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Just Because You’re Lonely Doesn’t Mean You’re Not Close to Christ

I’m a part of a few Christian mental health Facebook groups, and one thing I hear repeatedly is the notion that if we feel lonely it’s because we’re not close enough to Christ. Don’t get me wrong: I believe closeness to Christ can help loneliness. Feeling His presence is amazing. But He also hard-wired us for human interaction, and if we don’t get it, then the natural (and God-given) response is to feel lonely.

In our individualistic church culture, people talk as though your personal relationship with Christ is the only thing that matters. But a healthy walk with Christ necessitates that we seek out Christian community. God didn’t design us to walk with Him alone—He designed that a people would walk with Him. To deny others in favor of a one-on-one relationship with Christ is to object to His desire and call for our lives. Misguided Christians guilt lonely brothers and sisters into thinking they aren’t close enough to Christ when in reality to seek Christ at the expense of community is to fall farther away from Christ. Their solution is the problem. To walk with Christ is to walk with others. We should seek community while not neglecting our individual closeness with Christ.

If we feel lonely, we should do our best to find community. We should think of ways to invite others over or to create hang outs that others would want to attend. When we get frustrated, we keep trying. And during this process, we continue our personal prayer and Bible reading time. That, I think, is a better solution than simply telling people to get closer to Jesus.

 

W.R. Harris is the founder and owner of Persevering Hope. He is an author who has written six books to date. You can check out his author website here: http://www.wrhwriting.com/

 

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Help Me to Want Healing

Depression can be addicting. We grow accustomed to our negative thinking patterns. Something in us enjoys chastising ourselves for every little mistake. We don’t know any other way to deal with pain besides feeding it. We don’t want to deal with the world, so we close ourselves off. It becomes instinct.

Some part of us wants healing. We know life is miserable and that it can be better. But depression can become what we know, and we can’t imagine life without it. So we refuse help because we don’t really want it.

This is a hard position to be in. I’ve been in it before, and it took me coming to a place where I wanted help more than I didn’t want help before I finally spoke up. If you find yourself not wanting help, pray that you would want help during those moments when you feel desperate. Pray something like, “God, so much of me doesn’t want help, but I want to want it. Please help me to want help.”

Keep praying that prayer. Never stop. A few years from now, you may be pleasantly surprised at the result.

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Metamorphosis

When I was seventeen years old, I was in such a dark place I would often “schedule” days where I would attempt suicide. Thankfully, God didn’t allow me to follow through on my schedule and I kept moving the date back until that thinking slowly cleared from my mind. Not only were most of my classes getting more difficult and stressful, I also had a verbally abusive instructor who haunted my thoughts. He was so mean to me that my dad demanded to the school administrators that I’d be allowed to drop that class immediately! However, I didn’t know my dad was on my side at the time. I just felt alone in a sea of people that neither wanted me nor knew me well enough to care about me. This was where my depression was almost at its worst.

But God visited me in these moments, and about a year later, I received salvation through Jesus Christ. Slowly but surely He began to infuse hope into my life. However, the life I have now is not the “success” I had imagined when I was growing up.

Although I don’t have the “success” I imagined when I was a child, when I wanted to be an astronaut and then some type of professional/scientist/writer making a six-figure income, I couldn’t be much more joyful!

That is because God opened my eyes to see something more important than worldly success or even human appreciation—His love!

His love allowed me to have my current job, and then become full-time there.

His love allowed me to find a church where the pastors rely on the Word of God for their living and daily wisdom, and who strive to be godly and righteous every day, and urge us to do the same.

I have learned so much from the people He has brought into my life at both my job and my church. There are so many things that I can do now that I never thought in a million years I would be doing.

For instance, at one of my first jobs, about sixteen years ago, I tried to learn to cashier but failed so badly I never thought I’d do anything like that again.

However, about two years ago, I asked my manager at the time if I could learn to cashier so I could be a certified back-up. She agreed and allowed me to practice at least 15-20 minutes each week to train. Many people discouraged me from even training, including a person who claimed to be a good friend of mine. One person even said, “The CSMs (managers of the cashiers/front end) would never call you up to ring!” However, my manager and I didn’t take this to heart, and I continued practicing. About a month before she left for a new job, I was instated as a back-up cashier! It’s been more than a year since then. The CSMs actually call me up quite often, and I am one of the few associates who is trained as a back-up cashier!

I had many disagreements and issues with a couple people, and I asked God to improve these relationships. In my faithlessness, I never thought anything would happen. However, my current pastor helped me restore one of my relationships, and now this person and I have such a respect for one another that I can safely say that I love them! I also learned from my current pastor to think more biblically about life situations. If my pastor had not imparted God’s wisdom into my life, I don’t know where I would be now.

There are countless people that God has brought into my life since the time I was seventeen that helped me see His love and hope in my life. To God, and to those people, I thank you from the bottom of my heart!

In about one to two months of this writing, I will have to say “Goodbye” to all these people, and move into a new chapter of my life. However, I know God will still show me His love and care, and that He will reveal more of His light to me. I am so thankful that God didn’t let me end my life on any of those days 21 years ago, because if He had, I would have never seen the Light that was ready to shine brightly in my life all along.

 

About Patricia Go:

My name is Patricia A. Go, and my love of writing started when I was just eight years old, when I remember writing little stories on cut-up pieces of construction paper stapled together. I have been actively involved with various church ministries for about fifteen years. I have volunteered at a church’s food pantry and health clinic. I started my blog on December 23, 2015. God’s Whisperings is a blog that started out as wanting to share with others lessons that I learned about what God had been teaching me through various situations in my life, and quickly became, for me, a catalyst to bring people God’s love, hope, and joy through what I have learned in life. I work full-time at a job that has nothing to do with writing, but I love it and consider it a ministry. Also, God uses the situations I find myself in at my day job to teach me lessons, many of which I share in my blog, at http://placeinthisworld224.wordpress.com

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Lift Your Spirit

My last drill. My last weekend wearing the uniform of the United States Army. It’s bittersweet, but this morning I’m not feeling very motivated. I don’t want to go, I have a headache. Is there any excuse I can use to get out this? No. This is my commitment to fulfill. I can see the light. I can finish this strong. One last time I get in my car and drive down the canyon, taking the road that leads me to my unit armory. It’s early. I’m tired. But I’m going.

As I’m driving I have a lot of time to think, and I do a lot of thinking. I don’t want to, but I do want to. I need to fulfill my commitment because the next chapter is coming soon. Despite everything, it is bittersweet closing out this chapter. Twelve years is a long time, especially when I basically grew up because of the Army. My entire adult life has centered around my military career and the places it’s taken me, the things I’ve learned. It’s prepared me for this time now, for where I am going next. My next chapter of life.

There’s peace in my decision to get out. There is no peace in my unit this weekend. That’s where the internal struggle peaks as I drive down the canyon lit up by a full moon in the early morning hours. As I come out of the canyon into town the sun is starting to peak over the horizon.

There’s one stop I need to make before completing my drive. Coffee. I pull in the drive-thru, order, and pull out my money to pay. When I do I pull out an extra $5. I didn’t plan to, but I felt led to do a random act of kindness. There wasn’t anyone directly behind me, but why not pay it forward anyway. I pull up to the window, pay, and get my coffee. I then hand the cashier the $5 and tell her to save it toward the bill of the next person who pulls up. As I drove away my spirit immediately shifted. I felt lighter, and I smiled as I continued on toward my destination. I have no idea what happened with the next customer or how long the pay it forward chain may have went on for. But I know at least one person was blessed, and that’s all that matters. It lifted my spirits as I headed into a tough weekend, but knowing at least one person was blessed through something so simple as paying for a cup of coffee helped to ease my anxieties. I arrived at my unit in a better state of mind, and someone else was also starting their day in a better mood as well. It really doesn’t take much to keep encouraged, as long as you keep your eyes open in looking for the opportunities. Sometimes we have to reach outside of ourselves and encourage another so that we can be encouraged as well.

 

“Then, by the will of God, I will be able to come to you with a joyful heart, and we will be an encouragement to each other.” – Romans 15:32

 

Tracy is a soldier and veteran of the United States Army. Newly married and living in the beautiful mountains of Colorado, she chronicles her journey through her “Chats With God”. Currently pursuing a Graduate Certificate in Military Resilience and a Master of Divinity, Tracy has a passion for helping others overcome anxiety, depression, and mental health problems. You can learn and read more on her website at http://tracydalton.com/

This article was originally published on Tracy’s blog: https://tracydalton.com/2020/01/15/lift-your-spirit/#more-3225

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Replacing Pessimism with Praise

My anxiety disorders and, especially, my bipolar tend to turn my attitude towards one of skepticism and pessimism. I find it truly difficult to be thankful and positive. I’m much better at complaining and seeing the worst in absolutely everything.

 

But something hit me today: if I spend more time giving praise and thanks, there’s not much room for that horrible skepticism and pessimism that infiltrates every aspect of my life.

 

How did it come to me? I honestly believe God put it on my heart through the Holy Spirit.

 

I had put in laundry to wash and emptied the dryer. Of course, the constant pull of, “I don’t have to fold this now,” was there, as always. But I forced myself, because it needed to be done.

So I sat on the couch and began to fold. About three pieces in, I realized something was missing. My normal, absolute favorite, radio station wasn’t playing. I usually play country music throughout the apartment as I do housework. It simply makes me happy. But as I folded two more pieces of laundry, I felt a pull to pray. I battled for a moment: do I pray, or do I play my feel-good music?! It only took another piece of laundry to realize I was feeling a sort of pressure to pray because I needed to.

 

So, I did.

 

I started with requests to God. But as I was requesting, throwing out my family’s and my desires and plans and needs, I kept thinking of the “ACTS” method of prayer—Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. Although all important, as I paused, thinking of the fact that I needed to do more than just pour out my personal desires, I realized that I truly needed to spend some time in thanksgiving.

 

Thus, I began with what I was doing: laundry. I thanked God that we have a washer and dryer in our apartment, that we don’t have to use a laundromat or a community washer, both of which cost money. I thanked Him that our complex pays for our water. I praised Him for giving us clothes and the dressers and closets to put them in.

 

And I kept finding things for which to thank God as I folded laundry for a good half hour. I’m pretty sure I went through almost every seemingly insignificant thing in our home, but I was focusing on giving thanks instead of focusing on all that’s wrong, all that isn’t going correctly.

 

And, to be honest? It totally shifted my perspective…at least for this afternoon and evening. I’m sure tomorrow will be another fight, but I’m determined, in this new year and new decade, to give thanks every time I’m tempted to be skeptical or pessimistic. Thankfulness absolutely must win out!

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On Vulnerability, Depression, and God’s Sovereignty

No one knew.

Growing up, I seemed this bubbly, hyperactive little girl who got decent grades at school. I seemed to have it all–two parents who loved me, a cute little brother, and stability.

What people didn’t know was that inside I was being tormented by thoughts about never being “good enough” to the outside world. Unfortunately, many of them confirmed my fears. Most of my peers didn’t want to know me on a level deeper than “acquaintance”. I was bullied by several of them for any quirks they saw in me. There also were some racial and cultural prejudices that I had to endure.

I remember at the tender age of ten when the word “suicide” first entered the recesses of my mind. The demons in my mind deceived me into thinking this was a way out of all the pain I held inside for so long, laughing that they were going to somehow get me to ruin myself.

However, God in His sovereignty didn’t let that happen. I am still here, more than twenty-five years later.

Though God saved my life through Jesus’ shed blood on Calvary seven years after I first battled depression and that ugly word crossed my mind, it wasn’t until about seven years ago today that God revealed to me that I had indeed another weapon in my arsenal to defeat the demons in my head that had harassed me for so long.

My voice.

However, I was terrified to be vulnerable (i.e. open up) to others about my struggles. I feared rejection, ridicule and condemnation, which I believed would kill me emotionally and spiritually, if not physically as well. In fact, in high school, I was voted “Most Paranoid” because I trusted so few people.

But through the Spirit’s promptings, I obeyed Him, and began to share my story and my struggles to others–first just to close friends, then more publicly in my blog.

The rejection and ridicule I feared receiving was few and far between. Most people instead either related to me about their own similar struggles with depression or said that they would use my story to help their loved ones who were struggling similarly.

The more I opened up about my struggles, the more I saw people around me, both online and offline, and the more I realized that my story needed to be told. God, in His sovereignty, had a reason for allowing me to go through these trials. He needed to use my story to give people His hope and love that He gave me so many years ago, when He first came into my life and saved me. God saved me from more than hell–He saved me from giving up on myself and those around me that needed to hear my story, as much as I needed to hear theirs.

 

 

About Patricia Go:

My name is Patricia A. Go, and my love of writing started when I was just eight years old, when I remember writing little stories on cut-up pieces of construction paper stapled together. I have been actively involved with various church ministries for about fifteen years. I have volunteered at a church’s food pantry and health clinic. I started my blog on December 23, 2015. God’s Whisperings is a blog that started out as wanting to share with others lessons that I learned about what God had been teaching me through various situations in my life, and quickly became, for me, a catalyst to bring people God’s love, hope, and joy through what I have learned in life. I work full-time at a job that has nothing to do with writing, but I love it and consider it a ministry. Also, God uses the situations I find myself in at my day job to teach me lessons, many of which I share in my blog, at http://placeinthisworld224.wordpress.com

This article originally appeared on Patricia’s blog:

https://placeinthisworld224.wordpress.com/2020/01/09/on-vulnerability-depression-and-gods-sovereignty/

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Christmas without You

This Christmas you weren’t,

In person, with us here;

But we felt you in lessons learnt,

In hard-to-find Christmas cheer.

 

We felt your everlasting presence

In the decorations that you loved

And as we opened up the presents

From family remembering you above.

 

The tears we cried

Were cleansing, in a sense,

But with the year gone by,

We realized how much you’ve missed.

 

But you spent your Christmas in Heav’n,

Praising at the feet of Christ.

We may have spent it crumbling,

But we thought of your advice:

 

“Please don’t miss me when I go;

Remember me the way I was.

You gave me flowers here below—

Of a brighter life you were the cause.”

 

We tried to carry on this year—

In fact, we must’ve done all right.

We won’t pretend we didn’t shed a tear,

But remembering you brought us Christmas light.

 

Alyssa is an author trying to break into the field, but willing to go where God wants her to with her writing. She writes Young Adult Christian novels in an effort to bring the truth back into the lives of young people in which it is often so severely lacking.

She has overcome 13 brain surgeries, 4 spinal cord surgeries, and countless others since 2009 alone, and battles two organic brain issues, a traumatic brain injury (TBI), Bipolar II, two different anxiety disorders, and more mental illnesses. Her goal is to reach others with the Gospel and what God’s taught her through her ailments.

Alyssa lives in Central Florida with her husband, part-time daughter (a blessing that came with marriage!), and three fur babies.

Check out Alyssa’s blog: http://teacupsandpaperroses.wordpress.com/

And check out her author Facebook page: http://facebook.com/teacupsandpaperroses

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Things to Remember When Stressed and Anxious

I have struggled with depression and some anxiety since I was a little kid. When I was in school, I remember I would often worry about getting my assignments done on time and about my test grades. Sometimes, it would be so bad that I would wake up for a while thinking about these things as I lay in bed trying to sleep! Even now, I still struggle a bit with anxiety and depression, though much less than before. This post is as much me talking to myself, as it is to my readers. Unfortunately, I almost always learn or know these things after an anxiety episode happens. However, here is what we all need to remember when we are getting stressed and anxious.

In the words of Paul in Romans 8:28 (KJV): “All things work together for good to them who love God who are the called according to His purpose.” In other words, God will work all the events of our lives, including the bad ones, for our ultimate good, usually to strengthen our character and/or grow us spiritually. At least for me, when I get anxious and stressed, I am very tempted to think about the worst possible outcome, and I worry I would never be able to survive after that. This sometimes leads to suicidal ideations. Thankfully, it rarely, if ever, leads to suicide attempts anymore, though it had several times in the past. However, when I remember what it says in Romans 8:28, I will not lose hope as easily, and thus I will become less stressed. I, then, will be able to recall some bad situations in my life that God has indeed already used for my good and for His glory! For instance, at work, there were a couple of people that I always had butted heads with and never thought anything would get better in our relationship. However, what ended up happening was that God used them in my life to grow my character and teach me to reconcile with and forgive them. God also made me realize some things that I did to hurt those people that I had not gotten along with in the past, and I repented of those things.

Along with remembering that God will always use the events of my life for my good and His glory, I need to remember that God is sovereign over all things. When I am stressed or anxious, at least for me, I fear losing control of the event at hand. I fear that I will not be able to handle the situation well and that things will never be able to be redeemed in my life after that. I fear failing the people I love, and even more, failing as a witness and a disciple of Christ. However, when I remember that God is sovereign over all things, I don’t have to fear losing control, since I can acknowledge that I was never in control in the first place. He will put events into my life according to His will. For instance, when I have to deal with a difficult associate or customer at work, if I acknowledge that God sent them in my life and that something good can come out of the situation, I will be much calmer and less apt to get frustrated or anxious in that situation.

Finally, I should remember when I am coming into a stressful situation to trust that God will give me everything I need to deal with it and to use what He gives me in order that I may be able to react positively and not get upset and anxious. The verse that comes to mind that speaks of God’s provision for us is Philippians 4:19 (KJV), which says, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” For instance, when finances are tight, and God still expects me to tithe at church, I don’t have to skimp on tithing or worry that I will not have enough for what my family and I need, because I can trust that God will provide someway somehow when I am faithful to Him. Another example of God giving me everything I needed is the time when I forgot to bring fruit from home to have for my snack, and God moved in one of my coworkers to give me a Taffy apple. Thus, I was able to eat that apple, and did not have to go out and buy one from work.

If we remember that God will use all situations we encounter in our lives for our good and His glory, that God is in control of all things, and that He will always supply everything that we need to make it through life, we would never have to worry or be stressed. So, my prayer to each reader, including me, is that we would remember these things and have much joy and peace this month.

 

About Patricia Go:

My name is Patricia A. Go, and my love of writing started when I was just eight years old, when I remember writing little stories on cut-up pieces of construction paper stapled together.  I have been actively involved with various church ministries for about fifteen years. I have volunteered at a church’s food pantry and health clinic.  I started my blog on December 23, 2015. God’s  Whisperings is a blog that started out as wanting to share with others lessons that I learned about what God had been teaching me through various situations in my life, and quickly became, for me, a catalyst to bring people God’s love, hope, and joy through what I have learned in life.  I work full-time at a job that has nothing to do with writing, but I love it and consider it a ministry.  Also, God uses the situations I find myself in at my day job to teach me lessons, many of which I share in my blog, at http://placeinthisworld224.wordpress.com.

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The Day You Stop Fighting

“The day you stop fighting is the day you lose.”

 

Those words have been in my mind for years now—sometimes bounding their way around in an endless, repetitious reminder; other times, sluggishly processing, reminding me that, no matter what, I cannot stop fighting.

 

“The day you stop fighting is the day you lose.”

 

Those words are a direct quote from my father. My bipolar and anxiety disorders come from my mother, and I heard my dad repeat these words for years.

 

And then I was diagnosed in my early twenties. Four brain surgeries seemed to be the trigger. At first, I refused to admit there was anything wrong. I so desperately didn’t want to be like the mother I’d grown up with. Not because my mom isn’t fantastic, but because my young adult brain recalled all the bad times—all the broken promises of  trips and outings because my mom would get depressed, all the times we left a venue because my mom’s anxiety couldn’t take it, all the times my grandmother had to take us because my mom was too overwhelmed.

 

And I didn’t want that. I didn’t want any of it.

 

But I knew.

 

I finally made it to a psychiatrist. I was finally diagnosed: Bipolar II, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, and more. I finally allowed myself to be put on medication.

 

And then began the tiring process of finding the right medicinal cocktail, seeing my psychiatrist every few weeks, having therapy recommended. And realizing that I wasn’t going to be just like my mother…in fact, my psychiatrist informed us all that I was far worse off.

 

And those words my dad had used many times when discussing with me one of my mother’s episodes came back: “The day you stop fighting is the day you lose.”

 

“But I’m so tired, Daddy. I’m tired of feeling this way, of always being way up or way down, never having a normal.”

 

“The day you stop fighting is the day you lose.”

 

“But, Daddy, I hate being this depressed. What if my husband leaves because I can’t even be a good housewife? I don’t know how I’m supposed to get off that couch and do anything.”

 

“The day you stop fighting is the day you lose.”

 

“But, Daddy, I don’t want to kill myself, but some days I wish God would just do it for me.”

 

“The day you stop fighting is the day you lose.”

 

Of course, my dad said more than that, but that was a phrase he never left out.

 

Some days? You won’t be able to do it. The depression will suck you so far down that you can’t even think, let alone move and complete tasks.

 

But most days? Most days, you can fight it, even if just a little bit. Even if you just load the dishwasher. Even if you just brush your teeth and put on deodorant. Even if you just get dressed. Even if…

 

Because the day you stop fighting is the day you lose.

 

 

Alyssa is an author trying to break into the field, but willing to go where God wants her to with her writing. She writes Young Adult Christian novels in an effort to bring the truth back into the lives of young people in which it is often so severely lacking.

She has overcome 13 brain surgeries, 4 spinal cord surgeries, and countless others since 2009 alone, and battles two organic brain issues, a traumatic brain injury (TBI), Bipolar II, two different anxiety disorders, and more mental illnesses. Her goal is to reach others with the Gospel and what God’s taught her through her ailments.

Alyssa lives in Central Florida with her husband, part-time daughter (a blessing that came with marriage!), and three fur babies.

Check out Alyssa’s blog: http://teacupsandpaperroses.wordpress.com/

And check out her author Facebook page: http://facebook.com/teacupsandpaperroses

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You’re Not Lazy

Sarah works with special needs students in a middle school. She suffers from depression, and sometimes she gets so exhausted at work that she leaves early, drives home, and takes a nap. But every time she does this, she feels shameful. “I can’t even make it through a whole day at work… I skipped out on work to go sleep…”

 

Brittany suffers from depression. She has good days and bad days. She works a good-paying job that she excels at. But sometimes on her bad days, she can hardly get anything done. Thankfully, her boss is understanding and allows her to take breaks when she’s having a hard time.

 

These are both real stories (the names are changed). I’m sure there are countless similar stories.

 

Let’s face it: depression sucks the life out of you. Sometimes it feels like it takes every ounce of energy just to lift a finger. It’s hard to function like a “normal” person. Unfortunately, society often still expects us to.

 

We should not feel guilty for managing ourselves. In fact, we need to advocate for ourselves and others with mental illness. We can’t control how others think, but we need to help them understand what mental illness is like.

 

Managing yourself doesn’t make you lazy. It just means you’re being smart. Perhaps you can’t do everything you think you should do, or everything someone else can do. But that’s so okay. You are you. Be you and no one else. And know that you are a gift to everyone around you. Their lives wouldn’t be whole without you, just as your life wouldn’t be whole without them.

 

Be okay with resting when you need to. In no way does it make you lazy.

 

 

W.R. Harris is the founder, owner, and publisher of Persevering Hope. He mainly writes about living with OCD and depression as a Christian. He has written six books to date. You can check out his author website here: http://www.wrhwriting.com/