Monday, February 24, 2014

Am I Really Qualified to Help Others?

A particular thought has bothered me lately: what are my qualifications to write a blog on such a serious subject? Am I even qualified to help others with life's hardships?

My goal is to help people suffering through emotional distress. But I'm not a psychiatrist, psychologist, or even a licensed counselor. Who am I to say what a person is supposed to do when struggling with depression?

I am just a broke, mid-twenties wife and mom living in middle class America. There's really nothing special about me. So why do I even bother?

Then God reminds me:

Sunday, February 23, 2014

My Hiding Place

Psalm 32:7
You are my hiding place; You
preserve me from trouble;
You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah.

This verse is music to my ears. One of my hardest struggles is watching too much TV. That may sound like such a silly little thing to struggle with, but it is a place I have given Satan a foothold.  At times that I have just wanted to ignore pressures of life or even lying, worthless thoughts in my head, I will turn on Netflix to distract myself from worrying about it. TV has become my "hiding place."

I believe the TV addiction in my life is just as serious as someone else's drug, alcohol, or sex addiction. The addiction I have may not have quite as serious effects on my physical body as other addictions, but I believe at times it has taken just as much of a toll on my spiritual life. (Please note that I am NOT saying watching TV is wrong, such as when you're bored or as a time to just hang out with someone. But it can become a sin when it is used in place of spending time with God and trusting God in times of trouble).

Nothing else, whatever it may be, can be an effective hiding place. Does TV ever preserve me from trouble or surround me with songs of deliverance? Definitely NOT! It may get my mind off my troubles for an hour, but then they all come flooding back once the episode is done. Only Yahweh can preserve us from trouble and deliver us! Which gives us reason to praise Him with songs of deliverance.

Jesus is my TRUE hiding place. I love that! I can hide from this world in spending time with Him! And He is eternal, unlike this cruddy world. And so hiding in Him is not wasting time, it is making the most of it! The God, Creator of everything, All-Powerful Ruler, is our hiding place. I find that fact incredibly comforting. I pray He brings this verse to mind whenever I am tempted to just flip on the TV to escape discouraging thoughts.

Check out the entire psalm. It is such a great psalm written by David to encourage others to repent of their sins and seek the Lord.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Spiritual Challenge

You know how people say that admission is the first and hardest step to healing? Most of the time this is used in regards to someone needing to admit they have an addiction. I feel like this step can also apply to feelings of depression and loneliness. Of course, most people know if they are feeling depressed or lonely, but some people don't admit that they themselves have some influence and control over it. We fall into such deep pits of horrible emotions for many reasons. It takes no effort to allow bitterness to settle into the soul and let it darken one's view of life, especially people.

I just recently saw a Facebook post asking why people allow themselves not to trust others. The fairly long post talked about how we, as Christians, need to be focused on opening up to each other and building each other up. The poster ended along the lines of a challenge for us Christians to focus on becoming trustworthy people that others can open to and count on to lift them up. (I believe 1 John 4 shows that God wants us to do this).

I hope we all take up that challenge, but a step needs to be taken first: admission. Admitting to God that you (and I!!) have not trusted enough in Him. When we allow ourselves to be so beaten down from the hurt and betrayal of others that we cannot reach out to make new friendships, we are not trusting God in His all-sustaining love for us. It can be so easy to blame God for feeling unwanted by people. But if we are not actively seeking to build and sustain our relationship with Him, then how can we blame Him for allowing the very thing we do?!

So my spiritual challenge to both you and me is this: to daily seek quality time with Him the way we wish others would for us. If we seek out His character and His kingdom, the rest that we need will be taken care of.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Remembering God

It can be so easy to get caught up in how much life sucks. Viewing life in a negative, pessimistic darkness takes almost everything good out of a person. But as much as it sucks to focus on how much life sucks, I still do it (and I post this blog in hopes that I am not alone in that). A few examples: Despite the many blessings I've received lately, I tend to overlook them. Instead of attempting to build potential friendship, I wallow in frustration over the ones I've lost. Instead of using my thoughts to pray to God for others, I use them to discourage myself and my self-worth. I fail at remembering God day in and day out, especially in my self-talk.

Do you see the trend here? It's all about "me", "myself" and "I." As long as I maintain my focus on myself, I will remain discouraged.

I am currently attending a local Bible college, and in my Bible Study Methods class we just went over Mark 11:27-12:44. A couple of themes throughout the passage include Jesus' authority (especially over the religious leaders questioning him) and the idea of giving to Jesus what belongs to Him: us. The poor widow at the very end of the passage gave in all she had to the temple treasury, and Jesus was more pleased with her sacrificial gift than the large amounts of many the rich people were putting in. Why? Because they were giving out of their "surplus"...essentially their leftover money. But she was giving her first and her all.

Some people ask: how can I give God anything when I have nothing to give? If you are so discouraged and distraught (whether it be from internal, emotional struggle like me or from life circumstances like many other people), let me just remind you of who God is. Check this out:

He is amazing! And He loves you! And I don't mean that in the way the I love Blue Bell Dutch Chocolate Ice Cream. I mean an unconditional, sacrificial, all-sustaining love!! God's character trumps our heartaches any day because, no matter how much life sucks, we have this true hope that it won't last forever! And those who have faith in Jesus' sacrifice get to enjoy that moment when they see Him in heaven. It is reality that eternity with Jesus exists!