Carrying the Wounds of Emotional Abuse

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This post originally appeared on Biblical Counseling for Women.

by Marie Notcheva

“Brenda” was married for 22 years to a man who constantly criticized her. “Are you sure you should be eating that? You are too fat!” He would over-control every aspect of her day, to the point she felt like his slave. Finally, one night in a drunken stupor, he told her “Get out! I cannot live with such a fat, ugly wife anymore.”

“Donna” never remembers her parents hugging her, or telling her that they loved her growing up. Her father and brother started calling her a cruel nickname to taunt her: “hopeless, helpless and useless.” For years, she walked with her head down – ashamed to make eye contact with anyone.

“Anna” was in love with a young man – who was in love with himself. Angry outbursts; threats to “leave” and erratic, self-centered behavior came to be the norm for Ana. “He’s just a ‘complicated’ person,” she would rationalize. “I know that he loves me!”

Although they were never hit or beaten, these three women shared something in common: they were emotionally abused. This kind of pain lasts much longer than the bruises of being hit, and can only be forgiven and healed with the help and hope of Christ.

What does the Bible say about abuse?

Abuse literally means to mistreat someone, although we often think of ‘abuse’ as being merely physical. Mistreatment or abuse of other people is sinful for two reasons: firstly, because humans are created in the image of God; and secondly, because abuse is always motivated by selfishness and results in damage and destruction. People abuse others for a variety of reasons, but selfishness underlies all abuse. When we mishandle anger, it leads to an abusive, sinful response. The heart issue is rooted in pride: putting one’s self above another; disregarding his or her feelings; and ignoring the command of God to love one another (John 13:34; Luke 6:31). The Bible strongly condemns abusing or cheating others (Exodus 22:22; Isaiah 10:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:6), and in fact, 1 John 4:20 calls a person who claims to love God but abuses (hates) another a “liar”.

Examples of emotional abuse include verbal attacks, destructive criticism, manipulation, lying, threats, and withholding affection. These toxic relationships affect the victim’s ability to trust others and enjoy healthy relationships in the future.

Within the Family

The most common form of emotional abuse is verbal – and the effects of hurtful words linger for years. Parents sometimes underestimate the destructive power of words spoken in anger, or the ability of children to remember destructive criticism for decades. The Bible warns fathers (and by implication, mothers) against embittering their children by the way they treat them (Ephesians 6:4, Colossians 3:21). Being repeatedly shamed by their parents or being held to an impossibly-high standard often causes children to view God as a distant or cruel task-master. Biblical counselor David Powlinson quotes a woman he counseled in “Life Beyond Your Parents’ Mistakes”:

“For years I thought I could never know God as my Father because I had such a rotten relationship with my dad. But then I came to realize that my biggest problem was me, not God or my father. My belief system was all messed up. I was projecting lies onto God and not believing what was true about him!” Sally began to feed her faith with the truth that God the Father is faithful, merciful, and consistent. He patiently worked with her, disciplining her and teaching her to know the merciful, generous truth about him. Sally saw that her view of God was not caused by her life experience but by what her own heart had done with her experience of being wronged.”

The Silent Marriage-Killer

God’s plan for a happy married life that honors Him is best laid out in Ephesians 5, where husbands are instructed to love their wives sacrificially – and wives are to submit to their husbands out of respect for their spiritual authority. Sadly, many spouses – even Christian ones – are living in a reality far different. When a woman is beaten, her plight is less likely to go unnoticed and the Church (as well as police) may become involved. Emotional abuse, while just as painful, is much harder to detect. Even her closest friends may not know, because the victim is conditioned into believing it is deserved or is somehow her (or his) fault. Shame is a crippling effect of abuse of all types.

What makes verbal abuse so damaging is that it is intentional. The power of one’s words over another must not be minimized. The Bible tells us “the power of life and death is in the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21) and that the tongue, while small, can “set a forest on fire” (James 3:5). Instead of encouraging and building up, abusive spouses humiliate and tear down with their words. Constant and personal criticism; power plays; and intimidation destroys trust and intimacy.

There are several types of emotional abusers in marriage and romantic relationships. Let’s look briefly at three.

The Tyrant

Tyrants hold power over their subjects by fear and intimidation. The most common form of emotional abuse they use is verbal – a constant stream of insults, put-down, threats and even false accusations to achieve their ends. A tyrant is usually a very angry person, believing he/she deserves more than what God has sovereignly provided. A woman married to a tyrannical husband often lives in fear, as his temper may be volatile and unpredictable.

The Manipulator

“Manipulators suck time and energy out of your life under the façade of friendship. They can be tricky to deal with because they treat you like a friend, but have a hidden agenda. Manipulators always want something from you, and if you look back on your relationships with them, it’s all take, take, take, with little or no giving. They’ll do anything to win you over just so they can work you over.” (Dr. Travis Bradberry, Ph.d)

Manipulation is often more obvious to people outside the relationship than it is to the person being abused in this way. The person being manipulated wants desperately to believe she is loved, but the manipulator uses others only so long as he can gain something from the relationship.

The Narcissist

The narcissist is incapable of loving anyone but herself. She has a delusional, inflated view of her own achievements and character; a legend in her own mind who deserves the adulation of others. In 2 Timothy 3, Paul warns Timothy of those within the Church who act out of an attitude of “self-love”. He describes narcissists as “lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”

Narcissists do not form healthy relationships, because they are utterly self-absorbed and lack empathy (or interest) in other people.

Christ’s Response to Abusers

All types of emotional abuse are rooted in pride and selfish desires (James 4:1), and create shame in their victims. Christians who have been hurt (whether by parents; dating relationships; or in marriage) feel the sting of harsh words and betrayal just as strongly as anyone, but if we turn to the Bible, we see that Christ Himself was no stranger to verbal abuse and harassment. We have in Him a Divine Friend Who truly understands. A quick read of the Gospel of John, in particular, demonstrates the extreme patience and perseverance of our Lord under unrelenting verbal attacks and criticism.
Long before Calvary, Jesus bore hateful attacks, sneers, and unjust criticism. Literally no good deed was left unpunished, and Scripture records at least two other attempts on His life (by stoning; for alleged blasphemy). After one such attack, Jesus heals a blind beggar – unasked – on His way out of town. The man is then excommunicated from the Synagogue for bearing witness to Christ, and Jesus then goes out of His way to find him.

Think on THAT the next time you’re tempted to slide into self-pity!

John records one verbal barrage after another against the One Who came to save His attackers. My jaw drops at the amount of hostility Jesus put up with… including a barely-veiled insult implying that He was illegitimate (John 8:41b). And how does He respond? Righteously, by calling out the sin and hypocrisy of His critics – but also graciously, by calling them to repentance. Right up until Wednesday of Passion Week, two days before His humiliating execution, we see Jesus in the temple courts – preaching, persuading, imploring those who despised Him to come unto Him.

While we know that Christ was, and is, fully human as well as fully divine, I can’t help but wonder if the rejection and attacks hurt Him in the same way we would experience emotional pain. Usually, when our feelings are hurt, it is a personal slight – not God’s honor and glory – that has been wounded. Yet the only time we see Jesus getting angry in the Gospels is when His Father’s honor has been compromised. The personal attacks seem to roll off His shoulders, and He is consistently willing, ready and able to overlook the offense and forgive. His continual call to repentance is just that – an invitation to lavish grace and undeserved forgiveness.

The Role of the Church

We certainly see the model of quiet submission and forgiveness Christ gives us in the Bible, and turn to Him for comfort in all afflictions – including abuse. However, the “one-another” care and correction we humans need happens in community, which is His Church. The local church has been entrusted with elders, deacons, and godly women serving one another and speaking into one another’s lives. Here is where healing can begin.

While a woman enduring marital abuse may be encouraged by reading 1 Peter’s instruction to “endure suffering patiently”, if she does not lovingly confront her husband’s abuse, she is enabling him to continue in sin. Speaking up can be frightening, but abuse, whether physical or emotional, is a sin which affects the Body of Christ. If the husband is a Christian, the Elders of the local church are in the best position to speak to him privately about how to love his wife “as Christ loved the Church” (Ephesians 5:25) and help him deal with his anger in a God-honoring way. The same is true for other abusive scenarios – the discipleship and accountability provided by small groups (or private pastoral counseling) can help break the cycle of abuse, and allow all persons involved to forgive, grow spiritually, and heal.

Jesus cares for His followers and has laid down His life to demonstrate His love for them (1 Peter 5:7). He will most assuredly comfort, vindicate, and heal them; both through the power of the Holy Spirit, and by the Church family He has created to be His hands and feet.

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Using Technology Wisely: When Remote Counseling is the Only Option (Part II)

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“This article (Using Technology Wisely: When Remote Counseling is the Only Option (Part II) by Marie Notcheva) originally appeared on the Biblical Counseling Coalition website.

In the first part of this series, we looked at some of the limitations of cyber-counseling and how to conduct these sessions most effectively. All else being equal, is cyber-counseling as effective as “the real thing”? With all caveats aside, is it really equal to in-person counseling in the local church? There are varying opinions. Some biblical counselors, like Lucy Ann Moll (lucyannmoll.com), have set up entire ministries around connecting to clients online.

Lucy has done premarital counseling with a Hong Kong real-estate heiress, counseled former gang members in Chicago, and helped numerous women around the world walk more closely with God. While she does encourage women to first seek out a qualified counselor in their area, she believes that biblical counsel can also be effective through video conferencing programs. “It’s convenient, and the Internet has opened doors to many people in nations without access to biblical counseling,” she points out. She has counseled women in Cambodia, Sweden, the UK, Hong Kong, Switzerland and Australia, as well as the US. Others have counseled in the Middle East and even China.

When Cyber-Counsel is the Only Option

There are a number of valid reasons why counseling may be sought remotely. Missionaries serving abroad can benefit from real-time counseling with their home churches (even if they are trained biblical counselors themselves). For example, one American missionary in India benefits from weekly premarital counseling sessions with the pastor at his home church.

In addition, many good churches do not have the resources or sufficiently trained personnel to provide a counseling ministry. A Christian may live too far away from any trained biblical counselor to meet in person. This is especially true for believers outside of the United States. I have counseled many young women with eating disorders in Eastern Europe, for example, and subsequently referred them to doctrinally sound local churches for discipleship.

Connection to a Local Church is Crucial

Where there is a great geographical distance between the counselor and the counselee, the counselee may not take the counseling process very seriously. Thus, an important way to help them be discipled adequately and grow in Christ is to urge attendance at a local church and to be known to their pastor.

One counselee, in Sydney, Australia, resisted her counselor’s advice to attend a local church – claiming that there were none in the area. After a few sessions, it became apparent that the woman just wanted to tell her story of how she had been wronged. She did not follow through with homework (which were to be e-mailed to the counselor prior to the start of each session). Sometimes, the counselor would do the homework with her – during the actual Skype session, if it was an assignment that allowed for it. However, when it became clear that the woman was not willing to initiate godly change in her life, the counselor felt compelled to terminate the sessions. “I wasn’t going to play the self-pity game,” she says.

A Successful Case Study: “Julie’s” Plight

Notwithstanding the challenges, there have been countless stories of people who have been helped and achieved lasting change with the assistance of an online counselor. One dramatic turn-around happened in the life of a West Coast woman, pregnant with three small children, who had to flee from an abusive husband. “Julie” had heard about Lucy through a mutual friend who had counseled in person with her. Lucy first heard Julie’s cry for help over the phone, and soon they began regular telephone counseling sessions. “We had a lot of good conversations, in which I was able to get a lot of details about the abuse from her husband,” Lucy notes. In an emergency situation, Julie reached a point where she had to take the children and flee the home. She went to the Midwest, where she had family – and commenced Skype counseling with Lucy while getting involved in a local church.

The combination of online counseling and involvement in a local church was what greatly aided Julie in applying the Scriptures to her life – and turning it around. When accountability to a church is absent, things often don’t work out so smoothly. “Often counselees who are not in a church have left a church,” Lucy says. “The question then becomes why. Some people, for example, are afraid it would be unsafe to tell anyone in church they are depressed, lest they be ‘judged’.”

A Former Gang Member’s Testimony

The anonymity of the Internet often is exactly what hurting people will use to reach out for help. Often people will not turn to a pastor or small group leader, but will speak to a Skype counselor. Lucy tells the story of “Beth,” a young woman who joined a Chicago gang in college for a sense of belonging. Following a horrific gang initiation (essentially gang-rape), unimaginable violence and sexual abuse followed. Beth would point the camera down, at her feet when she divulged these details to Lucy. Her shame was so great that she would not show her face, even through a computer monitor. At the same time, however, Beth desperately wanted someone to hear her story – and talking to Lucy in this way was the only way to get it out. At the time, she could not tell anyone at her church. The subject was so sensitive that it demanded distance, until Beth was able to work through the issues of neglect and sin that had affected her childhood and adolescence. Beth now attends a gospel-preaching church and has grown greatly there. “I see this as a ‘graduation’ of sorts—seeing counselees plugged into a church body,” Lucy says. She now shares her testimony at church to help point others to the Wonderful Counselor.

Of course, anonymity also makes it easier to retreat, and we looked at the problem of ongoing accountability in Part I. Used wisely, technology can be a great advantage and gift from God that allows us to speak into another person’s life – even for a limited amount of time.

For a fuller discussion of using technology to the glory of God, see Marie Notcheva’s book, Plugged In: Proclaiming Christ in the Internet Age (Pure Water Press).

In-house or Plugged In? The Advantages and Drawbacks of Cyber-Counseling (Part I)

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This article (In-house or Plugged In? The Advantages and Drawbacks of Cyber-Counseling (Part I) by Marie Notcheva) originally appeared on the Biblical Counseling Coalition website.

As biblical counseling becomes more widespread (and the world becomes smaller, due to technology), more and more counseling centers are choosing to “specialize” in remote counseling.[1] Let’s consider the case for and against counseling through video chat (or over the phone) and a few pointers to make sessions as profitable as possible.

Bringing the Counselor to You

The convenience of remote counseling is obvious – many believers do not live within driving distance of a church with a counseling ministry. One biblical counselor in the Midwest who specializes in cyber-counsel says, “One woman in a Western state lived on a ranch, and the closest church was 60 miles away. Although she and her husband were part of a church, when a counseling matter arose, it was hugely beneficial to be able to speak to me.” There are also times when counselees are prevented from getting to their appointments due to snowfall or other inclement weather, or due to being on vacation or on business trips. In addition, for the disabled or those prevented from going to church for geographical reasons, cyber-counseling is an advantage.

Desire for Anonymity

Even where access to a biblical counseling ministry may be available, in many cases, a believer will turn first to a search engine to seek information and/or counsel for a spiritual battle because of the anonymity of the Internet. In such cases, which I have experienced many times in my communication with eating-disordered women, my first suggestion is that a woman speak confidentially with her pastor (or pastor’s wife, in some cases.) The exhortation and accountability she needs to be truly transformed should be sought first in her local church – even though it is often more difficult to “come clean” about weaknesses to those who know us well. Furthermore, contacting an online counselor may be the first step a person can lead to getting connected to a church where he or she can grow.

Despite its many conveniences and advantages, there are some very real cautions to consider in cyber-counseling. One of the first things to consider is why the person is seeking cyber-counseling, especially if there is a church ministry or center with in-person counseling available to him or her. There are sometimes valid reasons, but it is also common for the counselee who isn’t as invested in the process to choose Skype over in-person counseling.

Lack of Accountability in Cyber-Counseling

For biblical counseling to be successful, the one receiving counsel must be committed to doing the hard work of biblical change. In the first session, the counselor must give hope, as well as obtain a commitment from the counselee to the process. We hold the counselee accountable and expect to see progress. When the counselee is not physically meeting with the counselor week after week, completed homework in hand, there is less motivation to do the assignments. Or sessions can be conveniently skipped because the counselee “forgot” to log on to Skype at a certain time. The ongoing accountability so necessary for counseling to be successful simply is harder in an online set-up.

“Halo Data” and Technical Limitations

When a counselee arrives for the first session, there is much information the counselor can observe about the individual and even about the problem for which the person is seeking help. Most of this “halo data” is completely lost when counseling remotely. Even with a webcam, the session is not as natural as it would be in person. The counselee can feel “poised,” almost as if performing, even in the absence of any technical difficulties (which can often interrupt a counseling session done by video conferencing).

Skype and e-mail can be used if the counselee is willing to take the process seriously, rather than just “vent” and disappear. In addition, there are a few other considerations to keep in mind for successful cyber-counseling encounters:

  • Set a regular, definite time for counseling sessions and do not deviate from it. This will help the counselee view the sessions as “real counseling” and not just an opportunity to informally chat.
  • Request that Personal Data Inventory forms be completed and either scanned or mailed back to you before you conduct the first counseling session. These contain vital information you need in order to ask the right data-gathering questions and set the agenda for counseling. Without them, the first session may turn into an informal chat session, which will set the tone for sessions to follow.
  • If using a webcam, avoid setting it up in the living room or other high-traffic area of your home where children or pets may pass through. This will detract from the professional and calm atmosphere you need for effective counseling, and it will distract both of you.
  • Assign homework and expect the counselee to complete it. Failure to do homework is a sure sign the person does not consider “virtual counseling” to be as serious as in-person sessions.
  • Wherever possible, involve the counselee’s pastor in the counseling process. If you are counseling someone remotely, it is unlikely that you will be supervised by anyone in your church (or counseling center). It is even less likely that the counselee will be updating his pastor about what the two of you are discussing. If appropriate, ask permission to contact family members for their input into a situation.
  • Be sure that the counselee’s spouse and pastor know that she is speaking to you, and that they know why. It is not necessary to share details with them about the case (with some exceptions, for example if the counselee threatens to commit suicide), but those closest to the counselee might need to know the “big picture.”

In Part II of this series, we will consider some case studies of successful cyber-counseling sessions when it was the only option available.

[1] Please see Chapters 4 and 5 of my book, Plugged In: Proclaiming Christ in the Internet Age for a more in-depth look at the use of technology in biblical counseling.

Si të jesh më social në median sociale

Nga Afrim Karoshi, për “Ilira Revista”

Kid_Social_MediaNjerëzit duan ta shkëmbejnë vetveten. Duan të njohin e të njihen. Që në zanafillë e botës, të paktën nga këndvështrimi biblik, nuk ishte mirë për Adamin të rrinte vetëm. Kur Zoti i dhuroi gruan atij, përtej dhënies së bashkëshortes u përmbush edhe nevoja e Adamit për të qenë vazhdimisht në praninë e të ngjashmit.

Rrjetet sociale të kohës sonë rrjedhin prej kësaj nevoje të brendshme tonën. Të duash të jesh afër njerëzve, nuk është diçka e re. Por të rrish afër njerëzve përmes Facebook­ut, e ku ti shkruan në njërën anë, e dikush tjetër lidhet me ty përmes asaj që shkruan nga ana tjetër e botës (qyteti yt mund të duket fundi i botës!), kjo është e re.

A e përmbush ky realitet teknologjik “ëndrrën” e kahershme – që prej krijimit të botës madje – të një lidhjeje të patëmetë mes nesh?

Është e zakonshme pritshmëria e disave që teknologjia mundëson një realitet, ku nuk ka vuajtje e dhimbje, ku jeta është më e mirë, në kufijtë e së përsosurës. Ndonjëherë, kjo pritshmëri nuk shqiptohet qartë, por në sfond bie në sy. Kur rrjetet sociale u bënë të famshme në botë, sidomos Facebook­u e Twitter­i, u duk se përfundimisht muret e ndarjes mes njerëzve u shembën.

Lidhemi me të tjerët përtej kontinentit, por ende jemi të vetmuar. Marrim informacion me bollëk, por shumë më tepër sesa përtypim, që të mund të përfitojmë prej tij.

Në vijim do të ofroj disa mendime se si ta përdorim kontekstin e ri të komunikimit për të shkuar përtej dukjes, drejt marrëdhënieve të shëndosha. Një njohje e mirë e karakteristikave të kon
tekstit të ri na jep mundësinë të shkëmbejmë më mirë me njëri­tjetrin.

Konteksti, konteksti, konteksti… i munguar

Cili është ndryshimi mes dy njerëzve që flasin përballë njërit­tjetrit në tavolinë, nën aromën e fortë të një kafeje ekspres, dhe kur flasin nga rehatia e shtëpive të tyre, duke përdorur chat­in në Facebook?

Informacion tejçohet, apo jo? Por informacioni nuk është vetëm “fjalë”. Kur dikush thotë “të dua!”, fjalët ndryshojnë kuptim kur shoqërohen me një skuqje të lehtë fytyre, me sy të ndriçuar, dhe me zërin që dridhet.

Krejt natyrshëm e lexojmë kontekstin, sa ndonjëherë, në statusin e dikujt në Facebook, lexojmë edhe mimikën e shkruesit. Por duhet të kujtojmë që në një tekst të shkruar në Facebook ka vetëm fjalë. Dhe tani për tani, kaq mund të ketë! S’mund t’u veshim fjalëve kontekstin e komunikimit që paramendojmë, sepse  është vështirë të dallosh vetëm nga fjalët edhe gjendjen shpirtërore të shkruesit.

Kohët e fundit, Facebook­u ka shtuar mundësinë që bashkë me statusin (informacion) të shtojmë edhe shprehjen e gjendjes emocionale rreth atij statusi, por, prapë, kjo nuk e zëvendëson nevojën tonë për të lexuar “për së gjalli” botën emocionale të dikujt.

Të mendohem apo të flas?

Mërziteshim me dikë, dikur! Më parë, kur s’kishte Facebook e celularë, sipas largësisë orë të tëra hapësire lëndimi na ndanin nga të tjerët. Minutat kalonin e zjarri i zemërimit shuhej deri në çastin e përballjes. Kishim kohë t’i përzgjidhnim fjalët më me kujdes sesa në fillim të grindjes. Sot, nëse lëndohemi, mund t’ia bëjmë të ditur personit lëndimin në harkun e 10 sekondave. Njerëzit janë një mesazh telefonik (SMS) larg! Na duhet më shumë kohë të mendohemi rreth mesazhit, sesa ta shkruajmë atë!

Duhet të ruhemi nga reagimi “flakë për flakë”. Lehtësia e mundësisë për të reaguar mund të na bëjë më pak “socialë”. Unë, pas disa përvojave “të dhimbshme”, përpiqem të mos reagoj për çështje “acaruese” në Facebook. Më ndihmon të bluaj mendimet përpara se të flas.

Në internet “mëkatet nuk lahen”

Një imazh në internet është pothuajse e pamundur të fshihet. Një herë, pa u menduar, postova pa leje një artikull, ku përmendeshin emrat e disa miqve të mi. M’u deshën tri ditë punë për të hequr emrat e tyre nga lista e kërkimit në Google kur kuptova që miqtë dëmtoheshin nga artikulli. Ia dola! Por në parim, pasi “hedhim gurin, nuk e fshehim dot dorën”.Çfarë do të mendojnë të afërmit tanë kur shohin fotografitë? Çfarë ndikimi do të ketë imazhi ynë publik pas 5 vitesh kur të jemi duke konkurruar për një rol publik?

Edhe më shumë duhet të mendohemi kur flasim për imazhin e fëmijëve në internet. Çfarë do të mendojnë fëmijët kur, të rritur, të shikojnë veten?
Si do të ndikohet karriera e tyre? A do të ndiejnë siklet kur të shikojnë veten, bebe të zhytura në vaska uji? Fëmijët e mi po hidhen në dekadën e dytë të jetës. Kam filluar t’u kërkoj miratim për fotot dhe deklaratat e tyre, që dua t’i bëj publike.

Beso e kontrollo

“Problemi me citimet nga interneti është që nuk mund të kesh garanci në saktësinë e tyre”. Në rrjetet sociale, thënia e mësipërme i atribuohet në mënyrë ironike Abraham Linkolnit, i cili dihet që s’ka jetuar në epokën e internetit.

Saktësia e informacionit nuk është pika e fortë e rrjeteve sociale. Marrim lajme shpejt, por edhe marrim lajme të rreme më shumë. Përmes miqve të mi në Facebook, u njoha me historinë e një pastori, i cili e vizitoi kishën e tij i veshur si i pastrehë dhe gjatë vizitës vuri re që anëtarët e kishës, që në raste të tjera përbetoheshin për bindje të plotë ndaj Zotit, nuk e mirëpritën. Historia u bë një “hit” në rrjetet sociale.

Problemi? Një kërkim jo shumë i mundimshëm zbulon që historia nuk është e vërtetë. Pastori nuk ekziston. E as kisha e tij 10­mijëanëtarëshe nuk gjendet. Edhe përrallat na mësojnë. Por na mësojnë më shumë kur e dimë që janë përralla. Ndaj duhet të jemi të ndjeshëm ndaj përhapjes së informacionit që nuk është i saktë.

Të predikoj apo të dëgjoj?

Rrjetet sociale janë ndërtuar për ndërveprim. Në Twitter kemi 140 shkronja për të komunikuar. Në Facebook, pasi ke vendosur një postim, miqtë tanë kanë mundësi të na bëjnë “LIKE”, të na kundërshtojnë, të na miratojnë mendimin pjesërisht, edhe diskutimi mund të vazhdojë, derisa të shkruajmë një status tjetër!

Por nëse duam të shkruajmë një roman, e them me dhimbje këtë për ne që pëlqejmë të shprehemi gjerë e gjatë, duhet t’u rrimë larg rrjeteve sociale.

Që të mund të komunikojmë mirë, është mirë të shkruajmë shkurt. Dhe të përgatitemi të ndërveprojmë me njerëzit. Vështirë se mund të ndikojmë të tjerët me Lajmin e Mirë të Ungjillit të Krishtit duke ua përplasur në fytyrë “miqve” tanë të gjithë historinë biblike, nga fillimi në fund. Në të kundërt, duhet të përpiqemi t’i bëjmë miqtë tanë të mendojnë, të diskutojnë, e kështu përmes shkëmbimit të ideve, të gjithë bashkë, të mësojmë nga njëri­tjetri për ta dashur Zotin më mirë.

Dhe për ne që duam të ndikojmë, rrjetet sociale janë vendi më i mirë, jo për të folur, por për të dëgjuar!

Si të mbledh mendjen?

Disa studime thonë që mesatarja e kohës së përqendrimit është 5 sekonda. 10 vite më përpara ishte 12 minuta. Ndikimi i rrjeteve sociale ka sjellë këtë ndryshim dramatik. Thuhet që dëmet e shkaktuara nga mungesa e përqendrimit shkojnë në 1.6 miliardë sterlina në Britaninë e Madhe. A e ke vënë re, si unë, nevojën për të kontrolluar postën elektronike çdo minutë? A të ndodh, si edhe mua, që kalon orë të tëra në Facebook, duke lexuar rrjedhën e postimeve të 2­3 orëve të fundit? Si do të dukej dita nëse ke harruar celularin në shtëpi? Si ndihesh kur nuk i përgjigjesh një telefonate? Këto janë pyetje me të cilat testoj aftësinë time për t’u shpërqendruar. Disa e kanë zgjidhur këtë dilemë duke hequr dorë fare nga rrjetet sociale. Por ky reagim 180­gradësh është pothuajse i pamundur. Unë përpiqem të kem orare të planifikuara, ku lë mënjanë telefonin, kompjuterin e çdo pajisje tjetër teknologjike që më fton në ndërveprim. Një kohë “pushimi” periodike ndihmon të çlodhësh mendjen edhe të ndërveprosh më frytshëm me të tjerët. Vini re: po përpiqem!

Egoizmi

Si në çdo fushë tjetër, prirja jonë e natyrshme për t’u fokusuar më shumë te vetja sesa te të tjerët, del në pah edhe në rrjetet sociale. Egoizmi shkatërron jo vetëm marrëdhëniet reale por edhe ato virtuale. Shumë prej nesh jemi të lënduar që të tjerët s’na kuptojnë, s’na ndjekin, s’bien dakord gjithmonë me opinionet tona të mirëmenduara…

Në fund të fundit, edhe në hapësirën e pamasë të rrjeteve sociale, ndërsa shijojmë lirinë që kemi për të thënë botës çfarë të duam, kur të duam, shembulli i Jezusit, i cili hoqi dorë nga liria e tij për t’ju shërbyer të tjerëve, është modeli më i mirë i komunikimit… jo vetëm për hapësirën virtuale!

 

Review: David Powlinson’s “Life Beyond Your Parents’ Mistakes”

by Marie Notcheva ©

David Powlinson is a well-known CCEF counselor, writer and speaker at biblical counseling conferences. Also a member of the Board of ACBC (formerly NANC), he has produced many books, presentations and mini-books on a variety of practical topics. Along with Ed Welch’s writing, I find Powlinson’s material to be extremely helpful…not just as a biblical counselor in training, but for my own personal edification.

CCEF’s publishing arm, New Growth Press, made a download available of Powlinson’s “Life Beyond Your Parents’ Mistakes: The Transforming Power of God’s Love“. In the 32-page booklet, Powlinson deconstructs the Freudian myth that human beings cannot experience God as Father without having had a loving, nurturing father figure. It is just such reasoning that has led to unhealthy dependency on the counselor, which often accompanies psychology-based therapy. This view also promotes the myth that“re-parenting or corrective emotional experience” is needed in order to know God as He is. It also begs the questions Powlinson raises:

“Are there any people with bad parents who have a great relationship with God? Are there any people with good parents who have a rotten view of God?”

Powlinson uses Scripture to counter this man-centric reasoning, which distorts the nature of the human heart and the reasons why people believe lies about God. Seeing God through the lens of an abusive, remote, or disinterested parent denies the power and truth of how God actually works through His Word and Spirit. Axiomatically, insisting that one must first experience a corrective human relationship to believe the reality of God’s fatherly love is essentially to turn Almighty God into an almighty psychotherapist.

It is a sad fact that those of us who had abusive parents (especially of the “religious” variety) often project those images onto the true God. There is a hurt and a betrayal that doesn’t just go away the moment we became Christians, and Powlinson acknowledges this. However, having sinful (or even evil) parents, of course, does not mean God is that way, so why do we often twist our view of God? Powlinson doesn’t let us off so easily – and his clear, compassionate but uncompromisingly biblical angle makes us sit up and listen.

Other titles by which God identifies Himself include King, Shepherd, Master, and Savior. If human equivalents of these descriptions are corrupt, does that influence the way we see God? Not usually. Powlinson writes:

“Clearly, our fallen experience need not control us. Yet for many, the truth that “God is Father” seems to be the exception. They do feel that their knowledge of God the Father is controlled by the earthly parallel. So we turn to the second question: Must your own father dictate the meaning of that phrase until a substitute human father puts a new spin on it?”

This backwards, create-your-own-god philosophy comes from Freud and Erikson, not the Bible, and caters to our sinful tendency to find excuses and reasons for unbelief. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are prone to look for excuses and blame outside ourselves for our false beliefs and sinful behavior.

As with any false belief or assumption, this view of God as remote, severe or capricious must be countered with Scripture itself – the living and active Sword of the Spirit, and the only way God has chosen to reveal Himself to us. Powlinson points out that we change when we see what God tells us about Himself, as portrayed in Isaiah 49:13-16 (a nurturing Comforter); Psalm 103:10-13 (compassionate Father); and 1 Thessalonians 2:7-12 (gentle, encouraging and comforting Father). Ultimately, the sacrificial love of Christ in coming to die for rebellious children displays the pinnacle of what God’s fatherly love is – an historical fact from which counselees often feel disconnected.

Of course, these are only a very small sample of all the Scriptures revealing God as the perfect Father; one of the specific steps Powlinson recommends the reader take is to go through the Bible, finding specific truths that contend with the lies and cravings he identifies in his thinking about God. “There ought to be a battle going on within you daily as God’s light and love battle your darkness,” he advises.

This booklet is extremely helpful not only in defining the problem, but also in countering it on biblical terms and pointing the reader back towards the only source of truth and help – the Word of God – for the solution. Additionally, in true biblical counselor form, Powlinson leaves the reader with nine well-thought-out, probing questions to work through in order to identify and change warped thinking about God, due to parental abuse or poor relationship. I plan to tackle them myself, and expect it will take me at least three months to fully explore and resolve them. God desires His children to know Him as He is, not to view Him through the warped lens of fallen humanity! This little book is a helpful, convicting resource to help Christians struggling with a “dysfunctional” past not to use that as an excuse to keep God at arm’s length. I highly recommend it for counselors and counselees alike.