Love Thy Enemy

Love

Christians are familiar with the greatest commandment in Mark 12:30-31:

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (ESV)

It is easy to love your neighbor, especially if they are considerate ones.  Ones that are enjoyable to be around.  Those that we see eye to eye on multiple things in life.

But, what about those that aren’t so kind back?  What if your neighbor (which can represent a family member, coworker, acquaintance, customer service rep, etc.) makes it hard for you to love them?  Maybe they aren’t located on the love spectrum in your eyes – they are on the polar opposite: hate.

You know, everyone (that is human) has said this line before – “I hate __________.”  I hate those individuals that cut in front of me in stand still traffic.  I hate those individuals that abuse animals.  I hate those that defame my name for their advantage.  I’m pretty sure you know what I’m talking about when I wrote these simple “I hate” lines.  Sound familiar?

So, what did Jesus do with those that would be considered our enemies?  He loved them still!  Sounds outlandish, but our savior loved those that we despise just as much as He loves us.  Take a moment and consider the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10.  Jesus befriended a despised chief tax collector!  Out of all the individuals that were present to greet Jesus, he requested to stay at Zacchaeus’ living quarters the night before being sentenced to death.  What an honor!

Why did Jesus choose to stay at Zacchaeus’ house instead of one of his followers?  He wanted to show his people who being a Christ follower also means to love your enemy.  He came to seek those that were lost and save them by making them believers.  As Christians, we should seek those that are lost and be kind to them.  Show them who a follower of Christ is, by being like Jesus.

Acknowledge who you may be “hating” at this moment and ask yourself, how can I show brotherly/sisterly love towards this individual that will exemplify Christ within me.  Love thy enemy, by recognizing they are your neighbor as well.

If you are still finding difficulty in loving your enemy, here are five Bible verses to assist:

Luke 6:27 – “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.”

Exodus 23:5 – If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him.

Acts 7: 60 – And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Ephesians 4:32 – Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Mark 11:25 – And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

(http://www.christianpost.com/buzzvine/5-bible-verses-that-will-teach-you-to-love-your-enemies-in-spite-of-everything-125406/)

Super Bowl Victims

super bowl victims

Super Bowl is right around the corner!  It is being called the old school (Denver Broncos) versus new school (Carolina Panthers) football matchup.  Super Bowl is the time where most of us spend hours rooting for our favorite team with family and/or friends over food, drinks and TV.    However, not everyone will be celebrating.  Would you believe me if I was to say there are Super Bowl victims?

What a lot of individuals do not know is the dark side of Super Bowl: an increase within the sex industry.  While the football teams draw in large crowds, there are those that are flocking to the trading of women.  The peak of sex trafficking occurs during Super Bowl, where an influx of CHILDREN and women are shipped in for sex trade.  Houses will turn into brothels, there will be pimps and prostitutes readily available, along with $32 BILLION in revenue!

These facts come from an article from The Christian Chronicle in 2011 from the Super Bowl that was held in Dallas, Texas.  I can only image the numbers have increased within the past 5 years.  Numbers are important, nevertheless, the people are more important.  We’re talking about daughters, wives, sisters, aunts, nieces, neighbors, friends… they are all human beings with worth.  A worth that should NOT have a price attached to them, thus they do.

So, I encourage each of us to remember the price of Super Bowl – beyond tailgating in the parking lot before the game, the outrageous price of a ticket in the nose bleed section, the glamorous half-time show and the celebratory aftermath of your team winning – instead, those that may not have a choice or a voice of exiting the crude industry.  If you are looking to make a difference by assisting those in the sex industry escape the demeaning lifestyle, contact your local charities and churches in your city.  For Dallas/Ft. Worth area we have:

World Relief http://worldrelief.org/fortworth/humantrafficking

Children at Risk http://childrenatrisk.org/content/

Human Rights Initiative http://www.hrionline.org/

Mosaic Family Services, Inc. http://mosaicservices.org/

New Friends New Life http://www.newfriendsnewlife.org/

The Friends of Letot http://letotgirlscenter.org/

You Can Free Us http://www.youcanfree.us/

The Misconception of Working Mothers

working mothers

What comes to your mind when you hear: working mothers?  A phenomenal multitasker?  Maybe the juggler in a family circus?  The Jill of all trades?

I am not a mother, unless you count fur babies, than I am a mother of four amazing animals.  However, I know quite a few (if not many) mothers of human babies.  Many of these mothers hold a full-time job  (or multiple jobs) to support their family.  I can only imagine the hectic schedule for a working mom and the little praise that they receive.  Most of all the perception that working moms are seen as happy in photos, loving the chaos in maintaining balance and as superwoman.  However, even superwoman has a weakness: bounded gauntlets.

So, how many of you, working mothers, out there feel bounded by so much chaos from deadlines at work, changing of the diapers, being the glue of the family and more?  I’m hoping that everyone takes a moment to watch the following TED video regarding the misconception of working moms and how America fails to acknowledge these wonderful women!  Say thank you to an amazing working mother today and ask how you can assist in lessening their burden of obtaining perfection!

Who’s Your Counselor’s Counselor?

Who's Your Counselor's Counselor

As I near the end of collecting my state LPC-Intern hours, I have realized the importance of the question: Who’s your counselor’s counselor?  At first, I found it easy to compartmentalized the traumas that I was hearing on a daily basis from my clients and not allowing their stories to effect me.  However, after two plus years (not including when I was in school gaining my internship hours) of stories upon stories, I found myself becoming anxious and depressed.

Becoming a counselor is not the easiest career, since you allow yourself to absorb some one else’s traumatic events and keep their story confidential.  I am a secret of vaults that not even truth serum could penetrate.  With all of the traumatic events that I took in, I began to obtain somewhat a cynical view of the world.  I started to believe that things are horrible and would not change.  I began a routine of working long hours and coming home to “zombie out” in front of the TV.  I gave up reading an enjoyable book, walking the dogs around the neighborhood and enjoying “me time” at a local restaurant.  As days turned into weeks into months on end with this routine and lack of hobbies, I became depressed.  There were times when I would go without a shower for two days, be too tired to brush my teeth at night and oversleeping on the weekend.

As my depression grew, I realized my anxiety was increasing too.  I began to question my capabilities as a counselor, had paranoid thoughts and became more susceptible to illnesses.  Just in three months, I was sick twice!  I was living in fear and wanted to find excuses to not attend work or anything for that matter.  As a counselor, I know a multitude of coping skills, yet I chose not to participate in them.  I felt hollow and yet, somehow, I was still functioning as a counselor to my clients.  I began to notice that my clients were doing better than me!

Enough was enough – I knew something had to change: me.  How was I ever to promote self-care to my clients without taking care of myself?  I began take slow steps towards recovery… started with journaling my thoughts and emotions.  I found that I was able to sleep a little bit better after emptying my mind.  I started openly discussing my struggle with supportive colleagues, where they provided a sound board for me.  I asked for a two-week hiatus from facilitating night groups to reduce my over-worked work load – which was granted.  I began reading the book The Four Agreements that a colleague provided for me and I’m taking it to heart.  I even received some of my creativity spark back from doing all of these self-care acts.

But of course, the largest step that I took in recovery was this: contacting a counselor!  I am currently waiting for the counselor to contact me back to schedule my first session, but I am feeling a multitude of feelings – scared, nervousness, relief and excitement.  Out of all those emotions, excitement is the greatest.  I am excited to rediscover who I am.  And that in a nutshell is why even I as a counselor requires a counselor!  So, who’s your counselor’s counselor?

Power of Music

Power of Music

Have you ever wondered why we feel better when we listen to music?  Well, there is proof in the pudding, er I mean, notes!

According to BestBinauralBeats.org, a website dedicated to research on music and mood, the rhythm and tone of music has the most impact on our brain.  Our heartbeat synchs up with the rhythm, while the tone relays to our brain the attached emotions.  It’s amazing to think that an external sound can regulate our mood in that way!

The website goes on to state how you can increase the “mood-boosting benefits of music” by:

  1. Rise and shine with light, easy music.  The peak time to get moving with a grooving is around breakfast time.  So, while you eat your eggs and bacon, listen to some enjoyable music.
  2. Meditation and soft music will help decrease anxiety.  Are you feeling jittery or sad?  If so, listen to some calming tunes, such as wind chimes, nature, waterfalls, etc.  Listening to soothing music will sooth you over like a blanket of comfort.
  3. “Choose ‘directed tones'”.  Allow your brain to grow by alternating the music in the sound of one ear and then the other.  Your brain will follow the sound and in exchange, so will your mood.
  4. Provide down time from listening to your tunes.  In order to train your brain to change emotions, allow distinction between quiet time and therapeutic tune time.  Allow your brain to anticipate the next time you listen to music.  If you listen to music constantly, then the effect to lower anxiety will diminish, because it is no longer paired with set music time.
  5. Hard or fast music is appropriate in doses.  With a fast rhythm, our heart beat increases, which in turn can increase anxiety.  Don’t stop listening to the music you love, but recognize the effect it has on our bodies and emotions.
ROCK ON (hard or lightly)!  Overall, enjoy your tunes and enjoy the effect it has on your emotions!

Change of Perspective on Mental Illness

Changing Perspective on Mental Illness

The part about counseling that I look least forward to is the diagnosis portion.  No matter how many times I have challenged clients to view the diagnosis as a separate thing from their personality, it never fails – many of them view themselves as the diagnosis.  Sometimes the clients will use the diagnosis as a pessimistic barrier.  “I can’t do ____, because I am bipolar”, “I will never ____, because I am schizophrenic”, etc.  There is nothing wrong with limited thinking, but how great would it be to be optimistic about a diagnosis?

I am currently reading Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson.  She is open and honest about her battle with mental illness, with a funny twist.  I find myself at times laughing out loud with her descriptions of thoughts and plans of action.  The book is refreshing because Mrs. Lawson shows that mental illness does not need to cripple you; if anything it is about embracing the differences and finding joy in knowing that you are not like everyone else.  She views the term “crazy” as a good thing, opposed to bad.  I have mixed emotions on finishing this book, because I have yet to find another author with the same perspective as hers.

If you or someone you know is viewing their diagnosis as a burden instead of grace, I would highly recommend this book.  Not only will you or they be deep belly laughing, but it will broaden your/their view of mental illness.  Enjoy reading and let me know your thoughts!