Friday, May 4, 2012

3 Moves You Must Make To Become Whole

I'm on the 2nd read-through of Rhett Smith's book, THE ANXIOUS CHRISTIAN.  And I'm thinking that it'll go down as one of the most important books I'll read and recommend this year.  As I move through this volume with my Wednesday evening anxiety group, these courageous ladies are sharing more-than-profound insights that are making even my own seasoned head spin, and my heart burst with a deep gratitude for what the Holy Spirit does in lives who are fully committed to God and are willing to do the hard work of change.

After a decade of pastoral counseling, I believe that there are three pivotal moves we need to make in order to find the healing and freedom that we yearn for:

1.  Look Back & Turn Over Every Stone

2.  Take Responsibility For My Responses & Choices

3.  Forgive & Release Others

Rhett's words are gamechangers, aimed at questions that swirl way in the back of our troubled hearts, where some very defensive, self-protective postures keep us tragically immobilized in the quicksand of going nowhere fast.  Why should I look back?  Why do I need to stop blaming others, and bravely take on the mantle of responsibility that I've avoided like the plague?  And why is forgiveness is the only way to unshackle myself from the past?

He writes,
'... if we fear looking back at the past, or downplay how the past has shaped us, we may never really learn who we are and how we have been wired ... Once we begin to see the patterns and how those interactions shaped who we are today, it provides a powerful opportunity for us to begin to understand ourselves better.  In that awareness we are then freed to begin to make the changes we want in life.  Without awareness and knowledge of who we are and how we were shaped in our family of origin, there is little motivation and opportunity to change the ways we have always operated.

Looking back provides us with the opportunity to review the past because the past is important.  The past has shaped who we are presently, has a profound influence on how we react in times of fear or pain, and will continue to shape who we will be in the future ... As we look back at our families of origin and how they shaped us, we practice the biblical concept of remembering, and in doing so we can participate in the reshaping of who God has created us to be ... By participating in the process of remembering we are given the task to take responsibility for our lives. 

Too many people look back at the past and fall prey to becoming a passive victim who shirks responsibility and in the process forfeits their present and future with God.  It's important to understand how you became who you are today, but equally important to ask yourself who you want to be ...

Finally, this process also allows us the opportunity to exercise grace to ourselves and to others.  As we muster up the courage to face our past, we may be surprised to realize that we weren't the only ones having a difficult time in life and struggling to make it day to day.  As we review the past and take responsibility for our lives, we may begin to slowly realize that often our parents were doing the best they could.  Maybe what you got from them was all they knew how to give.  This is not to excuse areas in your life where parents should have been more present, more encouraging, less critical, etc.  But maybe that knowledge may free you up enough to let go and live in freedom from the bondage of the past.'

Savor more ...

The question just begs to be asked as this post comes to a close.  What are you going to do with what you've read today?



  1. Hello Linda,

    I have been searching for a community to join. Although yours sounds wonderful, it it outside of my town line. Boundries can be tough. Therefore. I hope that I may join your virtual community. Perhaps one day, I'll have the opportunity to come and visit in person. Rather I'll make the I am 52 years old and have suffered from anxiety and depression for virtually my entire life. It's a part of my genetic makeup compounded by a head injury, I sustained at the age of 16. My mother and grandmother, as we now know, do and did suffer from the same "disease". Not much was known about either condition in the 1970's. Therefore, I thought I was just not an optimistic sort and had trouble absorbing certain pieces of information. Now,I am certain as to the causes. It was with the help of a therapist that I could take an objective look at my own past and literally name specific years that created the person that I am today. Now we are in the process of remolding me. Tweaking me to be not necessarily a better person, but one that is less cruel and harsh to self and more nurturing and accepting. I have in the past months returned to my faith to help me with this project and a few others including, foregiveness. I felt as if you and the author were speaking directly to me, after reading 3 Moves You Must Make To Become Whole. I wish I would be able to attend your Women and Anxiety group in person, but I'll just have to participate in my own way from afar. I am so happy that I discovered you quite accidentally on (in)courage. Maybe there was no accident about it all. Guided may be a better term. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I know..I'm quite Blessing, Susanne

  2. I am touched by your quest to become the healthy and whole woman that God designed you to be!

    So I welcome you to this online community. May God use the interaction offered here to bring you encouraging words and hope.

    Please feel free to stop by often and continue sharing your perspective. I look forward to sharing life with you.

    Blessings, Susanne!

  3. Linda,

    Thank you for welcoming me so warmly and may I add promptly.
    Your kindness and sincerity are much appreciated.

    I am very excited about joining a community where I can be heard and understood. It works just as well as a big hug...well

    I am looking forward to walking, sometimes stumbling down this new found path. I start the adventure with an open and curious mind and heart.

    Take good care,

  4. The 3 steps were concise and well articulated in the article. When does one stop looking back?

  5. I so appreciate you sharing this very important question.

    Doing the hard work of looking back should not be skipped or glossed over. We must clearly acknowledge what happened to us and understand how it has impacted who we are. We must grieve what we did not receive.

    There comes a point when we have to say 'enough is enough.' When we draw a line in the sand and decide that what has happened, as gruesome as it was, will not define who we are going be as we move forward. We will be responsible for who we are and the choices we make, and refuse to allow those who abused or neglected us to control, manipulate, or call the shots in our lives any longer.

    It's time to move ahead if we've endlessly hashed out our stories and we still:

    1. find that we spend more time looking back than looking ahead ... and feel like we're going nowhere

    2. live our lives blaming others or God for our choices or circumstances

    3. live in a self-defensive, bitter, or angry place

    4. want others to pity or rescue or fix us

    To live a healthy life, we must let go of those who have wounded us. We are called to forgive. That means that we release them to God's care and judgement and no longer play judge and jury. We can wish them well. But that does not mean that we should necessarily be reconciled. We need healthy boundaries that keep toxic, unsafe people out of our lives.

    I highly recommend Dr. Laura Schlessinger's book 'Bad Childhood, Good Life.' Recommended by a woman who experienced the worst that childhood could offer, I am recommending that all my clients with difficult family backgrounds read this book. I believe it's a great jump-starting tool.

    I pray that God will bring you healing, and move you ahead to a full, peace-filled life of love and service to others.


Welcome to the table, friend!

This is where we gather and hang out. I'd love for you to pull up a chair and jump right into the conversation. Or simply say 'hello.'

l'll be dropping in to visit you sometime soon ...


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