Jen Hughes, Christian Counselor
You’ve been seeing it for a number of years now – the prediction for millennials and younger. The warning that so much time spent on technological devices could cause damage to their social skills. So, the time has come to look at some anecdotal evidence:
Something happens on social media or in a texting dialogue, and a young person gets hurt. Rather than asking for clarification or an apology, she stews over it and fails to accomplish resolution.
Someone sends him a message, but since he wasn’t asked a question, he sees no point in responding.
She would like to sit down and thoroughly discuss some upcoming plans, but the new social norms dictate that she go with the flow, not ask too many questions, and keep her feelings out of it.
He can carry a lively and meaningful conversation about pop culture, but when asked by someone close to him which traits he would like in a future wife and how he might give his children a Biblical worldview, he feels extremely awkward and changes the subject.
She’s learned a lot through social media about how to keep and lose “friendships” in her life. Unfortunately, many of those lessons ignore the technique and benefits of challenging, deep conversations.
He did respond to the question she messaged to him, but it’s been so long since she asked it, she has to go back to the original text to see what he was talking about. Waiting several days to finish a discussion is deemed so acceptable these days that the possible consequences can be forgotten.
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
1. Look no further than to John, the Bible’s relational expert who taught the importance of meaningful conversation for the purposes of:
- Talking with others about what really matters in life (Jn. 1; 3:27-36; 5:31-47; 20:11-18)
- Understanding eternal needs, even if asking is intimidating and you need to talk about it in a very private setting (Jn. 3:1-21)
- Confessing sin to God and safe persons so that repentance and authentic relationship will follow (Jn. 4:1-42; 5:1-15)
- Learning how to pray, the most important communication of all (Jn. 4:46-53; 11:1-44; 17:1-26)
- Becoming a good listener, open and teachable, and speaking carefully in order to better hear (Jn. 6:22-40; 21:15-19)
- Applying meaningful words and explanations to thoughtful actions so that others feel secure and loved (Jn. 13:1-17; 19:25-27)
- Speaking wisely, gently, and humbly the words to others that God wants them to hear, when they need to hear them (1 Jn. 1:1-3)
- Living in the joy of having face-to-face, transparent conversations (2 John 12)
2. Motivated by the above: a) admit the areas of communication where you are personally weak b) study Scripture for lessons in the art of dialogue c) don’t let technology shape you into someone you don’t want to be and d) begin practicing a more considerate, thoughtful approach to interacting with others.
A word spoken in due season, how good it is! (Prov. 15:23)
Sadly, you have known someone, or of someone, who has taken his/her own life, and this week is no exception as some readers of this blog are deeply mourning the loss of a young lady who was just a junior in high school.
Her parents, sister, and family are experiencing grueling pain, and her teachers, classmates, and friends are in shock and sadness.
Even while having faith in God’s sovereignty and goodness, you may need a method to help you sort through a huge load of swirling emotion pertaining to such a great tragedy.
And when suicide involves a young person, a whole population of youth are trying to function in a daze of questions and feelings. Coping puts harsh demands on their emotional maturity, and today’s media offers the kinds of condolences that often conflict with Christian values.
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
Cry with a desire to connect with Him and be comforted by Him.
Let the Psalms give you not only a language for your grief, but a framework to keep you pointed towards His purity and wisdom. It’s popular in some modern circles to be ever-angry with God. Instead, allow Him to gently restore your strength and faith after a season of hurt, doubt, and confusion. He is the only One who can give you peace when you don’t have all the answers.
Make sure every impacted kid and teen has at least one trustworthy adult actively ministering to him/her for a specific amount of time that adequately covers their grief.
Remind young people in your life that their lowest moments in life are not permanent, and teach them not to allow emotions of despair to convince them that there are no other options. On the contrary, discouragement (which can lead to hopelessness) is a sign that it’s time to seek help. Make sure each person grieving this tremendous loss is being well counseled.
Coach your soul to wait for Him and to have expectation from Him. He is good to the soul who seeks Him. Pour out your heart before Him; He is your refuge. As someone who is broken-hearted, He heals you and binds up your wounds. (Ps. 62:5, 8; 147:3; Lam. 3:25)
It’s a book about dementia…written by a Christian doctor…and intended for you if you think you could one day be caring for someone with dementia or if you fear the possibility of one day having dementia.
Through stories from his medical practice and from a Biblical worldview, Dr. Dunlop provides the knowledge you need to be calm and full of faith as you contemplate and possibly one day face this topic.
- Recognizing symptoms and responding well in the early stages
- Being sensitive with diagnosis (it’s important to be handled on a case-by-case basis)
- Honoring those who are afflicted
- Seeing God’s purposes in dementia
- Honoring God through dementia
- Being called to be a caregiver and caregiving options
- Learning to care for and love well those with dementia
- Planning wisely and respectfully for the way that dementia progresses
- Protecting those with dementia and their families
- Managing end-of-life requests
- Sustaining a relationship with the Lord while living with dementia
- The role of the church and dementia
- The spiritual growth opportunities that come with dementia
- Acknowledging your emotions about possibly dealing with dementia
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
1. Create and foster an atmosphere in your family that highly regards the elderly and moves in close to anyone experiencing dementia.
2. Check out John Dunlop’s several books on later seasons of life. It’s refreshing to read books about physical health written by an MD who is so devoted to Christ.
3. Especially consider the relationship you have with Jesus now compared to what you hope it will look like in your older years. Investing now is wise.
“They shall still bear fruit in old age.” (Ps. 92:14)
Sometimes the freshman year of college doesn’t turn out so great. Occasionally it happens that two or three of the other years aren’t the best either. College students and their parents are finding the Gospel reaching them in new ways during these tough experiences, and Christian counseling can be especially effective with this population because these unhappy college students are so ready for change and growth.
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
1) As hard as you try, it’s nearly impossible to fathom today’s college atmosphere. If your college-aged son or daughter doesn’t seem to be thriving, encourage counseling, but keep in mind that campus-based counselors may have an agenda that differs from your values. There are other great options in this day and age. After working with a number of college students who were in Atlanta this summer, I’ve found that for those who leave for college, FaceTime works great!
2) It’s not a bad thing that your college-aged young adult is going through a hard season and/or needing counseling. The best thing you can do is wait as patiently as possible. And in some cases, that may include waiting as quietly as possible, too. The maturity this journey will produce will be worth any sacrifices you make during this time.
If someone you care about is in college and sinking fast, let them know there are advocates who want to see them succeed. Even if they blew it for a year or two, they can have a fresh start. Those I’m working with are: learning new ways to cope with anxiety, exploring healthier friendships, securing a strong identity, setting productive goals, pursuing emotional maturity, defining better lifestyles, and discovering what the Lord is teaching them through their hardships.
Beloved Current College Students (you know who you are!) –
It’s such a privilege and delight to work with you! I’m praying for this school year and can’t wait to hear about all the ways the Lord is going to move in your life this semester and beyond. I want to come visit each and every one of you and continue to encourage you! Remember – you are released from what held you captive in the past and you are learning to walk in the new way of the Spirit! (Rom. 7:6)
Prospective College Students –
I would love to work with you! And we can start in person. I can meet one-on-one with you in my office, or come to your campus. Or you may think it would be helpful if I come speak to your small group or your campus Bible study. We can customize a plan that works according to your circumstances. Whatever you think is best! You do not have to walk as the rest of (college students) walk…being alienated from the life of God…because of the blindness of their heart…who have given themselves over to lewdness…but you can walk worthy of the calling to which you were called. (Eph. 4:17, 18, 1)
The black-out feature of your eclipse glasses may have been designed to protect you from the sun’s radiation, but did you notice how the world around you was shut out when you put them on? There’s a gift in disguise there.
It’s very hard to get away with your Lord (Song of Solomon 2:10) when you’re constantly being interrupted, over-stimulated, and distracted.
And it’s hard to settle down and concentrate on what Jesus has to say to you in His Word when so much is competing for your attention. (Ps. 119:1)
So, sometimes the most appealing options for rest seem to be movie binges or Facebook feeds. But that kind of “rest” only provides a temporary escape.
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
You might want to keep a pair of those eclipse glasses close by and use them to prepare your mind and body to enter into a time of rest. Jesus commanded His disciples to go to a deserted place to rest (Mk. 6:31). Your eclipse glasses can help with that.
When things get hectic around you, like Paul and his team when their bodies had no rest and they were troubled on every side, prepare to be comforted by God (2 Cor. 7:5). You can put the glasses on for a few minutes, enjoy the break for your eyes, relax your breathing, and release any tension in your body. Notice your body slow down it’s tempo. But don’t keep them on long enough to fall asleep!
Remove your glasses and pick up your bible. Now that you’ve paused your environment, body, and mind, you can take in the right nourishment He has to give you, and benefit from some peace and joy. Using your eclipse glasses to temporarily block out your surroundings is a fresh and creative way to be diligent and enter His rest (Heb. 4:11).
Is “Unashamed” just another book in a sea of self-help books? Or is it really worth a read? If you can’t seem to move forward or need something highly practical to help you deal with your past or beat your struggles with shame, this book offers excellent examples and precise strategies of what you can do differently.
This book is highly recommended if:
- You can’t get rid of persistent thoughts that lead to feeling doubt, fear, insecurity, bitterness, offense, discouragement, negativity, anxiety and/or anger.
- You experience painful emotions on an on-going basis.
- You do well for a while; but then you hit a wall.
- You overcome one hurdle, but then something new comes along to deal with and you feel like you’re right back where you started.
- You feel a lot of guilt and/or could be holding onto unforgiveness.
- You really do struggle to trust God no matter how hard you try.
- Your lifestyle is pulling you away from God instead of towards Him.
- You don’t like yourself.
- You find yourself wondering how other people can be so positive when they go through trials and suffering.
- You know you’ve messed up some significant relationships.
- You don’t believe you can ever get over what you’ve been through.
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
This is a book to read with a notebook and a pen.
This is a book to let someone know you’re reading so you can be held accountable to follow its many rich suggestions. Even better – read it with a friend, wise counsel, or a group.
This is a book to ask the Lord to use as a tool to bring about change.
“Lord…let me never be ashamed.” Psalm 31:1b