"Ask Autumn" is an anonymous advice section. Women have the opportunity to ask and submit personal questions. Each question is read and reviewed by a Marriage and Family Therapist and answered in the following issue of the magazine in the Ask Autumn Column. Autumn Magazine is designed to spark engagement, conversation, and growth surrounding God for our readers. The magazine focuses on topics that explore God's unwavering love for us, our faith in His will, and our purpose in life to glorifying Him and help others. We give our readers information that they can relate to as well as a medium where they can express, empower, and enhance themselves.

What's your question?

November 2016

I've been working at my company for 14 years and they just laid me off. I don't know what to do. I'm scared and I don't know how to handle this. My husband seems supportive but I don't know if he realizes the severity of this. We have a 3-year-old kid and just bought a house last year. I feel helpless. 

Dear Autumn Reader:

Working for a company for 14 years is kind of like being in a long term relationship and even more so if you’ve enjoyed going to work every day. The job has become your pride and joy which gives you a purpose and a reason to get up each morning.  Nobody who has not been separated from their job in that manner will be able to fully understand the trauma you’ve experienced even though they have offered great empathy.  It is also natural to have a concern about your financial obligations. However, understanding the power of God and the miraculous ways in which God works will help you with the mourning of your job loss. Please allow me to help you better understand the different stages of mourning as you reflect on the loss of your job.  Even though you may not think of your job loss as a grieving situation, it is. There are seven stages of grief and loss, several or all of these stages which you may need to go through to fully accept your reality of being separated from your job of 14 years.

First, you are dealing with shock and denial.  You will probably react to the loss of your job with numbness and disbelief. You may have also denied the reality of the loss of your job at some level, to avoid the immediate pain. This is because shock provides emotional protection from being overwhelmed all at once.

Secondly, you may be experiencing pain and guilt. This is the pain of the unknown and guilt because you have determined that losing your job was your fault. As the shock wears off, you continue to experience unbelievable pain. Although unbearable and almost intolerable, it is important that you obtain a full understanding of the pain. Do not mask it, evade it or escape from it with alcohol or drugs. It is natural for you to have guilty feelings or regrets over things you wish you did better.  Due to your responsibility to you child, your husband and your finances specifically the purchase of your new home, your life could start feeling chaotic and scary.

Thirdly, you may start to display some anger which could result in your bargaining. This would be because of feelings of frustration causing you to lash out and place unnecessary blame on others for the loss of your job. Please try to control this, especially with your husband and you three-year-old son because at this point you will be likely to release bottled up emotions.  In this stage, you may rail against your faith (God), questioning "Why me?" You might also try to bargain the impossible out of your despair ("I will never do wrong again if you just give me my job back").

In the fourth stage, you will be confronted with feelings of depression as well as feelings of loneliness as you try to reflect on the event taking place in your life. Just when others may think you should be getting on with your life, an extended period of unhappy reflections could likely take charge of you.  This is a normal stage of your grief. It is at this point, of your heartache that you will finally realize the true magnitude of your loss. You may sense feelings of emptiness or despair resulting in a lack of socialization as you reflect on things you did with your friends at work.

The fifth stage of your grieving could now take a positive turn towards your future by way of adjusting to life without your former job; your life becomes a little calmer and more organized. Your will notice that your somatic symptoms have decreased and your feelings of hopelessness begin to feel more promising.

In stage six just before you get to your final stage of acceptance and new found confidence you will become more functional. As your mind starts to work again, you will find yourself pursuing more realistic solutions, such as finding a new job with another company. Before you know it you will start working not only at a new job but on the practical and financial issues you were once distraught over.

Finally, reader, you come to realize that you have accepted the reality of your situation. Recognizing this final stage of your grief does not necessarily mean you won’t think about what happened you may experience some form of resurgences. However, with the understanding of these seven stages of grief and loss you are now equipped to manage any of those emotions which you could be confronted with. It is my hope reader that you will once again experience wonderful times with your family and most of all you find inner peace. 

October 2016

I'm tired of being broke.... I feel like every time I get a little money or God "blesses me" with a small fortunate it's taken from me as quickly as I got it. Why does God want me broke?

Dear Autumn Reader:

First, I would like you to know that your money concerns are universal and relatable to many.  The response to your question will be from a biblical standpoint. Deuteronomy 30:9 states: “The Lord your God will make you successful in everything you do.  He will cause your fields to produce abundant harvests, for the Lord will again delight in being good to you as He was to your ancestors.”

Clearly from the content of this scripture God does not want you broke. There are many people who would like to be financially secure.  However, some people are not equipped and do not have the full understanding of God’s biblical principles for money management nor do they have the knowledge of how to be obedient to God’s commands for obtaining financial abundance.

In Deuteronomy 28:12 God has stated that: “The Lord will open for you, His good storehouse, which is the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand; and you shall loan to people and many nations, but you shall not borrow.” Here again reader you can see God does not want you broke. It is evident in these scriptures that when people can apply God’s money principles to their daily lives, they too can obtain riches beyond their reach.

In the same way, Deuteronomy 8:18 teaches each one to “Remember the Lord their God, for it is God who gives each person the ability to produce wealth.  Likewise, 3 John 1:2 teaches: “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.”  Another important factor to be mindful of may be found in 1 Corinthians 16:2 which commands:  “On the first day of every week each person should put aside and save so that they may prosper. 

The Lord does not want you to be broke. He wants people to be aware and mindful.  Ecclesiastes 5:10 counsels “Whoever loves money never has money enough and whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.”

Deuteronomy 30:8-10 teaches people to obey the Lord, and to observe all His commandments. “Then the Lord your God will prosper you abundantly in all the work of your hand, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your cattle and in the produce of your ground.”  The same scripture continues: “For the Lord will again rejoice over people for their good, just as He rejoiced over their fathers.”

So you see reader, it is very important to understand that if people obey the Lord their God and keep His commandments and His statutes that are written in the book of the law, which is the Bible, they too can experience substantial riches. Proverbs 3:9-10 reminds people to: “Honor the Lord from their wealth and from the first of all their produce; so their barns will be filled with plenty and their barrels will overflow with new wine.”  This is because sometimes when people obtain greatness and riches they often forget God by not honoring Him according to His commands in the Bible which relate to tithing and offerings.

Reader, just remember in all things moderation is the key. 1 Timothy 6:9-11 advises “Those who want to get rich sometimes fall into temptation and a trap as well as, many foolish and harmful desires which plunge them into ruin and destruction.”  This scripture further educates: “For the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil, and some people by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. Therefore, it is wise to flee from the excessive greed of things, because if people are of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness God will give them the desires of their hearts. Practicing the techniques of the Lord could be your ticket to wealth, prosperity, and abundance. Thank you, reader, for your question. Autumn Magazine appreciates your question.


September 2016

No religion is the new religion. Have you heard that line in the song, Might Not by Belly? I am a very spiritual person but sometimes it's hard to act accordingly and to keep firm in my beliefs because of my friend's lack of belief. I get called and labeled the "church girl" or the innocent and sweet one of my friends (like it's the worst thing to be in this world). Sometimes I feel like doing something crazy just to prove that I'm not as "stuck up" as everyone thinks. How do I change my friend's perception of me?

Dear Autumn Reader: 

According to Psychiatrist, Murray Bowen, self differentiation is the ability to separate your own feelings and thoughts from that of others. This could translate to “Not fitting in sometimes” While undifferentiated people cannot separate their personal feelings and thoughts; when asked to think, they are flooded with feelings and have difficulty thinking logically which results in them basing their responses on that of others. They look to others to define how they think about issues, how they feel about people, and how they interpret their experiences. Which could mean they are the ones who are always fitting in, unlike you. Psychiatrist Bowen further stated that differentiation is the process of freeing yourself from your family's processes to define who you are. This means being able to have different opinions and values from that of your friends and family members. At the same time, having the ability to stay emotionally connected to them. 

Instead of you feeling out of place and having the desire to do something crazy to fit in, you should be realizing how unique and very special you are.  With that said reader I would also like to address your statement: “I am a very spiritual person, but sometimes it's hard to act accordingly and to keep firm in my beliefs.”  Let’s take a look at the meaning of spirituality and what it means to you.  Understanding that a person can only appreciate what it is to be spiritual because it is a natural part of who they are. 

From my prospective spirituality should be something which reaches deep into one’s heart as it relates to life substances beyond the norm.  Spirituality should also represent experiences and beliefs which go beyond human comprehension.  Because you openly admit to your own spirituality, it is evident that you’ve been set apart, and you have been connected with the imperceptible and powerful foundation which provides awareness in your life. Your spiritual connection may come through your own personal exploration causing your core being to develop to an even higher potential. This, in turn, will set you apart and give you feelings of not fitting in.

What I am trying to say is that your spirituality like self-differentiation could provide you access to a passage of certainty and inevitably higher levels of responsiveness to others. It is very important that you stay true to self and true to others and the world about who you are. Do not worry about being called or being labeled the "church girl" or the “innocent and sweet one.”  Also, do not go doing something crazy just to prove that you are not as "stuck up" as everyone thinks.  Do not try to change your friend’s perception of you. In time, your friends will want to be just like you. You are who you are uniquely designed by God to stand apart from others. Consider yourself superior and extraordinary.

August 2016

I am feeling pressured by my boyfriend to have sex. I love him but I'm not sure that I'm ready.... but I also don't want to lose him. What should I do? How do I keep him but not make a decision that I may regret later?

Dear Autumn Reader:

A truly strong, healthy relationship involves so much more than just having sex to keep a man. Sex should be one of your most intimate and beautiful expression of love when the time is right. From your question, it appears as if the sexual encounter which you are currently contemplating might not be that type of experience for you if you are doing it to please someone else. It appears you may not be emotionally or spiritually ready to have sex with your boyfriend. Be careful not to lie to yourself by thinking that having sex beyond your personal desire that it will help you keep your boyfriend. True genuine love should never be measured in that way.

Understand that you care deeply for your boyfriend and try not to lie to yourself by using sex to prove your love to him. Sometimes individuals demand sex as proof of love, and sadly many people have given sex in hopes of sealing the idea of love. Unfortunately, those deals more time than less end up leaving deep, scared, and depressed individuals. 

Most people long for intimacy and sometimes making physical contact appear to be the only way to prove their love to someone. Sex should involve intimacy with your significant other who loves you and cares deeply for your personal feelings. Sometimes sexual feelings can be heartfelt and profound and sometimes those same feelings are wild and passionate which often result in having sex at that moment. When those emotions develop the two people involved should be sharing the same desires. 

If and when those desires are expressed intimacy should follow it and should be an experience for both to cherish. If you are just having sex to please someone you could be depriving yourself of that deep emotional connection as well as, the opportunity to express true freedom, true feelings, your most inner and deepest thoughts as well as your fears. There are different types of sex, so be careful and try not to cheat yourself out of that deep emotional connection which you desire with your boyfriend.  Remember sex is physical, emotional, and mental all of which should play a significant role in adding to the component of genuine love and intimacy. 

July 2016

I was raised in a Baptist church and I remember so many times where both me and my family felt judged for not attending regularly or not dressing to the part. I'm skeptical about going back because I really don't feel like being in that type of environment. Am I wrong in my decision? 

Dear Autumn Reader:

You are not wrong in your decision about not going back to that particular church environment. The rituals or activities in which you choose to participate in your life should bring you positivity and excellence. You should always surround yourself with people who will uplift you and don't put you down. If you feel poorly about yourself each time you are in a particular place or with particular people, then you are in the wrong surroundings. The environment in which you choose to give your valuable time to should matter, you ought to feel excitement and desire when you go to church for praise and worship. If you are feeling anything less than that, it might be time for you to analyze the impact of the environment on your life as well as, your purpose within that environment. 

Try not to hold a grudge against your church peers, instead, think of the lessons you have learned over the years about people and most importantly about yourself.  Your experience of feeling judged for attendance and for your attire should not be a factor when you think of going to church. That experience may have helped you to realize why you want to be a part of that particular religious organization. It could also help you to understand the different value systems and the true meaning and depth of your own personal beliefs. Your church experience is not necessarily a negative one; it is called life lessons as there will be many different types of experiences along your life journey.  Be careful not to miss the importance of each experience you encounter in your life. 

In the meantime, prepare yourself with mindfulness by way of meditation and understanding of your own sense of self.  You could find joy, peace, and contentment within yourself and as a result, you will not be bothered by what others think of you when you walk into any church or find yourself in an unfavorable environment. This type of new found peace will make it easier for you to feel inner joy and peace which happens to be the best feelings a person could have. During your process of growth and development, the true self eventually emerges and surfaces who you are and why you do the things you do. For example, going to church could mean having a deeper spirituality and a closer encounter with your deity (God). It could be a religious thing where going to church becomes a social gathering, a place where one’s emptiness or voided areas in life could be filled up with flattery and praises from the things they wear. It could be the ability to get praise for dependability or just for showing up. Do not consume yourself with how the church made you feel. Instead, allow forgiveness to free you from negative thoughts and make more room in your life for inner peace and true happiness.

November 2015

Sometimes I feel lost. How do I gain a better understanding of God and His plan for my life?

Dear Reader,

In relations to God’s plan for you, only you can figure that out, with the help of you inner convictions about who you truly are and what makes you feel happy and satisfied. It is very important for you to realize your true passion so try to pursue whatever you think it could be. Don’t worry or think about what others will say or do. It could be your true desire, but know that it should serve as a positive and effective contribution and outcome for the benefit of yourself and others. 

It may be crucial for you to take a closer look at your socialization skills. Are you plugged into social media networks in ways that you have cut yourself off from normal people encounters? For example, are you being reluctant to be involved with social situations out of fear of saying or doing something foolish or becoming emotional in front of others. It is great to have close friends or confidants outside of your immediate or extended family members. Perhaps you could work on interacting more socially with others. Participate in social events; develop the ability to form relationships that will enhance your daily life. It is very important to have a personal balance in having alone time and time with others, all of which can aid you into realizing God’s plan and purpose for your life. 

With all of that being said, there are times when being alone is necessary. In these times of being alone you can analyze your life experiences. You can also pray or meditate so as to be at peace and develop the ability to hear or to discern when God is speaking to you. In doing so, you could also develop a sense of confidence and self-reliance. It is often said that we are better able to do our soul searching when we are alone. You have more control over your life than anyone else; therefore it is when you spend time with yourself that you can deal with the truth about your own difficult issues.  

Reader, in order for change to happen you ought to first realize exactly who you are at this moment and work on the things you would like to change. As long as you want excellence in your life you can achieve it. God knows the true desires of your heart, and He will grant them to you. Please know that everyone from time to time experience the feeling of being lost and lonely.  

In closing, I would like to advise you to seek additional resources for help if your problem of feeling lost persists longer than you think it should. In all you do, please don’t stop believing in your faith.

Thank you for both your question and contribution to Autumn Magazine.

October 2015

Am I a loser because I have not had a lot of romantic partners? Am I lesser of a man now that I'm married?

Dear Autumn Reader,

Have you heard the saying less is more? You are not a loser by any means.  From the sound of your question, it would appear as if you are experiencing some regrets as it relates to societal expectations of young men and women in the dating world. In my response to you I will help you to understand how you are a bigger winner than you have realized.

What did you lose? You are a person who has kept your consistency by way of not having numerous romantic partners. So let’s say you had lots of those so call romantic partners.  While you were on that path of your glorious romantic encounters, you could have lost yourself or your good health. You could have experienced infrequent communication with your partner in social or recreational activities and other mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, or even depression to say the least.  In that case reader, would you have considered yourself a loser or winner? Or perhaps you could have contracted numerous types of sexually transmitted disease while you were trying to become what you perceived to be a winner. Who or what would you be winning during this possible unhealthy process? Would it be for you or would it be for your societal/media praise and worship? 

By your actions of being a loser, you also have inevitably landed yourself in your current winning position of being married. You are now in the position God intended you to be in like the head of the household, husband, father, spiritual leader, or breadwinner.  In case, you have not realized reader you are in the winner's circle! Your losing position has landed you in your winning position that has afforded you a sense of belonging; you have found the romantic partner you truly deserve. That is considered to be a direct result of you being a so call loser.  

The question is how are you enjoying your marriage? Are you enjoying love between you and your partner? A man who is considered lesser is one who displays of less strength, quality, or importance. A lesser man than you might have simply given up after not being able to have numerous romantic encounters. Reader, you are by no means a loser. It takes a very strong man to stand tall and to say to a woman; "I want to marry you" and then to do it.  Being married is to be strong and courageous. A strong man wants to save himself to be united in marriage so that he can experience the wonderful feeling of being paired as a winning couple walking closely with God together. When a man has come to terms with himself and he can experience that type of internal joy he could never be seen as a loser. Instead, he is called a winner.