"Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing. Use the pain as fuel, as a reminder of your strength." - August Wilson

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Choosing my favorite weapon

Every warrior has a favorite weapon and mine is the phrase, "I choose Jesus."  Those three simple word don't appear to be awe inspiring or fear worthy but they are the three most powerful words one can ever utter.

This week I've been suffering from great anxiety, and if you suffer you already understand that it sneaks up on you and comes and goes in varying degrees of debilitation.  The ones that hit me this week have been very powerful indeed.  Ironically I am grateful for the memories that these attacks bring because they reckon back to the time when I was a slave to anxiety and depression.  So while I battle these feelings of paranoia and fear I take the time to appreciate just how far those three words mentioned above have taken me! 

While I may never be entirely free of these attacks I now have the weapons, skill, and courage to fend them off all given to me by our Lord Jesus Christ who stands with me and battles for me. 

So in the midst of an attack I choose Jesus.  When faced with fear I choose the Lord.  And when those negative feelings have passed I choose my Lord all the more, with gratitude and praise.

All of my days - I choose Jesus!  I choose to believe that I am who he created me to be for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.   I choose to believe that I am a child of God, a citizen of the Kingdom of heaven, and that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  I choose to believe that I can walk in freedom and peace just like he's promised.  I choose these things.  And when I do I release his power and promises  into my life and find myself free of  fear and paranoia once again. 

With these three words:  "I choose Jesus" comes the greatest hope that the world has ever seen.

Lesson 5: God's Promise: HOPE

"For I know the plans I have for you,' Declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." - Jeremiah 29:11

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."  - Romans 15:13

For the anxious or the depressed hope is a lifeline.  When hope is gone there is no longer any will to live.

Our Lord and Savior is all about hope!  Belief in him means that his hope resides within us, and we will never again be without it.

Along with our relationship with Jesus comes a confident expectation that everything will turn out right on the end.  We should always harbor a knowledge that no matter how bad things look, the Lord has not, and will not forsake us.

As a child of the Lord we can expect to walk in peace though all around us storms rage.  He has promised us hope, and our Lord delivers on his promises - if we but receive.

Have you ever been without hope in your life?

How can you take to heart the Lord's promise of hope?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Alone Time and Regaining Energy

When I was very severely depressed I used to sequester myself away from everyone else.  I didn't know why I was doing it, in fact at first I didn't even realize I was doing it.  This is common amongst those that suffer from Anxiety and Depression. Only in retrospect do I have a theory as to why this is so common:

 I believe that those that suffer from anxiety and depression are amongst the most empathetic, caring and loving people in the world - even to their own detriment.  They will give themselves away until it hurts.  This world is filled with suffering and pain, and those that suffer from depression fully understand that pain and long to help fix it in any way that they can.

So naturally they all come to a point where it becomes essential for them to remove themselves from the presence of that pain - which comes in the form of other people - for self preservation.   They intrinsically understand that they have to be able to store up enough energy to go forward with their own lives.

So what we must learn is how to set up boundaries that allow us to help minister to others, while at the same time preventing ourselves from depleting ourselves to the point that we can no longer go forward.  A warrior is useless if she has no strength at all to move forward.

I have not effectively dealt with this in my own life - but I'm seeking, and have found some solutions! 

The first way of course is to understand that we are not battling under our own power, but by the strength of our Lord.  And one thing he has done by his grace and mercy is to send other fellow warriors to help prop us up when we need it.   So when my own closest friends and family had no idea how to deal with my depression I found other depressives that did.  And I am very grateful for them!

It's ironic to think that being around other women who suffer from anxiety and depression helps me, but boy does it!  I have found that our Support Group is filled with wise, giving, caring women!  And somehow being around others who suffer from the same afflictions that I do strengthens me.  Yes there are tears in our group, but they are nearly always tears of joy!  There is a great catharsis that I feel every time one of the other women expresses her feelings that completely match my own!  And experiencing these beautiful women minister to one another through hope and by the love of Jesus Christ somehow edifies every one of us.

So I would encourage others that suffer from Anxiety and Depression to surround themselves by others that suffer as well - make them your 'go to' group when you are feeling the need to be alone.  Some 'alone time' is quite healthy and should be encouraged.  But when isolation is becoming a detriment to your own well being it is time to stand with others who fully understand what you are going through.

Reach out - you are not alone!

Lesson 4: God's Promise - PEACE

Lesson given October 12, 2010

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!" - John 16:33

One of God's promises to us is that of peace.  But in the midst of an anxiety attack, or a moment of depression peace seems like an impossible dream.  When I was very deeply depressed can remember thinking that I no longer cared if I was happy any more.  All I longed for was to be content.  Contentment seemed the ultimate goal because it embodied peace.  
I still believe that peace and contentment are far better than happiness, for happiness comes and goes depending on your circumstances.  But peace and contentment can be achieved for a lifetime, no matter what your lot in life.
As a child of God you have the right to peace.  The Lord wants you to feel content in all circumstances.  It is your right to feel contentment and peace. The Lord has overcome the world, he can give us peace.

Can you see a difference between happiness and contentment?  

What can you practically do to promote contentment and peace in your life?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

God's Promises Series

Last night we talked about God's Great and Precious Promises and how we must accept them to receive them. Each Tuesday for the next five weeks we'll discuss another of those promises:

Discussion 4 October 12 - Peace
Discussion 5 October 19 - Hope
Discussion 6 October 26 - Joy
Discussion 7 November 2 - Love
Discussion 8 November 9 - VICTORY!

Between meetings please join us on our Facebook Discussion page. Participation in the discussions requires membership to keep the posts and discussions private but if you send me a group membership request I'll be quick to accept it.

Lesson 3 - Receiving Great and Precious Promises

"...He has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires." - 2Peter1:3-4

It's easy to pray, praise and send well wishes to others, isn't it?  But it's very hard to receive those same things for ourselves.  I know you feel this way because I did for years, and at times I still do.

I did not feel worthy of praise, well wishes and certainly not of prayer.  But I was wrong.  And in feeling so I was robbing myself from the Lord's great and precious promises, and I was saying no to God.

You must accept his blessings in order to receive them.  You must understand that it is  not by the standards of this world that we are measured, but we are measured through the eyes of Jesus.  And if he says that you are worthy of a blessing, who are you to deny it?  One way to begin to conquer our anxiety and depression is to gratefully accept the blessings the Lord gives to you.

Can you think of a time when you denied a gift from God, thereby denying yourself the blessing?

What can you do to help yourself feel more worthy of the blessings given to us by our Lord?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lesson 2 - The Real Me

Sept 28, 2010 meeting:

"I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.  My prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of it."  -John 17:14-17

Have you ever felt out of place, always the oddball, never fitting in anywhere in this world?  I never felt like I fit in at any age, but that's because we don't.  We are not of this world.  According to Philippians 3:20 we are citizens of Heaven.  So you don't fit in here in this world at all.

Nevertheless we have to live in this world of pain and suffering.  I still find it difficult to watch the evening news.  Human beings do such horrible things to one another on a daily basis.  But while we walk and live amongst it for a time we must recognize that we are not a part of it.

While our 'alien' nature does not make us immune to the ravages of this world, nor does it relieve us of our responsibilities within the world, it is a huge comfort to know that we are citizens of Heaven, and our God is with us now and always.

Have you ever felt oppressed by the horrors of this world?  How has it effected you?  What does it mean to live in an evil world?

What can we practically do to rise above the pain and suffering that goes on in this world?