I have spent the last twenty years of my life serving people as a professional counsellor. Thirteen of those years specializing in treating people with debilitating anxiety, stress and depression. It continues to be the most challenging and rewarding calling of my life. I am grateful for the opportunity to help others overcome their fears. I myself suffered from debilitating anxiety and panic attacks. I grew up being programmed to behave apprehensively. It used to be automatic for me to assume the worst case scenario. I could have taught a course on how to worry destructively.
I am pleased to state I have been fully recovered for years now. For all those anxiety sufferers, please know there is hope. Full recovery is possible! I see it in my clients all the time. There are however a select few who really struggle with applying the cognitive strategies. They rock the physical and struggle with the cognitive. Why? They have become afraid of feeling afraid. They struggle with obsessive intrusive fear thoughts all day long. It begins nearly the moment they wake until they are able to fall asleep again.
There are two primary types of fear responses: instinctive and learned. We are all instinctually afraid of death, pain and suffering, rejection, loss of freedom, and loss of worth. We learn to become afraid of many triggers that connect to those instictive fears. Suffice it to say that extinguishing these learned fears is difficult to say the least. But, with patience, trust and persistence those fears CAN be extinguished.
Many ask, “why I am always trying to figure things out?” It’s a great question. Fear is compelling. Fear compells us to figure out how to stop the feeling. We often choose to resist or fight the fear, run from it and/or are often paralyzed by it. Again, fear is compelling. The fear centre in our brain is designed to get our attention and motivate us to do something about it. Our most natural response is to react in one of those three ways.
There is however a fourth option. We have the option of choosing to intentionally contain our response. We have the power to choose. No matter how compelling fear is, we can choose to respond with calm passive acceptance. In order for us to extinguish fear we must choose over and over again to passively accept the emotional arousal response of fear. It’s a biochemical response based on the context of our experience and/or perception. What if our experience and/or perception is distorted?
This is perhaps the greated folly of fear. Just because we can think something fearfully and feel the emotional response of fear, does not mean the thought is automatically true. When we allow ourselves to believe the feeling is always reflective of truths, we deceive ourselves. Feelings are not facts. They are only reflections of our thoughts. My friends do not fall for the folly of fear. Fear controls only when we allow it. #justsayno
There are many voices fighting for control of your mind. There are voices literally shouting at you to stop thinking for yourself. Voices, not just telling you what to think, but how to think. Many voices are being censored, bullied, harassed, shamed and guilted. We must learn to differentiate what voice really matters. His voice matters.
Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! 2 But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. 5 They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”
Many of us have no concept of sheep herding but many have a dog. Your dog knows your voice. Your dog recognizes who you are. A dog that knows its master will not listen to or follow other voices. A dog will not follow a stranger. A dog listens to the voice of its master. Jesus is our shepherd. Jesus is our master.
Many are running around trying to figure out which voice to listen to; which voice to trust. The result? Mass confusion, distraction and division. There really is only ONE VOICE THAT MATTERS. His Voice Matters.
How distracted are you these days? There are several reasons to lose focus. I have spent the last month (February) narrowing my focus on what really matters, not what the MSM want us to think matters. There are so many sources of misinformation that it is hard to know what to think, let alone what to focus our thinking on. The bible provides some helpful guidance on the matter of focus.
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
Further, Philipians 4:8 states:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
What could be more noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy than love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? Will you take some time to focus on these fruits?
Love: Let our primary focus be one of love. Not the worlds “version” of love but God’s love.
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Joy: Where exactly can we find joy in so much joylessness? Is there really anything we can be joyful about? The answer is, absolutely! We focus our joy on what matters. What matters? God matters! In times of trouble focus on the goodness of God! Acknowledge the Lord is God! Give thanks for all of God’s blessings! Trust in the everlasting love of God!
Peace: There really is only one way to be at peace despite the troubles of the world. I am reminded daily that the peace I seek can only be found in my faith. Prior to Jesus crucifixion he sensed his disciples were worried and afraid. He went out of his way to console and reassure them. He said,
32 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. 33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
Patience: Even when we know the outcome it can be hard to be patient. What about when we don’t know?
2 Dear brothers and sisters,[a] when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. 7 Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.
Kindness: Being kind is hard, especially when there is so much unkindness. There is a great example of kindness found in the book of Ruth, Chapter Two. If you have not read this chapter, I urge you to do so. Kindness is helping others when they least expect it. It’s a kind word, deed or gesture. There are many who are struggling. Show them kindness.
Goodness: When we focus on goodness, we focus on doing what matters. It is said that goodness “is not a mere passive quality, but the deliberate preference of right to wrong, the firm and persistent resistance of all moral evil, and the choosing and following of all moral good.”
It’s not easy but keep your focus on doing good in this world. When you do good, rest assured it makes a difference.
Gentleness: Have you ever met someone who literally epitomizes gentleness? I find these people to be incredibly attractive. I am envious of their ability to reflect such a spirit of gentleness. I remember such an experience when I was a nine year old boy in hospital. I was recovering from a rather painful and uncomfortable surgery. I recall laying on my side feeling sad and lonely. All of a sudden I felt a nurse rubbing my back. I told her she did not have to do that. Here reply, “I know. I want to.” A kindness I have never forgotten. Her name was “Grace.”
Self-control: There have been many times when I wish I had more self-control. I grew up an abused and bullied kid. I have little tolerance for abuse and bullying these days. Despite the many reasons why it would be easy to justify losing our cool but in the end it serves us well. If you ever have the pleasure of meeting a “Karen” maintain your self-control. Losing control will only encourage others that they control you.
Have you, or someone you know, ever fallen into the bottomless pit of abuse or addiction? Then this book is for you. I pray that as you join me in my life journey you will find hope and encouragement in the midst of your own.
My book cover illustrates the broad and narrow roads as recorded in the Scriptures: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).
The narrow road illustrates the beauty and peace that can only be found in the presence of knowing God as one’s own personal Saviour. The other gate leads to the broad road of destruction caused by one’s own sin due to fleshly desires (Examples: alcohol, drugs, sex addiction, gambling, etc.).
For the majority of my life, I have headed down the broad road to destruction.
I am a mother of three wonderful children (two girls and one boy), and I have an awesome man. I have always tried to be the best mother, companion, and friend that I could possibly be, but it has not always been easy. Throughout my adult life, I have had to walk through many dark tunnels of trauma, not knowing exactly where I was going.
My life journey of survival actually started at the age of five. At that crucial time, when a child should feel loved and adored, I was being rejected. I hardly ever remember my mom showing me affection or telling me that she loved me. This left a big gaping hole in my heart and had me questioning what was wrong with me. By the age of twelve, rejection seemed to be following me everywhere.
Rejection is known to be the most painful emotion. Many addictions, abuse and suicides develop out of this emotion. As the root of rejection grew deeper, I isolated myself in fear of being rejected once again. The pain was so unbearable that at times I believed that I could not go on another day and thoughts of suicide entered my mind. What I really needed in this season of my life was to begin building a real close connection with God and accept His love for me. In return, I believe I could have learned to love myself. Unfortunately, my identity was already engraved with lies from the enemy.
Still rejecting God and any professional help from the outside, I only fell deeper and deeper into the pit of destruction. I believed that my value solely depended on what others thought of me and not on how I was seen through the eyes of God. After all, if my mom rejected me, how could God love me and why would He be putting me through all of this pain? I truly believed God would not be doing this to me.
To find acceptance, I quickly became a people pleaser. As time passed by, I began to lose sight of my own needs, desires and dreams. I also began to fall into poisonous relationships because of my love addiction. My love addiction developed out of my irrational fear of being alone. At times, I lost touch with reality–especially during the times when I was physically and sexually assaulted. These assaults led me into a rapid downward spiral resulting in me losing sight of my own identity.
Still having unresolved trauma about my relationship with my mother, I began to crave a long-term relationship and longed to bear children. I had the belief that having children would fulfill the void left by my mother. Eventually, I did marry. Unfortunately, shortly after we were married, he became a drug addict. My second husband became a sex addict. And my third partner was an alcoholic. In each of these relationships, however, the Lord did bless me with a beautiful child. My only regret is that each child also went through so much pain.
Trauma upon trauma led me to increased depression, anxiety and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I had trouble holding down jobs, lacked joy and contentment, and it seemed like with every step I took I had to hold on tighter and tighter to the very little hope I had that my life would ever improve.
The Lord finally brought me to Himself in April 2017. As I fell to my knees, He opened my eyes to all the destruction in my life and the realization that I could no longer live without Him. Yet I was in the midst of more trauma as He put division between my alcoholic partner, myself, and our two children (my oldest daughter had already left the nest). He also brought an end to my relationships with my parents and siblings. Truly, I had no one left to turn to except for my Saviour.
My emotions and feelings were running into each other. I cried, shook uncontrollably at times, and had some days when I could hardly get out of bed even though I had to be strong for the kids. I had days when I was full of anger, shame and guilt. I definitely didn’t know what true forgiveness was and the unknown filled me with fear. How could I have locked the Lord out of my life for so long? To this day, I still cry knowing that I made such a mess for both my children and I. Truly, I had believed I didn’t need the Lord.
Over time, the Lord has shown me how to forgive my family, my ex-husbands and partner, those who I thought were friends, myself and my Saviour. Forgiveness to me is like taking a key, unlocking the prison doors and removing the shackles and chains. This has allowed the Lord to soften my heart and renew my mind. He has promised that as long as I abide in Him, He will abide in me (John 15). I have learned that I can abide in Him by studying His Word, attending church on a regular basis, praying and worshipping Him. Besides spending time with Him, I try to work on meditation, gratitude, positivity, visualization and “I am” affirmations every day. Healing is a continuous journey until the day we enter the heavenlies.
Since being born again, my relationships with my parents, partner, and my two youngest children are growing stronger every day. Also, the Lord is restoring my peace, joy, contentment, love for others and, most of all, love for myself. I see the Lord now directing my life towards helping others in their healing journey. With God, everything is possible and He will continue to transform our lives as long as we abide in Him. One thing that no one can ever take away from us is our salvation. PRAISE GOD!
Now that you have followed me in my life journey, I ask you, have you already accepted Jesus? If not, I ask you, are you willing to accept Him today? He would like to walk hand in hand with you on your journey.
Dear God, I know that I am a sinner and that I cannot live my life without Your presence. I trust in your Word and that You have died on the cross to bear my sins. I believe that after three days You were raised from the dead and have guaranteed me that there is the promise of life after death. Help me to surrender my whole life over to You and be assured that You will help me walk through my life journey. I pray that, from this day on, You will mold me and that I will learn to trust in You.
Prayer of Salvation
Journey to Freedom book and e-book available on Amazon.