Overly Dependent on a Person?

dependent
Do you think you may be overly dependent on a friend, or your friend is overly dependent on you?

Three clues:

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

What’s Next?

If you think you may have misplaced dependencies or know someone who is, you can:

  1. Learn more. A great book is Idols of the Heart by Elyse Fitzpatrick.
  2. Have a heart-to-heart with a wise, compassionate Christian friend of the same gender.
  3. 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,

Stop Food Cravings and Glorify God

food cravingsFood 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…

  1. Biological food cravings versus emotional food cravings
  2. 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. 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. 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,

 

How to Stop Bad Eating Habits

cupcakeDid you know that among the best ways to stop bad eating habits is to stop telling yourself lies?

Sure, you may weigh a few pounds more than you’d like. Or a lot more. You may even be underweight!

But are you self-sabotaging by telling yourself speaking lies to yourself?

Kelly tells herself things like, “You’re fat. You’re ugly. What a loser.” She’s anxious about the holidays, afraid she’ll be tempted by cookies, give in to her bad eating habits, and feel horrible about herself A part of her doesn’t want to attend her office party, even her family gathering.

These thoughts lead to more negative thinking: “I’ll be all alone. No one will miss me. No one cares.” Do you fear you may overeat and feel like a total screw-up? That you’ll never succeed over emotional eating? There’s hope.

What Is Emotional Eating?

To have victory over bad eating habits, you’ll need to break the cycle of emotional eating. Emotional eating is turning to food to feel better. The problem is, you end up feeling worse and eat more. Or eat nothing.

When Cara mothered three cute preschoolers, she sometimes baked a cake for dessert to serve after dinner. While the little ones snuggled for a post-lunch nap, she sliced a wedge of cake for a snack and ate it. Feeling guilty and fearing her husband would find out, and even call her names, she bake a second cake. What happened to the first cake?

She gobbled at least half and smashed the rest in the trash. Worse than her stomachache, she lost self-respect. The lies, the deception, the realization that she needed help to overcome emotional eating–all these weight on her.

Did you know you can stop bad eating habits when you begin desiring what God desires? He desires that you love him above all else. He desires your heart. In the Bible, the heart refers to your inner control center of your motivations, beliefs, thoughts, emotions and actions.

As in water face reflects face,

So a man’s heart reveals the man. Proverbs 27:19

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 be successful. A great resource for those times you mess up — and we all mess up sometimes — is Love to Eat, Hate to Eat by biblical counselor Elyse Fitzpatrick.

Choosing the Truth

You know 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. But you must not trust them to influence your decisions. You need to choose truth.

Back in college I survived on wheat thins, pizza, and Diet Coke. Bad eating habits and lies.

My weight was fine. But my pizza bloat prompted nasty thoughts—you fatso, you idiot, you idiotic fatso—and sometimes a stop by the women’s dorm bathroom, where I pressed my fingers to the back of my throat, hoping to throw up.

1. Recognizing Lies You Repeat

Identifying the lies you say to yourself isn’t as easy as it may sound. If you’ve made a habit of repeating the lies to yourself, they may appear truthful.

Don’t be duped. Line up what you say to yourself with God’s truth. A helpful Bible verse:

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. (Philippians 4:8, NIV)

Let’s take a common lie many women struggle with: “I’m ugly.”

Ask yourself, Is this true according to God? Really think about it. Would God say, “You are ugly”? Down deep you know he’d never say this because God is love and all his works are wonderful. Including you.cupcake

2. Identify Your Triggers

Pay attention to the times and places and situations that trigger emotional eating.

Kelly’s triggers: Any sort of rejection as well as certain childhood memories.

Cara’s triggers: Loneliness and a difficult marriage.

Mine: A desire for other’s approval.

All of these triggers are based on the lie that God doesn’t care. The truth is you are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), which has been marred by sin and the fall (Romans 5:19), is being restored in the life of believers of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:24). The cross proves God cares.

While holding tight to this truth, it’s wise to avoid places and situations that trigger emotional eating. For instance, if tempted to buy a bag of chips at a certain convenience store on your way home from work, you could either drive another street or repeat a helpful verse to remind yourself of the truth of God’s power and care. One helpful to me is 2 Peter 1:3:

His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who has called us by His own glory and excellence.

This verse reminded me that I didn’t need to search around for a secret solution. I already had everything I needed to face temptation and triggers. What has helped you triumph over your triggers to emotional eating? If your triggers are plaguing you, what’s one action you can take today to help?

3. Replace Destructive Self-Talk with Truth-Telling

I’ve discussed how to do this in this popular post. In short, you write down truth that counter the lies you identified in step 1 above. You keep telling yourself the truth each time your self-talk goes south. Within a few weeks, you’ll make a huge dent in the habit of destructive self-talk.

My counselees have found journaling in a certain method I teach to be exceeding helpful. I’d love to show you. Just ask for by complimentary journal template.

Just for YOU!

Did you know I counsel women by Skype all over the world and in person in the greater Chicago area? Click here to find out more about my no-cost consultation by phone. Or simply read about how I counsel compassionately and effectively through God’s unparalleled word.

Feel free to contact me with your questions. I try to answer each one I receive.

Counseling Hope to Your Heart,

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How to Be Free of Any Addiction

freedom from addictionIsn’t it true some addictions look harmless? Yet anything that enslaves you harms you. Thank God, He empowers you to overcome an addiction.

Hard work helps. Workaholism harms.

Eating good food — delicious. Eating for comfort — no good.

Clothing your kids in cute outfits rocks. A shopping addiction hurts.

Karrie’s story

Driving her minivan to the mall, Karrie* told herself she’d buy only one outfit for her seven-year-old cutie. She had made this promise last week and broke it. “I can do it this time,” she pep-talked. Three hours and many shopping bags later, she collapsed on her couch and cried. “I can’t do anything right.” (*not her real name)

Her challenge? Overcoming an addiction to shopping by loving God most of all.

What’s An Addiction?

An addiction is a bondage of the heart and body to something that produces immediate pleasure or relief. This bondage becomes increasingly destructive over time. It rules the heart, promising the sensation of pleasure and the avoidance of pain.

Addictions have an object, such as:

  • Visual stimuli like pornography or television;
  • Ingested substance like food, alcohol, or pills;
  • Possessions like a home, car, and even shoes.

Indulging in addiction brings short-term pleasure or relief. Over the long term, the soul and body experience pain and decay with each indulgence. Relationships may suffer. Bank accounts may shrink. The lie of “just one more” chats and convinces and deceives.

Stop Slavery!

If you think Christians are immune to addiction, think again. When our craving conflict with Scripture, we don’t always live according to what we say we believe. Karrie says “Jesus is Lord” at church on Sunday, and on Monday she itches to shop. Her husband says he loves his wife yet views pornography. Anna* sings and plays keyboard on her church’s worship team but when she feels lonely, she looks for sexual relationships with men.

This disconnect is described in Scripture. In Romans 1, the apostle Paul says “we all know many things about God and his law, but we suppress those truths when they interfere with our wants and desires,” writes Ed Welch in Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave. “As a result, it is as if we practice two religions. We believe one thing, but really believe another. . .(that) we can make the laws we live by, not God.”

When you or I reject Christ’s rule, we become enslaved to something. We exchange the wonderful for the unholy because we want self-rule. The created thing enslaves us.

We become cold to God.

In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes” Judges 17:6

Those days? They look like these days: Commercials sell alcohol to numb, cars to feel significant, and sex to mimic love and respect, and we buy the lies and do what we think best.

How to Get Free 

Most important to overcoming an addiction: Invite a stronger power to rule. Consider Jesus’ question, “Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man?” Matthew 12:29

Here are two more important ways to overcoming addiction:

1. Pray to be mastered by nothing but the Lord and pursue knowing Christ.

2. Confess your sin and repent, or turn away from addiction. You cannot go half-way. You need to totally eradicate it.

Now What?

If you love Christ, then you have everything you need to overcome an addiction.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” 1 Peter 1:3

Yet spiritual battles cannot be won alone.

Addictions like to stay private. God invites people dealing with addictions of any sort to share their struggle with the church of Christ. The church is people who say Jesus is Savior and are growing in their love for God and one another.

Yes, the church is full of sinners.

Yes, some churches have significant problems.

But you may belong to a church that loves like Christ — unconditionally and sacraficially –or, if you seeking a good church, you can find a Bible-believing group of believers who welcome the hurting and help them.

Some people struggling with addictions want the advantages of biblical counseling too.

If you’re interested in someone coming alongside you, listening to your story, and helping you find hope in Christ, please contact us. We want to help you be free.

 For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them. Matthew 18:20.

photo credit: After a hard days work… via photopin (license)

Mending a Broken Heart: ADDICTION

martinis

When you hurt, you sometimes look for relief. . .in a bottle. This relief, this pleasure plays peek-a-boo. You see it then it’s gone, obliterated.

Kc Hutter, author of her memoir A Broken Heart, flirted with alcoholism. She began drinking during her first marriage while her husband traveled out of town week after week. She drank with friends. She drank when she wanted to feel better about herself. She writes, “I drank a lot of vodka and developed a ‘come here, go away’ personality. This made me feel safe.”

This is the sixth post in the “Mending a Broken Heart” blog series. You can read the other posts (on divorce, a child’s death, and other losses) here. You can learn more Kc’s book and buy it here.

Bondage Buster

An addiction is bondage of the heart and body to something that produces immediate pleasure and relief, but at a price. This bondage is to “feel good now.” Rather than submitting to Christ’s rule, an addict bows to the “feel-good” god that is her preferred object of achieving pleasure and relief, however fleeting.

Indulging in it becomes the addict’s greatest treasure, the one thing she’d choose over anything or anyone else.

Her body deteriorates over time. Her soul experiences pain with each indulgence.

By God’s grace, a self-described “booze-happy” woman — yes, Kc — who had become a Christian and read the Bible and prayed to Jesus finally hits bottom and turns to the ultimate Healer for help. Listen:

Holding a glass of vodka with a floating olive had always made me feel glamorous. Isn’t this what actors do on TV and in the movies? At a cocktail party, a happy hour, or visiting a friend, I often heard, ‘Do you want a drink?’

After years of drinking, my stomach would hurt and my head pounded every morning. My heart filled with anguish and sorrow. What words did I say last night? Did I lose control and embarrass myself? I wondered.

Many times I tried to quit drinking on my own. All of my attempts failed, even thought I knew the pain of having a loves one killed by a drunk driver.

Finally I prayed, ‘Lord, take the need of alcohol from me, make the taste repulsive.’ The Lord heard and answered by prayers.

Yes, even Bible-reading Christians succumb to addiction. Easy to break the chains of bondage? No. But God can and will pull you out of the pit when you submit to Christ’s rule.

Beyond Booze

You can become addicted to almost anything: food, sexual gratification, exercise, money, power, praise, shopping, pain pills, and so on. It’s idol worship. In the life of an addict, Christ is rejected and sin becomes master. People will be ruled by something. It’s our nature

The addiction cycle begins when a person wants to avoid pain or feel pleasure–or both. She medicates her distress and discomfort.

She indulges without concern for the consequences. Sometimes her conscience is pricked; a warning flag waves, a Holy Spirit correction. If ignored, and she indulges, she will get a momentary lift or numbness. Then reality sets in: Her indulgence failed to solve her problem; it only make it worse. Shame and regret, regret and shame.

What to do?

Seek pleasure? Avoid pain?

If she indulges again and again, the addiction cycle becomes entrenched. A sick pattern. Depending on the substance of addiction, she may develop a physiological dependence and experience symptoms of withdrawal without it.

The problem is deeper than physiology, however. It’s a spiritual disorder of disordered worship.

The Answer

In A Broken Heart, Kc outlines the “how” of breaking the bondage of addiction. You read it up top and I repeat parts here:

1. Kc recognized booze enslaved her, and she experienced healthy guilt leading to repentance: My heart filled with anguish and sorrow.

2. She realized the futility of her way of dealing with her addiction: Many times I tried to quit drinking on my own. All of my attempts failed.

3. She asked God for help, humbling herself while she worshiped God: Finally I prayed, ‘Lord, take the need of alcohol from me, make the taste repulsive.’

Please do not misunderstand me. Shaking an addiction is difficult. Kc tried many times, remember?

My mom was addicted to cigarettes and managed to quit a handful of times, only to light up. Again. She died on a frigid January night long ago. Heart disease by puff after puff after puff –this is what her cardiologist told me, in nicer terms. I wish I could have held her hand when she breathed her last. I love her so.

Me? I confess to people-pleasing. An addiction to what others think of me. I have repented of this ugliness and once in a while I return to this vomit like a dog, and repent again.

I rejoice with Kc that vodka never got a hold of her again. She asked God to make alcohol repulsive to her. He did. And she found healthy God-honoring ways to deal with her pain. You can too. Do you believe this?

kc-hutter-mexicoAbout Kc and New Life

Kc was brought up in the church but did not have a personal relationship with Jesus until after her second divorce. She told the Lord in prayer, weeping and clutching her uncle’s Bible: “I’ve made such a mess of my life doing it my may. I forgot how much you love me. Forgive me.” God gave her the strength to pen a memoir and the hope to guide those who are hurting and without hope to the Mender of Broken Hearts.

Kc is married and lives in Washington State. She is the mother of two adult sons, one of whom died of cancer and is now with the Lord, and a grandmother.

A Few Questions

1. Have you or a loved one struggled with an addiction? A substance like alcohol or cigarettes? Or an addiction like people-pleasing?

2. How has addiction pulled you down? Financially? Relationally? Emotionally? Spiritually?

3. Are you willing to denounce your addiction and choose to put God first in your life?

Hope for You

Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife?

Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises?

Who has bloodshot eyes? Those who linger over wine,’

who go to sample bowls of mixed wins. . ..

In the end it bites like a snake

and poisons like a viper.

(Proverbs 23:29-30, 32, NIV)

Hope and Blessings!

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