Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Fear Not

Fear is one of the greatest strongholds in a person's life. There are people who face simple fear to  the extreme fear or phobias. There are both mental and physical health links to fear of one sort or another. I will not go into all of the psychological or medical babble at this time, however, I will attest to the fact that fear untreated can and will imprison your mind, emotions and your life. It can and will cause physical ailments that compound the situtation.

In the article, Figuring Out Phobia, on the American Psychiatric Association's website, Lea Winerman states, "More than 10 million adults in the United States suffer from some sort of phobia.."(Winerman) That's staggering!

 What is fear?
 Fear - a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid. (Dictionary.com

Phobia -  A phobia is an overwhelming and unreasonable fear of an object or situation that poses little real danger but provokes anxiety and avoidance. (MayoClinic.org)
 Anxiety -
a
:  painful or apprehensive uneasiness of mind usually over an impending or anticipated ill


b :  fearful concern or interest
c :  a cause of anxiety
2:  an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physiological signs (as sweating, tension, and increased pulse), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one's capacity to cope with it
is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure. (American Psychiatric Association)


There are over 400 verses that speak about various forms of fear. Though some deal contextually about reverencing God, more of them deal with the negative emotional aspect. This includes 103 instances where God's people were encouraged to, "Fear not.."  For those of us who have experienced traumatic events this may be a struggle. But remember,
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12 NKJV)

And the enemy, our adversary, the devil, would like nothing more than to keep us imprisoned in fear; impeding our goals, relationships and life at every level. We know that fear is the opposite of faith. But it doesn't take great faith to obtain our freedom. All we need is faith the size of a mustard seed. Do you see how tiny that is?

Let's go back to those two words, "Fear not". How can we live without fear? Maybe it's best to ask, How can I keep from becoming overcome with fear?
The answer is found throughout scripture. Where ever we see "Fear not ..." there is a reason ... "for I am with you."  Each time God tells us not to fear or be afraid He lets us know that He is with us.

The emotion may come, but God is yet with us. Therefore, we not be overcome with fear. One of my favorite "fear not" scriptures is found in Isaiah 41:10

 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. (KJV)
 Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice. (Amplified)

So, take a deep breath, let it out and let God be God in your life. Allow His peace, that surpasses all understanding keep your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. And remember, the weapons (devices, plans, strategies) of the enemy are going to be formed (developed and brought to fruition) but they will not prosper (be effective).

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

What do you do...

...when things don't look like they're coming together? For many of us the first reaction is disgust,
fear, anxiety, etc. Some of us even fall into various states of depression. It's something that people deal with on a regular basis. We are forever gauging ourselves by others(their thoughts about us, their ideas, and even their accomplishments). One thing that I have to remind myself about is that I'm not them.

So, what do you do when things don't go just right?

  • Step back from the situation
  • Breathe deeply
  • Examine your expectations, that is, "What you are expecting as an outcome."
  • Examine your intent, that is, "Why are you doing whatever you are doing?"
  • Detach from the outcome
  • Call on God for strength, support and guidance
  • Remind yourself of everything you can be grateful about
Here are a few other things I personally find helpful
  • Find someone to talk to - it's ok to vent. And if you don't have someone you can confide in then ...
  • Journal - very therapeutic. When we write things down we find that there is a release that takes place in our hearts and minds.
Blogging for me is very helpful. Working through things (hands-on) helps me to see things in a different perspective. The hardest thing for me to do is to step back. I like manipulation. No, not in manipulating people but actually taking a hands-on approach to things. That's not always a good thing for me. So, I'm learning to step back, reevaluate, and then get back to work at the appropriate time.

It's when I don't get right back to work that I find myself falling into discouragement and even procrastination.  So listen, though you may be feeling some type of way about a situation, take control of your emotions and don't let them rule you. Remember that this is only temporary. And don't forget that God already knew that you were going to face this obstacle, so go to Him and get your answer. He will answer you - even if you have to wait for it.

Blessings~

Saturday, February 21, 2015

For the Distressed Heart






February is Heart Disease Aweness Month. I’ve never learned so much about the heart than I have this past month. Not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually too. But I’m not going to get into all of that today. Today I just want to encourage those who feel lonely. Many of us who face mental health challenges have moments when we believe no one understands, cares, or has a clue of what we deal with. And to a point that’s true. But today I read something that really amazed, encouraged, and was my anti-depressant. 

 
There are 28 verses in all, but I want to bring our focus to these first 11 verses. The Bible doesn’t say if this is a Psalm of David or Asaph. In all intended purposes it really doesn’t matter who wrote it. What matters is the message. 
  
Hear my prayer, O Lord, and let my cry come to You. Hide not Your face from me in the day when I am in distress! Incline Your ear to me; in the day when I call, answer me speedily.
How many times do you just want someone to listen without judgment, partiality, opinion, and the like? How often do we not go to God because we feel that He doesn’t care, has thrown us to the wolves, etc.? It’s ok to desire and petition for God’s undivided attention. You need to know that He will, “Hear my prayer” and let your “cry” come to HIM. It’s also important that you know that He will not hide His face from you as if to say, “Oh boy, here comes …..” He doesn’t do that. Though sometimes we may feel like that.
It’s important for you to know that God is not like man that He should lie (Numbers 23:19). If He says you can come to Him about anything and everything He means just that. So stop being fearful. And just in case you are angry with HIM for "allowing me to go through this" then fine, be angry but don't sin. Remember, God was with you and brought you through your traumatic event(s) and wants you to be healed. Let’s move on.
At the end of verse 2 the author asks God to answer “speedily”. Like … right now… today… are my answer. The author pulls no punches with coming to God with their whole heart, earnestly, honestly and still respectfully.

But why did the author come in the first place? Because he was distressed, depressed, lonely, and even in physical pain “my flesh cleave to my bones”. Issues and triggers surround them and they felt overwhelmed. And because he realized that he could go to God about it ... about anything.Can you relate to the authors feelings? Verses 3 – 6 talks about how his life had become a mere existence and not living. Have you felt that way? Do you feel like that now?
You can’t sleep or your sleep pattern is totally thrown off and people are just a pain; taunting, judgmental, putting me down, etc. ‘They talk about me as if I don’t even exist.’ That’s kind of what the author is saying. Right? At least this is what it said to me. ‘I’m crying and it’s all Your fault!’ Did you see that in verse 10? Verse 11 is just like saying, “I’m a hot mess.”
 
One thing that I love about God and His word, it’s real talk. You see, just this morning I’m lying in bed talking to the LORD. I really didn’t know what to say to HIM. All I knew is that I needed my Daddy, my Abba Father. (See Mark 14:36; Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6) I highlighted Romans 8:15 because that’s the verse that helps me remember who I am to God – His daughter. And guess what? You are His son/daughter too.
So as I’m lying in bed I pull the covers over my head and just let out a, “ugh!” and grab my pillow. Then He speaks. Yes, my friend, He speaks. To me He only spoke this scripture, “Psalm 102” and there I went. Needless to say I cried like a baby. He heard what I could not say. He knows the innermost part of my heart and understands. Yes, that is the message for me … and you… today.
The Books of Psalm has many divisions (not chapters) that talk about everything from military victory to God’s unending love to being in deep depression, feeling anxious fearful and alone. I want to encourage you to seek God. You will not just hear His voice but you will begin to understand His heart. The ultimate thing is that it helps you develop that Father/child relationship. That’s the most important thing – relationship; one that is healthy, sustainable, and worthy of our trust and devotion.

Today I sit typing these words because I am a person diagnosed with PTSD, Depression, Anxiety, and a few other things that I don’t even remember. But I do know this: God loves me and has a great plan for my life. He wants me to live and not die and proclaim His name, His work, and who He is to everyone who will listen to or read what I have to say. See, that’s my purpose. You too will not die but live and proclaim the works of the LORD. It doesn’t matter how. He’s already given you the vehicle to do it (dance, art, writing, speaking, woodworking, etc.). May be you’re not creative. That’s ok too. But there is something deep inside you waiting to come out.
So when you feel overwhelmed, alone, and that everyone has forgotten you, remember this prayer. Oh let me share this too. This is what led me to write this (long) blog.
“This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the LORD.” Psalm 102:18
This is why I write. So that people today and for generations to come will read and will praise the LORD for being a God who cares and understands.
One last thing. Don’t compare yourself to another person. That’s wasted energy. Look into the Word of God to find out who you really are. Everyone has a different testimony (story). We are all living epistles (letters). (See 2 Corinthians 3:2, 3) People need to see, read, hear our (your) story or letter. For those who are healed… hallelujah! For those who are still fighting the battle … hallelujah!  No matter where you are in life God’s grace is sufficient for you. (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)

My friend (that’s you) I wish above all things that you prosper and be in (good) health; even as your soul prospers. (2 John 3:2)



Monday, February 9, 2015

PTSD: What does it stand for?

Now we all know that PTSD is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. According to the National Center for PTSD, it is described as...

"A traumatic event is something terrible and scary that you see, hear about, or that happens to you, like:
  • Combat exposure
  • Child sexual or physical abuse
  • Terrorist attack
  • Sexual or physical assault
  • Serious accidents, like a car wreck
  • Natural disasters, like a fire, tornado, hurricane, flood, or earthquake
During a traumatic event, you think that your life or others' lives are in danger. You may feel afraid or feel that you have no control over what is happening around you. Most people have some stress-related reactions after a traumatic event; but, not everyone gets PTSD. If your reactions don't go away over time and they disrupt your life, you may have PTSD." (ptsd.va.gov)

I joined a PTSD online support group. There are several closed groups on Facebook dealing with PTSD, depression, and mental health in general. There are women only, Christian, and other specialty groups as well. Just remember, when choosing a group choose prayerfully. At any rate, I noticed a game that one of the participants started. PTSD Acronym.

The gist of the game is to create your own personal PTSD meaning. So I did one today and I'm creating a graphic for it as well. So PTSD to me means my Past is Thoroughly and Soundly Destroyed. My past - those things that happened to me, my sin, my confusion, etc  is thoroughly completely, leaving nothing, encompasses everything soundly - I'm single minded, not fearful and developing the mind of Christ destroyed (my favorite part) crucified with Christ, death/hell/grave destroyed on the cross - enough said. 

So what is PTSD for you? Please share and please be positive - speak life!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Reconciliation - No More Excuses (Repost)

Have you ever had trouble reconciling your faith with your mental health diagnosis, symptoms, experiences, etc.? Do you ever wrestle with understanding why something happened? I've been there.

What's even more challenging is being a minister of the gospel and realizing the stigma of mental health and deciding to break my silence. How can I be a good Christian and feel like this?  The frustration, fear and even confusion that comes with the emotions of feeling less than can be very overwhelming.

Recently I decided to return to counseling and seek help. I found a Christian psycho-therapist who wasn't judgmental, met me at my point of need and challenges me. This brings me to the ministry of reconciliation found in 2 Corinthian 5:11-21. The key verse is in verse 19.


19 It was God [personally present] in Christ, reconciling and restoring the world to favor with Himself, not counting up and holding against [men] their trespasses [but cancelling them], and committing to us the message of reconciliation (of the restoration to favor).

So what does all this mean? This means that despite what you are going through you are held in high esteem to God. He says that you are the apple of His eye (see Zechariah 2:8). He said that He will never leave you nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6) But here is the coolest part; something I just recently saw in scripture.

God sticks by you and is there to help you heal. Check out Zechariah 3:1-5. Zechariah is having a vision concerning Joshua the high priest (not to be confused with Joshua, the son of Nun, who took Israel into the Promised Land. Joshua was called to be a servant of God, a minister, a priest. But people didn't like him. They considered him to be unfit for the position. Do you feel unfit for something God is calling you to do or be?

  •  Joshua stood before "the angel of the Lord" and Satan was right there. Even though Joshua was before the preincarnate Christ the enemy stood to "resist him" or keep him from obtaining what God had for him. 
    • Stay before the Lord. The victory is already yours.
  • Joshua was clothed with filthy garments - Sin is filthy to God. Remember, God is looking for a church without spot or wrinkle (Ephesians 2:27). Because of the stigma that he may have face Joshua may have felt unworthy. 
  • Joshua's clothes was changed. "The angel of the LORD" commanded that his old filthy clothes be taken away from him and that new clothes and a "fresh mitre" be placed on his head. 
    • Dual significance 
      • The new clothes is personal and speaks to Joshua's heart. To be reconciled to God means that you have to change your mind about what God says about you - who you are, what you are, and where you are. (We'll cover this in another post.)
      • The fresh mitre is a head covering that signified his position as high priest. At this time Joshua was being "reconciled" or reinstated to his position.
Have you walked away from something or let something go because you felt unworthy? Let God restore you. Don't allow your health (mental or physical) define who you are as a believer or person in general. Grab a hold of the peace that God promises us through Jesus Christ (see John 14:27). One of my life verses is in Philippians 4:6, 7. I think of it every time my mind gets bombarded with mess. God isn't the author of confusion. In fact, He's the author and finisher of our faith. So if, or since, He created us and graces us to live this life, we have to trust HIM through this process.

Jesus asked the man that was at the pool, "Do you want to be healed?" (see John 5:6) The man answered with an excuse, not with a definitive yes or no. Jesus overlooked his excuse and told him to "Rise," Get up "take up your bed and walk" and move on. There are no excuses for not being obedient to God's word. Don't worry about what people say. See yourself through God's eyes.

Be encouraged! 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015