What’s Driving You?

Whether you’re aware of it or not, as soon as you open your eyes in the morning something is motivating you to meet your day, and all that it will entail. From a broader view, there is something that motivates us to engage life and all of its joys and sorrows. My experience has been that some days need more of this motivation than others, a question that I have pondered at times but more so in the recent past.

When I was younger my motivation was inspired by an innocence and wonder of all that this life had to offer. As I experienced life on life’s terms, including painful experiences, disappointments, successes, and challenges, my source of motivation shifted from a sense of invincibility to a drive for survival. Yes, there was joy along the way, but my motivation had changed. Through the awkward teen years, and past the formidable young adult years, motivation took on many different forms. Getting married and having children provided motivation for the care and well being of others. Many forms of motivation are good for us. For instance, we are motivated to work so that we can obtain what we need to function in life.

But what motivates us from deep in our hearts? What gives us that deep sense of peace that life and all that it encompasses is worth our best effort? I had recently started a 90-day exercise regimen that required me to complete 30 minutes of varied exercises for five days a week. The first 60-days seemed to go by without much challenge. As you might imagine though, the regimen suddenly felt like it had become redundant and it seemed that it was getting harder to find the time to complete the exercises. One day while working through a set I asked myself, what motivates me to do this? Am I doing this from a deep sense of who I am, or is this driven by an unconscious motivation to prove something to others or myself?

It is my belief that the reason that many of us start things and can’t seem to finish them, or begin things that sound good at the outset, can be due to misdirected motivation. I have learned through personal experience, and through the counsel of others, that one of the ways that we can realize true and lasting motivation, motivation to thrive and not just survive, is most successful when it comes from a true sense of who we are as well as our uniqueness in this world. Consider this; of the billions of people that have come to be, and are yet to be, there will only be one just like you! Yes, only one with your unique talents and gifts, never to be duplicated again.

King David celebrated his uniqueness in Psalm 139 when he proclaimed; “For you formed my inward parts; you wove me in my mother’s womb” (vs. 13). He was truly unique. Please take the time this week to read the entirety of Psalm 139. King David seems to have several moments where he is suddenly aware of his individuality, as well as the uniqueness of the loving God who created him. King David was a man who made some big mistakes, overcame Goliath, and found a special place in God’s heart.  I want to encourage you to celebrate your uniqueness today. You are an expression of the love of God in this world and there will never be another like you. May your motivation come from a deep sense of who you are and who’s you are.

If you need help finding your motivation or navigating life’s challenges, please let us help you.  Contact us at 214-368-7373 or inquiry@drennanacc.com.

David Van der Vieren, MA, LPC-Intern

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Prayerful Meditation in the Midst of Stress

Here we are….the countdown to Christmas. It’s the most wonderful time of year! It’s also the busiest, most stressful and chaotic time of year. So take time out for you; time for prayer and meditation. Now, some may cringe at the word “meditation”. It simply means to be still and open your heart and your mind to the Spirit of Christ. It’s a time to truly speak to and listen to God. Psalms 19:14 says “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.”

So you might wonder how to begin, how to use your time of meditation and prayer to reach a level of calmness that will transcend the chaos of the holidays. Start with a comfortable, quiet place to sit. This can be almost anywhere as long as it is not too hot, too cold, too bright or too loud. You want to be comfortable. Take a few deep cleansing breaths. Inhale for a count of 4, and exhale for a count of 8, controlling the exhale to completely empty the air from your lungs. Next, you will want to focus on relaxing your body from the tips of your toes to the top of your head. Focus on each body part as you inhale and relax each muscle group as you exhale, releasing all tension. Start with your toes and your feet, moving on up to your calves and your knees, then your hips and thighs, etc. Once you are completely relaxed from your head to your toes, you can begin opening your heart in prayer.

There are two methods of meditation that I like to use. One is using a mantra, along with your deep breathing. I like to use this method if I am short on time. Close your eyes, and think of a phrase, a bible verse, or just a few words that mean something to you or are calming to you. Hope…Peace…Joy….or “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. Repeat these words as you inhale and exhale, thinking of their meaning and focusing only on the words as you shut out everything else around you. Continue the mantra and breathing until you feel the stress melt away.

You can also use imagery in your meditation…an escape. Close your eyes, and imagine a place that makes you happy or that comforts you. A beach, a forest, a hillside meadow…..Imagine this place using all of your senses….taste the salty sea air, feel the ocean breeze on your face, hear the waves crashing on the beach, feel the warm sand between your toes. Shut out the rest of the world. Now, imagine that Jesus is there with you, sitting beside you. Talk with him. Listen to him. Share with him. Pray with him. Use this time and this place to pray and reflect. You can do this for minutes or hours, depending on your schedule. When you open your eyes, you will feel more calm, relaxed and balanced. Make time for yourself each day. Take care of you. Make yourself and your relationship with Christ a priority. This will not only get you through the holidays, but will become a wonderful tool throughout the New Year.

If you are in need of counseling services during this holiday season or anytime throughout the year, please contact us at 214-368-7373 or inquiry@drennanacc.com. We are here for you.

Merry Christmas from Drennan and Associates Christian Counseling
Melissa Saavedra
Office Manager

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From Ashes to Beauty

Ella saw the world, not always as it was, but as it could be. Unfortunately, some very important people in her life did not share this belief.

Tragedy struck Ella’s family, leaving her alone with her new stepmother and stepsisters.

Cruel, Heartless, Bitter describe these three individuals.

Her stepmother and stepsisters misused her. What seemed like overnight, she went from a sister to a servant. In fact, on a cold night she fell asleep with the last bit of heat from the fire leaving her face covered in ash.

The girls mocked and teased her….laughing so cruelly at her, stripping her of her place in the family. Ella came to breakfast one morning, and left with a new name, Cinderella.

The narrator states names have power. The power? To become a blessing or a curse. All of the sudden it seemed that Ella’s stepmother and stepsisters had indeed transformed her from a beautiful young lady to a creature of ash and toil.

On several occasions, her stepmother asked her, “who do you think you are?” Not giving Ella a chance to answer, her stepmother answered for her telling her, “You are a ragged servant girl. That is who you are, and that is who you will always be.” She called her dirty, a servant girl, ragged, nothing, a wretch. One label after another.

She went from a girl of confidence to a girl who questioned her very self-worth. Out of fear of rejection, she was afraid to be herself. She doubted what she could offer in a relationship. She doubted if she would be “enough.”

The narrator tells of Ella taking a risk. The risk? To be seen. Perhaps the greatest risk we can take in life is to be seen for ourselves as we truly are. The creation God made.

During this movie, sitting there with my own daughter, I began to cry; thinking of the labels I wore in my lifetime, the fear I held onto and the masks I wore thinking I wasn’t good enough.

A name is very powerful. A name defines certain characteristics about a person. These characteristics make up a person’s identity. For example, as Christians, we are image bearers of God. This is a part of our identity.

Other names include: Strong, Wanted, Lovable, Worthy, Capable.

Unfortunately for most of us, we don’t embrace these names. Instead of names, we wear labels. Much like Ella.

As a child, I was extremely outgoing with a talkative personality. My parents are both introverts. They didn’t understand my need for others. Being around others brings me life and energy, while being alone drains my energy. I remember in my childhood feeling like I was “too much.” This was a label I wore.

When I wanted to go out with friends or share a story in a lively, enthusiastic way, I often received a message from my parents that I was “too much”. They never verbally spoke this over me. It was something I perceived from them in reading their body language and the assumptions I made. Because I believed I was “too much,” I started feeling like I was “weird” – an “outsider.”

By the time I entered high school, I wore these labels, plus other ones like: Fat, Ugly, Not Good enough, Loser.

I believed lie after lie about myself.

When I would introduce myself to others, I might have said, “Hi, my name is Melissa, I like….”, but what I was really telling them was, I am too much, I am weird, I am an outsider, I am ugly, I am fat, I am a loser.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that believing these labels or false names about myself produced very painful emotions. This was a very dark time in my life. Shame became a garment of choice. Anger seethed through me. Depression sank over me.

Sure, I wore a smile; a Christian girl smile at that. But, right beneath the surface laid enormous pain and self-hatred. The self-hatred… Why couldn’t I be normal? Why couldn’t I be like everyone else? Why did I have to be so weird?

I wish I could give you a “1-2-3” process for removing the labels, because if I’m being honest, I still have to contend with believing truth.

It starts with recognizing those labels. A few common sources for labels include failures, things we do/don’t do, and internalization of things we have been called or call ourselves. But these labels limit, while your name unleashes limitless possibility.

The Bible gives us specific, concrete truth about who you are:

You are worthy and valuable, not because of anything you could ever do but simply because you are a reflection of the One who made you (Genesis 1:27).

You are a masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10)

You have been fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13)

Spend some time in prayer reflecting over these Scriptures. Ask God to tell you what your name is. While you may not hear an audible voice, it is very likely for the Holy Spirit to show you a picture, a word, or even an impression of your name.

Philippians 4:9 tells us to hold on to that which is pure, true, and lovely. This is a day by day choice to hold on to the truth of who you are. Daily we need to take time to root ourselves in His truth and reject any labels we may have knowingly or unknowingly put back on. You are God’s Beloved, Chosen, Valuable, Accepted, Worthy. Believing anything less will prevent your freedom. Labels hold your freedom hostage. Your name sets you free.

If you need help overcoming your labels, we are here for you. Please contact our office at 214-368-7373 or email at inquiry@drennanacc.com.

Blessings to you on your journey,
Melissa Clark, MA, LPC

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