Monthly Archives: September 2019

Hope in God

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This month is suicide prevention month.

Many people will let it pass without giving it a second thought. Not because they’re insensitive. Not because they don’t care. But because they’re lucky enough never to have been touched by suicide or the affects of it. They’re lucky enough never to have lost someone to it. They’re lucky enough never to have contemplated it. They’re lucky enough to have never tried it.

Some of us are not so lucky.

So this month touches us deep down in our souls as we remember.

We remember those we lost.

We remember almost losing ourselves.

We remember the excruciating pain, the darkness, the emptiness, the confusion, the fear.

We remember silently crying out for help.

We remember the loneliness.

We remember what it was like to grasp at nothing, to imagine the world without us, to cry for our family and friends, to truly believe this world would be better off without us.

We remember that we didn’t want to die, but we didn’t know how to live anymore.

We remember a suffering so horrific that it left us writhing on the ground, agonizing in pain, and praying for anything, ANYTHING to make it stop.

We didn’t want to die. We just needed the terrorizing hurt to stop.

Some, like me, are blessed to be able to remember because we didn’t succeed in our attempts or desires to leave this world. Something stopped us. Something saved us.

I know God saved me. He intervened each time I wanted to end it all. In those moments, I didn’t know it was Him, but looking back I can see it. He sent someone or something that helped me to hold on a little longer.

And He used the time to help me heal a little more, to help me grow a little stronger.

I can remember in my younger years crying out to God and asking what I had done to deserve such suffering. I begged Him to take my depression away. I promised to ‘be better’, I promised to ‘be good’.

I wanted a reason for my pain. I needed someone to blame. I assumed it was my fault.

It was in the times of quiet, when I was exhausted from the tears, and the unending battle within, yet my mind would not sleep, that I was able to turn to Him and grow closer to Him.

I was too weak to pray, to move, to question. The anger and struggle had worn me out. So I lay in stillness and He used that time.

He spoke to me.

And I heard Him.

It was not my fault. There was no one to blame.

My depression is the result of a fallen world. God never wanted this for me.

But He used my pain to draw me close to Him. He showed me Jesus, who understood my suffering because He suffered so greatly. Jesus knew my hurt. He knew my struggle. He felt my pain.

And He told me to hold on to Him. He took my hand, validated my feelings, and said “You are not alone”.

He picked me up and told me He would fight with me. He told me we could conquer it together because nothing is impossible with Him.

He saved me. Again.

And now I am here today. I can share my story. I can share how things got better, how I got healthy.

I did it with Jesus.

It doesn’t mean life is perfect. I still struggle. I still have to fight my depression. There are still days when it’s hard to get out of bed.

But I know I can do it. God has given me the strength to fight when the war wages within. He goes before me and endures the hardest attacks Himself. He shields me from the worst of it.

And He gives me hope. Hope for tomorrow. Hope for the future. Hope in Him.

He reminds me He has a purpose for me. He reminds me that I’m here because He wants me here. He reminds me I’m not done.

Amazingly, He shows me how He can use my suffering to create good. He’s allowed me to help others who struggle with mental illness. He’s given me the strength and wisdom to counsel them, walk with them, encourage them, pray with them, love them, and point them to Him.

He’s shown me how He can take something so messy and horrible, and turn it to beauty.

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Because nothing is impossible with Him.

If you are struggling today, I encourage you to turn to God. Take the hand of Jesus, let God go before you, and fight your battle together.

It can get better. It will get better. Surrender it to Him.

And don’t stay quiet. Don’t suffer alone. God gives us people to reach into the pit of despair that we’re drowning in. They want to help pull us out. Grab that hand. When you climb out of that pit, grasping that hand, you’ll see not one, but many people behind the hand that pulled you out. People who love you, who need you, who want to help you.

Don’t give up. God’s got you.

 

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Wanted. Worthy. Loved.

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Unwanted. Unloved. Unworthy. Not good enough.

There are days when these words float through my head on repeat.

We’ve all experienced this. Something happens in our lives and these negative images of ourselves circle our minds.

You’ve lost your job, so you feel as though you’re not good enough.

Your friends ditched you so you feel unwanted.

Your partner left you so you feel unloved.

Someone yelled at you so you feel small and unworthy.

These negative depictions of ourselves can spin like a broken record, repeated over and over and over.

I found myself allowing some of these words in my mind recently. I got my feelings hurt and instead of placing the blame on the one who hurt me, I placed it on myself.

Because it must be my fault when someone treats me poorly, right?

WRONG!

Oh so very wrong.

Unwanted. Unloved. Unworthy. Small. Not good enough. These words that we too often give power to are from the devil.

And the devil is WRONG!

When I realized I was allowing these negative thoughts to affect how I feel about myself, I worked to put an end to them.

How did I do that?

I turned to Jesus.

Jesus, am I loved?

“More than you can imagine” He said.

Jesus, am I wanted?

“So much,” He said.

Jesus, am I worthy?

“You’re so worthy that I died to save you,” He said.

Jesus, am I good enough?

“You were made in the image of God,” He said. “So, what do you think?”

It is so easy for us to doubt ourselves when someone does us wrong. Even for those of us who are confident, self-aware and self-accepting, it can puncture our hearts when we’re hurt or betrayed. And that puncture, no matter how small, can lead us to question our value. In those moments of uncertainty, when our usually strong resilience falters, the devil sneaks in quickly and silently. He takes hold of that uncertainty and pummels it with bullets.

When that happens to you, do what I did. Turn to Jesus. Let Him show you how much you are loved, how much you are wanted and how much you are worth.

You are made in the image of our Heavenly Father and that makes you so precious and so valuable.

I look back on the many years of misery I spent seeking acceptance in this world. I sought my worth in what others thought of me. I judged my value by how others judged me. And I never felt good enough. There were days I couldn’t even look in the mirror because I deeply hated the image that stared back at me.

Then I turned to Jesus and sought my value in Him. I prayed and asked God that I would see myself as He saw me.

And suddenly I was free.

I realized I didn’t need acceptance in this world because this is not where I belong. I belong with Jesus.

Does this mean that I can’t get my feelings hurt? Of course not.

Does this mean that I don’t doubt my own worth? Of course not.

Does this mean I am always confident and able to love myself? Of course not.

But in those moments when I falter and the devil tries to sneak in, I can stand up to him because I have the shield of Jesus.

When someone hurts me or betrays me, I am able to realize that it has nothing to do with my value. I can have compassion on that person because often those who cause hurt are orchestrating out of their own pain.

Remember always, no matter what happens in life, that you are a beautiful child of God, made in His own image.

Remember that you are loved and valued so much that He sent His son to die so you can be saved.

Find your worth in Jesus.

 

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Who Are You?

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Have you ever been asked this question? Have you ever asked this question of someone else?

Usually this inquiry would be made in a casual setting, or perhaps occasionally in a hostile environment as one person challenges another. In either of these situations, the first response would likely be a name. This may be followed by a statement of job profession or perhaps a reason for being in that place at that present time.

In a casual instance where you are meeting someone for the first time, other information may be offered as small talk ensues. A person may share where they live, what car they drive, what sports they play, how many children they have.

These are expected responses to the question,(or some version of), ‘who are you’?

Have you ever been asked ‘who are you?’ by someone who wasn’t interested in what you do for a living, or what car you drive, or where you live? They didn’t want to know your resume, but wanted to know you.

They didn’t want to know how you keep your lawn so green or how you organize your challenging job. They wanted to know what makes you smile, what makes you cry, and what is below the exterior that is presented to the outside world.

In today’s world of Instagram, Facebook, Tinder, Match and Tumblr, we seem to be lacking the ability to truly get to know a person. We throw words into a profile, put up pictures of our best selves, share the adventures of our “awesome” lives, and allow others – strangers, friends, family and acquaintances alike – to judge us on the things we share.

Internet dating is the worst aspect of this as single men and women fill out extensive profiles, display photos, and then spend hours browsing through the same things others have placed online. Quick judgements are made based on how someone looks in a picture or the clothing they are wearing, or a few specific words focused on in the never-ending questionnaire of most dating websites.

Because of social media we’ve become so quick to judge someone, and the life they appear to have, that it seems to be causing us to judge more quickly in daily encounters as well. We don’t take the time to get to know someone, really get to know someone, anymore. And we have very little grace when someone we’ve just met makes a mistake or does something we see as “wrong”.

The reality is that in social media, as well as in person, we often have no idea what is really going on in someone’s life. We have no idea what is going on in their heart. We have no idea who they really are. And we often don’t take the time to find out.

Then we’re shocked when we hear that a certain couple is divorcing, or that our friend’s husband has been diagnosed with cancer, or that our co-worker is in the hospital after a suicide attempt. And we can argue that we didn’t know or they didn’t tell, but did we ask?

Our eyes are so glued to our phones that we don’t notice our friend sitting next to us with a trembling lip as she tries not to cry. We’re updating our statuses while a child is being bullied on the playground in front of us. We are seeing who swiped ‘yes’ for us on Tinder while sitting on the bus and we don’t notice the elderly gentleman who just got on and is struggling to stand because there are no empty seats.

We need to move off social media and talk. Really talk. We need to communicate in person, show grace and offer love to one another. We all crave deep connections and intimate relationships, but we are depriving ourselves of exactly that when we hide behind social media, or when we fail to truly get to know a person outside of Facebook and Whatsapp.

Instead of judging without mercy, let’s listen with kindness.

Instead of ignoring without care, let’s help without selfishness.

Instead of dumping someone without grace, let’s love without boundaries.

Instead of being in today’s culture, let’s be like Jesus.

Jesus asked us to love our neighbours. Can we really love them without truly engaging in knowing them?

Jesus dined with outcasts and listened to sinners. Let’s invite everyone in, just as they are, without judgement or criticism.

None of us are perfect, but we are all made in the image of our perfect God.

We are flawed. We make mistakes. We lose our tempers. We lack mercy. We judge.

But we are also valued. We are worthy. We matter. We are loved. We are beautifully, intricately, and uniquely made. There is no one exactly like you. There is no one exactly like me.

That’s how amazing our Almighty Creator is.

Take the time to get to know who someone is. Take the time to get to know who you are. Take the time to share who you truly are.

Because God made you and He doesn’t make mistakes.

“Don’t pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honouring each other.” Romans 12:9-10 NLT