Are you in balance?

My Heroes – Madison’s Testimony

From feeling all alone without direction to healing through partners in personal growth and courage.

My greatest struggles have been depression, not trusting God, and fear. Reading Healing for Damaged Emotions by David Seamands and Beth Funk and participating in the support group discussions have been a great aide for me during a time in my walk with God that has been the hardest yet. I have specifically worked on understanding and battling my greatest struggles.

The book has given me insight to many of the issues I am dealing with from a psychological and Christian perspective, which is what I’ve been longing for. The group provides a safe place for me to spill my thoughts-with no judgment and plenty of people who surprisingly can relate to some of my thoughts, experiences, and feelings.

I’m still working through understanding my “family-of-origin issues.” I understand that my mom and grandmother were both overly cautious and very controlling. I understand that my father was distant and could have even been considered “absent” though we resided in the same home. Once my father left, it seemed that things fell apart with my mom. She seemed to be acutely depressed, as evidenced by the lack of keeping up the house and a disturbing increase of hoarding. This was also a turning point for me. I remember feeling more and more anxious and experiencing my first major depression. On top of my parents’ separation, there were additional major transitions taking place at the same time. I was overloaded and found security and safety in being alone or just with my mom. I hated going out to any events, felt extremely fragile and scared, felt that no one understood me and that there was no one to protect me, and felt safer with adults. Unfortunately, I didn’t understand grief and always felt that I was oversensitive. This made me turn inward all the more.

I had wanted to go to therapy for a while, but being part of the group helped me to really take that leap and seek further help. I was able to overcome my fears and benefit from a professional. The support I receive from our discussion group reminds me that I am not alone. It is especially comforting to feel that I can talk without feeling that everyone else is trying to “fix” me. Seamands’ book covers so many important topics that people struggle with and that I personally struggle with, and provides helpful illustrations and examples of each topic. The questions in the book gave me direction. I would recommend it (and already have) and participation in a group discussion to anyone.

Names of discussion group participants have changed for privacy.

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My Heroes – Amy’s Testimony

From alcoholism and perfectionism to healing through safe relationships and professional therapy.

In retrospect, the Healing for Damaged Emotions Workbook discussion and support group was helpful in awakening my dormant emotions and pinpointing my emotional habits. With the help of professional therapy and guidance from church friends, those old habits are changing. I had pretty much ignored my emotions for a good part of my life.

As a result of growing up with family alcoholics, I still face the challenge of expressing my emotions to my family, and especially to my sister. I have a hard time with my sister as a result of feeling abandoned by her from the time I was eight years old. There was always fighting among my brothers, along with many family secrets and lies. Living in this atmosphere I developed passive-aggressive behaviors.

I am still working on making sure I am not people-pleasing or imprisoned by perfectionism. I am better able to say no when I need to and not feel bad about it. I am also better able to ask for what I need. Having reciprocal relationships is new to me since I didn’t have models of two-way relationships as I grew up.

I am excited about learning to enjoy my own company and getting in touch with my tastes and things I like to do. My perfectionism makes me want to procrastinate with going back to school, traveling on my own, and inviting people to spend time with me. The good news is that I have made progress and I don’t feel as hurt when friends try to help me grow (reinforcing that I am not perfect), or when they don’t have time for me.

God has allowed me to learn not to be so hard on myself when I make mistakes. He has taught me that I am still totally accepted even when I do. When I am having a hard time emotionally, I write my thoughts down, take a prayer walk, sing, and serve others.

Professional therapy has helped me deal with my perfectionism and the dysfunctional characteristics of an adult who grew up with alcoholic parents. The book discussion group provided a safe place for me to explore, share, and feel acceptance.

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Introduction Excerpt

But the one who keeps God’s word is the person in whom we see God’s mature love. This is the only way to be sure we’re in God. Anyone who claims to be intimate with God ought to live the same kind of life Jesus lived (1 John 2:4–6 MSG).

God has the most amazing plans for each of us here on earth. Not only does he want us to live life, but he has planned for us to enjoy life “to the full” (John 10:10). God has also called us to love him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30). He has called us to grow past spiritual infancy to spiritual maturity.

For most of us, the easier part of the challenge is to love God with all of our mind and strength. If we put our mind to it, we may be able to change outside and surface behaviors without really changing the heart and soul. Yet, in Ephesians 4:12–14, God calls us to grow and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. In Philippians he calls us to live up to what we’ve attained (Philippians 3:16). He knows that it’s best for us to present each other fully mature in Christ (Colossians 1:27–29). God wants what we want: to see us reach a level of maturity that will allow us to distinguish good from evil (Hebrews 5:14). He has even planned for us to be “mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4). Though I worked extremely hard to be the best disciple of Christ I could be, I had no idea how important it was to address the God-given emotional aspects of my being. I didn’t know it, but my emotions were impacting every area of my life. Since I wasn’t intentionally aware of and managing my emotions, they were managing me!

Most of us have worked for as long as we’ve been Christians on being all that we can be spiritually. But until we address the heart and soul love that God calls us to, we will not attain to the maturity that God desires for our lives and we will miss out on the incredible gift of living his “life to the full.” Some of us have opted out of the hard work required to become emotionally intelligent and mature. As a result, we’ve paid the price many times over for this neglect. Our personal well-being, peace, and serenity and our emotional intelligence (self-knowledge, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management skills) have all suffered because we are not all that Jesus was as he “matured, growing up in both body and spirit” (Luke 2:51–52 MSG). When we expect to live life to the full without dealing with our emotions, we are building with hay or straw and will be disappointed (1 Corinthians 3:12–15). Without emotional intelligence and personal growth, our lives will be like the seed that fell among thorns (Luke 8:14). We will not be able to most effectively or spiritually handle life’s worries, riches, and pleasures, and we will not mature.

One of my all-time favorite quotes is, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” We can stop the madness if we are willing to address heart and soul issues. The insane thinking is when we believe that we can have the most amazing chocolate cake without all the required ingredients: desiring and expecting God’s life to the full when we don’t give attention to character growth and emotional maturity. It’s madness to think that we can be all that God has planned for us without keeping a firm grasp on both our character and our teaching or without maturing in our life along with our doctrine (1 Timothy 4:16).

This book addresses issues that we must consider in order to live as emotionally, spiritually, and relationally mature adults. This is not a “quick read” book as it contains scriptures to contemplate, personal sharing, paradigm-changing insights, and reflection questions.

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