Sunday, September 1, 2013

A Warm Welcome to Rita Schulte

It's a delight to have Rita visit today with her wonderful book. Read on to find out more:


Is there a story behind your book Shattered?
Well certainly my own personal losses were definitely a significant factor, but as a therapist, sitting with clients over the last 12 years, I noticed a consistent theme woven into each person’s story. It didn’t seem to matter what their presenting problem was, loss was always a significant piece of what had affected their hearts. Many of these folks didn’t stop to notice the affects of these losses, much less put words to them. So my observations about the nature of these losses and the effects they had on people’s hearts led me to write about it.

 

Could you talk about your personal losses?
The first loss that broke my heart was my mom’s death. I was an only child so I was really close to my parents.  My mom died at home with me, in my arms, on my sons 7th birthday; I didn’t think I’d ever get over it. I had just turned 36. That was only the beginning. Over the next several years I lost 7 people who were really close to me. There were lots of other difficult things going on in my life and I slowly began to notice I was losing heart. The final loss, perhaps the most significant, was my dad’s diagnosis of cancer and the two-year journey of caring for him. This pushed me over the edge. All the cumulative stress from all the other losses which I didn’t have time to process, built up until the bottom dropped out for me. I was depressed and started having panic attacks. That’s when I decided to seek help---which eventually led to my becoming a counselor.

 

How is your book different than traditional books on grief?
My focus in the book is on the heart. A lot of traditional books on grief address death, but I was more interested in addressing how the abstract losses of life affect our hearts; things like: shattered dreams, unmet expectations, loss of identity, role loss, loss of trust, the things that we don’t always think of as losses, but which we over time, have serious long- range
consequences on our hearts.
 
The book is based on the verse in Luke 22:31-32. It’s divided into 3 premises based on the verse. First, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.” That’s how loss feels---you’ve been sifted. Loss assaults our heart. Second, “I have prayed for you Simon that your faith may not fail.” The good news, the exciting part is that Jesus is sitting at the right hand of the Father interceding on our behalf! You and I are in a battle for our hearts everyday, and he’s saying, don’t give up, press on, I’m praying for you. Our hearts matter to him.  The third part of the verse speaks about re-investment in life---Simon, when you turn back, when you’ve come through the caldron of affliction, when your heart becomes whole again, turn back and strengthen your brothers. In other words, re-invest your heart in life, in others, in kingdom purposes. Find your passion and go for it. That’s when we’re found most fully alive.

 

You talk about the art of noticing in the book? Can you explain that?
Noticing is nothing more than being mindful, or paying attention to both the internal and external responses to our losses. In other words, we need to slow down and pay attention to what’s going on body, soul and spirit, because we can’t change what we don’t notice.

There are several ways I teach to people to do this; physically we need to learn to scan our bodies for stress and tension. Things like clenching our teeth, tightening our muscles, feeling knots in our stomachs all contribute to health problems so we need to notice them and learn to release our stress in adaptive ways. We need to observe what in the outside world is impacting us at the heart level. If you’re going thru a divorce for example, a familiar place, a song, an image, can take you back to times of pain and sorrow. Those external cues impact what we tell ourselves about our lives and our losses. They also affect our emotions and speak to our beliefs about self, God and the world around us. So we need to learn to be aware of what we’re telling ourselves.

 

What are abstract losses? And why are they important?
Abstract loss is a term I coined in the book to refer to things like shattered dreams, unmet expectations, loss of trust, hope, faith, identity. The relational losses in our lives are pretty straightforward—things like death, divorce, and betrayal. They’re not hard to miss. But abstract losses can be more elusive and known only by the heart. We don’t always notice them or label them as losses. They’re important because they dramatically impact our belief systems. If we don’t learn to pay attention to them, they can build up and weigh our hearts down, causing us to become depressed. Learning to identify our losses and put words to them is critical to healing.

 

How do the losses of life affect us at the heart level?
Sometimes we don’t notice how loss affects our heart. It can happen slowly, yet before we realize it, the effects of our grief have become catastrophic and the death of our hearts inevitable. Loss throws us off balance, sometimes causing us to lose our way. If enough time goes by, and we don’t repair the distance between what we know intellectually about our grief, and what we feel deep within our souls, we’ll find that along the journey we will have sacrificed something precious at the expense of protecting ourselves from pain. That something is our heart. Loss, especially cumulative loss, can easily cause us to lose heart--- until one day the bottom drops out. If we don’t pay attention, if we don’t tend to our hearts, the effects of our losses can become catastrophic and the death of our hearts inevitable. We are in a battle everyday for our hearts, and we have to fight that battle because our hearts matter to God. So many people I counsel have given up, and I want to be the voice that says, press on, don’t quit, God really is on our side. He cares about your heart.

Why is brokenness a necessary part of our lives?
Because how we respond to the changes and losses of life determines what happens to our hearts. We all spend a great deal of time trying to make life work, struggling to figure things out and make sense of life. We fight against brokenness and yet it’s the very thing that brings God into the forefront of our lives. It moves us from death to life if we allow it to. I believe brokenness engenders transformation, but we must first be willing to grant the father a window into our souls. If we’re faithful to stay the course, transformation will flow from two sources; the choices we make about how we’ll handle our pain, and our willingness to be personally responsive to how God is leading us through the journey. So we need to decide some things.
We need to decide if the most important part of our story will be what happened to us—or what happens in us in response to our losses.

 

How can we change our perspective on suffering and loss?
By allowing them to be our tutors. I think most of us want to hit the delete button on the difficult places in our lives, but those are places that allow us to become who we are. Those are the places we find out what we’re made of, and if we will trust God to grow us up under the pressure.

 

How do people recover from the losses of life?
By catching a vision for the greater role that we were designed to play, and the bigger purpose beyond ourselves. In other words, we must slowly begin to see with eternal eyes, that which is so difficult to see when loss first assaults our hearts---the story isn’t finished yet.

 

What happens to our relationship with God after we’ve experienced loss?
Our concept of God, what we think about him and what we feel about him is really established long before many of our losses actually occurred. But if
we’ve experienced significant losses, I think our concept of God becomes skewed. We believe lies about God’s goodness and character because of our pain. Think about what Eve did in the garden when she was tempted. Satan convinced her that God was holding out on her, that she was lacking something that if she just had, she’d be ok. Those lies she bought into led her to take matters into her own hands. She wanted to be independent of God. She wanted to do things her way, instead of trusting in his goodness. When bad things happen to us, we often blame God or we question his ways, and this causes us to distrust him. If trust is the heart of intimacy, and it’s broken, it will was cause us to move away from him.

 

What are the roadblocks to grieving and identifying loss?
Denial, avoidance, fear, control, anger and quilt. Read the book to find out more.

 

What about anger and forgiveness, how do they apply to processing loss?
Anger is a response to a blocked goal, a hurt, or a perceived loss. And loss usually gives rise to anger. I wanted something and I didn’t get it. I got something that I didn’t want.  I lost something I held dear. If we don’t take care of that anger, a root of bitterness will spring forth. So we have to take care of it otherwise we’ll walk around carry a sack on our backs filling it up with stones of bitterness, hurt, disappointment and pain.

 

Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you.
The verse in Luke 22:31-32 because it sums up what I’ve been through.

 

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
Imposter: Discovering the real you behind the masks you wear. Using a composite of clients from my clinical practice as a psychotherapist, Imposter guides the reader through the journey of a woman with an eating disorder and the terrible secret that drove her shame. Under the therapeutic guidance of a seasoned counselor she is given the tools to recover her true identity.

Imposter explores the messages, lies, thinking errors, social pressures, and other contributing factors that set up the false self to eventually overtake a person’s true identity.

Imposter looks at the payoffs, illusions and long- range impact of living behind masks. It encourages the reader to deal with the fears, anger, lies and facades that have caused them to build walls around their hearts; thus creating a false self.

Imposter explores how attachment theory and brain neurobiology shape the brain and wire us for secure or insecure connection with others and with God.  It provides the reader with a set of tools drawn from these theories to assist the reader in learning to rewire the neural networks that foster secure connection to God where they can appropriate their true identity.

Imposter will provide the reader with the same tried and tested, hope driven strategies utilized in the author’s clinical practice to help move those who struggle toward real freedom.


To buy her book, go here:
amazon



Author bio and where to connect with her:
Rita A. Schulte is a licensed professional counselor in the Northern Virginia/DC area. She is the host of Heartline Podcast and a short form feature Consider This. Her shows air on several radio stations as well as the Internet. They can be downloaded from www.ritaschulte.com/category/podcast or iTunes. Rita writes for numerous publications and blogs. Her articles have appeared in Counseling Today Magazine, Thriving Family, Kyria and LifeHack.org. Her book Shattered: Finding Hope and Healing through the Losses of Life releases in September 2013 by Leafwood Publishers. Follow her at www.ritaschulte.com, on FB http://www.facebook.com/RitaASchulte and twitter @heartlinepod



Rita is giving away a copy of Shattered: Finding Hope and Healing Through the Losses of Life. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.

To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You may enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on yesterday's post)


Happy Reading!
Caroline Brown

8 comments:

Boos Mum said...

Please enter me. Your answers were eye opening. This sounds like a timely and important book.

sweetdarknectar at gmail dot com

Linda Kish said...

I would love to read this book.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Patricia Bradley said...

Great advice and sounds like a great book. pat at ptbradley dot com

bonton said...

Hi, Rita!

I really enjoyed your interview - it really made me think re: the way I handled some difficult periods in my younger years.

It must be devastating to lose your parents & other close family members at such a young age, but I love how you have turned that period in your life into a good experience of helping others. I feel that is one of the main purposes of life - to use our experiences of difficult situations, to help others & also, to direct them towards the Lord.

Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy of your book!

bonnieroof60(at)yahoo(dot)com

Library Lady said...

I can so relate to what you are saying. We took care of our Mom for 3 years. She had Alzheimer's and went to be with the Lord almost 9 months ago.
I would love to win this book to give to my church library.
Thanks!
Janet E.
von1janet(at)gmail(dot)com

Anonymous said...

Sounds like an awesome addition to our church library....so many people now days caught up in the busy scheduals of life, they never really take time to recognize true grief, nor allow themselves the healing balm of the process, with God walking side by side....

Linda Goodnight said...

Very interesting interview. As one who has walked through this valley for the last couple of years, I find the information both relative and important.

Linda Goodnight said...

Very interesting interview. As one who has walked through this valley for the last couple of years, I find the information both relative and important.

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