All posts filed under: Emotional health

Forgiving ourselves

Though we are exhorted throughout the Bible to forgive others, perhaps the biggest challenge that believers face is forgiving ourselves when we have done wrong. Maybe our actions, intentional or otherwise, caused harm to others or maybe we failed to help, and we just can’t seem to shake these feelings of failure and condemnation. Though the Bible does not directly state that we must forgive ourselves, it is implied throughout the scriptures. We start with how God treats our sins by tossing them into the deepest part of the ocean, which some have described as the sea of forgetfulness: He will again have compassion on us;    he will tread our iniquities underfoot.You will cast all our[a] sins    into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:19 ESV) Isaiah describes God putting our sins behind His back, so He sees them no more (Isaiah 38:17). God has chosen to forgive and completely forget our sins, but many of us struggle with seeing ourselves as God sees u. The Jews understood the importance of this and actually developed the tradition …

How Anne Wilson’s gospel hit, ‘My Jesus’, helped a woman contemplating suicide

Popular Gospel singer Anne Wilson recently told the story of how her hit song, My Jesus, helped a suicidal fan. Raised in a Christian home, Anne rose to fame after she posted a YouTube video of a song that she sang at her brother’s funeral entitled, “What a Beautiful Name.” Her brother, 23, died in a car accident in 2017. This song caught the attention of a Nashville music producer and in April 2021, Anne released her first single, My Jesus, that went on to become a gospel hit. It reached the number one spot on Billboard’s Hot Christian Songs that year, and is currently in the running for the song of the year in the contemporary pop category at this year’s Dove Awards. But in an interview with Christian Headlines, Anne shared the remarkable story of how God used ‘My Jesus‘ to save a woman who was contemplating suicide. Anne told Christian Headlines: “There is a lady that came up to me at the show the other week, she was struggling with cancer and …

Study: Excessive social media leads to depression

Researchers from the Public Policy Program at the University of Arkansas concluded that people who spend an excessive amount of time on social media are more likely to show high levels of depression six months later than those who don’t, Study Finds reports. Curiously, despite displaying high degrees of success and positivity in their posts, months later many were struggling with depression. The researchers came to this conclusion after studying 1,000 people between the ages of 18 and 30 in 2018. Study Finds reports: “Regardless of personality type, social media use increased the risk for future depression diagnoses. However, people who rated high in agreeableness were 49 percent less likely to become depressed than people with low agreeableness. When people with high neuroticism — being in a negative or anxious emotional state — spent over five hours on social media (300 minutes), they were twice as likely to develop depression than others.“ The researchers concluded that the depression was caused because people were comparing themselves to others who were also posting the highlights of their lives or when they …

Granger Smith’s wife, Amber, speaks of her need to forgive others for hurtful comments

Granger Smith, 43, is a country music singer, songwriter, who also goes by the name of Earl Dribbles Jr. He had a number one hit in 2016, Backroad Song and another, If the Boot Fits, was a top ten hit in 2017. In 2010, he married his wife, Amber. But in 2019, the family was struck with tragedy when their three-year-old son, River Kelly, drowned at the family home. Amber, 40, recently share an Instagram Post of people who are still condemning and blaming her three years later for their son’s death. It started after Amber commented on the post of another woman, whose child had also apparently died. “All of us mamas who know this pain have been praying so hard for your family,” Amber wrote. “We are all rallying around you and are here for you. Light will come from the dark. He is working. Bless you for blessing others in your deepest hurt. Sending all our love.” After she posted that comment, the condemnation about her son’s death started pouring in. One …

REJECTION

One of the most difficult challenges a person can experience is rejection and in a recent article in The Epoch Times, Dawn Milberger, 55, shared her story. Dawn had been adopted into a Christian family, and it wasn’t until she was 18 that she discovered the full story of what had happened, when she finally tracked down her birth mother. It was then she discovered that her mother, with the aid of a nursing friend, tried to abort Dawn several times in the first seven months of pregnancy, before eventually giving birth. Her mother’s friend provided abortion-inducing drugs that she stole from the office where she worked. After telling the story, her birth mom pleaded for Dawn to forgive her. This was the ultimate form of rejection and for the next several months, Dawn struggled as anger began building in her heart over the rejection. But with the help of her adoptive parents, Dawn worked through her emotions to forgive her mother. “He can’t build on us if we have unforgiveness on us. Unforgiveness cannot …

How gratitude rewires your brain

In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul writes that we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). The Greek word translated ‘transformed’, metamorphoō, speaks of an utter and complete change. It is where we get the English word metamorphosis, which describes the process when a caterpillar builds a cocoon, dissolves, and reforms into a butterfly. The change is so dramatic that the butterfly can no longer eat the same thing that it did when it lived as a caterpillar. But for the believer, Paul adds that this transformation takes place as we ‘renew’ our minds. Paul uses the same Greek word, anakainoo, when he writes that we are ‘renewed in the spirit of our mind’ (Ephesians 4:22-24). Anakainoo means to ‘make new,’ ‘make different,’ ‘to renovate’ and refers to a dramatic change, and it’s this change in thinking that transforms us. But when Paul speaks of the spirit of our mind, he is speaking about what controls and directs our thinking. Some Bible versions, such as the NIV, …

Finding new gods through Cluster C: How anxious are you?

How anxious are you these days? The world has been a mixed-up place lately, and I know people who are stressed about health, including all the COVID issues; and jobs, careers, and finances; and relationships, including marriages and families; and politics sure are interesting. Right now, scientists are getting stressed about a new variation of COVID known as “Omicron.” I have friends who have stopped reading the news. I know a family that lost their old mother, one year ago. She lived a long life, and she was weak and frail when she died, and I don’t think COVID was a factor. It was sad for them to lose their mother, but they were not surprised when she passed. The problem is the “estate.” Their Mom had her own way of coping with stress; she was a long-time hoarder. She worked for many years in a large retail store, and she had easy access to bargains. Now, one year later, the children are struggling to sort and dispose of all the merchandise, unopened in packages, …

77 | What to do with a strange memory

FOLLOW OUR PODCAST ON (search opentheword): PODCAST NOTES: Hi, my name is Dean Smith and in this podcast, I wonder: am the only person in the world who suddenly has flashbacks of things that happened to them decades ago. Well it happened to me recently and involved an incident of something that took place probably 45 years ago. It was the 1970s. I was in my twenties and driving an old Rambler station wagon. It was a dusty grey colour, probably 15 years old when I bought it. But along with my Toyota Previa, was the most reliable vehicles I have ever owned. I was just saved and attending a young people’s Hippy church, a Jesus People church, where everyone had long hair, including the girls. Back then, I had hair past my shoulders and one of my friends had hair down to his waist. And today, I have sadly resorted to shaving my head, because I am basically bald. It’s very sad. Anyway, I had put a large “JESUS SAVES” bumper sticker on the …

I will show you a better way

When we find ourselves in a messy situation where there is confusion and doubt, I wonder if there isn’t a message in it for us.  And, maybe the message is the Holy Spirit saying, “hold on here, slow down because I want to show you a better way through these circumstances.  The Bible talks about God making the path of life known to us. “You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.” (Psalm 16:11) This verse expresses God’s desire for us to know Him and experience happiness in our lives. There is a better way of doing things. It’s what happened to me several year’s back. I was in a very uncomfortable situation in our church, where I was experiencing rejection from people. No matter what I did, or how hard I tried to gain their approval, nothing changed. In fact, the rejection seemed to get worse. I wanted to defend myself and attack back, and as long as I continued …

From fear to anger

The upheaval on our planet right now has created rifts in relationships online, off-line, in our churches and communities. I cringe when I see unkind comments and anger directed at opposing opinions amongst friends. We find ourselves in a crisis as the pressure builds and creates cracks of division and deep crevices of fear and hopelessness in our lives.  A crisis tends to bring out what is really inside us, and we shouldn’t be surprised by the ranting and pushing all around us. In these moments, love bows to fear as it takes control of our lives and vitriolic words pour off our keyboards onto the screen.   Death or life lies in our hands, and in every crisis there is the opportunity to make things better. Proverbs tells us that life and death is in our tongue (Proverbs 18:21). When we speak we can bring encouragement and life to people, or we can speak with condemnation, anger and bitterness, bringing death. This applies to the things we say and the things we write as we comment …

One prescription for mental stress

I was watching an interesting video the other day by famed University of Toronto psychologist, Jordan Peterson, and he was talking about the mental health struggles that people go through. He compared this problem to a balloon that if you keep pumping air into it will eventually blow up. But, he noted, that this break will take place at the balloon’s weakest point. He says that the same thing happens to people. When life starts getting complicated, and things start piling up, and we are hit with multiple issues at the same time, job loss, health issues, marital problems, the death of family or friends, the pressure builds until sometimes we break at our weakest psychological point. And we are living in very complicated times, with all those issues compounded by a virus, lockdowns and growing societal unrest. So, how to we deal with stress during these anxiety-filled days? Several years back, two researchers, Joshua Brown and Joel Wong, decided to study the impact that thankfulness has on a person’s mental well-being. In their article, …

Rejection or redirection?

Rejection is hard, and repeated rejection can be devastating unless we view it with a healthy perspective. I truly believe that through rejection God wants to show us that there is a better way to fulfill our desires and His plans for our life. Over the years, I have looked to people and church leaders that I believed could help me put in motion my plans to encourage women through various avenues. I gave a lot of time and energy communicating my thoughts to them. There were countless emails and one-on-one meetings in an attempt to connect and create what was on my heart. I tried so hard to make it happen and left no page unturned. However, instead of encouragement, I encountered rejection. Some felt threatened I was competing with them. Others wanted it done their way. Some just ignored me because, they already had a program in the church. But I was simply trying to do, what I believe God had put on my heart, and the repeated rejection was difficult to understand.  That is because, so …

Forgiving others is your gift to you

I have learned over the years that forgiveness isn’t about the one who hurt you.  Forgiving others for what they did, is all about you! It is one of the healthiest choices, you can make for yourself and your well-being. We need to have the mindset that when it comes to forgiving others, you are doing it for you and no one else. Joyce Meyers describes forgiveness as a gift that you give yourself. She writes, “Forgiveness is about you, even if the other person doesn’t forgive you.   Forgiveness begins 100% with you. It’s a gift you give yourself.” Often, we confuse forgiveness with making amends with the person who hurt us. Joyce reiterates that forgiveness has nothing to do with the other person at all! Whether they apologize or don’t, you need to forgive first. At times, we may try to downplay what the other person did to deal with the hurt, but that is not the solution. You need to forgive, because it transforms you from a victim into the victor. I …

One sign that you may have chosen the wrong path

When it comes to the choices we make, particularly as women, many of us don’t realize how our ‘yes’ and ‘no’ is often attached to people-pleasing.  As a woman, whose life was dominated for years by people-pleasing, I can tell you that it does not end well for anyone trying to gain the approval and attention of others, especially of those you feel hold more significance than you. As women, we spend too much time worrying about what others think we should be doing, rather than focussing on what God wants us to do. And it is time, we start checking in with ourselves before we say ‘yes’ or no’ to our involvement in the lives of others, even if their request is a good thing. This requires us to be honest about what we are really feeling about the choices we are presented with.  Why are we doing this? Are we doing it to gain another person’s approval? Are we doing it out of guilt? We need to start trusting our thoughts and feelings, as …

Playing the victim like a puppet on a string

People often find their thoughts and behaviours being affected by the decisions of others, particularly, if the ones closest to them are making choices that they believe are not in their best interests.  Our thoughts begin to revolve around them and overwhelm us, as we allow worry to take over. Our lives become a bit of a blur, as the worry continues to grow. Relationship experts, Stacey and Paul Martino, tell us that when we focus on wanting others to change, we put ourselves in a ‘victim position.’ We are controlled by their choices and start to act like a puppet on a string, yanked around by everything they do.  We need to ‘detach’ from the expectations we put on others and cut the strings that keep us under the control of their choices. God wants us to live happy and healthy lives, emotionally, physically and spiritually.  As we transfer our expectations from our loved ones and place our hopes and desires for them on the shoulders of our Father God, we will be able to focus on our …

The red flag: Moving past anger

When dealing with anger, it seems that we often make it about the other person, the one who sparked our anger. We blame our anger on them and their actions or words, and rarely about our response and the way we handled the offence. I read where one author treated his anger like a marker or a red flag, as he called it. Whenever he felt a reaction to an offence and recognized the anger that was rising from it, he literally visualized planting a red flag in the ground, staking out where his anger began. From that moment, he would take personal responsibility for his anger and not make it about the other person, as he intentionally worked towards creating a response that would bring resolve and peace for himself.   Looking back at the red flag marker, he could see how far he had come from his initial response.   This has been an awesome visualization that I practice when I feel anger stirring in me.  And, the goal, of course, is to move past the red …

A broken heart can physically break your heart

According to researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) an emotionally broken heart has the potential to physically damage a person’s heart. Though the condition called Takotsubo syndrome (TTS) is rare, it is potentially fatal and is found most often in women. Researchers from Harvard stated that 90% of the cases involved women between the ages of 58 to 75. The research team from MGH stated that TTS occurs when a person undergoes a stressful event that results in increased activity in a person’s amygdala, an organ located on either side of our cerebrum that controls our memory and emotions. This in turn can cause increased activity in a person’s heart that can actually cause physical damage resulting in what is referred to as a “broken-hearted syndrome. According to the researchers, there are several things that can lead to this condition including such stress producing factors as: Death of a child or spouse Death of a pet Divorce or break up Job loss Infidelity Unfortunately, these type of events are a part of real life. God …

This Hurts Too Much

Did you ever try to focus on something that was or is just too painful? That’s what happened to me these past few weeks. I wanted to really dig into the tragedy of murdered and missing Indigenous women in Canada but I found myself holding back. There are a few reasons for this. One might be my own experiences of being marginalized. Another might be that the injustice and lack of public outcry anger me. I have written previously about how poverty and prejudice impacted my life. While I am in a place now in which prejudice and out-casting no longer affect me, I am still hurting for those for whom it does affect. And in these days of double racism, a dangerous idea in which people of color accuse white people of racism with racist chants and slogans of their own, there is so much division and hatred.  Violent elements have taken advantage of this and have burned and destroyed businesses and lives under the umbrella of social justice. It feels like they are …

Are you trapped in your past trauma?

“Instead, the wandering is slow. It’s healing. It’s devoid of shame. God takes those who have been traumatized and frightened by the hand and leads them through.” – Dr. Jill Richardson (First 5) What is ‘trapped trauma’? Trapped trauma describes people who are trapped by their past negative experiences. They can’t seem to move past it. It hangs like an anchor to their souls. I began to read about this condition that many find themselves ‘trapped’ in.  I have not experienced physical trauma, but I do know the symptoms of emotional trauma, and it can feel as torturous as the physical and I have been trapped by it. Trauma does take time to heal, but often people will resist the steps needed to be freed from it. While in slavery in Egypt, the Israelis had been beaten and abused. Yet, as God wanted to release them from their captivity, the Israelites resisted Moses encouragement and instructions to move out of their slavery into the Promised Land. They remained trapped in Egypt as they struggled to …

Brett chose not to become a stabbing victim

In a video on CBN, Brett Lynn, who works as a mechanic in a family owned business in Philadelphia explains how the Holy Spirit stopped him from becoming a stabbing victim. In 2013, he had just dropped his children off at gymnastics, and he was pulling into the driveway of his home around 6 PM when he noticed someone trying to break into vehicles in the lot of the family business near his home. Brett got out of his car and confronted the man. But the man immediately reacted when Brett told him to leave. Brett braced for a physical confrontation, but unknown to Brett, the man had a knife and stabbed Brett in gut and then ran off. At first Brett thought he had been punched but when he grabbed his stomach, he actually felt his intestines. But as the ambulance was taking him to the hospital, the Holy Spirit was already speaking to Brett about needing to forgive the man. The man who stabbed Brett had graduated from Brett’s high school, and had …

Exposing secret strongholds

At the beginning of the COVID pandemic, we had some unusually strong winds blowing through our city and province. It was a pounding and relentless wind that went on for several weeks. It was uncomfortable to even be outside and people wondered when the winds would stop blowing. During this time, I often went onto our deck, faced the wind, looked up at the open sky above our yard and played ‘Catch the Wind” by Bethel Music.  Sometimes, I would just stand facing the wind and praying. At other times, I would pick up my flags, dance and worship on the deck and blow my Shofar. (I am sure it had my neighbors wondering what is that?) In the Old Testament, as Israel marched around the city of Jericho, a natural stronghold in the Promised Land, the Shofar was sounded to announce God’s victory and the pulling down of Jericho’s walls. I play my Shofar with the same expectation of victory. But the Bible also talks about spiritual strongholds that need to be pulled down …

A better way?

“Now eagerly desire the greater gifts And yet I will show you the most excellent way.” (1 Corinthians 12:31) Strong’s Greek Dictionary defines “way” in this verse as a road or a journey: A way – (Strong’s Greek 3598 – A way, road, journey, path. Apparently a primary word; a road; by implication, a progress; a mode or means This verse is talking about the specific journey that God has for all of us. The first step is learning to love ourselves because we were created in the image of God and that means we cannot hate or despise ourselves. How can we love others while hating ourselves? This verse also talks about the many gifts God gives His children to serve Him. We serve God best when we embrace our unique gifts and talents that have been given for us to serve this world.  Each one of has a purpose that we can step into and live out our journey through life. This verse has been ringing in my ears these past months because life’s …

Entering the void

If you are like me, you want the comfortableness of certainty in your life. And over these past few months that has been completely shattered, I have said ‘we will get through this’ to myself and others too many times. Often, when we enter a desert time, familiarity is stripped away and uncertainty becomes our ‘new normal’. This season has several names, the unknown, the void or the desert. Yes, we can get through this, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that things will be better. It may also be different from what you were expecting. If you are counting on certainty, this fleeting hope could ruin your life. There is a risk that comes with living and instead of constantly fighting it, we need to go with it. It’s the tension of the unknown and realizing that nothing is for certain that keeps us alert and alive. This is where God’s grace needs to become our ‘new normal.’  Getting through these times, requires us to recognize the tension that grace holds for us. Grace holds …

What being easily offended says about you

The writer of Proverbs describes a person, who is not easily offended by what others say about them, as being a person of glory: A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger,And it is his glory to overlook a transgression. (Proverbs 19:11) Notice how the writer says that it is a person’s glory to overlook a transgression. In other words, the ability to overlook an offence says a lot about who you are. According to Terri Cole, my favourite on-line therapist, being offended is an ego response to what someone says to you or about you. You cannot control what others say or think about you. What matters is what you think in your heart about you! Being easily offended, means you are allowing others to define who you are. When you get offended by what they say, you are giving their words more importance than what you think about yourself or what God says about you. Cole says an ego-offended state also perpetuates a victim mentality which disempowers you and redirects your focus off …