Tag Archives: Bible

Will Has No Power

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

Today’s guest post is by Tom Whitesel, pastor and host of the 24Today podcast. You can read and listen to more of his work at 24Today.org.

was at a Convenience Store, standing in line, waiting to pay for gas. As a part of the “convenience experience”, a Hershey candy bar (with almonds) was beautifully displayed and easily within my reach.

I find these bars amazing. For starters, it is amazing when the maker of the candy bar actually takes the time to print their name on the bar. That’s amazing! This very fact alone, says that a Hershey’s bar deserves some consideration. And I have considered plenty of them over the years.


As I studied this work of art, I said to myself, “I haven’t had one of those for a long, long time. You know what would taste good right about now? A Hershey candy bar with almonds!”


I have a wonderful friend inside of me. His name is “Will”.

Will reminded me that if I make the decision to fully consider a Hershey candy bar (with almonds)... I also will add 210 calories and 26g’s of carbs to my body.

Will is smart that way.


Will can also be strategic.

Will convinced me to re-focus my eyes on the Beef Jerky (also conveniently placed on the counter). I’m not a fan of Beef Jerky, so I could look at that stuff all day long and not be tempted.


Before I new it, I had paid for my gasoline and was back in my car. And the Hershey bar (with almonds)remained conveniently in the store.

Will had won!


Last week was a rough week. For a reason unknown to me, my old foe (DEPRESSION) came calling.

For the first four days, I did what I do by nature. I relied on Will to get me out of it.

Will wasn’t strong enough on Monday or on Tuesday. Will lost on Wednesday and Thursday also.

On Friday morning, God taught me three truths about Will:

  1. Will can be smart.
  2. Will can be strategic.
  3. Will isn’t very strong.

So [still on Friday morning] I desperately began to plead to God for help. I said, “Father, I don’t have it in me to be able to defeat DEPRESSION today. I have tried every day this week. but I have lost each time. I am COMPLETELY helpless. I surrender this battle to You. I’m asking You to defeat DEPRESSION today.”

I followed that prayer with continuing my YouVersion Bible App daily reading. Miraculously, in about 10 minutes, the depression fog began to lift.

Next, I strategically asked God to replace DEPRESSION with His fruit (Galatians 5:22-25):

  • Love
  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Faithfullness
  • Gentleness
  • Self Control

Will was back at work, doing some strategic thinking.

But the POWER came from Jesus.


Now, four days later, I continue to be out of the fog of depression. And I am still pleading every day with Jesus. “Just get me through this 24 hour period,” I say.

And He has. One day at a time!


I still like Will and need his help. But Jesus is where strength comes from.


You also have things in your life which Will can’t get you through.

Is it fear? Is it doubt? Is it loneliness?

If you are like me, you have more than one.


Summarizing…

  • Will can’t give you power.
  • Surrender the battle to Jesus.
  • Until you get to the level in which you actually plead to Jesus for help, you might not really want it bad enough. You might be asking Jesus to help Will. But, it has to be the OTHER WAY AROUND. It’s Jesus first. Then Will can help Jesus.
  • Will has no power.
  • Jesus has the power

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

From Nancy:  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.

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.

 

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.

What is the Eternal Fate of One Who Dies By Suicide?

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

In a church two years ago, after sharing my story of recovery after a suicide attempt and discussing major depression,  a member approached and said, “Suicide sends people to hell because it is a sin, and there is no time to repent.”  This sentiment was once more prevalent.  Most often today, surviving loved ones and pastors talk about God’s mercy and understanding.

I am asked frequently whether people who die this way go to heaven. It is not my intention to cop-out  and avoid this important discussion. Nevertheless,  I would rather ask a different question.

Who is God?

God is Holy.  This means that in him there are no sin, wrongful motives, evil thoughts, or anything of the like.  Our mockery and disbelief prevent us from knowing him, they do not diminish his holiness.

We are to reverently serve him because he IS. In him we move and breathe and have our being.  He merely spoke and the world began.  Let us stand in awe of him!

This is not to say he is angry and vengeful.  On the contrary, his nature is love and goodness. Relying on him, on his unfailing love, is to know blessings of peace and joy, even in times of pain. However he is just, and does respond to evil with judgment.

Like a child who wants to copy daddy,  we begin to mimic our Father God when we trust him and learn to obey his instructions. Looking elsewhere for the value, mercy, love, freedom, and rescue that only God can provide is not only foolish, but sin. It hurts him, others, and ourselves.

This is not to say that one who fails to measure up to God’s high standards is doomed. On the contrary! God knows who he created. You and I are not lost on him. He saw every one of our days before one of them happened and made us anyway. That is love! His promise of eternal life with him is for any who will accept salvation offered through his Son Jesus. In other words, he made a way out.

Spiritual lostness has a solution

It is simple and free. The famous line that often showed up on T-shirts or signs at football games, “John 3:16”, refers to a quote by Jesus .

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

In four basic parts, it says: (a) the world, that’s you and me and everyone who has ever lived, exists on purpose; (b) God loves the world;  (c) God sees we are lost, floundering away from him and his love, and sends a solution – Jesus. Jesus is God’s only monogenes, or one-of-a-kind, (note the capital S), Son.  He too is holy. His was the only sinless life, so his is the only life that can serve as our Savior; and (d) the reason for all this drama is so the world may live with God apart from the evils and disappointments of this life forever!

Once again, that is not to say we cannot reject the gift. Most do. Consequences are pain and death, if not for the present, then in the future. Yet preferring the instant to the real, people pursue false gods.  These are things, activities, or people we place ahead of God as our authority, and source of strength and satisfaction.

False gods will never serve us well because the very fallible humans who want to depend on them, are their designers. Mistaken, self-serving god-makers will never produce any object of worship that rises above themselves. We do not follow false gods because we love them – we worship false gods because we love ourselves (and not in a good way).

Sin is what separates us from God, not pain

One’s relationship with God through Jesus is personal and close when nurtured by repentance, love for him, and time spent with him.  God is close to the needy, the brokenhearted, and the oppressed. By following his way we are never alone whether we hurt physically or emotionally, or in any other form.

Does God condemn forever people who die by suicide? Once again, my opinion does not matter. The Bible is very clear that what causes unbelievers to perish for eternity is rejection of Christ. Refusal to have faith at all – not believing God exists – is the first part, and denying the Son as our source of salvation is the second.

As for people who follow Jesus, closely even, and die by suicide – did they reject Christ? It is not sinful to suffer. No one is cast aside by God for having uncomfortable emotions.

Unbelief is not defined strictly by actions, but mostly by the heart. In pain, to whom does one cry out? If a mind is overwhelmed, is it possible the heart is still faithful?

Your answer lies in learning to know the God of the Bible. I know where I stand for eternity, and I know what he asks of me. Do you? 

Let’s make no mistake!

Regardless one’s eternal destiny, suicide is not the type of death or legacy that brings honor to God’s name. Those left experience damage, and feel angry, sorrowful, and wrenched with a lifetime of the question why.  Copycat suicides are common. The one who died by suicide is remembered and celebrated always with an asterisk of doubt.  But… he killed himself. But… she left me.  But… I wasn’t enough to save my loved one.  But… why didn’t God stop it?

The legacy of finding help and utilizing all the offered resources is one of inspiration and hope. The fight is worth it. Knowledge is invaluable.  Understanding how depression works is life-saving.  We have options for survival.

God sees. God knows. God loves.

Today’s Helpful Word(s)

You will find the sources of many of this blog’s quotes and references to Biblical truth in the following passages: 

John 3;  Psalm 33;  Hebrews 11:5-6;  Psalm 1;  2 Corinthians 5;  1 Corinthians  1;  Acts 17:28; Psalm 139;  Psalm 34:18

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

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

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

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

 

“In Your Religion, Doesn’t God Love You? How Can You Feel Anxious or Depressed?” A Doctor’s Remark Addressed

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

Twenty years ago, a doctor asked routinely if I felt depressed or anxious. One day I said, “Yes.”

She looked surprised and said, “In your religion, doesn’t your God love you? How can you feel anxious or depressed?”

She is not the only medical professional to dismiss mental health issues as matters of choice. One refused to treat me at all.

She is also not the first person to use lack of faith as the assumed cause of uncomfortable emotions.

The word anxious makes some people blame, scold, assume the worst of, or dismiss a person who admits to it.  We are told to not feel whatever we feel, that there’s no reason for it.

What if there is a reason?

Healthy plans include looking at why our feelings are strong. Emotions will teach us if we stop to ask questions of them and listen.  Awareness is the first step toward solutions. (You will find the difference between DISORDER and typical stress or mood explained below this post.)

St. Paul was a preacher in the years immediately following the death and resurrection of Christ.  God gave him several brag-worthy visions.  In the New Testament, we read that Paul learned the reason behind one of his many struggles. He came right out and said that God sent him a “thorn in the flesh” to keep him humble.

Would anyone today walk up to Paul and tell him his weakness was lack of faith?

If he had denied this difficulty,  toughed it out in his own strength, he would not have practiced his faith by asking God for help. He would not have understood the point. He would never have written:

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Emotional Safety

Although the specific challenge Paul faced is not named,  we do know he felt fears and anxiety.*  Anxiety under a compilation of difficult circumstances is normal. Why cannot we admit, “I’m feeling anxious” without a hurricane of  shouldn’t blowing us away?

It behooves us to discuss emotions without judgment. Through non-critical acceptance, we protect emotional safety. This in turn allows each person to consider options such as self-care and perhaps professional help as needed. How important it is to know we can approach God for help without guilt stopping us!

As a follower of Christ,  and one who knows God loves her, I believe  God walks with me through emotions and teaches me when I ask.

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness, abuse, and addiction. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help are yours.
*********OTHER NOTES
DISORDERS are characterized by their duration and intensity.  They present a challenge to regular functioning over longer periods of time.Anxiety Disorder has more extreme symptoms than the type of anxiety everyone feels before a driving test or meeting a significant other’s parents. Mood Disorders are more than the blues and mood swings people feel with the change of weather.  Sometimes it is difficult for a person with a disorder to find any cause.

*Paul and anxiety

  • Philippians 2:27-29  I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious.
  • 2 Corinthians 2:12-13Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me,I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. 
  • Ephesians 6:20  Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. 
  • 2 Corinthians 7:5  For when we came into Macedonia, we had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within.

How Can God Be Good If People Suffer?

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

One of the keys to peace and mental health is to stop trying to control what is out of our control. Anxiety has been kicking my backside recently. When I remember to let go and let God, there is more calm. 

An ancient question stems from our human desire to control everything – even our image of God. The often anxious perception that we should not suffer if God is good, is based on knee-jerk reactions to human pain.  We demand that if we cannot stop evil and struggles, then God should! 

I’m coming from the premise that God is always good, no matter what. As a student of the Bible, the biblical statement* that God understands our troubles rings true to me. That does not mean I have all the answers. If that were possible, I would be equal to God, and he would cease to be sovereign.  

How we know Jesus understands when we hurt and cry.

Jesus endured the physical and emotional frustrations of celibacy and singleness. More than that, he understood what was in every person’s heart, so he entrusted himself to no one. He grieved over deaths of loved ones.  His heart stung when family members rejected his message and misunderstood his purpose.

Friends deserted him at the worst moment of his life. One in particular betrayed him to death! He suffered mental agony, knowing his enemies would torture and crucify him.  HIs greatest sorrow no doubt was on the cross, when he sensed that God, his father with whom he was one,  had turned his face away.   

Jesus could have envied others who did not suffer, but he did not. He focused on eternity.

Is God good when life seems unfair?

Asaph was a songwriter and musician. He was so talented that he answered directly to the King. His job was to lead the entire nation of Israel in worship of God at the ancient Temple in Israel.

One of his songs even made its way into the Bible. Psalm 73  is about his suffering and jealousy of those who did not struggle. Worse yet, these healthy and happy people lived with values Asaph could not respect.

He described them this way. “They wear pride like a jeweled necklace  and clothe themselves with cruelty.  These fat cats have everything  their hearts could ever wish for!.”**

Sound familiar? Dissatisfaction, frustration, and anger often come from expecting our version of fair.   

Sherry lost her childhood to abuse and neglect. As a Christian believer, she wondered why God had not protected her. Praying, she said, “God where were you when I cried?”  A gentle reassurance spoke to her heart. 

“I cried too.” 

Like many of us, Asaph and Sherry temporarily forgot God’s nature of Goodness.  He does not guarantee our joy but teaches us how to find it and live in it forever. 

  Focusing on permanence

Physical health, friendships, family, financial success, emotional well-being, and more seem to promise happiness in the present.  Some of us experience that, and many do not. No matter what we find, happiness (and pain) in this lifetime are temporary. 

One of Jesus’ followers 2000 years ago authored a book.  He encouraged his readers to place their priorities on eternity. He wrote, “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.” ***

Whenever disappointment and outright suffering come my way, it is this focus on eternity that keeps my eyes off self-pity and on hope. Difficulty teaches me how to get out of bed when life hurts. Strength gained through adversity is why purpose guides my choices despite even severe loss. 

Meet Paul

  • Unjustly imprisoned on several occasions
  • 5 times flogged with 39 lashes 
  • 3 times beaten with rods
  • pelted with rocks nearly to death
  • in 3 shipwrecks, one time spending about 24 hours in the open sea 
  • In constant danger
  • often went without sleep, food, or warmth

In my opinion, this qualifies him to speak on suffering and God! Paul was one of the first Christians in the first century A.D., and a traveling preacher. Remarkably, his focus was an eternal one. 

He wrote, “So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” ****

Wow. 

We know God is good when our eyes are on the truth of who He is. 

 

 **********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, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help are yours.

 

*Hebrews 4:15 “For we do not have a high priest [Jesus] who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.”

**Psalm 73: 6-7

***Matthew 6:19-21

****2 Corinthians 4:18

-eye pic by KIMOLOS on rgbstock.com;  glorious sky by MICROMOTH at rgbstock.com

Saving Baby Moses – Don’t Let Fear Stop You from Doing What is Right

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

This excerpt from They Were Real is inspired by Exodus 1:22–2:10

This moment will change the future for a young protective sister, her small Jewish family, a princess, a nation, all of Egypt, and ultimately the Middle East as we know it. 

A five-minute walk to the Nile River is the catalyst for one man’s rise to fame, exile, and eventual return as leader of their people. He will be the one to free the Jews from slavery and lead them to the land God promised to Abraham, their founding father.

Today is the day God begins to change the world. Of course,  twelve-year-old Miriam and her mother know none of  that.

Miriam can still hear the wails of mothers as their young sons were killed. Even louder is the deathly silence of those whose babies are under threat. Pharaoh, ruler of Egypt, fears the growing slave population and demands the deaths of all newborn Jewish boys.

She tries to keep her eyes off the silent load balancing on the top of her mother’s head. They regularly carry laundry to wash in the river as do most young girls and women of her town. Today’s basket is new and pitched with tar; it is waterproof.

Two days ago, in a type of dress rehearsal, her parents filled this particular basket with rocks close to the weight of today’s cargo. Miriam placed it in the water to test if it would stay afloat, and it did. Today there is no laundry, and no rocks. It is filled with homespun wool topped with a three-month-old baby boy.

He is Miriam’s little brother, Moses.

Both Miriam and her mother do their best to appear nonchalant as they make their way down this well-traveled path. Sounds and voices coming from the river grow in volume. Instead of drawing closer, the pair duck deep into shoreline reeds. Low water erases evidence of footprints in the mud. 

Shoving aside tall slender stalks with one hand, Miriam’s mother walks carefully, slowed by pauses to listen. With Miriam close behind, she nears the area her husband had agreed was best. It is private, around the bend and upstream from chaotic laundering and other water traffic. More importantly, Pharaoh’s daughter bathes here at about this time each day. Soon the princess will arrive with several attendants.

Miriam sobs silently, fearful for her baby brother’s life and overcome by enormous pressure to play out her role to the end.  She watches their mother’s joyless face as she lowers her tiny son into the water. Lifting the painstakingly woven lid and staring into his eyes for what she knows may be the last time,  the woman playfully touches a finger to the tip of her nose, and then to his.

Moses smiles, unconcerned about her tears falling on his face. For one paralyzed moment, it appears she is unable to let him go. Then, more stooped than Miriam has seen her before,  their mother backs away slowly, eyes fixed on the basket containing her heart.

Miriam’s heart pounds. She is alone with crucial business to finish. Moses coos, fascinated by swaying reeds against the sky. 

As he entered the world, it was she who fetched whatever the midwife needed. Her hands rubbed his belly when he cried. Her arms hugged him tight as she ran at the alarming news that murdering soldiers were near. This is her one last chance to protect him. She prays the plan will work. 

Kissing him on his forehead, forgoing the urge to grab him and escape once more,  she lowers the lid and gives the basket a slight shove. “I’ll miss you.”  Her voice trembles.  Moses whimpers.

Back on shore, it seems surreal watching the tiny boat loaded with such priceless treasure floating in those dangerous waters. Her timing is vital.  Her lungs  seem to stop and simultaneously exit her body, leaving an empty cavern in their place.  

Chattering!  The princess is on her way! Miriam feels helpless as the basket edges out from between reeds. Moses is in a full-blown cry.  Hurry, hurry. Please, no one but the princess hear him!   

The small entourage of handmaidens surrounding the princess suddenly stops as she focuses  on  something  in  the  water. All Miriam’s efforts at appearing casual fail.  Staring, she sees Pharaoh’s daughter wave her arm toward the object.

An attendant  slips into the river. Miriam’s hope renews as the young woman pulls the basket back to shore.  Breathless, she sees it lifted out of the river. The woman with power to choose life for baby Moses or to toss him to crocodiles, motions for someone to open the top.

Reaching with her royal hands, she picks up the infant and holds him to her chest. She smiles!  Miriam suddenly remembers her mission and stumbles her way to the commotion surrounding her brother.

“E-E-Excuse me, princess. I know a woman who can n-n-nurse the baby for you.”

Barely glancing up, the princess waves her hand in Miriam’s direction. “Get her, and tell her she’ll be paid,” she said.

There is nothing casual about Miriam’s race toward home. Slowing only a little as she enters a clearing, her hopes are that no one will notice she no longer has her laundry!

She laughs. What does it matter now? Relief and joy carry her across the threshold to face her anxious parents.

“Mother,” she pants, “you’ve been hired by the princess to care for her new son!”

 

 **********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, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help are yours.

“I Heard of You, Now I See You.” When Suffering Faces God

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

The following is an excerpt from They Were Real (c) 2014 

Fictionalized, and inspired by the Bible book of Job 1:1–3 ; 42

An  old  man groans playfully  while  a  small boy climbs on his knee. On the floor are six more energetic youth of varying heights and maturity. The man has called them to come and listen to what he hopes will one day be as profound for each of them as to him.

His name is Job (pronounced Jobe), and he is sharing a moment with his  great-grandchildren. He clears his throat in mock preparation. “Well, once upon a time there was a young man named Job.”

The children giggle.

“I was happy. I had a family, my business, and loved God. When I was  a  little  older,  successful  people  started to come to me for advice  on all  sorts  of things—business, religion, and even fatherhood.” Job tousles a five-year-olds hair. “I thought I was smart.”

“And then you learned your lesson!” Ten-year-old Nabid teases. He elbowed his sister to boast.

Job’s eyes brighten as he laughs with the precocious boy. “You know those seats by the city gate? That is where I used to spend all my time. My days were a mix of running my business and giving advice.”

“Sounds boring,” a teenage girl says, tossing her hair over her shoulder.

“It was a busy place, much like now. It was not boring to me because I taught people about matters of life and faith!   I thought I understood God. I believed as long as I lived a good life, made wise choices, did not hurt anyone, and earned respect for my opinions, I was not going to suffer. This untruth sheltered me.”

Job pauses for a full minute, choked with memories. His eyes are suddenly wet. “I lost all ten of my sons and daughters in a terrible accident.”

“That’s when you got sick.” Sympathetic nods circle the group. The adolescent boy who spoke put his arm around his little brother’s shoulders.

“Yes. All I owned was taken through crime and natural disaster. Disease spoiled my place of authority. People who once thought me important ran away. I was helpless. Finally, it was I in need of support instead of being the one who offered it.

“I wondered who this God I had always worshiped is.  Why did he allow this to happen? It surprised me when life did not continue as usual,” Job says.

He continued. “I did learn, Nabid.  Nothing in God’s world is a mistake. We cannot, I cannot, understand this. It is beyond me even though I am very old. Because I cannot grasp this truth, I sometimes confuse who is the author of my pain.”

Job lowers the fidgeting child from his lap.

“God is not confused. Yes, I thought I knew him, children. Truth emerged proving my beliefs were incomplete.   I thought to do what he expects would always  lead to rewards. Turns out he owes me nothing.

“I thought I was capable of keeping up a righteous life.  After trying so hard, it became clear I am powerless. I do not control anything, including God’s plan for me.”

Job takes a deep, contented breath. “Yes, I thought I knew him. It took great suffering for me to see he is God and I  am but a man.

“And then our grandpas and grandmas were born,” said a quiet voice.

“Yes. And then your mommies and daddies and…”  Pointing to each of his audience, Job laughed and said, “You , you, and you, you too, …” When he was finished, silence replaced levity.

“Children, hear and ponder this—it is joy to know that only God can understand exactly what we need. Go now, and think on that.”

Today’s Helpful Word

Job 42:1-6

Then Job replied to the Lord: “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you.  You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’  It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me.  You said, ‘Listen and I will speak!  I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.’  I had only heard about you before,  but now I have seen you with my own eyes.  I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”

 **********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.

Last Night’s Dream is a Lesson For Today. Be Ready.

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

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Do you ever wonder what your dreams mean? I had one last night. Maybe you will see in it what I see. 

Several old friends of mine, including one pastor,  were planning to get-together and hold a meeting.  This gathering would be both a chance to celebrate seeing one another again, and serve a distinctly Christian purpose.  It may have been worship, BIble study, prayer, or any and all the above.

Initiated by the pastor, the invitation was a call to fellowship. Everyone invited was a follower of Christ Jesus.  Numbered among us were musicians, teachers, artists, writers, and a nurse.  I was excited to go!

We were asked to wear formal attire.  For the women, that meant full-length gowns.  This also sounded fun. With every intention to attend,  I waited until only a few days before the event to look for suitable clothes.  

Once I realized the shortage of time, my attitude sank almost immediately into self-pity.  “It’s not my fault I don’t have a gown.  I’ve been busy. It’s easy for everyone else.”

Laziness followed. “The right kind of dress is at the store, I should go buy one. Nah, that’s too much trouble. Besides, home is so comfortable.  I want to stay  until it is necessary to leave.”

Then came blame.  “He (the pastor) shouldn’t be asking so much.  Shame on him for making it difficult. Maybe I won’t go just to spite him.”

Self-doubt was close behind.  “Nancy, this is your fault. You won’t find a nice dress now, nothing will be good enough. You are the one who ought to feel ashamed.”

I ran to my closet. Maybe something would do.  A brown, denim-like skirt caught  my eye. It was very old and faded. For a moment I considered piecing it into a homemade gown.  Nothing else matched it, and it was too ugly anyway.   

Time was running out. Rationalizing began.

 “What could be so important we have to dress-up? I’m smarter than to fall for that silly idea.  I’ll just show up in jeans.”  Fear I would be rejected at the door nixed that idea.

“It’s going to be a stupid get-together. I don’t need to be there. No one will care. I’ve got too much to do here anyway.”  With a shrug and defeatist mindset,  I chose not to go. 

Using a metaphor, Jesus  described the gathering of his followers in heaven as a banquet. Everyone is invited. The dress code is white robes. Some invitees said they were too busy. One showed up without a white robe and was sent away.

No amount of searching among our belongings will produce such a robe. Our best options are old, faded, and dirty.  Nothing of our past or present qualifies us for eternal life with God. 

Where is hope then? It is in the sacrifice of God’s Son, Jesus.  When we surrender our will, and take him in as Savior and Lord,  our inner selves are figuratively washed clean by his blood.  He is the only one who gives away these “white robes.” He already purchased them – they are ours for the asking.

A songwriter once wrote,Teach us to number our days,  that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”  Indeed, I hope we count our days rightly and understand their brevity.  

Today is the day to drop our excuses.  He is coming back soon. 

Today’s Helpful Word

#MeToo. Be Careful, Sisters. Not All Who Charm Tell the Truth

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

A  vile man in Hollywood is receiving national attention for his sexual assaults on women.  Former co-workers and employees are exposing his character en masse.

A creepy man lives quietly and voyeuristically, a peeping Tom protecting his fragile reputation and delusion of respectability.  He thinks no one knows. 

A rapist hides among his brothers as they cover for him and set each other up with unsuspecting women.  Victims leave that family home ashamed, convinced the assaults are their fault. 

Two male college students scope out a party for the most desirable prey.  They chat with her while one distracts and the other slips something in her drink.

Internationally, bodies are sold, raped in so-called acts of war, and used without regard to the priceless souls within. 

And on it goes…

Don’t listen to lies

While terrible sexual abuses happen to both male and female targets, we have to admit that to some men, children, women, and even life outside their own is not sacred. 

Corrupt men in high and powerful places who regard women as pawns in their grand schemes of self-satisfaction,  are difficult to identify on the surface.  Poorer and less influential abusers are often equally masked.  To their targets, the message is clear – I have power, you do not. I am entitled to your body,  you are mine.  I deserve to have my needs met, you have no needs that matter. I am worthy, you are valueless.

Know the truth

A reader of this blog sent me his disturbing arguments FOR objectifying women in relationships and through pornography by incorrectly asserting, “From a biblical perspective women were created to be sexual objects for man’s enjoyment and pleasure [sic] … and that’s the bottom line”.

Be smart. If someone is willing to write off half the human race as objects for the other half’s enjoyment, he is probably not the one you want interpreting the BIble for you.  He twisted 1 Corinthians 11:9 and Proverbs 5:19 to support his views.

It’s a shame the Bible is misused this way, but also nothing new. Taking passages out of their grammatical or historical context, and ignoring original social and cultural realities for the original audience, opens the door to any-ol’ misapplication. Also,  pretending that other biblical passages contradicting false claims do not exist  is convenient.  The reader’s comment saddens, but does not surprise me.  

The Corinthian verse,  “Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man,” is conveniently removed from its context about appropriate public dress and worship in first century AD. Only two verses later, the intended biblical message ends with, “For just as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.” That sounds to me like equal responsibility and dependence under God, not ownership of one over the other. 

Then there is the Proverbs verse. This is beautiful.  A full chapter of a father teaching his son to be faithful to his wife and to avoid lust and adultery, is the context out of which the blog reader pulled support for his case!

Be aware

It’s this type of ridiculous rationalizing that fuel sexual harassment and sexual assault. Winking at it is also culprit.  It is silence of non-victims who see what is happening, and complicity of those who refuse to look, that enables cruel and criminal actions against women. 

Be careful, sisters. Not all who charm tell the truth.

Today’s Helpful Word

2 Corinthians 4:2

But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.

 

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Comments are always welcome (see tab below).  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 can be yours.