NEW YEAR ADVICE FOR THE ASOCA

By

Reverend Sherri L. Board, M.A.

I want to make December’s blog short and yet beneficial to everyone in a long-lasting way.

As a Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor and adult survivor of childhood abuse myself, I think it would be healing for us to share some advice that we can take into the New Year, 2019. Indeed, Scripture tells us, “Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise,” (Proverbs 19:20, LASB.)

To this end, in the comments section below, whether you counsel adult survivors of childhood abuse, are a ASOCA, or simply love one, please leave your best advise for us, a pearl of wisdom as to how to get further away from thoughts and feeling related to childhood abuse and closer to heaven on earth.

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CHILDHOOD ABUSE AND THANKFULNESS

By

Reverend Sherri L. Board, M.A. 

It is hard for some of us to be thankful when we experienced trauma in our childhoods.  After all, being hurt by the very adults/caregivers who were supposed to protect and create for us a loving foundation from which we could spring into adulthood can leave one, well, ungrateful.

But, the Bible commands us to be thankful. “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 LASB).

Why this command? I mean, how can God expect us to be thankful when we were treated so poorly? He directs us to be thankful in all circumstances because he is our finest counselor. To be sure, all good counselors know that replacing negative thoughts with positive ones is beneficial to one’s mental health.

I would like to suggest that during this Thanksgiving holiday season that we have on our tables a Thankful Turkey craft. The turkey is made out of such things as a Styrofoam ball, brown yarn, toothpicks and colored paper. The premise behind the Thankful Turkey is that everyone present writes what they are thankful for on a paper feather and then all the feathers are applied to the back of the turkey. Kids, parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, can all participate. Concentrating on this simple and playful way to express our thankfulness distracts us from the complexities of this life, and makes God smile.

Wishing you all a blessed Thanksgiving Day.

Childhood Abuse and Nature's Healing Balm

By

Reverend Sherri L. Board, M.A.

This past summer, I climbed in my motor home and rode in it from Southern California to the southernmost part of Alaska accessible by vehicle and back home again, over nine thousand miles.

When I left my home, I was highly stressed-out as I had been working on launching my website, www.mytruetemperament.com, and on obtaining my PhD. To be honest, my soul—my mind, will, and emotions, didn’t want to go. After all, I was starting my counseling practice and acquiring knowledge to help heal adult survivors of childhood abuse (ASOCA). My soul was set on helping the ASOCA. It wanted nothing more.

But off I went.

The further north I traveled the more my connections to my work and school fell away. I had no TV reception, no phone service, and by the time I arrived in Homer, Alaska, I had no Wi-Fi service. And, while I was totally disconnected from the technologies of this world, I reconnected with something far greater. God.

He was everywhere, in the ice calving off the edges of the glaciers, in the water burbling out of the sides of the mountains, in the fur of grizzly bears swaying in the wind.

Being submerged in nature was a healing balm, a healing ointment, for my soul. When I feel myself becoming stressed again, I’ll go back to my memories of Alaska while reflecting on Psalm 145:5, “They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—and I will meditate on your wonderful works” (LASB).

Finding Purpose While Moving Through the Pain

At times, life can be overwhelming and when you go through hardships it can feel as if you are being punished in some way or even worse: that you are somehow undeserving of good. This is untrue, yet it may feel like it is. Life is not easy and often unfair, there are consequences for behaviors, all of us are affected by other people’s choices, bad things happen to decent people and good things happen to those who don’t appreciate what they’ve been given. Yet, this does not mean either is deserving. Good and bad things happen and no one is immune to this fact.

Human suffering is inevitable, heartbreaking, yet can be a useful teacher if one’s perspective is willing and even flexible. Grieving is a part of life and feeling stuck in the pain with no hope of moving forward happens, yet it does not have to always be that way. In our humanity, our flawed nature, we can feel broken and the lack of control we have over certain circumstances and ourselves at times can be downright scary. However, you can move through this discomfort and end up in a more content and purposed-driven place if you simply have hope. Hope in who you are and the belief that you have purpose.

When bad things happen it can be difficult to have a hopeful perspective and that is okay. We often need to experience the doubt, the heartache, the helplessness, to grieve and blossom into awareness. Importantly, when something painful happens and then your whole perspective negatively shifts, addressing what’s happened is crucial. As time passes, and as you move through your pain, you will realize that your will is strong, and that you have more strength than you thought.

Do not give up. Find purpose while moving through your pain even when it feels purposeless. Use what you’ve been through to help yourself and maybe others one day. Do not let your pain be in vain. We often gain wisdom after weathering the most difficult of storms. Choose to grow, choose to fight for you, and commit to yourself to live your life with purpose while moving through the pain.

Anna M. Jones

 

Childhood Abuse and Self-Worth

As an adult survivor of childhood abuse, no negative thought, not shame not anxiety not dissociation, becomes more caught in my throat than this ache of having a very low self-worth. It lodges itself there, this distasteful pill.

Psychologically, we can think of self-worth as having a positive opinion of ourselves, as having a worthy—a good and deserving—respect for our own selves.

Spiritually, Scripture has plenty of passages that describe God’s opinion of our worth as his children. Psalm 139:13-14, for example, tells us, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (NIV)

For many adults who were abused as children, we do not have respect for ourselves nor do we believe that we are wonderful creations of God.

What do we do? Psychologically, we need to replace the negative thoughts that we hold for ourselves with positive ones. We need to begin to respect ourselves by dissociating with people who make us feel even worse and treat ourselves as we wish others would, with kindness and integrity. Spiritually, let’s open our wounded hearts to God. Let’s let him fix what is broken in us. His healing is free.

I truly believe that if we stop expecting others to respect us and simply do the respecting of ourselves, if we begin to believe that we truly are God’s wonderful creations, that distasteful pill will fall into a bath of love and gentleness and dissolve.

I wish you God’s peace.

Sherri L. Board

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Childhood Abuse and "The Moment"

As an adult survivor of childhood abuse, have you had “The Moment” yet? It’s that moment in time when it dawns on you that you hadn’t thought about the negative effects of your childhood abuse—shame, anxiety, low self-esteem, just to name a few—for even a minute, an hour, a month, or maybe even years.

It is the BEST feeling, this being-in-your-own-skin feeling, this feeling of newness, completeness, all the shedding-of-lies-ness.

If you’ve felt it like a whisper, all your own then gone, then fight for it all the more. It is the ash of your soul that can only be stoked by hard work and perseverance: journaling your pain, speaking your pain, sharing your pain with a friend, counselor, and/or pastor. Fight.

If for some, you’ve been blessed enough to have moved on from a whisper of peace to a mostly tranquil life, please pray for those still fighting, waiting, anticipating, for the day that The Moment for them will no longer be fleeting, but long-lasting.

I wish you God’s peace.

Sherri L. Board

God is Faithful

In my profession I work with clients who have experienced much trauma and pain. My personal belief system keeps me grounded, and gives me the strength and ability to differentiate my role and others' burdens when in very difficult situations. I desire to help those who are hurting, broken, the abused, to cope with and heal from their trauma.

Abuse can shatter one's self-perceptions and self-esteem. The lies it plants leads the abused soul to believe that they are unworthy and unloved. These fundamental beliefs are flawed. Even though it may have seemed that you were alone, God knows and sees all. You are loved beyond measure and God is faithful. Please seek healing from the abuse you have endured and get answers to those difficult questions you have buried within.  

Anna M. Jones

Persevere Despite Everything

As imperfect beings we will fail. Sometimes our mistakes will be huge and negatively impact our families, yet most often they will be small and many. When you mess up, admit your wrongs sincerely and wholeheartedly continue on. Beating yourself up will not get you anywhere. However, conviction, remorse, and positive transformation will. Character is built upon humility and one’s humanity, not perfection. Those who have been abused understand this at their core yet have difficulty living it out because those they loved most were often cruel and unsafe, which imposed faulty perceptions and severe expectations. You did not deserve the abuse, yet the abuse has profoundly affected you. This life is not fair and it is truly heartbreaking that you suffered. Yet today, you are accountable for your decisions despite the past and always, God’s grace and love abundantly awaits. Do not give up! Persevere towards victory because you have a powerful testimony and mission to complete in Jesus’ name.

Anna M. Jones

 

Childhood Abuse and Thinking About Our Thinking

Years ago, I shared this saying with a therapist, as I was seeking help in having a more positive mental outlook, “You cannot live a positive life with a negative mind.” He said something to me all those years ago that still to this day impacts the way I think about my thinking. He said, “We can think of depression as being caused by a huge tank driving around and around year after year after year in the same grooves of our minds. One way to stop forming deeper grooves is to get rid of the tank and fill in the gutters with positive thoughts.” 

It has since become a habit for me to monitor my thinking and when I catch myself thinking negatively, I will think positive thoughts. For example, I might replace the thought “Why was I abused as a child?” with “God’s will for my life is to bring support and understanding to others who also suffer from the effects of childhood abuse.” 

It takes time, practice, and being consciously aware of one’s own thoughts. It gently fills in those harmful timeworn grooves of one’s mind with a seeping balm of tenderness.

I wish you God’s peace.

Sherri L. Board

Ask God For Wisdom

When times become hard and it seems that there is no way out, is when most finally cry out to God. Wisdom is having understanding and humility before the trial because they will continue to come. It knows that you were not created to figure things out by yourself and to only depend upon your own strength. Wisdom comprehends that God provides and it believes that He will answer when He is sought. Asking God for His wisdom is amongst the wisest things you can do. He knows about your past, He knows your current struggles, He desires to heal your heart and spirit, and He has prepared your future. With a pure, sincere, and discerning heart, ask God for wisdom and experience your mind, emotions, and will change. God’s wisdom, His truths, will truly bless you and help prepare you for the rest of your life, if you so choose to let them.

Anna M. Jones