“For with God nothing shall be impossible.”~Luke 1:37
A decade ago, I would never have dreamed of the places I’ve been and the opportunities I’ve been blessed with in life. You see, I had a picture in my head of how God “normally” worked in people’s lives. Because of this picture, I placed limits on my life. I expected my life to follow a similar trajectory. I based my vision for the future based on what I saw in other people’s lives, and even what society expected. Very sadly, I was putting God in a box and limiting an all-powerful, limitless God!
As I began to be more open to God’s work in my heart, mind, and each aspect of my life, amazing things began to happen. My Heavenly Father placed people beside me that lived with purpose and did not follow societal expectations. Miracles happened. I was presented with opportunities that cannot be explained except through the eyes of faith. My mindset shifted. My eyes were opened, along with my mind. I began to see that the only limits on life are those that we place upon ourselves. Yes, you read right–the only limits on your life are those that you allow yourself to believe.
I have crazy dreams for my future. Or should I say, I don’t have the “American dream.” (Thank God!) Other people sometimes find it difficult to understand when I tell of my dreams for the future or to understand why. I know that God has placed these dreams within me, and has confirmed them over and over again. The reactions of others and the practicalities could easily sway me from striving from these dreams. But, would God be pleased? Would I achieve what God put me on this earth for? NO. Does God want me to live within my comfort zone and let those gifts He has placed within my heart to languish? NO. In fulfilling our purpose and coming to better know our Creator, we find joy.
Thank You Jesus, that these lives You have given us are limitless in YOU! Show us the limits we have set on ourselves for whatever reason, and show us the dreams that YOU have for us and the path You have set before us to attain them. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. Amen!
“Because you are His sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are His child, God has made you also an heir.”~Galatians 4:6-7
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. ” Romans 12:9-14
These few verses hold so much power and so many admonitions! These verses encourage us to cling to righteousness. We are reminded to constantly remember our mission of serving our Savior. We are reminded to hope and to stay joyful in the midst of suffering. We are reminded to be faithful in love of our neighbor and devotion to our God. We’re reminded to persevere in the midst of affliction. Generosity is a huge theme in this passage. After all, what is one of the greatest ways to love God? By loving the people He has created!
A difficult admonition we are given is to bless those who persecute us. It’s difficult to love those who have wronged us in any way, but we’re reminded to leave blessing in our wake. Love is our legacy.
America doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to choosing life. Such a powerful nation has abused its power and made evil choices which led to, and still leads to, the death of many.
This country was built on the backs of slaves who were torn from their countries and families, and still waited for over a century for basic civil rights after slavery was illegalized (though still continued in many forms). Natives of this country were horrifically forced from their lands and culture. These evil deeds still echo today in the consequences and injustices suffered by the descendants of the people in these groups. And 45years ago today, the killing of unborn children was legalized in America. As I wrote last year, this has not only brought death to millions of children, but has brought about other types of death as well.
I have no deep thoughts to leave you.I can only wish that you and I will pray, fast, and do whatever we tangibly can to work toward a nation that chooses life for her children and descendants. We can fight for a culture of life, that respects and values every life. We can fight against the evils of racism and classism. We can do our part to impart hope and healing to mothers and fathers, and provide ample love, support, and resources for them as they make the courageous decision to bring a child into this world.
“A nation that kills its own children is a nation without hope.”-St. John Paul II
“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!”-Deuteronomy 30:19
(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.
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.
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. Thesearticles 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.
Next up: food and mental health! (It will be the last post in the series!)
Faith can be a huge help when it comes to mental health struggles. In fact, it has been shown that faith can have a positive impact on mental health and on reducing anxious or depressive symptoms! Faith can also assist you in thinking positively, since faith gives us hope. We know that faith enriches our lives in so many ways and gives us hope for eternity as well.
Please be aware: there is a danger of “over-spiritualizing” mental health. There is a real biological component to many (if not most) struggles with mental health, including depression and anxiety. If someone tells you to simply pray it away, they are not looking at the whole picture. It’s true that faith in God can assist us in our struggles with mental health. In fact, forgetting the spiritual component of ourselves can be detrimental. But please realize there is more going on than a lack in prayer life and support that person as they seek whatever other help may be necessary for them.
Below are a few ways to find improved mental health with faith:
Soak yourself in the Word. Instead of letting negative thoughts take root, read God’s word. Do an internet search for the promises of God. There are many! Study His Word consistently. The Psalms are also a great place to take refuge in times of difficulty. There is a Psalm for all kinds of emotions and occasions.
Pray. Yes, it’s simple, but many people forget to do it! Instead of letting yourself fester in negative emotions, bring it God right away. Allow Him to carry your burden. Seek a close relationship with Him.
Recognizewhen your struggles are caused by sin, past or present. Confess your sin and learn to live in freedom from guilt and shame. Walk into the freedom and life that Jesus Christ offers. He doesn’t want us to live trapped in guilt about our past. He tells us to “go, and sin no more.” (John 8:11)
Praise in every circumstance. Learn to thank God for your blessings instead of focusing on what you don’t have. This practice will not only keep you rooted in thankfulness to the Lord, it will help you to stay mindful of the great things in your life and remind you that you are truly blessed! Praise is a mindset changer.
Get in the practice of doing the Examen. This allows you to stay in gratitude. Gratitude has positive effects on mental health (similar to praise, above). The Examen also keeps you rooted in listening to the voice of God in your life and seeking His will for you. (Also: check out this journal, which I used a number of years ago. Though it’s not specifically an Examen journal, it more or less follows the same pattern.)
Read books that focus on God and His goodness. There are so many books out there, from this generation and from when the Church was in its earliest beginnings. Reading these inspirational books can help you delve into a deeper walk with God. I’ll leave a short reading list at the end of this post. Please leave any other suggestions you have. (Of course, I’m going to leave my motherly caution to be careful of what you read, as there are many false teachers out there and books with half-truths!)
Surround yourself with positive, faith-filled people. There’s nothing like being surrounded by people who truly live what they believe. This can do wonders when you yourself are struggling with faith. These people can give you encouragement in the tough times.
Seek (Christian) therapy. Struggleswitheatingdisorders, depression, anxiety, etc. areaffectedby and can be exacerbated byourpast& present relationships and life situations. A therapist in the world can assist you. However, looking at life from a godly perspective takes into account the entire picture and remembers your relationship with your Creator and Savior. As always, I recommend Christian therapy if you are looking for truth-based and sound therapy. In my experience with Christian therapy, the therapist will ask questions about your relationship with God, about how God fits in with what you are feeling and experiencing, and also will feed you truths from His Word.
Faith has been crucial to many people struggling with their mental health. Faith gives us hope in our earthly future (Jeremiah 29:11) and in an eternal future! However, please don’t be afraid to seek help in the resources and people that God has given, when needed! Remember, He told us that “where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” (Proverbs 11:14).
(Short) Recommended Reading List
The Holy Bible
Josiah’s Fire by Tahni Cullen
To Heaven and Back by Mary Neal, MD
Left to Tell & Led by Faith by Imaculee Ilibagiza (note: Left to Tell takes place during the Rwandan genocide; not recommended for sensitive readers)
Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young (spot-on devotion for each day)
This week, I’m over at Modern Ruth Project for my monthly post. I’ve had some circumstances this year that have rocked my world. One solace I’ve found is in reading the Holy Bible. God’s Word has kept me grounded and given me so much strength. His Word is strength for all of us! Go check it out! I pray you’re encouraged to go deeper into the Lord’s Word & to discover the constant love He has for you!
Today the second reading was from Philippians. If we followed St. Paul’s advice, we would have a lot more peace in our lives! We would learn to dwell on God instead of cluttering our lives with worry. Our minds would be so much more inspired and pure as well. Soak in this powerful passage and let’s start off the week in a great way!
“Brothers and sisters:
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters,
whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious,
if there is any excellence
and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Keep on doing what you have learned and received
and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:6-9
Together journeying toward the Creator and becoming the creations we were meant to be.