1. TALK ABOUT YOUR PERSONAL JOURNEY OF OVERCOMING ABUSE. I specialize in trauma counseling and, at the beginning of my career, I began to realize that every time I counseled someone who had been abused, I would become short-tempered. I began to pray about this and the Lord revealed to me that I had not let go of the guilt and shame that resulted from the abuse I suffered as a child. I had to learn that nothing was my fault and the decisions I made to cover my pain were a result of trying to hide the pain. I wore a mask and I had to take the mask off. This began a journey of prayer and changing the way I thought about what happened to me. When I was younger, I swept it under the rug and acted like it never happened. However, God wants us to be free from our past. Our pain will come out no matter how hard we try to keep it hidden. I am so thankful that God made me deal with it.
2. WHAT BEHAVIORS OR HABITS DO YOU SEE MOST OFTEN IN VICTIMS OF ABUSE? The most damaging behavior is self-sabotage. I see people who will literally jeopardize good things in their life because they do not feel worthy or feel they deserve good things to happen to them. This stems from guilt and intense shame. Thoughts that they must have caused their abuse, that they could have stopped it but didn’t, and that they are defective in some way impact how they see themselves. This in turn impacts their relationships also. They can become people pleasers in an effort to avoid getting hurt again. Questions regarding self identify also frequently accompany abuse. Anger outbursts can occur also, in addition to addictive behaviors such as alcohol use, drug use, gambling, pornography, and food to hide the pain. Victims frequently become sexually active at an early age. However, anger outbursts, addictive behaviors, guilt and shame, and people pleasing behaviors also occur in other life changing and difficult situations. Divorce, suffering from depression or anxiety, grief, feelings of failure, and life altering medical conditions can result in similar behaviors and habits.
3. HOW DO YOU MELD YOUR TRAINING IN COUNSELING WITH YOUR FAITH? I use spiritual truths with daily practical tools. God has given us wisdom and that is what I use to help people walk out their healing as it unfolds. Spiritual truths bring hope, healing, and deliverance from their past. One problem I encounter is people stay focused on the truths but do not apply them to their own life. When healing is not immediate, they become discouraged and then doubt the spiritual truths. I help people realize it can take time for healing because their life is like an onion that is peeled back one layer at a time and then God heals their core and then puts them back together. I encourage them to realize that God wants them whole in every area- emotions, thoughts, behaviors, relationships, and most importantly their relationship with God. I think people do not realize how difficult times in life impact every area of their life. The practical advice focuses on keeping healthy and ways to cope on a daily basis like I mention in the “A Place Called Broken” and “Battleground” chapters.
4. HOW CAN THIS BOOK HELP THOSE IN MINISTRY DEAL WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE CARRYING LIFELONG HURTS? I pray that it gives them courage to allow people to open up about their hurts. I think sometimes people in ministry become scared of dealing with hurting people because they do not feel qualified. However, they too can use spiritual truths with wisdom to help people heal. I hope it also helps people ministering to realize that hurt runs very deep and that one prayer and a hug does not always bring about healing. God is the God of impossibilities and He can heal anyone at anytime completely. However, what I have learned and experienced is that with deep hurts it takes time and sometimes people in ministry do not realize this and sometimes blame the person hurting when they do not heal fast enough. Healing can be immediate or a process and this is important to keep in mind.
5. WHY DO YOU THINK CHRISTIANS TRY TO HIDE THEIR BROKENESS? Because when they have prayed and the pain does not stop, they begin to doubt that God’s promises are for them. They can become discouraged and no longer speak of their pain, thinking that their life will never change or that something is wrong with them. I think another reason is people believe if others found out about their pain then they would be viewed differently. Embarrassment is a powerful hindrance to people sharing their pain. It goes back to feelings of guilt and shame.
6. HOW CAN PEOPLE TRULY BE HEALED FROM ABUSE AND INTENSE HURT? They first have to admit they are hurting. I know this sounds weird, but there are many people who deny they are even hurting. Secondly, they have to be completely open with God. In my feelings of failure in ministry, I first had to make peace with God. When people are hurting, it will either make them run to God or away from God. They have to decide to run to God. Then they have to be willing to allow God to go to the dark places in their heart and reveal their pain and how it impacts their life. Sometimes people will remain in their pain as long as they think it does not hinder anyone else but them. This is rarely the case. Thirdly, they have to be honest with themselves. A person cannot change what they do not acknowledge. Lastly, they have to walk out their healing with God, knowing it can take time. Through it all, they have to hold on to the promises of God and know that they are a child of God. Knowing who they are in Christ will not only help them heal now, but can help prevent future brokenness.
7. TALK ABOUT YOUR WORK IN PRISON MINISTRY. I began my career as a correctional counselor in a prison and realized quickly that the people there had serious personal issues. They really needed healing and deliverance. I now often preach in prisons, offering them a message of hope that they can truly move beyond their past hurts.
8. WHAT ARE SOME PRACTICAL WAYS PEOPLE CAN STAY EMOTIONALLY HEALTHY AND COPE WITH PAIN ON A DAILY BASIS? People who have lived with deep emotional scars should learn to take care of themselves physically as well as mentally. Getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and spending quiet time every day are all things that help. Exercising daily is a good way to release stress and endorphins. Asking a couple of close friends to pray with them and for them is important. From a spiritual standpoint, they need to learn to incorporate their faith into their daily lives, speaking scriptures out loud, and learning to praise God for the little things. Most importantly, they need to learn to love other people because the act of loving another can help heal places in our heart that nothing else can.
9. DO YOU BELIEVE PEOPLE CAN BE HEALED WITHOUT GOD? People can improve with psychological counseling, but cannot be truly healed. Jesus said the truth will set us free, and He is truth. There are many things in the world that are not fair and not right, and without the perspective of understanding that God is sovereign, people can only progress so far.
10. WHAT IS YOUR ULTIMATE GOAL FOR THIS BOOK? John 10:10 says the thief comes to kill, steal and destroy, but Jesus came that we may have life – and life to its fullest. My goal is to help people learn to have joy on daily basis and to live their lives with purpose. When I gave everything to God and made the “Exchange” of beauty for ashes that I talk about in the book, I knew I could not keep what I had learned and experienced to myself. God has given me a voice to help hurting people and I cannot remain silent. I also know that pain is very personal and if my life experiences can help one person then it was all worth it.
Kristi Lemley Bio
Author, speaker and counselor Kristi Lemley has a painful past. But it is a past that gives her an acute understanding and a special connection to the people who walk into her counseling office. While her past hurts may be different from theirs, there is a common brokenness she will always share with them. Kristi has been there herself, a victim at a young age of sexual abuse. She shares how she made an “exchange” with God to move beyond the pain of her past in the new book, Broken and Transformed: Moving Beyond Life’s Difficult Times.
With a degree in Criminal Justice and Psychology from Illinois State University and a Master’s of Social Work degree from St. Louis University, Kristi began her career as a Correctional Counselor at a prison in 1993. She later began her own private counseling practice, helping people with mental health issues and addictions. It was during this time that Kristi began to realize she was in desperate need of personal healing herself. She writes, “Every time I would counsel someone regarding sexual abuse issues, I would come home and find myself angry. I began to allow God to go to that dark place in my life. I had forgiven the people who had actually hurt me, but I could not extend the same forgiveness and grace to myself.”
Kristi began to cry out to God over a period of eight months, reading the Bible, going to church, and praying fervently. One day, she was listening to a Christian radio station while cleaning her house, and heard the scripture verse that changed her life: “Your sins are as far as the east is from the west.” She remembers that moment as she writes, “A dam burst open and the grace of God flowed to me in such an overwhelming sense that I fell to my knees and wept.” Her psychological training combined with her new-found understanding of the mercy of God propelled her into a new chapter of her career and personal life. She attended Global University’s Berean School of the Bible and became ordained as an evangelist. In 2003, Kristi formed Living in the Light Ministries, an international ministry focused on helping people deal with daily life struggles, and heal from their past hurts by experiencing the freedom and truth of the Gospel.
Understanding, on a personal level, the impact Christian radio had made in her life, Kristi became the host of a radio show called “Living in the Light” on KJSL radio station in St. Louis. During that time, Kristi helped hundreds of people sort through the difficulties they faced. She also served as a guest host for the popular “Talk from the Heart” radio show hosted by Dr. Debra Peppers on the same station.
Broken and Transformed is a culmination of Kristi’s journey through her own pain to find the freedom that Christ offers everyone, regardless of their circumstances. Drawing on her training as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Kristi lays out both practical and spiritual applications that can help people deal with any tragedy or circumstance. “People can improve with psychological counseling, but cannot be truly healed,” says Kristi. “Jesus said the truth will set us free, and He is truth. There are many things in the world that are not fair and not right, and without the perspective of understanding that God is sovereign, people can only progress so far.”
Combining stories from real people with her own experiences and training, Broken and Transformed is a road map for people to move beyond their past hardships and mistakes. Covering a multitude of circumstances --everything from divorce to dealing with cancer to even being broken by ministry-- the book helps readers navigate through their feelings of despair and anguish to find forgiveness, meaning, and purpose for their lives.
Kristi understands the spiritual warfare that takes place when bondages are being broken, and she carefully undergirds her ministry with a team of dedicated prayer warriors, many of whom have received emotional healing themselves from difficult trials. As Kristi’s speaking ministry continues to expand, she has only one goal in mind. “The bible says the thief comes to kill, steal and destroy, but Jesus came that we may have life – and life to its fullest,” says Kristi. “My goal is to help people learn to have joy on daily basis and to live their lives with purpose. When I gave everything to God and made the exchange of beauty for ashes that I talk about in the book, I knew I could not keep what I had learned and experienced to myself. God has given me a voice to help hurting people and I cannot remain silent. I also know that pain is very personal, and if my life experiences can help one person then it was all worth it.”