Online Christian Counseling and Opinion

Archive for November, 2011

Anger: A Survival Guide

The next five articles will deal with “The Five Fires of Life”

Anger-Jealousy-Fear-Procrastination-Temptation

Like any disaster of life, the ability to survive is closely associated with the knowledge of both how and when the event occurs. Make no mistake; Anger can become a major disaster of life.

The knowledge of how, gives one the advantage of possible prevention of the event and the knowledge of when, allows time to prepare or even avoid the disaster.

The following information can be extremely beneficial in learning how and when ANGER occurs increasing greatly your chances for survival or even avoidance of anger.

The basic Biblical basis on how to deal with anger is found in Ephesians 4:26 where the Apostle Paul tells us “In your anger do not sin”.

A Biblical Imperative

Like jealousy (which we will cover in our next article) ANGER in and of itself is NOT Sin. In Fact, Jealousy will lead to Anger and most jealous people become angry.

There are Biblical accounts of God getting ANGRY as well as Jesus (as a man) becoming angry; God cannot sin and Jesus although completely man was completely God and He did NOT sin although He did get angry.  Again, ANGER is not sin. (Mtt.21:11 -13)

God however, can control ANGER. He knows when and how to release it.

Anger is a Godly emotion and as such, human beings need God’s guidance to help them control their anger.

ANGER always results in human judgment and can lead people to sin (and often does); even for believers.

How and When ANGER Occurs:

        1. When there has been human conflict. (Matthew 5:23-24)

            Anger is easily triggered when two people are in disagreement without any resolution.

        2. When matters of conflict are not settled quickly. (Matthew 5:25)

             Anger sets in and rash decisions and judgments are made.

        3. When there is separation from God. (Eph. 4:18)

            A deliberate separation from God and His people can change one’s attitude leading to anger.

        4. When hearts are “hardened”. (Eph.4:18) (A “mean spirit”; lack of compassion)

            Continual separation from God will reduce or eliminate one’s Godly passion and lead to a “mean

            Spirit” and the ultimate anger.

        5. When sensuality rules. (Eph. 4:19)

             Once the heart is hardened, sensitivity to God’s will is lost; anger sets in and overtakes the actual

             will of God. What we often assume is the will of God is not.  We are blinded by our own anger.

             Generally speaking, anger can cause Christians to think for years they have been following God’s

             will when in reality they have only been following the status quo.

Below is a 5-fold approach on:

How to Prevent and Control Anger and Avoid Sin

1. Constantly renew your attitude. (Eph.4:22-24) Don’t think you have all of the answers all of the time. You don’t.

2. Seek the truth and BE truthful. (Eph. 4:25) Nothing seems to fuel anger like untruth. Be truthful with yourself as well.  If you surround yourself with angry people, the anger will ultimately infect you. You might ultimately have to eliminate friends or even family from your life.  You might even have to change jobs or a career. God’s will is that you be happy and live life to the fullest. You cannot live happily or at peace with anger all around you.

3. Don‘t allow anger to “brew”.  Give it a time limit. NEVER continue your anger overnight.

   (Eph. 4:26-27) Anger is indeed like wine, the longer it brews, the more potent it gets.

4. Don‘t enter into senseless or degrading conversation (Eph. 4:29) Anger often results from what first appears as “innocent conversation”. Be careful who you talk, listen to and believe. Avoid like the plague those who would give you advice so freely and think they are looking out for your own good.  Chances are they are living vicariously through your life.

5. Settle ALL conflictual matters quickly! (Mtt.5:24—25) Don’t let conflict persist and those, whom you know who breed on conflict must be confronted, asked to cease their conflictual nature and attitude and if they don’t, cut them out of your life as fast as you would turn a light switch off.

We should remember that anger can actually be a good thing.  It motivates us many times to stand up for important aspects of our life such as family, friends, God and country.

Jesus tells us in Matthews’s gospel that ANGER is OK in general when:

1. People are taken advantage of in the name of God. (Mtt.21:11-13) and

2. Necessary expectations are not met. (Mtt.21:18-19)

The bottom line is seek God and He will guide your emotions and move you away from the danger of yourself.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says it best, 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will direct your paths.”

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Are internet friends genuine?

Nothing separates genuine friendships Graphic: Susan Joyner-Stumpf

Friends or not?

To be sure, the topic of friendship has been discussed with some detail in recent years due to the popularity of social networking.

Recently on one of the more prominent social networking sights, the topic seems to have gained new life and as such, it seems appropriate to once again visit this entire topic.

One important fact of life as any counselor, sociologist or psychologist will tell you is, people have a need for personal interaction and friendships.

The need for friendship starts almost from birth with children interacting with others in nurseries and day care and especially when they start school for the first time or begin a new school year. When one child goes up to the other for the first time and begins exchanging names, comparing clothes and even facial features the attempt at friendship begins.

Somewhere along the way however, people can lose sight of their need for friends and friendship, they become isolated and draw into themselves.

The need for human interaction is as necessary as breathing. We need one another.

Large corporations and Churches have learned long ago that principle well enough to introduce the concept of “small groups”. These are groups small enough that allow and attract people specifically for making better human interaction.

Businesses do this for think tank purposes and most evangelical churches in America now have some form of ‘small group’ concept in their church ministry for better personal interaction.

The Bible refers to friends in abundance. King Solomon tells us in the book of Proverbs that a ‘friend loves at all times’, this is probably the most popular verse on friendship in the Bible. Real friendships are able to look past their disagreements and focus on the positives of life.

There is also other references to friendship in the Bible such as David and Jonathon, Ruth and Boaz, Elijah and Eli, Priscilla, Aquila and the Apostle Paul and many more.

And of course, the greatest friend of all is Jesus. The Bible reminds us that Jesus called us His friends.

One reason social networking has become so popular is because people want friends. Christians have even gotten ‘Christian specific’ with our own social networking alternatives of which their are now several because we all need friends.

The whole concept of “internet friends” or “social networking friends” being real and genuine has become a matter of discussion and controversy within the psychology and counseling community particular.

In question is, “Can someone you might have never seen (other than a profile photo) become a real and genuine friend?” Most mental health professionals trend towards the negative on this and say unless you’ve met the person prior to social networking they probably are no more than an acquaintance at best and possibly a stalker or inquisitive hacker waiting to strike and take advantage.

There is an old saying which pastors and mental health workers have known for years, “FAMILIARITY breeds both conflict and contempt.” With regard to “Social networking friends”, be very careful in how much you share with each other about each other; especially in public forums. Many people have been destroyed on social networks with the best of intentions. So as Jesus says, “Love one another…” but indeed, be cautious because evil is always lurking.

That said, many of us remember making “pen pals” in school. We communicated via traditional postal mail writing back and forth with other “unknown” people from usually another country and we might not even have a picture. We felt like we had genuine friends even though we might never actually meet them.

For many, having a “pen pal” was their first real inter-personal relationship and it was a good thing as is “social networking” of today.

Psychology teaches us that human inter-action or ‘friendship’ is important and recent articles in psychology periodicals emphasize such.

One of the easiest ways to make real flesh and blood friends is to step back from the computer. Go to a gym, get involved with a softball team or bowling league or attend a local church where you can probably do it all . Get involved in one of the many small groups or attend local church services or social events.

Most friendships are good including those that social networking has brought about. Most of us can be thankful of all of the new friends from across the globe we have been able to make because of computers and social networking.

Personally, this writer has met a few people through “social networking” who have and will remain genuine and lifelong friends. These are some of the finest people ever encountered and definitely genuine friends.

But nothing is better than the firm grasp of a hand, a warm hug or even a ‘butterfly’ kiss on the cheek and hearing those wonderful words, ‘I’m so glad you are my friend’. This writer looks with anticipation when this is an experience shared with several new found “social network friends”.

Disappointment and depression

Have you ever heard someone express their disappointment? Sometimes it is simply, “talk about a disappointment?” or they might be unable to speak about it and just stare off into space or in many cases, the person is so overcome with emotion that they become nearly incoherent due to uncontrollable crying and sobbing.

Disappointment however, is part of life.  We don’t always get what we want and sometimes we don’t even get what we need; at least what we perceive as needing.

The recent down turn of the economy has certainly seen disappointment occur in many people’s lives. Cars repossessed, homes foreclosed on and jobs which were thought to be careers lost.

Disappointment occurs when what we had desired, sought to obtain, set a goal to achieve or even had a need for does not come to fruition or we have accomplished something only to have it taken away. As a result we feel empty, unfulfilled, dissatisfied and even numb.

Disappointment comes in many forms such as losing a sports event, failing a test, rejection of a lover, divorce or death of a loved one.

All of these things disappoint.

The problem with disappointment is that many times people obsess over the disappointment and ultimately depression sets in; the key word being “obsess”. The obsession over the disappointment literally engulfs the individual possessing their body, mind and spirit causing depression to set in.

The depression can either be the simple “blues” or proverbial “down in the dumps” and if not caught in time can lead to and become the more serious “clinical depression” which often requires ongoing therapy and medication.

It should be noted that clinical depression can also have many causes including a medical and neurological connection not associated with that previously mentioned. Disappointment however, can be a trigger mechanism setting off a clinical depression attack sometimes requiring in-patient medical and psychiatric treatment.

Although disappointment can often not be avoided, the way we deal with it or recover from disappointment is important. The Bible has much to say about dealing with disappointment either directly or indirectly. From a biblical perspective there are three basic steps to deal with and recover from disappointment:

  1. Focus on faith, grace, character, perseverance and hope (Romans 5:1-5)
  2. Accept the disappointment. Don’t treat it as a joke but then move on (Ecclesiastes 7:1-8)
  3. Trust completely in the Lord for His healing of the disappointment (Proverbs 3:5-7)

Although the hurt of the disappointment might remain, its duration will certainly be shortened and the road to recovery preventing “simple depression” will be clearer by following these simple biblical truths.

It should be noted that the above mentioned biblical formula is biblical interpretation only and the opinion of this counselor. Although it should help when followed in most situations it is not indented to be a substitute for doctor prescribed medication or ongoing psychiatric/psychological therapy.

Remember that success often occurs in the midst of personal disappointment.