DATE NIGHT | FALLING IN LOVE

Photo by Jasmine Waheed on Unsplash


We hope that you are enjoying this new series.  Our goal is to help you create good communication about things that matter.  Feel free contact us with any feedback.

We want to remind you, there isn’t anything magical about the questions that we will offer each week.  The real magic happens when two people take the time to invest in one another.  Whether you use these questions or some discussion starters of your own, we hope that you will once again find the wonder of getting to know each other and as God uses these conversations to shape your future together.


Conversation Starters

Valentine’s Day was yesterday, so let’s have a discussion this week about love and romance. Continue reading

FORCED TO GROW UP EARLY

Photo by Sabine van Straaten on Unsplash


Without going into a lot of detail, I left home when I was 13 years old.  I primarily stayed with a friend and his family until I graduated high school, at which time, my friend and I got a place of our own.  When I look back, this was a pivotal time in my life that would change me for many years to come; some for the better, and some, not so much.

Here are a few ways that decision, and the circumstances leading to it, changed me, for better and for worse:

  1. I learned to look out for myself at an early age.  I became very independent and remain that way to this day.  I live by the mantra, “if I want a job done right, I’ll just do it myself.”  From a young age I have been making tough life decisions and earning my own way.  I put more into the world than I take out of it.

    On the other side of that coin, I learned to distrust people.  Until I matured in life, I assumed most people had ulterior motives for engaging in a relationship with me.  I always saw others through the lens of a hurt young boy that was not protected by the people that should have loved him the most.  It took a long time to get to the place where I assumed the best in others. (After reading this, it is easy to make the assumption of abuse.  To be transparent, I never suffered any physical abuse.  The trouble that I suffered was verbal and emotional.)

  2. I have become a protector of people.  One thing that stirs a fire inside me is to see someone mistreated.  I am quick to come to others defense.  I have no tolerance for people that are unkind to their fellow man.  I assume this part of who I am comes from not having an advocate of my own, and I never want others to feel like they are powerless to stop someone that is mistreating them.

    On the other side of the coin, I was insecure even into adulthood.  In my 40’s now, I still find that I have to fight against insecurities that stem from my childhood.  By the grace of God, I know my value and I am confident in the person I have become, but now and again, that scared little boy wants to come to the surface.

  3. I learned to push forward through uncertainty.  Many times in my life as a teenager and young adult, I did not know where my life was going, and I did not have answers to difficult problems.  In spite of that, I knew I wanted a better life than the one I came from, so each day, I just put one foot in front of the other, and I marched on.  I did each day, what I needed to do, regardless of how I felt or how uncertain life was.

    On the other side of the coin, I lacked a compass for my life.  I did not know where I was going or why.  I was just running.  Not running towards anything, but running away from my dysfunctional childhood life.  While I grew up fast and I seemed to be more responsible than most people my age, I had no purpose for living.  I was in my mid twenties before I found real meaning for my life.  To this day, I regret having wasted so much time.

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FEARLESS: WEEK #5

In this last installment of FEARLESS we will look at ways to encourage those who struggle with irrational fear. Then we will take a quick look at a psychological understanding of fear, followed by a basic spiritual understanding.

If you have a loved one who battles anxiety, panic attacks, or other fear, it can be overwhelming trying to help. The truth is, if you try to understand the fear completely, you will be frustrated. The one struggling with the fear doesn’t always understand where the fear is coming from either. You likely will find yourself angry, confused, and wore out while attempting to love them through it. But know that your encouragement has an impact, your determination is appreciated, and ultimately the love you show will empower.

Here are some proven ways you can help:

  • Pray for Them: Ask God to build them up.
  • Listen: Encourage conversations, and listen attentively.
  • Learn More: This series is just the tip of the iceberg so to speak, continue to research.
  • Build Trust: Let them know you won’t give up and their relationship with you is secure.
  • Don’t Assume: You may think you know what is in their mind, you likely don’t.
  • Don’t Control: You can’t fight this for them, you can only be the wingman.
  • Don’t See Weakness: Know that it takes incredible strength to function with fear.
  • Don’t Shame: If they fail, encourage them to get back up.
  • Don’t Enable: Don’t be the refuge from fear, be a refueling place between the battles.
  • Celebrate: When they progress, find ways to applaud them.
  • Pray for Yourself: You will need patience, kindness, firmness, and lots of love.

While I had a pastor, a counselor, and friends help me through my many struggles. No one helped me more than my wife. She stayed true to each one of the points shown above. She loved me, encouraged me, and walked with me through it all. Be that kind of parent, friend, brother, or sister to your loved one.

 

Now for a little further understanding about fear.

According to Karl Albrecht, PhD there are only five basic fears, out of which almost all of our other so-called fears are sourced.

  1. Extinction—the fear of annihilation, of ceasing to exist. This is a more fundamental way to express it than just calling it “fear of death.” The idea of no longer being arouses a primary existential anxietyin all normal humans. Consider that panicky feeling you get when you look over the edge of a high building.
  2. Mutilation—the fear of losing any part of our precious bodily structure; the thought of having our body’s boundaries invaded, or of losing the integrity of any organ, body part, or natural function. Anxiety about animals, such as bugs, spiders, snakes, and other creepy things arises from fear of mutilation.
  3. Loss of Autonomy—the fear of being immobilized, paralyzed, restricted, enveloped, overwhelmed, entrapped, imprisoned, smothered, or otherwise controlled by circumstances beyond our control. In physical form, it’s commonly known as claustrophobia, but it also extends to our social interactions and relationships.
  4. Separation—the fear of abandonment, rejection, and loss of connectedness; of becoming a non-person—not wanted, respected, or valued by anyone else. The “silent treatment,” when imposed by a group, can have a devastating psychological effect on its target.
  5. Ego-death—the fear of humiliation, shame, or any other mechanism of profound self-disapproval that threatens the loss of integrity of the Self; the fear of the shattering or disintegration of one’s constructed sense of lovability, capability, and worthiness.

These five basic fears form a simple hierarchy, or “feararchy”

Anxiety uses one of these basic fears and multiplies the physical and mental reactions. Often anxiety misapplies these reactions, and causes further confusion by overwhelming the person experiencing the fear. These five categories of fear make sense to me. I can find a place for every fear I’ve experienced in one of the five basic fears. I understand why these fears exist.

But what makes just as much sense to me, and where I find great peace is a spiritual understanding of fear. To be more precise, a Christian understanding of fear. I will not try to impress you with big theological words here. I am going to sum up what could take a significant amount of time to cover thoroughly. I encourage you to look into a deeper understanding of fear found in the Bible.

The Bible talks about fear quite a bit. It states that “perfect love” (found in God the father) “casts out fear”. It states many times “fear not” or “do not be afraid” while encouraging people to trust God. And then there is a verse found in the book of Proverbs that seems to encourage us to fear.

Proverbs 1:7

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

In all of the Bible study I’ve done on this verse, and other verses that speak of the “fear of the Lord” using multiple trusted sources, I’ve found this verse more encouraging than fear inducing.

This kind of fear translates to having a humbling and overwhelming respect for an awe-inspiring creator. If you are a Christian, you understand this reverence and awe to be in one since scary and in another since comforting. If you are not a Christian, imagine if you were face to face with a being so powerful it could create the universe. Even if you aren’t a believer, thinking this idea through produces a sense of awe.

Christians of different types believe that no matter how much knowledge we accumulate, how many good works we do, or how great our lives become, God is the source of it all. Having an overwhelming respect for God is the beginning of the real meaning of life itself.

This indescribable being promises that His love will cast out fear. He promises that He will never leave us, He is for us, that nothing can separate us from His love. Even if we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, there is nothing to fear outside of His awesome power.

I encourage you to be open to this wonderful God, who puts fear in its place.

I want to thank you for following along with this series. My personal story is just one of thousands of stories about irrational fear. As I have mentioned multiple times in the series, our goal at Finding Wonder is for you to find peace from fear. If that is through counseling, medication, or another method than the one shared here, we celebrate it.

But we also won’t shy away from what we believe is the ultimate answer to overcoming fear. There is a God who loves you at this moment, just as you are. We want you to be at peace with Him and yourself. We want the best for you because God has been so good to us and He will be the same for you.

We want you to find the source of peace, the source of hope, the source of mercy and grace, Jesus Christ.

We want you to forever be in the process of Finding Wonder in the goodness of God.

Tom Wise

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FEARLESS: WEEK #4

In this series, you’ve been challenged to overcome fear by letting it express itself and run its course, thereby losing its power. I realize this is counterintuitive to our preprogrammed responses of fleeing, or fighting. But this is a proven way to put fear in its place. This is a method to gain your freedom back, to take your life back, and to fill you with courage to do what you are gifted to do.

I hope you understand that the idea is not to never experience fear again, but to keep it in perspective. If you feel fear in a real dangerous situation, it makes sense and its beneficial. If you feel fear going up the first hill on a roller-coaster, that makes sense, trust me, I feel it every time. But if you are overwhelmed with fear the entire roller-coaster ride, you’ve missed out on the joy. And if you feel consistent fear in everyday life, it can be debilitating and agonizing.

I want to reiterate something I shared earlier in the series. If the methods I’ve shared here aren’t the answer for you, don’t give up. Many people are helped with counseling, medication, prayer, or other methods. My goal for you is simple, overcoming irrational fear.

Regardless of the methods you find useful, here are some way to arrange your life so that fear has less of a grip on you. Fear feeds on chaos, physical depletion, and emotional weariness.

So here we go: I may not be your favorite person after this short list, but this list can make an enormous difference. I understand that some of you may have physical limitations, financial limitations, or other circumstances that can become excuses to avoid the items listed here. But everyone can take at least small steps in each category. Also, each of these categories could be their own series. Concentrate on one at a time. Don’t be overwhelmed, celebrate small victories.

  • Declutter Your Daily Life: At home, work, or school, clean up the mess. For most people clutter causes stress and even anxiety.
  • Get Physically Fit: To the best of your ability, watch what you eat and exercise often. Explore ways to quit habits that are bad for you physically. I can’t explain to you how much easier my anxiety is to deal with when I am physically healthy.
  • Find Financial Peace: Nothing adds stress to my life more than worrying about money. Take steps toward easing this tension in your life. Pay off a debt, cut an expense, find a way to generate more income.
  • Reduce Relational Chaos: For some of you, this may mean having conversations about how to resolve conflict in a more mature way. For some it may mean you need to re-evaluate how you choose significant others. Also, it may mean you need to set healthy boundaries with family and friends.
  • Be Aware of Stress Producers: This will be specific to your life. For me, I have greatly reduced the amount of national and local news I consume. That alone made a huge difference in my life. For you, it may be other areas you should consider, but I imagine there are ways for you to limit the stress producers in your life.

The idea here is to set up your life in a way that reduces the fuel for fear. Fear will still sneak itself back in, but you now can limit the areas of approach. And on top of that, when fear shows up, you have the ability to let it be present and continue moving forward knowing it has limited power and sustainability.

I hope you find encouragement in this series. You are able to overcome all that fear has to offer. Make a small step today towards limiting fear’s control over you. Then begin to build on that.

Next week, we will focus on ways to help others who are struggling with fear. Also, I will give you my opinion on the proper understanding of fear from a theological perspective.

Tom Wise

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DATE NIGHT | DO SOMETHING NEW THAT IS FUN AND EXCITING

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash


Date Night is a new series that will post on Thursday of each week.  We want to encourage you to invest in your marriage with deep and meaningful conversations just like you did when you were dating.

Unfortunately for many married couples, once they say “I do,” they stop pursuing one another.  It is very easy to quit going on dates, to stop discovering new things about one another, and forget that life together is an adventure.

There isn’t anything magical about the questions that we will offer each week.  The real magic happens when two people take the time to invest in one another.  Whether you use these questions or some discussion starters of your own, we hope that you will once again find the wonder of getting to know each other and using these conversations to shape your future together.


Conversation Starters

Many people get caught up in the busyness of life, and stop having fun together.  Life is an adventure and is more fun when you are pursuing new and exciting things.  Continue reading