The Tapestry Blog

  • The Rule of Complementarity

    Some would say that opposites attract, but I would argue that opposites form.  There is a certain rule – let’s call it the rule of complementarity – that influences marital relationships.  As relationships evolve, people tend to move toward opposite poles to maintain balance in a relationship; where one spouse takes a more conservative stance, the other becomes more liberal.  This tendency to gravitate toward some form of equilibrium in a relationship can happen with any number of traits or values such as spending (vs. saving); planning (vs. spontaneity); emotional reserve (vs. emotional expression); maintaining harmony (vs. dealing with disagreement/conflict); humor (vs. seriousness).  Unfortunately, we tend to think that shifting one’s spouse’s opinion is like winning a tug-of-war; the harder you pull on your end of the rope, the more likely you are to get your spouse over to your side.  In most instances, this doesn’t work and, in all likelihood, it will compel your spouse to dig their heels in even further.  Rather than understanding this tendency through the tug-of-war metaphor, I’d suggest that a see-saw metaphor provides a more accurate picture.  The Rule of Complementarity suggests that on any given trait, spouses tend to balance each other out like two people standing on the ends of a see-saw; when one person steps out away from the center – toward a more extreme position - the other person is compelled to take an equal step in the opposite direction in order to maintain balance.

    Within the first year that my wife and I married, we took a personality test that, among other things, measured the trait of spontaneity vs. discipline.  High scorers were very disciplined planners who carefully thought through matters before making a decision; low scorers were spontaneous action-takers who learned through trial and error.  On a scale of 0 – 100, with 0 being Spontaneous and 100 being Disciplined, I scored a 2 and my young bride scored a 98.  We were so proud that our score totaled up to a perfect 100!  But, as we were soon to discover, the joke was really on us.  And you can probably imagine what the early years of our relationship were like.  I was a fun-loving, but reckless adventurer who was up for any opportunity regardless of the cost; my wife was cautious and conservative, weighing the financial and temporal cost of any activity.  Her reticence to jump in or go with the flow frustrated me as much as my spontaneity (which she errantly mislabeled as impulsivity!) frightened her.  In fact, this was a source of substantial conflict early in our relationship.  My inclination was, of course, to attack her conservatism while pushing hard for her to join me on the latest adventure.  However, what I found was that the harder I pushed, the more she pushed back; and the more frustrated I got, the frustrated and frightened she got.  Nevertheless, across the first few years of our marriage I did a lot of growing up and learned – predominantly the hard way – the value of a little planning and discipline.  As I grew, genuinely trying to be more responsible, I was surprised to find that my wife began loosening up.  In fact, somewhere around the 7th year of our marriage, I distinctly remember realizing that she’d become almost as fun as me.  Ironically, around that same point in time we were in a situation where we could, again, take the same personality test that we’d taken in the first year of our marriage.  Much to our surprise, this time I scored a 40 (still weighted toward spontaneity!) and my wife scored a 60!  We were still a perfect 100, but we had changed substantially. 

     Across the years, I have seen couples make similar changes in fundamental traits.  Like that imaginary couple on a see-saw, when one person steps in, altering their own behavior, the spouse is eventually compelled to take their own step in order to maintain balance.  So, the next time you find yourself locked into a battle with your spouse – pulling against some trait within them that you don’t like - try taking a couple of big steps in their direction.  You may be surprised by the response you get. 

    - Jeff Pipe   

  • The Many Faces of an Eating Disorder

    An eating disorder is a snake in the grass.   It comes in disguise promising you the Apple of your eye, offering everything good and desirable including a picture perfect life while it is sucking the very life out of you.  You think…… it will bring me skinny, it will give me peace……..   But what it brings you is fear and obsessions; crippling panic attacks; confusion and isolation while it is drowning you in a pool of sorrow and pain.   The snake will tell you it will bring you lifelong happiness but is planning your death instead.  Its faces are many and go by the names of Bulimia, Anorexia and Binge eating disorder. 

    The face of an eating disorder is not always recognized; it can raise its ugly head subtly and develop over time. Or, it can emerge as swift and as quick as a tornado taking one captive along with their loved ones in its destructive course.   So how do you know if you are looking right into the face of an eating disorder?

    The following are screening tools to help guide you.

    SCOFF questionnaire:

    ·         Do you make yourself Sick because you feel uncomfortably full?

    ·         Do you worry you have lost Control over how much you eat?

    ·         Have you recently lost more than 14 pounds in a 3 month period?

    ·         Do you believe yourself to be Fat when others say you are too thin?

    ·         Would you say that Food dominates your life?

    *One point for every “yes”; a score of ≥2 indicates a likely case of anorexia nervosa or bulimia.                                    

    Source: BMJ1999;319:1467   

    Also of concern that could indicate signs of a potential for, or a binge eating disorder include:

    ·         Eating uncontrollably unable to stop regardless of the amount you eat

    ·         Use food to  “numb out” regularly

    ·         Feeling depressed, ashamed and guilty over your eating habits   

    If you identify with any of these faces of eating disorders you need to reach out for help. Here are the three big first steps to face your fears and FACE OFF an Eating disorder!

     1.  Reach out, be honest and tell someone that you are hurting.  If you struggle to reach out on your own, ask help from a strong and loving person you trust most to help you connect to support. Maybe it is your parent, your spouse, your Pastor, your youth leader, teacher or school counselor that you start with. 

    2.  Find the right counsel and Support. This includes professionals who are skilled in treating eating disorders so you and your family can access the strengths you have to beat it while obtaining proper treatment and direction.   Local support groups are all around and can lessen the isolation and provide hope.

    And

    3. Have hope and faith that there is life without an eating disorder and you deserve that life.      

    Many times Christians have said they won’t ask for help because they fear rejection, being imperfect, or being judged that they are not exactly who or what others may think they are.  Some people are just purely afraid to give up the eating disorder face for fear they won’t survive without it.  If you feel that you should be victorious over all that ails you and that hiding behind the face of an eating disorder is the only choice for you...remember, true victory comes after the fire. 

    The fire molds and grows us.  We cannot go around it, we must go through it to emerge are greatest potential.  We are all ordained by God to live joyful and fulfilling lives amidst the challenges and ups and downs we may endure in life. There is help, there is hope, there is healing and there is freedom from an eating disorder.

                             O LORD my God, I cried out to You, And You healed me.

                                                                                                    (Psalms 30:2 NKJV)

    ~ Deborah A Russo, PsyD, Tapestry Psychotherapist and Education Outreach Associate 

     The information contained in this article is intended to provide readers with helpful information and inspiration. This article is not to be used to diagnose or treat. Consult licensed medical, and or mental health professionals for assistance.

  • Self-Confidence

    I enjoyed a beautiful ride on the mountain bike the other day.  The afternoon sun heightened the color of the leaves as I biked through the wooded ridges of my favorite trail system.  It was one of those rides that made me feel strong, good about myself and good about my life.  Zipping down a rather steep ridge on a narrow trail, I was surprised – to say the least – when I became aware that I was no longer attached to my bike. In the blink of an eye, my bike came to sudden stop when it hooked a root protruding from the ridge. However, while my bike stopped, my body did not.  Unaware of what was happening, how it happened or even which direction was up, that second in the air – before gravity completed its job - felt like an eternity.  And in it’s panic, I grasped at the air for something solid with which I could re-orient myself.  But even when I found the ground – landing with a loud whumph - it offered no more stability than the air as dirt, then sky, then dirt, then sky raced across my field of vision before my tumble down the ridge came to a stop.  That moment of surprise, then panic is unforgettable, but not unique.  That blink-of-an-eye when confidence, certainty and strength vaporize as they are replaced by fear, confusion and vulnerability. 

    I am at a point in my life where I am acutely aware of those things which are too important for me to readily relinquish to God:  my daughter, my wife, my vocational success and my reputation to name a few.  I have seen how God works.  His idea of good, fair and safe are not consistent with mine.  Physical and emotional suffering, catastrophe and death are all clearly within the bounds of what He will allow.  Children suffer and die, spouses are betrayed and abandoned, children are neglected, the humble are destroyed and the proud succeed at elevating themselves.  He is not afraid to let His people suffer and I am reticent to fully entrust myself or those I love to Him.  Don’t take me wrong, I recognize how un-biblical this.  Furthermore, I recognize how illogical this is.  I am a small, weak person and I recognize how limited I am in my ability to care for myself, no less anyone else.  Nevertheless, when push comes to shove, my first impulse is to take care of things on my own for fear that God will either disappoint me or compromise the well-being of someone or something important to me for the sake of His agenda.  When those for whom I care are threatened by pain, disappointment or failure, I turn to my own resources first.  And with that move, begins a slow progression from dependence on God to dependence on self.   

    Humanly speaking, I am a reasonably intelligent and resourceful person.  And I can operate independently about as good as the guy next door if not a little better.  For extended periods of time, I may experience success and find my confidence in myself.  I have even reached points in my life where I have entertained the thought that I really don’t need God and that he has probably never been anything more than a crutch anyways.  However, as my self-confidence and independence are growing, a foundational shift is underfoot.  Freedom is exchanged for caution; internal tension quashes passion and spontaneity.  The confidence of trusting a Father whose resources and plans transcend my own is lost as a dependence on hard work, thoughtfulness and competence grows.  And then the inevitable happens:  I miss something and make a mistake, someone I care for does something stupid, a marriage collapses, someone gets sick, an unexpected bill breaks the bank – the hardness of life bursts my fragile illusion of independence.  My house of cards begins to collapse and, as it does, the foundation upon which I’ve built my identity and value is compromised. 

    Into my panic, Galatians speaks.  “Are you so foolish?  After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort (Gal 3:3).  And, then, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”  (Gal 5:1) And then I return to the reality that it was never about me or my competency; that it was always about Christ – His work in me, His work in others, His providential working for the best of all who belong to him.  “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”(2:20).  And there is freedom here.  Freedom to believe that God has put me where he has for a reason; that I have something to offer those for whom I care; that he uses me in my strength and in my weakness; that He is doing something good when I see something bad; that he redeems failures for success; that His plan is bigger and better than my own.   

     - Jeff Pipe

  • Courage in the Face of Fear

    “The best thing to do sometimes is to open up the cage and face the five-hundred-pound gorilla.  He’s going to come after you anyway, so you might as well let him out.”    -  Charlie Renfroe

    Courage to face difficult circumstances in life does not come without fear.  Even for those you see as very courageous.  Courage is not the absence of fear.  Courage assumes fear.  When I was younger a group of friends and I went boating out on a local lake.  In one of the smaller chains of lakes there was a huge oak tree right on the side of the lake that some drunk soul had built a ladder 20 to 30 feet up and platform from which to jump.  My friends willingly climbed the ladder and jumped as if it was no big deal.  I was bold as I climbed the ladder, but once I reached the platform I suddenly became terrified.  But my friends were cheering me on by calling me names like “chicken.”  Faced with this situation I knew there was no turning back, so I swallowed my fear and jumped.  Breathless all the way to the water, I thought my life would end soon.  When I came up out of the water I couldn’t believe how refreshed I felt.  There was a significant relief that came from feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

    In life, you will be faced with many situations that you’d rather not have to deal with.  Conflict with family, peers, bosses, subordinates, etc., is commonplace.  Your ability to open up the cage of the gorilla in the face of your fear will lead you to a great and satisfying sense of refreshment.  Your ability to feel the fear and do it anyway will always bring with it a heightened sense of confidence that you will be successful facing life’s gorillas. Anything less is simply leaving you with a false sense of peace.

    Application

    1. How do you typically respond when faced with the gorillas of life? True leaders are the first one’s in to uncertain and risky situations.  Are you the first one in or do you tend to wait until you’ve “mustered up the courage?”

    2. What is your greatest fear when it comes to conflict?

    3. In what ways does your fear keep you from living with certainty and boldness?

    - Jeff Faulkner

  • Thirty-five degrees and raining…

     

                 Not exactly my idea of a fun run but I had an emergency yesterday that knocked out my long run for the week, so I thought I’d try and make up for it today. Surprisingly the trail was not as empty as I would have thought. I would guess that most of those out had some form of cabin fever…In any case, there we all were, cold and crazy, enjoying a little fresh air. The funny thing is that it is on those kinds of days, that we all seem to feel some sort of camaraderie with each other. People smile, (albeit somewhat sheepishly) at each other or say something encouraging as we pass, that ordinarily we wouldn’t have. We all have something in common. We all are cold and maybe crazy, but wanted the exercise or fresh air enough to come out anyway. Additionally, we are all planning to get through to the end and back to our warm homes. So we all smile and give each other the thumbs up…

                 I started thinking. It is the same when we go through really tough times in life. Those that have gone before us, or that we know have suffered similar things are able to support and encourage us the most effectively. Ephesians says to comfort with the comfort with which we have been given. We are also to lift each other up and encourage one another. God does the initial lifting, and then through him we can connect and do the same for each other. If by chance we have also taken the same Suffering 101 course, or the more advanced 102 or 103 courses, we have so much more to offer in the way of how to not only survive but to thrive and come through it. There is a special connection and realization. “That person knows what I am feeling and I am not alone.” There is the encouragement of knowing that the days will not always feel like this and a new day is coming. Best of all we can know there is One who not only runs beside us but is lifting us up and carrying us in the deepest of valleys.

    -Beverly Elliott

  • Sailing Close to Shore

    As we kick off the year 2013, please allow me to share with you one of my favorite prayers by Sir Frances Drake: 

    “Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little, when we arrive safely because we have sailed too close to the shore.

      Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess, we have lost our thirst for the waters of life; having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity; and in our efforts to build a new earth, we have allowed our vision of the new Heaven to dim.

     Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas where storms will show your mastery; where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars. We ask you to push back the horizons of our hopes; and to push into the future in strength, courage, hope, and love.”

    It is my hope, that you will be challenged by this prayer, as I am, to reach far beyond what you believe to be your potential. I can vouch for God that He’ll take you places you never dreamed possible. Don’t allow fear and disbelief keep you too close to the shore this year. Don’t allow the busy-ness and commercialism of our culture to keep you from seeking God with all your heart. Dare boldly to venture out into uncharted territory in full confidence that God is with you!

    Here’s to a fabulous and God-directed 2013!

    - Jeff Faulkner

  • Engaging Kids After Newtown

    As difficult as it is for adults to comprehend the violence that took place in Newtown last week, children and adolescents will also have to confront the reality of this tragic event.  In the days and weeks ahead, parents and caregivers can help kids cope with tragedy by engaging them relationally, conversationally, and spiritually.   

    Relational Engagement

    Exposure to violent experiences can potentially undermine children’s basic sense of safety and trust in others.  You can offer reassurance by deliberately spending time with your kids, allowing them to experience your caring presence on a regular and consistent basis.  Be physical, caring, and loving to them.  Young kids, especially, need to be held, rocked, and cuddled.  Cultivating strong relational bonds is one of the most effective ways of buffering the negative impact of traumatic stress.          

    Conversational Engagement

    Do not be afraid to talk to children about the shooting.  Avoiding talking about it can make it seem even scarier and more threatening.  Begin by asking what they already know and listen carefully for misinformation, misconceptions, and underlying fears or concerns.  If children do have information that is inaccurate or untrue, be sure to correct them in simple, age-appropriate language.  Be honest but wise in sharing details of the shooting.   

    Limit children’s exposure to media coverage.  Information and images related to the tragedy may be upsetting.  Ensure that they have time to play without the news being on in the background.  Whatever media your child is exposed to, be sure to discuss it with them, answer any questions they have, and reassure them of your love and care.   

    Consider sharing your own feelings about the shooting with your children.  This will help them understand that they are not alone with their feelings.  You may express sadness and empathy for the victims and their families.  You may even express some worry or fears of your own.  Talk about some of the ways you cope with difficult situations and invite your children to join you.          

    If you’re concerned that your child’s reaction to the shooting is interfering with his or her health and wellbeing, contact a local mental health professional who has expertise in trauma counseling.  The therapists at Tapestry Associates are available to help.      

    Spiritual Engagement

    In keeping with Jesus’ words to his disciples, let little children go to him.  Encourage them to pray their thoughts and feelings about what happened, and all that happens in their lives.  Avoid attempts to explain tragedies like these, but make much of God’s love and goodness in the midst of them.  Continually point children to Jesus, our greatest source of comfort in both life and death.

    -Stan Hoover

  • What’s Going On Under the Hood?

    I have been dealing with some emotions over the past week and a half that have not plagued me in quite some time.   I have been extremely agitated, short-fused, lacking in joy, and downright ticked off.  Anger has reared its ugly head.

    I know a lot about anger. I used to teach an anger management class to violent offenders.  Here’s a little of what I learned working with that population. At its core, anger is a hard emotion. It’s easy to see, easy to recognize. Everyone around you knows when you’re mad. The problem is that anger only serves as a sort of “check engine” light that gives you some indication that something else under the hood is wrong, but it gives you little to no indication as to what that something else is.

    You see, anger is always, always, always, 100% of the time about some softer emotion that it is covering up. Let me describe with a simple example. If you were sitting in my living room and my little dog ran up to you and bit you on the leg, what would you do? More than likely you would react by kicking the dog away from your leg. That kicking response is the response of anger that is a natural self-protective mechanism to the dog biting you. The dog bite hurt.  And therein lies the essence of anger…anger is really about being hurt and attempting to protect yourself from further harm.

    So, now that we know this, it’s time to do the hard work of finding out what those softer emotions are that the anger is serving to protect you from.  Here it is – I feel:

    ·         Disregarded

    ·         Embarrassed

    ·         Shocked

    ·         Scared

    ·         Tension

    ·         Inadequate

    ·         Pressured

    ·         Unloved

    ·         Uncared for

    Now, wouldn’t it be a whole lot simpler just to blow off some steam, lash out in anger over my situation, chew some people out, stand my ground, etc., etc.? These softer emotions are more difficult to know what to do with.

    The trouble is that in expressing my anger, I end up hurting the people around me. And that’s not loving. Jesus told us that other people would know that we are his disciples, if we have love for one another. That’s important to me. And I’m a long way from doing it well.

    What I’ve learned is that to be really good at loving others, I must first learn to love myself in light of God’s amazing love for me.  When my softer emotional needs are being met through my relationship with my heavenly Father, I can begin to display compassionate responses in the midst of trying circumstances, that would otherwise cause me to lash out in anger.

    If you’re dealing with anger, please contact one of our counselors today who can help you talk through and sort out what’s really going on under the hood, embrace God’s amazing love for you, and begin to live of life of compassion toward others.

    -Jeff Faulkner, M.S., LPC

  • Living with Joy

    Imagine the TV show, “19 kids and counting” and this would give you some idea what the Elliotts experienced when our family of five brought into our home, seven more girls at Big Oak Ranch. Those days were rich with blessing, spilling over with activity, challenges beyond our imagining, much laughter, and sometimes heartbreak.

    One October we took our girls to the Fall festival at their school, to be followed by the high school’s football game, a highlight of the week. One of our youngest, newly eight- year old “Trina” became enthralled with the cakewalk. After several failed attempts, she soon turned in all of her tickets to increase her chances of winning the grand prize … a goldfish. Knowing the longevity of such fish in general and the chances of survival of this little fish, in particular,  in our busy household, I was praying Trina would give up and move on to other games. She had already experienced so much loss and pain in her short little life; I just wanted to protect Trina from anymore. Unfortunately, the Mom running the activity began to feel so sorry for this determined little girl, she finally rigged the results and Trina became the proud new owner of the treasured goldfish. I inwardly cringed as she came running to share her exciting news. “I’m going to call her Joy”, she sang out. Now I was really worried, how could I let Joy die in our home when we were already facing so many challenges?

    Right off the bat, Joy led a blessed life. Her first night consisted of sitting in a plastic bag in a very cold van for about six more hours, while we attended the game, before we could get her home and situated. But survive she did. She was the namesake of a much admired sixteen year old in our home. Now, at least two girls had quite an investment in keeping her alive. I don’t think there ever was such a beloved fish. She lasted for almost a year, due in part to Trina’s devotion and in greater measure to God’s intervention and grace.

    Looking back, I have thought of how I almost missed the Joy, and in doing so, would have denied Trina that experience. In this Christmas season, we too can become so overwhelmed with the frantic pace that we, too, might not slow down enough to invite Joy into our homes. Don’t miss it! Keep your hearts and homes wide open and expectant, hoping for and inviting in, the full measure of all that God has for you.

    Merry Christmas from our home at Tapestry to yours….

    -Beverly Elliott

  • Why People Seek Counseling – Love, Joy, & Peace

    There are many reasons people seek therapy, including feeling stuck, not feeling good, being unhappy, loss of a relationship or loved one, etc. I contend that the majority of the multitude of reasons people seek out the services of a professional counselor can be categorized into three broad areas: relationship problems, depression, and anxiety.  Isn’t it interesting that the first 3 fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5 are the direct opposite, or positive opposite, of these negative presenting issues?  Love, Joy, and Peace. I don’t know about you, but I find that fascinating.  Maybe there really is something to the Bible holding the answers for the problems in our lives.

     Now, I have enough education, training, and experience to also be able to say that these problems are not just spiritual, and there are many psychological or physiological explanations to the things we experience in life.  There are psychological features to anxiety and depression.  There are physiological explanations for anxiety and depression as well.  And as for the relationship problems, well, there are personality features and life experiences that shape who we are and create a prism through which we interpret the events and conversations in our lives.  Understanding our backgrounds can explain why we have relationship difficulties.  These explanations that are other than spiritual do not bother me, because they are all truth.  And all truth is God’s truth.  These other explanations also do not negate the spiritual reality that exists within them.  You see, fundamentally, all of the things that we struggle with in this life are a result of being fallen people living in a fallen world and are therefore, spiritual in essence.  The human mind with all of its psychology, the human body with all of its physiology, and our complicated life experiences are fundamentally spiritual – they were all created by God – and that’s a pretty spiritual thing, don’t you think? 

     So, please allow me to encourage you that these issues can be overcome.  It’s God’s desire that you overcome them.  These issues represent a destruction of Love, Joy, and Peace in our lives.  This is not what God desires.  He wants us all to experience love at its deepest level – John 3:16 says that God loves us so much that he gave his only Son to die for us – that’s incredible love and He wants us to experience it.  Scripture says over and over again that He wants to make our joy complete. Jesus said in John 14:27 “my peace I give you”.  The first three fruits of the Spirit are Love, Joy, and Peace.  Notice that these are the fruits of the Spirit of God – not the fruits of you working hard at developing coping mechanisms are strategies to deal with circumstances.  You see, ultimately, this is all spiritual.  If you deny this aspect of what you’re struggling with, you will never know complete healing.  The best way to overcome these issues is to fully understand them from a psychological perspective, physiological perspective, from the perspective of your background and life experiences, and from a spiritual perspective.  When you attack these issues from all angles, you will surround it (whatever it is) and it will surrender and you will find Love, Joy, and Peace.

     If you are having challenges in these areas, please schedule an appointment with one of our counselors today. We would be thrilled to walk with you through these struggles, help you understand and make sense of them, and walk more in step with God in your life and experience the Love, Joy, and Peace that God desires for you.

    -Jeff Faulkner

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