A Message of Faith, Longing, and Healing. Special Guest Post By My Friend, Tony Roberts of “Delight In Disorder.” This, A Message We All Need Today. . .


Who was William Cowper? William was born 26 November 1731 (My Birthday Too) – and passed 25 April 1800) known as an English poet and hymnodist. One of the most popular poets of his time, Cowper changed the direction of 18th-century nature poetry by writing of everyday life and scenes of the English countryside. William was also considered one of the best letter writers in English, and some of his hymns, such as “God Moves in a Mysterious Way” and “Oh! For a Closer Walk with God,” have become part of the folk heritage of Protestant England.


William Cowper by Lemuel Francis Abbott.jpg
A 1792 portrait by Lemuel Francis Abbott

GUEST POST BY Author Tony Roberts of Delight in Disorder Ministries

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalms 37:4)

The Longing of William Cowper in “Heal Us, Emmanuel”

“Heal Us, Emmanuel” by Will­iam Cow­per from Ol­ney Hymns


Heal us, Emmanuel, here we are
We wait to feel Thy touch;
Deep wounded souls to Thee repair,
And Savior, we are such.

Our faith is feeble, we confess
We faintly trust Thy Word;
But wilt Thou pity us the less?
Be that far from Thee, Lord!

Remember him who once applied
With trembling for relief
“Lord, I believe,” with tears he cried;
“O help my unbelief!”

She, too, who touched Thee in the press
And healing virtue stole,
Was answered, “Daughter, go in peace;
Thy faith has made thee whole.”

Concealed amid the gathering throng,
She would have shunned Thy view;
And if her faith was firm and strong,
Had strong misgivings too.

Like her, with hopes and fears we come
To touch Thee if we may;
O send us not despairing home;
Send none unhealed away.


Poet and hymn writer William Cowper (1731-1800) was a man of deep longing that greatly affected his mind as well as his spirit.  In his thirties, while battling some political factions in his work, he was afflicted with “madness” (as it was then called called) and admitted to Nathaniel Cotton’s Collegium Insanorum at St. Albans.  He recovered and moved to the town of Olney in 1768 where he co-authored a book of hymns with the well-respected pastor and hymn-writer John Newton (who wrote “Amazing Grace”).

But all was not well.  One biographic source tells it this way –

In 1773, Cowper became engaged to Mary Unwin, but he suffered another attack of madness. He had terrible nightmares, believing that God  [had] rejected him. Cowper would never again enter a church or say a prayer. When he recovered his health, he kept busy by gardening, carpentry, and keeping animals. In spite of periods of acute depression, Cowper’s twenty-six years in Olney and later at Weston Underwood were marked by great achievement as poet, hymn-writer, and letter-writer.

Certainly, Cowper continued to fight back despair and may well have stepped aside from public prayer and worship, but the depth of his prayer life and relationship to God in Christ is abundantly evident in hymns that live on through the ages.

Which brings me back to the theme of longing.  The longing expressed in this hymn, and also in Cowper’s life, is not evidence of a lack of faith.  In fact, faith prompts us to recognize that all is not right within us, among us, or around us.  Our faith, though feeble, keeps us crying out in prayer for our children who are hurting, for our bodies that need healing, for our world that is on the brink of collapse.

We come to God not only with “positive thoughts”, but with hopes and fears – hoping for the best, yet fearing the worst and humbly requesting that the Great Healer would touch us, would send not of us away unhealed.

(for an inspiring reflection on the life of William Cowper, link to “Insanity and Spiritual Songs in the Soul of a Saint” by John Piper)

About the Author: tonyroberts

Author, Tony Roberts


“I am a man with an unquiet mind who delights in the One who delights in me.”

Tony Roberts is a graduate of Hanover College (Bachelor of Arts; English and theology), and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary (Master of Divinity). He served as pastor for churches in Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New York, while battling bipolar disorder. He is the author of Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission and is the founder and Chief Shepherd of Delight in Disorder Ministries. These ministries include A Way With Words publishing, Revealing Voices podcast, and Faithful Friends mental health support group.

Tony is available to virtually consult ministry leaders on issues of faith and mental illness. You may reach out to him on the contact page or by email: tony@delightindisorder.org

My Recovery Guest Article of the Week. Trauma and Healing.

Woman.

.

Healing after Trauma ~ By Christine Hill

Trauma isn’t a new or unique story in the world today. In fact, some psychologists have stated that we have an epidemic of trauma in our society, without the tools to recover from it. Trauma can be any event in your life that sends you into an extreme state of stress, fear, and helplessness. It can be physical or mental abuse in the home, a cataclysmic natural disaster, or a chronic sickness.

In any case, the primary goal after trauma is to find a way to heal. For some, this comes naturally with time. For others, recovery is a difficult process for which they’ll need help. Unchecked, trauma can cause a multitude of disorders and harmful behaviors, from PTSD to schizophrenia to addiction and risk-taking behaviors.

Here are some ways to help patients recovering from trauma find healing and peace in their lives:

Step 1: Restabilize and Find Safety

The thing about trauma is that it makes us feel unsafe and helpless. A heightened stress response keeps triggering, sending us right back to that place where we felt threatened. The most important first step to take after trauma is to re-establish safety.

“Safety” will look differently for everyone. As children, we learn to rely on others to establish safety for us. However, sometimes that system breaks down, and as we grow, we become responsible for creating a safe place for ourselves.

The first step in recovering from trauma may consist of breaking from the traumatic event or situation that you’re in. This might mean a move. It might mean breaking from certain people or patterns in your life. It might even mean using certain help or resources available in order to leave and find a new place where you can be safe and rebuild.

Establish Healthy Patterns

Most recovering patients of trauma find safety in patterns in their lives. After feeling completely helpless and out of control, it’s comforting to have something that’s in your control. Practicing self-care also supports the body’s healthy systems, empowering you to counteract the effects of trauma. Some healthy patterns will include:

  • Getting proper sleep
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Steering clear of substances that will alter your mental state
  • Exercise

.
early in the morning


All of these things help to balance the hormones in your system which have been thrown off by extreme stress. True, it’s easier said than done. After trauma, night terrors can interrupt our sleep. We feel powerless to set up new healthy habits like exercise. And we reach for things that grant immediate comfort and numbness, which is why trauma and substance abuse are so often paired. However, substance abuse perpetuates the pattern of trauma, and continues to throw off our self-regulatory systems, which can prolong your recovery, and send you back into a mental state that will aggravate the harmful effects of trauma, instead of leading to a path of healing.

Connect with Others

Another cruel effect of trauma is that it often causes us to feel isolated. The separation between ourselves and everyone who hasn’t experienced the trauma can feel too great to overcome. It can be hard to reconnect with people who seem to expect you to be the same old person you were before the trauma entered your life, or you might fear having to confront the trauma and having to explain it to others.

However, studies have shown that people who reach out after trauma heal much faster. You have a choice about whether trauma will cripple you, or whether you will use it as an experience that enables you to help others. Here are some suggestions to get you going:

  • Join a survivor group. Talking with others who have experienced similar things will help you remember that you are not alone. Learning about the coping strategies that have helped them will give you ideas for things to try in your life. Reaching out and striving to problem-solve with others can motivate you to find creative solutions for your own problems.

 

  • Reconnect with people who care about you. The people in your life who love and care about you can be a touchstone of sanity and safety when everything feels out of control. If you’re lucky enough to have a few people who will fight for you, make time for you, patiently listen to you, and sacrifice for you, take advantage of that gift. Remember that you don’t have to talk about traumatic experiences that have shaken you. Take your time, and ask for what you need. Be patient with yourself and with others.

 

  • Volunteer. One of the best ways to recover from trauma is to look for the good. It’s reminding yourself that you still have the power to effect positive change – not just in yourself, but in those around you. Helping others gets us outside of ourselves and helps us to see things in a different way. It helps us make new connections and realize the power that we do have. Volunteering can be an opportunity to build new memories and experiences that can counter the memory and experience of trauma in our lives.


Reach out for Help

Visiting psychologist

Group of people visiting course of psychological therapy…

 

A difficult step for many trauma survivors is knowing when to reach out for professional help. Many of us feel we can overcome the problems by ourselves, or we fear the emotional impact of reliving traumatic events. However, trauma therapists are specially trained to help patients come to terms with the events in their past, to empower them to rewrite their own stories and find a way to make daily life more functional and more enriching.


If you are having a hard time connecting with others, functioning in society – whether that’s getting daily chores done, or holding down a job, getting a good night’s rest, or building healthy patterns in your life, a therapist can give you tools and perspective that you might need in order to rebuild after trauma.


#         #          #           #

*Author Note: I want to thank Christine Hill for a wonderful article. Since I am a trauma and sex abuse survivor myself, I could have used this advice when I finally disclosed to my parents what had happened to me as a little girl. Would the outcome have been different for me to the way the way my parents reacted?

Knowing how my parents were? Most likely not, but it may have been less traumatic for me, how having to go through the process of explaining it to them. I hope this article will help those who are still holding on to any past pain. Please, it is time to let it go  .  .  .  

 

Welcome Featured Guest~Marc Azoulay MA, LPCC, LAC

Hello Recovery Friends and New Ones,

 

“I am happy and honored to welcome Marc Azoulay to my recovery blog. He has written an article about recovery and healing. We happened to meet over on Twitter and seemed we both have a lot in common as helping others. He was nice enough to offer this blog share article for me to share with all you! I will share a wee bit more about Marc, but first let’s read this fantastic post.”

 

What is Recovery: Healing an Invisible Wound ~

Marc Azoulay  

.

Free Happy Woman Enjoying Nature. Beauty Girl Outdoor.
.

One of the questions I ask during my intakes with new clients is “when will you know that therapy is complete? When will you have been healed?” I do this to get a sense of their goals and the changes that they’d like to make; I ask them to imagine a future where they don’t need me and can support themselves. Most clients answer with something along the lines of “when I’m no longer using drugs,” or “when I can be happy again.” Noble goals for sure, and usually much more complicated than they sound.

I find myself asking the question now: What does it mean to heal?


And, you know, I’m not so sure I know the answer to that. Personally, I’ve been in therapy for eight years, I’ve gotten sober, worked out many of my harmful behaviors, delved deeply into my past, and build a stronger relationship with the ones that I love. But I don’t know if I’ve “recovered,” I still have hard days, and I still act out and hurt others.

I wonder if recovery is an attainable goal. Perhaps recovery is just a model for an ideal way of living, a goal to work towards. But, as they say in Eastern Philosophy, it’s not the goal that’s important, it’s the journey. The journey towards recovery illuminates every part of oneself. It burns us in the places that we guarded the most; it roots out the insecurities and shame that we hold and presents them to the world unabashedly. Recovery challenges us to confront our fears and to have difficult conversations; it inspires us to dive into uncomfortable feelings and memories.

.


.
One of the most challenging parts of this process is that it is mostly invisible. Others rarely see the struggle that we go through. They are unaware of the daily battle that goes on in our heads. They don’t see the long nights and lonely moments when we dip a toe into hopelessness. This is a deeply personal quest. It behooves us to surround ourselves with allies and healers, but we have to take every single step ourselves. This can get so exhausting.

We want to heal, but it can be challenging to recognize when we’ve gotten there. Those in the recovery community know the term dry drunk, a person who is so committed to sobriety that their life, in a way, is still about alcohol. These people cling onto their sobriety like a badge of honor and build their whole reality around it. Of course, for many this has been life saving, but I wonder: have they truly recovered? Have they moved on from their past? It’s hard for me to believe.

Many of use create our identities out of our pain. We use our wounds as shields that separate us from others. We push others away,  but we feel as though they can never understand us. This is an illusion. We are just not that special. Perhaps the last step in recovery is letting go of the idea that we have a problem.

Perhaps recovery means embracing our humility. Realizing perhaps we are just like everyone else. That’s a hard one to swallow: being ordinary. Learning to enjoy the little moments in life: a sunset, a cup of tea, or sitting in traffic.


Maybe, recovery lays in the mundane?

 

#        #         #         #          #           #

About Marc Azoulay MA, LPCC, LAC

.

Marc Azoulay

.
I believe that substance abuse is not a problem, but a symptom. In treatment, I aim to work with my clients to discover the underlying root of their patterns of use. I’ve noticed that once the core need gets addressed problematic use just falls away. I provide a mindfulness-based approach to psychotherapy. With my clients, I focus on developing emotional literacy and body-mind awareness. I encourage my clients to tap into their moment-to-moment experience as we cannot begin to work with ourselves if we do not know what we have to work with.I specialize in working with addictions, grief, and social anxiety.

Prior to entering private practice, I worked at Rangeview Counseling Center, a substance abuse treatment center that focuses on clients with legal troubles. I was blown away by the dedication and passion that my clients had for the work. I witnessed countless acts of compassion and healing. Prior to that, I worked at Halcyon Hospice and the Wild Plum Center, a therapeutic preschool. Spending time with the children and the dying opened my eyes to the breadth of human experience.

My goal is to help clients recognize how to care for themselves in mind, body, and spirit and to develop a playful curiosity towards their internal experience.

You deserve It.

Please visit Marc’s website and Follow him on Twitter  @MokshaMarc
Website: www.marc-azoulay.com