Embrace Your Today Family

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

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Charlie Brown and the Peanuts Gang are some of my favorite people. This Thanksgiving, my table is adorned with all of them. A picture of the infamous Charlie Brown Thanksgiving meal hangs on the wall.  My intention is to serve little snack cups with samples of Snoopy’s cuisine: popcorn, pretzels, jelly beans, and toast.

Though members of the Peanuts gang had relatives and homes, they chose to spend holiday time together. To the main characters,  Lucy, Linus, Sally, Marcie, Peppermint Patty, Pigpen, Franklin, Violet, Charlie, Snoopy, and Woodstock, this group was family.

Some of us have little to no family with whom to spend Thanksgiving or any holiday. Perhaps family memories and members have faded to the past. Strife or tragedy may have prevented a sense of family at all. Most likely, the culprit of broken ties is a mix of distance and time.

We have, or can build, a Today family.  Temporary families dot my past. My family of origin briefly existed. Visits with extended family were short and far-between. My friends became my family followed by my (now ex) husband and children.

Everywhere I’ve lived or built a social circle, “family” has included persons both related and unrelated to me. One option is to look back and bemoan the loss of many of these relationships. Embracing a Today family sounds like a happier choice.

This year, I have invited relatives not seen in about 10 years. Jon and Tim, my sons, will also be joining us. Last year, two women had dinner here, while for a couple years prior I sat around feeling sorry for myself.

See the progression? Learning to look after my needs is an arduous task. In doing so, others are also blessed. It is worth the anxiety (where will everyone sit?), the money (lots of food!), and stepping out of my comfort zone.

I encourage anyone without a technically-correct family to celebrate the family you have today. Friends, neighbors, shut-ins, people at the homeless shelter  – all can be members of your family if you reach out in courage.

And you will be their family too.

three smiling women beside man holding smartphone

Today’s Helpful Word

1 John 4:19

“We love because he first loved us.” 

 

 

***** 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.

*photo of friends: rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

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 with isolation.

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.

 

 

 

 

No One Cares How Much You Know

Compassionate Love:Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2014 Nancy Virden

We have all met Jack. He is generally uneducated, does not care to read, his television favorites are mindless, and yet he knows the answer to nearly every problem other people have.  He tends to be bold, thoughtless, crass, or even obnoxious. We do not enjoy his company.

Then there is Mack. He has earned several degrees from reputable schools. Mention a person’s problem to him, and he mentally shakes his head at all the ignorance in the world. His dismissive wave of the hand is only figurative because he trusts that outward decorum speaks well of his intelligence. We sometimes enjoy being seen in his company.

We are familiar too with Zack. He is quiet and seemingly empty of  conflict or points of view. He will not follow-up or show active concern when faced with problems of those about him. He seems nice enough, and we spend time with him because it would be rude to not.

Of these three, to whom would we be likely to turn in times of emotional distress? Why or why not?

Jack, Mack, and Zack will not change the world for the better. Being an influence for good means caring about a problem, asking good questions, and making personal sacrifice. 

When we are in emotional distress, the least helpful support is someone spouting know-it-all claims to fix the situation. Apathy and silence can be even more cutting. 

To be supportive of friends or family members who are struggling with their emotions, this is an old saying worth remembering:  No one cares how much you know until he or she knows how much you care.

 Today’s Helpful Word

Romans 12:9

Love must be 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.

*pics from qualityphotos.com

 

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

 

 

 

A Visit to Rehab: The Greatest of These is Love

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

This past Sunday, I drove to Chicago.  The director of alumni events at a rehabilitation center had invited me to speak with residents on Monday. 

Morning came early. While much of the U.S.A. was arising and heading to work or school, these women  continued the fight  to gain recovery from addiction, eating disorders, mental health challenges, or all three. Excited and a little nervous, I left the hotel to join them.

Women in the rehab program advance in liberties as they progress. This time, my audience consisted of women in the process of learning to make healthier choices without constant supervision.  They are well on their way to going home, clean and sober. In fact, a few of them  graduated that day!

Most people in recovery have been told numerous times they are worthless, many since childhood. As part of my story,  I shared the reality of God’s love and message. I added, “I am a Christian, born-again, a follower of Jesus. But those are only words. Hopefully, my life reflects who he is.” Everyone nodded. 

America today hears much rhetoric about Christians, evangelicals in particular, and the mix of religion with politics as if faith in Jesus and a certain political party are one and the same.  It is difficult for those who do not know, to grasp who Jesus actually is. 

In some ways, the standard for Christians is raised. Show me you mean it. Show me you do not hate or despise me. Match your choices to your words. Prove your faith by your love. In extending love and compassion, and sincere non-critical acceptance to people in all stages of their journey, we represent God as the Bible reveals him.*

Mental health treatment in this country is greatly lacking. It is not available everywhere,  and is expensive for most.  Parity in the insurance realm is inconsistent. There are few standards by which to measure how long a patient should stay in a hospital.

In my opinion, stigma and lack of knowledge are the primary reasons we do not take care of mentally ill and emotionally unstable people. There is judgment – “I do not believe in mental health disability, I just don’t.”  “Depression is not an illness,  with enough faith (or strength) anyone can snap out of it.” “You are adopting the principles of the world if you give psychology any merit.” 

All these have been said to me, about me, plus many more accusations of failure. If I could describe  the beauty of joy and hope in the faces of the women I met on Monday,  perhaps more could see the value of mental (some call it behavioral) healthcare.  Maybe  God could get some credit for knowing what he is doing in each person’s life! 

Meanwhile, it is tremendous joy being vulnerable and open with people in the middle of the struggle. They, as do we all, respond to love.

Today’s Helpful Word

Mark 10:46-52

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging.  When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”

So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.

The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

***** 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.

-woman pic by LUSI on rgbstock.com; Jesus pic from freebibleimages.org

*This does not imply avoidance of the topic of sin. As seen in my work s a whole, my emphasis is how we approach people. Are we interested in gaining insight into another person’s struggle? Jesus showed sincere non-critical acceptance to hurting people, and in the context of meeting their needs, taught them to know him.   

Muddy Messages Cannot Change the Truth

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

Do you like eggs? Before I said it, were you thinking about the fact you like or dislike eggs?

In a much deeper way, strong ideas and beliefs can hide under the busyness of life.  We may be unaware even as negative thinking rules our decisions. 

When I was about 4 years old, I sat on a porch swing at my grandma’s house. She came outside, sat down on the swing, and started speaking. I distinctly remember the shock that an adult was choosing to talk to me!

Unfortunately, she died the next year.  Partly because of gross emotional neglect, at a very early age I took in the belief I was unlovable.  If you had asked, I might have said I had  value, but could not have told you why. The core belief that I could never be good enough for love colored everything in my life.   

Picture in your mind something you made. Choose anything, a drawing, a song, or a business report. It reflects you because you created it.  Now suppose someone comes along and buries your work in mud. Does it still show who you are? No, it reflects the character of the mud slinger. 

God created me to reflect his image. My love-worthiness is inherent. Muddy messages covered that up. Too bad it took so long for me to understand, however I am grateful to grasp it now. It is also true of you.  

In the same way, much of what we hear from the world about God, Jesus, and the Bible reflects mudslingers, not the Great I Am.  The worst offenders are those who claim  to follow God yet speak and live in hate.

Much too of what people claim the Bible says, are misquotes, out of context, or made up altogether. Mud obscures the truth of God’s character. His plan for a personal relationship with each person through his Son Jesus, reflects total mercy and love. He is perfectly just, perfectly fair, and perfectly wise. 

I encourage you to challenge deeply held, hidden, or automatic ideas that would have you  dismiss the God of the Bible.  When I discovered how deep his love is, everything changed. Dependencies on people and false hopes seem foolish in comparison to a love that is real, tangible, and unfailing.

As a tired and lonely child, I heard this verse from Psalm 27. “Though your father and mother abandon you, I will never leave you.” Do you recognize that promise?

God said it. That is the kind of love I embrace and welcome you to come to know. 

Today’s Helpful Word

Exodus 34:6

“The Lord passed in front of Moses, calling out, “Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.” 

 

***** 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 Past is Not Yours to Keep

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

Let it go. We’ve all heard the phrase. Did you know your past paves every corridor of your being? How is one to let the past go when it is reflected in who you are today?

Sitting in the therapist’s office, I said sincerely, “It is not mine to keep.” Unfortunately, it was not the past or negativity of which I spoke. It was the comfort of a good day, a nice moment I was certain did not belong to me. 

Sure, I was deep in depression. No doubt that partly explains the attitude. Yet how is one to overcome depression while clinging to a prevailing mindset of defeat? Major depression had its roots, but was I feeding it? 

In my mind, I was disqualified for anything good. What sorrow in that statement!  Thankfully, and with great joy, I can say that is no longer my experience! I’ve learned to let the past go.

You are not trapped

The past carries pain for many of us. Divorce, perceived business failure, abuse, loss… you can easily write your mental list. That is part of a defeatist issue – how simple it is to fill out such a list of negative experiences. 

Doing so can lock you in to a sense of victimization. You may have been a victim at one time. The hands or decisions of others may have caused you great harm.  Those events matter; they do not own you. You can escape the cycle of defeat and disqualification. Victimization does not have to continue.

How to let the past go

  1. If you are currently abused, end the abuse.  I can only suggest you reach out for help from someone or an organization that knows what to do.  You will find numerous phone numbers and websites listed on my The Truth About Abuse resource page. Click here.
  2. Challenge your negative self-talk. Question the messages that fill you with self-doubt and fear. Take notice of evidence that contradicts the old “I’m hopeless” repertoire circling in your racing thoughts. Consider this. You have read over half of a blog about moving beyond the past. That means you have a glimmer of hope for change. If that much hope can exist, so can more!
  3. Start writing down every one of your successes no matter how small. Perhaps you tend to dwell on shame for things you have said. Instead, record the times you have not spoken hurtful words. Count the smallest of moments. How about your encounter with a waiter last week? You were polite. There was no fight. If it is possible once, why not many more? 
  4. Look inside yourself, perhaps with the help of a therapist, and see if false beliefs are guiding your decisions. Complexities may take some time. However, it is very much worth your investment. 
  5. Allow God to work in your heart. He is the difference-maker!  When you realize he embraces and forgives you, your ability to forgive yourself and others grows strong. Become rooted in the knowledge of God through his Word, the Bible. You will begin to fully grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 3: 16-19) 

Once your ideas about who you are and how you interact with the world begin to take a positive turn, you will find it easier to let go of the past. 

After all, you do not own it.  It is gone. It is not yours to keep.

Today’s Helpful Word

2 Corinthians 5:17, 18a 

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!  And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ.”

***** 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.

*Trees by XYMONAU of rgbstock.com

 

 

For One of the Least of These: Offering Living Water to Those Who Thirst

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

A few days ago, my doctor’s instructions were to avoid food and water for twelve hours before a procedure. The food was no problem, but please. Water!

Matthew, who wrote the BIble book by the same name, tells us about the time Jesus ate no food for forty days. “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.“*

Jesus, being God, had the power to make stones into bread and sand into water. He chose not to do so because he “was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.” The “Spirit” here, is God’s Spirit. Jesus was intent on doing God’s will. His goal was to finish the task for which he came to earth in the first place. 

As the Creator of everything delicious, and having come from heaven of all places, it is doubtful Jesus came here for a yummy snack! No, he intended to die for our sins and resurrect to give eternal life to anyone who will believe. He had a serious mission. 

Let’s carry this into the realm of emotional and relational thirst. When Jesus taught to give a drink to thirsty people, he meant real water.  In other scriptures we see he offers ‘living water’ to those who are spiritually thirsty. 

People are thirsty for truth, for hope, or for someone to tell them they matter.  Believe it or not, offering a cup of real water is one way to tell a person he or she has value to you.  Kind acts carry a lot of weight. On a deeper level, taking the time to gain insight into a desperate person’s  experiences and thoughts, grants us an opportunity to offer life. 

I have written and spoken on the benefits of therapy, medications, and self-care. These matter in a big way to huge numbers of people. At one point, I too was dying of emotional thirst because I did not know how, or believe I would ever, find the sustenance (love) I needed. Therapy pointed the way, and taught me how to take in what had been there all along. 

Let me be clear. I am grateful for that experience and encourage others to find wise counsel. It is important to note however, my therapists did not ever point me away from the real difference-maker, Jesus Christ. The opposite is true, as they reminded me repeatedly who I am in God’s eyes. 

Helping someone who feels emotional, relational, or spiritual emptiness, is more effective when we seek God for the answers. Sometimes he leads us to the right people who will show us how to offer support.  Sometimes he guides us when we read the Bible. Always, he makes our paths straight when we surrender our will to his, and completely rely on his unfailing love.

Embrace someone who hurts. Show compassion for the confused, and those lashing out in pain. This is like water in desert ground to them. Allow God to begin the deep work of  change, hope, and joy in you by surrendering to Jesus.

Then pass on the living water to all who thirst.                                

Today’s Helpful Word

For [Jesus]  at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’”                                                                                                                                       

 

***** 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.

*Matthew 4:1,2

**Water pic by ROBBY_M; glass of water by LITTLEMAN, both of rgbstock.comrgb

For One of the Least of These: Helping Those Who Hunger for Love

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

Sarah felt lost. Her thoughts fluctuated between I do not need anyone, to I am bad for needing anyone, to why does no one care?

Her sense of aloneness and guilt exacerbated her doubt she was lovable at all. Shame joined the mental torture.

At the same time, her behavior told a different story. She was friendly and funny. Her need for affirmation was great. At times she realized she was fishing for approval, yet most often was unaware.

Her spirit had been crushed by absence of love from significant family members. Early in life she learned she was on her own. In second grade, a friend apologized that she would not be able to attend Sarah’s birthday party. Sarah cried, not because she was sad, but because she was in awe that someone cared enough to consider coming to her party.

The hole in her heart caused her to search for love in unhealthy ways. She truly did not know better. She was hungry, starving really, and the only solution was love.

Jesus said that when we see “one of the least of these” who is hungry and feed them, it is the same as doing it for him. That is because his love for hungry people is so great, he is blessed when their needs are met. He also loves givers, and rewards us when we become so.

He was speaking of those who are poor financially. He meant literal hunger and literal food. In another place he spoke of those who hunger for righteousness.* That is, people who desire to honor God.  In the same teaching, he promised blessing for those who mourn.**

God is one who cares intimately about our inner being. We can care too when someone like Sarah enters our sphere.  One way to do this is to offer time and listening. Perhaps we can help her find a good counselor or therapist and get her there. A simple and meaningful way to let a person know they matter is to say so. Emails, texts, calls, visits… all make a difference.

Beware becoming someone’s sole support. Sarah did not need a human savior, although she felt she did. One way to tell if a line is crossed, is to check if the relationship is changing. Friends do not become therapists. Pastors do not become on-call servants. Parents do not become doctors. Discourage dependence on you by not saying yes to every plea.

We can point someone to Christ and God’s love without judgment and criticism. By expressing sincere acceptance, we extend his compassion.  God’s love is so vast that our sins, flaws, mistakes, and even negative self-talk are not enough to make it stop.

Without question, God says we have to believe he exists. It is also imperative to believe that his Son Jesus, paid for our sins on the cross. This same Jesus resurrected and lives now as our Lord and Savior. These are foundational and necessary tenets of saving faith.

People like Sarah will begin to experience joy when they realize their inherent value. God’s love shines through the Bible and in our spirits. It is big enough to fill the emptiest caverns of need.

Counseling helped Sarah begin to see her worth as God sees her. Eventually she no longer yearned for people to meet her deepest need. God’s love has filled her to the brim, and even difficult circumstances no longer diminish her peace of mind. 

Today’s Helpful Word

Matthew 25: 37, 40 

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you…?’  … The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

***** 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.

*Matthew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

**Matthew 5:6  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.

-empty heart by XYMONAU; cross heart BA1969, both of rgbstock.com

 

 

 

 

isaih 61: esv The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;[a]afflicted
  he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
    and the day of vengeance of our God;
  to comfort all who mourn;
3 to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;