Tag Archives: Addiction

Dear Supports, The Line Between Concern and Control is Not So Fine. Here are 10 Differences

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

people sitting in front of wooden table
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

A mother in her late sixties consistently criticized her forty-something son’s job hunt, marriage, and child-rearing. In turn, her daughter-in-law sent her accusatory letters telling her to back-off. 

Over many years, a variety of people had tried to tell the elder woman that her controlling attitude was damaging to her family relationships and ability to work well with others. For as many years, her stubbornness told a different tale; she knew she was right. 

Finally, after losing two careers and a lifetime of closeness to her children, she asked, “What am I doing wrong?”

She asked me. Her question stirred a thoughtful process that led to the following ten-point general comparison between concern and control. 

As supports of anyone who struggles with mental illness, abuse, or addiction, our role is often uncomfortable. We have to make a decision, deep in our character, as to whether we will respect each person’s freedom to choose. After offering what help is reasonable, will we let go?

Two supports in my own struggle with major depression showed opposing attitudes. One said,  “God brought us together so I can fix you.” The other said, “You are powerful, Nancy. You can get through this.” 

Which one do you suppose is still my friend?

Control versus Concern- what is the difference?

1. Concern wants to extend love above all else. Control desires results above all else.

2. Concern is humble and eager to learn. Control knows the answer.

3. Concern actively listens and validates with genuine interest.  Control does not listen.

4. Concern offers hope based on knowledge, insight, and wisdom.  Control offers pat answers, quick-fix solutions, or false hope based on incomplete understanding of a person and his or her needs.

5. Concern accepts responsibility for one’s own life, and patiently leaves others to take responsibility for theirs. Control criticizes, manipulates, and tries to force its will. 

6. Concern offers help when asked, or asks before helping. Control assumes ways to “fix” a situation or person with or without consent.

7. Concern respects the privacy of others.  Control shares what is told in confidence, and  wants in on gossip and rumor.

8. Concern feels some worry, yet also experiences peace by letting go. Control repeatedly expresses frustration and disappointment at slow or unwanted results.

9. Concern feels empathy, pain, or grief, but does not have to own what is not one’s problem. Control takes personally another person’s troubles. 

10. Concern of a Christian believer points people to Jesus. Control is self-worship that can blind others to God’s miraculous power. 

This is not about perfection, it is about growth in love. We all can pass between concern and control at moments. However, making the mistake of living as a controlling person harms relationships and damages those for whom you care so much.

Today’s Helpful Word  

James 3:13-18

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth…  

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”

 

***** 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.

 

 

 

How Loving God Makes You a Better Support

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

004-lumo-crippled-woman

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

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

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”   (Mark 12:30, 31)

Well, that narrows it down, doesn’t it? One of Jesus’ disciples, John, said we love God by keeping his commands (1 John 5:3,4a),  and his commands are to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another (1 John 3:23).

Love is an action, sometimes accompanied by warm and fuzzy emotions. Love is a choice we make each day, that can overpower thoughts to the contrary. Love is not apathy.  Love is what God wants. Love is who he is.

Love as you love yourself

Naturally, we love ourselves with or without comfortable emotions and thoughts. If rocks are flying at our heads, we duck. In a storm we seek shelter. We look for food and water each day.  These are acts of love we perform for our well-being.

Disheartened, we want encouragement. Weak, we want help. Our hope is for everyone to be patient with our imperfections! These kindnesses are but a few we wish to receive because we love ourselves and want out needs met. Each of these are described as acts of love in 1 Thessalonians 5:14b.

Whether trying to support a loved one in emotional distress, with mental illness, or struggling for freedom from abuse or addiction, we are most effective when we love God with our whole being. Loving God leads to extending to those who are hurting the kind of love for which we long.

Love as you love God

Jesus spoke to his disciples about judgment day.  Jesus is The King.

 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit 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.’”  (Matthew 25:34-40)

So you see, obeying God’s greatest commandments to love others with the natural protection, nourishment, emotional support, and patience we want, IS part of loving God.

Today’s Helpful Word  

1 John 4:8 

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

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

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

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

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.   

Part 3 Silence No More: Go from Voiceless to Heard by Overcoming Procrastination

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

I was reminded today how, when in crisis, our world seems so small. This is one reason it is important to reach out for support, and hear other perspectives.

Emotional struggles, mental illness, addiction, and abuse,  may lead to shame and silence.  Three obstacles stand in the way of finding your voice. 

False beliefs (part 1)  Fear of what might happen (part 2) and today’s third obstacle, round out this series. 

Obstacle # 3 :  Procrastination.

Putting anything off until tomorrow is the bane of students, entrepreneurs, and Monday mornings. We perceive an action as too hard, too painful, or not worth our time. Avoidance techniques like eating, drinking, and other substances and behavioral habits only make our situation worse. 

Silence has that effect as well. Speaking up and finding your voice is often a matter of self-motivation and self-encouragement. Part of finding your voice is discovering it within.  

Needed:  Motivation

You have your mind and right to make decisions. Take a logical inventory. What has silence already cost you? Familiar suffering is not superior to freedom. List what you have tried that did not work, and what you have not tried that might work.

In cases of abuse, chances are you have tried denial, excusing the abuser’s behavior,  offering forgiveness and multiple chances,  walking on eggshells,  and perhaps even questioning the value of your life. Silence has not protected you emotionally or physically. 

In addiction, likely you have tried cold-turkey, “final decisions”, denial, independence, and a sense of control. Silence has not led you to health. 

Untreated or under treated mental illness or emotional challenges have left you with self-disgust and a sense of failure.  Perhaps you have lost friends, work, or home. Denial has helped you cope. Silence has prevented you from a positive solution. 

Is this what you want?  

Needed:  Encourage Yourself

Rah-rahs help sometimes. Positive thoughts may give us some courage. However, there are there more practical ways to build your chances for a better future.

If past efforts at speaking up did not end the way you want, go back to part 2 of this series and study your options.  Did a therapist or psychiatrist not work out well? Learn what to realistically expect, and try someone different if you must. Did you not follow expert advice? Go back with a teachable attitude.

Learn from others to escape the tapes stuck on replay in your head. Listen to first-hand experiences.  Many past victims of abuse escape saying, “I should have done this sooner,” or “I waited too long.”  Testimonies of recovery repeatedly press the point, “You have to admit you are powerless.”  For me, overcoming major depression and suicidal thinking took a deliberate decision to discover what enjoying life means.

Your voice counts because (insert your name) matters. You matter to the One True God, his Son Jesus, and to those good people in your sphere. You matter to the world because your success gives the rest of us hope.  You really are loved.

Challenge your false beliefs,  reach out for support, and do not put it off. 

Be heard. Be free.

 Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 31:7 –  song to Yahweh

I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love,
    for you have seen my troubles,
    and you care about the anguish of my soul.

******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: Climbers top by AYLA87; Raised hands  by LUSI ,  both of rgbstock.com

Part 2 Silence No More: Go from Voiceless to Heard by Overcoming Fear

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

Secrets and shame lead to silence. Whether your story is about emotional struggles, mental illness, addiction, or abuse,  you may feel voiceless.  

Silence no more!  You can speak up and be heard.  Three obstacles likely stand in the way.  The first is false beliefs,  discussed in part one of this series. This post and the next cover the other two.  

Obstacle # 2 : Fear of what will happen once you speak

Let’s face it. Silence has its pay-offs. Status quo is familiar, and familiarity is comfortable.  

We also know that fear is paralyzing, and interrupts our joy.  Same-old is tiresome, and possibly dangerous.  Continuing to make the same choices that never worked, or ceased  benefitting us, will keep us stuck. 

Needed: Support

Asking for help means admitting to your challenge.  That’s okay. You are not alone. There are systems already in place. Whether you need to escape abuse, find recovery, or deal with mental health issues, trust those systems.

We are fearful of change, and do not know what these organizations or people can do to help. They are the experts, who gladly answer these questions.  We have to trust safe people who have devoted their lives to helping.

Domestic violence shelters are led by trained personnel, able to guide you safely through the uncertainty of child care, finances, work, and legal issues.

Mental health professionals are ready to help  with troublesome thoughts and emotions.  If you are in crisis, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. 

Rehabilitation Treatment Centers require some proof that you are investing in your recovery. Go through those hoops and take it seriously.  Once in, follow the advice of worthy men and women who know what works. 

Who to contact

If you can find no help in your area, search online for reputable sites.  (Be careful, do not  offer identifying information).  On my resource pages, you will find  emergency numbers  and links to sites offering the information you need.

The Truth About Abuse       Addiction Recovery          If You Are Depressed or Anxious 

What to Do/Say When a Loved One is Depressed

Needed: Back-up

It is a good idea to have that initial support in place before you broaden the scope of your voice.  Chances are, like most of us, you set-up a façade in the past. The false image that all is well has helped you cope. Taking the mask off will surprise those who know you.

Some people will not believe your story.  Others may walk away.  Be prepared.  

If you can, practice using your voice with those who  relate and are non-judgmental.  In support groups, group therapy,  and anonymous 12-step groups,  you will find non-critical acceptance.  If these are scarce in your area,  perhaps a healthy online service is an option. (Again, be careful.  Do not use your real name.)  

With support from people who build you up on an ongoing basis,  your voice will grow strong.   

Next 

Stay tuned for a solution to obstacle #3, procrastination.  

 Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 121: 1,2   (A song for pilgrims)

 I look up to the mountains—
    does my help come from there?
 My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth!

    

******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: Climbers top by AYLA87; Climbers bottom  by MIMICA,  both of rgbstock.com

 

Part 1 Silence No More: Go from Voiceless to Heard by Overcoming False Belief

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

The freedom to live by your values is not out of reach!

Secrets and shame equal silence

Emotional struggles, mental illness, addiction, and abuse tend to embrace secrets and shame.  We who live with them may feel voiceless and unknown.

Silence no more!  You can, with help, release those chains and stand up for yourself.  There are three obstacles to overcome first. They are covered in this and the next two posts. 

Obstacle #1:  False beliefs

My almost complete silence about experiences that were slowly destroying me, was based on false hope.  Unaware of facts, emotions,  or my role,  I scrutinized truth under a misaligned perspective.  I believed the wrong people, and did not trust my instincts.  False beliefs had no strong challenger, and served to enable abusers and prolong my shame.

This is not unique. 

False Belief – “My story is unimportant.”

This idea holds back many if not most of those who suffer. One’s experience is held up in comparison to all the evils in the world, and judged unworthy of attention.

Truth is, we all have a genuine basic need for validation.  This means simply having someone believe us, agree our pain is real,  and respond in a way that proves our experiences matter.

By dismissing our story as unimportant, we essentially deny ourselves a solution.  One therapist told me, “I have never really seen anyone move forward without validation.”

Crisis workers, helpline volunteers,  and professionals in the fields of mental illness, addiction, or abuse, may be better suited to meet this need than well-meaning friends, family, or clergy.  That is not disrespect. It is acknowledging that significant supports do not always know how to give quality validation under circumstances they are not trained to understand.

I found this safety in therapists – your experience may be different.  Keep looking until you are heard.

False Belief – “I do not matter” or  “It is selfish to waste time on myself”

Perhaps your sense of personal value is shaky.  Remember that any of us who have moved out of silence and gone on to help our families and other people, had to first invest in ourselves.

Self-doubt is powerful.  Continue learning.  Listen to positive feedback, and do not dismiss it.  Collect affirmations on a list.  Ask people you trust why you matter to them!

Believe in God’s love and your inherent value. You can start to grow this faith by reading first the New Testament Book of John in the Bible.

Finally, please consider the messengers who filled you with your sense of worthlessness, helplessness,  and fear. If they are liars, haters, narcissists, self-protective at all costs, emotionally immature, or stuck in their own false beliefs, they could be wrong, couldn’t they? What if all those negative messages are false? That changes everything!

Next 

Stay tuned for a discussion on obstacle #2, fear of what might happen if we speak up. 

 Today’s Helpful Word

Proverbs 2: 6-10

For the Lord grants wisdom!
    From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
 He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest.  He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him.  Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair,  and you will find the right way to go.  For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy.

 

******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: Climber  by COLUMBINE ; Raised hands by COSTIQ , both of rgbstock.com

 

Find Joy: 5 More Building Blocks for Rebuilding On Your Ruins

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

Find Joy: You Can Rebuild on Your Ruins -part 1

Find Joy: 5 Building Blocks for Rebuilding on Your Ruins  -part 2

Warsaw

Ancient Jerusalem is not the only city built on its ruins. Another example is how the people of Warsaw, Poland responded when their metropolis was destroyed by WWII. To rebuild, city planners used historical paintings as guides. Citizens collected tons of rubble to mold into usable brick. They even incorporated ruins from other destroyed towns.*

What great inspiration! Abuse, addiction, and mental health challenges do not have to define you today.  You too can use your ruins to rebuild.

5 more building blocks for the precious rebuild of your life.

6. Embrace a greater purpose.  Ruins brought me to despair until I realized hope thrives beyond circumstance.  Hardship can grow emotional muscle. Your life struggles are worthwhile when the part of you that survives emerges from the rubble carrying new tools. With these you build a stronger faith,  a wiser mind, and insight so you can meaningfully help others. 

7. Live by your values. Too often, pain from brokenness seems to take control over a person’s ability to make choices. While memories, scars, and disability do affect how we face life, they are not dictators. 

You are in control – you decide how you want to respond. Write down what character traits, relationships, and goals are most important to you.  Ask, “What kind of person do I want to be? What steps will I take today toward becoming that person?”

 8. Accept your humanity.  Life is full of struggles. We each experience loss. At the root of common confusion and hurt is this one factor: we are human. 

Accept that as a fallible human being you are supposed to feel weak at times. It is normal. Needing support is reasonable.  Guidance from a mental health care professional or trusted mentor may be vitally helpful.  Allow yourself the right to take only one step at a time. Slow progress is progress after all!  Allow mistakes, failures, and strong emotions. Yet also embrace your triumphs no matter how small. As a human, overcoming tough challenges is amazing. Be kind to yourself.

9. Accept the HIghest Power.  On the other hand, as a mere mortal, you cannot hold the wisdom of the ages. Tomorrow is a mystery. Guidance and peace come from a relationship with the Creator of wisdom.  As the christian story goes,  God’s love redeems your past. You are why he sent his one and only birth son Jesus to die on a cross. Jesus rose again so you can have connection with him forever.  That is  love worth considering.

10. Appreciate the present season.  Urgent or painful circumstances may pressure you to adjust long-term goals, and you can feel as if life is out of your hands.  Truth is, life passes in seasons.  

Remember, this too will pass. Moods change.  Situations change. Time proves that most of what we worry about never happens. Try to focus on the present and not be in too big a rush.  Patience is peaceful.  

 You, yes you, are able to rise

You may believe that abuse, addiction, or mental illness has destroyed you.  You have  given up on the coulda-beens. I have felt hopeless and victimized by people, circumstances, and depression. This list of ten building blocks came from that destruction. 

Struggles teach.  With willingness to take the first step, you too will rebuild on your ruins.  

Today’s Helpful Word

Jerusalem

Philippians 3:12-14 

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

 

 **********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. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental 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.

*From Story of cities #28: how postwar Warsaw was rebuilt using 18th century paintings, retrieved March 9, 2018 from https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/apr/22/story-cities-warsaw-rebuilt-18th-century-paintings

Warsaw pic by MZACHA on rgbstock.com; Jerusalem by MICROMOTH on rgbstock.com

Find Joy: 5 Building Blocks for Rebuilding On Your Ruins

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

The rubble of ancient, conquered, and razed Jerusalem lies under and around the modern city.  It was rebuilt on its ruins. About 2600 years ago, a prophet said this would happen. It is recorded in the Bible book of Jeremiah.   “Jerusalem will be rebuilt on its ruins” (Jeremiah 30:18).

That can happen for you and me, too. We can rebuild on our broken pasts of abuse, addiction, or mental illness. See  Find Joy: You Can Rebuild on Your Ruins.

 5 of 10 building blocks for the precious rebuild of your life.

1. Forgive.  Letting go means admitting what hurts.  Look thoughtfully at the responsibility of all concerned, and forgive yourself if you played a role in causing harm to yourself or others.  Allow people to be human, wicked, thoughtless, and careless. By this I mean, do not carry their burden of guilt.

Make amends wherever doing so will not hurt someone else.  Anger and resentment keep us stuck in the middle of our ruins.

2. Accept the losses and acknowledge your emotions. Trying to convince yourself that something does not hurt, or that it shouldn’t hurt, is to do yourself a huge disfavor. Please take this advice from a woman who buried emotions for 50 years. Emotions teach us if we will listen. Then it becomes possible to deal with them and move on. 

3. Do not isolate. Do talk about your challenge and listen to another perspective.  Your thoughts can be unsafe and may need interruption.  Listen to warnings. When you will not open up, what you perceive remains your only understanding of truth.

4.  Refocus on present positives.  There is good happening all around for which to be grateful.  Life offers up profound moments of joy and inspiration, and at the same time,  sometimes devastating news.  It may be cold and bitter weather, and simultaneously clear and beautiful. It takes some practice,  nonetheless, focusing on the present good helps you to find today’s safety and withdraw from your past. 

5. Develop and utilize boundaries.  You cannot control external events or another person’s choices.  Therefore your boundaries  are meant to stop you, not someone else.  You can change your “I’m stuck in this problem” to “I’m not going to allow so-n-so to abuse me, or a substance to ruin me, or a mental health challenge to hold me back.”  You decide what to let in and what to keep out of your life. 

You do not have to do this alone

Rebuilding is possible and doable. It may be difficult and require much time.  You may have ruins, nevertheless you are not ruined

There are people trained to help. Mental health professionals, organizations to help abuse victims, rehabilitation centers, and other qualified resources. Check out my pages of references for Abuse, addiction, and depression and anxiety. 

Remember too, the same God of the BIble that Jeremiah knew is Who is on your side today. In my next blog, you will receive the other 5 of 10 building blocks. 

Today’s Helpful Word

2 Corinthians 5:17 

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

 

 **********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. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental 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.

Construction workers pic from kozzi.com; building walls pic by COLINBROUGH on rgbstock.com

 

Find Joy: You Can Rebuild On Your Ruins

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

In trying to regain mental health, often we try to get rid of our pasts. We see what is broken and try to throw it out. Perhaps we believe we can only begin again if we clear out the ruins. 

Our nation has many ruins right now  – natural disasters have flattened businesses and homes.  Social issues and crime have broken dreams, scattered families, and taken lives.  There is sorrow.  There is also a rallying cry.  Peppered throughout the news you will hear,  “we will begin again,  we will rebuild”.

Ancient Jerusalem suffered too.  Overtaken by a foreign army, houses and properties burned down, leaders were killed, and residents marched off as prisoners. It was disastrous.  I was glancing through the Bible book of Jeremiah which records this history, and ran across this sentence, “Jerusalem will be rebuilt on its ruins.”  (Jeremiah 30:18)

That caught my breath for a moment because the promise God gave those people was not that he would sweep away all the ugly ruins and start over with an unscarred city. He gave value to what lay in the dust, a purpose for the pain.

My past with all its shame and despair is part of what made me who I am today.  Strengths grow out of weakness, change is born of necessity. By accepting brokenness and allowing it to teach me,  I found deep joy far surpassing the superficial.  I have been and continue to be rebuilt on my ruins.   

And so it is with you.  Whatever the crisis or struggle,  you can embrace your experiences. You can rebuild on your ruins of abuse, addiction, or mental health challenges.

In the next blog, I will give you several building blocks for doing just that.

Today’s Helpful Word

Jeremiah 30:18 

This is what the Lord says: “When I bring Israel home again from captivity and restore their fortunes, Jerusalem will be rebuilt on its ruins, and the palace reconstructed as before.

 

 

 

 **********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. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental 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.

ruins pic by TOME213 on rgbstock.com; glass floor pic by BABYKRUL

Unconditional Love: The Forgotten Source of Hope

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c) 2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

Among people who struggle with emotional instability, mental illness, addiction, or abuse I have observed a common thread shared with all of humanity. It is both universal and intimate, a want and need.

I have, as so many others, desperately tried to find it or escape from its absence through relationships, substances, entertainment, physical pleasure, and even rumination on the value of my life.  

The longing that shapes almost every human decision is for unconditional love. 

At the crux of all the world’s troubles

Pride and corruption in high places are about power and greed. Yet what is power without adoring followers? What is there to riches except to say, “Look at what I have!”

The poor and marginalized cry out for justice; their cause, righteous.  Nonetheless, the plea behind it all is for unconditional love – acceptance as equals in society. 

In homes and on playgrounds, one can see the push-pull for unconditional love. Each of us seeks it,  few offer it.  Our best attempts at giving love without strings fall short. 

Some of us believe a lie – that the world’s inability to love us well means we are unlovable. We become grateful for whatever crumbs fall our way, even if they are served with abuse and more lies.

With eyes focused on guilt or shame, some of us feel unworthy of great love. 

It is time to accept your true identity

God’s love transcends pity. His mercy is not because you are a nothing and only by rolling his eyes and shaking his head can he love you.

No, he knew beforehand everything you would and have become,  including what has happened to you and how it shaped your beliefs.  He saw your blunders, the pain you would cause other people, and how much sorrow he would suffer due to your unbelief and sin. He knew the details of your weaknesses and failings before he gave you life… and made you anyway.

Why? He loved you before you were born; his plans for you are not shaken. His ultimate goal has always been to spend eternity with you because he loves and wants to be with you that much.

Yours for the taking

Sometimes we tend to think “love hurts, and is not worth the pain.” It is the opposite with God’s unconditional love. He saw ahead of time that you would not love him perfectly, and brought you into the world anyway. All the pain IS worth it to him. YOU are worth it.

As absence of unconditional love can trap us in cycles, so its unfailing presence sets us free. We can strip off the disguises, and come to him as-is. This source of perfect grace and mercy, justice and forgiveness, strength to save and power to love is the ever-present, all-knowing highest power,  the God of the Bible as revealed to us in the life, death, and resurrection of his only birth-Son, Jesus Christ. 

You are loved.

Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 33: 20-22 

We put our hope in the Lord He is our help and our shield.  In him our hearts rejoice,  for we trust in his holy name.  Let your unfailing love surround us, Lordfor our hope is in you alone.

 

*********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. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental 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 is yours.