In most cases of marriage counseling, communication is something that needs to be worked on for both parties. When the couple is able and willing to apply this simple technique to how they communicate with each other, their intimacy and love for each other increases and changes the perspective they came into marriage counseling with.
I believe when we are in healthy relationships with our spouse, God uses each of us to heal and challenge each party to grow in areas we may never experience outside of marriage. As iron sharpens iron as it is stated in Proverbs 27:17, partners challenge each other to stretch, get out of our comfort zones, and grow in ways we never thought we needed or wanted to in the first place.
By learning to listen to our partner we are able to become a source of strength and love for our spouse. We learn to demonstrate a love that is selfless and compassionate, and a love based off of a choice to love and not a feeling. We then demonstrate love that is committed to seeing us through, to celebrate with us as we continue to grow into the person God has created in each of us to be.
So how to we listen to love?
When we are the listener, we are just that THE LISTENER, which requires NO WORDS on our part. Our job is to LISTEN to what the other person is saying from THEIR SHOES. It is NOT our time to wait to be able to rebuttal, it is our time to be SELFLESS and choose to understand why our spouse thinks and feels the way THEY do. When the speaker is done talking, it is then our job to ask, "so what I hear you saying is..." and then followed by "is that what you are saying?" If the answer is NO, from our spouse, then we have not listened well and it is their time again to repeat what they said for us to listen. Until your spouse FEELS HEARD, it is our job to ONLY LISTEN.
Now that your spouse has felt heard in what they have said, then they take on the role as the listener with the same guidelines. Your job as THE SPEAKER is to keep your statement BREIF. Do not go on and on or continue to repeat the same point in an effort to be heard. This may be the pattern of communication you have created in the past, but it is the pattern we are trying to replace with ACTIVE LISTENING. When you are the SPEAKER your job is also to communicate in ONLY "I" MESSAGES, and NOT "you" messages. As soon as someone uses a "you" message, the other party is immediately put on defense and is not going to listen to what you are saying without feeling threatened by you. If the other person is the source of your concern or contention within your statement you can say things like "I feel _____ because_____". This will help the listener be able to hear without feeling like they have to defend themselves, and will be able to focus on putting themselves in your shoes to understand and make you feel heard.
This may seem like a juvenile task, but it is only to be used as a tool to begin a better communication pattern, and only to be used until you are able to both feel heard. It is worth the effort, and the results will follow, you just have to do the work to begin with!
If you need further assistance and would like to schedule an appointment via telehealth with Pastor Jen you can do so here: Scheduling
Self esteem is the belief system that we choose to believe about ourself! We can have low self esteems, or high self esteems, but the baseline for our belief system should be founded in God and what He thinks of us first!
I have not always had this God perspective for myself, and it was a lesson I had to learn over time as I took each thought captive and replaced my old ways of thinking with what God thought of me!
God showed me one day in prayer to see myself the way He sees me, as if looking through a set of glasses! What I imagined that day was a pair of glasses that were filthy and hard to see through from all of the false messages I was looking through about myself.
It took time to be able to see clearly, with each message of my belief system I compared to God and who He created me to be! These are some of the messages I learned along the way about my own belief system, what are beliefs about yourself that God wants you to change for yourself?
Would God really make junk?
Answer: No, God doesn't make junk.
Was I really created to be taken advantage of by men?
Answer: No, God wants me to be loved and cherished.
Was I really alone when I felt like I was?
Answer: No, God is always with me and pursuing me even when I don't feel Him
by my side.
Did I really need others approval in order to feel good about myself?
Answer: No, I am totally accepted by God and I no longer have to fear
rejection. (from Search for Significance)
Did I really have to meet certain standards in order to feel good about myself?
Answer: No, because I am completely forgiven by and fully pleasing to God, I no
longer have to fear failure. (from Search for Significance)
Did I really believe that those who fail (including myself) are unworthy of love and
deserve to be punished?
Answer: No, because I am deeply loved by God, I no longer have to fear
punishment or punish others. (from Search for Significance)
Did I really want to believe that I am what I am, I cannot change, I am hopeless?
Answer: No, because I have been made brand-new, complete in Christ, I no
longer need to experience the pain of shame. (from Search for Significance)
I'm sure if you are like most of us, you believe or have believed something similar to one or more of these false beliefs. Now the question is what do you do with it? Do you continue to choose to view yourself the way the world does, or do you choose to start to believe the truth about who God has made you and become unstoppable? The choice is yours!
I have moved so many times I have stopped counting. Some have criticized me for moving over the years, and I understand where they are coming from as stability is important. But my stability I have found through this process has been in knowing that I have always done what I thought what was best for me at the time, and following Jesus's voice since being saved!
Since meeting Travis, we have only moved after hearing God's voice to do so, not always understanding the why behind it. We have moved for school, or for ministry, and all of those adventures have lead us to this one. I can see now how each ministry position gave us the training we needed to launch Legacy Church. I can see now how each time we said yes in faith without being able to see what we were saying yes to, has given us strength to say yes again knowing God has always provided! I can see now that each move was a part of getting us here, and I am really excited to finally be able to see that.
Last May we moved from Springfield MO, after hearing God tell us to move to Alaska to start Legacy Church. Through that process, we could only find one home available for us to rent, while we were living in the lower 48. After three other homes said yes to us and then backing out, we were blessed to find the beautiful home we just moved out of. It just so happened to be in the vary valley I heard God say while we were on vacation in Alaska two years prior, that we would live there.
Now, a year after moving here, we began to look for a place to live in Anchorage, as the home we had signed a lease for last April was in Eagle River and a 30-45 min drive from the part of Anchorage we have been led to plant Legacy Church. We knew being in the community God has called us would be beneficial, but we still were willing to stay in our home in Eagle River if we needed to.
However, in less than 48 hours we found out we were not going to have a place to live in less than a month. During this time, we had been looking at a home that the closer we got to moving in felt like God was telling us to not move forward. So we let them know that we felt like God wanted them to sell instead of lease to us to be a blessing to them. As soon as we had that conversation we found out the house we were in was being put on the market and we had to move by the end of the month.
We had been working with a realtor for months to find a new home, but we could not find one in Anchorage that was available with our two huskies. We prayed God would give us a home, and at the vary same time did not know someone else was praying God would send them someone to rent their home. I felt God leading me to reach out to a friend so I did. Through that process God showed us that we were the answer to our new landlords prayer, and they were the answer to ours. The vary week we had no home in sight, they were praying for God to show up themselves.
Within a few hours we were able to sign a lease and put down the deposit needed to secure the PERFECT home for hosting our new church family! I'm so blessed this morning thinking about our first Team Night we hosted last night in this new home. How everything about it is exactly what we needed for our family and for our new church!
It's all about the journey, and trusting God along the way to provide for the vary thing He wants you to trust Him with! It takes stepping out on a limb and knowing the only person to catch you is God Himself! Through our obedience, and yours, God brings us to the vary blessings He wants for us! What is it in your life that God wants you to trust Him with? Is it your finances, your relationships, your home, your job, your family? Whatever it is, God knows, and so do you if you really think about it. My encouragement to you today, is to trust the God of the universe to do what He has promised! And be excited as you wait in expectation to finally see what that looks like when you are on the other side of your faith! Because you trusted God through your obedience to say yes when you couldn't see!!!
5 Signs of Emotional Abuse...
These are only 5 signs of emotional abuse. Emotional abuse is defined as verbal abuse: yelling at you, insulting you or swearing at you. Rejection: constantly rejecting your thoughts, ideas and opinions. Gaslighting: making you doubt your own feelings and thoughts, and even your sanity, by manipulating the truth.
When I meet someone as a counselor who is being emotionally abused, they usually have a low self esteem, doubt themselves, justify others actions and behaviors, take on all responsibilities in the relationship, believe they are responsible for others feelings and making them happy, have no personal boundaries for themselves, are afraid to implement boundaries to "keep the peace", and have lost sight of who THEY are, among others.
In one point in my life I had lost all sight of who I was, being known as "joyful Jen" in high school, I couldn't even remember the last time I had laughed. It is from this personal understanding that my passion to help others comes from. You may have answered yes to one or all of the the questions above. You may feel like there is no hope to have the fulfilling relationship you want with this person in your life. But I'm here to tell you, there is hope!
I have watched marriages and families heal from emotional abuse! It is not an easy undertaking, because it is not only admitting there is a problem and choosing to change it. There is a constant reapplying of new behaviors and beliefs to replace the old ways of communicating and thinking that take time to change. It starts with one person, with a conviction to choose to understand not only why you have allowed someone else to emotionally abuse you, but to also choose to understand why the other person in your life is operating this way themselves.
I have not met an emotional abuser that does not have the ability to change. The problem comes if they are not willing to, and in these situations it is in the best interest of the emotionally abused to leave the relationship. However, in my line of work, when I am able to help the emotional abuser see the "why" behind their own actions and beliefs, it is then when the relationship really begins to change for the better.
Most emotional abuse is a LEARNED response. Meaning, the emotional abuser was themselves emotionally abused, and has learned to cope themselves by doing the very things they hated done to themself. When an emotional abuser is enlightened by the ones they love to change with them, and learn a new way of communicating, accepting responsibility, being responsible for their own feelings, actions and beliefs, the relationship changes! As the two parties learn the "new", they both grow into the people they were created to be. They start to challenge each other to be who God has made them first, while focusing on Him, and as they do they find themselves falling more in love with each other.
I have seen this healing happen in between partners and parents and their children. Some of my most rewards clients have been watching God heal not only the family unit, but each individual involved as well through this process.
It starts with admitting there is a problem, and then choosing to do the work it takes! This can mean getting profession help so there is an outsiders perspective and mediator, reading books and talking about what you learn, and allowing God to be your guide through the process. One of my favorite books to help resource people to heal from emotional abuse is called Healing the Scars of Emotional Abuse by Dr Gregory Jantz.
If you find yourself wanting to heal from emotional abuse, and be the catalyst of change in your relationships, I recommend beginning with this book and then seeking Christian Counseling. Remember everything you do, do it in love and with wisdom, while choosing to understand through the process. By doing these things, you will find your way with God as your guide, and will experience the love you desire through the relationships you love!
Is this you?
.Do you want to know God more? Do you want someone to help you do so? Do you want someone to walk alongside you who has been in your shoes? Do you feel alone? Do you want to experience the healthier and happier you?