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  • 15/10/2019 - Julie Fant 1 Comment
    The Aftermath of Criticism

    Facing Criticism

    I once told my Pastor’s wife, "I can’t believe you are wearing those leopard jeans to church."  Later I realized how it must have sounded to her. Truthfully I had seen those same jeans in a store where we both shop, and I hadn’t had the courage to buy them.  But she had, and she looked fabulous that night. It wasn’t like she wore them onstage or on a Sunday morning. But I had sounded critical of her without intending to.  I was really in awe of her courage and admiring her style of dress.  

    Pastors and their wives face criticism. Sometimes it’s as simple as a comment about clothing.  Other times people criticize about their words, preaching style, behavior. Ministers live under a microscope, in the glass house.  Unfortunately the criticism sticks. It’s pretty likely that the word can roll around in your head for a long time after it’s said. We feel judged.  We feel attacked.  

    That’s me. Now what?

    Evaluate

    Look and see what merit there is in the criticism.  Sometimes there is validity in the criticism. Ask yourself if the person was trying to help, to make things better, to help you avoid mistakes, or suggest improvements.  Or are they a cranky, rude, or mean person? Consider the source.  

    Admit you aren’t perfect

    We can’t see our blind spots. And we can’t catch little problems that can pop up.  Nor can we foresee the results. None of us can. Twice in Proverbs it says, "In the multitude of counselors there is safety."  Proverbs 15:22 it says "without counsel, plans go awry." Don’t forget, God created a few people with an eye for detail, planning, and administration who want to step in and help, but it comes out their mouth sounding like a criticism.  (Truthfully, I’m one of those and have stepped on a few toes in my days.) 

    When we can make the admission that we missed something or that we aren’t perfect, it changes the dynamic in the room and the critical person feels heard. If they are trying to help, it’ll soften them.  

    When it rolls around in your head

    I know I’m not the only one who hears critical comments over and over in my thoughts and has imaginary arguments with that person. And I win.  Yet we need to be aware that when this happens, it is also a sign that we need to deal with it. 

    One of the most effective things I’ve learned from personal experience is called "thought stopping." When I realize I’m going down that path, I chose to STOP those thoughts and ask God to help me go in other directions.  I begin praying about it. And I have to be careful that my prayers don’t lead me right back into that imaginary argument. I’ve learned over time when I stop those negative thoughts, that I’m a much happier person. Why? Because thoughts are chemical reactions and they dump toxins into your body every time you have negative or anxious thinking.  The toxins build up over time and can change or mood, or even cause bouts of depression. 

    The other things I do is "replacing".  I recognize unhealthy thinking and start replacing it with prayer, worship, or the Word.  Sometimes I just say the name of Jesus over and over to bring his presence into the room and help me out. 

    Forgiveness

    I’ve learned the hard way that ruminating over an offence means I need to forgive someone.  It’s a signal to me that it’s time to do some deeper work. 

    Give yourself permission to make mistakes

    One of the most powerful tools I’ve learned in recent years is to give myself permission to be screw things up.  Of course I never mess up purposely. But when I offer myself the same kindness that I offer others, and then I’m treating myself with respect and love.  And I deserve it as much as they do. We’re all equal in Christ’s eyes, right?

    You see, Christ knew we would make mistakes.  In fact he was willing to die for all the wrong we’ve done. Yet we often hold it against ourselves. What if we forgive ourselves the same way Christ forgives us?

    Acknowledge

    It’s important to acknowledge the feelings we’re having.  Some people allow their feelings to drive them. Others try to balance it by not listening to feelings at all.  The truth is somewhere in the middle. God created us with feelings. When we acknowledge them, we are honoring the way he created us.  That may mean acknowledging feelings of embarrassment, guilt, anger, or betrayal. Acknowledging them does not mean we’re acting on them.  Our feelings give us information of how we want to live our lives. It’s healthier to allow the feelings to surface, rather than avoiding them.  They generally stay for a while and dissipate faster if they are acknowledged. Even if they are deep, last a long time, or are more intense than we expected they would be.  No feeling is forever. 

    Dr. Henry Cloud, author of Boundaries, wrote in a recent email "Feelings of anger, sadness, or fear are gifts because they alert us to what’s going on. They tell us something is wrong… and that we need to do something about it." 

    Speaking of Boundaries

    Why would boundaries by part of this discussion?  Boundaries in leadership means knowing you’re your role is as a leader, what you are responsible for and what you are not.  You are not responsible for their reaction. You are responsible for your own behavior.  

    Boundaries also tell us where to stop.  You can set boundaries on your own emotions.  You can choose to think about that difficult circumstance for a limited time, and then chose to move on.  You can also decide if you are going to carry their criticism with you or lay it down.  

    Boundaries tell us what is within our power to fix.  It reminds me of the serenity prayer: Lord give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.  There are things that are simply not within our power to change. One of those is people’s reaction to the decisions of leaders. Their reaction is more a reflection of what’s going on inside of them, than it is a reflection of how you are leading. 

    Don’t let criticism stop you from doing anything

    People are going to talk. People are going to say things.  If you feel the Lord is leading you somewhere, listen to Him instead.  And sometimes it’s just common sense. You need to make a decision as a leader; you know it’s the right thing to do.  Not everyone will be on board. They never are. That’s just part of leadership. 

    Don’t forget, this is what Satan wants

    Satan wants to kill steal and destroy.  One of the ways he does it is through criticism.  He wants to render you ineffective. Don’t fall for his trap.  

    Balance this perspective with evaluating yourself and seeking out people who will speak into your life when you get off track.

    In summary, as Winston Churchill said, "You have enemies? Good.  That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in you life."

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  • 01/10/2019 - Julie Fant 2 Comments
    Mentorship vs. Couples Counseling and When to Refer to Couples Therapy

    Two of my close friends are involved in spearheading a Marriage and Family Enrichment program.  We’ve been collaborating on how to more effectively impact marriages in our community.  We’re an iron sharpening iron type of team. Through multiple conversations, they challenged me to put more thought into the differences between marriage mentorship/pastoral care and marital counseling.  While they both have their place, I would  like to help you recognize the differences between them. 

    For this purpose, I will include pastors who do not have a license to treat mental health issues as a marriage mentor.  Both pastors and marriage mentors work hard to train themselves in helping marriages by reading books on bettering marriage, self help studies, and attending seminars.  However, even with the effort they invest, unfortunately it does not compare to the training a licensed professional had in their Master’s program or the years of therapy experience they gained.

    As I sat at my friends’ dining table, the discussion rolled around to the importance of education, as well as mentorship.  As I look back, almost every  area of my life has been changed by education; starting with how I learned to brush my teeth as a child, to cooking my first meal in Home Ec class, how I started practicing therapy once I received my degree, to how I practice now after years of experience, and the impact of continuing education.  Some of the things I have learned have changed my viewpoint on the world.  I for one, would never have experienced the deeper level of joy I have in my relationships now, without the knowledge I have gained in the last couple of years at continuing education classes.  It truly can be said that "without knowledge, the people suffer." Therefore, perhaps we should place a higher importance on marital education and consider it to be "continuing education" as well.

    For clarification purposes, marriage education and mentorship includes information on the benefits of marriage, what to expect along the way – a roadmap for the normal, expected stages and challenges all couples face in marriage, and the skills and behaviors that will help couples build strong bonds and keep their love alive. Whereas  couples therapy is provided by a licensed clinical therapist with clinical experience working with two people in a romantic relationship resolve conflict, gain insight, and deepen their bond through therapeutic interventions and treatment.

    Marriage education and mentorship is preventative care.  Much in the same way we go to the dentist for cleanings, our marriage needs routine care.  Cleanings help us recognize when we are in danger of tooth decay.  I remember my dentist recommending I floss daily because I was on the verge of gingivitis.  Ugh! What if I hadn’t listened to his advice?  What if I had ignored the need for cleanings entirely?  Mentorship and education programs can help us recognize the flaws in our ways of relating.  They can help us right the wrongs before it becomes a disease. 

    But what about the people who wait to see a dentist until they are in pain?  Perhaps they have a cavity or infection.  Pain grows slowly.  Most people put off care when they are in pain, whether it’s the dentist, the family doctor, or even their marriage.  Most couples wait until they have been in serious pain for 5 years before they seek help.  Imagine how severe the problems would be after having an infection for 5 years and not seeking treatment.

    What about the person who decides to do their own dental work?  Can you imagine someone going to the dentist AFTER they have pulled out their own teeth?  "Hey doc, I just couldn’t stand the pain.  I needed to separate myself from it!" What if it were preventable, but they needed special tools, strategies and medications to help them?  Imagine how the dentist would feel at this stage, the frustration and helplessness, the "I could have helped you!"  feeling.  Yet this is how many people handle the pain within their marriage, they pull the tooth and separate because of the pain they feel. Then they come to therapy.

    So then how do you know when a couple should be referred to a professional therapist?  Many good hearted, well-intended mentors and pastors are not sure where the line is.  While I am aware that the skill level of the helpers can vary greatly, there are still some issues that require the assistance of a licensed professional. Below you will find my guidelines for knowing when the time is right to refer a couple to therapy.  

    Abuse – Domestic violence is a situation where even counselors should not provide therapy. First, revelation of the abuse should be done outside of the hearing of the abuser.  If abuse is present, we recommend that couples postpone marital therapy until these issues are addressed individually, especially with the abuser.  Doing mentorship or couples counseling places the victim at risk for more abuse. Asking both partners to assume responsibility for their behavior only serves to give the abuser more power and ways to blame the other.  Abuse is the problem of the abuser, and the choice to continue to behave that way lies solely with the abuser.  The relationship will never work as long as abuse is happening.

    Past Sexual Abuse – It is common for people who have been through past sexual abuse to struggle in their adult lives in some areas.  Helping people with sexual abuse requires extensive training that is often not available to those who are not mental health professionals.  Survivors can be inadvertently damaged by well-intentioned people who don’t have a good understanding of how trauma impacts the body, soul, and spirit. Mental health professionals should be seeking out specific training in an area before they begin to treat someone.  Thus, when past sexual abuse is affecting the marital relationship, this is a good time to refer to a therapist who has expertise in this area.  Be mindful, some people may not be ready to seek help.  It can be suggested, but not pressured or coerced. 

    Adultery – The average person doesn’t know how to help couples recover from affairs.  This isn’t something that is common knowledge.  Even if a mentor has gone through the difficult process themselves, they do not have the specific and complete set of skills to help others navigate the difficult passage, as each situation has some individual aspects that the mentor may not have experienced.  Therapy should not be done with a couple in which one partner is still actively involved in an affair. Couples therapy will not work because the betraying partner has divided loyalties. The affair must be over in order for the relationship to be repaired.

    Addiction– In situations of addiction, issues cannot be effectively addressed if an addiction is active.  Both in mentorship and in counseling, the addiction must be addressed before couples therapy can be effective.

    Divorce– When divorce is looming, the marriage is obviously in crisis.  There are some questions pastors and mentors can ask to help assess how close or impending the divorce is.   If a spouse is having thoughts of separation frequently, considering divorce at some time other than during an argument, or discussing it with someone other than their spouse, there is reason for concern.  However, it is more concerning if they are suggesting it to their partner or discussing the issue of separation and divorce seriously.  Divorce is most likely when they are making specific plans, such as: setting up an independent bank account, making inquiries about separation (i.e. how long it takes to get a divorce, grounds for divorce, cost involved), contacting an attorney to make preliminary plans for separation, discussing custody arrangements, how possessions and bills will be divided up, asking that separation be permanent, or making specific plans, such as, how to break the news to their partner.

    While I recognize there is a continuum between these circumstances and where pastoral help or mentorship will help, judgment will be needed. Be mindful, when the helper feels overwhelmed after meeting with the couple or if they don’t quite know how to help, then a therapist may need to be involved. Even trained therapists recognize how difficult marriage therapy is and compare it to flying a helicopter inside a hurricane. 

    Many churches offer mentorship in hopes it will save marriages. However, mentorship’s goal is to help a normal or somewhat troubled marriage improve, whereas counseling’s goal is to help a dysfunctional marriage shift into a healthy state.

    Comparing mentorship help with therapy is similar to comparing coaching to therapy.  Coaching is for people who are generally healthy but still need support. According to the International Coach Federation coaching is, "partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential…" This is for working with a normal person without significant dysfunction.  Whereas therapy is helping a dysfunctional person move to functioning.  The purpose is to treat mental and emotional problems, evaluate, diagnose, and provide professional expertise and guidance.  The clinical care should be based on research which shows this type of care has proven to be helpful and be a norm that is typically used in the practice of therapy.

    That being said, you can draw the boundary at: If you or your marriage is ill, see a therapist; if you are focused on prevention and maximizing your relationship, see a mentor.  Both have their role in helping the Kingdom.

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  • 16/09/2019 - divinetherapy 2 Comments
    Pastor, feel like an Imposter?

    You know that feeling you get right after someone has picked apart your best idea, or when that couple leaves your office who’s marriage is in more trouble than you are qualified to put back together? Maybe it was after last months board meeting when you realized bible school did not prepare you for THIS. Sure you preach and amazing sermon, teach a class, organize a program, make hospital calls like a champ and shake hands with a big smile.. but no one taught you that you might feel inadequate while staring at your diploma and credentials hanging on the wall, or that those feelings would last longer than you dare admit. Being a pastor is one of the hardest jobs around. Looking from the outside, people see a gifted spiritual leader.  Yet on the inside, insecurities may lurk. It’s not uncommon for both pastors and ministers to have thoughts like: "If they knew my struggles, they wouldn’t ask me for help,"  "What if I don’t know what to say to them?"

    Moses had the same struggles.  He stood before God at the burning bush, and at first he said "Here I am."  Yet as he got closer, he hid his face because he was afraid to look at God.  When God said he was sending Moses to Pharaoh, Moses honestly spoke his fears to God.  He said "Who am I that I should go…"  "What shall I tell them?" and "What if they do not believe me or listen to me…" "I have never been eloquent." "Please send someone else."  Does this sound like Moses had some insecurities? Does this sound like you? 

    We all wonder Who am I that I should go into the ministry?  In our moments of facing the anxiety of God’s true plan, it’s normal to forget that He has already prepared us uniquely for this task.

     When I opened my therapy practice, I had fears stronger than I had ever experienced before.  I was hearing a constant stream of thoughts, "you’re normal, what do you have to offer?"  "You’ll start this practice, and then have to close shop because you can’t live off the income."  "You are just a regular person; people won’t be drawn to you."  It was a constant barrage of negative thinking about my abilities as a therapist.  Sometimes it was overwhelming.   I wanted to quit.  Thank goodness for God providing several sermons at the right moment to keep me going in this direction. Meanwhile, another part of me spoke up and said, "If Satan is fighting you this hard, you must be going in the right direction. 

    It wasn’t until online therapist groups started talking about Imposter Syndrome that it started to make sense.  Imposter syndrome is a "pervasive feeling of self-doubt, insecurity, or fraudulence despite often overwhelming evidence to the contrary.  It strikes smart, successful individuals."  Then I better understood why I had the constant stream of negative thinking unlike any I had ever experienced.

    While writing this article, I was conversing with one of my many friends in ministry, Victor Rodriguez, who helped me put it into words.  He said "People view you as this "mighty warrior" or "perfect" individual.  But people don’t realize the type of pressure that puts on us.  We are just regular people like them.  The only difference is we have a special calling on our lives.  Aside from that we are faulty, broken, and in need of our savior.  That alone creates insecurities because we feel like we have to meet that "standard" in order to not let people down. On one hand it’s good because it keeps you in check; however, failing to reach the standard can be detrimental to our self-esteem.  We realize that God looks at us in a different light, but it still causes insecurities."

    That sounds like me.  Now what?

    Know that feeling like a fraud is normal.

    Successful people frequently deal with Imposter Syndrome both inside the church and out.  It makes sense that Satan would use this as a tactic to try to keep spiritual leaders from moving forward in their calling.  There is an element of shame and fear of being discovered, so sufferers keep silent.

    Remind yourself of the things God has already done in your life

    Look and see how God perfectly prepared you for this ministry.  There were many stepping stones for you to get here.  Remind yourself of the doors that God opened.  Remember the struggles you’ve been through that have equipped you to help others in certain areas. 

    Look at how God has equipped you for this task

    Moses forgot that God had prepared him since childhood. Moses was raised in the palace.  He knew the ways of royalty, their culture, the protocol, and the ins and outs of presenting yourself before the Pharaoh and how to do that in the appropriate manner.  This preparation made him uniquely capable of going before the pharaoh and having those difficult and confrontive conversations.  Yet Moses questioned "who am I that I should go?" 

    Seek support

    The best way to move through the feelings of being an imposter is to seek out mentorship or support of others in the ministry community.  Navigating unfamiliar water can be treacherous without a mentor. While vulnerability is difficult, most people respond with kindness and support.  If they say "snap out of it," they may not be the right person to confide in.

    Sometimes it’s ok to not know what you are doing.

    Anytime you are learning to navigate in new areas of ministry it’s going to be nerve racking.  When I first began couples therapy I was more nervous than I’d ever been in my life.  During first few sessions, I watched the clock CREEP and counted minute by minute how it passed.  Meanwhile, I’m praying that I could make it 5 more minutes without sticking my foot in my mouth.  Then, I was surprised they wanted to reschedule.  And I kept being surprised for the next several months.

    It’s ok to not know what you are doing. There is a learning curve associated with every new type of ministry.  It’s going to feel nerve wracking.  And that’s normal… very, very normal.

    Have an expectation of initial failure

    When we bought our first boat, I was trying to learn to drive it onto the trailer.  Mind you, I had no previous boating experience at that point.  My new brother-in-law and his friend were watching.  It was nerve wracking as they watched my first attempts. So embarrassing!  I gave up trying because they could see every mistake I made and so I decided I’d learn another day when no one was watching. They were kind and encouraged me that it was a learnable skill and that I would be able to do it with practice.  While I felt like a failure that day, I have carried their words with me whenever I try new things.

    You don’t have to know what you are doing.  If you make mistakes, own up to them and say to people things like: "It’s my first time doing this."  "I’ll get the hang of this soon, will you bear with me?" We’re all going to make mistakes when trying new things, and that’s ok.  Most people will go with the flow.  When we are authentic about our failures, it tends to draw people towards us.  Isn’t that what we want? In fact, they often reach out to help if it’s within their power.

    Make friends with failure.  Failure gives us information.  Not information about our worth, but information about what does and doesn’t work in our situation.  Every great success has a series of missteps before the final product.

    Even if you finished the learning curve…

    Expect to have feelings of being an imposter from time to time.  My pastor is usually transparent with our congregation.  He has admitted that the few seconds walking from the pew to the pulpit are the hardest of all and that is when he has a strong sense of worthlessness and "who am I?" questions.  This is after decades of ministry. Extend the same grace to yourself that you do to others when you have this feeling.  

    Remember Satan wants us out of the game

    Satan is the father of lies.  Be prepared, he’s going to whisper insecurity in your ear your entire ministry career.  He wants to defeat us.  If he can’t, he wants to make it more challenging.  When we are insecure, we tend to speak up less.  Thus we make less impact on those around us.  When we stand and fight his lies instead of cowering to them, then we’ve got a fighting chance at spreading the good news!

    Walk out your calling

    When you hear Satan whispering anxiety and insecurity in your ears, try this exercise.  Tune into that part of you that knows God called you for this moment. God planted something inside you deep down in your core.  Identify what it is. Find your core word.  For example, mine is "emotional healing."  My friends have core words like: Freedom, Joy, Generosity …   Identifying your core word can center you in the times of adversity.  It can steer you.  Get very, very clear on what God has called you to do because it directs your path. 

    Out of our core word, ministry is birthed.  My ministry looks like therapy but has the education of social work.  But the core is much deeper.  I feel deep inside me that I was created for emotional healing and support, and that has been with me since my teens, even before I knew what career path I would take. 

    When does it stop?

    Do you think Moses’ struggle with imposter syndrome magically stopped after he left the burning bush?  No, absolutely not!  The biblical evidence proves in the beginning Aaron spoke more often to Pharaoh and the Israelites than Moses.

    Let’s examine the dynamics in the relationship between Pharaoh, Moses and Aaron.  It wasn’t an easy task for Moses to continue to confront Pharaoh.  He cried to the Lord, "Why Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people?" after Pharaoh’s treatment of the Israelites became more harsh.  Moses questioned God "why would Pharaoh listen to me?" (Ex 6:30).  Moses and Aaron spoke to Pharaoh numerous times with seemingly little effect.  Pharaoh’s heart was hardened.  Yet, Moses continued to return to the palace to advocate for the Israelites’ freedom.   Moses was fully in tune with God, and God kept providing direction about what to say and when to say it.  Just think about how hard it is to go back and confront someone over and over, especially when their heart is continually stubborn and hard.  Most of us would give up. 

    As you read those chapters, it’s as if Moses voice gets stronger and Aaron speaks less frequently.  By the time of Passover, Moses summoned the elders to give the instructions for the first Passover; he spoke to them without the assistance of Aaron. 

    I see how the personal journey Moses was on, this continual confronting of Pharaoh, multiple meetings with Israelite elders, and even the Israelites becoming angry with him- all these served the purpose of making Moses more confident.  What if Moses hadn’t experienced those things? Would he have been as prepared to lead the Israelites through the journey in the wilderness?  Especially with all their complaining?  No, I don’t think he would have been prepared. Remember, before all this happened, Moses was afraid to speak.  I think God used these encounters with Pharaoh to strengthen Moses’ ability to speak out as a leader.  And God still uses the same technique today as we travel our own personal journeys and when we say "who am I that I should go?"

    I’m not sure imposter syndrome ever entirely goes away.  My own fraudulent feelings still rise up and speak on a regular basis.  My pastor faces his at least on a weekly basis.  I know we are not alone. You are not alone.  

    There is a truth to remember, and I place my trust in this "My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness" II Cor. 12:9.  God faithfully spoke to Moses providing assurance and direction to lead His people.  God is always faithful and continually does the same for his children today. 

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  • 10/07/2019 - divinetherapy 0 Comments
    What Happened to Humpty? Part 1: The Abusive Parents: Humpty was pushed!

    Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall; Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.  All the king’s horses and all the kings’ men couldn’t put Humpty together again. 

    You remember this childhood rhyme don’t you? Have you wondered why people act the way they do when they’ve experienced childhood abuse? This is the first in a series of three blogs on the long term impact of parental behavior: abusive, neglectful, or nurturing.  My goal is to help people have more understanding when they see certain behaviors in their friends and family, and understand the results of past abuse can carry into adulthood.

    Personally I have always been curious as to why Humpty was sitting on a wall, and even more so, what caused him to fall? Here is this precious fragile being and where were his parents? Who was watching out for him? I know this is merely a simple childhood rhyme, but it you don’t mind, I would like to share a few thoughts with you keeping this beloved character in mind.

    Let’s follow 3 different Humpty Dumpty characters, and take a small glimpse into the treatment each received from his parents, then look at the long term impact that treatment can have on how they feel about themselves as an adult.

    Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall, a moment before the big fall, he was pushed! And he heard the words "You deserve to be pushed off the wall!  You made me mad!" And before he could gather himself, he heard "You idiot! You’re trash!"  He looked up just in time to see the bottom of a shoe and hear the words "I’m going to step on you and scramble you! Now you’re a scrambled egg! Let’s see how the heat of this stress changes you. Stupid egg!"  True to the nature of abuse, his mother had combined both physical and emotion abuse into just a few moments.

    He was treated this way throughout his childhood. The impact can be long lasting and common responses include:

    The fact that he was abused, that alone, communicated to him that he was worthless. As an adult, it’s easy for him to feel like he is unloved, not worth picking up the pieces for, or being put back together again. Eggs like him are used to being stepped on and believe that abuse is what they deserve.

    He developed a style of relating to others that is a protective layer for his core.  The world hasn’t been safe for him. He is on alert, hoping to prevent something bad from happening.  He is constantly trying to figure out what he needs to do to survive.

    Survival includes several ways to protect himself from pain and abuse. The most apparent is mistrust. He can’t trust the people who are supposed to care for him, like his parents. As a result, throughout his life, he has difficulty with friendships, authority, and even romantic relationships.

    Isolation becomes a tool to protect himself. If no one is around, no one can hurt him. 

    Much of the time the emotional pain hurts so much that it must be avoided at all costs. This includes staying away from any reminders of what happened, including not talking about it. 

    Even his anger is a protective measure.

    He blames himself for the abuse. He believes he could’ve prevented it, if only he had acted differently. He doesn’t think about how tiny he was, or how little power he had over the adults, and there was no way for him to control what was happening.

    Often eggs like Humpty experience mental health problems. If you were to ask him about it, he would probably say "yes. I have depression. Sometimes I get suicidal. PTSD, panic, and anxiety are struggles for me. And alcohol and substance abuse, that’s how I cope with this pain inside."

    These responses to the abuse in childhood are common for adults.  In fact, the layers of abuse that happened on a daily, weekly, even occasional basis make healing more complex because it wasn’t a one time event. Unfortunately, some of the longest-lasting and most debilitating effects of physical abuse are psychological in nature.  What people may not realize, in addition to the psychological, there are a host of other effects:

    • Physical health problems related to the toxic stress they experienced
    • Difficulty with attachments and social relationships
    • Changes in brain functioning
    • Diminished cognitive functioning

    These are just a few, there are so much more than we can cover in a blog article. We know that not everyone who has suffered abuse will face the same challenges as Humpty.  If you are Humpty, or know him, piecing the abused Humpty back together again is not impossible.  There is hope for help and healing, and you are not alone.

    Jeremiah 17:14(MSG) says "God pick up the pieces and put me back together again…"

    This is a 3 part blog article. Click here to learn more about Humpty in adulthood.

    Part 2 The Long Term Impact of Neglectful Parents: Humpty’s pain was ignored!

    Part 3: The Long Term Impact of Nurturing Parents: It wasn’t just the king’s men who ran…

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  • 10/07/2019 - divinetherapy 0 Comments
    What Happened to Humpty? Part 2 The Neglectful Parents: Humpty’s pain was ignored!

    Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall…

    In the previous article, we discussed the long term effects of physical and verbal abuse on Humpty Dumpty.  Today we will talk about emotional neglect and the far reaching impact it can have, even into adulthood. How our parents respond to us when we are hurt has a lifelong impact.

    Let’s look at how Humpty was treated when he fell off the wall. Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.  His mother wasn’t paying attention at all…. This was not a safe place for children to play, and the wall was quite high with warning signs all around.  Down he fell. He was broken, bruised, and it felt like his insides might spill out.  He wasn’t sure if he could stand up.  He hurt so badly he couldn’t call for help.  He just laid there screaming inside for his mother to come.  Instead he heard:  SILENCE.

    Then in the distance he could barely hear her favorite Youtube subscription’s theme song. Some people walked by. He could barely hear them talking. She said, "How are you doing? Nice day, isn’t the weather great?!" They told her about an egg falling off the wall. She said, "Hmmm, probably not my kid. Although, I don’t know where he is at the moment…  He usually can handle things well.  He rarely struggles." 

    Later she sees her son broken and bruised returning to her, she stared, and then without emotion stated, "You’re getting kind of hard around the edges, kind of boiled.  Have you been in the heat for a while?" And she didn’t notice the cracked parts of his shell, or the broken, downhearted look on his face, or that he’d been through a great fall, much less that he needed her comfort. The disconnection with her, moreso than the fall, was traumatizing for him.

    When Humpty grows into an adult, some of his conversations have an undertone. You may hear:

    I wonder about my own value and worth. My parents neglected my needs; therefore I’m supposed to neglect them too.  Emotional pain is not worth paying attention to. I’m not in touch with any of my emotions.  I have trouble recognizing if I have any needs.

    Isolation?  not a problem.  I don’t need anyone. Besides I don’t want you to come too close.

    I don’t expect others to be there for me. I never had any support.  I’ve done a lot of things by myself.  I have picked myself up by bootstraps more times than I can count.  I’ve always done it alone.  Actually I’m independent! Our world values independence. Look at what I did! I’ve accomplished a lot by myself!

    Some eggs like Humpty think "My parents accused me of being too sensitive or too emotional, or too selfish.  So I stopped trying to get their love and approval. The loneliness was actually easier to deal with."  Others think "I’ve outgrown those types of emotions.  I’m not sensitive anymore."

    It’s common for people to believe they are too emotional. It’s also common to try to shut down our emotions because they’ve been ignored or invalidated.   However, God created us with emotions.  They can be information or signals that something is wrong.  For example, our emotions signal us when relationships are changing, whether growing closer or more distant. 

    God wired us for connection and intimacy.  Needing others and needing caring relationships is not a weakness.  We have a built in longing for connection.   

    It’s harder to put a finger on neglectful types of abuse, because it’s not an action that a parent takes; but rather a lack of action.  God knows the deepest part us of.  He knows how we were wounded and broken. He understands the ways we’re tried to cope with our pain and our attempts to shut down our emotions.  God knows whether our emotions were made fun of, or if there was a lack of action on our parent’s part and our feelings were ignored and neglected.  HE KNOWS, and there is healing.

    Isaiah 42:3  He won’t brush aside the bruised and the hurt and he won’t disregard the small and insignificant.

    Check out other blog posts in this series:

    Part 1: The Long Term Impact of Abusive Parents: Humpty was pushed!

    Part 3: The Long Term Impact of Nurturing Parents: It wasn’t just the king’s men who ran…

    Read More
  • 10/07/2019 - divinetherapy 0 Comments
    What Happened to Humpty? Part 3: The Nurturing Parent: It wasn’t just the king’s men who ran…

    In previous articles we’ve covered the abusive parent and the neglectful parent and impact that follows people well into adulthood. Let’s take a look at a nurturing parent and how it impacts their life. Although a parent may respond differently as a child ages, there is still the tone of care and compassion.

    Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.  Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.   Bystanders heard his mother exclaim, "He fell off the wall!!!  My baby egg fell!!"  And his mother ran to him and scooped him up.  She moved his head to her shoulder and cooed to him.  It was if she said "Let me soothe you. Shhh…  I hate that you fell, and that you got hurt!"  She begins to gently bounce and rock her Humpty.  She continues to coo, as if she’s saying "I’m picking up the pieces of you. You are important to me. I’ll take the time. It’s ok that you got all over me and your emotions spilled out."  And she loving looked him in the eye and let him know "I hear you when you cry, I’ll come.  When you fall, I’m here to pick you up."

    This Humpty grows up differently than the other two.  Because there was a caring response to his pain he believes:

    I am valuable.  I’m worthwhile.

    I am worth getting messy for.  

    It’s OK for the messy emotions from inside come out of me. It’s ok if they come out of you too.

    I can be soothed.  My mother soothed me.  Then I learned to soothe myself.

    People help me. They pay attention to me. They care. The world is safe.

    People who have been validated, nurtured, treated with love and kindness are more comfortable in their own skin. They’ve learned to give kindness to themselves, as well as, those around them.  It’s sometimes mistaken for pride when they believe in themselves.  Doubts still plague them, but not with the intensity of someone who was raised in an abusive or neglectful home.

    One last thought, take a moment to think about how it feels when someone truly believes in you and validates your needs and feelings. What does that feel like? Validation is one of the greatest gifts to give to people.  It soothes them in ways we can’t see.  It calms their heart beat.  It gives them a sense of being heard, and of being important. 

    We all love to receive validation too.  It settles us. But did you know that it’s a gift you can start giving to yourself?  You can say validating things to yourself, even if you didn’t hear it growing up.  For example, "everyone makes mistakes," "that makes sense that I’m angry, what they said really hurt," and "you’re important, I’m important too." 

    Don’t forget, we can love ourselves as we love our neighbor. God values us. 

    Luke 12:6-7 "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows."

    Check out other blog posts in this series:

    Part 1: The Long Term Impact of Abusive Parents: Humpty was pushed!

    Part 2: The Long Term Impact of Neglectful Parents: Humpty’s pain was ignored!

    Read More

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