Crutches

What carries you through the day?

 

 

29381594 - vector silhouettes of people walking on crutches.

What does your crutch look like?

 

  • A bottle of liquor
  • An Internet site
  • A pack of cigarettes
  • A case of beer
  • A trip to the mall
  • A box of donuts
  • A pot of coffee
  • A bottle of pills
  • A pack of cards
  • A sharp blade
  • A binge/purge session
  • A one night stand

What do you think about when you first wake up? On your way home?

 Do you think about how fast you can get your crutch because you can’t stand walking with this pain by yourself any longer?

We’re afraid to walk without our crutch because it will be too painful. And it is too painful, if we try to do it alone.

It’s better to walk with a painful limp with God’s help and be mentally, emotionally and spiritually healthy, than to walk without God using our crutch to numb the pain.

When we take our mind off ourselves, by helping others who are walking with the same painful limp that we have, we almost forget we need a crutch.

In time we grow stronger, our muscles learn new ways of walking and we aren’t in as much pain.

One day we will be pain free.

 

Image Credit: majivecka / 123RF Stock Photo

The Art of Suffering

Finding an easier way to get through the pain.

We all endure suffering and handle it differently. Suffering has many levels and can be expressed in various emotions and behaviors. It can be very painful, even destructive to relationships. What can we possibly do to get through this difficult time in a healthier way?

17636134 - young lonely woman

What is suffering for you may not be suffering for me. What is suffering for me today may not be suffering for me tomorrow.

To the degree that we surrender to our suffering is the degree that we will grow stronger spiritually.

The idea seems simple but it’s difficult and even painful to walk out.

As a recovering addict, I am usually trying to avoid pain at all cost. But I’m finally learning the more I fight the pain and suffering, the more I try to run from it, to avoid it, to remove it… the worse it gets and the longer it may last.

If we can find our way to accept the moment and its lesson for us, trusting that there is something better on the other side of the suffering, we are closer to the Peace of God that passes all understanding.

When I surrender to what this moment brings I am accepting God’s providence. By trusting Him, I am loving Him.

 

Image Credit: menuha / 123RF Stock Photo

Healing Hurts :: OVEREATING

It’s true during this season of the year we attend holiday functions that encourage unhealthy eating habits. But this column is more about a deep seated problem of overeating, using food as a comfort to cope with loneliness or stress.

I love the photograph to the right. It tells such a story…

After a long day at work a young woman comes home to her lonely apartment. She changes immediately into her pajamas and curls up with her favorite television program. Soon the food commercials drive her to the kitchen. Instead of cooking a healthy dinner she ends up binging on junk food late into the night. With her body full of carbohydrates she passes out on the sofa waking to a sugar hangover not unlike that caused by alcohol.


What’s at the root of overeating?

Our drive to eat is a necessity for our survival, but we must have a healthy relationship with food so that it doesn’t take over our mind and eventually our life. Getting to the root of our actions requires locating our feelings at the time of acting out. We must ask ourselves:

What am I feeling when I want to eat? Am I lonely? Tired? Bored? Sad? Angry?
Can I redirect these feelings into a healthier activity?

This addiction is so closely related to my own struggle with sexual addiction that it’s hard to separate the two in my head. Like most addictions, I think overeating starts with a bad habit and continues out of shear boredom. If we can find our way to self-awareness, to enjoy the present moment without the need to anesthetizes ourselves in some way, maybe we are closer to a solution. 

As always if you struggle with this or any other issue discussed on my blog, please don’t stay in your pain alone. Reach out to a trusted friend or family member, counselor or pastor. There are many great community resources available to help you. Also, don’t hesitate to email me: tamara@reachinghurtingwomen.com and I will do what I can to direct you to an answer.

Blessings… and Merry Christmas!

Healing Hurts :: SEXUAL ADDICTION

The sex addiction discussion is a hot topic in the media with personal stories of Hollywood celebrities. But not everyone is convinced someone can really be addicted to sex. And if you are, what’s the big deal? 


You might be thinking… “It would be awesome to be married to a sex addict!”


Think again…



Growing up I had a front row seat in real world sex addiction training. My father was a high functioning alcoholic, which means he could stay sober during the day to manage his career but when off work he was usually drinking and chasing women. His addiction to pornography was no secret with a Playboy calendar hanging above the bathroom scales in our only bathroom.  His sexual exploits also had no boundaries. He brazenly sought out women in front of me; he carried on affairs with my co-workers and my college roommate with no shame. Tragically, I acted out all these behaviors and worse in my own sex addicted life.

When children grow up with addictions and become addicts themselves, they usually take the dysfunctions a step further.  I certainly took my addictions and perversions to more destructive levels than my father. With no regard for my family or friends, sadly I passed down the painful effects of sexual addiction to the next generation.

What is sex addiction? Sex Addiction is an unhealthy coping mechanism characterized by a set of escalating, compulsive behaviors which result repeatedly in negative consequences.   


What are the symptoms for sex addiction?

  1. A recurring pattern of sexual fantasies, urges and behaviors lasting six months or longer.
  2. A pattern of sexual activity in response to depression; repeatedly using sex to cope with stress.
  3. Inability to reduce or stop the sexual activities believed to be problematic.
  4. Evidence of “personal distress” caused by the behavior: interference with relationships or work.

How can I know if I’m a sex addict? While this online screening test is very comprehensive and helpful, I highly recommend you seek professional help. You cannot overcome this bondage on your own. Trust me. I tried!  Women’s Sexual Addiction Screening Test


I remember the day I realized I was a sex addict. I was so full of shame and guilt. I didn’t know how to face my family and friends. I didn’t know how I could ever turn back to God. How could He ever love me again after the horrible things I had done.

God loves us in spite of what we have done. Believe it or not, He was there when we did those terrible things. That’s a thought that I can’t stand to think. 

No matter what phase you’re in in the addictive cycle, whether you’re fantasizing about your next sexual encounter or suffering with guilt and shame after last acting out — help is available now!  Freedom from this desperate downward spiral is possible! 

Please don’t stay in your pain alone! Contact me by email. I can help you start the healing process.

Instead of dwelling on your guilt and shame, meditate on God’s love for you with this beautiful song by MercyMe http://youtu.be/74CNUExD4I8

Healing Hurts :: INFERIORITY COMPLEX

Are you always trying to measure up to others?

Growing up, and even as an adult, I was always comparing myself to others.  I don’t know about you, but I could never measure up. Clothes, hair, intelligence, abilities… it didn’t matter. I had myself under a microscope seeing every fault but never seeing the good. This kept me in a constant state of discouragement and feeling inferior to everyone.


When we grow up in an environment where individuality isn’t celebrated or encouraged, it’s very difficult to see ourselves as valuable. I don’t blame my parents, I know they did the best they could with what they had. Particularly because, they probably didn’t get the encouragement they needed as children either. 

I am so thankful today for the gift of God’s Word that speaks truth into my life. That is the only way I can keep my head on straight. To see myself, the good, bad and the ugly; knowing that makes me who I am. God knows my weaknesses and my strengths. And if I turn them all over to Him, He can use them to do something wonderful.

Be intentional. Be committed. To walk according to God’s Truth. Finding His promises and declaring them over our life each and every day will keep us in the right frame of mind, appreciating ourselves in the big scheme of God’s plan. Our standards can only be His standards for our life and for what He designed us to be and do. 

When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. ~ 2 Corinthians 10:12


Do you struggle with feelings of inferiority? How are you working through that?

It’s time for some great worship music to celebrate who we are! Turn up your speakers and get set free from inferiority with I Know Who I Am by Israel Houghton http://youtu.be/y3UOCVkYWIY

HEALING HURTS :: 2 Steps to Overpower Anger

Can you hear the scream?  How many times have you found yourself in this position?


There was a time in my life when I looked just like this photo. I was so full of anger that I couldn’t function normally. God showed me a vision of a volcano boiling deep inside my spirit; bubbling up and overflowing, the anger spewed out of my mouth with vulgar hateful words followed by actions that destroyed anything in my path. 



On the surface my anger was directed mostly at God because my husband and I had been betrayed by some Christian friends. Below the surface I had unknown childhood hurts and wounds that fueled the raging fire I carried within. I managed my pain with substance abuse and other self-destructive behaviors which only fueled the fire. Soon my anger was out of control and so was my life. Then my loving Heavenly Father put me in a time out compliments of the county jail. It was the best thing that ever happened to me!


When anger runs our lives we are a danger to ourselves and to those around us. Uncontrolled anger is devastating and no one is exempt from its repercussions. It destroys marriages, shatters friendships, brings down businesses, breeds violence in our communities and war among nations.


There are many reasons to be angry today. Just watching the news can get tempers flaring. The world has us running hard and fast with emotions in a frenzied state. Millions are unemployed and those fortunate to have jobs are over committed, overworked and often underpaid.  Many people are outraged with their corporate pensions slashed, homes lost, or suffering with painful debilitating illnesses.


Anger is an emotion that centers on getting control. With God’s hand seemingly absent we take over the situation. Anger clouds our judgment as we become consumed with problems and pain. Before we know it our anger escalates from a simmering indignation to a blazing rage.


What can we do to keep anger from taking control?

**2 Steps to Overpower Anger:

  1. Ask yourself: Can I change the situation?
  2. Take action:  If you can change the situation, change it. If not, release it to God.

These steps may seem oversimplified but they are basic common sense. The challenge is dealing with our emotions. Once we can step back from the situation and remove our emotions, all we need to do is access the situation and our ability to change it. If we can’t change it the only thing left to do is give it to God.

My dear friends, you should be quick to listen and slow to speak or to get angry. If you are angry, you cannot do any of the good things that God wants done. ~ James 1:19-20 (Contemporary English Version)

Acknowledging our powerlessness over situations we humbly go to God not demanding our rights but surrendering ourselves and the situation to God. We may feel powerless, but in fact we are the only one with the power to release our anger to God. No one else can do that for us. Once we release our anger God will give us the grace to overcome it. 

In what recent situations have you struggled with anger? 


How are you dealing with your anger?



Meditate on Surrender with Hillsong. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcnfT4arZtI&feature=colike


Resources
**Biblical Counseling Keys: Anger~Facing the Fire Within by June Hunt and Hope for the Heart

Healing Hurts :: SELF-HATRED

This idea of Self-Hatred sounds strange when you think about it. 

Who is going to admit, out loud, to another person, that they hate themselves? Some will, but not most. In fact, millions of women secretly do hate themselves. 

OK, we may not hate everything about ourselves. But can you honestly say you like more about yourself that you dislike? There was a time when my answer to that question was definitely no.

Self-hate often starts in childhood with negative messages spoken or unspoken by our family of origin. The culture, media and our peers encourage this monster who whispers the negative, critical words we hear over and over in our minds. Guilt and shame top it off till we’re overwhelmed with emotions and feelings; the pain becomes so deep it’s impossible to express it in words.

Is there no relief? No release?

What we do with this insidious pain will vary.

How will you act out the negativity rolling around in your head?

For some their self-hatred takes on non-direct, often hidden behaviors like extreme risk-taking, substance abuse, eating disorders, gambling, and promiscuity. For others their self-hatred is more direct and visible with self-harm acted out by skin cutting, skin branding, hair pulling or other forms of self-injury.

What can we say to those we know and love who struggle with this increasingly popular practice? 

How can we communicate to them that they truly deserve to be loved, not just by other people, but by God and most importantly by themselves?

Let’s start by watching these two videos below. I think they have all the answers we need.

God Loves YOU!  http://youtu.be/aLHsQF131HQ






God Loves YOU!  http://youtu.be/kcpQvqEVTlk

If you are reaching for hope and help, I urge you to contact a licensed Christian counselor in your area for personal assistance in overcoming this problem. If you don’t know where to find one, contact a pastor who can help you locate an expert. All the anxiety and problems you are facing can be overcome.

Healing Hurts :: Creating a Healthy Self-Image

self-image:: noun 

1. the idea, conception or mental image one has of oneself;

2. a mental picture that depicts how we believe others see us (height, weight, hair color, gender, etc.); 

3. things learned by us about ourselves from personal experience or by internalizing the judgments of others.


Basically how do we answer this question:  

What do I believe people think about me?


Many women, including myself, struggle with their self-image. Self-image can be about our body image or our self-esteem, either way they are both related. If we have a low self-esteem it will affect how we see our body image. If we have a poor body image we probably have a low self-esteem. Because they are so closely related, by working on one we help both.


As I was preparing this column the research material seemed to go on and on… blog columns galore, endless books and YouTube videos. It was overwhelming and shows how rampant the problem is not only in the world at large but in the Christian church, too.

Here are some shocking female body image statistics:

  • 7 out of 10 women get depressed and angry when looking at thin female fashion models.
  • 2 out of 5 women would give up 3-5 years of their life if they could reach their goal weight.
  • In the U.S. approximately 7 million girls and women experience eating disorders.
  • 51% of girls between 9-10 yrs old say they feel better about themselves when dieting.
  • 80% of women when asked are dissatisfied with their own appearance.
  • 88% of girls admitted they feel a need to “look perfect.”
  • Young girls are more afraid of getting fat than nuclear war, cancer or losing their parents.

Culture Beauty Standards Then and Now

  • In 1917 the “perfect” woman was 5’4″ and weighed 140 pounds.
  • Today’s average fashion model is 5’11” and weighs 115 pounds.
  • Beauties of yesteryear like Marilyn Monroe would be considered fat by today’s standards.
  • Today the average American woman is 5″4 and 140 lbs

Poor self-image can be the result of many things:

  • Criticisms – Accumulated through childhood from parents or peers.
  • Personality type – Type A personalities are prone to perfectionism and over achieving. 
  • Media influence – Television, magazines, billboards, Internet all push the “perfect look.”

The technical term for self-image used by psychologists is “self-schema.” A schema by definition is a diagram, plan, conceptual framework, or underlying structure. If our schema, our underlying structure is built on what we believe the opinion others have of us, what a shaky foundation that is!  



Is their hope for change? As with most struggles the first things we must check is our inputs.


What ‘s influencing our relationships, our lifestyle, our relationship with God?


What’s holding our framework together today? The opinions of others or the Truth of God’s Word? 

Are we maintaining our self-image at the cost of putting others down in our mind?

What image are we projecting, the happy mask or the reality of who God made us to be.



If you wouldn’t say it to a friend, don’t say it to yourself! I challenge you to take note of every negative or anxious thought you have about your body over the course of one full day. You may be shocked at how mean you are to yourself. Stop the meanness! You deserve better than that. 

Let my words and my thoughts be pleasing to You, Lord, because You are my mighty rock and my protector. ~ Psalm 19:14 CEV


To reprogram our minds we must replace old thoughts with new ones. Take the anxious negative thoughts you have about yourself and turn them around. Create a series of affirmations and resolve to use them throughout the day. Print them on 3 x 5 cards and tape them to your bathroom mirror. Read them out loud with enthusiasm and positive emotions. I know it’s hard, believe me. But you can do it, and with practice it gets easier and easier! Here are a few that have helped me over the years:
  • I like myself!
  • I am a positive person and I have a positive life.
  • I am loved by others, valuable, smart and creative.


Remember, God doesn’t make junk! When He created man and woman God said, “It is good.” When we put ourselves down or wish we looked differently we are insulting the Creator of this universe. He made us the way we are for a reason. If we all looked the same what a boring world it would be! 


How to Love The Body You Have Today

  1. Silence your inner “mean girl!”
  2. Stop comparing yourself to others.
  3. Celebrate your body for the marvelous things it can do.
  4. Stop weighing yourself. Focus on how your clothes fit and how you feel.
  5. Surround yourself with people who have healthy relationships with their bodies.
  6. Nurture your inner self with bubble baths, massages, prayer, meditation, inspirational reading.


Watch this powerful video with music by The Barlow Girls.  http://youtu.be/jHjAjjcKm2k 

Resources:
Wikipedia
EzineArticles.com
Christianity.com
CHReader.org

HEALING HURTS :: 7 Truths to Overcome Inadequacy

Inadequacy, Inferiority, Low Self-esteem, Poor Self-worth, Self-loathing… 

These and other related emotional issues are prevalent in our society today not just among young girls, tweens and adolescents, but women of all ages from all walks of life.


Feelings of inadequacy usually have their roots in childhood hurts and wounds, a dysfunctional family environment, emotionally abusive parents, critical or shaming authority figures, and cruel peers.


The media and culture has created unattainable standards of beauty, power, wealth and fame that also trigger feelings of inadequacy. Even though we’re healthy and have all our basic needs met, we obsess over our body, clothes, job, and possessions, worried that they don’t measure up.
Inadequacy causes us to drift along in life with no purpose or meaning. We build our lives on philosophy, self-reliance, human morality, ethics, wealth, power, or self-interest and find ourselves on a shaky foundation with nothing of substance holding us up.

Do you struggle with inadequacy, low self-worth, inferiority? Are you…

  • Self-critical
  • Fearful of failure and avoid taking risks
  • Desperate for approval from others
  • Unable to set boundaries
  • Ashamed of your background
  • Unhappy with personal appearance and achievements
  • Constantly comparing yourself to others

How can we get off this treadmill of torture, depression and despair?

Overcome self-defeating statements, acquire a positive self-image and learn to value yourself as God does. 

Read aloud and receive the following 7 truths about yourself:

  1. I accept God’s Word that I am created in His image. (Genesis 1:27)
  2. I accept myself as being acceptable to Christ. (Romans 15:7)
  3. I accept what I cannot change about myself. (Romans 9:20-21)
  4. I accept the fact that I will make mistakes. (Philippians 3:12-14)
  5. I accept criticism and the responsibility for failure. (Psalm 32:5)
  6. I accept that I will not be liked or loved by everyone. (John 15:18,20)
  7. I accept the unchangeable circumstances in my life. (Philippians 4:11)

Looking at life through eternal lenses changes our whole outlook. Seeing God’s purpose and plan in all things daily can help us accept who and where we are, to be more stable in the now – for the future.  

The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be His people, his treasured possession. ~ Deuteronomy 7:6

In 2005, fresh out of addiction and feeling completely unworthy of God’s love, I was blown away with the revelation that I Am A Friend Of God. This is still one of my favorite worship songs. I hope you enjoy this music video by @IsraelHoughton as you soak up God’s love for you! Blessings! http://youtu.be/ZXFi6lUUz5s



Resources:
Biblical Counseling Keys: Self-Worth by June Hunt www.HopeForTheHeart.org
Life Recovery Bible
www.bible.org

Healing Hurts :: 5 Steps to Overcome an Identity Crisis



Life today is lived at a break-neck speed. We’re sophisticated, educated, wealthy; going, doing, acquiring. Our cluttered minds are numbed with the social, news and entertainment media available at our fingertips every waking moment.


The world is off Center and dragging us with it. With lives so focused on caring and living for others, no wonder women wake up one day and suddenly find themselves dizzy with doubt about who they are.

Who’s got time to stop and think? 
To ponder self and life’s meaning? 

Identity Crisis shows up in all seasons of life, often brought on by sudden life changes and displays various external behaviors depending on the person.

Adolescence, midlife, empty nest, divorce, death of a spouse, career change, Perimenopause, sexual or gender confusion, etc… Let’s look at these tough times of life and find answers that bring relief and peace.


What is an Identity Crisis?

  • Conflict when the visible you doesn’t match the “real” you. 
  • Disillusionment when roles or relationships are removed or changed.
  • Confusion possibly brought on by childhood trauma or abuse. 

What Are The Emotional Symptoms?
Anxiety –– Who am I?
Depression –– My life is hopeless.
Self-doubt — I can’t do anything right.
Low self-worth — I’m no good.
Self-conscious — My body is unacceptable.

What Are Some Outward Symptoms?
Attitudes and behaviors turn negative 
Unhealthy friendships are prominent 
Sexual immorality / Substance abuse 
Poor choices and impulsive decisions 
Can’t set long-term goals for future

Women are always putting themselves at the bottom of the list. We’re so concerned with taking care of everyone else that when we finally do have time for ourselves we’re too exhausted to care anymore! Without realizing it, we find our identity in doing rather than being; life is about others vs. life with God. If continued long term these unhealthy habits may set us up for a hard fall.

Often people in the church give the pat answer, “If our identity is in Christ, we should be fine.” Well, that is true and sounds good, but even a believer can find herself suddenly drowning in life changes that bring about an emotional upheaval. 

How can a Follower of Christ stay strong during these troubling times? 

1. Examine Your Center
How do you start your day? Checking email on your phone before you drag out of bed? Try going to bed and getting up earlier so you can spend time with God in prayer and meditation first thing! I suggest at least 15-30 minutes of silence with the Lord before reading the Bible or a devotional. If we don’t fuel our spirit in silence and solitude, we’ll have no strength available when turmoil comes. 
2. Examine Your Health
Often our emotions get the best of us in times of stress because we are nutritionally and physically deficient. Too much sugar, caffeine and fast-food, combined with not enough sleep and no exercise can leave us vulnerable.
3. Examine Your Dreams
What about life brings you joy… bird watching, gardening, reading? Do you have old interests left unexplored? New ones unchallenged? Have you always wanted to paint, sky dive, go to college? What are you waiting for? “Enjoy yourself, it’s later than your think!” 
4. Examine Your Relationships
It’s possible that not all your relationships are healthy. Do you have co-workers or family members who are so negative that it drains you to be around them? Take a step back. Find people who make you smile or laugh. Spend more time with them.
5. Examine Your Self
If reading this you find yourself in a state of despair over your life situation, past mistakes or what appears to be a hopeless future, please find a counselor, trusted friend or family member to whom you can share your pain. Often just talking it out resets our mind, energies and path. As always, feel free to email me if you need a friend!

Your real life is hidden with Christ in God. ~ Colossians 3:3


Find strength for the journey with the @Newsboys   http://youtu.be/z8j-YLb37Yk




Resources:
Biblical Counseling Keys: Identity: Who Are You? by @JuneHunt www.hopefortheheart.org
Embracing Your Second Calling by @DaleHansonBourke 
Twelve Steps to Inner Freedom by Joan Chittister www.joanchittister.org