Tag Archive | Healing

Don’t Be a Shame Sponge

Don't let your self feel like this poor sponge.

Don’t let yourself feel like this poor sponge.

Did you experience physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse as a child? If so, you may feel a deep shame that makes it hard for you to believe you are as worthy as other people. It may even make it difficult for you to feel loved. Abuse is a direct attack on a person’s dignity. You had no way of knowing that, so you may have become a “shame sponge.” Did you soak up the dirt and shame that belongs to the abuser? If the person who hurt you was a family member, you may have added shame upon shame. After all, the family member who abused you may also be the one who took care of you. You needed the abuser in order to live. It created a confusing double bind. You couldn’t see the abuser as bad, so you saw yourself as bad. Even if the abuser was not a family member, the loss of dignity may have caused you to feel shame. Of course, there were other strong emotions, too. We will discuss those on another post.

The shameful feelings come from the lies planted in your mind and spirit, whether intentionally or unintentionally, by the abuser. Truthfully, no one is perfect, but you are not worse than others simply because of abuse. Even if you know that, you may not feel it. The perpetrator, however, should feel shame for hurting you, an innocent child. Changing the thought patterns and feelings developed in childhood requires some soul-searching work. If you haven’t received counseling, I recommend it. You can also help yourself by changing the messages you give yourself. Say, “Self, you are just as valuable and worthy as everyone else. The person who hurt you is the one who deserves the shame.” Telling yourself one time is not enough. You need to do it every time those old feelings stir your soul. It may feel like hard work, but it is worth it.

I am a Christian. I believe shame came into the world through Adam and Eve. They disobeyed God and hid in the garden to hide the shame they felt because they had no clothes. Fig leaves didn’t cover their shame. They needed more to cover their naked bodies. God confronted them and out of love covered them with animal skins. With the law of Moses, God began the practice of sacrificing lambs and other animals for the forgiveness of sins. The Bible says, “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed by blood, for without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins.” (Hebrews 9:22 NIV) Finally, Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God came to earth as a baby. He showed people how to live, and He died for our sins. He took our shame. Anyone who accepts the gift of His sacrifice and follows Him will have eternal life in heaven. Even it you don’t believe in God, the shame you felt and may still feel doesn’t from the abuse belongs to the one who abused you, not you.

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Taking Jesus to the Streets for Children

2 black boys  Good News, The Face of Memphis is Changing

Memphis has a long- standing reputation for crime, poverty, and racial prejudice. Churches want to change that. There is a synergistic movement of God’s people to take the love of God to the streets, especially to families with children. More churches are starting to adopt schools. Members volunteer by tutoring after school, providing supplies for parties, helping and encouraging teachers. Women volunteer to mentor young mothers. Christian college students move into inner-city neighborhoods just to share God’s love to their neighbors. Men volunteer to help young fathers understand that their children need them as well as their mothers in the home. Convoy of Hopes comes again for a second year to give food for families, games for the children, and prayers for all. Much work needs to be done and the movement is growing. Prayer groups meet through-out the county to pray for the city.

Giving Children Hope and Wisdom

What do the under resourced children in Memphis need most?  First, they need food, clothing, a home, safety and love. They need the love of parents and they need to know the love of God. Without these things, their chances of building a better life for themselves are diminished, but still possible. Too many children live in single-parent homes or with other relatives. To them it seems normal not to have a father, but inside they know something is missing. Gods plans for families included a father and a mother. This summer a new group from Central Church in Collierville, Tennessee heads to the city to help the children. We start with Growing Seasons: Helping Children Heal from Divorce and Other Losses. We plan to add Empowering Kids for Life, a biblically based program that teaches children the dangers of life-controlling problems, addictions and dependencies. So far, we present these programs at Orange Mound Outreach Center and Serving in Christ Outreach Center. We hope to expand to other centers and to afterschool programs in the future.

What About Your City?

Are the children in the city where you live crying out for love and hope? Are they missing a parent? Are they being recruited by gangs? Are they becoming addicted to drugs? How much does that cost you? Consider starting a Growing Seasons or Empowering Kids group in your church or community. It is easy. Please tell us about the community where you live and what you are doing to help the children there.

Divorce, Kids, and My Ring Finger

074Kids and Divorce                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Does divorce hurt kids? People sometimes say, “Don’t worry. Kids are resilient.” It is true that some do seem to breeze through the break-up of a family, but others struggle for a lifetime. I recently learned a lesson from my ring finger. First, I need to tell you I have been married after 42 years. If you are divorced, I have not walked in your shoes, but I am not judging you either. I know things happen. Lots of things happen that cause a happily ever after marriage to end in divorce. The purpose of this blog is not to judge those who find themselves divorced. It is to ask you to take a close look at the thoughts and feelings of your children and teens.

For 22 years, I have counseled children and coordinated support groups for children who have experienced a divorce or the death of a parent. Some of these children are adults now and they are doing well in their lives. Others still struggle. The same is true for children from intact marriages. Yet, everything that happens in the lives of children has an impact.

Learning from Loss                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Recently something happened to me that illustrates an important point about the effects of loss on a child –  adults, too. About four years ago, I lost the diamond in my engagement ring. I think it happened at Wal-mart, but I didn’t notice it until later in the day. Finding a diamond hours later on Saturday at Wal-mart, well, let’s just say, “No way!” I grieved over the loss and what it symbolized.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I noticed a prong on my new ring was loose, so as soon as possible, I took it to the jewelry store for repair. I felt undressed without it. Then I looked at my empty ring finger and felt shocked to see the indentation left by the ring. I looked again a few days later and it was still there, so I called the jewelry store and told them I wanted the ring resized to fit my “older” finger.      

Help Children Heal                                                                                                                                                                                                                   That reminded me about loss. Whether it is from divorce, loss, or even moving to a new place, it does leave a mark on children. The more they talk about it, the easier it will be. But they may not want to talk to you, because they don’t want to hurt your feelings. They need an outlet and they need to know that God is always there for them. Growing Seasons groups can help. If your church, school, or organization does not have a program to help grieving children, tell them about Growing Seasons: Helping Children Heal from Divorce and Other Losses. You can follow the link and read the curricula online:

http://store.livingfree.org/Growing-Seasons-Coordinators-Guide_p_162.html

If you would like more information, email GrowingSeasons@aol.com.

Helping Grieving Kids from America to Zimbabwe, Africa

Do the children in Zimbabwe have anything in common with the children in your church? The answer is “Yes.”

Children all over the world grieve and children all over the world need Jesus. Read the following letter from a woman who works in an orphanage in Africa. If Growing Seasons helps children in a Zimbabwe orphanage, don’t you think it could help those children in your congregation, too. Divorce and the death of a parent devastates children all over the world and the love of Jesus introduced to children through the Growing Seasons curriculum can help these children to heal. Read on:

Hi Jean

I hope you are well.

I wanted to give you an update on Growing Seasons in Zimbabwe. I

contacted you at the end of last year for some advice on how to begin

Growing Seasons here.

God has really blessed this ministry and we are now running the second

term with about thirty children.

It was difficult to get the Coordinator’s Guides and Parents Guides

here but we eventually had the books sent to the United Kingdom and

some people who were coming here, brought them back with them.

I was a facilitator myself in the first term and already saw a change

in some of the children by the end of the course. Growing Seasons has

really helped these children and we would like to reach many children

in Zimbabwe.

I went and did a talk for three boarding shools last week and they are

really keen to get Growing Seasons into their schools but asked if we

could possibly train some of their teachers so that they can run it. I

am now feeling led to branch out to the schools and I wanted to ask

you how I could go about this.

You said that you had Workshops there. Would you be able to provide

some material to do Workshops here. There is such a need in the

schools.

Regrets: Re-think, Release, Relax

 I was part of the sandwich generation, hash to be exact. I took care of my sick mother for sixteen years while my children grew from toddlers to college students. We stopped counting how many times I left my family to take her to the emergency room. She lived with us most of that time, but finally moved to a senior housing facility,which she enjoyed.The Saturday night before she died was just like any other, except it was raining rhinos and elephants.  I knew she didn’t feel well. In fact, I had taken her to the doctor the day before. That still small voice kept telling me to go see her. Instead, I cleaned out a chest of drawers in my guest room. After church the next day, I called to check on her. She was worse. I promised I would take her to the emergency room, but I waited until after dinner. The doctor admitted her. At least fifty times before, I stayed with her until she went to her room, but not this time.  I went home and went to sleep. At five o’clock the next morning the ringing phone jarred me out of bed. The calm female voice said, “Your mother is not breathing. She is in Code Blue. Do you want us to try to resuscitate her?”

Even though she had an advanced directive I said, “Yes, please,” and jumped into my clothes. She died before I arrived. I’ll never forget the way they left her body in that hospital room. With her head thrown back from the attempts to revive her, she looked like an old rag doll tossed aside by a pre-teen girl in search of a boyfriend. I regretted that I couldn’t tell her good-bye.

Five days later we went to Florida on a college visit with my daughter. I  ignored my grief during the day, but at night my mind kept rehearsing the two days before my mother died – the “what if’s”  kept me awake.  I thought, “What if I listened to the still, small voice that told me to go see her on Saturday. If I had gone, she might have lived.” NO!” I was believing a lie. I had to rethink my regrets. I finally concluded that it was my mother’s time to die. God called her home the moment she took her last breath. When her spirit left her body the pain left, too, and God replaced it with joy.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV) speaks about that:                                                          “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

I had no power over death or the shame and regret I  felt for ignoring the still, small voice. God took my mother to heaven at the time He appointed for her to die and Jesus took my shame on the cross. When I rethought my regrets, I released the shame, and relaxed. I miss my mother, but I know Jesus has her safely in His arms. I also learned to listen and respond to that still, small voice. Regrets can be a weight that ensnares us. Give them to Jesus and set yourself free to run the race of faith.

Discovering Jesus in the Faces of Grief

You may have heard the word “grief” all your life, but you never had anyone tell you exactly what it means. You could be in the midst of it now and still not understand. Grief, this confusing, devastating, volatile mixture of emotions, is a natural response to any loss: death, divorce, loss of health, familiar surroundings, or treasured possessions. Grief affects the mind, body, and spirit. It seems impossible to concentrate or think clearly enough to make even the simplest decision. The body reacts in unexpected ways: pain, sickness, sleeplessness, difficulty breathing, over-whelming fatigue for some, and for others, amazing bursts of energy. For some, grief brings a deeper, more satisfying walk with their Lord. Others build a massive wall between them and their Savior.

Surely, all who take the journey through grief find that it transforms their relationship with God. For example, Susan, a college student, had a sharp drop in her grades after her divorce. She tried to deny the pain, but it showed. The stress caused the skin on her face to turn a bright red and she quickly gained twenty pounds. Despite this, she learned to depend on God to help her though the sleepless nights. On the other hand, Stephen has not been to church since he lost his son more than ten years ago. He, like many, is mad at God. Even now, he continues grieving for his son.

Normal grief is an essential part of healing. Abnormal grief occurs when a person withdraws too long, pushes others away, or becomes bitter and depressed. Unresolved grief may bring on the symptoms of the illness of the loved one who died, or cause involvement in detrimental activities such as drugs, alcohol, or other addictions. It can even affect the immune system and increase the risk of cancer. Grief seems like a silent enemy, but if you face the enemy head-on, it can become your friend.

The Bible says that Jesus was “A man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.” Isaiah 53:6 [NKJ] We know that He has not asked us to experience anything He has not experienced, so we know He understands. One of the hardest parts of the grief process is the loneliness. Jesus must have felt lonely in the Garden of Gethsemane and even more so on the cross. He endured that for His children, so we can have a relationship with Him and so He could send us the Comforter to help us. Take your grief to Him. Tell Him about the pain. Let Him comfort you in your time of sorrow. He will get you through the lonely nights and it will get better.