Tag Archives: religion

What Does “I Don’t Have a Religion, I Have a Personal Relationship with Jesus,” Mean? (and what does it have to do with mental health?) Part 2 of 2

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

To have a relationship with Jesus is to have a relationship with God. For that connection to be so personal and close, is indeed amazing. In part 1 of this post, I explained God’s side of this two-way agreement.  Today, let us discover how to react to his unending love.

Our positive and meaningful response to God

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”  (Mark 12:30).

As I see it and believe other scriptures support, heart is equated with emotions, soul with faithfulness, mind with knowledge and understanding, and strength with will. We can feel sincere love for him, put him above all else, study the Bible to know him, and choose to obey his words. 

“The second is this,” Jesus continued. “‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:31).

Well, that narrows it down, doesn’t it? Our side of the relationship with God is to love him and love others. How does that look in the day-to-day?

We do what God says: 1 John 5:3 “In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome…”

We believe and love: 1 John 3:2And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.”

We practice love: 1 John 3: 16-18 “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

We study the Bible as a whole: Psalm 1:1,2   “Blessed is the one… whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.”

We study the Bible to grow our faith: Romans 10:17  “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”

We pray: Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

We do not hold back in prayer: Ephesians 6:18  “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

Mental health needs to love and be loved. Love is an action, and 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.

Today’s Helpful Word  

1 John 4:13-16

  “This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit.  And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.  And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

 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. Hope and help are yours.

 

 

What Does “I Don’t Have a Religion, I Have a Personal Relationship with Jesus,” Mean? (and what does it have to do with mental health?) Part 1 of 2

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

25305931 helping hands

It probably sounds strange to think a person can have a personal relationship with deity. Yet that is where faith begins.

Positive and meaningful relationships are two-way. The best ones also meet the needs of each person. With God, there is no failure on his part to provide validation, acceptance, and endless love.

Our connection to God is through Jesus, as he is quoted in the Bible in the book of John (14:6).  “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” It is God’s only begotten Son’s sinless life, sacrificial death, and resurrection that makes relationship with him, and eternal life possible.  

Rather than arrogant, his is an invitation to the amazing life-giving presence of God. 

God’s positive and meaningful connection with us

God knows every second of our existence, every thought, every deed, what we have done and felt, and what others have done to us. He knows us and shares in our joy and sorrow. This is validation that who we are and what we experience matters.

God knows us: Psalm 139:1-5  “You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.”

God shares in human sorrow: Exodus 3:7  “The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.”

God loves us enough to take action. Yes, he accepts us as we are, but loves us too much to leave us there. God proved he values us when he moved beyond “so loved the world” to “gave his only begotten son.” As another example, we also read that compassion moved Jesus many times to heal the sick and feed crowds.

God’s love acts: John 3:16  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

God supports us in trouble: Psalm 94:18-19  “When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’ your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”

God’s love and acceptance of us as individuals is proven in that he knew how we would cause him pain, and made us anyway. He is always calling and revealing himself.

God welcomes us: Psalm 139:16 “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

God forgives when we ask:  Psalm 130:3-4   “If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.”

Mental health is more accessible when we have validation, acceptance, and active love from another person. My relationship with Jesus gives me all of that and more in spades.

If you want more information on where I stand, see my statement of faith page. The next blog will describe how we respond in this relationship. What does God get out of it?

Today’s Helpful Word  

John 14:23 

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.

 

***** 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.

 

 

Are We Serious, Folks? Insecure People Allow Opposing Beliefs to Determine Their Treatment of Others

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

Female Student Talking To High School CounselorC’mon! It is bad enough that unstable individuals carry out their hatred in acts of violence. It is terrible when people groups are systematically discriminated against due to lack of understanding or tolerance. All of this is painful to watch. 

What is difficult to comprehend is when supposedly normal, generally intelligent people decide they cannot be in the presence of those with opposing views. Of course we will not enjoy the company of everyone, and differing ideologies can cause friction. It makes sense one might not choose to spend the weekend with Uncle Harry who is obnoxiously pro-whatever one is against. 

It is a different situation when someone in one’s circle expresses a point of view, using respectful tones. Suddenly, Ed from accounting is no longer welcome to sit with the crowd in the lunchroom? Without explanation, members of a church group stop attending? I cannot figure out for the life of me how a point of view is so threatening!

Insecurity

Insecurity seems to swell in those relationships that dissolve because of disagreement over issues that cannot possibly be fixed over dinner or a game of golf. An insecure person cannot remain at the table when everyone does not share his or her opinion.

Here are three reasons we can and should stay in touch with people who do not think like we do. 

  1. No one knows everything perfectly. We are wrong and right often in the same moment. Do we deserve to be heard? If so, why not someone else?
  2. Truth can hold up to scrutiny. Is insecurity the result of a shaky premise? Is that why people shut down communication rather than pursue it?
  3. It is immature to walk away. Grown-ups stay in the room and talk. They work past vocal tones and disagreements and work out the relationship. Then, in a stroke of maturity, they agree to disagree and go on with their lives. 

Stay

As an imperfect and occasionally opinionated person, I fully appreciate when another adult (even an opinionated one) will stay for a whole conversation. Listening to other viewpoints does not mean we have to end up agreeing.  Asking and answering sincere questions is fun.

Picture two people who agree to discuss an issue. They start out reasonably. First person states their opinion, second person counters, first person counters with a new thought, second person walks out. Nothing accomplished, nothing learned. Only frustration remains because the second person never actually wanted anything short of an “you’re right, of course.”  

I know my opinions are not golden no matter how right they may be on occasion. No one else’s opinion is golden either. We share space on this planet. An opposing point of view is never enough reason to treat another person as dirt.  

WINCHILDrgbToday’s Helpful Word

James 3:17 

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere

***** 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.

 

 

 

 

Peace, Be Still

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

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It was combat. Faces were tense with the unnerving desperation of wavering hope.

Soldiers strapped to their guns, pinned down to a “safe” place laced with mines, had been holding their precarious position for five months. Over one hundred of their teammates, comrades, and friends had been carried off and buried. There was no time for grief. No room for sentiment. 

Who would be next, no one knew.

From the outside, it appeared that order and discipline in the form of rank and file remained intact. A lieutenant was in charge now, having assumed the role after the captain and commander were killed. 

However, tempers flared. Brave chatter had morphed into a single thought. Hold. 

Hold out, hang in there, stay the course, keep yourself together, don’t think too much, don’t lose focus, push away the emotions, calm your nerves… hold. Above all, remember those who die are heroes. Your sacrifice is secondary to the mission.

Hold! 

The above scene is merely my humble description of a sci-fi television portrayal of war.* In reality, men, women, and children fight battles against trauma every day. Soldiers who stood their ground in actual wars, victims of abuse and torture for other people’s sexual pleasure, witnesses to accidents and violent crimes – all these and more have survived literal and figurative foxholes. 

Well after one has escaped, and is living, breathing, and responding to outward freedom, unresolved trauma pins down the mind. Relief is incomplete. Night tremors, jumpiness, nightmares, unrelenting memory tapes, hypervigilant distrust, depression, rage, a sense of being different from everyone else, and loss of innocence are parts of an ongoing struggle for survival. Often, despite abject aloneness, there is still a single thought.

Hold. 

It is in my foxhole of PTSD and major depression that I find it impossible to be atheistic. 

I held my position for decades, trying to avoid feeling too much. This means of survival wore me out until I was looking at the walls of a psychiatric ward, more alone than thought possible. Stigma would tell you weakness and lack of discipline were the problem. Truth is, my mind held out long beyond what it was meant to take. I broke. 

Does that mean my faith is a crutch? No, I’ve used emotional crutches. Compulsive eating, running up debt, escapism, over-dependence on other people, self-punishment, religiosity – all were destructive and added to my pain

Jesus is my source, not a temporary support. Reliance on his unfailing love is foundational to my spiritual freedom. Refusal to surrender to him pinned me to philosophical imaginations of religion which save no one. When I finally gave up clinging to false promises and stopped trying to hide from him, his love shone through.

I know who allows me rest from striving. While learning to heal from trauma, his words are rich with calm. “Peace, be still.”

Because of him, I can release my hold, and just be held.

Today’s Helpful Word : Mark 4:39 ESV

“And [Jesus] awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.”

Today’s Helpful Word

Mark 4:39

And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!”  And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

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COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME (see tab below)

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

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

1st picture from rgbstock.com

2nd from kozzi.com

*Deep Space Nine, one of the Star Trek television series 

A Bible Teacher Goes Off On Me On LinkedIn; Charges “Psycho-babble”

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

Girl shouting with fingers in ears

Have you ever had a conversation descend into a shouting match? I appreciate strong opinions and enjoy calm (albeit intense) discussions as long as I am learning and the other person is open as well. The art of mature discussion is lost behind easily inflamed and “touched you last” word wars. Does this happen to you?

I have a friend Nick Katsouros, whose radio show recently came to a grinding halt over this very issue. He has strong views on which we do not always agree, yet I have been an invited guest on his show three times. He professes agnosticism yet has never tried to shut me up when I talk about the gospel. Nonetheless, people are attacking him because they read personal threat into his opinions. Nick’s aim is, and always has been, to help close this awful divide in our country through honest, civil communication. So few seem to want that.

A special moment happened this week when a dear friend willingly discussed the election although we have differing thoughts. What we do agree on is that God looks at the heart; how we vote is secondary to our clean conscience. What a relief to have this conversation and to agree to disagree without either of us coming away feeling attacked!

On Monday I ran across an article* on LinkedIn with “Do Not Care About Your Self-Esteem” in its title. Intrigued, and with an open yet cautious mind, I looked to understand this point of view. It was a good article which made some meaningful points. The author’s motive seems pure and kind. However, his interpretation of self-esteem seems too black and white. He uses the phrases, “Self-esteem is esteeming you more than others”, “Do not fall into the self-esteem trap”, and compared self-esteem to self-serving and self-focus.

I commented, which is rare for me, because I thought of all those wide-eyed scared women who have tried to leave abusive relationships. So often they feel worthless, helpless, and hopeless. Cognitively, in the moment it is difficult for some of them to hear new terminology and concepts. Truth has to be spoon-fed in some ways.

I also thought about all the women and teens who are presently trapped in abusive situations, especially abused Christian wives told to stick by their man no matter what. I think it is dangerous to use the term self-esteem in an “ooh, that’s baaaad” kind of way because so many people do not have a concept of worth. Coming down hard on terminology appears judgmental and condemning, in my opinion.

To me self-esteem is not exaggeration of one’s value, and is not conceit or self-focus. In fact, I suggest self-esteem is one foundation for humility because without it we are self-conscious and mindful of what others think. By understanding our spiritual place (sinful, in need of repentance and a Savior, yet deeply loved by God) we can grow a healthy and “sober” (reasonable) sense of self-esteem.

For example, I am a daughter of God. I stand with the only One who loves me unconditionally. He protects and rescues me because we love each other. I obey and surrender to him because he is God and I am not. Without this sense of relationship in God’s love, I was fearful, distrusting, and vulnerable to maltreatment. Now I acknowledge that God did not make a mistake in this creation. In fact, I am genuinely grateful for how he made me.

Yep. I tried to put this into calm, tactful words in my reply to this article. The author did not blast me – in fact he did not address me at all. A third-party, a Bible teacher, went off on me.

At first I thought it was going to be one of those learning experiences for both of us. He made solid points about the use of confusing language and how it disrupts the gospel message. I agree. He said psychological terms such as self-esteem, recovery, and addiction are confusing terms and should be abolished in Christian circles. I do not agree. He said part of repentance is thinking differently. I agree and appreciate his use of the original Greek to point that out. I believe changing how we think is a process that takes place over time whereas he seemed to imply thinking differently takes place in an instant do-or-die moment.

I expressed three concerns: (1) Using terms like “psycho-babble” promotes stigma (hence shame) that may keep some people from seeking help at all.  (2) Some vulnerable people will remain trapped in self-loathing because they think it’s the holy way (3) Abuse victims serve and serve. Mothers serve and serve. Women suffer breakdowns because they do not know it is ok to say no. Telling them self-esteem is a no-no may actually deter them from godly boundaries.

At this point he started using capital letters and lots of exclamation points. An undeniable tone of sarcasm underlined his statement, “Again, I suppose you have wonderfully proven our point.” Clearly my meanings were disregarded as he reacted only to the words I chose. I was lumped in with the apostate church and not-so-subtly accused of being a false teacher in the worst sense of the phrase. 

Our battle is not against words, but against falsehood. Against losing souls. Against not loving our neighbors because we won’t meet them where they are or speak their language (a social and spiritual issue). Vitriol and back-handed condemnation are why we look like blubbering fools when we try to present Christ as the Truth, Way, and Life.

When I fully realized he was shouting angrily at me, I addressed some of my meanings he had misinterpreted or twisted, and then backed out. I wrote, “I am not here to cause division in the Body.”**

His response? The ultimate character assassination: “I understand the cognitive dissonance of renouncing the unbiblical “recovery” teachings, due to the fact that it would affect one of your titles, ‘Recovery Advocate.'”  

So, I guess I am too proud and filled with selfish ambition to care about Christ’s way. That’s reminiscent of an ex-pastor who claimed I would not try to protect my son from suicide because I “profit” from depression!

Good thing I know God loves me!

photo-24719064-architects-at-work-site. Today’s Helpful Word

1 Peter 3:15
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…”    –
St. Paul

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COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME (see tab below)

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

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

*Rick Thomas, Christian Coach, Speaker, Author & Podcaster. Article:  Teen Tip 3 – Do not care about your self-esteem. Published on LinkedIn October 17, 2016

Compassionate Love and the Unwanted

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

Her name is Kara*. She is alive today because she missed her carotid artery by millimeters in her attempt to kill herself. Her long scar is apparent to anyone who glances her way, but you won’t catch Kara wearing a scarf.

Already, you may be thinking, I don’t want to hear this; it’s going to be a horror story. How do you believe you would feel or react if Kara came to you seeking a job? Would you hire her to babysit? Run your business? Sell your product?

Kara is a lovely young woman who was told all her life she is an ugly mistake. She’s very intelligent, composed, and funny. Her self-protective walls are so thick it will require a lot of patience to win her heart, but it will be worth it.

Would you invite her over to spend time with your family if she visited your church? Kara is one of millions who carry their wounds where people can see. Some are easier to spot when they speak. Others are observable because wear and tear show on their body. Behavior can be a give-away too. 

Most of us who have attended churches have experienced the cold pew. That’s when no one speaks to us, or at least only superficially. It can take months and even years to find someone willing to invite you over, chat on the phone, or meet you for coffee. It’s painful sometimes. 

According to Jesus’ choices, he preferred the company of the less well put-together. He valued honesty and contrite, or repentant hearts. Snobby religiosity bugged him. 

Consider opening your mind to the Kara’s of the world. Look for the person behind the scars.

********

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

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline     1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.

*Not her real name  

Picture by NAZRETH on rgb stock.comozzi.com