When Father’s Day Hurts

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For so many people Father’s Day is not a day of celebration and remembrance but of avoidance and pain. For so many, the image of their father is negative, painful, absent or even abusive.  They never felt love or affection much less affirmation and joy.  Maybe they never knew their father.  Maybe he made life hard for your mom… maybe he hurt you in ways that are unspeakable.   Maybe your dad was a great dad… but he is now passed on. You miss him desperately.  You were not ready to let go.  So what do you do with Father’s day?

This is where you have choices… the same choices that present themselves in mimagesost every difficult situation:

1.You can be angry.

2. You can retreat… avoid… hide.

3. You can forgive and move forward.

Most people I have seen fall somewhere into these categories.   They are so angry they push everyone and everything away – if they don’t love, then they won’t feel this pain again. So they keep everyone at arms length. Is that you?  When was the last time you let someone in?  I am so sorry your father hurt you or is gone…  any loss has an element of anger to it…so be angry, but don’t stay there – get it out in a way that does not hurt you or anyone around you.

Then the retreaters… or avoiders… you know who you are… you may retreat through depression- staying in your bed or home for days at a time.  You may retreat through drugs or alcohol… at least for a moment the pain ceases.  At least you are not feeling the hurt, the pain of what you had or what you wish you would have had.   This works for a while the problem is there is no ‘fix’ that can fix this problem.  I am so sorry your dad is not there.

Then there is the third option… and for me the one I chose.  Years ago, my father chose to end his life.  So Father’s Day was really painful for a while.  I was angry, I retreated, and then I forgave.  Do I miss him? Absolutely! He is missing out on some really great grandchildren.  But I made a very hard choice. I could continue in my misery or I could forgive him, love him, remember the good times and honor the good memories.  No one is perfect.  I found that when I forgave, said good-bye.  My heart began to heal.  Now on Father’s Day… I choose to focus on the good fathers who are ‘still getting it done’.  I celebrate the good men who love their children and their wives.  Who honor commitments.  I celebrate my Heavenly Father who loves, heals perfectly!  I choose to celebrate.  There is a time to grieve… but there is also a time to celebrate!

So my challenge this Father’s Day… Make a choice.. choose to celebrate… choose to heal… choose to live differently… to make this world better because you are still here… you CAN make a difference!

Taking the Next Step

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Ask the Hard Question

I was listening to a sermon by Perry Noble at Newspring Church this week and one of his points was extremely significant. So I want to share it here too… because I have been talking about it with anyone who will listen. The question he posed is what is your next step? Sometimes we get so bogged down in daily life and responsibilities that we forget why we are really here.

So why are you really here and what are you doing to get to that place? Those are big, lofty questions, but the ones we need to answer when we are struggling with addiction, depression or anxiety, or any mental health issue. (or any issue for that matter) Relationships too… what is your next step? Because not answering them keeps us depressed, anxious, using and totally removes hope for true and meaningful recovery.

Establish Your Goal

So the first step is to state simply what is your goal is. Is it to give up drinking completely? Is it to come off of drugs? Is it to end a relationship that needs to be ended? Is it to lose weight? Is it to make things right in a relationship? Is it to follow through on a commitment you have neglected? Is it to get right with God? Is it to give up your control? Whatever the goal… set it. Without a goal you can’t take your next step.

Decide What is the First Step to get me to that Goal

So like anything – once we have figured out where we are going, we need to start heading in the right direction. If you are an addict… your first step may be to quit hanging out with your drinking/using buddies. Or it may be to check into a treatment center. Or it may be to go to an AA/NA meeting. Or it may be to break up with your boyfriend/girlfriend.  It may be to make things right with your family. Or it may be to get on your knees before God and ask for forgiveness. OR… ______________ fill in your blank. Nobody can tell you what your first step is. But I think you know deep down what it is. Hiding inside of you is the truth that I have a problem and I need to go in a different direction then the road I am heading down. So take the next step to your freedom, to your recovery.

Take the Plunge

So now that you have your goal and you know what direction you are headed in. Just do it. Take your next step. You can’t ever get to step 2 if you don’t take the first step. You can’t get to where you want to go if you don’t just take the first step to doing what you know you need to do. Just take the next step toward your future. You can do it. One step leads to another which leads to another… but it all starts with the next step. That is what recovery is taking the next step. The really cool thing is that looks differently for everyone, but the concept works for just about everyone in every situation. No matter ‘the what’ you are dealing with… there is just one thing to do, take the next step. Start small.  One day at a time you will see yourself making progress… But every journey starts with the first step!

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How do I Start to grieve?

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ANSWER: One step at a time.

You have to be intentional.  Grief does not happen on it’s own.  You must be intentional.  From my own personal grief and the many people I have walked through the grief process with I have learned a few tips.  The important thing is to get started, be intentional and do a little bit at a time… A friend of mine regularly says… “How do you eat an Elephant? One bite at a time.”  The same principle applies here.  One step at a time down your path of grief to healing and health.  YOU CAN DO THIS… it hurts… I will never say it doesn’t but just start… one step at a time. elephant

Finding Your Path…

I want you to begin looking at grieving like a journey…   Grief is a journey. There are good days, bad days, hard days and days you don’t want to face. But the truth is that we have to keep moving on this journey. We have to keep putting one foot in front of the other.Path One day, one minute at a time. This is a journey, not a destination. Some people feel that one day they will wake up and just be better… that rarely happens, but there are landmarks along the healing journey that we remember that provide the motivation to keep moving.

Spending Time

It is critical to take time to grieve. This sounds simple, but many times we avoid the very thing we need to do. It is so important to set aside time to think, process, cry, mourn, wail, laugh… whatever you need to do to get your feelings out. You MUST get them out in a healthy way. So take an hour a day or a week or every few days to let the feelings come. It is helpful to have a journal, a box or something that you can take out and open and close to symbolize the start and end of your time. Let’s say you chose to grieve from 4-4:30 each day. You take out your memory box which can have things that remind you of the person or loss. Cry, express, think. Then close the box when you are done. That symbolism keeps you from being overwhelmed and the grief taking over. It is important to get things out without the grief becoming overwhelming. That is why it is important not to do this exercise right before bed. Do not purposefully think about your loss right before bed.

Be Social

That may sound like a strange tool for grief. But it is important to have several people that you can call when you are hurting. These may be friends or family. Have it set up ahead of time, asking their permission to call them to talk about your loss. It is important to have more than one person, so you don’t exhaust  one friend. One of the things that turns grief to depression is isolation. So be around people. Go to a coffee shop. Plan a movie night with a friend. Join a book club. Start some new interests. Not all of your life revolves around your loss. Just being out and about will help keep depression at bay. Again, be intentional about being social… nothing happens without a little effort… social connection takes effort.

Develop a Grief Project

One of the best tools I have found in grief is to have a project that you can remember the person or loss in. Build something. Create a scrapbook. Write a song or a poem. Go on a trip in their memory. Doing something active can help provide closure. Be in the moment while remembering the past. Something tangible that you can actively do to help channel your feelings, thoughts, and heart. Be creative. This is where your loss takes a positive side. This is where you turn your pain to potential and you see a glimmer of hope at the end of a dark tunnel.

PRAY

Keep your heart open to God. It is so easy to blame God for our losses. Keep communicating… keep talking to Him. He is the ONE who fully understands your grief and has walked where you are walking. Keep seeking peace. He will comfort you!

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Controlling Thoughts, Controlling Life, Part 4

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Controlling Thoughts, Controlling Life, Part 4 (final)

Healing the Hurt, Taking Down that Negative Thought Pattern

So if you have journeyed this far with me… this is when I get excited, because this is where the healing happens…

(Make sure you have read the previous 3 articles)

Changing an underlying belief is sometimes a difficult task over time and sometimes, it happens in a moment.   Personally and when I work with others it has been a journey with some incredible moments.  Now that you have identified the pattern, understand the origin and now you are ready to replace that belief with a correct, true and positive belief.  I want to talk to Christians for just a moment… If you are a Christ follower… you have at one point in your life asked Jesus into your heart as your savior and Lord… your belief system should be in Christ and ALWAYS go back to the Bible for your reference on who you are.  If you are not a Christian, defining a belief system is a little more vague and difficult.  I believe that healing happens because we have a defining belief system based on an unchanging and loving God, so I urge you to seek to find Jesus out if you never have before.

Healing the Hurtdownload (2)

If the core negative belief is based on a hurt that someone has caused you, it is critical that you forgive that person.  Or if it is based on something you have done, ask for forgiveness and accept being forgiven. (refer to article on forgiveness)  Then usually the opposite of what you have been believing is true.  For example if your core belief is that you are not of worth or value because that is exactly what your father has told you.  And you have believed that to be true to the core of who you are… I guarantee that has wreaked havoc in your life and my heart hurts for you.  But the opposite is the real truth.  You are a person of worth and value.  You were created, designed and given a specific purpose for your life…. the  journey is finding that purpose and fulfilling it.  You have got to let that hurt heal in order to get rid of those negative thoughts that are feeding your addiction, your depression, your anxiety, your lack of hope… whatever you are struggling with… this is at the core.

You Have a Choice…

Here is the beauty of this process.  Here is where you put into action all of the things we have been talking about.  You can choose to keep believing all those core beliefs that have a negative grip on your life or you can choose hope.  Change what you believe… put it into practice.  Again… this could happen in a moment when you actually know that what you have believed is false and there is truth that changes you instantly.  OR sometimes it is hard work.  If you need to put up posters around your house, car, work… that remind you of who you REALLY are.  Do it.  If you need to practice every minute some of the skills we have talked about… Do it.  Speak the new belief system out loud!  There is a power in the spoken word.  Choose to change… one thought one moment at a time.  Each positive thought is a victory.  Each negative thought taken captive is a victory!  You can choose to heal; to see life through a whole new lens.

Wrestling

Sometimes the truth is that we have to continually wrestle these thoughts.  We want to be delivered and we can work hard, but we still struggle.  Then my encouragement… keep wrestling.  Have good friends and family hold you accountable.  To pray for you, to encourage you.  Let a couple of people that you can really trust wrestle with you.  Use them as support.  I hope and pray that you will be delivered.  But if you have to wrestle… keep up the fight.  It is worth the effort… you are worth the effort.  Take it one day, one hour,one minute at a time… you CAN do this!!

 

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