Porn: The World’s Most Powerful Addiction

Many people are praying to God, “HELP ME!” They are screaming inside of themselves for help with their addiction to pornography. Porn is the number one addiction in the world, way more than any drug or vice known to man. It does not take much research to learn that this industry is making hundreds of billions of dollars around the world.

Cell phones and the internet have made it easy for anyone to make a few clicks and be instantly connected with someone else. Pornography also has different channels of enticing many others, for example: collect calls with random call girls, strip clubs, movies, magazines, TikTok, apps, games, etc. Porn is not just on the internet, it is everywhere.

Unfortunately, this industry takes no prisoners and makes a fortune while at it. The porn industry is ruining marriages, getting professionals fired, hurting families’ finances, and destroying people’s faith. To discover what can we do about it we must understand why it is so powerful.

First, it involves other people. The truest form of intimacy is to be completely naked with someone else and spend time with them. Being naked with someone is the greatest form of invitation to connect with them and it produces chemicals in our bodies that create an emotional high.

In Genesis 2:15 the Bible reads “it is not good for man to be alone.” God tells us that we are designed to connect with others. God gave us social relationships to bond. He also gave us families to live with and create beautiful memories in the home. Marriage is, without a doubt, the most intimate relationship in the physical world.

Marriage is a bond where you know your spouse’s greatest strengths but also can see them in their most vulnerable state. That is why many want to be married because they want to cherish those moments with that special someone. Unfortunately, we at times can rely on vices to try to give us this “fix” to somehow replace that type of intimacy.

This is why porn is so addictive. It’s not like a substance with which you don’t have an emotional bond with. If your substance is spilled or broken, you may get mad, but you just go ahead and buy some more. But the emotional bond that you can get with seeing someone else naked and in a vulnerable sex position is bizarrely bonding.

I can speak from a man’s point of view that men who are addicted to porn have a tough time bonding with anyone. While they spend hours involved in their vice, they do not realize that they are losing connection with others.

So, what can we do? Connect with the same gender consistently and constantly. In 2 Samuel 11, you will read the story of King David who took time off from his busy military campaign. He sent his army to go off to battle while he remained in the palace all alone. We know from Genesis that it’s not good for man to be alone.

So having idle time, he goes out wandering and notices a beautiful woman bathing. She is naked and David is struck by that vulnerable connection. What King David should’ve done is go back inside his home and be sexually intimate with Abigail, his wife. They were married in 1 Samuel 25. It’s a wonderful and beautiful love story.

But David is not content over the many years of battle. He is worn down and tired. No one can blame him for taking some time off. However, this move by David was selfish because not only did he have wives, but he also had many concubines. 2 Samuel 5:13 tells us that David had both concubines and wives who bore him sons and daughters. This man was having lots of sex.

Why did he want to sleep with Bathsheba? A conqueror always wants to conquer more – they are never satisfied. They could be satisfied with God, their family, and themselves. But when we are giving ourselves over to our vices, we are communicating that we are unsatisfied. We think we are incomplete – not whole.

David was not completely satisfied. His greed wanted more. This mirrors greatly how individuals get addicted to porn. Fifteen minutes leads to one hour. One hour is not enough and that ends up to multiple hours. Then it turns into an entire day and then sadly to a lifetime. Why do you think people can’t just give it up?

The real reason is that the mind has been trained to be reliant on false images in an emotional way. Emotions are fire and they guide us so powerfully. A nation can change by having empathy for one incident. A nation can go into war because they learned of something that triggered the government.

I once saw a movie called Equilibrium that whose premise was if we had no emotions then there would be no more wars and murder. Maybe so. But who wants to live an emotionless life? Nobody. We all want to be free to live our lives as we want. However, emotions can lead us astray and we must break that cycle.

I mentioned in the earlier two paragraphs that getting help from the same gender is key. In 2 Samuel 12, God sends Nathan, a prophet, to correct David’s way of thinking. Why not send a woman? Or a family member? Remember that David involved his “secret service” and his main generals so who would stand up to this mighty King? A man of God. That’s who.

A man of God will help another man become a man of God. This is key in many support groups dealing with addiction because you can’t have a mixed-gender group talking about porn addiction. It wouldn’t be appropriate. Men wouldn’t feel comfortable describing their fetishes with another woman when an actual woman is staring right at them.

It wouldn’t work. So, a man would need another man to listen, confirm and challenge him as part of his sobriety plan. Same for a woman though. A woman shouldn’t be open to a man about her struggles watching porn online. It wouldn’t be a productive talk. A woman may be best suited to talk to another woman to get help. Don’t get me wrong. It’s wonderful for spouses to support each other in their struggles. But it’s best to leave the heavy lifting to the same gender.

Same-gender help is crucial. David would only have listened to a man who had deeper convictions than him. Earlier in King David’s life, he had such a friend by the name of Jonathan. Jonathan and David had many adventures together as they were more than brothers. The bond these men had was unbreakable only by death. Sadly, Jonathan is killed in battle and David mourns for him.

In 2 Samuel 1:25-26 David states “I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother, you were very dear to me, your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women”. You see that David’s heart is real and open about how close these men were. They were born in battle. The wars and adventures they fought there together helped them respect each other to a point where their bond was so tight that no one could interfere.

Just like David we are all capable of having such deep and rich friendships. It takes a lot of work. It’s not easy to be in battles day in and day out. However, if we decide to join in battle with one another then we can help each other have victories.

What great battle is there like the war with porn addiction? It’s a beast. Humiliating, depressing, sad, and hopeless. Therefore, we need those Jonathans in our lives to help us grieve, process, and seek help to overcome our issues. We cannot overcome porn addiction on its own. We need help and not just any help, but the help from someone who is the same gender that is willing to keep us accountable.

This is challenging because we don’t want to be called to a different standard, so we want to keep those defenses up. However, in my many years as a professional, and can only tell you that the secret to the success of many leaving this addiction behind is simply getting constant and consistent training from someone who has deep convictions on this issue.

Don’t expect to get much help from someone who is struggling with the same thing. They can be an encouragement and support, but the true catalyst will be the one with deep conviction because they’ve proved themselves capable of staying sober. We need to learn from them and follow in their footsteps. That is the way we are going to get out of this pit.

My question to you is, who is your Jonathan in your life? Maybe you’re not the one who’s addicted but you want to help. Are you someone that can help others? If so, set up a support group and invite people to learn. Please feel free to use this as a launching pad to start helping others who are enslaved to this vice.

If you are looking for someone else, find out if there’s a group, a minister, or a mentor who can help your friend out. This issue is not only for men. My wife, who helps counsel and mentor women, has told me that women are falling into this trap as well. My wife doesn’t tell me specifics or mentions names of course but she tells me that she is shocked to learn that many women are also dealing with this.

According to Psychology Today, statistics say that about 45% of women watch pornography with their partner and about 35% percent on their own. The thing with watching porn once though is that with or without a partner, the craving continues, and once is not enough. It is spiritual cancer that destroys men’s and women’s lives all over the world. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that it can be overcome with help – help in form of the same-gender partnering with those people to have victories in their lives. Let’s not look down on men because that won’t help. Let’s also not look down on women for struggling.

Let’s help one another to get to the root of the issue, which is accountability. We need best friends to talk to and be open. That’s the definition of true intimacy. We want to know and be known, so let’s practice it and marvel at the changes we see in their lives. Then they will see no need for fake intimacy when they can experience the real thing. God Bless!

Photos:
“Anguish”, Courtesy of Alex Iby, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Laptop”, Courtesy of Glenn Carstens-Peters, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Weighed Down”, Courtesy of Jon Tyson, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Romantic Sunset”, Courtesy of Nathan Dumlao, Unsplash.com, CC0 License

Mental Warfare: How to Overcome Psychological Trauma

Bad things happen to good people all the time. Sadly, it seems like in today’s age this is happening more and more often. Has anyone told you that you are a good person lately? Please be assured that you are. The fact that you are reading this piece is because you are trying to battle the mental warfare of psychological trauma.

I can hear you on the other side asking, “Why me?” and “Why am I experiencing this?” And I’m with you on this one. Why you? No one deserves to be mistreated or abused in any way, especially mentally.

You were created to be in God’s image according to Genesis 1:26-28. Think about how we would describe God…Powerful? All-knowing? Loving? These are some of the first attributes that come to mind when would describe him. Well, if we are made in His image, shouldn’t we show similar characteristics?

You may respond “But I’m not God” and that’s true. None of us are God. We are however made in God’s image. If the Scriptures are still true, then we all must look in the mirror and wonder why we sell ourselves short. This is the truth, but we entertain the lies more often. That’s the true challenge in my honest opinion.

The biggest challenge for us is to reframe our thinking so that we don’t believe those distorted thoughts. There’s an incredible passage in Romans 12:2 “we are transformed by renewing our minds”. It blows my mind that we can alter our thinking! Yes, you can alter the way you think which will then change you from the inside out. For us to change our thinking we must do some work and train ourselves so that we can have a renewed focus.

Jesus went through a traumatic experience in his life, and it was recorded in Matthew 14. In the middle of this gospel, his cousin, John the Baptist is tragically beheaded by an evil ruler at the time: “John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.” In verse 13, the Scripture says, “When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.”

The verse says that Jesus takes time to be alone and the verse stops right there. I love that the Bible leaves it to our imagination on what happened. Take time to read that verse and put yourself in his shoes. What would you be doing? The Bible doesn’t make it easy for us to read what Jesus did, but the word of God allows us to ponder what he may have been doing.

If you didn’t catch it, the word is reframing our mind right there. God wants us to think. I don’t like thinking too much myself, but I know that this mental warfare is a real thing. It’s easier for us to veg out in front of the television. It’s simple to move on to the next thing and try to forget our past hurt.

But we need to see the example of Jesus and how he took the time to think. Reframing our mindset will help us to change our pattern of thinking into a healthier approach to life. That’s the decision we must make today – the decision to reframe the way we think.

Jesus doesn’t stop there. We continue reading on in Matthew 14:15 that after his time of mourning and praying, Jesus meets with a crowd and he is moved to compassion when he sees the needs of the people. “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.”

The word “compassion” in Greek means for your “innermost part to be moved”. Though Jesus is sad about losing a loved one, in one night He pulls himself together enough to start helping others the next day. He didn’t take a shortcut nor was he absent from feeling pain. Jesus suffered and knew how to deal with it. He took the night to pray, process, and grieve.

He did not stop there though. Many others would have but not him. He allowed his heart and mind to start thinking about others and how he could help. Have you ever heard of the phrase “Hurt people, hurt people”? I’m here to tell you that Jesus’ case, “hurt people, help people.”

This compassion started on the inside and was a catalyst for Jesus to help others. This empowerment helped Jesus overcome his grief. I don’t think it resolved everything for Jesus at that time, but it was enough for him to get through the day.

Let’s shift the focus to you. How are you doing with your thought patterns? Are you feeling overwhelmed and faint with hopelessness? People have indeed hurt us, and we need to process that. So, the question remains, who are we talking to? How are we going to get help? Are we going to remain in this rut or are we going to do something about it?

It’s time for us to take back our minds and not lend them to these negative thoughts from our past to control us. Some forms of psychological trauma include verbal abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, racism, etc. These leave an imprint in our minds that is hard to forget.

There are many more, but these are some that stand out in 2021. Some may more emotional than others, and others may be more physical than others. Whether something physical happened or not is not the point. The point is that if it degrades our minds, then you can bet it is probably a form of psychological trauma that has shaped our brains.

Our minds are so powerful that if you think long and hard enough you may be able to convince your body to the point of having somatic symptoms. These symptoms will break your body down. Instead of using it to break us down, let us use our minds to build us up as we move forward. Our minds can fight these demons away so that we can be free.

Jesus was no stranger to mental suffering. He was accused and abused by those who hated him, but his mind was free to the point that it helped him overcome all those obstacles. Jesus set an example of how to deal with mental and emotional pain. He wasn’t physically suffering but he suffered for the loss he had. We must act and take small steps so that we can also succeed.

In the rest of chapter 14 in the gospel of Matthew, we see three examples of something important to which we should pay attention. Jesus feeds 5,000 families with a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish. He then works with Peter to walk on water which must’ve been a remarkable sight. Peter doesn’t last long on the water but before he falls Jesus states that he had little faith.

The fact that Peter walked on water with little faith is something mind-blowing to me because I would think you would need a stratosphere type of faith. Not so with Jesus, however. Even when we doubt and take some steps, he can make us “walk on water.” Lastly, when Jesus lands at his next destination, many people approach him and touch the edge of his cloak to get healed.

What surprises me is that the people didn’t have to even touch him physically! They didn’t have to hold his hand; they didn’t need to hug him or have him touch their foreheads to show some form of connection. They must’ve had so much reverence for him that in those times that wasn’t considered permissible – perhaps because it would’ve been disrespectful.

Even so, many barely grabbed a part of his cloak and were healed because of their small faith. I’m sure by now you can figure it out. The constant denominator in these three examples is that we only need to have small faith for God to work. Many times, we feel we need to be perfectly healed to live life, or that we must “get over” something to function.

The way I read it, this seems contrary to widely held belief. Jesus was hurt and was able to serve others despite his mental and emotional pain. We can do the same. Despite the hurt, we can help others. What small step of faith can you take today? We can call someone and ask for help. We can start journaling. We can set up a therapy appointment. We can go to the beach to pray.

We don’t have to do something enormous. We don’t need to recover before helping even fully someone else out. Do you think Jesus was one hundred percent resolved after his cousin was murdered? I don’t think so. But what he did was profound. He was able to serve as he was healing himself. Your faith doesn’t have to something astronomical. It doesn’t have to be out of this world. It can be something small.

If we do a tiny bit every day, we can take major leaps in our lives. This is how you and I can overcome our mental warfare. We can overcome our psychological trauma. We see the example of Jesus and it makes sense! So, if it’s good enough for Jesus then it should be good enough for us. Decide to something small today and get help. You will be victorious. I leave you with this Scripture to inspire you:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, 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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.Philippians 4:4-9

Christian Counseling for Psychological Trauma

If you would like additional help and support regarding how to overcome psychological trauma, I invite you to contact me or one of the other counselors in the counselor directory to schedule an appointment. It would be my honor to serve you in this capacity.

Photos:
“Caged”, Courtesy of Christopher Windus, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Drowning”, Courtesy of Nikko Macaspac, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Disequilibrium”, Courtesy of Joshua Fuller, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Walking Down the Road”, Courtesy of Emma Simpson, Unsplash.com, CC0 License

Looking for Love: How to Overcome Emotional Affairs

Have you ever heard of the phrase, “Looking for love in all the wrong places”? It’s a phrase we throw around to our peers when we casually talk about a hopeless romantic who may be searching for love in areas where they will not find true love, such as emotional affairs. This idea of true love is what many are searching for.

Think about the following: fame, fortune, popularity, success, power, family, and so forth. Why do we want all these things? We want them because we want to be loved. Maybe we won’t admit it but at the end of the day, we work hard because we are searching for that endless love. There are some interesting proverbs in the Bible that support this.

What a person desires is unfailing love; better to be poor than a liar. – Proverbs 19:22

Many claim to have unfailing love, but a faithful person who can find? – Proverbs 20:6

Unfailing love is what we all want right? That comfort of knowing that your partner or loved one wants to prioritize you and to hold you dearly. We look forward to that warmth and affection with our partners because it makes us feel so special. I remember the first few dates I went with my wife Nicole how easily I had butterflies in my stomach. I couldn’t help it.

My emotions and thoughts just overwhelmed me with this notion that I wanted to be with Nicole and no one else. Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, birthdays, vacations, holidays are all special because we cherish these moments with those we genuinely love.

The flip side to that coin also is that we want a partner who is willing to be tried and true with us. Forgiving one another, being patient, understanding, supplying encouragement and support are all aspects of when things aren’t as blissful. We prefer that our partners work with us during challenging times and not give up on us when we royally mess it up.

So good or bad, we want true love that overrides all situations. Those two proverbs aren’t there by accident. They are there to provide insight into how we think and to bring to the forefront what our mission is. Our mission isn’t to be right, or to amass wealth, or to be famous. The goal is to find the cherished love that is so evasive at times. The question is how are we searching for this love?

2021 will be a year of growth for many of us and I’d dare say that growing in our relationships is a very top priority for many of us. 2020 brought hurt and discouragement for many of us also. Addiction grew, domestic violence went up, many betrayals surfaced because the pandemic of COVID-19 exposed our true natures.

One of those exposures may have been emotional affairs. Some may have caught their partners watching pornography on the internet. Others could have wondered why their finances were disappearing and still others may have been that substance abuse was uncovered. However, emotional affairs may explain why you are reading this article.

Maybe you were the partner that was affected by a spouse who connected with someone online in an inappropriate way. Maybe your partner has a bad habit of being flirtatious with the opposite gender with certain staff at a certain establishment which pains you to see. Despite bringing it up you may get accused of overreacting.

Another possibility is that maybe you or someone who is in an emotional affair and you’re wondering if you’ve gone too far. This article interested you because you are at a crossroads in your relationship, and you may have ventured out of the boundaries in an emotional relationship and now you are contemplating on what you are going to do.

Lastly, you could be a friend of someone who is either a victim or a perpetrator and you want to help them out. I applaud you along with our readers for your noble heart to research and understand ways to help your friends potentially stay together for the long haul. Not sure where you are at in this, but you’ve come to the right place to get some extra resources that can help them lovingly and spiritually.

What’s Wrong with Emotional Affairs?

Why are emotional affairs wrong? I want to tackle this first because some may say “there’s nothing physical so what’s the issue?” Indeed, an emotional relationship may not include any physical involvement but there’s a reason it hurts our partners. When we enter a relationship, we may not show our deal-breakers upfront. So, some partners may think they can enjoy their relationship if there’s nothing physical with someone else.

It’s kind of a taboo thing but nothing that could have enough substance to become a deal-breaker. We may point out that the Bible says that the only three ways out of a marriage are death, adultery, or abandonment. As an evangelist in my church, I can agree with that. However, emotional affairs cause major disruption in your marriage.

Think about it this way, would you want someone to be with you at the altar ready to say, “I do” only to hear them state that they will only be faithful to you “99% of the time”? No one would accept that. We want our partners to genuinely love us 100% of the time. It would be insulting to have dinner with your spouse only for them to be daydreaming of some crush they have.

Emotional relationships are a matter of the heart and that’s what needs to be addressed. Jesus calls this out as “matters of the heart”:

For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come – sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person. Mark 7:21-23

Jesus is calling out these physical issues, but he is addressing them from the perspective of the heart. Usually, perpetrators of emotional relationships state that they were reacting to someone else flirting or making advances. The perpetrator needs to understand that those boundaries aren’t to be crossed because something that has no strong boundary needs to be questioned.

We have doors in our home, locks on our windows, alarms for our cars, codes, and passwords to our computers for what reason? It’s to protect what we cherish. We protect what we love. If the boundaries are off, then we invite danger to our most intimate places and Jesus takes the ax to the root by saying that we need to look at our heart.

Adultery doesn’t just happen, it evolves, and these scriptures point out that it started within us. It could be why in the gospel it says that the most important commandment is to love our Lord with all our Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength. God wants all of us. He doesn’t accept partial love.

That expectation makes sense to me because I don’t want my wife to be thinking of some guy who flirted with her at the supermarket earlier that day. If we are having dinner, I want her to be present with me. We all want that. Should that situation arise, my wife has some great women in her life with whom she can be open about that temptation. She can seek input from women who will follow up with her and pray to God for her to be victorious in that area of her life.

The same thing goes for me. If I am tempted, I can call a brother in Christ who can listen and provide me with input so that I can tackle this from the beginning instead of it running ramped in my heart. Remember that these expectations are supposed to be high because we are searching for unfailing love. Our partners deserve to have us be present with them in mind, body, and soul.

Tips for Overcoming Emotional Infidelity

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a solid approach for confronting emotional affairs. A foundational core principle of CBT is that it helps us understand the relationship between our thoughts, emotions, and actions. Anyone who is either a victim or perpetrator of emotional affairs should seek professional help to confront this at once to salvage their relationship.

A trained Cognitive Behavioral Therapist can validate your struggles from the start because they want to listen to your story without judgment. Does this mean that the perpetrator can be validated as well? Absolutely. As professionals, we are not here to take sides. Our goal is to provide you with tools to discover what is going on and work together to move forward in healthier ways.

Most Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT) are trained in some form or fashion to provide CBT because it is one of the most widely used approaches for therapy. One of the main reasons it is widely used and accepted is because it deals with problems from the inside and out. Adultery is physical which means in CBT language that it can be labeled as an action.

But how would you go about an emotional affair? Can people just sweep it under the rug? Not with CBT. It can be classified as an emotional issue. The therapist would not just focus on emotions but would help the client process their thoughts behind their emotions and what actions they took.

With CBT it all works together. Not one part is left out. Interestingly, the gospels say that if we are to love the Lord then we need to do it all with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. There is no shortcutting this process.

This approach is excellent for those who have been hurt by emotional infidelity because they feel the pain of being betrayed. They can explore those feelings and realize past trauma tied into the current hurt. The process continues as to what they are thinking and possible actions they can take to empower themselves. This is one of many possible approaches but in my work with hundreds of clients, I can’t think of a better approach.

Here are some tips to overcome emotional affairs based on the CBT approach that would include Thoughts, Emotions, Actions (T.E.A.) dialogue:

Thoughts

What thoughts are we processing? This is crucial to start with because so many times we rush to the evidence (phone, internet, talks, etc.) Once an emotional affair has been discovered, we need to ask both partners what they are thinking. One may think that the relationship is over. But is that true? Many people have different emotions, and they stem from what we think.

We don’t condone the affair, but we must try to listen to what our thought process was like to get to the root, recalling Jesus’ words to focus on the heart. The injured party should also voice insecurities, betrayal, shame, embarrassment, etc. The party who was emotionally unfaithful should be a great listener and confirm their partner’s thought process as well.

Remember this rule, if you do something or feel something, you must have thought of it beforehand. Unfaithfulness of any kind is not to be dismissed as a reaction incident. The mind played a role all along.

Emotions

What are we both feeling? What goes on inside of us internally is something to be appreciated. We love romance, zeal, and passion. Those same emotions can but in two ways because someone who is charismatic could also be a big-time flirt. So, we need to address our emotions and validate them further recognizing that emotions are tools and not weapons.

Validation by all parties, the partners, support, and the therapist are crucial. There is no such thing as crazy emotions. The betrayer should allow ample time for the hurting individual to gather their emotions and join in their mourning. This can be a painstaking process but one that leads to success more times than not.

Actions

The whole story must be told. This may sound unfair to the one who is betrayed but it is paramount that both spouses share their entire story of what happened without judgment. We don’t need to be sentimental with the party who committed the infidelity, but we need to understand what is going on in their hearts.

Sharing your story will cause discomfort but it will help the healing process the more times you share it. Get help and support. You don’t need to tell the world but view it as an opportunity to empower yourself. Recommit yourselves to one another, set up boundaries, and have weekly accountable times with your support system.

In conclusion, I want to say that no flaw is fatal. People who either commit emotional affairs or are betrayed by them can still recover and do well. We can make some terrible mistakes, but the grace of Jesus helps us during those crucial times. These are hurtful times but if we seek help and support there’s no telling of what incredible progress we can make as couples.

Photos:
“Admiring the View”, Courtesy of Paola Chaaya, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “God is Love”, Courtesy of Hassan Saleh, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Watching the Bay”, Courtesy of Charlie Foster, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Just Married”, Courtesy of Desiree Fawn, Unsplash.com, CC0 License

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

The mental health issue known as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is complex and often difficult to understand. It is not helped by the fact that it shares the common feature of extreme mood swings with Bipolar Disorder, making them easy to confuse, even though they are not the same.

Borderline Personality Disorder: What is it?

The DSM-V defines Borderline Personality Disorder as “a pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts as indicated by five (or more) of the following:”

  • Black and white attitude or a failure to see any middle ground
  • Rapid and extreme mood swings
  • Lack of empathy for others
  • Characteristic impulsivity in more than one activity that carries a potential risk
  • A pattern of instability in relationships ranging from love to hate
  • Fear (whether real or imagined) of abandonment and extreme efforts to avoid it
  • Characteristically improper self-image or sense of self
  • Persistent suicidal behavior, threats, or gestures
  • Self-harm
  • Anger issues
  • Persistently feeling empty
  • Paranoia
  • Symptoms of dissociation

What causes BPD?

Like with many mental health issues, researchers and therapists are not sure what causes Borderline Personality Disorder. However, research indicates that there may be some connection between a person’s biology and their personal history or present situation.

Some factors which may be partly responsible for bringing on Borderline Personality Disorder are:

Family history of BPD

Studies have shown that a person whose parent(s) or sibling(s) have Borderline Personality Disorder has much greater odds developing it themselves.

Brain structure

Scientists have long recognized that certain parts of the brain are the seat of various kinds of emotions and exercise control over our impulses. Quite often, those with Borderline Personality Disorder also suffer from poor impulse control and emotional troubles. Researchers are not sure whether the brain issues are a result of the disorder or the cause.

History of trauma

Though having experienced trauma doesn’t necessarily mean that a person will develop Borderline Personality Disorder, it has become clear that Borderline Personality Disorder often correlates with past trauma. The trauma can be of any kind, including, but not limited to accidents, neglect or abuse, separation, or abandonment.

Stigma

The sad truth is that Borderline Personality Disorder carries with it a stigma. In fact, some consider it to be more stigmatized than any other mental health issue. People often view those with Borderline Personality Disorder as being manipulative, attention-grabbing, or resistant to treatment.

Because of the stigma, many who need it never pursue treatment. This may be a direct result of the stigma itself, or it may be due to the stigma attached to a negative or failed treatment experience. For this reason, it is crucial to seek out therapists who are specially trained to help people who have Borderline Personality Disorder.

Self-Harm

Many who suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder engage in behavior referred to as non-suicidal self-injury, or NSSI. Unlike with suicidal tendencies, a person who engages in NSSI is not attempting to commit suicide.

People engage in self-harm for a variety of reasons, such as exercising control, getting their mind off of their situation, a desire to feel anything rather than numbness, a means of dealing with intense emotions, or even a sense of euphoria. Even though it is not the same as suicide, it is critical to take self-harm very seriously. Of course, any actual suicidal threats should be taken seriously as well.

Treating Borderline Personality Disorder

It should come as no surprise that there is no magic cure-all for Borderline Personality Disorder. For those who seek help from a qualified mental health professional, the treatment they receive may help to reduce or even alleviate their symptoms.

A proper diagnosis is critical as well as an accurate determination of the level of care that will be needed. Are office visits sufficient, or will medication or more intensive care be needed? Once these questions are answered, the following treatment options may be considered.

Psychotherapy

Dialectal Behavior Therapy (DBT) is probably the most well-known and commonly used method to treat Borderline Personality Disorder. It teaches the person to become more mindful as they learn emotional regulation, distress tolerance, radical openness, and interpersonal effectiveness. Group therapy can be especially helpful since the patient will be able to learn and practice all of these techniques in a group setting.

A DBT intensive program is a good option for those that qualify. However, it requires a large time commitment that not everyone will be able to commit to. Consultation between sessions may be required to deal with occasional issues that come up and most of these programs offer them.

Medication

Although no medication exists at this time to treat Borderline Personality Disorder, some medications can help to treat symptoms of concurrent conditions such as anxiety or depression. Antidepressants, antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers can be successfully employed.

Hospitalization

Short hospitalization may be required for those who engage in self-harm or who have suicidal thoughts or tendencies. Those who have been diagnosed with BPD may find themselves spending a lot of time in emergency rooms or in psychiatric hospitals.

What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)?

Psychology Today the best explanation of DBT.

“Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) provides clients with new skills to manage painful emotions and decrease conflict in relationships. DBT specifically focuses on providing therapeutic skills in four key areas. First, mindfulness focuses on improving an individual’s ability to accept and be present in the current moment. Second, distress tolerance is geared toward increasing a person’s tolerance of negative emotion, rather than trying to escape from it. Third, emotion regulation covers strategies to manage and change intense emotions that are causing problems in a person’s life. Fourth, interpersonal effectiveness consists of techniques that allow a person to communicate with others in a way that is assertive, maintains self-respect, and strengthens relationships.”

Conclusion

Borderline Personality Disorder is not easy to treat, but it is helpful to remember that there is hope. If a person seeks help it is possible to recover and get relief from their symptoms when the proper treatment is employed. If you or someone you know is suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder, get help today. A new life awaits!

Feel free to browse our online counselor directory to find a counselor qualified to meet your needs.

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Do You Need Anger Management Therapy?

You probably know someone who you feel needs help to manage their anger. Most people do. They look around, noting all those who act angry all the time or have frequent anger outbursts. But, sometimes, they fail to see that they too need a bit (or a lot) of help managing their own anger. What about you? Do you need anger management therapy?

Although it’s certainly true that many people who need assistance barely show any anger at all, are they really as happy and carefree as they seem to be? Or, are they internalizing the struggle they are having with anger? Those who suppress their anger need anger management therapy just as much, if not more.

Do you know an individual who’s having severe consequences due to anger? Maybe there is a person you know who appears to be all together. Still, they might be going through the storm alone because they are not expressing their angry feelings. The process of therapy for anger management is the first real step in the healing process of hurts, disappointments, rage, and other life controlling problems.

What is Anger Management Therapy?

Anger management therapy focuses on assisting a client in understanding their anger, pinpointing the root, and laying out healthy ways to deal with or cope with symptoms of anger.

Anger management therapy can take place within a group situation where there are many people who gather together and share their anger thoughts and feelings with others. Within a group situation, it’s hopeful to gain some considerable insight in regards to your individual anger through attentively listening to how the other members in the group express theirs.

Counseling for anger management or anger management group therapy is always open for everyone to join in. No criteria exist that must be met in order to receive help for anger problems. It’s a reality that anger tends to commonly exist in those who don’t express it outwardly and openly.

Those individuals would greatly benefit from therapy for anger management since they would find out how to identify and acknowledge exactly what they feel. They would also learn ways to share those feelings with others.

There is no rule that says you have to have lost control of your anger before you can get help. Management of anger is beneficial to those who are easily identifiable as being angry since their outburst is often a symptom stemming from another emotion which isn’t recognized yet. The expression they are currently exhibiting may also bring on even more complications and problems.

Therapy for managing anger can appear very different. It depends on who is participating. Whole families can be in therapy in which case, the whole family may react the same when it comes to being angry.

That warrants digging deeper to discover the norms of their family systems and what root issues might affect them all. Perhaps shouting and throwing things was passed down from generation to generation and it’s typical behavior in the unit. Or, maybe there was a lot of abuse which caused the explosions on a regular basis.

If it happens to be a couple who is in therapy and they are trying to figure out the best way to manage anger issues in the relationship, it is likely that the therapy will be centered on the patterns and responses they have toward each other. When children are part of counseling, however, a different variety of tools will most likely be implemented. These tools help children realize when they are upset and angry and other things concerning anger.

Group settings allow everyone a chance to listen to each other and then to reflect how their anger reveals itself when they’re interacting with other. The group is not controlled by anyone so it is truly a free flowing method that benefits all.

While group sessions may be challenging if an individual is just learning how to manage and identify their emotions of anger, but at the same time, it’s extremely rewarding too.

When Should I Seek Anger Management Therapy?

You may be experiencing a lot of suffering because of past or current hurts that could easily cause you to feel angry. Sometimes hurt comes out as anger. If this emotion seems to be getting more exaggerated, getting into therapy could be the best thing you’ve ever done.

Failure to recognize that the behaviors within your life are actually being controlled by and connected to anger and frustration is typical. The emotions can be detached so you don’t see the connection like feeling angry when sadness is really at the root. Anger management is able to help you get to the source so you can deal with it effectively and have peace.

Maybe you’re expressing the anger you feel in a conducive and healthy way but are worried about the judgment that others inflict on you when you are angry. Or, maybe you’re upset because you feel that you should not even feel angry. Everyone has their own opinion of what the presence of anger means and no two views are exactly the same.

There are those who honestly believe that anger is alright and they express their anger in ways that don’t hurt themselves or to others. Others are confused about anger, especially about it in a Christian light. They are concerned about how God views it.

The Scriptures show us what the Bible says about anger and how Christians are expected to handle it. In Ephesians 4:26, we are commissioned not to fall into sin because of anger and not to allow the sun to set while being angry still. Proverbs 14:29 teaches us to control our anger and not to act foolishly because of it.

Even when reading the passages, you may be wondering how they apply to your personal life. Seeking counsel may be very helpful if you are feeling confused. It will encourage you to dig down to the roots so that you better understand your anger and discover how it fits into your spiritual life.

The Scriptures tell us that God becomes angry at times. Looking at how He expresses His anger can help us know how to manage our own. In Deuteronomy 32:19, we’re told that God grew angry and drew back. That tells us he did not act on his angry feelings. We can see in Romans 9:22 that God is still very patient even when angry.

Anger Management for Children

It is difficult for children who suffer from anger issues to display enough symptoms to meet the requirements for a mental health defined disorder that would place them in anger management counseling. Those who do may end up being diagnosed with an adjustment disorder, conduct disorder, or a similar category.

It’s imperative to have several family sessions so the family unit can learn healthy ways to respond to the child’s anger and to be helpful rather than harmful so as to support the child and not the problem. Being on the same page is priceless

Therapy isn’t just for children who’ve been formally diagnosed with anger related problems who can reap the benefits of counseling for anger management, but also, those who’ve experienced a significant loss or who have been in foster care or even those who may be angry about events they’ve been through, like their parents getting divorced. Medical illnesses can also be a root of anger. There are many hurtful or difficult situations which can be the deep-rooted reason a child reacts in anger.

It’s important to note that anger management counseling certainly does not have to spiral out of control before a child can experience counseling. Prevention can be attained by addressing behavioral issues before they reach the boiling point. Many problems can be avoided when you take this preventative approach.

Treatment for Anger Issues

Now you may be curious as to what you might get out of therapy for anger management. There are techniques that are implemented before anger is experienced and some that are used after you feel angry. These things will help you prepare in advance for all different situations and scenarios. The more you know, the more you can avoid being caught off guard.

Understanding the things that cause you to feel angry is vital when it comes to working through anger problems. Whether it’s traffic that angers you, the tone of voice people use or being taken for granted, pinpointing the source or sources is important to finding a solution.

In the midst of your irritation, you might not be able to find a workable solution but if you take a step back and process your feelings and your anger, you can put a plan in place. That is yet another anger management technique learned in therapy.

Another method for managing your anger is to discover how to ask questions that clarify the situation. Poor communication tends to escalate anger. Clarification can change everything in many cases. Because anger is often spun from misunderstandings, it’s wise to ask someone that you may have misunderstood for a bit of clarity.

Coping skills are imperative when it comes to managing anger, such as talking to a friend, enjoying music, painting or drawing, playing video games, and even writing. The object is to find something that distracts you from the anger you are feeling long enough to focus on the issue in a clear headed way. The idea is not to ignore the anger but to take enough time to cope with it instead of act on it. It’s all about finding healthy ways to manage anger.

Expressing anger tends to be a thing that individuals do or don’t do on a regular basis. There are times that expressing anger in the open leads to huge consequences like being arrested or losing a relationship. Learning effective ways to deal with and express anger can be difficult but constructive.

Counseling is an excellent way to help manage your anger. It is a spot that’s safe and you can start learning techniques that will help you deal with anger in a positive and good way. Counseling is also quite conducive for children. They are encouraged to take such creative actions as drawing pictures to get in touch with feelings of anger. Adults can even do the same. They can write down the words so it’s not necessary to hunt for them. Writing a letter is a good example of this type of therapy.

These techniques are just a few of the many tools available through counseling. If you or someone you know struggles with anger, reach out today and get the help you are longing for. Our counselors are here to walk with you on your journey to be free from anger once and for all.

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15 Verses for Grief: Hope in the Midst of Loss

If you’ve lost a loved one, it’s natural to feel gutted and in shock. You might feel overcome with emotion, lost, unsure of where to turn, and as though a heavy weight has taken up residence on your shoulders.

You’ve probably thought many of the following:

  • I’d give anything for one more hug, kiss, or to hear her voice one more time
  • I feel guilty for not spending more time with him
  • This is like a nightmare I cannot wake up from
  • I don’t know if I’ll ever get over this
  • Why did God have to take him?
  • She was my hero; I talked to her every day—what will I do now?

Grief can be overwhelming and the way you process it will look different than the way another person processes it. Your experience is unique to you and the journey to the other side of it will not be the same. If your relationship with the individual was healthy and close, you might feel an extreme sense of loneliness. If your relationship was strained, you may feel immense guilt or confusion.

Grief is not linear. It can be messy and mixed and some people may experience stages of grief and others may not. It can come in waves and ebb and flow. The wonderful news, however, is that regardless of how grief is taking shape in your life, the Lord is present in the midst of it.

He sees what you are going through, the emotions running through your heart and mind, and that you need comfort. And, He has provided strength for you through the scriptures as you navigate your grief. There are many bible verses about loss, but we have put together a list of the top 21 we feel speak to the depth of what you may be experiencing and how God shows up in the midst of it.

15 Comforting Bible Verses for Grief

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. – Psalm 147:3

In this verse, we see God’s nature revealed. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. When you’ve experienced the death of a loved one and feel brokenhearted and wounded, remember that God will bind you up and heal you.

Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow week with sorrow, my soul and body with grief. – Psalm 31:19

This is a cry from David’s heart. Many people who have lost a loved one don’t know what to say to God. They go silent and can’t bring themselves to pray. When you don’t know what to say to God or what to pray, let this scripture be the cry of your heart. David felt just like you feel, and if all you can do is recite this scripture every single day, give yourself permission to do so. God in His mercy will hear your cry and be merciful.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. – Psalm 34:18

This scripture gives us another glimpse into the character of God. He is close to you and He will save you.

Weeping may remain for a night, but joy comes in the morning. – Psalm 30:5

When the nights seem long, when darkness surrounds you, remind yourself that God’s word promises that “joy comes in the morning.” Things are never as dark as they appear in the night. The joy may not come immediately the very next morning, but each morning as time passes, the joy edges closer.

Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her heart. – Hosea 2:14

This verse is another great comfort. It reminds us that God speaks tenderly to our hearts. In this time of grief and mourning, as you’re searching for verses about death, remember that some of the most comforting scriptures might be the ones that don’t even mention death, but speak to how God relates to you. During this time, when your heart is fragile, it’s a great comfort to know that the Lord will speak tenderly to your heart.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. – Psalm 73:26

Use this Scripture as a declaration and reminder of the hope you have in the midst of your grief. Your flesh and heart may fail, but God is the strength of your heart. Lean on Him in your confusion and pain.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. – Matthew 5:4

This verse is a favorite of many who are looking for Bible verses for death. You can rest in the assurance that comfort will come to you when you mourn and you will be blessed because of that comfort. God will not leave you alone in your grief. His word promises that He’s near and He will often send people to surround you in your time of suffering.

My eyes have grown dim with grief. My whole frame is but a shadow. – Job 17:7

In the midst of his grief, Job was vulnerable and communicated how he felt. Cry out just like Job. Tell God how you feel, tell your friends how you feel, or journal how you feel. You do not have to brush your grief under a rug or bury it in hopes that it will go away. Give expression to your feelings and allow them to pour out.

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

This verse reminds us that, as Christians, our trials are temporary and that they will result in praise, honor, and glory when Jesus Christ is revealed. Your eternal home and perspective shift the permanence of what you’re currently feeling. Although what you’re going through is very difficult, it will also strengthen your faith.

For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though He brings grief, He will show compassion. So great is His unfailing love. For He does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone. – Lamentations 3:31-33

God shows compassion and His love is unfailing. This verse also reminds us that God does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone, which is a great truth to remember when you are tempted to blame God.

But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless. – Psalm 10:14

The Lord is a very present helper. Imagine Him taking your grief in His hand and examining it. Next, imagine him becoming your helper. God’s sees your trouble and His nature is to help you.

I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. – Romans 9:2

You are not alone in your feelings and grief. This verse is a reminder that many before you—even those will tremendous faith—experienced great sorrow and anguish of heart.

When you need to put words to your grief, but can’t, turn to this Scripture. Recite this Scripture to God or to a friend. Allow yourself to mourn and take comfort that others have mourned and are mourning just like you.

And many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. – John 11:19

This Bible verse for the passing of a loved one reminds us that God has knit within us a desire to comfort others after a loss. Ask the Lord to send many believers to comfort you in your time of loss, and thank Him as He does. This support and community will be a crucial part of your healing and recovery.

David thought, “I will show kindness to Hanun the son of Nahash, because his father showed kindness to me.” So David sent a delegation to express his sympathy to Hanun concerning his father. When David’s envoys came to Hanun in the land of the Ammonites to express sympathy to him. – 1 Chronicles 19:10

This is another reminder of how God impresses upon His people to show kindness and express sympathy. Ask God to surround you with people who will show kindness and sympathy as you navigate your grief, whether it takes you a few months or years.

You may have people in your life who don’t understand what you’re going through or who grow impatient with you as you try to find your way out of grief, so it can be very important to be surrounded by those who show kindness.

Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow. – Jeremiah 31:13

Again, this verse points to God’s heart for replacing hurt and pain with comfort and joy.

We hope these verses for grief and the nature of God as comforter and healer assist you on your journey as you navigate the loss of a loved one.

Save this link and return to it again and again when you need to turn to the Lord for strength. If you know someone who has lost a loved one, share it with them as a source of comfort.

Christian Grief Counseling

A Christian counselor can be a great help and support when you’ve lost someone you love and it is not uncommon for many people who have suffered loss to see a counselor on their healing journey. Contact us to learn more about our Christian counseling for the loss of a loved one.

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Feeling Anxious? Bible Verses for Dealing with Anxiety

We have all been there – the night before a big meeting, exam, sport or some other momentous event; the morning of a job interview; the day before the rent is due; a few hours before your date arrives; the first day of school; the moments before getting up to speak to an audience; seeing on your calendar that your next doctor’s appointment is fast approaching, or that a certain family member is coming to visit – all of these and many other situations can induce anxiety.

Most of us have things in our lives that can trigger an anxious reaction. Whether from fear of people or circumstances that seem bigger than our capacities to handle them, anxiety is a common reaction we have to what life throws at us.

What does the Bible have to say about anxiety? Is it possible to joyfully meet life head on without worrying?

A Command and a Promise

Often, the first verse that comes to mind when talking about anxiety is from Paul’s letter to the Christians in Philippi – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

These two verses are a bit of a powder keg, carrying both a command and a promise. The command not to be anxious can sound a little like asking someone to stop doing something as natural as breathing. When you struggle with something like anxiety, whether occasionally or more frequently, being told to simply “stop” seems unhelpful.

However, Paul doesn’t simply instruct the Philippians (and us) to just stop being anxious. It does us no good to stop one behavior without replacing it with something else. Instead of being anxious, we are told that prayer accompanied by thanksgiving should replace our anxiety.

Paul urges us to redirect our attention away from our fears, away from the circumstance that’s inducing anxiety, and toward God who is bigger than our fears and our circumstances. Not only does being thankful make us feel good, but giving thanks also reminds us of the other occasions God has come through for us. We can face this new situation with the confidence that we’ve gone through other circumstances and emerged in one piece.

God Cares for You

In his sermon on the mount, Jesus reminds his followers of twin truths – worrying doesn’t help, and God cares for you. Firstly, Jesus reminds us why we should not worry about our food and clothing:

Consider the ravens: they do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn, yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!Luke 12: 24, 27-28

Because God takes care of everything else in nature, like birds and plants, we should also expect him to take care of us. We should not be anxious about our daily needs because God cares for us. As Peter put it, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Jesus also points out the futility of worrying: “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” (Luke 12:25-6). Our worrying and anxiety, Jesus says, does us no good, and so we’re better off not giving in to those impulses.

“Therefore,” Jesus says, “do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34). In place of worry, what are we to do? “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).

Again, our focus is being taken from our circumstances to the God who stands behind and is bigger than our circumstances and concerns. Occupying our hearts and minds with the larger, pressing reality of God’s Kingdom is a big enough concern to engage our whole being. It puts our daily concerns into a proper perspective when they threaten to overwhelm us with anxiety.

Don’t Fear the Unknown

One of the biggest generators of anxiety and worry is the future. We don’t know whether we’re going to get the job, or whether we’ll get through this illness, or if we’ll meet our expenses this month, and this can cause us to worry about how all of this will be resolved. In addition to the care that God has for us, Jesus tells us that God knows we need these things that concern us (Matthew 6:32).

God knows all things, from our thoughts to all our comings and goings. The Psalmist puts it like this – “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:16). There is nothing about our life which is an unknown to God. There are no surprises for him.

As a result, we can step into every day with the confidence that whatever happens, none of it will surprise God, and that his children are in his loving hands. Even when hard times come, we can face them with confidence knowing that God knows the outcome, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). If God, who is love, is working for our good in all things, even the scary stuff, that gives us the courage to face each day without anxiety crowding in.

How is it that many people can display great boldness in the face of perilous situations? How could Daniel go into the lions’ den, or his three friends into the fire without hesitation? How other heroes like Esther take their lives in their hands and face down kings?

Knowing that we are loved by God, who is working out our good in all things, drives out fear (1 John 4:18). Sometimes we are fearful of the power that certain people have over us and become anxious to please them. Armed with God’s promise that he will never leave nor forsake us (such security!), we can say with confidence – “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6).

He has Overcome the World

The world we live in is not safe. A variety of hardships come our way all the time. At a time of great testing for his disciples, Jesus gave them this promise – “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

The first part of that promise is something most of us would prefer Jesus hadn’t said. However, it’s true. We do have trouble in this world. We do encounter many things that bring us discomfort and anxiety. If Jesus hadn’t said the first part, the second part would have felt naïve and shallow. But because Jesus knows exactly what we’re facing, his encouragement to take heart because he has overcome the world is that much more potent.

After he’d been crucified and raised from the dead, and just before he ascended into heaven, Jesus said this to his disciples – “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18). Jesus wields this power and exercises it for his people.

We can cast our anxieties and cares upon him, knowing that he can take care of all our todays and tomorrows. He is working all things for our good – even the rough patches we go through – and so we will not be afraid of or anxious about what comes our way. Take heart! Jesus has overcome the world.

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5 Comforting Bible Verses for Mourning: Finding Hope in God’s Word

With every death, comes a sense of loss. While friends and loved ones may comfort you in your time of mourning, they cannot always understand the gaping hole of loss that you feel, particularly if they have not experienced a similar type of grief.

God’s Word will speak to your heart and mind, as the Lord alone knows exactly where you are.

There are many Bible verses about loss that you can turn to, trusting that through meditation on Scripture, God will give you the peace and hope that you need and the strength to get through each day.

5 Bible Verses for Mourning

Here are 5 Bible verses for mourning to comfort you in a time of loss:

You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress; my God in whom I trust.” – Psalm 91:1-2

If you’re experiencing the deep depths of sorrow and it feels impossible to function, remind yourself through this and other Bible verses about loss that, as a Christian, you live under the shelter and protection of the Almighty God, creator of the universe and loving, trustworthy Father, who numbers every hair on your head.

He promises refuge from the raging torrents of emotion that come with grief, and his strength and safety is nothing less than that of a fortress. Psalm 62:1-2 repeats this imagery, “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” We may feel shaken, but we never move into a position of vulnerability, outside of the realm of his secure grasp.

What’s more, providing comfort is God’s speciality – “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3). In the midst of grief is God himself. He will meet us, give us Himself, fill the void left by our loved ones, warm our hearts, lift our burdens and swaddle us in His love. Through deepened faith and trust, we can experience deep and true joy, even in our heartache.

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord you God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. – Isaiah 43:1-3

This verse does not refer to loss specifically, but it follows on from the idea above that God does not leave us alone in our times of difficulty. We don’t have to figure out how to handle grief on our own; he walks every step of the way with us.

Think of Jesus who was “despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). Jesus lived life in this broken world and knew the torment of pain. As our perfect High Priest, he fully understands our anguish, and intercedes for us (Hebrews 7:25), as does the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26).

He empathises with us when it feels as though the waters will close in on us or the flames will engulf. God hates death even more than we do, and that is why he sent His son. In our lowest moments, He is Immanuel – God with us.

May God, the source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace by means of your faith in him, so that your hope will continue to grow by the power of the Holy Spirit.– Romans 15:13

One might not think that Bible verses about loss would contain words like hope, joy, and peace, but that is the miracle of living a life redeemed by Christ. When it feels like we’ve been stripped of a physical blessing in this life, our soul is laid bare and all we have is our faith in God, the source of hope.

We may not feel like we have faith, and we may not always see God as the source of hope, but our feelings do not change the reality of who God is and what He has done. Despite the reality of our loss, God can give us hope and strength for each day.

“When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me,” says Psalm 138:3. Psalm 112:1, 7-8 offers further encouragement: “Praise the Lord! Happy are those who fear the Lord. They are not afraid of evil tidings; their hearts are firm, secure in the Lord. Their hearts are steady, they will not be afraid.” When life calls us to carry on with the day-to-day, despite our emotional state, God will grant us peace and a steady heart to do what we need to do without fear.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.Revelation 21:4

The reason why we, as Christians, can have hope, is that our grief, no matter how devastating, is temporary. We grieve genuinely (when in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 Paul says to not “grieve as others do who have no hope,” he assumes that grieving is an important and necessary process) but do not despair. We have full sorrow, but also full hope – the end is coming and it is glorious!

As Paul says in Romans 8:18-3, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” If this life brings nothing but pain, sadness, and disappointment; it’s okay – everything is going to be made right again when Jesus Christ returns. As we meditate on Bible verses for mourning and look at Scripture for loss, we can be assured that our tears will not be there in heaven.

For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. – 1 Thessalonians 4:14

If the person whose passing you are mourning was a Christian, that means that they are more alive than ever, and are experiencing life, joy, and glory beyond anything that we can imagine, in God’s presence. It may seem that God did not “heal” or “protect” them, but He has in fact done that in a much deeper, fuller way.

When we know for certain that our loved one is free and alive, it can lessen our sadness as we reflect on the reality of heaven. When we meditate on Bible verses about loss, we can remind ourselves that our loss is not eternal – we will be reunited with our loved one again.

Christian Grief Counseling in Huntington Beach

Dealing with loss is never easy, and sometimes God’s Word seems distant. In these instances, reach out to a Christian friend who can pray for you, and even read these Bible verses for mourning to you. A big way in which God provides great comfort to us is through the body of believers, supporting each other in times of crisis.

If you’re looking for additional support in the form of Christian counseling, please don’t hesitate to contact one of the grief counselors in Huntington Beach listed in our counselor directory.

Photos:
“Open Bible”, Courtesy of Aaron Burden, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Waiting for a Lover”, Courtesy of Jonatan Becerra, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “The Message of God”, Courtesy of Alina Strong, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “A Shoulder to Cry On”, Courtesy of Toimetaja Tolkeburoo, Unsplash.com, CC0 License

What Does the Bible Say About Anger?

Have you ever wondered, “What does the Bible say about anger?” If so, this article is for you.

Anger is an emotion that everyone experiences, but it’s also an emotion that is viewed quite negatively. There seems to be a consensus in society that anger is straight up wrong but this is a misguided perception. To classify anger as inherently wrong is like saying that everyone who struggles with anger issues is “bad” or even “evil.”

That’s just not the case. Most people don’t get out of bed and “decide” to get angry for no reason. Anger is an emotion, and like all emotions, it’s usually provoked by something.

So, what does the Bible say about anger? The Bible talks about two kinds of anger: righteous anger and unrighteous anger. It’s important to remember that God expresses anger in the Bible and if anger is an emotion that God expresses, then it’s impossible for it to be evil.

God’s anger is in response to injustice, which makes it righteous anger. Christians can also become righteously angry about injustices. God’s anger is justified because it’s a demonstration of His love and the pain that He experiences when His children are hurting themselves and others.

It is unrighteous anger that is sinful. Flying into a rage over something that is not injustice is when anger issues become more serious. This kind of anger can lead to a lot of problems in relationships, employment, and school and can also lead to legal action.

What Does the Bible Say about Anger?

If you’re struggling with anger issues, then the Bible is a great place to turn for help and advice. We’re going to look at five verses about anger the Bible, to get God’s perspective on how anger should be handled.

Don’t Let Anger Control You

And don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil . . . Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. – Ephesians 4:26-27, 31-32 (NLT)

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul is really direct about the consequences of being controlled by your anger. When your anger issues are in control of you, you’re opening yourself up to attacks from the enemy, Satan, who is always looking out for weak spots that he can exploit.

What does it mean to not “let the sun go down while you are still angry”? Well, this part of the verse is talking about how you can settle into a state of constant, bubbling anger that rapidly becomes feelings of bitterness and resentment. As we discussed earlier, anger in itself isn’t a sin, but holding onto it and allowing your anger to fester is not healthy.

Paul goes on to give some practical advice (although in practice it’s not quite as simple as it sounds) about getting rid of “bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander.” I don’t think there’s an expectation that as a Christian you will never get angry, but this verse exhorts you to take control of your anger by practicing kindness and forgiveness just as God practices kindness and forgiveness towards us.

Don’t Be Quick to Respond in Anger

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.James 1:19-20 (NLT)

In the heat of the moment, getting excessively angry can cause a whole heap of trouble. If you’re naturally quick-tempered, you’ll know how easy it is to say something in anger and immediately regret it. The trouble is, once you’ve said it, you can’t take it back, and hurtful things said as an angry outburst can tear relationships apart.

If you’re prone to flashes of temper, then heeding the advice in this Scripture on anger can help you to manage your anger issues. When we respond in anger, we’re often foregoing the “quick to listen” part of these verses. Taking the time to listen to the other person’s perspective instead of immediately flying into a rage can allow you space to consider a more godly reaction.

You don’t have to agree with someone else’s views, but nor do you have to become angry. When you’re slow to speak, you have a better chance to choose the right words that can convey your views without causing a massive argument. Unrighteous anger is almost always a knee-jerk reaction. Practice righteousness by carefully considering your response, instead.

Follow Jesus’ Example

It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. In the Temple area, he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.” – John 2:13-17 (NLT)

Jesus’ anger in the Temple is a great insight into what righteous anger looks like. It’s easy to justify your own anger issues as being righteous, but this passage of Scriptures about anger might cause you to reconsider whether your anger really is righteous.

Getting angry about injustice and wrongdoing in the way that Jesus did is okay. Jesus was consumed by anger because of the disrespectful way that the people were behaving in the Temple court. It was God’s house and they were using it as a marketplace. By doing that, they were insulting God and Jesus had every right to fly into a rage, given that He was preparing to die for them.

If you find yourself trying to justify your anger as being righteous, you need to search your heart to see whether this is really the case or if you are looking for an excuse to be angry. Jesus was angry on behalf of His Father, and his response was to berate the people for turning the Temple into a den of thieves.

Getting angry on behalf of someone else can be righteous but it’s not an excuse to behave inappropriately. Notice that Jesus wasn’t angry about something that was done to Him. You may feel that it’s justified to be angry if you’ve experienced an injustice, but the Bible really talks about righteous anger being about injustices that happen to others. It’s hard to have a righteous perspective when you’re the victim.

God’s Approach to Anger

The Lord is slow to anger and filled with unfailing love, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion. But he does not excuse the guilty. He lays the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected – even children in the third and fourth generations.Numbers 14:18 (NLT)

As Christians, our ultimate goal is to be more like God (or Christlike), so it makes sense that we should follow God’s example when it comes to anger. This passage in Numbers reminds us that although God does get angry, it takes a lot to make Him angry.

If you have anger issues and find yourself becoming very easily angry, you might want to spend some time thinking about how God would react in your situation. Or, even more poignantly, what the world would be like if God was more hot-tempered.

This passage also takes into account that although God doesn’t get angry easily and He is filled to overflowing with love for his children, and He forgives our transgressions, He is just in dealing with those who are unrepentant. This leads to the next verse.

Revenge is for God to Take

Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. Romans 12:19 (NLT)

When you hold onto anger, it quickly becomes resentment and bitterness and can lead to a desire for revenge. If someone has hurt you deliberately, then it’s natural to feel that you deserve some kind of recompense, in the form of revenge. However, the Bible is firm in reminding us that it is not for us to take revenge.

It can be tough to surrender your desire for revenge and trust that God will ensure that ultimately justice is served. No matter how difficult it is to let go of your anger and resentment, not doing so will only hurt you more. Holding onto anger can cause depression and anxiety not to mention giving the devil a hold over you.

Christian Counseling for Anger Issues

When you’re struggling with anger issues, it’s helpful to explore what the Bible says about anger, but you may also benefit from getting in touch with a Christian counselor. Christian counseling gives you the opportunity to discuss your problems with anger with a trained professional who will bring a Biblical perspective (not only a psychological one) to each session.

Working with a Christian counselor, you can explore more Scriptures about anger and discuss your feelings about the Biblical understanding of good and bad types of anger. You’ll learn tools to help manage your anger in a more godly way and have a safe space to discuss the underlying issues that may be affecting your anger issues.

Featured photo:
“Wandering,” courtesy of Priscilla du Preez, unsplash.com, CC0 License

How to Recognize Binge Eating Disorder

Sixteen year-old Addison has a great, loving family and plenty of friends. She excels in school and is also very active in the church’s youth department and in sports as well. Addison’s issues are deep within, however. She has trouble expressing her emotions and therefore struggles alone in her sadness and insecurities.

When the day is done and the night closes in, as everyone else sleeps, Addie feels drawn to the kitchen area. The day’s stresses fade away as she begins to relax over the food she finds there. From cookies, chips, and cake to a gallon of chocolate ice cream, she eats all she can manage to get her hands upon. Then she makes her way to her bedroom where more snacks she’s stashed await her.

At first, Addy experiences relief as she eats. She does not, however, enjoy feeling powerless over the situation and not in control. Once she realizes the amount of food she’s eaten, she is overridden with shame. Addy swears to herself that she will never repeat the action again.

She tries to live up to her promise but cannot. The cycle continues, over and over again. Every time she feels stressed out, she uses food for an outlet. She has no clue what to do about her situation or who to turn to. She doubts anyone would understand. She feels extremely along and afraid.

Brady has just turned thirteen. He’s known as a nice kid and he is also the joker of the classroom. He’s got friends but isn’t at all secure in himself or his friendships. He is always paranoid that his friends will decide they don’t like him anymore due to something he says or does.

His jokes are just a cover for his fear. Food is one thing he can rely upon to give him the happiness he is longing for. When sad, stressed, or bored, food is always there to lift him up and offer him relief, at least temporarily.

It wasn’t until Brady got into therapy that he realized the connection between food and his feelings. He knew he was drawn to food, but prior to therapy, he didn’t know the full implications and how very serious the situation was. When he felt he was not in control, he knew he could eat food and he’d feel better, if only for a moment.

The eating then turned to shame, especially when comments were made about his love for food by his parents. His eating caused him to gain weight which prompted bullying by his peers. The situation eventually escalated to the point that he required therapy. Now he is learning to identify and express his feelings. He is developing skills that he needs in order to cope with the emotions that used to overwhelm him.

Tammy is a young woman of thirty-four years of age. She has had issues with her body image and problems with her self-esteem for as long as she can remember. Her weight and appearance have been a struggle ever since she was a child.

She faced ridicule and bullying by her peers which turned into a severe distrust of others. She doubts who she is on the inside and feels very alienated. She is grown now but her job is quite stressful and very fast-paced. Keeping up with the job is tough and keeping up with life is even tougher.

There are two things that help Tammy deal with her stresses: food and alcohol. It seems she is forever having one drink too many or eating too much, too quickly. She feels remorseful after doing either. But, she feels very alone and overwhelmed.

She is doing all she knows how to do to cope with the way she feels. Therapy has crossed her mind but she thinks she should be able to handle her emotions and feelings on her own. Besides, unleashing all the pain is a scary thought. She doesn’t need the added stress.

The concept of being an “emotional eater” simply means to use eating in order to cope. It isn’t a new thing and most people have heard of it but it is far more serious than most realize. Binge Eating Disorder differs from just eating too much at one sitting. It isn’t simply eating for reasons that are emotionally based either. While both scenarios are problematic, they don’t entail the qualifications for being a binge type eater.

What Binge Eating Disorder Really Is

Binge Eating Disorder was recognized by the Association of the American Psychiatric’s list of mental disorders in 2013. Before that, it was in still in research although it was deemed a serious problem by a myriad of professionals throughout the course of many years. Finally, it has its rightful place as a disorder with a name and a set of criteria which distinguish it.

The BED diagnosis criteria are as follows:

  • The person must have repeated episodes of bing-eating.
  • The definition of a binge consists of possessing three or more of the five following characteristics:
    • Eating considerably quicker than normal
    • Continuing consumption of food beyond being comfortably full
    • Eating large quantities of food even though one is not feeling hungry
    • Eating alone because of being embarrassed by the portion sizes
    • Having feelings of guilt, depression, or disappointment with oneself following the binge-driven behavior
  • In addition, the person who engages in the binges must feel significant emotional distress or remorse about the binge they have taken part in.

The criteria for this disorder is different from that of bulimia nervosa, however, because an individual with BED doesn’t frequently take part in behaviors that are aimed at preventing weight gain.

Negative emotions usually come prior to the episode of binging. It can also be characterized by triggering from other root stressors. That is the reason it’s often regarded as a coping mechanism which is closely related to stress and other negative emotions.

As mentioned before, it is typical with this disorder for food to be consumed in a rush instead of at a pace that is normal. There is little to no mindfulness in the process. The person is likely to eat as an effort to relieve emotions and/or to escape stress.

Shame tends to be an ever-present part of the equation. It is common for those with BED to experience it on a regular basis. It is also typical for one to attempt to hide their shame by engaging in their behavior disorder which only increases and intensifies the negative ways they were already feeling. That is how cyclical behavioral patterns begin and continue.

Additional Common Diagnoses

Those who have been diagnosed with BED quite often meet additional criteria pertaining to other diagnoses as well. It’s not unusual for them to also display signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, and even bipolar disorders. Another typical problem is substance and alcohol abuse. For this reason, a professional who is trained to recognize BED will also generally check for additional diagnoses as well.

Medical Complications

This type of eating disorder should be taken very seriously. Heart disease, diabetes type 2, muscle and joint issues, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, and gastrointestinal problems may be present. It’s vital with a BED assessment to also have an evaluation of medical health as well as one of mental health.

BED Risk Factors

There are a number of factors that put a person at more risk, typically. Those things tend to be common with those who have BED.

Some of those risk factors are:

  • Persistent dieting, prior to or in conjunction with active BED
  • Significant weight change history
  • Being overweight
  • Having low self-esteem
  • Not being able to emotionally cope or express oneself
  • Being unhappy with bodily appearance
  • Possessing other mental health disorders like having bipolar disorder, substance abuse issues, or depression
  • Being bullied or made fun of about weight
  • Emotional, sexual, or any other type of trauma or neglect
  • Experiencing a significant loss such as a breakup or death

Warning Signs of Binge Eating Disorder

Remember that weight is not always an indicator that someone has BED. The problem can occur in those who don’t have weight issues and those who have weight issues may not have BED.

Shame is frequently experienced with BED. Due to shame, hiding the symptoms and behaviors is very common. Though not conclusive, the signs below may be an indicator of the disorder if one or more are present.

  • Trouble eating in social situations, preferring to eat when alone
  • Obsessing over food and/or binge planning
  • Eating fast with a lack of control
  • Frequently feeling constipated or bloated
  • Eating past the point of feeling full
  • Discovering food wrappers, hoarding food, finding large quantities of food missing
  • Elevated withdrawal from activities and relationships and/or becoming isolated more
  • Habitually beginning new diets and/or odd meal rituals and/or frequently skipping meals
  • Fluctuation of weight
  • Unhealthy fixation and focus on bodily shape and/or weight
  • Gastrointestinal problems

Binge Eating Disorder Treatment

If a loved one, or yourself, is displaying BED symptoms, it’s imperative to seek a professional evaluation by a specialist in the field. Because BED is likely to include serious medical complications, it is recommended that a physician also evaluate the patient.

In addition, a dietitian can be a very important professional involved in the treatment since they are able to assist a person with the diagnosis and the disorder. They can play a crucial role in the patient understanding and coming to grips with the implications BED has on their health. Nutritional needs are discussed and medication is sometimes prescribed.

If BED is determined to be present, a number of psychological treatments exist which can be of help. Some of these methods are as follows:

  • Cognitive Behavior based therapy, or CBT, is a method which assists individuals in understanding the direct relationship thoughts, behaviors, and feelings have. It helps them develop positive and effective strategies to help alter negative patterns.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Technique, known also as DBT, is a helpful approach to teaching new skills which can be focused on so that emotions can be regulated during stressful times and during temptations to eat irregularly. Both individual and group settings are generally a part of this type of therapy.
  • Interpersonal Psychotherapy, also known as IP, is a technique which helps individuals explore relationships such as loss, conflict, and so forth. It examines how they perceive themselves alongside others and takes a look at how those components might play into their eating disorder and its behaviors.

There are even more treatment types that might be recommended for BED, depending on the individual needs that you may have which flow from our life experiences, like trauma, abuse, etc. A qualified licensed therapist will be able to lovingly point you in the direction that will be the most helpful where a full plan of treatment is concerned.

It is overwhelming to live with BED. Hopeless feelings can consume you and sadness may be a constant emotion you feel. But, there is a better way. There’s hope just around the corner when you begin your journey to healing and recovery. Don’t put it off. Call today and walk in the sunshine. A brand new life awaits you.

Photos:
“Happy”, Courtesy of Matias Saw, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Altered Conscious”, Courtesy of Alex Perez, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Frustrated,” courtesy of Tim Gouw, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Stack of Pancakes”, Courtesy of Maria Mekht, Unsplash.com, CC0 License