Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

struggling coupleLet’s say your marriage is hurting and you know you need help.

If you are a Christian couple, does it matter who you see and what approach the person uses to help you?

Absolutely. So much of couples therapy is based on a secular humanistic approach and not on the truths of Christianity. Here is why it matters:

1) Secular therapies are often based on the idea of evolution, not creation. As Christians, we see the handprint of God’s design in all we do and believe we are made in the image of God.

2) Christian therapy is not based on the postmodern idea that truth is relative. Jesus is the Truth and He sets people free. We are guided by the truth of Scripture, not the cultural think of the day.

3) Everything we do is seen through a Christian lens. Thus, there is no separation between the secular and sacred, faith or reason, the spiritual or natural. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do EVERYTHING, in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17).

4) Christian therapy integrates what is good and doctrinally sound with nonChristian approaches. Discernment and wisdom are needed to integrate.

5) Christian therapists believe in sin and that sin can be a root of problems. Other therapies believe in the goodness of man and have no place for a sin doctrine.

6) Christian therapists believe there is a close link between couple and spiritual  growth.  Without a spiritual base of unity, marriages are much harder to navigate.

7) Christian therapists rely on God in the person of the Holy Spirit to change us.

8) Christian therapists hold to a covenant view of marriage versus a contract only view.

9) Christian therapists see forgiveness as a command, not something you do if you feel like it, or think the other person deserves it. We were forgiven by God when we didn’t deserve it and He commands us to do the same with each other.

10)  Christian therapists believe in hope and leave room for the impossible.

So if you are a Christian couple looking for a therapist to help your marriage, find a therapist who shares your faith. Several sites like Focus on the Family and The American Association for Christian counseling (aacc.net) have referral information. The world view of the therapist shapes the direction of therapy and is important.

woman drinkingSo I am reading the morning paper, enjoying my coffee, when I come across a small article tucked in the health and wellness section of the Wall Street Journal. According to research in a British journal, calcium supplements, typically used to prevent osteoporosis, now appear to increase the risk for heart attack. Great!

I put down the paper, look at the three calcium supplements in my hand that I am about to ingest and wonder, now what? Do I take the calcium, phone a friend (or maybe a doctor), or simply worry that I am killing myself (this option sounds a bit dramatic!)?  It’s bad enough that I am still confused about whether the coffee I am drinking is good or bad for me; now I’ve got calcium to add to the list of heath worries?

All of this information can create worry and tension. So if you find yourself yelling across the table, “Put down that six ounce steak!” you may need a day at the spa.

Seriously, we need to be careful not to allow the plethora of medical information available to us to make us crazy. We can worry ourselves sick and incorrectly diagnose those we love (this happens more than you think).

When it comes to worry, the Internet is a blessing and a curse. You can easily find a disease or illness that fits any ache or pain. And with media telling us what is healthy and what is not, we need to get a grip on keeping health worries at bay.

In the worse case, worrying about health can become an obsession known as hypochondria, a psychological condition in which any physical symptom is interpreted as a serious medical problem. Even in the face of no evidence, a hypochondriac believes he or she has an illness. Doctors, friends, and families cannot convince a person preoccupied with sickness to think differently. Health anxiety is so excessive that a sore throat is throat cancer, a headache is a brain tumor, a fainting spell means diabetes, etc. This form of excessive worry needs professional help from a mental health provider.

For the less excessive worrier, health anxieties are dealt with like any other worry. You have to take the worried thought captive and bring it to he obedience of Christ. Biblically, we are instructed to be anxious about nothing. This includes calcium and coffee! Trying to suppress worry thoughts does not work. It only makes you more worried. So the next time you see a lump and begin to panic, take a deep breath. Do not assume the worse. Check it out and do not allow your thoughts to wander into worried waters. Take your worries to God; leave them with Him and focus on His goodness and presence in your life.

For more help with worry, get my book, Letting Go of Worry

Letting Go of Worry

sad childSarah sat up in bed and began to cry. Another nightmare woke her from a deep sleep.

Between the ages of three and six, nightmares occur for two developmental reasons: 1) Fears begin to develop 2) A child’s imagination is very active. Being overly tired, getting irregular sleep, dealing with stress and anxiety all increase the possibility of nightmares. In rare cases, nightmares can be caused by genetic factors so always check with your pediatrician before assuming cause.

A study published in the journal Sleep found three common traits in children with nightmares. These traits were noticed as early as five months of age. According to the study, children who tended to have nightmares had difficult temperaments (based on ratings by mothers), were restless during the day and were anxious and difficult to calm down.

Nightmares are often a way for children to cope with unpleasant events or change in their lives like divorce, a death, beginning school, moving, etc. So if you have a child experiencing nightmares, think about what is going on during a typical day.

Here are a few other tips to help a child with nightmares:

1)    Add a nightlight to the bedroom.

2)    Keep the bedroom door open.

3)    Briefly check under the bed and in the closet for “monsters.”

4)    Offer lots of physical reassurance when a child wakes up scared.

5)    Give the child a special blanket or toy to keep him or her company.

6)    Make sure the child is following a regular sleep routine. Keep the routine upbeat and soothing.

7)    Pray with your child before he or she goes to bed and ask God to give him or her sweet dreams. Remind your child that angels watch over him or her.

8)    Explain that a dream is just a story in the child’s head and that the child can change the ending if he or she wants to do so. Sometimes just talking about a new ending to the scary dream can help.

9)    Don’t allow the child to come to your bed for the night. This is a difficult habit to break if you start it. Simply reassure the child, rub his or her back, pray and stay until he or she calms down.

10)  Identify reasons for him or her to feel anxious or out of control.  Make sure the culprit isn’t watching scary media. It took me years to get over the flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz!

 

468734_teen_talkA new government survey on teens and health risk behaviors has been released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) looks at six types of health risk behaviors that contribute to leading causes of death and disability. The National Risk Behavior Survey was given to over 13,000 high schoolers in 2013 and noted the following:

1)   If you think your message to not text and drive is falling on deaf ears, you may be right. 41.4% of teens admitting they are texting or emailing while driving a car despite all the directives to not text and drive.

2)   Smoking marijuana, having sex and heavy TV watching have not decreased among teens in the past two years.

3)   Students report spending more time in front of computers. That means more sedentary behavior!

4)   Students also are more likely to carry a gun, not necessarily to school, but reported carrying a gun at least once in a 30-day period.

5)   Cigarette smoking is seeing a decline. This is important in that smoking remains the leading cause of preventable fatal disease. But more kids are trying e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, thinking these are safe alternatives. They are not!

6)   Teen drinking ranges from 11% (Utah) to 39.3% (New Jersey) in others. Underage drinking remains a problem.

7)   Use of hard drugs like heroin, cocaine, etc. has fallen, but marijuana use remains about the same (23.4%). And the next survey in 2015 will factor in the rising legalization of pot in several states.

8)   Condom use has dropped slightly even thought sexual activity is reported to be about the same (46.8%).

9)   Since questions about electronic bullying were added in 2011, teens report a drop from 16.2% to 14.8%, but also reported a rise in feeling unsafe at school.

10)  Finally, teens report a slight rise in suicidal feelings. We have to do better when it comes to identifying teens at risk for suicide and depression.