Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. Phil 4:13 (The Message).
Follow on Twitter Friend of Facebook
Speaking at Q Commons

by Hayne Steen, MAMFT 

Two weeks ago I spoke at Q Commons on the area of mental health. The same event was being held in 60 cities around the world. It was a thrill to be sharing the virtual stage with Tim Keller, Ann Voscamp, Gabe Lyons, Andy Crouch and Jenny Yang

Here is the transcript from my Q Talk.

A colleague asked me recently, “Do you think there is one common thread that connects all
counseling clients? In that moment “pain” seemed like the obvious response, but his question would not leave me alone. A week or two later it hit me...I was right...but there was more.

We all live with some degree of emotional pain but we are more motivated to get help when we experience “loneliness in our pain.”

Many of us were lonely before the pain. We might even come to a counselor and say to them, “fix me,” wanting only for our pain to go away so we can simply return to our relatively pain free disconnected lives.

But our pain is actually a gift.

The way we were doing life before wasn’t working. Our pain introduces us to the possibility of being more fully known. It forces us into a vulnerable place introducing us to parts of ourselves that we have either neglected or never even met before.

Hiding in our pain never protects us the way we think it might, it only makes us even more sick. The healthiest people are those who are learning to admit that they are struggling and that things are not well with their soul.

“Our Issue with Mental Health” is really “Our Issue with Being Human.”

History is littered with well known and lesser known fellow strugglers. No one is immune. Famous Christians like Henri Nouwen, Mother Teresa, Saint John of the Cross, Charles Spurgeon and Hudson Taylor each struggled with their own “dark night of the soul.” Rick Warren’s 27 year old son committed suicide in April of 2013 after battling mental illness for years.

Rick writes, “Because “mental” illness is so misunderstood, it is often stigmatized as strange or different or shameful. So we hide our hurt and suffer in silence, thinking we are “odd” or “not normal. Today one out of four adults in America is affected by a mental illness at some point in their lives. That means you know and love family, friends, and co-workers who are struggling with some type of mental illness. You may be struggling too.”

Around the time I was launching into private practice, my brother asked me, “So, what’s it like to sit with so many sad people everyday?” I think I know what he meant. I suspect he was really wondering if the sadness of others made me sad. And that’s a fair question.

The truth is, I know I sit with some of the most alive people on the planet everyday. People who are really paying attention to their lives to their longings which are expressed by their anger, their sadness, their hurt, their loneliness, their fear, their guilt, their shame, and even in their deep gladness.

One of the fundamental gifts of hanging out with hurting people is that they are asking all of the most important questions about what it means to be human.

Like, what does it mean to really take care of my self?

The Gospels record several accounts of Jesus being questioned about the greatest priority of God’s heart. Jesus emphasizes that the 1st priority of God’s heart is: “Love God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, all your strength.

He goes on to say that His 2nd priority is just like it: ‘Love your neighbor as you love your self.’ It would seem that there are not just two commands here but three. Love God. Love neighbor. Love self. Loving the “self” seems to be an implied third command.

What exactly is the self? For the purposes of this talk, let’s simply define the “self” as the unique heart, mind, soul and strength we have each been given by God.

In order to love the self, I need to know the self. At a bare minimum, John Calvin would say that this is one of the two main things we need to know. He writes, "Nearly all wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists in two parts: the knowledge of God and knowledge of ourselves.”

Self care is not selfish. It is actually good stewardship of the humanity that we have been given for it is in our humanity that God has made us and it’s where he chooses to meet us.

I suspect that the “self help” movement emerged out of a fracture in community but Jesus has created us to be in community because that is where we flourish. Jesus established a healing community and invites us to follow his orient the community of our “self” (heart, mind, soul, strength) toward the healing community of God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) bring our “self” under the authority of God’s benevolence, his kindness, his compassion, his wisdom, his correction, his tenderness, and his mercy.

These days, I divide up my time in 2 specific ways; counseling and soul care.

In my counseling practice, I find that I am continually inviting people to COME OUT and be known. What’s interesting is that what typically brings a person into therapy is often not always the same thing that we spend the bulk of our time processing together. As the relationship becomes a safer place, people more naturally invite the other wounded parts to come out to be seen and heard.

In my work with The SoulCare Project, I serve as the Director of Counseling & Care. I find that we spend the bulk of our time inviting people to COME AWAY and be known. To come away come away from rush and hurry, to come away and commune with the Father.

We invite leaders to press the pause button, walk away from the cultural addiction to the need to be needed, to rest and recover their lives. Get away from the monkey’s in the banana trees that cry out all sorts of things during the typical day, and sit in relative silence with a few others, being lead by someone who is also on the journey. We offer these opportunity around the region typically on a monthly basis for leaders like yourself.

To come away, even though I can function in this faced paced world, allows for the clutter to be blown away. But if I maintain this high speed pace of my life, it will only keep from knowing myself the way that God intended.

So, how do we bring our "self" (heart, mind, soul and strength) under the banner of God’s benevolence? 

David simplifies this beautifully in the pages of his own journal. “Be STILL and know that I am God.” Let me break this down for us.

1. Be still. {Resource}

We will never be able to discern what we really need if we are constantly in motion. As a college student I recall trying to impress my college professor, Dr. Mattie Hart, by telling her how busy I was for God. When the moment was right she tenderly said, “Hayne, don’t you know that momentum is the thief of intimacy?”

We can not sustain this break neck pace without experiencing severe breakdown in our heart, mind, soul or strength.

So, Be still.

2. And know. {Resource}

Discern what you need in order to flourish. Do not be afraid or ashamed to pursue whatever that might be. We often disregard and minimize our hunger for intimacy. But we were made to be known.

If we are feeling isolated then we can know that we must seek out others;

  • Do you long for the companionship of a friend or community of friends?
  • Do you need the help of a pastor, professional counselor or the presence of a trusted spiritual director?
  • Could you use the support of a 12 step group?

A great question to be asking is, “Who do I need I need to know in order to flourish? Who will I allow to truly know me at the level of my pain and shame?”

So, be still and know.

3. That I am God. {Resource}

A friend of mine shared, “I really trust God in the company of my own presence.”

Here’s the thing...God is sovereign, not us. One of the great ways to practice the Sovereignty of God is to leave some things undone. To take Sabbath seriously. To be willing to let some people down. Let some plates fall. I can not and should not aim to make everyone happy. That is a fools errand.

I must Be still. And know. That I am NOT God. You are not my God. We are not one another’s God.

And we must bring our “self” under the banner of God’s benevolence. If we can do this, we only need two more things; others (people who help us flourish) and time (enough margin to allow the healing process to unfold). 

What would our community be like right here in Chattanooga if we would embrace what it means to “Come out, Come away, and Be known?” 

“To be lonely is to feel unwanted and unloved, and therefor unloveable. Loneliness is a taste of death. No wonder some people who are desperately lonely lose themselves in mental illness or violence to forget the inner pain.” 

― Jean Vanier, Becoming Human


Becoming Human by Jean Vanier

In this provocative work, Jean Vanier shares his profoundly human vision for creating a common good that radically changes our communities, our relationships, and ourselves. He proposes that by opening ourselves to outsiders, those that we perceive as weak, different, or inferior, we can achieve pure personal and societal freedom. 

Our society shuns weakness and glorifies strength. By embracing weakness, however, we learn new ways of living and discover greater compassion, trust and understanding. This spirit of inclusion has extraordinary implications for the we live our lives and build our communities.

The films recommended here address what it means to be human while struggling with the pain of loneliness or isolation. 

Becoming Human Dialogues: Part 1 

Becoming Human Dialogues: Part 2 

Becoming Human Dialogues: Part 3

Into the Wild

Life of Pi

The Way




I am Legend

Refer a Friend

Did you know that for every friend you refer to me (who shows up) I will offer you 1 FREE counseling session? 


Feel free to email me directly of you would like to reconnect at

Register Online

I now offer an option of registering as a client securely online. You can register and view my availability online by CLICKING HERE

Regional Voice

Hayne has been invited by the Chattanooga Youth Network to facilitate a conversation with regional youth workers on the topic #DIGITALPARENTING

Writing Projects

Currently Hayne is working on a handful of writing projects that bring him a great deal of life and will hopefully be of some encouragement to others. 

A book being designed to curate a contemplative conversation with parents raising their children in the digital age.

Being Rooted
A book and a website in the making designed to provoke a holy curiosity for the painful places in your story.

Letters to Francine
Letters to Francine is an unfolding weekly conversation between a seasoned spiritual director (Francine) and a soul care intern (Hutch), who are encountering a wide range of personalities seeking spiritual direction.


Do you know someone who could use some time away to rest and recovery from the throws of a busy schedule? Feel free to share about The SoulCare Project with them. 

Nouwen Retreat 
October 29-31

November 14-16
A private SoulCare retreat for an intimate gathering of mainstream artists who are shaping culture globally. 

Presvious attendees :
Drew Shirley
Josh Garrells
Secret Sisters
The Last Bison
Paper Route

December 2014 
A private SoulCare retreat for regional youth leaders serving across several denominations and para-church settings. 


Recommended Reading List

Are you looking for some reading suggestions that will help assist in your own work away from our time together? 


3069 Broad Street, Suite 7D
Chattanooga, TN 37408


Call Hayne directly 
at 423.517.7076

Copyright © 2014 Elbow Tree Christian Counseling, LLC, All rights reserved.
As a client of mine at Elbow Tree, may this monthly email bring you terrific encouragement.

Our mailing address is:
Elbow Tree Christian Counseling, LLC
38 South Dixie Highway
Saint Augustine, FL 32084

Add us to your address book
Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp
unsubscribe from this list | update subscription preferences