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I just started seeing a counselor. I am not sure it is a good fit. What should I do? I encourage people to give it three times before making the decision to continue or find a new counselor. It takes time to get to know each other. If you are struggling to connect with your counselor the best thing you can do is to actually talk about that in the counseling room. Often that can be the conversations that helps turn the corner on your relationship.
Should a Christian see a secular counselor? Whenever possible I encourage people to see a counselor who shares your faith. Since much of what you will discuss has to do with the most important things in your life, care that is deeply connected to what you believe is going to be most helpful. In addition biblical counselors are trained to bring Scripture in ways that are helpful and encouraging.
When should I encourage a friend to see a counselor? If you notice ongoing difficulty in their life, unhealthy coping patterns, or if you notice significant changes in their disposition or outlook on life, counseling can be helpful. If you believe their life or safety is as risk get help immediately through emergency services.
What is counseling? Counseling is something we all do! In its simplest form it is conversations that give guidance, advice, or perspective in order to help someone walk through the challenges of life. Biblical counseling is anchored to the truth of God’s Word. Professional counseling is done by someone who has expert training in the complexities of human suffering.
What do you do when someone near you could benefit from counseling but doesn’t want to go?
When someone is getting married, is it good to see a counselor? Yes! This is a wise way to invest in your marriage. When you take the time to talk through important topics before you get married you lay the groundwork for navigating conversations in your future.
Having an issue with a friend who wants to end his life; how do we handle this lovingly? This is something to take very serious. Whenever anyone who is a threat to themselves needs to receive emergency medical attention. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline can be a helpful resource for anyone struggling with this. The hotline number is 1-800-273-8255.
Is it usually hard to open up to someone you barely know? How do I open up with a counselor? Counselors are skilled in asking questions that are helpful but not intrusive. Let this pressure be on the counselor not on you and then trust the process. It takes time to get for both of you to get to know one another.
What do you do if your spouse is not open to marriage counseling? The answer is similar to a question shared earlier. One additional thing to consider when the reluctant person is your spouse is to suggest to talk to another Christian couple or your pastor. The care and counsel given by those who know you and love you can bring significant help. If your spouse still is not open, consider getting counsel for yourself.
Is taking medication for my anxiety reflect a lack of faith in God? Taking medication for anything, including medication for mental health struggles does not mean you lack faith. Sometimes it is actually an act of trusting God and believing that He can use medical help as one of the many ways to relieve suffering.
Should I share my mental health diagnosis with my pastor and small group leader? It is up to you. What I will say is that if you feel it would help you to have your pastor know and you trust that your personal information will be kept private then telling your pastor or small group leader can be one way the church can come along side you in caring for you.
My spouse deals with chronic pain. I am not always sure how to comfort or help him. Any suggestions? Let go of the urge to try and fix the problem, and offer a comforting presence instead. Listen and do your best to understand his experience and what it is like for him to live with chronic pain. Validate when things are hard and allow him to grieve. Offer Scripture and words of hope, but be careful to avoid unhelpful clichés.
How do you know if you are dealing with a chronic illness or if the issue is psychosomatic? Illness is considered psychosomatic when it is caused by stress or a mental health struggle. Many symptoms are caused by an underlying disease process and exacerbated by stress, anxiety, or depression, so often this dichotomy is unhelpful. Push for a physical diagnosis if your gut tells you there is one, but always look for strategies that address both the physical and mental causes of your symptoms.
Chronic pain is impacting my relationship with God. What should I do when chronic pain leads me to doubt or feel angry at him? It’s hard to understand why God allows chronic illness. Many times it feels meaningless and unfair. It is understandable when suffering impacts our relationship with God. The best thing you can do is go to him with your doubt, anger, and grief. Don’t stop approaching him, even when you are confused by what he’s doing.
How can I intentionally love someone who is in chronic pain but has a difficult personality? While it’s good to be mindful of how hard it can be to live with constant pain, chronic pain is not an excuse to be difficult. You can love this person like you might love anyone else: at times letting love cover a multitude of sins. Other times speaking the truth in love. It’s good to set boundaries and it’s also good to give grace. We can look to the Spirit’s leading to know how to respond in different situations.
How can God use chronic pain to work all things together for good? (Romans 8:28) Chronic pain often can’t be tied up into a pretty bow. Many times we can’t see what God is doing. Sometimes he is gracious to give glimpses of how he is working it for our good — we see him using it to get our attention, to sanctify us, to prepare us to comfort others, and to teach us and the people around us how to rely on him.
How can I believe God will heal me, but also exist in the reality that I haven’t been healed? Paul’s thorn in the flesh in 2 Cor. 12 suggests it’s more accurate to say that God can heal us, but sometimes chooses not to. This is a confusing and difficult reality that we can exist in by believing that even when we are not healed, God’s grace is sufficient to help us when we are weak.
Not a question, but it’s hard to trust God when dealing with this. It feels so unfair. It’s important to validate feelings like this. We need space to be able to say thoughts like this out loud without fear of judgment. It’s great that you shared. Don’t be afraid to keep processing those thoughts even if they feel uncomfortable.
What does it mean when the Bible says “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger?” Ephesians 4:26 says “Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, and don’t give the devil an opportunity.” It has been wrongly understood to mean you cannot go to sleep while you are angry with someone. Actually this verse is talking about what is often called righteous anger- “be angry and do not sin”. This verse calls us to not let right anger burn out. Don’t let the appropriate anger you have toward something fizzle out.
Do you have any good resources for someone struggling with sinful anger?
What are good ways to be angry but not sin? Avoid responding immediately when you are angry. Pray, seek the Lord, talk it through with a godly friend. Let your responses reflect James 1:19.
How do you recommend helping children process anger?
It is important to help kids to see the warning signs that they are getting angry. Talk with them and allow them to share with you what they think those signs might be. Help them think through ways to calm their anger when the signs start to show up.
How can you overcome anger? If your anger is sinful, overcoming it requires dependence on the Holy Spirit and a heart inclined to listen and obey. Like every sin, it reveals our need to be dependent on God and grow in the fruit of the Spirit. That happens day-by-day as we follow Jesus and live according to His word.
I am aware that my loneliness as a single person makes others uncomfortable. How do you suggest I respond to that? Do not resign to thinking that others can’t handle your feelings. These thoughts lead to more isolation and discouragement. Instead, continue to reach out. Be courageous in your relationship and ask your friends if your situation is too much for them. You may be surprised that they are far less uncomfortable than you thought.
As a single person I am often just as busy if not more than some of my married friends. But during COVID I have had more time on my hands as all my social outlets have stopped. I volunteer regularly but I’m wondering what other suggestions you have for engaging this time well?
I am married and have children but want to better love the singles around me. What are some helpful suggestions? Call them! Take time to pick up the phone and talk with them. Tell them you love them. Let them know you have not forgotten them. Ask them how they are doing. If you have small children, have the kids draw pictures for your single friends and send them to them in the mail. These simple acts affirm they matter and are a vital part of the family of God.
How do I be a godly single parent? Model. Model. Model. Take every opportunity to bring your kids into your journey of faith. Let them see your dependence on God when you don’t know what to do. Show them how you lean on the Lord when you are feeling overwhelmed. Faithfully life your life before them, reading the Scripture, praying, listening to worship music when they are around and when they are not. Much of your faith will be caught not taught. Be passionate about Jesus.
How do I pray for spouse while being content in my singleness? Pray for the Lord to grow you in being fully satisfied in Him alone. Seek to embrace a spirit of “not my will but thine be done.” Pray for a deeper trust in God to provide all you need.
Why can’t I find someone that is willing to commit? Seems like commitment is always an issue. Our culture promotes options and marriage is a cutting off of options. Though it may be harder to find people who will commit, there are still people out there who value making a promise and living the rest of their life by that promise. In the meantime, strive to be the person you hope to one day meet.
How do I find God’s will for a marriage partner? The best marriage partner is the person whose love for God is the most prominent character of their life. Is Jesus first in their life? If not, don’t settle.
What are the best ways to maximize singleness?
What are practical ways young men can begin to establish quality habits that wives appreciate? The best habits to pursue are habits that grow your faith and promote a lifestyle of self-sacrifice. These habits will bless any future relationship not just a marriage.
How do you pursue a friend who only sees you as a friend? First, love the person by respecting the limits of the relationship. Then make it your goal to be really good friend. Invest in the friendship without an agenda. The relationship may not turn into anything more but you will have a true friendship that will be a great treasure.
How do you know when someone needs counseling for grief? Here are just a few indicators counseling may be needed:
Can you share some helpful books on the topic of grief?
Being quarantined has left me feeling low, without energy, and less motivated. Is this grief? It could be, especially if you are missing engagement with friends and family. Grief can also come from how open ended this pandemic is. It creates a longing for something sure and safe. Leaning into the Lord is necessary. The Lord is a sure hope. Take some time to read the Psalms in the comments and pray through them to help you process.
What do you think about the “5 Stages of Grief”? Does a person have to go through all 5 stages in order to process grief? The 5 stages of Grief give us categories to understand a person’s experience. They are not a check list of steps. Some people do not go through all five stages and there are other experiences of grief not mentioned in the stages. One experience common in grief, and not mentioned in the 5 stages, is lament. The Bible gives many examples of lament during grief and loss. Check out: Psalm 22:24, Psalm 23, Psalm 27, Psalm 30:5, Psalm 34:18, Psalm 37:39, Psalm 73:26, and Psalm 147:3.
How can I minister/comfort/witness to a Christian who lost a non-Christian loved one? This question deserves a more in depth answer than what may be able to shared here. This short video clip answers it so well and gives the detail needed to such an important question. Please take a look. https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/comfort-when-unbeliever-dies/
What does it mean that God will restore what we have lost? God’s restoration is not the return of everything lost but giving us something far better. In Jesus we have the hope that all that was lost because of sin, rebellion, selfishness, mistreatment, and death, will be swallowed up when we are with God in heaven. And that will never be taken away. The short-term loss of this world will be exchanged for long-term gain when we see Jesus.
My brother is addicted to pain meds and alcohol. He has lost his job and his wife because of the addiction. He needs help but doesn’t follow through. What can I do? His recovery will need to be his decision but you can love him well by providing direction. Encourage counseling and support groups. Emphasize total sobriety. Suggest plans for accountability. But he must ultimately take the steps toward surrender. Avoid enabling and set healthy boundaries for yourself. Pray continually that the Lord will open his eyes to see that his need is greater than sobriety.
My husband struggles with porn addiction. Should I be holding him accountable? Why/Why not? It would be better for your marriage if you and your husband agreed on someone else who could provide accountability for him. Pick someone you both trust. This takes the burden off you to police his behavior and allows you to avoid further hurt associated with relapse.
I drink alcohol regularly. How do I know if it is an addiction? Answering “yes” to any of these questions may indicate your drinking is a problem:
What are some practical steps Christians could take to get over smartphone addiction?NOTICE: Become aware of why you grab your phone. Are you avoiding something? Does it meet a need for comfort? Is it a distraction from anxiety, stress, or fear? Take those things to the Lord. Name them. Share them with a mentor or counselor.
PAUSE: Before you grab your phone take a moment take a breath. Is there something else you can do right now? Is this the best time to be on your phone? If others are in the room engage with them rather than your phone. Turn to the Lord rather than your phone and pray for help to fight temptation.
CHOOSE: Make a different choice than turning to your phone. Choose to be present wherever you are. Choose to delete apps that draw you in with little thought.
USE: Use your phone for the glory of God. If you are tempted to zone-out on your phone, occupy your phone by using it to listen to encouraging music or a sermon. If you cannot put it to good use then put it away. Find a place where you can store it where it is out of sight. Turn it off.
What if my spouse won’t talk about our relationship struggles? Try asking questions rather than bringing up the issues. Make sure your questions honest inquiries about how they are doing and feeling. Don’t push a conversation about their answers to your question. Listen and then thank them for sharing. This opens to door for future conversations and shows you are genuinely interested in how they are doing. It is also a marital application of Philippians 2:4.
We really need time together but can’t get much time alone right and can’t get a sitter. Any suggestions on stay-at-home date night ideas?
My husband and I disagree mostly about parenting. How can we reach unity when we both feel very strongly about our convictions in parenting? Parenting is a common area where spouses differ. The goal in these differences is not to conform one parent to the other’s view but instead to see how these differences are part of God’s design. Your children need both your husband’s and your different approach. You may not always agree on what to do but you should agree to respectfully consider one another’s reasoning in making parenting decisions. Look for ways you can validate what he offers. Validation does not mean you fully agree, it means you understand why his decision is important to him.
I feel hopeless in my marriage. My teenage daughter is a listening ear and even offers helpful wisdom for me when I am frustrated. I know people say you shouldn’t talk about your spouse to your kids but is this always bad? She seems to bring good perspective and she knows us both well. Using your kids as a sounding board for your marital issues can be very hurtful to your kids. Kids want to be there for their parents and will listen but sharing your marriage struggles puts them in a difficult place. They commonly feel responsible for their parents struggles and when you use them as your support they now have the weight of solving the marital problems. This also pits your child against their own parent and adds a significant measure of anxiety to their life. If you have no one to talk to, reach out to your pastor and ask them if they can connect you to someone who would be willing to talk to you and pray with you as you face these struggles.
How do you know when you need to see a marriage counselor? One of the best ways to know it is time to see a counselor is when you feel stuck. The two of you can no longer get anywhere in your attempts to resolve conflict. Some other indicators that outside help is needed are:
My spouse is not interested in doing counseling. Is there any other ways to improve our marriage? Yes. Fixing relationships with one another starts with focusing on your relationship with God. Our vertical relationship with God will always be reflected in our horizontal relationships with one another.
How can single people find marriage in a world where many don’t value commitment? No easy answer. Use what you see in those who do not value commitment as a RED FLAG! Avoid those relationships. Know that there are still good and godly people out there who do value commitment. In the meantime surround yourself with people who will encourage you to hang in there and not settle.
How do you know it is the right time to get married? A few things to ask about your relationship before you move toward marriage:
The thought of marriage scares me – big changes, lifetime commitment. How should I deal with that? There is a certain amount of healthy trepidation when thinking about marriage. The best way to deal with your fear is to assess it and see if there is a reason why you should be concerned about the relationship. If there are reasons, push pause.
Is it ever okay to leave a spouse due to infidelity? Infidelity breaks the marriage covenant and should be taken very seriously. Every situation is unique but the decisions you make should not be made alone. Bring your pastor into this conversation right away. Talk to trusted friends who know you both. Pursue a biblical marriage counselor asap.
My teen is pushing back on social distancing. How can I help him get on board with the restrictions? Empathy goes a long way here. Let teens know you see how hard it is for them to have so little contact with friends right now. Encourage them that they are protecting their family and their friends by staying home. Encourage them that this is temporary and you too look forward to them being able to see their friends again.
Any suggestions on breaking up the monotony of the day for my kids now that they are home all day? Break up the day into categories of activity. Use the PEPS acronym (Productivity, Exercise, Pleasure, Social). P= school, chores, creative activities. E= play outside, YouTube exercise clips, walks. P= play and activity the child enjoys. S= connecting virtually with friends, texting, calling, Facetime, online games with friends. Having times you do things together (work and play) and times when the kids do these things independently can also break up the day.
I would love for my kids to think of others during this time. Any suggestions? Write letters to family members or friends who may be alone right now. Make cards for nurses and doctors and send to local hospitals. Make care packages to set them out for those who deliver the mail and pick up your trash and recycling. Include a pair of rubber gloves and a mask in care packages.
My kids are googling info on the virus throughout the day. I don’t feel it is healthy. Any help? Consider drawing the parallel of how only eating junk food or candy is tempting, tastes good, and makes you want more, but eventually will make you sick if that is all you eat. Help them connect that just as they need to put healthy food into their body, they must put healthy thoughts in their minds. Philippians 4:8 tells us the “healthy” things we need to put in our minds.
How can I help my 8 year dealing with fear of getting sick and/or dying? My children are preoccupied with the fear of getting sick. How can I alleviate their fears? Reassure your children that your family is doing all you can to keep them safe and share some facts. For instance, children are recovering from this. Remind them that medical care is helping people. Limit exposure to news and adult fears. Share only age appropriate information. Help them focus on the present. Remind them that right now we are healthy, and we are doing things to stay healthy. Anxiety will pull them away from the reality that they are OK right now. Stay in the right now. Embrace the opportunity to talk to your children about death. These are gospel opportunities for you to help them understand the reality that we all need to be ready to die. Talk to the about what Jesus accomplished and the promise of eternal life in Him. Read to them about heaven.
The video mentioned journaling the Word to help with stress. Please share some journal prompts to help me engage the Word? The Psalms are a great journal prompt. You can use MAPS (Memorize, Apply, Pray, Share) as a guide to journal through a psalm. Refection questions are also good prompts. Here are a few: What did the psalm tell you about God and His character? How are your feelings reflected in the psalmist’s words? How does the psalmist respond? What might your response to your circumstances be in light of the truth of who God is?
I live with unbelievers who are often pretty negative. This adds to my stress. What can I do since I am with them all day now? How you think about someone fuels how you respond to them. Let Philippians 4:8 guide your thinking. Try starting your day with prayer for them and ask God to bring to mind all the ways they are a blessing to you.
Finances are causing me stress. I can’t control the situation. How can I deal with the stress that brings? Author David Powlison states, “Most of the noise in our souls is generated by our attempts to control the uncontrollable.” The Lord tells us to take our cares to Him because he cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). This may change the situation but it changes the state of our hearts.
My stress shows up often in anger toward my family. I want to change. Any help? Anger is often a mask for other more vulnerable feelings such as fear or shame. Take time to reflect on what anger may be masking in your life. Bring it to the Lord then consider sharing it with a trusted friend. Ask for their help. Acknowledging there is a problem is certainly a great first step! Confess your wrong responses to the Lord and to those who it has hurt. Consider reading a book that addresses the sin of anger. Here are a couple titles: “A Small Book About A Big Problem” by Edward T. Welch and Good and Angry” by David Powlison
I tend to stress eat. Any help with that? The self-soothing comfort of food provides desired escape…but it’s temporary. Know that food is a “false refuge” that can’t bear the weight of our deepest emotions and stresses—only God can. Be intentional about when and how much you eat. Assess your emotional state before eating. Portion out what you will eat and put the rest away. Sit at the table to slow down and savor the flavors. Drink plenty of water. Don’t eat in front of a screen.
How do you get rid of physical pain that comes with stress? I can try to not be stressed so much but the physical pain remains. Try to find the emotion behind the symptom. Sometimes the physical symptom appears when emotion isn’t being expressed. Ask, what is the symptom trying to tell me about my emotional health? Work on that. *Note- It can be helpful to know that there is often a delay between the stress or other emotional factor being resolved and the pain resolving.
Is my stress level a reflection of my faith? The Bible talks about anxiety and worry without always relating it to faith or the lack of it. When stress is defined as a response to a threat, then it can be a normal response. Before going to the cross it was said that Jesus was greatly distressed (Luke 22:44). His agony was certainly not from lack of faith.
Is it a sin to be stressed? Again, stress can be a natural response to threat. However, how you react when stressed can be sin. What comes out of you when you are under pressure? The fruit of the Spirit, or the works of the flesh?
I am struggling with sleep right now due to anxiety. I don’t want to take medication. Any suggestions to help with this? Try listening to Scripture while you try and fall asleep. You can use our Bible reading plan in our church app or YouVersion for this. Avoid screens an hour before bed. Keep a regular bedtime routine- go to bed about the same time each night, read or listen to relaxing music while you settle in to bed. Pray, read the Bible, or journal before bed.
Can you recommend any resources (besides the Bible) for dealing with anxiety? Books, articles, podcasts. In addition to the Bible these are helpful: Knowing God’s Peace: 31 Day Devotional by Paul Tautges, Visit ccef.org for biblically rich resources. Just type “anxiety” in the search box, and The Biblical Counseling Coalition.
What is the difference between anxiety and genuine concern for things? One difference is where it takes you. Anxiety distracts us from our faith and trust in God. Anxiety’s destination is away from God. Having a concern or care for something is not wrong when it leads us to entrusting those things to God (1 Peter 5:7).
How much does social media contribute to anxiety? It certainly can contribute especially depending on what you are viewing on social media. Using social media at night can cause difficulty in falling asleep which can increase anxiety.
What Scriptures would you use to fight fear of death? 1 Corinthians 15:54-55: When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? Romans 6:5: For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of his resurrection. John 11:25-26: Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” Psalm 34:4: I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
Is there a good form of anxiety? For example: Paul was anxious for the churches he planted. Good question- Paul said he was “anxious for the churches” (2 Cor.11:28) and he also said “be anxious for nothing” ((Phil 4:6). This may have been answered in a the previous question about anxiety vs. genuine concern. But for further reading this may help
Can you share any tips for dealing with panic attacks without medication? Panic attacks are different than normal anxiety in that they come on fast and have significant physical symptoms. Here are a some tips: 1. Recognize it is a panic attack and it will not last. It will pass. 2. Breathe! The technique in today’s video is key in relieving panic attacks. 3. Engage your body in a grounding exercise like squeezing a ball or gently tossing a small soft object back and forth to someone. This pulls your brain away from the panic. 4. Distraction can be helpful. But, distract with things that are calming. Ask someone to read Scripture to you aloud or pray aloud for you. Psalm 46:1 is a powerful verse to hear when panic hits. *It is wise to consult your doctor if you experience a panic attack.