Help for “Harmless” Addiction!

addictionIsn’t it true that addiction may 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 — satisfying. Bingeing for comfort — sad.

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 daughter. 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 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;

Indulging in addiction brings short-term pleasure. But in the long term, the soul and body experience pain and decay. Relationships suffer. Bank accounts shrink. And the lie of “just one more” deceives.

Disconnected!

If you think Christians are immune to addiction, think again. When our craving conflicts 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.

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.

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 a Bible-believing group of believers will welcome the hurting and help them.

And 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 me or one of the vetted biblical counselors listed in Heart2Heart Counselor Directory.

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

Blessings of hope for your heart,

Proclaiming Jesus at My Black Belt Test

black beltAt my black belt Karate test, the strange thing happened. Near the end, after breaking four wood boards — elbow strike, front kick, palm strike, and hammer kick — I proclaimed Christ.

As it turns out, the black test test was a faith test!

In this short article, you’ll learn–

  1. A key passage of encouragement to share your faith.
  2. 3 simple steps to proclaiming Christ wherever God leads you.

Have you, too, proclaimed your faith in an unlikely place? Perhaps at your children’s secular school? Or among friends at a coffee shop? Or while waiting in line at Starbucks?

Key Passage of Encouragment

Scripure commands you and me to be prepared to give a reason for our hope

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15

I never expected to share my faith at my black belt test. I had gotten into karate for two reasons: to learn self-defense and to do an activity with my then 10-year-old daughter. We both earned orange belts. But she quit. And I kept kicking, blocking, punching, and flipping by little heart out.

Empowered to Speak!

Seven years and many colored belts later, as the black belt neared its end, the ten or so testers peppered us students with questions. And I remembered the passage: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for your hope.”

So when I heard the questions, they seemed to come from an evangelism playbook. And God encouraged me to share the reason for my hope.

The black-belted Kungfu Panda lookalike queried,  “Lucy, How have you incorporated the philosophy of ying and yang in your karate?”

I hesitated,

breathed deep,

and spoke my heart.

“This is a difficult question,” I began. “I know how to answer the question the right away — yin and yang means balance, and all that — but I don’t believe it.

“So I’ll tell you what I do believe.

“I asked my orginal sensei if I could use nail polish to paint over the ying-yang symbol on the school patch. He said, ‘Yes.’ So I painted it yellow then drew the Cross on the circle. My strength comes from Christ.”

Indeed, God’s word empowered me to speak his truth!

3 Simple Steps for Sharing Your Faith

Let’s consider 1 Peter 3:First, look back at the scripture from 1 Peter 3:15. This scripture reveals the three simple steps.

First, revere Christ as Lord.

Simple and profound, put Jesus first in everything you say and do. Read the bible regularly. Spend time with other believers at church and in community groups. Pray. Worship him. Sing hymns.

Second, be prepared.

Listen to God speaking through the bible and through the Holy Spirit so that when you get a chance to share your faith in word and deed, you are ready. Determine now that you’ll have an answer for your hope. People will notice your smile, your willingness to help. May I encourage you to jot down a short testimony?

Follow these prompts. I put my answers in parenthesis. Feel free to make your answers more complete, if you’d like. I’m showing you a bare-bones approach.

Before I became a Christian, I used to (be self-righteous). I was (miserable).

Then I learned who Jesus is and now believe in him.

Now I (have faith in him alone). I am (content in Christ).

Third, do this with gentleness and respect.

No one likes a lecture or to be treated “less than.” So when you share the reason for your hope, take care to share your story winsomely. Your tone makes an amazing difference.

Proclaiming Christ as God Leads

As I reflect on my black belt test, I believe it really had nothing to do with becoming a black belt afterall. Maybe just maybe the true test was this: Would I proclaim Christ in front of 100 people?

What do you think?

Please take a moment to leave a comment or to share this post online. Sharing is caring.

Sharing hope with your heart, 

 

Biblical Approach for Healing PTSD!

ptsdPTSD: Women exposed to a significant trauma such as rape, a natural catastrophe, or serious car accicent may later experience nightmares, disturbing memories, and feelings of helplessness and other problems. How can you help a friend? How can you get help for yourself?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the label that describes a long-lasting emotional struggle following a traumatic event. It has been described as a “normal reaction to an abnormal situation.”

PTSD affects many more people than combat veterans and people who endured 9/11 closeup.

  • 70 percent of adults in the U.S. have experienced some type of traumatic event at least once in their lives. That’s 223.4 million people.
  • Up to 20 percent of these people go on to develop PTSD. As of today, that’s 31.3 million people who did or are struggling with PTSD.
  • An estimated 8 percent of Americans – that’s 24.4 million people – have PTSD at any given time.
  • An estimated 1 out of 10 women develops PTSD; women are about twice as likely as men.
  • Among people who are victims of a severe traumatic experience 60 to 80 percent will develop PTSD.

The above statistics come from HealMyPTSD.com.

What about you? Do you struggle with PTSD? Do you know someone who does?  Have you wondered, “Will I ever be normal again?”

You Are Not Alone!

1. You are not alone.

2. There is hope.

Tragically, among the deepest crises leading to the PTSD label is sexual abuse. This trauma sickens the soul and messes with the mind, spirit, and body for years, even decades. Also, the effects range from paralyzing fears to physiological symptoms. And they damage relationships.

Believers who’ve experienced trauma may ask, “Where was God?”

According to the Sidran Institute, people who experienced specific traumas such as rape, child abuse, and violent assaults often feel isolated, guilty, trapped, and confused.

But there’s hope. Says biblical counselor and author David Powlison:

Your recovery will be a process of learning and remembering those two truths — you are not alone and there is hope — not just once, but over and over.

Think about how bread gets made. It must be kneaded so that the yeast goes through the whole loaf. These two truths must be kneaded into who you are until they work through every part of you. The working of these truths into the deepest part of you takes time.

The damage you suffered may have been done in one or more terrible moments; the healing and the restoration unfolds at a human pace. It unfolds at your pace. It unfolds as part of your story, and it unfolds over time.

Lindy’s PTSD Story

Lindy Abbott, Christian blogger, wife, and mother suffered severe abuse as a young child and unwittingly dissociated to survive ongoing trauma. Dissociation protects a victim from awareness of the pain in the short run, but later she may develop relationship difficulties and inability to function.

As Lindy writes at her blog Abuse and Trauma Hope,

It is at this precise moment [of abuse] that the child unconsciously begins to protect the soul from utter destruction by separating the harmful/abusive experiences into hidden places in the soul. The mind does this without needing the child to actively think about what she needs to do to survive, it as an unconscious act of self-preservation.

Lindy says this about her abuse:

My life began in trauma and abuse as a child, affecting who I am, how I see, and how I feel. The abuse was hell but God has used it for good.

Truly, God has used what was meant for evil to be good in my life and to conform me to Christ Jesus.

I see things deeply. I feel deeply too. Sometimes really good, sometimes really bad. While I love to laugh and be silly, I am burdened by the seriousness of eternity.

Transformed by Grace

Horrific memories may also haunt someone with PTSD. And condemning words like “You are dirty and ugly” may invade thoughts. What happened was horrible but the truth is, your mind can be transformed by God’s grace.  Indeed, you can apply the truth to your horrible situation.This journal helps.

ptsd“Because of her faith in Christ she can apply the truth that she is clothed in the righteousness of Christ and she is precious and loved. She can apply the truth of who she is in Christ to the truth of her past experiences,” says biblical counselor Eliza Jane Huie with Life Counseling Center.

Isn’t it true that each of us needs to remember who we are in Christ and apply this truth to our lives? “Having a painful past that still hurts is an opportunity to build a deeper confidence in the truth of God’s Word and what it says about you,” Huie says. “This is not an exercise in positive thinking. It is telling gospel truth to yourself.

As you speak gospel truth to horrible situations you’ve faced, let it make you desperate for God and for the love he has for you. Here’s a reassuring Bible truth:

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 1 John 3:18-19, ESV

An Invitation

Sweet friends, whether you or a loved one suffered abuse or endured another trauma, know that God heals in his timing, and his timing is always right.

Do you want to talk with someone confidentially about your pain?

As you probably know I am a biblical counselor. I counsel women abused sexually as children and who experience anxiety, depression, and abandonment (adoption, death of a parent, marital infidelity, for instance). God wants to give you hope now. Please contact me for a complimentary phone consultation. I counsel women and families in person and by Skype.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

 

Childhood Sex Abuse: The Choice to Heal

choice to healYou have a choice to heal, even when you’ve faced childhood sex abuse, among the most awful experiences a woman can have. In this article by acclaimed author Dawn Scott Damon, you’ll discover potholes on the road to recovery.

BONUS: BOOK GIVEAWAY! If you’d like to enter the giveaway for Dawn’s latest book, When the Woman Abused Was You, leave a comment at this blog post or contact me. Use the words, “I want Dawn’s book!” I’ll contact the winner through email by Friday. Thanks! –Lucy 

hope icon

Some women live for decades unaware of their abusive past. Others who were abused as children live in the shadows of shame, afraid to confront the monsters of the past. Still other women let their abuse define them.

But there is another choice: the choice to heal. The choice to heal can be difficult, yet it is the only choice that brings healing and new life.

So what things hold us back from making the choice to heal?

Potholes on the Road to Recovery

FEAR: We are afraid we will slip into an emotional “hole” and never get out again. Or we’re
afraid to give up our old coping mechanisms or to be seen as “weak.” Or we may fear going
crazy, losing a relationship, or facing the truth or allowing ourselves to feel. No matter the
fear, denial is destructive. Ignoring a wound only brings festering. Commit to honestly looking at your past and grieving your losses.
PRIDE: We’re unwilling to admit we have a problem. We’re not one of “them.” We don’t want to be identified as weak or a sexual abuse survivor. Everyone else has a problem. We default to control and manipulation, and we are afraid to trust people.
NEGATIVE ATTITUDE: We develop a victim mindset. We stake a claim for what we believe we deserve and build a case for ourselves. But our attitude is our choice and the basis of self-control. We can refuse to think like a victim by refuting “thought saboteurs.”
THOUGHT SABOTEURSanger, apathy, blame, criticism, depression, dishonesty, fear, guardedness, hatred, indifference, intolerance, irresponsibility, jealousy, mistrust, pessimism, pride, resentment, revenge, sadness, self-pity, shame, skepticism, suspicion, and a victim mentality.

Self Evaluation

Are you struggling with pain from your past? With childhood abuse? Is it time to take steps toward
healing? Pray through the areas above and ask God to help you face your fears and recognize pride,
negative attitudes, and thought saboteurs. You’ve taken your first steps toward healing, and your life
will never be the same

You’ve carried scars long enough. It’s time to shed the layers of pain that hold you captive and find freedom and healing.

In When the Woman Abused Was You, author, pastor, and survivor Dawn Scott Damon openly shares from her own abuse experience and serves as a guide to help you make your way through the arduous healing journey. With raw and honest transparency, Dawn helps you take the necessary steps that will lead you to your own powerful breakthrough and personal healing encounter.

Experience new freedom you never thought possible. The journey may be difficult—even exhausting—but you’ll find reward and fulfillment as you transform into a confident, fulfilled, and overcoming woman.

  “You’ve carried scars long enough. Its time to shed the layers of pain that hold you captive and find freedom and healing.”  ~ Dawn Scott Damon

About Dawn

Dawn Scott Damon is a pastor, speaker, and author whose most recent book, When the Woman Abused Was You, released in 2017 and is the second book in a series. Dawn’s first book in this series, When A Woman You Love Was Abused has touched thousands of lives – both men and women.

Dawn worked closely with New York Times bestselling author Cecil Murphey (90 Minutes in Heaven, When A Man You Love Was Abused) and together they presented a conference, When Someone You Love Was Abused, Help for Those Suffering from Childhood Traumas, in Michigan and Georgia..

Dawn also writes a blog for women who have experienced trauma. It is named Freedom Girl Sisterhood at freedomgirlsisterhood.com.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

ONLINE? Less Negativity, Please

onineONLINE? Facebook, Twitter, and other online sites drip negativity, don’t they? Where are the positive voices? Is this insightful post, counselor Ellen Castillo, listed here in the Heart2Heart Counselor Directory, shares thoughts on how we Christian women can choose winsome speech online. Her article appeared first here and is used by permission. 

heart

If you spend much time on the internet reading blogs and Twitter feeds and Facebook conversations, you might notice an overwhelming tone of negativity from Christians.

Many Christians use their online activities to express their views about the things they oppose. Lately, it seems easier to find posts that are about what the writer is against rather than what the writer is for. For example:

In the past few minutes, I have found online posts about what the Christian (who is posting on their social media) is against. Here are the topics that I just came across on my own Facebook and Twitter feeds, stating that the writer of each is:

  • against vaccinations
  • against people who are against vaccinations
  • against particular TV shows
  • against a particular Bible teacher
  • against a certain denomination
  • against a politician
  • against the people who are against that politician
  • against a celebrity pastor
  • against those who attend the church of a celebrity pastor
  • against a political party
  • against a company or store for their views
  • against people who share that company or store’s views
  • against people who live different lifestyles than they do

While searching a few moments ago, I also looked for posts about what the Christian writer is for. I noted a few posts simply quoting scripture, and one pro-life meme, but otherwise I found very few examples of redemptive language.

In our current political climate and culture, people don’t have to guess or wonder about what Christians are against. We are quite vocal about those things. I wonder, though, if they know what (or Who) we are FOR?

We feel frustrated because our viewpoints are so often squashed in this culture. I wonder if part of the problem is US, and our tone. Would we speak the same words that we are willing to write? To someone’s face? If so, what would the tone of our voice be, and what would our facial expressions reveal? Would someone see Jesus or just an angry Christian? Consider this:

Our written word should be consistent with our spoken word.

No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29, CSB

Redemptive Language

What if we made our tone more winsome, less negative, or more redemptive? Rather than simply posting and commenting and tweeting about what we are against, what if we focus instead on using redemptive language?

Redemptive language would be gospel-motivated and gospel-rich, bringing the reader’s attention to Christ, and to God’s Word.

We have a hope that is far greater than today’s current political, cultural, and moral climate. If we simply state what we are against, without giving a reason for the hope that we have, then isn’t our gospel witness hindered?

I am not suggesting we stop speaking to culture’s downfalls, or speaking against the things that are infringing on our rights. I am suggesting that we be more careful about our tone. Name-calling and nastiness are not winsome, and people stop listening around the first paragraph or at the first nasty remark. Loving and godly concern and hope are attractive, and I think people are more likely to listen and keep reading.

Why Does This Matter?

Our spoken words (and therefore our written words) reveal our hearts. If we tend to be negative and critical online, it is time to get honest about our motives for using the online platform to express our opinions. Many of our posts sound less like hope and sound more like this:

But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. Matthew 15:18-19

When we are spoken to negatively, we will tend to remember that feedback more clearly than anything positive said to us. For example, we may feel insecure after public speaking. Ten people said things like “you did great” or “great job.” One person said, “you really should work on your speaking, I didn’t follow it at all.” We will tend to think of that one loud negative voice more often than the ten affirming voices.

It stands to reason that when we post in a negative tone on social media, it will stick in people’s minds more than the occasional post with a positive tone. You may think that you have accomplished what you set out to do – to prove your (negative) opinion is right. What you really did was reveal what you are against, without speaking enough about what you are for. This hurts our witness for the gospel because we are not addressing what, and who, we are FOR.

Offer Hope

Consider using your online activities in a redemptive manner. If you are compelled to share an opinion about something you are against, forgo name-calling and instead offer a winsome and compelling argument that is connected to the gospel in some manner. That will offer the reader HOPE. If we offer hope instead of just criticism, we may keep our audiences longer. If you have any kind of online platform, use redemptive language.

We have a hope that is far better than TV shows, politics, celebrity, and all of our opinions. Jesus is better.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works. Hebrews 10:23-24

Consider

Have your written words been more negative than positive lately? How can you correct that? Will you purpose to post with a more hopeful tone?

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!