Last week, my blog post had a guest author, Regina. She shared some of her testimony in the hopes that it would inspire readers as they walked their own road to emotional healing in Christ. When Regina initially shared with me, what came to mind was overcoming discouragement. So, as a follow up to Regina’s post, that’s what I’d like to talk about today: The 7 Essentials for Overcoming Discouragement.

First off, for the believer, DISCOURAGEMENT is anything that deprives us of courage, hope, or confidence in the Lord. Discouragement  is dangerous! Allowing it to hang around in our lives is treacherous business because, before we know it, discouragement has led to hopelessness, depression, chronic fear and . . . problems, problems, problems. That’s why God admonishes us not to let discouragement get a hold of us, troubling our hearts and undermining our peace. For example, twice in John 14, Jesus encourages us by saying, “Do not let your hearts be troubled”(v. 1, 27, NIV). And, in Hebrews 10:35-36 (NIV), we are told, “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.”

Imagine a life where you are victorious over discouragement. You can have that!

And here are the 7 essentials . . .

Don’t Take It Personally

The first essential is understanding that discouragement does not mean that there is something wrong with you. It’s a part of life and is often the result of events and situations that are out of our control. We are all confronted with it sooner or later when facing disappointing or hurtful life events. Remember: failure is never final unless we quit trying. As we continue to try, failure really becomes no more than a setback — a possibility to learn from mistakes and to try again. It can be painful and embarrassing, but it can also be a great teacher. God’s definition of success does not preclude failure, but it includes a willingness to refuse to quit, to learn from one’s mistakes, and to try again. So, don’t take it personally, thinking that discouragement somehow means you’ve failed. All of us have faced discouragement, have even given into it at some point, but the question is: “What are you going to do about it today?”

Give Discouragement to God

First Peter 5:7 (NLT) says, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.” Casting our cares on God takes a great amount of trust and humility. We need to give Him all of our cares—not just the ones we think are big enough or important enough. God will even shoulder the cares that we have brought upon ourselves—we can give them all to Him. When we give our cares to Him, we can brush off our discouragement and get back to the kingdom business at hand. We are called to do much in Christ!

Don’t Dwell on the “What Ifs”

Stop allowing your mind to dwell on what might have been. This type of thinking is dangerous because it keeps us looking backward, closing us off to looking ahead or looking up. It also encourages us to rehash our failings and mistakes, keeping us discouraged. This is never productive. Remember: Romans 12:2 (NIV) admonishes us, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Our minds are never renewed by dwelling on what-ifs. If we want to know and walk in God’s awesome will for our lives, we must let go of the what-ifs, forgiving ourselves, forgiving others. And we must develop the habit of always focusing our minds on Him, determined to always look up and look forward.

Don’t Focus on Feelings

Along with ditching the what-ifs, we must also resist the temptation to use feelings to determine how to handle discouragement. Feelings can change drastically from situation to situation. If we use feelings to determine actions, we will be unsteady and unstable— not the staid and secure people He has called us to be. As I recently read in a Joyce Meyer devotional, we are to let emotions subside before we decide. And it’s true. It’s a necessary attitude to have and there’s no overcoming discouragement without it.

Be Open

A lot of times we have difficulty overcoming discouragement because we are closed to the fresh direction, meaning that we only see our failings and losses, not the new direction God is trying to take us in. Remember the Lord declares in Jeremiah 29:11, He has plans for us, plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future. This means that God causes everything, even the disappoints of life, to work together for our good (Romans 8:28). So, we need to always be open and ready to receive whatever God may have in mind for us. Pray and ask Him for eyes to see the fresh direction. Then make plans for an optimistic future.

Never Give Up

The Apostle Paul certainly understood challenges and discouragement. In 2 Corinthians 11:24-25 (NLT), he relates some of what he went through in his travels to share the gospel of Jesus Christ: “Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea.” And the list goes on and on. And yet this same Paul wrote in Galatians 6:9 (NASB), “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” It’s God’s heart for us to persevere through disappointments. Following God, having our steps ordered by Him, does not guarantee success in every endeavor. In fact, some lessons that God wants to teach can only come through failure. When God’s people fail, however, He does not allow them to be “utterly cast down” (Psalm 37:23-24, NKJV). Instead, He helps them back up so that they can learn what He wants to teach them and move on toward success. So, no matter what, never, never, never give up!


When was the last time you had a good laugh . . . a deep-down belly laugh? The saying, “Laughter is the best medicine” is not actually a bible quote, but the idea comes directly from Proverbs 17:22 (AMP), “A happy heart is good medicine, and a cheerful mind works healing . . .” Stop living with your head hung down, focusing on the negative. Such living “dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22b). Find those activities that make you laugh — genuinely and from deep down inside. Whether it’s a movie, spending time with an old friend, a funny story — find the things that make you laugh and do them often. Determine to let your thoughts and attitudes reflect the joy of the Lord — it’s your strength (Nehemiah 8:10). God is in control and His love is steadfast. A children’s song says, “If you’re happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it” . . . So, laugh again, laugh often! It will go a long way to bringing back the joy. It’s ‘a medicine’ that will turn your life around.

Well All, that’s my list! That’s my 7 essentials for overcoming discouragement. So, if you’re discouraged? Down? Wondering if God is on your side in this? Well, He is! Even though you may not see or feel it at that moment, He is at work in your life. So, never give up. Keep moving forward. Do not lose heart and keep looking up. Remember, He actually does want you to overcome discouragement, so your miracle is inevitable.

In His Love,

Dr. Susie

Don’t forget to leave comments. And if you have topics or questions you would like me to discuss, click on the Ask Dr. Susie link. (Remember, your privacy is important here; so, if you agree to have your question posted on the website to help others, it’s always posted anonymously.)

I’m beginning a new series today. It’s called the “Be Inspired” series. Sometimes discussing topics and answering questions is not enough. Sometimes we need to be inspired by hearing others tell how they’ve walked through trials and overcome them in Christ. So, I’ve invited others to share their stories and testimonies — believing that it will inspire you as you walk your own road to emotional healing. I’ll be posting these inspirational stories periodically and the first post is today.

The author of today’s post is a colleague of mine, Regina. She is one of those believers who light up a room. When I met her, the first thing I noticed was her joy, her cheerful disposition and her genuine heart for others. When I asked her to share some of her testimony to inspire others, she agreed with a smile. This is what she shared . . .

Because I am a Christian Should Life Be Fair?

 Why does God allow this to happen to me? . . . Shouldn’t God protect me and my child? . . .

Why sickness? . . . Why our child? . . . Why are we loosing everything we own? . . . Why us Lord?

My husband and I are parents of a beautiful son and daughter. We have always been faithful Christians, loving the Lord and enjoying life . . . but, several years ago, the tough times came. I began asking these questions. And, like so many others, it began with medical issues.

 Here’s what happened . . .

Without warning, our daughter’s health began to crumble. She was diagnosed with an incurable disease. The cost of her medical bills, including 8 major surgeries, was astronomical — not to mention that my husband had 1 surgery and I had 2 surgeries at this time. Our pharmacy bills were $500 to a $1000 a month after the insurance paid. We traveled to and from Brenner Children’s Hospital 3 times a week for our daughter. We had to hire a home-health nurse for her so I could work in-between her surgeries. And the cost of the over-the-counter treatment supplies was outrageous. On top of all of this, my husband lost his job of 13 years because of lay-offs. As our finances dried up, we had to sell our boat, our 31-ft travel trailer, all my husband’s tools and many, many other household things we’d bought over the years. All the while, our bills were still pilling up.

It was hard, very hard . . . but we chose to believe God. We had to make the decision to never give up.

After 8 months, my husband was blessed with a job; but, times were still tough. By then, all the money we received from selling our possessions was gone. We had to start using every type of credit just to buy medications and to pay for pre-surgery visits, doctor’s visits and other medical needs. Sometimes we even had to use credit just to buy groceries. Finally it came to the point where we had to borrow money on our home to pay the medical bills. At this time, I was thinking, “God can it get any worse?” I prayed and prayed for my family, even when I had doubt. I asked God to give me the strength. But the finances continued to dry up. Finally, our home was no more!! What we’d worked 18 years for was now gone. We had to file bankruptcy!!

There we were — all we had was each other, a dog, 2 cars and some furniture. My husband looked at me and said, “We still have a Family and Love!!!”  I shed tears and, in my own little corner, I prayed, “God, I Am Truly in the Palm of Your Hands Now. Please help us regain strength and get back on our feet!!”

† Pause And Reflect †

What would you have done if you had been Regina? What questions would you have asked God?

The story continues . . .

We both kept working, my husband sometimes working 2 jobs. Then, just as things began to stabilize, my hours were cut back at work. So once again, we felt slapped in the face.  We finally stopped attending the church we had gone to for 14 years. I realized later that this is not what God wants when we’re in a trial, but that’s what we did. We tried another small church. It was okay, but it was still not where God wanted us. After a while, we just stopped going to church altogether. We didn’t stop praying, but it was very difficult not being in God’s house, around other Christians, and not being fed God’s Word on a regular basis.

We’d lost our home and the time came for us to move out. We prayed that God would help us find a rental home to move into. And He did. It was not exactly what we were looking for . . . BUT GOD PLACED US WERE HE WANTED US!!  Our moving day came . . . we left our beautiful brick 1800-sqft “HOME” built in 1997 to move into a 700-sqft home built in 1914. Though we were glad to have a place to live, problems emerged. The rental home had issues regulating heat and air.  In the winter, it was 48 degrees and, in the summer, it would get up to 110 degrees. These erratic temperatures would cause our daughter to have acute flare-ups in her medical condition, so she would get sick over and over again. We knew we had to move.

At this point, we had been in the rental home for around 3 months, still not attending church, when my husband and I decided to “TRY” the church at the end of the road, Caraway Baptist Church.  To be honest, by now, I wasn’t really interested in Church. Not that I didn’t believe in God, because I did; not that I didn’t pray, because I did, I was just depressed because of all that my family had gone through. We went to the church and, as usual, God knew exactly what he was doing way before we did!!  We found the church to be a Bible-believing place full of prayer warriors. Everyone in the church started praying that we would find a permanent home and that our daughter’s health would improve. We realized then that our little rental home had been an avenue for God’s blessing. Not only was it a shelter over our heads, but God had used it to bless us with a Church family and a Pastor that loves his flock.

Another 6 months went by and we began looking for another home that we could rent or rent to own. We needed something that was more suitable for 4 people and had regulated temperatures. We found a 1200-sqft double-wide trailer that we could move into if we could come up with the down payment. We asked our Pastor to pray for us. He came back and said that the church wanted to do a small benefit to help us get into the trailer. It was such a blessing how the community came together to help us. People donated items. They donated their time. Even the local car lots had plates delivered to the volunteers while they worked. Enough money was raised to pay the down payment and first month’s rent. We were so excited, but . . . it all fell apart. The trailer had been sold the day before we came with our down payment!!!!

We were so upset. The questions came again: Why LORD WHY????? We are trying to do better . . . What have we done to deserve this? . . . Well, the answer was “nothing.” Losing the trailer was not a punishment. God just had something better in mind. We had to trust His intentions.


† Pause And Reflect †

Have you ever had something you wanted so dearly fall apart at the last minute? Did it feel like a punishment? Were you able to trust God’s intentions despite the disappointment?

 The story concludes . . .

When I say, ‘God just had something better in mind,’ — BOY DID HE EVER!!  We were riding around looking at houses one day when we drove by this beautiful white home sitting on a hill. The yard was a little rough, but all it needed was a little TLC.  It had the builders sign in front of it, not a real-estate sign.  My husband and I looked at each other and thought, “There is no way we could ever get that home!!” But we really had nothing to lose. All they could do was say, “No,” so why not give them a call. When we called, we were upfront and honest with them about our credit history and told them why we were looking.  The man at the other end told us that he would speak with the owner and get back with us.

To our amazement, he called back and said, “Let’s go look at the house and see what we can do to help you.” He said that the owner really wanted to work with us. He explained that the owner had been so blessed this year with building homes that he wanted to bless someone else by putting them in a brand NEW home! Within a week, everything was finalized. We had never lived in a new home before in our lives and here we were moving in. Wow! We are still amazed! And we thank God for our new home! He gave us so much more than we asked for. And He kept on giving . . .

Before we finished moving in, the owner’s wife came over and said that the Lord had impressed upon her heart to give us a particular gift. Several days later, a brand-new Kenmore refrigerator was delivered. She had no idea that our old refrigerator had just sprung a leak. Here we were wondering how we were going to get the money together to repair our old fridge, when God had already set plans in motion to bless us with a new fridge — even before we had finished moving in. Wow!!!

I’ve learned some things in going through all this: Even when we want to give up or we think there’s no tomorrow or we walk away from God . . . He NEVER turns his back on us. He is an ever-giving and ever-forgiving Heavenly Father who knows all about our troubles. God has allowed me and my family to have a fresh start in life, starting from nothing. I am so very blessed to have this second chance.

Though trying times come, God is MIGHTY! Prayers are ANSWERED! And He richly BLESSES! I hope this will encourage all who read it to never give up . . .

Stay strong in the faith!


This post is a continuation of my last one: I’m Mad, Mad, Mad . . . and I’m Not Gonna Take it Anymore!! If you haven’t read it, please do so now. It’s a nice lead-in to this post and sets the tone. The purpose of the last post was to help you understand Anger. The purpose of this post is to share with you the steps to overcoming it.

 There are 5 steps to overcoming Anger . . .


The Responsibility: Recognize the Choice

“You made me mad!!” How many times have we heard that phrase . . . used that phrase. Did you know that, at core, this phrase is an impossibility. No one can “make you” mad — What can they do? Hold you at gunpoint and demand that you get angry? Of course not. People can do things that hurt us or frustrate us or scare us. But it’s always our choice whether those feelings translate into anger. We also have a choice as to how long we stay angry and how we will display that anger. It’s always on us — our responsibility to choose. And we can choose to get angry and stay angry or, by Christ’s power at work in us (Philippians 4:13), we can choose to do things differently and be free. The choice is ours and ours alone. Which will you choose?

The Purpose: Get the Point

Ephesians 4:26-27 (NLT) says, “And don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.” The second step to overcoming anger is understanding why God warns us against letting anger control us. The reason is that anger gives satan a “foothold.” A “foothold” is a secure starting position from which further advances can be made. Do we really want to give satan the opportunity to make further advances into our lives? Living in this fallen world, believers have enough challenges to overcome without creating new ones. Choosing to entertain anger gives satan access, and I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that this is a highly problematic thing to do. So, remember this and let it motivate you to say “NO” every time you’re tempted to yield to anger.

The Vision: Have Eyes to See

The third step to overcoming anger is to see it for what it is. We need to identify the roots of anger in our lives: Is it hurt? Is it frustration? Is it fear? Is it all 3? And we need to identify the triggers that set these feelings in motion. If we ask God to give us eyes to see these things, He will. He will also gladly direct our paths in ways that help us ultimately overcome the anger: “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness . . .” (Romans 8:26, NLT).

The Pause: Don’t be Hasty

The fourth step to overcoming anger is learning the value of The Pause; that is, learning the importance of waiting to give time for our initial anger to subside before we respond. Just like on our media devices, there’s a time and place to push the pause button. Many people have said and done things they’ve later regretted because they did not Pause. It’s critical in overcoming anger. Proverbs 14:29 (ESV) says, “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.” So, it’s important for believers to be “slow to anger.” It shows wisdom. So, pray and ask God to give you the Pause that works best for you — Walking away? Counting to 100? Calling a prayerful friend? All 3? . . . And then do it. You’ll be glad you did!

The Power: Commit & Take Control

The fifth step to overcoming anger is making the commitment to control our responses, instead of just getting angry and reacting emotionally. It’s important for us to prayerfully consider our responses, choosing to not only “do” the right things, but also to “be” the right person. Remember, 1 Peter 3:8-9 (NIV) says, “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” So, we are called to be people of love, not people of anger. And, by His power at work in us, we can do it. In addition, this 5th step is much easier to do, once we have done the first 4.

Well All, that’s my list! That’s my 5 Steps To Overcoming Anger. If this is something you’ve struggled with, now’s your chance to get free! God is ready and waiting, how about you?

 In His Love,

Dr. Susie

Don’t forget to leave comments. And if you have topics or questions you would like me to discuss, click on the Ask Dr. Susie link. (Remember, your privacy is important here; so, if you agree to have your question posted on the website to help others, it’s always posted anonymously.)

Cussing out a next-door neighbor . . .

Throwing a chair across the living room . . .

The road rage when someone cuts you off in traffic . . .

What you feel when a loved one betrays your trust . . .

When life isn’t going the way you’d like it to, it’s easy to get angry. It’s one of the many emotions that God has hard-wired into us. But, I’ve found that anger is often a misunderstood emotion, and this misunderstanding is part of the reason so many people stay trapped in Anger. Anger is a big deal, so let’s talk about it . . .

Anger can be defined as a strong feeling of displeasure aroused by a real or perceived wrong. That’s the simple answer. But, there’s more. If we look deeper, we see that anger is actually a secondary emotion, rather than a primary one. This means that anger is not the first place our feelings go when we believe that we’ve been wronged; rather, it’s the second. And, if we really want to understand anger, we have to look at what comes before it, what lies beneath it.

“I’m Hurt!”

One of the primary emotions masked by anger is HURT. Hurt is the pain we feel when we are wounded by a physical or mental blow. It is often accompanied by sadness. And the deeper the wound, the greater the hurt.

“I’m Frustrated!”

The second emotion masked by anger is FRUSTRATION. Frustration is the thwarting of goal-directed behavior. It’s what we feel when something (or someone) blocks our attempts to get needs met or problems solved. And the more the need or problem means to us, the greater our frustration when our efforts are thwarted.

“I’m Scared!”

The third emotion masked by anger is FEAR. Fear is the distress we feel when facing an impending danger, whether the danger is real or imagined. Fear is often referred to as anxiety.

Let’s link it all together . . . Anger masks Hurt, Frustration, Fear . . . or any combination of these. We turn to anger as a substitute for these emotions because each of them is hard for us. Why? Because, with each of them, comes VULNERABILITY. And we don’t like vulnerability. It makes us feel exposed — open and susceptible to more hurt or frustration or fear. We don’t like feeling exposed, so we turn to anger to feel protected. Then . . .

 Instead of acknowledging that what you did hurt me, I say, “You Made Me Mad!!!”

Instead of telling you that I’m frustrated with something you’re doing, I lash out with my fists.

Instead of acknowledging my fear that you don’t care about me, I angrily give you the silent treatment.

Another point to keep in mind is that this shift from hurt/frustration/fear to anger is often so quick that we don’t even know it’s happened. We never see that, while we’re spouting off angry words, what we’re really feeling is hurt. While we’re lashing out with our fists, what we’re really feeling is frustration. While we’re coldly refusing to speak, what we’re really feeling is fear. All we can see is “I’m ANGRY!” And there’s a BIG problem with this: If we simply allow ourselves to be angry — not looking underneath at the real emotions — we never deal with what’s really going on inside us. Neither hurt nor frustration nor fear can get resolved by being angry. They only get resolved when we take the step of “calling a spade a spade” and dealing with the real feelings behind the anger.

So, why not begin today. The next time you’re angry, before you act on it, ask yourself, “What am I really feeling here: Hurt? Frustration? Fear? All three?” The answer might surprise you. And whatever the answer, take it to Jesus. Let His love minister to the hurt, the frustration, the fear. He loves you and wants to bring comfort to the hurt places, peace to the frustrated places and calm to the fearful places. Take Him up on it.

To Be Continued in My Next Post . . .

In His Love,

Dr. Susie

Don’t forget to leave comments. And if you have topics or questions you would like me to discuss, click on the Ask Dr. Susie link. (Remember, your privacy is important here; so, if you agree to have your question posted on the website to help others, it’s always posted anonymously.)

Greetings All! The new year is here and, with that, comes the annual tradition of the New Year’s Resolution. For many of us it involves losing weight or giving up a bad habit or making strides at work . . . but what about healing emotionally? Have you ever thought about committing this new year to heal from the wounds of the past? We all have them — nobody had a perfect childhood with perfect parents in a perfect household and perfect friends in a perfect life. All of us have been hurt in the past and some of those wounds run deep, really deep. Have you ever thought about tackling the task of resolving those wounds once and for all? If not, consider it. It would help you. Believe it or not, a lot of the struggles we have right now — the things that always seem to be uphill battles — are difficult and complex and painful because of the unhealed wounds behind the scenes. Imagine a life where you are victorious, rather than overwhelmed in these situations. You can have that! To position yourself  — and kick off that New Year’s Resolution of emotional healing — here are the Top 7 essentials.

 Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!

The first essential is Jesus. You probably saw that one coming. Yes, without Him, there is no emotional healing. I’m not saying that unbelievers can’t get relief in emotional areas, but there is no hope of that relief being a deep or permanent healing without He who is the Healer (Luke 4:18). We need Him (John15:5) — and we need to acknowledge that we need Him! Along with that, it’s important to remember that He actually does want us to heal emotionally and He wants to be the one to heal us. Why? Because He loves us. It’s a simple thing, but an often overlooked thing — It always boils down to Love. He loves us . . . first, last and always. So, we can follow the leader, knowing that his loving goal is to lead us to a place of being emotionally whole (Luke 4:18). So, I say it again . . . the first essential is Jesus!

The Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth

The second essential is a dogged commitment to the Truth. No matter how much God wants to move in our lives to heal and deliver, He can’t move if we won’t be consistently honest about what is going on with us. Deception is dangerous — even if the only one we’re deceiving is ourselves. At some point, there has to be a decision on our part to be honest with ourselves (and thus with Him) about our insides — what we’re thinking, what we’re feeling, the motives for our actions. If I had to pick one thing that I believe is most responsible for Believers staying wounded, it would be the human tendency for us to lie to ourselves about what is really going on in areas we’re touchy about. When an area is painful for us, the natural tendency is to avoid it — to pretend it isn’t there, to cover it up, to deny the real reasons for it. That’s a major problem because the same rules apply to emotional wounds as apply to physical one. With physical wounds, the primary way we know we need treatment is because of pain — the more the wound hurts, the more desperately we seek medical attention. And if it hurts badly enough, everything else goes on the back-burner until we get medical treatment, the pain stops and the wounds are healed. We’re honest — we acknowledge that we’re in pain and we go where we can get help for that pain. Well . . . the same rules apply for emotional wounds. The primary way we recognize that an area needs God’s healing is because it hurts. When it’s hurting, that’s our cue to go to the Great Physician and get the care we need. But instead, we as humans tend to deny and avoid and minimize, choosing instead to believe that we’ve got things under control. This is trouble because it prevents us from simply biting the bullet, being vulnerable and letting the Lord heal the hurting places. Unhealed wounds profoundly affect us — in ways we can see and in ways we can’t. If we want these wounds to heal, we must be honest with ourselves. As God said to me years ago, He would rather hear an ugly truth than a pretty lie any day of the week. So, embrace the truth about yourself. God will always honor the honesty of your heart.

 A “No Anesthetics” Policy

The third essential is a “No Anesthetics” policy. What’s an anesthetic, you ask? Well, anesthetics are the things we go to for comfort or identity or worth instead of going to God. Just like our human tendency is to lie to ourselves about what’s going on in touchy areas, we also have a tendency to mask the pain of unhealed wounds with activities or people or things. And those activities or people or things are our anesthetics — they give us temporary pain relief without helping us to get any better. And worse still, because we temporarily feel no pain, we’re less willing to address the wounds behind the scenes. We simply stay wounded — unhealed, undelivered — using the anesthetics every time the painful truth tries to break through. We turn to romantic relationships when we feel lonely. We spend (or hoard) money when we feel insecure. We turn to food when we feel burdened. We abuse substances when we feel rejected. The biggest problem with anesthetics is that they are one big, grand deception — making us feel like everything inside is great when it’s far from great — making us feel like there’s nothing for God to heal when He’s begging us to let Him into the wounded places so He can work the real miracle. And when we wonder about our own anesthetics, the fundamental question is this: Where do we go, day after day, when we’re hurting, tired or scared? To God? Or do we go to food? To money? To other people? Truth be told, there’s nothing inherently wrong with food or money or people. The Lord can and does use all of these things as blessings in our lives. However, problems arise for us when these things become our anesthetics, replacing God as our day-to-day, moment-to-moment source. These things were never intended to be sources, only tools for God’s use in our lives. Apart from Him, these things cause major problems. Sooner or later there is trouble: turning to food over and over again eventually creates weight and health problems, turning to money over and over eventually creates financial problems, turning to people over and over eventually creates relationship problems, and the list goes on. And, even after all this, the wounds remain unhealed and are almost always worse than before. So, what’s the solution? A firm “No Anesthetics” policy. That means, we make the decision to allow God to show us what (or who) our anesthetics are and we let Him in, turning to Him when we need comfort, identity or worth. Keep in mind that, when we first make the move to do this, it can be tough because the World we live in teaches us to embrace anesthetics and to even use anesthetics to determine our worth, value and success. But, if we decide that we want Him instead of anesthetics, He will be the strength in us to walk it out. Remember, He loves us and we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).

Forgiveness, Forgiveness, Forgiveness

The fourth essential should come as no surprise if you’ve read my previous posts: It is Forgiveness. Everyone has been wronged, offended, or sinned against at some point. Whatever the wound, forgiveness is essential. Without forgiveness, there’s no getting past the pain, the wounds don’t heal and we never get our lives back from the people who have hurt us. For my full discussion on forgiveness and emotional healing, as well as the steps in the forgiveness process, check out my posts entitled, Forgiveness: It’s Not The Snakebite That Kills You —It’s The Venom (Part 1) and (Part 2). The bottom line for now is that unforgiveness is dangerous — very dangerous — because it allows the unhealed wounds from others to continue to poison us, polluting how we see ourselves, how we see others and, most importantly, how we see the Lord and our relationship with Him. Forgiveness is the first thing a believer needs to do to stop the venom of unhealed wounds from taking hold. So, when we’re struggling with the pain of hurts and wrongs done to us, we should forgive, forgive, forgive — it’s our single best defense. And remember: Forgiveness has nothing to do with whether the person who hurt us feels regret for what they did. It’s not about them. It’s a life or death matter for us: If we forgive the person who hurt us, we emotionally heal, thrive and live; and if we don’t forgive them, we emotionally atrophy and die. It’s our choice. But, I will say this, God always wants His children to choose life (Deuteronomy 30:19). If we forgive, it’s only a matter of time before we heal.

Prune the Partnerships

The fifth essential is to prune the partnerships. In other words, we must be willing to let go of unhealthy relationships, especially when we’re seeking to emotionally heal. Relationships matter — really matter. Who we spend most of our time around influences the direction of our lives and can be a blessing or a curse to our emotional healing. I’m not saying that God wants us to be critical or judgmental of others, but if we spend lots of time around people who are not seeking to emotionally heal in Christ, they will hinder our progress — sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally — but they will. When we are striving to walk in the emotional healing God has for us, it’s critical that we surround ourselves with people who are also walking that road so we can encourage one another to continue even when it’s hard, to trust God no matter what and to be open and surrendered to Him. Yes, it’s essential that we prayerfully consider the close relationships in our lives and allow God to show us which ones are to be encouraged and which ones are to be surrendered. God will give us the strength to say “Yes” to the relationships He says “Yes” to and to say “No” to the relationships He says “No” to. He will also comfort us in the areas where the pruning is painful. So, be willing to let God prune the relationships in your life. He always has your best interests at heart.

Keep Moving Forward

A brief, but relevant history lesson: Do you know who invented the first long-lasting, practical electric light bulb? Thomas Edison. Did you know that at least 6 other men had tried and failed? Did you know that Edison tried thousands upon thousands of different plant fibers in the hopes of finding one that would work as a filament for the light bulb? And, after he finally found the fiber that worked, it still took him thousands of attempts to light his bulb successfully. Now, at this point, you may be wondering why I’m posing Edison questions. Well, I pose these questions to introduce the sixth essential: Keep Moving Forward. Where do you think we would be if Edison had given up? Each attempt brought him closer to the dream. And the same applies to us. As we walk the road of emotional healing, there will be times when we may feel discouraged or confused, maybe filled with doubt. There may even be times when we wonder if God is even there with us. Well, He is! Even though we may not be able to see it or feel it at that moment . . . He is at work in our lives. So, never give up on God. Keep moving forward. Do not lose heart and keep looking up. Remember, He actually does want us to emotionally heal, so your miracle is inevitable.

 Core Training

 The seventh and last essential on my list is Core Training. When we usually hear that term, we think of exercise focusing on the core muscles — the idea being that a strong core is essential for all-around physical health. Well guess what . . . God has core training for us too. He wants us to have a strong core emotionally because a strong emotional core is essential for all-around spiritual health. What I mean is this . . . With physical wounds, the area around a wound may remain weak even after the healing occurs. This is also true of emotional wounds. After the healing occurs, the enemy will try to get us to repeatedly focus our minds on the old wounds (2 Corinthians 10:4-5) — thinking about what happened and who hurts us. This is very dangerous for us because, in essence, it represents us mentally picking and picking at the area. And if this persists, we will find ourselves having opened a new wound. So, instead of allowing the enemy to get us picking at the wound, we should do “core workouts” on a regular basis to strengthen the weak areas. This means strengthening the formerly-wounded areas by applying the Word of God to them. For example:  (a) Reminding ourselves that, though it grieved God that we were hurt and wounded, He already had a plan to take the hurtful events and bring blessing from them both for us and for others (Genesis 50:20); (b) Reminding ourselves that God can work all things together for our good (Romans 8:28); (c) Reminding ourselves to rejoice in the Lord no matter what (Philippians. 4:4); and (d) Reminding ourselves to develop and share our testimony with others (Revelation 12:11).

Well All, that’s my list! That’s my Top 7 Essentials for Emotional Healing. Now’s your chance to put them into practice. God is ready and waiting, so how about you? Why don’t you make 2012 your year of emotional healing. You can do it! Position yourself  — and kick off that New Year with a bang!

In His Love,

Dr. Susie

Don’t forget to leave comments. And, if you have questions you would like me to answer, click on the Ask Dr. Susie link. (Remember, your privacy is important here; so, if you agree to have your question posted on the website to help others, it’s always posted anonymously.)

Those of you who read my last post already know that this post is a continuation, part 2 in answering the following question submitted by a lady we’re calling Terri. She said, “I’m having trouble with the whole forgiveness thing. I don’t understand how I’m supposed to just let go of what people do and the hurt. And I’m not even sure ‘how’ to forgive.”

This post answers the other half of Terri’s question by listing the actual steps in the forgiveness process.

Here goes . . .

I know the idea of simply forgiving someone who has wounded us is sometimes tough to swallow, especially when we’ve been cruelly mistreated.  But, if we don’t, we’ll never get past the pain — never get our lives back. I truly believe that’s one of the reasons God requires us as Christians to forgive. It’s for our own good. Without it, we never heal — the venom remains — continuing to poison us with each passing day. Then we wonder why we are emotionally and spiritually struggling instead of thriving and living awesome lives in Christ. Venom can’t be allowed to remain, coursing through our veins unhindered. We need the anti-venom: FORGIVENESS. But, how do we do it — how do we forgive people who have deeply wounded us?  I share with you what the Lord taught me:

Forgiveness is a 3-step process that requires a collaboration between ourselves and the Lord. The first 2 steps we do (with God’s help), the last step He does for us.

Step 1: Commitment

The 1st step in the forgiveness process is making the commitment to forgive in the first place — deciding to forgive the person who has wounded us. This means taking our will and bringing it in line with God’s will, obeying His desire for us to forgive others (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13). This may seem like a simple thing, but the truth is, this is often the toughest step, particularly for those who have suffered real cruelty at the hands of others. This step entails prayerfully making the decision and commitment to forgive whether we feel like it or not. The commitment to forgive has nothing to do with the character or remorse of the person who hurt us. It is an act of love towards God: We forgive because He first forgave us (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13). This step often involves a prayer of forgiveness, as verbalizing our commitment to forgive tends to make it more real and tangible for us. So, pray: Ask God to help you forgive the person who hurt you, state your forgiveness of them, and ask God to help you walk out that forgiveness.

Step 2: Behavior

The 2nd step in the forgiveness process is bringing our behavior in line with our commitment to forgive. There are 3 elements to doing this:

a.  Bringing our ACTIONS in line. Simply put, don’t do vengeful things to the person you are seeking to forgive. Don’t be mean-spirited toward them. Don’t try to pay them back for what they did. Not only is this disobedience (check out Matthew 5:43-48 and 1 Peter 3:8-9), but it just feeds the very venom you’re trying to neutralize.

b.  Bringing our THOUGHTS in line. It’s impossible to walk in forgiveness if we don’t manage our thoughts (2 Corinthians 10:5). When we have been hurt by others, there is a strong tendency to replay the hurtful events over and over in our minds. This is the kiss of death to walking in forgiveness because, like vengefulness, it feeds the venom we’re trying to neutralize. Allowing our minds to replay what happened keeps our anger or hurt feelings stirred up so we stay upset, and our feelings raw, with respect to what happened. The main problem with doing this is that it continuously reminds us of why we’re upset in the first place, instead of allowing our minds to focus on the Lord and his desire to heal and deliver us from the hurt.

c.  PRAYING for the person we are forgiving. I’ve found that one of the best things we can do if we are seeking to walk in forgiveness is to pray daily for the person we are seeking to forgive — notice I said pray FOR them, not ABOUT them. Simply put, it is very difficult to hold a grudge against someone you’re praying for every single day. Think about it: They are hurting others. You know first-hand the kind of pain they inflict. They need Jesus to minister to something inside them, just like you and I need Jesus. Whether the person who hurt us is an unbeliever who doesn’t know Jesus or a believer who knows him but is not living out the heart of Christ, either way, they need prayer. So, as a child of God, pray for them (Matthew 5:43-48). Not only will it help you emotionally heal, it also represents another act of love towards God: Jesus prayed for us while we were still yet sinners; how can we refuse to pray for others, especially when we know first-hand that they are in need of it (John 17:20-26).

Step 3: Feelings

The 3rd step in the forgiveness process is bringing our feelings in line with our commitment to forgive. I’m sure you’ll be relieved to learn that this step is not done by us. It’s done by God. As we prayerfully walk in the first 2 steps, God manifests the 3rd. No, forgiveness is not a magic pill that makes us forget how we were wounded, but it does neutralize the venom so, when we do think about what happened, we can do so without the raw pain of it. In other words, we find that the hurt, bitterness, depression, anger, fear, etc . . . begins to lift — and we are free. Now, we can share our testimony with others, showing them how God can deliver us from any wound — no matter how painful.  There is no venom destructive enough, that the power of God walked out in forgiveness can’t neutralize.  As I said at the end of my last post — If you forgive, it’s only a matter of time before you heal.

A Final Note. No discussion of forgiveness is complete without addressing one important point. We cannot give to others what we do not have ourselves. This means that, before we can forgive others, we must be able to forgive ourselves. How many of us know people — maybe it’s us — who can’t forgive themselves when they mess up. If we do not receive the forgiveness of God by being willing to forgive ourselves, we will have a very hard time forgiving others. So, if this is you, I encourage you to take the same 3 steps for forgiving others and walk them out in forgiving yourself. Remember there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).

In His Love,

Dr. Susie

Don’t forget to leave comments. And if, like Terri, you have questions you would like me to answer, click on the Ask Dr. Susie link. (Remember, your privacy is important here; so, if you agree to have your question posted on the website to help others, it’s always posted anonymously.)

The question of the day comes from a woman (we’ll call her Terri) who recently asked me about forgiveness. She said, “I’m having trouble with the whole forgiveness thing. I don’t understand how I’m supposed to just let go of what people do and the hurt. And I’m not even sure ‘how’ to forgive.”

Terri, that’s an excellent question. And I’m going to answer it from 2 angles (in 2 back-to-back posts): First, what’s the relationship between forgiveness and healing emotionally — why is forgiveness so important?

Let’s get started . . .

 Everyone has been wronged, offended, or sinned against at some point. Maybe it was last week. Maybe it was a lifetime ago. Maybe it’s childhood abuse that continues to make us feel like nothing. Maybe it’s a loved one’s betrayal that we haven’t gotten past. Whatever it is, forgiveness is essential. Without it, there’s no getting past the pain, the wounds don’t heal and we never get our lives back. The best way I’ve found to describe it is with an analogy:

 Getting wounded by others is like being bitten by a venomous snake.

 Picture it! You’re going down the trail of life, enjoying nature, loving the peace of it, when suddenly a snake springs out from nowhere and bites you on the leg. You’re stunned! What do you do?

 Do you choose silence and continue hobbling down the trail like nothing happened?

 Do you sit down on the trail grieved and saddened that the snake bit you?

 Do you hop up and down on your one good leg raging bitterly at the snake for biting you?

 The answer to all of these is “No.” Though there is nothing inherently wrong with silence or feeling grieved or feeling angry, these reactions don’t help us over the long-term because they distract us from what’s really important. They keep us from putting the focus where it really belongs. The most important thing about the situation is not the snake or the snakebite. The most important thing is the VENOM.

 It’s Not The Snakebite That Kills You – It’s The Venom.

 Once you’re bitten, you’re bitten. You can’t do anything to “un-bite” yourself. But, you can do something about allowing the venom to course through your veins unchecked. When people wound us, they pierce us and leave behind VENOM — the negative thoughts and feelings that come with being deeply hurt by others. If these thoughts and feelings aren’t addressed, they poison us slowly, polluting how we see ourselves, how we see our relationships with others and, most importantly, how we see the Lord and our relationship with HIM. Venom is dangerous — very dangerous — but forgiveness is the ANTI-VENOM. It’s the first thing a believer needs to do to stop the venom from taking hold. So, if you’re struggling with the pain of hurts and wrongs done you, forgive, forgive, forgive — it’s your single best defense. If you forgive, it’s only a matter of time before you heal.

In His Love,

Dr. Susie

Don’t forget to leave comments. And if, like Terri, you have questions you would like me to answer, click on the Ask Dr. Susie link. (Remember, your privacy is important here; so, if you agree to have your question posted on the website to help others, it’s always posted anonymously.)

 — Next Post Preview —

 My next post will be a follow up to this one. I’ll finish answering Terri’s question by discussing the actual steps in the forgiveness process.

This blog is a labor of love, so I wanted the first post to be extra-extra-special. I prayed about it and I thought about any number of topics that might interest you. But, what resonated with me today was sharing my heart about “why” I really believe this blog is important and “why” you should put your time and energy into reading it.

I know this may not be a super-glamorous topic, but wait. It’s important. Of all the blogs in the vast realm of cyberspace, why should you read mine? Well, I truly believe that this blog is something the Lord has laid upon my heart to do — to give believers access to a Christian psychologist so that they can ask the things they want answers to . . . from personal problems to relationship issues and everything in between. I believe there is a real need. What would you ask if you could ask a Christian Psychologist anything you wanted to know? Would you ask about something you’re dealing with personally? Would you ask about problems you’re having with loved ones? Would you ask why your child does what they do or why your parents treated you the way they did?

This blog is a forum for you to ask the things you want to know anonymously. It’s also interactive, allowing you to, not only ask, but to also share the wisdom that God has given you by commenting on blog posts or sending me messages. In addition to answering questions, I will also write posts about various topics I believe would be of interest to you. And you’re welcome to suggest topics — I’m all ears.
May this Blog be a real blessing to you as you seek to heal, to grow and to BE AWESOME in Christ!