"As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, and its place acknowledges it no longer.
But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him..."
~Psalm 103:15-17a

Mini-Lessons from Counseling

(No, not actual counseling that I received, but from the counseling training I had over the summer.)

Just some short snippets of things I learned over the summer:
  1. Idols of the heart: When does a desire (that could be perfectly good in and of itself) become an idol and sin?  When you are willing to sin in order to get what you want or when you are willing to sin if you don't get what you want.
  2. Don't minimize someone's problems.  If they say, "I'm the worst mother in the world," don't immediately tell them they're not and show them why you think they're great.  They have some reason for saying that, so ask them about it.  It won't give them hope if you just gloss over their problem.  This also includes people who feel guilty about something when what they did is not wrong according to the Bible.  If they feel guilty, even if Scripture hasn't been violated, they have disobeyed what they thought God said, and should repent in the same way as if it was actually sin.  (Of course afterwards, there needs to be teaching about that issue so they can understand what the Bible says.)
  3. The goal of counseling is not to change behavior, but to change the heart - "to glorify God by becoming like Christ and learning to apply biblical principles to the circumstances and challenges of everyday life."
  4. Good relationships will still have problems, but it's in how you deal with it that determines if it's a good relationship.  So here are four rules of communication:
    1. Be Honest (Eph. 4:25)
    2. Keep Current (Eph. 4:26-27)
    3. Attack the Problem, not the Person (Eph. 4:29-30)
    4. Act, Don't React (Eph. 4:31-32)
  5. Marriage involves weaving - two unique people with two unique backgrounds becoming one.
  6. If the parents are too busy to explain things to their children or think that they can't understand, why be surprised when teenagers don't want to talk or think their parents won't understand.  They are simply following their parents' example.
  7. Ultimately, self esteem is a prideful stance toward God and others - when you don't feel good about yourself because you think you deserve better.
  8. Don't make assumptions!  Don't assume you know how they are thinking or feeling.  Don't assume you know the facts.  Ask questions!
  9. Deception -> Doubt -> Desires -> Disobedience -> Disgrace/Shame -> Disguise -> Death
  10. God is still sovereign, even in suffering.  He knows about it and allowed the suffering.  He controls the amount of suffering.  He is actively involved in your life when you're suffering.
  11. Forgiveness is a promise not to bring up the offense again to the person sinned against or other people or to dwell on it yourself.  Feelings are not required in extending forgiveness - it'a choice you have to make.
  12. In responding to the pain and illness someone is going through, your goal should be to turn the attention from the pain and discomfort of the illness to what God is doing through it.  God could have prevented  it, but He chose to allow it for their good.
Good quotes:
  • On the importance of clarity in assignments and teaching: "People cannot change in fuzzy land."
  • "Questions convict the conscience; accusations harden the heart."
  • "It's easy to be busy; it's hard to be effective."
  • "You are not the Holy Spirit."  (I.e. You can't change a person on your own.)
  • "Hard is not bad - hard is just hard."
  • "We're just animated dust."
1.  When is a liar not a liar?
     (When he stops lying and starts telling the truth.)

2.  When is a thief not a thief?
     (When he stops stealing and starts working and giving.)

And finally, just some of my own thoughts: Are we setting an example for the people around us where it's okay to admit that you were wrong?  Where it's okay to talk about your sin and ... *gasp* ... admit that you're not perfect?  Not just in a general - "Yeah, well, we all sin, you know!" but in specific terms - "I've really been struggling this week with impatience toward my family.  Would you please pray for me?"  If we in our churches were more open and honest with people, would there be so many people in the counseling room, or would we find out about problems sooner and be able to help people when the problems are small?