Category Archives: Faith

The Day Our Battles Were Won

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness or Abuse  (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Easter Sunday, some call it Resurrection Sunday, is the day on which Christianity hinges. Well, not actually the day, but rather the Lord, who rose from the dead on that day 2000 years ago.

Jesus had been betrayed, arrested, beaten, crucified, and buried on Friday.  Early on Sunday morning, some women disciples went to the tomb only to discover he was no longer there!

One in particular, Mary of Magdala, met the resurrected Jesus. At first she mistook the Savior of the world for a gardener. When Jesus called her by name, she knew.

He sent her to tell the 12 main disciples. Mary of Magdala was the first evangelist in history.

Think on that for a moment. What we know of Mary the Magdalene is that Jesus cast seven demons out of her. She was not someone our modern churches might first think of when choosing a representative. However, Jesus did.

To be clear, despite some famous secularized books, movies, and nonsense guesses, Jesus had no girlfriend.  Mary the Magdalene was one of thousands of people Jesus healed in his ministry. Many believed in him. Many walked with him on his travels. Many more did not.

Jesus lived a sinless life. How? He was God’s only birth-son. He was filled with the Holy Spirit from the moment he became an embryo. In a mystery we cannot understand, Jesus was fully God and fully man.

When sinless Jesus died on the cross, he took on his body, mind, and spirit the sins of everyone who would ever live who would trust him as their Savior and spiritual king. He carried the cumulative guilt with which we pummel ourselves and others. He felt the deep darkness of our shame By that, he defeated the father of lies, the accuser. 

Once we sincerely ask Jesus to be our Savior and ask forgiveness for our sin, the devil (yes, Satan is real),  tries to heap all that back on us. As the chief of liars and a skilled accuser,  if he can bury us under guilt and shame we will never reach the potential Jesus created in us.

When Jesus rose to life again, he wiped out our powerlessness against the devil’s strategies. He defeated death itself, and set us free to place our hope in eternal life.

No wonder Mary of Magdala wept when she saw him alive again. We can, if we will, drop the guilt and shame of our past and move forward as children of the King.  This is not to say that a believer’s life will be easy. 

The 12 disciples reacted to Mary’s report with doubt. They had to look for themselves to see if what she claimed was real. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who believe and yet do not see.”

You do not have to run and search for proof of anything.  Faith is not sight.  Jesus will reveal himself to you if you choose to take him at his word.

Easter is the day Jesus won all our battles.

Today’s Helpful Word  

Hebrews 2:14-18

Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death.  Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.

 We also know that the Son did not come to help angels; he came to help the descendants of Abraham.  Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters,  so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.

 

**** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

 

 

Maundy Thursday: Say No to Ritualistic Religious Acts – Jesus Showed Us the Better Way

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness or Abuse  (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

feet on sand
Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com

The first time I heard of Maundy Thursday I thought someone was confused about the day of the week! Today commemorates the Last Supper and Jesus washing the feet of 12 disciples.

Eww. Washing other people’s feet?  2000 years ago, people walked everywhere. Jesus walked hundreds if not thousands of miles on foot, traveling from town to town in Israel, preaching and healing the sick.

You can imagine then how sandals would become filthy and the wearer’s feet as well. It was custom, polite, good manners, and classy to wash a guest’s feet when they entered your home. Generally, it was a servant who would do the actual washing.

On this evening, Jesus and his disciples were in the upper room of a home that did not belong to any of them. Perhaps this is why no one had taken the responsibility to wash anyone’s feet, I do not know. Jesus knew he was about to be betrayed to death, he knew he would not be with these men much longer.

To set a lasting example of how he wanted believers to love each other, he knelt and washed everyone’s feet. As the leader, the teacher and Lord of this small cluster of ordinary humans, no one expected him to do the dirty work.

That was his point exactly.

Jesus left a legacy of humility and servant-leadership for us to copy. When he was done, he said to the group, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.”

He meant those specific men to take on the humble role of foot-washers, and to maintain a servant attitude as their fame and ministries grew. This was not a command for believers of all time to wash each other’s feet in a ritual that bears little practical meaning.

woman staring through window
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Jesus was saying if we see that another of his followers needs something, we are to step off our high-horse, so to speak, and meet that need if we can. He commanded we show no favoritism, whether to the rich or the poor.  Throughout his ministry he equalized the value of women and men, Jew and Roman, children and adults,  and the marginalized with those society loved.

He went on to give his life. How much more can we do easy things like offering rides, or sitting with a lonely person, applying our skills to free services, or giving food or money to those in need?

In honor of Jesus, on this Maundy Thursday we can do better than wash each other’s feet.

Today’s Helpful Word  

John 13: 3-5 

 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God;  so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.  After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

**** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

 

 

Betrayal, and Moving Past It

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness or Abuse  (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

green palm tree leaf
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Of course today begins Easter week 2019. This particular Sunday is called Palm Sunday. It commemorates a day 2000 years ago when a man entered Jerusalem surrounded by cheers and applause, only to be betrayed to death 4 days later.

When Jesus, who had proven to be a miracle worker, showed up in Jerusalem this particular Sunday, he was already famous. He had healed people, cast out demons, and even raised a few persons back to life after they had been dead for a while.  Naturally then, he was big news.

A Messiah, or “anointed one” had been promised by prophets for thousands of years. The nation of Israel in Jesus’ day was occupied by the Roman Empire. Jewish citizens expected the Messiah to free them from this oppressive rule.

Many people believed Jesus was the promised Messiah (which he was). Problem is, most   had no clue what he was talking about when he preached about an eternal kingdom. They thought he was their new political and military king.

This is why they cheered and threw palm branches on the ground when he entered Jerusalem.

A few days later, he was arrested when one of his own disciples betrayed him. The happy crowd turned on him too. He wasn’t meeting their short-sighted expectations.

Isn’t it awful when a person holds unreasonable expectations of you and then turns on you because you do not meet them? This happens in many a divorce, I am sure.

My first reaction in such situations is hurt, swiftly followed by anger. Unfortunately, the anger tends to stick around. Anger keeps me justified. I can continue to blame the other person for being a jerk while exonerating myself of all wrong.  This does not help!

There is a better way.

The healthier and more beneficial way is to talk it out with someone in the know. Honestly considering my role in any fallout is actually healing. I can forgive myself for real instead of imaginary mistakes, and make amends if it is appropriate. Either way, life moves along.*

Jesus’ response to betrayal was not angry.  He gave up his own life – no one took it. His reason for doing so was anything but suicide by Roman Soldier. He died, literally, so we may find life. More on this on Maundy Thursday and Easter Sunday, this week.

Today’s Helpful Word  

John 12:12-14 

The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,

“Hosanna!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Blessed is the king of Israel!”

*Domestic abuse and child abuse are products of unrealistic expectations. If you have been so betrayed, I want to encourage you to not remain a victim. Speak up. explain what you can and cannot do. IF THIS IS A DANGEROUS IDEA, DON’T.  Instead, tell someone else who is in a position to help. I offer many options on my resources page, The Truth About Abuse.

**** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.
If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

 

 

Life balance: If you need wisdom, ask…

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness or Abuse  (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

pexels-photo-260907

A Frenchman,  looking for directions, pulls up at a bus stop where two Americans are waiting. “Excusez-moi, parlez vous Francais?” he tries. The Americans stare at him.

“Parlare Italiano?” No response. “Hablan ustedes Espanol?” Still nothing. The Frenchman drives away.

The first American turns to the second and says, “Y’know, maybe we should learn a foreign language.”

“Why?” says the other. “That guy knew three languages, and it didn’t do him any good!”

I guess it is okay for me to make dumb-American jokes since I am one. American, I mean. Uh hmm.

Big decisions, even if they seem small to other people, are stressful. To know the better and best way to go, asking the one with the answers makes sense!

James 1:5-8 “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.”

When I’ve asked God for direction, resulting confusion means I do not like his answer. Waiting for the other eeny to make moe leaves me perplexed.  Lack of inner peace, tells me I’m not following his guidance.

Obedience to God simply means trusting him to have the best answers, and taking his word for it. If a choice to become involved or not in a person’s life or in a cause or service project has you worrying about the cost of time, energy, emotions, etc., pause to answer the following questions.

Grounding questions

  1. What is your goal? Positive, meaningful connections need validation, love that acts, and sincere, non-critical acceptance. Are you providing these things in relationships? Are you too busy to connect meaningfully with people in your sphere?
  2. How will accepting another role affect your family? Self-sacrifice without considering others who will be affected may be ego-centric.  Do we have the right to force sacrifice on unwilling family members?
  3. Ephesians 6:7 “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people…” People may be assuming, begging, or sweetly inviting you to participate in their vision. Some have a great plan for your life! Do you know what is God’s will?
  4. Ask, is this act of service in YOUR wheelhouse?
  5. What role do you play in this person’s life, or in this service project?
  6. Are you balancing self-care and rest with self-sacrifice? Rest without self-care may be a symptom of depression. Self-care without any self-sacrifice could be selfishness.  Self-sacrifice without rest or self-care is possibly martyrdom.
  7. Are you setting “boundaries” out of apathy or avoidance?  Do you consider Proverbs 3:27, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act”?
  8. Are you over-committed now?

Here are a few options for over-commitment

→ add a time limit to your commitment      → gather a team to finish faster     → change the duty to suit your yeses (different time/day, etc)      → delegate a replacement person    → pay for it to be done by someone else     → Say, “This is more than I thought I was signing up for”     → Say, “This is interfering with other obligations (or health)”     → bite the bullet, take responsibility for over-promising, and walk away     →count your financial and time investment as loss and move on

Today’s Helpful Word  

Acts 6:2,3 – delegating

In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, [some Jews who were active in Greek culture] among them complained against the [traditional] Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them.

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

 

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

When Anxiety Greets You in the Morning

woman holding her jacket
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Have you noticed that anxiety sometimes works its way up slowly, barely detectable until you notice life isn’t functioning so well?  Then other times it comes in like a pack of wild dogs, snarling and eager to take you down.

Recently, It’s been hitting me in the mornings- before I even open my eyes. I’m thinking this cannot be worry because I was asleep! 

A therapist said once that if we will take the time to look closely we will see there is indeed a starting point to our current mood.  

Since mid-February I’ve been preparing to speak four times at a women’s retreat the first weekend in May. They want me to tell my story.  Generally, my preparation style is to write out many details and various ideas on the topic.  Editing makes the final product sensible and uplifting.  

For the last 6 weeks I have been going over and over the long-ago past, not to share a sob story, but to bring out the hope, healing, and joy of it.  The audience will not hear half of what I’ve written as the speeches  are trimmed and shaped.  

It’s a process that this time, has been taking me down a dark and ugly memory lane. At first I was frustrated, hating this ancient review of situations long forgiven and overcome. Once the gathering of ideas was complete,  I thought it would start to be more fun, adding the positive and inspirational parts. It is surprising how much unwanted feelings are stirring.

It’s not that I am depressed, hurt all over again, or even struggling with the memories themselves.  It is the anxiety of having to write it down, and pick and choose what is important to the point. This forces me to read old tales again and again.

Not. Liking. This.

It explains though, doesn’t it, why I wake up in  the morning feeling anxious?  Add normal anxiety about public speaking, an approaching deadline, and well, discomfort makes sense. 

I’ve tried anti-anxiety medications. They happen to not have much of an effect on me, although I have witnessed other people thrive with this medical help.  The calm I find (and might I add joy) when anxiety seems to have a mind of its own, is to sit down, open the Bible, read for awhile and pray for awhile. 

This result is because God’s Word is powerful and touches the deepest regions of a willing heart. 

Oh, how simple solutions are occasionally! If you are like me, anxiety in the moment seems as if that is all there is and ever will be. Then anxiety about having anxiety kicks in. Solutions do not appear simple at all. 

I have two more weeks of writing and editing, then reviewing. I know that I know these talks are going to encourage many women with hope and peace of mind. The work is definitely worth it!

Meanwhile, I refuse worst-case scenarios, and focus on Jesus who has always had my back  when I feel weak.  Part of my story is the day I discovered God is not a tyrant, but tenderly cares about me, his cherished daughter. 

Today’s Helpful Word  

John 14:27 

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.   -Jesus

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

 

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

What Does “I Don’t Have a Religion, I Have a Personal Relationship with Jesus,” Mean? (and what does it have to do with mental health?) Part 2 of 2

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

person standing on slope glacier mountain
Photo by Simon Migaj on Pexels.com

To have a relationship with Jesus is to have a relationship with God. For that connection to be so personal and close, is indeed amazing. In part 1 of this post, I explained God’s side of this two-way agreement.  Today, let us discover how to react to his unending love.

Our positive and meaningful response to God

One quote from Jesus that has received a lot of press, is “Love your neighbor.” Most people seem to have heard it whether they know where it came from or not. Many probably are not aware it is only part of a powerful statement.

A man asked Jesus which one of all God’s rules and regulations was the most important. Jesus’ surprising answer was this: 

”Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength”  (Mark 12:30).

As I see it and believe other scriptures support, heart is equated with emotions, soul with faithfulness, mind with knowledge and understanding, and strength with will. We can feel sincere love for him, put him above all else, study the Bible to know him, and choose to obey his words. 

“The second is this,” Jesus continued. “‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:31).

Well, that narrows it down, doesn’t it? Our side of the relationship with God is to love him and love others. How does that look in the day-to-day?

We do what God says: 1 John 5:3 “In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome…”

We believe and love: 1 John 3:2And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.”

We practice love: 1 John 3: 16-18 “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

We study the Bible as a whole: Psalm 1:1,2   “Blessed is the one… whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.”

We study the Bible to grow our faith: Romans 10:17  “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”

We pray: Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

We do not hold back in prayer: Ephesians 6:18  “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

Mental health needs to love and be loved. Love is an action, and a choice we make each day, that can overpower thoughts to the contrary. Love is not apathy. Love is what God wants. Love is who he is.

Today’s Helpful Word  

1 John 4:13-16

  “This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit.  And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.  And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

 God is love…” 

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Hope and help are yours.

 

 

What Does “I Don’t Have a Religion, I Have a Personal Relationship with Jesus,” Mean? (and what does it have to do with mental health?) Part 1 of 2

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

25305931 helping hands

It probably sounds strange to think a person can have a personal relationship with deity. Yet that is where faith begins.

Positive and meaningful relationships are two-way. The best ones also meet the needs of each person. With God, there is no failure on his part to provide validation, acceptance, and endless love.

Our connection to God is through Jesus, as he is quoted in the Bible in the book of John (14:6).  “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” It is God’s only begotten Son’s sinless life, sacrificial death, and resurrection that makes relationship with him, and eternal life possible.  

Rather than arrogant, his is an invitation to the amazing life-giving presence of God. 

God’s positive and meaningful connection with us

God knows every second of our existence, every thought, every deed, what we have done and felt, and what others have done to us. He knows us and shares in our joy and sorrow. This is validation that who we are and what we experience matters.

God knows us: Psalm 139:1-5  “You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.”

God shares in human sorrow: Exodus 3:7  “The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.”

God loves us enough to take action. Yes, he accepts us as we are, but loves us too much to leave us there. God proved he values us when he moved beyond “so loved the world” to “gave his only begotten son.” As another example, we also read that compassion moved Jesus many times to heal the sick and feed crowds.

God’s love acts: John 3:16  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

God supports us in trouble: Psalm 94:18-19  “When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’ your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”

God’s love and acceptance of us as individuals is proven in that he knew how we would cause him pain, and made us anyway. He is always calling and revealing himself.

God welcomes us: Psalm 139:16 “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

God forgives when we ask:  Psalm 130:3-4   “If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.”

Mental health is more accessible when we have validation, acceptance, and active love from another person. My relationship with Jesus gives me all of that and more in spades.

If you want more information on where I stand, see my statement of faith page. The next blog will describe how we respond in this relationship. What does God get out of it?

Today’s Helpful Word  

John 14:23 

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

 

 

Anxiety and Fear Do Not Hold All the Power!

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

man in black tank top lifting vehicle tire
Photo by Cesar Galeão on Pexels.com

Fear and anxiety dressed up as self-doubt is frustrating.  

Saul was a young man who stood by and watched the stoning death of the first Christian martyr, Stephen. One sentence in Saul’s story tells what we need to know about his heart. 

“And Saul approved of their killing him” (Acts 8:1).

Saul’s name was changed to Paul after an encounter with the risen Jesus.  He then became who we now know as Saint Paul, a Christian preacher and church planter of the first century AD, who wrote much of the New Testament under the inspiration of God.

Paul admitted to a “thorn” in his flesh – that is, something that bugged him and made life more difficult. His issue was not clarified for the readers, so we are left to guess.

Could it have been self-doubt?

He had been a religiously proud and zealous man, a leader once admired.  Is it possible then, that without the trappings of a Pharisee and the power of that religious order behind him he may have felt weaker?

He helped to murder early followers of Jesus. How might any one of us deal with trying to teach the families and co-believers of our victims?

Maybe Paul wondered every day what he was doing- maybe he had to start out each morning in faith, trusting that his weakness was the very thing that kept him humble and productive for God’s work.

I do not know, theologians do not know what Paul meant by “a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me…”. all we have are hints. For example, the context of this story is Paul answering an accusation of cowardice.  

He wrote,” You are judging by appearances…  I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters. For some say, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing” (2 Corinthians 10:7, 9-10).

In another letter, this one to a new pastor, Paul wrote, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). Could he have known that truth due to personal experience? 

It makes sense that he may have fought self-doubt when face to face with those he once sought to kill. These types of struggles are real, and daily. In person and in his letters, Paul stood up for what is true. Maybe he was a bit quiet and shy (I do not know), but he did not fail to say it like it is.  That would be the Spirit of God at work in him. 

I am writing to myself today because anxiety plays a large role in how far I push my potential. It frustrates and badgers me until I submit much too much of the time. 

No, self-doubt, timidity, anxiety, and fear are not from the Spirit of God. He promises us power when we feel powerless, love for others when we are self-absorbed, and self-discipline when fear threatens to paralyze our every good intention. Overcoming negative emotions is not always a quick work.  Sometimes, our thorn remains, and we have to keep walking anyway.

It is because of his power that I speak the truth about my past and current weaknesses when I would rather hide. It is his love that motivates me to share publicly so other hurting people will know hope.  Jesus was and is the way where there seems to be no other way.  

Wherever I am, it is Jesus I desire most to honor. Whatever Paul’s thorn, he said the same.  

Today’s Helpful Word  

2 Corinthians 12:8-10

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

-St. Paul

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

Is it Really Okay for a Christian to Say “No, I Cannot Help You”? (Part 3)

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

two man hiking on snow mountain
Photo by Flo Maderebner on Pexels.com

Saying yes to our and God’s priorities, means saying no to extra service opportunities that take up our time and resources. This is not to say we never help or become involved! In the last two posts and today’s, I show you that love practices boundaries.

Godly boundaries focus on what God has already asked of us. This leads to a life balance in which we can glorify God with peace, joy, and freedom in Christ.

1. Aren’t boundaries selfish? I’m supposed to be focusing on others. Boundaries are godly because they allow us to be who God wants. God blesses us with individual purposes. If we say yes to gain approval from humans, we may become co-dependent or a doormat. Living for someone’s happiness means we are not living to please God. We will not develop into the person he designed.

God also blesses us with individual purposes

Jesus refused distractions. In the end, he was able to say to our Heavenly Father, “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do” (John 17:4).

2. If I do not do help, who will?  Boundaries are godly because they allow others to step up and grow. In light of individual purposes, by taking on too much we may interfere with growth opportunities for another Christian. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 12:6, “There are different kinds of working, but in all of  them and in everyone it is the same God at work.”

3, I want people to know they can count on me. How do boundaries fit in?  Boundaries are godly because people need to depend on the Lord. By playing savior and trying to fix people or their problems, we deny them the learning process we all need to grow in faith. We have this declaration, “I am at rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will never be shaken” (Psalm 62:1,2.

Today’s Helpful Word  

Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him (our agendas and daily schedules), and he will make your paths straight.”

**** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

 

 

Is it Really Okay for a Christian to Say “No, I Cannot Help You”? (Part 2)

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

adult blur close up cold
Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Pexels.com

As Christians, we are often taught to give of oneself, to share, and to help where we can. “Love your neighbor” is a call many of us take seriously.

However, boundaries are wise. In the last post, this one and the next, I tell you why.

1. How can boundaries be loving? Boundaries are godly because they free us to love our neighbor . Have you helped until you were over your head? Were you tempted to shut yourself in and never again say yes to anyone? Contrary to what we often assume, love sets boundaries.

Individuals who actually make a difference in positive, meaningful, and effective ways, are careful not to make easy promises. By this they avoid failing to deliver on impulsively offered ones. When we learn healthy boundaries, we remain a steadfast friend, as supposed to walking away in frustration.

Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Even the Good Samaritan did not stick around to serve the beaten man hand and foot. After doing what he could, he went on to live his own life.

2. What about Christian duty?  Boundaries are godly because they prevent resentment and allow us to give with joy. In 2 Corinthians 9:7, Paul the Apostle is thanking the Corinthian church for offering a generous gift to struggling believers in Macedonia. He wrote, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

This concept is not only about money. We give of our time and energy best if we know when to say no.

3.  I say yes if a church leader needs me. That’s godly submission, right?  Boundaries are godly because saying no is often self-control. We said yes to certain responsibilities when we married, had children, accepted a job, or built up debt. It is God’s will for us to mind the promises we have made. Potential good deeds that stop us from obeying him in these matters must be rejected, however noble they are. This takes self-control. The result is freedom. In Proverbs 15:28 we read, “The heart of the righteous weighs its answers.”

Today’s Helpful Word  

Galatians 5: 22-23a, 25

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. …Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.