Kathy Looper Christian Counseling

Kathy Looper Christian Counseling

Friday, June 20, 2014

Don't give up when hope is deferred

When I was 28 years old, or somewhere in that age range, I ran across a scripture in the Bible that read “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12).

Up unto this point in time, I had made many wrong decisions that had major consequences for my life and future.  One of which was losing custody of my son because I chose to move out of Shasta County and return to Visalia.  If you are a parent, you might understand the enormity of this decision and many might even question “how could you ever leave your child?”  The answer is that I instinctively knew that if I did not make a change in my life, I would cease to exist.  Within 6 months of moving back to Visalia where my entire family lived, three of my friends where killed, all in accidents involving alcohol.  I have no doubt I would have been one of them had I not listened to my instinct that I was in danger.

I had been raised in a stable home, with two parents who taught my sister and I right from wrong.  We attended church my entire childhood and I knew what it felt like to have a relationship with the lord.  Yet, I flunked out of high school and had two DUI’s buy my 21st birthday.  I was like so many others, just looking for the place I belonged.  I had major insecurity issues and a real need to fit in and be accepted.  It was this very deep seeded need that dictated the decisions I made and the regret and sorrow that followed.

You may be wondering why I am sharing this or why should you care about my story when many people reading this article don’t even know me.  The reason why I am sharing this and why my story matters is because 8 out of 10 people have made mistakes that they regret and are living with the consequences of those decisions.  My story is not about me and how well I have turned out (by my standards) but my story is about how “all things work together for the good” and if you live long enough, you can look back at events in your life that appeared to be very bad but somehow turned out alright.

Today, as I write this article, my son is celebrating his 25th birthday and I am very much a part of his life.  He is his momma’s son through and through.  Also, I am writing as Marriage & Family Therapist, Trainee who recently graduated with my Master’s degree.  My life today is polar opposite from the girl I use to be.  If any of you reading this article could talk to my parents, they would tell you, they had no hope for me.  Even as believers, trusting in a God they prayed to, had no hope, because the circumstances of my life where bleak.  How many of you know someone that you have lost hope in?  Wondering what will become of them and if you will receive the dreaded phone call in the middle of the night?

Let me remind you of the scripture that I quoted at the beginning of this article.  “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.”  What the Bible is saying here is that hope is not lost, it is simply deferred, which means it took a detour, but all detours eventually lead to the original destination.  I’d like to encourage you and tell you not to give up on the thing you are hoping for.   Whether it is hope for someone else or hope for yourself, nothing is impossible.  Life is not easy, even when you do all the right things.  The truly great people, the truly strong people and the truly courageous people have one thing in common…they never gave up, they persevered and they did whatever was necessary to overcome the struggle.  Like I said, it isn’t easy, but it is possible.

What is it that you have given up on?  Yourself?  Your physique?  Your relationship?  Your child?  Your friend?  GOD?  I promise you, if you make a commitment to yourself to  hope again, you won’t be disappointed.  Pay attention to the details that follow and you will see God’s hand at work on your behalf.

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Trouble with "SHOULD"

Early on, when I first began to date my husband, he was cutting wood at his house when the chainsaw caught the wood just right and propelled a large sliver of wood into his leg.   Although it hurt, he pulled the piece of wood out of his skin and went on about his business.  A couple of days later, his leg began to swell and it was visibly noticeable that something was wrong.  So I said to him “ you should really go see a doctor and get that checked out.”  He turned to me and said “Did you just “should” me?”

At first, I didn’t know what he meant, but I quickly figured it out.  I was telling him what to do by using the word should and he was bringing that fact to my attention.   Even though I was acting out of care and concern, he was the one who was being affected by the infection and he is the one who was responsible to make the decision about what needed to be done.

That moment taught me a lot about how quickly we project our ideas, beliefs and expectations onto others, often without realizing it.  In the situation with my husband, I was worried because I saw the potential danger of what could happen if his leg went untreated and while that observation was valid, I had absolutely no control over what decision he might chose to make.

The problem with “should” is that it sets us up for resentment and judgment of others.  Using the word “should” is giving unsolicited advice and when the person does not listen to our advice, we pass some form of judgment which later turns into resentment.  While some people may not mind such advice, others deeply resent it.  Especially if your “should” is in opposition to what they think or want and when the person that you are “shoulding” rejects your advice, judgment and resentment most often follow. 

One of the hardest things in life to do is to realize that the only power any of us have is over ourselves.   Everyone was given free will which means they have a right to make their own decisions and learn their own lessons, even when those lessons have unfavorable consequences.   At the end of this life, I will answer for myself alone.  I will answer for how I lived.  I can only control what my eyes see, what my hands do, what my mouth says.

Relationships of any kind, can easily become entangled and enmeshed especially marital  and parent/child relationships.  Most of us women, tend to think we know what is best in certain situations and men feel the exact same way!  I would say that most arguments within a relationship occur out of a difference of opinion.   The word opinion is defined as “1.  A belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce certainty.  2.  A personal view attitude or appraisal.”   We argue and fight with the people we love the most to defend our own opinion or “shoulds,” but what we are really saying is that my way is the correct way or my way is better than your way.

I admit, it isn’t always easy to keep my mouth shut when I disagree with my husband or child (my children are grown and this only applies to adult relationships), and I often fail.  But I am much more aware of my actions these days and I consciously choose to love anyway.  As a wife and a mother, my role is to support and nurture my family, to be a safe place for them to vent frustrations and explore ideas and give them the space they need to grow into the person they are meant to be.   

Love, in the purest sense of the word is self-sacrificing and giving.  It prefers the other person to ones self.   What would happen if we stopped “shoulding” others?  What would happen if we only offered advice when someone asked for our opinion?  What would happen if we agreed to disagree without judgment or resentment? Do we love others enough to allow them to make their own choices and learn their own lessons?

It might take some practice, but I encourage you to give it a try and see if life becomes a little more peaceful and harmonious.

Kathy Looper, MA MFTi

Kathy Looper, MA MFTi
Marriage & Family Therapist