Part of being human is that we get anxious.
And no human can opt out of experiencing anxiety.
It visits all of us at varying times in our lives, and to varying degrees.
But what if you can reframe anxiety in a way that you see it as a friend, rather than a foe.
What if your anxiety could help you grow?
I explore this and what it means to be anxious. And how we often misinterpret critical passages and understandings on this topic.
Yesterday I posted a short video on the movement from orientation to disorientation to new orientation. I first learned it by this name and paradigm by reading Walter Brueggemann's work, The Message of the Psalms.
The movement itself is as old as humanity, and it is a movement that we all go through in our lives.
Currently we are in a period of global and national and local disorientation -- together -- I hope that we move into a newness when COVID-19 subsides, and that we just don't go back to our old ways. Because disorientation brings about growth.
There is an opportunity for us to be a new kind of people and community.
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<p>It's been a long time since I have done a podcast. About a year actually. </p>
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<p>I was on a break for awhile, just reading, researching, writing and focusing on other kinds of work. I had nothing new to add to the conversation so thought I would hit pause.</p>
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<p>But in light of COVID-19 and how it has caused all of us to look at some things in a new way, it has also really caused a spike in people's mental health struggles...from anxiety to depression, and beyond.</p>
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<p>In this episode I wanted to keep it simple and just focus on the four pillars of self-care, which is why I started this podcast about 3 years ago. It is more critical than ever that we are being mindful of our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual capacities, as they are often the key to help up regulate our emotional reactivity...allowing us to show up in our not only our own lives...but the lives of those around us (family, friends, neighbors, community) in a way that is life-giving. And we need more than ever to be people that breathe life into those we are around. </p>
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In this episode I had the privilege of sitting down with my good friends Jeff and Robin Reinke. Besides being colleagues of mine in a workshop we lead in equipping ministry leaders in a variety of issues impacting the church, we are also co-authors in Vital Tools for Relevant Church Leaders: Restoring Relationships and Building Community During Difficult Conversations.
Jeff is the Marriage and Family Pastor at North Coast Calvary Church in Carlsbad, CA, and Robin is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Carlsbad, CA. They are an amazing couple with a beautiful story of redemption and hope, and they are passionate about helping others navigate their own life struggles.
In This Episode
In this episode I discuss the topic of singleness with my colleague Kelly Haer. Kelly is on staff at Pepperdine University in the Boone Center for the Family where she is the Relationship IQ Director.
Kelly is a part of the teaching group that I am a part of that meets with and trains ministry leaders 3-4 times a year on issues that are impacting the church. In our time together we works towards equipping these leaders to more successfully address the issues that they come across in the local church. Singleness happens to be one of those topics that many churches are struggling to address, especially during a period of time where more and more people are not getting married, yet ministry often targets marriage and family.
Kelly addresses this issue at length in our free e-book, Vital Tools for Relevant Church Leaders: Restoring Relationships and Building Community During Difficult Conversations. In this e-book, and in this conversation, she discusses the current state of singleness in the United States, its impact in the church, and how Restoration Therapy provides a tool to best address this issue.
Mentioned in the Episode
In this episode I get to sit down with a colleague of mine who I have been getting to know more over the last couple of years in our collaborative work together around Restoration Therapy and ministry leaders.
Robert Scholz is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, consultant and writer, who specializes in helping individuals and families who are struggling with addictions.
I am so glad to have Robert on the podcast, as addictions is something that I come into contact almost everyday in my work, but it's not something that I specialize in. So thankfully I have skilled people like Robert that I can refer to. In this episode we dive into what an addiction is, it's characteristics, and how it is defined. And we explore the impact of addiction on relationships, and more specifically drugs and alcohol, while also touching on the rampant and addictive nature of vaping.
Mentioned in the Episode
In this episode I spend some time in conversation with Terry and Sharon Hargrave. Terry is the founder of Restoration Therapy and is the Evelyn and Frank Freed Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy at Fuller Theological Seminary and Sharon is the Executive Director of the Boone Center for the Family at Pepperdine University, as well as the founder and director of Relate Strong.
I have known this couple for about 8 years, and not only do I consider them close friends, but I am a huge fan of them. Restoration Therapy has changed my life and practice, and my wife and I have also trained together in Relate Strong.
I can not say enough nice things about Terry and Sharon, and the impact they are making upon the world. In this episode we explore some of the early roots of Restoration Therapy and Relate Strong, and why we are bringing this work to ministry leaders in our workshops that we do several times a year.
Mentioned in the Episode
Download your free copy of Vital Tools for Relevant Church Leaders
Restoration Therapy by Terry Hargrave and Franz Pfitzer
"for dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:19)
In this episode I reflect on the passage found in Genesis 3:19 that is repeated every Ash Wednesday.
It's a beautiful, but harrowing passage that reminds us of just how fragile and short our lives are.
But this reminder, rather than being tragic, is to help us focus on our life on what is important.
We were created from the very dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7). Our first work (vocation) was to work the land (the dust) we were created from, displaying a connection between our identity and the work, service and hobbies we put our lives towards (Genesis 2:15). And yet, often, many things cut us off from this very soil (the dust), and disconnect us not only from our identity, but our Creator as well (Genesis 4:14).
Mentioned in Episode
Water from Rock (Check out their Lenten Devotionals)
And he said, "Hagar, slave-girl, of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?" Genesis 16:8
Where have you come from?
Where are you going?
Perhaps these are two of the most important and fundamental questions we can ask ourselves. I appreciate that Jay Stringer brings to these questions in his phenomenal book, Unwanted: How Sexual Brokenness Reveals Our Way to Healing.
It wasn't until I read his book that I realized, these are two of the most fundamental questions I have been asking my whole life...and they are the questions that I am continually asking my clients in my therapy practice.
They often don't take the form of those exact sentences, but they are asked in some form or fashion throughout my work.
And it is these two questions, and this text, that I dive into in this episode.
I hope you enjoy the episode.
And more importantly, I hope you are asking yourself these two questions.
Mentioned in the Episode
This episode is somewhat of a continuation of Episode 115 where I reflected both theologically and psychologically on the biblical text found in Genesis 1-3 (and a little of 4). Those opening chapters have lots of insight and implications for us relationally.
In this episode I want to pick up on some of those themes, especially the idea of self-differentiation, and focus on how Restoration Therapy lends itself nicely to this concept. I think you will find this a helpful episode in understand you and your relationships better.
I had the opportunity this last Monday to record a video on anxiety with another therapist, and one of the pastors at Preston Trail Community Church in Frisco. And then a few hours later, I talked to a group of parents at Legacy Christian Academy in Frisco about anxiety and depression.
It's obvious that anxiety and depression are prevalent issues affecting our culture today. One only has to read the latest headlines, look into the most up to date statistics, or have a conversation with someone you know....everyone seems to struggle with anxiety and depression at some point in their life.
This is an issue I have talked about a lot, and I continue to talk about it, as it's something I am very passionate about. There are lots of angles to approach this topic, but the most important in my mind is that we reframe the conversation around anxiety and depression as one being about shame and something being wrong with someone...to it's something that affects all of us, and we need to be able to bring it out into the open, and talk about how anxiety and depression can be used as an opportunity for growth.
In this episode I dive into what anxiety and depression are, how to reframe it, what tools you can use, and much more.
I hope you find this helpful.
Some of the Things Mentioned in This Episode
As I mentioned in a previous podcast, I thought I would take some time this year (on occasion) to stop and reflect on my reading of the bible, and how it connects at the intersection of theology and psychology.
So in this episode I want to take some time and just reflect on Genesis 1-4 and some insights that may be helpful for you and your relationships.
Enjoy the episode.
Books Mentioned in this Episode
It's been about 5 months since my last podcast episode, as I was needing to take a break for a while why I focused on some other goals.
But it's time for a new podcast season, and in this episode I talk about some new topics I am going to explore this season, as well as some new goals that I have been working on, and how I am using a paper journal to help me stay focused and on track. I hope that this episode motivates you in the new year, and gives you some new ideas to accomplish all that you set out to do.
"Love consists in this, that two solitudes, protect and border and salute each other." -- Rainer Maria Rilke
A couple of weeks ago my wife and I returned from a "marriage adventure" on the Inca Trail in Peru. This adventure (through WinShape and Intrepid), led us for four days and 3 nights hiking along the 33 miles to Machu Picchu.
This was an unbelievable experience for my wife and I as we led four other couples on this marriage adventure. But probably one of the most transformative aspects of the trip was the moments (sometimes very long moments -- hours at a time) of silence as I walked along the trail. And what struck me most was the moments of silence between my wife and I. A comfortable silence where neither of us felt the need to talk or crack jokes, or lighten the levity with noise. But instead, it was that silence that drove me closer to God, and closer to her. And it was in that silence that I really grew.
In this episode I reflect on the importance of silence in relationships, which is something that I'm trying to work on and get better at in my own life.
In the episode I mention the wonderful book by Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart: Connecting to God Though Prayer, Wisdom and Silence.
As many of you know from listening to my podcasts, or reading my blog over the years, is I'm pretty obsessed with the novels of Susan Howatch. Particularly her Starbridge Series of which I'm about to finish my 9th reading of the series in the last 15 years. It's that impactful and transforming in my life.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
The Scottish theologian William Barclay translated the verse the following way:
“God intermingles all things for good for those who love Him.”
(Romans 8:28, translated by William Barclay)
I'm particularly drawn to this translation of the Greek text, especially as it tends to communicate that God takes all the bad and good, all the light and dark, all the negative and positive, and mingles them together. God weaves them together for good. God doesn't necessarily remove all the dark, but in mingling them together creates a beautiful tapestry of our lives that contain both the light and the dark. The implication of the translation has very different trajectory and understanding for one's life, than another translation.
With this in mind, I reflect in this episode on this translation.
In the episode I also talk about an article my dad wrote called Our Intermingling God, which I find particularly insightful for what is being discussed in this episode.
"I'd like to know more, of course, but I've accepted that there's nothing more he has to say; I've accepted that there's a limit on our knowledge of even those who are closest to us. The older one gets the more one realises how saturated life is in mystery, and the biggest mystery of all, it often seems to me, is the mystery of the human personality." -- Lyle Ashworth
Scandalous Risks by Susan Howatch
In this episode I explore the mystery that are people, and how it's not really until we create a safe space for others, become curious about them, and acknowledge that not all is to be known about ourselves and others, can we truly live in grace with one another.
Mentioned in the Episode
One of the things that happens at the beginning of every year, or at the start of a major transition, is that you see people setting goals. If you were like me you probably thought about all the goals you wanted to achieve in the New Year, and you might have even taken the time to write them down. But if you are also like me, it's possible that you have declared goals in the past, but never quite saw them to completion.
I count it a privilege that I get to spend about 1200 hours a year in session with people because I get to learn all kinds of helpful tools and tips from them. Though they are coming to get help from me (and I hope they find it helpful), I too am learning from them.
So in this episode I want to share with you 8 principles that I have found to be helpful in setting and completing goals. These are principles I've gleaned from reading, and from clients and colleagues and friends, and most importantly, they are principles I have put into action and had success with in my own life.
So in this episode I share with you these 8 important principles when it comes to goal setting:
Resources Mentioned in This Episode
The new near can bring forth a lot of varying emotions from people. In my experience, a large number of people come into the new year very excited about change and all the potential possibilities that await them. It's often a time to start anew. But there is also a large number of people who come into the new year with a lot of fears about what awaits them, perhaps because the prior year was so challenging. And when I think about these varying experiences I think about anxiety. Anxiety is both an excitement about something new and that we care about, but it can also be about things that create fear for us. Anxiety can be healthy or unhealthy as I have written about and said many times before.
In this episode I want to explore some principles and strategies that you can implement for yourself, or help others with this year. So if you work with a group of people this could be very helpful for you. And to do this, I primarily "piggyback" off a recent article I wrote for the Fuller Youth Institute called Helping Adolescents Work Through the Rising Tide of Anxiety.
In the article and in this podcast I explore:
Resources Mentioned in This Podcast
Often when I'm working with someone in session I try to think of visual and tangible ways that they can remember some of the things that we are processing together. And what I have noticed a lot about relational interactions is that there tends to be this movement that I have found to be helpful for people.
This movement goes something like this: a) Ask for what you need/want/desire; b) But then let go of expectations of what you just asked for; c) And then hold on to yourself. Basically the posture is about opening yourself up to be vulnerable in relationships to communicate what you desire, while at the same time not demanding or holding your spouse to that request. And as you do that, learning to emotionally regulate yourself ("hold on").
People who are able to do this in their relationships tend to have very healthy and successful relationships in my opinion.
So in this episode I talk explore what it means to:
As many of you know, I love to run. And over the last 3-4 years I have been getting more and more into trail running, as well into ultrarunning (which is technically anything over 26.2 miles). And about a month ago I finished my second ever 50K race, and my second race ever at the Palo Duro Trail Run. My first 50K was the Cowtown Ultra, and a year after that I ran my first race in Palo Duro which was a 50 miler. This time I decided to dial back a bit in terms of race mileage for several reasons...but primarily so I would finish earlier in the day and have more time to hang out with my family, since camping is a big part of this trip.
And like any long race I've done, I usually learn some amazing life lessons that help me grow as a person. And often these life lessons I am able to apply into my counseling practice with others, and help them grow as well. In this episode I talk about:
Links Mentioned in the Episode
Over the last several years my wife and I have begun a new journey in our life. That journey has involved a couple of elements: 1) Trying to incorporate more adventure into our marriage (i.e. trips, taking on challenges, etc.); 2) Working on ways to partner together in marriage. And last month we took another step closer in combining these two elements when we went away for a few days to WinShape Marriage to be trained as a leaders to lead their marriage adventures.
What is a marriage adventure? Imagine sailing on a catamaran in the BVI's for 8 days with 3 other couples, why you work on your marriage with daily activities and conversations, all while taking on daily adventures. This was something my wife and I were invited to participate in 3 years ago, and it was an experience that changed our life.
Or imagine leading couples through Machu Picchu in Peru, or leading couples on a contemplative pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago in Spain, or working with other couples in orphanges in Guatemala?
Well today's guest is the one who oversees WinShape Marriage and all their adventures, and I was excited to have him on to talk about why the element of adventure is so important in marriages. Also, Matt has taken quite the trajectory to get to where he is today, working in some of the most paradigm shifting organizations in the field of marriage.
In this episode we discuss:
Resources and People Mentioned in the Podcast
One of the reasons many couples can't solve conflict in their relationship is because they often get stuck thinking that their argument is really about the topic at hand (i.e. money, sex, parenting, work, inlaws, etc.). And as long as they believe that, then they will stay perpetually stuck. What I've learned in my experience as a therapist is that the problem isn't about the topic, but rather the problem is the negative pattern of interaction that the couple has created over time in their relationship as they try to work through problems.
I'm obviously not the first to come to this conclusion, but this point has become more clear to me day by day in my work. I think that many of us counselors are guilty of sometimes just focusing on better communication techniques (which are super important), rather than helping a couple understand their underlying destructive pattern of interaction. My work in Restoration Therapy really helped me understand how guilty I was of this, and it helped provide me with a new framework to use in relationships with the Pain and Peace Cycle which I have talked about in many podcast episodes.
When a couple can become aware of and understand their destructive pattern of interaction (their Pain Cycle), and they can construct and practice a new positive pattern of interaction (their Peace Cycle), then they are ultimately able to create a safe connection, which will lead to the solving of issues if that was their primary goal (because sometimes the goal is just to connect).
People and Resources Mentioned in This Episode
This is a very short podcast episode, but it's a really important one.
One of the most important tasks I have in the counseling room is to help people to discern between what their feelings and coping behaviors are. In fact, I spend a lot of time helping people understand their feelings, and what coping behaviors they often lead to. When a person understands this level of awareness, they are often able to do deeper work and gain not only the insight they desired, but achieve the transformational change they were seeking.
But one of the things I started to learn during my training under Terry Hargrave in Restoration Therapy, is that not only the feelings that I thought were feelings....were really feelings. For example, I always classified anxiety and anger and depression for example as feelings. You would find me saying things like "I'm feeling really anxious right now", or "I woke up feeling depressed today." And people I work with in my office would often say the same thing.
Terry Hargrave helped me really begin to understand that those things that I thought were feelings, were really coping behaviors. For example, I wasn't feeling anxious, I was becoming anxious (I was doing anxiety if you will), because underneath the surface I was feeling inadequate.
Now if someone comes into my office saying they feel anxious, or feel angry, or feel depressed for example, I will run with that for the time being as I'm trying to understand them. But my work as a therapist (especially if I'm going to be a therapist who can help them), is to really help them distinguish between feeling and action. I don't want to get caught chasing what I think is a feeling, and is really a coping behavior. Then I end up just focused on the behavior and trying to provide more tools for someone to work on that behavior. Instead, what I want to do is address the core underlying feelings of that behavior. When I can help someone do that, then I'm that much closer to really helping them get on the pathway to healing.
There are other coping behaviors often disguised as feelings, but I see anxiety and anger and depression come up the most.
So in this episode I took a little bit of time to talk about this, and why I think it's an important distinction. <
People and Resources Mentioned in this Episode
I talk a lot about anxiety on this podcast. And sometimes anxiety can seem vague or too theoretical, unless one really has experienced. And even then, just talking about it can seem like an intellectual exercise.
But today I had a personal experience that really makes concrete what I mean when I talk about a good anxiety...the kind that is there in the midst of peace, and just reminds you of the quality of your relationships. In that case, that anxiety I believe is a gift...it's a reminder of what you have.
In this episode I share my experience of dropping my wife off at the Dallas Ft. Worth airport as she was flying to Rwanda. So check out this episode as I share about the anxiety that I experienced as I dropped her off and why I cherish it.
I have recently been thinking a lot about the intertwining of vocation and anxiety. What I mean by that is that it seems that part of the journey towards finding vocation is that anxiety is often along for the journey.
In my writing and speaking on anxiety, and in my work with clients, I talk a lot about listening to the voice of anxiety. I believe that anxiety speaks to our life and if we listen to it, it can help guide us along our life's journey. The problem is that we live in a culture that wants to bury and numb out anxiety as much as possible. And when we drown out anxiety, we can't hear how it is informing our life.
But there's also this other voice, and that is of vocation. Parker Palmer in his wonderful book, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation, talks about the Latin root of vocation, which is voce. It's literally a voice that is summoning you towards it.
And in this episode I want to explore how these two voices interact with each other and why that is important. I discuss:
Resources Mentioned in this Episode