Spiritual Warfare

by Michelle Eigemann, LCSW

Spiritual warfare isn’t always easy to spot. It starts with a single seed being planted in the soil of your mind. After the seed is planted Satan sits back, puts his feet up, and watches as we water what will soon become bitterness, un-forgiveness, or in my case an identity crisis. 

As we look at 1 Kings 18:1 the Lord gives Elijah an instruction “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.” (New International Version) The problem with this was that Ahab had been searching high and low for Elijah and wanted him dead. Jezebel had already killed off all the prophets of God and desired that Elijah would be next. Elijah presents himself to Ahab as instructed by the Lord and offers up a proposition. He tells Ahab to gather all 450 prophets of Baal and meet him on Mt. Carmel. There they would present sacrifices to their gods and the one true God would send down fire to consume the sacrifice. Scripture says that Ahab thought this sounded like a reasonable request and they all met at Mt. Carmel. 

The bulls were selected, the altar prepared and the prophets of Baal began to beacon their god. By noon, still nothing. Then it became time for the evening sacrifice and Elijah called them all to gather near as he prepared the bull and rebuilt the altar of God. Then he instructs them to pour water over the entire altar soaking the wood and everything around it. Elijah calls on God to send fire from heaven. God pours down fire upon the soaked sacrifice and burns up the wood, the rocks, and the water. Elijah had just experienced a spiritual high. He witnessed God in all his glory do what only the one true God could do. Now he waited for the promised rain that would end the famine. Seven times he sent his servant to look for even the slightest darkening of the sky. There it was off in the distance, a cloud rising surely the skies would soon break open with rain.  That was all he needed; he warned of the rain and instructed Ahab to head to Jezreel immediately to get ahead of the rain. Then scripture says “The power of the Lord came on Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.” (1 Kings 18:46, NIV) Maybe you’re wondering how far Mt. Carmel is to Jezreel, well wonder no more because I calculated it and it is 24.8 miles, and after running a 10K (6.2 miles) this past Saturday let me tell you that is no easy feat. 

But with the turn of a page, we see that the spiritual high that had Elijah running faster than the chariot suddenly has catapulted into an emotional low. He’s lying under a broom bush begging to die. “‘…I have had enough, Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life…'” (1 Kings 19:4, NIV) How did that happen? How could he go from seeing God show up in such an amazing way in one moment to having suicidal thoughts the next? While scripture does not point to this as a spiritual attack I wonder if that could have played a role. After all, isn’t that how the enemy works?

Recently I co-led a class for single women on identity and God showed up mightily. One by one each woman began to peel off false labels and reclaim their identity in Christ. Through tears of rejoicing, each woman shared a testimony of what God had just done in their life. It was so powerful that our class ended up going an hour past our allotted time because none of us wanted to hush the Holy Spirit. I had just experienced a spiritual high. I saw God move in a mighty way and then just days later I began to experience (what I can now see as) an identity crisis. It happened slowly with just one negative thought, one faulty mindset, one little seed. Fast forward to a week later and that little seed turned into weeds that began to strangle out my true identity. 

To recognize a lie we first need to know the truth. As I read 1 Kings 18 & 19 God turned on the light and the darkness had no choice but to flee. You see darkness doesn’t exist on its own; it is simply the absence of light. I had allowed the lies of the enemy to turn off the light which had me fumbling around in the dark trying to find my way. Confusion, distraction, and separation are some of the tactics the enemy uses to attack.

Thankfully we have the antidote. We have the sword of the spirit. So I took a deep breath, lifted my sword, and shouted truth into the darkness. A weight was lifted, the light was ushered back in and the enemy has left…for now. You see, if we aren’t experiencing spiritual attacks then I question whether we are rooted in God’s will. As believers, as Christ-followers, as hearers and doers of the word we should experience warfare…it’s when we don’t that we should worry.

Michelle Eigemann, LCSW


by Ashleigh Beason – Herrington, LCMHC

Religious scrupulosity may sound like a high scoring scrabble word but for those who wrestle with an unrelenting, irrational guilt surrounding their religious faith, it can be debilitating. Scrupulosity is a religious and moral form of OCD. It is not about having healthy spiritual doubts. It’s not a lack of faith. It’s a form of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Being able to name it as such minimizes its power over our lives and helps us frame it the right way. In fact, 30-60% of people with OCD actually struggle with scrupulosity. 1

The American Psychiatric Association defines OCD as: “the presence of obsessions and/or compulsions. Obsessions are recurrent and persistent thoughts, urges, or images that are experienced as intrusive and unwanted, whereas compulsions are repetitive behaviors or mental acts that an individual feels driven to perform in response to an obsession or according to rules that must be applied rigidly.” 2

As with all forms of OCD there is an initial obsession or a thought that gives us anxiety. We can’t move forward from that anxious thought without a compulsion to get rid of the anxiety. A classic example of OCD is compulsive hand washing. You may have a compulsion of constant hand washing because you have an obsessive thought about your hands being dirty. Oftentimes, compulsive behaviors are born out of an effort to curb our anxiety surrounding a certain obsessive thought. And it’s only when we act on our obsessive thoughts that we experience temporary relief. 

Similarly, scrupulosity focuses on a religious thought that gives us anxiety. Those who struggle with scrupulosity often cannot enjoy their faith because it seems so terrifying to them. The remedy however is not to have more information or to have more faith. Religious obsessions often have to do with cyclical doubts. 

For scrupulosity these obsessive thoughts can sound like: 

  • Doubting your salvation.
  • Believing you have committed an unpardonable sin. 
  • Constantly evaluating if you have any sins you haven’t confessed. 
  • Fear that you’re not praying the right way. 
  • Living in fear that you haven’t obeyed all the rules. 
  • Intrusive thoughts (including sexual thoughts) about religious figures or God.
  • Consistently wondering if you understand all the details of religious

For scrupulosity these compulsions can look like: 

  • Constantly seeking reassurance from a spiritual leader or pastor. 
  • Trying to understand every detail of faith. 
  • Morbid introspection or deep self-examination to evaluate potentially sinful motives or desires. 
  • Consistently being rigid in any religious practice. 
  • Trying to cancel out “bad” thoughts with “good” thoughts or more religious thoughts; trying to “make up for” bad thoughts by thinking the same number of good thoughts.

These compulsions often make us feel safe and back to normal again. However, that feeling doesn’t last long. It ends up coming back louder and louder every time we give into the compulsion. So how do we stop it: 

  1. Acknowledge that you have scrupulosity – Scrupulosity wants us to doubt that we even have scrupulosity. Make a list of where you see scrupulosity play out in your life and write it down. This helps us know what to look for, noticing both the thoughts and the compulsions that come with it. 
  2. Accept uncertainty – This is a certainty addiction. Scrupulosity wants us to be SURE we are saved, following religious rules properly, and confessing all our sins in the right way. The more we are able to develop a tolerance for uncertainty, the symptoms of scrupulosity will decrease. The best way to stop scrupulosity is to sit in uncertainty. We have to embrace the gray areas of life, knowing we won’t have certainty about every question and doubt. 
  3. Realize scrupulosity is not a spiritual problem. It’s OCD. Scrupulosity doesn’t mean that you have weak faith or that God is punishing you. Framing it around mental health and not just a crisis of faith will help you understand it and fight it. Finding Scriptures to meditate on that help ground you in the gospel and going to a counselor who will help treat OCD are great ways to respond to Scrupulosity.

You do not have to spend your entire life worshipping God in fear and trembling. Take action today, and learn how to worship Him in spirit and in truth.

1 Jamie Eckert, Scrupulosity: The Ultimate Guide, May 5, 2020. https://scrupulosity.com/scrupulosity/
2 American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5, 5 th ed. (Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing, 2013), 235.

Ashleigh Beason – Herrington, LCMHC

Designer Baby: A Word About Eating Disorders

by Donna Gibbs, LCMHCS, BCPCC

No… I’m not pregnant again! But, I vividly remember this profound counseling session from four years ago, and think it fitting to share with you again today. Eating Disorders are a false sense of resilience, and the treatment of this vicious struggle represents a significant portion of my caseload. If you’re struggling, I hope you’ll find encouragement here.

Those who have known me for any length of time, know that my greatest and most treasured learnings have come as a direct result of my interactions with precious clients over the years. Today proved to be no exception. Today I witnessed such a powerful and profound revelation with a client that I had to share it with you – I know you will be blessed. I call this blog-post Designer Baby because that is the title my client used, in reference to herself. Understand, this is a beautiful young woman, a highly intelligent young woman, who has been robbed of herself by a vicious and dangerous eating disorder. This eating disorder was born out of a terrorizing and evil victimization of her body by a group of teenage boys. Years later, she now has little understanding and appreciation of her value, and has been on a journey of self-destruction for some time. If there has ever been a tool of the enemy, this is it. An eating disorder involves lies and deceit, by definition. Sadly, pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia websites provide even further instructions to its victims about how to believe the lies that will better feed “success” in an eating disorder. In essence, it is a “successful” brainwashing into a pit of darkness and death. However, today, I saw a ray of light in this darkness – and these are the moments that motivate me to stay faithful to God’s call in the trenches of tough counseling.

Her revelation was born out of a discussion regarding my own pregnancy (I am pregnant, and beginning to blossom, to say the least, so this obvious aspect of my new appearance was a platform for much discussion in the office these days). I had previously assigned this particular client homework that involved writing a letter to herself, as if it were written from her Creator. This has been a challenging assignment, as it is for anyone who is deceived by the lies of the enemy, and the lies of an eating disorder in particular. For years, she has almost intuitively felt and thought disgust for herself, diminishing any value within.  She has also pushed God out of her life, finding that her relationship with Him, and her eating disorder, could not co-exist. A smart young woman, intrigued by discovery, made reference to the progress in technology in “designing” a baby at the request of its parents. Far beyond the developments of IVF, or other reproductive technologies, parents can make preferences for a baby boy or a baby girl. With a humbled, but intrigued, countenance on her face, my client looked at me and profoundly said, “I am God’s designer baby. He created me just the way I am, because He had a purpose for my life, and I’ve spent years trying to sabotage His design”. I celebrated within as I witnessed glimpses of hope; hope that my client could see the value that I see in her, and the amazing person that her Creator designed her to be. Following that statement came a beautiful letter, as if written from God, straight to her heart. She’s requested that I share the letter with you. As complex as eating disorders might be, their solution is not so complex that it cannot be understood. Regrouping with the Creator is a significant part of that solution, and I see a spark of that today.

“You are wonderfully and fearfully made. You are a rare creature. You do not even understand your full potential. You are an heiress of the Kingdom of God. You were designed perfectly, as I wanted you to be. Embrace who you are, and stop fighting the warrior inside of you. You are a fiery woman, and it is your choice whether that fire consumes you, or you use it for good. There is more to your life than others’ opinions of you. A lion does not fear the opinion of sheep. Do not cower under fear”.

Her next homework assignment is to read and re-read this letter daily. Lies and deceit have been the repetitive “friend” of her previous years. It’s time to defeat this enemy and take life back. She is a beautiful and strong woman – I look so forward to her full recognition and embracing of this fact.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, know that the issues are complex. Team up with a professional Christian counselor who is familiar with eating disorder treatments, and who can facilitate your recovery. Do your homework. Understand the nutritional aspects and the psychological struggles correlated with eating disorders. But, most importantly, know your Creator. He is the way out. He is the One who provides truth about your innate value, prior even to your conception. Even while addressing the necessary nutritional and psychological components, pay attention to God’s truths about you. Work diligently and intentionally, even when it doesn’t seem right, not to sabotage that truth. You are in for a challenging marathon, but it will come with incredible reward. Stay in there, as God truly shines His light on darkness, breaks chains of deception, and sets you free from your captivity!

Donna Gibbs, LCMHCS, BCPCC

Donna Gibbs, co-owner of Summit Wellness Centers, PLLC, is author of the recent releases Silencing Insecurity and Becoming Resilient. Donna has authored numerous other books, her blogs and articles have frequently been shared in various media outlets, and she has been featured on radio broadcasts across America, and internationally as well. Donna has been providing individuals and families the hope and help they need for over two decades as a North Carolina Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Supervisor (LCMHCS) and a Board Certified Professional Christian Counselor (BCPCC). A member of the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), she is a professional provider for Focus on the Family, Christian Care Network, r3Continuum, FINDINGbalance, and Samaritan’s Purse.

Follow Donna’s author page at https://www.facebook.com/DonnaGibbsResilience/ for daily encouragement, the weekly blog, and updates regarding events and speaking engagements.

Organizational Values

By Kevin Wimbish, MS, Co-Owner of Summit Wellness Centers, PLLC

Many organizations have mission statements, vision statements, or something on a wall somewhere that says something about where they are going and/ or who they want to be.  

Many employees may feel that they discuss such things in large group meetings, only to feel that they don’t live these things out in their organizations.  If we don’t live out our values with one another, it will have a detrimental impact on living those out with our clients/ customers, eventually getting off course, and losing our way.

So, if you feel this way.  

Here are some tips on a process:

  1. Have your company values on a screen or dry erase board in front of the team.  
  2. Talk about what those values mean to your team members.  Make sure you get to the “why” behind the values.  This is the fuel/motivation for them.   This will likely lead to a conversation about living those out with clients/ customers.
  3. Turn the conversation inward.  Here’s where it may get a little dicey. On a scale of 1-10, ask something like, “Please don’t name any names, but how are we doing living in light of these values with one another?”  You could ask people to say/ write why they chose the number they did.  If you think people won’t be open in a group setting, you may try an anonymous Google Form or just handwritten notes folded on note cards.
  4. Now, “what could we do to increase those numbers up 1-2 points over the next three months?  Try to get specific.  I.e. if a value is Service to Others, it might mean that when a need is presented via email/ staff meeting, that people volunteering to help one another goes up from 20% of the time to 40% of the time. 
  5. Ask people to make a commitment to themselves and/ or to another person that they will work on this between now and the next team meeting. Try to invite people to get specific about what they will be doing consistently that impact this change. Just like any goal, consider the framework of measureable, attainable, and time-bound.
  6. Have regular team meetings in which at least a part of the meeting is checking in on how the above is going.  Celebrate wins when it is going well.  When it is not, discuss obstacles and what to do about them.  Don’t judge or shame people when they’re not doing well. Celebrate progress, not hold to perfection. Be gracious. Agree on a way to correct course between now and the next meeting.
  7. Schedule the next meeting.  Repeat.  Keep working on it.  Celebrate wins.
  8. Evaluate in three months and see where you are.  You’ll likely be much more in sync with living in light of the value(s) of the organization than you and the team would have had you not taken this focused approach towards your organizational values. 

Overall,  organizational values are like family values, if they’re not clearly focused on, a lack of clarity, purpose, and synchronization will occur.  There will be a sense of randomness and disorder that abounds.  However, with an intentional focus on values, and living those out with one another first, the values will have no choice but get imparted to your clients and customers.

Kevin Wimbish, MS

Kevin Wimbish, MS, is Co-Owner of Summit Wellness Centers, PLLC. He provides Life, Leadership, and Management Coaching as well as Organizational and Team Consulting. He has received his training from The College of Executive Coaching as well as a certificate in Executive & Organizational Coaching from Light University, a division of The American Association of Christian Counselors Foundation.

Good, Better, Best

by Kevin Wimbish, MS, Co-Owner of Summit Wellness Centers, PLLC

“So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.”  Psalm 90:12, New American Standard Bible

It can be difficult to navigate how to spend our time.  And I do mean spend.  Time is a finite resource.  So many other things in life are renewable or we can get more: money, energy, commodities, but time is not.  Each year, month, day, hour, minute, once it’s gone, it’s gone.  As such, I think it’s important to be intentional about how we spend it.  It really is an investment, more than any other.

When presented with an opportunity, evaluate, is this the best use of my time?  You can’t do it all.  If you say “yes” to everyone and everything, more will continue to be asked of you.  However, if you always say “no,” you may be invited to less opportunities over time.  I know, it’s tough to navigate.

Here are some tips:

  1. Pause and Pray… Take a few moments, maybe even a day or two, and ask God to give you direction pertaining to the decision. 
  2. Gifting and Energy: When presented with an opportunity, ask yourself, “Has God gifted me in this arena? Does thinking about this excite my passion or does it deplete me?” 
  3. Saying “yes” and “no.”  If I say yes to this, what do I need to say no to?  Is saying yes to this the Best thing and are the other things just good or better?
  4. How to know the Best.  Ultimately, it takes prayer, wisdom and understanding to know this (thankfully, Proverbs says that if we ask for wisdom and understanding, we will get it!:)  Also, consider your long term goals.  Is this in sync with achieving them, or will it detract from them?  Remember, time is a finite resource.  How about your values?  Is pursuing this in sync with your deepest values?
  5. Whose agenda is this? I understand one’s choice with this can vary pertaining to one’s position in the company or ministry.  Ask yourself if this is God’s agenda for you, for this season in your life, for what is going on for your own well-being, the well-being of your family, what the organization, department, or ministry area needs.  Or, is someone trying to unload something they don’t want to do, or want to put it on your plate because they know you won’t say no?
  6. The power of peers.  Ask a close friend or two, what they think.  I would encourage asking someone who loves God and cares about you, your goals and values.  Ask someone who will tell you “no,” if that is what they think.  Don’t just ask someone who will automatically affirm what you think.  If you are a leader, this may be a challenge.  Leaders often consciously or subconsciously surround themselves with people who tell them “yes.”  This can feel good, but is not very helpful.

Many opportunities for decisions will come in your life.  Good things are fine, but can get in the way of better.  Better is obviously better than good, but there is still one more.  Best surpasses them all because it helps us to move in a way that honors God, is in sync with our long-term goals, and our values for how we want to live.  It takes wisdom, understanding, and often good mentors, friends, spouses, etc… to give us feedback to help us move along the path.

Kevin Wimbish, MS

Kevin Wimbish, MS, is Co-Owner of Summit Wellness Centers, PLLC. He provides Life, Leadership, and Management Coaching as well as Organizational and Team Consulting. He has received his training from The College of Executive Coaching as well as a certificate in Executive & Organizational Coaching from Light University, a division of The American Association of Christian Counselors Foundation.

Empower Others in Your Organization

by Kevin Wimbish, MS, Co-Owner of Summit Wellness Centers, PLLC

I’ve had so many conversations with people over the years about their experiences in the workplace.  They often discuss that they are trying to get things done, and their manager or leader keeps delaying, adding, telling them how to do all of the details to get something done.  I get it.  The manager or leader likely cares so much about the outcome that he or she wants to make sure it gets done well.  Also, it is usually out of a good intent of trying to be helpful.  Unfortunately, it is often not very helpful.  

If we tell everyone what to do at every step of the way, a number of things happen.  The person never develops the ability to make his or her own decisions.  They always need to come to the leader for the answer.  Unfortunately, an unhelpful side of this dynamic is that the leader/ manager may have an insecurity that drives them to consciously or subconsciously have a need to feel important and therefore wants to have others come to them for answers.  If you are a manager or leader, do some self-examination and see if this is the case for you.  If you empower others, and remove obstacles for them, you will continue to be important, they will develop more fully, and will have a deep sense of gratitude because you are helping them become their best selves.  

If you don’t know how to empower others, here are some tips:

  1. Hire good people.  This may sound random in this conversation.  However, this is so key to the consideration of empowering others.  If you hire people who share your company values, have solid character, are competent, and internally motivated to do a great job because that is who they are, then you don’t need to micromanage.  They will largely lead and manage themselves.  Awesome people are crucial in organizational life.
  2. Do a gut check every once in a while and ask yourself if you have a need to feel important by being the center of decision making.  If so, talk with a mentor, trusted friend, coach, etc… about that to try to help.
  3. Hold people accountable to outcomes, not process.  If you try to stay involved in minutiae, it will bog down the flow of getting things done, will covertly communicate to the other person that you don’t trust his/ her decision making, and actually create more work for you.  Don’t manage their process.  Hold them accountable to the agreed-upon outcome at the agreed upon time.
  4. Ask people what they think about how to handle a situation, before immediately giving them an answer.  If you always give the answer, they don’t learn to think for themselves, and again, may send the message that you don’t trust their decision making abilities.  
  5. Remove obstacles.  If you manage or lead in a large, more bureaucratic organization, try to use your influence to help move through the morass that can so often bog things down in these types of structures.  Just make sure you’re not being one of those obstacles by micromanaging. 
  6. Provide tools.  Regularly check in with the person to see what resources they need.  Do they need you to help create a more collaborative relationship with another department?  Do they need more financial resources?  How about training in a certain body of knowledge?  Provide them the tools they need to make things happen.
  7. Create a process of development.  Sometimes what we are asking people to do is a new skill they have not really developed yet.  It may be learning to give a powerful presentation.  It may be learning how to manage a project.  It may be healthy conflict resolution in the workplace.  Here is a helpful process to consider:  
    1. I lead, you watch, we process later.
    2. You lead, I watch, we process later.
    3. You lead alone, we process later.
    4. You continue to lead, we process as needed.

Empowering others can be a difficult feat because it requires us to be honest with ourselves about why we may need to stay in the middle of things.  It requires us to be intentional to hire good people, ask good questions, be clear about outcomes, remove obstacles, provide tools, and create a process.  It can be a difficult journey, but the rewards for the person, the organization, and yourself will be worth it.

Kevin Wimbish, MS

Kevin Wimbish, MS, is Co-Owner of Summit Wellness Centers, PLLC. He provides Life, Leadership, and Management Coaching as well as Organizational and Team Consulting. He has received his training from The College of Executive Coaching as well as a certificate in Executive & Organizational Coaching from Light University, a division of The American Association of Christian Counselors Foundation.

Building Healthy Habits

by Kevin Wimbish, MS, Co-Owner of Summit Wellness Centers, PLLC

Note: This is going to be the first part in a series of writings pertaining to my coaching work.  As such, you may notice a different focus from some of my previous writings from more of a counseling perspective.

Trying to build health habits in one’s life is something I find myself consistently discussing with people.  As such, I have written some thoughts on things that have been tried and true for me as I’ve sought to build healthy habits in my own life.

  1. Accept that this is simple, but it’s hard.  In our culture, it seems that we think if something is not new or cognitively complex, it is not good and valuable.  I ask people to consider not whether they have heard something before, but are they Doing, what they are hearing.  It’s not rocket science, but it is hard.
  2. Again, accept that it is hard.  If doing a bunch of healthy things were easy, everyone would do it, and there would not be countless books, influencers, etc… trying to tell us all what to do.  It’s hard.  I’m writing this one twice, because it is helpful for us to fully accept and embrace this.
  3. Ask, what is my “why?”  Is your “why” to i.e. exercise regularly because you want to feel better about yourself?  Is it that you want to enjoy doing more with friends and family without feeling winded?  Is it to help manage feeling nervous in the upcoming meeting?  If you don’t know your “why,” whatever is more attractive in that moment (comfort, ease, pleasure, peer pressure, whatever) will likely eclipse you doing what you need to do.
  4. Be humble & learn.  Ask people who know what they’re doing, how you can do that too.  If someone in the gym has big arms, and I want big arms, that’s who I’m asking.  They already are living what you’re trying to accomplish.
  5. Have accountability.  Having a goal in one’s mind is okay.  Written down is better.  Spoken out loud to people whom you give you permission to ask you about it, even better.  Not people who will bring you down.  People who will honestly ask you about it, and if it’s not happening, will you help you figure out how to make it happen.  Not just have a pity party, nor shame you.  
  6. Set measurable, attainable, and time-bound goals.  Where are things now, where do you want them to be, and by when?  Make it so clear someone else could read your goal and check it off when it’s done.  Getting more done at work is not a great goal.  Getting a, b, and c fully completed for a certain project and given to the person who needs them by September 22nd is a good goal.  
  7. Start small.  Here’s what I mean pertaining to it being attainable.  If you’re not doing anything at all pertaining to a habit, don’t set the goal to be Superman next week.  Start small.  Get some wins.  Slow and steady is way more sustainable than trying to do it all out of the gate.  The former is usually not as glamorous and doesn’t lead to great posts on social media about how awesome you are.  However, it is what will increase the probability of it lasting, which is really what makes the difference over the long run.  The latter usually sounds awesome, is built on emotion, some new fad idea, etc… and runs out in about two weeks.   Start small and increase incrementally.  
  8. When you fall, get back up quickly.  Don’t beat yourself up.  It doesn’t help, and usually leads to wallowing and doing the thing that you’re trying not to do (because that thing you are trying to stop often feels good and comforting in the moment.)  You’ll likely mess up and stumble on your way to either breaking an old habit or trying to create a new, healthy one.  Get up, brush off, keep moving forward.
  9. Celebrate wins.  My natural mindset is of the “just keep grinding” mentality, but that can wear you down over time.  So, I’ve had to learn this as it doesn’t come naturally for me.  When you reach a goal, even a small one, take a moment to thank God, to think positively to yourself and recognize that you did that.  It might sound weird, but it can give you fuel to keep going.  It’s kind of like being a coach to yourself.
  10. Use your will to lead your emotions. You often won’t feel like doing the new, healthy thing.  You’ll want to keep doing the old, unhealthy thing.  That’s why you’ve kept doing it.  It’s easy.  It’s comfortable.  It brings pleasure.  Comfort is very powerful to keep us doing the same thing over and over, even if it is very bad for us.  Don’t let not feeling like doing something be any kind of rationale for not doing it.  Even if it’s a tiny bit of the new and healthy thing.  Jump in.  And jump in tomorrow.  And the next day.  A little more each time.  Eventually you’ll feel weird not doing the new good thing, then you know something has shifted.  

If you want more guidance concerning creating and sustaining healthy Habits in your life, please contact us at 828.692.6383, email lbeddingfield@summitwellnesscenters.com to ask about our coaching services, or visit: www.summitwellnesscenters.com/coaching for more information.

Kevin Wimbish, MS

Kevin Wimbish, MS, is Co-Owner of Summit Wellness Centers, PLLC. He provides Life, Leadership, and Management Coaching as well as Organizational and Team Consulting. He has received his training from The College of Executive Coaching as well as a certificate in Executive & Organizational Coaching from Light University, a division of The American Association of Christian Counselors Foundation.

Grief in the College Launch

by Donna Gibbs, LCMHCS, BCPCC

If you’ve just moved a student to college for the first time this week, you’re feeling a bit out of sorts. A little more emotional than you expected. And, maybe you’re confused by your response.

I get it.

I just launched my third child to college this past week. He is the third to launch within 12 months! (Yes, I have two sophomores and a freshman). Before I left to travel home after getting my sons settled, I decided to go ahead and put on my “Hot Mess” t-shirt and proactively own the onslaught of emotions that I could feel coming. 

It was an appropriate shirt!

Those that know me well would be shocked to know that I even have a shirt featuring the phrase, “Hot Mess”. I have a very narrow range of emotion. It generally takes a tremendous amount for me to have a strong emotional response. But I knew I was feeling it with this launch, so I purchased the shirt for the special occasion. Yikes!

But, seriously, why the strong response? 

Why is something so awesome also so very difficult? 

Why did so many parents shed tears this past weekend?

Because transitions are hard.

And innately we know that some transitions are permanent.

Things won’t ever be quite the same.

So, we reminisce. We remember their birth, childhood memories, hard times, funny times. And, in ways that are somewhat similar to a death, we grieve. 

Grief is what you felt on the long travel home. 

Grief is what you felt when you said goodbye.

Because you were saying goodbye to the child that would not return the same. 

You were saying goodbye to your perceived influence in their life. 

You were saying goodbye to any illusion of control over their physical or emotional safety. 

Suddenly, you felt helpless as a parent, with an un-welcomed duty to release what was never yours.

I get it! (Really, I do!)

But having already launched two of my children last year, I know that we are also saying “hello”!

Hello to a young adult who is figuring out how to live independently.

A young adult who is making their mistakes, and learning from them.

A young adult who is learning to budget, developing their work ethic, discovering new relationships, and finding their way.

A young adult who is establishing their faith, apart from ours. 

A young adult who is displaying bravery and courage. 

A young adult who is becoming a more grateful individual, with perspective on the challenges of life.

I am grateful that God draws near when we mourn. He knows what it is like to say goodbye to a child, knowing there is a greater good. He knows the heartache, and purpose, of releasing His own.

That perspective is a soothing balm to the soul.

So, let’s embrace our temporary, hot messes. Let’s allow ourselves to grieve what our children have outgrown. Let’s also allow ourselves to say “hello” to wonderful new adventures with our young adult children (because there are some necessary endings in this life). And, let’s praise the God who understands our emotions, and felt them Himself in ways we cannot fathom!

Donna Gibbs, LCMHCS, BCPCC

Donna Gibbs, co-owner of Summit Wellness Centers, PLLC, is author of the recent releases Silencing Insecurity and Becoming Resilient. Donna has authored numerous other books, her blogs and articles have frequently been shared in various media outlets, and she has been featured on radio broadcasts across America, and internationally as well. Donna has been providing individuals and families the hope and help they need for over two decades as a North Carolina Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Supervisor (LCMHCS) and a Board Certified Professional Christian Counselor (BCPCC). A member of the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), she is a professional provider for Focus on the Family, Christian Care Network, r3Continuum, FINDINGbalance, and Samaritan’s Purse.

Follow Donna’s author page at https://www.facebook.com/DonnaGibbsResilience/ for daily encouragement, the weekly blog, and updates regarding events and speaking engagements.

How To Feel Heard

by Chad Barron, LMFT

Have you ever felt like no one was listening to you? Yes, people are hearing the sound of your voice, but it seems like no one is really listening?  

Sometimes it’s because people are distracted, or just couldn’t hear you, or there’s a language barrier, or they simply misinterpreted you. 

Other times it seems like it’s really just because they don’t want to hear what you have to say. 

Before we go on, a brief digression on misinterpretation. Have you ever thought about how much brain power goes into interpreting the intended message of another person? I’ve boiled it down to 5 not-so-easy steps: 

Step 1: First you have to listen, and correctly discern every word—correctly—and match that word with its intended meaning, of which there are usually many. 

Step 2: Follow the strict, fickle, ever changing rules of grammar and syntax to string those meanings together.

Step 3: Account for tone, pitch, speed, volume, facial expression, gestures, and other non-verbals (remember 80-95% of all communication is non-verbal!). 

Step 4: Adjust for social, environmental, and historical context. 

Step 5: Finally—somehow!—piece together your best theory as to what in the world this person is trying to say.. 

Our brains are tasked with deciphering all of this information in fractions of a second. This is beyond astounding to me. We are fearfully and wonderfully made!

Considering this, it’s not surprising that sometimes—and some would suggest all of the times—we do not form in our minds a perfect copy of the message that was intended by the message-sender. 

People, there is a reason your significant other’s most frequent response is, “Huh?”

So many times, we feel unheard because of a simple lapse in communication. We all need to cut each other a little slack. 

Other times, the problem is less pragmatic, and more relational.

When we don’t feel heard, our natural inclination is to get louder. Picture the typical obnoxious American tourist in Germany shouting “WHERE IS THE BATHROOM?” for the eighth time, not knowing that the poor German soul he is yelling at is so very confused because even though he has never seen a “bath,” in any “room,” in any McDonalds he’s ever been in. 

This tendency to get loud may not always look like an increase in volume—there are other ways to increase the intensity of a message. A slamming of the fist on the table. A finger in the face. Slowly. Annunciating. Every. Word.

Sometimes these efforts get the result we are looking for. This usually comes at the cost of damaging the relationship. This is called coercion. More often than not, these tactics not only don’t get us what we want, they do the exact opposite. This has been studied by science. When you push someone on their views or beliefs, they are most likely going to push back. The harder you try to convince or persuade the further entrenched each side gets. You might think, “If I stay calm and rational and present a solid argument this won’t happen.” But you’d be wrong. 

[See! You’re arguing with me! You just proved my point!]

See, you’re focused on winning. On “being right.” Which seems rational because it’s what most people do. But it doesn’t work! But take heart! There is a better way!

In the first chapter of John’s gospel, he describes Jesus as the light. He says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (v. 5, New International Version) Some translations will indicate through a footnote that the Greek word for “overcome” has multiple meanings, and one of those alternative meanings would translate “understood.” John is well known for his use of double entendre, so it’s fair to say that this was intentional, and that he intended for his readers to also consider that the darkness has neither “overcome” nor “understood” the light.

Later in the same chapter John says, “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” (v. 11)

Jesus is quoted repeatedly in Matthew and Luke as saying, “Whoever has ears, let them hear.” (Matt. 11:15) 

If there was ever someone who deservedly felt like no one was listening, it was Jesus. You can even hear the frustration in his voice in phrases like, “You unbelieving and perverse generation…” “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you?” (Matt. 17:17)

And while there were times when perhaps He did get a little “loud,” (anyone here ever flipped tables to make a point?) He displayed His divine patience in showing restraint. 

He did not pack out theaters. 

He spoke on hillsides and from fishing boats on the seashore. 

He did not lobby at the feet of the elite and powerful. 

He dined with “tax collectors” and “sinners.” 

He did not raise an army to exact his will through force. 

He gathered a rag-tag bunch of uneducated, un-impressive nobody’s and sent them out to heal, and pray, and share the good news.

When people rejected him, he did not criticize. When people walked away because his teaching cut too deep, he did not call into question their character nor their intelligence. Nor did he chase them down to convince them to stay so his “numbers” wouldn’t suffer. He just let them walk away.

When people accused him he did not defend himself. 

Yet he overcame. Not through force, but through humble submission. In gentle meekness He spoke the truth in love. His light pierced the darkness and showed us a better way. He heard our cry and delivered us from the slavery of sin and death. Not by brute force. Not by giving the best, airtight arguments (he spoke in riddles for goodness sakes!). He won the game by not playing the game.

Oh, and also, He listened.

He could have just showed up, did the whole death-on-a-cross thing, and got it all over with. Instead, he lived among us for 30+ years. All that time with the commoners, the downtrodden, the lame, the sinners, the outcasts. Listening to us. Sweating. Bleeding. Crying. Hurting. Feeling with us. This is what we call “empathy.” 

The secret to being heard is not in how you say it. How loud, how often, how eloquently. The secret to being heard is to listen first.

Friends, if we empathically listen to understand and not simply gather ammo for our counter-argument something amazing happens. Our opponents are no longer adversaries. They are human beings, made in the image of the Almighty, born with a purpose, bought at a price, and they have a story. And now we can truly see that our stories are intertwined with one another. And if all goes well, even if we don’t agree, we all feel heard. Because we listened first.

We might even discover that we were wrong about something. Which is just an amazing opportunity to be more right!

Chad Barron, LMFT

Temptation (3 of 3)

by Chad Barron, LMFT

This may seem like a weird way to start a blog about mental health and spirituality, but do you remember that scene in Home Alone? The one where Kevin finally talks to the scary neighbor guy? While the movie is more well known for its cartoon violence and punchy one-liners, it’s the very human theme of finding love and belonging on the other side of conflict and disconnection that makes the film an enduring holiday classic (and the John Williams soundtrack doesn’t hurt).

Anyway, in case you missed it, or don’t remember, all that matters for our discussion today is that our protagonist, 8 year-old Kevin McCallister, is sitting in a church missing the family he believes he made magically disappear through a particularly spiteful Christmas wish. As he listens to the church choir rehearse, his “scary” neighbor “Old Man Marley” comes over and sits next to him. Kevin discovers this man is not scary at all, but is actually quite kind. Further, Marley connects Kevin’s plight to his own story, sharing that he has not spoken to his son since they had a fight years ago. Then the following dialogue ensues:

Kevin: “If you miss him, then why don’t you call him?”

Marley: “I’m afraid if I call him he won’t talk to me.”

Kevin: “How do you know?”

Marley: “I don’t know. I’m just afraid that he won’t.”*

How do you know? A wise question from an 8 year-old. But Marley is wise enough–and brave enough–to admit he doesn’t actually know. He is simply uncertain of the outcome and this makes him afraid. 

So afraid, in fact, that he does nothing. For years.

Hold that thought. Let’s get back to the story that started this 3 part series:

“The devil led him [Jesus] to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. ‘If you are the Son of God,’ he said, ‘throw yourself down from here. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you

to guard you carefully;

they will lift you up in their hands,

so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’

When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.” (Luke 4:9-13 New International Version)

To review, Jesus is fresh out of the waters of baptism, after which the sky opened up and a voice from heaven said, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22 NIV) Satan just tempted Jesus to put his comfort above his mission by turning stone to bread, and then offered him control in the form of power over all the earthly kingdoms in exchange for worshiping him. In both cases, Jesus shuts him down with scripture. Here Satan brings back the tactic of casting doubt on Jesus’ identity– “If you really are the Son of God.” How do you know, Jesus? Can you really believe every voice you hear speaking through a hole ripped in the sky? Can you be sure? Are you certain?

The devil offers something to Jesus that perhaps the voice couldn’t: the comfort of certainty. All Jesus has to do is jump off a very tall building and when angels save him from imminent doom (as is promised in scripture) he can finally be SURE he is the Son of God. It would seem the Devil is challenging Jesus to take a leap of faith. But herein lies the trap. This leap would not be in faith at all.

Hebrews 11:1 provides a definition of the word faith: The NASB version translates it quite nicely: “Now faith is the certainty of things hoped for, a proof of things not seen.” (emphasis added)

The Devil offered Jesus a way to obtain PROOF that He is in fact, the Son of God.

But Jesus had his proof. His faith was proof enough. A leap would not have been an act of faith. A leap would have been a desperate grab for certainty. Which, by definition, is no faith at all.

You see, unless you happen to be all-knowing, certainty is impossible. When we say we are certain, what we are usually saying is “I feel certain enough to act as if the outcome I’m predicting is certain.”

Jesus, being God and all, had access to this omniscience, but chose to submit himself to the limitations of a fleshly existence to be able to empathize with our weaknesses (see the book of Hebrews and/or part 1 of this series). To pursue absolute certainty would jeopardize His mission. Sure, jumping off a building hoping angels will catch you takes a great deal of faith, but going through life as a human being, subjecting yourself to earthly authorities, and submitting to death on a cross is an act of faith on a whole other level. In order to be the perfect sacrifice for our sins, His faith would have to sustain Him. Knowing with certainty is not part of the plan. So Jesus declines, and chooses to rely on faith alone.

Faith that needs certainty is not faith at all. Refusing to act without the assurance of certainty is called “fear.” 

At the same time, faith is not the absence of fear or doubt. Rather, they are two sides of the same coin. Faith courageously moves forward despite fear. 

We are all Old Man Marely. We all–at times–allow our uncertainty to freeze us into inaction because we fear failure, or rejection, or loss. 

And there’s no short-cuts. No guarantees. This is the true leap of faith. To live out our lives resting in God’s promises–not our own certainty. To move forward despite the risks. To set aside our own comfort and sit with someone in their grief. To surrender our need for control and allow the Spirit to lead. To love when doing so might come at great cost. 

So reach out. Forgive. Seek forgiveness. Reconnect.

Will it work?

I don’t know! But consider Paul’s words to Timothy:

“God did not give us a spirit that makes us afraid but a spirit of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7 New Century Version)

Or, as another wise teacher once told me,

Go out on a limb, because that’s where the fruit is!

*Home Alone, Directed by Chris Columbus, written and produced by John Hughes, starring Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, John Heard, and Catherine O’ Hara. Hughes Entertainment and 20th Century Fox, 1990.

Chad Barron, LMFT
Touch to Call