Category Archives: Musings on Life

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.

 

 

 

 

It is Perpetually Paramount that this Pundit Practices Pointers She Presents to the Public. (Say that 10 times fast!)

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

25996069 Big generation family at home doing various activitiesDid you successfully say the title of this post ten times fast? As with an increasingly  speedy telling of the adventures of Mr. Piper and his spicy vegetables, rote repetition eventually turns into habits of sound.

Test this theory by asking if you know the depth of this title without pausing to consider. Can you informatively discuss Peter Piper’s situation? A message may be lost on the one who is used to hearing herself say it.

This week, it was my privilege to be a guest on WYCB 1340 AM’s  show, The Senior Zone, live for a Washington DC audience. I was asked by host Shawn Perry what it is seniors can do to prevent isolation.

Sure enough, my reply was quick and easy because I’ve said it all before.  While familiar words hopefully helped listeners, my mind was not applying them personally.

The perspective I shared with The Senior Zone

Quite simply, we are responsible for avoiding isolation. As long as we are able to interact, we must proactively look for ways to do it.

Perhaps stepping out the door and saying hello to the neighbor is all you can muster to start. Great! Try that! Then again and again until it is easier. Do something nice for them, and others in your neighborhood. If you raise herbs in your kitchen, share the harvest. Offer your green thumb to help the single mother down the street.

Local organizations offer activities for seniors and younger adults too. Many will pick you up. Go to church if they have a bus, or ask for a ride. Visit your 24-hour store at night and begin a conversation with a clerk. Chances are good they will welcome the company.

If you cannot leave home easily, invite people in. What do you know? Teach sewing,  wood carving, or start a book club or Bible study. Host regular movie nights or Sunday afternoon football. Whatever you can imagine is possible within the scope of your abilities.

Write letters. Send them to anyone you know who needs encouragement. Call other seniors who may be isolated. You are not alone in your struggle against loneliness.

Life is difficult at times, and isolation only magnifies pain. Take hold of your future by entering the world of people.

The pointers are for me

Uggh! How many times will I “learn” this lesson? The advice is for me too. After months of limited interactions due to health issues, my connections at the church I’ve attended for a year are still formative. It feels intimidating to reach out to those who I do not know that well. Yet yesterday I invited some women over for spiritual fellowship.  I am responsible for getting my needs met, as are we all.

Say “I do not have to be alone” ten times fast. Let it sink in until the day you can honestly forget it because you are alone no more. I will too.

Looking AheadToday’s Helpful Word

Isaiah 61  (Isaiah is speaking for Jesus in this prophecy)

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of  righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

***** 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 We Serious, Folks? Insecure People Allow Opposing Beliefs to Determine Their Treatment of Others

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

Female Student Talking To High School CounselorC’mon! It is bad enough that unstable individuals carry out their hatred in acts of violence. It is terrible when people groups are systematically discriminated against due to lack of understanding or tolerance. All of this is painful to watch. 

What is difficult to comprehend is when supposedly normal, generally intelligent people decide they cannot be in the presence of those with opposing views. Of course we will not enjoy the company of everyone, and differing ideologies can cause friction. It makes sense one might not choose to spend the weekend with Uncle Harry who is obnoxiously pro-whatever one is against. 

It is a different situation when someone in one’s circle expresses a point of view, using respectful tones. Suddenly, Ed from accounting is no longer welcome to sit with the crowd in the lunchroom? Without explanation, members of a church group stop attending? I cannot figure out for the life of me how a point of view is so threatening!

Insecurity

Insecurity seems to swell in those relationships that dissolve because of disagreement over issues that cannot possibly be fixed over dinner or a game of golf. An insecure person cannot remain at the table when everyone does not share his or her opinion.

Here are three reasons we can and should stay in touch with people who do not think like we do. 

  1. No one knows everything perfectly. We are wrong and right often in the same moment. Do we deserve to be heard? If so, why not someone else?
  2. Truth can hold up to scrutiny. Is insecurity the result of a shaky premise? Is that why people shut down communication rather than pursue it?
  3. It is immature to walk away. Grown-ups stay in the room and talk. They work past vocal tones and disagreements and work out the relationship. Then, in a stroke of maturity, they agree to disagree and go on with their lives. 

Stay

As an imperfect and occasionally opinionated person, I fully appreciate when another adult (even an opinionated one) will stay for a whole conversation. Listening to other viewpoints does not mean we have to end up agreeing.  Asking and answering sincere questions is fun.

Picture two people who agree to discuss an issue. They start out reasonably. First person states their opinion, second person counters, first person counters with a new thought, second person walks out. Nothing accomplished, nothing learned. Only frustration remains because the second person never actually wanted anything short of an “you’re right, of course.”  

I know my opinions are not golden no matter how right they may be on occasion. No one else’s opinion is golden either. We share space on this planet. An opposing point of view is never enough reason to treat another person as dirt.  

WINCHILDrgbToday’s Helpful Word

James 3:17 

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere

***** 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.

 

 

 

 

Last Night’s Dream Had Me Looking for Hope Where It Already Exists

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

In my dream last night, I was walking on a broad boardwalk, surrounded by a busy crowd, everyone trying to go somewhere. Beside us was a hill topped with a white four floor apartment building.

I looked up. There were two friends peering out one of the floor-to-ceiling windows on the top floor.  They waved for me to come.  In another window on the same floor stood a mutual friend. He was staring out at the ocean and boardwalk view.  All four of us were meant  to meet at his place.

The dream whisked me to the right floor where I began looking for my friends.  Entering a small living space void of people, I spied suit coats hanging in the closet. A shirt looked like one I used to own. What is my stuff doing in here? I thought , touching the shirt,  tempted to take it back. Instead, looking about, wall decorations and well placed furniture made it clear that people did indeed live there.  I left.

A panicky feeling was rising. At first it only had been nervousness, but now I felt lost.  I tried to calm myself. Just keep looking. They are here somewhere. 

At the end of the hall where it was unlikely my friends could be, was a paneled wall instead of a window. It felt like the interior of a 1970s business office. The hall narrowed to a dead-end.  Turning back, I ventured into the last open door only briefly, recognizing no one was there.  This apartment had the enormous window and view, yet one small room. It did not seem to be a place people would gather.

The last of my dream is vague in memory.  The words “Romans 24,26” passed through my thoughts before I woke.

For some, dreams are messages. Others believe they help us process life’s issues.  If either of these are true in this case, it makes sense the dream was about searching. 

I’ve been searching for much lately.  Last night was my first at home following three days in the hospital (which is why this post is a day late). Doctors seem unable to find the exact cause and precise means of correcting a chronic issue. How to go forward with Always The Fight Ministries is heavy on my mind. I’ve applied for a great job and have made the second cut in the hiring process.  In September I backed off a favorite and useless anxiety coping mechanism, and am trying to ground myself in its replacement. 

Should I this, should I that? Which way is best, which way is disastrous? How can I avoid being wrong?  This is old stinkin’ thinkin’.  Worry, anxiety, catastrophizing… I thought it was all rooted out and overcome. Obviously not. 

This morning I did another search. Romans 24 -26 do not exist as chapters. Those particular verses in Romans 8 read, “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.  In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”

Hope in this context refers to redemption of our bodies – freedom from mortality and  all suffering. We hope for what we do not yet have.  This is not the type of hope that crosses its fingers and tries to think positive thoughts.  This hope is certain, bound in the knowledge that the One True God has planned complete wholeness of body, mind, and spirit for those who believe on his Son Jesus. 

The “Spirit” in these verses is the Holy Spirit, the very Spirit that is God’s. When we are searching and do not know what to pray or decide, the Spirit prays for us.  Our suffering is never meaningless or wrapped in defeat. He will guide the steps of the righteous. 

I don’t know about you, but I needed this Bible study today. Whatever one may believe about dreams, mine led me to this promise: my hope is on solid ground, and I am not alone in the fight.  

 Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 91:1,2
 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High

    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,  my God, in whom I trust.”

***** 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.

-room pic by ZELA on rgbstock.com; girl pic by JAZZA on rgbstock.com

 

 

 

My Response to “The Sins of Psychotherapism” by Bruce Davidson, PsychoHeresy Ministries.

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

The Sins of Psychotherapism by Bruce Davidson of PsychoHeresy Ministries, is an opinion piece (link is below) outlining serious charges against the world of psychological study and therapists who work within it.  I respect Davidson for his thoughtful work,  and his efforts and desire to help people. We just disagree. This blog is my answer to his claims.

Terminology matters

About 2 years ago, a LinkedIn self-described BIble teacher, began to call me names and undermine my character simply because of my terminology. Yes, he was rude, but was he right?

He made an assumption about me, whom he had never met, based on my ministry title of “advocate.” That is,  because I advocate for recovery, he thought I was steering people away from the message of repentance.

My point at the time was that “recovery” is a process. Repentance may stop a behavior, but even if your problem is not addiction, recovery is involved. God gives us insight into who he is so we can turn to him and repent of sin. After that, changing how we think takes time. Isaiah 1:16,17 supports this concept of the recovery process. “…Stop doing wrong. Learn to do right.”

Terminology matters, however readers and writers alike must know what words mean. In the world of stigma, some words are defined in black and white instead of in the open concept they deserve.

Motives are not worn on our sleeves

Today, I stumbled across the Davidson article. He is strong on a few points as he takes flawed psychological notions to task. I noticed however, that he claims psychotherapy promotes false assumptions. He writes, “Furthermore, psychotherapism has encouraged the trend of judging people’s motives and speculating on their secret thoughts rather than looking at their explicit views and outward behavior.”

I believe his article does just that – judges people’s motives and speculates. Anytime a ministry is formed around shouldn’ts, there will be problems. For example, he builds his arguments against the historic roots of modern psychotherapy “instituted by Freud, Jung, and others.” He seems to completely disregard current fields of study that oppose those original theories and styles.

The traditional idea of psychotherapy is the patient lying on a couch and talking on and on while the therapist says little to nothing. I am in full agreement this is likely not going to get the job done. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and other forms of psychotherapy do not look like that old model.

Personally, my life changed when CBT taught me it was possible to think differently.  It helped to renew my mind by challenging old thought patterns. Eventually, my eyes opened to God’s love and to many false beliefs about the world and how to fit in it.  I learned how to take thoughts captive as taught in 2 Corinthians 10:5.*

No one preached at me, or forced a greater faith. Instead, because my goal was already to honor God, and I was Biblically literate, talk therapy served as a catalyst for applying Biblical truth.  With a broad sweep, Davidson and others who agree with his assertions,  shove talk therapy into the trash. They do not know me (or you) or how God wants to work in our  lives.  Hence, miscalculation of their assumptions.

Not everything fits in one box

Davidson used this quote as partial evidence for his point. “In One Nation Under Therapy, Satel and Hoff-Sommers define [psychotherapy] as ‘pathologizing normal human emotion, promoting the illusion that we are very fragile beings, and urging grand emotional displays as the prescription for coping.’ To that they add the belief that ‘psychology can and should take the place of ethics and religion.'”

Let’s be clear. Not all psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists have pulled their own heads out of the ground. Some have twisted beliefs, others have twisted personalities. Unfortunately, not all professionals are “professional.”

In my years of seeking mental healthcare, with some success and some not-so-great experiences, not once has any provider encouraged fragility or “grand emotional displays.”  On the contrary, they taught strength and mood control.

I learned that hiding emotion kills people, not that every emotion needs expression. It makes little sense to refuse an entire field of study because of the wrong or misguided ideas of some. Plenty of both secular and Christian therapists help clients uncover root issues, that if left unfaced, would continue to steer their lives toward self-destruction.

We make choices

It is the responsibility of both client and provider in any realm of interaction, to submit to or ignore God’s wisdom. The world-at-large will choose to ignore. If you are a Christian, and struggling with your thoughts and emotions, wise counsel is part of what the Great Physician prescribes.  Proverbs 12: 6, 15, 18  tell us the value of such advice.  “… the speech of the upright rescues… the wise listen to advice… the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

Davidson’s statement that focusing on childhood wounds “naturally” breeds resentment of one’s parents, is flat-out wrong. Like people who choose to abuse, we choose to resent or not.  Awareness of childhood wounds and the roles of all concerned brings closure. I could begin to forgive others and myself, directly due to taking the time to understand.

Davidson claims pastors have turned from preaching salvation to extolling self-realization. If the definition is as Webster’s says, “fulfillment by oneself of the possibilities of one’s character or personality” (italics mine), then yes, it can be a prideful endeavor. None of us is capable as fallible beings to wholly fulfill anything without God or even human support.

What I suggest Davidson does not seem to appreciate is that lack of self-awareness is the cornerstone of denial. When our identity is lost in the temporal, we cannot live the life God has planned for us. Introspection unveils poisonous roots, God’s Word casts light where understanding is dark.  By teaching our possibilities under God’s authority, pastors can help us realize lives of purpose that bring God honor.

The 10-letter four-letter word

As for “self-esteem,” that word so demeaned in some Christian circles, I believe lack of it undermines appreciation of God’s glory. If I feel less-than, what does my testimony say about God’s creative power? No, my view of self-worth does not change the Great I AM.  By learning to fully appreciate God’s design choices, I have confidence to credit him without drawing attention to myself.

I do not want to throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water.  Common terms familiar to the study of human behavior, such as recovery and self, among others, are useful and meaningful when applied with truth and understanding of how they can work in real-life application. To refuse to accept them at all, we spread the stigma that treatment is bad. Sick people stay sick, and despairing people die.

Terms, motives, choices… Let me know what you think.  Read Davidson’s entire article at http://www.americanthinker.com/2014/07/the_sins_of_psychotherapism.html

 

Female Student Talking To High School CounselorToday’s Helpful Word

Proverbs 1:5 

“…let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance…”

 

***** 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.

* 2 Corinthians 10:5  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

God Teaches a Self-protective Hypocrite to Love

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness, addiction, or abuse   (c) 2018  Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

Twice during church services, the pressure of hypocrisy jolted me into tears to the point I could barely stand. Each time,  a false interpretation of my role had been translated into unloving attitudes and behaviors, including self-righteousness.

The hypocrisy was mine.

One public sobbing was at least twenty years ago.  A pastor stood and said, “I do not know why I am reading this, but sense the Holy Spirit is leading me to do so.”  With that, he read part of Revelations (2:4) where God chastises a church for losing its “first love.”  

It was as if someone struck my legs.  I folded to the bench and wept.  The service continued.

In that moment as the pastor read,  truth clicked.  I was like that church! Jesus is the first love of all who claim him as Savior.  He said we show our love for him by obeying his commands. (John 14:15) His command is to love each other as he has loved us! (John 13:34)

Before ten years passed, my prayers were again embittered. Mentally condemning anyone judged less righteous than me,  I mumbled, “Thank you God that I am not like her.”

It is fair to say,  that moment is one of my most shameful memories and a great regret.

You see, Jesus used a story to illustrate prideful hypocrisy.  While one man asked God to forgive him of his many sins, a religious elitist stood nearby and prayed, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people …or even like him!”  

Ouch.  As three fingers pointed back at me,  I cried in sorrow.

God always meets us where we are.  If outwardly we act tough and inwardly die, he sees. If our faces smile and laugh while our stomachs seethe in anger,  he knows.  If past trauma or any other source of fear feeds a self-protective attitude of hypocrisy, he is not blindsided.  If  his people are willing to listen, he will speak and teach us to love.

 Today’s Helpful Word

Luke 18:9-14 

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable:  “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee ,  and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

******COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness, abuse, and addiction. 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.

Pics: glass window by DRAGONARIAES of rgbstock.com; Pharisee by freebibleimages.org  

 

Parable Worthy of a King: Your Suffering Can Be Good for You

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness, addiction, or abuse    Nancy Virden (c)2013

David was a king of ancient times. He lived through great suffering, was subject to murderous threats, and loved the God of the Hebrews, the great I AM as recorded by Moses.

He wrote many of the Biblical Psalms, and may have authored the following from Psalm 119. “Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope. This is my comfort in my distress,  that your promise gives me life.” (verses 49, 50)

***A Parable***

At first, she was so small that many believed her insignificant.  Any moment she might be stomped, eaten, or drowned in torrential rain. She survived her earliest days, yet the challenges continued. 

Driven by a natural wish for independence, she ventured out from what little security she knew.  Reactions varied.  “Ugly!”  “Cute!”  “Avoid that! ” “Soft and fuzzy!”

She was wary as people ran screaming at the sight of her or dangerously studied her with curiosity. She tried to blend in to her surroundings, hoping to hide in plain sight.

No one seemed to care who she would one day become.

***David***

The beginning of this parable runs a close parallel to David’s early life.  He was a mere  shepherd boy when first chosen as future king. The current ruler pursued him relentlessly to kill him. David ran for his life and hid in caves.

 ***Parable continued***

No longer willing to live among such danger and rejection, our heroine decided to look up. Maybe higher she would find a place to rest!  Climbing day after day,  she searched for peace and a safe place to belong. 

The endless trek nearly depleted her strength. She wondered if the promise from her Maker would come true. At last overwhelmed,  she stopped trying. Wrapping herself in seclusion, she waited for the end.

***David***

David too, experienced moments of fatigue and discouragement.  He wrote, “My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long?” (Psalm 6:3).  Not only was he forced to flee a murderous king, David’s son also tried to kill him. People lied, spread rumors and gloated over his pain. David had his followers, however at times he felt very alone.

His consistent prayers in periods of grief and despondency were variations of the same theme: Turn, Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love.” (Psalm 6:4) In all his struggles, David put his trust in Almighty God, the difference-maker.  

***Parable continued***

From the outside, no one saw anything but a dry, presumably dead leftover.  Nonetheless, buried inside her despair, our champion-in-waiting put up the ultimate fight.  Placing hope in God’s promise,  she surrendered what little energy she had left.  God taught her to use it wisely.  Her woefully slow task of change was wrenching and tedious. She cried in agony. 

Beyond the scope of disparaging eyes, metamorphosis took place. After a long time, she cracked the dead outer shell and peered through the sliver of light. Uncertain yet brave, she completely broke it open and saw sky.  God whispered,  “Trust me. Take a leap of faith.”

People rejoiced at the sight of such vibrant color showcased against the brown, withered past. A few joined her in  praise to God as she stretched out new wings, and flew into freedom. 

***David***

David realized suffering had brought him into profound realization of his true purpose. It had all been worth it – betrayals, living as a fugitive, and even the sorrow of losing people he loved.  Nothing compared to the lessons learned as he and the Great I AM wretsled with his human pain.  

David went on to fulfill his destiny as a great king, and a man after God’s own heart.  Intimacy with the promise-giver, forged in struggle, had set him free. 

 Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 119:71  

My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees.  -David
    

******COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness, abuse, and addiction. 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.

Pics: Butterfly by WEIRDVIS , caterpillar by MICHAELAW, both of rgbstock.com

Dear Pastors and Church Leaders, You Matter Too

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness, addiction, or abuse   (c) 2018  Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

Pastors and other church leaders, here’s an announcement.

You cannot do it all.

You do not read minds, know the will of God for each person, comprehend all marriages or families, or see through walls.  You do not understand all things. So, give yourself a break. 

You are only human

Some people treat you like you are superhuman. Don’t believe that lie or accede to every demand. Hoops they want you to jump through will cost your peace of mind, and drive a wedge in your family. Don’t respond to every need. 

Some will treat you as less than human.  Don’t believe that lie, either. Grant yourself permission to make mistakes and be forgiven. Allow God to redeem the day without you begging for mercy from those who would dehumanize you.

You have a teacher

Take a breath. Take a break. Sit with God, and listen. Put down study for a while; it will not be forever. Let the Holy Spirit wash you with grace.  We never learn much from God when our focus is on stress, deadlines, pleasing people, holding on to our jobs, satisfying the board, anxiety, or panic.  

Focus on him. He sees you.

Practice what you preach about trusting God when times are tough. Read about his provision, sovereignty, mercy, and grace. This is the God who promises to lead you down the best path for your life. Listen.

Take care 

I was going to write about how much the church-at-large needs to change in its general approach to mental illness and abuse. You may not want to hear that now. Maybe you need to know that you matter too.

Leaders of churches also have trauma, abuse, depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other mental health challenges. You need self-care, and perhaps professional care as much as anyone.  Do not be afraid to pursue what is best for you.  You matter too. 

Dear Pastor, you are called to a high purpose, not as God’s right-hand assistant.  Church leaders, you are servants, not gods.  I know you know this intellectually and in your spirit, but is your mind at rest?  You matter too.

Take care of yourself first. That includes vacations, time-outs, and days off.  Nurture family  relationships.  If this seems impossible, maybe you have forgotten that you matter too. 

So very much.

 Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 27:13, 14

I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.

 

******COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness, abuse, and addiction. 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.

 

Free Indeed

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness, addiction, or abuse   (c) 2018  Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

Freedom is the resounding word in the U.S.A. this week.  Freedom means choice.  Without choices, no one is free.

Of course, our American government makes laws with which some of us disagree.  Citizens cannot make choices outside the law.  Murderous attacks like the one at a newspaper company a few days ago happen when people ignore the law.  That is anarchy.  Anarchy leaves no one free.

Freedom 

Freedom is not absence of absolutes. It is the ability to choose what, and whom to believe.

I started working for a locally headquartered non-profit earlier this year. This corporation’s mission is to teach Christian principles of faith to the public-at-large.  Within the laws of freedom in this country is the right to free speech.  The Wisdom of God Corp. wants to talk about our concept of God. 

The first billboard goes up for one month beginning tomorrow.  The website offers compelling and gentle answers to heavy questions such as, “Who is God?” and “Are questions of morality answerable without existence of a spiritual world?” 

As for idealism, the billboard says someone is offering true freedom.  Who is doing the promising?  What does “Free Indeed” mean?

Jesus said it

Too often, Jesus is misquoted, misrepresented, and shoved into a cloud of mystery.  His message was quite simple and clear.

He said he is God’s Son:  John 10:36  “Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’?…” 

John 10:24,25  “‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.’  Jesus answered,  ‘I did tell you, but you do not believe.'”

We are free to choose between believing Jesus or those who argue he was merely a man.

He said he is the way to God:  John 14: 6,7 “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well.'”

We are free to repent and enjoy  the relationship we can have with God because of the  death and resurrection of His Son.

He promised peace in a divisive world:  John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

We are free to trust in the unfailing character of a good God,  or to return to temporary “solutions” that fail us repeatedly. 

He promised to come back and take believers with him: John 14:1  “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me… I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. “

We are free to choose where to place our hope – in the here and now, in fallible people, or in the promises of eternal life with Jesus. 

Freedom means choices.  Free Indeed is the guarantee that comes with choosing  Christ Jesus, the Savior and redeemer of our souls.  

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness, abuse, and addiction. 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, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help are yours.

Love, Circumstances, Regret, Eternity: 4 Contexts Where Accepting Life on Life’s Terms Changes Everything

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c) 2018  Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

What’s sadly amusing is that people (let’s be honest, it is each of us) who need to learn life lessons often do not believe they have a problem.

I heard a notorious complainer and backbiter announce that she had once attended a conference on negativity.  One man struggled with coping and  refused therapy. He had never entered a professional mental healthcare office, yet claimed it would not help.

Accepting life on life’s terms is tricky. Instead, we often try to control circumstances or other people, and strive for comfort.   

Personal Power

Reputations, health, and safety are subject to events outside our control. No matter the wisdom or lack of sense behind our choices, good  and not-so-good will result. Jesus said God sends rain on the just and on the unjust*.  Life’s terms are reality.

Nonetheless, we have control over our behavior and responses. That is powerful!

I switched from railing against difficulties and fighting to improve the past, to focusing on changing me. Now a matured worldview, attitude, and belief system provide a deep sense of hope and purpose that eluded me before.

Do you see how far you’ve come since one to ten years ago? Change happens in truth. Honest introspection is not difficult. Simply by asking, “Why do I feel/believe/behave this way? Am I the person I want to be?”,  your escape from endless cycles begins. 

Life’s terms 

Relationships:   No human loves unconditionally and no one stays forever. These are not true because people are uncaring, rather it is that we are fallible, and incapable of perfectly meeting another’s needs. These are life’s terms.

Accepting these terms allows for rejoicing at how many people care sincerely and imperfectly.  Shared happiness and pain create a sense of community and personal fulfillment. This replaces the anguish of manipulating or insisting relationships match our design. Grace and freedom reign.

Circumstances:  Events outside ourselves are often confusing and seem to have trajectories of their own. It is impossible to slam on the brakes and stop all the nonsense. These are life’s terms. 

Accepting life’s terms means no set of circumstances has to complete our story. Looking for  options and focusing on what is next, spares us from paralyzing fear and hopelessness. We can create, share ideas, pray, and involve ourselves in a message of hope.   

Personal history:  The past is full of regrets and “can’t believe I did that”.  Consequences of poorer choices are not always avoidable. These are life’s terms. 

Accepting those terms allows us to make needed amends, and jumpstart the present.  How many of us would spend days hiding if we constantly stared at all our mistakes? Knowing the past cannot be fixed, we transfer energy toward influencing today for the good of humankind. 

Salvation:  No past choices determine our eternal future. Zero.  Starting now, putting faith in Jesus means we can believe our gifts, strengths, and weaknesses have purpose in the hands of a sovereign God. He sees his beloved (if somewhat confused) children through eyes of forgiveness and delight.

These are His terms, for which we can feel relief and gladness. 

Today’s Helpful Word

Proverbs 19:21 

Many are the plans in a person’s heart,  but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness, abuse, and addiction. 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, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help are yours.

*https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=matthew+5&version=ESV