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In to Out: A Break from the Holiday Rush

December 10, 2011

Our first In to Out Series proved to be the right information at the right time. From our panel of experts interviewed, we received great tips on subjects such as Diabetes, Dental Care, Physical Fitness, and Chiropractic Care. I, myself, became highly motivated to begin anew my quest for a better state of being – spiritually, emotionally, and physically. So after spending a day shopping and navigating through the holiday rush, I thought it would be a great time to offer this thoughtful conversation with our dear friend Dr. Lisa D. Rhodes of Spelman College. With all of the traffic, shopping, cooking and other fanfare, we all could use a moment to breathe and reflect on what really matters this Christmas season.

Rev. Lisa Rhodes

In these challenges times, what is your position on positive thinking or willing ourselves to good health, be it physical or mental?
I think that there is a fine line between positive and reality testing. I think people who deny reality can really get themselves into trouble. I would encourage people to think positively, and therefore, as a result of the positive thinking to engage in behaviors that are consistent with positive thinking. Like if you have diabetes, or if you say that you don’t have diabetes, then you need to make sure that you’re eating and exercising properly and that your desire not to have diabetes is consistent with your actions. On the other hand, if there are concrete tests that show that you have diabetes or you are borderline diabetic, and you’re still saying that you don’t want to claim this if you will.

I think there is a real danger in how we misuse our faith or misuse what people consider positive thinking or praying to God to release or let go of whatever condition or ailment we may have.

Because I believe in the scripture that says, “God desires us to prosper and be in good health even as our soul prospers” III John 1:2, that is a desire of God and God affirms that. But if you’re not there, then you cannot apply that scripture to your life. If you are not in good health, you can’t apply the scripture to your life. You need to get in good health and then say that. God desires this and God wants this but if you’re not in this position right now, work towards getting there. I think it’s kind of tricky because people want to talk themselves into good health, when in the last 50 years they’ve engaged in behaviors that are risky.
“Engage in the behaviors that are consistent with your purpose”, and so if you want to be free of and not claim diabetes, engage in the behaviors that will lead you toward that purpose and goal.

How does one go about becoming a whole person?
It’s interesting because back in the days when I was in mental health, practicing social work, before I became a minister and went to seminary, I was in Jacksonville, FL and I was asking myself what it means to be whole. By what means is a person made whole? You had mental health professionals trying to make people whole, and clergy persons and the church trying to make people whole. So I developed this paradigm in which I had concentric circles and in the middle of the circle was a spirit. And the spirit for me is the foundation and core around which every other facet or dimension of our life revolves. If we have a spirit that is connected to a faith tradition, that’s connected to an understanding of the supernatural and the divine then around that spirit we shape and form our person, our emotions, our psychology, our social network and relationships. If we are able to be rooted and grounded in the core of our person, which is spirit and emanating out of that develop all the other dimensions of our life, and then I think we can be made whole.

I think I hear you speaking of balance, as I am imagining the concentric circles. How do you maintain that?
People need to understand what it means to be human. When God breathed into the nostrils of Adam, which is earth creature not gender, but earth creature, the breath of life then we became a living soul. We had then the psychosocial capacity to engage in relationship with God, ourselves, and with others. And it’s triune. People talk about the environment, but fundamental to what it means to be human, I believe it’s to be in relationship with God, with ourselves, because we need to be in relationship with ourselves, and with others. I think if we are in relationship with God, through our core and our center and our spirit, then God will help us balance the relationships that we NEED with self and others.
People lose their way, and part of that is to find it again. I don’t know that we can just be a straight and narrow path. Although, I know some people whose lives have been pretty uneventful and they’ve been pretty much on the straight and narrow path. And maybe that’s one of their gifts. I believe that everyone has their way down, a place of the dark pit, or a place of the shadow side where you made a wrong turn or walking a path that you shouldn’t be on. I think that the quality of your relationship of life, of loving, and of being with God probably does entail a struggle to a degree. How do we understand the depths of grace if we don’t have a struggle, a test, a turn, or a twist a restless night?

How do you counsel others who are not Christians?
I think that there is a human quality, a relational quality, a spirit to spirit, a heart to heart, a soul to soul. I think most concerns that people have to struggle with in counseling that are not physiologically or psychotrophically managed by medication or some medical problem. I think most problems aside from those are relational. And I think that we all could relate to each other. God is a God of love, of grace, compassion, hospitality, of mercy and if we can embody those things in counseling then we can counsel anybody. Because ultimately it has nothing to do with what their faith tradition is, it has to do more with how they are living their life in unity with who they are and the authenticity of that.
I think that there’s ability for humans to sense the spirit of another human. I mean you can sit in a room with someone and they can be of your same faith tradition, but if you don’t have a sincere heart, if you don’t have a genuine care and concern for their wellbeing they will sense that. Sensing the genuine nature and the care and concern that one has for another can take you further in counseling and helping someone to overcome their problems than if you were just of the same faith tradition.

How do we keep our family units strong?
Time spent together, fun time, time enjoying one another while being clear about boundaries. Parent – child boundaries and sibling boundaries. Then communication, it’s critical. On some level invite all family members to participate in the decision-making process. Children can be a part of the conversation to be inclusive and feeling apart of the process. Include them even in their demise – which punishment should you have? And fundamentally their needs to be a spiritual component to the family structure that ties them together on principles and values that help to govern their lives. They need to know what’s right and wrong, good and bad. Those things come about as a result of the family engaging in religious activities and conversations about faith and spirituality.

How do we walk without fear?
Fear and anxiety are two different things. You say ‘fear’ so I’m going to hold you to meaning ‘fear’. Because anxiety is a part of life and I don‘t know if we even get away from anxiety. There is always anxiety and we manage it. And we don’t allow anxiety to overwhelm us. I think fear is the same way. Fear is like wanting to run away from a situation or hide from it. I do think that depending upon how you characterize fear and in what situation you find fear that ultimately faith overcomes fear. I am reminded of Peter; I often use this example in teaching, as an illustration of fear and faith. To some degree, faith and fear are two sides of the same coin. Faith could and should propel you to go into places where you fear. Not dangerous, your faith and your wisdom will help you discern that. We must remain focused.

How do we gain or find self-esteem?
By finding and affirming our voice, by encouraging and letting them know that their voice is important, valued and needed. Stories of who we are have not been adequately told. Maya Angelou’s poem Grandmothers, tells the story of women who have survived amazing trauma and toil. The refrain is ‘I shall not be moved’, how many of us have heard that? Even Still I Raise, another poem by Maya Angelou, how many of us have heard that? Women need to know that their life counts and that they have value. Like the woman at the well who Jesus spoke with. She asked, ‘why? I am but a woman’.  Because you are also a daughter of Abraham.

Knowing what you know now, what would you say to your 20-year-old self?
Take life seriously and maximize your potential. Go after what you want and believe in yourself. Not that I didn’t do those things, but I would do it with such power and force, not timid or weak. I would see the vision and run after it.

Please remember:
1) ***Our intention, through this series, is to help others to live a whole life in a healthy manner – not to treat any condition. **
2) All features are accessible throughout the feature series.
3) All material within this blog may used for educational purposes only, providing you retain this copyright notice and use an appropriate citation including the record URL of the information. We would like to know how you are using the material, please send notification to
©2011, HqO Skincare LLC. All rights reserved

~Live Healthy. Look Healthy.

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