Loneliness Hurts But Help’s on the Way

lonelinessLoneliness plagues everyone at some point in their lives. So the real question is, how can you help the lonely? And if you are among the lonely, how can you find hope? This article by Anne Dryburgh appeared first here at the Biblical Counseling Coalition website and it used by permission.

Loneliness is an emotionally painful sense of not being connected to others. The lonely person may feel unwanted, isolated, and left out.”[1]

Feelings of loneliness are often the result of living in fear, being isolated, lacking an emotional connection with others, a lack of intimacy with God, or feeling rejected by someone significant. All of us will experience some level of loneliness at some point in our lives.

The people who are most likely to experience the biting pain of loneliness include those who are facing grief, marital problems and/or divorce, chronic illness, unfamiliar surroundings or culture, or children who are growing up in a difficult home.

Loneliness in the Bible

There are many lonely people in the Bible.

Elijah: In 1 Kings 19:10, Elijah was in a state of great distress. He believed that he was alone in serving the Lord.

David: David’s soul waited in silence for God alone (Ps. 62:5). There was no other person who took notice of him, or took care of his soul (Ps. 142:4).

Asaph: He had no one on earth or in heaven besides God (Ps. 73:25, 26).

Paul: Demas, Crescens, and Titus abandoned Paul. It was only the Lord who stood by him during his first trial (2 Tim. 4:10, 16-17).

Jesus: Those closest to Jesus deserted him (Mark 14:50); Peter denied him (John 18:15-18; 25-27), and Judas betrayed him (Matt. 26:47-50). Jesus suffered alone in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:36-46), and was forsaken by the Father when he hung on the cross (Matt. 27:46).[2]

Intimacy with the Lord

As we have read, the Bible speaks about loneliness, but the Lord ministers powerfully to the lonely. He has promised believers throughout the ages that he will not leave them nor forsake them, but will always be with them (Ps. 139:7-12; Isaiah 41:10; Matt. 28:20; Heb. 13:5).[3]

God calls himself a husband to his people, and compares his people to a “wife deserted and grieved in spirit, as a wife of youth when she is cast off” (Isa. 54:5, 6). We read in Hosea that God’s people were betrothed to Him in righteousness, justice, steadfast love, mercy, and faithfulness (Hos. 2:19, 20).

In the New Testament, believers are described as the bride of Christ (Eph. 5:31, 32; Rev. 21:2). This speaks of a deep intimacy of the soul, which is greater than that which human beings can experience with each other.

Providing Support

Someone who is suffering loneliness will have the tendency to be focused on themselves; what they want and what they don’t have. When supporting the lonely person, you will need to discover what they are thinking and how they spend their time.

Are they looking at what other people are doing on social media and feeling sad because they do not have nice date nights, beautiful vacations, or fun evenings with friends? Are they watching films or programs and wishing that they were somewhere else, with other people, or had something that they don’t have at present? These thoughts can quickly progress to thinking that nobody loves them and that their lives are a waste.

What is the truth about the Lord and their situation? What are some ways they can use their time more constructively; what would be a more edifying use of time than social media? Learning about God’s providence can help them discover that the Lord is actively at work in their circumstances for his purpose and glory.

Trusting this truth and living for his glory in the midst of their difficulty can turn painful loneliness into a time of experiencing the glory of the Lord.

Importance of Community 

It is important to help them come out of isolation and begin establishing relationships with other people as much as possible. Even if the person would rather stay at home, it is essential that they take steps to be with others and to seek to take an interest in what is happening around them.

The church can look for ways to care for those who are lonely by visiting or providing practical support. For example, creating connections for teens by building relationships across generations can help the lonely teen grow in their faith while living through difficult situations.

Sometimes, people who have lived in a state of loneliness for a long time will become very needy and want to hold onto any form of sincere love that they experience. Encouraging the lonely to pursue intimacy with the Lord and to seek to love others will help prevent them from developing an unhealthy dependency on those who reach out to them. In this way, genuine community and fellowship can develop.

Conclusion

Loneliness is painful, and all of us will experience it at some point in our lives.

Thankfully, the Lord speaks into our loneliness and ministers to us in a deeply meaningful way. When supporting the lonely, discover what they are saying to themselves and how they got to that stage. Help them focus their hearts on the providential God who is working out his glorious purpose in and through their situation. When they focus on loving others, they will emerge from their isolation and become a source of blessing.

Questions for Reflection

  • As you think about the most lonely times in your life, how did the Lord minister to you?
  • How did scripture speak deeply into your soul at that time, and how did that impact your life?
  • Do you know someone who is lonely? How can you encourage and bless them?

[1]Mary Somerville. “Coping with Loneliness.” National Association of Nouthetic Counselors, Annual Conference, 2005, mp3.

[2]Ibid., Wayne Mack, “Loneliness & Self-Pity#1: How to Handle Loneliness,” The Dr. Wayne Mack Library. CDWM4191.

[3] Mary Somerville, “Coping with Loneliness,” National Association of Nouthetic Counselors; Caroline Newheiser, “Helping Women who are Married but Lonely,” The Institute for Biblical Counseling and Discipleship.

About the author: Anne is an IABC and ACBC certified biblical counselor who has been a mission worker in Flemish-speaking Belgium since the early 1990s. She is also a guest lecturer at Tilsley College in Scotland, an external reader for doctoral candidates at the Masters International University of Divinity, an author, a frequent contributor to the blog Biblical Counseling for Women, and coordinates the European hub of the Biblical Counseling Coalition.

Counseling Hope to Your Heart,

Marriage: Is It Too Late for Mine?

marriageMarriage: Is it too late for mine? In this frank article, Julie Ganschow says when God’s involved, nothing is impossible. . even when husbands move on or wives check out. Julie is listed here on our Heart2Heart Counseling Directory. Her article appeared first here and is reprinted with permision.

hope icon

“Is it too late to save my marriage?”

I have been asked this question over and over in the counseling office. And I hesitate to say that “too late” applies to a marriage that involves a Christian, and especially two Christians. I also hesitate because that implies that God is not able to change them.

When God is involved, nothing is impossible!

There’s Hope. . .Always

When troubles persist even in a “Christian” marriage, damage continues to mount and love grows cold. The actions of love cease to exist as withholding of affection, attention, and serving each other become commonplace. Bitterness and resentment often grow between the couple. And distance becomes preferable.

This is where things usually are by the time the couple comes for biblical counseling.

I want to encourage you by reminding you nothing is impossible when God is involved. This is true even if your husband has left you, moved out, or moved on. When people are willing to do what God asks of them in spite of how they feel great things happen!

Maybe You’ve Checked Out 

That being said, some women reach that certain point emotionally where they just give up and refuse to believe anything will ever change. I call it “rounding the corner.” When this happens it is very rare for her to return to the marriage. Her heart hardens. She refuses to cooperate anymore in counseling, or to give her husband another opportunity to change and get it right.

Sometimes it is because he has promised for months or years to change and nothing lasting has happened. Sometimes she finds someone else. And other times she is just without hope anymore.

All of these are sad, and even sinful responses a person can have to someone else’s sin. That may sound harsh to you, but I speak from the perspective that God is able to do more than we ask or imagine according to His will. It is not God’s will that two people who make a covenant before Him to be husband and wife . . .decide they don’t want to be married anymore.

Change Begins in the Heart

Christian woman, if you want to save your marriage, begin by becoming husband-oriented. Eph. 5:22-24 gives us some instructions about our role in the marriage with respect to submission.

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

But how many women have ceased complaining and arguing but are unsubmissive in their hearts? Many I fear!

Women who are not husband-oriented are as much a problem as husbands who are not wife-oriented! Many women have become so supremely selfish! In counseling I hear about “my career”, “my private time”, “my time for the spa” (or shopping or fill in the blank). With this attitude, soon the couple leads separate lives.

Make a New Commitment

If this describes you totally or even remotely, then it is time to make a new commitment to become a “new person.” Yes. . .1 + 1 = 1

If you have lived for years or even months independently as a couple, it is going to take some work from both of you to change this. You will need to commit to change, change of the heart. But there is hope.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

 

Help for Grandparents Who Parent. . .Again

grandparentsGrandparents who parent their grandchildren need hope and help. Are you parentining your grands? Are you counseling a grandmom or grandpa who is emotionally exhausted? Guest writer Linda Jabobs was a single mom who learned firsthand the emotional and support needs of broken families. She has assisted countless single-parent families and their children. 

Grandparents who parent their grandchildren come in all ages, shapes, sizes, and colors. Some are healthy. Others aren’t. Some are financially stable. Others live on a fixed income. Many are married. And many are single. And some are in second and third marriages. But no matter the age, health condition, marital status, or finances, raising grandchildren is emotionally tough.

To help you and your church minister well to emotionally exhausted grandparents, we’ll look at reasons why parenting grandchildren is so emotionally taxing, emotional challenges faced by grandparents who raise their grandchildren, and ten ways your church can help.

Parenting Grandchildren: Emotionally Exhausting!

1. They weren’t prepared for the responsibility

Grandparents may not have had time to prepare for the arrival of the grandchildren. This in itself causes stress, as the grandparents are trying to figure out how they feel about taking on the responsibility of the grandchildren. After all, they are used to spoiling the grandchildren and seeing them only on short visits.

Now the grandchildren will not be leaving, and the grandparents will be on duty 24/7 every day of the year. And there will be no more sending the grandkids home when grandma and grandpa get exhausted and want some peace and quiet.

2. They didn’t want the responsibility

A step-grandparent explained it this way.

We just found out my husband’s son has had his kids taken away from him. The state called and wants us to bring these kids to live with us. The grandchildren have been in a drug-infested home and have been neglected. Since meth [methamphetamine] was found in the home, the kids can’t bring anything with them. Everything they owned, even their blankets, has been confiscated.
Here’s the deal, I raised my kids in a Christian home. I’m sorry his ex-wife didn’t raise his kids that way. I raised my kids to be good parents. I didn’t marry him to raise his grandkids. To be honest with you, I am angry because I don’t want to have to raise little children that I don’t know and to which I have no emotional attachment.

This step-grandparent, like many step-grandparents, has a lot of emotional issues to overcome if she and her husband are going to provide an emotionally and spiritually healthy home environment. But step-grandparents aren’t the only ones who feel as if their grandchildren have been forced upon them.

Many grandparents parenting again have shared that it is a lonely existence. Most of their friends fall by the wayside because the grandparents now have a different lifestyle. They don’t have as much free time to do the things they used to do with their friends. Many will have to resign from positions in your church because of time restraints. So tell them you understand and it’s okay, as they are now ministering to their own family. God will bless them.

3. The grandchildren have experienced trauma

Trauma and loss affect many of these little ones. Even after the grandparents are able to help the children get control of their behavior and have provided a stable home life, issues can crop up. Here is one grandfather’s story:

My son divorced his first wife. He remarried and brought my grandson into the new marriage. His new wife never treated my grandson well. My son cut off all contact with us, and we didn’t see our grandson for years. One day I was driving past an elementary school and I thought I saw my grandson on the playground. I called Child Protective Services, identified myself, and found out my grandson had been taken away from my son. They didn’t have my contact information, so I had never been contacted.

After several months of wrangling, I was able to bring my grandson home with me. He had experienced some horrific abuse over the years. He was run over by a truck. He had been burned and admitted to the ICU at one point. I was so overwrought at what this precious child had experienced.

One day at school his grandson had gotten so out of control that the school called the grandfather to pick up his grandson. The teacher said that the child had been happy when he came to the classroom, but within a few minutes he began screaming and started throwing things. She said they had an exciting day planned and were celebrating Mexican heritage and had salsa and chips for the kids.

What the teacher didn’t know was that when the child was three years old, the stepmom had punished him repeatedly by pouring Tabasco sauce on his tongue. When the child smelled the Tabasco sauce, his mind went back to the trauma and child abuse, and he flipped out. Now the grandparents had to again grieve what had happened to their grandson when he was younger.

The Emotional Toll of Parenting Grandchildren

One of the issues that makes grandparenting these kids difficult is the emotional toll. There is always a reason grandchildren have to live with the grandparents. Many times the reason brings great stress to the grandparents. Here are emotional issues grandparents may encounter when grandchildren are thrust upon them:

  1. Grieving the loss of their own child or the divorce of their adult child
  2. Parental failure and guilt: They may experience guilt that somehow the divorce, or whatever situation resulted in the parent not being able to parent the child, was their fault because they weren’t model parents themselves
  3. Having to put their wants, such as retirement, on hold
  4. Resentment at not wanting to parent full time again
  5. How to cope with caring for a child at my age
  6. How to deal with being both a grandparent and a parent to the child
  7. Just wanting to be the “fun” grandparent who gets to send the child home at the end of the day

And There’s the Emotional Price

We can also add to the emotional price of raising grandchildren the following:

  • Loss of their dreams for their own child
  • They may feel overwhelmed with all of the responsibilities
  • They may feel sad/depressed
  • Some grandparents will feel extreme anger at their own child for not being a better parent to the grandchildren
  • Some will be embarrassed about their family’s situation; they may not want to talk about it or let others know they are struggling
  • Many have problems concentrating, organizing, and problem solving due to the extreme stress parenting at their age brings
  • Some elderly will just not want to adapt to this new family structure and will feel extreme stress at feeling like they have to provide for their grandchildren
  • Relationships with other family members may be affected

10 Ways Your Church Can Help

There are many ways the church can assist grandparents who are overwhelmed and struggling emotionally. Here are some ideas that you and/or a care ministry leader could offer and do, or ask other lay leaders to put into place.

  1. Look for these grandparents in your congregation.

    If anyone hears about people taking in their grandchildren, make sure a lay leader reaches out to them who is willing to walk alongside them and keep abreast of their emotional struggles and concerns.

  2. Have a care ministry leader or other lay leader pray with them.

    This, combined with step one, will go a long way in letting the grandparents know they are valued and remembered.

  3. Provide a day of respite care for the grandparents…

    especially in the case of a single grandparent. Ask other people in the congregation, perhaps a family with children the same ages as the grandchildren, to take the kids for a Saturday or for a weekend.

  4. Organize a fishing trip…

    for the grandpa to go on with other men his age, and encourage other women to invite the grandma to a day at a spa. Provide free child care.

  5. Provide parenting classes or resources for parenting traumatized children.

  6. Give tips or classes on new technologies.

  7. Find a parent with children the same ages…

    to help the grandparents get the grandchildren registered in school and purchase school supplies. Elderly grandparents may simply not know what some items on a school list are.

  8. Teach or provide resources to your lay leadership about the effects of trauma on children.

  9. Teach lay leaders how to mentor and love these grandparents and grandchildren.

  10. When you speak on parenting, be sure to address and affirm grandparents who parent their grandchildren.

Helpful Scripture for Grandparents

Here are some examples of Scriptures that can be passed on to the grandparents (emphasis added):

  • Psalm 103:17 “But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children …” (ESV)
  • Proverbs 17:6 “Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers.” (ESV)
  • Psalm 145:4 “One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.” (ESV)
  • Psalm 78:4b “… we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done.”

Grandparents can make a huge difference in stopping generational divorce and other issues such as addictions and poor life-living choices. Churches can walk alongside the grandparent-headed families and help them succeed.

Linda’s post first appeared on CareLeader.org, October 6, 2016, here.

Counseling Hope to Your Heart,

2 Top Marriage Complaints!

complaintsChristians wives have two top complaints in marriage. And both concern the lack of male leadership in the home. See guest writer Julie Ganschow’s page here on our Heart2Heart Counselor Directory. Her article appeared first here and is reprinted with permission. (Edited for lenth. –LAM)

Looking for a female biblical counselor? Go here.

Want to be listed on Heart2Heart Counselor Directory? Check this out.

Common Complaints!

Common complaints from Christian wives include the following:

Many of these wives share the same qualities. They are Bible literate, faithful church attendees, and clearly love the Lord. Some are willing to be honest with themselves and recognize their culpability in their marital problems.

But the majority believe the husband is mostly at fault. These women focus on all the things the husband does wrong. And they find it very hard to examine themselves on a deep enough level for a biblical conviction to be produced over their own sin.

Isn’t it far too easy for us to rationalize and justify our own sinful responses toward our husbands? Especially when we let our feelings lead us?

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9

Why Husbands Fail

Poor, or lacking, male leadership happens for a couple of reasons:

1) He doesn’t know how to lead, or

2) He’s given up.

Both are problematic, and both are fixable.

Top Complaint #1: My Husband Won’t Lead

Possibly he doesn’t know HOW to lead.

Men are by nature leaders. They are wired to take charge, protect, supervise, and lead. Our current culture does not encourage men to develop these skills. In fact, our culture seems determined to emasculate men. An unfortunate reality is there are more than eight million boys being raised without fathers. Their moms love them and do their best. However, a boy will not learn how to be a man from his mom, as much as she tries to instill those qualities in her son.

We biblical counselors routinely find men that don’t know how to lead and are embarrassed to admit it. The good news is a man can learn how to develop biblical leadership skills and habits through individual discipleship with another man. This kind of relationship will help equip him in the areas of being a godly man and husband.

Top Complaint #2: My Husband Has Given Up

The second complaint is more damaging than the first complaint. It grows from the wife undermining or getting in the way of her husband’s leadership.

Ladies, here is where you need to get honest with yourselves!

Are you undercutting or disagreeing with nearly every decision he makes? Have you stepped in to be the leader because “someone has to lead this family”? Have you given him the message that he doesn’t lead “right”? Do you disagree with the direction he wants to take you and the family? Have you delivered the message that you do not trust him or his leadership?

Husbands are easily discouraged by wives who won’t follow or who question their leadership. They quickly learn that they are not allowed to make decisions for the family by themselves. In these circumstances, often the man says his wife is undermining him and that she criticizes him when she doesn’t agree with his decisions. He says his wife belittles him and always has plenty of reasons why his ideas and plans are insufficient or won’t work.

This reveals an enormous failing in submission on the part of the woman. Submitting is not to be demanded by the husband, nor is it to be done grudgingly or with fear.

But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. 1 Corinthians 11:13

In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 1 Peter 3:1-2

Finding a Solution

When a woman fails in submission, the husband eventually gives up attempting to lead.

To correct this pattern, the wife must first be convicted that she is guilty of these things. Then she would confess to God and her husband that she has usurped his authority and disobeyed God’s Word regarding submission in marriage (Ephesians 5:21-331 Peter 1:3-7Titus 2:5).

She also must cease her attempts to lead her husband. This is tough when she has little confidence in his decisions or when he is a weak leader. However, she must remember that it to God she ultimately submits and it is God who is leading her family.

A faithful wife will let her husband know she has input to offer in a situation and ask him if he wants to hear it. A wise man will accept his wife’s counsel, and take it into consideration when making a decision. When he does not, she must entrust herself to God and believe our sovereign God has the situation in His hand.

On a Personal Note

I have learned these lessons the hard way. When I determined to do things my way, I disrespected my husband by my actions and my attitudes. A lack of unity resulted. I learned two important things: men will not tolerate being emasculated by their wives, and you cannot expect to usurp his authority without consequences.

Truth: “It is better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.” Proverbs 21:19

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

ADDICTION Book: How NOT to Raise an Addict!

addictionAddiction? Is your kid at risk? In Mark Shaw’s booklet How Not to Raise an Addict, you learn the 5 mentalities that makes a kid susceptible to addiction. Reviewed by Ellen Castillo, whose profile is listed here on Heart2Heart Counseling Directory. Ellen’s review appeared first here at the Biblical Counseling Coalition.

Your Parenting Matters

Mark Shaw has written a booklet that is excerpted from his more in-depth book Addiction Proof Parenting: Biblical Prevention Strategies. In this booklet, Mark gives us an overview of the five basic mentalities of “addictive” thinking. He believes that when children develop these mentalities, it can lead to addictive choices and behaviors later in life.

Mark presents a challenge to parents as they disciple their children. By walking them through the five mentalities, he gives us a roadmap for determining if our parenting encourages unbiblical thinking that could lead to addictive behavior down the line.

He begins with an important discussion of the need for mind-renewal (Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:23). Mark states,

We are all in need of transformed thinking so that we can discern the acceptable and perfect will of God. In other words, transformed thinking enables us to know what pleases God and benefits us when we actually put these things into practice (p. 2).

The Five Mentalities

The bulk of the booklet gives us a brief but fairly in-depth view of these five mentalities:

  1. Entitlement mentality (thinking everything is deserved)
  2. Consumer mentality (acquiring what he perceives is deserved)
  3. Victim mentality (when he thinks his entitlement and consumer needs are not being met, he feels he is a victim of unfairness so he blames others)
  4. Perishing mentality (a victim feels self-pity and “learned helplessness” that leads to rebellion)
  5. Rebellious mentality (“why should I try” attitude, leading to foolishness and a desire to be his own boss)

These mentalities all build upon each other, according to Mark’s understanding of addictive thinking (p.1).

Mark offers us the biblical antidotes for the mentalities he presents. He unpacks these for us, which is helpful and insightful. He teaches us that cultural parenting is counterproductive if we want to raise biblical thinkers.

As you read this booklet, you may recognize yourself in some of these mentalities (as I did). The booklet gives us tools to examine our own hearts as parents and counselors. This way we can recognize unbiblical thinking in our children and in our counselees and their parents. He also lays out a path for how to instill biblical concepts in order to counter the culture our children experience.

Mark walks us through much Scripture, which is what I appreciated most about this booklet. He shows us that the Bible is truly sufficient to inform our thinking as well as our parenting. He not only offers instruction for us, but he also offers encouragement and reminders of God’s grace.

Also he tells the reader that “Scripture teaches that God is sovereign, but man is also responsible” (p. 35). This encourages parents to be faithful in their child’s discipleship, but to understand that the outcomes are not up to them, as the child grows to make their own choices. The principles he encourages us to teach our children are biblical and that is what parents are called to be faithful to.

A Guide for Biblical Thinking

addictionMark gives us a brief overview of his biblical view of addiction. Addictions do not give us an escape from personal responsibility, and calling addiction a “disease” does not change this (p.35). His teaching has impacted me personally (as well as my counseling ministry) as I have been challenged to view addiction biblically. If you have not taken an in-depth look at a biblical view of addiction, I encourage you to read Mark’s books on addiction. He has become my go-to resource when I encounter addictive behavior in my counselees of all ages.

This booklet is a helpful guide for counselors who are working with parents as they disciple their children to think and live biblically. Parents would benefit from utilizing the booklet as a guide towards changing their approach in their parenting. The purpose of the book states that it is to help avoid raising someone with addictive thinking, but I believe that the mentalities described in it could help avoid other kinds of unbiblical choices and behaviors as well. This is an excellent discipleship tool, and it leads me to want to dig in to Mark’s other parenting book as well.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

 

Get this 64 page ebook FREE when you sign up for my blog!

 

5 AMAZING NAMES GOD CALLS YOU!

Blessed, Daughter, Saint, and more!

In this delightful, four-color ebook, you’ll discover the precious names God calls you. Today so many Christian women don’t fully know their wonderful identity in Christ. Isn’t a time to know yours? Filled with scripture, photography, personal stories, and encouragement!

You have Successfully Subscribed!