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

Have you ever had trouble reconciling your faith with your mental health diagnosis, memories, 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  





11 Therefore, being conscious of fearing the Lord with respect and reverence, we seek to win people over [to persuade them]. But what sort of persons we are is plainly recognized and thoroughly understood by God, and I hope that it is plainly recognized and thoroughly understood also by your consciences (your inborn discernment).12 We are not commending ourselves to you again, but we are providing you with an occasion and incentive to be [rightfully] proud of us, so that you may have a reply for those who pride themselves on surface appearances [on the virtues they only appear to have], although their heart is devoid of them.13 For if we are beside ourselves [mad, as some say], it is for God and concerns Him; if we are in our right mind, it is for your benefit,14 For the love of Christ controls and urges and impels us, because we are of the opinion and conviction that [if] One died for all, then all died;15 And He died for all, so that all those who live might live no longer to and for themselves, but to and for Him Who died and was raised again for their sake. 16 Consequently, from now on we estimate and regard no one from a [purely] human point of view [in terms of natural standards of value]. [No] even though we once did estimate Christ from a human viewpoint and as a man, yet now [we have such knowledge of Him that] we know Him no longer [in terms of the flesh].17 Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!18 But all things are from God, Who through Jesus Christ reconciled us to Himself [received us into favor, brought us into harmony with Himself] and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation [that by word and deed we might aim to bring others into harmony with Him].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).20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors, God making His appeal as it were through us. We [as Christ’s personal representatives] beg you for His sake to lay hold of the divine favor [now offered you] and be reconciled to God.21 For our sake He made Christ [virtually] to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in and through Him we might become [endued with, viewed as being in, and examples of] the righteousness of God [what we ought to be, approved and acceptable and in right relationship with Him, by His goodness]. (Amplified Bible)

So what does all this mean? This means that despite what you are going through you are held in high esteem to God. "But I still have these symptoms!" Yes, you do maybe you and I are like Paul and these are thorns in our flesh. But remember, His grace is made perfect in our weakness. I regularly tell people, 'If God can get the glory out of me then He can get the glory out of anyone.'

Stop allowing 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.

One of our greatest downfalls is comparing ourselves to others. STOP THAT! (As I slap myself on the wrist.) You are causing yourself to sin and that becomes a weight to you emotionally and spiritually. For many it effects us physically too. (See Hebrews 12:1, 2) My testimony isn't yours or yours mine. Let God do in you what He wants to do the way He wants to do it. I'm not saying it's going to be easy, but, it will be worth everything when you receive your reward (here on earth and in heaven).

Be encouraged! 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Sunday, November 30, 2014

My Mental Illness & Christian Faith: Fear of Abandonment in Borderline Personality Diso...

My Mental Illness & Christian Faith: Fear of Abandonment in Borderline Personality Diso...: We all go through loneliness and fear in our lives. They are unavoidable feelings we experience that make us anxious and sad.   Fee...

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Honoring our Veterans

Of Faith & Mental Health and Your Life by Design wish to honor all those who in our armed forces and the families that sacrificed to much. As a veteran I am thankful to all those who I served with and those who blazed a trail of leadership, service, and courageous duty. 

Oooh Raaah!!!

Duty | Honor | Country








Thursday, November 6, 2014

It's Throwback Thursday!

Throwback Thursday, a good experience or downer?

 On many of the social media sites people post pictures of things from their past. For many people suffering with mental illness, their past is riveted with traumatic experiences and/or a loss of memory about certain times in their past. I recently saw a post on one of the Facebook groups I'm in about this very thing. What do you do when you don't remember the good things?

Here are some of the ideas that came forth:

  • Talk to someone. Doing this may help bring a more positive outlook at things. 
  • Grab some pictures. Looking at old photos may be very therapeutic for some people. Just know your limits and triggers. It's good if you have someone to share this time with. 
  • Therapy.  I found out that there is a type of experiential therapy that allows you to revisit a time in your past but not be harmed by it. This idea challenges me, but it may work for some people.