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EVER FEEL LIKE AN ANT IN A LANDSLIP?



If God gives us peace and wholeness,

why do so many people struggle with emotional problems?  

If Jesus came to give us ‘life abundant’,

why are so many people living in spiritual and emotional poverty?  

For most of us, life has plenty of challenges and problems. We don’t want to crumble under the pressure, but sometimes our emotional resilience is stretched to the limit.   

Psychologist and Bible scholar, Christelle Withers-Mayne, uses stories, cartoons and thought-provoking questions to teach practical skills that will change the way you deal with the stresses in your life.  

Use the questions as a learning tool for yourself or as a discussion starter with a group of friends and do a reality check:

Is what you expect of life realistic? Are your attitudes healthy? Do you genuinely take responsibility for your actions?

Are you harbouring some self-defeating habits and negative thinking styles?

Do you know yourself well enough to see trouble coming and find ways to avoid it?

In Store Price: $21.00 
Online Price:   $20.00

ISBN: 978-1-921240-65-2
Format: A5 Paperback
Number of pages:119
Genre: Non Fiction/Religion

 

Author: Christelle Withers-Mayne
Imprint: Poseidon
Publisher: Poseidon Books
Date Published:  2007
Language: English

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr Christelle Withers-Mayne is a psychologist with over twenty years experience in rural psychology. She works with adults and young people who are struggling with issues like stress, depression, relationships, workplace conflict and mental illness. Throughout her career, she has been researching, writing and teaching Biblical psychology. Chris is married to Andrew, a farmer. They live on a property in southeast Queensland with their three children.  

Dedication and Acknowledgements

This book is for my children, Caleb, Jacinta and Bethany who have given me many opportunities to develop the skills in this book. Parenthood might not always be easy but you have made it all worthwhile.

 

It is also for the many people who have taught and encouraged me during the years that I have been researching, writing and polishing this manuscript. However, a special thanks must go to Mark, Andrew and Julie Nicholls who did the artwork and Kathy Masters who proofread and critiqued the manuscript.

Chapter One ~Part Sample
Why Dig Anyway?

Life to the Full

Tania’s story

I first met Tania as a forty-year-old ex-prostitute suffering severe depression. She was a veteran of several failed suicide attempts. After the most recent one, she decided that she wasn’t meant to take her life because, after so much practice, her last attempt should not have failed. I agreed. I also figured that with such a sense of humour in the midst of her depression, she had a good chance of sorting out the mess her life had become.

During childhood, Tania had been teased and rejected by many of her peers because of a foot deformity that left her with an uneven gait and prevented her from joining in games like skipping. At home, she felt inferior to her sister and brother. Whether it was true or not, she felt that her family favoured her siblings and never really expected her to amount to much. So she set about proving them right. It didn’t take long and it didn’t take much effort to gain a reputation as a troublemaker at high school. After all, she had just the right attitude to show disrespect for authority, disregard for education and disdain for mainstream society values. Her parents got to know the principal quite well through many hours spent discussing their daughter’s misdemeanours.

As a teenager, Tania listened to her school friends talk about their boyfriends and dates. Since no boy had shown any interest in her, she decided that she was unattractive to the opposite sex. However, she discovered that men would overlook her disability for the sake of sex. So much so, that, by her mid-twenties she was earning a considerable amount of money as a prostitute.

Within a few years, however, her income began to drop and Tania found the men preferred the younger girls. At thirty, she began to wonder if a different kind of life might be possible for her. She sensed the futility of her lifestyle and, as she entered a new decade of life, a desire to change took root. She began thinking in terms of becoming respectable, settling down, maybe even proving her parents wrong. She went to college and got a job as an administrative assistant. More and more, Tania felt she was getting her life under control except in the area of men. Unwittingly, she had drifted into a pattern of short-term relationships which were unfulfilling, but which seemed her only option.

Breaking free of the destructive relationship she was in at the time was relatively easy. She moved interstate. But, as you probably know, you can move away from other people but you can’t move away from yourself. Tania quickly realized that she had packed up her problems and brought them with her. So she decided to have a child. A child would not judge her by her appearance. A child of her own would love her unconditionally. Caring for a child would keep her occupied physically and emotionally so that seeking acceptance in casual sexual relationships would no longer be necessary.

When she became pregnant, Tania began to clean up her lifestyle. She wanted only the best for her child. With determination, she stopped drinking, smoking and using marijuana. She also began to live a celibate lifestyle because all the men she seemed to attract depressed her. Some were abusive as well.

After her daughter was born, Tania even stopped swearing because she didn’t want her daughter exposed to coarse language. Then she began to attend church because, in that environment, she believed her daughter would be surrounded by people of higher moral values than her previous companions had held. Religion wasn’t for her though. As a troubled young girl, she had been badly disillusioned by the church and by Christians who had treated her as badly as the rest of the world. Instead of a living faith that held meaning for her, she had found in the church only pressure to conform and rejection when she refused.

All the external changes Tania made were evidence of her willpower and resourcefulness but, unfortunately, they had not touched her emotional condition. So she sought help to deal with her internal pain, her feelings of inadequacy and the hatred and distrust of men that had developed over the years of allowing herself to be used and abused.

Like many others, Tania turned to psychology for that help, not the church. And without knowing it, but under God’s leading I’m sure, she came to see a Christian psychologist.

Attending church was an interesting choice, considering Tania’s past experiences, but the journey of faith is not always logical. God was drawing her to himself and, in a church family that loved and accepted her, she began to see that a relationship with Jesus was between herself and God, not the church. She also began to accept that she had spiritual needs that psychology alone could not meet.  

Tania’s story is not finished but she is more at peace now than she has ever been and God is working in her life. She has opened herself up to the possibility of far deeper personal healing and growth than she could have attained had she been content with the increase in self-understanding and acceptance that psychology could give.

Committing your life to God will change you. It will change your lifestyle, your attitudes, the way you feel about things, and it will smooth some of the rough edges off your character. People like Tania consult psychologists and counsellors to try to make these changes because they recognize that unhealthy behaviour, attitudes and emotions can stand between them and inner peace.

Counselling can help but there are deeper levels of psychological well-being that can only be reached when we are enjoying a close relationship with God. That’s because counselling doesn’t touch the spiritual aspects of our psychological problems. Only God can do that.

The process of experiencing God in our lives is really quite simple but it has profound implications for the way we live. Whoever believes in Jesus has eternal life. That’s our starting point. And the words that point us in the direction we should go in our life as a follower of Jesus are these: “If you love me, you will obey what I command” and “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength [and] love your neighbour as yourself.”

The commitment God requires of us is a total offering of our mental, physical and spiritual energies. Micah sums up God’s requirements thus: We are “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with [our] God.”

When we live that way, there will be benefits – real life, everyday, practical benefits. Life to the full, or an abundant life, is how Jesus put it. He came to show us how we can live a life of purpose, inner peace, satisfaction, fulfilling relationships – a life that meets our psychological and spiritual needs.

Health and Wealth?

Reading through the Old Testament it is easy to gain the impression that we will be cursed if we disobey God, and have health, wealth and happiness if we obey him enough. But I doubt that the abundant life has anything much to do with our physical comfort. I often wonder how I would explain my possessions, or my good health, to a Christian dying of starvation in central Africa or eking out an existence in the slums of Manila . I’ve decided that the idea that good Christians should be rich and trouble-free is basically wishful thinking. Real life isn’t so simple.

Even when Israel was following God and enjoying his blessings as a nation, there were still poor and sick people in the land. Obeying God’s commands is not an insurance policy against personal disease or misfortune. Neither can we bribe God into giving us what we want in exchange for our devotion as though we think that godliness is a means to financial gain. The world remains imperfect because of the presence of sin. Christians suffer because they live in the world, not necessarily because they haven’t obeyed God well enough or prayed the right prayers.

On the positive side, we can each expect to enjoy the life God gives us to the full within the confines of our own unique circumstances. We can also hope to find answers to the battles we face when we are committed to God. But it would be unrealistic to hold God to such promises as, “I will take away sickness from among you, and none will miscarry or be barren.” This promise was specific to the Israelites facing a lengthy campaign to conquer the land God had promised to give them. If they obeyed him fully in this task, he would provide the physical health needed to be successful. It serves as an illustration of the way God sometimes works, not an entitlement for our own lives.

The references to health and wealth as rewards for obedience to God are relatively few compared to the other benefits that are promised. God is more concerned about our psychological and spiritual well-being than the size of our bank balance, the number of times we visit the doctor, or how long we live.

In fact, wealth may be one of the greatest enemies of our emotional health. It deceives us into thinking that working longer hours to afford a richer lifestyle is better for our children than spending time with them. It makes us worry about how to get more of it and how to keep ahead of business competitors, or the rich neighbours.

You may know families in which money led to divisions as the children squabbled over a parent’s will. A well-meaning but clearly misinformed man came to Jesus once and demanded, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Jesus’ reply was surprisingly blunt. “Man,” he said, “who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you? Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

Unfortunately, few can resist a love affair with money once they start to accumulate some and enjoy its rewards. The need for money becomes addictive and it seems that whoever loves money never has enough.

The problem isn’t money itself, but our attitude towards it. That’s why Jesus told us, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” These treasures are the rewards of having a relationship with God – things like a sense of meaning and purpose in life, loving relationships, peace of mind and strength to cope with life. These other rewards have far more potential to enhance our lives than health or wealth could ever have.  

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