Tag Archives: difficulty

Mental Health Series Pt. I: Relationships.

For the sake of this series, we will define mental health as including: “emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.” (Definition taken from: https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/what-is-mental-health/index.html)

We are all a part of one another and can’t exist except in relation to others. Our past, present, and future relationships all have (or will have) a profound effect on us, whether we realize it or not. Thus, we will start the series with relationships!

So, how do we work toward positive mental health in regard to our relationships?

  • Build a strong support community. It is so important to surround yourself with people who are positive and who build
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    Photo by Pablo Varela on Unsplash

    you up, helping you to grow in healthy ways. People who criticize or undermine you just aren’t worth your time. (If you are searching for community, pray! It will and can come to you in interesting ways! A solid church home is important as well.) Think about it this way: Are the people you spend time with helping you grow closer to the person God created you to be, or does your time with them leaving you feeling like an inferior version of yourself? (“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11)

  • Learn signs of abusive relationships and get out! (Here is a number you can call if you are in the USA and need help getting out of an abusive relationship.) These relationships are immensely harmful to your mental health/emotional state, and their impact is very negative. Find freedom and go back to the step above.
  • Recognize where your current sources of difficulty may have come from past relationships. If you grew up with a father who told you that you were useless–or a father who just didn’t seem to care–it’s going to affect you today. This goes for any kind of abuse, neglect, rejection, etc. Bring these to the Lord, and if needed, to a counselor (no shame!). All of us have these areas, even if we are not aware of them. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring these specific areas to light and to heal them.
  • If you are taking care of others, don’t forget to take care of you! Most of us are taking care of someone, whether it be as a parent, a teacher, or helping your grandparent or older parent. Self-care will go a long way for not only your mental health, but also for the relationship. An empty vessel cannot fill other vessels. If you forget to take care of yourself and keep pouring out on the other person, you may even grow to resent them.
  • Set boundaries. This goes along with the above point. Even Jesus set boundaries. Remember when He went away on the boat Himself? The crowds even tried to follow Him (Matthew 14:13). Boundaries are important in managing stress and doing only what you can. Again, you need to be filled up. Boundaries are important in building healthy relationships. A relationship is unhealthy if one person walks all over another or takes advantage. People need to be clear and honest about their boundaries with one another.
  • Forgive. The main person you are hurting by not forgiving is yourself. Not only that, you are harming your relationship with God! (If you forgive others the wrongs they have done to you, your Father in heaven will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive the wrongs you have done. (Matthew 6:14-15)) Forgiveness is seriously important. When you hold onto hate or anger, it can lead to bitterness and anger. These do not lead to positive mental health, and even affect our physical health negatively.
  • Last, but definitely not least, keep your relationship with God first! If you are truly seeking Him, it will keep you grounded. It doesn’t mean life will be perfect and that you won’t struggle with any type of mental health difficulty, such as depression or anxiety. Having God in your life will give you the grace and tools to fight whatever battles you face. I’ll touch on this more in the faith and mental health post.

Next up: counseling and mental health!

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Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
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Christian=Spared From Troubles?

Did you ever think being a Christian would make your life…easier? I think a lot of Christians are in that boat. We think (even subconciously) that knowing Jesus and the truth about salvation will make this earthly life a breeze. It is true that knowing our Savior and the waves of grace makes life manageable, and even joyful. Yet an easy life is not a promise in the Bible…Far from it, in fact!

Recently I faced a situation that I never, ever anticipated would happen to me. I

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Photo by Kyle Broad on Unsplash

thought I was wiser. I thought that my knowledge and education would keep me from that situation. If I’m completely honest, there was even a part of me that thought Christ would spare me from that type of situation. Yet…Christ never promised our life on earth would be easy. Never. Recently, I discovered that Matthew 11:30 (“For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”) is not translated well. Instead of “easy,” the word from Greek is better translated as “suitable,” “well fitting,” or “useful.” The crosses we have are well-fitted to us, and useful for the particular growth we need as individuals. As much as we protest our crosses, they are fitted to our shoulders, not someone else’s. Christ gives us many forms of grace to endure whatever it is we face. 

Being a Christian doesn’t make us immune from the troubles of this world. Countless Christians have done the “right things” and still faced martyrdom, spousal abuse, bankruptcy, natural disasters, chronic illness, and any other struggle you can name. We are in the world, though we are not of it. The advantage we have as Christians is knowing Who helps us carry our burdens. We are never left to our own devices, but in every moment we are completely loved and upheld. We know that the suffering here is not the end, but there is a life of eternal joy that awaits us one day. Our suffering is not without meaning. Remember what came after the crucifixion? We can look forward to the same, whether on the horizon of our earthly lives or in Heaven.

“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.” Hebrews 10:36

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:18

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

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Photo by Will van Wingerden on Unsplash

 

Pondering Strength.

Strength isn’t built overnight. It comes through weathering stormy seasons and emerging after you didn’t think it was possible. It is like building muscle. You can’t build muscle unless you are consistently working out and even gradually moving up to more difficult workouts or higher weights. You build strength by weathering small and large storms. I think a person can be born with a tendency for strength, but they must undergo some difficulty for that strength to be tested and built up.

There are not-so-distant seasons of my life where I look back and wonder “how did I do that?” Was that really me who lived through those things and made those hard decisions that didn’t make sense to others? Where I am now, I wonder, too. How am I living through this crazy season where nothing has stayed the same?  The answer: grace. The grace of God was sufficient for that time. Grace is sufficient for today, too.

In whatever you are facing, His grace will be sufficient for you. I can’t promise you that it will be easy. But I can promise God is faithful. He tests us for our good. He loves us way too much for us to stay the same. Where we encounter difficulty, we can also cling to His grace and supernatural strength. 

There will be a day when you look back and wonder how you made it. And you will make it. Take your Heavenly Father’s hand and discover the depths of His love as you go through the depths of difficulty. Discover who you really are. Let the storm transform you into a pillar of strength.  

“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”~1 Peter 1:6-7

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Photo by Tommy Lisbin on Unsplash

 

A Desert Season.

I feel like my Lord is leading me into the desert. The old routines and ways of life that I’ve followed for years will change. The daily circles that surround me will be different. It’s amazing how much we like to be comfortable as humans, and how difficult

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it can be to truly embrace change. I’ve been aching for change and known that He’s leading me to new paths, but I didn’t realize how difficult it could be to change course. I didn’t realize how much struggle there would be interiorly. When I decided to surrender my life to Him, I didn’t know how unexpected the journey would be. Oh, yes, there are so many blessings! He provides over and beyond in every area of my life. Yet it is not at all what I ever expected. When push comes to shove, the newness will be uncomfortable. I will be challenged in every way. The only stability I can hold onto is my Jesus. And shouldn’t He be everything? How easily we humans become attached to people, places, and routines!

“The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.” — Pope Benedict XVI

Jesus is our Shepherd. Not just any shepherd, either: He’s the Good Shepherd. As the priest at Mass reminded me today, a shepherd knows what is best for His sheep. The shepherd leads the sheep where they need to go and ensures that they are nourished and safe. I can trust, too, that He is leading me somewhere good. The Good Shepherd knows what is best for this little lamb of His–and for you, too!

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Friend, don’t fear the desert season. He will be our Living Water and our nourishment in the desolation. He will lead us through the desert and sand. He will lead us exactly where we need to be. One day, we will find that we have made it out of the desert. We can trust that there will be abundant fruit after the desert. Follow His voice, and He will be with you all the way.

Live Courageously.

The United States of America is entering a new chapter. For actually a few years, I have had the sense that the United States was going to enter a time of difficulty. I believe that the time of difficulty has now begun. Recent events have thrown my workplace into upheaval. Really, the entire country and, to some extent, the world, are in a place of uncertainty. There is a culture of animosity right now in the United States. At certain points, all of these events have been a lot to take in emotionally. I’ve been surrounded by them from morning to evening. I felt so weak and drained. Then, I felt the Lord telling me to live courageously. He confirmed this as every song that came on the radio seemed to echo the theme of courage and bravery! No matter where you are, YOU are being called to live courageously.

What does it mean to live courageously?

Living courageously means keeping your center on JESUS even when the world has gone crazy.

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(photo courtesy of unsplash.com)

 

Living courageously means being PEACE in a world where anger and negativity is rampant.

Living courageously means walking HUMBLY with God even when you are surrounded by darkness and ego on every side.

Living courageously means casting out fear and replacing it with LOVE.

Living courageously means speaking up for JUSTICE for those who are voiceless.

Living courageously means RELIANCE on Jehovah-Jireh (God the Provider) when you don’t have a paycheck and wonder how you will pay the bills, or when you don’t know if you will soon have a paycheck.

Living courageously means being a sign of HOPE to others even when you feel weighed down by the burdens of your life and the world.

Living courageously means being a person of PRAISE as the storm rages all around you.

Living courageously means TRUSTING in God when all stability is pulled out from under you.

Living courageously means picking up your shield of FAITH and the sword of the Spirit, the WORD OF GOD and knowing they are your weapons.

Living courageously means staying in a place of PRAYER in a world that distracts and fills us with noise.

Living courageously means knowing that God’s POWER is made perfect in your WEAKNESS. (2 Cor. 12:9)

Are you ready to live courageously? It will not be easy, friends. Thankfully we have our perfect Heavenly Father to fight for us, His Son who endured every temptation that we do (without giving in), and the Holy Spirit who permeates every darkness and every fiber of our being. Let’s go!

It’s time to live courageously.

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