A Holistic View Of Health Webinar
Often, we seek overly simplistic solutions for complex problems. If we are to provide help for others in the most effective manner, we need to consider the complex creations we each are. In this webinar, Kathy Knochel and Matt Kaufmann walk through the Bio-Pscyho-Social-Spiritual model and consider how this “holistic” lens can assist helpers as they mentor and encourage others. Learn more by watching this webinar recording.
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Holistic View of Health Webinar, this concept of holistic, we’re gonna talk about the full spectrum of the human being. We read in Psalms 139:14 that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, and I think one of the excellent and pleasing things about research and science is everybody’s in agreement that we are more and more wonderfully and fearfully made.
The more doctors peer into us, the more psychologists peer into us, the more pastors peer into us, we find that we’re very, very complex. And to think that God has knit us together with thoughtfulness and with precision and with intention. I think it’s exciting but also having a fuller awareness of our composite makeup also helps us as we think about the issues that we deal with. Would you agree with that, Kathy? Is that somewhat the foundation for why we would address a topic holistically? Yeah, absolutely. So we’re gonna look at and just as our, I guess our advertisement that came across the email or the invitation talked about four different buckets or categories that we’re going to look at.
You know, we’re growing increasingly aware of the multifaceted interplay of these four aspects of the human experience. We have a physical body, we have a spiritual life. We have an emotional experience and we have a relational reality. And these four things overlap. They interact with one another.
Some of the matters that concern us are squarely in one area. Others that concern us are shared by many of the areas or have tentacles in all of the areas. And our overall health then and resilience is somewhat interplay between these matters. And, Kathy, when you are helping people from a clinician standpoint, you very much have an ear to these ideas, don’t you?
Yes. And I would say, just add to what you had said is while some people might be experiencing things that are squarely in one of these areas, the beautiful part of, just like we had said, how we’re fearfully and wonderfully made. Being able to support the other three parts can actually help strengthen the part that’s hurting. And so it just kind of shows that interconnectedness of all of these different parts.
And it gives you a bit of a, maybe an action plan. As I hear you say that’s providing support for the other three is gonna to support that fourth one, and so it allows us to have some creativity also when helping people. And sometimes I know I can be at a loss and feel like I’m in a dead end but yet some of these provide some other ways to think about some options moving forward. So we’re physical beings with physical bodies.
We’re spiritual being with a living soul. We’re emotional being with psychological realities, and we’re relational beings that interact with other people. Why don’t you just, we’re gonna get into each of these areas more in depth, but Kathy, how often do you address these areas in the work that you’re doing? Just try to help us understand the prevalence of this.
So I would say as a counselor in some of my initial sessions with my clients, as I’m getting to know the person, I am asking questions to better understand all four of these areas. And so, I would say I use this model frequently. It’s kind of maybe my mindset when I’m talking with others and I think as a mentor it’s helpful to be able to do the same, just being able to feel like you are asking good open-ended questions in each of these areas, like how are things going emotionally for you? Tell me about your spiritual life physically and like relationally being people that are supporting you, social events, that sort of thing.
And then I would say from there, what can be really helpful, kind of depending on what the needs are with someone, is really being able to design really good goals in each of these areas. So I would say like counseling done well, even mentoring done well is being able to set small, achievable goals in each of these areas. So like the one or two things you are focused on from a relational perspective or an emotional perspective or spiritual.
I really like that, Kathy, I’m so glad that you brought it back to mentors. Yeah. We’re gonna tap you as in your expertise as a clinician. And this is not necessarily to equip us to be clinicians, but equip us to be wise people helpers, and that’s really what we’re after with mentoring.
And I think you have a lot to offer in providing us some lenses to think about as we engage with people. And sometimes it’s so helpful to know that, oh, the matter that this person is dealing with is more complex than what maybe it first appears. And some of the complexity lies in some of these various domains.
And so hopefully today, in this next hour, we’re going to maybe provide some direction, maybe some clarity on some of these categories that will hopefully allow them to be used better. Now, just to give a little bit of a sketch of what this is gonna look like. We’re gonna step through each of these separately. And then, certainly there will be time at the end for questions. So if you do have a question, you can chat that in. You can chat that in at any time really but there will be time dedicated at the end for any sort of questions that might arise. And so I think we’ll have time enough for that. So just wanted you as a participant on this webinar to be thinking a little bit about that. Kathy, anything to say before we really move right in here.
Yeah. So I actually might just walk through a really quick example of this just to kind of maybe help set the stage a little bit for this. And so, because I’m a counselor, you’re going to get examples starting kind of focused on what feels like a situation that’s only in the emotional lens. And I would just say let’s think about the person that is struggling with some depression. And so I think it can be really easy to kind of laser focus on the depression piece of it. And then, and it can just feel like they’re not making any gains. I don’t know what to do. They’re still struggling, they’re still feeling hopeless, that sort of thing.
And so really when we think about how we’re all interconnected and trying to set goals in each of these areas, for the person that’s struggling with depression, you want to be able to be able to kind of zoom back and think, okay, physically what would be one or two things that they could be doing physically and then that will naturally impact them emotionally.
So like getting up, going for a walk, just making sure that they’re eating healthy foods and that sort of thing physically will help create emotional change. Same as relationally, like who’s purposely connecting with this person? Who are they purposely connecting with? How are you encouraging that?
And then also too when someone is feeling hopeless and is struggling with things like clinical depression, that can really take a toll spiritually too. It can feel like getting up and doing worship or devotions or that sort of thing is the last thing that they want to be doing. And so being able to encourage and do that alongside of them will ultimately strengthen those three other areas. And then you’ll start to see some small steps forward in the emotional category too.
I think that’s an excellent example. And depression is certainly not off our radar. Lots of people deal with that. And so it is something, even that example, I think very much hits the experience of what as mentors we’re going to encounter as well as helping people. But just to see the interconnectedness of that example that you’ve provided there, Kathy, and also sometimes it’s probably hard to tease out cause and effect, isn’t it?
Yes. Like what’s causing what here? Yes, absolutely. Well, let’s get right into then this physical one here. And they’re just in a way of introduction, you know, God indwelled the human physical body in Christ and His resurrection in bodily form is evidence that He intends the physical human body to have purpose.
I just wanna stop just a moment and just appreciate that very narrow observation that Jesus came in human form. And not only that, He resurrected in human form, and I think that’s even more astounding, like I kind of get it. He came to our human form to live our life and do what needed to be done. But then He resurrected in a human form that still bears scars. So, I think we have in that example of Christ is a sanctioning of the human body in a way that says, I have created the human body for you to live in. And therefore, living in that human body well is part of what it looks like to be a flourishing human being.
So to have this physical body, a part of our health, a part of our overall health, a part of our flourishing as human beings seems very, very plausible. And, I think very often we’ve had them separated, don’t we, Kathy, to say, well, that’s just physically and these other matters are completely separate, but you’re seeing them come together quite a lot in life, don’t you?
Yes, absolutely. And I think one of the pieces with this is remembering that your physical body is something that you have for the rest of your life. I know that’s obvious to say, but I think that’s the importance of just making sure that you’re taking care of it. If you think about it like the Bible says it’s our temple and that we’re taking care of it in a healthy way and kind of pacing ourselves in the different activities and how we’re sleeping and how we’re eating.
You know, I heard recently of some people, it was a group of older farmers talking, and they were just all talking together of like, if I would’ve just did things different when I was younger, like all those years on open tractors, I can’t hear anymore. All those years of lifting heavier things than I should have. My back hurts all the time. It’s harder for me to do the things that I need to do. And I think that just is a good example to show like just that need for healthy pacing and kind of listening to your body in these different areas, which are kind of over there on the left side of the screen, like just really making sure that you’re stewarding all of those things really well to really take care of that physical body.
I really like that and I like the example you gave. And we’re gonna get back to the listening to your body cuz that’s a phrase we hear a lot and I want you to unpack that a bit more. But the example that you gave, I think very often I have thought about. Have a healthy body so that it goes the distance right, and that you have physical faculty. But I don’t think as a young person necessarily take care of myself so that I can be in good emotional state when I’m a grandpa.
Yeah. You know, I’ve never thought about that before or take care of myself so that I can be in a good relational or a good spiritual state at end of life. I’ve never even thought about that category before. In fact, that actually gives me more impetus to take care of my body now. I think that’s an excellent point.
And I think it just goes, if you think about the emotional lens and this physical lens and how that overlaps. So you said like, as a grandpa, if you are in a lot of physical pain, it’s gonna feel harder, you’re gonna just feel more stress and that’s gonna wear on you emotionally and then it actually kind of separates out then relationally, grandkids being able to do the things that you want to be able to do.
So let’s go to this listening. You mentioned the left hand side there, kind of listening to your body. And that is something, you know, there’s growing scholarship today that is saying we need to listen to our bodies. Our bodies are telling us things that we are ignoring. So is that just babble speak? Like how do I listen to my body? I hear it creak and groan. Is that what I should be listening to? Or, anyway, help us understand what that means.
So I would say that’s a phrase that I use a lot with individuals that I’m walking with in counseling, just from the idea that when we have too many things on our plate, when our stress levels are high, when there’s more things to get done than what it feels like we have time for. You might find that in other buckets of this, but we start to hold the tension physically. And so sometimes that leads to headaches or other physical ailments and also just tension like in your shoulders or tension in your back. And so that ability to just take some time, it doesn’t even take a lot of time, but just taking a moment, like each day or throughout the day to just listen to your body and see, am I feeling tense? Am I struggling with some physical health things that could be taken care of if I’m relieving some of the stress or that sort of thing?
Some of the phrases that I use with my clients in this area is just, it’s kind of having that observing self or just even being able to do like a body scan of just like, what am I noticing? And that might even be noticing tiredness and then being able to reflect on yes, my sleep habits have not been well lately. Or just even being able to take some time, we have breathing listed there to just be able to engage in the skill of doing some breathing to help release some of that tension. Just paying attention to what your body’s trying to tell you.
So give us an example. Supposedly do a body scan or whatnot. You mentioned tension. I feel tension. My muscles are tight. I feel like I’m not quite relaxed. Give us some examples of what that could be telling me. So I hear it. What is it saying? What kind of information could our bodies be telling us about our larger health?
So, I would, I guess a few different things there. I think that our bodies can be the first signal of something bigger going on, and that does not necessarily mean like something scary medically. It certainly can, and I think that’s the reason that we’re paying attention to our bodies and we’re, like you see up here on this screen, we’re checking in with our doctor and we’re doing all the things that we need to do medically for ourselves, but it also is just the tension that we hold and if there just feels like there’s always days that we’re not feeling good or we feel like we’re in a fog or that sort of thing.
I think that that’s where that overlap with our emotional or mental health comes in of like, okay, this probably means that I need to be setting better boundaries or I need to be addressing some underlying anxiety or other things, or I need to be engaging in other like recreational activities or that sort of thing to be able to help heal my body.
I think of it, you know, it kind of goes both ways. Sometimes what ails us in the emotional or spiritual situation manifests itself in our body. And so then our body is giving us messages about this other area of our life. But also it works the other direction too, doesn’t it? Where the body then puts me in a good place in those others areas.
Let me give you this example. I was working with a convert, and he was struggling with reading the Bible. And he was slouching across the table from me. And, I asked him, I said, okay, on a scale of one to 10 right now, how eager are you to read the Bible and be completely honest with me, and he was completely honest. Scale of one to 10, I’m like a two, you know? Take it or leave it. I really don’t want, and then I asked him, all right. I want you to sit up in your chair. I want you to just straighten your back up. And, now I said, on a scale of one to 10, where are you at? And he is like, he looks at me. He is like, a four. Amazing, right? That our bodily posture changed some sort of mental state and readiness to read the Bible. Very, very simple example. But what if we lived in our bodies? Well, to me that’s like so exciting.
Yes. And I think that that’s a really good example. So some are pretty obvious, you know, hormones, for example, bodily cycles. It’s well noted that these take a toll and we go through emotional ups and downs for this. And to be aware of that, sometimes we can think we’ve got a spiritual dilemma and maybe we don’t. Is that a true statement?
Yeah, absolutely. And I think that is a really important thing. I would say even more than listening to your body is too kind of learning and knowing your bodies. So I would say like you have body cycles on this slide, but also hormones, I would say even specifically as a female, just understanding what happens in my body throughout a month, how does that impact me in all these different areas? How does it impact me emotionally, spiritually, relationally, and the more that you are observing that about yourself and learning it, it helps prevent some of the high highs or low lows that can be experienced. And all of that are just some of those biological things that are happening in a body, and it’s just good to be able to learn and know them.
I think this is exciting because if we could live in our bodies well and help others do that, what kind of gain this can possibly have. I’ll give another personal example. I have learned that if I go without food for a certain amount of time, I am more prone to discouragement and I become more emotional. And, then there are times where my wife knows I’m going through something. She tells me, you need to eat. That’s what you need. That’s the best cure for you right now. And so there’s something there with blood sugar, right?
Absolutely. You know, the phrase is coined like the hangriness and I think it’s a true piece and I think it’s a good example of, again, just how these, all of these systems in our body overlap. What feels like anger and anxiety and stress can actually be fixed physically by just taking care of your body.
So let’s just maybe cast a vision here. Imagine we were so in tune and so lived wisely in our bodies like Jesus did that we caught its cues. We were able to listen to it in a way that helped us live in these other areas better. Let’s go to the emotional one now. The maturing believer we read in the Scriptures to renew the mind is Romans 12, I think. Maturing believer includes the renewing of the mind thoughts are very closely connected, Kathy, with our feelings and feelings with our behaviors. Kind of unpack this cycle a little bit and help us understand that.
So, this is a really important cycle to know and know well also, and so it’s that idea that a lot of times we feel that a situation will come up in our lives and we will say, this made me so frustrated, or this situation is causing me a lot of stress. And then kind of what ends up happening is we start to feel that our emotions are tied to different situations when in reality when situations happen, we as people assign thoughts to them or perspectives or some rules of some kind that all kind of rest in our thoughts. And then the way that we think about things and what we let ruminate up here is really what causes our feelings or has the biggest influence on our future feelings, which then how we feel directly goes into what choices we make.
So I think just at a high level, this is a classic example, but for someone that is saying, I went to an event, I went to a some kind of gathering. Nobody talked to me. I felt anxious, and so I just left. And what you wanna be able to do with that person is really be able to better understand what were some of the things that you were thinking? And I think slowly as you can start to better understand the thoughts, what you come across is some really unhelpful thinking styles. Like the sort of thing always happens to be. People thought I was weird or whatever it is. Just all of these negative, unhelpful thoughts. And then that leads us again to those distressing feelings. And then it makes us make choices that are actually not in line with our values or goals. So I think sometimes just a good way of saying it is just like we do away moves from our goals rather than towards them.
So like if we left that event that doesn’t probably meet our relational goals that we have or the value we have socially. So just the long and short of all of that is just really knowing that feelings are finicky. They go up and down all the time. I would say that most people would say they felt a number of feelings today, but what we have the most control of and can steward is the content that we’re thinking about, the thoughts in our head, and then also our behaviors, and then that can help regulate out those feelings.
I really like that. So the thoughts and the behaviors we have more control over than the feelings is what I just heard, which is so true. Yes. But if I were to have a guess, most people want their feelings changed. That’s what we most struggle with, is like, I want to feel different.
Yeah, absolutely. And, that’s easy to understand. Nobody likes feeling any other feeling than just happy and calm. But, feelings just fluctuate so often that if you get too focused on them, you actually can be engaging in a struggle. And sometimes the phrase out there is like, then we start having anxiety about our anxiety, which pushes back to all of the thoughts that we’re thinking and that sort of thing.
Kathy, something that you’ve spoken to a fair amount, we have a podcast on it as well, emotional regulation. Say a little bit about that and what is the objective of emotional regulation and what place does it have to play?
So, the emotional regulation is this idea, well, I should say what it is not, emotional regulation is not just feeling calm all the time or just feeling one feeling. What it means to have emotional regulation is that you, and this kind of goes back to what we talked about in the last slide, you know your body and you are listening and paying attention and you’re noticing when emotions are starting to rise up or you’re starting to get dysregulated.
And then regulation skills help you to be able to come back to the present moment and to try and stabilize them for the purpose of being able to do the things that you’re wanting to do. At a high level emotional regulation skills look like some grounding exercises. So helping yourself come back to the present moment on purpose aan some of the breathing skills, some of the mindfulness skills, all of those that just help you kind of just come back to the moment that you’re in.
So, just as we had said in the physical bucket, being in tune to your physical body and knowing what it’s telling you and how to respond to it, how to live in it well. It sounds like that emotional regulation is that of the emotions. Living well with your emotions to the point where you know what you’re feeling, you know the emotion, and then you step into what message it’s telling you, and then regulating it in a God honoring way through a variety of different means.
Yes, absolutely. And I think it’s just that really important piece of just remembering the importance of self-awareness in this area. Like what are the thinking styles that tend to shift my emotions? What are the triggers relationally or other areas? And so just having that good self-awareness is important.
So I’ve had a recent, I don’t know, understanding of the human being. I’d be interested in your take on this, and that is, I sometimes I wonder, Kathy, if we think we’re far more rational and conscious than what we really are. And what I mean by that is, we all have thoughts and we think we’re right and we have our way of thinking of things.
But when the day is done, we’re very emotional and I find myself operating and interacting with people more on emotional terms than on logical, rational, thoughtful terms, even though all of our conversation is in the rational. And, my point is that, I even see this in myself. I know how I should be behaving right now, and my thoughts are thinking correctly right now, but I’m feeling altogether something very different. And, so my question to you is, one, you can respond to how accurate that statement is, but also, how do you sit with people with emotions when emotions do not line up with thoughts and they know it? Everybody wants to change it, but it just doesn’t change.
Yeah. So, to your first question, I think that you said that well, and I would agree with you there. I think that the piece of that is helping people sit with their emotions, even though it isn’t maybe matching where other things are. It’s that ability to engage that you want to be able to validate like, this is really uncomfortable or this is really frustrating, or just being able to provide a lot of that really good validation around that. But then also it’s helping the word acceptance there and acceptance doesn’t mean that you’re okay with the feelings or the experiences that are going on around you or that sort of thing, but just that acceptance of our emotions are, God gave them to us for a reason. And they fluctuate all the time. So just that acceptance of the emotion. And I would actually say, Matt, with this there’s a lot of redirecting then back to the other areas. Like if we zoom back out to this, to our other circles that we’re talking through here, there’s an importance when things are feeling so confusing in an emotional bucket that you’re actually spending more time in the other areas.
So, like if we just run through them physically, like, you know what? Let’s just get up and go do something active right now. Or like spiritually, let’s pray together. Here are some good Scriptures to be focused on. And even just that relational piece of it is just like, let’s go and connect and do something within our social network, which I would say then use some of them emotional regulation skills to be able to just be all in in a relational experience. And, just kind of letting those uncomfortable, what feels like irrational feelings and emotions just kind of settle as you’re doing that.
So there is a role that a mentor plays in just receiving the emotion of another person? Yes. I think that sometimes the term that can be used there is just being able to be an emotional container, and that’s like, I will hold this for you. I will sit with this emotion as we sit here, but I’m also gonna be encouraging that we are doing these other things while we do that. And just because I’ve heard you speak on this before, to be clear, that’s not to take a person’s emotion in and on ourselves, isn’t it? Yes. How would you say that?
Oh yeah, absolutely. So there’s that real need for boundaries again, but just even that it’s the empathy versus sympathy piece for sure. I’m just like, I’m going to sit next to you with it. And then being able to like, as you’re leaving and as you’re going back to doing your things, being able to separate and visually just give that back to them.
So that’s very helpful in this concept, this area of emotion. A lot could be said here. So much of our lives is lived here. I really appreciate that. Let’s move on now to the relational. God has made us relational beings, right? It’s not good for a man to be alone. We read very early in the narrative of the Bible. He uses relationships to mature us and care for us. There’s a graph here on the screen, Kathy, I know that you use as you talk to people about the relationship. So help us understand its purpose and how you might think that through.
Yeah, this is a image here that I would just really encourage you to, with anyone that you’re walking alongside of, that you maybe pick up some kind of graphic like this and talk with them about it. It’s really important that people are able to clearly identify who are their people in each of these buckets. So there’s multiple reasons for that. One, for the individual that feels like they are alone and they have no one and no one cares. Sometimes just doing an exercise like this, obviously the intimate circle would just be the people that know them the best, the people that are there for them that they’re closest to.
And then as it expands out, there actually would be this idea that the more it expands out, the more people that might be in it. Like some of the smaller circles should have less people in it. But also, I would just say that there’s this second part as a mentor is helping the person to know like, how much contact and how many things should be shared in each of these areas.
So for somebody that’s walking through a really difficult time, they don’t have to make that known to the whole community. They’re gonna let that be known a little bit towards the more intimate or close friends area of things. So, I think that this is just a graphic that helps people, one, identify, who are my people and then also, who are the right people to be sharing some of my disappointments with, or who are the ones I should be celebrating with or that sort of thing.
That’s fascinating and I’d be interested to know, and you’ve got a unique clientele, but I’d be interested to know what you’re seeing with those that you work with. Is there some outstanding areas that are being deprived in people these days? Is there anything to share with us to say, hey, these particular areas seem to be lacking in lives. Maybe there’s not among the clients, you know, I don’t know.
So I think that it definitely just depends on the person and the situation, but I think with sometimes when people are in transitional periods of life, so like transitioning from high school to college or college to working world, or even single to married, the people in these buckets get all scattered around. And so, what I can see there is that there’s like that grief piece of as people are reorienting into other buckets. And also like if there’s a big move or something like that, it takes a lot of time to fill in all of these areas. All of a sudden everybody kind of becomes just the community bucket, and then you have to work hard to whittle down people into these lower categories.
What tips do you have for helping people build relationships? I know I’ve had some situations where I work with and mentors are working with individuals who don’t have any close friends, for example. And then you find yourselves trying to help a person find a friend, that’s a difficult job. And so anyway, I’d be curious to know, how do you help people? For some people relationships come easy. And for others they become very challenging because of a number of factors.
Well, and I would say too, I can see where there are people who are, like, if they have had difficult relationships in the past or depending on their personality, they might be in a place of like, I don’t need relationships. Well, we all need it. It says it right there. God said it’s not good for man to be alone. So we all need relationships. So sometimes it’s just about helping people understand the importance of needing that social support. And, so if I think about this, like through a mentoring lens, just even being the person that’s walking beside someone can start to help them see like, oh, this support is really nice, or it’s really nice to have someone to text when I am struggling with something or that sort of thing.
But to answer your question specifically, of how do you go about making friends? So that actually can be a really tricky question, but I would say where my mind first goes to is, look, have your eye on that community piece. What are you doing? What are the circles that you’re in? How are you making sure that you are going out and exploring the community and being a contributing member of it?
So that might be your church family. What are you doing with church and how are you being productive there and or just like in your work community or in just the community you live in. And then that’s where you get to start to kind of press into some of these relationships. And then the hope would be that it builds in these other areas.
I might just say one more thing to that. I think if we think about what happens when the relational piece is not going well, that can actually lead to isolation and isolation just is not healthy for anyone. That’s one that when relationally, there’s isolation and you don’t have the connection, that’s gonna definitely impact your overall emotional health.
We need people. And so then when the emotional health is not doing well, it can feel really easy to get distant from God, both because there’s nobody keeping you accountable. And also just like when you’re feeling the emotional pain, it also is easy to back out of this doing things to nurture your spiritual life. And then I would just, even my question would be, are you even being active or are you turning to unhealthy behaviors that are going to negatively impact your physical health then as well?
Those are really excellent points to make. And, one that I would like to make here is just as in our church context, we have a lot to our advantage in having local church families. We’ve got a lot of boots on the ground that are available to people on a regular basis, and so that’s gotta be so much more leverage than I would imagine, trying to help somebody in the larger community. Yes. So let’s look now at the last one, which is spiritually. Not last because it’s least, but last on the list here. We are spiritual beings with an undying soul created for relationship with God, our Creator. And this one I think probably is almost paramount in our mind, right?
I think I can ask a mentee a lot quicker. I ask ’em, how are they doing spiritually? Then I ask them, how are they doing physically or how, you know, that seems to be high on our list. And so, help us understand this. You know, we’ve got it there in the box. There’s lots that could be talked about here. But, you know, trying to have a good concept and image of who God is and also a good understanding of who we are as spiritual beings. But would like you to share a little bit about this topic.
I would agree that this is one of the most important ones. One, I guess back story with where I worked prior to being at ACCFS, we did a lot of biopsychosocial, which was the first three lenses and not the spiritual piece of it. And so I can just even see the ability to be able to push into this lens with people now in my current job, while this can sometimes be a big area of struggle, but when there is healing and this is going well, how it really does kind of carry the other pieces well.
So this is a really important one. I would say from that kind of the question of being able just to ask people pretty openly, like how are things going for you spiritually? And then just being able to hear what they have to say. I think nine times out of 10 what I hear will be something like, well, I haven’t been doing my devotions as much as I would like or prayer has been a little bit more difficult for me, and so I think it can be really easy to get kind of hooked there of, okay, well then let’s create a plan around how many times you’re gonna read your Bible this week. And, all of that is important and I think that that’s good work. Sometimes being able to help people find specific chapters to read or help them structure their prayer lives, that’s all really good work. But sometimes it’s being able to go a little bit deeper and think about these things up here on the screen like that. Being able to introduce this concept of, what is your God concept and what is your God image?
And just being able to explore these areas with people can actually better help you understand why are there barriers in their spiritual life. Would you define those concept and image? How would you separate those? Yeah, so I would say I probably use them a little bit interchangeably. I don’t know if there’s a way that you maybe would say that you see them differently, but I use them as a way to just be able to help people understand, like when they’re thinking about being in relationship with someone, they have a mental picture of who the other person is and sometimes what their responses are and that sort of thing. And so helping them or asking them to define that about God and as they’re praying or reading or serving God, thinking about what is the image. What are you thinking personality-wise, that sort of thing about that.
So who is he? Yes. Give an example maybe of a misconception that would have ill effect in somebody’s life, perhaps, that might be a part of their thinking of God image and God concept.
Yeah, so I would say that I think the one that comes up a lot for people, and this is when we start to see some spiritual anxiety or struggle in the emotional realm, but having to do with the spiritual is when this God image piece is faulty or not accurate. And, I think sometimes unfortunately the message people have or the image that they have is that God is an angry God or is harsh or is just waiting for someone to make a mistake so that there can be punishment. And, then what happens is when you have that sort of image of God, it doesn’t really make you want to just run towards Him.
And so, it also makes it feel like you are living in fear or that’s like if you think about the grace and truth spectrum, you’re just so far on the truth that you actually forget that the Bible says things like he’s a good God and merciful and there’s grace available. And so sometimes those messages people get just based on relationships around them. They maybe liken their image of God to maybe what some other adult figure was like in their life or like maybe what a parent was or that sort of thing. Or sometimes just certain messaging that can happen from the pulpit or in Christian messages. And then sometimes those are the things that will shape somebody’s God concept.
You know, that makes sense. And even to give those examples, I think are great examples. And it’s not by ill intent that we as parents somehow get these mixed messages and misconceptions. Cuz I know in my own family you can say one thing and two kids come out with two different feelings about that one thing. So yeah, communication is challenging and difficult. But what you’re saying is you see this very much impacting people in the way that they view who God is and this would be good work in that spiritual category.
Absolutely. I will say, just as a resource in this area, actually what I do with a lot of my clients is there is one of our Breaking Bread podcasts on this, I think it’s called God Image. I actually send a lot of people to go and listen to that. Cuz I think it’s a really good starting point of being able to hear it and reflect on it. And so I would just say that would be a really good resource.
I like that. You know, you mentioned asking a person how they’re doing spiritually and very often it’s, well, I’m not reading and all that. I just wanna make this larger comment, that question, I’m not sure I’ve ever had people say it’s going just tremendous. It’s going wonderfully. We very much, I think struggle with evaluating ourselves spiritually and certainly, a young believer is going to struggle with evaluating themselves spiritually.
And I think there is perhaps an opportunity we have as mentors to help with that evaluation and helping them. I was just talking with my son who’s a convert and was having a conversation with him this morning and I just simply said, Garrison, I think you’re growing. And that was so helpful for him cuz he can’t see that. He doesn’t even have the metrics to see it, but sometimes as a mentor, we do have the vision. We can see things a little bit more broadly and providing some of that help to them is really, really welcome. And, so anyway, just something to think about. Go into this identity piece. Identity’s huge and the work that you do. What impact does that have spiritually?
So, with identity, I would say that this is probably something that everyone or most people are searching for, trying to understand who they are and what they’re supposed to be doing and that sort of thing. I would say from an identity perspective, what sometimes the most helpful thing for someone is to be able to start thinking through both who they are and who they aren’t. So often we try to be that person that we just aren’t, and then it fails miserably. So really being able to kind of define that, like, based on my personality, based on where I’m at in life and that sort of thing, understanding both who I am and who I’m not.
And then, but more specifically, just I would say that ability to really be able to understand that our true identity is in Christ, and then being able to help them see Scriptures that illustrate that and helps them lean into that. I would say sometimes just even some of the things like talking through spiritual gifts or just being able to do some of those things with people can help them better understand this part of, who am I, what gifting do I have, and how can I do that to fully step into the spiritual part of myself.
Yeah, I really like that. I appreciate that. You know, we’ve got about 10 minutes left, a little over that we do wanna open up to questions. And I know Arlan has got one that’s been chatted in. If anybody else has a question, this would be a great time to move in that area and you can unmute yourself, I guess, and offer that question. Arlan, you wanna pull that question up that you had?
For sure. Glad to ask it here. So, this individual’s just talking through, trying to bring some of these pieces together. They lay out this scenario where, you know, perhaps they had a stressful day at work, mostly due to difficult circumstances or topics with employees. So at night they find themselves with negative thoughts that they just can’t put to rest and they can’t get a good night’s sleep, so they try to pray. They exercise, go up and down stairs, but they still can’t seem to stop that cycle of thoughts. Can you speak into that a little bit? Is there some other maybe practical skills or ways to think about this? It obviously kind of highlights how the complexity of these topics all play together with each other. Any initial thoughts?
Yeah, so I would say that one of the important things is that actually some of this work, just ensuring that it’s not just being all stored up to what you’re doing in the evening. Some of that zoomed out piece of like, is there something I can be doing to better manage all of these stresses throughout my day? So that might look like from the emotional piece or like from that thoughts, feelings, behavior, like, are there other behavioral choices I should be making throughout the day? How are my thoughts, how is my being intentional in connecting and getting support throughout my day? And also like prayer and from the spiritual perspective. I would just say that piece of just having that long view of how you’re doing it over the course of a day is really important.
So it builds up and it accumulates and rather than letting it build up and accumulate, trying to take care of it more in the moment, mindful of it. And even more than just like in the day, I think sometimes that does highlight this piece of having to create some goals. Like, again, just that zero in that hyper focus on, evenings are really difficult for me. That is ,not to minimize that at all, but being able to see that more zoomed out of like, what are the bigger sweeping changes I need to be making in some of these areas? Because then, eventually, the pendulum will swing and I’ll start to see the positive effects in my evenings, even though that might not happen right away.
I appreciate that, Kathy, that zoomed out approach. I’ve got a question here that was submitted upon entry. And it talks about, do the four different aspects that we’ve talked about here differ in priority or emphasis depending on the individual we are working with? If so, how do we determine which is the greatest one to work at?
So I think that this is a two part answer. I think that sometimes there is a burning fire in one of the areas. But I think where my caution is, again, I keep saying this phrase, but like that hyperfocus on that piece, you actually are neglecting the other ones. And so if the person is, say they have burned all of their bridges relationally, it can feel like we need to hurry up and get a lot of people in here and show them that they’re loved and that sort of thing. Well, there actually might be some things that emotionally they need to be working through. And, from again, just like naming the other lenses to be working through, and then when healing happens in those areas, then the reconnection with friends can happen or supports or relations. And so I just think it’s really important to just have a balanced view because it’s not one or the other. This is, it’s all a part.
I like that example. And I’ll provide another example, I think, that illustrates your point. An individual was struggling with doubt very, very deeply came in, talked to one of our clinicians and was distraught about doubt. Well, that’s clearly spiritual. And, she said she was surprised to find that they didn’t address the doubt. In fact, they said, could we put the doubt over here for a while? And let’s work on this emotional aspect or this physical aspect or relational aspect first. And that actually was so good for her because it had become so large in her mind that it diffused, I guess, some of the angst when the clinician found it worthwhile to address one of these other areas, which put her in a much healthier spot to address the doubt, which she’s in. She’s in a wonderful place today. But she has commented to me a number of times how important it was that they had addressed, not the burning fire which in her mind she thought it was.
And if you think about it from this context is that you’re building tools in your toolboxes in all the areas. And if you can replenish those areas, absolutely, you’re just better equipped to be able to work on those more specific ones. Yeah. That’s excellent. Yeah, that’s a good example.
Again, if anybody has a question, feel free to key that in, you can do that by chat or you can unmute yourself and ask.
I have another question that was keyed in here. This one says, I love learning about different aspects of the ways of viewing problems. How do we do this and yet maintain a value on the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. So this concept that what role does the Holy Spirit play in all of this? It seems like we’re pulling out a lot of stops for what the Holy Spirit should be doing in lives.
You know, Matt, I’m gonna maybe have you add onto this one. I don’t know if I’ll do this question justice, but I do think that there there is this, like specifically for the person that’s struggling. And so I would say that this is what I do in the counseling office is sometimes it can feel like that is blocked for someone. Like if someone who is struggling in multiple areas, if I would say, how has the Holy Spirit been speaking to you lately? I might get a blank response from them. And so, it’s just that piece again as you are both communicating about that and talking about the importance and helping someone lean into their spiritual pieces. And working through the other ones, it makes that voice more clear.
I like that. And I’m gonna add to that with a little bit of an analogy perhaps, or a metaphor. A lot of people take their struggles and they say, is God real? Or Is the Holy Spirit alive in me? How, can He be and I have the struggles that I have? I thought I was supposed to be a different person in Christ, and I thought He was to change me and He is changing me and or is He not? And so it could be very troubling. I’d like to use this example in the sense that my children are musical children and they’re musical by way of birth, their mother is musical. And you cannot separate their musical talent from who they are. In fact, nobody can, but that doesn’t mean that they can play the piano. That doesn’t mean that they can play the cello. That doesn’t mean they can sing without instruction. That musical talent, which has been built into their genetics is going to need to be alivened and it’s going to be nurtured and it needs to be cared for in order for it to find its flourishing place.
And I think that’s true with all of us as well, when we come to Christ. We have the DNA of Jesus, but that doesn’t mean necessarily that we’ll be able to practice all that He does without that training. And I think that’s been helpful for me to think about this type of topic of what’s the Holy Spirit’s supposed to be doing? Well, He is working through all of these venues.
I had one question come through here, another chat. And they just ask this, would the correct statement be that we should focus on the things that we can control in our lives and take action and then figure the rest out as we get further along in life? So kind of asking that idea of how do we know what we should focus on?
I think that’s a fine way of putting it. Because I would say that there is this piece and that question of what do I have control of here and what do I not. I would say, equal to that, focus on the things that you have control over. Focus on the things that have actual action steps that you can do. And then also, which this is probably a whole other conversation, but also when, if it’s yourself, you’re focused on the other person understanding. What their values and goals are, and then really being able to make sure that there’s heavier work in that area because it’s gonna feel really good for them when they are stepping into the areas that are most valuable to them. So, yeah. Just in all the different areas.
That’s helpful. Thanks. That’s good. Thank you for that. Thanks Kathy for sharing. I appreciate it very much. And with that we’ll conclude this afternoon’s lesson. Thanks each one. Goodbye.