Do you think you may be overly dependent on a friend, or your friend is overly dependent on you?
1. You do something for someone else that she can do for herself and/or
2. You’re dependent on another person to the point of being controlled or manipulated by that person and/or
3. You lie (or sin in another way) to keep the peace or get the other’s approval.
A modern term for this sort of dependence, or “people addiction,” is co-dependent. Psychologists first used in the 1970s to describe family members of alcoholics who adapted to destructive behavior in unhealthy ways, such as calling the boss of a hungover alcoholic and saying she has the flu.
The Bible has a better term, a more accurate term: a misplaced dependency.
A person with a misplaced dependency cares more what another person says and thinks than she seeks God. You could call it idol worship of . . .a person.
You shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:3, NIV
Strong Is Weak?
Says radio show host, biblical counselor, and author June Hunt:
One person is seen as weak and the other as strong. The weak one appears totally dependent on the strong one.
But the one who appears strong actually is weak because of the excessive need to be needed by the weak one. In fact, the strong one needs for the weak one to stay weak, which in turn keeps the strong one feeling strong.
This craziness played out in my relationship with my own mom. Growing up I learned to agree with my mom. Disagreement invited her silent treatment. And I hated silent treatments . . . so I agreed with my mom. I wanted her approval badly enough to lie. Have you lied to keep peace?
If she said she did back flips on Chicago sidewalks, I said, “Wow. Cool.” If she said I was tone deaf, I chimed, “Yeah. I know.” She needed my affirmation and I needed hers. Was she the weak one? Or me?
In your friendships, do you have an excessive need to be needed?
Making Up Problems
A person with a misplaced dependency may manufacture a crisis then come to the rescue. She’s crazy-glue connected and overly responsible.
Sometimes after a legitimate crisis — such as a monstrous flood or a death in the family — a “helpful” person gives help long after it’s needed or wanted.
Then there are the little examples, such as:
- a dad who ties the shoes of his able-bodied 10 year old.
- a mom who writes her son’s high school English paper.
- a friend who insists on buying lunch every time you get together even though you can afford it.
The strong one wants to help but. . .harms.
What God Says
God understands. Co-dependency stories dot the bible, and we discover the high cost of misplaced dependencies.
Remember Samson and Delilah? Delilah manipulated weak-willed Samson. What about Rebekah and her son Jacob? Rebekah easily convinces Jacob to lie and deceive his father, Isaac, to obtain the birthright of the firstborn (which belongs to Esau).
God’s desire for you is this: living each day dependent on the Lord. As you submit to the Lord, you will have peace, you will have contentment, and you will experience his presence.
This is one reason why God says:
Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.” Jeremiah 17:7
If you think you may have misplaced dependencies or know someone who is, you can:
- Learn more. A great book is Idols of the Heart by Elyse Fitzpatrick.
- Have a heart-to-heart with a wise, compassionate Christian friend of the same gender.
- Talk with a biblical counselor at your church or community, or with me. A seminary-trained, certified biblical counselor, I’ve counseled hope to thousands of women by Skype and in person. Click here for FAQs.
Sharing hope with your heart,
Food cravings come on quick and strong, don’t they? You’re driving along singing to KLOVE or whataver, and out of nowhere food cravings strike.You may crave a Snickers bar or chips or ice cream or a Ding Dong. Perhaps you crave strawberries, carrots, or freshly baked multi-grain bread.
Up the road sits a 7-Eleven, beckoning.
In this short article, let’s look at…
- Biological food cravings versus emotional food cravings
- A biblical solution to food cravings
Choose Your Choice
So what should you do when hit by food cravings?
A. Try your very, very best to ignore them.
B. Proceed to the 7-Eleven and get the goodies..
Well, it depends! Biological food cravings differ from emotional food cravings.
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It’s wise to fill the biological kind because your body needs what is craves. Just think of how delicious a glass of water is when you are super thirsty. So when you fulfill this type of craving, you’ll think and feel better. But fight the temptation of emotional food cravings. If you cave, you’ll feel worse, and you’ll miss out on God’s best too.
So whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31
Biological or Emotional?
Here’s a simple what to tell whether your food cravings are biological or emotional:
When you have a biological food craving and fulfill it, you feel nourished. And it doesn’t take much food to meet such a need either. One bagel, a wedge or two of low-fat cheese, or a couple of chocolates–that’s it.
In contrast, emotional food cravings aren’t about food. They are an attempt to meet a need apart from God. An emotional eater looks for comfort in food. Sometimes it follows “I’m a loser” self-talk. And a small treat is never enough. Never.
Emotional eaters confuse love and self-acceptance with food. It is their drug of choice. Their god.
Solution to Food Cravings
The good news is by obeying and trusitn God, your can have victory over food cravings.
To have victory, you’ll need to break the vicious cycle of emotional eating.
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You can make this break when you begin desiring what God desires and, with God’s help, change your heart. Your heart is the immaterial part of you where your motivations, beliefs, thoughts, emotions, and actions reside.
For life transformation you need heart transformation!
God’s life-changing power helps you embrace a right perspective of food, make good and godly food choices, straighten out your thinking on food, and practice, practice, practice. A great resource with helps for those times you mess up — and we all mess up sometimes — is Love to Eat, Hate to Eat by biblical counselor Elyse Fitzpatrick.
God wants you to live life based on truth, not emotions. The truth of who he is. The truth of who you are. His truth is sure. Our emotions go up and down like an elevator.
Now emotions are fine; God gave them to us. You and I must not trust them to influence our decisions. We need to turn to truth.
10 Tips for Healthy Choices
Here’s truth talk on healthy eating. You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating:
~ Choose water over coffee and soda pop.
~ Shrink your portions by using smaller plates.
~ If you desire seconds, go for the veggies.
~ Eat at least five vegetables and fruits daily.
~ Choose whole grains.
~ Limit your consumption of sugar.
~ Skip foods with ingredients you cannot pronounce.
~ Sit down during meals.
~ Eat slowly.
~ Remember eating becomes sacred when it becomes worship.
Remember the Bible verse I mentioned? So whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Let this command guide your motivations and desires.
When you do, then everything — from washing dishes and sweeping floors to helping your children with homework and writing blog posts — can be worship. As long as you line up your thoughts with God’s, the simplest things become sacred.
And so it is with food.
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Sharing hope with your heart,
A right and godly focus cuts through the complications of life and brings peace to your heart. In her article, which appeared first here on her website, Heart2Heart Counselor Karen Gaul shares insights from story of Ruth as well as Paul’s letter to the Philippians.
Life has a way of being very complicated. It is so easy for us to get lost in the situations that happen around us that we quickly lose our focus and our way. We become overwhelmed, disillusioned, fearful, maybe even bitter and angry.
When Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians it seemed that might be the case. Paul hoped to encourage this church. I wonder if they were thinking that since Paul was a follower of the Way and was imprisoned that maybe it could happen to them too. Perhaps the scuttlebutt around town was “imagine Paul in prison, chained up. I wonder if he is going to be killed soon? He must be scared. This is terrible. How could God let this happen? Is Paul wrong?”
But this is what Paul writes,
Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.
Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.” Philippians: 1:12-14
Deciding Your Focus
Wrong thinking is one of the first places we look focus.
You can hear it in the true story of Naomi, Ruth, and Orpah.
Naomi’s focus: Naomi faced famine and moved to Moab, a godforsaken land, where her husband dies. Her sons marry idol-worshipping women. They produce no offspring. Then her sons die, leaving her with two daughters-in-law. Life couldn’t get much more difficult than that.
She believes God’s hand is very heavy on her and that she has been emptied of anything and anyone who mattered to her. Now she was old. Death would have been a welcome visitor for her. She saw nothing but her difficult circumstances. Poor Naomi … lost, alone and disillusioned and bitter. She sees no hope for her future..
Ruth’s focus: Ruth, on the other hand, could have thought that if she went with Naomi to Israel, she would not be welcomed. She could have thought: “I will never marry or have a child. Perhaps I will face abuse and ridicule. I may starve.”
These were all real possibilities for her future. Yet she did a remarkable thing. She wanted to be where God was in the Land of Bread, and she was determined to go. She persisted and off Ruth and Naomi went to Israel.
Orpah’s focus: Orpah, the other daughter-in-law, returned to Moab and her idol-worshipping life. She lacked God’s perspective. To her, returning home looked most promising.
Listening to Paul’s Solutions
The aspostle Paul…
- clarifies the gospel
- focuses on results
- looks at the big picture
Paul clarifies things so this little church isn’t discouraged or fearful. He doesn’t go into the details of what has happened to him. Instead, he reminds them that the Gospel is being advanced all over the place.
Paul focuses on the results. Paul reminds them that he is in chains for Christ and that the Gospel is advancing.
When we get lost on the problem, doesn’t our vision become limited? Naomi couldn’t see past her circumstances, Ruth saw something way beyond herself. She was going to be in the place God was and she couldn’t wait to get there. It didn’t matter what happened to her as long as she was close to Him.
We become self-absorbed when we focuse only on the horizontal of life. Our world gets smaller and smaller and it appears nothing will ever change. Naomi was caught in that place for quite some time.
But Paul took advantage of his circumstances and shared Jesus to everyone who was attached to him as well as anyone else. Ruth also took advantage of her situation and lived a life of integrity committing herself to the care of this older bitter woman who she loved. Both Paul and Ruth were witnesses of what a follower of Jesus looks like and people noticed.
- How can we think differently about the situations that happen to us? What might God be up to?
Sometimes we know the purpose but other times we don’t. Paul took advantage of this situation and proclaimed Christ. Ruth on the other hand just lived her life in love and obedience to the God she found. She wasn’t a great teacher or spokesperson instead she lived a life of grace and others noticed.
Paul looks at the big picture. Paul sees he is in chains, and other believers speak more boldly. And that is all that matters to him, that Christ gets proclaimed.
God desires for us to change our thinking. We live in a soft and comfy world and we quite like it that way, but following Jesus comes with great cost. We might not be in chains like Paul was, but there will be ample opportunity for us to suffer and go through hardship and in it we can choose to respond like Naomi and get bitter or we can like Paul see the big picture.
Paul endured, he suffered, he sacrificed, he gave and he served because he loved.
How can we take up that same challenge?
During your darkest hours God is working, He is up to good things. He wants to redeem your struggle and use it for nothing but good in your life. You may not always know what He might be doing but you will know the end result is to make you reflect Christ more. (Romans 8:28,29)
What an honor we have.
Will you allow God to use your suffering to produce in you a most pleasing aroma for Him?
An Invitation to You
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Who likes trials? Only masochists, right?
Yet in Jesus Christ’s flip-the-world-upside-down gospel — where the weak are strong, and the poor are rich, and the messed up are cleaned up — trials are the wild path to joy, to true happiness. And here’s a key:
Blessing of Trials
Sucky trials get your attention.
Then you feel a need to deal.
Did you know he wants you to think like he thinks? Did you know you can — what a mind-boggling thought! — because he empowers you to do so? It’s all Jesus.
‘For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinshtians 2:16, ESV
With Jesus, trials help you and me see, really see. They help us gain a new perspective, God’s perspective, as long as we’re open to listen to him. But Satan tries to interfere.
As Timothy Lane and Paul Trip say in How People Change:
Nothing is subtle about the ongoing war that rages throughout the Christian life. Trials and temptations about, but we respond to them from a new vantage point.
New Perspective of Trials
We can change our perspective of trials. Here are just three ideas.
1. Remember that God continually blesses you. He is for you. You belong to him, and he wants you to experience the abundant life.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10.
2. Decide to want what God wants: a close relationship with Jesus. Let go of lesser pleasures that entice. Seek the greatest pleasure and spend your life enjoying God.
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7
3. Embrace the truth that God uses sucky trials to increase your desire for the highest dream.
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:6-7.
Isn’t it wonderful to know that you belong to God? That you can spend the rest of your life enjoying him? That trials have a goal?
And what is this goal? To become more and more Christlike as you love God and love your neighbor.
Invitation for YOU
Friends, we gave one hope: Christ
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. But sometimes life beat us down. This is where biblical counseling can help. If you’re facing trials and want God’s best for you, I invite you to consider biblical counseling.
I’m a trained biblical counselor persuing a doctorate in biblical counseling. I also am certified by the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors and by the Association of Biblical Counselors.
I meet with counselees (women, teen girls, and couples) in person and by Skype. (Skype-to-Skype calls are free.)
May our great God bless you, as I know he will. Ephesians 1:3
Sharing Hope for Your Heart,
Bitterness: Find out what feeds it and the 4 keys to end it.
You can exchange bitterness for “better-ness,” says biblical counselor and teacher Sherry Allchin, M.A. Chances are you know the look of bitterness. It …
- sours your face, may raise your blood pressure, and contribute to other unwelcome physical ailments.
- wards off friends, coworkers, even family when you let it out.
- eats you up inside, turning you into a snap dragon.
What Is Bitterness?
Bitterness is anger under wraps. It’s testy, irritable, rude, and critical. It’s a disagreeable attitude swimming in biting, snarky comments, an attitude dripping self-righteousness and self-pity. Bitterness grows like black mold in the heart.
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The writer of Hebrews said this about bitterness:
See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled. (Hebrews 12:15, ESV)
Cause of Bitterness
Bitterness has its roots in a wrong belief that your rights — real or perceived — have been stomped on and kicked across the room.
I remember my confusion, hurt, and bitterness toward my husband — several years after our daughter Laura was born. We had agreed I’d work part-time from home as a freelance journalist while he worked 9 to 5 at his office.
The problem started when I figured wrongly that he could read my mind and know that when he was home we’d share normal household duties like setting the table, washing dishes, laundering, and changing diapers. And he figured wrongly that I’d be a mom like his mother, and he’d be a dad like his father.
My wrong desire: It’s only fair that after we’ve both put in long days, I should get a break from the baby and my husband should know this desire of mine without my expressing it.
Eventually I aired my feelings but still felt bitter. How come? I didn’t get my way. It was the same old same old.
Rather than thanking God for a great husband who provided and protected our family, I held tight to prickly bitterness that began with a hurt and a wrong belief.
If you do not respond biblically to the hurt (this would involve forgiving the sin, overlooking the sin, or realizing the ‘offense’ was not wrong in God’s eyes) — you may begin to rehearse the offense in your mind, reviewing it over and over again. The practice of continually reviewing and imputing (charging your offender with the fault or the responsibility for) the offense violates 1 Corinthians 13:5 (‘love does not keep a running account of evil’). –Lou Priolo
My new right desire: Because the Lord is in control, good, and trustworthy, I submit to Christ’s rule in my life and want his plan because his plan brings God glory and is best.
The moment I replaced my wrong belief with a right belief, I exchanged bitterness for “betterment” and let go of the whole bitter mess. You can end bitterness too.
4 Keys to End Bitterness
1. Acknowledge your bitterness.
Admit that you feel bitter. This emotion is like a warning light. It lets you know something is wrong.
Ask God to help you get rid of your bitter feelings.
2. Determine the root of your bitterness.
First, name the hurt or wrong. What wrong belief did you cling to?
What is a right belief that replaces the wrong belief? Ask God to help you act on the right belief. How do you expect your actions to change?
4. Obey God.
When you choose a wrong desire based on a wrong belief, bitterness may result. God’s desire is for each of us to choose what he desires according to his plans and purposes.
When you and I align our desires/motivations/wants/beliefs with God’s, then we choose the better thing, not the bitter thing. Our godly desires lead to “betterness” as we get free of the whole bitter mess.
Counseling Hope to Your Heart,
DEPRESSION: Many of us feel depressed around Christmas. Did you know scientists and biblical counselors recognize at least three myths about depression?
In part 3 of this three-part series, learn the truth about medication for depression. Part 1 looked at . . . Part 2 covered diagnosis and the Bible. This post first appeared here on CareLeader.org, June 29, 2016, and is used with permisison.
Would you like caring biblical counseling for depression? I offer counseling by Skype and in person. Contact me. Let’s set up a short complimentary consultation. Don’t go it alone.
Myth #3: Medication Doesn’t Help Treat Depression
Some people are under the impression that depression is purely a spiritual issue and that medication isn’t effective or needed in treating depression.
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Some who cite the ineffectiveness of antidepressants claim that they are slightly more effective than a placebo.
A fact sheet produced by MIT explains the origin of that idea:
Clinicians began hearing this question from patients after news articles reported on a 2002 analysis of published and unpublished studies submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as part of the approval process for several new types of antidepressant medication. This analysis concluded that the newer types of antidepressants are only marginally more effective than placebo.
However, these analyses do not reflect how antidepressants are used in actual practice. Drug trials measure only how a person responds to a single medication taken at a specific dose for a limited time. In clinical practice, however, the patient and clinician work together to find the dose and the medication or combination of medications most effective for you. Most clinicians believe that this process results in much better results than these analyses imply.
Medication: A Wisdom Issue
Dr. Michael Emlet, in an interview for our DivorceCare and Single & Parenting projects, pointed out that the Bible doesn’t prohibit taking medications for psychiatric disorders. He said,
When Jesus came, He not only forgave sin but He also healed disease. He also relieved suffering.
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Medications may be one way that suffering is relieved…. I would say medication is a wisdom issue. It’s going to vary from individual to individual whether or not medications may be wise.
I think some people want to rush too quickly to medications. Other people refuse to even consider the possibility of medications. Both of those positions could be problematic because they reflect motives of the heart that may be off base.
Dr. Emlet reminds us of the importance of remembering the limitations of medicine:
Medication can help treat depression and shouldn’t be written off as one of the ways that God can bring healing and relief to a person’s life. For example, with stabilized emotions and higher energy, people can be enabled to make needed changes in their lives.
But people need more than drugs. Drugs, as helpful as they can be, do have limitations. They don’t treat any of the underlying spiritual or environmental issues that contribute to a depression.
Some people may not require medication to treat their depression at all. Less severe cases can be treated with nonmedicinal approaches and basic behavior changes. For example, one study reported by Reuters found that simply getting active three times a week reduces the risk of depression in adults by 16 percent, and additional exercise reduces the risk even more. You can also suggest that a person try a change in diet, since a lack of essential vitamins and minerals can result in depressive symptoms.
A strategy for effective care begins with an accurate understanding of the person’s problem. For more on how to understand depression from a biblical perspective, see Jeff Forrey’s article How pastors can help the depressed. It will help you understand the unique role pastors play in helping people deal with depression.
Also check out Kathy Leonard’s article 3 reasons depression is complicated, which features interviews with counselor Leslie Vernick and Dr. Robert Kellemen. It’s a great post to share with your church leaders to help them understand why we shouldn’t use simplistic reasons to explain depression.
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Struggling? Make an appointment (in person or by Skype). The Lord has effective and caring solutions to depression.–LAM