Tag Archives: God’s love

Your Value and Hope are Not Decided By Holiday Circumstances

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

ngaw2pGCircumstances cannot choose for us how we think about ourselves. What I mean is, whatever is going on in life is not powerful enough to decide for us how to interpret our value or hope. 

That is because we are complex beings maneuvering through complicated lives. There is no all-this or all-that perception of the world that actually works. 

Wouldn’t it be easy if it did? Imagine if everything was categorized into right/wrong, healthy/unhealthy, and wise/foolish. What if all decisions were a simple matter of looking in a textbook? 

I don’t know. Sounds boring. It certainly takes the joy of freedom of thought out of the equation. One such freedom is the ability to choose how to perceive our value and hope and the value and hope of others. 

In answering a podcast host’s question today, I mentioned that the measure of our value and hope never changes. God’s love is constant, and his eternal promise is for all who believe on his Son Jesus. What flexes is our beliefs about ourselves, God, and the world around us.

Three questions

Here’s a challenge I try to do and invite you to join me.  When confronted with a sense of failure or lesser worth, or when hope begins to fades from view,  ask 3 questions:

Who is speaking this message to my brain? If it is a person, seriously, what is their problem? They are wrong. If the culprit is negative self-talk,  challenge the message. 

What is the meat of the message?  Is the worthless feeling coming from loss? Is the lack of hope coming from fear?  Knowing and focusing on the root issue helps us find ways of dealing with it. 

Is this who I want to be?  I was asked once if I wanted to be valued for being depressed or for finding something worthwhile to offer the world. Awareness of the choices we have – how to see ourselves, others, and God; who we want to be, and what steps we will take toward becoming that person – gives us power. Change is a possibility. Will we go for it? 

What is happening to us or around us cannot determine our value or hope. Value is inherent. Hope is always present.  Believe it. 

p3sR2m0Today’s Helpful Word

Lamentations 3:21-23

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your 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.

 

*forest path pic by MIMICA; autumn sky by TACLUDA: both  on rgbstock.com

For more on today’s topic, see  How to Gain and Maintain a Mindset of Hope 

How Do We Know When It’s Safe to Trust God?

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

purchased-from-joeSomeone once said to me they are afraid of heaven because it might be boring.

I’ve been afraid before that God might not work things out justly or in the right time.

Have you ever prayed for divine intervention only to worry and scramble for a solution?

Often, I think we want to trust that a Supreme Being has everything under control. When it comes our turn to take a leap of faith, that trust is challenged.

Taking the Dare

If you are a science fiction fan, perhaps you watched Nemesis, a Star Trek Second Generation movie. In it, Captain Picard puts a new contraption to the test. With enemy aliens coming from behind, and Worf firing at will, Picard drives a four-wheeled vehicle way too fast over bumpy and shifting desert sands. The big surprise is when you realize he has remotely commanded a shuttle-type flying machine to angle itself perfectly below the top of a cliff. As he drives wildly toward the edge, it looks like he is taking himself and passengers for a suicide ride. Then, AH! The vehicle lands safely in the back of the spacecraft and off they fly into safety.

Any difficulty may seem like a cliff, whether addiction, divorce, mental illness, financial difficulty, trauma, loneliness, job-related stress, or anything else. We approach a crisis point, a do-or-die choice, and realize we are at the end of known options.

Fear, which is not necessarily the cause, is fuel for depression. Our anxiety level rises. Perhaps our temper is shorter or we are more easily offended. We have to make a quality decision either for peace because God is on the other side of the cliff, or to hang on to fear. If Picard had not driven into what seemed empty space, none of them would have escaped the enemy.

Having Confidence 

For me, “Hmmm, I wonder if God really exists?” or “Does God care?” are not issues anymore. Developing a surrender relationship with Jesus over my lifetime has negated those types of questions. My doubts look more like, “I wonder if I will have to suffer,” and “Will God rescue me from suffering?”

My doubts are fear-based. I know intellectually God has my best interests at heart;  I need to relax and trust that. Situations that used to have ready answers are not so sure presently. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll see the answers I want, have the people in my life I think I need, or if I’m going the right direction. “How much will I have to suffer?”

Here’s the fun fact: every time I have feared, God has been on the other side of the cliff. Every time.

He shows me in little or giant yet always faithful ways that he cares about the details of my life. When I’m ready to run away or hide under the covers or quit, he will drop a “love note” in the form of something only he and I know I need. Just this week, a precise phrase spoken in church, wood for repairs given to me without requesting it, and being unexpectedly paid are reminders that God knows my needs before I ask. Not every gift from God is a permanent fix to my troubles. Each one is a gentle nudge from God who is ready to protect my heart.

All I have to do is run furiously toward him, nosedive into faith, and into his perfect plan.

images (16)Today’s Helpful Word

1 John 5

 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,  for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. 

– St. John

*********

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.

 

Make TAWG Your Spiritual Connection to Mental Health. Part 2

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

photo-25949488-printToday I finished editing the audio of my first internet radio show (I’m the host). It took three tries, and by that I mean my guest had to repeat her story three times. (Note to self: always start new projects with a friend).

I’ve been in training for this for the last five of some of the busiest weeks I’ve known to date. The pile of to-dos has been emotionally exhausting too, added in with a divorce and settlement. Needless to say, some of the details went unattended until the last-minute – hence, three tries.  It always pays to do the homework.

We can change only if knowledge of a need for change, instruction how to change, and some understanding of what to change to is available. My situation with the radio show is simplistic. We all know life is full of complexities.

Some of us have been lied to since childhood. We have believed those lies because we do not know they are untrue. We walk in fear – of being unlovable, worthless, and devalued by everyone important to us.

We may pause each day for Time Alone With God (TAWG), know in our heads it is true God loves us, yet deep inside see his love as pity and not as passion for his child. Our worry centers on whether we are spending time enough to satisfy him, or doing TAWG right. We walk around in the cold dark, unaware of perfectly warm light, until something or someone pries open our eyelids.

Once we see a need for change, we may be clueless how it can happen, or what our required participation level is. Is TAWG simply a matter of spending 5, 15, 30 minutes longer in prayer? Is it reading more verses or chapters in the Bible each day?

How does TAWG become personally meaningful?

When negative, false core beliefs such as “God’s love is only pity,” go unchallenged, how we interpret what we are reading is tainted. If we believe we are never good enough for example,  much of scripture nay come across as condemning. If the necessity of a deeper relationship with God escapes us, we won’t know what to do to begin to care about it.

We hear sermons, read blogs, and listen as Christian believers talk about TAWG. As long as we are not learning how to change our mindset, these messages will go unheeded. TAWG will remain a last resort and less effective as the ultimate change agent we need.

***** COMMENTS 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 are yours.

*pictures from qualitystockphotos.com

 

It’s OK to Honor You, You Have Value

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2015 Nancy Virden

“It’s okphoto-24769692-guy-in-loveay to honor you. You have value.” I will never forget the day a psychologist said this to me. 

I rolled my eyes. Outwardly I joked, but his words had almost knocked me off my seat, and made me feel uncomfortable. What is there to honor? What does honor look like?

My family of origin did not practice honor amongst each other. It was not a safe place to show fear, sadness, doubt, excitement, or love. What does honor look like? For over two years I wondered if that statement could be true. Is it actually permissible to honor me because I have value?

Thanks youportrait of a mid adult female with heart shape balloons,  gifts, and special moments- these are some ways we honor others. Respecting people’s boundaries and speaking courteously are two other honoring characteristics. How about we each learn to do these things for ourselves?

Need support? We can ask for it. Affirmations lacking? We can look for healthy people who can offer some, or better yet be courteous in our self-talk. Have a special source of joy? We can make sure it is a regular part of our life.

Does this sound selfish?

Truth is, we will struggle to show honor to anyone else if we do not believe in self-worth. How will we ever believe in God’s infinite love? 

Honoring ourselves includes honoring our values, because no one likes a phony (especially if that phony is in the mirror.)  What is important to you? Who do you want to be?

I still ponder the statement,  It is ok to honor you. You have value.  Perhaps I will always wrestle with this idea. Nevertheless I try to  practice it. That is one gift I offer to myself. 

*********

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.

-pictures from Qualitystockphotos.com

Nate: An Easter Story of Worth

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

photo-24706729-skateboard-and-kidHis name is Nate. By now he is about seventeen years old. When I knew him he was 8 to 11. His personality is that of a jokester, and what he found amusing many around him did not. I’ve never seen him be mean, however his humor could once in a while land on the border of obnoxious.

To know him is to love him, though. I knew he was a child and his odds of growing beyond his style of funny were nearly 100%. He had already been maturing before my eyes, and spending time with him was easy. I imagine because he is exceptionally bright, that his jokes now are more audience-friendly.

Nate was nine years old the seventh year I directed a summer program at our church. Months of planning, days of decorating, meetings with volunteers, and weeks of advertising led up to registration day. All involved anticipated a substantial response and eagerly waited for children to arrive.

“Here they come!” someone said.  One, two, three, they bounced into the church. Nine, ten, eleven, twelve – where was the crowd? Nate ran in last, laughing and wide-eyed at the metamorphosis of our building into an indoor space station.

Thirteen.

To put this into perspective, our small church had over ninety children from the community who attended our weekly children’s club. Plans for this summer event involved rotating busy schedules for the teachers, gathering myriad supplies and prizes! Oh, the prizes.

Only thirteen.

Of course I was disappointed and the thought of all that wasted time crossed my mind. Still, I loved the ones who came and knew they deserved our best efforts.

Nate remained a regular attendee of the weekly club the following year. One night many months later, I overheard him talking to his friend. “I’m a Christian,” he said. “I heard at that space class that God loves me. Mrs. Virden said I can ask Jesus to forgive my sins and clean out my heart, so I did.”

Thirteen. Failed program. Waste of my time.

Nate.

Easter is a great opportunity to remember the One who gave all he had for each one of us. Jesus said that as the Good Shepherd, he would always search for the one lost sheep. He found me, he found Nate, he is searching still.

Apparently, Nate and I are worth God’s best gift- the life of his Son Jesus. His unfailing compassionate love teaches that none of us are a waste of his time.

Have a blessed Easter.

***********

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

 

Being Real Sets Us All Free: A Phone Call Brings It Home

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c) 2012  Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

Last week, an unexpected phone call came. “Hi, Nancy?” It was an unfamiliar southern voice.

“Yes?”

“This is Janet from Tennessee.” That name was not familiar  to me.

“I just read your article about depression online. I’ve read it over and over again. I am wondering if you can help me,” she said with a drawl.

“Oh!” Surprised is not a strong enough term for what I felt.  “I can try.”

“I am sure God has left me. I just know I have sinned too much and he has decided he is through with me.”

Uncertain what I could do for her, I just prayed. She continued to explain her battle with  depression  and  how recently she had spoken some words she believed were offensive to God. Her pastor and church friends did not understand, and she felt she had nowhere else  to turn.

One fact was certain; her depression was severe. In the course of her struggle with this condition, she had lost her usual sense of spirituality. No longer could  she feel God’s presence, or understand his promises as they applied to her. Depression can do that—make a believer falsely feel spiritually dead.

Clarifying to her my lack of professional expertise, I assured her of what I know to be true – God does not walk away when we  hurt.

The article to which she referred is titled, Never Alone in the Dark: A Christian’s Experience with Depression. In it, I describe my struggle with spiritual life during one major depressive episode endured a few years ago. It mentions that although a sense of God’s comfort was missing during the ordeal, and all vestiges of religion were gone, he had not stood back and waited for my confused mind to become reasonable. The last words read, “It is a rather simple bottom line—when all else was lost, Christ was there. And he never let me go.”

Hopefully, Janet was encouraged by our phone conversation. We were on dangerous ground because she was asking for a diagnosis in some ways. All I could safely offer was my personal experience and a few scriptures. After she agreed to find both a psychiatrist and therapist, we said goodbye…

Two things have to change.  People like me must be open to feelings and humbly express them, and the Church has to learn that emotionally struggling people are in the pews and this is normal. Christians like Janet and I need spared condemning remarks and judgmental attitudes. Otherwise, how can any of  us get well?

The challenge for both the church-at-large and me is the same. Be real.

Today’s Helpful Word

Romans 14:13
Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.

 

 **********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.

Teen girls by MELODI2 on rgbstock.com; phone pic by LUSI on rgbstock.com