Welcome! I hope you enjoy reading my blog, and I invite you to share your responses with other readers. Comments that use abusive or vulgar language will be removed. Otherwise, you are free to agree or disagree. May God richly bless you today and always! ~ Dr. Susan
|Posted by mercycounseling on October 22, 2018 at 1:25 PM||comments (0)|
Managing Your Emotions
According to the Collins online dictionary, “An emotion is a feeling such as happiness, love, fear, anger, or hatred, which can be caused by the situation that you are in or the people you are with. They are the part of a person's character that consists of their feelings, as opposed to their thoughts.”
Emotions are a way in which our unconscious mind interprets the world. They are prompted in response to stored memories. As the brain processes the continuous flow of external and internal stimuli, it compares that incoming information to the stored memories of previous experiences, which include what happened and how we responded. It also accesses memories related to personal values and beliefs. When the unconscious mind has finished evaluating and connecting these memories to the present situation, it sends a signal to your amygdala (a tiny organ in the brain that processes emotions), and the amygdala signals the emotional response to the conscious mind. In effect, your unconscious mind creates a simulation. This process happens so fast that we often think the emotion precedes the thought, but it doesn’t. The unconscious thought and value judgment happen before we become aware of a conscious emotional response. Emotions are, therefore, a product of our thinking.
Uncontrolled thinking leads to uncontrolled emotions. In her book, Switch On Your Brain, Dr. Caroline Leaf addresses the value of disciplining the mind: “Getting your thoughts disciplined and under control is one of the first steps in freeing yourself of the burdens of the world and beginning to enjoy life despite the burdens of the world.”79 When we relive memories and their attendant emotions over and over in our mind (whether bad or good), we increase the likelihood that our unconscious mind will form a simulation from those memories and emotions whenever we are in a similar situation.
We all experience emotions and become physically aroused by them. Because they are formed from memories, values and perceptions, we need to check the validity of negative emotions by comparing them to our present situation before we translate them into action (except in the case of real, imminent danger—our fight or flight response).
Assuming you are not in a life-and-death situation, it is a good idea to re-evaluate on a conscious level what your mind has determined on an unconscious level. Remember, the unconscious mind only deals with past experiences, which may not be fully applicable to the situation at hand. In other words, you need to consider the current, objective truth. Objectivity will give you a healthy perspective on life and alleviate much of the pain caused by inappropriate or unresolved emotions. God’s Word is the most objective truth of all, and I encourage you to search the Scriptures for answers when emotions threaten to derail you.
It is interesting that the “works of the flesh” and the “fruit of the spirit” described in Scriptures correlate to negative and positive emotions, respectively:
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; (Galatians 5:19-21)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5:22)
Sometimes people struggle to understand and describe the emotions they are feeling. There are many different shades of the same emotion. Below is a chart showing six major subdivisions designed to help you interpret your emotions. The list is not exhaustive, and some of the specific emotions fit into more than one category. You can decide how these relate to your experiences.
Anger: Annoyed, Bitter, Bored, Disdain, Disgust, Envious, Frustrated, Furious, Hurt, Irritated, Jealous,
Resentful, Suspicious, Tense
Fear: Anxious, Confused, Insecure, Nervous, Scared, Self-conscious, Tense, Terrified, Trapped,
Worried, Shocked, Uncomfortable
Shame: Embarassed, Foolish, Inadequate, Self-conscious, Silly, Stupid, Worthless
Joy: Comfortable, Content, Happy, Hopeful, Inspired, Loving, Peaceful, Proud, Satisfied, Relieved
Grief: Depressed, Despair, Heartache, Lonely, Lost, Miserable, Overwhelmed, Sad
Excitement: Amazed, Determined, Eager, Energetic, Motivated
Can you add any words to the lists?
Susan A. Haberkorn, Ph.D., NCCA Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor
|Posted by mercycounseling on October 12, 2018 at 8:10 AM||comments (0)|
Our Intimate Creation
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life;and man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7)
There is an infinite and eternal bond between human beings and our creator God. If you are familiar with the Genesis account of creation, then you know that God spoke nearly all things into being—light, dark, sun, moon, stars, land, sky, sea, plants, land animals, insects, birds—all by His mighty words, “let there be.” And it was so.
The pinnacle of God’s creation, however, was made differently than all else. God said, “Let us make man in our image.” Imagine, if you will, God standing upon His newly created earth. He scoops together some dirt and forms it into the shape of a human being. Like a clay creation, it has no life. But then God does something extraordinary: He raises the lump of clay into His arms and with his mouth He breathed into its nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.
The creation of humankind is deeply personal with God—intimate.
God could have spoken us into being, as he did the animals, for example. But he didn't. When He created the other creatures, he gave them instincts for survival and let them go to live, reproduce, and die. They have no personal awareness of self or God; they are not sentient. He did not create them in His image, nor did he purpose to have fellowship with them. In fact, he gave their stewardship to the man he had just created: “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26)
Why, then, did God create us differently? To have fellowship with us. He wants to interact with us. He wants to be a Father to us. And so God took a personal approach to our creation, forming us and then cradling us with His own hands and breathing life into us with His own mouth.
In those times when you may feel alone in this world, cut off and distant from God, I hope you will remember your intimate beginnings in Him. "Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." (1 Peter 5:6-7)
|Posted by mercycounseling on September 17, 2018 at 6:15 AM||comments (0)|
THE PROVERBS 31 HUSBAND
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of Bible studies written about the “Proverbs 31 Woman.” What I want to write about today is the Proverbs 31 HUSBAND. Don’t get me wrong—the wife in this Scripture is an amazing, Godly woman and quite deserving of praise; however, the traits of her husband are not often discussed. He is an amazing man who, if you read between the lines, helps to provide an atmosphere within the marriage in which his wife is safe and free to be all she can be.
He is trusting. In 31:11, the scripture says “The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain.” Did you notice the word “so”? His trust begets this gain. He trusts before. He has an already trusting heart toward his wife, and she responds for his good.
He respects her. Verses 13 to the end are filled with her autonomy. She goes about her business of running both her household and her business enterprise unhindered. She makes numerous decisions about both small and large matters as a regular part of her routine. He does not interfere.
He is generous. He does not object to the time and money she spends operating her business, caring for the poor, and taking care of the family’s well-being (vv. 20-24).
He is not jealous. In the conduct of her business, she undoubtedly comes into contact with and has dealings with men other than her husband (v. 24).
He recognizes the benefits that accrue to him because of who she is. He is well-known among the elders because she is well-known and respected in the community (v.23). He doesn’t try to take credit for the good she does (v. 31).
He shows his appreciation for her. He doesn’t take her for granted; he praises her openly (v.29).
As you can see, Proverbs 31 has lessons for both men and women. It is a portrait of freedom and responsibility in marriage—a Godly marriage.
Susan A. Haberkorn, NCCA Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor
|Posted by mercycounseling on August 25, 2018 at 1:15 PM||comments (0)|
6 SCRIPTURES TO LEAD YOU OUT OF SEXUAL SIN
Sexual sin is everywhere around us, and no more so than in the form of pornography. Porn is ubiquitous across all digital platforms, because it is easy to access, private, and requires absolutely nothing of the user except the cost of purchasing it, if any. There are none of the complications associated with establishing and maintaining a romantic relationship. According to the Barna Group, among the younger generation, porn is now a widely accepted form of entertainment and self-gratification; and many consider failing to recycle a greater social problem than pornography.
“When asked to rank a series of “bad things” a person could do—things such as stealing, lying, having an affair, even overeating—teens and young adults placed all porn-related actions at the very bottom of the list. In fact, teens and young adults said “Not Recycling” is more immoral than viewing pornographic images. They also placed “thinking negatively about someone with a different point of view” as a much worse activity than viewing pornography.”
You need not think that this phenomenon is restricted to non-Christians. “Of the 10,000 calls, emails and letters Focus on the Family receives daily, this represents their number one incoming request for help overall.” Attitudes are similarly changing about all types of sexual sin: homosexuality, abortion, sex outside marriage, pornography, adultery, pedophilia, etc.
Apparently the church is doing a miserable job competing with popular culture, because even a large proportion of ministers, church leaders, and church members report struggling with sexual sin.
I am deeply concerned because more and more I am counseling couples who (one or the other) are engaged in various modes of hidden sexual sin and then wonder why their marriages are falling apart. Here’s an example of a recent counseling encounter with a Christian couple (both have a salvation testimony): The wife discovered porn on her husband’s cell phone and became very upset, traumatized, and overwhelmed by feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy. On the surface, I could truly understand that! This form of betrayal often has the same impact as a husband’s physical adulterous relationship. But wait! While trying to help this couple work through the aftermath, it was revealed that just a few years ago, when the couple was undergoing financial hardship, they decided it would be ok for the wife to earn money by writing for an online pornography site. I had to ask: In what universe is any of this behavior (his or hers) acceptable for a Christian?
Incidentally, the young husband mentioned above at first explained his use of porn in terms of some sort of compulsion or addiction. Baloney. In fact he was using it as a stress-coping mechanism. It’s very popular today to make everything conveniently a matter of one illness or another, which removes much of the need to take personal responsibility for one’s actions. I told him his only disease is sin-sickness, and proceeded to offer him several other types of stress-reducing activities that will not damage his relationship with his wife or God.
Our culture’s attitude toward sexuality certainly has changed (vastly) in the last 60 years, but has God changed His mind about the honorable use of our God-given sexuality? Scripture makes it clear that He has not. “I am the Lord, I do not change.” (Malachi 3:1-7) Christians need to refocus on what God values and reject the ways of the world.
If you are struggling with sexual sin, you need to hear God’s heart on this topic. He is a God of grace and mercy, but we are not to continue sinning just because we are under grace. (Romans 6:1-3) Following are six scriptures the Lord offers to you to help lead you back to the path of purity.
1 Corinthians 10:13 - No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. In other words, there are other actions you can take to satisfy your needs without resorting to sin. These may include controls on electronic devices that restrict access to immoral sites; learning better communication skills to resolve disputes; using exercise and breathing techniques to control and reduce stress; and taking your concerns to a professional counselor for help. The point is, you have a choice to follow God or follow Satan.
James 1:12-15 - Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Part of the Christian life involves enduring the pain of temptation, but we are not alone in our struggle. The born-again believer has the Holy Spirit living within, alongside our carnal nature. One of the purposes of this indwelling is to help us be more like Jesus by strengthening our faith and convicting us of sin. Do you truly love Jesus more than the world? He said, “Follow me.”
Matthew 5:27-28 - You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Lusting in person and lusting at images are the same thing. It violates God’s moral law and is specified as the fifth of the 10 Commandments. (Exodus 20:14) The word “adultery” has the same implications as the word “contaminated.” When you commit adultery, you contaminate the holiness of your marriage. You become filthy, and you cause your mate to be filthy.
Matthew 5:29-30 - If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. This passage drives home the seriousness with which God sees sexual sin, and it covers the lust in both what you see and do. Your lustful eye and hand are an abomination to God and He will not allow it within His presence. It should be clear by this that your sexual sin separates you from God. Repent and be restored.
1 Corinthians 6:15-20 - Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. When you became saved, you gave up your right to live as if there is no God. When you got married, you gave up your right to live as though you are still single. Ungodly sexual behavior causes you to sin not only against your spouse and God, but against your own body; and it’s not yours to pollute. Is Jesus Christ your Lord? Or is your faith a lie?
2 Timothy 2:22 - Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Think of Joseph who was seduced by Potiphar’s wife, and who, rather than sin against God, fled her seductions, leaving his garment in her hands. (Genesis 39:6-15) This story is so relevant that I will repeat it here. Notice that her enticements were not a one-time thing, but Joseph endured this temptation many times:
6 Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. 7 And it came to pass after these things that his master’s wife cast longing eyes on Joseph, and she said, “Lie with me.”
8 But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. 9 There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”
10 So it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her.
11 But it happened about this time, when Joseph went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the house was inside, 12 that she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside. 13 And so it was, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and fled outside, 14 that she called to the men of her house and spoke to them, saying, “See, he has brought in to us a Hebrew to [f]mock us. He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice. 15 And it happened, when he heard that I lifted my voice and cried out, that he left his garment with me, and fled and went outside.
Refer to 1 Corinthians 10:13 above, and determine to resist for the sake of the God who created you, loves you, and has set His boundaries for your well-being.
I pray that the Word of God will bring you to repentance and lead you back to the way of righteousness. He is waiting for you to return with open arms:
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9-10)
Return to Me, and I will return to you, Says the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 3:7)
Susan A. Haberkorn
NCCA Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor
|Posted by mercycounseling on August 23, 2018 at 8:00 AM||comments (0)|
10 PRACTICAL, BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES FOR A HEALTHY MARRIAGE
1. Agree on everything before you take action. (Amos 3:3)
2. Husbands, treat your wife with love, and she will feel respected. Wives, treat your husband with respect, and he will feel loved. (Ephesians 5:33)
3. Make the same effort to bring happiness to your spouse that you did during courtship. Keep dating. (Proverbs 5:18)
4. Don’t expect your spouse to read your mind (they can’t). Be direct in stating your needs and wants. (Proverbs 8:7)
5. Submit your lives to Jesus Christ and to one another. (Ephesians 5:17-21)
6. Pray with and for your spouse daily. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-17)
7. Speak the truth in a loving way. (Ephesians 4:15)
8. Settle your differences on the day they occur. (Ephesians 4:26)
9. Do not allow anyone or anything to drive a wedge between you and your spouse. (Mark 10:9)
10. Love one another with unconditional love. (1 Corinthians 13)
Susan A. Haberkorn, Ph.D.
NCCA Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor
|Posted by mercycounseling on August 19, 2018 at 9:55 AM||comments (0)|
RECONNECTING TO YOUR MARRIAGE COVENANT
Marriage and divorce are both common experiences. In Western cultures, more than 90 percent of people marry by age 50. Healthy marriages are good for couples’ mental and physical health. They are also good for children; growing up in a happy home protects children from mental, physical, educational and social problems. However, about 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce. The divorce rate for subsequent marriages is even higher. (Adapted from the Encyclopedia of Psychology)
The statistics quoted above are true for Christians as well as non-Christians. This is a staggering failure that should both shock and alert every married couple to the reality that their union is vulnerable to attack and destruction. I see couples every week who are locked in battle because they have forgotten their vows and are instead caught up in their own selfish demands and sins. Are the promises made at the altar mere words, just part of the “show” of sentimentality? God forbid! Traditional wedding vows are steeped in the true order and purposes of God for the benefit of humankind.
Marriage was instituted by God in the Garden of Eden when He said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I shall make him a helper comparable to him. . . . Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2) This becoming like one flesh is certainly found in the moments of physical union but also in the spiritual connection forged during sexual intercourse. A couples’ spirits are intermingled during this time and a bond is formed. That’s why broken marriages are so painful—you have literally severed a part of your spirit.
Whenever a couple chooses to marry in a such a way that their ceremony acknowledges God as the Author of marriage—whether in a church, with an ordained minister, or by their choice of traditional Christian vows—they must do so in the sober understanding that they are making a covenant with each other before God. As it says in the wedding service, this is not to be taken lightly. They are going to need all the strength of their faith in the years ahead to sustain this commitment. I think couples would do well to dust off their vows and have a recommitment ceremony every few years as a reminder of the promises that are to bind their covenant.
To have and to hold from this day forward… This signifies a change in the relationship. This means that the other person belongs to you, and you to them. You are giving up your right to operate independent of the needs of your spouse. “The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” (1 Corinthians 7:4)
For better, for worse… You are promising to hang in there with your spouse no matter what comes.
For richer, for poorer… You acknowledge that your relationship is not based on the changing tides of material wealth, but on something spiritual, eternal.
In sickness and in health… You are committing to care for one another in times of good health and poor health. You are promising not to abandon your spouse when they become sick or decline with age. “
To love, honor, and cherish… This means you are committing to always look out for the welfare of your spouse first, to never say and do things to bring discredit to them, and to see them as the most precious of all your human relationships. For a Biblical definition of love, see 1 Corinthians 13:1-10. This passage is often found in the wedding service.
Forsaking all others… Forsake means to put all other physical, sexual, spiritual, and soulish relationships out of your life for good.
As long as you both shall live (‘til death do us part)… You are promising to do these things until one of you dies, which is the natural end to marriage.
There are no “ifs” or “excepts” in these vows. The question is: Are you a person of your word? When you violate any of these promises, you become a covenant breaker.
“Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:6 and Mark 10:9)
Breaking of the marriage covenant involves sin, which not only damages your relationship with your spouse but also your relationship with God. If you have broken your vows, pray first, submit to God in repentance, and seek your spouse’s forgiveness and recommit yourself to the promises made before God at the marriage altar. You may also need to seek the help of a Christian counselor or your pastor as you sort through the aftermath. God wants to see your marriage healed, and He has promised that “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.” ( Psalm 34:1 )
Susan A. Haberkorn, Ph.D.
NCCA Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor
|Posted by mercycounseling on July 28, 2018 at 2:25 PM||comments (0)|
My absolute favorite passage of scripture is John 17. The setting is the upper room following the Passover meal, that time we have come to know as “The Last Supper.” Jesus has been wrapping up His final instructions to the Twelve before His arrest, when we come to the events of Chapter 17.
In this passage, Jesus prays for Himself, His Twelve, and remarkably, “for those who will believe in Me through their word”—including you and me!
I find it extraordinary that Jesus was praying for us, so lovingly and fervently—long before we were ever born—just before His arrest. That fact alone is a wonder, but what He prayed for us has changed my relationship with Him, as I hope it will change yours, drawing you even closer to Him.
Here is a summary of the main points brought out in Jesus’ prayer:
He thanked His Father for the authority given Him so that He can give eternal life to those God has given Him. Make a note of this: God has given Jesus authority over all mankind to save them. If you are saved, it is because God first gave you to Jesus.
Jesus did not pray “for the world,” but for those whom God had given Him. He prayed that they (and we) would be kept by the name of God that we may be one in the same way that God the Father and Jesus Christ are one.
Jesus said that the world hated the disciples because they were not of the world. He did not pray for God to take them out of the world, but that He would protect them from the Evil One. As Christians, we are not of this world, even though we still reside in the world. We have been transformed into citizens of heaven. Because of this, there will be times when we, too, are hated by those who are not citizens of heaven (and this includes the demonic world). However, because Jesus already prayed the Father to protect us from the Evil One, then we need not fear him at all, nor those of the world who do Satan’s bidding.
Verses 20-23 require a focused and thoughtful reading:
I do not pray for these alone [the Twelve], but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that you sent Me. And the glory that You gave Me I have given them that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
Consider those words carefully. We are made one with the Father and Son because of the love of God. In fact, God loves us just the same as He loves His Son Jesus, because Jesus gave His glory to those who believe in Him.
In the closing verses of Chapter 17, Jesus reiterates the purpose for His declaring the love of God to us: “that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” In other words, that we may be one with God the Father and Jesus Christ.
Christian Brother and Sister: did you know that Jesus considers you to be one in Him and the Father, and They in us? I hope you will fully take that in, such that the trials of this life will lose their power over you altogether. For we are not of this world. Glory to God.
Susan A. Haberkorn, Ph.D.
NCCA Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor
|Posted by mercycounseling on July 16, 2018 at 9:35 AM||comments (0)|
Let’s face it: we all want to be healthy and happy. Unfortunately, we either lack the motivation to make necessary changes or we look for it in all the wrong places. Sometimes both are true. Sometimes even knowing where to begin can elude us. Fret not, dear reader; I’m going to give you an outline garnered from my training and experience. Here’s what you need:
Something for the Spirit.
Something for the Soul.
Something for the body.
We are spiritual beings. True health and happiness has a spiritual component. As a Christian, I believe we are all created spiritual beings by God. Our spirit has needs that can only be satisfied in relationship with God through Jesus Christ. All that “stuff” we pursue—things, people, pleasure, power, wealth, recognition, accomplishment, even love—cannot satisfy the true source of our longing. We must develop a relationship with our Creator. He has the most precious love story waiting for us to read—the Holy Bible. In it God reveals Himself to us; and it is free to pursue. No one can achieve true health and happiness without a relationship with God.
We possess a soul. Closely linked with our spiritual dimension is the soul—the mind, will, and emotions. Genesis 2:7 tells us about when God created Adam, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground (body), and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (spirit); and man became a living soul (with mind, will, and emotions).” Finding health and happiness also means satisfying the needs of our soul. The needs of our soul are as follows:
• The need for social networks and intellectual stimulation. To feel we have a purpose.
• The need to be responsible and make decisions. The need to know that we have what it takes.
• The need to give and receive love, and to know that we are loved.
“No man is an island” is a saying I’m sure you’ve heard. We were not created to be alone. Earthly relationships are every bit as important (but not more important) as our relationship with God. In the absence of satisfying human relationships, God is able to provide for every one of those needs.
Because people come in many temperaments with different shades of expression and responsiveness, these needs will not be met in the same way by everyone; but for these brief purposes, suffice it to say that we cannot be healthy and happy unless these needs of the soul are met in ways that are not harmful to us, our human relationships, or our relationship with God. A Christian counselor trained by the National Christian Counselors Association (www.ncca.org) can help you understand the needs of your temperament and how best to meet them.
We live in a body. We cannot be abundantly healthy and happy living in a body ravaged and malfunctioning due to neglect and disease. Neglect is a strong word when applied to the average person, but it is often true for most of us. The body has needs that must be met as well as the spirit and soul. The basic needs of the body are for air, water, food, shelter, exercise, and rest. It is the presence and quality of these that determine the level of our physical health.
• Clean air is critical for good health. Many necessary trace minerals are found in fresh air that contribute to good health. Environmental pollutants can stall your improvement or recovery. Exchange the air in your indoor environment daily. Change furnace filters and vacuum bags. Avoid harsh chemical cleaners by switching to natural alternatives. Quit smoking! The carbon monoxide you breathe while smoking renders your red blood cells useless because carbon monoxide fills the cellular receptor sites that should be carrying oxygen to every cell in the body. When you smoke, you are literally suffocating yourself!
• Water is critical for good health. Your body is 65-75% water and every biological process requires water. Dehydration is very common and an enemy of good health. Insufficient water intake inhibits biochemical processes and allows toxins to build up in the body. An individual needs about one-half his/her body weight in ounces of pure water every day. For example, a 150 lb. person would need to drink 75 oz. of water daily. More is needed during periods of excessive sweating. Steam distilled water is the best type of water to drink because it is “heavy” water, not containing minerals that mostly will not be useful to the body. In fact, it will help your body deliver appropriate minerals and carry away waste more efficiently.
• Food—obviously you need it—should be consumed in as natural a state and as wide a variety as you can get it. What you DON’T eat is very important to your health. If there is one thing that can destroy your health faster than anything else and which should be eliminated from your diet, it is this: refined sugars such as white sugar and highly processed, strained honey. Second on my list of toxic foods is other forms of highly refined carbohydrates such as white flour products and anything described as convenience food. These products have nothing of value to offer your body and are, in fact, like eating poison. They ruin your ability to digest food properly and maintain stable blood glucose. In this age of pollution, I can only really recommend organically grown fruits and vegetables and grass-fed, free roaming flesh animals, chicken, and eggs. No animals from concentrated feeding operations or fish farms, due to the filthy conditions and polluted food they are raised in and on.
• Your primary source of shelter is your skin. Please take care of it. The integrity of your skin determines how many pathogens can get into your bloodstream and cause health problems. Skin also includes the mucus membranes that line the alimentary canal from nose/mouth to anus. What you eat and drink can cause breakdown of this barrier. Highly processed food, alcohol, sugar, and drugs (both pharmaceutical and recreational) can over time cause changes in the mucus lining of the digestive tract leading to illnesses like ulcers, irritable bowel disease, food allergies, and yeast overgrowth, to name a few. Secondary sources of shelter include clothing and dwelling places. These are designed to keep you safe from the extremes of the environment. Choose and use wisely.
• Exercise is simply the requirement to move your body around from place to place. It does not mean you need to join a gym. Our bodies have muscles, tendons, and ligaments designed to put the skeleton into motion. Movement helps to keep blood flowing (veins have passive valves in them that squeeze the blood back toward the heart only through muscle contraction). The lymphatic system becomes congested with toxins in the absence of movement, because lymph doesn’t move unless we move. To be healthy, you’ve got to spend time in motion every day. Sitting around too much turns your body into a stagnant sewer that breeds weight gain, lethargy, and disease. Taking a walk is free, gets your system moving, and increases the delivery of oxygen throughout the body.
• Rest is not optional, and many people today are not getting proper rest. Humans need a minimum of 6 hours uninterrupted sleep per every 24-hour cycle to be healthy. Anything less than 6 hours has the same effect on the body as drinking alcohol—loss of cognitive function, coordination, and reflexes. Sleep cannot be banked for use later. It is a daily need. If you are not sleeping properly, it’s time to investigate why and make the changes in your lifestyle that will support this most important function.
• Sunlight, though much maligned by western medicine, is one of the primary ingredients for good health. The infrared wavelengths in unfiltered, natural sunlight striking the skin stimulate the formation of vitamin D, which is a vital nutrient. It also stimulates deep-tissue repair, formation of collagen, and is a natural antibiotic. Sunlight striking the retina of the eye aids the body in regulating the wake/sleep cycle and the production of melatonin. Sunlight is also a mood enhancer. I recommend spending time in the sun as often as possible, but protect against sunburn.
So there you have it: my list of basic must-haves for better healing and health. I encourage you to find something on this list to begin with and build from there. Choose that which you are able to sustain. Set realistic goals. This is not a one-time fix; it is a lifestyle. As the pinnacle of God’s creation, you are worth the best. I wish you abundant wisdom and success in your journey!
Susan A. Haberkorn, Ph.D.
Natural Health Coach
|Posted by mercycounseling on July 9, 2018 at 10:35 AM||comments (2)|
Old griefs, resentments, abuses, injustices, and losses can have a crippling influence on the human psyche. An inability or unwillingness to forgive the past impairs the present and darkens your prospects for a happy future.
I think about Allen, whose father constantly belittled him as a child, no matter how hard he tried or how well he did. Allen came to counseling, a man of nearly 60 and successful by any reasonable standard, in many ways still that young boy who wished only for his now dead father’s approval. He said, “I wish he could see me now.” Self-doubt and depression were his frequent companions.
Angie, a brilliant and dedicated professional at the top of her career, was crushed under the hammer of a heartless, unreasonable employer until she mentally broke down under the heavy-handed injustice. She was forced out of a career that gave meaning to her life. She is in bondage to the memory of a life and status she can no longer have. She lives with a heavy burden of bitterness and fear.
Melody was sexually molested in the church at a young age, and then again as a teen. Her parents and church leaders blamed the molestation on her. As an adult she has rejected the church and bears deep resentment toward her parents. She struggles to maintain a moral center because those who should have protected her failed to do so. The universe seems chaotic. She is angry and openly rebellious.
These are just three examples of what people face every day. You may be able to point back in time to an event that changed you in a negative way, a memory that you frequently rehearse in your mind. It’s a memory that colors your everyday world and keeps part of you stuck in the past, unable to be what you want to be. You bump up against it sometimes even if you’ve managed to keep it pushed down most of the time. If this is happening to you, it’s time to open your prison door, step through into the light, and slam that door shut behind you. You can do it!
To heal from the past will require you to change your focus, so I want to give you something else—actually someone else—to focus on. That Someone is God. You need to know that He is aware of your struggle, and He has not and will not leave you alone in your sorrow and anger.
A promise from the Lord that spans all time is given in Deuteronomy 31:6 and reiterated in Hebrews 13:5:
“Be strong and of good courage., do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
He is the God who sees. He knows your affliction. He also knows His purpose for you. Yes, He does have a purpose for you. Your life is more than you think. It was never God’s intention that you would try to make everything work on your own. Some responsibilities do belong to you, but not all of them. Some belong to God. For example, ruling in judgment over injustice. Some things happen simply because of the fact of sin in the world—sins of others and sins of ourselves. We can barely control our own propensity to sin. We cannot control the choices of others. And while God does not force His will on anyone, that in no way nullifies the fact that he has a purpose for you. Furthermore, God does not focus on the past, and He doesn’t want you to either.
Jeremiah 29:11 reassures us that God has a plan:
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
God’s thoughts toward you are thoughts of peace. He is not angry with you. He did not punish you. He did not perpetrate evil against you. No, He wants to give you a future full of hope. If this is true, why then must we struggle? Because sin is in the world.
The good news is, God’s perspective is that the struggle has purpose. When you align your perspective with God’s perspective, you can apply those golden nuggets of wisdom that are the fruit of your struggle. Then you will have found the profound keys to your own healing, which are born of an understanding of a greater good. Romans 5:1-5 gives us God’s perspective on the good purpose for our struggles:
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
If you would be free of your past, you must accept that it happened and stop holding out for some miracle that will somehow make it all right. That usually doesn’t happen. You are the only one who can make a choice to walk out of your prison and slam the door behind you. The past cannot change, but you can change. You can reclaim your freedom by trusting in God and forgiving your past. Forgiveness is not meant for those who hurt you; it is meant to free you from your prison. When you forgive, you agree to accept the consequences of others’ bad behaviors (or even your own) and stamp the debt PAID. When the debt is paid, you no longer have a claim on it. It is as if it never happened. That’s what it takes to get free.
Rest in God. It is His job to avenge His children, not yours. You can move on with your life knowing that the God Who Sees will take care of the past in due time. I will leave you with a few final promises from the Word of God. In the meantime, when your mind wants to focus on past hurts, turn your eyes instead heavenward, “and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”
Matthew 11:28-30—"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Matthew 5:43-44—"You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you”
Psalm 37:7—"Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.”
Proverbs 3:5-6—"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
Psalm 37:10—"For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; Indeed, you will look carefully for his place, but it shall be no more.”
Hebrews 10:37--“For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry.”
As you read and ponder these words, I pray that your faith in God may be like a great well of healing water for your heart and mind. I pray that you will know that the past does not define you. I pray that you will choose to shut the door on your past and live!
Susan A. Haberkorn, Ph.D.
NCCA Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor
|Posted by mercycounseling on July 7, 2018 at 7:35 AM||comments (0)|
I am so very grateful to have reached this time in my life—the Senior or Golden years. It’s funny how my perspective transitioned over time. I remember years ago (many years!) longing for my Senior year of high school. Being that kind of Senior was much to be coveted. Then, after passing that milestone by a few short years, I would look back at the immaturity of the Senior year, being so much wiser and worldlier. In my 20s, 30s, and 40s, I worked very hard at working (and having), pushing off any thought of the coming Senior years. In those days, it felt like there was plenty of time—no need to think about growing old. It wasn’t until I woke up one day at the age of 50 that I realized I better start planning for the inevitable life to come (God willing). And here I am now at age 62, retired, secure, in reasonable and improving health, and happier than at any point in my life.
Retirement is one of those major life changes that brings its own set of new stressors. For most people, income goes down, often significantly. (That’s not all bad, as I have found. I find it delightful that I now receive compensation every month “just for breathing,” as I like to say! Attitude is important!) There is usually some loss of relationships since you no longer go to a workplace. Let’s face it, you spent a lot of time with those people. Even if you weren’t great friends, your workplace still constituted a major source for socialization—a very basic human need. With retirement comes a certain loss of status, especially if you closely identified with your work or your professional title. You may feel you’ve lost your purpose. Retirement reminds you that you only have so many years left to live. If retirement is thrust upon you due to circumstances beyond your control, the stress will be greater and your adjustment may be more difficult. In that case, please seek the help of a counselor.
The greatest piece of advice I can give anyone—no matter the age of awakening to the reality that the Senior years are coming—is this: PLAN FOR IT. This means taking the time to understand the financial implications of not having employment income. Establish and contribute to a retirement account with as much of your resources and for as long as you can. The sooner you start, the larger your nest-egg will be. Cultivate social relationships that are not workplace related. This could be through church membership or perhaps you enjoy belonging to volunteer or social service organizations. Think about what you will do with your life when you no longer make that daily commute. Pursue interests that you can carry with you into retirement. Find out what special resources and activities are available in your community for Seniors and mentally prepare to take advantage of them. (I’m having a wonderful time exercising and socializing at our local Senior Center, all for free.)
When you reach that retirement milestone, realize that there will be an adjustment period, even if you’ve done a good job planning, but especially if you haven’t. Give yourself time to grieve the losses you feel (this should be a short process if you’ve been looking forward to the day). I have to admit, it only took me two days to adjust, but they were two very intense emotional days! What helped me most was that I already knew what I would be doing and transitioned some key activities from before to after retirement. I still had purpose.
The Senior years are sometimes called the Golden years; and there are many good reasons for this. It is a time when time itself can become your friend, because you will no longer devote so much of it to the daily task of striving for money. Nor will you be quite as chained to a clock. You can catch up on your sleep. You can pursue some of those interests you’ve put off. You can slow down and know that it’s OK to slow down. You can pay attention to your aging body and give it the respect you never did as a younger person. Your health can improve! You need not be so driven by expectations and duty.
Retirement can be a time of relative freedom. However, should you feel overwhelmed, lost, fearful, depressed, anxious, or any host of other emotions that do not resolve in a few weeks or months after retiring, please seek out the help of a professional counselor.
Embrace your Senior years. May they be the best years of your life!
Susan A. Haberkorn, Ph.D.
NCCA Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor