Opening: I’m delighted to be here with you sharing about something that puts wind in my sails—helping people heal from emotional pain and lead empowered lives.
What a timely book, 12 Ways to Turn Your Pain Into Praise: Biblical Steps to Wholeness in Christ! With our current economic and political climate we certainly need steps to turn our pain into praise.
I agree. I find that the same tools that help us deal with our damaged past can guide us through an insecure future. I wrote this book to help people who feel “stuck” because of the dysfunction, divorce, depression, abuse, grief and guilt in their lives, but I am walking through these same principals each day in my counseling office with folks who are dealing with the difficulties of job loss, anxiety, and marriage issues in a struggling economy.
You’re a counselor and an abuse survivor. Will you tell us a little of your story?
I grew up in the deep South and I wish I could say we spent happy hours saying, “Yes Ma’am” and “No Sir” and “Good Night, John-Boy.” But nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, I was ten years old before I realized that God’s last name wasn’t damn! My Daddy took off when I was five, and raising four kids alone brought out the worst in my mother. She became abusive with a bust-your-lip, black-your-eye kind of punishment–the kind of pain that stings your face for a while but sears your soul for a lifetime. The neighbor-lady from across the street took me to church, I found Christ and He changed my life. That church helped me get to Christian college. On my quest for my own healing, I became a Christian counselor and have had the privilege of working with God’s precious people for the past seventeen years in my office at a growing church in California.
You talk about one of those people, Donnetta Jean, as she moves through the steps to get the healing that she needs. Is she a real person?
Donnetta represents the many damaged people in today’s postmodern culture—distanced by pain from the God they desperately need. When I read a self-help book, I love to see personal examples of the tools presented, but I find myself wondering how the person in the example turns out. In 12 Ways you get to walk through the process from start to finish as you see the healing of Donnetta Jean unfold. Then you know the path for your own healing.
You started each chapter with a word that starts with the letter “P.” That had to take some work.
Each chapter is one of the steps, and I did that to make them easy to remember. I’m at the stage of life when I stop and think and forget to start up again! Alliteration helps things stick in my head. My first “P” is Perspective. Chapter 3 and 4 include Prayer and the Power we find in God’s Word. They are pivotal parts of recovery, to be sure, but until we adjust our perspective to see what’s good in life, we can’t reap the benefit of prayer and scripture reading. Before I shifted my perspective, God could have parked a burning bush by my front door to convince me of His love, and I would have stamped out the fire and complained about the inconvenience! It took a long time for me to train myself to see the cup half full instead of always seeing it half empty. But without that fundamental change, it wouldn’t matter how much God intervened in my life to bring good, I wouldn’t see it as such.
You mentioned compliments defining us. Can you explain that?
My old pastor used to say that compliments are bouquets thrown from the hand of God. When we don’t take the compliments given to us, it’s as though we are ripping the heads off the flowers God has given us, throwing them to the ground, and stomping them. Compliments are God’s way of telling us who we are. When we receive them it builds our confidence in the qualities and gifts He’s given us. But when we don’t, we remain static and self-critical. I took those words to heart and stopped dismissing compliments some twenty years ago. In that time God has had the opportunity to remake my self-image. Before that I had to climb a ladder to look an ant in the eye!
“Jesus in the Rearview Mirror,” now there’s a title. Tell us about that chapter.
God has a plan for us, but many times the view we have of what is happening around us as we cruise through life is often challenging, even frightening. From our viewpoint, looking through the windshield, we only see calamity, but all the while God is working. Later, when we look back over our lives, as we peer into the rearview mirror, we are able to see the Plan that God was working out all along. Recognizing God’s plan builds our faith.
In your chapter on Pardon you share about the healing power of forgiveness. It’s not always easy to forgive someone who has caused us pain. Was that difficult for you?
It was one of the hardest things I had to do. That’s why I walk through the process with you. We learn that forgiveness doesn’t make the offender right; it just makes us free. We also see that forgive and forget is not a biblical concept. Instead it’s forgive and set boundaries. Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is ourselves, and many times we find that we have to forgive God because He didn’t do things the way we thought He should.
You present a powerful prayer exercise to help people unpack their emotional baggage in the chapter on Provision. What can you tell us about that?
Years ago a wonderful Christian counselor taught me this life-changing prayer exercise to help me dump the anger, hurt and resentment of my abuse. Until that point, I thought I would have to bear the burden of my painful childhood forever. But I walked out of her office that day a new person. I have had the privilege of sharing this gift many times in my office and now, I am sharing it for all to read. It’s enough that abuse victims have experienced pain, we don’t have to keep reliving it. We can be set free, thank God!
The pain in your life hasn’t hindered your sense of humor, has it?
I hope not! My goal for all the books I write is for the reader to laugh, learn, and leave each page feeling closer to the Lord.
Are you working another book?
Yes. My working title is You Can Fix Stupid: Seven Savvy Choices for Mind, Body and Soul. I deal with people everyday who are in terrible situations that were preventable. I want to give folks information to make better choices and avoid being “stupid.” I am working on a blog on my website that addresses these issues.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us about your book?
Since the book’s release last fall I have heard feedback from readers and I can say with confidence that whether you are seeking tools to empower those you are helping or needing the tools to transform yourself, you will walk away from this book spiritually stronger as you learn to:
¨ remove your offender’s face from God and stop blaming Him for life’s pain
¨ stop renting space in your head to bad memories and offenses
¨ relinquish the stinkin’ thinkin’ that causes you to emotionally circle the drain
¨ stay constantly connected to Christ with time-tested tools to process your pain
¨ realize your full potential as you seek God’s divine purpose for your life.
Closing: Thanks so much for having me on your blog. I hope your readers will visit me online at www.LindaNewtonSpeaks.com.
Please remember that God deeply desires to turn your pain into to praise.