Encouragement, Mental Health, Spiritual Wellness

Building Walls

If you are like me, when you get hurt by someone you start to build a wall.  You think to yourself “that person will never hurt me again” and the wall goes up.  My question to you today is “is there a wall between your heart and God?”

Have you or do you feel like God has somehow wronged you?  Do you feel that suffering with your illness is unfair?  I used to feel that way.  I would spend hours in prayer asking God “why me?”  I was so absorbed in feeling like a victim I started to build a wall between my heart and God.  I felt betrayed by God because I felt betrayed by my own mind and had no sense of normalcy in my life.  Many ask how a good God can allow suffering?  We need to remember we live in a fallen world and suffering is part of the consequences of that fall.

But we need not get angry with God for the things that we go through that are difficult and trying.  We must remember that God is our hope and our wholeness.  Without Him we are alone with no hope.  The wall we begin to build to keep ourselves from hurting is the very thing keeping us from getting well.  If we separate ourselves from God and others, we only hurt ourselves and we leave ourselves open to attack from the enemy.  God is our shield and buckler and without His protection, we are vulnerable.  Especially those of us who suffer from a mental illness.  Our minds are our greatest weakness and Satan knows this.  If we come out from under the covering of God, we are unprotected behind enemy lines.

The walls we build for our protection are our greatest hinderances to living under the protective hand of God.  Creating barriers always leads to isolation.  Isolation can lead to depression which feeds into anxiety.  This leaves us open and out there for Satan to run amok in our lives.  We must tear down the walls we have built in order to get well and to regain our trust in our God who loves us and only has our best in mind.  Our illnesses are not punishments.  We do not suffer with them for no reason.  We are to use our sufferings to make others strong and to bring awareness to the difficulties that mental illness brings to a life.  We are also tasked with helping to break down the stigma attached to mental illness.  We cannot do any of this is we blame God and build walls.

Let’s tear down those walls and make a difference in the lives of others who suffer!

Christian Living, Spiritual Wellness

Distractions

I seem to be going through a bit of a dry spell with my faith walk.  Have you ever experienced this?  It isn’t that I lack faith in God…Oh no, it is just that my quiet time, and prayer time have gone a bit stale. It feels as if I am praying the same prayers, reading and studying the same things, finding nothing refreshing.  Today, I asked God what was going on. You know what He said?  One word – distractions! I understood what He was saying to well.  I have allowed the distractions of life to get in my way of spending authentic time with God.

When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is check my e-mail… distraction.  The second thing I do is check Facebook…distraction. And after that I do a myriad of things before I even sit down with God to have some quiet time. By this time the quiet has long since gone and my mind is on what I need to do for the day… more distractions.   This is when the lying begins.  Here is when I begin telling myself that I will have my quiet time later when I get everything done that needs to be done.  Right.  That never happens.  I go from one thing to the next thinking I’ll get there God, but most of the time I don’t.  I tell myself that once my son goes to work in the afternoon, I will have all afternoon and evening to commune with God and study His word and while that is true, I never quite get there.  The time is available, but I am now engrossed in binge watching “Live PD”.  (A very uplifting and positive show).  So now comes the ultimate lie… “I’ll just start over tomorrow and I’ll do better”.  Nope, same things, different day.

Has this ever happened to any of you?  I feel it has. I cannot be the only one. I am not trying to sound legalistic about wanting to spend time with God. I am not saying that He loves me or you any less for failing to make Him priority #1. No, He loves us just as much.  The problem lies with how much we love Him.  I do not show a great deal of love for Christ when I cannot turn off the TV and spend the afternoon with Him.  I know people who love God who would love the amount of time I have available just to sit at His feet. I am very blessed with a lot of free time.  But this still does not motivate me to lose the distractions.

Now that I have this confession out there, and now that you may be doing a little soul searching on this topic, I feel like I can make some serious changes as to how I spend my days.  God needs to be the priority throughout my whole day.  Less TV, and social media…more God.  I am so glad God is a God of grace because I am certain will have a few more days like this one.

Christian Living, Encouragement, Spiritual Wellness

Thanksgiving and the Presence of God

A large part of my quiet time with God is spent in thanksgiving.  The Lord has blessed me and my family so much that thankfulness just flows form my heart. I find thanksgiving is a great way to enter into God’s presence.  For a long time, I thought entering into His presence had to produce a certain feeling.  I would spend so much time “trying” to feel God that I would totally miss Him.  I didn’t understand the power of thankfulness.

We find in the Psalms that David spent a great deal of time giving thanks, even when he was running for his life! I wonder if I could do the same.  But, I can give thanks in all things in my own life.  I am not only talking about giving thanks for the “stuff” God has blessed me with. I’m talking about giving thanks in all things, so I can enter into the sweet presence of God with a heart full of His goodness.

Psalm 107:8-9 says

“Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things”.

Give thanks for his wonderful love. Do we spend enough time giving thanks to God for His love?  If we lost everything we have would we still be able to give thanks for God’s love alone?  Think about Job. He lost absolutely everything. His children, his livestock, his servants, his house, literally, everything and although he had quite the conversation with God about this, in the end he thanked him and praised him.  What a testimony!

I do thank God everyday for His love, for I know without it I would be lost. Let’s practice entering into God’s presence with thankfulness for his love as well as other blessings he has bestowed upon us.  We have so much. He truly has blessed us with wonderful things… family, homes, cars, comfy things that we are now accustomed to and so much stuff.  What we need to remember that if we strip away all we have, we still have the love of God which is far better.

The next time you enter into the presence of God for some quiet time, try thanking him for his love first and see if your time of thanksgiving grows. Write down all you are thankful for and you will be amazed at how God has blessed you but start with His love.

Christian Living, Encouragement, Spiritual Wellness

The Power of our Words

Words have power.  I am sure we know this on some level, but do we believe it.  We say so many things to ourselves throughout the course of a day that we are not aware we are saying. Negative things that we would never say to anyone else. Yet, it is common language in our subconscious which gets spoken to our conscious mind and out of our mouths.  I have found myself saying things like I am stupid, unworthy, unloved, unnecessary, even so sinful that God must have given up on me.  Wow! Would you ever call your best friend stupid or your child unloved? Never.  So why do we treat ourselves so badly?  A dear friend of mine always reminds me that my words have power.  That what I say can and is heard in the supernatural realm.  Satan hears us.  That is a scary thought because if he hears us, then he can use our words to our detriment.  What we say out loud can be used as a weapon against us.  We will speak these words of death about ourselves and Satan is all too happy to take these words and turn them into a toehold.  Then, he will take that toehold and turn it into a stronghold and we will not understand why we are held captive by these false beliefs about ourselves.  We won’t remember that we spoke that over ourselves and we will be left confused.  I heard a story about a man who was always fearful that his wife would die of cancer.  He spoke about this fear to almost everyone he encountered.  When he first started having this fear and speaking these words, his wife was fine. But after several years of proclaiming this, she did die of cancer.  He spoke that into being.

But, there is hope for us.  When we search the scriptures, we see many verses about our words.

“Your own soul is nourished when you are kind, but you destroy yourself when you are cruel”

                                                                                                                                                          Proverbs 11:17

                “Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body”

                                                                                                                            Proverbs 16:24

 The Lord says to speak kind words to ourselves that will nourish us and bring health.  Those words are powerful, and we should take heed and obey.  But, what happens when our self-talk comes out of our unconscious and just flows out of our minds unchecked?  I have said to myself many times “did that just come out of my mouth?” I am surprised at the things I say to myself and the only way to stop this from happening is to take every thought captive.  We need to think before we speak.  Slow down and really think about the words that are forming in our minds. Paul says…

         “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”

                                                         Romans 12:21

Choosing to focus on right things that are true, noble, peaceful and right in God’s eyes is a great place to start changing our words. If we can change the focus of what our minds think on, we can change our words which will change our behaviors.  We can build ourselves up instead of tearing ourselves down.  We need to stop speaking words of death over ourselves.  Something as innocuous as “that was really stupid” or “I’m so dumb” have such great power.  We need to replace those words with more affirming ones.  I have words of affirmation from God’s Word taped to my mirror so I see them and say them every day.  It makes a huge difference in how I speak to myself during the day.  You may want to try this yourself. But regardless of how we do it, we need to always speak blessing and favor over ourselves.  We are the workmanship or God and made in His image.  There is nothing unworthy about us and by speaking death over ourselves we are minimizing what Christ did for us on the cross.  We are forgiven and loved and children of the Most High God.  We need to start talking to ourselves with words worthy of our station.

Words have power.  I am sure we know this on some level, but do we believe it.  We say so many things to ourselves throughout the course of a day that we are not aware we are saying. Negative things that we would never say to anyone else. Yet, it is common language in our subconscious which gets spoken to our conscious mind and out of our mouths.  I have found myself saying things like I am stupid, unworthy, unloved, unnecessary, even so sinful that God must have given up on me.  Wow! Would you ever call your best friend stupid or your child unloved? Never.  So why do we treat ourselves so badly?  A dear friend of mine always reminds me that my words have power.  That what I say can and is heard in the supernatural realm.  Satan hears us.  That is a scary thought because if he hears us, then he can use our words to our detriment.  What we say out loud can be used as a weapon against us.  We will speak these words of death about ourselves and Satan is all too happy to take these words and turn them into a toehold.  Then, he will take that toehold and turn it into a stronghold and we will not understand why we are held captive by these beliefs about ourselves.  We won’t remember that we spoke that over ourselves and we will be left confused.  I heard a story about a man who was always fearful that his wife would die of cancer.  He spoke about this fear to almost everyone he encountered.  When he first started having this fear and speaking these words, his wife was fine. But after several years of proclaiming this, she did die of cancer.  He spoke that into being.

But, there is hope for us.  When we search the scriptures, we see many verses about our words.

“Your own soul is nourished when you are kind, but you destroy yourself when you are cruel”

                                                                                                                                                          Proverbs 11:17

                “Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body”

                                                                                                                            Proverbs 16:24

 The Lord says to speak kind words to ourselves that will nourish us and bring health.  Those words are powerful, and we should take heed and obey.  But, what happens when our self-talk comes out of our unconscious and just flows out of our minds unchecked?  I have said to myself many times “did that just come out of my mouth?” I am surprised at the things I say to myself and the only way to stop this from happening is to take every thought captive.  We need to think before we speak.  Slow down and really think about the words that are forming in our minds. Paul says…

“take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”

                                                         Romans 12:21

Choosing to focus on right things that are true, noble, peaceful and right in God’s eyes is a great place to start changing our words. If we can change the focus of what our minds think on, we can change our words which will change our behaviors.  We can build ourselves up instead of tearing ourselves down.  We need to stop speaking words of death over ourselves.  Something as innocuous as “that was really stupid” or “I’m so dumb” have such great power.  We need to replace those words with more affirming ones.  I have words of affirmation from God’s Word taped to my mirror so I see them and say them every day.  It makes a huge difference in how I speak to myself during the day.  You may want to try this yourself. But regardless of how we do it, we need to always speak blessing and favor over ourselves.  We are the workmanship or God and made in His image.  There is nothing unworthy about us and by speaking death over ourselves we are minimizing what Christ did for us on the cross.  We are forgiven and loved and children of the Most High God.  We need to start talking to ourselves with words worthy of our station.