Tag Archives: freedom

The Day Our Battles Were Won

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

sky sunset person silhouette
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Resurrection Sunday, is the day on which Christianity hinges. Well, not actually the day, but rather the Lord, who rose from the dead on that day 2000 years ago.

Jesus had been betrayed, arrested, beaten, crucified, and buried on Friday.  Early on Sunday morning, some women disciples went to the tomb only to discover he was no longer there!

One in particular, Mary of Magdala, met the resurrected Jesus. At first she mistook the Savior of the world for a gardener. When Jesus called her by name, she knew.

He sent her to tell the 12 main disciples. Mary of Magdala was the first evangelist in history.

Think on that for a moment. What we know of Mary the Magdalene is that Jesus cast seven demons out of her. She was not someone our modern churches might first think of when choosing a representative. However, Jesus did.

To be clear, despite some famous secularized books, movies, and nonsense guesses, Jesus had no girlfriend.  Mary the Magdalene was one of thousands of people Jesus healed in his ministry. Many believed in him. Many walked with him on his travels. Many more did not.

Jesus lived a sinless life. How? He was God’s only birth-son. He was filled with the Holy Spirit from the moment he became an embryo. In a mystery we cannot understand, Jesus was fully God and fully man.

When sinless Jesus died on the cross, he took on his body, mind, and spirit the sins of everyone who would ever live who would trust him as their Savior and spiritual king. He carried the cumulative guilt with which we pummel ourselves and others. He felt the deep darkness of our shame By that, he defeated the father of lies, the accuser. 

Once we sincerely ask Jesus to be our Savior and ask forgiveness for our sin, the devil (yes, Satan is real),  tries to heap all that back on us. As the chief of liars and a skilled accuser,  if he can bury us under guilt and shame we will never reach the potential Jesus created in us.

When Jesus rose to life again, he wiped out our powerlessness against the devil’s strategies. He defeated death itself, and set us free to place our hope in eternal life.

No wonder Mary of Magdala wept when she saw him alive again. We can, if we will, drop the guilt and shame of our past and move forward as children of the King.  This is not to say that a believer’s life will be easy. 

The 12 disciples reacted to Mary’s report with doubt. They had to look for themselves to see if what she claimed was real. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who believe and yet do not see.”

You do not have to run and search for proof of anything.  Faith is not sight.  Jesus will reveal himself to you if you choose to take him at his word.

Today is the day Jesus won all our battles.

Today’s Helpful Word  

Hebrews 2:14-18

Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death.  Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.

 We also know that the Son did not come to help angels; he came to help the descendants of Abraham.  Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters,  so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.

 

**** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

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

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

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

 

 

The Yes or No Exchange: You Have the Power to Plan for Freedom and Joy

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

man standing on street
Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

Every YES is a NO.  Every NO is a YES

What? It’s true.

This is not about lying or playing jokes. It is fact that each time you agree to a plan or activity, you are simultaneously choosing not to to do something else. Every yes is a no.

Flip it, and your every no is a yes to an alternative. 

This matters when priorities are lost in the mix.  Under my list of primary yeses, I would include my faith, family, and myself. If that sounds selfish, keep in mind that my faith demands service to others, and doing so is part of my joy and purpose.  It is trickiest when the more intimate parts of my relationship with Jesus  (like prayer) and self-care (like sleep) compete for time due to busyness. 

That is where planning and structure come in.

Establish priorities 

1. What are your current commitmentsthings and people you cannot ignore without disastrous consequences? Be specific.

2. What are your values? What kind of person do you want to be? List by most important.

3. What do you want? Decide what you want in your relationships, and for yourself. Write down what you sincerely hope for generally, long-term, short-term, and in the situation you are in now.

Asking ‘what do I want’  can shed light on why you are in a situation.

If you want someone else to change, this is out of your control. If a person is regularly crossing your boundaries and not changing even when you are communicative about the issue, maybe it’s time to ask, is this the relationship I want?

4. Are your own needs met? Y/N Which ones are not met?

You have legitimate basic needs, too. If they are not met you will grow weak. Think about what you must have to know joy. What do you need to be happy? Where are you on your list of priorities? Are you on your list? Put yourself on your list.

5. Are you engaging specific goals and priorities that support your values?  Which ones?

6.After completing this analysis,  think of all the activities in which you are involved.

List what you believe are your YESes and NOs

In the end, know it is you making your decisions. You are not trapped. You have the power to plan for freedom and joy.

Today’s Helpful Word  

Psalm 32:8-11

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
    I will advise you and watch over you.
Do not be like a senseless horse or mule
    that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”

Many sorrows come to the wicked,
    but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord.
So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him!
    Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!

 

***** 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.

This Hope I Share:  It Is Real

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

When I speak of hope, my intention is to reach those who have trouble believing in it.  Lately, absence of old thinking patterns draws me to gratitude.  The daily barrage of self-doubt and nearly constant guilt are gone. I’m 57 years old! To think this freedom escaped me until recent years  could be sad.  However, I spend zero time in the past.  How precious is the gift of joy now!

A dream

“Who, me?” Turning to see whom Jesus was inviting to come closer, I realized he was beckoning to me. Surrounded by a mass of people spreading over green hills and mountains, he sat on table rock, holding children on his lap.

In reality, I was twenty-four years old. In this dream I was five. It was nearly impossible to comprehend he would choose me out of this crowd. Hesitantly I walked toward him, uncertain he would not change his mind.

His eyes were welcoming, piercing straight into my hurting heart. Crawling up on his lap, suddenly I was able to understand that he was holding every individual assembled there simultaneously, loving each equally with all his being.

What a peaceful wonder on which to focus.

God’s love in action

Once,  I tried to describe to a pastor the daily dread and hopelessness I felt. “I feel like I  am  standing  in  the  middle  of the road, a semi-truck barreling down on me, and my only escape is to jump aside. Lining  the  side  of  the road  are  snarling  dogs,  hungrily  watching my every move. God is above, waiting to see what choice I will make.”

“Nancy, where you are wrong is that God has jumped in front of that truck with you and is going to carry you to safety,” he said.

Considering my suicide attempt six years later, it may appear that God forgot to rescue me from the truck. However,  sometimes it is in the deepest pits we learn our most meaningful lessons.

Today I know joy. Today I know peace.  The love of Jesus’ embrace gives me rest.    

This hope is what I want to share with those who struggle to believe it exists.  It is real.

Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 33:20-22

We wait in hope for the Lordhe is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lordeven as we put our hope in you.

***** 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.

*blue sky by TACLUDA ;  yellow sky by mzacha on rgbstock.com

Free Indeed

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

Freedom is the resounding word in the U.S.A. this week.  Freedom means choice.  Without choices, no one is free.

Of course, our American government makes laws with which some of us disagree.  Citizens cannot make choices outside the law.  Murderous attacks like the one at a newspaper company a few days ago happen when people ignore the law.  That is anarchy.  Anarchy leaves no one free.

Freedom 

Freedom is not absence of absolutes. It is the ability to choose what, and whom to believe.

I started working for a locally headquartered non-profit earlier this year. This corporation’s mission is to teach Christian principles of faith to the public-at-large.  Within the laws of freedom in this country is the right to free speech.  The Wisdom of God Corp. wants to talk about our concept of God. 

The first billboard goes up for one month beginning tomorrow.  The website offers compelling and gentle answers to heavy questions such as, “Who is God?” and “Are questions of morality answerable without existence of a spiritual world?” 

As for idealism, the billboard says someone is offering true freedom.  Who is doing the promising?  What does “Free Indeed” mean?

Jesus said it

Too often, Jesus is misquoted, misrepresented, and shoved into a cloud of mystery.  His message was quite simple and clear.

He said he is God’s Son:  John 10:36  “Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’?…” 

John 10:24,25  “‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.’  Jesus answered,  ‘I did tell you, but you do not believe.'”

We are free to choose between believing Jesus or those who argue he was merely a man.

He said he is the way to God:  John 14: 6,7 “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well.'”

We are free to repent and enjoy  the relationship we can have with God because of the  death and resurrection of His Son.

He promised peace in a divisive world:  John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

We are free to trust in the unfailing character of a good God,  or to return to temporary “solutions” that fail us repeatedly. 

He promised to come back and take believers with him: John 14:1  “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me… I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. “

We are free to choose where to place our hope – in the here and now, in fallible people, or in the promises of eternal life with Jesus. 

Freedom means choices.  Free Indeed is the guarantee that comes with choosing  Christ Jesus, the Savior and redeemer of our souls.  

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.

What’s Love Got to Do With It? Expressing Memorial Day Gratitude

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

We toss around the term “love” easily enough. We love baseball, hot dogs, and good movies. We love music, Fridays, shopping, and our phones. Yet we use the same word to describe our feelings toward romance, our families, and God.  

Strange word. Let us consider what love has to do with Memorial Day. 

Love is action, not always feelings

With regard to those who gave up their lives for our freedoms and safety, it is safe to say they died for love.  It is impossible that they had warm feelings for each person they never met. However, their sacrifices still benefit us. They loved their country, and that is enough.

Love is not only feelings, but actions

Army nurse Jennifer Moreno was killed in action in Afghanistan when she chose to reach her wounded comrades despite the danger from mines.  Moving toward the soldiers with medical aid, she gave her life when a mine detonated. 

Feelings for her injured brothers-in-arms were obviously strong. Backed by an unselfish decision, we see that her love was proven by her action.  

Love beyond feelings of gratitude

This weekend every year in the United States,  we take some time to honor those who died in combat. Without a doubt, their ultimate gifts deserve our gratitude. One way we can express our thanks is to advance our understanding and care for those wounded veterans who survived.

PTSD, physical disabilities, mood disorders, homelessness, family needs – it all calls for our attention. Love that takes action and faces these societal issues is showing the gratitude that living men and women veterans earned. Those who died would not want their comrades forgotten.

That’s what love has to do with it.  Think about that.

Have a Meaningful Memorial Day

 

 

**********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.

 

 

To All the Great Actors: Reveal Yourself

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness, Addiction, and Abuse   (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

Beneath every outward personality lies another. It is more secret, and reserved for those near in proximity and heart.  Generally, that less-revealed side is most active when we feel comfortable. This may be among friends, with a safe confidant, or at home.

Typically, we put our most likely to be accepted face on in public. It makes sense then, that people in the office, at weekend parties, at church, and in school only know what we want them to see.

Quite frequently I hear “I’m a great actor. No one knows what is going on inside. No one sees me.” Interestingly, these same speakers are often complaining that no one understands. It’s a mixed up world when we long so deeply to be known, and yet live silently in fear of expressing our inner self.

That is not weird. It is human.

How about taking a risk and exposing a little of your hidden self?  For example, maybe you like to sing in the shower or invent solutions to problems.  Perhaps you have favorite movies or past times most people do not know about. Are you confused or hurt? These are all topic options for more openly sharing your other side.

3 pointers for revealing more of yourself

  1. Know your audience. If you want to get something off your chest, choose your confidants wisely.  Significant people in our lives may not always be the safest ones. Look for a person who will be non-judgmental and is not a gossip. 
  2. Join a group. This may be a support group or basketball team.  Whatever your past time, be in a group where talking about it is okay. For example, joining a church with like-minded people gives me the freedom to be more myself in that context.
  3. Leak slowly.  Perhaps you are a bucket about ready to run over.  I get it. However, save the torrent for after you know people well. Either that, or spread the joy by choosing more than one person to talk to, offering smaller bits to each. 

I have made the mistake of telling (almost) everything to people, only to find them backing away, using the information to their advantage through gossip, or basing blame for their shortcomings on me.  For this reason, I understand wariness about exposure. 

Through trial and error, I learned the above 3 pointers. Take my advice, if you will.  It is better to eventually find the right people than to keep yourself locked inside.  

Today’s Helpful Word 

 

Feeling Trapped? Don’t Run Into The Barn

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2014, 2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries  

photo-24889599-back-to-the-barn-7A horse will stay in one place if the rider loosely wraps the lead rope around a post. The muscular animal could easily wander off if so inclined, yet the visual suggestion of a tie is enough to keep it in place. This is the same animal that will run back into a burning barn for safety. 

What could horses be thinking? Surely, we would never make those decisions. We know when we are free; we understand to run from fire.

Right?

Sean* feels trapped. His financial problems have recently escalated because loan payments into the tens of thousands on a defunct business will soon be due. His car is unreliable, his employer cut his hours, and Sean sees his dreams slipping away. He grows increasingly depressed. As he looks at surrounding circumstances he feels frozen, paralyzed by fear. Decisions are tough to make. 

Cindy* is dying on the inside. The all-pervasive, daily emotional pain which has become her reality is more difficult to combat lately. She senses her will wavering and wonders how long she can last in her abusive marriage. Everything is crumbled at her feet – hopes for a loving relationship, belief in herself, even her attempts at self-medication create more harm. She would like to leave, but how? Where would she go? Doubts win the battle again, and she resolves to be the perfect wife.

We are very good at acting like horses when we run to perceived comfort and familiarity. It is hard to challenge our brains, especially under great stress, to search for better answers. I think sometimes we forget we are free to choose differently.

Someone once said to me, “You are free.” And another time, “You are in charge.” Those statements were foreign and slow to digest. More recently, fresh questions make more sense. Am I actually stuck here or do I have options?  

Old-familiar does not own Sean, Cindy, or me.  You are not trapped either.  Comfort zones of our choosing are only powerful to hold us back if we allow them.

Sometimes we need helpful advice – we can ask. Some days we need support – we can reach out for and accept it. Some weeks, months, and years the answer seems to come too slowly – we have control over taking the next step, and the next, and the next.

Eventually we will look back and shake our heads in wonder, amazed at how far we have come. There will be no rope wrapped around a post, the barn will be gone, and we will be free to enjoy the freedom that belonged to us all along.

Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 119:114

You [Lord] are my hiding place and my shield;
I hope in Your word.”

 

 **********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.

*names have been changed

 

 

 

Free to Fly (a parable)

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

At first, she was so small that many believed her insignificant.  Any moment she might be stomped, eaten, or drowned in torrential rain. She survived her earliest days, yet the challenges continued. 

Driven by a natural wish for independence, she ventured out from what little security she knew.  Reactions varied.  “Ugly!”  “Cute!”  “Avoid that! ” “Soft and fuzzy!”

She was wary as people ran screaming at the sight of her or dangerously studied her with curiosity. She tried to blend in to her surroundings, hoping to hide in plain sight.

No one seemed to care who she would one day become.

Unwilling to live among such danger and rejection, our heroine decided to look up. Maybe higher she would find a place to rest!  Climbing day after day,  she searched for peace and a safe place to belong. 

The endless trek nearly depleted her strength. She wondered if the promise from her Maker would come true. At last overwhelmed,  she stopped trying. Wrapping herself in seclusion, she waited for the end.

From the outside, no one saw anything but a dry, presumably dead leftover.  Nonetheless, buried inside her despair, our champion-in-waiting put up the ultimate fight.  Placing hope in God’s promise,  she surrendered what little energy she had left.  God taught her to use it wisely.  Her woefully slow task of change was wrenching and tedious. She cried in agony. 

Beyond the scope of disparaging eyes, metamorphosis took place. After a long time, she cracked the dead outer shell and peered through the sliver of light. Uncertain yet brave, she completely broke it open and saw sky.  God whispered,  “Trust me. Take a leap of faith.”

People rejoiced at the sight of such vibrant color showcased against the brown, withered past. A few joined her in  praise to God as she stretched out new wings, and flew into freedom. 

 Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 119:71  

My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees.  – King David
    

******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: Butterfly by WEIRDVIS , caterpillar by MICHAELAW, both of rgbstock.com