Tag Archives: love

On Valentine’s Day, Try These 4 Honesty Tips

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

photo-24779825-woman-kissing-her-man-on-cheek

If we want love in our relationship, we need honesty.

A woman I will call Tara, suffered from dishonesty. Her husband borrowed from Tara’s home office. If he wanted paper or a tablet, he took hers. When he needed a cord for his laptop, he replaced it with his wife’s. If he was home during work hours,  he commanded chunks of Tara’s time through long conversations.

Tara put up with most extremes. Her spouse would disappear with her car not knowing she needed it to meet a client. Borrowed items were not returned. One day he asked to employ Tara’s company for a project for his boss. Tara did the work and was never paid.

That was it. Finally, she told him off in a huge explosive fight. He claimed she never told him she wanted paid, and she said he did not take her work seriously. Oh my.

Honesty Tip #1

We are not honest when we try to be nice and not complain. Tara’s silence was actually sending the message that she did not mind her husband’s decisions. The first time she felt her husband might be taking advantage, she could have drawn a boundary.

For example: “I need my car available. It is not going to work out to lend it to you unless you double check with me first.”

Honesty Tip #2

We are not honest with ourselves when we rationalize that resentment is still love. All Tara’s denial accomplished was an eruption of built-up steam. The first time she felt anger, pausing to ask why would have been helpful.   

Had she realized she resented loss of control over her possessions and time, she could have drawn boundaries to gain it back.   

For example: “I need my printer to stay in my office. Maybe you can buy one on sale.”  (Responsibility is the husband’s to find another solution for himself.)

Honesty Tip #3

We are not honest when we deny our true motives. More than Tara wanted to be nice, she feared not being nice. She didn’t like the idea of hurting her husband’s feelings. The first time she felt this apprehension, she could have offered him validation and acceptance.

“Your life is a hectic one (validation).  I’m sorry, I want to be here for you (acceptance) , but my availability to talk is limited to lunchtime, evenings and weekends.” 

Honesty Tip #4

We are not honest when we are not clear about our expectations.  Tara fully expected payment for her work.  Instead of assuming her husband understood this,  offering him an estimate as she would any other client, would have helped. 

For example: “My company will charge your boss $_ _ _ per hour. I’ll need this agreement signed.”

Happy Valentine’s Day!! 

Today’s Helpful Word  

Romans 12:9 (NIRV)

“Love must be honest and true.”

 

***** 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.

 

 

 

A Toast to 2019

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

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Here’s to starting over!

Placing one searching foot in front of the other, may we find stability on Truth’s solid ground. Daring to ask and learn beyond familiar knowledge is a rare and precious trait.

May our flailing hearts steel themselves with eternal hope. Advancing against negative odds and uncertainty requires courage from the Highest Power. 

Let our words burst forth in constructive thought. Wisdom deplores hate and vain arguing. It speaks peace,  love, and possibility.   

May this next year be better than the last!

Happy New Year! 

New Year toasts have been a CompassionateLove Blog tradition for nine years. 

 2011    2012    2013    2014    2015   2016   2017    2018 

A Helpful Word for 2019:

“My house,” she said. “It’s all I got.”

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

pXewBwOA woman who stayed with her home during one of the devastating wildfires in California, surprised her friends and neighbors by her survival. When asked why she stayed behind instead of evacuating, she replied, “My house. It’s all I got.”

Occasionally, any of us may feel as if what we value is slipping away. Efforts to prevent loss demand our attention. In a similar way, when we suffer a severe episode of any  mental health challenge such as major depression, anxiety, or panic attacks, among others, we may fall in to a place of desperation.

Rationally,  it doesn’t make sense to give up one’s life for a house.  Still, the woman who risked her life is not alone. A year ago, during a massive hurricane, one interviewed citizen was choosing to stay behind to take care of someone else’s possessions! The end of that story is unknown. 

I do not think either of these people were calm and collected. Not knowing them, it seems they did what anyone would do who valued something or someone above themselves. Whether desperation lasts one minute or months, temporarily it is difficult to make well-reasoned choices based on what is true. Instead, our minds tell us our perceptions of danger, loss, or hopelessness are the sum of reality.

In those moments, what we value most will rise to the surface. For me, major depression  (later) exposed the fact that I treasured the evasive love of my husband more than life itself. This had to change, and it was hard work. Transferring my hope to a permanent foundation has changed everything in my life. 

God used several tools to open my heart to his unfailing love. Some of it was therapy, and a renewing of my thought processes. Some of it was scripture (I view the Holy Bible as his unerring Word to us). Some of it was prayer. The end result is a whole person, a woman who values and relies on his love. 

I no longer need a person or material possessions to define my worth. Having never been in a natural disaster, I believe now it would be a no-brainer to leave everything behind. Reality is, God loves me. He sent his Son Jesus to die and resurrect so I could be with him forever. My hope lies there – in the unchanging, unending love of God the Father.

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Today’s Helpful Word

Matthew 6:19-21  

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

***** 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.

 

*house fire pic by XYMONAU ; streams of light by MICROMOTH: both  on rgbstock.com

 

A Visit to Rehab: The Greatest of These is Love

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

This past Sunday, I drove to Chicago.  The director of alumni events at a rehabilitation center had invited me to speak with residents on Monday. 

Morning came early. While much of the U.S.A. was arising and heading to work or school, these women  continued the fight  to gain recovery from addiction, eating disorders, mental health challenges, or all three. Excited and a little nervous, I left the hotel to join them.

Women in the rehab program advance in liberties as they progress. This time, my audience consisted of women in the process of learning to make healthier choices without constant supervision.  They are well on their way to going home, clean and sober. In fact, a few of them  graduated that day!

Most people in recovery have been told numerous times they are worthless, many since childhood. As part of my story,  I shared the reality of God’s love and message. I added, “I am a Christian, born-again, a follower of Jesus. But those are only words. Hopefully, my life reflects who he is.” Everyone nodded. 

America today hears much rhetoric about Christians, evangelicals in particular, and the mix of religion with politics as if faith in Jesus and a certain political party are one and the same.  It is difficult for those who do not know, to grasp who Jesus actually is. 

In some ways, the standard for Christians is raised. Show me you mean it. Show me you do not hate or despise me. Match your choices to your words. Prove your faith by your love. In extending love and compassion, and sincere non-critical acceptance to people in all stages of their journey, we represent God as the Bible reveals him.*

Mental health treatment in this country is greatly lacking. It is not available everywhere,  and is expensive for most.  Parity in the insurance realm is inconsistent. There are few standards by which to measure how long a patient should stay in a hospital.

In my opinion, stigma and lack of knowledge are the primary reasons we do not take care of mentally ill and emotionally unstable people. There is judgment – “I do not believe in mental health disability, I just don’t.”  “Depression is not an illness,  with enough faith (or strength) anyone can snap out of it.” “You are adopting the principles of the world if you give psychology any merit.” 

All these have been said to me, about me, plus many more accusations of failure. If I could describe  the beauty of joy and hope in the faces of the women I met on Monday,  perhaps more could see the value of mental (some call it behavioral) healthcare.  Maybe  God could get some credit for knowing what he is doing in each person’s life! 

Meanwhile, it is tremendous joy being vulnerable and open with people in the middle of the struggle. They, as do we all, respond to love.

Today’s Helpful Word

Mark 10:46-52

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging.  When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”

So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.

The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

***** 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.

-woman pic by LUSI on rgbstock.com; Jesus pic from freebibleimages.org

*This does not imply avoidance of the topic of sin. As seen in my work s a whole, my emphasis is how we approach people. Are we interested in gaining insight into another person’s struggle? Jesus showed sincere non-critical acceptance to hurting people, and in the context of meeting their needs, taught them to know him.   

Muddy Messages Cannot Change the Truth

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

Do you like eggs? Before I said it, were you thinking about the fact you like or dislike eggs?

In a much deeper way, strong ideas and beliefs can hide under the busyness of life.  We may be unaware even as negative thinking rules our decisions. 

When I was about 4 years old, I sat on a porch swing at my grandma’s house. She came outside, sat down on the swing, and started speaking. I distinctly remember the shock that an adult was choosing to talk to me!

Unfortunately, she died the next year.  Partly because of gross emotional neglect, at a very early age I took in the belief I was unlovable.  If you had asked, I might have said I had  value, but could not have told you why. The core belief that I could never be good enough for love colored everything in my life.   

Picture in your mind something you made. Choose anything, a drawing, a song, or a business report. It reflects you because you created it.  Now suppose someone comes along and buries your work in mud. Does it still show who you are? No, it reflects the character of the mud slinger. 

God created me to reflect his image. My love-worthiness is inherent. Muddy messages covered that up. Too bad it took so long for me to understand, however I am grateful to grasp it now. It is also true of you.  

In the same way, much of what we hear from the world about God, Jesus, and the Bible reflects mudslingers, not the Great I Am.  The worst offenders are those who claim  to follow God yet speak and live in hate.

Much too of what people claim the Bible says, are misquotes, out of context, or made up altogether. Mud obscures the truth of God’s character. His plan for a personal relationship with each person through his Son Jesus, reflects total mercy and love. He is perfectly just, perfectly fair, and perfectly wise. 

I encourage you to challenge deeply held, hidden, or automatic ideas that would have you  dismiss the God of the Bible.  When I discovered how deep his love is, everything changed. Dependencies on people and false hopes seem foolish in comparison to a love that is real, tangible, and unfailing.

As a tired and lonely child, I heard this verse from Psalm 27. “Though your father and mother abandon you, I will never leave you.” Do you recognize that promise?

God said it. That is the kind of love I embrace and welcome you to come to know. 

Today’s Helpful Word

Exodus 34:6

“The Lord passed in front of Moses, calling out, “Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.” 

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

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

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

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

 

The Past is Not Yours to Keep

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

Let it go. We’ve all heard the phrase. Did you know your past paves every corridor of your being? How is one to let the past go when it is reflected in who you are today?

Sitting in the therapist’s office, I said sincerely, “It is not mine to keep.” Unfortunately, it was not the past or negativity of which I spoke. It was the comfort of a good day, a nice moment I was certain did not belong to me. 

Sure, I was deep in depression. No doubt that partly explains the attitude. Yet how is one to overcome depression while clinging to a prevailing mindset of defeat? Major depression had its roots, but was I feeding it? 

In my mind, I was disqualified for anything good. What sorrow in that statement!  Thankfully, and with great joy, I can say that is no longer my experience! I’ve learned to let the past go.

You are not trapped

The past carries pain for many of us. Divorce, perceived business failure, abuse, loss… you can easily write your mental list. That is part of a defeatist issue – how simple it is to fill out such a list of negative experiences. 

Doing so can lock you in to a sense of victimization. You may have been a victim at one time. The hands or decisions of others may have caused you great harm.  Those events matter; they do not own you. You can escape the cycle of defeat and disqualification. Victimization does not have to continue.

How to let the past go

  1. If you are currently abused, end the abuse.  I can only suggest you reach out for help from someone or an organization that knows what to do.  You will find numerous phone numbers and websites listed on my The Truth About Abuse resource page. Click here.
  2. Challenge your negative self-talk. Question the messages that fill you with self-doubt and fear. Take notice of evidence that contradicts the old “I’m hopeless” repertoire circling in your racing thoughts. Consider this. You have read over half of a blog about moving beyond the past. That means you have a glimmer of hope for change. If that much hope can exist, so can more!
  3. Start writing down every one of your successes no matter how small. Perhaps you tend to dwell on shame for things you have said. Instead, record the times you have not spoken hurtful words. Count the smallest of moments. How about your encounter with a waiter last week? You were polite. There was no fight. If it is possible once, why not many more? 
  4. Look inside yourself, perhaps with the help of a therapist, and see if false beliefs are guiding your decisions. Complexities may take some time. However, it is very much worth your investment. 
  5. Allow God to work in your heart. He is the difference-maker!  When you realize he embraces and forgives you, your ability to forgive yourself and others grows strong. Become rooted in the knowledge of God through his Word, the Bible. You will begin to fully grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 3: 16-19) 

Once your ideas about who you are and how you interact with the world begin to take a positive turn, you will find it easier to let go of the past. 

After all, you do not own it.  It is gone. It is not yours to keep.

Today’s Helpful Word

2 Corinthians 5:17, 18a 

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!  And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ.”

***** 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.

*Trees by XYMONAU of rgbstock.com

 

 

For One of the Least of These: Offering Living Water to Those Who Thirst

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

A few days ago, my doctor’s instructions were to avoid food and water for twelve hours before a procedure. The food was no problem, but please. Water!

Matthew, who wrote the BIble book by the same name, tells us about the time Jesus ate no food for forty days. “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.“*

Jesus, being God, had the power to make stones into bread and sand into water. He chose not to do so because he “was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.” The “Spirit” here, is God’s Spirit. Jesus was intent on doing God’s will. His goal was to finish the task for which he came to earth in the first place. 

As the Creator of everything delicious, and having come from heaven of all places, it is doubtful Jesus came here for a yummy snack! No, he intended to die for our sins and resurrect to give eternal life to anyone who will believe. He had a serious mission. 

Let’s carry this into the realm of emotional and relational thirst. When Jesus taught to give a drink to thirsty people, he meant real water.  In other scriptures we see he offers ‘living water’ to those who are spiritually thirsty. 

People are thirsty for truth, for hope, or for someone to tell them they matter.  Believe it or not, offering a cup of real water is one way to tell a person he or she has value to you.  Kind acts carry a lot of weight. On a deeper level, taking the time to gain insight into a desperate person’s  experiences and thoughts, grants us an opportunity to offer life. 

I have written and spoken on the benefits of therapy, medications, and self-care. These matter in a big way to huge numbers of people. At one point, I too was dying of emotional thirst because I did not know how, or believe I would ever, find the sustenance (love) I needed. Therapy pointed the way, and taught me how to take in what had been there all along. 

Let me be clear. I am grateful for that experience and encourage others to find wise counsel. It is important to note however, my therapists did not ever point me away from the real difference-maker, Jesus Christ. The opposite is true, as they reminded me repeatedly who I am in God’s eyes. 

Helping someone who feels emotional, relational, or spiritual emptiness, is more effective when we seek God for the answers. Sometimes he leads us to the right people who will show us how to offer support.  Sometimes he guides us when we read the Bible. Always, he makes our paths straight when we surrender our will to his, and completely rely on his unfailing love.

Embrace someone who hurts. Show compassion for the confused, and those lashing out in pain. This is like water in desert ground to them. Allow God to begin the deep work of  change, hope, and joy in you by surrendering to Jesus.

Then pass on the living water to all who thirst.                                

Today’s Helpful Word

For [Jesus]  at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’”                                                                                                                                       

 

***** 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.

*Matthew 4:1,2

**Water pic by ROBBY_M; glass of water by LITTLEMAN, both of rgbstock.comrgb

For One of the Least of These: Helping Those Who Hunger for Love

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

Sarah felt lost. Her thoughts fluctuated between I do not need anyone, to I am bad for needing anyone, to why does no one care?

Her sense of aloneness and guilt exacerbated her doubt she was lovable at all. Shame joined the mental torture.

At the same time, her behavior told a different story. She was friendly and funny. Her need for affirmation was great. At times she realized she was fishing for approval, yet most often was unaware.

Her spirit had been crushed by absence of love from significant family members. Early in life she learned she was on her own. In second grade, a friend apologized that she would not be able to attend Sarah’s birthday party. Sarah cried, not because she was sad, but because she was in awe that someone cared enough to consider coming to her party.

The hole in her heart caused her to search for love in unhealthy ways. She truly did not know better. She was hungry, starving really, and the only solution was love.

Jesus said that when we see “one of the least of these” who is hungry and feed them, it is the same as doing it for him. That is because his love for hungry people is so great, he is blessed when their needs are met. He also loves givers, and rewards us when we become so.

He was speaking of those who are poor financially. He meant literal hunger and literal food. In another place he spoke of those who hunger for righteousness.* That is, people who desire to honor God.  In the same teaching, he promised blessing for those who mourn.**

God is one who cares intimately about our inner being. We can care too when someone like Sarah enters our sphere.  One way to do this is to offer time and listening. Perhaps we can help her find a good counselor or therapist and get her there. A simple and meaningful way to let a person know they matter is to say so. Emails, texts, calls, visits… all make a difference.

Beware becoming someone’s sole support. Sarah did not need a human savior, although she felt she did. One way to tell if a line is crossed, is to check if the relationship is changing. Friends do not become therapists. Pastors do not become on-call servants. Parents do not become doctors. Discourage dependence on you by not saying yes to every plea.

We can point someone to Christ and God’s love without judgment and criticism. By expressing sincere acceptance, we extend his compassion.  God’s love is so vast that our sins, flaws, mistakes, and even negative self-talk are not enough to make it stop.

Without question, God says we have to believe he exists. It is also imperative to believe that his Son Jesus, paid for our sins on the cross. This same Jesus resurrected and lives now as our Lord and Savior. These are foundational and necessary tenets of saving faith.

People like Sarah will begin to experience joy when they realize their inherent value. God’s love shines through the Bible and in our spirits. It is big enough to fill the emptiest caverns of need.

Counseling helped Sarah begin to see her worth as God sees her. Eventually she no longer yearned for people to meet her deepest need. God’s love has filled her to the brim, and even difficult circumstances no longer diminish her peace of mind. 

Today’s Helpful Word

Matthew 25: 37, 40 

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed 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.’”

***** 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.

*Matthew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

**Matthew 5:6  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.

-empty heart by XYMONAU; cross heart BA1969, both of rgbstock.com

God Teaches a Self-protective Hypocrite to Love

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

Twice during church services, the pressure of hypocrisy jolted me into tears to the point I could barely stand. Each time,  a false interpretation of my role had been translated into unloving attitudes and behaviors, including self-righteousness.

The hypocrisy was mine.

One public sobbing was at least twenty years ago.  A pastor stood and said, “I do not know why I am reading this, but sense the Holy Spirit is leading me to do so.”  With that, he read part of Revelations (2:4) where God chastises a church for losing its “first love.”  

It was as if someone struck my legs.  I folded to the bench and wept.  The service continued.

In that moment as the pastor read,  truth clicked.  I was like that church! Jesus is the first love of all who claim him as Savior.  He said we show our love for him by obeying his commands. (John 14:15) His command is to love each other as he has loved us! (John 13:34)

Before ten years passed, my prayers were again embittered. Mentally condemning anyone judged less righteous than me,  I mumbled, “Thank you God that I am not like her.”

It is fair to say,  that moment is one of my most shameful memories and a great regret.

You see, Jesus used a story to illustrate prideful hypocrisy.  While one man asked God to forgive him of his many sins, a religious elitist stood nearby and prayed, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people …or even like him!”  

Ouch.  As three fingers pointed back at me,  I cried in sorrow.

God always meets us where we are.  If outwardly we act tough and inwardly die, he sees. If our faces smile and laugh while our stomachs seethe in anger,  he knows.  If past trauma or any other source of fear feeds a self-protective attitude of hypocrisy, he is not blindsided.  If  his people are willing to listen, he will speak and teach us to love.

 Today’s Helpful Word

Luke 18:9-14 

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable:  “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee ,  and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

******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: glass window by DRAGONARIAES of rgbstock.com; Pharisee by freebibleimages.org  

 

If Dad’s Love Falls Short: 3 Ways to Move Beyond the Pain

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

A narcissist dad thought it was everyone else’s responsibility to reach out to him. If friends or family did not,  it was their loss.

One child’s personality allowed him to take initiative and make compromises trying to find a relationship with his father. Another child was an introvert, and did not understand his father’s rules.

The first child received some attention. It was especially apparent in public because that is where narcissist’s shine. The other child was almost completely ignored except when his dad yelled at him for daring to cause an inconvenience.

This dad’s behavior was not faithfulness. This is not what love looks like.

Yet many of us have experienced fathers like this and much worse. The picture of love ingrained in our thoughts since childhood is drawn of betrayal, broken promises,  and neglect. Our fathers left us empty, angry, and lost.

Love is…

Kelly Clarkson sings a song to her dad who abandoned her when she was six.  Her lyrics compare him to the father of her children. *

He never walks away
He never asks for money
He takes care of me
He loves me
Piece by piece, he restores my faith
That a man can be kind and the father could, stay

These words remind me that behind every negative message from a faithless dad, there exists a basic truth. We are each worthy of a better love. No one can decide differently. If they try, we do not have to believe them.

Exchange false for true

The trick to changing negative core beliefs is to replace them. We will not overcome habitual thought processes by trying to ‘get over it.’ Our power is in switching to a new narrative.

  1. Stop the abuse. If you are an adult and your dad is still toxic, find a way to  draw boundaries and stand by them. Talk to him about the situation. Explain what words or behaviors are deal-breakers.  You decide how often or if you meet, and how long you stay in the same room. He threw away his authority.  You have the human right to emotional safety.
  2. Challenge your self-talk. Ask why you repeat self-defeating cycles. What can you do differently? Pay attention to what language goes through your mind. If you think (or start to say) “I’m a loser,” exchange the phrase for something positive whether you believe it yet or not. For example,  “I’m a fighter” points out how you continue to try.
  3. Reach out to the Father of Fathers. God promises to never abandon us, no matter what our parents do. He is good, faithful, and full of love for those who trust him. He made it possible, no matter how messed-up we are, to come to him. The way God designed is through his Son Jesus.  The New Testament (Bible) states plainly that by believing God sent his one and only Son to die and rise again,  we can ask for and find forgiveness and peace.

Instead of “I am abandoned,” try, “God loves me.” Take in positive truth and watch your pain recede.

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.

*Piece By Piece