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Friday, September 26, 2014
A Taste of Friday with Judy Lair and From the Other Side of the Couch
From the Other Side of the Couch
A BIBLICAL COUNSELOR’S GUIDE TO RELATIONAL LIVING
Judy Lair, LPCC
About the Book:
From the time Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, humankind has lived out of a rule-oriented, standardized framework. This strategy is great for getting tasks done, but significantly impacts the ability to do relationships well. Self-protection, anxiety, depression, bitterness, and resentment indicate a fear-based life. Learning how to love God, ourselves, and others requires a transformative process. Living a Relational lifestyle brings the happiness, contentment, and joy humans crave. Change is possible, and the reflective questions at the end of chapters help you personalize the journey. My Roadmap to Freedom shows how to walk through the valley of woundedness, liberate your feelings from captivity, wrestle inaccurate beliefs into submission, plant your flag on the mountain of truth, and learn how to live in godly freedom. Together, we will ask God to bring you context, clarity, compassion, and understanding about the pain and hurt you’ve experienced and their impact on your present life. I can tell you I absolutely, positively, completely believe in God’s heart for you and your healing—because I know His heart for me. This book welcomes you into my counseling office where I share the insights God has given to me on both sides of the couch.
Buy the Book: http://bit.ly/Authorpage
About the Author:
Judy Lair is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and owner of Counselorplace Christian Counseling since 2002. She is the author of “From the Other Side of the Couch: A Biblical Counselor’s Guide to Relational Living.” Judy’s personal struggles with fear led to her healing journey. She now embraces a life grounded in God’s truth and freedom in Christ. Her vulnerable, godly approach helps people find courage to face the hurt and pain in their own life and move from fear to freedom. Sign up for blog posts at http://judylair.blogspot.com.
Judy A. Lair, LPCC
Read an Excerpt:
Welcome to my counseling office, let me know if I can get you a glass of
water or cup of coffee. I’ll sit in my forest green arm chair next to the lamp
stand with photos of my son. You can curl up on the couch across from me.
If you’re cold, go ahead and grab the afghan my aunt Goldie made to cover
your lap. Now let’s talk.
Clients have asked me for years to write a book that sounds like the
conversations we have in my office every day. This is not your typical self-
help book with tips and tools to help you manage difficult situations. I do a
little bit of that, but mainly I focus on principles. Every counseling session
focuses on how transforming your heart, mind, and character leads to
healing and happiness. In this book you will read a lot about viewpoint,
because that makes a difference in getting clarity and seeing truth. We live
in a complicated world and the enemy loves to use confusion and doubt to
deceive. I strive to sit in God’s living room looking at life through his vantage
point and sharing that perspective with clients.
Every client that walks into my office and every person who picks up this
book is looking for hope. Hope that change is possible this time, wondering
if they are too broken to be fixed. What I can tell you is that I absolutely,
positively, completely believe in God’s heart for you and your healing --
because I now know His heart for me. God loves you with the same passion
I experience. The process I share shows you how to identify and wrestle with
the barriers that keep you from receiving and experiencing that same truth. I
invite you to be open to the concepts I share and have lots of discussions
with God about them. Whether you agree or disagree with me is not as
important as what you gain in the conversation process.
I’ve structured the book as if we’re talking in my office. First, I’ll introduce
myself. I expect that you, like me, are very particular about who you allow to
speak into your life. Every counselor has their own views on how relationship
dysfunction happens and how to address it. This view is based on their
training and personal experiences. It’s important for clients to decide if the
counselor’s framework is the best vehicle to get them where they want to go.
For that reason, I purposefully share my background and the key life
experiences that form my beliefs. I’ve done my best to be transparent,
allowing you to get a feel for my heart, character, and motives.
Second, I’ll explain the general principles I rely on related to beliefs,
feelings, thoughts, actions, etc. Principles such as learning what it means to
love ourselves and others in a godly way, why we need to go back and open
up old painful scars, and how learning new skills such as grieving can draw
us closer to God and each other. After discussing the foundational principles,
I’ll introduce a counseling model I developed called the Roadmap to
Freedom. Walking out this journey takes you from a place of woundedness
to a life lived out of joy. Each chapter moves you step by step along in the
process. I’ve made this journey myself and am honored to walk alongside to
guide and encourage you.
* * *
One of the most detrimental counterfeits to the Relational system is the
Outcome-based model. It promises a direct correlation between working
hard and reaching goals. If I work 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, the
Outcome-based formula tells me I will receive all the benefits of the
“American Dream.” On its surface, striving to reach goals and benchmarks
appears to be helpful and motivating. That’s why this model is enticing. It’s
much more convenient to independently meet our own needs without relying
on God! The “health and wealth” theology uses this same formulaic
approach. If I pray and believe hard enough that God wants me to be blessed
in specific ways, then God has no choice but to make it happen.
In the Relational model, each person invests in helping one another grow
and prosper in loving God, themselves, and others. The Outcome-based
model preys on the fear that our legitimate needs will not be met and offers
a counterfeit solution to a manufactured problem. Just look at how products
are marketed. Instead of focusing on the qualities of a product and letting the
consumer decide what they need, commercials appeal to our emotional
vulnerabilities. We’re told there’s a direct correlation between wanting to be
loved, accepted, admired, etc. and a particular product. As I looked closer at
this model, I began asking probing questions.
Where did these formulaic equations come from? Who’s actually
benefiting from me agreeing with them? Do they lead me closer to God
or farther away?
What I uncovered was how humankind distorted the godly principle of
relational leadership. We replaced it with a system that could be used to
manipulate and control for selfish gain.
God’s leadership style is repeated throughout the Davidic Psalms: “His
love endures forever.” Leadership without sacrificial love eventually
becomes self-centered and punitive. The Bible shows how exasperating and
difficult it was for God to lead households and nations of stiff-necked,
stubborn, immature people. Trying to lead when you’re immature in loving
relationally is exhausting and potentially tempting.
Humankind decided to create a shortcut and instituted their own
leadership model. Most Outcome-based leaders tell us what goals are godly
and institute a set of rules and standards designed to reach those self-
determined one-size-fits-all goals. In this model, there’s always a set of
negative consequences for broken rules or unmet goals.
God gave us the Ten Commandments to show humankind the futility of
using rules to replace relationship. What God wants most is for us to draw
near to Him so He can draw near to us. Jesus cried over Jerusalem like a
mother hen cries over her missing baby chicks. Our worth and value can only
be understood through our soul connecting with our creator. When human
leadership creates a general set of standards, it leads us away from God’s
heart and we lose our personhood.
Outcome-based systems connect value and worth directly to
achievements. In many homes, schools, churches, small groups, etc., you
must follow the rules or meet specified goals in order to receive approval and
be recognized as valuable, competent, or good. Not living up to those
expectations means letting people down, an unthinkable sin.
You can see this system play out from the first day a child attends school
and is asked to measure up on a standardized test. Who decides what facts
and theorems are necessary for a student to be “successful” in life? In church
and family households, often there are rigid rules to follow and mandated
behavior and belief expectations that must be followed. Oftentimes when the
system is questioned, the answer given is “because I said so” or the
questioner is scolded because their actions reflect badly on the institution or
family name. At work, there are sales goals, productivity expectations, time
limits, etc., all of which dictate the employee’s worth to the company.
I’m not taking issue with setting up systems to encourage people to grow
individually and contribute to the community. The Bible talks a lot about
having a vision and pressing onward to run the race well. But when
humankind use their own standards to judge worth and value, we are putting
ourselves in the place of God.
There can be an internal and external tug-of-war when we’re conditioned
from childhood to connect our character, worth, and value to pleasing
someone or meeting goals set by someone else. If an authority figure we
respect uses guilt and shame to ensure compliance, we get a warped view
of what God expects from us. When Adam and Eve chose independence
over relationship with God, humankind learned how to deeply hurt each
other. Rather than focusing on ways to support, encourage, and care, people
became objects to use and manipulate for personal gain.
God’s leadership centers on modeling servant leadership, sacrifice, and
unconditional love. The God of the Old Testament was angered,
disappointed, and saddened by each human generation who didn’t respond
to this type of leadership. God wanted them to see how he personally cared
for them and understood their needs.
The Israelites looked around, saw every other nation had a human king,
and asked God to appoint a king over them. In 1 Samuel 8, God warns Israel
through Samuel that a king would draft sons into the military and use their
land and energy to supply the military with food and weapons. Their
daughters would be expected to take care of the military, people would
become slaves, and everyone would be required to give a tenth of their crops
and animals to the king. Samuel begged them to consider the cost of
Outcome-based leadership, but the Israelites were adamant.
But the people refused to listen to Samuel. ‘No!’ they said. ‘We want a
king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations with a king to lead
us and to go out before us and fight our battles.’ (1 Samuel 8:19-20 NIV)
All of history shows God’s words to be true. Humans have created
hierarchical systems based on power, control, and authority which have
generally been used to provide a framework for the strong to make others
conform to their wishes. It also provides a rationalization to weigh the value
of an individual against survival of the system, usually languaged in some
magnanimous way. We’ve all heard mottos like, “The needs of the many
outweigh the needs of a few.” In the world’s system, there must always be a
choice. The saddest thing of all is that most of us believe there’s no other
way to live. But when we view life within a relational context, God gives both
sides an opportunity to learn, grow, and mature. No one ends up on the
losing end unless they choose, like the Israelites, to tell God no. Even in that
instance, God had a plan to bring them to repentance.
Cost of Living in an Outcome-Based System
Another one of my favorite movies is The Matrix because it beautifully
portrays this tug-of-war. Its basic premise is that the world known by most
humans is actually a simulation created by living machines to manipulate
and control humanity for their own benefit. Computer hacker Neo begins to
find and question computer anomalies and he’s recruited by a band of truth-
seekers. The most important scene in the movie is when Morpheus tells Neo
he has the choice to open his eyes to the simulation. Morpheus warns Neo
if he chooses to see the truth, he cannot go back to ignorance. Such an
immense decision reveals Neo’s character. Does he want to shut his eyes to
seeing the world in bondage and continue to do what is best for him or is he
motivated by truth, even if it means personal hardship and fighting against
Neo chooses to take the truthful red pill and when he wakes up, he finds
himself attached to an electrical machine by an elaborate cable system. This
is what reality looked like for those humans who were enslaved in the dream
simulation. Reality was not as pretty as the dream world, but embracing it
showed strength and integrity. Neo makes it his life’s work to help the Zion
brotherhood bring truth to the world. The movie shows another man named
Cyber who decides he’s tired of living in reality and schemes to return to the
matrix so he can live a comfortable, pretend lifestyle. Like Judas, Cyber
betrays the Zion brotherhood to the enemy machines for his own benefit.
The price for embracing the Outcome-based system is a life of fear and
despair. Life is a never-ending worry cycle that you won’t measure up. Every
day you work feverishly to reach a goal set by someone else and when you
do, you work even harder to stay ahead of the curve. This cycle eventually
ends with you crashing in despair, wondering what makes life worthwhile.
We keep insanely believing that doing the same things will bring about a
different result. Instead, we need to question the beliefs on which we base
our life efforts. In his book Happier, Tal Ben-Shahar, Ph.D. talks about
training with the Israeli national squash team when he was 16 years old. At
that time, he believed winning the championship was necessary for him to
feel fulfilled and fulfillment was essential for happiness. He did win and as he
savored the mountain-top happy feeling, the everyday emptiness came
I was befuddled and afraid. The tears of joy shed only hours earlier
turned to tears of pain and helplessness. For if I was not happy now,
when everything seemed to have worked out perfectly, what prospects
did I have of attaining lasting happiness?...But as the days and months
unfolded, I did not feel happier; in fact, I was growing even more desolate
as I began to see that simply substituting a new goal -- winning the world
championship, say --- would not in itself lead me to happiness. Ben-
Shahar, Happier, p. 4.
At some point, every person asks the question, “Is this all there is to life?”
We may ask it when we’re at the top of the mountain or in a deep pit from
which we never seem to climb out of -- but we all ask it. The Outcome-based,
logical strategy dangles the carrot, telling us to pull up our boots and to put
in extra effort and time. It promises if we work hard, we can achieve all our
dreams. Has that been true in your life? For me, all that hard work left me
burned out and exhausted.
For Christians, this strategy usually means we throw ourselves into church
and ministry. We desperately seek emotional highs during worship and
obsessively spend our time giving to others. But even these “good” things
leave us feeling exhausted, empty, incompetent, worthless, and desperate
for happiness and joy. In such a place, we are vulnerable to manipulation
and self-destruction. Rather than continuing to do more, why not re-evaluate
your life strategy?
My clients laugh at how I talk about loving my bed the way most women
love chocolate. Waking up in the morning, I relish the firmness of the
mattress and how my body feels rested and refreshed. I stretch like a
contented kitty and laughingly make invisible “snow angels” under the
sheets. It’s such a little, inconsequential thing in the big picture of life. But
such contentedness spurs me to prayers of thankfulness for how my life has
been transformed in only a few short years. Living an Outcome-based
lifestyle meant enduring never-ending fear, self-protection, bitterness, and
How do you know which system you are living in? Pray Psalm 51 and ask
God to show you if any of these Outcome-based themes are present in your
heart and mind on a regular basis:
· Blaming others
· Refusing to take responsibility for one’s own issues
· Living in learned helplessness
· Taking on the identity of a martyr
· Giving up on life, living in despair and hopelessness
· Attempting to fix others through manipulative techniques
· Demanding obedience while denying personhood
· Denying the role of emotions
· Striving to be independent rather than interdependent
· Living life as Martha instead of Mary
· Choosing to prioritize ministry at the expense of relationships
· Denying immaturities and defending them to others
· Refusing to allow others to know you for fear of being hurt
· Creating rules legislating worth, value and acceptance
I embrace being filled with the fullness of God and having the opportunity
to pour that out on my clients daily in my office. Where I once hated to wake
up in the morning because it would be another heavy, busy, demanding day
full of disappointment and despair, I now absolutely love my life. Yes, I have
hard days with frustrations and difficulties. However, I am committed to
knowing in my soul the truth of God’s heart. It’s a gut knowing that surpasses
head knowledge, giving me a godly viewpoint of life where I’m able to see
truth and move toward it in every area of my life. This Relational lifestyle
brings the happiness and joy every human being was created to desire.
1. What do you think God created humankind?
2. How does that belief shape your view of who God is and how he feels
3. Do you love yourself as well as you love others?
4. How do you process feeling like God is disappointed or upset with you?
5. What is your heart motivation when you ask God hard questions?
6. In what ways do you equate value and worth with following rules and
7. Which model do you primarily live out, Relational or Outcome-based?
8. How do you pursue happiness?
9. What Outcome-based themes are present in your life?
10. How does fear keep you from living a Relational life?