Self-Esteem

Getting My Eyes Off of Myself

A cheerful heart is a good medicine,
but a downcast spirit dries up the bones.
Proverbs 17:22 NRSV

We visited a church with our kids on Sunday. The pastor, in trying to make a point about honesty, addressed the dynamic that occurs when friends meet together: "How are you?" "I'm fine." He concluded that often the "I'm fine" is actually a lie because we aren't fine.

But are we?

As Christians should we have any opportunity for griping or complaining, moaning or groaning? Or are we actually stating a truth when we say "I'm fine," a truth that perhaps we really don't embrace but which is a truth nonetheless? Paul wrote:

Funhouse Mirrors: Distorted Body Images

When I was a little girl, I once went into one of those carnival funhouses with the mirrors. It was the one and only time I did so. I remember I didn't get very far. I took one look at my distorted series of reflected images and high-tailed it out of there so fast, you could probably see my streak marks hang in the air.

Festive.

Cut to about fourteen years later: I was nineteen or twenty years old when I was, once again, standing in front of multiple mirror images. Only this time, there was no carnival- and certainly, no fun. It was, instead, just me, choosing to stand and scrutinize myself in front of my three-way mirror, picking myself apart, via my disordered eating and body image behaviors.

ACOA in the Workplace - Burnout Checklist

Are you an adult child of an alcoholic? This will help you to recognize signs of burnout.

    1. Are you constantly bothered by aches and pains?

    2. Are you often ill?

    3. Do you work overtime or take work home on a routine basis?

    4. Do you feel a responsibility to lighten the work load of your co-workers?

    5. Do you feel sensitive to or responsible for your supervisor's mood/problems?

    6. Do you resort to manipulation to get things done?

    7. Do you avoid confrontation?

    8. Do you suppress your feelings about work situations?

    9. Do you become anxious about your supervisor's evaluation of your performance?

Special Counseling Concerns for Women

1. A special strategy for people with drug and alcohol problems is essential
Addicts have special needs that the "garden variety" sinner does not have. They can be identified by using a standard alcohol screening test during the intake process. Then we can help them to get into an active program of recovery using such activities as support groups, addiction therapy, educational activities, etc. Use community resources if the shelter's staff does not have expertise in this area. Addiction is a primary issue, so all other help giving will amount to nothing if the person cannot stay sober.

2. The Issue of Toxic Shame
By definition, "toxic shame" is an inner sense of being defective, faulty, unlovable, undeserving, unredeemable and hopeless. It is root problem for addicts, codependents and people from dysfunctional families. Most adults in family shelters fall into at least one of these categories. Toxic shame is the "glue" that holds the wall of denial together and prevents hurting people from accepting the help we offer them. They think - "If I admit I have problems, it proves that I am a worthless, useless human being." Addiction leads to a total deterioration of a person's moral life leading to a destructive mix of toxic shame and guilt. The Bible tells us that admitting our problems is not an admission of hopelessness or defectiveness. Instead, it is the key to forgiveness, freedom from our pasts and a new self-image.

Preventing Relapse

Addicts relapse when it is more painful to stay sober than it is to get "high". The immediate benefits of ceasing drug and alcohol use include:
improved health, better sleep , return of appetite, and clearer thinking. However, all addicts eventually face a challenge even more difficult than stopping drinking or using drugs -- coping with life without them! Doing so involves a whole lot more than just "putting the cork in the bottle". They must they learn a completely new way of life. We often refer to this process as "recovery" -- the Bible calls it "sanctification" -- a definite ongoing program of personal growth

Major Causes of Relapse

  • Denial
    inability to accept that one is indeed addicted to alcohol and/or drugs and that it is a primary cause of life problems.
  • Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome
    inability to cope with a set of very stressful, physiologically-based symptoms that occur only after use of alcohol and drugs has stopped
  • Emotional Dysfunction
    inability to cope with feelings such as grief, depression, stress, fear, etc., without mind altering substances.
  • Relational Dysfunction
    inability to develop and maintain healthy relationships with others.

Pornography, Christianity and Control

When thinking of pornography and Christianity and the issue of control, things get quite interesting. Matthew 18:3 informs us:

    And he said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."

On the other hand it seems intuitive that the repetitive use of pornography is proof that our "internal adolescent" has wrested away the controls in the command center of our brain and what is needed is a return of control to the superego. We long for simple joys, simple trust, unconditional love but there is no denying that we physically are no longer children and we can get into some very big trouble.

Carrying the Burdens of Your Past?

We're commanded in Hebrews 12:1 to "lay aside every weight" so we can "run with patience the race that is set before us." Consider that first command: lay aside every weight, every burden that slows us down in our race forward. If we're dwelling on the past, that means we've stopped running, picked up some weights we were commanded to drop, and are giving them (not God or His commandments and His service) all our attention. No wonder we stop running and even start walking backward. For good reason do race horses wear blinders that force them to look forward, blocking out distractions so they can focus on the race.

Even worse, Hebrews 12:1 continues on into the second verse, explaining what we should be looking at when we run the race "set before us" (set in front of us): "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher ofour faith." If we're looking at the past, we're violating this second command of God's: we're not only picking up weights and burdens we were told to lay aside, to drop to the ground and regard as worthless impediments, but we're not looking at Jesus but rather at those forbidden weights instead. We should be rejoicing that Christ tells us to drop all these weights. Satan's worst enemy is a Christian focused on the future and running his race well.

The Hamster Wheel: Are You Doing the Same Thing Over and Over?

The famous phrase, "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, yet expecting a different result" can probably best be depicted by the hamster on the hamster wheel.

Ever had a hamster as a pet? When I was eleven, I had one by the name of Mitsy. The concept of having a hamster didn't quite measure up to the actual reality. For one, I could never pick her up and cuddle her. One attempt at doing so, Mitsy whipped her head around and sunk those two long front teeth into my finger. Here's a helpful factoid: hamster bites HUR-R-R-R-T!!!

And then there was that hamster smell, emanating from her cage. I don't think I need to elaborate.

Jairus' Daughter - a Bible Story that Sparked My Eating Disorder Recovery

Could a simple Bible story spark eating disorder recovery? Well, for me, it did. The account of Jairus' daughter, found in Mark 5:35-43, became the catalyst to hope, life, freedom, and yes, my recovery. I chronicle my eating disorder odyssey, recovery included, in my book, "Thin Enough: My Spiritual Journey Through the Living Death of an Eating Disorder." From this scriptural passage, I encountered tangible proof that God's Word was relevant and applicable. I learned some good news, all right.

Nothing's too difficult; no one's too impossible for God.
I saw that in Jairus' daughter. I have, likewise, seen it in my own life, as well as the lives of others. And this simple Bible story is now a declaration of hope to all young girls and women, dealing with eating disorders, food, weight and body image issues. You, too, can arise!

    "Little girl, I say unto you, arise." Mark 5:41

I had done and been so many horrible things. As far as I was concerned, I was on my way to hell. But I couldn't shake the thoughts of this story. Was there hope that I wasn't doomed after all?

What's My Spinach? (Eating Disorder Recovery)

In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul. Psalm 138:3

When I was a little girl, I remember buying into the Popeye-eating-his-spinach-and-becoming powerful–thing hook, line and sinker. I believed in it so strongly, that, after eating my spinach, I would then run around my family's farm, waiting for that epic strength to suddenly kick in and I guess, launch me into the stratosphere.

Yeah, I'm still waiting on that one.

I started thinking about this incident in relation to my eating disorder development and recovery. And I started seeing idolatry in how I saw spinach.

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