I’ve always thought of myself as a fairly stable individual. Well, at least by the time I was in my early twenties. In my teens, I didn’t always have as clear a head as I would have liked. I often struggled with irrational guilt for every silly thought that popped in my head, as if temptation itself was a sin. I remember that I wouldn’t feel good until I confessed my thought to my parents. It was pretty miserable, because let’s face it, when you’re a teenager, you get a lot of temptations due to the erratic nature of the changing hormones in your body. But I eventually learned that temptation itself was not a sin (even Jesus was tempted) and that I could just “ignore” stupid thoughts. Suddenly, I felt better.
So as previously mentioned, by my twenties, I thought I’d pretty much become a very stable minded individual with little to no behavioral issues. But in my mid-twenties, during pre-marital counseling with Derik Overly, a pastor at New Life Church in Poland Ohio, he and Jodi, my soon-to-be wife, helped me pinpoint a deep issue that had been nagging me my whole life.
Now before I explain my issue, let me tell you a little about Derik. I was impressed with Derik from the very start. I’d never gone to New Life Church, but my wife really loved it, and wanted to see if the head pastor would administer our pre-marital counseling. I’d heard one of his sermons a few weeks prior at another church, and thought he seemed a really amazing guy. So I agreed.
He wasn’t available, but New Life did get me in contact with Derik, who handles the counseling ministries at the church. Derik told me he’d be happy to meet with us weekly for the few months before our marriage, and to my surprise, at NO COST other than for a workbook, and, an optional book he’d written, Issues of the Soul. The notion that a pastor from a church I’d never attended would be willing to spend many, many hours with two people he’d never met to help prepare them for marriage amazed me. So I immediately liked Derik.
The counseling sessions went very well, and helped me and Jodi immensely as we prepared for marriage. But there was still that nagging issue that, as of yet, I’d still not fully realized. I remember sitting in a little Sunday school room at New Life on our last day of counseling, because the room we normally met was occupied. After some casual discussion, Derik looked at me, and after a few pointed questions, helped me realize that there was one more issue I should handle before our session closed. It boiled down to this: I did not trust God to handle situations out of my control, particularly in regards to conflict with others. This caused me a tremendous amount of anxiety as I’d always tried to people-please in an attempt to keep conflict and arguments from ever happening in the first place. Not that conflict is inherently bad when handled properly, but I made people-pleasing an unhealthy priority, and sometimes hurt others inadvertently in the process, because often, if you please one person, you’ll upset another. He made it clear that it was impossible and irrational to be a people-pleaser, and helped me realize that instead, I needed to be a God-pleaser.
So this was the behavioral issue. But what was the deeper issue behind it? I’d like to reiterate that at the beginning of our sessions, we purchases two books. The first, a standard workbook, the second, Derik’s book, Issues of the Soul. The concepts in his book, coupled with his counseling sessions, helped me realize that my thoughts and behaviors are driven by deeper elements of self, namely, those within the soul.
Let’s consider that we are made up of three parts, spirit, soul, and body. The spirit is the redeemed, true self that’s eternal. The body is the floppy, clumsy, fleshy, messy object that inhabits the earth while we’re here. The soul is what we’ll consider the region between the spirit and body that gets messages from our spirit and directs the body to do things. Here is where we develop broken thought processes and bad behaviors due to negative experiences in our past. And even those of us with the best pasts still have had bad experiences, no matter how small or silly, that can create huge behavioral issues in adulthood.
In Issues of the Soul, Derik highlights how a soul becomes damaged and, through practical examples from actual people he’s counseled, explains how that damage manifests later in life. He then explains how we can actually discover the past events that negatively shaped us, bring Christ into those memories, and find healing. And when that memory, that initial spark that created the soul issue is healed, a chain reaction of healing can occur, ultimately eliminating the problems it created in the present.
Back to that last day of counseling. I surprised myself by actually finding the memory that initially sparked my people-pleasing obsession and fear of out-of-control situations. I then brought Jesus into that memory, believing that despite the negativity of the situation in that past event, He was still there, still in control, and clearly, had taken care of me. I allowed that thought to filter through the years, and into the present. And though today I’m still eager to please people and avoid conflict, doing so no longer brings me anxiety. In fact, at times, I can even exhibit a degree of assertiveness!
Since discovering some of my own issues of the soul, I’ve made it a priority to always look deeper into a behavioral issue I may see in someone else, and realize, it’s only the outward manifestation of what is likely a wound from the past. This thought pattern helps me to have patience with those who I may not see eye to eye with, and also allows me to exhibit a greater degree of love and patience with others. I highly recommend Issues of the Soul to anyone who’d like to more comprehensively explore their own soul, or, who’d like to acquire a keener understanding of the possible issues effecting the behaviors of those around them.
If you’d like to know more about Derik, he was kind enough to be interviewed, and I’ve included his answers to my questions below. You’ll also find information on how to contact him, or purchase his book. Hope you enjoyed the post, and feel free to comment below.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, and what you do as a pastor at New Life Church in Poland, Ohio.
I serve as pastor of counseling ministries at New Life Church. I am involved in and oversee all avenues of counseling, both lay and ministerial at New Life.
In one or two paragraphs, please tell us a little bit about Issues of the Soul.
If anything from your past is defining you today, in a negative way, it’s a stronghold. We all have issues in our lives that affect our relationships in wrong ways. These things can and should be dealt with. Issues of the Soul is about recognizing and dealing with our past so that we are set free to become all we were created to be!
What was the first spark of motivation that prompted you to write a book to help people delve into the deep issues of the soul that effect their daily behavior and thinking?
I have pastored two churches and I’ve seen many people who had good salvation experiences struggle and return to old ways. I later earned my degree thru college and learned these skills to see people finally break free of the things that cause Christians to struggle and fall. I then felt a book would be a great way to get this information to others.
How long have you been counseling people and helping them discover and conquer deep, spiritual wounds they may have had buried for many years?
I have been helping people over ten years now and have helped people that struggled as long as thirty-eight years finally achieve freedom.
Can you tell us about one of your most rewarding experiences you’ve had in helping a person find healing through the concepts in your book?
I share in my book a little about Mark’s story. His is one of the most rewarding because he has joined me in trying to get this message to the world. Mark lost a very close father figure when he was a young boy. He had no closure at all and even got cut-off from the father figure’s family who had much become his own. As a result, he had a lot of control and anger issues. Although Mark was a strong Christian, these issues pretty much ruined his marriage and family. Although his marriage wasn’t saved, Mark is now a licensed minister doing big things for God and his relationship with his children and his God is very strong!
What other books, writers or people did you find most integral during the development of Issues for the Soul?
F. Earle Fox, who wrote “Biblical Inner Healing”, was by far the most influential. I really only knew him thru college because of his book, but he wrote my forward, and we both look forward to meeting someday soon.
What is the best way people can learn more about you and your book, and where can they purchase your book?
People are welcome to contact me thru New Life Church. My books can be purchased there, at retail book stores, or online thru most book carriers. Tate Publishing is my publisher. My books can also be purchased thru them.
You may contact Derik at his email address: firstname.lastname@example.org