Joyce Meyer - Healthy Boundaries
Joyce: Well, there's a good chance that you have experienced feelings of sadness or emptiness. I know, I certainly have at times. Maybe you have trouble concentrating with too many things floating through your mind. Well, today, my special guest, clinical psychologist, Dr. Henry Cloud is here to talk with us about some important issues that people are struggling with. Dr. Cloud is a New York times bestselling author for a wonderful book called, "Boundaries," and he's gonna be one of our guest speakers at our love life women's conference here in just a few weeks. So, Dr. Cloud, welcome to, "Enjoying Everyday Life".
Dr. Cloud: It's good to be here. It's always good to be with you.
Joyce: Well, I know that, you know, a lot of people never have a chance to go and get a little counseling from a good psychologist. So today, they're gonna get a word in due season. It seems like so many people today, are anxious, and depressed, and angry. What is going on?
Dr. Cloud: Well, a number things. And you're right when you say, so many, you know, I think in the recent years the anxiety diagnosis, it's just going off. You see all these medications being prescribed and it's a big problem. I think a lot of things are going on. I think, you know, part of it is the structure that we used to see was mainstream, you know, and all the ways that communities, and lives, and families and all of that worked. I think there's a fragmentation of all that. And then, there's a lot of values that have gone goofy. And but, ultimately, the good news is that we know how to help this stuff. I mean, we really know how to treat depression, anxiety, and you know, mood disorders and all that. And my mission in life is to try to take it out of the stratosphere and bring it down to what I've seen in thousands and thousands of local neighborhoods and church bodies is God has given us the ways to heal this stuff in our normal relationships, you know, in small groups with a prayer partner, in things that we learn, great teaching like you do. And so, there's great hope. People don't have to feel that way.
Joyce: You know, I was, of course, I guess the whole world knows sexually abused by my dad. And so, I started out with a deficit, you know. I mean, I had anxiety, by the time I was 18, I was already having different issues. And so many people today, have anxiety. They have mood disorders. And my mom was mentally ill, and so it just took on a really bad connotation for me early in life because she was like, one of the people that just acted out, and did a lot of goofy stuff. And they didn't have medications or the help, you know, that people needed back then. And I think that somehow, and I'd like to have you speak to this, in the church there's a stigma. It's like, you can have sugar diabetes and get pity. But if you have a mental disorder then your, "Oh, there's something wrong with you".
Dr. Cloud: Right.
Joyce: And I really want to see people, first of all, yes, we can get over these problems. And you know, one of the things that was such a big help to me, I had so many problems in my soul and in my personality, but I had to face the truth about them and I had to come to the point where I couldn't just keep blaming all my bad behavior on what happened to me when I was a kid. I had to take responsibility and let God walk me through healing. But, I would really like to see the stigma lifted off of mental things. 'cause I think so many people are hurting but they're hiding.
Dr. Cloud: That's right. And that's a great phrase, "They're hurting but they're hiding". And I appreciate anybody that uses a platform, you know, like you have to help in that issue because none of us ever gets well, in whatever area of life, if you don't take the fig leaf off. You know, what you're talking about really is it goes back to the original story when Adam and Eve fell, that was the first time you see mental health issues, right? They're afraid. They're shamed and all this. So, what's the first move we make? Is to cover it up. But what God did was he stepped in and he said, "Look, because of my acceptance," and this is a big one that's gonna help that problem, "That you guys begin to accept each other where you are, you can take that fig leaf off". And so, if we can have this message that you're talking about to get rid of the stigma and have little circles of people in churches sitting down and saying, "I was abused," and somebody else going, "I was too". Or, "I was abandoned," or, "I'm afraid to get up and," you know, "Talk in front of people," or whatever it is. That's the first step to healing. And God bless the churches, the shepherd's out there that are providing places for people to do that.
Joyce: I was listening to a podcast yesterday on love. I think it was John Ortberg. And he was talking about how at their church they have a group for people who have mood disorders. And I thought, "You know, it would be great if every church had something like that," because I know people, they're afraid to say, "I have a problem with this," and so, they hide it. And the more you hide it, the more power it has over you.
Dr. Cloud: Absolutely. You're only as sick as your secrets, right?
Joyce: Right. Your secrets keep you sick. And so, what about depression? What would you say for somebody who's watching that just has had a lifetime of depression and no matter what they seem to do they can't get over it?
Dr. Cloud: Well, first thing I would say is, "You're not alone". I should have the number right in front of me, but it's a big number of the percentage of all of us that at some juncture in life will go through some kind of depression. So, the first thing, you're not alone. Second thing is, is you're not weird. You know, there's nothing wrong with you. You're not like, you know, like a flawed person that came off the assembly line wrong. There are reasons why we get depressed. And it's totally understandable and it's totally treatable. Now, basically, what we're talking about in depression is there are some physical issues that can cause it. You mentioned diabetes earlier. Well, you know, insulin problems can cause depression. Insulin problems can cause confusion. There may be, if you're depressed, there may be something biologically going on, neurotransmitters in the brain and a bunch of stuff. So, it's like any other illness. Secondly, there are psychological, which I think are spiritual, you know, those issues of what happens in life to people that, you know, if you're driving your car and you get hit by car, your car is gonna limp, right? It's not a bad car 'cause it's limping. Well, you take somebody that's been abandoned, you take somebody that's been sexually abused, the Bible has this whole, you know, theme of broken heartedness, and oppression, and powerlessness that people are put under in horrible situations. Well, that's a car that's been hit. And if you're depressed, probably, there are some things that have happened to you that need to be healed. And the Bible's clear about that. The third part is that we all have ways of operating, our views of the world, our maps of the world, the way we think. We have, you know, different ways we operate in relationships. We might be co-dependent. And the great thing about your teaching, other people that teach God's ways is what he told us was that, "My ways are a lamp unto your feet". So, you may be depressed because you've never found out that it's okay to say, "No," to abuse. And you think there's a verse in the Bible that says, "Blessed are the doormats, for they shall inherit the heels".
Joyce: Yeah, right.
Dr. Cloud: It's not there. And a lot of people have been taught stuff that's not biblical but sounds Christian. And once you begin to understand, God has ways of getting out of depression. He has ways of coming out of isolation. He has ways that we clear up our thinking. He has ways that heal the unresolved pain. So that's what I would say to people. And you just gotta get with some people that know what they're doing.
Joyce: Yeah, you know, I never went for professional counseling because I couldn't have afforded it even if I would have wanted to back when I needed help. But, the Holy Spirit is our counselor. And because God called me to teach, I had to study all the time. And I don't even know how I learned to do this, just the grace of God, but I always studied in areas where I had problems. And so, I find the Word of God, you don't just randomly study. Like, I say, "If you've got a bad temper, reading a book on prosperity is not gonna help you", it's not what you really need, right then, you know?
Dr. Cloud: You'll just be mad about your prosperity.
Joyce: Yeah, you need to apply the word because it's like medicine for your soul. And so, Jesus is the healer of the brokenhearted. But what I try to explain to people is, like, I can't sit here and say... Now, I believe I'm totally healed, but I can't sit here and say that I never have any issues in my life that I know still relate to the way I was raised. But the difference is now, I know what it is when it happens and I can resist it. So, now I have a choice. I don't have to just react to what's happening to me, but I can actually act on the Word of God.
Dr. Cloud: That's right.
Joyce: And so, freedom doesn't necessarily mean that you'll never think about this again or you'll never ever have a problem with it again, but it does mean that you recognize things when they come at you. And you know, if you're deceived, you're just in a mess because as long as you believe the lies then it's your reality. So, I think, finding the help that you need, facing the truth. And you know, I was probably, in my early twenties before I ever told anyone what my dad had done to me. And because back then, nobody talked about that. You didn't talk about incest. I mean, you never even heard of such a thing. And so, I thought...
Dr. Cloud: It really wasn't until like the 80s, 90s, it became kind of a thing we really focused on.
Joyce: Well, I know when I started talking about it, I don't know of anybody that was talking about it. And I mean, there's so many people that have been hurt, or like you said, abandoned, or a husband has left 'em for another woman, or a woman's left him for another man, or they've had such disappointments with their children. And life is real but God is our healer, but it's not a one-shot deal. It's just not something like, where you go get a shot of Jesus and then you're taken care of the rest of your life.
Dr. Cloud: Well, even medicine doesn't work that way, right? You go to the doctor, they give you an antibiotic, three times a day, every day for how many... Well, that's spiritual growth.
Joyce: That's exactly right.
Dr. Cloud: It's several times a day, over the course of time. I love the verse in Hebrews where it says that God has perfected, made perfect, those whom he is making perfect. Like, he's made us, we're glorified. We're perfect. He looks at us and he sees...And then, he's making us into that. Now, we're the ones who get to walk that journey, and that's a process.
Joyce: I'm glad to hear you say that because I think that's where people get so confused. I know, when I first got into, what back then, was the, "Word and faith movement," there was a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit. I was hearing about all these promises of God, but they just didn't seem to be happening in my life. And I didn't really realize that it was more than just rebuking the devil and saying a prayer, you know? God shows you things to do or he shows you things not to. I'll never forget a woman who came to one of my conferences and she came up to me at the end. And it was like a meeting where people sat around tables together. And they were there for the weekend so people got to know people. And she said, "Well, I know now what my problem is". And I said, "What"? And she said, "Well," she said, "I sat at a table with a group of ladies who had all been abused like I had". And she said, "As I listened to them," she said, "Everything that God told them to do, he also told me to do. The only difference was they did it and I didn't".
Dr. Cloud: How 'bout that.
Joyce: So, God was giving her the answers, but she...
Dr. Cloud: Can you say that again?
Joyce: Yeah, she said, "God told me everything he told them, the only difference was they did what God told them to do and I didn't. I was still putting it off waiting for some miraculous answer". It's like the man who sat by the pool of Bethesda for 38 years waiting for a miracle. And Jesus said, "Do you really want to get well"? And he said, "Well, every time I try to get into the pool, somebody gets ahead of me". And so, it was really like a, "Poor me," thing. And Jesus' answer to him was, "Get up".
Dr. Cloud: That's right.
Joyce: Get up. And so, sometimes that's all you gotta do is just get up out of your situation. Well, let me ask you one more...
Dr. Cloud: If I could just say one more thing about that. You know, the Bible has two themes that run throughout, all the way through from the beginning to the end. And one of the great verses about this is in Philippians where he says, "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who is at work within you to will and to do of his good pleasure". So, from day one, God created us and he put us on this earth and then he said, "You gotta go do some stuff. You gotta subdue and rule it". And then, after we fell, he comes back in and he says, "I am your healer. I am your provider. I am all of these things. Now, here's the ways you've got to walk in to make this work". And so, it is, you know, the way he's created us, for example, muscles. "God give me bigger muscles". Well, what he's gonna do is, he's gonna provide the God-side of that. He's gonna make some broccoli and he's gonna make some protein. He's gonna put a gym down the street. But then, it's not until we move that, that begins to grow. And in you teach people a lot about their thinking, it's not until you begin to take every thought captive, and that muscle gets stronger. He's gonna empower it. He's gonna give you content. But we gotta do it, and it's hard. You know, he says in Hebrews again, "My soul will not take pleasure in the one that shrinks back". God wants us getting out of the boat. He wants us stepping into the fight. He wants us stepping into the battle and he'll win the battle, but we gotta step into it.
Joyce: I think it's so important for people to realize that there's always a part that God gives you to do. Now, I was always a real person of action, so sometimes, my part was, "In this, I want you to do nothing". You know, sometimes God wants you to just be still and wait on him. But, there's always things that God wants you to do, whether it's pray, or change the way you talk, or you know, be the first person to take a step to show love to somebody who's hurt you, whatever it is. And just obeying God will always bring you to a place of victory.
Dr. Cloud: It is. Can I just say four simple things...
Dr. Cloud: That people can do that'll affect these areas of depression and anxiety? Number one: come out of isolation. Take the step to call somebody, go to a church, and don't tell me, "Well, I tried that". Well, you know, I've had bad food too, but I don't stop eating, right?
Dr. Cloud: So, you've got to open up and you gotta tell somebody. Number two: think about where to set your boundaries, your limits. If people are controlling you, manipulating you, you're the only one that can stand up and say, "I'm not gonna allow myself to be treated that way". And if they're stronger than you, then you go call somebody to stand with you. Number three: if there's something that's hurting you, a pain... The word confess means just to agree. Agree with somebody, "I've been abused". It's not a sin to be abused. Talk about your grief, talk about your pain. Begin to get forgiveness from God for the things, the other things in life, the stuff we've done. If you feel bad about your failure, start to talk about that, you can be forgiven. And then, fourthly: grow up. You're not a child. Put your, you know, big boy, big girl pants on and grab a talent and go out there and work on it. And you'll feel like you have this standing in life that God made for you. Just do those four things. And find a community you can do those with.
Joyce: That's very good. And if I could add two things to your four, then we're gonna have a full package.
Dr. Cloud: Well, get a bakers dozen in.
Joyce: I guess, everybody, maybe God speaks different things to them. But for me, one of the things that was really important for me was I had to stop feeling sorry for myself because I'd been abused. God showed me that, he said, "You do have a reason to feel sorry for yourself, but you have no right to because I'm willing to set you free".
Dr. Cloud: That's right.
Joyce: But I had to stop using that as an excuse for all my bad behavior. And then, the other thing is the whole forgiveness message. You must forgive the people who hurt you.
Dr. Cloud: You have to.
Joyce: And if you don't, you're not gonna go anywhere.
Dr. Cloud: Well, all you're doing, if you hold a grudge, what you're doing is you're chaining yourself to that person, you're carrying it around through the rest of life. Forgiveness is when you set that debt free and you let it go. You know, there's an old Spanish proverb, "The best revenge is to have a good life". And don't let that unforgiveness have power over you.
Joyce: That's really good. Well, I can't wait to hear what you're gonna say at the conference. I'm sure you love doing women's meetings, right?
Dr. Cloud: I love doing women's meetings.
Joyce: It will be fun to be with about 10-12 thousand women.
Dr. Cloud: It's the only place I can carry my man bag and not get grief for it.
Joyce: That's exactly right. Well, you can check out the website of Dr. Henry cloud. He has many wonderful, wonderful books. And of course, I've read your books on, "Boundaries". And if you have not read his book on, "Boundaries," please buy a copy and read it because that's one of the the key things that we have to do if we wanna have a right life, is have boundaries and make people respect those boundaries.