the business cards. As for brochures, not yet. Finally, he decided that the already burdened church secretary would receive calls for counseling and forward the information to the Lead Counselor. Somewhat discouraged, the counseling team accepted the limited working conditions, and waited for calls. They decide to wait on the business cards.

Plano Class Pictures (11)One day, the Lead Counselor was approached by a member and questioned on the activity of the counseling ministry. She complained that she had referred two persons to the counseling ministry, and that no one ever returned their calls. The Lead counselor went to speak with the church secretary, who immediately began arguing with the counselor that she was already overworked, and did not have the time to keep up with someone else’s duties. When informed, the pastor defended the secretary and told the counselor that they had to find other means of having folks contact them. The leader became discouraged and started concentrating more on his other duties. The counseling meetings tapered off, until they ceased altogether. To my knowledge, no one is counseling at that church today.

Many are called, but few are chosen. This does not only apply to the people who take counseling training, but to the leaders which are placed over them. Nothing will kill a ministry as quickly as a bad leader. There are many “leaders” in churches all over the world, but not all of them are chosen. In many cases people end up in leadership positions, solely because no one else wants the job, so the church accepts whomever volunteers. And, many of the “volunteers” actually want “power” or rather authority. Once they are these positions, these bad leaders become tyrants who lord themselves over others. They are more concerned with their own image and success as compared to those of the people under their authority.

The idea of counseling people is initially exciting and attractive, but with time, all those involved learn that with the exciting part comes great responsibility. Counseling people will cost you money. You may have to pay for your own materials used in ministry, your own business cards, your own printing, and so forth, even if you are part of a church ministry. Many times the churches are small and they just don’t have the finances financially to support a ministry that they truly want. Counseling people will cost you time. In many cases, your counseling sessions, with a person or couple, will last for months. This means you may have to adjust vacation times, Holiday events or other similar occasions to deal with the demands of the ministry. If you are not willing to make some sacrifices, you do not want to become a counselor. Counseling people will cost you pride. If you want people to follow the counsel you give them, then follow it yourself. You family is the highest priority in your life. Not your relatives, your immediate family. If you are married, this means you, your spouse, and your children. If you are not married, this means yourself. Often people will tell others they should or should not do this or that, and then turn and do the opposite. You must place your pride aside and become an example for others as to what a healthy Christian life looks like. Counseling people will cost your independence. God wants to be in charge. He is not willing to share that authority with you. He wants things done His way, only His way, and He will never agree with making changes to His plans. He will send you the people He wants to heal and help, and to do so He needs you doing and saying what He wants, not what your great intelligence, education and training have taught you. He would rather use an untrained counselor who will allow Him to use the counselor as the tool for His work in the life of a client, rather than to depend on a well-trained, educated, and intelligent man or woman who is going to do it the way they believe is right. Proverbs 16:25 (NASB) says, “There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.”

I will add one more thing here. All those people who took the training classes to become counselors, should not have allowed the actions of the bad leaders to stifle their initial excitement regarding counseling. They may be able to blame the bad leaders to an extent, but after that the counselor him or herself is responsible for obeying God. If it were me, and my church did not support the counseling ministry, and God did indeed call me to counsel, I would leave that church and find somewhere where I could practice the calling, and use spiritual gifts which God had given me to do this wonderful ministry.

What is your motivation? Why did you become a counselor? Are you paying the price? You have the ability to affect one thing most important, you can choose to obey God and become one of the chosen. Remember, John 14:15 makes it abundantly clear. Jesus is speaking in that verse, and He says, “If you love me (in other words, if you tell yourself and/or others that you really love me), you will keep my commandments (in other words, you will prove that you love me by doing what I instruct you to do, and do it only my way).

Rev. Juan M. Pérez

Women Need to Learn to Love and Respect Themselves

By Linda Martinez

Linda Martinez - photoWomen with no self-respect and no self-love, see themselves as unworthy of anything good in their lives. They accept mistreatment, abuse, and rejection as a normality. They are accustomed to being treated as worthless, therefore many believe they don’t deserve more. They become lazy and don’t strive for greater things. Their relationships become detrimental. They wind up hurting others and themselves. They do not love themselves and do not know how.

SYMPTOMS IN THESE WOMEN

These women often lack self-respect which turns into depression. They tend toward self-destructive behaviors such as lack of personal hygiene, lack of boundaries, and they allow others to be rude and disrespectful to them. They don’t acknowledge their good qualities, they see mostly the bad ones and have difficulty correcting them. They personally do not care for, nor love, themselves. Most have not received love and acceptance, and in turn feel they don’t deserve to be treated that way. By hating and loathing themselves, they lack the confidence to succeed in a better outcome for their lives. They stifle any progress they hope to make. They compare themselves to others, and are not happy with who they are.

TYPES OF CHOICES THEY MAKE

In a relationship they will believe they are not good enough. They will test or set-up a relationship that may have potential, or settle for relationships that make them feel like they are used to being treated; badly, abused, and/or rejected. They will fantasize that a “knight-in-shining-armor” will come to rescue them and make everything better for them. So they will set the bar high and expect the partner to fulfill their needs, and when the partner fails they will disqualify their efforts and sabotage the relationship. They will be guarded and not trust anyone. They will hesitate and be afraid of loving someone, so they will abandon the relationship before they are abandoned by the partner.

THE IMPACT THESE WOMEN HAVE ON THEIR HUSBANDS, CHILDREN AND OTHER RELATIVES.

These women will be insecure they are used to being abandoned and cheated on. They will gravitate toward a relationship in which they will feel insecure. They will not trust their husbands, and will resent the position the husband has in the household. Even though they may accept the treatment of the husband, however bad it may be, they will resent it and feel they deserve it. Their children will cause her to feel the same way, if they see their father treating her badly. She will want to love and care for her children, but will find herself treating them as she has been treated all her life. She will become distant and shut down sexually towards her husband. Others relatives become accustomed to her being a certain way, so they too will treat her rudely, and with no respect. And, if a family member would like to help her and treat her well, she will not accept it as such, but believe that she does not deserve the positive treatment or reinforcement. She will not be close to her relatives, due to lack of trust and not allowing herself to receive love nor respect from them.

IN THEIR BUSINESS LIFE

They have difficulty accepting themselves. They are not comfortable in their own skin. They feel they don’t measure up with the rest of their co-workers. Self-respect and self-love is foreign to them. They lack confidence, lack maintaining a positive body language and good posture. If they receive a compliment they will not accept it. They won’t maintain a positive attitude about themselves. They are overly negative about themselves, and only imagine the worst scenarios for their lives. They are not happy; they can’t smile. They want what others have, they envy others wishing they had the nice things too, but feel they do not deserve such good things.

Most of us understand what it means to love another person. The feelings of intense desire, admiration and emotional investment in another person are familiar. We go out of our way to nurture our love towards others but loving and respecting ourselves is not so easy. Self-love is a combination of self-acceptance and self-possession, self-awareness, kindness and respect for ourselves. Self-love is positive self-regard in action.

THEY NEED TO LEARN TO LOVE AND RESPECT

Women with no self-love and no self-respect for themselves need to get to know themselves. The more they understand about themselves the more they can see and appreciate how unique they really are. By discovering their principles, personalities and talents which may take a while, but will give them great insights about who they actually are, they can begin to see their good qualities. By listening to their inner voice, they will start to recognize the negative thoughts they have of themselves. These negative thoughts often come from the outside; from people whose opinion they value, and from whom they seek love and acceptance.

To change the low opinion of themselves, they would need to come to realize that they have many good things to offer others as well as themselves. Making a list of things, people, activities that are important to them will help identify what they really should have and need in their lives. They would begin to see that they can take a control over their lives, and allow themselves to enjoy it. Journaling is one way which can help pinpoint an actual event that took place in their lives; where the loss of self-love and self-respect began. They may start to understand how their reaction to that/those event(s) have caused them havoc most of their lives. With these revelations, they can face up to emotions and begin to forgive those which caused the events, as well as to forgive themselves for their own choices and decisions. Even if they may have been children (at the time of the trauma), with no control over the situations, they can still move forward with the process of forgiveness and healing.

The healing process would begin by helping themselves understand that their reactions (to the trauma) were, and are, defense mechanisms to protect themselves from being hurt and abused again. As they step back and look at the circumstances in detail, realize that they had no power to stop the event, they can now as adults can take control and choose, and behave, differently. This control would begin with accepting responsibility for their own action/reactions. Forgiving those that caused them so much pain and suffering. Training their memory muscles that they have forgiven those that hurt them, and using those memory muscles for present or future situations that may arise by choosing to react in a positive way, instead of the negative manner they have all their lives.

As well, they need to understand that some relationships, even those that are forgiven, may need to be severed, due to the fact that the “forgiven” person is not willing to respond in a positive manner to the relationship. Manipulation and deceit is still present in the attempt to control the healing process, but, by choosing freedom through the healing process one can improve he lifestyle and live with joy and happiness. These are not overnight fixes, they take work and attention to detail, determination and intent desire to improve ones life.

REFERENCES:

  • elitedaily.com/life/motivation/yourselfworth-is-everything
  • Psychologytoday.com/blog/me-we
  • wikihow.com/Respect-yourself
  • wikihow.com/Love-yourself
  • wikiHow/ ways to respect yourself.
  • wikiHow/ways to love yourself
  • Process of healing by Rev. Juan M. Pérez
  • Holy Bible Scriptures:Romans 12:2, Philippians 4:13, Joshua 24:15, Psalms 24:12, Ecclesiastes 10:2, Romans 6:16

Linda Martinez is a counselor-in-training. She will have completed the required training and preparation process in two months, to become a fully certified Faith-Based Christian Counselor. Ms. Martinez writes, not only using well researched conclusions, but also as a successul survivor of similar events in her own life. Linda is an example of when a woman chooses to take control of her life she can make what she desires of it. PracticalCounseling.Com is happy to include material from Ms. Martinez on this site.

How to Stay Angry

Here is a guaranteed formula on how to become a consistently angry person.

Be picky and finicky.

Take pride in being a perfectionist. Some of the angriest people in the world are perfectionists. After all, what thing is there that is perfect? Certainly nothing human is perfect. Therefore, people who expect perfection from others or from themselves are guaranteed to find frustration. The picky person wants each and every little thing to fit in its prescribed position. These people are idealists to the extreme. They have a beautiful, glossy picture of how the world should be, and they refuse to have happiness until all of their specifications are met. They frequently use words such as “have to,” “should,” and “must.” Everything and everybody has its place and function. This person will angrily busy himself in trying desperately to make the world perfect.

Don’t listen to another person’s point of view.

In discussions be concerned only with getting your own opinions across. One of the keys to being a consistently angry person is to be a poor listener. We all know that listening is a vital part of the communication process. If there is a steady flow of give and take in conversations, calmness and levelheadedness are likely to prevail. So if a person is dedicated to being angry, he won’t allow any give and take. Instead, when others have a point to be made (particularly if they are angry), the dedicated hothead will react defensively. He will insist that no one else knows what he is talking about. He certainly won’t entertain the thought that what others are saying might be valid. He will have one and only one goal in his interactions. That is, he will not stop until he has completely expressed his opinions at least eight times. Who cares what other people have to say?

Hold on so firmly to your religious convictions that you can’t help but condemn someone who disagrees with you.

Most Christians have an assurance of one thing. They know they are correct in their beliefs. They have found the absolute truth. This must mean that anyone who has any other ideas must be wrong. Angry people will watch others living a lifestyle that they know to be wrong and, because they know those people are heathens, they will have scorn. Rather than feeling love and patience, the committed angry persons will be repulsed. They will want to have nothing to do with anyone else. Occasionally they might try to pound someone on the head with their Bibles in order to knock some sense into that person. But there will be no other contact.

Pride yourself on never being silly.

That is, don’t laugh and have a good time. Be serious. After all, once you learn the skill of being chronically able to be serious it is easy to find things to be angry about. The next time you are engaging in some light conversation, throw in some gloomy comments about the state of our economy. And if that doesn’t dampen the mood, talk endlessly about the rising crime rate. With everything being so miserable, who can afford to smile? Angry people will think only of the dark side of life. They will worry about all those bills to be paid. They will want to discuss the spread of Communism or the increase in moral decay with anyone who will listen. If anyone tells a joke or a funny story, they will shake their heads in disgust over the frivolous attitude of the common folk. It’s those silly people who don’t concern themselves with all the burdens of the world who are making life’s problems more complex.

Overload your schedule.

We all know how leisure time and relaxation can make for a calm disposition. Therefore, if people are striving toward a life of anger they can become workaholics. On the surface, these workaholics may seem like nice, responsible people. But don’t be fooled. People who load up their free time with one responsibility after another will sooner or later protest that they aren’t getting their fair share out of life. They will frequently grumble about how other people are lazy and irresponsible. In fact, this can lead to a prevailing attitude of pessimism. Also, by being so busy, they will probably lose a lot of sleep. This can be an extra bonus, since anyone who does not get proper sleep is naturally going to become irritable.

Expect others to cater to your every whim.

We may be taught in our churches that part of the Christian life includes learning to be loving and caring. You might go so far as to say that sounds nice. But don’t do it-not if you are to succeed at having an angry disposition. Rather than trying to serve people and to make life pleasant for them, be selfish. Have high expectations for what other people can do for you. For example, if you are a man, proclaim yourself king of the castle. Constantly remind your family of the things they are expected to do to make life easy for you. Women, cry a lot when someone in your family makes a mistake or forgets to do the things you have asked. Whether by subtle manipulation or outright demands, always remind others of their duties and obligations.

Constantly demand your rights.

This is one of the surest steps to take toward a life of anger. Our newspapers are filled with accounts of one group after another that is demanding its rights. You might as well jump on the bandwagon, too. Forget that the Bible emphasizes responsibilities rather than rights. Don’t worry about that, demand your rights anyway. By being a rights activist you can let your selfish side come forth. If everyone in this world would work at being responsible toward one another, we wouldn’t have to demand rights. This means that we also might not have much anger. But you can help to create tension by joining with groups that are constantly criticizing other people who do not think the way they do. Join several.

Make fun of things such as love and gentleness.

Those characteristics are for people in the Dark Ages. You might as well face it, it’s a competitive world out there. This step can be particularly easy for men to do. After all, our culture puts a premium on being tough. Gentle men are looked upon as sissies. If your wife and children want to go to church, let them go by themselves. Also, make it clear that it is strictly a woman’s duty to do the loving things such as spending time with the children or buying birthday cards for relatives. Concern yourself only with real men’s work and pride yourself on being tough.

Speak in a loud, booming voice when you have a point to make.

In fact, practice shouting. Common sense tells us that speaking in a soft, caring voice will help create an atmosphere of harmony. Since your goal is to create the opposite, you will want to try to be intimidating in the way you talk with people. In discussion, if other people don’t agree with you right away, yell at them. This is very effective with family members. Not only does it create tension, but it also teaches them through role modeling how they should behave. By setting this type of example, perhaps your children or spouse will imitate you. Think of all the wild scenes this can create!

Worship money and material possessions.

Make them more important than human relations. If you are to become an angry person you must get your priorities right. As far as you are concerned, people are a means to an end. They are meant to be used to get you all the riches you desire. Once their usefulness is spent, leave them, have nothing to do with them. Anger, as I am referring to it here, is a self-centered emotion. Therefore, you want your desires and goals to be consistent. By being concerned primarily with what you will get from people, you are perpetuating the lifestyle that is best suited for anger.

Don’t look at your personality to examine your strengths and weaknesses.

If you are ever going to succeed at being a volcanic person, don’t try to improve yourself. Anyone who looks seriously at his personality flaws might actually find ways to become more mature. This would work against your objectives. If someone gives you feedback about how you are behaving inappropriately, snarl at him and tell him to be quiet. By all means, don’t read the Bible or listen to sermons. You might become convicted of your need to change. One way to keep from looking at your weaknesses is to simply deny that you have any.

Have no compassion for people who are suffering.

You are a self-made person. You’ve picked yourself up by the bootstraps to make yourself what you are today. Everyone else should do the same. As far as you are concerned, there is no excuse for human frailty. It is all a cop-out for a bunch of lazy people who want things handed to them on a silver platter. Never mind that people may have bad difficult circumstances to withstand in their formative years. Never mind that they may not have been encouraged to feel good about themselves. Life hasn’t been a bed of roses for you, either. Those are just lame excuses for weaklings who are not willing to tough out life’s problems the way you have.

Learn to nag and criticize.

Look for the worst in people and focus on it. This step can be carried out only by someone who is a dedicated pessimist. For example, when you look at the problems of toe world, just shake your head and mumble something about the sorry politicians who got us into this mess. When you see others making mistakes, point it out to them in a condescending manner. Whatever you do, don’t ever try to find ways that you can be of help in someone’s trouble spots. That might ruin your image. Think only of how you can make people aware of their faults. If you don’t point out problem areas, who will?

Author unknown.

My Spouse’s Relationship with our Children

The Classic Problem:

Julie and Tony have been having many arguments concerning the children. Julie insists that Tony must spend more time with the children. Tony argues that he spends as much time with them as he is able, seeing as how he works all day and comes home tired. He argues that he makes time on weekends when it is possible. Julie accuses Tony of not loving the children enough to make a real effort. Tony feels that Julie is completely unfair.

What is really happening here?

(The “key words” are emphasized)

  • Is Tony not spending any time with his children? Of course he spends some time with them (movies, meal times, watching TV, and so on).
  • Have the children been complaining that Tony is not spending time with them?
  • If they have, did they confronted Tony, or have they only complained to Julie?
  • Does Julie feel her children are being neglected (as in, mistreated) by Tony’s lack of attention?
  • Is Tony a bad father because he chooses to spend time with his children when he can, and is not worn out from work?

What are the arguments?

Julie argues that she is with them all day and that he must help her in the evenings. What is he really saying? Is she saying that:

  1. She spends all day with the children paying attention to them, playing and having fun with them, or,
  2. That she is with them all day long, feeding them, bathing them, teaching them, washing the clothes, cleaning the house, buying the groceries, tending to the children’s needs, like a job?

Is she is saying the first, that all she does all day is have fun with the children to keep them happy doing what they want to do? If this is true, then she would never have time for shopping, paying bills, washing clothes, and so on. Is this what she is arguing, that Tony spend all day playing and having fun with the children?

Is she saying the second, that she is busy working all day, and that she has to have the children with her at all times? Running a household without children is hard enough. Dealing with children while doing the household duties, such as washing clothes, makes the chore harder. Needing to go out of the house to handle an important matter (or just to buy the groceries), can become a major project. No wonder why many stay home parents feel worn out by the end of the day. Think about it, the parent who outside the home gets worn out and tired and wants to come home and rest, not keep on going and “spending time” with the children doing more activities. But, the parent who works in the home is not able to “leave” work and go somewhere and rest from a day’s work. Usually the “work outside the home” parent feels that they work hard, and that the “work in the home” parent has it easy, and should not complain about being tired.

The truth is that they both work hard, and that they both deserve time off from activities, to rest. The problem in Julie and Tony’s case is that they have not worked out a compromise of sorts which would allow both of them to have some times to themselves, on occasion. Each is convinced that the other should, must, or ought, to just understand and do the right thing: make life easier for me!

What about other circumstances?

Blended families are another source of conflict when it comes to children getting “attention.” The syndrome is usually obvious in the terms the parents use for the children. For example, If Julie had Bobby, her 12 year old son, from a previous marriage, she will usually refer to him as my son when arguing with Tony over whether Toby is spending “time” or “paying attention” to Bobby. At other times, she will use the “our” son term, because it will suit her better.

As an example, If Julie were to complain to Tony that:

  1. He was not treating Bobby the “same way” as the children who were born from both of them, or,
  2. That Tony was not treating Bobby, like he does his own daughter (from a previous marriage), who also lives with the couple.

The question here is that of fairness. Are the children being treated “fairly” by both adults? The answer is not as simple as saying “yes” or “no.” What is “fair” to one of them may not seem to be “fair” to the other. There are instances where the child involved is just not interested in establishing a “good” relationship with the step-parent. The efforts of the step parent may be ignored or reject, regardless of how much effort they exert in trying to make the relationship with the child better.

At the same time, no matter how “unfair” it may seem, emotions will play a big part in the relationship between children and step-parents. For example, let’s say that Bobby’s real father is the source of constant problem. Let’s say that Julie and Bobby’s father end up arguing over child support, or other similar complaints. Let’s also say that when Tony tries to defend or support Julie that Bobby sees this as Tony attacking his father, and resents Tony. Children will often ignore the wrong their parents do, just so they can keep the relationship. In this case Tony will also start to resent Bobby. He will, if at all, make only half-hearted attempts at establishing a “good” relationship with Bobby. The question, again, is how hard should a parent try to improve a relationship with a child who just does not want the relationship at all?

Do some people treat their own “blood related” children better than other children? Of course, that is just being a normal human. Treating other children “like as if they were yours” is when the human goes beyond fair expectations. The adults in these cases are being asked to do something that is contrary to the basic human nature which is to look out for what is ours. The step-parents who achieve this level of maturity are like heroes. Like “heroes” because they go above and beyond what is expected of them.

Let’s consider what is fair and unfair when it comes to a step-parent. Is it fair to expect a step-parent to:

  1. Love their step-child exactly like their own blood-related children?
  2. To develop and have good feelings about a step-child who does not want the relationship, and will make no effort to reciprocate the feelings?
  3. To want to spend time with a step-child who does not care?
  4. To keep on trying, over and over, no matter how much the step-child rebuts the step-parents efforts?
  5. To not let the rejections of the step-child hurt the step-parents feelings?
  6. And so forth.

The parent, which is related to the child by blood, will struggle understanding why the step-parent is having so much trouble loving the child. Except for those “hero” type step-parents, the all others are normal people who may make real effort to “love” another person’s child, but will fall short.

 What Might Be The Real Problem?

I cannot say that I have covered every exiting problematic circumstance above, regarding step-parents and step children, and parents and their blood related children, in reference to parents spending time with their children. We still need to consider other factors. We have to wonder what may be the real problem. Sometimes people do not find the right answers because they do not ask the right questions.

Let’s ask a few questions which may have some bearing on this issue:

  1. What are the real motivations of the blood-related parent for admonishing the step-parent in regards to spending time, or getting along with, the step-child?
  2. Is the blood-related parent being fair in his or her expectation of what should be happening between the step-parent and the child?
  3. Is it possible that the blood-related parent is struggling with past childhood traumas which are influencing his or her present day concerns regarding the child and the step-parent?

The idea of past childhood traumas interfering with present day concerns is a real probability which needs to be considered. Often-times a mother who was a victim of childhood mistreatment, or even abuse, will tend to relate her own unhealthy childhood circumstances with the present day events regarding her child and the step-parent, her husband. She may be associating the circumstances to the point that she starts believing that her child is being “abused,” because the step-parent is not “loving” the child in exactly the same manner as she, and that it seems to be on purpose.

In this case the mother may be regressing to an earlier emotional state and reliving some of the past trauma vicariously through her child. Abuse is wrong, it is always wrong, and if we decide that someone is being abusive we tend to become angry. And, if abuse is actually occurring, the abusive parent must be confronted and corrected, to the point of imposing serious consequences on that person. But, too often in these cases, abuse is not the issue, it is often that the step-parent is a normal human being who, selfishly, has trouble “loving” the child of another. Selfishness is not abuse, it is better equated with immaturity. More often the step-parent who has trouble relating to a step-child is plainly immature.

Immaturity cannot be resolved through confronting the person and insisting that they “love” someone even if the other person does not want to “love” them back. The wife who becomes angry and badgers her husband to “love,” or “spend time with,” her blood-related child will continue to be frustrated because the relationship depends on several factors. Let’s look at some here:

  1. Most important of all, the child has to want the relationship as well. Keep in mind that the children’s opinion rarely helps their parent decide who they will choose to marry. Many times the parent will marry the step-parent while the children are very young. As the children grow, they can become bitter and unhappy as they learn that one of their natural parents is not in the picture. They can resent that the parent left, or died, and they may start to focus their anger on the step-parent.
  2. The step-parent did not seriously consider the responsibilities which come with marrying a person with children. Immaturity will lead a person to believe lies. Everyone knows that child grow up, but the immature person will fantasize living with their new spouse, who has children, and thinking that things will always be the way they are at the present. They will not consider that when these kids grow up things may take a bad turn. They will fantasize that they will win the hearts of the children, and just “love” them the way they would their own children. The truth is that if you have never had your own child, you do not have the capacity to compare how you would treat other children, as compared to how you would treat your own. It is those people who have had their own children who then can, as it were, possibly transfer their “love” to another. And, even then, that is no guaranty that they actually will be able.
  3. The step-parent really is giving the relationship with the step-child as much effort as they know how. The blood-related parent may be judging the step-parent’s efforts based on how they (the blood-related parent) believe they would be behaving under the same circumstances. They may be thinking, “If I can love my own child, and if I believe that I could love the child of another, then my spouse must do the same with my child.” Notice that the word chosen was “my” instead of “our.”
  4. Many times the child do not grow to “love” the step-parent. They don’t have to, and if they are pressured into doing so they will likely rebel. There are times when even blood related parents and children do not turn out to like each other, and sometimes they even choose not to love each other. To expect children to have to “love” their step-parent is wrong. It must remain their own choice. The step-parent should either make an effort to establish a good and healthy relationship with their step-children, but they should not impose themselves on the parent.
  5. Sometimes, the step-child and the step-parent are just comfortable with the way things are, and it is the blood-related parent who is all bent out of shape over the circumstances. People need to be able to develop personal relationship on their own accord. This means that step parents and children should be allowed to handle their own relationship, without the blood-related parent interfering and causing problems for them.

These are just some examples of circumstances which the blood-related parent must consider in determining her role in trying to get the step-father and the child to have a “better” relationship.

What Was The Expectation?

When the couple got married they made certain promises before the minister:

“To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge thee my faith [or] pledge myself to you.”

Notice that nowhere in those vows does it say or even imply that the person promises, acknowledges, or even understands, that they will have to make a concerted effort to “get along with,” “love,” or “spend time with” the children of the spouse. The person who argues that this is just understood when you marry someone with children is just fooling him or herself. They are forgetting the main culprit here, maturity. It takes maturity to consider things that are not, at the moment, apparent. It takes maturity to consider how I will feel about someone else’s children five years from now, if things turn out bad, if the children hate me, and so on.

So What Is The Answer?

Unfortunately, there is no easy and quick answer. But there are things which must be understood which may, at the very least, not make things worse. Let’s explore them here:

  1. Give both your child and your spouse the time and opportunity to either try or not try to establish a relationship. It must be something that comes forth from them, not you. If things work out okay, they will give the credit to their efforts, but if things turn out bad, and you were the catalyst, you will be blamed by both sides.
  2. Understand that your spouse may still be immature in this area of their lives. While this is not an excuse for not trying, you cannot force maturity on anyone. The harder you try to impose maturity on someone, the harder they will fight it. You will only succeed in damaging your relationship with the immature person (spouse or child) and may damage it to the point which will be beyond repair.
  3. Take your spouse (and maybe child) to parenting seminars. Let someone else say all those things which you want to tell your loved ones. This way if the spouse or child gets angry at the words, they won’t associate those words with you. On top of that, the speakers at these events won’t be personally involved and get all emotional about the circumstances. Your spouse or child may even listen and agree with them.
  4. Invite your spouse to consider going to counseling to examine why they might be having trouble with developing a relationship with their step-children. In marriage, many times the “me” issues interfere with the “we’ issues of the marriage. The same can be true of the relationship between a child and the step-parent. Counseling may help the step-parent understand some of the trouble or reluctance in working out a healthy relationship with the child of another person.
  5. Never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never argue with your spouse in front of the children (or where they can hear your arguing). This will only serve to earn their disrespect for you as well. Take him or her into a private room and share your feelings about how you believe that he or she might handle the relationship with the child. But, once you have giving them your opinion, leave it alone. They do not have to agree with you. Their relationship with the children is their business, not yours. While is it appropriate for a husband or wife to confront their spouse in an adult manner over any subject, it is not okay for a spouse to start attempting to parent their spouse. This will only serve to produce a wedge between you both, which will also widen as the arguments continue. You will come out of that situation bitter, frustrated, and angry, and nowhere nearer accomplishing the goal you intended. Your goal is not to work out their relationship for them, your goal must be available for either of them should they ask for help.

The relationship between your children and their mom or dad is none of your business!

Ouch, that hurt, right? But, it is true. Whether they work it out or not is their business alone. Your job is not to interfere with the success or failure. This is not to be interpreted as meaning that you do not step in when something is going wrong. Neither the parent nor the child have the right to harm each other physically over their disagreements, but whether they have arguments should be their business. Along with this, neither of them must be allowed to violate the rules (or expected decorum of the home). For example, is the child disrespects the step-parent, this must not be allowed by the blood-related parent. As well, mistreatment by the step parent must be confronted and stopped. The blood-related parent must be careful in these circumstances not to cross the line from protecting both the child and spouse to the point of trying to control them and their relationship. This “control” may seem appropriate to the blood-related parent, but it could, at the same time, become the main source of division between the child and the step-parent. Protecting them is a good thing, but attempting to eliminate all conflict is bad.

Conflict is the tool of change. People make changes, compromises, and adaptations based on the outcome of conflict. Without conflict, things will remain the same forever. Stale relationships are just not interesting, nor do they prompt the person to improve the circumstances. Conflict will bring change, sometimes what we want, and sometimes what we do not want. The conflict between your child and spouse will produce a change. What the change will be will be dependent on some of the factors described in this article.

Finally, I will end this discourse with a simple but powerful Word from our Lord. Trust the Lord (by obeying His Word) with all your heart (that He will work in the lives of your spouse and children), do not lean to your own understanding (and try to force things to happen a certain way, because you feel that they must), in all your ways (especially in how you behave toward your spouse and child) acknowledge Him (know that He is there), and He will make your path (your life) straight (easier to handle)” – Proverbs 3:5-6.

Cómo Controlar el Enojo Antes de que lo Controle a Usted

Todos sabemos lo que es el enojo y todos lo hemos sentido, ya sea como algo fugaz o como furia total.

El enojo es una emoción humana totalmente normal y por lo general, saludable. No obstante, cuando perdemos el control de esta emoción y se vuelve destructiva, puede ocasionar muchos problemas en el trabajo, en las relaciones personales y en la calidad general de vida. Puede hacerlo sentir como si estuviera a merced de una emoción impredecible y poderosa.

¿Qué es el enojo?

El enojo es un estado emocional que varía en intensidad. Varía desde una irritación leve hasta una furia e ira intensa. Como otras emociones, está acompañada de cambios psicológicos y biológicos. Cuando usted se enoja, su frecuencia cardíaca y presión arterial se elevan y lo mismo sucede con su nivel de hormonas de energía, adrenalina y noradrenalina.

El enojo puede ser causado por sucesos externos o internos. Usted puede enojarse con una persona específica (como un compañero de trabajo o supervisor) o por algo ocurrido (embotellamiento de tránsito, un vuelo cancelado), o su enojo puede ser causado por estar preocupado o taciturno debido a sus problemas personales. Los recuerdos de hechos traumáticos o enfurecedores también pueden despertar sentimientos de enojo.

Cómo expresar el enojo

La forma natural e instintiva de expresar el enojo es responder de manera agresiva. El enojo es una respuesta natural que se adapta a las amenazas, e inspira sentimientos intensos, con frecuencia agresivos, y conductas que nos permiten luchar y defendernos cuando nos sentimos atacados. Por lo tanto, para sobrevivir es necesario un determinado grado de enojo.

Por otro lado, no podemos atacar físicamente a cada persona u objeto que nos irrita o molesta. Las leyes, las normas sociales y el sentido común imponen límites respecto de cuán lejos podemos permitir que nos lleve nuestro enojo.

Las personas utilizan una diversidad de procesos conscientes e inconscientes para lidiar con sus sentimientos de enojo. Las tres reacciones principales son expresar, reprimir y calmarse.

Expresar sus sentimientos de enojo con firmeza pero sin agresividad es la manera más sana de expresar el enojo. Para hacerlo, debe aprender cómo dejar en claro cuáles son sus necesidades y cómo realizarlas sin lastimar a otros. Ser firme no significa ser prepotente ni exigente; significa respetarse a sí mismo y a los demás.

Otra manera de abordar esta reacción consiste en reprimir el enojo y después convertirlo o redirigirlo. Esto sucede cuando usted contiene su enojo, deja de pensar en ello y en cambio se concentra en hacer algo positivo. El objetivo es inhibir o reprimir su enojo y convertirlo en una conducta mucho más constructiva. El peligro en este tipo de respuesta es que no le permite exteriorizar su enojo, pudiendo quedarse en su fuero interno. El enojo que queda en su fuero interno puede causar hipertensión, presión arterial elevada o depresión.

El enojo no expresado puede generar otros problemas. Puede conducir a expresiones de ira patológica como por ejemplo, conducta pasiva-agresiva (desquitarse con las personas indirectamente, sin decirles el motivo, en lugar de hacerlo de frente) o una actitud cínica y hostil duradera. Las personas que están constantemente menospreciando a los demás, criticando todo y haciendo comentarios cínicos, no han aprendido a expresar su enojo de manera constructiva. No es sorprendente entonces, encontrar que éstas no tienen la probabilidad de establecer relaciones exitosas.

Por último, puede calmarse interiormente. Esto significa no sólo controlar su conducta externa sino también controlar sus respuestas internas, siguiendo los pasos para reducir su ritmo cardíaco, calmarse y dejar que los sentimientos pasen.

Manejo de la ira

El objetivo del manejo de la ira es reducir sus sentimientos emocionales y el despertar fisiológico que provoca. Si usted no puede deshacerse de las cosas o personas que le provocan enojo, ni evitarlas, ni tampoco cambiarlas, usted puede aprender a controlar sus reacciones.

¿Está demasiado enojado?

Hay pruebas psicológicas que miden la intensidad de los sentimientos de enojo, cuán propenso a la ira es usted y cuán bien puede manejarla. Existen muchas posibilidades de que si tiene un problema con la ira, usted ya lo sepa. Si siente que actúa de manera que parece fuera de control y que es alarmante, tal vez necesite ayuda para encontrar mejores maneras para de lidiar con esta emoción.

¿Por qué se enojan algunas personas más que otras?

Algunas personas realmente se exaltan más que otras enojándose con mayor facilidad y más intensamente que el promedio. También, hay quienes no demuestran su ira gritando pero son crónicamente irritables y malhumorados. Las personas que se enojan con facilidad no siempre insultan y lanzan cosas; a veces se retraen socialmente, se amargan o se enferman.

Las personas que se enojan con facilidad, por lo general, tienen lo que los psicólogos denominan baja tolerancia a la frustración, que significa que éstas sienten que no deberían estar sujetos a la frustración, irritación o a los inconvenientes. No pueden tomar las cosas con calma y se enfurecen, sobre todo si la situación parece de alguna manera injusta, por ejemplo, cuando se las corrige por un error de poca importancia.

¿Qué hace que estas personas sean así? Hay varios factores. Un factor puede ser de origen genético o fisiológico. Existen pruebas de que algunos niños nacen irritables, sensibles y que se enojan con facilidad, y estos signos están presentes desde una edad muy temprana. Otro factor puede estar asociado a la manera como se les enseña a lidiar con el enojo. El enojo se considera a menudo como algo negativo; a muchos nos enseñan que está bien expresar la ansiedad, la depresión y otras emociones pero que no está bien expresar el enojo. Como resultado, no aprendemos cómo manejarlo o canalizarlo constructivamente.

Las investigaciones también hallaron que los antecedentes familiares desempeñan un papel importante. Generalmente, las personas que se enojan con facilidad vienen de familias problemáticas, caóticas y sin capacidad para la comunicación emocional.

¿Es bueno dar rienda suelta a la ira?

Los psicólogos dicen ahora que este es un mito peligroso. Algunas personas usan esta teoría como una licencia para lastimar a otros. Las investigaciones han mostrado que darle rienda suelta realmente aumenta la ira y la agresión y no lo ayuda en absoluto ni a usted (ni a la persona con la que usted está enojada) a resolver la situación.

Es mejor descubrir qué es lo que desencadena su ira y luego desarrollar estrategias para evitar que esos factores desencadenadores le hagan perder el control.

¿Necesita ayuda?

Si siente que su ira está realmente fuera de control, si está afectando sus relaciones y partes importantes de su vida, puede considerar la asesoría para aprender a manejarla mejor. Un psicólogo u otro profesional de la salud mental autorizado para ejercer puede trabajar con usted en el desarrollo de varias técnicas para cambiar su pensamiento y su conducta.

Cuando hable con un terapeuta, dígale que tiene problemas con la ira sobre los que desea trabajar y pregúntele sobre su método para manejar la ira. Asegúrese de que esto no sea sólo un curso de acción diseñado para ayudarlo a conectarse con sus sentimientos y expresarlos. Ese puede ser precisamente su problema.

Los psicólogos sostienen que con ayuda medica, una persona que se enoja mucho puede acercarse a un rango de ira medio en aproximadamente 8 a 10 semanas, dependiendo de las circunstancias y las técnicas de asesoría utilizadas.

Agradecemos a Charles Spielberger, PhD, de la Universidad del Sur de Florida en Tampa; y a Jerry Deffenbacher, PhD, de la Universidad del Estado de Colorado en Ft. Collins, Colorado, un psicólogo que se especializa en manejo de la ira.

Los artículos y textos del Centro de Apoyo pueden ser reproducidos íntegramente, siempre y cuando se acredite que provienen de la Asociación Americana de Psicología. No se pueden reproducir las imágenes. Cualquier excepción a esto, incluyendo frases o citas de Centro de Apoyo o APA Help Center, deberá ser presentada por escrito a Help Center y será considerada caso por caso. Estas autorizaciones serán dadas una sola vez por cada caso y tendrán que ser solicitadas para cada uso adicional del documento.

 

Resolución de Conflictos, ¿Antes o Después?

Conflictos se resuelven mejor cuando dos personas son capaces de comunicar sus preocupaciones individualmente y en conjunto y son capaces de llegar a compromisos que trabajan a favor de la relación. La pregunta es, “¿Quiero ganar yo, o quiero que ganemos los dos?”

La diferencia se demuestra por el enfoque que una persona toma cuando se trata de la cuestión del conflicto. Hay dos opciones que producirán resultados muy diferentes:

1. El Enfoque de Bombero – esperar un incendio y usar diversas técnicas para apagar el fuego.

2. El Enfoque de Jefe de Bomberos – identificar las circunstancias que podrían dar lugar a un incendio, y tomar medidas preventivas para evitar el fuego por completo.

La mayoría de la gente toma la primera opción, esperan que ocurra un problema para empezar a trabajar en la resolución de la misma. El problema con el Enfoque de Bombero es que usted ha tenido un incendio. Los incendios dañan las cosas, e incluso a veces hasta el punto de pérdida total. Y al igual que con los incendios reales, a veces la única solución es que puede que tenga que derribar la estructura completamente, para poder a construir una nueva en su lugar. En términos humanos, refiriéndose a las relaciones, esto significa que la pareja tiene una mayor probabilidad de terminar en divorcio.

Otro peligro con fuegos reales es que incluso si la estructura en sí no está completamente destruida, la pérdida de objetos personales, muchos que nunca serán reemplazados, puede imponer un mayor trauma emocional en la persona. Las relaciones pueden tener el mismo resultado; la pareja puede resolver algún evento traumático en su relación (por ejemplo, una relación adúltera), y aun así todavía pueden persistir circunstancias que podrían permanecer durante la duración de su matrimonio (la pérdida de la plena confianza en sí).

Tomando el Enfoque de Bombero a una relación, significa que la pareja no está dispuesta a comprometerse en la tarea de aprender a identificar los posibles problemas, elaborar soluciones de antemano, y luego cumplir con las expectativas según lo acordado. El Enfoque de Jefe de Bomberos requiere ese tipo de compromiso. Un Jefe de bomberos puede inspeccionar una casa o edificio, e identificar cualquier situación o circunstancia que, posiblemente, puede dar lugar a un incendio, y ofrecer medidas que pueden tomarse para evitar la posibilidad de un incendio real.

¿CÓMO FUNCIONA EL ENFOQUE DE JEFE DE BOMBEROS?

Yo lo llamo el Proceso de Acuerdo Matrimonial.

La idea aquí es que la pareja identifique las áreas de conflicto en el pasado, y que establezca acuerdos que puedan evitar el mismo comportamiento, en la parte de ambos, en el futuro.

1. Seleccione un tema, un problema, o un tema de preocupación (problemas de dinero, familiares, sexo, amigos, personas del sexo opuesto, etc.).

2. Hablen sobre el resultado deseado; lo que piensan que debería ocurrir en esas circunstancias o situaciones en el futuro.

3. Uno de ustedes ofrezca una posible solución (por ejemplo: “Podríamos estar de acuerdo en hacer las cosas de esta manera en esos momentos”).

4. Si la otra persona no está de acuerdo con la solución ofrecida, él o ella deberían ofrecer un compromiso (es decir, “¿Qué pasa si lo hacemos en este modo…?”).

5. Si la primera persona todavía no está segura, él o ella puede ofrecer otro compromiso (es decir, “Eso es mejor, pero veo un problema, “¿Qué pasa si hacemos eso, pero con este cambio…?”).

6. Cuando ambos lleguen a un acuerdo, y sean claros en la intención de lo mismo, se tiene que ser escrito en un papel.

7. Ya que sea escrita, alguien debe leer el acuerdo en voz alta. El objetivo es escuchar las palabras.

a. ¿Hay partes del acuerdo que se le puede tomar ventaja o abusar?
b. ¿Hay palabras que pueden tener un significado diferente para cada uno de ustedes?
c. ¿Causa este acuerdo que piensen de otras preguntas?
d. ¿Está el acuerdo aceptable?
e. ¿Puede alguno de ustedes pensar en cualquier razón (buena) para violar este acuerdo?
f. ¿Dan ambos su palabra que cumplirán con este acuerdo?

8. Si encuentran algunos problemas con el acuerdo, entonces cambien el acuerdo escrito hasta que no haiga escapatoria, o añaden un acuerdo adicional que cubra la escapatoria.

9. Si hay palabras que pueden significar cosas diferentes para cada uno de ustedes, entonces escriban las palabras y definan el sentido de ellas en un modo que ambos puedan estar de acuerdo.

10. Si el acuerdo escrito trae a mente otras preguntas, entonces o corrige el acuerdo para tratar con ellas, o guardarlas para más tarde para incluirlas en otros acuerdos.

11. No hagan un acuerdo demasiado largo y complicado. Es mejor tener varios acuerdos cortos y puntuales.

12. Si uno de ambos puede pensar en cualquier (buena) razón para violar cualquier acuerdo, se debe mencionar en este momento, si no usted se verá como un mentiroso que no se le debe confiar.

13. Cuando acaben de revisar el acuerdo escrito, lo entienden, y están de acuerdo con él, vayan al siguiente acuerdo.

Cada uno debe tener su propia “copia” del acuerdo. Ninguno de ustedes es responsable de recordarle a su pareja de los acuerdos. Cada persona es responsable por mantener su propia palabra. Pero, ambos son responsables de imponer consecuencias sobre el que viola un acuerdo.

El tema es LA CONFIANZA. La consecuencia debe reflejar lo mismo. Cada vez que se viola la confianza, la consecuencia debe ser más grande y más duradera que antes.

Si ustedes, como pareja, crean unos acuerdos, y los siguen sin excepción, ustedes van a evitar muchas situaciones en el futuro, que en el pasado resultaron en argumentos y peor. Esto es el Enfoque de Jefe de Bomberos.

Conflict Resolution, Before or After?

Conflict is best resolved when two persons are able to communicate their separate concerns and together are able to reach compromises which work in the favor of the relationship. The question is, “Do I want to win, or do I want us to win?”

The difference is demonstrated by the approach that a person takes, when dealing with the issue of conflict. There are two options which will produce very different results:

1. The Fireman Approach – waiting for a fire and using various techniques of putting out the fire.

2. The Fire Marshall Approach – identify circumstances which could lead to a fire, and take preemptive action to avoid the fire altogether.

Most people take the first option, waiting for some problem to start working at resolving it. The problem with the Fireman Approach is that you have had a fire. Fires damage things, and sometimes even to the point of total loss. And as with real fires, sometimes the only real solution is that you may have to tear down the complete structure, to be able to build a new one in its place. In human terms, concerning relationships, this means that the couple has a greater chance of ending up in divorce.

Another danger with real fires is that even if the structure itself is not complete destroyed, the loss of personal items, many which will never be replaced, can impose a major emotional trauma on people. Relationships can have the same result; the couple may resolve some traumatic event in their relationship with each other (such as an adulterous affair), and still have linger circumstances which might remain for the duration of their marriage (the loss of full confidence in each other).

Taking the Fireman Approach to a relationship, means that the couple is not willing to commit themselves to the task of learning how to identify possible problems, work out solutions in advance, and then comply with the expectations as agreed. The Fire Marshall Approach requires that type of commitment. A Fire Marshall can inspect a home or building, and identify any situation or circumstance which may possibly lead to a fire, and offer steps which may be taken to avert the possibility of a real fire.

HOW DOES THE FIRE MARSHALL APPROACH WORK?

I call it the Marital Agreement Process.

The idea here is for the couple to identify areas of conflict in the past, and establish agreements that can prevent the same behavior, on the part of both, in the future.

1. Select an issue, problem or a topic of concern (money issues, relatives, sex, friends, people of the opposite sex, etc.).

2. Discuss the intended outcome; what you think should happen in that circumstance or situation in the future.

3. One of you offer a possible solution (I.e. “We could agree to do things this way at those times.”)

4. If the other disagrees, they should offer a compromise (i.e. “What if we did this instead …?”)

5. If the first person still is unsure, they could offer another compromise (i.e. “That’s better but I see a problem, what about this…?”)

6. Once both agree on the intention of the agreement, it needs to be written down on paper.

7. Once written, someone needs to read it out loud. The purpose is to listen to the words.

a. Is there a loop-hole somewhere in there?
b. Are there words that may have different meaning to each of you?
c. Does the agreement bring up other questions?
d. Do you both find the agreement acceptable?
e. Can either of you think of any reasons (good ones) for violating that agreement?
f. Do both of you give your word that you will comply with this agreement?

8. If you find any loop-holes, then either change the written agreement until there is no loop-hole, or add an additional agreement that would cover the loop-hole.

9. If there are any words that could mean different things to each of you, then write down the words and define the meaning that both of you agree upon.

10. If the written agreement prompt other questions, then either correct the agreement to deal with them, or save them for later to deal with separately.

11. Do not make any one agreement too long and convoluted. It is better to have several short and to the point statements.

12. If either of you can think of any (good) reasons for violating any agreement, bring it up now. Later on you will be seen as a liar who should not be trusted.

13. Once you have reviewed the written agreement, understand it, and agree with it, go on to the next agreement.

Each of you should have their own “copy” of the agreement. Neither of you is responsible for reminding the other of the agreements. Each person is responsible for keeping his or her own word. But, both of you are responsible for imposing consequences on the one who violates an agreement.

The issue is TRUST. The consequence needs to reflect the same. Each time trust is violated the consequence must be bigger and longer lasting than before.

If you, as a couple, create a set of agreements, and follow them without exception, you will avoid many future situations which in the past have resulted in arguments and worse. This is the Fire Marshall Approach.

Counselor Guide on: Financial Problems

What are the Different Types of Financial Problems?

  1. The inability (normally due to a lack of knowledge) to manage one’s finances in a manner adequately enough to sustain a moderate lifestyle for the people involved.
  2. The compulsion to misuse one’s finances to meet emotional deficiencies (binge spending, misuse of credit and borrowing, purchases of unneeded merchandise, and other similar spending.)
  3. The use of one’s finances as a means of self-protection and emotional separation. The most obvious symptom (in the case of married people) is noticed in that they have separate accounts from which they pay separate bills of the household.
  4. The use of one’s finances to manipulate and control someone else. Such as in cases where one person controls all of the income of the household, and regulates the disbursements only to those who comply with the abuser’s demands.

What are the Correct Responses?

  1. For number 1, above, the counselor can take the person through simple steps for developing a budget, starting a savings plan, and learning the Biblical principles of tithing, offering, and giving.
  2. For 2 and 3 above, will require counseling due to emotional issues deriving from past trauma and/or circumstances. The people involved will need to learn how their need to use money to meet emotional deficiencies is hurting them. In contrast, they need to learn that God loves them enough for them to trust Him to meet their emotional needs.
  3. For 4 above, the abuser must suffer consequences for their behavior. The consequences could be:
    1. An immediate releasing of the control of the finances to another family member, or,
    2. Separation, until the problem is resolved.
    3. And in both those cases, counseling must be required to deal with the perceived need to control others (probably anger issues).
    4. Counseling should continue until a change in in character has been achieved.

Counselor Guide on: Sex Issues

What are the Different Types of Sex Issues?

  1. The inability to perform, and/or discomfort.
  2. Emotional trauma resulting from sexual activity.
  3. The unwillingness to participate.
  4. The use of sex as a weapon.
  5. When is it okay to not have sex?
  6. Is it a right or a privilege?
  7. Sex “toys,” okay or not?

What are the Correct Responses?

  1. For numbers 1 and 2, above, the client should be referred to a medical physician for an initial examination. In reference to number 2, the counselor should follow up with counseling regarding trauma in the person’s younger years. The counseling make take time and effort on both the part of the client and the counselor. The goal must be to lead the client to healing. The use of Rev. Juan M. Pérez’s “The Process of Healing,” should be included.
  2. For 3 and 4, the counselor should concentrate on marital issues which are affecting the couple. Likely, the counselor may identify problems regarding a lack of, if not a complete failure, of a healthy communication between the two persons. Circumstances such as infidelity, adultery, or deception must be considered. As well, concerns of abuse and other similar maltreatment should be investigated.
  3. For 5, the counselor and the client(s) should refer to the Scriptures for clarification (1 Corinthians 7). In addition, there are certain physical circumstances which must be considered, such as, the “time of the month,” illness, fatigue, emotional trauma (i. e. the death of a loved one), and so on.
  4. For 6, the question regards not only whether both partners in a marriage have the right to sex from their spouses, but how often, and in what manner (i. e. positions, locations, “toys,” etc.). The first part is a right, but the second part is a privilege. Privileges are earned, or at least they should.
  5. For 7, the question is more about personal concern for physical harm, adequacy, embarrassment, and satisfaction. The counselor should refer the client to a doctor for a physical examination regarding what may be okay and not cause harm. In addition, the counselor should question the couple regarding issues of their mutual satisfaction with sex when “toys” are not included.