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Rhett Smith Podcast

Therapist + Writer + Speaker In this long-form interview format Rhett explores the lives of various thought leaders to discover what helped them thrive in multiple areas of their lives, and what lessons we can learn from them. Rhett is particularly interested in the intersection of self-care and relationships, and he loves to explore how one can thrive physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. He interacts with people such as therapists, athletes, spiritual leaders, entrepreneurs and many others, covering a variety of topics from fitness, leadership, mental health, and spirituality. What would your marriage look like when you are thriving? What does your parenting look like when you are thriving? What does your work look like when you are thriving? What does your faith look like when you are thriving? When we thrive in these areas of our lives we become people who are "life-giving." And when we are "life-givers" we impact all the relationships around us in positive ways. So engage the podcast and discover how you can thrive personally and relationally.
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May 24, 2017

Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to share with the ReEngage Ministry at Hope Fellowship the topic of forgiveness. It's such an important topic not only in all of our lives, but especially in the context of marriage where one's ability to forgive becomes an essential practice. In fact, forgiveness is the only topic that ReEngage covers on two different weeks.

 

In going into this talk I wanted to do something different on the topic of forgiveness. I have given other forgiveness talks in the past, but I know that when it comes to speaking to an audience they are probably more likely to remember the talk if it is embedded in an image and a story. So to do this, I reflected on Rembrandt's famous painting, The Return of the Prodigal Son. I did this by reflecting on the story of the prodigal son in the gospel of Luke 15:11-32, and by looking at Henri Nouwen's famous book on the topic, The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming.

In this podcast I reflect on:

  • 3 postures on the journey of forgiveness that I believe are reflected in the text and painting.
  • seeking forgiveness
  • withholding forgiveness
  • offering forgiveness
  • the varying ways that Rembrandt captures the story of the prodigal son in his painting.

 

Resources Mentioned in the Episodes

The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen

Luke 15:11-32

The Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt

May 10, 2017

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak to a group of employees for Marriott Hotels here in the local Dallas area. It was a great opportunity to help others understand how to have healthy relationships in and out of the work place by beginning to take care of themselves.

So in this podcast episode I share what I shared with them:

  • helping them understand how they are part of a larger system in which they are an emotional unit of.
  • helping them understand that we are all "wired" from our early experiences, especially in our family of origin. I talked about our "wiring" around Love and Trust from the work of Terry Hargrave in Restoration Therapy.
  • helping them how they are specifically "wired", by helping them identify their violations of love and trust and connecting their feelings to their coping.
  • helping them to understand what self-care is, and how the practice of it can help them better emotionally self-regulate, therefore, helping them have a better relationship with themselves, and those in and out of the workplace.
  • and ultimately I gave them some practice steps to take home with them.

 

Link to Episode 93

Resources Mentioned in Episode 93

Restoration Therapy

Violations of Love and Trust

Self-Care and Relationships

Apr 17, 2017

I have shared in previous episodes that the journey through Lent has been one of the most helpful things I have done for my faith. And as we finished Lent this last week, culminating in Easter yesterday, I wanted to take a few moments to reflect on the next steps.

 

As we work on embracing and experiencing the resurrected and new life that Easter represents, what are our next steps?

 

One of the things I have been thinking about is how do we enter into this new season with open hands, full of expectation about receiving. The reality is that we often enter into a new season with fists clenched, holding on tightly to things in our lives....security, comfort, power, possessions, etc.

 

And I am reminded that after Jesus appears post-resurrection in the gospel of John, chapter 21, there is this beautiful and powerful scene picking up in vs. 18. Jesus is reinstating Peter and basically communicates to him that he (Peter) used to have the freedom and power to do what he wanted to do, but a time is coming when he will be led where he doesn't want to go.

 

That passage is a reminder to me that we often go through life dictating life by our own terms, and Lent and Easter is a reminder that the way forward is a way of letting go, and being led to places we wouldn't normally go. In that process we let go of power and control and a million other things.

 

If I'm honest with myself, I have probably only really intentionally prayed this prayer a couple of times in my life because it's a scary prayer, and the results though helpful in terms of my growth and relationships, haven't come about without pain.

 

So I'm hesitant to let to and open up my hands to receive what may be next.

 

I encourage you to think about this in your own life.

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership by Henri Nouwen

Apr 4, 2017

We live in a culture that continually inundates us with noise. That noise comes in all kinds of forms. Advertising, entertainment, technology, etc. Sometimes we are passive observers of it as we have little control over what billboards are placed in front of us as we drive down the road. Other times we are active consumers, spending inordinate amount of times on our phones playing games and engaging on social media. Regardless, the reality is that we live in a noisy culture.

 

And living in a noisy culture gives many of us little time to reflect about our inner lives. Some of us may like it that way, choosing to bury and keep buries painful feelings and events. While others like to try and reflect, but find it a constant challenge.

 

I think one of the beautiful things about Lent is that it gives us an intentionally created space where we can be in silence. There is a period of time on the calendar where we can engage in practices that foster our inner life...Lent allows us to do this.

 

If we are to become healthy people, who grow from our experiences, we have to be able to create space to allow the things in our lives that are buried to find the light of day. Silence allows those things to be stirred up and come towards the surface. And if we can pay attention to these things, then we can learn more about who we are, strengths and weaknesses, and become people who can grow in the process.

 

In this episode I reflect on the importance of this silence and some practical tips to make it happen.

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

Making All Things New: An Invitation to the Spiritual Life by Henri Nouwen

Mar 30, 2017

This week's episode is somewhat of a continuation of Episode 89 where I reflected on the role of Lent in helping us process pain and suffering, and as a time to work through trauma. That is, Lent is a period of remembering that is important for us if we are to work through our suffering.    

In this week's episode I discuss some ways that communities can create a safe space during Lent to process pain and suffering. In this episode I discuss:

  • Making it safe to discuss the hard issues such as death, suicide, anxiety, depression, loss, etc.
  • The importance of not giving easy answers (if any at all) to people's pain and suffering.
  • Learning to sit in in one's pain, in silence, together.
  • The role of rituals and symbolism in the healing process.
  • The boundary between bearing other's burdens, but also giving them the space to work through their own "stuff."

  Link to Episode 90

Mar 2, 2017

I have been thinking a lot about the Lent season, which is appropriate since Ash Wednesday was yesterday. Here is what I posted on Facebook last night:

Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 12.21.24 PM

 

Over the next 40+ days I am going to take some time to reflect on some of the things I am exploring around Lent, trauma and remembering. I hope you will join me on this journey.

 

Resources Mentioned in this Episode

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk

Lent

 

Feb 23, 2017

This last weekend I led a class on fostering intimacy in marriage to a group of premarital couples. I love doing this work, but intimacy can be a complicated issue. When we think of intimacy in our culture we often think of sex, or at least physical intimacy to say the least.

 

But the reality is there are varying kinds of intimacy that are important that a couple take an intentional stance on fostering in their relationship if it is going to be healthy.  

So in this episode:

  • I explore the theological underpinnings of intimacy that we see set out in the beginning of the book of Genesis in the bible.
  • I explore the varying kinds of intimacy that make for a healthy relationship.
  • I discuss the keys to fostering these kinds of intimacy.
  • I give several "exercises" that one can practice at home to foster intimacy in their relationship.

Resources Mentioned in the Episode

As for Me and My House: Crafting Your Marriage to Last by Walter Wangerin

Passionate Marriage by David Schnarch

Feb 13, 2017

I have been wanting to talk on the topic of grief and loss for quite a while. I was going to wait to do an episode with my father since that has been a big part of his professional life as a pastor and hospice chaplain. But in light of some recent events in our local community the last week, I thought I would go ahead and post some thoughts on this topic.

 

This is a topic near to my heart as I have had to spend a large part of my life working through grief over the death of my mom when I was 11 years old. And in my experience unresolved, or should I say, grief that hasn't been processed (because what is resolved grief anyways) can come back to create problems in other areas of our life.

 

In this episode:

  • I share my own story of grief and loss due to my mom's death at the hands of breast cancer.
  • I share some quotes from C.S. Lewis' A Grief Observed, and how it was a campus pastor giving me that book that spurred me on my journey of working through my grief.
  • I share some practical steps one can take to work through grief.
  • I share some books that have been helpful in my own journey and the journey of others on the topic of grief.

Resources Mentioned in Episode

A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis

Lament for a Son by Nicholas Wolterstorff

A Letter of Consolation by Henri Nouwen

Center for Loss and Life Transition

Dr. Alan Wolfelt

Feb 8, 2017

If I had to take a guess, I would guess that at least 50-60% of every couple that I work with is in my office because of an affair. Affairs come in varied forms from the physical to the emotional and everything in between. And affairs don't discriminate based on gender, race, or age. In fact, it's often the person or couple that you expect least likely to have to deal with an affair, is the couple dealing with the affair.

 

My experience is that most everyone goes into marriage with the intention to stay faithful in the relationship, so it will often come to a surprise to a spouse, or the couple's friends when words gets out that an affair has taken place.

 

In this episode I share my experience in working with couples as they navigate the affair recovery process. And because one of my specialties is marriage counseling, it's not surprising then that a lot of the couples I work with are dealing with affairs.

 

I think there are some general principles as one begins to work to recover and heal from an affair, but the process can often be chaotic, and each couple needs different things. So in this episode I try and distill some of the most common steps I take with couples.

 

In this episode you will:

  • learn about the importance of creating stability in the relationship to begin the work of affair recovery.
  • learn about the importance of addressing the affair, rather than sweeping it under the rug.
  • learn about the process of salvage and restoration in the forgiveness process.
  • hear examples of how this work is done.
  • learn about a few book resources to help you on this journey.

 

Resources Mentioned in this Episode

NOT 'Just Friends': Rebuilding Trust and Recovering Your Sanity After Infidelity by Shirley Glass and Jane Coppock Staeheli

Beyond Ordinary: When A Good Marriage Just Isn't Good Enough by Justin and Trish Davis

Feb 1, 2017

One of the things that I have come to believe through my work with clients, and through my own personal work, is that insight alone is usually not enough to create change. That insight has to be coupled with practice, and lots of it to create the change, and ultimately the transformation we desire. We could also say the same if we flipped it in reverse. Practice alone, without any insight, will also not create change.

 

I have been greatly influenced by this idea through a couple of key writings. One is the work of my mentor and friend Dr. Terry Hargrave out of Fuller Theological Seminary, his book Restoration Therapy: Understanding and Guiding Healing in Marriage and Family Therapy, along with my training with him, has been transformative in my life. His model of the Pain and Peace Cycle, alone with four very practical steps has been a game changer in my life and the life of many.

 

I have also really been influenced by the work of Angela Duckworth, and more specifically, her book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. In her book she delineates between deliberate practice and flow, and talks about how flow comes out of deliberate practice.

 

What I have experienced through the Restoration Therapy model is that the more individuals, couples, etc, practice their Pain and Peace Cycles, they can often get to flow states where it feels very natural, and habitual. But that transformational experience is only experienced because of the combination of insight and practice. Without both, flow and change isn't experienced.

I'm currently reading a really good book by Laurence Gonzales called Deep Survival:Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why. In this book he writes the following:

While the pathways from the amygdala to the neocortex are stronger and faster than the ones going the other way, some ability may remain for the neocortex to do the following: First, to recognize that there is an emotional response underway. Second, to read reality and perceive circumstances correctly. Third, to override or modulate the automatic reaction if it is an inappropriate one; and fourth, to select a correct course of action. (location 876-886/Kindle)

He then goes on to write:

When you learn something complex, such as flying, snowboarding, or playing tennis or golf, at first you must think through each move. That is called explicit learning, and it’s stored in explicit memory, the kind you can talk about, the kind that allows you to remember a recipe for lasagna. But as you gain more experience, you begin to do the task less consciously. You develop flow, touch, timing— a feel for it. It becomes second nature, a thing of beauty. That’s known as implicit learning. The two neurological systems of explicit and implicit learning are quite separate. Implicit memories are unconscious. Implicit learning is like a natural smile: It comes by way of a different neural pathway from the one that carries explicit memory. (location 896/Kindle)

 

After I read this I thought to myself, this are the steps Restoration Therapy model of the Pain and Peace Cycle. And he's talking about deliberate practice and flow states.

 

Why is all of this important? Because whether we are talking about life and death situations like in Deep Survival, or conflict in relationships like in Restoration Therapy, or athletic and artistic performance in Grit....they are all about a certain level of awareness (insight) that requires us to practice, and it's in doing so that we create change and make better decisions, and move closer to transformational flow.

 

In this episode:

  • I talk about the 4 steps of the Restoration Therapy model
  • I talk about deliberate practice and flow
  • I connect the brain theory writing in Deep Survival to both Restoration Therapy and Grit
  • I talk about how you can experiment with your own insight+practice= transformational flow this week.

 

Resources Mentioned

Restoration Therapy: Understanding and Guiding Healing in Marriage and Family Therapy by Dr. Terry Hargrave

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

Deep Survival:Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why by Laurence Gonzales

Jan 25, 2017

So I am not one to talk much about politics...at least online. There are several reasons for this. 1) I feel a bit naive on the subject matter and not as fluent in political knowledge and conversation as I would like to be. 2) I've rarely seen political discussion online lead to anything positive. So for the most part I work on improving my family, my neighborhood, and the communities around me by having face to face conversations (about all kinds of things), and working to affect change where I am able.

 

And I've noticed that ranting on FB about something does little to affect change.

 

And I think there is a reason for this.

 

This is the subject of this podcast. How emotional regulation (lack thereof usually), anxiety, and boundaries (usually violations of) lead to a toxic environment for political discourse. And in this I will just try and speak from my own knowledge of family and organization systems, and the lens that I view things from as a marriage and family therapist. And I think this has relevancy because we are all engaged in systems, and online political discourse is a relational system where the same principles apply. And I know I have a certain view point because of my own background and experience, but I try to stick to the published work out there on this topic (which of course has it's own viewpoints). That the reality...we all have viewpoints. But at the end of the day, I believe that if we can become aware of our biases and pain points, and emotionally self-regulate ourselves enough, we are actually capable of creating a safe environment that leads to action and change. Otherwise, all we are doing is slinging mud at each other.

 

I start this podcast with a quote from the Jewish Rabbi and Marriage and Family Therapist Edwin Friedman, who wrote:

 

"Communication does not depend on syntax, or eloquence, or rhetoric, or articulation but on the emotional context in which the message is being heard. People can only hear you when they are moving toward you, and they are not likely to when your words are pursuing them"

 

In this episode I explore:

  • Boundaries. What they are and how they are violated.
  • The concept of emotional self-regulation.
  • Systemic Anxiety
  • The work we all need to do to act out of our true selves in a healthy way, that creates safety for others, and helps not only lead to civil discourse, but ultimately change.

In Failure of Nerve, Friedman writes:  

....Precisely because our technologically advanced society constantly keeps us in often-simultaneous touch with one another it may be more difficult today not to become caught up in the surrounding systemic anxiety. Ironically, the very advances in technology that mark our era tend to intensify the 'herding instinct' characteristic of an anxious society. This kind of enmeshment inhibits further the kind of individuation that is the essential precondition for bold leadership and imaginitive thinking....My thesis here is that the climate of contemporary America has become so chronically anxious that our society has gone into an emotional regression that is toxic to well-defined leadership....Emotional regression, therefore, is more of a 'going down' than a 'going back'; it is devolution rather than evolution....At the same time that a society is 'pro-gressing' technologically it can be 're-gressing' emotionally....When a society (or an institution) is in a state of emotional regression, it will put its technological advances to the service of its regression so that the more it advances on one level the more it regresses on another.... (pp. 52-55)

 

Jan 6, 2017

I decided to take about a 6 week break from the podcast to focus on my work and family as we entered into a very busy holiday season. It was good to take a break from the podcast as I focused on the New Year ahead.

 

I'm not sure what the podcast will look like in 2017, but I do know there will be one. I would really love to move to more of a guest format, but it's pretty challenging to line up all the details between myself and a guest when I spend most of my week in sessions with clients. But my favorite podcasts that I listen to myself, and my favorite episodes of my podcast, are the ones where the host talks with a guest.

 

So in 2017 expect to hear more guests on my podcast, and it's possible I may move from the 3-4 episodes a month format I've been doing, to maybe just 2 a month. Whatever I can do to maintain high quality is what I will be doing.

 

That being said, the beginning of a New Year gives me an opportunity to think through and reflect on the past year, as well as think about the goals for this coming year.

 

In this episode I:

  • reflect on some goals I achieved in 2016
  • reflect on some goals I failed in 2016.
  • share the books I read in 2016.
  • share my wholistic paradigm for goal setting which is based on the 4 parts of self-care I discussed in Episode 1.
Nov 17, 2016

One of the most common questions I get is about what marriage book I might recommend. That is a tough question in some ways because there are so many books out there, and every person responds to a certain book differently. So it's hard to be too prescriptive on this topic.

But I can tell you there are about 7 books that I recommend a lot, and have been recommending for a long time. And the reason I recommend these books is because they have not only transformed my life and marriage, but they are the books that couples consistently report as being the most helpful and life-transforming for them.

So in this episode I briefly talk about these 7 books. Each book is pretty different from each other. Some are Christian and faith based in their approach, while others don't come with any faith perspective. Some are pretty prescriptive in their approach, listing out steps and tools to use in your marriage, while others take a more philosophical and theological approach, but it's up to the reader to figure out how and if that applies to their marriage. Some talk about sex (one in pretty specific and graphic ways), while others don't even mention it. Some are more academic, while others are an easy read.

So check out these books and see what may most apply and be helpful to you.

Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by Sue Johnson -- Great read by the founder of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy. Her seven conversations provide great insight and direction for couples working on their connection.

Restoration Therapy: Understanding and Guiding Healing in Marriage and Family Therapy by Terry D. Hargrave and Franz Pfitzer -- This is perhaps my favorite book on marriage because it is the therapy model founded by my mentor and friend Dr. Hargrave. It's the model that I use in therapy with my clients and what I teach in churches and organizations. More of a technical read for therapists and practitioners, though helpful for couples who do want to dive into the theory. I talk with Dr. Hargrave about his model here, and discuss it's concepts here, here, here, here and here.

5 Days to a New Marriage by Terry D. Hargrave and Shawn Stoever -- this is the book that was written by the developers of the 4-day marriage intensives at The Hideaway Experience where I was on staff for four years. It's a simple, awesome read that walks couples through was is essentially Terry Hargrave's Restoration Therapy model.

Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships by David Schnarch -- This book was probably one of the biggest life changing books for me individually, and in my marriage. It introduced me to the concept of self-differentiation in marriage, and it's ideas on anxiety and self-soothing are some of the most helpful concepts I use with couples. Schnarch is also a sex therapist, so this book will be the most graphic of the selection in terms of it's content.

The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family: A Leadership Fable About Restoring Sanity to the Most Important Organization in Your Life by Patrick Lencioni -- though this is not a "marriage" book per se, it is super helpful in marriages. My wife have worked through this book and it has been marriage transforming for us. I have written about this here, and did a podcast about it here.

The Mystery of Marriage: Meditations on the Miracle by Mike Mason -- This was really one of the first books that I read on marriage. I read it in seminary when I wasn't even dating anyone, and yet, it is a book I keep coming back to time and time again. One of the things I like about it the best is that it is not a marriage book with how to's or step by step instructions. It's more of a poetic and theological look at marriage.

Sacred Marriage: What if God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy, More Than to Make Us Happy? by Gary L. Thomas -- One of the premises about this book that I think is so helpful is the concept that marriage is a refining process that is more about making us holy than happy. That is a tough sell in today's culture.

Nov 8, 2016

Last week I had the privilege of speaking to one of my favorite groups...MOPS. In this case it was the MOPS group at First Baptist Frisco which is an awesome group I have had the opportunity to speak to before (as well as their MOMSnext group). And as I was thinking about what topic to speak to them about, I started thinking about what season of life most of these moms find themselves in. It's tiring. It's busy. There is lots of new expectations, and that can sometimes be coupled with depression or anxiety. And in the midst of this, there is a marital relationship that they are trying to navigate along with all the challenges of being a new mom, or adding more kids to the family. And they might be in a marriage where their spouse is or isn't engaged in not only the life of the new baby and kids, but may or may not be engaged in the marriage as well.

 

That being said, it's a crucial time for marriages. And a lot of marriages tend to drift during this season, and those who are lucky course correct, and those who aren't, continue to drift apart further and further over the years. But what I have found in healthy marriages, especially ones who navigate this season successfully, is that it's not about luck, but rather about two people committed to working together to see their marriage grow in an intentional way.

 

So in this episode:

 

Resources and People Mentioned in Episode

Corey Allan -- Marital Drift Assessment

The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family by Patrick Lencioni

Link to my 5-Part Blog Series on Why Your Family Should Use The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family

Link to my podcast episode on creating a vision statement for your marriage/family

Link to my podcast episode on self-care and relationships

Oct 27, 2016

Last weekend I had the humbling opportunity to speak at the first ever Restoration Therapy Conference which was held at Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA. When the founder of the model, Dr. Terry Hargrave asked med to present on anxiety and the Restoration Therapy model, I knew it was an invitation that I couldn't refuse. I consider Dr. Hargrave not only a mentor, but also a friend, so I definitely wanted to participate in anything he was doing. But I also knew I would be anxious for several months leading up to my presentation. And I was. But it was a great time to be with a bunch of other therapists and researches who are on the ground floor in the ongoing development of the Restoration Therapy model.

 

I won't go into details in this post since you will hear more in this episode. But I've been using Restoration Therapy as my primary therapeutic model since about 2010 when I was first exposed to it co-leading marriage intensives at The Hideaway Experience in Amarillo, TX. I did not know the model as Restoration Therapy at the time, but rather as The 5 Days to a New Marriage model...and essentially, the Pain and Peace Cycle model.

 

But no model has changed my life more than this one. And no model has helped my clients more than this one. I have experience and training and proficiency in a lot of different models, but I believe this is the best one out there for a lot of reasons...many of which I will go into in this episode.

 

This is a 2 part episode, and in these episodes I explore the concept of anxiety and how it differs from fear...and why that distinction is so important. I look at what anxiety is and how to define it. I talk about how to normalize anxiety for your clients and reframe it as an opportunity for growth. I talk about how to get at the roots of anxiety using the RT Model and understanding the work of the Pain and Peace Cycle. I talk about how to take the Pain and Peace Cycle and practice it daily to create transformation. And then I talk about the important tools and resources that can help people manage their anxiety.

 

But for now, what you must know is this. In the Restoration Therapy Model, anxiety is not a feeling, but rather a coping behavior. We don't feel anxious, rather we become anxious. We do anxiety. But there is some other feeling that drives the anxiety. And that's important, otherwise we could end up just chasing the relief of the symptoms (though important), rather than dealing with the root issues of anxiety. Keeping that in mind, it's important to understand that anxiety is about issues concerning individual(love/identity) and relational personhood (trust/safety). And they are about "ultimate concerns" in life such as faith, life, death, purpose, meaning, relationships. Whereas, fear is about specific situations and circumstances.

 

So as I spell out in these episodes, my fear growing up was speaking in front of people because I would stutter. But my anxiety was that I would feel inadequate, be alone, not measure up. And I spent most of my life trying to relieve my fears (speaking), rather than understanding and dealing with my anxiety (coping behavior) and what was at the root of it, which was those feelings of inadequacy (feelings).

 

It may not seem like an important distinction at the outset, but actually has huge implications in terms of one getting healing when it comes to their anxiety. And I think you can see this distinction play out both in faith and biblical perspectives, as well as psychological and secular perspectives...so I address these integrative pieces as well.

 

So whether you are a therapist, lay counselor, pastor, friend, spouse, parent, colleague....who wants to help someone with anxiety...or whether you are trying to help your own anxiety...these episodes are for you.

Please listen and subscribe to my podcast in the following places, and then leave a comment letting me know what you liked about the show, or what guest you would like to hear from. Thank you so much for your support.

iTunes -- Stitcher

Player FM -- Libsyn

 

People and Resources Mentioned in the Episodes

Restoration Therapy Model -- in Episode 21 I talk about Restoration Therapy and how I use it for my work with individuals, couples, churches and organizations. Restoration Therapy Conference

Terry Hargrave -- in Episode 55 I interview Dr. Hargrave

Pain Cycle (this is Episode 42)

Peace Cycle (this is Episode 43)

Sharon Hargrave Steve and Rajan Trafton

The Hideaway Experience

The Anxious Christian by Rhett Smith

The Concept of Anxiety by Soren Kierkegaard

Fear and Trembling by Soren Kierkegaard

The Meaning of Anxiety by Rollo May

Be Not Anxious: Pastoral Care of Disquieted Souls by Allan Huge Cole Jr.

Things Might Go Terribly, Horribly Wrong: A Guide to Life Liberated from Anxiety by Kelly G. Wilson and Todd Dufrene

The Courage to Be by Paul Tillich

Existential Psychotherapy by Irvin D. Yalom

 

Oct 27, 2016

Last weekend I had the humbling opportunity to speak at the first ever Restoration Therapy Conference which was held at Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA. When the founder of the model, Dr. Terry Hargrave asked med to present on anxiety and the Restoration Therapy model, I knew it was an invitation that I couldn't refuse. I consider Dr. Hargrave not only a mentor, but also a friend, so I definitely wanted to participate in anything he was doing. But I also knew I would be anxious for several months leading up to my presentation. And I was. But it was a great time to be with a bunch of other therapists and researches who are on the ground floor in the ongoing development of the Restoration Therapy model.

 

I won't go into details in this post since you will hear more in this episode. But I've been using Restoration Therapy as my primary therapeutic model since about 2010 when I was first exposed to it co-leading marriage intensives at The Hideaway Experience in Amarillo, TX. I did not know the model as Restoration Therapy at the time, but rather as The 5 Days to a New Marriage model...and essentially, the Pain and Peace Cycle model.

 

But no model has changed my life more than this one. And no model has helped my clients more than this one. I have experience and training and proficiency in a lot of different models, but I believe this is the best one out there for a lot of reasons...many of which I will go into in this episode.

 

This is a 2 part episode, and in these episodes I explore the concept of anxiety and how it differs from fear...and why that distinction is so important. I look at what anxiety is and how to define it. I talk about how to normalize anxiety for your clients and reframe it as an opportunity for growth. I talk about how to get at the roots of anxiety using the RT Model and understanding the work of the Pain and Peace Cycle. I talk about how to take the Pain and Peace Cycle and practice it daily to create transformation. And then I talk about the important tools and resources that can help people manage their anxiety.

 

But for now, what you must know is this. In the Restoration Therapy Model, anxiety is not a feeling, but rather a coping behavior. We don't feel anxious, rather we become anxious. We do anxiety. But there is some other feeling that drives the anxiety. And that's important, otherwise we could end up just chasing the relief of the symptoms (though important), rather than dealing with the root issues of anxiety. Keeping that in mind, it's important to understand that anxiety is about issues concerning individual(love/identity) and relational personhood (trust/safety). And they are about "ultimate concerns" in life such as faith, life, death, purpose, meaning, relationships. Whereas, fear is about specific situations and circumstances.

 

So as I spell out in these episodes, my fear growing up was speaking in front of people because I would stutter. But my anxiety was that I would feel inadequate, be alone, not measure up. And I spent most of my life trying to relieve my fears (speaking), rather than understanding and dealing with my anxiety (coping behavior) and what was at the root of it, which was those feelings of inadequacy (feelings).

 

It may not seem like an important distinction at the outset, but actually has huge implications in terms of one getting healing when it comes to their anxiety. And I think you can see this distinction play out both in faith and biblical perspectives, as well as psychological and secular perspectives...so I address these integrative pieces as well.

 

So whether you are a therapist, lay counselor, pastor, friend, spouse, parent, colleague....who wants to help someone with anxiety...or whether you are trying to help your own anxiety...these episodes are for you.

Please listen and subscribe to my podcast in the following places, and then leave a comment letting me know what you liked about the show, or what guest you would like to hear from. Thank you so much for your support.

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People and Resources Mentioned in the Episodes

Restoration Therapy Model -- in Episode 21 I talk about Restoration Therapy and how I use it for my work with individuals, couples, churches and organizations. Restoration Therapy Conference

Terry Hargrave -- in Episode 55 I interview Dr. Hargrave

Pain Cycle (this is Episode 42)

Peace Cycle (this is Episode 43)

Sharon Hargrave

Steve and Rajan Trafton

The Hideaway Experience

The Anxious Christian by Rhett Smith

The Concept of Anxiety by Soren Kierkegaard

Fear and Trembling by Soren Kierkegaard

The Meaning of Anxiety by Rollo May

Be Not Anxious: Pastoral Care of Disquieted Souls by Allan Huge Cole Jr.

Things Might Go Terribly, Horribly Wrong: A Guide to Life Liberated from Anxiety by Kelly G. Wilson and Todd Dufrene

The Courage to Be by Paul Tillich

Existential Psychotherapy by Irvin D. Yalom

Oct 6, 2016

One of the most common questions I get outside of my office (via Facebook, Twitter, email, etc.) is, "What can I do if I struggle with anxiety?" Or often they are asking for someone they know and care about, "What can I do to help someone with anxiety?"

 

I have to caution and say that there is not a one size fits all answer to this question.

 

But generally speaking there are 4 things that I tell that person that we can do:

  1. I help them see that anxiety is completely normal. There is nothing wrong with you for struggling with anxiety. That may seem obvious to many of you, but for many, having anxiety is like carrying around a scarlet letter on their chest in their community. So I try to normalize the experience for them.
  2. I help that person identify some tools and resources that will help them manage and or reduce their currently level of distress with anxiety. I find this to be an important step that allows us to move to the next thing.
  3. I help that person identify and work on the root issue that is driving the anxiety. Relieving symptoms is great, but to really transform anxiety, I want to help that person understand the root of their anxiety. Anxiety is the coping behavior of some feeling.
  4. I help the person reframe anxiety as an opportunity for growth. I want them to see anxiety as a friend who speaks into their life and guides them. I want to help them to see God at work in the midst of it.

These are four things that you can help a person, or yourself, who is struggling with anxiety. And these are the things that you might also want to look for in a counselor, therapist, pastoral counselor, life coach, etc.

Please listen and subscribe to my podcast in the following places, and then leave a comment letting me know what you liked about the show, or what guest you would like to hear from. Thank you so much for your support.

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Sep 29, 2016

When I was in my early 30's I was fortunate enough to have a really great Marriage and Family Therapy supervisor in D. Michael Smith. He was actually one of many early great mentors I had and supervisors as I pursued my license as a therapist. But one day while I was in a supervision session with him, and I was feeling particularly stuck with a client, he took out a piece of paper and began to write some questions down.

 

He told me that he believed that every person is essentially asking these 4 questions at each new stage in their life (and potentially are questions that are constantly at one's top of mind). As he began to write I was super eager to see what these important questions were. He put the piece of paper between us and I began to look at the questions with him. The questions were:

  1. Who am I?
  2. What am I to do?
  3. How am I to be loved?
  4. How do I become all that God created me to be?

Essentially, they are questions of identity, vocation, relationship, and purpose/calling. And these questions are intimately linked with one another, because often one can't be answered without having answered the other.

 

In this episode I explore these 4 questions in depth and talk about why they are necessary questions for us. They are perhaps the most important questions we can be asking ourselves. They are questions of ultimate concern as I talk about in this episode. As the Christian existential philosopher/theologian Paul Tillich wrote:

"Man, like every living being, is concerned about many things, above all about those which condition his very existence...If [a situation or concern] claims ultimacy it demands the total surrender of him who accepts this claim...it demands that all other concerns...be sacrificed." (Dynamics of Faith)

I have written and talking extensively about how anxiety in the New Testament can mean different things in different contexts. Paul in Philippians uses the Greek merimnao to describe not being anxious (Philippians 4:6) and to have care/concern for (Philippians 2:20). In essence, the Greek word for anxiety here means literally to not be anxious, but at other times, have care and concern for.

 

So it's possible that our anxiety at times points to ultimate concerns because it's in our anxiety that we are being told to care for these things. And it's these questions that often come up for us.

Please listen and subscribe to my podcast in the following places, and then leave a comment letting me know what you liked about the show, or what guest you would like to hear from. Thank you so much for your support.

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Resources and People Mentioned in the Episode
Paul Tillich
D. Michael Smith

I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist practicing in Plano, Texas. I work with individuals, couples, and families regarding a number of issues from marriage therapy, anxiety, depression, infidelity, faith, relationship strengthening, and athletic performance. If you are interested in scheduling a session with me, or having me out to speak, please contact us via email or phone (469-304-9022).

Sep 22, 2016

 

“Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.” Soren Kierkegaard

That quote by Soren Kierkegaard in his work The Concept of Anxiety, has always been one of my favorite quotes. I think it truly captures the hear of anxiety for many...In that being free, creative beings who are responsible for our lives and the choices and directions we take...that freedom creates a lot of anxiety for many. In this episode I explore the varied definitions and meanings of anxiety from the clinical to the biblical, to the existential.

Please listen and subscribe to my podcast in the following places, and then leave a comment letting me know what you liked about the show, or what guest you would like to hear from. Thank you so much for your support.

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Link to Episode 76

Resources and People Mentioned in the Episode

The Concept of Anxiety by Sorek Kierkegaard

The Meaning of Anxiety by Rollo May

be not anxious by Allan Hugh Cole Jr.

The Anxious Christian by Rhett Smith

Aug 31, 2016

One of the populations I love working with in my practice is athletes. I've been fortunate enough to work with a large variety of athletes from professionals to amateur, from middle school kids all the way up to a middle aged runner like me. And in my time with athletes several themes around athletics have emerged that tend to be the central focus of our counseling time together.  

 

Those are:

  • performance anxiety
  • anxiety and stress due to pressure from overbearing parents
  • depression from not achieving an athletic goal or from not being able to participate in the sport because of injury.
  • training the athlete for more positive self-talk and visualization to increase performance.

 

These 4 issues seem to crop up the most and I have had a lot of success using the Restoration Therapy model developed by Terry Hargrave. Even though I initially used it only with couples I have expanded it's use to individuals, families, organizations, and now athletes. I feel that it's core tenets, especially the importance of emotional self-regulation and working to identify and act out of one's truth, rather than out of one's negative cycle, have been extremely helpful.  

 

In this episode I briefly mention the components above, but really spend the bulk of the episode diving into some of the work of Angela Duckworth in her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, and what she has to say about anxious parents and kid's athletics. In the episode I read from about 2-3 pages worth of material to give you an understanding of what Duckworth is communicating when it comes to grit and our kids, while at the same time commenting on some of the things I have seen in my practice.  

 

I echo Duckworth's and other's findings that children who are allowed autonomy to choose what sports in activities to engage in, and who have the freedom to explore a multiplicity of sports, while at the same time not engaging in them all year round, often fare better than their counterparts who specialize early and play all year. The latter often leads to a lot of burnout (often by high school or college), and it short circuits the development of passion because kid has not had the ability to pursue their own interests, but have often been pursuing the interests of the parents.  

 

I want to leave you with one quote from Grit that I read in this episode:  

Sports psychologist Jean Cote finds that shortcutting this stage of relaxed, playful interest, discovery, and development has dire consequences. In his research, professional athletes like Rowdy Gains who, as a children, sampled a variety of different sports before committing to one, generally fare much better in the long run. This early breadth of experience helps the young athlete figure out which sport fits better than others,. Sampling also provides an opportunity to 'cross train' muscles and skills that will eventually complement more focused training. While athletes who skip this state often enjoy an early advantage in competition against less specialized peers, Cote finds that they're more likely to become injured physically and to burn out. (page 107 on Kindle).

Please listen and subscribe to my podcast in the following places, and then leave a comment letting me know what you liked about the show, or what guest you would like to hear from. Thank you so much for your support.

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Resources and People Mentioned in this Episode

Terry Hargrave

Restoration Therapy

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

Angela Duckworth

Benjamin Bloom

Jean Cote

Aug 23, 2016

So if your day was anything like my wife and I's yesterday, it involved walking our kids into their first day of school this year. My daughter starts 4th grade, and my son starts Kindergarten. And like many of you, we are in a new transition as we begin a new school year. One filled with excitement, anxieties, fears, joys, ups and downs, and all kinds of emotions in between there.

 

After dropping my kids off at school I spent some time thinking about this particular transition in life and about all the kids I have had the privilege to work with over the last 20+ years...sometimes as a camp counselor, youth pastor, and therapist. And one of the things that I thought about the most was all the expectations we have as parents when our kid starts off a new school year. Sometimes our expectations are appropriate ones, and other times if we are honest with ourselves, the expectations might have more to do with us, than our kids. But guess what, our kids also start off the school year with expectations of their own, but I wonder how much we stop and talk to them about that.

 

So in today's episode I share a few things that I have found to be helpful in my work with kids and their families, as well as in my own life. Some things I feel we do a pretty good job of, and other things are a work in progress. But isn't parenting always that way...just when you think you have something figured out, it all changes. In this episode I discuss:

  • Being honest with your own expectations as a parent.
  • Talking with your kids about their expectations.
  • The importance of building connection with your kids and some ways to do it this school year.
  • The importance of spending time wisely and some suggestions of how to create that.
  • The importance of risk taking and failure in our kid's development.

 

Please listen and subscribe to my podcast in the following places, and then leave a comment letting me know what you liked about the show, or what guest you would like to hear from. Thank you so much for your support.

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I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist practicing in Plano, Texas. I work with individuals, couples, and families regarding a number of issues from marriage therapy, anxiety, depression, infidelity, faith, relationship strengthening, and a whole lot more. If you are interested in scheduling a session with me, or having me out to speak, please contact us via email or phone (469-304-9022).

Aug 17, 2016

I have the great privilege of working with couples in my office on a daily basis. Some come to me before they are married, some within a few years of marriage, but the great majority of them come to see me after a crisis that was indicative of the marital drift in their life. In Episode 19 of my podcast I talked about marital drift and the kid centered marriage. But essentially what often happens in relationships is that couples set out with good intentions to care for and love each other...to make each other priority. In fact, it was often that feeling of being a priority in dating that led to engagement and marriage.

 

But over the course of the marriage couples often make sacrifices that hurt the marriage and leave one or both spouses not often feeling like a priority. I see this most often in couples that just got busy. They had kids...the kids got busy with sports and activities...and the marriage drifted. Then one day they wake up, perhaps 5, 10, 15, 20 years later, and are so disconnected that they don't know how to reconnect, or aren't sure it is worth the effort.

 

The drift itself often is felt early on in a marriage, but it's not until a crisis hits such as an affair, an addiction, or the threat of divorce that couples will recognize it fully or want to engage it.

 

And in this episode I talk about one of my core beliefs that I have come to realize after 20 plus years in the pastoral and clinical counseling setting....and that is that couples can't have both a great marriage, and at the same time put their their kids first by running around in a million different directions and pursuing a million different activities. Something will have to be sacrificed, and often it's the marriage. My other belief that I explore in this episode is that the marriage should have priority, not the kids. I think we live in a culture where we have put kids first, and what often gets sacrificed is not only the marriage, but the family falls apart as well since the marriage is in disaster. Instead, I have seen time and time again that where the marriage is priority, the kids benefit. This isn't a statement about one being more important or loving one more. You love both, that's why the marriage is a priority. So as you listen to this episode I want you to think about your own marriage, and whether or not it's the priority over your kids. And what implications are there for the answer you have?

Please listen and subscribe to my podcast in the following places, and then leave a comment letting me know what you liked about the show, or what guest you would like to hear from. Thank you so much for your support.

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Aug 11, 2016

One of the things that I've noticed a lot about relationships and conflict, is that a lot of it tends to happen in periods of daily transition. For example, conflict tends to arise when people are leaving the house in the morning, or coming home later in the day. Whether it's a spouse, roommate, or child, there tends to be a lot of missed expectations in those two periods of the day. Maybe it's the rushed chaos that often accompanies those periods (i.e. rushing kids off to school, coming home after a long chaotic day at work, etc.) of the day, or maybe it's that we have ideas in our head about how things are going to look. For example, I might have the expectation that when I come home from work that my wife and kids are excited to see me and greet me as I come in the door...if that doesn't happen, I may become disappointed and that could lead to conflict. Or maybe my wife has been working all day and running around with the kids since school's been out and she has the expectation that I will walk in the door and help with dinner, when maybe I withdraw to our bedroom to relax for a few minutes...maybe she feels disappointed as well, and that can lead to conflict.

 

These are just a couple of examples of the thousands of expectations that we have when we leave a place in transition, and we enter back into that place in transition. It's such an important time that I would often spend time working with couples over this issue during marriage intensives at The Hideaway Experience.

 

The reality is we all have expectations. It's just there is something that happens in the transition that I think tends to create a lot of conflict for couples. So in order to navigate that more successfully I have discovered several things that are helpful to couples in doing this. Whether it be creating some rules around greetings, or boundaries around technology, or taking the time to get into the right frame of mind for the upcoming transitions....in this episode of the Rhett Smith Podcast I share with you some examples of conflict in transition, and give you some practical ideas to navigate it more successfully.

Please listen and subscribe to my podcast in the following places, and then leave a comment letting me know what you liked about the show, or what guest you would like to hear from. Thank you so much for your support.

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"

Aug 4, 2016

I'm not quite exactly sure of the origin of learning about this communication technique, but I know it must have morphed together from all of my training and experience as a therapist...so I'm sure it has it's roots in varying theorists, I just can't place it right now. But in my time as a therapist I was used to hearing couples talking about all the things that weren't working well in the relationship. And most often it would come across in the form of criticism. Some spouse would be sharing all the things that their partner wasn't doing. And you can imagine what that was doing to the relationship...you can imagine what kind of pain cycle that was creating.

 

So I started thinking about what it would look like to share with your spouse not all the things they were doing wrong, but rather, the things they desired and wanted and needed in the relationship. Why not focus on the positives (what you want and desire), rather than the negatives (all they weren't doing right). This subtle (maybe it's not so subtle) shift in language began to have a different affect on couples. Rather than creating situations of defensiveness, it created opportunities for openness and closeness.

 

But the key is, once you talk about what you want and desire, you have to let go of the outcome. You have to let go of the expectations in the relationship. Listen closely here...I'm not saying you can't, or shouldn't have expectations in a relationship...but what I'm saying you have to let go of that particular expectation you are requesting. You can't demand. You have to allow the other person in the relationship the freedom to decide to do what you are requesting, or to not do it. This is a request based out of freedom, not out of fear or demanding. Demanding relationships drain life out of the couple, whereas, ones based in freedom are life-giving.

 

I think I first learned of the "letting go of the outcome" step in Terence Real's book, The New Rules of Marriage. In his technique called The Feedback Wheel, the final step is "Let go of the outcome." There is a whole process to his feedback wheel, but I eventually took this idea of letting go of the outcome into other theories I was learning, and I began to apply it to couples and families that I was working with.

 

So in today's podcast I want to help you with this simple technique of being vulnerable (the hard part) in your relationship by shifting your focus on what your partner is not doing (that's a position of criticism), and focus on what you are desiring and wanting. It's vulnerable and risky to request though, because what if they say no. But this is about putting yourself out there. And so when you put yourself out there, you let go of the outcome. And as a therapist who highly believes in self-differentiation, and practices the Restoration Therapy model where one's identity is not based in the partner, but in one's own truth....I want to say, this is not about putting your identity in your partner or demanding from them. This is just simply about being honest about yourself and what you desire...but then letting go of it. It's in this freedom that we learn more about the needs, wants, desires of our partner, and it's helpful to know those things, so that in one's freedom, they can choose to, or choose not to respond.

 

Try this technique out at home and let me know what you think.

Please listen and subscribe to my podcast in the following places, and then leave a comment letting me know what you liked about the show, or what guest you would like to hear from. Thank you so much for your support.

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Resources Mentioned in the Podcast

The New Rules of Marriage by Terence Real

I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist practicing in Plano, Texas. I work with individuals, couples, and families regarding a number of issues from marriage therapy, anxiety, depression, infidelity, faith, relationship strengthening, and a whole lot more. If you are interested in scheduling a session with me, or having me out to speak, please contact us via email or phone (469-304-9022).

Jul 28, 2016

This has been an incredibly difficult political season, in that it highlights the deep divisions among one another along racial, sexual, economical, and political lines....just to name a few.

 

And one thing I have been struggling with the most is to try and remind myself of how I talk about people that believe different than me. Because how I talk about them or their beliefs (if I do at all), will determine whether or not we can be in relationship with one another...and hopefully learn and grow from the mutual relationship.

 

But what happens most often is that we end up using exclusionary language (they, them, those people) that actually create more division and destroy the possibility of any relationship, rather than using inclusionary and embracing language (I, you, we, us) that pulls us closer to one another. And without the relationship, no progress can be made. It's the relationship that makes it safe for us to work through our ideas with one another, and to be challenged, and to grow. When it is unsafe, we are not able to do this, but instead withdraw and fight and name call.

 

I see this played out daily at a microlevel in my counseling office with couples and familes and individuals, but at the marcrolevel I am sometimes left feeling hopeless and inadequate that we can do the same.

 

So this is something that I need to work on myself, and I wanted to process this out loud with you in this episode.

 

Fair warning though, Martin Buber and Miroslav Volf were hard enough for me to read at a slow pace, so I hope I didn't totally do them injustice by drawing on their ideas and talking about them with you in this episode.

 

In this episode I also read two lengthy quotes form Volf's wonderful book, Exclusion and Embrace. Those are posted below so that you can read on your own as well.

 

Check out this episode and walk with me on this journey so that we all contribute to more positive change in our homes, neighborhoods, communities, cities, states and world...you get the idea...start with where you can directly affect change, and then go from there.

 

Episode 70, quote #1:

In all wars, whether large or small, whether carried out on battlefields, city streets, living rooms, or faculty lounges, we come across the same basic exclusionary polarity: “us against them,” “their gain–our loss, ” “either us or them.” The stronger the conflict, the more the rich texture of the social world disappears and the stark exclusionary polarity emerges around which all thought and practice aligns itself. No other choice seems available, no neutrality possible, and therefore no innocence sustainable. If one does not exit that whole social world, one gets sucked into its horrid polarity. Tragically enough, over time the polarity has a macabre way of mutating into its very opposite–into “both us and them” that unites the divided parties in a perverse communion of mutual hate and mourning over the dead.
……….There may indeed be situations in which “there is no choice,” though we should not forget that to destroy the other rather than to be destroyed oneself is itself a choice. In most cases, however, the choice is not constrained by an inescapable “either us or them.” If there is will, courage and imagination the stark polarity can be overcome. Those caught in the vortex of mutual exclusion can resist its pull, rediscover their common belonging, even fall into each other’s arms. People with conflicting interests, clashing perspectives, and differing cultures can avoid sliding into the cycle of escalating violence and instead maintain bonds, even make their life together flourish. (pp. 99-100) — Exclusion and Embrace by Miroslav Volf

 

Episode 70, quote #2:

What is so profoundly different about the “new order” of the father is that it is not built around the alternatives as defined by the older brother: either strict adherence to the rules or disorder and disintegration; either you are “in” or you are “out,” depending on whether you have or have not broken a rule. He rejected this alternative because his behavior was governed by the one fundamental “rule”: relationship has priority over all rules. Before any rule can apply, he is a father to his sons and his sons are brothers to one another. The reason for celebration is that “this son of mine” (v.24) and “this brother of yours” (v.32) has been found and has come alive again. Notice the categorical difference between how the father and how the older brother interpret the prodigal’s life in the “distant country.” The older brother employs moral categories and constructs his brother’s departure along the axis of “bad/good” behavior: the brother has “devoured your property with prostitutes” (v.30). The father, though keenly aware of the moral import of his younger son’s behavior, employs relational categories and constructs his son’s departure along the axis of “lost/found” and “alive (to him)/dead (to him).” Relationship is prior to moral rules; moral performances may do something to the relationship, but relationship is not grounded in moral performance. Hence the will to embrace is independent of the quality of behavior, though at the same time “repentance,” “confession,” and the “consequences of one’s actions” all have their own proper place. The profound wisdom about the priority of the relationship, and not some sentimental insanity, explains the father’s kind of “prodigality” to both of his sons.
For the father, the priority of the relationship means not only a refusal to let moral rules be the final authority regulating “exclusion” and “embrace” but also a refusal to construct his own identity in isolation from his sons. He readjusts his identity along with the changing identities of his sons and thereby reconstructs their broken identities and relationships. He suffers being “un-fathered” by both, so that through this suffering he may regain both as his sons (if the older brother was persuaded) and help them rediscover each other as brothers. Refusing the alternatives of “self-constructed” vs. “imposed” identities, difference vs. domestication, he allows himself to be taken on the journey of their shifting identities so that he can continue to be their father and they, each other’s brothers. Why does he not lose himself on the journey? Because he is guided by indestructible love and supported by a flexible order.
Flexible order? Changing identities? The world of fixed rules and stable identities is the world of the older brother. The father destabilizes this world–and draws his older son’s anger upon himself. The father’s most basic commitment is not to rules and given identities but to his sons whose lives are too complex to be regulated by fixed rules and whose identitites are too dynamic to be defined once for all. Yet he does not give up the rules and the order. Guided by the indestructible love which makes space in the self for others in their alterity, which invites the others who have trangressed to return, which creates hospitable conditions for their confession, and rejoices over their presence, the father keeps re-configuring the order without destroying it so as to maintain it as an order of embrace rather than exclusion. (pp.164-165)

Please listen and subscribe to my podcast in the following places, and then leave a comment letting me know what you liked about the show, or what guest you would like to hear from. Thank you so much for your support.

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Resources Mentioned in the Episode

Exclusion and Embrace by Miroslav Volf

I and Thou by Martin Buber

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