Chip Carter, MA, LPC
I wish I had the boldness of Jesus in so many ways. Here are just a few…
-How He called a spade a spade, or more accurately, a Pharisee a Pharisee when He observed their legalism time and time again.
-How He knew when to rest, even amidst the storms
-How He met people where they were - ravaged, hurting, embarrassed, desperate - and sent them off with a completely different perspective and belief system
-How He asked others to come along on His journey, even though He had all the power in the world and could commune with God whenever He wanted
Jesus knew people, knew how they operated inside and out, and still – STILL – asked twelve to join Him on His mission. Surely, He did this to teach and model what God wants and desires for His children. Absolutely, He knew what was coming three years down the road and needed to have them in place to carry out his mission long after He was gone. But, I believe, He did this also because He was a human being, He didn’t want to be alone while His mission unfolded, and knew that having community in his life would bless Him in ways that spoke to His soul.
Jesus sought community. Thus, community must be a good thing.
Not so fast you might say. In Jesus’s gang of twelve, one betrayed Him in such a huge way it was a crucial step that led to his death. Knowing this, what did Jesus do?
He washed his feet.
Another publicly professed he would never deny Jesus, that he was His most ardent follower and then denied Jesus not once or twice, but three separate times. In turn, what did Jesus do?
He called him a ‘rock’ and stated this future thing He labeled ‘the church’ would be built on him.
Have you ever been at your doctor’s office and they bring out that instrument that looks like a hammer to test your reflexes? And then the doctor bangs your knee and it automatically springs up. That’s what they're looking for – that your reflexes are sharp; that they’re working; that they’re doing what they were made to do.
Jesus had the best ‘reflexes’; always sharp, always working, always moving towards God’s redemptive plan. He served where I would have been really angry and scared. He encouraged and empowered where I would have scolded and brooded.
Isaiah 55, verses 8 and 9 are familiar verses to many of us – ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways…for as the heavens are higher than the Earth, so are my ways higher than your ways. And my thoughts than your thoughts.’
And, if you’ll allow me a little room here… ’For my reflexes are not your reflexes.’
But here’s the ticket: He wants us to be more like Him. He wants our ways, our thoughts, our reflexes to be like more like His. He wants us to serve when instead we want to say ‘Get out!’ He wants us to encourage and validate when we would rather point fingers and be hurt. What blows my mind and heart though is He did these things within His community, a community of his choosing. He would not have had these examples if He had not brought others on his journey.
The truth is this: people are going to hurt us, especially those we know well. The truth is also this, many of us (hand raised here for sure) have shied away from community because the hurts have hit us hard. But now, when I look back at times when I’ve been hesitant about allowing people in, I look at it from the lens of whether my reflexes were sharp or dull. The hammer is going to hit us eventually; let our reflexes be more like His.
Jon Hindson, MAMFT, LAPC
Do you find it challenging to communicate with your partner? Are you struggling to be intimate? Does even the smallest conversation or circumstance trigger both of you into an argument? The arrival of significant events such as Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, and birthdays often serves as a reminder that our relationship with our partner or spouse could use an infusion of something new! Perhaps it could include something that might draw us closer to each other; something that might help us get out of our unhealthy or destructive patterns.
What we ultimately need in our most intimate relationship is a secure attachment in which we truly feel that our partner or spouse has our back. Therapists see “attachment” as a secure bond with another person, and within the context of a partner relationship it also includes knowing that your partner or spouse will turn toward you, give you attention, and provide comfort to you. The problem is that for all of us there are destructive patterns in relationships that can get in the way of having the secure attachment that we crave. Unhealthy patterns can include such things as criticism, resentment, contempt, defensiveness, conflict, and avoidance.
The question that we are seeking to answer then is: “How do I start the process of changing these unhelpful patterns so that I can have a more secure attachment and better relationship with my partner or spouse?” While the answer to this question can be complicated and varied depending on circumstances that each person may be facing, there are some simple guidelines that I believe can jump start us all in the direction of healing attachment wounds with our partner and “choosing love.”
My hope and desire is that we will all begin to see the opportunities we have to choose love, to move toward our partner, and to better understand our partner’s feelings as well as our own. As we celebrate anniversaries, holidays, and birthdays may we each Choose to love deeply the one we have been entrusted to love!
Nicole Ayers, MA, APC, NCC
Today’s teens are growing up in a technology filled world. Whether we like it or not, this is our culture today. I scanned my brain just now regarding my own technology use, and it’s easy to find me answering emails, watching a TV show, and texting. Technology is all around us. Below I’ve listed five big ideas to help parents partner with your teen and discuss their best friend – technology.
Idea #1 Practice what you preach
“Double standards are confusing to young children and exasperating to teens.”
First, take a good look at your own technology use because your relationship with technology – or lack of relationship – will impact your relationship with your teen. Most adults are either (1) technology addicted themselves or (2) completely skeptical of technology. Recognizing where you fall on the continuum is a great start before discussing technology with your teen. If you are on your phone or answering work emails all night, it will be difficult to get your teenager off the computer games. We have to set the example.
Idea #2 Set Limits
“Excessive media use has been associated with obesity, lack of sleep, school problems, aggression, and other behavior issues.”
As a parent, ask yourself, “What is the comparison between the hours my child is interacting with a screen and interacting with me?” (Tough Question!) Help your teen make healthy choices by replacing their screen time with fun activities with you – like board game night, books, magazines, playing outside, or going for a walk. The kicker – this will require something of your time too! And you may be surprised to find out that your teen wants to spend more time with you.
Idea #3 Discuss a family plan
“As the parental authority in your family, you want to be a servant leader, not a tyrant.”
Sometimes, as adults, we don’t fully allow our teens to brainstorm with us. Plan a family meeting time to discuss technology - its uses, the harms of over-use, the favorite game or app your teen loves. When discussing setting family limits on technology use, remember to replace screen time with something else and collaborate as a family. Allow for flexibility. Remember limits are to benefit your family, not to divide you and your teen.
Idea #4 Guard their hearts
“Build a foundation with your teen so that when something negative happens, they can come to you.”
The majority of teens have Internet access almost all the time. However, there are many negative side affects to constant screen time – including acquired ADD, anxiety, sleep disturbance, aggression, eyestrain, and false intimacy. Be sure that when setting limits you are also aware of safe guards for your devices. Helpful tools like Net Nanny, SafeDNS, Kaspersky Safe Kids, and Covenant Eyes are available to aid you in guarding your child or teen’s media use.
Idea #5 Keep up with technology
“Your child is the first generation to brave this new world.”
If you want to practice what you preach, set limits, and guard your teen's heart, knowing about technology is a must for any parent. Ask your teen to teach you about technology. Keep up with the new games that they are playing. Ask other parents what they are doing to keep up with technology use and updates. Create a SnapChat or Instagram to check it out. Know that parenting a teen is a very, very good and holy work. There is grace when it comes to parenting teenagers, especially when technology is involved!
**Information adapted from Ten Tips for Parenting the Smartphone Generation by Gregory L. Jantz and CDC.gov. If you have comments or questions about any of the above, feel free to contact me.
Nicole Ayers, M.a., LAPC, NCC
Think back on your adolescent years (between the ages of 13-24). Can you think of a time where you look back and say, “What was I thinking?” Of course you can! And I can too! (Hello, hair dying fiasco of 10th grade.) However, sometimes we have a difficult time understanding why the teens we love do what they do and say what they say. Adolescents make some (seemingly) crazy decisions and say some crazy things.
Between the ages of 12-25, the brain undergoes massive reorganization. Like a hardware or software upgrade on your computer, the adolescent brain goes through a season of “remodeling.” The good news is: the remodeled brain is faster, stronger, and smarter!
So yes, parents and teachers, this is a good thing!
During this time in brain development, changes are slow going, and more and more connections (through neural pathways) are made in the brain. The neural wires are firing quicker! This means that over time, teens experience better decision-making, better impulse-control, the ability to set long term goals, and the understanding of rules and ethics. (And we wonder why our teens are so tired! Their brains are working on overdrive!)
Key aspects of the adolescent’s developing brain are (1) sensation seeking, (2) risk taking, and (3) social reward and peer-approval seeking.
1. Sensation seeking
2. Risk taking
3. Social rewards & peer-approval seeking
The decisions your teen’s brain makes are not random! The sensation seeking, the risk taking, and the social, peer-approval seeking - They all serve the purpose of making brain connections that lead to healthy development and relationships later in life.
As a parent, or a mentor to teens, you can help the brain do its job by encouraging your teen’s healthy independence and exploration of the world around them. And, yes, in a few short years, they will look back and most likely say, “What was I thinking??”
References: Baird, 2011; Dobbs & Cahana, 2011; Felix, 2017
The other day I was sitting at a red light. I wasn't in a particular hurry. I wasn't running late. Both nice changes of pace for me. But what I noticed was that my immediate reaction once I had stopped was to reach of my phone and see what I had missed, or better yet, if anyone had missed me and reached out. It's like I'm afraid to be alone with my own thoughts sometimes, so I just start flexing my thumbs for their workout.
Later that day, I was at the gym. I was pretty proud of myself - I was running hard, sweating...you know, doing things I pay a gym for...and I was in the moment. I was not running while staring at my phone. I was not lifting dumbbells while replying to texts in between reps. I was just in the moment. It was awesome. Better yet, it was freeing.
I had this thought - "I'm here training and conditioning my muscles, but it's my actual thumbs (Are there muscles in there? There has to be, right?) that need the most help. It's my thumbs that reach for the apps (Hello, Facebook!), for the notification of new emails, and for the keyboard letters to respond to a text. It's those dang thumbs fault I'm so addicted to my phone.
But it's actually not their fault; it's mine and no one else's. I'm the culprit who manipulates my thumbs to respond to the slightest break in my schedule to see what the world has been up to since I had last checked (no more than 12 minutes ago, I'm sure). It's my fault, and mine only. So me and my thumbs have got some work to do. Actually, I've got some work to do. My thumbs...they actually need a break.
Legacy strategy Blog
Legacy Strategy, Inc. is a private counseling practice in Kennesaw, Georgia.