Dear Counsellor

Pastor RoweAre you experiencing a difficulty and need to get a different perspective? Write to ‘Dear Counsellor’ and have your voice heard.

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All replies will be published monthly in the church magazine and website.

A guide to help overcome some of the battles men encounter. Taken from the Collins (Contemporary English Version) Youth Bible

Help! I’m struggling with lust
‘I can’t seem to help myself. I know it’s wrong to think this way, but I just keep thinking about it…’

You are not alone. Throughout the Bible there are people who struggled with this issue. We know it was an issue for people like David, Samson and Solomon, and I doubt that any of us would claim to be more godly than them. Hosea describes a society which burns with lust, like a load of over-heating oven (Hosea 7: 3-5).
And in our world – a world full of erotic imagery – it becomes even harder to control. You walk down the street, there is a lingerie advert; you cross the road and there’s a good looking guy or girl coming in the opposite direction. So, in this world it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll go through life without experiencing this temptation.

The issue is, how far do you indulge in it? Don’t indulge in sexual fantasies about people who you find attractive. When you do get these thoughts, don’t dwell on them. Instead focus on God.

  • Three things
  • Admit
  • Recognise that you have this problem. Be honest. Don’t pretend it’s not an issue.
  • Control

Try to pray about it. Try to master your mind. It’s difficult to stop the thoughts entering your mind, but you don’t have to encourage them to take up residence there.
The more you think about God, the less room there is for unhealthy thoughts.

Help! I’m struggling with Pornography
Lots of people seem to think that pornography is acceptable these days. ‘After all, they say, no one gets hurt, do they?’

Depends what you mean by ‘hurt’. For one thing, pornography is addictive. You can get hooked. Start with the softcore and you will be moving towards the more extreme forms of porn. The desire for sex, as people in the bible found, pulls you away from faith in God (Hosea 4.12).

Pornography turns people – women mainly – into objects, lumps of flesh to be used how we please. And many women have been badly abused and damaged through involvement in the porn business.

Porn hurts us. Jesus, particularly, had strong words to say about lust and the way it infects our brains. He made no distinction between lusting after someone in our head, and taking someone else to bed.

The Bible is not ashamed of sex; it doesn’t shy away from talking about it. But it recognises that the desire for sex can take control of our life. God views sex as part of a relationship. Man and woman, committed together, loving one another and expressing that love. Pornography is not about love, but lust.

Why was Jesus so strict about lust?
Why is our society so obsessed with sex?

Keep away from temptation. Avoid the top shelf of the newsagents. Try to avoid internet sites that have pornographic content. Pray as you surf.

Last month I promised that I would share with you Lois Tonkin Model of grief. Here it goes….

Tonkin developed her model from hearing a mother talk about her grief. Her child had died some years before. She stated that at the time, her grief totally consumed her, taking over every aspect of her life, awake and asleep. To represent her life, she drew a picture (Fig.1) of a circle and shaded it to indicate her grief.

She had imagined that over a period of time, the grief would shrink and become encapsulated into her life in a small manageable way (Fig.2).

Although, she was realistic enough to assume that it would not go away entirely. However, what happened was different. The grief did not shrink, it remained just as big, but her life grew around it (fig.3). There are times such as anniversaries that reminded her of her child, in which she would operate entirely from the shaded circle in her life and the grief felt as intense as it ever had. However, increasingly, she was able to experience life in the larger circle.

This model will not be accepted by everyone. However, its aim was to illustrate that grief does not always go away. It explains that sometimes there will be dark days. It also describes the richness and depth the experience of grief can bring to a person’s life.

How can I manage my anxiety about the future?

‘Anxiety is a mental and physical reaction to a perceived threat’. It is important to notice that the threat is a matter of perception. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) CBT is a very effective treatment for anxiety. The basis of the theory is that our thoughts affect our feelings and our feelings determine our behaviour. By changing the way we think can reduce anxiety.

Below is an example of how two different people can react to giving a presentation in a large group based on their thoughts:

Thought Emotion Behaviour
I’ll practice and do well Confident Complete with no difficulty
I’ll make a fool of myself anxious, worried, scared Attempt to get out of doing it

A therapist will be able to help you explore your thought patterns and its impact on your behaviour.

My parents died over 10 years ago, but occasionally I find myself crying because I miss them. Is this normal?

Dear Friend

Remember grief is a normal response to the loss of any significant person, object or opportunity.

The Swiss Psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross developed a model in which she stated that there are 5 stages of grief:

1) Denial

This natural defence mechanism takes effect to protect and help the psyche absorb the tragic news at a slower rate so we are not completely overwhelmed by it. We simply cannot believe we will never see or hear their voice again.

2) Anger

Denial is replaced by Rage and resentment as the full impact of the loss sinks in.

“This isn’t fair. I didn’t do anything to deserve this.”

3) Bargaining

This is the negotiation stage of giving something to get something back.

“If they could come back to life; I promise I would be a better person”.

4) Depression

In this stage the person gives up on bargaining and realises that their loved one is dead. It is a sad and difficult time when the person may refuse to enter into the life they have left. They must be allowed this time to mourn.

“They are not here, so why bother trying to live.”

5) Acceptance

The person comes to the realisation that the death has occurred and is now able to find some measure of peace with the process.

“I miss them, but I will be okay.”

After losing someone we may find ourselves going through these stages. There is no order and we might jump from one stage to the next.

Loris Tonkin in her model states that grief does not necessarily go away entirely as we are often told. The grief often remains, but we learn to grow our lives around it.

There are times when you will have some sad days. The important thing is not to allow the grief to consume you, but to grow a new life around the grief.

I will provide more information on the Tonkin’s Model in next month’s issue.

How to cope with stress?

Stress is a vague term and can be difficult to define as everyone interprets it differently. The Health & Safety Executive define it as “the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand Placed on them” Stress may be the result either from stressful events or from the perception of them. You may find that one day a particular task or event may be stressful, but another day it won’t be. It will vary dependent on how you feel and what other pressures are being exerted on you at the time.

Below are a few things you could try:

  • Begin and end the day with Prayer.
  • Don’t Over schedule.
  • Strive for realistic deadlines.
  • Never make promises you can’t keep.
  • Allow an extra half hour for everything you do.
  • Go to bed at nine o’clock twice a week.
  • Breathe deeply and often.
  • Move, walk, run, dance – find a sport you enjoy.
  • Stop trying to please everyone.
  • Stay away from negative people.
  • Nurture Friendships.
  • Set Achievable goals.
  • Create Boundaries.

Help! Sometimes I Find The Christian Journey Difficult.

Yes, the Christian journey can be a difficult experience. You can look at it from the perspective that ‘to serve Christ is a sacrifice’. Therefore, you will find that the spirit and the flesh are constantly battling. Paul says in Romans 7:19 ‘For the good that I would, I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.’

I remember once reading an article in which the writer stated that the christian journey is like a marathon, not a 100m sprint. It is a long lengthy process. You will not always get it right. There are times that you will make mistakes. You may fall, but the important thing is for you to continue going. Remember, we are not perfect. We are striving for perfection and this is the reason Jesus is important. We can go to Him with anything and He will make a way for us.

It is important for you to surround yourself with positive people in whom you trust, and can be open and honest. I undestand this can be a challenge, but test them. give them something sma;; and see how they handle it. After which, perhaps you may want to add a bit more until you feel completely comfortable. Remember, the Bible says ‘He is able to keep that which we have committed unto Him against that day’

So what we put in is what we will get out.