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Judy Lair is a licensed counselor and owner of Counselorplace Christian Counseling. She is the author of “From the Other Side of the Couch: A Biblical Counselor’s Guide to Relational Living.” Judy’s personal struggles with fear led her through the valley of hurt and sorrow. She now embraces a joy-filled life grounded in God’s truth and freedom in Christ. Judy uses her professional counseling expertise to tell stories that help people find healing and freedom. Her vulnerable, godly approach helps people find courage to move from Fear to Freedom. For more information or speaking requests, email JudyLair@counselorplace.com or sign up for blog posts at http://judylair.blogspot.com

 “Freedom is attainable. Trust me, I’ve been on the anxiety side, gone through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and now I’m praising God, eating at the banqueting table, and helping others make the same journey. Whether you find yourself stuck in anxiety, disappointment, grief, or confusion, your heart can be set free.” Judy Lair, “From the Other Side of the Couch.”

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Hope in God's Heart Does Not Disappoint

Transformation is a messy process. I wrote this poem in the middle of moving from fear to freedom. As I intentionally sat in the hurt and pain I'd pushed aside for many years, I often felt hopeless. I hated seeing how my fear-based life strategy had caused me to make unhealthy decisions. Was it possible I could actually change? 

Fear dominated my life when I assumed all the responsibility for my own transformation. If it was all up to me, I'd absolutely screw it up. That's what I had done up to that point. But God was calling me to place my hope in Him. Transformation is God's responsibility. That was a life-changing revelation. My role was to put myself in His hands day after day after day. 

Learning to change my self-protective life strategy has been difficult. In theory, I love that God is responsible for bringing about change and I can rest in him. In reality, I often try to tell God how to do his job! 

Life is still messy with set-backs and disappointments, but placing hope in God's heart for bringing about my healing brings a sense of peace and contentment. Kinda like being a kid on a swing.

We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us. Romans 5:4-5

Where are you in your transformation process?

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Plato's Cave: Living in Darkness

Philosopher Plato wrote the Allegory of the Cave showing how fear keeps us chained and in darkness. Watching this excellent video story reminded me that centuries later, many of us are still living a fear-based life.

Plato’s story shows a man who courageously wanted to live in the real world rather than feel safe in the cave watching shadows. He bravely risked looking at what safety cost him vs. the benefit of living in freedom. The man returned to the cave and shared his testimony, urging other folks to choose truth, but no one else wanted to leave the security of the cave and face their fears.

I’ve been in the cave. I’ve made many choices in my life based on what would cause me the least amount of fear—and the consequences have been devastating. 

Choosing fear robbed me of all the good things God wanted to bring into my life. 
  • Seeing who God created me to be
  • Believing in God’s love for me no matter my immaturities
  • Allowing God to empower me to conquer the Goliaths in my life
  • Trusting fully and completely in God’s heart even when I don’t understand why he allows hurt and pain
So how do we press into fear so we can live in the light of God’s love for us? Do the very thing we fear most: intentionally choose to become vulnerable and transparent.

Woundedness causes us to shut down, transformation requires vulnerability and openness. No one is more vulnerable than a child. Choosing to be vulnerable feels unsafe and counter-intuitive to most adults because of the hurt they’ve experienced. That’s why we choose to live in a cave. It may not be the most joyful life, but at least we avoid people and situations that bring us fear.

Jesus’ relationships with his heavenly father, earthly family, disciples, and friends were characterized by openness and a willingness for his heart to be seen. Vulnerability and transparency with safe, caring people are essential for wounds to be healed and our life to be transformed. We have the choice to intentionally narrow our world down to keep fear at bay. This causes a very rigid, black and white worldview. Prioritizing security over relationship significantly impacts our ability to love well. 

But God wants us to take the risk to learn how to face fear with His strength and courage. No longer blackmailed by choking anxiety and fear, we can walk with the Shepherd who will lead us through the valley to the banqueting table beyond. In my book, From the Other Side of the Couch: A Biblical Guide to Relational Living, I share a Roadmap to Freedom explaining how to move from fear to freedom.

I know it’s not as simple as deciding today to be vulnerable and immediately feeling safe with God and others. There will be a gap between making this decision by our will and learning how to receive healing in the areas that caused us to stay in the cave. Continue to ask God to strengthen you and persevere during the gap.

And we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:3-5

Is God calling you out of the cave today?

Photo from Office.com photos

Monday, September 1, 2014

Is God For You?

My pastor Chris has been teaching a sermon series entitled, "Backstory." Chris points out when we miss the beginning of a movie, it’s hard to understand the full context. Imagine jumping into "Finding Nemo" 30 minutes into the story. You’d have no idea who Nemo was and why Marlin so desperately needed to find him. Any interpretations and conclusions you’d make about the characters and their motives would most likely be incorrect. The same thing is true regarding God's creation of the world and humankind.

In Genesis 1, God declared his handiwork, including people, to be "good." It's vitally important that our view of ourselves and the world is based on the understanding that God emphatically states we are created good.

The belief that humans are fundamentally good has been challenged by those who’ve come into the movie theater hundreds or thousands of years later. These folks point at the horrible things people do to hurt each other, concluding humankind has always been "bad." Deep down, most Christians believe God has to love them (him being God and all), but at best, he tolerates their imperfect existence. Most folks get stuck in the middle of the story where our heart is deceitful and we cannot do the good we desire.

But that’s not where God’s story ends.

Today Chris finished the sermon series by pointing out that everything broken in the Garden of Eden was made right by Jesus Christ on the cross. God, through his son Jesus, broke into human history at the point it went bad. It’s now all being made right again through each one of us who understands this truth. The final chapter of this story is about us going back to living out the good God created in us.

Jesus’ sacrifice made it possible for us to live a redeemed life. The only way we can be successful is to understand God created us good and He is always for us. Grab onto that truth, write it on your doorpost, rearview mirror, tattoo it in permanent ink! If we’re always worried that God’s disappointed in us, it’s hard to do anything but live in fear and discouragement. A foundation based on Genesis 1 allows you to confidently tackle your weaknesses and learn how to love yourself and others well. That’s how the last chapter of the story unfolds.

If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up or us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us…For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, with be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39

Do you believe God is for you?