Restoring Joy to Giving

November 26th, 2013

[With the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday here in the US, I thought it would be good to re-focus on giving and gratitude in the articles over this next week.]

People with religious tendencies are often profuse givers. Depending on your personality, the desire to give can be so compelling that it easily gets out of balance, causing feelings of resentment when receivers respond with a lack of gratitude.

Many of us are easily moved with compassion for people in need, desiring to respond with help in whatever way possible. When you are a personality type that is easily compelled to give, it is not uncommon for this desire get out of balance, causing feelings of resentment when receivers respond with a lack of gratitude. These feelings of resentment are compounded when you still feel compelled to give though you yourself have come to a point of being in need, from either stressful and exhausting circumstances or the void that has developed from those you give to rarely giving in return.

Compulsive givers frequently feel guilty when they try to back out of getting involved even though their own exhaustion is necessitating it, or when they allow someone to help them with their own needs. Immerse Yourself in the Full Healing Contemplation Here »

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When is Pain Good?

April 5th, 2013

In the physical fitness arena, the phrase “No pain, no gain,” is quite common. For your emotional “fitness” in relationships and boundary setting, “No pain, no gain” is also a necessary practice.

People who repeatedly allow themselves to be hurt or harmed by others, physically or emotionally, have difficulty setting boundaries. They bring a continual flow of harm into their lives due to not setting boundaries, or not making clear what is acceptable and what is not acceptable behavior mainly due to a fear of the other person’s response. They fear the other person’s anger or they even fear hurting the other person’s feelings. Often, the boundaryless person fears hurting the controlling person because of an “over-identification with loss.” He or she hasn’t dealt with their own personal losses, especially those caused by the harmful relationship, so there is an unrealistic, over-emotional response to the thought of hurting the other person. It is a tragic thing to see destruction rule throughout a person’s whole life when restoration and abundance is attainable — all because he or she fears boundary setting will hurt the other person’s feelings. In such cases, pain is a good thing!

First, realize that it is possible to hurt someone’s feelings by “doing what needs to be done” to be responsible with your gift of life.

I’ve referred before to the Boundaries book by Cloud and Townsend when discussing relationship issues of this type. You do what you need to do to be responsible with the gift of your life though it may hurt the other person’s feelings. This is not a matter of being inconsiderate. You think through and evaluate how the boundary will likely hurt the other person’s feelings; that’s being empathetic and “taking into account” the other person’s feelings. But you still set the boundaries to stop the harm to your life; otherwise, you are being irresponsible to the gift of your own life. The other person will likely Immerse Yourself in the Full Healing Contemplation Here »

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Enjoying Your Holidays

December 20th, 2011

Do holiday family gatherings bring joy or difficult memories and painful feelings?

I came across a helpful article by fellow SelfGrowth.com author Laurie McAnaugh; here are some excerpts from it to help you overcome the negativity and enjoy your holiday experience. Use the links in the footnotes to read her full article(This is one of the classic holiday “help” articles– a good reminder for each of us each Christmas/New Year’s season.)

Ms. McAnaugh discusses that if holidays are emotionally draining to you rather than a time to enjoy remembrances of all you have to be thankful for, you may need to ask yourself the following questions:

-Why do I behave that way when I’m around certain members of my family?

-I don’t always like who I am when I am around that person.

-What is it about that person that they constantly say things that hurt my feelings?

-What is it about me that I allow that person to get under my skin?

If the holidays cause you to have the above thoughts, Ms. McAnaugh encourages you to ponder these questions:

-How would it feel to spend the holidays with each of your family members and still feel good about yourself, Immerse Yourself in the Full Healing Contemplation Here »

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When is Your Generosity Unhealthy?

November 20th, 2011

Generosity should always be a good thing, but the reality is that generosity “done right” will not leave you unhealthy and burned out because it is controlled by wisdom.

Generous people are often compulsive givers, quickly responding to the needs around them, even to their own detriment. It does not take too many years of a lifestyle of compulsive giving to leave one wondering why — when he (or she) has been such a good, caring person — he is struggling with exhaustion and resentment. Ever catch yourself wondering, “How can my life be so miserable and out of control when all I have done is spent my life helping people in need?” People with generous spirits often burn out due to not having healthy generosity. No, not all generosity is healthy; just as with every other area of your life, it must be controlled by wisdom.

A generous person who is also a religious person tends to be more readily trapped into a lifestyle of unhealthy, unwise giving.

As I have mentioned in prior posts, the life of a religious person that is unhappy and out of balance is often due to childhood teaching that is based on religious tradition rather than the truth of Scripture. Let’s look at a quote on giving that is frequently misunderstood due to religious tradition.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourself. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. Phil. 2:3-5

This quote is used by religious tradition to promote a life of self abasement, or self neglect, when, in actuality, it is promoting a lifestyle of Immerse Yourself in the Full Healing Contemplation Here »

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Discerning Compatibility in Relationships

January 30th, 2010

Reading Level: Leisurely

Do you appear to choose compatible dating and marriage relationships only to see them fall apart? Some basic points can ensure your compatibility in your long-term relationships.

I came across a link to a video feed (audio only also) of Bill’s Hybel’s talk on “5 Key Compatiblities to look for to guide you through the tricky process of finding a lifetime partner.” I’ve already shared it with a friend and he benefited immensely. Bill covers such incredibly practical yet easy-to-follow principles for determining your compatibility in a relationship that I wanted to share the basic points and link with you, our readership.

This is a brief summary of the 5 Key Compatibilities but I encourage you to watch/listen to the full talk (link below). You will not be disappointed!

1. Spiritual Intensity and Purpose – Do you seek after God with a similar level of passion? Are your spiritual life — purposes similar? Faith permeates a person’s being and has massive implications in their inner world, changes how they think, behave, love, how they spend spare time, etc. It is a person’s core identity and defines them.

2. Character – You must match equally with your commitment to the same level of character or you set yourself up to face a lifetime of trust-shattering incidents.

3. Emotional Health – There is a long complicated story to each person’s past which must be uncovered thoroughly before you can have any idea of who the other person is. Have each of your you’re your past pains been processed enough to be able to make forward progress in a relationship? If not, it is not the time to feel sorry for someone and try to rescue them. Immerse Yourself in the Full Healing Contemplation Here »

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Controlled Generosity

August 9th, 2009

Reading Level: Gratifying

These sound like incompatible terms, but the reality is that healthy generosity will not leave you unhealthy and burned out because it is controlled by wisdom.

Generous people are often compulsive givers, quickly responding to the needs around them, even to their own detriment. It does not take too many years of a lifestyle of compulsive giving to leave one wondering why — when he (or she) has been such a good, caring person — he is struggling with exhaustion and resentment. Ever catch yourself wondering, “How can my life be so miserable and out of control when all I have done is spent my life helping people in need?” People with generous spirits often burn out due to not having healthy generosity. No, not all generosity is healthy; just as with every other area of your life, it must be controlled by wisdom.

A generous person who is also a religious person tends to be more readily trapped into a lifestyle of unhealthy, unwise giving.

As I have mentioned in prior posts, the life of a religious person that is unhappy and out of balance is often due to childhood teaching that is based on religious tradition rather than the truth of Scripture. Let’s look at a quote on giving that is frequently misunderstood due to religious tradition.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourself. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. Phil. 2:3-5

This quote is used by religious tradition to promote a life of self abasement, or self neglect, when, in actuality, it is promoting a lifestyle of balance in the attitude of giving. Immerse Yourself in the Full Healing Contemplation Here »

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Spiritual Guidelines to Stay Free

April 8th, 2009

Table of contents for Freeing Yourself from Abusive Relationships

  1. Practical Steps to Free Yourself
  2. Spiritual Guidelines to Stay Free

Reading Level: Gratifying

Those in abusive relationships frequently live in a state of confusion and hopelessness or blaming God for not helping them because they are unable to identify why continual destruction takes place in their lives.

Unfortunately, one is usually unaware of how his daily choices, lack of boundaries, and violating of spiritual and natural laws open the doors for harm to repeatedly come to him. Today I want to help you identify areas of your life that may be “opening the door” to harm in your circumstances and relationships. If you can begin seeing where you are violating spiritual boundaries or guidelines that God set up for your own protection, you can avoid the pitfalls, protect your life, and fulfill your destiny.

A person who continually faces destruction in his life often feels that he is being loving “like God” by giving in to controlling people and not having boundaries to protect his life and destiny.

This person often becomes bitter and blames God for the hardships he or she is suffering, but it is not God that has caused these things. God is not just “loving,” He IS Iove itself. There is a difference. He is perfect love and His perfect love includes boundaries, natural and spiritual laws, correction, and justice for the sake of our protection and well-being. To have real love and beneficial results in one’s daily life and relationships, you must implement God’s type of love, a real love that has boundaries and protection built into it.

A person would not blame God for self-imposed harm that came to someone who chose to violate the laws of nature. Yet, whether or not you implement spiritual laws for daily relationships is also a decision to avoid or cause self-imposed harm.

Here is an illustration. If someone chooses to violate the natural law of gravity by jumping off a skyscraper and bringing destruction to his or her physical body, you would not blame God for the result of their choice. God did not do it to them. The person chose to violate a natural law and it resulted in personal harm. God lists in Scripture many practical, daily guidelines (I’m going to call them spiritual laws as compared to laws of nature), which are given to help us be wise in our relationships with people, particularly those who are controlling or potentially harmful to us. People often violate these laws for one of three reasons:

–A lack of knowledge. They have never received instruction on the subject.

–They know about them but mistakenly feel that compromise is a loving choice because it is what the controlling person wants them to do.

–The person is so worn out by surrounding themselves with “leech” type people instead of giving people that they do not have the strength to fight for their personal rights, well-being, and fulfillment of destiny.

By stating the following spiritual guidelines as what should be avoided, it will be easier for you to identify if you already have violations of these spiritual guidelines affecting your relationships with people, and make changes necessary to bring restoration to your life. Immerse Yourself in the Full Healing Contemplation Here »

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Practical Steps to Free Yourself

April 4th, 2009

Table of contents for Freeing Yourself from Abusive Relationships

  1. Practical Steps to Free Yourself
  2. Spiritual Guidelines to Stay Free

Reading Level: Gratifying

Have you ever wished for a plan of action to get out of the abusive relationships in your life?

There is a step by step plan in an exceptional article written by Dr. Joseph Carver, Psychologist, explaining how to free yourself from controlling people and/or abusive people. Dr. Carver says that most people fail trying to get out of abusive relationships because “they leave suddenly and impulsively, without proper planning, and without resources.” Dr. Carver is a reputable psychologist whose articles on Love and the Stockholm Syndrome and the article we will discuss in this post are used by counseling groups across the globe.

Dr. Carver says that there are 3 necessary stages in freeing yourself from abusive and controlling people: The Detachment, Ending the Relationship, and the Follow-up Protection. These are only brief, paraphrased excerpts from Dr. Carver’s article. Please use the link here or below to read his article in full so that you have all the practical steps, information, and confidence you need to free yourself and start over on a new healthy path to a life that fulfills the God-given destiny for your existence!

Stage 1: The Detachment

-The abuser will have caused you isolation by methods such as controlling the finances, modes of transportation, etc. Pay attention to methods the controller is using to isolate you from freedom and help.

– Gradually become more boring, talk less, and share less feelings. The goal is to lessen the abuser’s emotional attachment to you.

– Quietly contact your family and friends to determine who can provide a place to stay, protection, financial help, etc. [An added note, only contact those who will keep your plans absolutely confidential.]

– If you fear violence or abuse, check local legal or law enforcement options.

– Slowly remove your valuables from the home. You may lose some personal items.

– Stop arguing. Stop defending and explaining yourself. Express that you are too stressed or confused to know why you are doing anything anymore. Immerse Yourself in the Full Healing Contemplation Here »

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Motivation Check

March 11th, 2009

Reading Level: Gratifying

Checking the often un-noticed motivations for one’s decisions and actions can reveal the source of either success or failure.

I recently re-read an example on the source of motivations from Cloud and Townsend’s “Boundaries.” It refers to a man who was burned out physically and emotionally and came to see them for help. The man’s explanation for the source of his problem was “loving people too much.” The authors’ response to him was that it could not be love, as love would not cause him to end up in the negative situation he was in. It was discovered that the source of the problem was his un-noticed motivations.

Here is a list from “Boundaries” of types of unhealthy personal motivations for decisions and actions of which we are often unaware. I’ll provide a definition of each motivation.

Fear of a Loss of Love: If, during childhood, a person frequently experienced a withdrawal of love by a parent whenever that parent was displeased with him or her, it creates an emotional pattern or habit in adulthood to base decisions and actions of the fear of a losing people’s love. One acts or decides out of compulsion, not because it is an action or decision that is in his own best interest; he is compelled to do whatever the other person wants due to fear that, if the person is displeased or disappointed, they will no longer love him.

Fear of Others’ Anger: Because of past boundary violations which caused emotional hurts (people mistreating a person as a way to manipulate his or her behavior), a person can feel instant fear when another person shows anger, or when he is in a situation which he believes will cause the other person’s anger; as a result, he immediately decides a course of action to appease the person and avoid their anger, rather than doing what is best for him personally.

Fear of Loneliness: This is similar to a loss of love. A person with this motivation will give in to other people’s unreasonable or unhealthy demands because he is trying to win the other person’s approval; he fears that the other person will end the relationship and he will be alone if he does not continually give in to win their approval. Immerse Yourself in the Full Healing Contemplation Here »

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Freedom Through Responsibility

February 10th, 2009

Reading Level: Impassioned

To some, this title sounds like an oxymoron-complete opposites-yet taking responsibility for your actions and decisions can actually set you free.

A large portion of the balance of our lives is dependent on what we are and are not responsible for. Becoming aware of where we have or have not drawn boundaries with our chosen responsibilities can bring some startling realizations as to the sources of needless stress, irritation, and resentments. Two recent situations drew my attention to this concept.

The initial way to Freedom through Responsibility is to be content with the decisions you make as to your level of responsibility.

The first situation that made me aware of this principle was taking place in my own life. I was feeling resentful and becoming quite negative about a particular organization with which we work at times that was not being well run by the leadership. I would probably have released my frustration by sitting down and giving them input on a few key things that were affecting their effectiveness, as I had knowledge in that area. However, this past month was so hectic that I chose not to invest my personal time into that situation, deciding the people could probably learn from their own mistakes. I realized this week, however, that I was not taking responsibility for my own decision. Since I had chosen not to take from my time the volume of time needed to give input to that organization’s leadership, I needed to be content with that decision to let them learn from their own mistakes, and choose not to be irritated by the lack of effectiveness of the present leadership.

People often clutter their lives with irritation and resentment either by (1) choosing to take on too many “extra curricular” responsibilities in what would otherwise be their free time and then resenting the people involved or (2) not choosing to be content with the boundaries they set. The first often happens with people in any type of rescue work or those with a co-dependent personality who feel they always need to be “rescuing” something or someone. The wise decision is to Immerse Yourself in the Full Healing Contemplation Here »

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Abusive Relationships: How Friends and Family Can Help

November 25th, 2008

Table of contents for Abusive Relationship Help

  1. Abusive Relationships: What if You Still Love Them?
  2. Abusive Relationships: Situations-Symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome
  3. Abusive Relationships: How Friends and Family Can Help

This is Part 3 in the series. If you missed Part 1 and 2, please click the above links to read first.

Dr. Carver states that Stockholm Syndrome develops involuntarily-the victim does not purposely develop these feelings and responses. They are done to survive a threatening and controlling environment and relationship.

The victim’s self-worth and emotional health is so tied to the relationship that they believe that they would mentally collapse if the relationship ended. The more dysfunctional the situation, the more dysfunctional the victim’s adaptation to survive and make the relationship work. When the victim reaches the point of realizing that the relationship doesn’t work and can’t be fixed, they will need to loving support of family and friends to return to a healthy, positive lifestyle.

While each situation is different, Dr. Carver provides these guidelines for friends and family:

-Your contacts with your loved one may be met with anger and resentment. This is because each contact may prompt the abuser to attack them verbally or emotionally.

It’s often best to establish predictable, scheduled contacts. Calling every Wednesday evening, just for a status report or to go over current events, is less threatening than random calls during the week. Random calls are always viewed as “checking up on us” calls. While you may encounter an answering machine, leave a polite and loving message.

Remember that there are many channels of communication. It’s important that we keep a channel open if at all possible. Communication channels might include phone calls, letters, cards, and e-mail.

-Importantly, don’t discuss the relationship (the controller may be listening!) unless the victim brings it up. Immerse Yourself in the Full Healing Contemplation Here »

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Abusive Relationships: Situations-Symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome

November 24th, 2008

Table of contents for Abusive Relationship Help

  1. Abusive Relationships: What if You Still Love Them?
  2. Abusive Relationships: Situations-Symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome
  3. Abusive Relationships: How Friends and Family Can Help

This is Part 2 of 3 of the post regarding emotional ties that often keep a person from leaving an abusive relationship. It will cover the 4 main situations creating Stockholm Syndrome in controlling relationships and the resulting symptoms. If you missed Part 1, please click the above link to read it first. Part 3 will give guidelines for friends and family who wish to help.

As mentioned in Part 1 of this post, the feelings of love for the abuser are actually part of an emotional defense mechanism, as opposed to real love that exists in a healthy relationship. This emotional bonding is a survival strategy for victims of abuse and intimidation, though they are not fully aware of it happening.

To give thorough explanation of this topic of Stockholm Syndrome in controlling and/or abusive relationships, I’m going to refer to several quotes from an incredible article by Dr. Joseph Carver, Psychologist. The full article is many pages long, and very detailed. For those of you who desire to study this in more detail, a link to his full article is provided at the end of this post. Dr. Carver has a very beneficial website, and I’m sure we’ll be referring to it again in the future.

There are several symptoms to Stockholm Syndrome which will vary some with the individual. However, here are 5 Common Symptoms that Dr. Carver provided:

1. Positive feelings by the victim toward the abuser/controller

2. Negative feelings by the victim toward family, friends, or authorities trying to rescue/support them or win their release

3. Support of the abuser’s reasons and behaviors

4. Positive feelings by the abuser toward the victim

5. Supportive behaviors by the victim, at times helping the abuser

Besides a hostage situation, the following 4 Types of Situations also occur in severely controlling, abusive relationships, creating the Stockholm Syndrome responses: Immerse Yourself in the Full Healing Contemplation Here »

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Abusive Relationships: What if You Still Love Them?

November 20th, 2008

Table of contents for Abusive Relationship Help

  1. Abusive Relationships: What if You Still Love Them?
  2. Abusive Relationships: Situations-Symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome
  3. Abusive Relationships: How Friends and Family Can Help

A reader asked about how to move beyond an abusive relationship when you still feel love for that person.

This is actually a common feeling from people in abusive, or even just very controlling relationships. A prominent pastor’s wife in Atlanta filed for divorce when a relationship involving much emotional abuse evolved into a physical attack. She said that she still felt love toward him but decided to “take her love with her and leave” for her own welfare. A loved one of ours, after having decided some time ago to leave an abusive relationship is now feeling that he loves the other person in spite of the fact that his health, career, and family life have all been destroyed by the other person.

An initial step is to realize the difference between love and concern.

A friend in a bad relationship once had another friend tell him, “You care about her well-being, but it doesn’t sound like you really love her.” There is a major difference between love and concern. It is unlikely that you will feel completely devoid of concern over the person’s well being if you have shared a major part of your life or major events in your life with him or her. However, concern over his or her well being is not proof of the existence of a loving relationship.

People in emotionally or physically abusive situations often suffer from Stockholm syndrome, not just people in hostage situations.

In Stockholm Syndrome, the person in an abusive or controlling situation begins to experience a psychological response of defending the “captor” and showing loyalty to the abuser. (1) Immerse Yourself in the Full Healing Contemplation Here »

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Stress – How to Cope Part 2

September 26th, 2008

Table of contents for Stress

  1. Stress – Its Effects on Your Health
  2. Stress – How to Cope
  3. Stress – How to Cope Part 2

Implementing these 6 daily habits will empower you to better cope with stress.

This is Part 2 of steps for coping with stress. Please read the first 5 steps for coping with stress if you missed them by clicking on the link at the beginning of this post. These steps on how to alleviate stress are condensed from Dr. Don Colbert’s book, “The Seven Pillars of Health.”

Guard Your Mental Intake: What enters into your mind affects your health. Many people begin their day listening to national or world news, soap operas, gossipy morning talk shows, or music with negative lyrics. If your day begins by filling your mind with worries about the economy or other people’s problems and/or dysfunctions, you are bound to be stressed before you even get to work! Wisdom from Prov. 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for out of it spring the issues of life.” What you put into your internal being affects every issue of your life. Does your intake create strength and healing? If not, change to positive input.

Breathe Correctly: Proper breathing is one of the best de-stressing techniques and usually the least used. Dr. Colbert tells of asking a paramedic friend what made the different between a trauma patient living or dying. He answered, “I have seen others with significantly less severe injuries die because they simply quit breathing.” Though we are born breathing correctly, abdominal breathing, most of us end up chest and shoulder breathing using short breaths. Our abdomen should rise and fall when we breathe, not our chest and/or shoulders. Abdominal breathing has a calming effect on the brain and nervous system as well as relieving pain, stress, and muscle tension. Immerse Yourself in the Full Healing Contemplation Here »

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When is Pain Good?

September 16th, 2008

Reading Level: Impassioned

In the physical health world, the phrase “No pain, no gain,” is quite familiar. When it comes to emotional health in relationships and boundary setting, “No pain, no gain” is also an applicable phrase.

People who repeatedly allow themselves to be hurt or harmed by others, physically or emotionally, have difficulty setting boundaries. They bring a continual flow of destruction into their lives due to not setting boundaries, or not making clear what is acceptable and what is not acceptable behavior mainly due to a fear of the other person’s response. They fear the other person’s anger or they even fear hurting the other person’s feelings. Often, the boundaryless person fears hurting the other person because of an “over-identification with loss.” He hasn’t dealt with his own personal losses, especially those caused by the harmful relationship, so he has an unrealistic, over-emotional response to the thought of hurting the other person. It is a tragic thing to see destruction rule throughout a person’s whole life when restoration and abundance is attainable-all because he or she fears boundary setting will hurt the other person’s feelings. In such cases, pain is a good thing!

First, realize that it is possible to hurt someone’s feelings by “doing what needs to be done” and being responsible with your gift of life.

Those who follow this blog know that I frequently refer to the Boundaries book by Cloud and Townsend when discussing relationship issues of this type. You do what you need to do though it may hurt the other person’s feelings. This is not a matter of being inconsiderate. You think through and evaluate how the boundary will likely hurt the other person’s feelings; that’s being empathetic and “taking into account” the other person’s feelings. But you still set the boundaries to stop the harm to your life; otherwise, you are being irresponsible to the gift of your own life. The other person will likely insult you, saying that you are cruel or unforgiving. To purposely hurt someone’s feelings without giving any consideration to the fact that the person will hurt would be wrong (Keep in mind this is exactly what the other person is doing to you when violating your boundaries.), but so is not setting the boundaries necessary so that you can fulfill your God-given destiny with the precious gift of your own life!

In boundary setting, we must recognize the clear difference between hurt and harm.

Here is the most wonderfully wise example provided by Cloud and Townsend, pp. 93-94, of the difference between hurt and harm. Immerse Yourself in the Full Healing Contemplation Here »

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