Blog

Moving From Fear To Freedom

By:  Lianne Johnson, LPC
Recently I had the opportunity to speak at Riverside Church’s women’s retreat.  I entitled the retreat, Falling In Love With Our Savior:  Moving from Fear to Freedom.  Over the course of our time together we talked about many things.  In particular, we discussed how our fears rob us of our ability to Fall In Love With Our Savior. 
Do you know what you fear?  It seemed to me, while at the retreat hearing from many of the women, and quite frankly knowing these things to be true in my own life, that all too often we do not even realize we are living out of fear.  It’s like our fears become a part of our identity, and when we operate out of them we don’t even realize it anymore. 
What I am learning is as we live in our fears, and relate to others from our fears, these fears begin to rob us of our ability to hear truth, believe truth, and live from truth.  Therefore, robbing us of our ability to experience what it would be like to Fall In Love With Our Savior. 
What if you chose to begin naming the fears in your life?  What if you chose to no longer allow your fears to rule your heart and mind?  I am not saying that we no longer have fears.  To expect anything different in this lifetime would be folly.  However, I am saying that, as we fear we confidently take these fears to our Savior and place them up against what scripture says.  What if instead of allowing your fears to form your identity, you choose to strive to have truth define your identity?
Desiring to be set free from our fears begins with believing, and living as though you believe, who God has named you to be is indeed true!
You are a son or daughter of the King.  You are His beloved.  You are cherished.  You are safe.  You are accepted and loved as you are.  You are pursued.    He desires you just as you are. 

What Does Healthy Eating and Exercise Mean to You?

By: Katy Martin, LPC
It’s not a secret that I love walking with people through body image issues and food struggles. People who know me, know that this is a passion of mine and something I enjoy. However, I often notice that people are sensitive to bring up their own eating habits and exercise routine for fear that I may comment or make a judgment. Please let me clarify what I truly believe:

Healthy eating and exercising are not bad.

In fact, those are ways to take care of what God has given us. We cross the line when our thoughts, hearts, actions, and lives become centered on the next meal, exercise, and overall appearance. When you begin manipulating food and exercise to punish or reward, you may need to reflect on what’s going on inside of you. We read in Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” We do not have to be bound by the image in the mirror. We do not have to be bound by the comparisons we make with other people. We can begin to experience freedom in our everyday lives without distraction. Christ provides freedom from the bondage we face in this world, including food and body image issues.

Sure, dessert or a long walk or run is a gift for yourself, but if you are really honest, how much of this is affecting your heart and mind? Deep down, how much of your attitude towards food and exercise directly affects the thoughts about what you see in the mirror and, ultimately, who you are?

If you feel that you can identify with some of these struggles and want to explore them a bit more, feel free to contact me at katy@avenuescounselingcenter.org. If you would like to join in a group discussion concerning these topics, consider our next HEAL: Healthy Eating & Abundant Living group beginning in August. Go to http://avenuescounselingcenter.org/uploads/HEAL_flyer-1.pdf for more information or contact me.

The Characteristics of Abuse and Control

by Jonathan Hart, LPC
I recently spoke at the Women’s Safe House on the subject of identifying and avoiding potentially abusive relationships.  The presentation was called “How Not to Go Back:  Finding a Different Kind of Mate”.   What follows are a few of the ideas presented at that meeting.
Very often, as people move from relationship to relationship, they find themselves attracted to the same kind of person.  They leave one relationship for whatever reason, and find themselves in a relationship with another person who looks, acts, thinks, and speaks in similar ways. The problems of the previous relationship happen all over again in the current one.  This is especially troublesome when the other person is abusive or controlling. 
Often “number one” on the list of criteria used to judge the suitability of a mate is their appearance, but what needs to be considered most carefully is what is on the inside.  Charming behavior and kinds words all too often give way to harshness, belittling, demands, and even physical altercations. 
While there is no single characteristic that guarantees that a person is an abuser, I have assembled a list of characteristics that are common among abusive or controlling partners.  What follows is not exhaustive: I have tried to assemble a representative list of suggestions on how to see into a person’s character regarding how they will likely view and relate to a mate or partner.  
I use the male pronoun because unfortunately, the vast majority of abusers are male.  I do not in any way seek to suggest that “all men behave this way”. There are indeed men “out there” who are good, honorable, respectful, kind, and loving. 
Warning signs:
  • Easy frustration or quick temper
  • Jealousy or possessiveness (indicates a sense of ownership rather than partnership)
  • Getting “carried away”, even in little or positive things (lack of control over impulses)
  • Lies, excuses, cover-ups: “I didn’t mean it! I was drunk: it wasn’t me! It was the alcohol.”
  • What happens when you say “No.”?  If it is disregarded or discounted, take warning!
  • Parent/Child relationship (you have rules and consequences for breaking them)
  • History: Has he abused before?  Does he use force to solve his problems?
  • Pushing blame/lack of responsibility:  “I wouldn’t have had to do that if you hadn’t…” “You brought this on yourself. You made me mad.”
  • Giving orders/making demands versus making requests or seeking your opinion. 
  • “I’m sorry, but…”  The “but” undoes whatever came before it!
Areas to look at:
  • Church/Faith/Religion: how is the language of  “headship & submission” used? If being the “head” means “I get my way over yours” there is a potential problem!
  • Family Patterns: What is his parents’ relationship like?  How do his siblings relate to their significant others and children?  How does he treat his mother?
  • F.O.G.: Does he use Fear, Obligation, or Guilt to get his way? (‘You owe me! Look at all I do/provide for you!”)
  • H.A.L.T.: Who is he when he is Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired?  These are not valid excuses for lashing out!

Two Laws of Relationship:

  1. You ALWAYS have the right to say what happens to your body. Nobody can tell you that “You have to take it”.
  2. You are ALWAYS responsible for how you use your body. “You made me do it” is a lie.
I hope some of these ideas are useful as you think about your relationships or as you consider new ones.  As I said before, no single characteristic or idea listed above guarantees that a person is abusive or controlling (or not so!).  These are ideas to help you see what is on the inside of the person you are attracted to, and to hopefully help you choose someone who will treat you with the dignity and honor that every human being deserves.
Some reading this post may come to understand for the first time that you have experienced a relationship like that which is described above.  Some already know it and feel it deeply.  Some may realize that these are ways in which you habitually relate.  Please understand that hope is real and change is possible.  If you would like to discuss this post with me in a confidential manner, please contact me at jonathan@avenuescounselingcenter.org so we can arrange a time to talk.

Our Missional Vision

All too often it seems that a counseling center will exist as its own entity.  Avenues Counseling desires to partner with churches and para-church organizations throughout the St. Louis area to help encourage and support them as they carry out their vision.

Check out our website for more information about this distinctive way Avenues is impacting the community.