Tag Archives: inspiration

Anxiety and Fear Do Not Hold All the Power!

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

man in black tank top lifting vehicle tire
Photo by Cesar Galeão on Pexels.com

Fear and anxiety dressed up as self-doubt is frustrating.  

Saul was a young man who stood by and watched the stoning death of the first Christian martyr, Stephen. One sentence in Saul’s story tells what we need to know about his heart. 

“And Saul approved of their killing him” (Acts 8:1).

Saul’s name was changed to Paul after an encounter with the risen Jesus.  He then became who we now know as Saint Paul, a Christian preacher and church planter of the first century AD, who wrote much of the New Testament under the inspiration of God.

Paul admitted to a “thorn” in his flesh – that is, something that bugged him and made life more difficult. His issue was not clarified for the readers, so we are left to guess.

Could it have been self-doubt?

He had been a religiously proud and zealous man, a leader once admired.  Is it possible then, that without the trappings of a Pharisee and the power of that religious order behind him he may have felt weaker?

He helped to murder early followers of Jesus. How might any one of us deal with trying to teach the families and co-believers of our victims?

Maybe Paul wondered every day what he was doing- maybe he had to start out each morning in faith, trusting that his weakness was the very thing that kept him humble and productive for God’s work.

I do not know, theologians do not know what Paul meant by “a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me…”. all we have are hints. For example, the context of this story is Paul answering an accusation of cowardice.  

He wrote,” You are judging by appearances…  I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters. For some say, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing” (2 Corinthians 10:7, 9-10).

In another letter, this one to a new pastor, Paul wrote, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). Could he have known that truth due to personal experience? 

It makes sense that he may have fought self-doubt when face to face with those he once sought to kill. These types of struggles are real, and daily. In person and in his letters, Paul stood up for what is true. Maybe he was a bit quiet and shy (I do not know), but he did not fail to say it like it is.  That would be the Spirit of God at work in him. 

I am writing to myself today because anxiety plays a large role in how far I push my potential. It frustrates and badgers me until I submit much too much of the time. 

No, self-doubt, timidity, anxiety, and fear are not from the Spirit of God. He promises us power when we feel powerless, love for others when we are self-absorbed, and self-discipline when fear threatens to paralyze our every good intention. Overcoming negative emotions is not always a quick work.  Sometimes, our thorn remains, and we have to keep walking anyway.

It is because of his power that I speak the truth about my past and current weaknesses when I would rather hide. It is his love that motivates me to share publicly so other hurting people will know hope.  Jesus was and is the way where there seems to be no other way.  

Wherever I am, it is Jesus I desire most to honor. Whatever Paul’s thorn, he said the same.  

Today’s Helpful Word  

2 Corinthians 12:8-10

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

-St. Paul

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

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

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

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

How Loving God Makes You a Better Support

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

004-lumo-crippled-woman

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

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

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

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

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

Love as you love yourself

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

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

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

Love as you love God

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

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

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

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”  (Matthew 25:34-40)

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

Today’s Helpful Word  

1 John 4:8 

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

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

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

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

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

Follow this Plan for Stronger Emotional Health and Relationships

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

pexels-photo-975436.jpeg
Photo by Jimmy Chan on Pexels.com

You live inside a cube with a window and door. Each of us does.

With you in your cube are what you value, and what makes you who you are. Your family, church, job, and hobby are in there. So are your favorite entertainments, and deep thoughts. In one corner is a dark spot of flaws and selfish behaviors.

All our cubes are filled in the same manner.

As you go throughout your day, bumping into other cubes, maybe annoyance grows.  Inside your private space with unchallenged ideas, you feel safe.

It is simple to dehumanize others we refuse to see.

Observe and connect

Open your window and watch from a distance superficially.  Possibly some faces look back at you making assumptions. You presume to know what they are thinking.

Communication is empty of understanding.

Ah, the door. Swing it wide and invite others in! Expose the real you. Take responsibility for your decisions. When you and at least one other person are welcome to enter and leave each other’s cubes freely, your basic human need for positive, meaningful connection will be met!

There is joyous give and take, generous communication, forgiveness, and honesty about darker egos. That is how we learn and grow.

Be emotionally healthy

You have no control over whether other cubes open. Let them go. You will not have freedom with everyone. However, it is not healthy to stay hidden inside, never reaching out, sharing, or helping.

It is not healthy to allow someone else to live in your cube trying to meet all your needs. It is equally not healthy and is dangerous to stay in another person’s cube, living for his or her happiness.

Whether family, friends, or romance, choose relationships wisely.  Within a positive and meaningful connection you need validation, to know someone values you enough to be involved, and genuine acceptance. Look for these.

A connection is ready 

Jesus offers all three.  He knows every second of your existence. This validation and acceptance is proven in Psalm 139. Jesus also showed how much he values you when he left heaven to sacrifice his body for your eternal soul.

If people in your life refuse to connect, remember you have One who always wants you to know him as he knows you.

Today’s Helpful Word  

Psalm 139: 1, 16 

“You have searched me, Lord and you know me… Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” 

***** 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.

Dear 2018, You Tried to Sting Me Like a Bee, but I’m Still Floating Like Butterfly!

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

woman wearing purple boxing gloves
Photo by Ambar Simpang on Pexels.com

Dear 2018,

You old pest. You waved your gloved fists for 365 days, managing to body punch and intimidate me. I bruised, but you are the one KO’d. This fighter is standing tall and victorious! 

On your first day, joy had me floating like a butterfly.  I admit, your sucker punch of cancer and surgery in the second round was disorienting. You were good at the old one-two. Round five – a thrown back.  Round seven – shingles. Round nine – a triple punch combo.  

Maybe you hoped emotional blows would force me to take a dive. Round two left hook –  betrayal and humiliation. Round three jab – family member missing for two weeks. Round four upper cut – oldest son moved to another part of the state. Round six foul – ex-husband remarried.

Counterpunches of hope, faith, and gratitude weakened you. Despite my almost home-bound existence, patience and positivity scored.  Not once did you overpower me, 2018!

Your round nine triple punch combination came close.

The first blow fouled below the belt. Bed bugs? Really? This Ohio epidemic endangered what scant social interactions remained. Between that and your second hit, severe  anemia,  I was almost totally isolated for months.          

I staggered. Your third punch tossed me to the ropes. Anxiety swelled, accompanied by undeniable early signs of depression.   

If you stuck out your chest to boast, you underestimated how much fight boils in my blood!. Upon recognizing my old mental nemeses, I rose inspired, powerful, and defiant.  

Not only did you lose twelve rounds, it was JOY that knocked you out for good in your last wheezing weeks. You see, I know something you do not. God gave you to me. God turns everything out for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:26-28). 

Too bad for you, 2018. You stung like a bee, but God grounded this butterfly in his love. 

Hello 2019! You may yet turn out to be a ringer, but I know Who holds me and will never let me go.  

Check out the score!

  1. JOY √ A neighbor came to Christ
  2. JOY √ A second member of the neighborhood Bible study came to Christ
  3. JOY √ One neighbor started bringing her grandchildren over for their very own “God class.” 
  4. YIPPEE! √ I won my very first IRS tax-exemption status without using a lawyer! 
  5. JOY √ The bugs forced a healthy household purge, and brought by an exterminator who needed encouragement.  
  6. FUN √ I hosted Thanksgiving reuniting long-lost relatives.   
  7. JOY √ Anemia keeps me home most days, so offering support is more of an inside job. (fostering a cat for a woman in transition, and sorting papers for someone with depression.) Occasionally, people drop by who need a listening ear. The neighborhood Bible study continues.
  8. JOY √ My church’s new associate pastor is allowing me to teach short-term classes.
  9. YAY √ Finally, I began formal (online) schooling for certification as a Life Coach. This workable compromise opens a virtually unlimited field as one can grow and specialize. 
  10. JOY √ I was able to speak to the women in recovery at Timberline Knolls in Chicago

          Today’s Helpful Word

     Romans 8:38-39 

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 

***** 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.

 

5 Times The Redeemer

Embrace Your Today Family

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

13dff4d3a114e75f48eebc000feeee39

Charlie Brown and the Peanuts Gang are some of my favorite people. This Thanksgiving, my table is adorned with all of them. A picture of the infamous Charlie Brown Thanksgiving meal hangs on the wall.  My intention is to serve little snack cups with samples of Snoopy’s cuisine: popcorn, pretzels, jelly beans, and toast.

Though members of the Peanuts gang had relatives and homes, they chose to spend holiday time together. To the main characters,  Lucy, Linus, Sally, Marcie, Peppermint Patty, Pigpen, Franklin, Violet, Charlie, Snoopy, and Woodstock, this group was family.

Some of us have little to no family with whom to spend Thanksgiving or any holiday. Perhaps family memories and members have faded to the past. Strife or tragedy may have prevented a sense of family at all. Most likely, the culprit of broken ties is a mix of distance and time.

We have, or can build, a Today family.  Temporary families dot my past. My family of origin briefly existed. Visits with extended family were short and far-between. My friends became my family followed by my (now ex) husband and children.

Everywhere I’ve lived or built a social circle, “family” has included persons both related and unrelated to me. One option is to look back and bemoan the loss of many of these relationships. Embracing a Today family sounds like a happier choice.

This year, I have invited relatives not seen in about 10 years. Jon and Tim, my sons, will also be joining us. Last year, two women had dinner here, while for a couple years prior I sat around feeling sorry for myself.

See the progression? Learning to look after my needs is an arduous task. In doing so, others are also blessed. It is worth the anxiety (where will everyone sit?), the money (lots of food!), and stepping out of my comfort zone.

I encourage anyone without a technically-correct family to celebrate the family you have today. Friends, neighbors, shut-ins, people at the homeless shelter  – all can be members of your family if you reach out in courage.

And you will be their family too.

three smiling women beside man holding smartphone

Today’s Helpful Word

1 John 4:19

“We love because he first loved us.” 

 

 

***** 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.

*photo of friends: rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

It’s Been Rock n’ Roll, Sister. Rock n’ Roll.

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

photo-25063706-wheelchair-at-hospitalThis was not expected. None of it was really, but especially this.

He rolled into my unsuspecting day and rolled out leaving behind a star-struck and humbled woman. I had cheerily greeted him intending to boost his morale. Immediately at his response, the needy and the giver exchanged places. 

From his wheelchair he spoke of freedom to walk. Despite his struggle with three strokes he talked of strong faith. With a paralyzed left side he expressed expectation for recovery. His eyes grew wet at the mention of his mother because he is unaware whether she is still living. He laughed, and his dark tired eyes better resembled what must have once been a fiery and impetuous younger man.

He blamed drug and alcohol abuse as a teenager for his strokes at mid-life. For years he has lived in physical rehabilitation centers, most commonly known as nursing homes. One might expect him to be bitter at his fate as he wheels among elderly residents lost in dementia. Bitterness was not present. It failed to show up between his wide smiles and intense passion for life.

I was there to visit someone else. My friend sat patiently nearby as this man shared his life story with me. Lost love and poor judgment punctuated a past that had left him alone and lonely. Yet he was here, beside me, sharing a piece of wisdom that rocked my world.

“When I was [first] in the hospital, a doctor came by to talk to me,” he said. “I told him I wasn’t sure if I’d ever walk again, and he said, ‘One day at a time.’ I’d never heard that before. I didn’t know what that was…one day at a time.”

He grew still for just a moment, reflecting on the profound memory. “Those were professional words from a professional man, and I listened.”

The simplicity of the doctor’s remark had turned the life of his patient around. The first-time stroke victim had poured himself into daily workouts and therapies. For weeks, then months he pushed himself to the limit, repeating ‘One day at a time’ as his mantra. Two years later, he walked out of the hospital, a new man.

Then he had a second stroke. And a third.

Since he moved into rehabilitation center, a few years ago, his old friends do not come by, his remaining family will have nothing to do with an ex-drunk, and he wonders and worries about his mom.

“It’s been rock ‘n roll, sister. Rock ‘n roll,” he said. His left foot dangling helplessly over the wheelchair’s foot rest, he burrowed his gaze into mine. “One day at a time. The doc told me one day at a time, and that’s how I do it.”

One morning, one step, one day at a time, we can experience a meaningful life.

******

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 qualitystockphotos.com

How to Become Who You Want to Be

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

861Ok, who do you want to be?

Let’s get to the point: We are not in control of external events, however we are in control of our responses. Our responses will define who we are in the eyes of God, others, and ourselves.

So let me ask again, who do you want to be?

For two and a half years, a three by five foot handwritten sign hung on my office wall challenging me each day to respond to, What kind of person do I want to be? What step will I take today toward becoming that person? 

For about a year I read that with a bit of resentment and much negativity. I didn’t want to put up the effort to even decide who and what, let alone make changes. One memory is of facing the sign and sticking my tongue out at it! Many days its message was ignored.

Nonetheless, I’d placed it there. The same motivation forced me to confront it consistently regardless how I felt. During what I believed was recovery from a major depression episode, it became clear I was actually experiencing a much grander change. Life, and my responses to it were adjusted. I didn’t want to repeat old behaviors that left me ashamed.photo-24758778-vector-image-of-green-arrow-and-blue-bar-graph.

Specific goals came later. The sign is no longer up, not because I don’t need to consider the questions, but because they are now automatic in my thought processing. Both my wall and mind have space for a plethora of affirmative answers.

Taking small steps toward who we want to be today is healthy and makes us stronger. It’s a mistake to chase colossal ambitions that overwhelm our current strength. One day at time, practice will change our hearts, and give us momentum.

**********

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 qualitystockphotos.com