“9 Tricky Defense Mechanisms That Are Ruining The Communication In Your Relationship”


Hey friends, I was published on Thought Catalog! It’s a post called 9 Tricky Defense Mechanisms That Are Ruining The Communication In Your Relationship. It covers defensive tactics like rationalizing, deflecting, blame-shifting, gaslighting, and other easy-to-spot moves.

The original post is herehttps://jsparkblog.com/2017/03/13/9-tricky-self-deceptive-defense-mechanisms-that-completely-undermine-dialogue/

Here’s an excerpt, the one I’m most guilty of:

6) Value Judgment / Moralizing. Measuring a person’s inherent value as inferior, especially when their preferences or personalities are different than yours.

The way you think is not how things are. Can I say that again? The way you think is not how things are. It’s simply how you think. Your personality and preferences are not the barometer by which the world turns. I struggle with this one the most; I’m always tempted to mold someone into my own image. Even when there are healthy standards to abide by, it becomes a problem when we grade someone’s value based on how well they’ve caught up to them. And surprise!—we rationalize or blame-shift or deflect when we ourselves don’t measure to our own standards. To truly understand another person requires knowing the whole story, and not just a tiny slice of their life.


Read the rest here. Love y’all, friends! — J.S.

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“3 Reasons a Journey Is Never Better Alone”


Here’s an article I wrote that’s been published on X3Church, called:

3 Reasons a Journey Is Never Better Alone.”

It’s about our need for tough accountability and joy-driven community so we can become the people we were meant to be, and how we live that journey together.

Here’s an excerpt:


“I can do it myself” is one the of the biggest lies we’ve perpetuated today.

It’s easy to get why: because we love independence. We’re threatened by losing our autonomy. The most triumphant modern narrative is, “I’m my own person and I call my own shots.” And certainly there’s great truth in valuing individuality.

But just as much as complete dependence on others is a dangerous trap: so complete independence is a romanticized fairy-tale.

No one is meant to do life alone.
Life alone isn’t life, but merely survival.
Life together is thriving, to truly be alive.


Read the full post here.

J.S.

“3 Quick Tips to Handle the Truth About Yourself”

3 ways handle truth x3church JSPark


Here’s an article I wrote that’s been published on X3Church, called:
“3 Quick Tips to Handle the Truth About Yourself.”

It’s about three ways to handle the hard truth about yourself from a friend’s honest intervention. No one handles “rebuke” very well because accountability is painful and messy: but it’s necessary for growth and progress.

Here’s an excerpt:


When you hear the truth about yourself, the person who tells you the truth isn’t perfect and probably won’t say it perfectly, but that’s no excuse not to consider their words.

The temptation when we hear criticism is to use the Mirror Defense, which is saying, “Well, what about you?”

We want to discredit the source of the truth, so we drag up old history and the other person’s weaknesses for self-preservation. Or we say, “I don’t like your tone” and use their voice against them.

The problem is, two wrongs can never make a right. In other words, someone else’s bad thing doesn’t cancel my bad thing. Even if the other person is a hypocrite, it doesn’t magically erase my own hypocrisy. And no one in the history of accountability has ever used perfect intonation and the perfect wording to tell the hard truth. If you find yourself saying, “If only she had said it like this” or “If only he had not said this” — then chances are that you’re trying to wiggle your way out of truth by a technicality.


Read the full post here.

— J.S.


Holding On or Letting Go: The One Friend I Want to Help, But Can’t Anymore.

Anonymous asked a question:

For a while now, my best friend has been struggling with depression, self-harm and suicidal thoughts. I am the only one that knows this. She takes a lot of her issues out on me … But I can’t take the emotional abuse anymore. It’s an unhealthy relationship that has stopped being a friendship.

I have been asking God what to do. I have sat with her in her mess. In her screaming. In her crying. In her hopelessness. I have tried to give advice. I have prayed for her. I have been patient and worried and angry all at once. I have been bitter because everyone else gets to experience the side of her that I used to know, the happy, loving girl that puts on a mask to hide her pain.

I have decided to tell her that I can’t be the person she needs me to be for her. That she needs to seek professional help. This is going to be a really hard conversation … If you have any advice, I’d love to hear it.

Thank you so much for your honesty and for reaching out to me. I’m also very sorry about the heartache that you’re experiencing; I absolutely know how hard it is to decide between holding on and letting go.

I have to say this upfront, and it’s going to be a wildly unpopular opinion: You’re on to something that most people won’t admit, that “love” and “friendship” do not mean exhaustively giving ourselves out to the point of toxic self-harm. That would be unfair to you and enabling and coddling to your friend, which would end up destroying everyone involved.

Here’s something even more unpopular, and please believe me that I have a hard time writing this. I think that most of us have been bombarded with the Hollywood idea that if we help someone enough, that person will eventually get to an “epiphany” full of high fives and hugging, and that their recovery will get on some upward trajectory. You’ll also be demonized if you “leave someone behind,” especially if you’re considering to possibly “leave behind” someone who is depressed or suffering a mental illness (and I’ve suffered from depression for as long as I can remember, so I’ve been on both sides of this).

Most of us hate to admit when we don’t have the qualified “training” to help someone, and there’s a secret guilt when we simply don’t have the energy or time. So we almost force ourselves to help everyone, which can be good, because most people simply need encouragement and listening, but there’s a very small percentage that need something way beyond us. By now you’ve seen how truly difficult it is to bear with someone who might be beyond your “ability.” What you’re going through is commonly known as secondhand trauma, like secondhand smoking.

The truth is, most of us are unequipped to fully help someone who is suffering from an overwhelming mental illness. In fact, social workers and psychologists tend to get cranky about people who think they’re doing “hero work” by helping the mentally ill. It’s basically like a painter trying to perform open heart surgery. I know that even the best of my friends are limited when it comes to dealing with my own depression. I don’t hold that against them. What I see is that you’re not so much asking for permission to give up, but for permission to rest and to have a wise distance.

And I’m here to tell you, keeping a distance even from your most well-adjusted friends is not “leaving behind” your friend, but simply a necessary rhythm of friendship. Of course, I absolutely believe we’re meant to be there for someone, that no one is excluded from our love and company, and that we must move towards people who are hard to love. I’m not at all saying that it’s okay to give up, or that it’s okay to cut someone off at the earliest convenience. Yet there must be a point when we recognize that someone is abusing our trust, and that professional counseling is not only an option, but a very real next step.

I advise two things.

Continue reading “Holding On or Letting Go: The One Friend I Want to Help, But Can’t Anymore.”

“Unlocking Addiction: A Secret Hidden in Plain Sight”

 


This is a two-parter I wrote for XXXChurch about the “secret” to unlocking addiction. The secret is something you knew all along: the first crucial step to recovery.

Part One is here. Part Two is here.

Here’s an excerpt:

When we talk about addiction, we usually narrow it down to one of two categories, which we can examine in one question:

Is addiction a disease or is it a choice?

In most conservative circles, addiction is viewed on a moral axis of increasingly bad decisions, as if we only need to stop being so stubborn and just choose our way out, while in most liberal circles, addiction is viewed as a biological propensity of wiring, as if we cannot help ourselves.

Of course, these binary categories presume we can tag one another with simple labels, but in reality, addiction doesn’t work that way. It’s a complex mess of factors that requires our attention in every direction. It’s an unpredictable monster that refuses to yield to our generalizations, and as long as it remains in a box, so will we. Addiction is complicated because we are complicated.

Keep reading here and here.

— J.S.

Question: I Got The Holy Spirit, So Why Rebuke?

Anonymous asked:

Hi, J.S. [: Since the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin, what is the point of rebuking fellow Christians? It’s something I have been thinking about lately. Great blog, by the way. God Bless Ya, Brother!

Thank you! I consider it my second church so I appreciate your kindness.

Since we can grieve the Holy Spirit by resisting Him (Ephesians 4:30, Galatians 5:16-17), it’s possible that we’ll ignore the conviction of sin.  It’s in our free will to do so.  Which is why the Holy Spirit will send friends, events, circumstances, gifts, trials, and signs to rebuke your face off.

There are also tons of commands about getting real with each other. Some of my favorites are here:

Continue reading “Question: I Got The Holy Spirit, So Why Rebuke?”

“How Jesus Overcame My Porn Problem”



A testimony from Mark Driscoll’s website by Jake Johnson, a staff member of Mars Hill Church.

Excerpt:

“If you are struggling with porn, the first step to recovery is to be truthful with yourself about your sin, and the second step is being truthful both with God and with those whom you love, including your church.

“… I took my wife to lunch and confessed my sins against her and how I had hid my sinful and idolatrous addiction to porn from her for over six years.

“It was the most fearful moment of my life—and the most freeing. For the first time in our marriage, my wife knew who I really was and I no longer needed to spend so much time and energy worrying about whether she’d find out. Rather than fight the battle alone, I was now able to make restitution and have my wife and my church community fight with me.”

Continue Reading at Mark Driscoll’s Site


Read Related:
— Porn Addiction: An Introduction
— Question: Quit Porn, But What About Masturbating?a>
— Question: So Porn Is A Sin?
— Question: Porn Killed My Feelings For God, Now What?
— Question: Just used porn, what do I do?


A Relational Quandary: When We Find Out Who Our Friends Are, aka Why Jesus Is More Like My Unbelieving Friends

The other day I pretended I had cancer. I don’t do this a lot. Tuesdays are typically not Cancer Day (that’s Ebola Virus Day).

I went through my phone to see who I could call about it. Out of so many numbers, I came up with just a few names. Everyone else: too dramatic, critical, self-centered, unhelpful, unpleasant. Maybe I was being harsh. But still, no thanks.

I imagined other scenarios. God forbid I had just cheated on my future wife, let’s say. Or caught with porn at church. My future kids run away from home. Unforeseen debt. Got into a fight at the bowling alley. Wife miscarries. Doubting God again. Miserable about family, life, faith. Wanting to quit ministry.

Again: only a few names from the phone. Everyone else: too judgmental, snappy, quick to fix, short tempered, too religious. Was I being just as critical?

But an even weirder, troubling truth was that I felt safer talking to non-believers like my mom and brother instead of good old-fashioned church people. Because they wouldn’t be so fast to throw a Bible at me, or spiritualize everything, or connect it to the mysterious sovereignty of God.

I was sure they’d talk to me like a human being, with grace and dignity, capable of seeing past my poor choices.

No, they couldn’t offer Bible verses or Christ-centered counsel. But they wouldn’t look at me like some anecdotal success-story waiting to happen. Not just some damn discipleship project they could brag about at church like God would turn it around by the end of the episode.

And I knew then that something was wrong with this.

Continue reading “A Relational Quandary: When We Find Out Who Our Friends Are, aka Why Jesus Is More Like My Unbelieving Friends”

Question: Just used porn, what do I do?

Anonymous asked:
i just masturbated to extreme pornography 4 minutes ago. im a christian. i am riddled with guilt. what do i do? i am tired of this. but i feel like a hypocrite

My friend, let me talk to you two ways.

First, you need to know you’re loved. God loves you in Christ, I love you in Christ, your church (despite some of those “perfect Christians”) love you in Christ. Jesus died for you and that’s an un-erasable fact, regardless of how many thousands of times you used porn or kicked small children or ran over helpless animals. It’s not a logical love, but God’s ways do not fit into our puny 3-lb-brain categories. Even right now, with your guilt-ridden pants around your ankles, God still sent His Son to bleed for you on a dirty Roman crucifix and there he saw you 2000 years later in that chair deserving of all that wrath: forgiven. Believe it, and you get the grace.

Secondly: you’re called by that love to your true self. How serious do you take that? When I knew I had to quit porn, I refused to go back. Apostle Paul said “I beat my body and make it my slave,” not to win God, but because God had won him. I had always tried to quit porn before, but like most boys, I was never very serious about it. I always knew deep down it was an “option” for me. Not one time did I say, “I can’t go back to this — I refuse.” And that went on for fifteen years.

One day after another failure with porn, I happened to look up and saw my own reflection. I imagined this is how God saw me: every time. And His small still voice: You’re better than this. I didn’t just save your life, but I saved you to a life. The first thing I did, I went James 5 and confessed everything to a close friend at church. He was shocked, but we prayed. I bawled like crazy, and so did he. We prayed for a very long time that night, and many nights after. I told more friends, got two counselors, and soon was openly honest. A culture of confession done right is already half the battle won.

Continue reading “Question: Just used porn, what do I do?”