No Longer Invisible

The other day as I browsed my Netflix watch list for a way to occupy some of my Friday evening, I noticed a documentary was about to be removed. It's a documentary I've seen before, and even four-starred (out of five possible stars). And believe you me, I am stingy with those stars. The documentary is called The Invisible War. In it, filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering interview dozens of women and men discussing the topic of military sexual trauma.

When I hear the words “military” and “trauma” in the same phrase, I think of PTSD resulting from combat, the horrific experiences felt and witnessed by men and women in war. Toss the word “sexual” in the middle of those two oft-linked words and the issue gets confused. String those three words together and my mind goes to POWs grossly abused and tortured as in the events that took place at Abu Ghraib. Certainly that would qualify as military sexual trauma. But this documentary is about US soldiers who have been traumatized and assaulted, not about US soldiers perpetrating heinous crimes against foreign POWs. The military sexual trauma discussed throughout The Invisible War, indeed the “invisible war” itself, is the infliction of sexual crimes by US military against US military and the ensuing battles that rage within and around the survivors as they try to come to terms with this most personal betrayal and seek justice from a biased and unjust system that would rather close its eyes and ears.

My understanding is that since the release of The Invisible War, several members of Congress have taken a keen interest in the plight of US military women and men who have been hurt and betrayed by their very own. A recent bill, the Military Justice Improvement Act of 2013, attempted to address flaws in the military justice system, but did not gain enough support to become law. Though the bill was not enacted there have been changes in how the military handles sexual assault cases. The documentary gives a bit of insight into those changes.

At the end of The Invisible War, the viewer is directed to the website http://www.notinvisible.org/. Shortly after viewing this documentary for the first time, I added that link to the “Helpful and Informative Sites” section of my blog (see “Not Invisible — US military” under the “PTSD” section heading). The website contains a variety of resources, current events, and general information for vets who experienced sexual assault while serving in the military. To the affected service men and women, the war you have fought and are fighting against military injustice and sexual trauma no longer has to be kept secret; this no longer must be an invisible war.

As I reflect on my own (nonmilitary) experiences with sexual trauma, I realize that one of the hardest parts was carrying the secret of what happened on my own. For more than two years, I lived completely alone with it, with the fear, the guilt, the shame, the sadness. I still struggle with that today. With keeping certain aspects of my experiences secret. Sometimes just the thought of someone else knowing even a little bit of what happened is enough to terrify me. But then, when that surge of fear passes, I know it is good to not keep this a secret. I need to not be invisible. If the war is invisible—if my struggles are invisible—I cannot be helped. And that may be as tragic as the experiences themselves.

Whether your heart seeks out stories of injustice because you are overflowing with desire to show compassion to the wounded in your community or whether you know someone personally who is struggling with issues or life events like those discussed in the film, I recommend you watch The Invisible War and find out how you can get involved. You can stream it on Netflix until 11/20/15. It is also available on iTunes or Amazon. And I'm sure there are a variety of other ways you can gain access to it as well. However, be warned that if you are easily triggered by this topic, you should proceed with caution. This film contains several accounts of sexual assault, some discussion on suicide, and some instances of harsh language.


What Are You Seeking?

The first words of Christ recorded in the book of John are “What are you seeking?” (John 1:38). He posed this question to two of John the Baptist's disciples who decided to look into who this Jesus guy was. And what was their response? “Rabbi…, where are you staying?” (John 1:39). I wonder if that was really their answer.

Some would say they were dodging the question.

But maybe it was a question that caught them off guard. How many times has someone unfamiliar to you looked you sincerely in the eye and asked, “What is it you are looking for?”

Or maybe the question was expected, but they weren't quite prepared to tell this stranger the answer to such a probing question.

Another idea, perhaps this truly was their answer: finding out where Jesus was staying was all they were willing to commit to at the moment.

Maybe they were just completely stumped and that was the only thing that came to mind. After all, they were following Jesus down the road. It's not a huge leap of logic to reason that as they were walking after this man, they were seeking to learn where he was headed.

A final possibility I'll offer. Maybe I am looking to deeply into this brief exchange between the newly baptized Jesus and the beginning of two of his earliest followers' discipleship. That very well may be. But I think it's a question I'd like to remember and ask myself occasionally. Look myself in the mirror and say, “If Jesus asked you, ‘What are you seeking?,’ what would you say?”

Scripture quotations are from the ESV* Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version*), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

In the acknowledgment above, fair use constitutes permission. See https://www.crossway.org/support/esv-bible-permissions/ for information on copyright and permissions.


Storms and the Sure Foundation in Isaiah 28

What do you do when the floor drops out from under you? When you are shaken to your very core? When you can't understand what is going on in and around you and nothing makes sense? The only sure thing is confusion. And confusion at its most extreme leads to panic. Have you ever felt like this? Maybe you've experienced the sudden death of a close family member or friend. Maybe you've been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Or maybe the incident that led to this feeling state was somewhat self-inflicted: reckless driving leading to an accident causing severe injury, shared needles leading to HIV, unpaid debt and careless spending leading to bankruptcy or eviction. Perhaps, like me, you experienced something you can't even really explain. You just know your sense of self, the world, and others has been deeply affected.

We live in a world full of sin. I sin and so do all the people around me. I'd guess all the people not around me are in the same boat too. Because this world is full of sin, this world is also full of trials and sorrows. Sometimes we can see the role we play in bringing about trials and sorrows in our own lives. Sometimes we can attribute trials and sorrows in our lives to others we know. And sometimes—sometimes things just happen.

Isaiah 28:2 and 15–18 reads,

Behold, the Lord has a mighty and strong one. Like a storm of hail, a destroying storm, and like a storm of mighty waters overflowing, he will cast them down to the earth with his hand…. “Because you have said, ‘We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol are we in agreement. When the overflowing scourge passes through, it won’t come to us; for we have made lies our refuge, and we have hidden ourselves under falsehood.’” Therefore thus says the Lord Yahweh, “Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone of a sure foundation. He who believes shall not act hastily. I will make justice the measuring line, and righteousness the plumb line. The hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters will overflow the hiding place. Your covenant with death shall be annulled, and your agreement with Sheol shall not stand. When the overflowing scourge passes through, then you will be trampled down by it….” (WEB)

This passage hooked my interest when I read it the other night before going to sleep. There are many things that could be said about these verses. But what sparked my interest was the many parallels I saw in these verses, all of which evoke anxiety.

  • The “storm of hail, a destroying storm” in verse 2 parallels the “hail [that] will sweep away” in verse 17.
  • The “mighty waters overflowing” in verse 2 parallels the “waters [that] will overflow” in verse 17.
  • Verses 15 and 18 both contain the phrase “covenant with death.”
  • Verse 15 quotes Israelites as saying, “with Sheol are we in agreement”; verse 18 also mentions an “agreement with Sheol.”
  • Verses 15 and 18 both discuss an event when an “overflowing scourge passes through.”
  • Verse 15 contains the phrase “lies our refuge” which parallels the “refuge of lies” spoken of in verse 17.
  • The phrase “we have hidden ourselves” in verse 15 parallels the “hiding place” in verse 17.

It sounds like God's people are about to be in the midst of some terrifying situations. Can you imagine their confusion and fear when a (metaphorical?) flood sweeps them away and hail damages all they own? What will they think when the “scourge” whips through? They hid themselves from death and the grave by seeking safety and shelter in lies, looking for security where there was none. How alarming would it be, then, to all of a sudden face life-threatening storms and trials? And even if they survived, what would be left? Would they even recognize where they were? What would they do? How could they go on?

Couched between the corresponding depictions of severe storms, death, and false structures of protection is a beautiful image of hope, stability, and strength. God speaks of a foundation he will lay, starting with a tried and tested stone. Isaiah 28:17 reads, “I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone of a sure foundation. He who believes shall not act hastily.” Those who have a sure foundation can withstand the storms. They will suffer in the storm, like everyone else, but confusion and panic will not overtake them. They will not have to scramble to seek shelter or solid ground to stand on when the hail falls and the floods rise. For those of us who build our lives on and trust in falsehoods, our protective structures will fall when the storms come. And confusion and panic will set in. But if we let him, God can use the storms in our lives to sweep away and overflow all the lies that keep us from safety and stability. It is my prayer that I allow God to sweep away the falsehoods I have taken comfort in and to use the cleared landscape to dig deep and allow him to lay that sure foundation in me.

Scripture quoted from the World English Bible. The World English Bible is in the Public Domain. That means that it is not copyrighted. See copyright information here: https://www.biblegateway.com/versions/World-English-Bible-WEB/#copy.


When Friends Don't Understand

Last night I confided in a good friend something that happened to me several years ago. This is an event I have been working on in therapy for the past few weeks. It's incredibly personal and makes me feel more than a little vulnerable to disclose. But I've been friends with this person for a couple of years and she has proven to be a very understanding and sensitive friend. To my surprise, she didn't understand my experience or its effect on me. Nor did she understand my explanation as to why this experience has had such an impact on me. Her response was very kindly put, but in essence what she was saying to me was, “So…?” OUCH!!! That really hurt. I didn't realize until it was too late that what I was craving was her understanding. Someone to intellectually and emotionally connect with my past experience and my past and current hurt. But she didn't. The conversation I had with this good friend didn't help me at all. It only confused me and hurt me more, despite her careful choice of words and best intentions.

Perhaps I was asking too much. Perhaps this was not the right friend to confide in. Or perhaps this was just an example of the limitations of human sympathy and understanding. I am starting to realize that situations like these, where a friend unintentionally disappoints me and hurts me, are necessary for me to experience. If there were a person on this earth who could always help me, always sympathize with me, always understand me, why would I need God? I believe God works through people to fulfill his purposes and to help us, but I also think I struggle to rely “just” on God, thinking of him as a secondary source of support. Correct me even in my hurt, God, that I may learn to rely on and trust in you as my primary source of support and understanding. May the words of David be true for us also that we realize you are the one who fully knows us and is always near to help us:

Yahweh, you have searched me,
and you know me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up.
You perceive my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
but, behold, Yahweh, you know it altogether.
You hem me in behind and before.
You laid your hand on me.
This knowledge is beyond me.
It’s lofty.
I can’t attain it.
Where could I go from your Spirit?
Or where could I flee from your presence?
If I ascend up into heaven, you are there.
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, you are there!
If I take the wings of the dawn,
and settle in the uttermost parts of the sea;
Even there your hand will lead me,
and your right hand will hold me.
(Psalm 139:1–10)

Scripture quoted from the World English Bible. The World English Bible is in the Public Domain. That means that it is not copyrighted. See copyright information here: https://www.biblegateway.com/versions/World-English-Bible-WEB/#copy.


What Do I Believe About Sin?

Right now in therapy we are working on processing a traumatic memory from my high school years using EMDR. One of these days I should get around to writing specifically about what EMDR is, but I'll save that for a later time. For now, if you aren't familiar with it (and why would you be? I know I wasn't!) please feel free to toss the letters EMDR into your search engine of choice. There are a lot of fancy and intellectual-sounding words involved, but basically it's like free association while watching lights go back and forth. (My therapist uses a light bar instead of her finger or a baton.)

Last week during EMDR my brain kept going back to some very dark thoughts, like how guilty I feel and that I think I'm going to hell. My therapist does a good job of countering unhealthy or distorted thoughts to help me keep my thoughts moving, but I was very much stuck. She asked me to do an assignment for next week: “What do I believe about sin?” She also asked that I back up my beliefs with scriptures from the New Testament.

As usual, I have been putting off my assignment because I don't like thinking about things outside of my therapist's office. I am still really bad about handling my emotions on my own and tend to avoid them if at all possible. So, naturally, I avoided them to the point of spending a lot of Saturday behaving rather compulsively… which basically means I gave in to sin. After wasting half of my weekend, I resolved to tackle this assignment.

I started out by turning off all distractions and coaching myself to be honest and just think: Without quoting or paraphrasing scripture, what do I truly believe about sin? My therapist didn't ask me to tell her what the Bible says about sin; she asked what I think about sin. So, whether they align with scripture or not, what are my beliefs about sin? This is what I came up with.

  • Sin makes me dirty and disgusting.
  • Sin makes me unlovable and unworthy.
  • Sin covers me where my high school boyfriend touched me, over my clothes and under—like blue paint that won't wash off.
  • Because of my sins I'm going to hell.
  • Everyone can see my sins so I have to hide and stay in the dark. / My sins cut me off from everyone.
  • God doesn't want me because I sin.
  • I shouldn't be forgiven for my sins.
  • My sins are much stronger than I am; they weigh me down, imprison me, and crush me.

As I thought about sin and its influence on me, I started to picture what it would look like if it were some kind of living creature. I had a clear image of this dark greenish brown wormy blob with spikey black hair all over it. It looked like it was decaying as it slither-squirmed across the ground, eerie and disturbing. This is what I keep turning to instead of experiencing my feelings or thoughts that remind me of my past.

Returning to this sinful state and identifying myself so closely with it is not only psychologically unhealthy but also damaging to my spiritual condition and relationship with God. I'm not sure how I have spent nearly three decades, practically my whole life, attending church regularly and studying the Bible and yet clinging to these beliefs that do not align with scripture. There is such a stark contrast between what I know about scripture and what I feel is true about myself and my condition. Perhaps this is why the phrase “renewing your mind” appears in the epistles. Whatever the case, I know that God forgives, and I know He will never leave or forsake me so long as I continue to seek Him. Even if I don't always feel these things are true. I will cling to truth in the scripture instead of my feelings. Lord, be with me and help me to believe what You say is true so that I may serve You with my whole being.


Reflecting on Inside Out

Yesterday afternoon I went to see Disney•Pixar's newest feature, Inside Out. I've been anticipating this movie's release for the past several weeks, and I was not disappointed. It's an ambitious undertaking to personify human emotions in a movie palatable and entertaining for children and adults alike. But Disney•Pixar didn't stop there. They incorporated several other mental processes into the storyline as well: Abstract thought, Dreaming, and Long-term memory, just to name a few.

Accurately and thoroughly depicting all of these processes and concepts isn't the main purpose of the film. So I'm sure there are neuropsychologists and -scientists out there who can poke holes in some of the finer points of the plot. But, in my opinion, the filmmakers did an incredible job of creating visual representations of these processes in a complex story about a complex subject: the human mind. And WOW, is it visually stunning! Ever wonder what a train of thought looks like? Ever picture different aspects of your personality? Ever imagine how big a storage facility would need to be to contain all of your memories? The human mind is an impressive structure and the Disney•Pixar team illustrates this in clever and interesting ways.

In addition to the intriguing story and impressive visuals, the cast of actors who voiced the emotion characters was well selected. Who embodies Joy better than Amy Poehler, who formerly played perennial optimist Leslie Knope in the TV show Parks and Recreation? Who better to voice Disgust than Mindy Kaling (Kelly Kapoor, the workplace snob) and who better to voice Sadness than Phyllis Smith (Phyllis Lapin/Vance, the workplace sulk) from The Office (U.S. version)? While not as familiar with the male members of the emotion crew, I think they were equally well cast. Fear is played by Bill Hader who I know mainly from voicing the bumbling criminal Mickey in the TV show Bob's Burgers. Anger is voiced by Lewis Black, an actor I am unfamiliar with but who handles Anger quite well.

This movie made me think about how I experience my own emotions and how my emotions sometimes end up controlling my behavior. Like the human characters in the film, I sometimes have emotions behind the control panel, pushing my buttons and causing me to behave in ways that I regret later on. It also made me think about how I am not the only one who has these certain emotions. Everyone around me experiences the same emotions that I do, and their emotions probably influence their behavior in negative ways sometimes as well. That realization alone can help me have greater empathy for those who may act unpleasantly towards me or others.

There were a couple plot points that hit me pretty hard. Like the main (human) character in the film, my family also moved away from my hometown when I was in my preteen years. It was very hard. I didn't even pretend to like it. Once school started I was around complete strangers. I teared up during my speech class once when I gave a brief speech involving my hometown. I was very angry for a long time. And while Anger is perfectly valid and useful, it doesn't always make the best decisions.

Speaking of poor decisions, the worst decision the main (human) character made occurred when her emotions no longer had any influence on her. She became numb and this enabled her to take extreme action. I can relate to this in that I struggle with addiction particularly when I am numb. If I don't feel, then I don't care. And if I don't care, then I do things I wouldn't normally do and that I regret once my emotions are back online.

In my first post about Inside Out I noted the interplay between emotion and behavior. There is a third strand in this story; this strand is called memory. Sound familiar? Probably. These three strands interweave throughout the film and are tied together at the end when we realize the purpose of the most unpopular emotion character: Sadness. As it turns out, Sadness is every bit as important and valuable as the other emotions in the film. And therein lies the lesson. All of our emotions are helpful and worth experiencing, even if they aren't always fun or enjoyable. Emotions color our experiential memories and add greater meaning to our lives.


Inside Out Coming Soon!

In less than 3 weeks Disney•Pixar's newest feature film will make its debut in theaters across the country. The June issue of The Atlantic contains an article about Inside Out's director, Pete Docter, and the research he conducted while piecing together the storyline. Daniel Smith, the writer of the article, does a good job explaining the director's academic research as well as his personal reflections and experiences that eventually resulted in his newest movie.

I don't often read magazine articles, but I recommend this one to any fans of Disney•Pixar's previous movies or anyone even slightly interested in theories of emotion. There are big-name psychologists mentioned, whom Docter consulted to ensure his storyline was grounded in contemporary emotion theory. (One of the psychologists, Paul Ekman, was cited in my last post which was also about Inside Out.) Click on the link in the citation below to read Daniel Smith's article in The Atlantic. And check out the second official trailer released in the U.S. to see another preview of Inside Out.

Smith, D. (2015, June). Pixar's Mood Master. The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/06/pixars-mood-master/392093/.


Emotions from the Inside Out

In about two months, Disney•Pixar's newest feature film, Inside Out, will be released in theaters. Always a sucker for Disney•Pixar and the old-school animated Disney films, I'm excited to see their new movie. Excited AND interested!

Inside Out, cleverly advertised as an “emotion picture,” is about the interplay of emotions inside the movie's main (human) characters and how this interplay manifests itself in their behavior. Each main (human) character houses a set of five personified emotions: Anger, Disgust, Fear, Joy, and Sadness.

Curious as to why Inside Out depicts those particular emotions, I did some web-surfing to see what great minds have postulated as humankind's basic emotions. I quickly found that there is very little consensus on an exact set of basic emotions. I based most of my more thorough web-researching on the information presented by changingminds.org located on this web page: http://www.changingminds.org/explanations//emotions/basic%20emotions.htm. Below is a thumbnail of a table containing content I reorganized based on said webpage. It shows 14 different conceptions of basic human emotions. (Click the thumbnail to see an enlarged and much more readable image. See footnotes to the table at the bottom of this post.)

Table containing a list of emotions included in theories posited by various researchers

The table shows that the emotions most agreed upon are anger, disgust, fear, joy, and sadness … AND surprise! (See second to last column for exact totals.) However, if you combine synonymous terms (hence the color coding) and total the numbers, surprise falls off a bit. (See the last column.) Maybe that's how Disney•Pixar chose their five emotions for Inside Out. Or maybe they went with Oatley and Johnson-Laird's set because it's the most recent of the 14 theories given on changingminds.org and various other sources. Oatley and Johnson-Laird's list contains the emotions personified in Inside Out but with somewhat different labels: anger, disgust, anxiety (fear?), happiness (joy?), and sadness.

As someone who continues to struggle with my own emotions, I fully understand how researchers over the past hundred years have varied so much in their conclusions. It may seem strange to some, but just a year or so ago I was virtually unable to answer my therapist's question, “How did that make you feel?” I think my emotional vocabulary has expanded, but I still sometimes struggle to label how I feel.

Emotions are important. I hope Inside Out helps adults and children alike recognize their importance and how they influence our interactions with and behavior towards one another. Check out the official trailer from Disney•Pixar's youtube channel below.

NOTE: For full citations, please visit changingminds.org: http://www.changingminds.org/explanations//emotions/basic%20emotions.htm.

Footnotes to the table above:
Jam = William James (1890)? changingminds.org states that James's list of basic emotions comes from his 1884 work, “What Is an Emotion?” I could not verify this. The same list does appear in his 1890 work, The Principles of Psychology, in which he characterizes them as “coarser emotions.”
McD = William McDougall (1926).
Wat = John B. Watson (1930).
Arn = Magda B. Arnold (1960)? I was unable to locate a corresponding source for Arnold's theory of basic emotions.
Mow = Orval Hobart Mowrer (1960).
Izar = Carroll Izard (1977)? changingminds.org states that Izard's list of basic emotions includes distress. Other sources I saw were consistent in his inclusion of sadness rather than distress. Not having read Izard's work directly, I went with the majority in the image above.
Plu = Robert Plutchik (1980).
EFE = Paul Ekman, Wallace V. Friesen, and Phoebe Ellsworth (1982).
Pank = Jaak Panksepp (1982). Panksepp has since expanded his list of basic emotional systems. In the image above I only included the four he gave in his 1982 work.
Tom = Silvan Tomkins (1984).
W,G = Bernard Weiner and Sandra Graham (1984)? I was unable to locate a corresponding source for Weiner and Graham's theory of basic emotions.
Gray = Jeffrey Gray (1985)? I was unable to locate a corresponding source for Gray's theory of basic emotions.
Frij = Nico Frijda (1986).
O,JL = Keith Oatley and Phil Johnson-Laird (1987).


Bible Verses in Song: “You Are I AM

If you've read this blog in the past, you may know that sometimes I like finding verses in the Bible that match or contain the same themes as certain contemporary songs. Below are 25 passages that I think correspond to the lyrics of MercyMe's “You Are I AM.” This song does a great job reminding us of God's might and power, particularly in the chorus. The song also reminds us that God is faithful and devoted to his people, though we may sometimes doubt him. If you haven't heard the song, give it a listen. I have shared the official video from YouTube below.

Have no fear of sudden disaster…
for the Lord will be at your side
and will keep your foot from being snared.
(Prov 3:25–26; NIV®)
But God commends his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us…. For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we will be saved by his life. (Rom 5:8, 10)
He safeguards the steps of his faithful ones,
but wicked people are silenced in darkness
because humans cannot succeed by their own strength.
(1 Sam 2:9; GW)
For you are my lamp, Yahweh.
Yahweh will light up my darkness.
As for God, his way is perfect.
Yahweh's word is tested.
He is a shield to all those who take refuge in him.
For who is God, besides Yahweh?
Who is a rock, besides our God?
(2 Sam 22:29, 31–32)
Then they cried to Yahweh in their trouble,
and he saved them out of their distresses.
He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death,
and broke away their chains.
(Psalm 107:13–14)
Where could I go from your Spirit?
Or where could I flee from your presence?
If I ascend up into heaven, you are there.
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, you are there!
If I take the wings of the dawn,
and settle in the uttermost parts of the sea;
Even there your hand will lead me,
and your right hand will hold me.
(Psalm 139:7–10)
Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and gave up the spirit. The veil of the temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom. (Mark 15:37–38)
But if the Spirit of him who raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised up Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. (Rom 8:11)
You servants of the Lord, praise him.
Praise the name of the Lord.
(Psalm 113:1; GW)
Don't you know that your body is a temple that belongs to the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit whom you received from God, lives in you. You don't belong to yourselves. (1 Cor 6:19; GW)
Praise the name of the Lord.
Praise him, you servants of the Lord
(Psalm 135:1; GW)
You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you…. (Rom 8:9; NIV®)
Praise the Lord, my soul!
(Psalm 146:1; GW)
I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, that he may be with you forever,—the Spirit of truth, whom the world can't receive; for it doesn't see him, neither knows him. You know him, for he lives with you, and will be in you. (John 14:16–17)
Praise God in his holy place.
Praise him in his mighty heavens.
(Psalm 150:1; GW)
Don't you know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? (1 Cor 3:16; GW)
“The people are strong and tall—descendants of the famous Anakite giants. You've heard the saying ‘Who can stand up to the Anakites?’ But recognize today that the Lord your God is the one who will cross over ahead of you like a devouring fire to destroy them. He will subdue them so that you will quickly conquer them and drive them out, just as the Lord has promised.” (Deut 9:2–3; NLT)
Make sharp the arrows; hold firm the shields: Yahweh has stirred up the spirit of the kings of the Medes; because his purpose is against Babylon, to destroy it: for it is the vengeance of Yahweh, the vengeance of his temple…. Set up a standard in the land, blow the trumpet among the nations, prepare the nations against her, call together against her the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz: appoint a marshal against her; cause the horses to come up as the rough canker worm. Prepare against her the nations, the kings of the Medes, its governors, and all its deputies, and all the land of their dominion. (Jer 51:11, 27–28)
When he came near to the den to Daniel, he cried with a lamentable voice; the king spoke and said to Daniel, Daniel, servant of the living God, is your God, whom you serve continually, able to deliver you from the lions? Then Daniel said to the king, O king, live forever. My God has sent his angel, and has shut the lions' mouths, and they have not hurt me…. (Dan 6:20–22)
Then he said to me, Prophesy to the wind, prophesy, son of man, and tell the wind, Thus says the Lord Yahweh: Come from the four winds, breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up on their feet, an exceedingly great army. (Ezek 37:9–10)
Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste: he spoke and said to his counselors, Didn't we cast three men bound into the middle of the fire? They answered the king, True, O king. He answered, Look, I see four men loose, walking in the middle of the fire, and they are unharmed; and the aspect of the fourth is like a son of the gods. (Dan 3:24–25)
In my Father's house are many homes. If it weren't so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. If I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will receive you to myself; that where I am, you may be there also…. I will not leave you orphans. I will come to you. (John 14:2–3, 18)
The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name. (John 20:30–31; NLT)
God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM,” and he said, “You shall tell the children of Israel this: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” (Ex 3:14)
Jesus said to them, “Most certainly, I tell you, before Abraham came into existence, I AM.” (John 8:58)

Scriptures marked “NIV®”:
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Transference vs. Projection: What's the Difference?

A couple months ago, I got angry at my therapist. She hadn't done anything to hurt me or offend me or provoke me. I was just mad. So I sent her an email, explaining all the “reasons” why I was angry at her. I clustered those reasons into five paragraphs, all of which started with “I'm angry because….” My therapist sent a kind email in response, thanking me for sending that email to her and assuring me that what I said made sense. When I showed up for my appointment the following week, the first thing she wanted to talk about was that email. She reiterated that the feelings I was having made sense and there was even a word for what I was experiencing. “It's called transference,” she said. Ooooooohhhhhhhh…. That thing. I've heard of that.

Transference. I think a lot of people have heard that term before. For some reason I always confuse that word with another fun psych buzzword: projection. And judging from a brief initial web surfing excursion, I think a lot of people confuse the two. To help me get a firmer grasp on what these terms mean, I read through several seemingly trustworthy web pages about psychology written by psychologists, psychiatrists, and licensed counselors. This is my understanding of transference and projection based on my reading.

Transference takes place when someone transfers another person's qualities, feelings, behaviors, etc., to a different person and then reacts to the different person as if he/she were the other person. (Well said. Or not so much.) Let's try it this way. It takes at least three people to have a transference scenario. So we have three people: I/Me, Present Person, and Past Person. I used to be around Past Person a lot and she always got impatient with Me when I asked questions, so after a while I feared asking her questions because I didn't like being yelled at. Now I hang around Present Person a lot and because I anticipate her becoming impatient just like Past Person, I am afraid to ask Present Person questions for fear she will also yell at me. In a sense, transference is like looking at a person but seeing someone else. The image below depicts a specific instance of transference I experience with my therapist due to previous interactions with my dad.

Illustration of transference: Transferring experiences with my dad to expectations of my therapist.

So even though my therapist is not my dad, and even in my most confused of states I know she's not my dad (the fact that she's female kind of gives that away), I behave as if she is. Because I anticipate her laughing at me if I exhibit emotion around her, I avoid experiencing feelings when I am in her office. This is not the most helpful of things for a person in therapy to do, but at least now I understand that I do it for a reason.

Projection is less complex, in my humble opinion. Projection happens when a person projects their own qualities, feelings, behaviors, etc., onto another person. Whereas transference takes three people, projection only requires two: This time we have I and Other Person. I woke up on the wrong side of the bed and have been a grouchy wretch all day. After an encounter with Other Person, I walk away irritated, complaining to myself about Other Person's grouchiness. The classic example, right? You are acutely aware of the horrible qualities, behaviors, attitudes, etc., of that super-annoying person next to you, only to be informed that it is you who have the horribleness. When you look at that person, you don't see that person, you see you! Horror of all horrors! The image below depicts a possible instance of projection in therapy. [NOTE: I'm not really bitter. I just couldn't think of any of my bad qualities because I'm by myself and I have no one to project them onto right now. Clever, huh?]

Illustration of projection: Projecting my own personality traits onto my therapist.

To manage something effectively, I think you need a basic understanding of what it is you're trying to manage. With my basic understanding of transference and projection, I'm going to try to take note of when I am experiencing these things and learn how to see people for who they are.


Dad Is Not God

Bearing the image of Him who made you
But your nature has betrayed you,
You're a sinner all the way through—
Dad is not God.

Fallen from grace in your daughter's sight,
Confusing what's wrong with what's right,
Walking in darkness and shunning light—
Dad is not God.

Afraid to look into my father's eyes
For fear of seeing only lies,
He becomes the one I most despise—
Dad is not God.

Bury the pain and hurt. My silenced heart,
Cracked, crumbling, and falling apart,
Needs a mighty hope to restart—
Dad is not God.

The great celestial, skillful Potter
Is my wholly perfect Father,
And I His sinful, broken daughter—
Dad is not God.

To the extent possible under law, J has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to this work. This work is published from: United States.