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Judy Lair is a licensed counselor and owner of Counselorplace Christian Counseling. She is the author of “From the Other Side of the Couch: A Biblical Counselor’s Guide to Relational Living.” Judy’s personal struggles with fear led her through the valley of hurt and sorrow. She now embraces a joy-filled life grounded in God’s truth and freedom in Christ. Judy uses her professional counseling expertise to tell stories that help people find healing and freedom. Her vulnerable, godly approach helps people find courage to move from Fear to Freedom. For more information or speaking requests, email JudyLair@counselorplace.com or sign up for blog posts at http://judylair.blogspot.com

 “Freedom is attainable. Trust me, I’ve been on the anxiety side, gone through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and now I’m praising God, eating at the banqueting table, and helping others make the same journey. Whether you find yourself stuck in anxiety, disappointment, grief, or confusion, your heart can be set free.” Judy Lair, “From the Other Side of the Couch.”

Monday, April 18, 2016

Lesson in Humility


I love being inspired and challenged by reading biblical accounts of folks who struggled with the same human weaknesses I see in myself. Many folks quickly dismiss the interpersonal aspect of these stories in their haste to find the bottom line. The ability to emotionally connect and be convicted by their stories, however, allows us to grow in our own lives. Learning how God interacts with others gives me a greater understanding of my own blind spots and roadblocks.

Naaman was commander of the Aram army. We can read his story in 2 Kings 5. He is described as a great man, highly regarded in the eyes of his king and fellow soldiers. Interestingly, the God of the Israelites is given credit for giving Naaman battle victories. Naaman suffered from leprosy.

Leprosy is a chronic infection affecting nerves, skin, and eyes and loss of the ability to feel pain. Minor wounds can become major issues resulting in loss of limbs or eyesight. Watching his body slowly succumb to this progressive disease must have been devastating for Naaman, his family and those under him. I wonder how Naaman processed his helpless. Did he shake his fist at the heavens, blaming the God who helped him in one area of life but apparently deserted him in this personal fight?

Within his house was an Israelite servant girl. She risked her position by telling Naaman’s wife about a prophet in Samaria who could cure the leprosy. Full of hope, Naaman asked the king of Aram to make a way for him to search out this prophet. Valuing his commander, the king gave Naaman gifts of silver, gold, and clothing plus a letter directed to Joram, king of Israel requesting Naaman be cured of leprosy.

Knowing he could not cure Naaman, King Joram tore his robes in despair, believing the Aram king was trying to provoke a war. Word of the matter got to the prophet Elisha who chastised King Joram, reminding him God was in charge and directing him to send Naaman his direction. King Joram’s reaction sounds very much like an anxiety response. He automatically went into panic mode and had to be reminded what was really true.

When Naaman knocked on Elisha’s door, the prophet sent a messenger with instructions to wash himself seven times in the Jordan river. Naaman was furious. First of all, he was a well respected man who’d traveled very far to come see the prophet, and Elisha didn’t even bother to receive him personally. Secondly, Naaman was probably very familiar with ritual washings and expected any purification rite to utilize the purest form of water, not a muddy, filthy river in the midst of a second-rate nation. Naaman had obviously expected some type of hocus pocus magic by the prophet to heal him rather than a call to humility before the Lord.

How often do we Christians expect God to work in very specific ways? Do you shake your fist at the heavens when God asks you to wait on his timing or to respond with grace and compassion instead of condemnation? Sometimes we need to be reminded who is in control, so we can voluntarily submit ourselves to God to receive all the blessings he wants to bestow.

Naaman’s servants begged him to reconsider the prophet’s instructions. Using logic, they reminded him of his character: he never backed down and never gave up. Acknowledging the truth of their words, Naaman humbled himself and did as Elisha instructed. His flesh was restored and his body was renewed. Returning to the prophet’s house, Naaman professed belief that his healing came from the God of Israel, a testimony he would share for the rest of his days.

How do you connect to this story? Is God challenging you to change your view on something or humble yourself in an area of your life? If so, allow the Holy Spirit to soften your heart so you, too, can receive healing.


Sunday, April 3, 2016

Old Hurts and Fears



Worry and anxiety kept me internally isolated for much of my life. When I did share, any reassurance I received was like sand trickling through open fingers. I felt comforted and cared about for a short time, then it was gone and I needed another handful of reassurance. This pattern made me feel helpless and incompetent. Constantly asking for reassurance was taxing on my family and friends. Believing I was a burden caused me to feel even more isolated and fearful. But God broke through and rescued me from that lonely place. 

1 John 4:18 tells us, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.” My lightbulb moment came when I realized moving from Fear to Freedom happens in the context of relationship. Even though my circumstances may not change, my ability to persevere and grow through them happens when I’m anchored in relationship.

I will never love God, myself, or others perfectly – but I don’t think God expects that of me this side of heaven. 1 John 4:18 tells me is there’s a connection between not feeling loved as the person God created me to be and my worry, anxiety, and fear. Being able to receive love, mercy, and grace significantly affects our ability to decrease fear-based symptoms. Fear breeds secrecy and shame. Opening ourselves up to receive love from God and safe people allows us to see what is true and hold onto hope.

I’ll always have a chemical predisposition to anxiety and depression, but I can have compassion and learn how to care for myself well when I’m in the midst of that storm. Learning how to battle my isolating thoughts and allowing God and others to care for me was really difficult. I had a lot of feelings and beliefs about being seen as weak and vulnerable that needed to be critiqued.

As a counselor, I work hard to offer a safe, caring therapeutic relationship to my clients. Sharing how they've been wounded emotionally and relationally is the key to healing. Allowing God to show how parents, spouses, and important people failed to love us in ways you needed is painful, but often uncovers old fears and hurts which invade the present. 

Asking “what, why, how” questions allowed me to move from living in fear to embracing a joyful, freedom based life. John 8:32 tells us the truth will set us free. Truth gives us a solid foundation and energy to withstand internal and external storms. Doing the hard work of seeing how you’ve been relationally failed and understanding your unhealthy responses to those hurts will equip you with truth to face fearful worries, thoughts and feelings.