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Momentary Troubles, Eternal Glory

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” – 2 Corinthians 4:17

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” – Romans 8:18

 

I consider these two verses to be perhaps the most comforting verses for a suffering person. Our current troubles don’t feel “light.” They didn’t to Paul, and they don’t to us. But believers in Christ have the greatest joy just ahead: we get to be with God in His kingdom forever.

Let us remember that when we’re suffering. Our suffering is temporary. For the believer, suffering always has an end. For the believer, joy in Christ has no end.

Persevere, persevere, persevere—even through the worst of times. Let us say with Paul that it will be so worth it.

 

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://wrhwriting.com/

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Our Illusion, God’s Reality

“We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.”

–Proverbs 16:9 (NLT)

 

As human beings, we plan and prepare for many things in our lives: school assignments, which college to attend, what to major in, where to get a job. We plan weddings and birthday parties and funerals. Even our days are planned: when to have time with the Lord, when and what to cook (or order) for dinner, when to go to bed. In fact, upon scrutiny, we can see that we plan just about everything. Granted, maybe not all of it will go exactly according to plan, but most of the things we plan will. Right? We certainly expect good outcomes.

 

The issue we come upon is one of having a sense of control. Most of us have been through enough to know that we don’t have absolute control, and many of us know, on an intellectual level, that we do not have any control, truly. But everyone falls into that trap of thinking that the control for which we grasp is something we can, in reality, obtain. Even people that have had their plans so seriously derailed that they know on a heart-level that, as humans, we have no control, can slip into a mindset of having some form of control.

 

However, Proverbs 16:9 makes it extremely clear that our illusion is God’s reality, that, while we plan things, God is the one in control. No more. No less. The end. Period.

 

And that? Is great news. Especially as our country, our world, faces a pandemic unlike anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes. It’s scary—the media outlets don’t help, nor does social media. We’re all being encouraged to social distance. We can’t go to our church building on Sundays. And yet, in all this, God. Is. In. Control. God is King and He is on His throne.

 

What does this mean for us? It means to, yes, take precautions, but more importantly, to remember that God hasn’t stepped off His throne during this pandemic. In the Bible, we are actually told that our Earth, our home, is merely God’s footstool (Isaiah 66:1). God hasn’t left us and He won’t (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5). He knows what is happening and what’s going to happen, and He tells us not to worry about tomorrow—in essence, today has plenty of trouble to deal with all on its own. Don’t go adding on more trouble that you may not even have to deal with (Matthew 6:34).

 

At first blush, not having any control sounds horrible, but given a second look, we realize that having an all­-knowing, all-powerful God in control of things, Who is working everything together for our good (Romans 8:28), is far better than anything we frail humans could manage.

 

 

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Living In Fear–My Journey Out

I have lived in some fear for most of my life. Even back to my elementary school days, I was chided by teachers and peers alike for “worrying too much.” I had severe OCD in my early teen years. Later, some of my anxiety sometimes turned into paranoia. My senior year of high school I was dubbed “most paranoid” by my graduating class.

But God has rescued me out of many of my fears. Yes, He is the same God that said “Do not fear” numerous times in the Bible.

I recovered from my severe OCD with medication and by slowly trying to reduce the time I spent on my nonsensical rituals. Now, many years later, I barely even remember what the rituals were! God used people and situations in my life to help me combat the devil’s lies that not doing the rituals would bring me “bad luck”. (Yes, I actually believed that “bad luck” deal!) God helped me realize that not doing the nonsensical rituals actually freed me to be joyful and to do what He wanted me to do with my life.

I also used to be so afraid what people would think of me if they found out that I was on the autistic spectrum. I tried to hide my struggles from the outside world even before I realized I was on the spectrum. I was taught by my parents, my culture, and the community around me to not tell anyone about my “dirty laundry.” I know they all meant well—they did not want to further expose me to becoming prey to unscrupulous people who may have wanted to take advantage of my openness. However, I also felt alone and powerless to fight the battles that still raged on in my heart long after the visible symptoms of the struggles had passed. When the Spirit impressed upon my heart to write about my struggles, I expected people to judge and even reject me, but, at that point, I did not care. I knew God wanted to use me to bring hope to others struggling similarly. When I started writing about my struggles, something amazing happened! Not only did God use me in His amazing way, but I also found that most people found my vulnerability refreshing. It opened up a way for them to share their own struggles and find acceptance and camaraderie with those struggling similarly, including myself.

Sometimes, I would also be afraid of certain people, as when an abuse survivor sees his or her abuser in close proximity after going “no contact” for a long time. This probably stems from an incident where a teacher growled at me and acted threateningly to me when I ran from him in fear. I still fear people when they yell at me because of this, but thankfully my fear abates within hours, or only a couple days at most. God has infused the power of forgiveness and redemption to quell my fears of people yelling at me or hurting me. He has taught me (and continues to teach me) the power of releasing bitterness and replacing it with mercy, compassion, and grace.

When I was in school, I used to worry about many things–for example, whether I would pass a test or quiz, or if I would get in trouble for something that I may have said or done. Sometimes, I would lie awake for a long time worrying about these things. What I learned was that my worries and fears either never came to pass at all or it wasn’t as bad as I imagined. I still struggle with this sometimes, but one major way God has helped me is redirecting my focus from my circumstances and the “what-ifs” (like what if I don’t pass that test….or what if I get laid off or fired from my job?) to His sovereignty and goodness. Now, I am learning how to say, “Even if I don’t pass the test, God will give me a second chance. Even if I get laid off, God will provide me another job. Even if I get COVID-19, God will use my illness to glorify Himself and bring about good in my life.” This has quelled my fears about COVID-19 significantly, and has helped me to trust God’s sovereignty and goodness in my life, no matter what happens.

Almost everyone I know has at least one fear, even if they don’t readily acknowledge it. It’s normal, but when fear starts to paralyze your joy and freedom in life, then it needs to leave. With God’s help, you can conquer your fears and experience the joy and freedom He has for you.

 

This post was originally published on Patricia’s blog: https://placeinthisworld224.wordpress.com/2020/04/16/living-in-fear-my-journey-out/

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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Simple Ways to Maintain Physical Health with Little or No Exercise Equipment

I recently contributed to CityView Church Pearland’s blog about maintaining physical health during Covid-19. I gave an example of a beginner-level workout, as well as advice about cooking/eating healthy. Here’s the link to that article: https://www.cityviewpearland.com/blog/physical-health-during-distancing

Here is another example of a workout you can do with little or no equipment. This one is a little more advanced.

 

Start out with 3-5 minutes of light calisthenics for warm up. Examples include power walking, light jogging (this can be done in place), lunges, lateral shuffle, jump rope or jump squats (if you’re comfortable jumping; if not, don’t worry about it), lateral lunges, or squats. Do a combination of these at an easy pace.

For each exercise, do 2-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions.

  • Single leg balance with multiplanar reach. Balance on one leg. Extend the other leg forward and then bring it back to neutral. Next, extend it directly to the side (right leg would go out to your right, left leg to your left) and bring it to neutral. Then, extend it behind you diagonally. Cycle through all three motions as many times as you can (while staying balanced) for 15-25 seconds. Do both sides. Here is a video of the movement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mo4P9Y_AQt8
  • Pushups. Try not to let your hips sink down or raise up too much.
  • Lateral lunges. Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Lunge directly to your right, keeping your trail leg extended. Keep your hips pressed back as you squat down on your right side (your knee shouldn’t go forward over your toe). Come back to neutral and do the same on the other side (8-12 reps each side). This is a way to get your hip abductor and hip adductor muscles involved in a good leg and cardio exercise. If you have a dumbbell or kettlebell, hold it up at your chest during the exercise.
  • IYTs. Lie on your stomach with your arms straight above your head and thumbs pointing toward the ceiling. Bring your arms straight up a few inches off the ground. Then, move your arms so your body creates a Y and do the same thing. Then, lower your arms to 90 degrees and bring them off the ground. Think about engaging your back muscles to raise your arms, and do 3-4 reps each way. If you have a stability ball (yoga ball—same thing), you can do the IYTs on it. Keep feet on the ground—lay your stomach on the stability ball.
  • Mountain climbers. Starting in a pushup position, lift one foot up toward your chest. Return to starting position and repeat with other leg, alternating back and forth as fast as you can for 8-12 reps each leg.
  • Single leg glute bridge. Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart. Extend one knee until leg is completely straight. Push up through the heel on the ground and bring your hips up until knees, hips, and shoulders are directly in line.

For a cool down, do 1-3 stretches. Some good stretches are child’s pose, t-spine twist, quad pulls, and knee hugs.

 

Do an exercise routine like this 3-5 times a week. Another great idea for exercise (and something you can do on the days you don’t do a workout) is walking, jogging, or biking. This article does a great job discussing how sunlight and fresh air can combat sickness: https://medium.com/@ra.hobday/coronavirus-and-the-sun-a-lesson-from-the-1918-influenza-pandemic-509151dc8065. Just make sure to keep your distance from others! If you can open windows in your house, do it. It will help to get as much sun and fresh air as we can right now.

These are also great ideas to consider anytime of the year, especially if you suffer from anxiety and/or depression. You don’t need any equipment and you don’t need to drive anywhere!

 

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://wrhwriting.com/

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Good Days and Bad Days

There are so many factors that contribute to how we feel each day. The weather, the economy, our boss’s behavior, our spouse’s behavior, our kids’ behavior, how well we slept the last few nights, how much we’ve exercised, our diet, if our favorite sports team won, etc., etc. Some of these are within our control and some of these aren’t.

Sometimes we fail to take care of the things we can control, and we feel miserable because of it. That’s okay. Jesus is there with us and forgives us if we fall. The best thing to do is to pick ourselves up and do our best for the rest of the day.

Sometimes we take care of ourselves perfectly—and the things we can’t control fall apart. That’s okay. The best thing to do is to do our best with our situation.

The point is there are good days and there are bad days. If we always measure ourselves based on our very best on good days, we will have a low opinion of ourselves. That’s not reality: we can’t always be at our best. But we can make the best out of whatever the day has given us or however we feel. It may not be our “absolute best,” but it is the best we can do given our circumstances. And that’s what God calls us to—to be faithful right now, in our current context.

So some days we may not be as happy or gracious or creative or patient or energetic. That’s okay. Good days will come around again. Give yourself some grace. Relax, take a deep breath, and just do your best. That’s all God is calling you to right now.

 

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://wrhwriting.com/

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Things I Learned in Order to Cope with the Coronavirus

Saying that these are uncertain and tumultuous times would be an understatement to so many in this world right now. I just moved almost a week ago and face some uncertainty because of that event. However, many of you are facing even greater uncertainty and even fears because your jobs may have been eliminated or changed, your children are no longer able to attend school (except online), and most of you can no longer attend church services, mosques, temples, or any other place of worship because of this pandemic. Even with all this trouble and uncertainty in the world today, there are still ways we can successfully cope with these new realities and stay healthy, both physically and emotionally. Here are some things I learned about how we can cope with this pandemic that is affecting our livelihoods:

Selfishness can cost lives, so we should strive to be considerate of others. When people hoard the essential supplies to combat or prevent the Coronavirus, or when they are rude and non compliant with those that provide services and supplies that they need, they are being selfish. This selfishness can cost lives because it can force stores and other businesses to close and those without means of transportation and access to online services can potentially starve or be in otherwise grave danger because they will have to go without the supplies they need to survive. If people don’t practice social distancing, not caring about whether they will potentially infect someone, they could potentially make someone who has a compromised immune system or is fragile physically to get seriously ill and even die! This can happen because the person who is acting nonchalantly can be a carrier of the virus, even if he or she doesn’t yet present any symptoms. However, when we practice social distancing so that the virus does not spread, wash our hands frequently in order not to spread potentially harmful germs, and when we are patient and considerate to those who serve us and to those in need, I know God will give each one of us the grace we need to be able to endure this trial for as long as He allows.

God will always provide for us, so we do not have to be afraid of not having enough. Many people are in fear of at least some aspect of their livelihood being affected by this virus—whether it has to do with their job or financial security, having adequate food and water, and even that they may contract the virus themselves. I confess that I had some fears in all these categories at some point during these past few days, but then God brought this verse to mind:

“Casting all your cares upon him, for he careth for you.”-1 Peter 5:7 (KJV)

That is when I was reminded by God that He cares for me. And He still cares for every single person reading this today, even when we are going through trials. Not only that, but we don’t have to fear because God always provides for us what we need in some way because of his loving care for us. In fact, Philippians 4:19 (KJV) says:

“But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

My family and I have personally experienced the truth of this verse, even just over this past week! For example, my mom needed chicken to cook a dish, and she looked for it in several stores, only to discover they were already out. However, God provided us with the chicken through my brother, who was able to find it at a store closer to his house, and bought it for my mom. Another incident where God graciously provided happened a few days ago, when I found out I would still have a job, after having worried about what I would do if I didn’t have one, since I tend to delve into depression and get antsy when I have to stay home and not have work to do. Moreover, I would have a very difficult time staying at home for several days on end and still be relatively sane and stable mentally. Thankfully, I went in for the job offer at my new workplace, and they allowed me to start the next day! Not only that, God provided for me beyond what I had asked or even expected when I discovered I got a good raise compared to the last place I worked! I am so blessed! God also did the same for Job, after Job’s time of intense suffering, by fully restoring or replacing all that Job had before. I am convinced that if we all continue to fully trust and lean on God, He will do similarly for you, in His timing, according to what is right for you. Even when you don’t think God is coming through for you right now, do not give up on Him! God will always come through just when you need Him. His timing is always perfect.

I learned we should help others in need during this tumultuous time, according to what we are able to do. If you are healthy, do not have the virus, and have the means to do so, help others who are battling the emotional and/or financial effects of the virus. For instance, if a friend (online or in person) wants to talk or vent to you, listen to him or her with thought and consideration. Do not seem too busy or judgmental in your demeanor. Offer words of encouragement as he or she faces these trials. Share how you are getting through it and talk about the hope that comes from Christ. If your friend needs financial help, and you are able to do so, give him or her the necessary resources as a gift, not expecting repayment, as burdening him or her with a loan can create additional financial and emotional burdens. Help your loved ones in any way you can, and value their presence in your life even more now, as they may have no one else they interact with face-to-face.

If we do our best to put others before ourselves, trust that God will always provide what we need, and help others struggling with the effects of this pandemic, we will defeat Coronavirus and God will make us stronger and better than before!

 

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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Seek First His Kingdom, and All These Things Will Be Given to You

The following is an excerpt from my devotional book Pursuing God’s Kingdom Day by Day https://www.amazon.com/Pursuing-Gods-Kingdom-Day-ebook/dp/B07SL2GHFM/

Considering the current Covid-19 situation, this passage might be helpful. I pray our nation would lean into God and have peace.

 

There are many things that can distract us from seeking the Kingdom. Money may be the primary distraction, although pursuing sexual pleasure and social status are big ones, too.

I can certainly relate to money. It’s not that I chase after fortune so I can have a big house and lots of cool stuff. It’s just that I worry about not always having enough to pay the bills. My wife and I have never had that problem, but it’s a worry at the back of my mind. What if this happens? What if that happens?

Some of you may relate. Yes, we should be cognizant of and wise about our finances, but we have to be able to trust God and not let worry consume our lives. It doesn’t matter how much you know about God’s kingdom and how to pursue it if you spend all your time worrying about money (or anything else). I understand some of us may have to work a lot to pay the bills, and that’s okay. As we discussed earlier, your work brings the Kingdom to earth. But if we’re spending our free time worrying about money and not seeking God, we need to seek help from our small group, trusted friend or pastor, a recovery group, or counselor. Or, we may just need to pick ourselves up and go serve someone.

Jesus addresses this in Matthew 6. He exhorts His audience not to worry about life’s necessities: “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’” (Matthew 6:31). We should remember that His audience in this passage likely consisted largely of poor people. They were dependent on the harvest for food, so we can imagine they worried about the harvest’s productivity. Jesus knows that. He grew up in Galilee—He knows the people’s mindset and how they think about food. His response to this concern is to trust that God will provide because He “knows that you need” all these things (verse 32).

God wants us to trust Him enough to pursue His kingdom. In fact, He wants us to pursue His kingdom “first,” and, He says, “all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). That is, make God’s kingdom your priority and He will provide life’s necessities for you.

Questions: What worries or distractions are keeping you from pursuing God’s kingdom? What steps can you take to break free from those worries and distractions?

Prayer: God, it’s hard sometimes to focus on your Kingdom. I’m worried about and distracted by _______ (fill in the blank). Teach me how to trust you instead and pursue your Kingdom. Show me the steps to take to get there. Amen.

 

 

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://wrhwriting.com/

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Tearing Off the Mask

“Oh, I’m doing great!”

“Things have been wonderful.”

“Oh yeah, things are awesome on my end, too!” *insert fake smile*

 

Have you ever caught yourself using one of those statements? I have—many times. When someone asks how you are, you automatically know that they don’t want to know the reality. They just want a quick, “Great! And you?” Thus, we shy away from telling the truth, from saying, “Ya know what, actually, things have been tough. I could really use some prayer.”

 

Instead, we put on a mask—maybe it’s a smiling mask; maybe it’s a mask that looks tired but has the determination to keep going, even if you run out of steam. We often have quite a time admitting that we’re struggling, especially when we’re not sure if the person we’re speaking to believes in mental illness or understands the extent of our physical illness(es) or grief.

 

Are you bearing your load alone? Of course, as many will say first, it’s important to note that the Psalmist said God carries our burdens for us (Psalm 68:19) and that Jesus said His “burden is light” (Matthew 11:30). However, it’s important to realize that we need people and community around us. We need support systems. We need to be real and vulnerable with other humans, which, yes, means tearing off that mask that we very well may wear 24/7. And when we tear off those masks? Inevitably, some of our own skin is going to come off. It’s not a question of if it will be painful to be real with people, but rather a question of how much it will hurt. As the skin comes off with the masks and we begin to unburden our very hearts to another human, parts of our heart will leave, as well. This is often the hardest part.

 

We armor our hearts–in truth, the very essence of our beings–sometimes so well that when we begin to chip away at walls and pull apart armor and reveal even a bit of what lies within, we, in fact, have to give up pieces of ourselves. We can no longer protect those pieces—they’re in the hands of the people we’ve befriended or been befriended by, the people we’ve decided to trust with the innermost of our beings.

 

In all honesty, as well as an amazing friendship displays such acts, there is truly no greater relationship than that of marriage to show how this plays out. And since marriage is a picture of Christ and His church, you don’t need to actually be married to understand. Simply being one of God’s children allows you to see this relationship, though, admittedly, it’s more imperfect when there are two humans involved, as opposed to one human and one God.

 

However, for the sake of illustration, I will use marriage between a husband and wife—it just doesn’t get more real that that! It’s the end of a long day. Perhaps you’re a stay-at-home mom, and the kids have been getting under your skin all day. No doubt, they’ve seen you without your mask, because you’ve probably snapped at one—or all—of them, at some point. And then your husband comes home. He, too, has been wearing a mask all day at work, but he drops it the moment he comes in. You can see the level of fatigue in his eyes as he takes in the laundry that’s still piled up and the number of dishes in the sink. “What have you done today?” he asks.

 

It very well may be a perfectly innocent question, meant simply to inquire, but you take it personally. I kept the kids alive! you may want to scream. Oh, and I did wash the counter…once. Your mask may come off, and you may say just that. You may refrain. It changes daily.

 

Or maybe you’re in my shoes: homemaker due to being disabled; struggling with infertility; lying, depressed, on the couch, near daily. You feel like a failure—a broken wife and human. Your husband comes home from work to see the same pile of laundry and dishes you’d have if you had three kids, but it’s just you, save the weekends your stepdaughter is with you both (and you feel that you have life)…and he asks the same thing. Maybe you didn’t keep the kids alive, but you kept yourself alive. And you want to scream that, but you’re too tired.

 

Either way, both your masks will come off. Sometimes, that results in fights; but, if we’re more intentional about removing the masks and the armor and the walls, we can have beautiful fellowship with our spouses. We can cry or rejoice…or both! We can be real. We don’t have to pretend that it was a great day. We can tell the truth. We can be raw. And we should be.

 

May we, if married, practice this within our unions. If you, dear reader, are not married, find a good friend with whom you can be yourself—vulnerabilities and all. Tear off those masks and tear down those walls. And when the pain comes with it, welcome it and shed those inevitable, but cleansing, tears.

 

 

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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Where’s Your Worth?

I look back at 17-year-old me, 18-year-old me, 19-year-old me…and my heart hurts. My heart hurts because, in my eyes, my worth was directly related to whether I had a man in my life, specifically one that I was going to marry (preferably by the time I was 20).

 

I went to college (possibly the absolute strictest Christian college at the time) at the young age of 17. I went as a summer worker, to put money toward the school year; I was there for Elementary Education and Speech. But in reality? I was there for what many jokingly called an M.R.S. That was my main goal, though I’d never say.

 

I met a man over seven and a half years my senior and was quickly smitten. He treated me well, and I fell hard and fast—my track record was filled with zero boyfriends and way too many romance novels.

 

I feel bad for that 17-year-old because I felt that I needed a man to complete me.

 

But 18-year-old me is for whom I truly shed tears. The man I was dating soon alienated my friends and even my family. He forced me to stop using the phone my parents had sent me to keep in touch and put me on his phone plan. He set up an email for us to use jointly (all while setting up his private one behind my back). He forced me, with threats of violence and getting me kicked out of school, to become a staff member at the college, as opposed to a full-time student. At that point, I was placed in a staff apartment, in which he was allowed. (Boys had not been allowed in girls’ dorms as students.)

 

After that, the emotional and mental abuse became physical and lightly sexual. But I was stuck. I felt stuck, because this man would go so far as to threaten my life, but some strange part of me still wanted to marry him. Not because of who he was but because he was male, and certainly, after I married, all would be well. After all, that’s all I’d ever wanted—to be married. That would solve everything, right? We’d have children, and they’d be my whole world…and everything would turn out all right in the end, because he wouldn’t matter all that much in the big scheme of things.

 

But then I turned 19, and things continued downhill. I wound up, five months after my 19th birthday, having my first brain surgery. It was a hellish seven weeks of four brain surgeries, a gall bladder removal, meningitis, sepsis, and more. Thank God (truly) that my mother spent the seven weeks with me. She dealt quite well with my first boyfriend (then fiancé), even though she, at the time, didn’t know the extent of the abuse.

 

That whole episode sent me home to central Florida, where I was able to break up with quite possibly the most toxic person I have ever met.

 

There are nights I still weep for that young girl who thought her existence hinged on a man.

 

All that said, ladies, I am absolutely behind your hinging your worth on a man…but be sure it’s the right Man—the Man Who shed His blood and died on a cross 2,000 years ago for your sins, was buried, and rose three days later. Hinge your worth on that Man—the Lord Jesus Christ.

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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/