For as long as I can remember, I have been involved in my local church. I was a leader in my youth group. I was a Sunday school teacher. I led adult Bible studies and small groups. I led men’s groups. One of the gifts that I have always known that God gave me is the gift of teaching. My writing informs that.

Much as my writing has been dormant for many years, my teaching has been as well. Prior to recovery, I couldn’t take a lot of joy out of the gift God gave me for His own glory because I felt unworthy. I knew I wasn’t being honest with God. I was keeping part of myself from Him, from my wife, from my family. So…I stopped. I stopped using the gifts He gave me because I felt unworthy. I felt disqualified.

I have for so long looked for reasons to avoid my local church. Now, I long for and crave the Biblical instruction. This week, my pastor spoke through the audience of a couple thousand to speak to me directly. I didn’t even see it coming.

He opened his sermon with Romans 11:29 – “for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.” Huh. Ok, I didn’t know that. He then zeroed in. On me. Or it felt like it was just me. He started talking about being disqualified. About the things that disqualify you from occupations, or society, or being able to vote, or being a member of an organization. How it felt to be disqualified, excluded, kicked out. Exactly how I felt. Unworthy to serve God.

He reminded me that I am not here to please other people. That isn’t my purpose. In fact, if I was worried about the judgment or opinion or esteem of others, I was defying God. If I wasn’t using the gifts and telling the story He gave me, then I wasn’t paying attention to scripture. Wait, what?

Yeah, Galatians 1:10 kinda nailed me on this one. In it, Paul writes: “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

Sometimes Paul ticks me off. So does my pastor. Really, so does God. I am running out of ways to fail Him. I keep disqualifying myself from His service. From being worthy of being of use to Him. But…that’s my flesh talking, not God. I am not disqualified. I am qualified…because I belong to God. Really, my story does. So do my gifts.

Hear me out. God has given me some gifts. I know they don’t come from me so they most definitely come from Him. In my sin, in my addiction, those gifts have stagnated from lack of use. And I have justified that lack of use as my sin deeming me disqualified. Only, that isn’t what God says in His word. Quite the opposite. He tells us that His gifts and His call are irrevocable. Not dependent on being “good enough.” Irrevocable.

God has given me gifts. I can write some. I can teach a little. I feel in His will when I do both for His purpose. Me not using those gifts, not telling the story He has given me through the gifts he has given me…basically, my call…then I am glorifying Him. I am not fulfilling the purpose He gave me. So I guess I am qualified. How about that.


Doug discusses his character defect of Abandonment and how it can feel all-consuming at times. He discusses illustrations that point out the negative aspects of abandonment that can creep in without being aware.

He also discusses practical ways to overcome fear and abandonment by being healthy emotionally and vulnerable in relationship.

Please email us with any comments and/or questions at
puritypodcast@castimonia.org, and remember that you are not alone!


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Image  —  Posted: March 20, 2017 by Castimonia in Humor, Sexual Purity Posts
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https://applyingmybeliefs.wordpress.com/2015/04/26/women-and-their-father-wounds/

by applyingmybeliefs

How we connect with our earthly fathers affects our entire life.  It gives us some of our perspective on God, it teaches us about bonding with men and it provides us with guidance on how to conduct life.  All of these can be highly positive, disastrously negative or somewhere in between.  When the father-daughter relationship is more to the negative end of the spectrum, it is said to cause father wounds.

Listen to some things women have said on this subject:

Juanita – Growing up, I saw my father beat my mother a lot, and it made me scared.  I avoided my father in case he might beat me.  Later on I discovered my mother was actually protecting me and my two sisters.  I am still scared of him 25 years later, and I have trouble connecting with men.  I’ve been married 3 times, and each one has been an abuser.

Gloria – I remember my dad used to go into the bathroom for what seemed like hours, one day when I was 7 I walked in on him masturbating to a magazine.  I was traumatized, and he stopped what he was doing and told me not tell anyone otherwise he would whoop me.  When I first got married I had a difficult time with sex; it took a lot of patience from my husband to work through it.

Susan – My relationship with my dad was confusing when I was young.  Sometimes he was the best, then when he drank he would be cold and distant.  He would often come home late, and when he did, us kids would hide, because he was usually angry.  That is my picture of God too.

Abigail – It started when I was 8, my dad, who was a single dad, just me and him, would leave me alone with his brother, my uncle while he was out.  My uncle started molesting me, and then he would do more.  Even though my uncle threatened me, I still tried to tell dad, but he wouldn’t listen.  He never protected me, and this went on for 6 years, until I told a teacher.  That is why I don’t pray; God won’t listen or protect me, I have to do it myself.

Jenny – My dad never did anything bad to me.  He just seemed to zone out at home.  He did come to my volleyball games, but didn’t praise or encourage me.  Sometimes it was like he wasn’t there.  We don’t have a close relationship.

We all know that sociologist’s research has proven over and over again that the quality of relationship a father has with his daughter is a large factor in determining the daughter’s ability to connect with men, and her ability to develop intimacy with her mate.  We also know that the absence of a father in a home is highly correlated with the probability of a daughter looking for male affection in the wrong places and with the wrong people.

Today then we want to discuss your relationship with your father using these questions:

  • How was your relationship with your dad, and how did it impact your view of God?
  • Do you have father wounds, and what are they?
  • What attitudes or behaviors of yours can you tie to your father wounds?

 


https://applyingmybeliefs.wordpress.com/2015/04/25/men-and-their-father-wounds/

by applyingmybeliefs

(This is from a book I’m working on for group facilitators – Tomorrow I’ll look at Women and Father Wounds)

How we connect with our earthly fathers affects our entire life.  It gives us some of our perspective on God, it teaches us about bonding with men and it provides us with guidance on how to conduct life.  All of these can be highly positive, disastrously negative or somewhere in between.  When the father-son relationship is more to the negative end of the spectrum, it is said to cause father wounds.

Listen to some things men have said on this subject:

James – When my father was home, he wasn’t home.  He read the newspaper and shouted at us kids if we were too noisy.  I grew up just like him, angry and isolated.

Bill – Dad left at 5 every day and came home after 7.  He missed all my baseball games.  When we were all grown, my mom divorced him.  I still don’t have a relationship with him.  In fact I resent him, and I don’t care.  I hope I don’t do that when I’m a dad.

Robert – Oh yeah, father wounds!  I’ve got them, my dad sexually abused me, I can’t trust men, but I am physically attracted to them.  Where was God?  The whole thing sickens me.

Lucius – When I think of my father, I think of drinking.  I think that’s where I got my drug problem from.  And the women, he had a problem with that too; broke my mom’s heart.  I don’t know where he is.  Don’t talk to me about God, and if He is like my father, I don’t want to know him.

Roberto – My so-called dad beat my mom up, right in front of me.  And when I was 13 I stood up to him and he beat me up too.  So I went and got some of my gang friends and had him beaten up.  He never hurt me or mom again.  If it hadn’t been for him I wouldn’t have gotten into my gang as a kid and gone to Juvie and jail.  Now I’m clean and out, I ought to go confront him, but I hate the man.  You asked about God, it was God that let him beat my mom all those years, what kind of God is that?

We all know that sociologist’s research has proven over and over again that the quality of relationship a father has with his son is a large factor in determining the son’s character, personality and behaviors.  We also know that the absence of a father in a home is highly correlated with the probability of a son becoming a welfare recipient, having children outside of a committed relationship, dropping out of school and/or becoming a criminal; all antisocial problems.

Today then we want to discuss your relationship with your father using these questions:

  • How was your relationship with your dad, and how did it impact your view of God?
  • Do you have father wounds, and what are they?
  • What attitudes or behaviors of yours can you tie to your father wounds?

 


For those with mental illness, this is truly a sad story but I hope it helps the public understand how terrible a life those of us with mental illness can really live.

The author with daughter Natalie in 2004, soon after publication of their book “Promise You Won’t Freak Out.” © Doris Fuller/Treatment Advocacy Center The author with daughter Natalie in 2004, soon after publication of their book “Promise You Won’t Freak Out.”

by:  Doris A. Fuller of The Washington Post

I lost my darling daughter Natalie to mental illness last month. She killed herself a few weeks short of her 29th birthday by stepping in front of a train in Baltimore.

Natalie and I wrote a book together when she was 16: “Promise You Won’t Freak Out: A Teenager Tells Her Mother the Truth About Boys, Booze, Body Piercing, and Other Touchy Topics (and Mom Responds).” The idea of a teenager telling the truth about her secrets was such a startling concept that we were feature-page headliners in the Baltimore Sun and about two dozen other newspapers, went on TV coast to coast, including on one of the morning shows, and got paid to give speeches. “Oprah” called.

In the book, we used a device to signal whenever a wild turn was about to take place: And then . . . . In the introduction, I defined an And then . . . moment as “one of those critical junctures when my cheerful sense that all was right in the world collided with inescapable proof that it wasn’t.”

The book was published to great reviews the week before Natalie finished high school. Amazon named it the best parenting book of 2004. It was nominated for a national prize. It was translated into Lithuanian and Chinese.

And then . . . .

At 22, during the second half of her senior year of college, Natalie experienced a psychotic break. In the span of a few weeks she went from being a dazzling young adult with the world at her feet to a psych-ward patient with an arrest record. Only much later did I learn what a devastatingly common trajectory this was.

Psychotic disorders nearly always emerge in late adolescence or early adulthood, with onset peaking between the ages of 18 and 25, according to Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health. Scientists don’t know why. Many researchers are focusing on abnormalities in the way the brains of people who behave psychotically develop during adolescence. Others are investigating genetics, prenatal circumstances and environmental conditions.

Some consensus has emerged around the concept that psychotic breaks like Natalie’s are not, as they may seem, abrupt but rather are the climax of a long buildup. In this model, they are rooted in molecular changes in the brain that begin as much as a decade before symptoms occur and progress to an end-stage psychosis in which reality surrenders to delusion, paranoia, hallucinations or other forms of disordered thinking. This idea suggests the possibility, both tantalizing and controversial, that children might someday be screened for psychosis indicators the way they are screened for other health risks, with the hope of reducing the onset of psychosis much as we have reduced the prevalence of heart attacks.

Natalie’s symptoms probably began in her junior year of college, but — like nearly every other family member who ever talked to me about their own loved one’s unraveling — I had no frame of reference to recognize them for what they were.

She went a week without sleeping more than a few hours a night and seemed to have endless energy. But she was traveling abroad then and relying on caffeine to stay awake. Our family saw this as jet lag, not mania. A few months later, she reported that one of her friends had begun whispering whenever Natalie turned her head away. But the girls were on the road together in close quarters and having some spats. With no history of mental illness in the family, auditory hallucinations never crossed anyone’s mind.

Only half a year later — when the whisper of her friend grew into a chorus of strangers issuing commands that led to Natalie’s arrests for offenses such as trespassing — did the connection become apparent. Again, commonplace: The average duration of untreated psychosis in America is 70 weeks, Insel says.

Like most people in the midst of psychiatric crisis, Natalie maintained that she was fine and that “everyone else is crazy.” She continued to deteriorate until police officers, responding to still another call, took her to a hospital emergency room instead of to jail. After a series of psychiatric examinations and a court hearing, she was committed to the state’s public psychiatric hospital. She received intensive treatment for severe bipolar disorder with psychosis until she was stable and symptom-free two months later.

Natalie came home sane, revived and seemingly her vibrant old self. She moved in with me for the summer and taught me how to like grilled tofu and make egg scrambles. She concocted the best mixed salads of my life. She filled my house with her original art, her friends and her irrepressible spirit. Mental illness was not a theme. She returned to college to restart her senior year. I saw her off with an emptier stomach but oh so much optimism.

And then . . . .

Three months later, Natalie abruptly stopped taking the medications that had kept the manic swings and auditory hallucinations at bay. Within minutes of walking through the door for a weekend at home, her delusion-loaded thinking and behavior made it obvious that what I eventually came to think of as “the demons” were back.

Natalie’s relapse was worse than her first break: the psychosis and hospitalization longer, the recovery harder to achieve, the eventual medications more complicated, the resulting future not as bright. Her second commitment to the hospital lasted 10 months, an eternity in an era where the average psychiatric stay is about five days and most people who are psychotic never get a bed at all. Thanks to the intensive care, she rebounded again, albeit more slowly, and finished her bachelor of fine arts degree. Her attending psychiatrist from the hospital and several staff members drove 75 miles to attend her senior art show. It was a triumph for us all.

But, as is true for far too many individuals and families and professionals who live with or around untreated severe mental illness, the And thens continued. While Natalie seemed happier and more productive on meds, she missed the high of occasional mania and she hated the weight gain that is a common side effect of the drugs she was taking. Stable, she would sometimes declare that she wasn’t sick after all and didn’t need medication — another very common reason people give for quitting their meds.

Yet if she even inadvertently missed a few days of medication — even while receiving therapy and other forms of treatment — the demons would return, and one of the first things they would tell her was to stop taking her medicine. The second thing they would tell her was not to talk to her mom, the most powerful other influence in her life. Each time she obeyed and relapsed, she plunged into a longer free fall, hitting the ground harder, recovering more slowly and returning at a lower plateau.

The final time she entered this cycle was last fall, when Natalie became convinced she was among the 1 in 4 people with psychotic disorders whose symptoms improve only minimally or not at all with medications. There were no apparent signs of psychosis, and she seemed happy and healthy to everyone around her, but she said we couldn’t see inside her head. In November, six years after her first break, she announced that because she was going to have hallucinations anyway, she was giving up meds for good. Now 28 years old, she stopped the injectable antipsychotics and oral mood stabilizers that had helped her rebuild her life, and her mind began its final, fatal unwinding.

Natalie was a believer that treatment worked and that the mental health system needed to be reformed so other people received the kind of care she had when she was in crisis. She told her story in a documentary short last year about the criminalization of mental illness. She dreamed of being a peer counselor. She said she wanted to help others as she had been helped — until she became convinced that she was beyond help.

In the weeks since Natalie’s death, the outpouring of sympathy and grief from legions of people who have fought demons have made me keenly aware that the pain I feel from her loss is but a drop in the ocean of pain created by untreated mental illness. Wrote one woman, “I have bipolar disorder and can’t even begin to tell you how many people over the years have said to me, ‘Be glad that is all you have.’ ‘It could be worse, you could have cancer or some other terminal illness. . . . ’ It saddens me that so many people do not realize that mental illness, while treatable, is not a curable disease, and can lead to death.”

My daughter lived more than six years with an incurable disease that filled her head with devils that literally hounded her to death, and she did it while laughing, painting, writing poetry, advocating and bringing joy to the people around her. She was the bravest person I have ever known, and her suicide doesn’t change that.

“Natalie will help our society to move forward,” a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins Hospital wrote me upon learning of the suicide. “She is helping us to look at mental illness with the respect, the compassion and the dignity it deserves.”

I hope so. Natalie would have loved that legacy.

Fuller is executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center, an Arlington-based nonprofit dedicated to eliminating barriers to treatment for people with the most severe psychiatric diseases.

 


We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. – excerpt from The Promises, adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous

My niece got married this weekend, my brother’s daughter. The wedding was beautiful. I had the opportunity to toast the new bride and groom. I said some things…don’t go to bed angry, support and love each other, innocuous words. Flowery words. Words with meaning but without depth or any of my truth. I told myself later that I didn’t want to say anything further because I didn’t want to embarrass my wife, my brother, or really myself. I held back.

My sister and her daughters stayed with us over the weekend for the wedding. I relished the time with my younger sister, getting to be a big brother again and an uncle to my nieces. Sharing and laughing and being serious about the future care of our parents, how we had gotten to this point in our lives, good memories, bad ones. But not too bad or too in depth.

Late on Saturday, we were just all laying on our bed. It was my wife, my sister, and me. We were talking about the past year, about how difficult it had been, the impact on my kids. But not too in depth. My wife and sister were talking. I was participating as well, or so I thought. It was a great conversation. But not too challenging. Safe.

That night, my wife asked me a question. Why can’t you be more open with your story? Why are you holding back? I had ready answers. It wasn’t a safe situation. I didn’t feel the Holy Spirit telling me to share. I didn’t think I had anything to add.

I told my sponsor about this conversation a couple days later. He asked me why didn’t I feel comfortable sharing? I answered with similar words: I wasn’t comfortable, I didn’t feel the Holy Spirit’s urging. I didn’t think it was the right time. He asked me if that was really it? Or was I like Mary, Martha, and the disciples in John 11. Did I not trust God enough?

In John 11, Lazarus died. Jesus’ friend Lazarus died. Jesus knew he would die but he didn’t rush back to save him. He wanted to do something different. To use Lazarus dying for His glory in His timing. So He came back and raised him from the dead, as only He could. Ok, I get it. He saved me from death and addiction as only He could.

My sponsor told me exactly. That’s what He did. He did it for His glory so all would know that only He could save from death and destruction. Every day that I was unwilling to share my story, I was suppressing God’s ability to bring glory to Him saving me from death and destruction and addiction as only He could.

I brought this up with my counselor who reminded me of truths he had previously shared. There are three tests for determining whether or not I should share my story. They are:

    • Do I need to tell my story to get more out of me, to benefit me
    • Do I need to tell my story to benefit the other person
    • Is my story relevant to the situation

Damn. I missed an opportunity. Sometimes truths are not comfortable or safe or nice to hear or pretty or reassuring. Sometimes they are convicting. By not being open with my story and determining whether or not I should share, I am not allowing God to use it for His purpose. I am wasting the good works He has done in my life. God, I am sorry. I will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. I will use your opportunities to share my story, not for my glory but for yours.