Category: Confidence

Wholehearted

by Steven Price, MA, LPCA

Have you ever ventured out or thought what it might mean to get your heart back?

That question usually stirs up one of two immediate reactions:

  1. Wow! How great would that be? or
  2. What do you mean? I never lost my heart!

The first is usually from men or women who have experienced pain in their lives and realize that they have never really fully recovered. Those pains can take many forms, but often include wounding moments experienced after our fathers or mothers, friends, coaches, or teachers made us feel diminished. As we experience a sense of betrayal by someone we admire and trust, we can often begin to cope in ways that we believe are helpful but that in fact simply mask the underlying vulnerability. Some of us forget about these deep, painful life paper cuts or bone-chilling slices as we get older, then are surprised when we over-react to a moment or seemingly small event.

The truth, however, is that those pains remain with us and they impact the way we relate to others. We may limit the effort we put into relationships for fear of being hurt, or we may hide behind a facade to project a brave or happy face. Others will become extremely outgoing or extremely shy. No matter how we arrange our outward appearance, there is nearly always something that lives just beneath the surface, whether it’s fear, shame, guilt, anger, or sadness, that is all-too-easily provoked.

Now, the second reaction usually comes from those who have the deepest wounds and therefore feel they need the boldest facades. Unfortunately, the same is still true for those men and women. There still seems to be this easily-provoked emotion just under the surface.

The treatment, or the goal of therapy, in either case is “wholeheartedness” – “getting your heart back.”

What does that look like? It’s a basic exchange… trade in the pain for healing. If each wounding moment we’ve experienced is stored in a proverbial basement within our hearts, then we have to get into that basement, take each sealed box down, look at the contents, expose the hurt, and determine what treatment is best (with the guidance of the Holy Spirit), and then exchange that hurt for God’s healing power.

Sounds easy, right? It is… and yet it’s not. To even begin takes courage. There is work involved, and it’s hard work. There may even be additional pain involved, but usually this is the good kind (if you believe there is such a thing). It’s the kind of pain that comes when you know Jesus is the one exposing the wound so that he can then bring healing. The most beautiful thing about it all is that when Jesus brings the healing, we know we are truly healed. We truly get our hearts back… we become more and more wholehearted. More who God created us to be.

Are you still dealing with hurts from your past? Are you putting forth a brave or happy face even though you know there is something just under the surface? If you have boxes stored in your basement that you need help exchanging — if you want to get your heart back so that you can live freely — call us at LifeCare Counseling & Coaching.

What is the True Cost of Freedom?


By Jerry Lankford, MBA, MACC, MDiv, LPCS

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

because he has anointed me

to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives

and recovering of sight to the blind,

to set at liberty those who are oppressed,

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  — Luke 4:18-19

These words are Jesus’ Mission Statement. The rest of the Luke demonstrates how he fulfilled this mission.

I am struck by the words, “He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives.”  These are words that resonate strongly with us as Americans.  Yet, isn’t it much riskier to be free than we realize?

Of course, one of the best examples would be prisoners. Prisoners long for freedom, yet when they are released, they quickly realize that they must now find a place to sleep, a job, and they must feed themselves.

These would be daunting tasks for someone who has lived his life with clarity and limited choice.  There has been a designated place to sleep, no choice. There were three meals a day, no multi-page menu.  There was an assigned job to do, minimal choice.

Freedom represents an opportunity to succeed. It also presents the chance to fail.  Is it a big wonder that many manipulate their circumstances to return to prison?  I would think it may seem safer.

The Israelites had the same experience when they left Egypt.  They longed for freedom, but when they “caught” it, they began to long for the good old days.  It is risky to be free.  In fact, the only way we can handle the risk is through faith.

In my counseling practice, I see many men and women who are in captivity.  They believe their current circumstance is safer.  Bluntly, it’s safer to stay the way I am than to change. This can apply to employment, depression, addictions, and relationships.

These fears force many of us to do nothing.  As captives, we endure lives of quiet desperation because we are afraid. Indeed, fear is a cause of the mental illnesses I encounter.  Freedom requires risk.  Risk costs us something.  Thus, Freedom can be pricey.  We can’t just sit back and wait for others to take care of us.

We fought the American Revolution to win our Freedom.  We know it’s worth it.

Are you willing to fight for your Freedom?

I think the lesson, the connection between the American Revolution and our own, is that both require a band of brothers or sisters around us to help us in that fight.  You need training and preparation, but you can be free.

Build your army.

When people you can trust support you in the battle for your life, you can cement your faith.  Then, step-by-scary-step, when the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.

When a Man Feels Lost, Step I is to Grab the Map

by Steven Price, MA, LPCA

We often see clients struggling with anger, sadness, stress at work or at home and even with violent outbursts toward others. There is a common thread shared among so many of them, especially when the clients are men. Many, many times, men say, “I feel lost” or “Something is missing” or “I just don’t know who I am.” This lostness or lack of identity is a very real concern, and with more men growing up without positive male role models in their lives, it is no wonder they struggle to identify who they are, who they need to be, and especially who they are meant to be.

As Christian counselors, we believe we KNOW who we are, and we know who these men are, too. Scripture tells us that we as men are all Beloved sons of Almighty God, and women are all Beloved daughters. This is true of ALL men, believers or not. The trouble is, many men do not know, or perhaps they do not believe, that this is true. Even Christian men struggle with this.

There are Christian men who believe that their identity lies in God, that they are beloved Sons, and this is critical. What we believe matters and it matters very much, but if men have never experienced the love of a good father, never experienced belovedness, they may struggle with their identity and with expressing themselves in loving ways.

As counselors who walk alongside men who are struggling with their identities and therefore struggling in their lives as sons, brothers, friends, husbands, and fathers, we want to first address the current behaviors by helping men deal with their anger, sadness, stress, or outbursts. But most important, we want men to know who they are and to begin to experience who they are so that they can then become who they are meant to be—wholehearted men, beloved sons, loving husbands, and amazing fathers, free from their previous struggles. This can be a wonderful journey, and the destination is definitely worth the effort.

The Silence of Adam

by Jeremy M. George, MA, LPCA

Plato said, “We can easily forgive a child when he is afraid of the dark. The real tragedy is when men are afraid of the light.” These words capture the essential truth of his famous “Allegory of the Cave.”  A profound social commentary, Plato exposes the tendency of humanity to settle for what is familiar, rather than to pursue the true nature of reality and adapt accordingly. As a clinical mental health counselor, I can tell you not much has changed in the millennia that have expired since Plato penned these fateful words.

The same tendency to settle for illusory shadows in Plato’s time is still very present in our time. Difficulty or failure to adapt to reality is a common theme in my work with adolescents and families. I believe that the negative outcomes that are associated with a families’ inability to adapt to reality can be mitigated substantially if fathers were better equipped to lead their families. Sadly, many are not.

As a youth pastor for just under two decades, and now as a mental health clinician, I have had many intimate conversations with men who have felt ill equipped to lead their families. A common theme most, if not all, had expressed in some way was the fear of being exposed. Some were harboring secret sin issues. Some feared being or appearing to be incompetent. Some preferred carefully constructed illusions over reality.  Very few were comfortable with admitting and confronting their weakness. Century after century men have developed sophisticated and intricate mechanisms in order to mask their weakness and to highlight their own sense of strength. This has been true of men in particular since the very beginning.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. – Genesis 3:6

You are probably overly familiar with this story, having heard it a million times in Sunday school. However, did you notice that directly after the Serpent told Eve a very cunning lie, Adam remained silent?

Rather than correcting the Serpent with the Truth of what God had indeed said, He remained silent.          Rather than acting in love and protecting his wife from the danger of the lie, Adam chose to remain passive. In the wake of this deafening silence, he led his wife away from the presence of the Lord.           After sowing fig leaves together for the both of them, they hid themselves, aware of their nakedness and afraid.

In my work with couples, I have found that this pattern, instituted at the very beginning by Adam and Eve, has been maintained in some way by every couple who has sat in my office. Unfortunately, many lies have already been told and believed by the time the couple gets to my office. With every lie, so too was manifest the opportunity to thwart these lies with the truth.  Regrettably, these opportunities are too often met with the silence of Adam.

Hope exists for the chronically silent and passive among us, however. The hope for all men in this regard is the reality that God did not remain silent and He did not choose to be passive. Take a look at what happened next in Genesis 3.

But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ And he said, ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.’ He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’ The man said, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.’ Then the LORD God said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’

It is instructive to observe how God responded to Adam. God asks three questions which reveal His heart for Adam as well as his perfect priorities. First, rather than expressing anger or disappointment He pursues Adam by asking the question, “Where are you?”

Second, God confronts Adam directly, giving him the opportunity to accept responsibility. Lastly, when Adam deflects and assigns blame to God and then to Eve, God confronts Eve directly.

I have often wondered how redemption history would be different, had Adam taken full responsibility and expressed humble repentance. We will never know. What we do know is that Adam chose to be passive, to avoid, and to deflect blame.

I also wonder how some of the marriages that sometimes fall apart in my office would fair if the men in those marriages refuse to be passive, to avoid or to deflect blame?

I just watched for the first time, “The Darkest Hour” starring Gary Oldman. His portrayal of Winston Churchill embodies the same kind of attitude I believe men should have about their wives, their children and their marriages. Unlike his predecessor Neville Chamberlain, Winston was uncompromising stating at one point during the film, “When will we learn that you cannot negotiate with a tiger when your head is in his mouth?” Likewise, men cannot be cavalier, dismissive, minimizing, passive and avoidant when it comes to the health of the physical, emotional, social and spiritual well-being of their wives, and their marriages. Threats to healthy marriages abound in this culture. It is inevitable that every marriage will be threatened in some way. It is the role of men to lead in this regard, expending whatever resources, internal or external, for the protection of their families.

Christian marriage was instituted by God Himself to portray to the watching world what He is like, and the kind of relational intimacy, safety and joy He desires to share with us. It is more than a tool which we can use to maximize our own happiness. It is a Christian man’s greatest apologetic to the world, and his best chance to proclaim the Gospel with his life. It is sacred, it is holy and it is worth fighting for.

If you find yourself in a marriage that is being threatened from within or without, don’t believe the lie of self-sufficiency. You do not have to have all the answers, and you do not need to possess within yourself the strength necessary to defeat potential threats.

God wants to give you His Spirit who makes perfect His strength in our weakness. He has given you a helper, who is in the sinking boat with you and who is more capable and willing than you know. God has also called a small army of counselors in the RDU area who provide expertise, support and encouragement along the way to restoration. I am so grateful to the LORD to be counted among them. I know that I speak for all the counselors here at LifeCare in that regard.

Wholehearted

by Steven Price, MA, LPCA Have you ever ventured out or thought what it might mean to get your heart back? That question …

What is the True Cost of Freedom?

By Jerry Lankford, MBA, MACC, MDiv, LPCS “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good …

When a Man Feels Lost, Step I is to Grab the Map

by Steven Price, MA, LPCA We often see clients struggling with anger, sadness, stress at work or at home and even with violent …