Tag Archives: relationships

Are You Handling Your Complicated Life, Or is It Handling You?

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

person standing on slope glacier mountain
Photo by Simon Migaj on Pexels.com

Most of us want to be the type of person others can count on. We hope we are a good friend, spouse, parent, and worker.  

Life’s dramas and stressors sometimes overshadow these most important parts of living.  Are you the person you want to be? 

Think about your challenges with life balance, and with making positive and meaningful connections. Then ask if your way is working.  If it is not, perhaps you would like to join me in trying a different way, one proven successful.

How Jesus handled his complicated life

One of the reasons Jesus could serve as he did is because of his boundaries. Jesus loved well and practiced self-care. Unless we embrace his how-to, we cannot expect to experience the effectiveness, freedom, and wisdom he did.

1. He knew his mission; do you know yours?

One morning, while it was still dark, Jesus left where he was staying and went off alone to pray.  Later, several men went to look for him. When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you!”

Jesus said, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages— so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” (Paraphrased from Mark 1:35-38)

Notice Jesus did not serve everyone when it would detain him from his priorities. He knew when to say yes or no regardless of pressure from others.

2. His getaways versus your getaways

In the Bible book of Matthew, we read an account of one of Jesus’ very busy days. As it was growing dusk,  he decided to feed the crowd gathered to hear him preach. They had been together for three days and were hungry.

After he miraculously stretched a few fish and loaves of bread into enough meals to satisfy about 8000 people, he dismissed everyone and went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.  It is recorded that shortly before dawn he came back down and joined his disciples. (Paraphrase of Matthew 14: 15 -25 )

Israel, where this took place, generally experiences dusk at 7pm and dawn at 6am. Allowing time for his disciples to pass out the food and to clean-up, it appears Jesus was in prayer for about 8 hours.  This is how he re-energized, by spending time with His Heavenly Father. 

3. Joy was his source of strength.

It was the prophet Nehemiah who encouraged his people to choose joy because it would give them strength to do God’s will. He said, “…the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8: 8-10)

Jesus came right out and said, “When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.  I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy.  Yes, your joy will overflow!  This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.” (John 15:10-12

His joy was complete due to obedience to God his Father, and by giving and receiving love. Is this where you find joy?

4. Jesus’ choices versus your choices

John the Baptist was a great preacher in Jesus’ time. He was a relative of Jesus and a friend.  He was murdered when they both were about 31 years old. When Jesus heard what happened, he withdrew to a private place, no doubt to grieve and pray. 

Crowds followed anyway. When Jesus saw them, he “had compassion on them and healed their sick.” (Paraphrase of Matthew 14:12-14)

Jesus made room for service when it was inconvenient, setting aside his personal grief momentarily.  However, this was not his only response.

5. Jesus held to boundaries. Do you?

Jesus was a celebrity, with clamoring fans from all over his country and beyond. Huge crowds wanted to hear him and have him heal their sick bodies, and ill sons, daughters, friends, servants, and other loved ones.  Some wanted him to raise their dead. 

Look at what Jesus did. He “often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Paraphrase of Luke 5:15-16 Sometimes he simply withdrew from the needs and demands of a hurting world, and made room for self-care.

You can see it is not selfish to balance your life. Not everyone needs you all the time.  It is wise to weigh your priorities and pro-actively seek joy. 

Today’s Helpful Word  

 Amos 4:13
“He who forms the mountains, who creates the wind, and who reveals his thoughts to mankind … the Lord God Almighty is his name.”

 

 

***** 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.

It is Perpetually Paramount that this Pundit Practices Pointers She Presents to the Public. (Say that 10 times fast!)

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

25996069 Big generation family at home doing various activitiesDid you successfully say the title of this post ten times fast? As with an increasingly  speedy telling of the adventures of Mr. Piper and his spicy vegetables, rote repetition eventually turns into habits of sound.

Test this theory by asking if you know the depth of this title without pausing to consider. Can you informatively discuss Peter Piper’s situation? A message may be lost on the one who is used to hearing herself say it.

This week, it was my privilege to be a guest on WYCB 1340 AM’s  show, The Senior Zone, live for a Washington DC audience. I was asked by host Shawn Perry what it is seniors can do to prevent isolation.

Sure enough, my reply was quick and easy because I’ve said it all before.  While familiar words hopefully helped listeners, my mind was not applying them personally.

The perspective I shared with The Senior Zone

Quite simply, we are responsible for avoiding isolation. As long as we are able to interact, we must proactively look for ways to do it.

Perhaps stepping out the door and saying hello to the neighbor is all you can muster to start. Great! Try that! Then again and again until it is easier. Do something nice for them, and others in your neighborhood. If you raise herbs in your kitchen, share the harvest. Offer your green thumb to help the single mother down the street.

Local organizations offer activities for seniors and younger adults too. Many will pick you up. Go to church if they have a bus, or ask for a ride. Visit your 24-hour store at night and begin a conversation with a clerk. Chances are good they will welcome the company.

If you cannot leave home easily, invite people in. What do you know? Teach sewing,  wood carving, or start a book club or Bible study. Host regular movie nights or Sunday afternoon football. Whatever you can imagine is possible within the scope of your abilities.

Write letters. Send them to anyone you know who needs encouragement. Call other seniors who may be isolated. You are not alone in your struggle against loneliness.

Life is difficult at times, and isolation only magnifies pain. Take hold of your future by entering the world of people.

The pointers are for me

Uggh! How many times will I “learn” this lesson? The advice is for me too. After months of limited interactions due to health issues, my connections at the church I’ve attended for a year are still formative. It feels intimidating to reach out to those who I do not know that well. Yet yesterday I invited some women over for spiritual fellowship.  I am responsible for getting my needs met, as are we all.

Say “I do not have to be alone” ten times fast. Let it sink in until the day you can honestly forget it because you are alone no more. I will too.

Looking AheadToday’s Helpful Word

Isaiah 61  (Isaiah is speaking for Jesus in this prophecy)

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of  righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

***** 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.

 

Love, Circumstances, Regret, Eternity: 4 Contexts Where Accepting Life on Life’s Terms Changes Everything

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

What’s sadly amusing is that people (let’s be honest, it is each of us) who need to learn life lessons often do not believe they have a problem.

I heard a notorious complainer and backbiter announce that she had once attended a conference on negativity.  One man struggled with coping and  refused therapy. He had never entered a professional mental healthcare office, yet claimed it would not help.

Accepting life on life’s terms is tricky. Instead, we often try to control circumstances or other people, and strive for comfort.   

Personal Power

Reputations, health, and safety are subject to events outside our control. No matter the wisdom or lack of sense behind our choices, good  and not-so-good will result. Jesus said God sends rain on the just and on the unjust*.  Life’s terms are reality.

Nonetheless, we have control over our behavior and responses. That is powerful!

I switched from railing against difficulties and fighting to improve the past, to focusing on changing me. Now a matured worldview, attitude, and belief system provide a deep sense of hope and purpose that eluded me before.

Do you see how far you’ve come since one to ten years ago? Change happens in truth. Honest introspection is not difficult. Simply by asking, “Why do I feel/believe/behave this way? Am I the person I want to be?”,  your escape from endless cycles begins. 

Life’s terms 

Relationships:   No human loves unconditionally and no one stays forever. These are not true because people are uncaring, rather it is that we are fallible, and incapable of perfectly meeting another’s needs. These are life’s terms.

Accepting these terms allows for rejoicing at how many people care sincerely and imperfectly.  Shared happiness and pain create a sense of community and personal fulfillment. This replaces the anguish of manipulating or insisting relationships match our design. Grace and freedom reign.

Circumstances:  Events outside ourselves are often confusing and seem to have trajectories of their own. It is impossible to slam on the brakes and stop all the nonsense. These are life’s terms. 

Accepting life’s terms means no set of circumstances has to complete our story. Looking for  options and focusing on what is next, spares us from paralyzing fear and hopelessness. We can create, share ideas, pray, and involve ourselves in a message of hope.   

Personal history:  The past is full of regrets and “can’t believe I did that”.  Consequences of poorer choices are not always avoidable. These are life’s terms. 

Accepting those terms allows us to make needed amends, and jumpstart the present.  How many of us would spend days hiding if we constantly stared at all our mistakes? Knowing the past cannot be fixed, we transfer energy toward influencing today for the good of humankind. 

Salvation:  No past choices determine our eternal future. Zero.  Starting now, putting faith in Jesus means we can believe our gifts, strengths, and weaknesses have purpose in the hands of a sovereign God. He sees his beloved (if somewhat confused) children through eyes of forgiveness and delight.

These are His terms, for which we can feel relief and gladness. 

Today’s Helpful Word

Proverbs 19:21 

Many are the plans in a person’s heart,  but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

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.

*https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=matthew+5&version=ESV

Bad News, Good News: How to Change Your Perspective When a Relationship Ends

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

hands

Good news and bad news are matters of perspective. 

Bad news:  Friendships and marriages do not always last.  

Good news:  We have power over our response.

One possibility is to hide.  In our houses, under a workload, or staring at a phone, we can wear cold smiles, vowing no one again will get close enough to cause us pain.  Such a decision rarely works for our best.  Loneliness grows when we disconnect.  

A healthier choice is to reach out despite our feelings. Bruised and weak,  anger, confusion, self-loathing, or a depressed mood may fill our days.  Making a call,  sending a text,  or meeting up with friends is challenging when we hurt. It is risky too.

Yet this is the very reason  to reach out. We need support, second opinions, and distraction from our troubled thoughts. 

Create your good news

How does one reach out knowing something unpleasant might happen? We just do.  A therapist once suggested that to fight isolation I go to a convenience store late at night and chat with a clerk. Going to church, speaking with co-workers, attending a local game – each idea has merit. Sometimes helping others through volunteerism is a positive way to escape a self-protective cage. 

Small steps are monumental when recovering from damaged trust. Since emotional safety does matter, take time to observe a person in social situations before leaping into a full friendship. Listen for clues to his or her attitude and notice character traits.  Once the safety test is passed, seize the opportunity to trust again. It is the best bet we have.

When a friendship or marriage is lost, we may feel alone. This can change. Let us hope instead of hide, and find as well as be the kind of people we want to know.

 **********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.

 

If You Are Feeling Hopeless and Disappointed Post-Valentine’s Day…

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

There is an old saying, “We are only as sick as our secrets.” This means that what we keep hidden inside will come out in one way or another. Our behavior tends to reflect how we feel about our secrets.

Let’s start a new saying – “We are only as disappointed as our rules.” Our expectations of romance can be set unrealistically high on Valentine’s Day.  When the inevitable failure happens, we feel badly about our Valentine.

For some though, disappointment is aimed at oneself.  “Why am I not good enough for love?” or “I cannot be loved. ” When this is us, our hopes are placed on a person or experience. Both are temporary and fallible. A sense of hopelessness replaces any happiness we may otherwise know.

There are five different types of Valentines, right?  Of course, there are wide variations of each and between these main ones.

  1. Focused. This is the ideal, I guess.  A spouse who notices the little stuff, who recognizes what brings us happiness, and plans for a sweet Valentine’s Day, raises our spirits.
  2. Inattentive. This person may not catch a break because we acquaint missing our romantic cues with  indifference.  Life’s distractions do not stop on February 14. A truly inattentive person may need to know more directly what it is we want. No one is a mind reader.
  3. Indifferent . This is the problem that hurts our feelings. When a Valentine no longer cares, we feel pain.  This is not the same as a spouse hating Valentine’s Day out of principle. However, if that serves as the excuse du jour, we know it.
  4. Unkind. Selfishness, narcissism, abusive behavior – all are issues we must recognize and face head-on. These partners are not indeed Valentines, and we must ask, “Is this the relationship I want?”
  5. Non-existent. Singleness is not a curse. In fact, it leaves us available for deep and satisfying friendships. We can turn our attention to projects or family we are passionate about.  Not having a Valentine is not second-best, but holds its own merit.

None of the above defines who we are. What type of Valentine we have only describes a fact. By placing our hope for approval, affirmation, validation, purpose, or a sense of value on a relationship, we miss the most important component of our existence.

We are loved by God

One of the biggest mistakes I made was to root a sense of worth in the soil of my marriage. Planting hope and faith in the richness of God’s love has changed my point of view, given me a sense of purpose, and held my heart in the darkest, most lonely moments.

Not only do best-intentioned people fail each other from time to time, but it is impossible to avoid doing so. We are only human.  Hope replaces despair when we accept and trust in the unfailing love of God through his unchanging Son, Jesus Christ.   It is offered freely to anyone who believes.

My post-Valentine’s Day advice is to seek God and learn to feel what true love is.

Today’s Helpful Word

1 John 4: 9,10

God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

 

 **********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.

Top pic by WAX115 and bottom pic by LUSI on rgbstock.com

Everyone is Two-Faced… For That We Can Be Grateful

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

The sun shines three out of thirty times on Thanksgiving Day in Cleveland, Ohio.  At least it rains at some point during those other twenty-seven holidays, so the sun must stay fairly hidden behind gray clouds.

We treasure sunny days here because they are rare. On average, we see about 65 bright days per year.  When Jesus asked his disciples,  “Would anyone light a lamp and then put it under a basket or under a bed?”* he may have heard Northeastern Ohioans shouting from the future – No!  We relish light.

Have you noticed that when two people first meet, everything in the relationship seems like sunshine and ponies? That is because we generally show our most acceptable side in the beginning.  A forgiving atmosphere seems prevalent as well.  It is as if both parties are willing to give a stranger the benefit of the doubt. 

Sure, we see and enjoy the best of each other’s personalities. Here’s the rub. Every person has two faces. It is okay, we can be grateful for that.

Some examples at your Thanksgiving table

Your excitable sister-in-law will bring lively chatter and enthusiastic responses to anyone’s good news.  That same excitable personality may express excessive worry when you mention a small problem. 

Your aunt is a dream when it comes to planning and executing family gatherings. You appreciate her attention to detail.  Perhaps her inflexibility when your uncle suggests a spontaneous trip, will bug you. 

A strong, silent cousin is everyone’s hero. There is no doubt who will be there to save the day in a crisis.  As the day goes on, you may be annoyed at his lack of communication. 

Everyone has two faces. They are not actually opposite, but extensions of the same core personality. So you see, if people at your Thanksgiving table are driving you batty, you can be grateful for their strengths.

Have fun with Gratitude! 

Today’s Helpful Word

Unconditional Love: The Forgotten Source of Hope

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

Among people who struggle with emotional instability, mental illness, addiction, or abuse I have observed a common thread shared with all of humanity. It is both universal and intimate, a want and need.

I have, as so many others, desperately tried to find it or escape from its absence in relationships, substances, entertainment, physical pleasure, and even rumination on the value of my life.  

The longing that shapes almost every human decision is for unconditional love. 

At the crux of all the world’s troubles

Pride and corruption in high places are about power and greed. Yet what is power without adoring followers? What is there to riches except to say, “Look at what I have!”

The poor and marginalized cry out for justice; their cause, righteous.  Nonetheless, the plea behind it all is for unconditional love – acceptance as equals in society. 

In homes and on playgrounds, one can see the push-pull for unconditional love. Each of us seeks it,  few offer it.  Our best attempts at giving love without strings fall short. 

Some of us believe a lie – that the world’s inability to love us well means we are unlovable. We become grateful for whatever crumbs fall our way, even if they are served with abuse and more lies.

With eyes focused on a guilty or shameful past, some of us feel unworthy of great love. 

It is time to accept your true identity

God’s love transcends pity. His mercy is not because you are a nothing and only by rolling his eyes and shaking his head can he love you.

No, he knew beforehand everything you have become,  including what has happened to you and how it shaped your beliefs.  He saw your blunders, the pain you would cause other people, and how much sorrow he would suffer due to your unbelief and sin. He knew the details of your weaknesses and failings before he gave you life… and made you anyway.

Why? He loved you before you were born; his plans for you are not shaken. His ultimate goal has always been to spend eternity with you because he loves and wants to be with you that much.

Yours for the taking

Sometimes we tend to think “love hurts, and is not worth the pain.” It is the opposite with God’s unconditional love. He saw ahead of time that you would not love him perfectly, and brought you into the world anyway. All the pain IS worth it to him. YOU are worth it.

As absence of unconditional love can trap us in impotent cycles, so its unfailing presence sets us free. We can strip off the disguises, and come to him as-is. This source of perfect grace and mercy, justice and forgiveness, strength to save and power to love is the ever-present, all-knowing highest power,  the God of the BIble as revealed to us in the life, death, and resurrection of his only birth-Son, Jesus Christ. 

You are loved.

Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 33: 20-22 

We put our hope in the Lord He is our help and our shield.  In him our hearts rejoice,  for we trust in his holy name.  Let your unfailing love surround us, Lordfor our hope is in you alone.

 

*********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.

Feelin’ Like a Fool: 6 Tools for Listening to Your Relationship Instincts

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

 

*******

you told me to trust my gut

i didn’t

and trusted you

*******

Trust is not always trust. Sometimes it is a glorified denial of the obvious.  Or, it is an emotional wish list, a want-it-to-be-true-and-so-it-is delusion.  Like naïve children, we are easily led by smooth talk,  sweet offers, and a maudlin performance.  Only we are not innocent anymore, are we? Ignoring our wiser instincts dooms us to repeat choices that consistently lead to pain.

Trust is earned, we say. However,  cheap promises wrapped in smiles gain top wages quickly. We want a friend, so when a nice person reaches out we grasp with both hands. We are lonely, and let our standards flex for any companion. “Oh, but he is a nice guy” we tell ourselves and any who will listen. “She’s a good friend, always there for me,” we say in defense.

All along, our gut tells us something is amiss. We ignore it as usual.  This time is different, we argue. Life has taught me well, I am more aware, and sharper on the lookout. Certainly, this decision to trust is based on insight.

Minutes to years later, we awake yet again.  An older, but none the wiser face meets us in the mirror. How? Why? It’s me, isn’t it.  I am the one who cannot be trusted.  I am the fool.

What if our emotional needs for connection could be met in meaningful, lasting relationships? Discover healthy romance and friendships by using these six tools.

  1. Trust your first reaction.  How simple it is to dismiss those initial inner warnings when we meet someone new. For some of us, it is difficult to draw boundaries and easy to second-guess our judgment.  When an emotion or another person tells you to trust, pause, recall your first instinct, and honor it.  
  2. Trust your experiences.   People have taken advantage of you. You have shared your story with gossips, spent your money on the lazy, or offered loyalty to a betrayer.  You have also met kind people,  and witnessed flourishing relationships. Thoughtfully gather your learned wisdom and write it down. Apply it to future decisions. 
  3. Trust the trustworthy first. You have people in your life who have never deceived or abused you, or you know of those who will not. These might be parents, old friends, siblings, or even therapists. Instead of falling recklessly into another potential mess, ask those trustworthy  persons for perspective.  Place your trust in the tried and faithful before handing it over to someone new. 
  4. Know what you want and need.  We inadvertently leave ourselves behind when a search for love or companionship calls us to focus on another person.  Think about what you must have to know joy. Consider your values and likes and dislikes.  Do you need laughs, openness, touch, or gentle words? Know what kind of person will fit with your personality. 
  5. Know when to say NO.  Recognize signs of an abuser. Read this article and be prepared. Written for the dating crowd, it is yet broadly applicable.  Watch out too for the control freak.  If a potential friend corrects you or others regularly, or if her comments sound parental or condescending, it is time to walk away. These behaviors only get worse.  Gossip does too.
  6. Take your time. Do not be the only pursuer. Wait. The trap of one-sided pursuit may feel familiar. It only leads to dark and lonely places.  As painful as it may be, allowing for the passage of time to prove a person’s character and trustworthiness is your best investment. Give only what you do not fear losing at first.  Offer more of your time, story, and energy gradually over months to a year, testing for the response you want.  

Finally, pray. If you are a follower of Christ, saved by his blood and sacrifice, then you can count on God’s guidance through the leading of the Holy Spirit.  If you are not yet a believer, go here for a user-friendly site designed to answer your questions.  

photo-24784637-praying-businessmanToday’s Helpful Word

Psalm 32:8,9 

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.”

**********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.