Tag Archives: celebration

A Father Beyond His Little Girl’s Dreams

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

A lonely girl dreams of the perfect father. She imagines that when this man looks at his daughter, he sees beautiful possibilities.

As he listens to her pour out her daily, hourly joys, his attention stays focused. When she cries, he holds her. He disciplines her to keep her safe, but never harms her body or heart.

This perfect father continues to see his daughter’s charm and purity despite battle  scars  and  wrinkles  time has worn into her features. He believes her a success and forgets past failures. He loves his baby girl to the very end.

The girl awakens from her dream to sigh. She knows no father like this. In her reality, a father is imperfect, one who struggles with human selfishness, needs and will. For her, hope  of  knowing  a father’s unfailing love is but fantasy.

Then one day, the longing, disappointed girl meets another  Father.

This Father speaks softly with patience. His encouraging words, strong and enduring, build her confidence. He promises to go beyond her fondest hopes of being understood, accepted and loved.

Standing near, he whispers, “Come to me” every moment she breathes. She slows to listen and finds her yearnings lessened, her worries eased. In their place is a learned security. Trust is in the one who will never leave.

Drawing her close,  this  Father  breathes  in  her every word as if this communion were  somehow  his only source of joy. He joins her in designing life goals, shares the fun, and heals exhaustion from typical days.

Needs and emotions of other persons rampage through her home and heart, and this Father gives her wisdom. He cultivates her motherhood by demonstrating how to nurture and sacrifice for her children. Tidal waves of the world’s temptations threaten to sweep her young away, but this Father helps her to hold on tight. Then, standing by her side as she releases her grip, he teaches her how to let  go.

This Father invests in his daughter. He encourages her to have a renewed mind, and to be     a woman of conviction and insight. He sets her face toward the world and says,“Go get ‘em tiger,” and makes it possible for her to believe she can. He lifts her up with hope, and asks her to live humbly before him. These are his good gifts. 

This Father is not fantasy like a prince in shining armor. There is no one else, no matter how sensitive or strong, no other father or romance can fill the cavernous need in a daughter’s heart. To be apart from him is to feel so very alone.

He is not of this earth. His name is Yahweh, Jehovah, and I Am. He is the Creator, and Almighty God.

Upon returning from chasing illusions, the girl sees him in the distance and searches his face for a sign. He smiles with welcoming eyes and engulfs her in his waiting arms.

“Come daughter,” he says. “I am Abba. You are home.”

Happy Father’s Day

when i am old...Today’s Helpful Word

John 1:12

“… to all who did receive [Jesus], to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God–“

 

*****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 is yours.

picture of father/daughter from CHARCOAL on rgbstock.com

Today’s blog is an excerpt from Always The Fight: A Living Testimony of What Only God Can Do

 

 

Eight Years of Christmas Changes

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

Eight Christmases ago was my family’s last traditional one. We didn’t know it then, but nothing would ever be the same.

It’s a big deal when Christmas rolls around and looks different from the year before.  This year I purged an old stockpile of holiday decorations, however that is not the kind of different I mean.  Eight Decembers with varying levels of drama, emotions, and hope remind me that on the day Jesus came to earth, the world forever changed.  

Christmas of 2009 – Major Move: My then-husband and I were saying goodbye to our city, church, friends, home, and adult sons who wished to remain in Cleveland. We moved to the Philadelphia area on New Year’s Day.  My prayer was, “God, I hurt.”

Christmas of 2010 – Major Depression: A major depressive episode caused obsessive thoughts and misinterpretation of reality. This led to a suicide attempt 20 days after Christmas. To say despair owned that holiday would be an understatement. My prayer was, “God, please take me now.”neqg3zy

Christmas of 2011 – An Unfolding Future:  Not fully recovered, my spirit could best be described as shaky and wary, which is more hopeful than despair. A publisher had accepted my first book and I was busy finishing the manuscript.  Our sons learned of the suicide attempt and both were proud of me for turning tragedy into something positive.  My prayer was, “God, can you still use me?”

Christmas 2012 – Family Drama: We drove a 24-hour round trip to Cleveland on Thanksgiving Day to intercede in a family dispute. Our sons came to Philadelphia to spend Christmas, a family first. My prayer was, “God, please protect my sons.”

Christmas 2013 – The Family is Broken: My husband and I were separated although still sharing an apartment.  I had also been to a treatment center to begin recovery from a 40-year eating disorder and food addiction. This Christmas was the first as a broken family, and I was trying to deal with all the stress without my old coping mechanisms. My prayer was, “God, help!”

Christmas 2014 – By Myself on Christmas Day: My oldest son planned to come to Philadelphia for Christmas. My youngest son had been out of touch for four months. I was living alone for the first time in my life.  The visit was cancelled at the last-minute and it was just me and God on Jesus’ birthday.  I finished upholstering a chair. My prayer was, “God, please remind me you are all I need.”

Christmas 2015 – My Family of Origin Dies: On December 20, my father died. His funeral was Christmas Eve. That is the day I said goodbye to my brother, knowing we will never see each other again. In 2003, soon after our mother passed away,  he inexplicably erased me from his life, and until our dad’s funeral I had never heard from him. He refused to speak with me that day too, and so I had two family members to grieve. My prayer was, “God, help me turn my eyes on you.”

Christmas 2016 – New Traditions: I’ve been back in Cleveland for over a year now. This time it will be just me and my sons. We will have a nice dinner with all the fixin’s, and then watch Christmas movies. I’ve been looking forward to this for a week, ever since I learned both would be in town.  My prayer is, “God, I thank you for turning sorrow into blessing, for loving me with such passion, and for never letting me go. My hope is in you.”ngmtxu6-copy

Perhaps this year brought to you horrendous loss, or frightening discovery. Maybe trust was damaged, or disappointment knocked you to your knees. There may be an empty chair that last year held a loved one, or one less present to wrap. Are you in a different place in your spirit than you were last year? Is there more distress or peace, depression or joy, hopelessness or purpose?

For me there is more joy, more hope, more peace this year than in a long time. The lessons of the last eight Christmases have taught me that God is sovereign, and his love never, ever, fails. 

One certainty is that next year will different yet, maybe much better. Jesus will stay the same, always prepared to steady our walk on shaky ground.

q5grfjgToday’s Helpful Word

Isaiah 9:6 NIV

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace

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 is yours.

*pictures from rgbstock.com

3 Holiday Boundaries You’ll Want to Draw This Year

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness  (c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

oosr7euCaroline: Boundaries? With my family? I have no say in anything. 

Tom: No one else is taking care of  all the flight plans, so I guess I have to.

Jackie: Personally, I could do without ever seeing Uncle Bill again. 

Darin: I cannot afford these gifts – but my wife expects them. 

Ah, December American holidays.  I’m not certain how some of these statements apply to faiths other than Christian, but it would come as no shock to learn most families have expectations centered around tradition. It is when we forget we have choices, that resentment, dishonesty, and compromise of our values take place. We flail about reacting to tugs from others until we are dizzy.

Or depressed.

Boundaries prevent this. We can choose to be an individual, not a victim, not co-dependent, and not a doormat. Boundaries keep us from being dishonest about what we want and how we feel. Genuine obligations suffer when we say yes to too much outside pressure. Anger over our supposed lack of choice threatens relationships.

Boundaries are not about stopping another person. We will never have control over other people’s choices. Boundaries are about what we decide to say yes or no to. What will we allow into our lives?

Here are 3 boundaries you will want to draw this year.

1) Time.  Look at your calendar. What are your bottom-line obligations? Of course, your job and immediate family will be on this list of top priorities. Closest friends are there too. Mark these on your calendar.

List all the other December duties you think you have.  These are time-consuming activities such as shopping, choir practice, taking your children to events, the annual Christmas party at work, etc. Now rate them 1-3 with 3 being the most significant and meaningful to you.

Place the 3s on your calendar if they fit. Then add the 2s and 1s in what time slots you believe you can spare. Say no to the least valuable so you can focus on the important. If two important dates clash, choose one based on your highest values.

2) Budget  Debt adds pressure and great cost to what could be a freer life. Think about refusing to create or add to it this month. On your calculator put in the December amount of your bills including life’s necessities like food, gas for the car, savings, etcetera. Subtract this from your real income (not potential income).

Reasonably estimate your extra December expenses such as food, extra gas spent on driving every day to choir practice, holiday clothes, decorating, and gifts. How much money do you have left?

Are there ways to save money like sharing a ride to choir practice or going without that red twinkling sweater? Is it necessary to add another strand of lights on your tree? Consider meaningful homemade gifts, or offering your time and service instead of merchandise.

After streamlining your December budget, divide what is available by how many people you are buying gifts for. This is the estimate of how much you can afford to spend on each person. Of course, the gift exchange at work is not as important as your gift to your spouse, and may cost less. However, now you have a reasonable figure from which to make your decisions.

3) Physical or emotional energy  We cannot fix or change other people. Sometimes the struggles of people we love takes a toll on our wellbeing. There are family members, places, and events that typically wear us down.

Thoughtfully think about your true limitations. It’s okay to be human, and understanding our limits is bright, healthy, and wise. Do you tire easily? Are you in pain after sitting two hours at a concert? Will seeing Uncle Bill trigger depression? Does too much social activity push you into isolation? Be real, and gladly own up to where you are presently physically and emotionally.

Look again at your calendar. Is it reasonable to believe you can do all those things and maintain good mental and physical health? If not, please allow that you are your top priority. This does not mean selfishness, this is self-preservation so that you will be fully present in your most important relationships.

Cut out or abbreviate those activities you would be wise to avoid to be healthy. You are free to limit your suffering by turning your energies to the most valued events and relationships this month.

Boundaries. We struggle to say “I can’t” or “I won’t”. But saying yes to the lesser equals saying no to the best. It’s okay to use your voice! Take a deep breath and enjoy the freedom of being in control of your choices.

Today’s Helpful Word

1 Corinthians 10:31
 
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory 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 is yours.

Holiday How-To: Appreciate Today

CompassionateLove Blog: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle With Mental Illness  (c)2016 Nancy Virden

The following is an excerpt from Always the Fight: A Living Testimony of What Only God Can Do    2nd edition(2015)

All of Jonathan’s fifth year he dreamed about being six. He envisioned that age a magical time of equality with grownups, independence, and better toys. Repeatedly I heard comments like, “When I’m six…” and “I can’t wait to be six!” The morning finally arrived, and I entered his room to wake him.

“Happy Birthday, Jonathan,” I said.

Immediately came the sleepy reply, “Next year I’ll be seven!”

Truth is, we may not appreciate much in this life until it is gone. Some grownups want to live in the past and bemoan the loss of youth. Parents complain when summer comes around and then long for those children when they leave for college. An employee may miss his crotchety ex-boss after a new one makes life even more miserable. It takes a special effort, a commitment to appreciation to enjoy what one has been given in the present.

One example is my annual sabbatical to the Christmas tree. Each Christmas season, one night after nfbj5akanyone else in the household is fast asleep, I gather a blanket and pillow and set up camp by our Christmas tree. My favorite instrumental music plays in the background as I begin talking to God. I tell him about my year and praise him for being with me through it all, then listen.

He whispers of his love for me; I feel centered and safe. As I thank him silently, the miracle happens. Gazing at the tree endowed with twinkling lights, through my tears I see prisms. Each tiny lamp becomes a shooting star. Hundreds of rainbow-colored luminescent spires rocket to the ceiling and I remember this is the God who formed light out of nothing. He is the grand Creator of this entire splendor and yet holds me in his hands. He is to be trusted. I have everything for which to be thankful.

This commitment to appreciation at Christmastime renews my soul. Can I stop and smell the roses? Sure, in the summer! Suspending the busyness of the holidays only requires fixing my eyes on The Light as I view Christmas trees through grateful tears.

npikhiqToday’s Helpful Word

2 Corinthians 4:6


“For God, who said, ‘Let there be light in the darkness,’ has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.”

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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 is yours.

*Pictures from rgbstock.com

**Always The Fight is available for purchase – click here

 

Cleveland Has Found Its Anti-Depressant: Joy is Palpable Today

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness  (c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

IMG_20160622_101335The last time Cleveland won a championship, I did not care.  I was three years old, in a smaller town, where people held a stereotypical view of the big city up north. You’ve heard it, the mistake on the lake.

When I found out I was moving here in 1987, I cried. It was bored into my brain that Cleveland was a nasty place to live. I asked God to please show me beauty in Cleveland.IMG_20160619_100507

It did not take long.

Soon, seven points of beauty proved to be antidepressants in this city. Today there is sheer joy in the streets. Cleveland is proud of our NBA Cavaliers.

The beauty in Cleveland is in the breath-taking Lake Erie. One of the largest bodies of water on the planet, it is a peace-giving, life-renewing, place of rest. Walking along its shores fills me with wonder and calm. The people who walk there are friendly, and I have not noticed anyone doing anything to hurt another person or the landscape.

The beauty of Cleveland is found in people’s front yards. If you are a Clevelander, have you taken the time to look? Little beauty spots sprinkle the lawns – flowers, trees, memorials, tokens of faith, flags of honor and sports’ teams.  There is an aura here of pride that shows up in front lawns.

The beauty of Cleveland is found in its hidden treasures. A quick drive through the city may leave you with an impression that we do not have a lot of money, and our tastes are lacking. I only say this because privately owned places of business can look a little dingy on the outside. Gazing only at the superficial, one might assume that business is flailing and the owners do not care. Wrong.

Step into those places and see for yourself the pride people take in their hard work. Go in the store that needs paint, and where the outside light is dim. Inside you will likely find a beauty spot you never expected to see. My experience has been,  for the most part, walking in to orderly, well-run, eager-to-serve ma and pa shops. I see a single woman starting her own dry-cleaning business, two friends excitedly taking over a hardware store, and franchise owners who greet their customers personally. Is Cleveland perfect? You can choose to glance at what you do not like, or to study the real heart of the city which is beautiful.

The beauty of Cleveland is found in its park system. Metroparks is one of the best park layouts in the country. Its walking, running, riding, and horse-back trails are stunning in any weather. Trees loom over valleys and homes, surround rivers, and are filled with birds. Sights, sounds, and smells are invigorating to the soul.

The beauty of Cleveland is found in its Fine Arts. Playhouse Square is second only to Broadway. We have a world-class orchestra. Our museums house rare and precious art by the Masters.

The beauty of Cleveland is hope. Each year, resident sports fans say, “Maybe next year.” Believeland has the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We have the Republican National Convention coming next month. We have a surging enthusiasm.

And now WE HAVE A CHAMPIONSHIP!

The truest beauty in Cleveland is its people. They are the pulse, the beat energizing this beautiful city. If you do not live here, and you think you are a sports fan, try this on for size:

Our downtown closed today. The mayor declared a holiday. Businesses all across the metropolitan area are letting employees leave to go to the victory parade. Radio stations are talking of nothing else. One major television network is devoting the entire day to the Cavaliers and our city’s celebration. I drove down the street earlier this morning and do not think I saw one person without a Cavs shirt or hat. Cavs flags are on cars, porches, and doors. People are talking of little else.

As many as 800,000 to a million people are expected at the parade today. Let’s keep this in perspective – Cleveland’s population is less than 500,000. Traffic is jammed from 30 miles out as the parade kicks off in about an hour. People were lining the street as early as 7:00 last night. The Lakefront airport is fully booked. Busses are taking up to four hours to get to downtown and returning for more eager, patient riders.

In short, this city has gone wild with joy!

Proudly wearing my Cavs t-shirt, I was asked if I am a Cavs fan. I answered the way I think many people around here feel, “I am a fan of Cleveland.”

If you have not lived here,  you do not know the meaning of die-hard fans. Watch today on TV, listen to the commentators. I guarantee they will mention our amazing fans. That is because fans of Cleveland make up this city.

And that is beautiful.

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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 is yours.

 

A Holiday Visit to My Favorite People- Addicts, Abuse Survivors, and the Anxious

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

Good Monday to you! Much earlier today was blog posting time, but I was driving from Chicago to Cleveland following a busy morning and afternoon.

Now, my laptop and I are joining forces in staying awake and trying to figure how to put into mere words the profound joy of spending time with women at Timberline Knolls, a residential rehabilitation center in Illinois.

Fifteen months ago, I lived there for 30 days. It was there that my freedom to choose became real to me. No longer do I have to settle for half-life, a shadowy uncertain existence ruled by fear and emotional pain. No. I can choose joy.

And choose it I have! This past Saturday it was a privilege to speak to residents in one of the many support groups held at Timberline Knolls each day. As the room filled with women of varying age, my heart was singing. It was important to remain subdued because these women are in some of the worst pain of their lives. Exposing the giddiness I felt at seeing them could appear careless and insensitive. Sticking to regular smiles on the outside,  my insides wanted to jump and holler in excitement.

When it was my turn to start sharing, I looked out over this brave group of strong women, many of whom believe they are nothing. If only I, or anyone, could impress on them their value. In many cases, they lost a sense of worth at very young ages due to abuse.

I spoke of my time at Timberline, how I came expecting one thing and found something much better. We laughed (just a little) at a particular Timberline rule of conduct. I drew a word picture of the hopelessness many of them know; then tried to describe life after that hopelessness is gone.

They paid close attention as do all my audiences. This is not because I am the most eloquent of speakers; it is because I speak the truth. I share as one who has been there- one who gets it- one who is not judging them at all for anything. Responses afterward are appreciation for saying something meaningful to particular persons. This is God’s work- whispering to hearts what I could not know.

His work is in me, too. Because when I was a resident there the joy I have today was beyond my imagination. People tried to tell me; I was blind to it. I hope that by telling my story, women “hear” what I missed my whole life- we are priceless regardless of anyone else’s opinion.

Addicts, abuse survivors, and anxious women in recovery are crown jewels as they should have been treated all along. They are so precious and vulnerable at Timberline Knolls. Giving them truth that stirs the dying embers of hope and purpose a little is one of the greatest thrills I know.

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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.

Compassionate Love’s Happy Valentine’s Day!

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

portrait of a mid adult female with heart shape balloonValentinus, a priest in ancient Rome, may have been a romantic. Emperor Claudius II decreed that soldiers must remain bachelors, his rationalization being that men are easily distracted when they are married. Valentinus secretly performed marriage ceremonies in defiance, making himself worthy of execution in the eyes of the Emperor. He was put to death on February 14, 270 AD.

Or not.

The history of Saint Valentine is blurry. General agreement of his existence, although some believe he was actually two persons, helps him retain sainthood. In fact, he was bumped from Catholic liturgical veneration in 1969. At least one dozen St.Valentines are recognized by the Roman Catholic Church.

Because there are so many, we could celebrate St. Valentine’s Day several times per year. It is the medieval poet Geoffrey Chaucer, who may have invented our modern Valentine’s Day. In a popular fictional work, he linked romance with February 14, a St. Valentine feast day.

So how did Cupid end up on our sweetheart letters? The Roman mythological Cupid married a mortal named Psyche. Drama ensued of course, and eventually Cupid had to bring her back to life. She was thus granted immortality, and Cupid remains a representative of the blending of heart and soul.

There is one other active participant in the making of a day all about love. He is not a myth, fabrication, combination of identities, or even the hero of a nice story. He called himself “I Am” in front of some religious bullies and they killed him for it.

We still have our turn at struggling with the heart and psyche.  This is our opportunity to answer the call of Christ. If we do, eventually we will have our day of love when we see him face-to-face. No romance can match-up to what we will experience at his side. Now that’s the day worth celebrating for eternity.

Happy Valentine’s Day,

Nancy

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NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences 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.

*picture from Kozzi.com

Tolerance Gone Rogue During the Holidays

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

“Christmas is not even celebrated by Christians the same day of the year around the world”, Alex mused as he sipped his coffee. “So why do people around here get so fanatic about it? As if they own December!”

“This is America”, came the reply. “If people don’t like when we celebrate Christmas, they can live somewhere else.” Alex’ co-worker, Mike, was adamant.

“This IS America.” Alex continued, “We’ve built a nation on freedom of religion, yet somehow Christians seem to have an agenda of their own. Maybe I don’t want a nativity on the City Hall lawn.”

“The nativity is what Christmas is all about. If we take it down, what else is there? Santa Claus?”

Alex paused. It was difficult enough to be a Muslim convert in America, he wasn’t sure he relished opening up the topic with Mike. His stand on Christmas made perfect sense to him, why couldn’t Christians understand?  He decided to try and make his point.

“November and December is a holiday season for many Americans beside Christians. There is Hanukkah for Jewish worshipers, of course.  Bahai, Shinto, Sikh, Buddhist, and even secular special days are celebrated this time of year. Kwanzaa’s focus is on African-American unity and strong families. Even we Muslims have our New Year and Ashura, a Holy Day for us”.

A long pause followed.

“You’re Muslim?” Mike asked incredulously.

“Yes, I’m Muslim. And as such, I don’t want my government exalting one religion above another. It’s been disastrous in the Middle East, and  in other countries citizens are persecuted because of it.”

“Ok, but this is Christmas time”, Mike insisted.

“December 25 is Christmas here in the West. No one is suggesting we cancel your celebration. From what I know of your Jesus”, Alex said cautiously, “he wasn’t about certain days or celebrations. He was about love. I would be more interested in a Christian’s words if he or she actually lived how Jesus said to live.”

Mike was silent as he walked away remembering his morning stop at the convenience store. “I have spent more energy pushing ‘Merry Christmas’ on store clerks than I have saying anything encouraging to them the rest of the year”, he admitted to himself. “And I almost drove a wedge between Alex and me.”

Toleration gone rogue is when it becomes ‘you must agree with me.’ Then each person can have their own measuring device by which to name what is tolerance. 

How does this relate to supporting people who are hurting? Acceptance and toleration are basically the same thing. A mentally ill person struggles, and experiences what a mentally healthy person does not.  Compassionate love says, “I don’t understand, but I see you are struggling, and your pain is more important to me than making my point.”

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NOTE: I am not a trained or licensed mental health professional. I am not a doctor. I speak only from my 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.

*picture from facebook

It’s a Happy Birthday to Me

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

MB900384809Clutching the broad banister with tiny fingers and sporting new spring pajamas, I climbed down the tall staircase my birthday morning. I was 5 years old.

Oblivious to anything except wondering what presents might be waiting, I did not look into the Living Room below until I reached a landing. There I froze.

Seated on the edge of our couch, her legs swinging, looking up at me with big blue eyes was my best friend, Amy.  Next to her were my grandfather and grandmother from across town. It was unusual for them to be in our home as typically we spent Saturdays on their country property.  Trying to take all this in, my eyes landed on the biggest surprise, my great grandma from California. 

Thoughts whirled. Why would they all be here for me? My mom invited me to continue downstairs, the rest is lost to memory.  I still react with some shock when people go out of their way for me. However, not this birthday! 

Last year I was still in recovery from the worst Major Depressive episode I had ever experienced. Only 16 months earlier I had attempted suicide.  Dark thoughts ruled the day. Then April 30th happened. At some point that evening, the Lord met with me. He had been patient and tender throughout my ordeal, but this night was telling me it was time to face forward and not look back anymore. 

That is when I made a deliberate decision. My goal became to learn how to enjoy life,  and to see what that means.  May 1, 2012, is when I was finally willing, with a full heart, to thank the psychologist whose phone call saved my life.

Since then, I have combatted negative thoughts with everything I know to use. New skills, new thought processing, new focus, all have kept me busy and able to face one of the most difficult years I have lived.  Thoughts of despair were held at bay. Old habits like isolating were defeated more often than not.  The simple yet uneasy decision to not only yield to God’s timeline but to act like it, made all the difference.

An appreciation for life as a gift is budding.  God is good all the time. He chose to give me another birthday. Since this is his decision, I choose to join him in it, and enjoy the well-wishes, gifts, and happy surprises he has brought my way.

It’s a happy birthday to me.

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