Colorado Life Coach: Do Christians Eat Their Own?

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Have you read all the blogs on people who don’t go to church very often, or have quit altogether?

The reasons are varied, but most often include:

~Hurt by pastors or church teachings

~Don’t feel challenged

~Don’t enjoy worship time

~Feel like they’ve outgrown it

The responses have been varied as well:

~You should go to church because it’s not about you, it’s about God and being in fellowship, being held accountable, being of service

~God never lets people down, but people do. Don’t put your trust in people, but in God.

I get both sides. I’ve been on both sides. What keeps going through my head (like with most issues that cause controversy) is WHY. What happened to the people who don’t want to go to church? What happened to the people criticizing those who don’t want to go to church? Where is the grace for those who have been hurt? Why aren’t those in church reaching out, instead of judging?

Donald Miller wrote one blog on this subject, received hundreds of comments, wrote a 2nd blog, and received hundreds more.

Some comments were supportive: “Thank you for speaking what so many of us feel, but don’t have the courage to admit.” “The church isn’t a building, and we can worship God everyday of the week.” “I struggle attending church, and find God intimately outside the church walls.” “I’m a pastor and love the church, but don’t judge people who don’t attend.”

Many were negative: “You’re arrogant to think you’ve graduated from church.” “The Bible is clear that we must attend a local church regularly.” “Where does Don tithe?”

My heart has been struggling with this topic for several years. I run a ministry, but I’m not under the umbrella of a local church. I don’t like talking about it. I speak for several different ministries. On the comment card, they ask where I attend church regularly. I leave it blank, and hope they don’t bring it up. Friends from my old church keep asking where I attend now. I’m actually pausing with each word I write in this post, wondering whether I’ll dump it, or post it. I don’t know, yet.

When someone has been hurt, or just doesn’t fit in with the local church (they don’t like the music, sermon style, programmatic feel, etc), where do they turn? Sometimes they get loaded down with a bunch of “shoulds.” You should want to go to church. You should want to serve because it’s not about you, you’re selfish. Stop being a baby and get over yourself. You should be over the hurt by now.

My entire family was seriously hurt by members and staff of the church we attended for 7 year. I taught women’s bible studies, attended others, tithed, supported and taught at the school connected to our church, enrolled our children in youth group (one child attended the school) and encouraged them to volunteer. We attended regularly. It was our family…until our family fell apart. I look back and still don’t know exactly what happened. I needed my church family so desperately, but felt we kept getting passed to someone else. No one really wanted to deal with us. The lead pastor told us to take it to our small group. The small group leader told us we needed to take it somewhere else.

We felt like we were in the spiritual ICU, and few came to visit. I know many people who have experienced similar things. They’ve been hurt, but members rally around the leader, leaving them on their own. I read an article on Crosswalk.com titled, “Is Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome Real?” It states,

PTCS is “a severe, negative — almost allergic — reaction to inflexible doctrine, outright abuse of spiritual power, dogma and (often) praise bands and preachers.” She lists both emotional and physical symptoms, such as withdrawal from all things religious, failure to believe in anything, depression, anxiety, loss or desire to walk into a place of worship. Physically, sufferers of PTCS may have sweats, nausea, heart palpitations—as she notes, “the symptoms are as varied as the people who suffer them.”

I don’t know whether this is a real syndrome, but I have felt the symptoms.

We heard the gossip, and felt the judgment. We had served. We had given. We loved. Now it was our turn to ask for help, but we were denied.

We stopped attending because the anxiety about walking in the door to our own church became too much to deal with. Life was so difficult through the week, and the added tension on Sunday became too much to handle. God met us at home, through friends, through recovery groups, counselors, books, Christian radio, music, camping, bike rides, etc.

After about a year, I made an appointment with a different pastor. He apologized for how the church handled our situation. I felt such relief…until he told me we’d be welcome back at any time, “But it would be a tough road for you.” I still don’t understand. Why? Why wouldn’t he help us walk through that? Why would it be so difficult for a broken, but recovering family to make it in a church that claims to meet people where they are? Why?

I am a Board Certified Christian Life Coach (BCCLC) with training from the American Association of Christian Counselors and a masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Many of my clients have been horribly hurt through experiences in church (spiritual abuse, guilt, opening up and having their vulnerability used against them, pastors who didn’t deal with their own emotional, spiritual, or relational growth). If I talk to them about church, they get quiet and defensive. If I talk about God the Father, some won’t come back, because their own earthly fathers were abusive, and they haven’t worked through the pain, yet. It doesn’t mean they won’t, they just haven’t been able to, yet.

Back to my point: Could we have compassion for hurting people, instead of piling on guilt and judgment? Could we ask “WHY,” and try to become part of a solution? Could Christians who attend church regularly love those who don’t unconditionally? We’re all the church anyway. Could we act like it?

This post written, and maybe posted, or maybe tossed in the trash, by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole, M.A.

 

 

 

 

 

Colorado Life Coach: I Don’t Want To Settle

Screen Shot 2014-03-12 at 12.01.28 PMWhy can’t you just be happy?

Isn’t it ever good enough?

Do you ever struggle with these questions? I sure do!

Whether it’s a relationship, a career, health issues, friendships, or my family, I find myself longing for more. It’s not an ego thing. I just happen to believe Jesus when he said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

So here’s the question: Did Jesus mean it? Does it still happen today? Is he talking about heaven or here on earth? Ok, that’s 3 questions.

From the time I can remember, I’ve always had big dreams. This was before I developed too much in the way of arrogance, or wanting to show off. I was just a kid, and I believed life was full of huge, wonderful opportunities. I could do anything I wanted, if I tried hard enough. And I did, throughout my childhood.

I had the occasional disappointment, but life pretty much went as I hoped.

Until I grew up.

Then life got really hard. I found that many times I didn’t have the tools I needed to navigate difficulties. I didn’t have good boundaries. I didn’t know where I ended, and someone else began. I lost my sense of who I was. Life rolled me over, and I lost…big time.

Can you relate?

Maybe your childhood was much rougher than mine. Maybe you came from an abusive, addictive, or neglectful home. Maybe you only had one parent, or grew up in foster care. Maybe you suffered horrible loss early on.

Whatever the case, don’t we all, at some point or another, begin to settle.

Maybe this is all there is.

What if my health, family, marriage, weight (fill in the blank) NEVER gets better?

Why even hope anymore?

Here’s the rub: I want to be a fairly happy person, even in the midst of difficulties. I don’t think it’s normal to walk around singing after horrible news. That’s not what I mean. I just don’t want to be depressed, cranky, and horrible to live with. But I also desire more.

So, how do we walk that fence? How do we accept life as it is, and still hold out hope for more?

I actually believe Jesus meant we could have the abundant life here and in this life.

I’m not talking about money, although I do believe that we can use money for great purposes for ourselves and others. I love the opportunity to travel with my family, and I see God’s blessing all over that.

I know that some people have disabilities or injuries that will not be healed in their lifetime.

And, I still believe Jesus when he said we would have abundant life. I believe him so much so, that I used to yell at him, “This is not abundant life! You promised! I’m holding you to it. I’m not going to stop bugging you, until you honor your promise!” I’m holding on for abundant life.

My definition of abundance has changed over the years, and through the turbulent times of life. I’ve learned that I feel overwhelmingly blessed when I share something intimate with God.

~When I write in my journal and ask him questions, and I just sense him smiling, or I actually feel an answer to my question, I feel abundantly grateful.

~When everywhere I go, I run into little “coincidences” that could never happen if God didn’t arrange for it to happen, I feel abundantly loved.

~When things I’ve hoped for and dreamed about my whole life start finally happening, I feel abundantly happy!

It’s not all the time, or in every area of life, but I am living an abundant life. And in the areas I still hope for more I refuse to settle, not because I’m entitled, but because God loves me.

And he promised.

This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole.

Colorado Life Coach: Hopeless

Image Created by Eric Phillip Einarsen on a Canon EOS Rebel T2i

What a horrible word!

Hopeless…

No hope

Despair

Giving up

This word brings death. They are the words of someone without a future, without a promise, without a reason.

Have you ever felt it? Have you known someone who’s felt it?

It sucks the life right out of your lungs. It covers your head with defeat. It knocks the life out of your soul.

Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” I’ve known this heart sickness. When you have hope for a long, long time, but the desire of your heart does not come to pass. It hurts, a deep hurt.

Ask anyone who’s struggled with depression, or abuse, or addiction, or sleeplessness, or chronic pain, or grief, or…

So we know what causes hopelessness, lack of hope. You try and try and try and nothing changes. Maybe you’ve asked for help, sought relief, gone to doctors or therapists, and nothing’s worked. Maybe you just wallow in it. Maybe you’re somewhere in between.

Whatever the case, here you find yourself: hopeless.

Is there anything you can do?

Romans 5:3-5 says, “we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

I sometimes share this verse with clients who are really struggling–not at the beginning! I just listen and really hear their heart and their struggle. When they’ve felt heard and understood, and want to explore how to move out of hopelessness, I share this verse.

At first glance, it seems totally stupid. We rejoice in our sufferings? What in the world? Who rejoices when they suffer? Hallelujah, I’ve got cancer. That’s ridiculous.

We have to keep reading. We rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance. At least that doesn’t sound sadistic. It’s still not great, but I can understand that perseverance is a good thing.

Keep going. “Suffering produces perseverance, and perseverance, character. I understand that I need better character. Mine really stinks sometimes. I want great character, and I’m starting to understand that it comes from perseverance. And perseverance comes from suffering.

On to the hope. “We rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance, and perseverance, character, and character, hope.” There it is. Finally. I thought I’d never see it again. I thought I’d never feel it again.

After the suffering, I learn that I can survive. I learn that I can get through it. I learn I’m stronger than I thought. Maybe I just realize that everyone suffers and I can relate to others who have suffered.

I begin to understand that I made it. I persevered. I did it.

My character begins to change. I’m not so short-tempered. I am more honest. I am more sensitive to others. I’m not so judgmental. I’m becoming a better person.

And finally, I hope.

I begin to see the patterns in life. It goes along well for a season, but there will always be difficult seasons to work through. I’ve done it before, and I can do it again.

Please don’t give up hope. That’s where the life is! If you can’t find your way back, please seek help.

This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole.

Colorado Life Coach: God Sent Me To Hooters

Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 5.08.15 PMhttp://www.flickr.com/x/t/0092002/photos/113657384@N04/.

My son told a funny story that prompted this blog.

He was driving home from school last year and the roads were super icy. He started to spin and just held on until he stopped…in the parking lot of a Hooters restaurant!

We joked about how God must have wanted him to go to Hooters cause that’s where his car stopped.

Don’t we all have this kind of thinking sometimes? We don’t really want to take responsibility for our desires, our lack of motivation, our refusal to take action or grow up, our decision to remain in unhealthy relationships or jobs or behaviors, so we blame God.

We may not blame him directly. Rarely do we actually hear someone say, “God sent me to Hooters!”

But our actions speak loudly.

  • The man or woman who won’t get a job or go back to school to improve themselves says, “Well, I guess God doesn’t want me to work.”
  • The mom who’s son is struggling and angry at God says, “God must be putting us through this trial” instead of listening to the heart of her son.
  • The young woman who is lonely and would like to be in a relationship, but won’t go out and meet any young men believes, “I’ll wait for God to bring someone to me.”
  • The husband who won’t acknowledge his character defects and blames everyone around him for his misery, starts to believe God must want him to leave his wife and children and move on to someone who will “make him happy.”
  • The young woman who’s scared to death of commitment, so she blames the relationship problems on her boyfriend. She wonders why God doesn’t ever come through for her.

We live in a culture that blames. We’re all victims. It’s never our fault. We don’t know how to apologize or take responsibility.

It’s hard work. And we want fast and easy.

Why do we do it?

If we put the issue on God’s shoulders, we don’t have to do anything differently. We sound holy. Who can argue with us? If it’s God’s doing, then I don’t have any control.

Have you seen the hilarious video featuring Bob Newhart as a therapist? A woman comes into his office because she’s afraid of being buried alive in a box. His advice? “STOP IT!”

That’s not usually how I treat my Life Coaching clients, but once in awhile I get so frustrated at someone’s absolute refusal to look at themselves and take responsibility, I want to scream, “STOP IT!”

Here’s the deal: If it’s God’s fault, you can’t change it. If it’s your responsibility, you can.

We can complain all we want about our circumstances, but until we decide to change, we won’t.

God loves us absolutely. He sent Jesus to die for us, that’s how much he loves us. He’ll do anything for us, and he has! But he won’t take away our freedom. He won’t push himself on us. He won’t make us:

  • Go to Hooters
  • Make a better living
  • Put us through trials without a way out
  • Cause a young man to ring your doorbell and say “Here I am!” (well, usually he doesn’t, but he could)
  • Tell a man or woman to leave their family so they can be happy (unless there is abuse, etc, but that’s not the case here)
  • Stop you from blaming others, even though it makes you feel far away from him

That’s not God. He’s not a controlling bully, like some of us (I get it, I’ve done it, and sometimes still do).

Go ahead and eat at Hooters, just take responsibility and say you wanted to do it!

Keep your financial situation the same, just don’t complain about it.

Stay single, and acknowledge you’re not willing to do what it would take to find a suitable partner.

Stay distant from your kids, but admit you don’t want to put in the time it would take to change it.

Do whatever you want, just please take responsibility for it.

This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole.

 

Colorado Life Coach: Philip Seymour Hoffman and the rest of us

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Addiction

It’s been around forever, but now we’re talking about it.

Philip Seymour Hoffman died on Super Bowl Sunday with a syringe of heroin still in his arm. Do you think this is how he planned his life? Is this the way any of us plan our lives?

I used to think addicts were the scary looking guys shooting up behind the dumpsters. And they were.

But it’s much more than that.

~It’s the young girl who cuts because she can’t bear her life, and at least she can control the pain when it’s self-inflicted.

~It’s the woman who eats because it brings comfort, or because it hides her from people who might abuse her sexually, like they did in the past.

~It’s the CEO who works 24/7 and can’t seem to relate to his family.

~It’s the person (not only men) who looks at porn, because it shoots great hormones through their brain and kills the pain. It’s easier than dealing with real people and their flaws.

~It’s the mom who takes her kid’s ADD medication so she can focus and feel like super mom.

It’s everywhere!

People are dying everywhere!

Some of these addictions can kill quickly, like after trying a drug the first time.

Others kill slowly:

*Porn kills when the addict can’t get the high with just movies anymore. Now they meet people in chat rooms and start acting out with dangerous behavior.

*Food doesn’t kill overnight. For anorexics or bulimics, it can take years, but if untreated, it kills. For over eaters, it could take decades, but make no mistake, it will kill: Heart disease, diabetes, organ failure, etc. Our bodies are made to run on healthy fuel and lots of oxygen. When this doesn’t happen, life is cut short.

*Alcohol is needed in larger and larger quantities to continue to numb the pain. Sometimes people die from alcohol poisoning, or car accidents, or drowning, or…

So what’s the point?

Let’s deal with it! There is another way!

You don’t have to stay trapped!

My favorite bible passage is Isaiah 61:1-4 “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.”

This is the big plan–God can and will set you free if you let him.

Here are the picky little details–He needs you to ask for help and then do the work.

He won’t force you, so you have to ask. Tell him you’re dying and you know it. Tell him you’re willing to do anything to change how you’re living. Tell him you believe he can and will heal you, if you’ll slow down long enough to let him.

Now get some help!

Google AA, SA, NA, Al-Anon, Over Eater’s Anonymous, Celebrate Recovery. Get a sponsor-they’re free! Now work the program. You can’t just go to meetings and think you’ll find a new way to live. You have to do the personal work, and it’s hard.

Find a counselor or Life Coach who understands addiction and work through the emotional issues that caused you to hurt in the first place. You can’t take away the medication without healing the pain, if you want to stay clean.

Check yourself into rehab and stay until they say you’re ready to transition back into life. If you leave early, you will not recover.

I know you’re hurting. The thing is, the longer you do things to keep from feeling, the more things you’ll have to work through.

How about you just start now.

This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole.

 

Colorado Life Coach: You’d have to be crazy to think that!

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I disagree with lots of stuff people post.

But…

I really respect most of the people posting. It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there and speak about something passionately. I don’t care what the issue is, I am starting to see that the perspective of the person writing must be taken into account. They truly believe what they are writing, and there are reasons they believe it.

I’m not sure what to do about the great divides in our country today (or on Facebook).

I’ve lived enough to know that sometimes even when I was so sure I was right on an issue, maybe I was only half right, or maybe I didn’t have all the facts, or maybe I was just plain wrong.

I don’t post much political stuff because I know I’ll offend about half the people who might run across what I write. I’m not worried about offending, but when people write you off simply because of your beliefs, sometimes the relationship dies too. Now you can’t even have a discussion.

I feel very strongly about many issues. I am friends with many people who feel the exact opposite about these issues. I’ve learned to stay quiet online. When I have spoken up, I got blasted as ignorant or intolerant.

Sometimes it seems unfair. I feel those who have opposing views truly believe my way of thinking to be backwards, immature, or invalid. They never ask why I believe what I do, or what evidence I have to back my beliefs. I am just shut down.

I’m not a screamer. Oh, I’ve got it in me alright, but I’ve learned that people don’t listen when you use force.

So, many times I see posts I’d like to comment on, but choose not to. I watch. I read. I think. I talk to friends one-on-one, but I don’t comment.

I want social media to stay social. I’ve reconnected with lots of old high school friends (many of whom I totally disagree with politically), and it’s been amazing. I really enjoy people. I don’t want to open Facebook and be bombarded with posts that totally offend me. But that typically happens when election time rolls around. All of a sudden, posts turn hateful, demeaning, degrading, and offensive.

I’d love to have some conversations.

“Why is it you believe what you do?”

“Do you want to know why I believe what I do?”

“Can we respect each other in the process?”

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this matter, but only if you’ve read this post, can stay calm and state your position without calling anyone else names, and are willing to read a few thoughts from someone who may think differently than you.

This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole.

 

Colorado Life Coach: God will hit you with a frying pan

frying pan

“If you don’t do what God wants, He’ll hit you over the head with a 2X4 to get your attention.”

“God used that “frying pan” logic to get hold of me.”

“God might strike you down with a lightning bolt!”

Have you head any of these common threats, I mean quotes?

I have.

And they’ve scared me to death. What kind of God do you worship anyway? I don’t have a degree in theology (although I’ve thought of earning one). I don’t pretend to know everything there is to know about the bible. It’s hard to understand sometimes! Even the simple things can be difficult.

I remember leaving a bible study and telling a friend I was absolutely terrified of making a move–any move. I had been hurt enough in life, I didn’t want to get pummeled by God, too. I was so concerned about angering God that I would rather just not think about him than risk doing something to make him mad. If I just stayed quiet, maybe he’d be OK with me and leave me alone.

It’s so sad when I think about it. I was hurting. And I was scared of God, the only being in the Universe capable of healing me!

It happens so often! I see this all the time. People are hurt by life, or by other people. Then well-meaning (sometimes) Christians come along and spout off some cliche or scripture they memorized for a sticker 20 years ago (sometimes they don’t know if it’s a cliche or a scripture-have you ever heard that God will never give you more than you can handle?). Sometimes the scripture is totally valid, but their timing stinks! Take Romans 8:28 for instance: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” It’s all true! But think how it may sound to the mom who just lost her unborn baby, or the family that just lost their job for the 3rd time this year, or the alcoholic who’s wife just left him because he can’t stop drinking. It will all work out for the best because you love God.

It’s true, but really…can you wait until they aren’t quite so raw emotionally to quote this?

Someone gets into trouble and is really hurting. Is this the best time to tell them God is trying to get their attention? I went through a period where I didn’t sleep for 5 months, at all. I asked people to pray for me. Several people told me that if I’d listen to God during the day, He wouldn’t have to keep me up at night. How do they know I wasn’t listening to him during the day? Do they know their words actually added to my pain and suffering?

Or

We had to relinquish our adopted son to another family due to extreme Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Our family was falling apart and my health was failing. Another family came alongside us and we watched our son transition into their family. It wasn’t what we wanted. It was horribly painful, but it happened. Was it helpful when a friend told me that “God would NEVER tell me to give up my son!”? Not really. I lost a friend as well as my son that day.

Can we just stop pretending we know it all? Can we meet people in their pain, instead of screaming at them to stop their behavior? Can we understand that it must have taken a whole lot of craziness in that person’s life to cause them to seek numbness the way they do? Can we stop thinking we’re perfect and it’s everyone else who is “the least of these?”

Yes, God sometimes uses hard times to draw us close to him, because he loves us and we need him.

Does he cause the hard times? Maybe. Maybe it’s just part of living in a broken world with broken people who do dumb or hateful things. Either way, God absolutely can, and does use these times in our lives to hold us close and speak gently into our hearts. We get to choose to listen or spit in his face. I’ve done both.

He’s never hit me with a 2X4, a frying pan, or struck me with lightning. Thank you God, that you understand how difficult this world is, and you choose to meet the hurting with outstretched arms, and a huge chest to lay against!

This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole.

 

Colorado Life Coach: My Left BLINKBLINKBLINKer

mustang blinker

Has your blinker ever gone haywire?

My left blinker started blinking double time about 6 weeks ago. No big deal, right?

I took it to the auto parts store and the guy even came out to check it for me. I thought my bulb might be out. That wasn’t it. Front and back left blinkers worked, just double time.

Every time I turn right…blink, blink, blink, blink…that normal rhythm I’m so used to.

Turn left? BLINKBLINKBLINKBLINKBLINKBLINKBLINKBLINK! Whoa! Slow down, buddy! It’s OK, you don’t need to blow a gasket.

I think this would bug lots of people, but let me speak to those with an ear for music, momentarily. Do you feel my pain? Do you get me? It’s like fingernails on a chalkboard, right?

I went to a repair shop and asked what they thought it might be. Without looking, the guy said it was a minimum of $75 and was probably something electrical going into the steering column (don’t quote me on that, cause I’m definitely NOT a car person).

Anyway, I didn’t want to pay that, or deal with it, so I decided to wait.

Turn right? Blink, blink, blink

Turn left? BLINKBLINKBLINKBLINKBLINKBLINK

On and on it goes.

It doesn’t effect my safety, or how the car drives, so I just put up with it.  Anyone relate?

I’ve been working on some emotional baggage (sort of never-ending for me). A friend told me about her prayer ministry and asked if I’d like to pray with her and her partner. I did! We set it up for yesterday. I’ll write more on that awesome experience later!

We looked at some painful stuff from my past and prayed. I felt Jesus say he healed it all.

Out to my car and into the left turn lane: Blink, blink, blink, blink…are you kidding me? I burst out laughing and felt the face of God light up with a huge smile.

I’ve driven several times since then and changed lanes, just to put on my left blinker: Blink, blink, blink, blink.

Just like clockwork.

And God and I just keep laughing!

This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole.

 

 

Colorado Life Coach: Stop Helping People!

Good Samaritan

Several years ago, I heard a sermon called: Get off Your Donkey.

It was a great message based on the Good Samaritan from the Bible. In the story, a man is beaten by robbers and left to die. A priest and a rabbi saw him, but passed right by on the other side of the street. Neither helped.

“But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him” (Luke 10: 33-34).

It’s a great message.

Something happened inside me as I looked around the church that day. I saw young moms with small children fidgeting (the moms, not the kids). I watched people with addictions (not just alcohol and drugs) squirm. Those out of work looked mighty uncomfortable. Sometimes this is good! Sometimes we need to be called out of our comfortable lives to help other people.

This wasn’t the feeling I had that day.

I was in the middle of leading 2 groups of women through a process designed to help them heal from deep issues in their pasts. They were really struggling with things that had happened to them, how it impacted their entire lives, and how they could heal and change. They wanted to be healthy. They wanted to help others.

They couldn’t even help themselves, yet.

I hear this so often.

How many times do we try to help others when we’re a mess ourselves.

I think it happens for many reasons:

1. Guilt. I’m told to help others. What kind of a person am I if I don’t help. I’m not worth much anyway, maybe by helping others I’ll feel better.

2. Can’t say “no.” I know so many people-pleasers who fit in this category! They don’t want to help in this particular situation. It’s not even something they are good at. They just can’t say “no.” They say “yes” so the other person won’t be mad at them, so they won’t feel bad, so they’ll look good, so they’ll appear spiritual. The problem is this: They are angry about it. They don’t really want to help. They are exhausted themselves. They say “yes,” and then carry around resentment and bitterness.

3. They are in denial of their own situation. Some people are such a mess, but they don’t want to deal with it. If they stopped to deal with themselves, they wouldn’t have time or energy (for awhile) to help others. Rather than deal with themselves, they continue to “help” others.

Here’s the problem: We’re called to help others out of the overflow of our own lives, with a grateful heart.

~If we respond out of guilt, this is not the case.

~If we respond only because we can’t say “no,” this is selfish. We’re so afraid of upsetting anyone, we don’t speak truthfully. What if we said, “I can’t help you this time, ” or “I’m really not good at that,” or “Normally I’d be the first to volunteer, but I’m working on my boundaries and can’t do it this time.”

~If we respond as a way to avoid working on ourselves, we’re helping no one.

Have you ever needed good counsel from someone? Have you ever asked for help from someone, and half-way through your discussion, you realized they’re in worse shape than you are?

It is not helpful. They cannot offer what they don’t have themselves.

My suggestion? Get help for yourself first! Deal with your own stuff and get healthy. Then you’ll be able to respond to others out of love, not fear.

Sometimes we need to take time out and deal with our own issues. Then we’ll be ready to help others.

What if you’re the one who needs to be put on a donkey and nursed back to health?

The bible doesn’t say the beaten man jumped up and tried to help others. He let others help him.

I bet after he was healthy again, he helped others.

If you’d like help dealing with your own stuff, so you can finally be healthy and truly help others, click here.

This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole.

Colorado Life Coach: This eagle and my new computer

Eagle in Alaska

I bought a new computer. I’m an adult and run a ministry. I have the money, I’m a smart person, and I’m responsible for my own decisions.

As I picked up the computer, I sensed something telling me I made the wrong choice, it wouldn’t work for me, and I messed it all up.

When I got home, I opened the box and turned on the computer. The screen was smaller than I remembered, and I couldn’t think of a password to set up the computer. I suddenly felt like I was in trouble. The feeling is so familiar to me.

My anxiety started again.

I logically know that no matter what happens with this new computer, I will be OK. I didn’t kill anyone. I won’t die if my computer doesn’t work perfectly. I paid with my debit card and didn’t go into debt. Even if I can’t figure out how to use some of the functions, I bought the Apple One-on-One classes, so I can find someone to help me.

I know all of this logically.

And yet, something inside me still feels like a little kid who did something wrong and is about to get in trouble.

It really is ridiculous!

I’m tired of it!

I’ve been working with a counselor to help me figure out where these triggers come from and how to stop them from messing with me. I do get it. I understand why I feel this way. When I spend a little time processing, it makes sense. I still wish I didn’t get triggered in the first place.

Does anyone relate?

Do you ever have those moments when you’re just going about your own business and something hits you out of the blue? You’re not doing anything wrong, but you certainly feel triggered by something.

I am so very thankful for God. He gets me. He isn’t the one whispering the negative comments into my ear. He’s not beating me up for buying the wrong computer (or spending too much, or buying at the wrong time, or…). Even if I totally screw it up, he’s the one waiting for me. He’s the one telling me he loves me no matter what I do. He’s the only one who will always love me no matter what. He’ll help me fix it if I do mess up. He takes my blunders and creates something awesome out of them!

God is the one who gave this crazy, anxious, rage-filled, judgmental, driven woman, who was totally broken, the new name, “Brilliant.”

So after I cried because I felt like I was in trouble, I found the dumb password. Then God calmed my anxious heart.

Here’s my first blog on my new MacBook Air.

Thank you for it, God. Thank you that even if I had screwed everything up, you still allow me to write and others to read my words.

So what’s an eagle have to do with any of this? Not much without a stretch, so here goes: I feel like I can really soar sometimes, but my landings aren’t always pretty. My son took this picture in Alaska last year. It’s so majestic! I love how the eagle can catch the tree from whatever angle it approaches. And here’s the big stretch: God catches me no matter what my approach looks like. He makes me look really good sometimes, just like this awesome eagle!

This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole.

 


Contact Carrie O’Toole to schedule a confidential telephone call or appointment for coaching.