• The Anatomy of Anxiety Part 8: Lions, and Tigers, and Bears, Oh My!

    Posted on October 27th, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    The Anatomy of Anxiety, Part 8:

    Anxiety, Worry, Fear, and Phobia—Oh My!


    Note: For part one of this mini-series, please visit: http://bit.ly/aHstk. For part two, please visit: http://bit.ly/20R01P. For part three, stop by: http://bit.ly/HAoxI. For part four, drop by: http://bit.ly/1I6XmF. For part five, visit: http://bit.ly/19Jdqt. For part six, please go here: http://bit.ly/19vCXx. For part seven, please visit: http://bit.ly/21wPLg.


    Does worry, doubt, or fear get the best of you sometimes? Do you wonder where anxiety comes from and how to defeat it in your life and the lives of those you love? Then we need a biblical anatomy of anxiety.


    What Anxiety Feels Like


    We use a host of terms for “anxiety.” Four of the most common are anxiety, worry, fear, and phobia.


    Though these are distinct and can be contrasted, we can also identify common threads woven throughout each of these terms. They consist of overlapping, similar experiences.


    The following are actual ways that people have described to me their experiences of anxiety, worry, fear, and phobia.


    *I’m constantly turned in upon myself and tuned in only to myself.


    “I’m consistently reflecting on myself and overly concerned with my life in a way that feels self-centered, obsessive, out of control, and abnormal.”


    *I’m hyper-vigilant in my response to threat and I always have a sense of foreboding.


    “I feel like something bad is going to happen that I can’t control or handle.”


    *My mind gets stuck in a state of alertness and preparation for danger, real or imagined.


    “I can’t seem to stop preparing for the worst.”


    *My fear is my survival system, like an alarm clock intended to startle me awake. But the button is stuck and the alarm won’t stop!


    “It’s like the old Lost in Space show with the Robot always screaming, ‘Danger! Danger! Will Robinson!’”


    *Anxiety is my present experience of a scary future.


    “I feel like the cowardly lion, afraid of his own shadow, and like all the Oz characters always chanting, ‘Lions, and Tigers, and Bears! Oh my!’”


    *My fear retreats from the threat. Fear cringes.  


    “I don’t fight; I flee because I view the danger as bigger than my resources.”


    *My fear causes distortions. I seem weaker than I am. God seems weak, or uninvolved, or uncaring.


    “I’m David against Goliath, but I don’t see God in the scene.”


    *I sense a dangerous threat that I can’t control or surmount.


    “Life is too hard for me. This situation is too big for me. I’m a child in an adult world.”


    *I worry all the time. It’s a distracting care, a consuming thought.


    “I get stuck on the step of identifying every possible negative eventuality. I define the problem, but I don’t move on to identifying options, finding solutions, or taking action.”


    *I’m in a near constant state of dread or apprehension, usually not even triggered by any specific danger.


    “I’m swallowed in panic and confusion about my uncertain future. All I know for sure is that at least one of the potential negative outcomes is sure to occur!”


    The Rest of the Story


    Have you “been there, done that?” Do any of these real-life descriptions fit your real life? Or the life of someone you love? Someone you are ministering to?


    It’s easy for us, especially if these issues are uncommon to us, to quickly say, “It’s all sin. Just trust God. Be anxious for nothing. Pray.”


    Even if all of that advice were always true; it’s still trite.


    We change lives with Christ’s changeless truth…not with our trite truisms.


    I invite you to return for part nine and beyond as we’ll begin to share realistic biblical principles for overcoming anxiety—at its root, at its core.


    Our entire blog series is moving toward the goal of finding God’s sustaining, healing, reconciling, and guiding care and cure for anxiety.

  • Not Conclusion, But Commencement

    Posted on June 21st, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    Why Some Biblical Counseling Is Only Half Biblical!

    Part Thirteen: Not Conclusion, but Commencement

    By Robert W. Kellemen, Ph.D., LCPC


    *Note: If you’re disappointed that I’m saying that some biblical counseling is only half biblical, then please read my comments at the end of my first post in this series: http://tinyurl.com/n8k799.


    My Premise: Half Biblical Counseling


    Some modern biblical counseling considers the seriousness of sin—sinning, but spends much less time equipping people to minister to the gravity of grinding affliction—suffering. When we provide counseling for sin, but fail to provide counseling and counselor training for suffering, then such biblical counseling is only half biblical.


    My Premise Expanded: One-Quarter Biblical Counseling


    Even when suffering is “addressed,” for some biblical counselors, the focus seems to be upon “directive” counseling that exhorts the suffering Christian to be faithful. When we provide only directive exhortations to faithfulness, but fail to engage in compassionate commiseration (empathy, sustaining, weeping with those who weep, sharing Scripture and soul), and when we fail to engage in collaborative exploration of biblical responses (encouragement, healing, trialogues, spiritual conversations, scriptural explorations), then such biblical counseling is only one-quarter biblical.


    Not Conclusion, but Commencement


    This thirteen-part series could easily be month-long. In fact, it could be book-long.


    However, it’s time to conclude.


    No. Not conclude, but commence.


    Even in “final counseling sessions,” I’ve never liked the word “terminate”! It’s like we are dispensing with our spiritual friend.


    I prefer the word “commencement” for the final official meeting, because we are celebrating with our spiritual friend his or her commencing a new beginning as he or she connects more deeply with Christ and the Body of Christ and more fully reflects the image of Christ.


    So also, in this blog mini-series, I don’t like the word “conclude.” That could imply that I believe I have cornered the market on the right way to do biblical counseling. That’s not my mindset at all. In fact, you’ll note that in this series and throughout my speaking, writing, and consulting, I quote a great deal from “that great cloud of witnesses”—biblical and historical.


    The ideas presented in this series are not “Kellemen’s concepts. I believe that soul care for suffering (sustaining and healing) and spiritual direction for sin (reconciling and guiding) combine to offer a biblically and historically-based Christ-centered, comprehensive, compassionate, and culturally-informed approach to biblical counseling and spiritual formation.


    That leads to another reason I prefer “commencement” over “conclude” or “conclusion.” This is still just one person’s “take” on what Church history and the Bible have to say about “comprehensive” biblical counseling.


    What Say Ye?


    I’ve had many, many emails, Twitter messages, Facebook posts, etc., about this series. It’s been fantastic and fascinating.


    Let the conversation continue; let it commence.


    Let’s all “graduate” to a Berean-like discussion and application of truly comprehensive biblical counseling.


    Let’s stir one another on to love and good deeds.


    Let’s encourage one another as we see the day approaching.


    Let’s sustain, heal, reconcile, and guide one another.


    Let’s minister to those who are facing suffering and to those who are battling besetting sins.


    Let’s equip pastors, lay people, and professional Christian biblical counselors with and for comprehensive ministry.


    Let’s carefully define “biblical counseling” to nuance and represent what the Bible means when it talks about one another Body life ministry.


    As I said, let the conversation continue; let it commence.