Category Archives: Musings on Life

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

sky sunset person silhouette
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.

 

 

Have You Learned to Not Trust Relationships? Here are 5 Other Ways to Look at It

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

woman with yellow backpack standing on hanging bridge with trees
Photo by Josh Willink on Pexels.com

Distrust in relationships is comparable to the experience of a man who has no interest in daring exploits and yet receives a gift certificate for a free bungee jumping course.

He feels some obligation to the giver and does not want to disappoint. Consequently, the wary recruit slowly makes his way to the site while the question to undertake the exercise or not lingers unresolved in his mind.

Each tentative step is agonizing. His natural inclination is to run away, however his original motive and a desire to deny his fear compels him forward.

Conversations with regular jumpers and trained professionals draw assurances it is safe. They show off the equipment as the unlikely participant handles it, tugging, and feeling its strength. It seems it might be secure.

He watches as others jump successfully and listens attentively to the experts who seem to know their sport. Only now, it is his turn. Strapped tightly to the bungee cord, he daringly allows his feet to leave solid ground.

That is when it hits him.

He is now in mid-air, his fate completely dependent on the honesty and knowledge of the people above. He might mumble an expletive under his breath at this point or scream loudly. He possibly thinks, This cord might break, or they may walk away and leave me dangling here, and it will be my fault for trusting.

Allowing built-in fears to override current reality is similar to that scenario, except that those conditioned to doubt people and fear relationships experience the walk to the bungee jump site each time they have an opportunity to trust.

Past poor judgment calls have left them sore and more apprehensive than ever. Not only do they struggle to have faith in other people, the terror of having confidence in oneself is the shaky base underneath it all.

Can this change? I say yes.

5 ways to look at trust

  1. Caution is wisdom. The first time someone reveals to you that he or she is  untrustworthy – believe it.
  2. Reconsider what you learned about trust. Is trust really all or nothing? Is everyone a liar except you?
  3. Reconsider the ones who taught you to distrust. Were they emotionally capable of trust themselves?  Were they bitter?  Are they narcissistic?
  4. Build a support system of safe people. Take your time, but do not stall out.
  5. Trust is easier once we experience it. Over the years, my trust in God’s goodness has grown. There is much more to know about his character than what some people say in reaction to difficulties. Like a beginner bungee jumper, trusting enough to take the first step toward God will open your worldview.

That first step is sincerely reaching out to his Son, Jesus.

Today’s Helpful Word  

Psalm 33: 2-5

Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy. For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing 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. 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.

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