We all face temptation. For years, mine has been to give up (quit, throw in the towel, more bluntly, to end it). Here’s a few things I have done, am doing, will continue to to do…to keep going!
One time at a medical facility I saw this sign, and took a picture of it because the word “manage” grabbed my attention. Don’t medical facilities (i.e., hospitals, urgent cares, doctor offices) wanna eliminate pain?! They have the tools, experts, medicines and remedies to do so. Yet that’s not what this sign promises. This medical question got me thinking about the foreboding spiritual question. From reading the bible and walking with God, I know He can eliminate pain. He has an eternal arsenal of cures, miracles and remedies we can’t comprehend, much less, perform. But why, like this medical sign, does He sometimes manage our pain? The Bible offered my fallible, finite, (sometimes) failing mind something it could process. For starters, Isaiah 55:8 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” I’ve learned there are some things God does or doesn’t do—-without
compromising his perfect love—that I can’t understand because I’m not God. And therein lies my choice (because his perfect love can’t force): I can choose or not choose to trust him anyway. Also, in 2 Corinthians 10, Paul said, “Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” For me, I don’t know affirmatively, but maybe God is managing my ‘mental’ pain so people without God will see God. They’ll see a way to keep going with pain and the Great Pain Manager. Today, if you’re hurting, I’m so sorry. My heart hurts for you. I pray you know Him, Jesus, the Great Pain Manager. And you know he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Sometimes I read verses that spin in my head like chicken on a rotisserie. Afterwhile, my mind “beeps” that it’s ready, and God serves up a plate of insight! I don’t wanna keep this plate to myself—let’s have it together. Isaiah 44:5 says, “Some will write the Lord’s name on their hands.” Some insight…
1. Hold my people in an open palm. They aren’t mine to begin with. They were God’s from before the world was made. An open palm with my people is less painful than a clutch, should God ever need to release them. His name on my palm reminds of this.
2. To write God’s name on my palm is to follow in God’s footsteps (or hand-steps, wink). God wrote my name in his book before I was born. Even better, God didn’t erase it after I did many bad things in my past. To occasionally pen God’s name on my palm is significant that I’m His wonderful property no matter what.
3. If I write God’s name on my palm, it’s approximately where He sacrificed his life when they drove nails through his. NO agony, suffrage or pain I go through will compare to what He went through for all of us. Which means every pain I go through, He understands. His name on my palm keeps that perspective afresh.
Just one verse. But I am fed. Hope you are too!
Before I get started, one disclaimer: I am not a certified counselor or professional in mental health. Just a living, breathing, non-quitting bipolar-with-suicide-ideation Christian. One thing I used to do and observe others doing is using our mental struggles as an excuse or justification to hurt others. I don’t like that I have done this. And when I bounced my behavior off God’s word, I was convicted. In the bible, Paul wrote, “I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.” (2 Cor. 12:7-8) From this text, I learned that Paul was tormented. Like Paul, some of us are mentally tormented. However, what I gleaned from the subtext, is that PAUL says HE has a thorn. He owns it. He embraces it. He gives it to God. What Paul does not say is that his “thorn” is mine, yours ours. It’s HIS thorn. And as the text continues, God used it to display His grace and power (2 Cor. 12:9). Sometimes, I’ve been tempted to say, “But I can’t help it. It’s just the way my mind is.” But that doesn’t line up with God’s word either. The bible says that we take our thoughts captive. My thoughts are not my master if Jesus is my Savior. The bible also says the greatest commandment is, “love your neighbors and your enemies.” And love does *not* mean I use my “thorn” to hurt others with it. I hope you know my heart. I know firsthand, the struggle (in the mind) is real. But I also hope this honesty encourages someone to join me in being the best we can be with it.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) This is one of my favorite verses for a new year. Actually, it’s a verse, a life-goal, a mental-health axiom, and a prayer, all in one enchilada! Lemme break it down…*For I KNOW* God already knows what 2020 has for you and I. The bible teaches he’s recorded our days, before our very first day. So if God KNOWS what 2020 holds, I release myself from being a predictor of it. I don’t need a horoscope, an appointment, a dream-weaver or a fortuneteller. I have everything I need in God KNOWING and I don’t have to pay him. He paid his life for me. He made me, He knows me, I trust Him. *They ARE Plans For GOOD* Does this mean that in 2020 bad things can happen? Yep. And if I were a betting man, I’d say bad things will. But with God and this promise, bad can happen but good can come from it. How? By sticking with God. When we stick with God, God can bring good from bad. How? He is God, He is love, that is what love does. God already wrote my story. Until my story ends, it doesn’t mean I won’t have bad chapters, it just means bad chapters will someday end in good results. God is good, and if we are with God, we are in His goodness. I hope this encourages you in your new year.
It’s no contest, my #1 favorite Christmas song is “O Holy Night.” This holiday season, my church has performed it twice—thank you, Amy Evans and Anthony Evans! This line gets me every time, “Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the Angels’ voices.” To fall on your knees to adore, catch your balance or pray is not a comfortable posture. It isn’t attractive and it’s kinda awkward. Perhaps because it shows humility, desperation or both. In 2010, I battled through multiple valleys of depression. Ugh. I hate to even revisit it. Among the things it adversely affected, was my morning quiet time. That daily discipline rendered futile because I didn’t know what to pray and didn’t feel like reading my Bible. My journal would go weeks without entries. But like praying on your knees can appear desperate, I was desperate. It’s during this season, I began to pray on my knees. It was weird at first, but I slowly found it to be the most comforting moment in my day. Sometimes, the sunbeams would radiate through the window just right that I could feel them on my back while praying on my knees. It felt like God was hugging me. Though depression can debilitate us horizontal in bed, praying on my knees got me half way to standing up into a new day. This Christmas, if it’s hard to sing “Fa La La La La, La La La La” take a line from “O Holy Night” and try it. Maybe it’s just the Christmas gift you needed.
Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year! But this time of year can also yield bouts of depression, or “blues.” I’ve had the Christmas blues before. I truly am thankful for this time of year. As a Christian, it’s monumental gratitude to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Relationally, it’s a season of gratitude for kids, family, and church. My Christmas Blues were just a funky cocktail of thankfulness and sadness. If you are having the blues, here are three things I’ve done. I am not a professional, just on a journey, sharing my story.
1️⃣ December Christian Therapy. If you go once a week, that equates to four sessions. It’s probably the best Christmas gift you can give yourself because you’re gifting yourself purge and peace. Don’t have the resources for that this time of year? One idea: when asked what you want for Christmas, say, “a 4-pack counseling session.” If it will bring joy to you, it will bring joy to them to give it.
2️⃣ Go to Church. One of the hardest things to see is someone who tells me they can’t go to church because they’re not in the mood (ie, the Christmas blues). This can not be because that is a lie being whispered to your soul! The FIRST place we should run to in our blues is God’s hospital, the church. There is a supernatural, healing, holistic experience awaiting you there, that ONLY God can offer. Yes you will have to miserably drag yourself there, but I promise, you will leave better than you came.
3️⃣ GIVE. Give old clothes to the homeless, give donations to your church, give time to the elderly, give free babysitting to a single mom, give your time to people in the hospital or at halfway houses in addiction recovery. It’s true that it is more blessed to give than to receive. I would also add, it’s more healing. It’s the ultimate paradox: giving. away. fills. up. And that’s what a blue-depleted soul needs: a fill-up. I hope this encourages someone today. May you know His peace. And Merry Christmas.
Once upon a time, when I was four, my Dad tucked me into my Raggedy Ann sheets and asked if I wanted to invite Jesus into my heart. That’s how he explained it. That’s how I understood it. So I said, “YES!” But when I invited Jesus into my heart, I actually invited him into all of my life. Lever 2000 used to have a commercial saying their soap was for all “2000 parts.” Yea, Jesus is like that. When we invite him into our hearts, we invite His perfect, holy, forgiving, forever presence into all of our 2000 parts. But Jesus is a gentleman. He stands at the door of your life and waits for your invitation to enter. At your invite, the bible teaches He comes into your life entirely, leaving no part out. Back to me: later in my college years, I wanted (and needed) to rededicate my life to Jesus. I had accumulated a lot of bad parts: eyes that saw things I shouldn’t have seen; mouth that regularly lied; mind that coveted and connived; feet that wandered into regrettable places. But the bible teaches perfect Jesus left Heaven to die on the cross for ALL my imperfect parts. Yours too. He was our substitute. The bible says the wages of sin is death. But Jesus took on death for us when we didn’t even know Him yet. It’s THAT ultimate, unconditional love that has sustained me since 1977. I hope you know that no part of you is bad enough for Jesus. He loves all 2000 parts of you. And every day, He stands at the door of your life waiting for your invitation.