Blog

GOOD NEWS FROM THE COSMOS 

Martha Householter, LPC

Feel like your life is out of control?  Well, I have some really good news--straight from the world of science (and a commentary from Eric Metaxas).[1]  But first, let me tell you a bit of my story.

My son Joel Brian just had a birthday.  He’s 24 years old now—if they count years in heaven the same way we do on earth.  It still feels unfair that I only got to mother him for eight months and 22 days before bacterial meningitis stole away his earthly future.  At one point in my grieving and groping for answers, I learned that a mere 0.0003% of the population contracts meningitis each year in the United States.  Of those 800 to 1,200 cases, 10 to 15% result in death.  I wondered why my son (or anyone) got to be a part of that elite group back in 1994.  It seemed so arbitrary—and certainly heartbreaking.  Is God really in control or are we just floating in a sea of random molecular motion?

This is where the world of scientific inquiry comes in.  Fifty years ago, the famous observer of the cosmos, Carl Sagan, noted two factors necessary to support life on any given planet in the universe:  1) the right kind of star to orbit around, 2) from the right distance away.  In Sagan’s view, there had to be thousands, if not millions, of other planets besides earth meeting those two simple criteria.  Scientists eagerly set out to link up satellite communication with other universe dwellers, fully expecting a barrage of intelligent chatter in return.

But no one answered.

As more and more data about the cosmos and our earth has been collected, it seems that there are a few more prerequisites for life to be sustained.  In fact, over 200 such parameters have been identified--so many that by any estimate, life as we know it SHOULD NOT EXIST AT ALL!

So why is this such good news?  Because you and I DO exist, and that means every detail of life on Planet Earth is sustained under incredibly intricate design.  There must be Someone with a plan and purpose larger than mixed-up molecules.  In scriptural terms, “all things have been created through Him and for Him.  He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17-18).  LIFE IS NOT OUT OF CONTROL after all.  Much of it is beyond our understanding, to be sure, but there IS a loving Creator behind it all, One who limits evil and offers redemption when evil is allowed.

The next time life seems random, empty and hurtful, remember we have yet to see the culmination of God’s original plan.  He does all things well (Mark 7:37), and one day He’ll show us the answers that we can’t fathom today.

My son Joel has come to understand these mysteries ahead of me, which makes me a little jealous!  But it will be a joyous day when we can walk together “on high,” fully embracing the beauty of God’s design.

[1] See https://www.facebook.com/prageru/videos/909352269107630/

Father's Day

Martha Householter, LPC

Father’s Day is just around the corner.  What kind of feelings come up for you?  If you’re a dad, you may chuckle in anticipation of hand-made cards cut and pasted together with way too much glue by an adoring pre-schooler.  Or you may find yourself at the other end of the spectrum, struggling with regret about what you DIDN’T know way back when your children were young.  And then we all think about our own fathers.  Was yours there for you when you needed affection, affirmation and guidance?  Or will you struggle with the ongoing aftermath of never feeling known and loved by perhaps the most significant authority figure in your life?  Most of us can find some positive aspects of our relationship with Dad, while acknowledging that no earthly father could do a perfect job.

Whatever we have experienced in the world of fatherhood, we can be sure that it has impacted our perspective on Father God and His relationship to us.  Whether mostly positive or mostly negative, it’s a good idea to be aware of our own father’s impact and how it may have tainted our view of God.  Pastor Jack Hayford addresses those who have suffered damage by an authority relationship.  He writes, “There is only one resolution, and it’s found in having our relationship with Father God brought fully into completion…  Jesus came to show us the Father.”  Read more about finding the intimate, loving relationship that we were designed for at http://www.jackhayford.org/teaching/articles/the-earthly-search-for-a-heavenly-father/.

Stress, Anxiety or Worry - Which is It?

Patti Ecker, MAC, LCPC

Although we often tend to use the words stress, anxiety and worry interchangeably, and often manage them in much the same way, they really aren’t the same experience.

Defined simply, stress is our reaction to change. When the change is a positive experience, like getting married or expecting a baby, we call it eustress (pronounced “you-stress”); when the change is negative, like a job loss, we call it distress. Our responses to stress can vary – some people become angry, some become depressed, some withdraw; others worry or experience physical illness; some people even feel energized by stress.

Generally, we know what it is that’s causing us to feel stressed – a deadline at work, a big test coming up, illness in the family, planning a wedding, preparing for out-of-town guests. Likewise, when we’re worried (remember, worry is a common way of coping with stress), we generally know what we’re worried about. In other words, both stress and worry have external causes. Since we can name what has us stressed or worried, these tend to lead us toward solutions to our problem.

Anxiety is different. When an individual reports feeling anxious, they usually talk about physical symptoms – shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, shaking or trembling, sweating, tightness in the chest, nausea, chills or hot flashes, fear of losing control. So anxiety actually is more about the experience of these body sensations than it is about what’s making you anxious. In fact, there’s a good chance you don’t know what’s at the root of your anxiety. And that makes for more anxious feelings.

We all feel anxious, worried or stressed sometimes, and these get in the way of experiencing the abundant life that we were created to enjoy. Reading Scripture, relaxation, meditation, mindfulness exercises, changing your self-talk, guided imagery, monitoring your thoughts – these are among the ways you can manage your anxiety or stress or worry. Ask your therapist for suggestions for your personal situation.