Tag Archives: freedom

Mental Health Series Pt. V: Finance.

(Note: I want to begin with a disclaimer that I am very much still figuring things out in this area. However, I’ll leave you with words from the Bible and some thoughts and ideas I’ve gleaned through sermons, readings, conversations…Please feel free to add your thoughts and what you’ve learned in the comments as well!)

Finances are a tremendous source of stress for people all over the world. In fact, I’m sure that if you were to survey people about their biggest sources of stress, finance would be in the top 3 for the majority of people. Finance equates in a big way with our ability to survive and achieve a certain quality of life. It even affects our relationships; one cause of marital discord and divorce is disagreement over finances. As with all aspects of our lives, the lenses with which we view finance is influenced by our faith.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. ” Matthew 6:25-33

Jesus tells us clearly that our Heavenly Father is looking out for us. He will provide for us, and we are valuable to Him! We are to place our priorities on the Kingdom of God first. He also warns us that worrying is not productive. Worrying doesn’t take away our troubles or find a solution. Instead of worrying about your situation, pray for solutions!

“Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:24

Did you know that Jesus was not talking about an actual sewing needle? He was talking about a narrow gate into Jerusalem, which was named “Eye of the Needle.” In order to get through this gate, all of the possessions that a camel was carrying needed to be unloaded. The camel could then get through, but would also need to hunch down and go through very carefully in order to fit. It seems then, that we must rid ourselves of attachment to material possessions. Wealth does not disqualify one from the Kingdom of God. It is what one does with the wealth that makes a difference. I believe that peace will come to our minds and hearts when we stop trying to keep up with others, and we realize that our greatest treasures are not to be found materially. When we learn to find joy in our relationships with God and other people, and find the beauty that surrounds us in our lives, we will be free from much stress.

eye of the needle
“Eye of the Needle Gate, Jerusalem”–Photo from Biblepicturegallery.com

However, we know that we cannot survive without food, shelter, and the other necessities of life. God provides, as we read in the passage from Matthew. Though God provides for us, we cannot simply sit idle and wait. We need to do our part. He has given us many gifts and talents to be used. In certain economies, jobs may not be available in the area you studied or have experience. Learning a new skill and finding a creative way to apply it can be a great way to increase your income. It can also be a good way to lessen your stress level and learn not to rely on one employer. (And sometimes, despite our efforts, God does provide in amazing ways without our expecting it!)

Many times, one’s workplace, boss, or coworkers can negatively affect their mental health. Finding a new job isn’t always feasible. In these cases, a counselor can be helpful in dealing with stress and areas of concern. Finding healthy ways to cope for as long as you are in that environment will be of benefit to you.

One last point: get rid of debt, and stay out. Debt can cause great stress. Depending on one’s level of debt, it can also take much money away from the other needs of life and cause you to be overworked. Dave Ramsey‘s books can be a good place to start in learning more about living debt-free and how to go about the process. Additionally, some loans will also allow you to pay based on income; look into this if you need to.

Takeaway points:

  • Pray for and actively work toward financial solutions. There are many aspects to this. Perhaps you could start with very small investments when you have a little extra money. You could also start carrying a business card and be prepared when networking connections come along. Learning new skills that can lead to more income is another aspect.
  • Curb worrying and turn to prayer instead. Train yourself to turn your worries to prayer.
  • Find healthy ways to deal with workplace stress. A counselor could help you with this. These articles also have some good ideas. Sometimes an environment is toxic, and you will need to find a healthier workplace situation for your mental health.
  • Free yourself from debt, and don’t let yourself get into debt again. When you think about it, debt is actually a form of slavery! Too many people are in debt beyond their means, causing great distress.
  • Learn to find your greatest treasure in God, relationships, and the simple beauties of life.
peter-lloyd-112286.jpg
Photo by Peter Lloyd on Unsplash

Next up: food and mental health! (It will be the last post in the series!)

Past posts from the series:

Mental Health Series Pt. 1: Relationships

Mental Health Series Pt. II: Counseling

Mental Health Series Pt. III: Faith

Mental Health Series Pt. IV: Higher Education

Advertisements

Single Sundays-The Gifts of Singleness.

The gifts of singleness? You might be tempted to shut out of this post now. Bear with me. I’m on the single journey too. I know there are very difficult days. There are aspects of singleness that are consistently difficult. However, today we will focus on the gifts. Despite the pain, there are always positive aspects to be found. Finding gratitude helps to keep a positive attitude and live in the blessings.

So, what are some of the gifts of the single life?

The single life can more easily be devoted to service/ministry. As a single person, it is

abigail-keenan-27292.jpg
unsplash.com

easier to live a life of service or devoted to ministry. I can think of many occasions where I was able to go help a friend due to my single state. A mother with little ones can’t drop everything to help a friend. A spouse must think about how their service work or ministry will impact their marriage and family life. St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 7:32-34: “I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband.” Truly, living single-heartedly for the Kingdom is much easier as a single person! The time and space to build an unshakable relationship with God is a huge blessing of the single life.

The single life provides a degree of freedom that married people don’t have. This can mean travel, more time to invest in writing or other projects, and of course, ministry or easier ability to do mission work. It can also mean greater availability to invest in relationships with members of your faith family, blood family, friends, and even people you may serve as a mentor to. I enjoy the flexibility of singleness. I don’t need to check in with someone else (or multiple people!) about my calendar but can plan as I wish! It is simple. I also find a bit of financial freedom despite the single life meaning only one income. At least in America, many people have debt. Getting married can mean double the student loans, car payment, and credit card debt to manage. (Note: I don’t believe debt is normally a good thing. Unfortunately, it is the reality for many Americans.)

A single life is one with a single person’s problems. One could also argue that marriage is easier because it gives you another person to sustain you in trouble. However, two families bring two different dynamics and two different sets of troubles-plus the troubles within your own home and marriage. Additionally, the stressors of being a parent can be overwhelming for anyone. Add special needs to the plate, helping a child through bullying, or trusting the Lord to provide for the family when the economy is bad–parenting is painful! Learning to love your spouse through the times when they are not at their best can also be difficult–such as if a spouse is diagnosed with a mental illness or facing their troubles from the past. The troubles of a single person pale in comparison to adding a spouse, their family troubles, and children’s struggles as well! (Though I know singles look forward to pouring out love in these circumstances–we have a bit of a break now!)

A longer single life provides more time to attain wisdom, life experience, and clarity about p1030501.jpgyour calling(s) and the direction of your life. Had some of us married younger, we may have missed out on certain aspects of ourselves. These aspects may very well be important to a marriage and perhaps even a shared ministry! For example, during the past decade the Lord has confirmed to me that Africa will continue to play a part in my life. Thus, if I had married someone lacking a love for Africa, I would have missed out on a huge joy and part of my life. I know now that the Lord has someone for me who will be willing to live in countries other than the USA. In His infinite wisdom, the Lord has given me more time to discover these aspects of my calling. I believe it is the same for you, if you have been waiting longer than expected!

Don’t lose heart. There are gifts in the season of singleness, just as there are deep struggles.

Live joyfully in the gifts of today, and you will be able to better receive the gifts of tomorrow.

“I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.”~1 Corinthians 7:7

Have you discovered any other gifts in singleness that were not mentioned here?

You Are Not Stuck

Feelings of hopeless situations and being stuck keep us there. It’s like someone in deep mud. They realize that they are stuck, and they stay in the mud as they continue to sink deeper and deeper. Because they are already stuck and sinking, they don’t believe there is a way out of the mud.

mud
unsplash.com

So, in certain situations where I was not moving forward, can you guess why there was no progress? It was my attitude keeping me stuck. Because I believed that the situation wouldn’t change, it didn’t. I kept sinking deeper into the belief that things were the way they were, and that was that.

I wasn’t thinking outside of the box. I failed to remember that faith moves mountains. When I thought certain situations would stay the way they were–they did. Sadly, I failed to remember that we serve a God bigger than any situation we will ever face. Our God can do anything, and believe me–there are some pretty creative ways that He changes situations and help us out!

I have been reflecting a lot on Ephesians 3:20: “Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” His mighty power is at work within us-wow! Are our thoughts and attitudes cooperating with that mighty power?

As God has blown me away with open doors, and situations have changed that seemed but a dream, I have begun to work harder on shedding those attitudes that keep me stuck. As my attitudes have changed, new possibilities and realities are coming into view. Living in faith is living in freedom!

I am ready to put on the attitude of faith and expectation, ready for the miracles that are sure to come. I am stepping out of the mud. How about you?

rainbow
courtesy of unsplash.com