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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.”

Monday, June 22, 2015

Replace Your Distorted Filter

Meeting a counseling client for the first time, I’m listening to what information they’re communicating, observing how they express it, and making note of why they believe the issues are taking place. Everyone interprets life through a specific filter. Hard-wired temperament personality traits, socio-economic, gender and cultural factors, personal experiences, doctrine and theology, as well as family of origin models all combine to create the filter.

But what if your filter is distorted? Maybe you discard information that’s important, or minimize significant symptoms or triggers because you’re fearful. Without seeing all the information from an objective viewpoint, every conclusion you reach will twist truth--resulting in confusion and misunderstanding. Proverbs advises us to lean not on our own understanding. God speaks to us through others; parents, friends, pastors, doctors, counselors, etc. Look for what God is telling you through all the experiences in your life.

Many clients have beliefs about certain emotions being right or wrong or have been given legalistic interpretations of biblical principles. These filters restrict folks from genuinely processing their feelings, critiquing the beliefs therein, and allowing God to show them what is true for their life. Psalms models this process over and over.

Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer. How long, O men, will you turn my glory into shame? How long will you love delusions and seek false gods? Know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord will hear when I call to him. In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. Offer right sacrifices and trust in the Lord. Many are asking, “Who can show us any good?” Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord. You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4 NIV

Do you see the way David processes all his emotions in an unashamed, genuine manner? He began by venting to God, explaining the situation and how he felt. David’s anger came out in the venting, but he knew God saw that his heart motivation was not sinful. Venting allows us to purge our heart and mind of the emotions which, if stuffed, turn into bitterness and resentment. 

Once David purged the anger, sorrow overwhelmed his heart at the plight of his people in their difficult circumstances. Clarity and truth about God and his heart for those people came after David offered his emotions to God as a sacrifice. The Psalm ends with an exhausted David placing himself peacefully into God’s hands.

David showed us a biblical model we can utilize today. Process emotions, critique beliefs, and receive truth from God in order to live a relational, faith-filled life. I explain this Roadmap to Freedom in detail in my book, “From the Other Side of the Couch: A Biblical Counselor’s Guide to Relational Living.”

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons www.entirelysubjective.com

Monday, June 8, 2015

Look Up, Not Around

Trainer:    Next exercise--deep standing push-ups. Let’s do 3 sets of 15.
Me:   So are these going to give me chiseled arms like Lebron James?
Trainer:    (Belly laughing) If I say yes, will you do an extra set?

Commercials and ads tell me I can be just like any number of folks if I buy this or do that. But why would I want to be like someone else, when God created me to be unique?

Our spiritual enemy lies, telling us our worth and value are tied to certain physical, emotional, mental, social or spiritual attributes. Most of us want to change something because we negatively compare ourselves to someone we admire.

I used to look around the gym, then look in the mirror and be flooded with body image accusations. I’d look around at social functions and kick myself for being an introvert because it was hard to interact. Church was a nightmare. Everyone I saw seemed to be a better Christian in so many ways. While in graduate school, I went to therapy to talk about how all the other counseling students seemed to be more emotionally stable than me!

Comparisons keep our eyes on the world instead of on God. So often my counseling clients say, “I don’t understand how God can love me, I’m such a mess!” They list all the ways they fail and miss the mark set by themselves, others, and supposedly God. My answer is, “Yes, you are a mess. But you’re a mess Jesus loved enough to die for, so now choose to live out who God created you to be!”

Having Lebron’s strong, muscled arms would look pretty silly on me. I’m choosing to do that extra set of push-ups because I want to be the healthiest Judy I can be. Keeping my eyes on God allows me to see myself through his heart and Jesus’ blood. Look up, not around!

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons via teamblue538.wikispaces.com

Monday, June 1, 2015

Happily Ever After?

I’m sitting in a hotel room in Springfield, Ohio having just driven the 40 miles from Columbus to attend a wedding reception. Checking in, I realized I’d grabbed my Starbucks card instead of my driver’s license when I changed purses. Shows where my priorities lie!

Wedding celebrations offer the opportunity to step out of the everyday task-filled life and focus on relationship, hopes, and dreams. Listening to conversations around the reception table, guests often share comments about the possibility of couples sustaining a long term loving, committed relationship. Cynicism makes logical sense with the divorce rate skyrocketing. But Jesus instituted an upside kingdom. One not based on WHAT we see with our eyes, but WHO we put our faith and trust into.

Looking at life through a humanistic lens, we focus on mistakes, errors, pain, and hurt. That viewpoint can only logically lead us to expect more of the same in the future. We are living in a broken world with broken people who have hurt us. Worse yet, we have our own issues that cause pain to ourselves and others, even when we mean the best. So how can we find hope to move forward. To fall in love, dream passionately, and follow God boldly? By committing every day to take the hand of your Beloved, the one who created you. Remind yourself that God loves, guides, and protects you in all things at all times and rest in this amazing relationship.

Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fall, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds. Psalm 73:23-28

This psalm reminds of me the wedding vows I will hear proclaimed today. Sentiments of how the bride and groom care for each other and their vision for moving forward together as a couple. Has your heart turned toward God today? Have you looked in his eyes and seen his love for you in the midst of your circumstances?

Read the book of Psalms. Find the words that express your feelings and speak them to God. Frustrated, hurt, joyful, repentant; David expressed them all. Just like in a marriage, we need to be truthful and honest with God, communicating honestly our fears, irritations, disappointments, and blessings.

Photo from Creative Commons via Photobucket/susano75