The Burden of Lifespan Integration

I believe in the neuro-plasticity of the brain. I believe that what was hardwired as a child can be rewired as an adult. I understand that one of the premises of Lifespan Integration (LI) is that many of us get stuck in certain behaviors and modes of thinking that served us well as children, but are no longer useful or healthy as adults in our relating to others. Therefore, LI can be used to show people who are open to this form of therapy that they are no longer stuck in their circumstances as a child, but in fact they have grown up and new ways of responding, being and doing are accessible and lead to life instead of a powerless existence. Well and good.

Sometimes belief in something does not necessarily turn into reality. For instance, I have been participating in LI with my therapist as my coach for nearly 4 years. At times I have felt this was very successful at alleviating tanger abandonmenthe horror of some childhood memories. Today, however, I felt mired in my own fear and even my time-line, which is a vital part of the LI process, betrayed me. Every memory that was the timeline cue for the passage of time, became infused with fear and anger toward the person who had wronged me. I don’t recall ever having this person’s approval for anything I have ever done and yet I was so terrified of being abandoned that I made it my aim in life to continue to seek her approval. For some reason this felt like a double bind today instead of being released from the grip of fear that has made me feel that my one responsibility in my life is to make everyone around me happy (or at least happy with me). I have never tolerated not being liked, and when hurtful accusations are made against me, I just want to curl up into a ball of self-protection.

I believe in God. I believe that He will restore the human spirit and everything on this planet. He will recreate Eden in all its glory and humans will thrive in His light and life. Then, there will be no fear, no anger, no crying and no need for bearing the tremendous weight of responsibility that comes with seeking approval of all people and avoidance of unpleasant encounters with them. Even now, I have an understanding that I can trust God to turn my fear of man into a respectful fear of Him-one that empowers instead of belittles, one that gives life instead of death. But I am not there yet. I have not broken free from the chains that keep me locked away in a child’s mind. I don’t know if LI can help me this time. I only know that I am dying one breath at a time, ever since I had the wind knocked out of me as a kid. imagesCA6PF50C


Pursued by Love


We are never closer to God than when our hearts are open and free to receive His gentle caress. This is a rare but beautiful occurrence and is completely passive on our part. Humans are naturally repulsed by such love. We are so immersed in our uncleanness before this Holy God that we cannot fathom His unrelenting desire for union with us. Our brokenness has cast the pall of death over our entire being. How can we receive such indescribable love from this Almighty God, who is our Lover, and who actively pursues us while still in our stench so that He can make love to us? Only because the odor of rotten flesh which is so visceral to all our senses, is to God the sweet aroma of the sacrifice of His own Son. We must not deceive ourselves. When we refuse the advances of our God by using the excuse that we are so rotten that we cannot allow Him to enter into union with us, we make ourselves our own god and we close ourselves off to the highest pleasure this earthly life will afford. I have never been pursued like this by anyone else, have you?


Kitchen (A Reflection of Christmas)

Masquerade of gypsy fortune-tellersWhyDinner

Come one by one

Gazing into their crystal balls

As if to find the answer

To that all-important question

“What’s for dinner tonight?”

Am I the one you seek, or do you seek another?

(Jesus may this moment be speaking this to your emptiness)

Who else but a mother and Jesus

Can satisfy our bellies and our souls?


Satiety may be found

In the world’s kitchens

and a manger.sylviahensel_yourhearthismanger_1

Loneliness, My Winter Friend

I believe that God is preparing for us an eternal dwelling place that will be so magnificent that He could not allow us to imagine such glory here in this world lest the focus of our desire be on the place of heaven rather than the presence of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

The hope of heaven is not that we will finally be free of all sorrow and pain that we have endured in this life, but rather to see with the eyes of our heart the Calvary where Jesus took the scourge of pain and death from us and exchanged it for His righteousness.images (2) The hope of heaven is Christ Himself. He made it possible for us to escape eternal separation from God so that we will someday eat from the tree of life. Indeed, we do eat of that tree, which is Jesus . He is the First fruit of His Father, He is the Door to the Father, He is Living Water, the Bread of Life and He calls us NOW to “Taste and see that He is good.” (Ps. 34:8a)

Yet, we are “soul-journers” in a dry and desert place. We thirst for what we do not have and we chase away the things we do not want because they cause us pain. Read the sign. It says, “Pain and sorrow are not welcome here”. It is written on the faces of all humanity. But none of us escape it. What encouragement we find in Scripture where we read, “These light and temporary trials are preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison as we look not to the seen but to the things that are unseen.  For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:17-18). If only we believed it. Then we would realize that though we are hungry, that hunger is good because it points us to Christ who wants us to enjoy the bounty of His table. Right now, in the midst of our suffering.

Loneliness has become my winter friend.  During the cold and dark months I often try to escape the clutches of that beast that threatens to take me to a dark and dreary place; bitter, unforgiving and desolate. Normally, I despiimages (3)se loneliness. I hate how it makes me feel. Recently, I had an encounter with loneliness and decided to stop fighting it. I began to pay attention to my emotions; when my feelings of loneliness were particularly strong. One evening I was alone in my house, thinking about the difficulties of this life. I decided to put on some music about heaven, knowing the hearing of it would act as a balm to soothe my weary soul. Minutes into my music, I found myself feeling overwhelmed; despairing over the aloneness of my heart! So I turned up the music and sang at the top of my lungs, tears streaming down my face. I felt anger over the loneliness but I was also aware of the intense feeling of joy!  That’s when Jesus spoke peace to my waiting heart. I began to laugh because of this beautiful gift He had given me. This is what He wanted me to know: Loneliness is not the enemy.  My loneliness is for Jesus! My loneliness is a good gift from the only One who can truly satisfy that need of my heart. So, I can invite my winter friend into all the seasons of my life because my loneliness is but a reminder to me of my unquenchable desire for heaven where merely seeing Jesus face-to-face will end all feelings of loneliness forever. Come, Lord Jesus. Come!

Darkness Into Light

images (1)Traversing roads of encumbrance
Winding steeps of despair
Articulating the verbiage of depression
To a world that does not care.

Raucous cries from one beast to another
Emancipate me from this dark bitch night
Yawning is the abyss into which I have been cast
O God, rescue me that I would take flight

Into your waiting arms.