Control

by Kevin Wimbish, LMFT


“In Christ alone my hope is found,

He is my light, my strength, my song;

This Cornerstone, this solid Ground,

Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.

What heights of love, what depths of peace,

When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!

My Comforter, my All in All,

Here in the love of Christ I stand.”**


“On Christ the solid Rock I stand

All other ground is sinking sand

All other ground is sinking sand

When darkness veils His lovely face

I rest on His unchanging grace

in every  high and stormy gale

my anchor holds within the veil”***


Achieve.  Make it happen.  Accomplish.  It’s up to you.  You can dream it, you can do it.

I love inspiration.  I appreciate motivation.  There have been multiple seasons in my life in which listening to motivational talks, etc… helped me keep going.

And, I think, we as people, I know I do, like to think that we are in control.  We like to think that if we just keep doing the right thing and if we work hard enough, things will work out as we wish.  If you’re reading this, and have as many grey hairs in your head as I do in my beard (I don’t have much to work with up top:) , you may have encountered enough blows from life to see otherwise. 

One thing I have realized during this season ( I’m not even sure what to call it, but mass disorientation seems fitting), is that control, to a significant extent, is an illusion.  I have often approached life and unfortunately, sometimes my faith, as a math equation.  A + B = C.  What happens when it doesn’t?  

If a year ago, you would have told me:

That the NBA would cancel its season,

Colleges would not have any students on their campuses,

My son would have one week of track and it would immediately stop,

My kids would be trying to do school at our house, my wife would be teaching via the computer,

I would see my daughter wearing a mask in public,

Millions of people would immediately stop working,

I would not be allowed to go to the gym,

Arrows would tell me where to walk in stores,

For the same consideration some would be terrified to leave their homes while others would think it was a hoax.

There would have been a portion of a major American city without police control for multiple weeks,

………………….  I could keep going…..

I would have thought you were describing a dystopic movie, not America.

Yet, this is reality right now.  

If we focus on all of the above, or even some of it, it can easily lead to anxiety and even despair.  

However, if we focus on what we know to be true, Who we know to be true, The Solid Rock, and keep our gaze fixed on Him, we can get through this.  We will get through this.

“On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;

all other ground is sinking sand,

all other ground is sinking sand.”***


Kevin Wimbish, LMFT

The Missing Essential: Empathy

By Donna Gibbs, LCMHCS

My dad makes a mean chess pie. It’s incredible. In fact, it’s such an amazing pie that it was featured in Our State Magazine a few years back with a full-page picture of my dad’s handsome face, and a story about his incredible pie. Of course, they included the recipe, with all of the essential ingredients, and even a few recommendations regarding non-essential add-ons. My first experiment with cooking as a young tween involved cooking this pie. I gathered my ingredients together, skillfully followed the directions (so I thought), and pulled out of the oven what looked like a masterpiece of perfection. Later, when I decided to taste my work of art, I was shocked when my taste buds encountered the truth. It was awful! (I can’t emphasize the word “awful” enough!) What I soon discovered is that these ingredients were carefully planned, and each ingredient truly was essential. Odd as it may be, this pie contains vinegar. Because of the sugar, you would never notice. But without the sugar… well, you can imagine the shockingly bitter disappointment of that vinegary taste! Sugar is an essential ingredient in a pie, especially a pie that contains vinegar!


Essential is a word that has been thrown out a lot lately. We’ve focused throughout the COVID season on essential employees, and have rightfully given great honor to those who serve in positions that we can’t live without.


But we’re in times of great turmoil and conflict, and we are still missing an essential ingredient.


That missing essential ingredient is empathy.


Wikipedia defines empathy as “the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, that is, the capacity to place oneself in another’s position.”


The word empathize is appropriately a verb. Empathy requires intention, action, and effort. It is not a passive experience. Honestly, sometimes empathy is also a very uncomfortable effort that may feel more like an unwelcomed stretch, or a kick in the gut.

In short, sometimes it is hard to welcome empathy. Sometimes we just don’t want to expend the energy or experience the discomfort that is required to immerse ourselves into the differing perspective and experiences of another person. But empathy is essential, nonetheless.


Healthy relationships are impossible without empathy.


Marriage relationships.


Parenting relationships.


Church relationships.


Community relationships.

When families are in conflict, churches are in conflict, or communities are in conflict, it is often because we are without empathy. The absence of this essential ingredient creates a form of sociopathology. Whenever we have a personal point of pain (our story), we tend to turn inward. We rehash our hurts, and we focus primarily on our own perspective. We rehearse and review our thoughts in the internal dialogue of our minds. We each have an internal narrative that is tainted by our own experiences and opinions. From that narrative, we talk, inflating our own opinions and giving additional weight to our own experiences, but we’re not listening well to the experiences of others. This repetition of care regarding primarily ourselves and our view of the world numbs us from the ability to have compassion or remorse towards others who view life differently.


This approach, devoid of empathy, leaves a vinegary-bitter taste in the mouth.


Right now, our country is in a storm. Bitterness will be our demise. We will not survive this storm without empathy.


One of the essential ingredients of counseling is empathy. If I cannot fully immerse myself into the hurts, emotions, and thoughts of another person, then I am fully crippled to help facilitate the journey to healing. Yes, this empathetic immersion requires a sacrifice. For me, it has been the sacrifice of decades of exposure to secondary trauma. I won’t pretend to suggest that the sacrifice is easy. It isn’t for me, and it won’t be easy for you.


But we have a Savior who sacrificed everything for our healing, because genuine healing demands a sacrifice!


Yes, genuine empathy is a sacrifice, but it changes everything. Genuine empathy removes the assumption of ill-will that is destroying our marriages, churches, and communities. It displays our shared humanity, it personalizes a position, and it fosters unity. The results of empathy are worth the sacrifice!


But how do we add this essential ingredient?


The solution is simple.


Speak less. Listen more.


Frankly, we live life as if we had two mouths and one ear.


But God created us with two ears and one mouth.


And, sometimes we’re only bending one ear…at best.


Moving forward, let’s commit to living marriage, family, church, and community with two ears and one mouth. Today, let’s listen doubly more than we talk. Let’s ask questions. Not about opinions, but about life stories. “What’s your story?” is a powerful start. Because strong, gut-deep opinions are most often born out of a personal story.


And every story matters.


Every person’s story is waiting to be told.


And heard.


To clarify, empathy doesn’t require that you’ve experienced the same story. Empathy only requires that you be willing to actively and intentionally imagine what it would be like to live with that story. To fully immerse yourself in that imagined reality. I often assign couples a “Typical Day” exercise in which they are to intentionally seek to imagine life from the perspective of their mate for a 24-hour period, from the time their feet hit the floor until their head meets the pillow that night. They are to imagine the fears, responsibilities, stressors, hopes, interactions, challenges, and vulnerabilities. The fruit of an exercise like this? When you allow yourself to be immersed in another person’s story, understanding and appreciation are fertilized.


Sorrow is born.


Bridges are built.


Walls are shattered.


Healing begins.


I wrote a book about resilience a few years ago. The topic is a passion of mine. Many of us are praying for resilience in our country. We’ve had a long, hard, and confusing season. Perhaps the same is true of your marriage. Or your church.  I am here to say that without empathy we will not have resilience. Gratefully, resilience doesn’t always mean that we bounce back… some things won’t be the same and don’t need to be the same. Resilience often means that we bounce forward, growing stronger through suffering. Our country needs resilience. Perhaps your marriage needs resilience. Let empathy fan the flame!


With the help of Jesus, who modeled empathy so beautifully, we will shine brightly in a divided country. We will place the blocks on the foundation for healing, one conversation at a time!


Romans 12:15 New International Version (NIV)
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”


Philippians 2:3-4 New International Version (NIV)
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”


1 Peter 3:8 New International Version (NIV)
“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.”


Ephesians 5:1-2 New International Version (NIV)
“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children  and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empathy


Donna Gibbs, LCHMCS

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

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

Prayer in the Pandemic

by Jess Hatton, MA, LCMHC

“First I thank God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you.” (Romans 1:8-10, English Standard Version)

“Let love be genuine, Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” Romans 12:9-13

Over the past few weeks I’ve been reading through Romans. I’ve been struck by numerous points as I’ve read, but one of the things I’ve been most convicted of is prayer for my fellow believers as well as unbelievers. Paul, writing to the Roman church and in its complexity it is Paul’s most comprehensive books on the salvation of Jesus Christ. It is so focused on the Gospel in fact that the long used evangelism tool The Roman Road is derived from verses throughout the book. Since he is so focused on the saving power of the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles it makes sense why prayer is so important. But, myself, I like many others I’ve talked to struggle with prayer. Matt Chandler hypothesized in a recent message to The Village Church that perhaps one of the main  reasons that we in the western church don’t pray is because “we view prayer as passive”. He went on to ask “Is our unfruitfulness proportionate to our un-prayerfulness?” (excuse me a moment while I take a deep breath from that punch in the gut). The truth of that hurts. 

I’m sure my time in the pandemic has been like many of your own, filled with a combination of chaos and beauty. And as a mom of three littles I’ve tried  hard to emphasize loving people in the NOW despite being confined to our home. But as we have struggled to minister to people outside of our home, and to share the gospel with those who are lost, it somehow became about what we were doing, instead of what and for whom we were praying. My point: even in our limited abilities and situations we have unlimited access to the Father through Jesus Christ. Let us not also miss the fact that Paul is writing to the church in Rome from Corinth. He is not present with them to minister in person. This means that we never have to leave home to pray for those who are hurting, who are lost. Prayer is the front line of battle and is far from being passive! How much more power the church would have if believers would pray! Prayer calls upon the Holy Spirit to move and act. Here are just a few points from the above scriptures. 

  1. Paul always thanks God for the church and his fellow believers. Romans 1:8
  2. He prays without ceasing. Romans 1:9
  3. He asks humbly for the ability to minster in person. 1:10
  4. He calls the church to do everything in love and to pray constantly. 

Jess Hatton, MA, LCMHC

I See You

By Kevin Wimbish, LMFT

Julie and I were walking outside recently.  A lady walked towards us on the other side of the road.  She stuck out both of her hands and said “six feet, six feet!”  I was struck by how abrupt and fearful was the response.

I understand safety.  I understand being healthy.  I try to eat healthfully.  I exercise.  I believe these things are important.  

And.

We’ve all experienced a lot of changes, quickly.  

Fear.  

Confusion.  

Floods of information.  

Different perspectives.  Different narratives.  

Job changes.  Job loses.  

Telehealth.  Remote working.  Remote teaching.  Remote learning.  

Financial changes.  

Take out.  

National Guidance.  State Guidance.  County Guidance.  Lack of Guidance.

Six feet.  Store aisle arrows.  Masks.  Toilet Paper.  

It has, and will, infiltrate our psyches.  

With all of this, so much, so quickly,  I hope we can see One Another again.  I hope we can see one another not only as potential carriers, but as Humans.  Not only as potential infections, but as Image-Bearers of God.  

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1: 27, English Standard Version)

“Just as we borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.” (I Corinthians 15: 49)


Kevin Wimbish, LMFT

What If?

by Kevin Wimbish, LMFT

At the beginning of this year, there was a lot of talk about 2020.  Sight. Clarity. Vision. Then, Coronavirus. COVID-19. Sickness came.  Stores closed. Worries abound. 

Often I discourage the “What Ifs.”  What if a loved one gets sick? What if I didn’t save enough?  What if this goes on indefinitely? All “What Ifs” that can lead us down dark paths.  

But, What If, this is still the year to see clearly?  

What if we see the hard work our spouses put into making work and school and dishes and laundry and… run smoothly?

What if we see our colleagues adjust and shift and support one another in ways that “normal life” didn’t invite?

What if we see technology used to connect people to church who may not have initially wanted to walk through the doors?

What if we see our children get so tired of screens that they run around outside, build “forts,” and laugh and play in ways it seemed our culture had lost?

What if we see a strength has been awakened in others and ourselves that we didn’t know we had until we were pushed to exemplify it.  

What if God helps us to see that many of the things in which we found our hope were fleeting, faint, and illusory? 

What if this is still the year of Vision?  Maybe we just couldn’t see it at first.


Be Thou My Vision – Audrey Assad


Kevin Wimbish, LMFT

Depression COVID-19

by Donna Gibbs, LCMHCS, BCPCC



Donna Gibbs, LCMHCS, BCPCC

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

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

Helping Your Teen Navigate COVID-19

by Ashleigh Beason, LCMHCA

It feels like a snow day-or it did feel like a snow day for the first day or so. Now it looks like it may become several months worth of snow days and a reality that we never thought we would face. So many of us are disappointed. Nothing is going as planned. Weddings are postponed, birthday celebrations are cancelled, spring fairs, school sports, proms, performances, concerts, conferences, March madness—and school has been cancelled until May 15. Many of these are rites of passages for teenagers that they have planned for months or even years. This interruption has affected all of us in some way, but I know teenagers are incredibly disappointed realizing they will not get to be with their friends perhaps for a couple of months.  

Teens deal with disappointment in different ways and with different emotions. As parents, since you are some of the only social interaction they are getting, it is important for them to feel loved and supported. Parents, here are some things to know about your teenagers as you help them navigate COVID-19.

1. Let them be sad. Events like prom and school in general really matter to them. This is a major loss in your teenager’s life and they need space to grieve that. Support, validate, and normalize this for them. No one could have guessed that there would be a day where your teen was sad about not going to school. This can be an encouragement as a parent though, because it shows us that they cared about school even when we thought they didn’t. Teens care about their friends, sports, social life, work, and even school work. It is a privilege to love these events, to understand their value and grieve the loss of them. Some teenagers might feel some relief that they are no longer stressed with so many things to do, and they have gotten out of commitments they did not want to do in the first place. Those feelings are valid as well.

2. Although this isolation can provide families with more time together, most all teenagers specifically want to have independence. Therefore, many are struggling with the reality that they will be inside with parents for the unforeseen future. It is important to give them alone time as well. 

3. Perhaps your teen is frustrated with you because you are trying to stick to the guidelines of social distancing while others are not. Give them permission to blame you for this while trying to find other ways to be flexible. They may not have as much freedom as other teens because of social distancing, but you can work together to find an alternative. 

4. While your teen’s disappointment does have the potential to turn up the volume on depression and anxiety, it is important to create a sense of normalcy-make new routines and schedules. And while you may become more flexible about technology rules, make sure you keep some rules around online activity including Netflix and social media.  Make sure they get good sleep, eat as healthy as possible, and continue to get some physical activity. Teens are creative too, so even giving them the opportunity to choose what these rules and routines are might be helpful.

There is so much we still do not know about what the Spring will look like, but we do know that teenagers are resilient and adaptable and will get through this-but not without some disappointment. As Donna Gibbs always says, “Every challenge invites a victory,” so help your teen find victory in the midst of significant let-downs in his or her life. 


Ashleigh Beason, LCMHCA

Answers to Your Questions About Telehealth During COVID-19 Restrictions

by Donna Gibbs, LCMHCS, BCPCC


Donna Gibbs, LCMHCS, BCPCC

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

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

Is Coronavirus Triggering Anxiety Or OCD?

by Donna Gibbs, LCMHCS, BCPCC


Donna Gibbs, LCMHCS, BCPCC

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

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

Are We Listening?

by Boone Leigh, LCMHC

Genesis 1:1 (English Standard Version) “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (3) And God said, “Let there be light’, and there was light.

In these first couple of verses in Genesis, God reveals something very significant about himself. He is not like us. 

To the original hearing/reading audience that Moses was writing to (inspired of God), this would have been a different idea than what they had heard from the nations around them. Most ancient cultures had some sort of creation story. A common theme in these stories is that the universe, and humankind as part of that universe, was connected to their gods by being of the same “stuff”. Either the basic elements of the universe were eternal, and thus the gods and the universe were made out of this eternal matter (same substance idea), or the universe, world, and mankind were the offspring of the gods and thus still of the same substance. 

The biblical account of creation is very different. God creates by His power all things (the heavens and the earth). He speaks, and matter and order come into being. The significance is that it is not a part of Him, or an “emanation” from God, but rather distinct from Him. We as human beings are not little divine sparks who originate from the great flame (God) as some eastern religions speak of. God is wholly different than us. 

One significant idea that comes from this is that God alone speaks creation into existence and thus all power and authority come from Him. We do not participate in this. We are not authorities or truths of ourselves which we could claim if we were of the same stuff as God. Most of my problems in life, and the lives of others, come from doing things my way and seeking to be an authority or source of self derived truth. God alone speaks and the universe comes into being. God alone has the authority to speak to His creation and state what truth is, what love is, what righteousness is, and how we are to believe and live. 

When I stop trying to be the one who speaks and instead listen to the God who alone spoke and the universe came into being, then my life starts making sense. God has spoken, and still speaks through his Word. Are we listening?


Boone Leigh, LCMHC