Category Archives: Help Yourself

On Valentine’s Day, Try These 4 Honesty Tips

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

photo-24779825-woman-kissing-her-man-on-cheek

If we want love in our relationship, we need honesty.

A woman I will call Tara, suffered from dishonesty. Her husband borrowed from Tara’s home office. If he wanted paper or a tablet, he took hers. When he needed a cord for his laptop, he replaced it with his wife’s. If he was home during work hours,  he commanded chunks of Tara’s time through long conversations.

Tara put up with most extremes. Her spouse would disappear with her car not knowing she needed it to meet a client. Borrowed items were not returned. One day he asked to employ Tara’s company for a project for his boss. Tara did the work and was never paid.

That was it. Finally, she told him off in a huge explosive fight. He claimed she never told him she wanted paid, and she said he did not take her work seriously. Oh my.

Honesty Tip #1

We are not honest when we try to be nice and not complain. Tara’s silence was actually sending the message that she did not mind her husband’s decisions. The first time she felt her husband might be taking advantage, she could have drawn a boundary.

For example: “I need my car available. It is not going to work out to lend it to you unless you double check with me first.”

Honesty Tip #2

We are not honest with ourselves when we rationalize that resentment is still love. All Tara’s denial accomplished was an eruption of built-up steam. The first time she felt anger, pausing to ask why would have been helpful.   

Had she realized she resented loss of control over her possessions and time, she could have drawn boundaries to gain it back.   

For example: “I need my printer to stay in my office. Maybe you can buy one on sale.”  (Responsibility is the husband’s to find another solution for himself.)

Honesty Tip #3

We are not honest when we deny our true motives. More than Tara wanted to be nice, she feared not being nice. She didn’t like the idea of hurting her husband’s feelings. The first time she felt this apprehension, she could have offered him validation and acceptance.

“Your life is a hectic one (validation).  I’m sorry, I want to be here for you (acceptance) , but my availability to talk is limited to lunchtime, evenings and weekends.” 

Honesty Tip #4

We are not honest when we are not clear about our expectations.  Tara fully expected payment for her work.  Instead of assuming her husband understood this,  offering him an estimate as she would any other client, would have helped. 

For example: “My company will charge your boss $_ _ _ per hour. I’ll need this agreement signed.”

Happy Valentine’s Day!! 

Today’s Helpful Word  

Romans 12:9 (NIRV)

“Love must be honest and true.”

 

***** 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.

 

 

 

In Over Your Head and Want to Get Out?

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

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Over and over. It seems never to stop. Just when life slows down, we repeat what has never quite worked for us. We say yes to too much.

It can help to know why we keep spinning in this cycle. Like a child playing Hide and Seek, if we do not know what to find, we cannot play the game.

9 possible motives to consider

If one or more fit, you will know what to change to find life balance. 

1. ImpulsivityWhen in doubt, don’t. If you are like me and most opportunities seem to be the right one, then pause. Not much in this world is going to change dramatically if we take the time to pray, think, and discuss before committing time, emotional energy, or money. 

2. Past trauma Physical or sexual abuse can teach us we have no boundaries over our bodies. Emotional abuse gets too little press. Its damage teaches us we have no worth and therefore it is appropriate to ignore our needs. Covert sexual abuse (sexualizing a child), and verbal abuse train us to believe that a flawed human’s opinions are the measure of who we are or will become.

One of my favorite promises was shown to me almost fifty years ago at children’s camp. A sympathetic counselor read Psalm 27:10. “Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.” God the perfect Father heals our pasts by healing our tender inner child.

3. Place-holding We humans are generally easily transfixed by power or the spotlight. Check with yourself; is your goal for saying yes that people see you?  Trying to become everything for everyone for fear of losing status will wear us out in no time. 

4. Personalization– Take responsibility for what is not yours to carry or is out of your control, and you have found the fast-track to false guilt and anxiety. Perhaps we want to involve ourselves in a situation to a degree, yet must draw the line at owning external problems. It helps to remember “It’s Liam’s family,” “It’s Sally’s job,” “Not mine.”

5. People-pleasing Fear of rejection brings many of us to say yes beyond what is helpful. What is the worst that could happen if we draw a boundary and say no? Someone will be mad? That is more their problem than ours. They will either find other help and respect our right to choose, or maybe we are better off without them.

6. Guilt –  Misinterpreting reasonable personal boundaries as unkindness is more false guilt. Maybe this idea is spilling over from some unresolved past. Is there an internal condemnation perhaps from a legalistic view of one’s spiritual duties?  Guilt can lead to over-compensation regardless of its source.  

7. Projection A woman on Shark Tank started a business selling comfortable dresses to busy moms. The soft dresses are good for playing with children without requiring a wardrobe change for work. During the show, she explained her reason for the dresses is that her mom did not play with her as a child.

Applying what we have learned through hardship to encourage others is a great motivation. That is what I try to do every day. 

It is not so healthy to assume others suffer and feel as we do, thus projecting personal disappointments into situations. We try to resolve our struggle through “fixing” the happiness of others. This can push us toward over-involvement.

8. Building a legacy – Experiencing internal validation and value through helping others is not wrong. It is a natural, God-given result of good works. Yet are we satisfied? Committing to too much will repeat itself if our desire for validation from people does not come fast or often enough. Be careful. If you are hoping for a statue in your honor, you may end up covered in pigeon dung.  

9. Mistaken responsibility – Someone says, “You owe me.” Maybe it is true and the better part of valor is to repay a kindness. However, if you cannot you cannot. For example, maybe your child needs an operation, and the other person is asking for money. You may have to say no and reserve your cash for your child. 

Have you ever thought or heard someone say, “no one else is doing it so I guess I have to?” Whew! This is a familiar road to too many yeses and resentment. God has the whole world in his hands and does not need us to fill every possible empty position in our workplace, the church, or anywhere else. Burn-out comes from doing it all by yourself.

Do any of these motives fit you? Congratulations on your discovery! If you need assistance changing deeply held tendencies, consider a CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) professional’s input. 

Today’s Helpful Word  

Luke 10 40-42

 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

 

***** 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.

6 Steps to Overcoming False, Negative Messages About You

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

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Some baggage from messages learned in childhood is severely heavy, others less. Even the kindest parents were imperfect. In our childish minds we may have misinterpreted what was meant to be helpful.

Society failed to teach us emotional safety or the truth about the inherent value of human life. The church failed to present a pure gospel devoid of man-made rules. Other individuals disappointed us in myriad ways, because this is a fallen world. 

Regardless the source or reason, some negative messages became false core beliefs. 

Message: “You never get anything right”   

Experience: You make a mistake

Repetitious self-talk: “I knew it. I never get anything right.”

A belief starts with a message. Experience has to back it up whether it is only our perception or reality. Then we have to repeat the message to ourselves. That is how a belief starts; otherwise the message remains only a thought.

These beliefs, often buried deep inside and out of sight, strongly affect our decisions.  Meanwhile, we are responsible for what we do with what we have been given and taught. 

6 steps to overcoming false, negative core beliefs

1. Ask, “What do I believe about myself that is negative?” Write it down.

2. Question the messages. “Were they true?”  Reconsider using terms like “always” or “never”.  If you believe you never do anything right, look about you and write down all you have accomplished in the last 48 hours. No matter how small you think the accomplishment, it is evidence to the contrary of “never”.

In the case of any belief, evidence will crumble on the false side.  It may feel more comfortable to stick to familiar beliefs. That does not make them true. 

3. List all the evidence that defies negative beliefs about yourself.

4. Ask, “Do I know who taught me these negative messages?”   Y/N    Name them. 

5. Question the messengers. Are they mature and responsible? Are they liars? Narcissistic? Are they emotionally capable of realistic insight?  Maybe they are repeating unchallenged false, negative core beliefs of their own. 

What if they were wrong? That changes everything, doesn’t it?

6. I invite you to find God’s evidence of the truth about you. In the Bible are many passages proclaiming his unending love, and the sacrifices he made to have YOU with him forever if you will so choose.  

Today’s Helpful Word  

Proverbs 20:5

“The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters,

but one who has insight draws them out.”

 

***** 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.

 

 

3 Basic Human Needs for Positive and Meaningful Connections

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

One of our most basic human needs is positive, meaningful connections with other people. Within those connections we also need to give and receive three irreplaceable gifts.

Validation

Validation is simply agreement that what one has or is experiencing matters. No judgment is necessary.

Validation is crucial, especially when it comes to overcoming emotional pain. A psychologist told me he has “never really seen anyone be able to move on without validation.”

In the face of someone’s expression of emotions (even if these emotions seem confusing), it is validating to say, “That makes sense.” We can always agree that if we shared this person’s perceptive, we might have similar feelings.

As we listen to stories of lived experiences, “I believe you” or “sounds like a big deal” are validating. Once again, if we doubt the details, we can agree that to the one speaking,  it is a big deal.

Investment in one’s value

To feel valued, we need to know sweet words will be backed by selfless action. A superficial connection may have warm and fuzzy feelings in it. It may have sexual pleasure and promises. Anyone can carelessly say, ‘You mean so much to me.’

Investment in our value is much rarer.  A person who is willing to believe in us, and who offers time and energy toward our best interests, is investing in our value.  It is our worth, not usefulness, that keeps him or her involved. Someone who values you this much will also draw healthy boundaries.

Acceptance

Sincere, non-critical acceptance embraces others merely as members of humanity. It  separates a person’s right to choose from his or her specific behaviors.

Sincere acceptance comes from the heart. It does not play games. It says, “I recognize you are you and I am me. We do not have to be the same for me to respect your right to choose.” Non-critical acceptance focuses on a person’s innate value and does not try to force change.  

We can embrace a person without sharing their values. Love is still our choice if faced with another’s difficult situation or personality.  Acceptance is not lack of boundaries; it simply refuses to hate. 

An invitation

Our mutual human need for meaningful connection is met by one beautiful Biblical teaching. Romans 12:14 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”  Practicing this validates experiences and emotions. It invests in human value. Finally, it accepts people without judgment. 

Let’s learn to be like that to each other.

Today’s Helpful Word  

Romans 15:7

“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you,

in order to bring praise to God.”

 

***** 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.

 

 

 

 

Let Personal Boundaries Set You Free

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

men s black and white long sleeve shirt
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

I called an insurance company, and the phone was answered by a chirpy computer which introduced itself with, “Hi, I’ m Ashley, manager of customer happiness!”

I like the idea of someone managing my happiness. How easy it would be to make my happiness their only concern! No person (or computer!) can do that for me.  In the same way, none of us has the power to make or break anyone else’s happiness.

It is our responsibility to be the person we want to be, to live the life we want, just as it is the responsibility of others to choose how they want to be. It helps to know what we are and are not responsible for when we choose personal boundaries. 

What are you responsible to do?

  1. Manage someone else’s happiness
  2. Be the person you want to be
  3. Place your decisions under the guidance of God
  4. Make Yes/No decisions according only to your emotions
  5. Build and nurture positive and meaningful connections
  6. Rescue people from the consequences of what they’ve sown
  7. Rearrange your priorities every time someone says they need your help
  8. Put up with abuse
  9. Entrust others to the Lord.
  10. See that your own needs are met.
  11. Practice godly priorities
  12. Be the problem-solver whenever an external crisis or drama occurs
  13. Keep your eyes and mind open to the realities others face
  14. Pray
  15. Be self-sufficient and never ask for help

(answers below)*

Moses led a nation of more than a million people, serving as their only judge. He worked long days, and people who needed his intervention stood in impossible lines in the desert heat. 

One day, his father in law came by.  He asked, “Why are you the only judge? And why do people come to you all day?”

Moses said, “If people have an argument, they come to me, and I decide which person is right. In this way I teach the people God’s laws and teachings.”

But Moses’ father-in-law had a healthier solution in mind. He said, “You cannot do this job by yourself. Yes, you should explain God’s laws and teachings to the people.  But you should also choose some of the people to be judges and leaders under you.” (abbreviated from Exodus 18).

When we want to make a difference in the lives of people, understanding what  boundaries to draw has to do with awareness of our limitations. 

What are your limitations?

  1. What I can afford to spend ______________________
  2. How do I need to limit my emotional energy?
  3. How do I need to limit myself physically?
  4. Do I have time to spare? List how many hours and on what  days of the week and what time of year, etc.
  5. What skills do I have?
  6. Are there other personal limits?

No, we cannot make anyone else happy. If a person chooses negativity, our personal boundaries protect us from becoming negative too.

Know what are your genuine responsibilities, and respect your limitations. In this way, you avoid losing yourself and living for someone else.

Today’s Helpful Word  

Proverbs 19:2 (CJB)
“To act without knowing how you function is not good;
and if you rush ahead, you will miss your goal.”

 

***** 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.

 

*answers to What are you responsible to do?
  1. no
  2. yes
  3. yes
  4. no
  5. yes
  6. no
  7. no
  8. no
  9. yes
  10. yes
  11. yes
  12. no
  13. yes
  14. yes
  15. no

Let Life Seasons Guide Your Best Boundaries

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

trees by lake against sky during winter
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I’m binge-watching ER when I have time. (Is it technically a binge if you have to schedule it in? Whatever.) The emergency room drama originally aired for 15 seasons. Characters came, left, and returned. Plots twisted amid sirens, explosions, and the occasional surprise birthday party that never seemed to surprise anyone.

The episode I last finished featured Alan Alda, playing a frustrated doctor who had recently received an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. He had to stop treating patients and begin teaching instead. His portrayal has me thinking about the seasons of our lives, and not in a melancholy way.

Seasons of life are helpful guides for deciding where to draw boundaries.

For example, my current life season is busy. Leisure time has to be penciled in because my physical health demands it. Imagine that a recently married young adult with a baby on the way, is beginning a new career. Do you think this is the time for him to take on leading a scout troop? 

Below is a list of many life seasons we may pass through.  Obligations, free time, and energy vary as the years pass.  

⇒ Youth    Young adult    Middle age     Mature

⇒ School    New career    Career prime    Career change    Retirement    Unemployed   

⇒ Single   Newly married    Married, no children   Married with children    Single  again   

⇒ Exploring volunteerism     Regular volunteer work     Irregular volunteer work     Change of volunteer focus      No volunteer work

⇒ Physically Healthy     Emotionally stable     Mentally healthy     Physical and/or mental health challenges      Burned-out      Disabled

⇒ Financially dependent    Financially free      Limited income    Poverty

⇒ You have adult children     You have grandchildren     Other family living with you      Care-taking or other exceptional family demands

What seasons are you in today? How can recognizing this help you make wise decisions with your time and money?

No one can do it all at every stage of life; Even in a TV show, the more selfless ER characters have to carefully select their priorities in order to be effective and make a powerful difference.

Today’s Helpful Word  

Ephesians 2:9-11

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

 

***** 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Yes or No Exchange: You Have the Power to Plan for Freedom and Joy

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

man standing on street
Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

Every YES is a NO.  Every NO is a YES

What? It’s true.

This is not about lying or playing jokes. It is fact that each time you agree to a plan or activity, you are simultaneously choosing not to to do something else. Every yes is a no.

Flip it, and your every no is a yes to an alternative. 

This matters when priorities are lost in the mix.  Under my list of primary yeses, I would include my faith, family, and myself. If that sounds selfish, keep in mind that my faith demands service to others, and doing so is part of my joy and purpose.  It is trickiest when the more intimate parts of my relationship with Jesus  (like prayer) and self-care (like sleep) compete for time due to busyness. 

That is where planning and structure come in.

Establish priorities 

1. What are your current commitmentsthings and people you cannot ignore without disastrous consequences? Be specific.

2. What are your values? What kind of person do you want to be? List by most important.

3. What do you want? Decide what you want in your relationships, and for yourself. Write down what you sincerely hope for generally, long-term, short-term, and in the situation you are in now.

Asking ‘what do I want’  can shed light on why you are in a situation.

If you want someone else to change, this is out of your control. If a person is regularly crossing your boundaries and not changing even when you are communicative about the issue, maybe it’s time to ask, is this the relationship I want?

4. Are your own needs met? Y/N Which ones are not met?

You have legitimate basic needs, too. If they are not met you will grow weak. Think about what you must have to know joy. What do you need to be happy? Where are you on your list of priorities? Are you on your list? Put yourself on your list.

5. Are you engaging specific goals and priorities that support your values?  Which ones?

6.After completing this analysis,  think of all the activities in which you are involved.

List what you believe are your YESes and NOs

In the end, know it is you making your decisions. You are not trapped. You have the power to plan for freedom and joy.

Today’s Helpful Word  

Psalm 32:8-11

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
    I will advise you and watch over you.
Do not be like a senseless horse or mule
    that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”

Many sorrows come to the wicked,
    but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord.
So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him!
    Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!

 

***** 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.

Are You Handling Your Complicated Life, Or is It Handling You?

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

Most of us want to be the type of person others can count on. We hope we are a good friend, spouse, parent, and worker.  

Life’s dramas and stressors sometimes overshadow these most important parts of living.  Are you the person you want to be? 

Think about your challenges with life balance, and with making positive and meaningful connections. Then ask if your way is working.  If it is not, perhaps you would like to join me in trying a different way, one proven successful.

How Jesus handled his complicated life

One of the reasons Jesus could serve as he did is because of his boundaries. Jesus loved well and practiced self-care. Unless we embrace his how-to, we cannot expect to experience the effectiveness, freedom, and wisdom he did.

1. He knew his mission; do you know yours?

One morning, while it was still dark, Jesus left where he was staying and went off alone to pray.  Later, several men went to look for him. When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you!”

Jesus said, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages— so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” (Paraphrased from Mark 1:35-38)

Notice Jesus did not serve everyone when it would detain him from his priorities. He knew when to say yes or no regardless of pressure from others.

2. His getaways versus your getaways

In the Bible book of Matthew, we read an account of one of Jesus’ very busy days. As it was growing dusk,  he decided to feed the crowd gathered to hear him preach. They had been together for three days and were hungry.

After he miraculously stretched a few fish and loaves of bread into enough meals to satisfy about 8000 people, he dismissed everyone and went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.  It is recorded that shortly before dawn he came back down and joined his disciples. (Paraphrase of Matthew 14: 15 -25 )

Israel, where this took place, generally experiences dusk at 7pm and dawn at 6am. Allowing time for his disciples to pass out the food and to clean-up, it appears Jesus was in prayer for about 8 hours.  This is how he re-energized, by spending time with His Heavenly Father. 

3. Joy was his source of strength.

It was the prophet Nehemiah who encouraged his people to choose joy because it would give them strength to do God’s will. He said, “…the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8: 8-10)

Jesus came right out and said, “When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.  I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy.  Yes, your joy will overflow!  This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.” (John 15:10-12

His joy was complete due to obedience to God his Father, and by giving and receiving love. Is this where you find joy?

4. Jesus’ choices versus your choices

John the Baptist was a great preacher in Jesus’ time. He was a relative of Jesus and a friend.  He was murdered when they both were about 31 years old. When Jesus heard what happened, he withdrew to a private place, no doubt to grieve and pray. 

Crowds followed anyway. When Jesus saw them, he “had compassion on them and healed their sick.” (Paraphrase of Matthew 14:12-14)

Jesus made room for service when it was inconvenient, setting aside his personal grief momentarily.  However, this was not his only response.

5. Jesus held to boundaries. Do you?

Jesus was a celebrity, with clamoring fans from all over his country and beyond. Huge crowds wanted to hear him and have him heal their sick bodies, and ill sons, daughters, friends, servants, and other loved ones.  Some wanted him to raise their dead. 

Look at what Jesus did. He “often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Paraphrase of Luke 5:15-16 Sometimes he simply withdrew from the needs and demands of a hurting world, and made room for self-care.

You can see it is not selfish to balance your life. Not everyone needs you all the time.  It is wise to weigh your priorities and pro-actively seek joy. 

Today’s Helpful Word  

 Amos 4:13
“He who forms the mountains, who creates the wind, and who reveals his thoughts to mankind … the Lord God Almighty is his name.”

 

 

***** 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.

Follow this Plan for Stronger Emotional Health and Relationships

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

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Photo by Jimmy Chan on Pexels.com

You live inside a cube with a window and door. Each of us does.

With you in your cube are what you value, and what makes you who you are. Your family, church, job, and hobby are in there. So are your favorite entertainments, and deep thoughts. In one corner is a dark spot of flaws and selfish behaviors.

All our cubes are filled in the same manner.

As you go throughout your day, bumping into other cubes, maybe annoyance grows.  Inside your private space with unchallenged ideas, you feel safe.

It is simple to dehumanize others we refuse to see.

Observe and connect

Open your window and watch from a distance superficially.  Possibly some faces look back at you making assumptions. You presume to know what they are thinking.

Communication is empty of understanding.

Ah, the door. Swing it wide and invite others in! Expose the real you. Take responsibility for your decisions. When you and at least one other person are welcome to enter and leave each other’s cubes freely, your basic human need for positive, meaningful connection will be met!

There is joyous give and take, generous communication, forgiveness, and honesty about darker egos. That is how we learn and grow.

Be emotionally healthy

You have no control over whether other cubes open. Let them go. You will not have freedom with everyone. However, it is not healthy to stay hidden inside, never reaching out, sharing, or helping.

It is not healthy to allow someone else to live in your cube trying to meet all your needs. It is equally not healthy and is dangerous to stay in another person’s cube, living for his or her happiness.

Whether family, friends, or romance, choose relationships wisely.  Within a positive and meaningful connection you need validation, to know someone values you enough to be involved, and genuine acceptance. Look for these.

A connection is ready 

Jesus offers all three.  He knows every second of your existence. This validation and acceptance is proven in Psalm 139. Jesus also showed how much he values you when he left heaven to sacrifice his body for your eternal soul.

If people in your life refuse to connect, remember you have One who always wants you to know him as he knows you.

Today’s Helpful Word  

Psalm 139: 1, 16 

“You have searched me, Lord and you know me… Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” 

***** 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.

Dear 2018, You Tried to Sting Me Like a Bee, but I’m Still Floating Like Butterfly!

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

woman wearing purple boxing gloves
Photo by Ambar Simpang on Pexels.com

Dear 2018,

You old pest. You waved your gloved fists for 365 days, managing to body punch and intimidate me. I bruised, but you are the one KO’d. This fighter is standing tall and victorious! 

On your first day, joy had me floating like a butterfly.  I admit, your sucker punch of cancer and surgery in the second round was disorienting. You were good at the old one-two. Round five – a thrown back.  Round seven – shingles. Round nine – a triple punch combo.  

Maybe you hoped emotional blows would force me to take a dive. Round two left hook –  betrayal and humiliation. Round three jab – family member missing for two weeks. Round four upper cut – oldest son moved to another part of the state. Round six foul – ex-husband remarried.

Counterpunches of hope, faith, and gratitude weakened you. Despite my almost home-bound existence, patience and positivity scored.  Not once did you overpower me, 2018!

Your round nine triple punch combination came close.

The first blow fouled below the belt. Bed bugs? Really? This Ohio epidemic endangered what scant social interactions remained. Between that and your second hit, severe  anemia,  I was almost totally isolated for months.          

I staggered. Your third punch tossed me to the ropes. Anxiety swelled, accompanied by undeniable early signs of depression.   

If you stuck out your chest to boast, you underestimated how much fight boils in my blood!. Upon recognizing my old mental nemeses, I rose inspired, powerful, and defiant.  

Not only did you lose twelve rounds, it was JOY that knocked you out for good in your last wheezing weeks. You see, I know something you do not. God gave you to me. God turns everything out for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:26-28). 

Too bad for you, 2018. You stung like a bee, but God grounded this butterfly in his love. 

Hello 2019! You may yet turn out to be a ringer, but I know Who holds me and will never let me go.  

Check out the score!

  1. JOY √ A neighbor came to Christ
  2. JOY √ A second member of the neighborhood Bible study came to Christ
  3. JOY √ One neighbor started bringing her grandchildren over for their very own “God class.” 
  4. YIPPEE! √ I won my very first IRS tax-exemption status without using a lawyer! 
  5. JOY √ The bugs forced a healthy household purge, and brought by an exterminator who needed encouragement.  
  6. FUN √ I hosted Thanksgiving reuniting long-lost relatives.   
  7. JOY √ Anemia keeps me home most days, so offering support is more of an inside job. (fostering a cat for a woman in transition, and sorting papers for someone with depression.) Occasionally, people drop by who need a listening ear. The neighborhood Bible study continues.
  8. JOY √ My church’s new associate pastor is allowing me to teach short-term classes.
  9. YAY √ Finally, I began formal (online) schooling for certification as a Life Coach. This workable compromise opens a virtually unlimited field as one can grow and specialize. 
  10. JOY √ I was able to speak to the women in recovery at Timberline Knolls in Chicago

          Today’s Helpful Word

     Romans 8:38-39 

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 

***** 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.