WIWIK S1E8 Bill Faris
Irene Ortiz-Glass: [00:00:00] I just want to thank our partner, Mira Fertility Tracking, for working with us to help women to get connected to the opportunity to actually measure hormones at home. It is the technology that I personally used during my menopausal transition. It was life changing for me. You can find more information on Mira on our website at menocoaching.
com and you can also find it on our show notes. We look forward to supporting you and your hormone transition.
But then there’s this reconciliation with ourself and our past and, and, and all of that. And, and so it’s, just think of it, uh, To be unreconciled is to remain fragmented or broken. To reconcile is to mend and repair and return things that were separated and broken back together. Right? So, the past threatens to prevent that.
Hello and welcome to What I Wish I Knew. I [00:01:00] am your host, Irene Ortiz Glass. What I Wish I Knew is dedicated to providing women with information and a guided path to find purpose, healing, and joy. It is also to give women power and permission to go inward during the time of the perimenopause and menopause transition to find their inner compass.
Irene Ortiz-Glass: While actively making choices that allow them to thrive during this period of time in life in this season We’re focusing around issues surrounding menopause and what I wish I knew Today is a very important Meaningful podcast for me It is focused on mental health this idea of suffering in life and healing And I am just completely honored and thrilled to have bill ferris here with us today Bill and I have a very long relationship together.
Bill has been my, um, my personal Christian counselor and I’ll just give you a little bit of Bill’s bio, um, because it’s just really important that you know what a special person he is. So Bill is a professional [00:02:00] Christian counselor. He’s practicing in Santa Ana, California, and online. He has a passion for healing spiritual and personal growth and communication in individuals.
Bill and Robin, his wife, who is a lifelong nursing professional, have been married 47 years and have four married children. and five grandchildren. He loves music, writing, and the arts, and has most recently enjoyed appearing in live performances at a small Southern California theater. You can learn more about Bill and contact him through his website at BillFarris.
com. So before we jump into, um, you know, my interview with Bill, I want to just… Talk for a minute about my journey and I want to highlight the fact that this idea of the menopause transition is very much connected to mental health in more ways than you can imagine. So, the statistics say that 40 percent of women who are going through perimenopause and menopause are more likely to suffer from suicidal [00:03:00] thoughts and depression and, you know, even eventually some suicide.
And the ones that are, you know, most impacted by this change are people who have a few things in common. One is a history of trauma in their life. Um, the other is a history of PMS, which is, you know, extreme sensitivity to the cycles that they go through. Um, as well as PMDD. And so what we know scientifically is that estradiol stimulates serotonin and dopamine.
And when you start to lose levels of estrogen, obviously it impacts the brain. So for me, what happened during this time that, you know, I’m just going to share in full transparency today, is that I suffered extreme anxiety through 10 years of this transition and it can for many women last 10 to 12 years.
It can start in 30s and it can go until the age of 60 for some. It is a very sensitive topic, but it is one that I care deeply about because I experience severe [00:04:00] anxiety, and I also experienced suicidal thoughts and depression. And I tried medication. Obviously medication is an option for some and is the right choice, but that was not the answer for me.
And I knew in my spirit and in working with Bill that there was work to be done. Um, there was work to be done to heal my physical body that I was working with. With my doctors, but there was a lot of work that needed to be done in my spiritual soul and in the reconciliation of my past hurts. And, you know, it’s so hard to talk about because, um, you know, as humans, we experience so many things, but trauma in the body, it, if you don’t deal with it, it sort of is, um, captured in the cells and in every membrane of your body.
And then over time, you know, it just wants to be healed. It just, the body cries out for healing and God wants us to be healed. You know, he wants us to be [00:05:00] reconciled in, in with him, right? And to our past to find wholeness. So that is why I am here is to give people hope, but also to know that they’re not alone.
So Bill, um, I’m going to jump in now to just understanding some of the things that you and I’ve been working on to share with our audience today. You know, like I said, this is probably one of the most important podcasts that, that I will ever put out. Um, and so maybe start with telling us what led you into pastoral counseling.
Bill Faris: Well, um, I guess it kind of snuck up on me because, uh, I’ve been in the ministry my whole life in one form or another. But for many years I was an assistant pastor, uh, in a youth pastor first and then later an assistant pastor. The time, um, just before the year 2000, late 90s, that I was on the staff of a large church, uh, myself and one other [00:06:00] pastor were kind of tasked, um, uh, with, uh, the coun doing a lot of the counseling of the congregation members.
And, um, at that time I realized how much I loved counseling. I loved being with people. I loved listening. I loved attending, I loved praying with them. I loved trying to support and them through hard things. And um, and it was really single individuals and couples. I was also leading the singles ministry at the church at the time as well and a few other things.
So I, I realized at that time that, wow, I really love this and I want to grow. I want to, I want to do this. I want to learn skills. I want to grow my capacity as a counselor. And so that led me to go to grad school at a wonderful place that no longer exists, unfortunately, but was for me a godsend of an environment to get those skills.
Irene Ortiz-Glass: That’s fantastic. So, you know, as I [00:07:00] mentioned, there’s this, you know, big, big. conversation today that we’ve never had that is really important around mental health and I’m so thankful that the world is talking about mental health. So, you know, you obviously deal with lots and lots of patients. Um, tell us about your view on mental health.
Bill Faris: So I think of mental health as kind of having a one foot in stability and the capacity to just be resilient, to be able to endure hard things, to have patience, to have hope, and just to kind of look at the whole question of stab stabilization and, and, you know, functioning through difficulty. And the other, uh, I, the other foot is in the area really of personal growth and, you know, expanding one’s capacity to take in, uh, God’s plan for their life, to take in self respect, to [00:08:00] take in, uh, compassion and empathy, you know, to grow in all these other ways that are very intrinsic to our being fully human and fully alive.
And so I, I kind of see it in, you know, a foot in each.
Irene Ortiz-Glass: Yeah. And I, I know when you and I met and I was, you know, going through my diet pill addiction. You know, a lot of our conversation was like your doctors and you have to get your body stable and then I’m going to work with you on your mind, your thoughts, your spirituality, so that these two can come together to help you get well.
And, you know, in the work that we’re doing at mental coaching, you know, we have trauma coaches and other people and resources like yourself. We work with the body and then when needed, we then go to peel back the onion with other people who can work on the other dynamics because, you know, we’re a system, you know, we’re very complex as humans.
It’s kind of amazing how God created us, but so we have to look at sometimes, you know, going back to the harder [00:09:00] things. So, you know, I often used to ask God, why are you allowing me to suffer? You know, I, I often ask this question, how, why God, why, um, and then one day, and I write this in my book, what I, you know, the body whispers before it screams that he said, quit asking me why and, and figure out what you’re supposed to do with this.
And that is why I’m here. I mean, that is why we’re on this podcast. It’s like a miracle in many ways. So you’ve dealt with so many people who suffer. And you’re self included. You’ve had suffering more than many people that I have known. Can you give us your point of view and your thoughts on suffering and hardship in life?
Bill Faris: Yes.
Irene Ortiz-Glass: talk for a long time about this one.
Bill Faris: Well, yeah, it is a big theme, right? It’s a big theme of my life. It’s a big theme of the work I do. Um, and it’s a big theme of my theological approach to how I address this for people. Um, I think it’s [00:10:00] important to think of suffering, again, I’m going to use a twosome here, two bookends. On a, uh, on either end of a stack of books, one bookend is suffering and hardship and difficulty and the other bookend is, uh, thriving and growth and, you know, um, redemption and, uh, healing.
So, if you don’t have a good theology of suffering, meaning if you don’t have a place in your theology the way you think about your place in the world and God’s work in your life that includes a, an appreciation for suffering and the unique things suffering can bring about. If you, if you just deny suffering or if you think it’s ungodly to suffer or something like that, or unfaithful or whatever.
Then, uh, you know, then, then the books fall over that direction, right? Uh, however, if your only, uh, if your only view is that it’s all about suffering and, and, and God never brings healing or [00:11:00] redemption or reconciliation or hope or any of that stuff, you know, then, then, then if you ignore the healing side of the equation, then of course the books kind of tip over the other direction.
So it’s really about the tension, and that’s the word I would use to describe it, the tension in between. Uh, healing, and hope, and redemption, and, and thriving, and suffering, and enduring hardship, and difficulty, somewhere in that tension between the two, we meet ourselves, and we meet God, and we meet truth, and we meet vulnerability, and we meet so many things, uh, in that space between the two bookends, if you will.
Irene Ortiz-Glass: And so I always refer back to, and you’ll probably know the scripture, but, you know, God tells us, you’re gonna have suffering, right? In this world you will suffer, but, you know, I’ve overcome the world. Like, he tells us that, right? So, you know, when people come to me and they’re in pain, and I have several, several, Coaching clients and executive corporate roles and in the minnow coaching world [00:12:00] who talk about like I’m just tired Um, I’m like, you know, we can’t view suffering as a surprise, you know, it is part of life.
God told us we will suffer. And so it’s how, it’s to your point, how do you want to deal with that suffering and how do you view it that changes the way you think about it, that changes the way you respond to it. So where does God fit into that? Because you just started to touch on it and you know, people know, and I’m very transparent that my faith is my solid foundation.
Um, I could never do. Be who I am. Um, be purposeful without him. And so, where does God fit into suffering? Because, you know, I, I have people very close to me who say, I don’t, I don’t know that I really believe, because how could he really allow? So, tell us about that.
Bill Faris: Well, I’m going to start by saying, first of all, that that is the, what they used to call the 64, 000 question, right? Like that’s like, the question. Because if God is [00:13:00] real and he is present in suffering, then like you just said for yourself, it’s a game changer. It changes the whole conversation.
about suffering. If there is no God, or if God exists but he stands back from our suffering indifferently, or if we think of God as someone who sort of delights in torturing us, you know, there’s a lot of ways to think about this, of where God is in this, then, you know, all of those have consequences as to how we endure or engage suffering or try to not engage it.
But if we can believe that God is present Uh, and sometimes that presence is a mystery, then we have a foothold that can really change things. And I’ll tell you when I kind of captured this from my own life in a way that was real for me. And some of you may know that my wife was in a head on collision 23 years ago with two of my children.
And she went through a great deal of suffering and [00:14:00] continues to experience some fallout from that in her life and in our lives. But I remember when she had come home from the hospital after nearly three months in the hospital, fifty broken bones, three brain injuries, et cetera, et cetera. And she was crying one night saying, Why did God let this happen?
I was just bringing my kids home from school. And it’s a great question. We want to know why. We want to be able to have a tidy answer. Because suffering is so horrible and difficult. That we want to at least feel like, well, if I gotta go through this, tell me there’s a purpose, tell me there’s a reason, and why God allowed this.
And I realized when she asked me that I couldn’t give her a tidy answer to the question. Oh, here’s why, exactly, here it is right here, you know. So it was like, I don’t know. And if we have to know the answer to that why in order to move on in our suffering,
Irene Ortiz-Glass: Oh, yes.
Bill Faris: may be stuck [00:15:00] because that data may not be available to us in this lifetime, you know, we might get hints about it, we might get ideas of it, we might see connections and be able to figure out a few redemptive things about the suffering, but it may not be a nice, clear, tidy answer.
Oh, here’s exactly why. But, but, but if we need that to move on, we, we might be in trouble. But here’s what I told her. But I said, you know, God was there. Yeah. And there were very specific ways I won’t go into, in which I could clearly see God present on the accident scene, at the accident scene, and following.
And through all the hard things that we go through, that you went through, Irene, that people go through, maybe the question, maybe the better question, if I can say it that way, is not why, but where. Where is God? Is he here? How do I know it? How do I discern it? How do I detect it? What tells me that he’s [00:16:00] here?
And I’m gonna refer people to, to me, some of the best writing on this topic I have ever read from a 30 year old woman whom some of you will know from America’s Got Talent, Nightbird. Uh, uh, her name, her name being Jane. Her blog at nightbird. com. Uh, her blog there. There’s only about four entries there. Um, but they are some of the most visceral, powerful encounters with this whole question as she suffered from cancer.
She has since passed away. But I’ve never seen anybody give voice to this Interaction with God from a place of such deep darkness and difficulty as she has in such eloquent ways and her blog, God is on the bathroom floor,
Irene Ortiz-Glass: Yeah, which I talk about too.
Bill Faris: really speaks, really speaks to this of, uh, of, of how we have this, [00:17:00] this conversation with God about our suffering that is so personal.
You can’t, it’s not a cookie cutter. Yes, you can learn from other people suffering, thank God. But it’s, everybody’s got a little bit of a different take on, and a little bit of a different experience and story to tell. And so, we find in your testimony, Irene, and testimonies like hers, and like mine, that the one thing that keeps coming through, I think, is summarized so well by Betsy Tenboom, the sister of Corey Tenboom, while they were together in the Nazi prison camp.
Uh, during the World War Two, uh, for hiding Jews in their home and arrested and sent to prison camp. Their father dies there and, and, um, Ravensbrook there. And um, Sister Betsy says, Corey, there is no hole so deep that God is not deeper still.
Irene Ortiz-Glass: Yeah, amen to that.
Bill Faris: maybe that’s as good as it [00:18:00] gets as far
Irene Ortiz-Glass: And that’s, and that has to be enough, right? That has to be enough. And you know, I’ll tell you two things. One is, I knew God, right? From a very early age. But in suffering, I will tell everybody one thing. I met him. And I write in my book about the bathroom floor. So when you told me about her, I’m like, we must be sisters.
But there’s something about the bathroom floor. I was there a lot. And I met him. He met me there. I didn’t meet him. He came down and met me. And So I know that’s one thing. The second thing that happened to me, which is so interesting, and I’ll never forget having this conversation with God, and I, and I, I was felt at the end of my rope, and my suicidal thinking was getting really extreme.
And I said, I don’t want to die, but these thoughts won’t leave me, because my brain, I know my brain is not calibrating, and I had to keep reminding myself of the facts of my hormone, hormones were doing it, you know, and I knew that. I had the I know in my spirit. It kept coming through, and here’s what happened, and that.
When this happened everything shifted. [00:19:00] I said to God, here’s the deal I’m been suffering for so long and I’ve just decided today if you never heal me here
Bill Faris: Hmm,
Irene Ortiz-Glass: I still love you. Just like if you did I don’t even care God. It’s okay I’m I know how to I know you’re gonna see me through even if I don’t get better
Bill Faris: Hmm.
Irene Ortiz-Glass: and so those two things changed I mean, after that I started to get well, so I don’t know if I just gave, I just surrendered or what, but another thing started to enter in that during that time that also shifted things which was This idea of reconciling my past.
And so, you know me at all the levels. I’ve had a lot of trauma, a lot of abandonment, and a lot of rejection as a child, which turned me into a massive Type A perfectionist driven person. I’m still that person, but in a very different way. And so we did a lot of work around reconciliation. And so I just really want our [00:20:00] listeners to hear What does it mean to be reconciled and why should we care about that?
Bill Faris: Yes. That’s a great question. Um, second Corinthians chapter five in the Bible. talks about the ministry of reconciliation, talks about how God has reconciled us to himself in Christ, and so he, he’s, he’s repaired our broken relationship with himself through Christ, and what Christ took on the cross, and so that’s where the ministry of reconciliation discussion begins in the scriptures.
But then it really, I think, continues to talk about To, to, to lead us, we just kind of follow that path of reconciliation into, uh, reconciliation with other people, where that’s possible, where there’s enough trust and goodwill to rebuild with people, reconciliation. Of course, that’s, that’s talked about a great deal in scripture.
But then there’s this reconciliation with ourself and our past and, and, and all of that. [00:21:00] And, and so it’s, just think of it, uh, to be unreconciled is to remain fragmented or broken. To reconcile is to mend and repair and return things that were separated and broken back together, right? So, the past threatens to prevent that.
The past says, you, because you have been so broken and so shattered, And you’ve had so many things that it’s too much. It can’t come back together. There’s no, and so I think of reconciliation happens when we go, Okay, there’s gotta be a place to put all this, right? I think reconciliation is about finding a place to put things.
And so I think there’s three places. When we’re talking about the sinfulness of our life, you know, our sinful, rebellious, broken hearts. The place that we take sin, the place, there is a place to put that. It’s at the [00:22:00] cross with Christ. The Bible says He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquity, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.
So, we take our brokenness with God, our sinful brokenness to the cross, and we can leave it there. We don’t have to pay. Christ paid. And we can leave that there. But that still leaves the past. Not the sinful past, just the wreckage of our past. Where do I put that? What do I do with that? And so, that reconciliation I think happens when we realize some of our past just belongs in the past.
It’s part of our story. It’s just part of the story we tell. And it has a place to go when it becomes a part of our story and we tell it as not a shameful part of our story, but just our story, which is [00:23:00] something you’ve become very, you know, good and gifted at and helping people understand, you know, we don’t have to hide from our past.
So we look at our past and we go, you know, some of that just belongs there. That’s who I was then. That’s what was real for me then. That’s what was happening in my life then. That’s how I responded then, and I’m not that person anymore in a lot of important ways, but by golly, that’s who I was then. That was my reality then, and I can just leave that there in the past, as the past, and go, I can be reconciled to it.
It’s part of my story. I’ll talk for it in a minute about Kintsugi, the Japanese art of ceramic repair, and how that helps us see that vividly. Then the future… Okay, the future is the other place we can take our unreconciled pieces, which is to say, okay, that was the past. I learned some things. I grew. I came to understand some things.
Irene, this is so much who you are. And now in the [00:24:00] future, I’m going to respond differently. I’m going to grow from this. As you said, I’m going to meet God. I’m going to meet myself. I’m going to, uh, de deepen my understanding of the body, the soul, the mind, life. And I’m going to apply it to my future. So some of my stuff…
That I feel unreconciled to, I can take to the cross. Some I can leave in the past and some I can apply to the future and say it’s not all for nothing. It’s not all lost. Some of it is going to actually help me to be better and make better choices or make different decisions down the road. I want to just talk for a second about this Kintsugi thing, which is this amazing art of Japanese ceramics where The idea is a piece of, of, of ceramic that has been broken is not a shameful thing.
In fact, it’s treated with extra care because it’s put into the hands of an artisan master who takes the shattered pieces and, and, and reattaches them with a very [00:25:00] precious compound and then touches those cracks with gold. instead of erasing them and saying, okay, to make this pottery, okay, we’re going to erase all evidence that it was ever broken, which is kind of how we think of things a lot.
We’re going to say, no, in fact, we’re going to highlight the breaks in the cracks because it tells the story that this piece that was once whole was broken, but was so loved that it was given extra care. Special care gold has been applied and now it tells a different story. And I, I love the line from Leonard Cohen, uh, the, the musician Leonard Cohen, who in his song Anthem sings, ring the bells that still must ring, forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets
Irene Ortiz-Glass: I love it. So, Bill, you know, um, you and I did a lot of work on [00:26:00] reconciliation of my past. And, you know, one thing I wanted to share with the audience is that it is, it takes time. Cause you and I started that journey a long time ago and had to peel the onion. Um, there was one piece in there that I just want to mention, which is grieving.
And I feel like I had to grieve. That passed before I could move forward. Like I had to really go there about how sad I was and, and name the feelings and what I experienced with you and call it what it was and cry a lot and let, and this was, you know, I don’t know how many years of unpeeling until I got to the.
Real synopsis in the menopause transition where it just poured out of my, you know, soul. And then, and then it healed. Um, so we only have a couple minutes. Tell us about your book. You wrote a book, How Healed Do You Want To Be. Um, what does it mean to heal?
Bill Faris: Yeah, so, I mean, the book’s out of print now, but it, the book is what brought us together, you may recall. Uh, your mother, your mother heard me speak when the book was, uh, first published and got you a copy and that started our [00:27:00] connection. So it, the, the, the idea of healing that the book expresses and that actually I have on my YouTube channel, which is just Bill Ferris MPC on YouTube, I have all seven of the classes I just taught on this.
It’s at a church recently, it’s the same principles from the book, but it’s been updated, and it’s kind of a live teaching about an hour and a half each. Um, so these are the five, to be healed is to experience five things, okay, I think in this order. And so first, you have to remove that which is harming you.
There’s no use talking about repairing a bullet wound until you take the bullet out, right? There’s no use talking about healing a poisoning until you remove the poison, you know, pump the stomach or whatever you got to do. And so there’s things that injure us, uh, that we have to shed and get rid of or find deliverance or relief from because as long as they’re there, they’ll keep hurting [00:28:00] until we remove them or remove our, their access to us.
And so that’s… Where all healing begins. And then the second thing then is the repair process. Now, how do we address the brokenness? How do we address the wounds? How do we begin to introduce repair to those wounds? And then we go from there to restoration. How do we start to get some things back that was lost in that wounding?
How do we reclaim, recover some things that were lost in the wounding experience? And then we go from there to redemption. You’ll notice these are all R’s. Um, redemption, which is, how could this actually be turned for good? How could at least some aspects of my wounding, my grieving, my losses, my, my, my brokenness, my past, my hurts, my, my suffering, is, is there any of this that could be actually turned around?
And, and become available as [00:29:00] good, as growth, as, as help for others, or whatever it might be. And maybe that’s as far as a lot of people get. You know, like, if you get from, I’m pretty much a wiped out, shattered mess, to, I get some removal of the injury, injurious, I, I, I repair the damage, I recover some of that, I actually get to the point where I can see where this, some of this could be turned for good, right?
It’s the 12th step of the 12 step program. Turn it around. But there’s, I think, one more, and I think it’s rare, but I think it’s possible, that you could actually get to the place, I call it revelation to just keep the R’s there, that you could actually come to the point where you could actually thank God for the hardest, worst things you’ve ever been through, if, if, if, if, it’s how you most powerfully came to know Him.
And when, when you’re in that spot and you’re not afraid now of anything and you can thank God for anything you’ve been through because of how it has [00:30:00] introduced you to your savior, your healer, your redeemer, and how much that has changed your life, then I think you’re about as healed as you can get in this life, right?
And, uh, so I think that’s what healing is. It’s a process. It’s not an event. It’s not a point on a timeline. I was healed here. It’s, I was healed, or I began a healing here, or I started a healing, as you say, peeling the onion. I started a healing process here, but it continues into all these different dimensions over time.
So I think it’s good to think of healing that way. And then that, that brings up the question, well, how healed do you want to be? How far do you want to go with this? How far are you willing to walk with God into all of these dimensions of healing? And I like to quote the of the school that I did go to, uh, which was a Christian institution where I got my graduate degree in counseling.
Uh, quoting Augustine in my deepest wound, I saw your glory [00:31:00] and it dazzled me. Mm-hmm.
Irene Ortiz-Glass: Mm. Bill, your words are just like so touching for so many reasons. It’s very personal for me, but I will tell you that I have, I’ve said this in other podcasts that I do thank God for my suffering. I am in a total place of thankfulness because there’s so many people who will hear this and who will work with us, who will be at a much better place having known us and having heard all the possible ways to heal.
I thank you so much for being here. Um, I, I know people can find you at billferris. com and you do still do counseling services and Santa Ana and are available. Your podcasts will also be available on our website. So people will be able to have access to that. And then we’ll be, you know, putting it out obviously on social media, but thanks again for being, um, my personal partner on my journey and for being here with us today, you are just a blessing and such a man of God and just a wise.
soul. Um, there’s nobody like you. So thanks for joining us today.
Bill Faris: you, Irene. [00:32:00] It’s been a pleasure.
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WIWIK S1E8 Bill Faris