Lindsey Castleman, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist trained in IFS therapy holds the belief that we were all designed for relationship and connection with God, ourselves and others.
- What is IFS (Internal Family System) Therapy
- How did Lindsey get into Christian counseling
- How did she incorporate Christian faith principles into her practice
- Looking at the core of self through attachment and faith-based lens
- Some parts of self want attention come in different forms like anxiety and OCD
- Bringing all parts of yourself connected as God is three in one
Resource and Links:
Transcript of Episode 22
Hope for anxiety and OCD episode 22. One of the things that I really love about this podcast is that I have the opportunity to meet new people and learn new things, which is super fun for me. So just know that as you’re learning along today that I was learning this information for the first time too.
I got to interview a local therapist, Lindsey Castleman. She is going to talk with us today about a specific form of therapy called Internal Family Systems or IFS for short. The cool part is that Lindsey is going to incorporate Christian faith principles in her explanation. So without further ado here is Lindsey Castleman.
Carrie: Lindsey, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Lindsey: Hi, Carrie. Thanks for having me. I am a licensed marriage and family therapist and I have been practicing since 2014. Right now, I’m certified in emotionally focused therapy and then I’m also trained in internal family systems, which is IFS and then brain spotting.
So those are kind of the specialties that I’m in, but I really have just enjoyed this journey. I’m in private practice here in Brentwood, Tennessee, and have been here for several years, but I’ve also practiced in a church. And then right now, I am the counseling director at a church here in Brentwood, Tennessee. I’ve got a fun group of people that I get to practice with out here, so I really enjoyed it.
Carrie: That’s really neat. It’s kind of unique being in a church environment. There aren’t that many churches in our area that have counseling services within the church building.
Lindsey: It has honestly been something one that I didn’t expect to have happened. I’ve actually at this place, I have experienced counseling here myself before and then just through a series of kind of pretty cool God moments that it just ended up to where we were able to partner and I was able to bring in a lot of my therapist friends, which is nice, but also some new therapists I didn’t know before. Just everybody that kind of sees clientele through just an attachment and faith-based lens, which is really where I lean in a lot of the ways that I work.
Carrie: That’s really neat. It’s always good to have a positive jelling work environment. If you’re working with people that you’re friends with that’s a good thing.
Lindsey: Oh, for sure and I know for me, and being in private practice on my own, not with the group, how lonely it can be.And so when I get to step outside my door and there’s people I know, and people I like, it lights the fire. It makes it more exciting to come do what we do, because then I’m like, “Oh my goodness. I’m not alone in these places.” Somebody else is in the next room going through the same thing I’m going through. So that’s really nice to just know and have that felt sense of somebody in the same building with you.
Carrie: So we had another licensed marriage and family therapist on. We talked a little bit about that bent of counseling and that license. Tell us how you decided between becoming a licensed counselor or licensed marriage and family therapist.
There’s lots of different avenues that therapists can go down. How did you get into this realm of attachment and Christian counseling?
Lindsey: Part of it is personal, part of it is professional in the sense that for myself, I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart. I think this coming up this year, it’ll be 17 years. As we all know, in any kind of relationship, you will have friction, you’ll have disconnection. Things will go awry because it’s two humans, not perfect humans in relationship together, and that’s really what marriage is supposed to be designed to is to hold up that marriage to say, “We’ve got some stuff we got to look at.”
So going into marriage counseling ourselves for us as a couple was really, really great, really helpful. And then also I used to work for a ministry. I did their marketing, I did public relations, just things like that, even training. It was a small group ministry, I would get to sit in small groups. I would even lead small groups.
The funny thing too is I would look at those small groups and I would be like, “Oh my gosh, all these people have so many problems like why can’t they just stop it?” Why can’t they just stop it like Bob Newhart like you got anxiety, whatever. Just stop it.
That was a little bit of my mentality. But as I started sitting in these groups and hearing these people’s stories, I started to see things from a bigger perspective. Nobody’s choosing this in that sense of like these are places that they turn to cope. These are places that they turned to because, in their family, there wasn’t a safe place to turn to.
I’m fortunate that for me, growing up, I had safe places to turn to. So I think also why it was so foreign to me, but then I start to hear other people’s experiences and I was like, “Oh my gosh, they, they didn’t get what I got.” It was vastly different, which makes sense as to why they show up the way they do.
You start to see things are connected. It’s going into systems. It’s systemic in that, just looking into LPC or LMFT, just everything within the LMFT track for me it felt like, it’s not just the one person, it’s the relationship with parent, the relationship with self, the relationship with other, the relationship with God. It all had to do with that sort of connection. That to me felt just really right. It felt like it fit even how I believe that God relates with us and how he wants to be our safe base, how he wants to be our safe haven. How he shows his care for us. How he’s available to us. How we can trust him. He never leaves us. He never forsakes us. All of these things felt like attachment. It kind of magnifies and really says in a way like, Hey, here’s how God designed us and I feel like a lot of people that study human behavior, the more they study it, the more they see that we are created for connection. It’s almost like it points back to our creator, that to me just felt really beautiful and I’m going “okay I can align with that.”
Carrie: Yeah, that’s great. There’s a lot of people that have done research regarding attachment related to spirituality in terms of attachment to God and attachment styles related to how you interacted with your parents, affecting how you view God and how you connect with him, which makes a ton of sense.
Lindsey: Oh, yeah. That’s very common. Anytime we do an attachment history and we go through, there’s a lot of times where you’ll start to go, I see how you’re related to mom or I see how you’re related to dad and then when we start to move into how did you view God? How do you feel like God viewed you? A lot of times you’ll see those similarities based on maybe how they felt like dad viewed you or you viewed dad, or how mom viewed you or you viewed mom. There can be a lot of similarities in that, but then there’s also those instances where parents weren’t safe, but somebody modeled the love of God to them so they were able to see “God is different than what I got at home” if home was unsafe. So I’ve also had those two which have been beautiful in those ways.
Carrie: Yes, that’s good. I wanted to have you on the show because I liked to talk with people and educate them that therapy is not a one size fits all approach.
And so there are many different models and theories regarding therapy. And so one of the ones that you shared a little while ago that you use is internal family systems and this is actually one that I’m not as familiar with, but I’m curious about it and would love to hear just kind of, like a brief overview, even just how you would explain it to clients.
Lindsey: Sure. Internal family systems for me, I honestly, truly didn’t know much about it until some therapists here in Nashville who I respect and admire were like, “Have you heard about this? This is pretty incredible” and for me, truthfully, I mean, truth be told, I usually work with couples. Couples are kind of a little bit more my jam and working with individuals was a little boring to me. There’s not as much energy. There’s not as much excitement. You’re not holding as much. Sometimes I catch myself yawning in session. I mean, there was just something where I was like I feel like I’m not getting as much traction as you do when you’ve got the other person there is that stimuli to really get things moving and going, and also to be kind of truth-tellers about what really is happening in the other person.
When I started to learn more about IFS, I started to go, “Oh, Whoa.” I get like excited to do this. This is something where I feel like we’ve got movement going and it feels like it lines up with even what I’m trying to do with couples in the room.
It’s almost like what you’re trying to do within your client and themselves, it’s like to have a good relationship with himself, just like I try to do with couples. It’s like, “Oh, I get this.” This is like self to whatever’s happening within you and relating to it, because what you’ve probably seen, Carrie, even in your practices is like people show up that are very disconnected to themselves.
Carrie: Yes. Very true.
Lindsey: Maybe they’re only in their head. Maybe they’ve got something in them that just comes and takes over and it like floods them. So there’s no relationship. It’s almost like it pushes them out of the way and says, I got this or the anger is going to come out in this way. It just started to make so much sense to me. So that’s kind of why I was like, Ooh, I like this, this kind of jives with what I like to see in couples therapy, just that relationship piece. But I’m going to back up to say, okay, so what is it?
So what internal family systems is, is that there’s this idea, the theory, which I believe is more than an idea or a theory because I’ve watched it happen live and in myself is that at the core of us, we have ourselves in IFS terms. They call it the self for me, just a way that I look at it through the lens of faith, I find it as the image of God because I believe scripture says in all of us, we are all image-bearers of Christ. We’re all image-bearers of God. There is something that says, there are times when the self or for me, the way I view it, that’s not IFS that’s Lindsey lingo for it. That’s just me kind of putting it into my face frame. It says, there are times when, based on things that have happened in life, relationships that we’ve had where we have got more limited access to the image of God, to self because things have threatened it and we’ve needed to in some way protect that in us even thinking about like protecting our heart really, and we’ve needed to do that. And there are different ways that we protect those more vulnerable places in us. With IFS, they say, we protect with what’s called managers and we protect with firefighters and what we’re actually protecting are called exiles. I know this can all sound confusing, but you think of exiles, exiles are usually in some way they’re younger parts of us that were scared, that needed a safe place, that needed a safe haven and it didn’t happen. We didn’t get it in some way. What’s happening here is that we have developed ways to protect that from being hurt in that way, again, from being affected in that way again.
The manager is going to be something more that says, “Hey, we’re going to come up and try to manage whatever pain is happening. We’re going to try to manage it.”
Maybe what we do to manage it is we keep you up in your head and we keep you always just analyzing. You’re never actually like feeling anything. You’re just analyzing everything.
Carrie: That happens with OCD quite frequently actually that people with OCD live in their head.
Lindsey: Yeah, totally and that makes sense. Then there’s also managers that will say, Hey, let’s just stay busy. Let’s just make sure everything is tidy in the house, or let’s make sure that we get all of these projects done. I mean, managers can come up in so many different forms.
And then you’ve got firefighters. Firefighters are going to say, Oh, there’s the pain there. We’re not going to take time to manage the pain. We’re going to try to put the pain out the fastest way we can do that. We’re going to try to put the pain out. So let’s numb the pain. Let’s maybe even you’ll find alcohol can be in this place, even pornography can be in this place. It usually can feel a little bit more dangerous at times, but it’s doing its job. It’s trying to put the pain out. This is hard, but like even like suicide, suicide alley that can even fall into that category that says this pain is too much, let me tell you how to put this out very, very quickly.
What happens is, is that for a lot of these managers and firefighters, a lot of different modalities will maybe in some way try to push past them. Try to say, let’s just get to the exile or let’s just get to the heart, let’s get to the deeper thing that’s been hiding in there, but IFS says, “No, we need to work with the whole system.” We need to actually move into, befriend and we need to help these managers and these firefighters because when they trust us, when we can start to work with them, and teach our clients how to work with them, then we’re going to start to get access to these exiles that they really need our help and our attention, but we don’t want to get there without working with the whole system to get there if that makes sense. Because what they’ve found and even Richard Swartz who founded IFS, part of his work had to do with eating disorders, what would happen is he would say. “Hey, try to get rid of this eating disorder” like just try to stop it some way.
Carrie: Behavioral management.
Lindsey: Right, I think even if I’m remembering correctly, there was, he was working with a woman that was cutting herself. So he was trying to figure out like how to make that stop happening.
And then every time he kind of gave the client a directive to try to, in some way, get rid of that part of her, it would come back with a vengeance and she would cut herself even more like more harm would be done to the body and so he started to lean in and go “What’s happening here? Why is that happening?”
“And what would happen if I actually like leaned into?” It almost felt like a part of her that was coming in to try to do this to her. What if I leaned into that instead of trying to get rid of it? What if I leaned into that? Even for me, I love that picture of saying, “Hey, there’s all of these parts of us that show up.” What happens if we lean into them and get to know them instead of trying to throw them away, trying to push them aside, but we almost help them. And I’ll tell you to Carrie, the reason why I love that so much is because one, for me, it lines up with my belief of what it is like to actually bring our thoughts captive for me.
I don’t feel like bringing our thoughts captive or something that says, okay, bring them and then ignore them.
Carrie: Just thought replaced, just think something else, that’s kind of what the church tells you to do a lot of times like “don’t think that.”
Lindsey: Right, or just give it a scripture message, you know, but it kind of like bring your thoughts captive and captive is not like we’re not trying to strangle it.
We’re not trying to hurt it. It’s really like, bring it, bring it forward captive, like even thinking of captivity it’s like bring it forward and let’s talk to it. Because whatever is happening to it, needs help. Maybe in some way, this part of us has been in some way, it’s been in the dark for so long that it’s only been trained.
And again, this is me looking at it through the faith-based lens. Maybe it’s been the dark so long, which what I look at it is like it’s been trained by the flesh. Maybe it’s doing what it thinks is best, but it’s been trained by the flesh, which is not that healthy. And when we start to take it captive, when we bring it up, we can start to see what it’s doing and start to help it to be trained by the spirit because we’re taking it out of the dark. We’re bringing it to light so that it can start to see. “Oh, my goodness. It’s actually harming” like “this is what I’m trying to actually do, but by doing that, I am actually hurting other parts of the system.” I had no idea because we weren’t connected.” So it’s bringing in trying to make the whole system connected, all parts connected, which again, I love because from my lens when you look at Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit, they’re three and one. So in a way, it’s kind of like there are three parts, but they all work together in that. That’s kind of what we’re wanting to have happen within us too, is have all parts of us work together instead of working against each other.
Carrie: What I really like about this is I think there’s a reducing the shame component in terms of accepting all parts of yourself. And as a therapist accepting all parts of the client that’s coming into the room because there’s so much time spent trying to hide ourselves from other people that the things that we don’t like about ourselves. And so many people have tried even before therapy from a self-help standpoint to squash certain behaviors instead of really examining like how was this behavior helpful or purposeful in my life? Like the person with an eating disorder. There was some reason that even though that’s destructive, there was a reason, like you said that developed as a survival skill probably to keep them in connection with other people in their life like if I could only be perfect. If I could only be this perfect size and I can get this acceptance and this love that I’m desperately craving.
Lindsey: Totally. It goes back to really a big theme of IFS is all parts are welcome because the belief is, is that they’re all trying to show up to do something actually for
you. The thing is you’ve had it even shared to me in several different metaphors or images, which I love. One is like as an orchestra. You’re the conductor but all of these parts of you are the different horns, strings, things like that in the orchestra and you hear like the flute section is going out of tune. It needs your attention. You’re not going to go, “Hey, flute section, get out of here.” You’re going to say, “Hey, flutes, come on over your out of tune.” Let’s kind of see what’s happening. What’s going on? And you’re going to give it attention because it’s like the more that you ignore it, the more you push it aside, the more you push it down, the more you suppress it, dismiss it, all of those kinds of words, the louder and more out of tune it’s going to get.
It goes, you have to actually learn how to interact with yourself in a healthy way that shows compassion. And what I also love about IFS is, you know when you are in self or even when you know, you’re in it within the image of God, you know when you’re in this place because the way you start to feel towards these parts of you that want attention.
You start to feel towards them a sense of compassion, of creativity, of clarity. There’s a whole bunch of wonderful c words in there that you start to feel towards it because you’re starting to see it from this place of, “Oh my goodness. You’re trying to help me.” What happens is you get to conduct the orchestra, instead of then maybe the flute section, in the past could come up and kick you out of being the conductor and saying, “I’m going to conduct it right now.” You get to actually be the conductor.
The other image that I’ve been given that I love is the same thing of driving the bus. You want to be the one to drive the bus. But then there are moments where you might feel scared, feel vulnerable, feel any of those types of things, and then all of a sudden, a part of you is going to see that and it’s going to say, “don’t worry, I’m going to rescue you. I’m going to take you out of that pain that starts to drive the bus. But you want to start to build such a sense of self that you’re able to go, “Oh, I know something’s happening in me right now” and instead of letting it take over, I’m just going, like, I kind of imagine it, like you’re driving the bus and a part of you is like a little kid on the bus it’s like tugging on your leg and then you’re like, “Hey, what do you need?”
Or it maybe, if you can’t listen to it that moment, “Hey, I’ll get back to you in an hour. Come back in an hour” Because there’s a lot of parts that come up for me, if I’m in session, I’m like, “I can’t tend to you right now.” In that way, because here’s what I know and even with kids because I’ve got my own, is like, if you tell a kid “go away, I’m not going to listen to you.” [00:24:24] It’s going to come back bigger, going to come back stronger, going to pitch a fit or gonna just tuck and go away and might not come back for what it needs. Either way, what you’re kind of imagining is these parts of you that wants your attention. Be it coming in the form of anxiety. Maybe it’s coming in the form of OCD. Maybe it’s coming in these different forms that once your attention that you bring it in and you start to help it. It might not always be like saying what’s true, it could be a fear part that’s showing up that’s scared and you might have to help it. It happens to me all the time, especially in session.
Like for me, there’s a part of me especially if I’m about to go into a session with very like angry, angry, and especially men. I notice that there’s this anxiousness that starts to happen in me and so I kind of bring it forward like you do a child and say, “Hey, what’s wrong? What are we upset with?”
“Scared scared.” Yes, I get it. I get it because they are bigger than me, know their anger is scarier for me and this is what I do, is I imagine God coming in, I’ll invite God in and I’ll invite God to just sit and to hold that scared part of me and to say, “Hey, you’re okay” and, and I know what to do when they get angry.
I know what to do. I’m okay and I know God’s with me. I also know where pepper spray is, just kidding. I can move in to reassure and I can also imagine and allow God to sit with that part of me, even during the session, and to say you’re okay. You’re okay. You know what to do. And you know that within this person that gets so big and gets so angry is also a scared little part of them too. So it helps bring that sense of compassion even towards the person you’re scared of in that way.
Carrie: Yeah. I want to speak to something that you said about there are these parts that are trying to help because a lot of times when you have something like anxiety or OCD, people will only see the negative like, “I don’t like this. I don’t want to have it. I just want to get rid of it” and sometimes that anxiety is protecting from sadness. Sometimes it’s protecting from anger that they haven’t ever learned how to express in a healthy way. Sometimes it’s protecting from vulnerability like not being able to trust other people.
There are so many purposes a lot of times that or roles that anxiety can play in a person’s life and if you’re able to get work with that and get those needs met in a healthier way rather than worry or going in your head. Sometimes the going in your head protects you from the body sensation that feels really intolerable. I like this a lot. I started doing parts work with my clients in a kind of a different vein through ego state therapy about a year ago and at first, I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know how you felt when you learned IFS, but when I first learned ego state therapy, they talk about parts being fully adult and parts being children kind of similar to the exiles. And I thought, this is weird like I don’t know if my clients are gonna get behind this. I find it a little weird. So I just tried it with some people and I said, look, I know this is going to sound a little weird, but I learned this new therapy and I think it might be helpful.
Is it okay if we roll with it, you know, and you kind of know your clients that are, that are good with rolling with things. So I tried it on some people and it was so powerful and so transformative that I really started incorporating it with almost everyone. Talking about having different parts of yourself, because whether we are aware of it or not, we go through times in our life where we feel such an internal conflict. And I think that makes sense in terms of what you were saying, it makes sense in terms of our faith, in terms of the flesh versus the spirit in. In terms of I want to do the right thing, or I know what the right thing is, but I can’t seem to make myself do it, that struggle that Paul talked about. I really think that this element of parts of ourselves having these wounds that maybe haven’t been healed and if we can get to that place where we allow God to enter into that space and get that deeper level of healing, it’s just incredible where it can go.
Lindsey: Oh, for sure and to watch it happen in front of you is fantastic and that’s one thing. But then also to allow yourself to do that same work that you’re asking your clients to do, that’s another thing where you can kind of move into like hair club for men like I’m a client but I’m also the owner, whatever it is. You’re able to move into that place and go, Hey, I know what this is like, I’m not trying this woo woo step on you, in the sense that I have not also tried to work out within myself as well, can be really, really helpful to say, “Oh” because sometimes what I’ll do is I’ll say, “Hey, here’s what it looks like for me” even giving that example of like when the angry man and how I allow myself or kind of invite God into sitting with that fearful part of me that it’s helpful even for my clients to conceptualize it and to go, “okay. Oh, and that’s how you practically use it” then they go, “okay. Okay. You do it” so maybe it’s not just me. It’s not just something wrong with me that I got to do this crazy out there kind of thing, but to be able to normalize it for them is pretty huge as well for sure.
Carrie: So you teach people actually how to talk, how to maybe identify first of all, these different parts of self and then how to communicate with them in a healthy, healthy way.
Lindsey: Yeah, that’s a big part of IFS. They call it the six F’s and I wish that I knew all of them by heart, but really what you are trying to do is, first, you identify there is this part of you, let’s just for the sake of example, say it’s anxiety. So we know there’s this anxiousness in you.
Sometimes for me, I’ll even have my clients imagine, imagine the last time this anxiousness showed up in you, paint the scene for me, take me to that memory. When did it show up? What was happening? So they’ll start to kind of say, “Oh, it was at school and it was right before I was about to have a test.” Then I say, “Okay, so now, as you’re talking about this, this anxiousness in you, this anxious part of you, where are you even feeling it in your body?”
Like, can you just even know where does it stay in you? Where is it in you? Oh, it’s in my chest. It, yeah. What’s it like in your chest? “It’s flattering, it’s moving. It’s busy.” Could you just maybe just kinda notice it, take a breath, just kind of really like see if you can really get a good sense of it.
And then here’s the different part is that you then ask that anxiousness if it will step outside of the body. If it will kind of take a step outside and stand in front why the client is looking at it.
I’ll usually ask the client either if they’ll be open and closing their eyes, or even if they’ll just find a spot and stare at it kind of like how you do when you daydream. Then they’ll see it. They’ll move it out. I’ve had people call it like, they’re like, Oh, you say, what is it? What does it kind of, what’s it like in front of you kind of what sends to you? I’ll have some people say it’s like just these ping pong balls going everywhere, or even have one person like “this looks like this weird dancing pizza.”
I was like, “okay.” That you just really try to help them see in that way, in that moving it outside of themselves, you’re not trying to get rid of it. You’re not trying to say, get out of here, but you’re trying to say let me see you in a way that I can get to know you. Let me be able to see you so I can know you more fully. As that happens, then you start to notice how does the client feel towards it.
Which I think Carrie, this is a little bit of what you were saying before the way people can start to see OCD or anxiety they’ll have, “Oh, I hate it. I want to get rid of it. I don’t, I wish it was never there.” All of those types of things, which make sense, but conceptually, we as IFS therapists know those are different parts.
That’s not the self. That’s not the core because that’s not compassion. It’s not understanding. It’s not caring. It’s not any of those things. Even curiosity, it’s not that. It’s judgment. It’s wanting to just get rid of it because it makes sense there’s all these parts that are, have developed that have said, when you do this, it takes you away from this. It takes you away from that. It makes sense to these other parts are going to come up because they’re going this isn’t managing well with us. And in a way, it’s not because you’re not, they’re not all connected. They’re not all working together in this place. Just kind of like if you were doing family therapy and you’re trying to talk with a child, but the child keeps looking at the parent so they won’t talk.
And then you asked the parent to move back, move away, move out of the eyesight of the child so they won’t be intimidated. So you can hear more what the child wants to say. That’s a little bit of what you do here with the part. You ask those parts that want to get rid of it that are frustrated with it. You listen to them because all parts are welcome and you make sense of it. Of course, that makes sense that you’d feel that way, but just right now, and these next 20 minutes, 30 minutes, will you step back? Will you just give some space for us to get to know this anxious part and why it shows up? And usually, they will stand back or usually it’s kind of like, they’ll just say like right at the shoulder and it’s kinda wild. Then they’ll step back and then you ask your client again to kind of look at the anxiety. Sometimes when those parts step aside, the anxiety starts to look different. Maybe instead of ping pong balls, it starts to look more calm. It starts to look more solid. Sometimes it starts to turn into looking like a person. Usually, in those moments, you kind of start to know, maybe you’re getting a little closer to maybe an exile, maybe not, but you kind of were still curious. And then you asked your client again, how do you feel towards that anxiety?
And if it feels like they’re more curious, like, “Whoa, it’s changed. What’s going on. I want to know more about it.” Then you start to kind of approach it and you ask the anxiety, right? What is its job? Why is it showing up? What’s it doing to try to help? Because we’re assuming that all of these different parts are trying to help in their own way, even if they’re backwards, even if they feel backwards. Then you move into that place to say what do you feel like your job is? How are you trying to help client? How you’re trying to help and it’s wild because sometimes you will get a sense like that anxiety will start to share a little bit of why it’s there.
Usually it’s like with anxiety, it’s like I’m here because I know that she can be scared about these things, or I know that she can be alarmed about these things and then I need to show up to let her know that this is happening, that these things could be happening again. And then you move into this place too of what does that anxiety feel like would happen if it didn’t show up like that? What would happen if it didn’t show up in that way? Sometimes be more vulnerable to whatever happened last time that they were unaware was even going to happen. Maybe they got blindsided by something. I don’t know. There’s all different.
Carrie: Different places they could go.
Lindsey: Completely. But even as the client starts to hear this from anxiety, they start to get almost a sense of like gratitude like, “Oh my gosh, I didn’t realize that’s what you were doing for me.” That’s so helpful because then we start to get the client to relate to anxiety in that way. “Oh, it’s trying to just alert me to this.” It’s trying to alarm, say that this is happening and it’s afraid this would happen to me. I need to bring it in and help it know kinda like I did with that. I’m okay. This man’s anger, I’m actually okay with, like I know what to do if he comes at me with it or if he comes at his spouse. I know what to do now because before that fear, when I love, cause I feel like fear is actually good and fear actually helps lead us to wisdom, if it’s in its healthy place. I was like, I’m good because you’ve had me scared about this before. So I went and listened to a lot of podcasts and I watched a lot of people do stuff with anger. So I am equipped now, I know now, that’s what you want. You want for these parts of you to be helpful, to be in the system is helpful.
And not to be in the system as like pushed out. And then there’s a whole other thing which it’ll take a whole other hour to talk about, but even just to then move into what’s underneath. What those parts are protecting and what do we do when we start to get there, because there’s a whole other protocol for there that’s also beautiful. But this kind of, what we’re talking about today is more, how do we start to befriend and work with and help really bring in and appreciate and train those protective parts of us and that’s what we want to start to do.
Carrie: Yeah. I think this conversation is really helpful even if people don’t pursue IFS therapy, just to understand like how to get to a place of self-acceptance and understanding our acceptance by God of all of us, of our sin, our shame. Everything thing that Jesus took on for us, like we are fully loved and fully cared for. And if we, a lot of times we’re in the way, because we don’t see that, or we don’t acknowledge that, or we don’t live in that beloved space. I love how this helps people get towards that place in their relationship with Christ. I think that’s really neat.
Lindsey: Yeah, totally and I love to, even with IFS calling right that core of a self and even what we do and how the self then talks to all these parts of us and really helps and can invite God in and things like that, that it does even lean towards one of the fruits of the spirit, which is self-control. That’s even kind of what this is modeling. What this is showing is literally how do we bring self up. And again, control is not the captive like I’m taking you by the throat, but it’s like control in the sense of “Hey, I want for us all to work together.” We’ve all got functions here. Being able to say we’re all working in harmony together and that feels really good.
That’s that place of self control.
Carrie: So I know we’re getting towards the end of the podcast here. I usually ask our guests to share a story of hope with us a time that you received hope from God or another person. So what does that for you that you wanted to share?
Lindsey: Yeah. Truly, Carrie, there are countless times, which I’ve been super thankful for, and I feel like there was a moment for me where I realized that there was this person in my life and they were always looking for these moments of hope. These moments of where God is showing up and was very much like if you’re not present to see how has God showing up, you’re going to miss it. It’s been kind of neat to slow down and to go, “Whoa, Oh God, was that you. Oh, that was you.” I’ve just missed it or call it happenstance or coincidence, but it was you.
This kind of the memory I’m going to tell you about now is kind of cool because my husband and I, we just decided on a whim we were married, we were young, and we were just like, “Hey, how can we serve at the church? Let’s just go be Sunday school teachers. Let’s just do that.” We went and we were Sunday school teachers and there was this other couple that were Sunday school teachers with us and we hit it off. The four of us hit it off. So we would like go out on double dates, things like that. And then they said, “Hey, our community group just opened up. Would you guys like to join our community group?” We’re kind of like being recruited, which was kind of fun. It felt like reminded me of sorority days. So I was like, “Ooh, we’re being recruited.” We went and we were in this community group.
During this time and being in this community group, we found out my husband and I found out that we were not able to have children. And then there were six couples. Four out of the six couples found out that they could not have children which was crazy and didn’t know it before we became like it.
We weren’t like, “Hey, let’s do an infertility community group.” It just like, it just happened and then we all discovered these things. Hopefully, it wasn’t something we all drank, but so we were in this together.
We started to go through this adoption process for us, my husband and I, and one day, one of the girls in the community group texted me and she was like, “Lindsey, my mom is in a Bible study with this woman who’s asking the whole Bible study to pray for an adoptive family for her nephew’s son like it’s kind of a big goal. And she was like, “my mom remembered you guys and community group and dah, dah, dah”, like, would you be interested? And I’m like, “what?” Now it was kind of wild because I was actually at this church that was like, when I got the text message, I was literally in church and they were about to do this worship and they do this forever long worship.
So I’m like, all right, some do I’m worshiping and I’m asking God, I’m like, “God, is this our son?” Is this what we’re supposed to do? And I heard a very clear yes and I don’t hear that kind of stuff all the time. Sort of very clear yes, and so I said, ”all right, God, well, you’re going to have to tell my husband that you said yes.”
Because he’s a little bit more of my risk-averse kind of guy. I’m a little bit more the risk-taker. Anyways, I called my husband because I was on a trip so he was back at home and I was in California. I called my husband and I said, “Hey, the girl in our community group said, what do you think?” And he was like, “I’m open.”
And I was like, “Oh my gosh” like, that’s not usually the response I get. I usually get all the worried questions and if you’re in the Enneagram world, he’s an Enneagram six. So that makes a lot of sense. To make a long story short, even though I’ve already made it long, we ended up meeting with that family. And then on a Tuesday, they told us that they chose us and then we brought our son home that Saturday. We kind of look back and we go, “Oh my goodness” like even just us being kind of like obedient to want to serve and not obedient and like little begrudging, but just like, Hey, we really would like to serve.
Just how God placed us with all of these people that then placed us with our son who could not have been a better fit. And if I go into the emotion of it, I will cry right now, but I’m not going to make it stay in my head about it. But just in that sense of like, we couldn’t imagine our lives without them. And so in this place of feeling so hopeless in infertility, like God was already working behind the scenes and bringing us hope. Just through these things, we could have never orchestrated for us to be able to be parents to our son. So that for us is like, anytime it’s like, oh, it’s God working on like, “Heck. Yeah, he is.” He is. And working today, like working today, not just in biblical times. He’s working today and he is a God of hope and he is a relational God that loves us and wants to be so close to us and that’s beautiful in that way.
Carrie: That’s really beautiful. Yeah, I love that story.
We’ve had a lot of stories on the podcast recently about God bringing members into people’s families and they’re each unique and different, but it all just shows the intimacy like you were saying of God caring about the details and working everything together just right. So, that’s awesome.
Lindsey: Yeah. He’s a loving father. It’s kind of nice to see and to feel that firsthand.
Carrie: Thank you so much for coming on the show and not only sharing your IFS wisdom, but also incorporating the spirituality Christianity piece in there. I really enjoyed that, I think it was helpful in conceptualizing.
Lindsey: Sure. Of course, I have to fit that. I have to make sure that that all comes together because it’s very important I feel like in just healing with our hearts.
What I really find compelling about this interview and what we talked about today is that God is able to meet us right where we’re at, and he loves you wholly and completely. Just as you are, right now and God also loves you enough not to leave you that way.
If you can wrap your mind around God loving you just where you are right now in the midst of whatever you’re facing that is absolutely transformative and will be something that will help you break through any shame that you might be holding on to.
Since this is our episode right before Easter, I just wanted to say happy Easter to everyone and He is risen, indeed.
Hope for Anxiety and OCD is a production of By The Well Counseling in Smyrna, Tennessee. Our original music is by Brandon Mangrum and audio editing is completed by Benjamin Bynam.
Until next time. May you be comforted by God’s great love for you.