10 Simple Ways to De-Stress Right Now

Let’s face it, at one point or another, we’re all stressed out. Whether your job requires a lot of you, you’re busy getting kids to and from where they need to go, you’re keeping up with and trying to maintain a social life, or you have responsibilities at church, stress can creep into your life and begin ruining everything. From anxiety about what the future holds, to feelings of exhaustion, to lashing out at family members, the repercussions of not dealing with stress in a healthy way can be major. And it doesn’t just affect one aspect of your life – it can cause negative damage to your spiritual, emotional and physical health.

These simple steps can help you begin to get a better handle on your stressful situations.

1. Exercise

Listen, I’m not here to be your doctor. But since you may have rolled your eyes at number 1, let me just remind you the importance of exercise.

A 20-minute walk or jog around the blog can bring you up to 12 hours of improved mood. Find something you enjoy doing, whether it’s running, doing yoga, investing in a punching bag, or so on – every little bit helps.

2. Socialize

Yes, it’s important – even for the introverts! The idea of hanging out with people probably isn’t very high on your priority list when you’re feeling stressed out. However, being around others you love or care about gives you a sense of belonging, purpose and it’s just fun. A great way to get around others is to spend time with people at church (hint, hint).

3. Write and/or Journal

Setting aside a specific period of time each day to write thoughts out about a situation that’s bothering you can help reduce tension and give you stress relief for the rest of the day. It can also help you solve problems and find positivity in the midst of a negative situation.

4. Laugh

It really is the best medicine. Studies have proven that laughter lowers tension, and at the same time improves blood flow and the health of your heart. Rent a funny movie or hang out with those friends who are always cracking jokes.

5. Clean up

Seriously. Get all that crap off your desk that’s been piling up for weeks. Make the bed. Do the dishes. Fold the laundry. Each of these and similar items help to give us a sense of productivity. (In fact, I recommend making your bed every day as soon as you get up. It helps to start your day with one task already accomplished.)

6. Get some fresh air

If you’re stuck inside all day, take a few minutes to walk around outside. Open a window if you can. Fresh air and a change of scenery can help lift your spirits.

7. Be kind to yourself

Stop calling yourself names and telling yourself you’re not good enough. Thinking negative thoughts only makes you feel bad – and it increases your stress. Tell yourself you’re doing a good job – and actually believe it!

8. Pray

Did you really think the Christian counselor was going to write about all this and not talk about praying? When’s the last time you prayed about your situation? When’s the last time you prayed at all? Ask God to help in these areas, and be willing to give them up to Him.

9. Be thankful

Showing thanks for your family, friends and loved ones and being thankful for the positive aspects of your life has a calming affect. Not only does it give you perspective, it makes other people feel good too.

10. Make a change

Sometimes the best way to deal with something stressful is to remove your source of tension. I realize that we don’t all have the luxury of not going back to our soul-sucking job anymore, but are you looking for other work?

Maybe your spouse is the source of your stress. Have you considered counseling?

Maybe it’s a financial issue. Look for ways to cut and invest in a credit or debt counseling service.


Stress doesn’t have to continue ruining your life. And it won’t, as long as you don’t let it. How do you intend to lower your stress today?

 STRUGGLING WITH STRESS AND ANXIETY? Let’s work together to get you back on track. Call us, message us on Facebook, or schedule your appointment right here. It’s time to get your life back.

Rebuilding Your Life After Addiction

Once you have gotten clean and built up a support system to keep you clean, you may be anxious to get back to work and rebuild your life so that you can really thrive.

Rebuilding a life after addiction isn’t easy. Addressing the physical and psychological issues that caused your substance abuse in the first place is an around-the-clock battle in many cases. Combined with the pressure of providing for your needs and those of your family, it can feel like too much to bear. To minimize stress and frustration that could threaten your sobriety, you must be patient, both with the process and with yourself.

Don’t neglect the habits that got you here

Sobriety is your first priority, so you can’t neglect the systems that got you clean in the first place. For instance, if Alcoholics Anonymous was a big factor in helping you recover, keep going to meetings. If you opted for methadone or buprenorphine, you have to keep up with those treatments, often on a daily basis.

If your faith is what got you to a state of recovery, don’t bypass Sunday services and Bible study. Similarly, if your family was your a large part of your process of healing, make sure to stay accountable to them and follow their rules.

Make sure you have identified the underlying cause of your addiction. New research suggests that most addiction is rooted in trauma or despair. It’s important that you have received counseling that enabled you to come to terms with that underlying issue. Therapy may need to be ongoing.

Find a job 

By finding employment, many recovering addicts find the structure they need to stay clean and sober. You get up in the morning at a specific time, and you have somewhere you need to be. That’s about half the battle for some people who might otherwise get up in the morning, wondering how to get through the day sober.

Be aware that some companies make a point of hiring recovering addicts. And other companies have a mission to those with disabilities. However, unless you were convicted of a crime while using, you are not obliged to share your experiences of addiction and recovery with an employer.

That said, there might be advantages to pulling back the curtain on your experiences. Some recovered addicts feel, rightly, that recovery and ongoing sobriety are the most heroic achievements of their lives. If you can frame your story as a story of persistence, faith, and achievement, you may move employers with your narrative.

If you choose to maintain your privacy, you will still need to explain any gap in employment of more than six months. “In treatment for a serious health issue” should be enough to satisfy most employers. You can also claim a nervous breakdown.

Benefits of Volunteering

If you are unsuccessful in your job search, consider volunteering. Volunteering gets you out doing something you are passionate about and helps you build a social network that you can then fall back on to find paid employment. Your volunteer coordinator can be a reference. Sometimes the company you volunteer for will hire you as an employee.

Other routes to full-time employment are working part-time or on a temporary basis. Another good pathway back to employment is national service. Americorps, VISTA, and the Peace Corps accept a broad range of talent and have a mission to employ people over 50 and people with disabilities.

Getting your life back may not be easy. But with some creativity and patience, you will do it. Remember you have a lot of options. If you don’t succeed going down one road, try another. And, above all, be patient with the process.

 STRUGGLING AFTER ADDICTION? You don’t have to go through this alone. Call us, message us on Facebook, or schedule your appointment right here. It’s time to get your life back.
This post was written for Revive Christian Counseling by Adam Cook of Addiction Hub, an online resource for addicts and those in recovery, as well as their families.

Eight Practical Ways to Improve Your Mood

Y’all. We’re now officially in Spring, and yet it feels like January 59th outside. This is like the winter that never ends. This time of year, especially with a winter season that refuses to give up, it’s easy to feel down and depressed. Some people struggle with clinical depression, but many, however, deal with the “wintertime” blues. Here are eight practical ways to improve your mood when you’re feeling sour, whether it’s because of Mother Nature, a fight with a friend or trouble in your family.

 

 

 

 

1. Go outside

Yes, I realize this is the winter that refuses to go away. However, walking outside – even on a dreary day – can really improve your mood. If it’s raining, grab an umbrella. If it’s chilly, put on a jacket. Take a walk around the block and clear your mind. You’ll be amazed at what a ten minute walk can do for you.

2. Listen to music

Listening to music does a couple of things. First, it takes your mind off what’s going on around you. Second, research shows people who listen to music with an upbeat tempo have more energy and are able to keep more stamina throughout the day. Before bed, listen to calming tracks.

3. Get some essential oils

You’re not going to find any endorsement of a specific brand here (and yes, the cheap ones work just as well). Get a diffuser. Get some lavender. Also, grab a bottle of a citrus oil, like orange or lemongrass. Grab your diffuser and put that bad boy to work. Those oils can help to lift your spirits and give you more of a spring-time feel. Obviously, if you are allergic to those scents or oils, or have a medical condition that would not interact well with essential oils, don’t use them.

4. Get lost on purpose

When’s the last time you just got in the car and drove somewhere? Grab your phone, but don’t use it until you need the GPS to get back home. Go somewhere you’ve never been before. Go for a drive with no destination in mind. The change of location can help take your mind off of troubles.

5. Reconnect

Reach out to a friend. Invite them to lunch or for coffee. Go for a walk with them. Being around people can lift our spirits, especially when we’re struck inside for long periods of time.

6. Find entertainment

Listen, we’re all capable of binge-watching something on Netflix. That’s not what I mean here. Go out for dinner. Go to the movies. Visit a craft store. Research shows that a majority of people with depression feel better when they participate in a leisure activity they enjoy.

7. Do Small Projects

Be productive! According to research, 79% of people feel better after completing a task. Clean, organize a junk drawer, write out a to-do list, or tackle some small project around the house to get a sense of accomplishment. However, don’t overdo it and become overwhelmed by a to-do list that’s a mile long!

8. Pray

You didn’t think you were going to get through a post from a Christian Counselor without this being mentioned, did you?

God doesn’t leave us alone in our suffering. In fact, He explicitly instructs us to not be anxious about anything, but to pray about everything. Have you prayed about it today? Have you taken the time to reconnect with God?

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

Of course, if you’re struggling with what you feel like may be more than some frustration, small stress or seasonal blues, it’s important to reach out to a professional. Don’t try to go it alone.

 STRUGGLING WITH FEELINGS OF STRESS, DEPRESSION, OR ANXIETY? You don’t have to go through this alone. We’re here to help. Give us a call, schedule your appointment right here, or message us on Facebook. Appointments are available in Owensboro and Online via video-based counseling. It’s time to get your life back.

8 Causes of Procrastination – and Ways to Manage It

You know, it’s funny. I was thinking about what to write this week, and every time I sat down to write something, I kept thinking, “Nah, I’ll just do it later.” And then it hit me what to write about.

Procrastination sucks. (Yes, this Christian counselor just said something sucks.) It sucks the life right out of you and keeps you from being productive.

The key to beating procrastination isn’t just to get up and do something (which you totally should), but it’s important to find the reasoning behind the procrastination to understand how to beat it. The key to dealing with procrastination is finding out what specific reasons are causing it, and then addressing them at the core. Check out these eight causes of procrastination, as well as ways to beat them.

1. Perfectionism

Perfectionism limits the definition of success. Read that one more time. Perfectionism limits the definition of success. You know the saying, “If you want something done right you have to do it yourself,”?

What about the saying, “I can’t do it right so I’m just not going to do it at all,”? It’s not something we really say out loud, but it is something many of us have maybe thought in the back of our mind.

Stop trying to be perfect. Jesus was the only perfect person to ever walk the earth. Yes, we should strive to do well, but perfectionism will keep us from getting anything done.

2. Fear of the Unknown

Knowledge is power. But knowing is only half the battle – from there you have to take corrective action if necessary. Living in constant fear only keeps you chained down. Satan feeds on our fear, and he keeps us complacent when we’re afraid of taking a step.

3. I’ll do it later

People make different decisions for what will impact them in the immediate future, rather than what will impact them down the road. In other words, it’s easy to make snap decisions rather than thinking about what happens later.

Sure, taking a nap is great. But maybe it’s more important to get that mountain of paperwork finished so it’s not lingering over your head.

4. Working on Small Tasks Because They’re Easier

The immediate hassle of having to wait for a payoff doesn’t seem worth the unknown future benefits. Seriously, just get the hard crap out of the way first.

5. You Experience a Lack of Motivation

If you’re able to clearly see how your work connects to your interests or goals, you’re more likely to value your work and be motivated to invest your energy in it.

Find ways to energize yourself. I get it, doing the laundry isn’t a whole lot of fun. Find a small way to reward yourself after you finish.

6. You’re not sure how to get started

Use the “getting things done” approach. This helps you break down your complex task into a series of smaller tasks. Don’t let the end goal overwhelm you. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and so in most cases, you don’t have to answer all the questions immediately.

7. You get distracted

Remove any temptation and only think about the task at hand by avoiding looking at your email, put your phone on vibrate (and stop playing Candy Crush!), etc. Walk away from your computer and leave your phone in another room.

8. You know it’ll require hard work

Working on a long project takes a lot of effort. It often leads people to lose their motivation and choose to set aside their projects for a later time.

Taking a break and getting a snack is fine. Laying on the couch eating Cheetos and going on a Netflix binge is another issue. Taking breaks can be helpful, as long as the break doesn’t become an indefinite one.

Procrastination is a hard habit to break. However, implementing these eight tips can begin to change your focus, and change your motivation.

 DO YOU STRUGGLE WITH PROCRASTINATION? Let’s work together to set attainable goals and get you back on track. Appointments are available in Owensboro and via Online Counseling. Call us, message us on Facebook, or schedule your appointment right here. It’s time to get your life back.

Three Ways to Allow God to Work Through Your Depression

God and depression. Many believe these things can’t coexist. If you’re depressed, you must lack faith, or so says those uptight churchy people. Or maybe it’s because you believe you’ve done something so sinful that God has abandoned you. Also not true.

Understanding, praying over, and knowing these three things can help you as you walk through depression.

1. We’re not alone

Remember, Jesus knows what it’s like to suffer. And so do many others. When you’re in the midst of depression, it can be a challenge just to reach out to God, let alone read about His promises. However, within Scripture, you’ll find some friends. Jeremiah, Elijah and David can personally relate to your experience:

“O Lord, you have deceived me, and I was deceived,” – Jeremiah 20:7

“It is enough; no, O Lord, take away my life,” – 1 Kings 19:4

“I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me?” – Psalm 42:9-10

The Bible gives us many examples of people experiencing depression, darkness, frustration, and even anger with God. He isn’t angered by honest words – He says they’re holy. God wants our relationship with Him to be authentic. His mercy reigns even in our brokenness.

Jesus knows your pain. He wept. He suffered. On the cross, He experienced complete separation from God. Allow Him to hurt with you.

2. God’s love isn’t dependent on us

In the midst of depression, it’s hard to even begin to remember or understand how God loves us. It makes it hard to pray, read Scripture, or even acknowledge Him.

The beauty of our relationship with Him is that His love for us is solely dependent on His character, grace, and goodness. It doesn’t matter what we do or don’t do, He’s going to continue loving us, no matter how hard we push back on Him.

3. Your pain doesn’t have to be wasted

God can always use us and our stories to bring hope to other people. How many things in life have you gone through that have given you a testimony to share with others? How many things have you learned from trials and heartache? Think of this season of life as one of growth. It hurts. It can be excruciating, but God could be preparing you for something great. Remember Romans 8:28:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

Finally, I’m reminded of what Max Lucado said in his book, The Applause of Heaven.

“As long as Jesus is one of many options, He is no option. And as long as you can take Him or leave Him, you might as well leave Him, because He won’t be taken half-heartedly. But when you admit that you have no other option, and when there is truly no other name that you can call, then cast all your cares on Him, for He is waiting in the midst of the storm.”

“Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28

 STRUGGLING WITH DEPRESSION? Make an appointment by scheduling right here online, give us a call, or message us on Facebook. Appointments are available in Owensboro and Online. It’s time to get your life back.

5 Ways You’re Making Anxiety Worse

Even if you don’t have an actual anxiety disorder, chances are you’ve experienced anxiety at some point in your life. There’s a ton of advice out there on how to cope with it, but unfortunately, a lot of it can be misleading or just plain wrong. Following this bad advice can make your anxiety worse, and it’ll only prolong the effects of the way you’re feeling.

Look at these five ways you may be making your own anxiety worse.

1. Avoiding it

How many times have you seen someone you know coming down the aisle at Wal-Mart and you’ve turned and gone the other way? Avoiding others can feel like a full-time job when we’re out and about if you don’t want to talk to them.

Unfortunately, you can’t treat anxiety like that kid from high school you wish you could never see again. Most times, if you’re avoiding your anxiety, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

One of the most important ways of coping with anxiety is learning “emotional tolerance”. When we learn to observe an emotion we face with compassion and not judgement or coming down hard on ourselves, we’re able to react appropriately and feel “in control” of it.

2. Avoiding all situations that cause anxiety

Like depression, anxiety can lie to you. Normally, your body tells you things like, “Something is coming up that I’d better prepare for,” or, “You don’t know what to expect tomorrow.”

Lying happens when your body says, “Avoid social situations so you don’t feel so anxious,” or, “Don’t try anything you can fail at because that’s what’ll keep you happy.”

If you listen to your anxiety, in most cases, you’ll end up missing opportunities, isolating yourself from your friends, and just become more and more afraid of anxiety-provoking situations. Exposing yourself to these situations helps build tolerance.

3. Beating yourself up for feeling bad

How many times have you felt anxious for feeling anxious? How about ashamed? Frustrated? We tell ourselves that we’re not coping properly, or that we’re just weak. Give yourself permission to feel anxious.

Not giving yourse

 

lf permission to feel anxious won’t make it go away, it’ll just make you feel ashamed.

4. Making it something it’s not

Just as bad as never acknowledging anxiety is over-thinking it and convincing yourself you have an anxiety disorder. It’s easy to self-diagnose yourself, especially when you feel socially awkward or anxious in a situation. That doesn’t mean you have anxiety. It means that you’re different, and that’s okay.

5. Dreading It

Do you ever find yourself feeling anxious just thinking about the next time you’re going to feel anxious? What happens when you get so anxious that you have a panic attack? What happens if people notice? How will you cope? Are you feeling the thoughts coming up inside you yet?

There’s a major problem with this thought process. It keeps you from being able to enjoy the present moment, because you’re focused on something in the future that may never happen.

It’s important to remind yourself that most of life is out of your control. Allow yourself to enjoy the moment.

Remember, anxiety isn’t something you can just make go away. It takes, time, practice and sometimes professional help. And that’s okay. As you encounter anxiety in life, remember it’s okay to not be okay. Give yourself some grace and understanding.

 DEALING WITH ANXIETY? Make an appointment here, give me a call, or message me on Facebook to discuss what you’re going through. Appointments are available in Owensboro, Henderson and Online. It’s time to get your life back.

5 Ways to Handle Exhaustion when You’re Feeling Down

Have you ever noticed how sometimes after experiencing something really great or really stressful, you often just feel wiped out afterwards? For people who deal with depression regularly, they can almost anticipate the exhaustion coming on. In medical and therapy terms, it’s called “postadrenalin depression”. For you though, we can just call it really, really hard.

The older we get, the harder it is to bounce back after a “high-adrenaline” experience. As a result, we tend to feel depressed more easily after an exciting or really difficult and challenging experience. According to Dr. Archibald Hart, psychologist and former dean of the Graduate School of Psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary, people often experience the “adrenal” letdown on weekends, when the heavy demands of the work week are over. Saturdays or Sundays can often be very depression for a busy executive, he says. College students may experience the low after taking an exam, families may feel it after returning home from a vacation, and many people feel down after the holidays.

Luckily, there are ways to help:

1. Don’t over do it

Everyone, especially those dealing with clinical depression, need rest. It’s important to understand your body’s need for rest and recovery from events. The older you get, the harder it is for your body to recover from exciting and stressful events. Don’t head back to work immediately after such an event if possible. Put away the smartphone. Turn off the computer. Stop doing yardwork. Curl up on the couch or go to bed early. You may not see physical effects of what you’ve been through, but emotionally, your body needs to heal.

2. Check your mood

Monitor the changes in your mood. Your mood fluctuations can tell you a lot about the connection between your high-demand activity and the ensuing depression. Keeping a “Mood Log” is helpful.

 FREE RESOURCE: Download a copy of my Mood Log that I offer clients here.

3. Calm down

I know, I know. This is easier said than done. No, this isn’t one of those situations where a husband is telling his angry wife to “calm down” (by the way, that never works. Husbands, I don’t advise trying it.). What this means is allow yourself some time to “cool off” before, during and after a stressful experience. Remaining “high strung” can be damaging to your emotional system. Calming down helps you to manage your adrenaline.

4. Remember it’s okay to feel bad

There’s nothing wrong with taking some time for yourself. In the world of counseling and therapy, we call this “self-care”. Cooperate with your low mood. Take advantage of low demand activity and rest. Consider increasing your amount of sleep when you’re anticipating a period of heavy demand. Do thinks that are relaxing and fun. There’s nothing wrong with having a little fun, especially if that helps to improve your mood and overall outlook.

5. Don’t overthink it

Many times, Christians have a way of overspiritualizing or overpsychologizing their low feelings. Remember, it’s not a sin to feel bad, and it’s also not a sin to suffer from depression. Being a Christian doesn’t mean you have to have your life together. No one is perfect, so don’t be too hard on yourself.

 ARE YOU FEELING LOW? Struggling with depression? There is hope, and you are worthy of living in freedom. Schedule an appointment, call me, or message me on Facebook. Appointments are available in Owensboro, Henderson and Online. It’s time to get your life back.

7 Ways Shame is Ruining Your Life

Let go and let God. Yuck. I loathe that phrase. It’s become such a cliche in the church. And it’s basically just someone’s way of telling you that you don’t have enough faith. Should we have faith? Absolutely. Should we let go and let God? Absolutely. Whether it’s from something that’s worrying you, guilt you’re feeling, or dealing with shame. But the truth is, if you’ve never been taught how to “let go and let God” (pardon me while I throw up in my mouth), it’s kind of hard to just throw your hands up and move on, right?

Ultimately, letting go of shame is giving it up to God and allowing Him to work through it. But until you learn how to give it up, it can be a challenge to move past the way you’re feeling. These 7 ways shame is ruining your life can help you to change your mindset and move toward the freedom God has for you.

1. Understand that Shame is Different from Guilt

Guilt says, “I did something bad,” and needs forgiveness. Shame says, “I am bad,” and needs a complete shift in your identity. If you feel yourself becoming wrapped up in shame, changes are it’s having an impact on your identity. Making a mistake can leave both guilt and shame, but it’s important to recognize the difference. In his book Shame Interrupted, Ed Welch describes that shame feels like it’s welded on to you, while guilt feels like something outside of you. Sound familiar?

2. Shame can happen because of something that’s been done to us

Shame is a common result of people who’ve been hurt and abused. Hurtful acts, including physical, emotional, and sexual abuse can leave you even more vulnerable to shame. In fact, it’s not uncommon for the victim of sexual assault to feel more shame than the perpetrator.

3. Shame can happen because of something we’ve done

Do you believe you can’t ever feel better after making a mistake? This is where “letting go” come in. And here’s how you do it: by repenting. Repentance sounds like a fancy, church-y word, but in reality, it’s simply “turning away” from whatever mistake (a.k.a. sin) you were involved with.

It’s important to remember, if you’ve asked for forgiveness, your sins have been covered by the blood of Jesus. They’re no longer held against you. Continuing to carry around shame because of a past mistake doesn’t just make you feel shame, however. It can also lead to anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and more. For the sake of your own physical and emotional well-being, allow God to work on those areas within you.

4. It doesn’t have to come from anyone’s mistake

Have you ever felt disconnected from God? Not because of something you’ve done or even that’s been done to you? Shame can be another term for unbelief in God’s love for you. It’s one thing to believe your mistake (sin) has been removed form you; it’s another to believe God’s love can never be removed from you.

Shame is a barrier – keeping love from getting through. This can be God’s love or anyone else’s.

“In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.” – Exodus 15:13

5. We try to get rid of it by giving it to other people

Many times, shame makes us unconsciously pass it to those around us. Take, for example, the mother who feels bad about her own body. She may end up criticizing her daughter’s eating and clothing choices, making her daughter grow up with a sense of shame, too.

6. Shame hinders your creativity

If I’m constantly worried about myself, I’ll never be able to quit second-guessing my work. Creativity requires a freedom that shame hinders, because shame requires that all we do should be perfect before anybody else sees. In case you were unaware, Jesus was the only perfect person to ever walk the earth. Creativity takes risks – and it can be hard to risk anything when you’re feeling ashamed.

7. Relationships often suffer because of shame

If I don’t think I can can be loved, I’ll have a hard time being in a relationship with anybody. I’ll always find ways to distance myself from other people to protect myself. My core belief is that if you really knew me, you wouldn’t want to be in a relationship with me anyway.

But there is hope.

The most powerful way to get rid of shame is to learn to be open with yourself and with others. As we share our hearts, and our stories, and the way shame has tried to keep us down, we begin to find freedom. It loses its fuel and its isolation.

It just comes down to being willing to be open.

 STRUGGLING WITH SHAME? There is hope in your hurting, and you can find the freedom you’re seeking. Schedule an appointment here, call me, or message me on Facebook to get started. It’s time to get your life back.

Getting Over Guilt: Four Steps to Finding Freedom

getting over guiltScripture tells us we’ve all sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. As Christians, many times we think we must be perfect or do perfect. So does the world. How many times has a Christian (maybe even you) made a mistake and the first thing a non-believer says is how we’re not acting very “Christian”. Heck, even the Church has been known to shame people for their mistakes. That doesn’t make getting over guilt any easier does it?

These four tips can help in this process as you look to move past your guilt and find freedom in God’s grace.

1. Understand that no one is perfect, and we all make mistakes

Jesus was the only perfect person to ever walk the earth. While we should always strive to be like Jesus, the fact of the matter is that we’re going to fall short. Every time. When we make a mistake, it’s important to remember God doesn’t want us to feel guilty, He wants us to be convicted. There’s a difference. Guilt is Satan’s way of telling us that we are bad and there’s nothing we can ever do to become better. Conviction tells us what we did was bad but God wants to make it right and He wants us to reconcile with Him. Consider what Paul tells the church in Corinth:

“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” – 2 Corinthians 7:10

2. REPENT

We’ve made repentance to be a scary word. In reality, repentance is simply “turning away” from our mistake. When we confess our sins and then choose to repent, we’re telling God that we’re sorry, and we’re ready to move on. This “turning away” is what God calls each of us to do when we make a mistake. Again, He isn’t looking to beat us down or make us feel like we don’t deserve His forgiveness. He’s simply calling us higher, and telling us to follow Him. Repentance tells God we’re going to forget about the past, and He can too.

“Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out,” – Acts 3:19

3. Be quick to forgive others

Of course, part of what we have to do when getting over guilt is forgiving ourselves. But we also must forgive those who have wronged us. If your guilt is coming from a place of hurting others, or saying something you wish you hadn’t said, it’s important to forgive them for their part in the situation. Forgiveness is simply cancelling the debt.

Cancelling this debt isn’t telling the other person that what they did was okay, or that they’re allowed to hurt you again. It’s simply saying that you’re no longer going to hold anger or hate in your heart against them. Release them to the Savior. By doing so, you’re also releasing yourself:

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” – Matthew 6:14-15

4. Thank God for His grace and forgiveness

God wants us to have a cheerful heart and thankful spirit. He’s calling us to live in peace. Remember, as you’re walking through this difficult time, keep your eyes focused on Him. Consider the ways He’s already working in your favor. Think about how this situation can help you to grow. Be thankful for the opportunity to receive His mercy and grace, even when you fall short. Remember that no matter what we’ve done or who we’ve hurt, God is always ready to reconcile and forgive:

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved.” – Ephesians 2:4-5

Getting over guilt doesn’t have to be a complicated process, but the effects can have a lasting effects if we don’t deal with it in the way God instructs us. Hanging on to guilt, pain, anger, regret and resentment can lead to depression, anxiety, continued distance in our relationships, and in our relationship with God.

Guilt doesn’t have to hold you back and it doesn’t have to continue ruling your life. There is hope and freedom.

 STRUGGLING WITH GUILT? You don’t have to continue living bound by your past. Call me, schedule an appointment online, or message me on Facebook. Appointments available in Owensboro, Henderson, and Online. It’s time to get your life back.

 

 

Climbing Out of the Well

Dealing with depression can leave you feeling drained and exhausted. Many times, it feels like a full-time job. For those who have never suffered with depression, they may never understand why sometimes you just can’t get out of bed. Maybe they just don’t get it when you tell them you can’t talk about it – because talking about it feels like a mountain that just can’t be climbed.

depression-counselingRecently, I was talking to someone about depression, and they said it feels like when you’re trying to climb out of a well. Imagine falling into a well, they said. Think about how dark it is, and how the walls are slick, and there’s water all around you. It’s pretty impossible to climb out on your own. Your hands are going to slide on the walls. There’s nowhere to get a grip to pull yourself up. And after trying to climb, and thrashing around in the water, pretty soon you’re going to feel worn out. You’re going to feel exhausted. You’re going to want to give up.

How to climb out

Most times, climbing out of the well isn’t something you can do on your own. You need some help. You just need some support. You need somebody to realize you’re struggling, and that you’re exhausted, and that you’re ready to give up. And you need them to throw you a rope. Thing is, you’re already so worn out that it’s nearly impossible to even cry out for help. You’ve spent so much time trying to climb out you have no energy left to tell them you need a rope.

The first step of getting help is simply admitting you need it. You don’t have to have all the answers, but it is time to reach out. Something as simple as telling somebody you’re struggling, or maybe evening making an appointment with a counselor is an important first step. A trusted friend or professional who will allow you the space to share your heart – or to share as little as you’re comfortable with – can help you improve your outlook.

give yourself some grace

Remember, it’s okay to not be okay. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It means you have a challenge. Give yourself the grace to understand that you don’t have to be this way forever, but it is where you are right now. So many times we think that we have to get better immediately. Truth is, recovering from depression is a process. And there’s beauty in that process. Recovering from depression gives you the opportunity to discover yourself, maybe for the first time ever.

understand everyone is different

Misery loves company, right? It’s easy to talk to people who are currently suffering from depression or those who have recovered from depression about what is working or has worked from them. That doesn’t mean it will work for you. For some, counseling works. For others, it’s a chemical imbalance situation that requires some medication. For some, it could require lifestyle changes like diet and exercise. Remember a cure for depression is not a “one-size-fits-all” treatment.

Perhaps most important of all, it’s important to remember God loves you. You have value. You are worthy of finding peace and joy. And you have a specific purpose. Remember the promise He made to each of us:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

 STRUGGLING WITH DEPRESSION? Schedule an appointment, give me a call, or message me on Facebook. You are worthy of living in freedom. It’s time to get your life back.