Monthly Archives: March 2014

You do not have to go through it alone!

The Valley of the Shadow of Death 1867 George Inness with Words 700Psalm 23:4 (NLT)

Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.

No matter how dark things may seem.  No matter how alone we may field.  We are not alone.  Even in the darkest valley, also known as the “valley of the shadow of death”, we can find comfort in the knowledge that God is with us.

This Psalm does not promise that God will pluck us out of the valley of the shadow of death.  In this Psalm, David, a great warrior and king, proclaims that he is confident that God will protect and comfort him as he travels through this valley.  And that God will provide everything he need (Psalm 23:5).

We do not have to let fear paralyze us.  God will guide us through these difficulties.  It is our responsibility to trust, listen and follow.

This time or situation in your life may be like a dark valley.  Take courage that others, such as King David in this Psalm, made it through dark times by trusting in God.  Many others share similar experiences.

You do not have to go through dark times alone!

Comments:

If you have an encouraging story (testimony) please share it in the comments/reply section.  It does us good to hear good news!

021 – Anatomy of Forgiveness

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David Castillo Dominici freedigitalphotos.com

by David Castillo Dominici, freedigitalphotos.com

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.*

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Mahatma Gandhi**

Many offences in life can and should be easily dismissed.  Today, however, we are talking about the deep hurts.  The deep wounds that significantly alter our lives.  Some wounds even threaten to crush us from the inside out.  It is these situations that call for a deliberate forgiveness process.

 Forgiveness is possible!  (See last week’s show: Forgiving the Unforgivable.)  It takes great strengths and courage to enter into a forgiveness process for deep wounds. 

Before we begin:

  • Forgetting is not forgiveness.
  • Remembering is not unforgiveness.
  • Forgiveness is a process.

At the Hope and Restoration Team (HART) we use an acronym to help facilitate the forgiveness healing process.  R.A.F.T.

  • Recognize
  • Accept
  • Forego
  • Trust

Recognize:

We can start with recognizing the wrong that has been done AND the impact it is having on our life.  What has been the result of the hurt, violation, betrayal, etc.?  How have you changed as a result of those events?

Why?  Because we need to be able to deal with the REALITY of what happened to us in order to REALLY forgive.

Example: I was having a post traumatic response when interacting with a particular person.  Fight and flight was kicking in even though there was not perceivable danger.  After some reflection I realized that this person exhibited the same incompetents as someone who nearly got me killed.  After recognizing this I was able to deal with that event constructively.

Accept:

It is one thing to recognize what has happened and how it has impacted and changed our lives.  It is yet a deeper thing to accept this as our reality.  These tragedies are part of how we are right now.  They do not define the totality of who we are; but they are part of who we are and who we are becoming.

Due to the wrong actions of others my lungs were severely damaged.  I live with this reality every day.  Even after dealing with forgiving those involved in bringing this devastation into my life I have to live with these physical problems.

Forego:

Once we know and accept what needs to be forgiven we then forgoing payback, vengeance, and retaliation is part of the forgiving process.  This does not meant that justice will not take place.  It does mean that we let go of being the executor of that justice.

In this step we let go of any demand for payment or payback for the wrong suffered.  It does not mean we will let the offender continue to hurt or damage us.

Consider the idea of a monetary debt.  Someone borrows $20 dollars and promises to pay you back next week.  But instead the next week they come back and borrow $20 more.  This goes on for a few weeks and before you know it they have racked up a considerable sum.

At some point you decide to forgo demanding repayment for past debt.  But that does not mean you allow them to accrue more debt.  You say, “Your debt is forgiven.  But in order for trust to be restored true change (in your life) must take place.”

Forgiving the debt is not forgetting what caused the debt.  It is, however, not demanding payment for that past debt.  Trust needs to be established over time with evidence to demonstrate change (repentance).

Trust:

By trust we are not here talking about trusting the one (group) that has wronged us.  This should be a goal and our desire.  However, for reconciliation to take place and trust to be restored repentance and transformation must take place.

For me the trust aspect is about trusting God to take care of me.  It is about entrusting the process to the One who is greater than I.  Trust in a God how is just, merciful and loving in ways I can only begin to comprehend.  Trust in God that no matter what the other may choose to do or not do that God will provide, care for and supply all my needs.

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/martinluth101472.html#8Ke6Q2VSXC4gyPk0.99

** http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/mahatmagan121411.html#PhXxeQWq7lUWqJom.99

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Flags Placed to Represent Veteran Suicides

IAVA 1892 flagsAn estimated 22 U.S. Veterans committee suicide each day.  That means about 1,892 veterans have died this year due to suicide.

A 27 March the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) will place a spot light on this problem. Volunteers will place 1,892 flags on the National Mall in to honor these fallen.

We at HealingTheWoundsOfWar.com and the Hope and Restoration Team (HART) are grateful for the IAVA efforts to combat suicide.  Go to StormTheHill.org to learn more.  Let’s put an end to suicide!

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020 – Forgiving the Unforgivable

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Photo, "Silhouette Of A Man" by Markuso on freedigitalphoto.net

Photo, “Silhouette Of A Man” by Markuso on freedigitalphoto.net

The concept of forgiveness runs deep at the core of any society.  If we cannot find a way to forgive then vengeance is all that will be left in the end.  But is it always possible to forgive?  Are some actions unforgivable?  What does forgiveness look like?

Today we remember the genocide in Rwanda that took place in April 1994.  This was 100 days of slaughter.  10,000 people killed per day.  In total, over 1,000,000 dead—1/8th the country’s population.  Either such destruction will lead to more destruction or forgiveness can lead to healing.

We will hear from some of those involved in the healing and reconciliation process.  The topics come from excerpts for the PBS show, “Religion and Ethics Newsweekly” from April 2005.  As you listen to today’s podcast and look over the note please feel free to enter the dialoge via the comments section.

Facing reality/the truth:

We were hut specifically, we must forgive specifically.  At some point, when we are ready, we have to come to terms with what has happened and the impact it is having in our lives.

“The wounds and the healing is a process that we continue to engage deliberately.”

“To tell people they just can’t cover it up.  We need to be able to unearth it and deal with it head on.”

Benefits of forgiveness:

“Forgiving not only benefits the criminal, it benefits me.”

When we forgive we are set free.  We also open up an opportunity for the offender to find freedom.

It is a process:

Repentance – Counseling – Forgiveness – Reconciliation.  This did not spontaneously happen.  And in order for reconciliation to take place the offenders had to “repent”.  In this they took responsibility for their actions and committed to living life in a new direction.

Sometime reconciliation is not possible.  They offender may not be willing to repent.  They may be dead.  We may not know who assaulted/hurt us.

As a result we may take it out on the group or kind of people involved in our PTSD.  Even if we cannot reconcile with the individual(s) we can reconcile with the gender, ethnicity, or group they represent.

The power of three words:

“You killed my wife and my child.   I will not do wrong to you…I forgive you.”

There is such power in saying and hearing the word, “I forgive you.”  This man captures the heart of forgiveness when he declares, “I will not do wrong to you.”  Forgiveness is not devoid of justices.  Rather it is giving up our right to vengeance or us exacting whatever we consider justice.

Bitter:

First bitter, then…remember Christ’s words on the cross.

“He did not wait for the paint to subside.   He cried to the Father, ‘forgive them for they know not what they do.’”  “The fact that Jesus called from within the pain is a guide and a teaching for us to forgive.”

Willing to repent:

Some offenders may never have a conscience concerning their evil actions.  While others seek transformation.  Especially during war wrongs are due by otherwise decent people.  These “moral injuries” can cause deep pain.  This can lead to repentance and transformation.  Seeing the offenders ad humans can help us do our part in the forgiveness process.

Many who have done wrong to others suffer from fear, nightmares, guilt, and self-loather.  One part of us may say, “Good for them.  They deserve it.”  Forgiveness would lead such people toward repentance.

It is not magic:

We have to continue to work the process until completion.

Forgiveness and your journey:

Next Week:

We will consider specific steps toward forgiving the deepest of wounds.

Where are you in this process?  Do you feel stuck?  Are you ready to consider moving forward?  If so and you want someone to walk along side you on this difficult part of the journey contact me, david (at) HealingTheWoundsOfWar (dot) com

Full video of Religion and Ethics Newsweekly story on Rwanda Reconciliation

Questions:

Why is forgiveness so hard?

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019 – 3 Barriers to Healing & Tips to Knock Them Down!

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It may be important to understand barriers; but we do not need to focus on them.  Instead, we can focus on positive actions we can take to overcome the barrios.

Stuart Miles FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Stuart Miles FreeDigitalPhotos.netIt may be important to understand barriers; but we do not need to focus on them.  Instead, we can focus on positive actions we can take to overcome the barrios.

In this episode we will discuss: (Note: topics are not necessarily in this order.)

  • Barriers to healing
  • Tips to overcome these barriers
  • My 7 Day Green Juice Fast
  • Principals learned from dealing with diabetes that can also help me deal with PTSD

7 Day Green Juice Fast: Cucumbers, celery, kale and all their friends.

  • Why?
  • Diagnosed with diabetes about 6 years ago
  • Not obese
  • I tried to control with diet and oral medication; but nothing seemed to work well enough.
  • Started experiencing diabetic complication (eyes, feet and heart attack)
  • Started using insulin a couple of months ago

Expectations

Our mindset is important.  Do we see PTSD as something that can be dealt with?  Do we see it as something that can and will bet better?

 “While some people do suffer from full-blown PTSD, most cases are mild. What often occurs is that a doctor tells a patient that his symptoms look like PTSD, and that diagnosis impacts that person right between the eyes as if he were told he had cancer. Well, it is not like cancer; it is more look like PTSD, and that diagnosis impacts that person right between the eyes as if he were told he had cancer. Well, it is not like cancer; it is more like being overweight. If you weigh 30 pounds more than you should, those extra pounds, while tiring to lug around, are probably not life threatening.”

Grossman, Dave; Christensen, Loren W. On Combat: The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and Peace (Kindle Locations 6690-6693). Human Factor Research Group, Inc..

“It is important that you bring the issue into perspective and think of it more along the lines of being overweight than being stricken with cancer and all that that means. Put it in perspective and make peace with the memory.”

Grossman, Dave; Christensen, Loren W. On Combat: The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and Peace (Kindle Locations 6697-6699). Human Factor Research Group, Inc..

If we do not expect to succeed, or get better, we are not likely to even try.

Knocking down the negative expiration barrier:

  • Listing to others.  What worked for them may not work for us…but it might.
  • Stepping out in faith-even if we do not see the improvement at the moment.  Allow time for small things to add up to bigger changes.
  • Changing our mindset.  Philippians 4:8

Desire

Asking ourselves some difficult questions:

  • Do we really what to get better?
  • What does it cost to get better?  I am not specifically referring to money.
  • What are you willing to pay?
  • What are you willing to do to get better?
  • What are you willing to do to get 1% better?

Fear

What if I try and do not get better.  Other people have gotten better.  What does that say about me if I try and do not get better?  In fact, some people fear getting partially better and losing their disability check.

Knocking down the fear barrier:

  • Listing to the stories of how other people have overcome adversity.
  • Beginning to trust.
  • Stepping out in faith.

Discussion Questions:

What do you think about Dr. Grossman comparing comparison for dealing with PTSD?  Is it more like losing weight or having cancer?

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Does it matter if they (providers) really care about your recovery?

Does it matter of our doctors, nurses, therapist, clergy (or anyone involved in our healing process) really care?  Or is it all dependent on pills and checklists?

Many things are involved in the recovery of PTSD.  One aspect that we may not think about too often is the relationship between the provider of care—those involved in the healing process—and the one receiving the care.  Empathy and trust have been found to be important parts of care and recovery.  We are impacted by the empathy we perceive from those supposed to help us recover. 

Questions we may ask about a provider (consciously or otherwise):

  • Do they really care about my recovery?
  • Do they believe that I can recover?
  • Can I really trust them to keep all this stuff confidential?
  • Will they loss respect for me if they find out what I am really thinking and feeling?

Ronald Murphy, PhD in a symposium on PTSD notes:  “And a lot of therapists, and a lot of research shows that the best predictors of treatment—no matter what cognitive behavioral intervention you did—the best predictor was the degree of expressed empathy by the therapist and how much the patient felt understood by the therapist when you measure those things, very important. I think we underestimate the power of therapeutic alliance.”* 

Ted Kaptchuk, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard, observes that how physicians “frame perceptions” can affect the outcome.  A study done with people diagnosed with intestinal problems reveals this idea.  Even while receiving fake (placebo) care some patients actually go better—not just felt better—when the care was accompanied by empathetic interactions.**

If we are not making the progress that we would like in our recovery it may be helpful to consider the relationship and connection we have with those involved in our recovery.  There is nothing wrong with acknowledging that a care relationship is not working.

What do you think?  Does knowing/feeling a therapist (or other providers) really cares impact recovery?

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* http://harvardmagazine.com/2013/01/the-placebo-phenomenon

** http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/videos/transcripts/sat_change_2.pdf (National Center for PTSD, Readiness to Change in PTSD Treatment Part 2, Written Video Transcript pg 3) http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/materials/videos/change-ptsd-treatment.asp (Part 2 Video Time 9:50-10:11)

018 – Healing PTSD: The Role of Grace, Mercy and Forgiveness

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There are many parts and paths involved in any healing process.  Post-Traumatic Stress is no different.  We have to address physical, psychological and spiritual need.  Some aspects of these needs we all share in common.  Other aspects may be unique each of us.

The ideas of grace, mercy, repentance, reconciliation and forgiveness are part of the PTSD healing process.  To one extent or another these concepts impart our lives and our recovery process.

In this episode we will,

  • Go beyond the dictionary definition to practical application in a spiritual and healing context. (Dictionary referenced: www.merrian-webster.com)
  • Discuss the relationship between repentance, reconciliation and forgiveness.
  • Forgiveness: what it is not

Question: Is it ever right to not forgive someone?

Request: If you have been blessed by any of our programs.  Please drop us a line and let us know.  Leave a comment, a voice message via Speak Pipe or send an e-mail to david(at)HealingTheWoundsOfWar(dot)com

(Scriptures referenced: Romans 5:8; Matthew 18:21-35)

Ash Wednesday and Lent… What is the big deal?

Cross AshA Special post for; (a) those that follow Christ; (b) interested in Christian spirituality; (c) anyone curious about Christian history, teaching and tradition.

Many Christians all over the world are entering a season of the Church year called Lent.  In short, it is a time to remember our frailty and God’s gifts, goodness and offer for a new life in Christ.  It is a time of reflection and taking inventory of our life and actions.  This is not for the point of beating up on our selves, or others.  Rather it is on opportunity to let go of the past and things that weigh us down.

For those of us dealing with painful experiences and memories it is an opportunity to experience the power and freedom found in the act of repentance and offering and receiving forgiveness.  So Lent can also be a time of healing, even healing the wounds of war.

The following is a quote from the late Robert Webber on the practice of Lent.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Ps 51:10 KJV).

Ash Wednesday is the service and Lent is the season for repentance from phony Christianity, pretend spirituality, and words without works Christian living. The Holy Spirit uses the Lenten focus as a tool to open our hearts which have grown calloused through selfishness and pride. Throughout the busy year, we become spiritually dull and unapologetically self-absorbed. Our attitudes and actions are insensitive to others’ needs and disobedient to God’s call to life and holiness.

Ash Wednesday stops us in our tracks and reminds us that we are but dust and to dust we shall return. Dust can’t demand, dust can’t argue, dust can’t exalt itself, and dust can’t boast. Dust needs God to have life and only in God can these “jars of clay” minister life (Gen. 2:7, Job 42:6, Eccles. 3:20, Ezekiel 37:4, 2 Cor. 4:7). Ash Wednesday reminds us that we are nothing but dust, muck, and mire without the crucified and risen Jesus.

“We too easily forget our Maker and Redeemer; replacing God with things and ambition. Lent is the season that does something about this situation. It calls us back to God, back to the basics, back to the spiritual realities of life. It calls us to put to death the sin and the indifference we have in our hearts toward God and our fellow persons.

And it beckons us to enter once again into the joy of the Lord–the joy of a new life born out of a death to the old life. That is what Ash Wednesday is all about–the fundamental change of life required of those who would die with Jesus and be raised to a new life in him.”

Robert Webber, Ancient-Future Time: Forming Spirituality through the Christian Year (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2004), pg 99.