Life Didn’t End Back Then (A New Creation)

Yesterday afternoon, I was catching up with some YouTube sermons of a preacher I used to follow, when a scripture he was teaching out of really caught me, 2 Corinthians 5:17:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

The Mirror has it thusly:

In the light of your co-inclusion in his death and resurrection, whoever you thought you were before, in Christ you are a brand new person! The old ways of seeing yourself and everyone else are over. Acquaint yourself with the new!

I reckoned at that moment that my thinking had been wrong: I had been thinking that my life had ended five years ago, when I had a mental breakdown, and that I would never get past that–something along those lines. The shame of having broken inside was something from which I could never recover.

But I am a New Creation. It remains to be seen what I really am–but I know what I’m not.

I’m not crazy. I’m not a mental case. I’m not a hopeless wreck on the side of the road, doomed to rot. I’ve been born again. My life isn’t over–it’s just getting started. I’m new inside–a kainos creation (new in quality and kind).

Therefore I can move on. And since you are part of the new creation too, so can you.

You’re Not A Mess (Even When You Are)

Photo by Ashim D’Silva on Unsplash

One of the biggest problems that people with mental health issues have is their perception of themselves. The Church hasn’t been of much help in this, focusing on sin and depravity more than focusing on how God actually thinks about us. We think many thoughts daily that are unworthy of our grand position in Christ–and this goes for both believers and non-believers, for ‘God is no respecter of persons’. His opinion of us stands, no matter what.

I’ve collected a few quotes here that may help with this.

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you. (Psalm 139)

I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of. For to have been thought about—born in God’s thoughts—and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest, most precious thing in all thinking. – George MacDonald

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which,if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. – C.S. Lewis

Continue reading “You’re Not A Mess (Even When You Are)”

The Tyranny of Memories: An Unsolved Puzzle

Photo by Ken Treloar on Unsplash

Edit: I may have a partial solution to this problem, which I’ll write about soon.

I hope in the last post that you didn’t think that I have it all together now, because I don’t. Today I’m going to share with you something that I don’t have a solution for, just a partial answer. I post what I’ve found here in the hopes that perhaps we can find an answer together.

One of my chief difficulties lately has been dealing with the memories of past events–embarrassing things I have done and said from my childhood up until now. The embarrassment is just as acute as when I first did or said whatever it was. I can’t get it to go away easily. I kick myself around for a while. In Charismatic fashion, I’ve tried ‘binding’ the thought and ‘casting it down’, which doesn’t work.

Something that has helped me this week is this little phrase. I don’t know where it came from, because I can’t find an attribution:

I have sensations, but I am not those sensations.

I have feelings, but I am not those feelings.

I have thoughts, but I am not thoughts.

This has helped me let go of the thoughts a little easier: I have thoughts, but I am an observer of those thoughts, and those thoughts do not dictate who I am or how I live. They’re just noise, and I can be an impartial observer and just let those thoughts go, because they are not me.

This has helped me a little. I think that ultimately I am going to have to come to peace with myself and my past, and I don’t know how that will go. I am slowly learning to look inward and accept myself, but in the meantime, I press on and do whatever helps me get through the day. Sometimes getting through the day is the best you can do, and there’s no shame in that.

A Good Day

Photo by Samantha Lynch on Unsplash

A while back I explained how I was using this phrase, or mantra, or confession:

Today’s going to be a good day, whether it is or not.

Over the past few weeks I’ve shortened that to:

Today is a good day.

Maybe it’s the former Charismatic in me talking, but I think that what I’m saying is working.

Let me clarify what I mean by ‘a good day’:

  1. One in which I didn’t have a panic attack or other mental health breakdown, or if I did, it wasn’t too bad.
  2. One in where I was able to ‘get in the flow’ and stay there for at least part of the day.

Neither of these are exciting things that make me gush with happiness, but that’s the point: to set the bar low, and anything above that low bar means I had a good day.

Maybe I’m being overoptimistic here, but it seems like this has helped me have more ‘good days’ than not. Give it a shot yourself for a few weeks and let me know if it helps you.

‘Lord, Help!’

It has long been my belief that the most holy, most sanctified, and possibly the most important prayer one can pray is also one of the simplest:

“Lord, help!”

Often I find my emotions going one way and life circumstances going a different way and I am stuck in the middle, feeling frustrated or overwhelmed. It is at those times, which are frequent, that I pray this one prayer.

“Help me, Lord.”

There is also a personal adaptation of ‘Jesus Loves Me’ that I sometimes sing to myself on these occasions:

Jesus help me, this I ask
I’m insufficient for this task
I need you to light my way
Every night and every day

Oh, Jesus, help me
Yes, Jesus, help me
Yes, Jesus, help me
I need you every day

Sometimes I feel ashamed that I am in constant need of divine help just to make it through some days. But who else would I ask for help from? I already take my medication. I ask for prayer from my wife. But the quickest way to fix the situation is to go straight to the Source. And when I pray, I find my emotions calming down, my perspective shifting a little, and a bit of peace coming in where there was unrest.

“Jesus, help me.”

Perhaps much of my prayer seems self-centered. But how else should I pray? I cannot help others if the spark of joy, creativity, contentment, and peace are not active within me. Without that stability that comes from God, I can do nothing. I can’t write, I can’t sing, I can’t do much of anything. But what I can do is hunker down and ask God to help me.

“Lord, help.”

‘He is the vine, I am a branch; without him, I can do nothing.’ Thankfully, with him we can do everything that’s necessary. All we have to do is ask for help.

Controlling Anxiety Through Meditation

Note that the post title is meditation, not medication. This post is about Christian meditation and how it’s slowly helping me overcome the breakthrough anxiety that my medication can’t quite reach–those thousand little worried or panicked feelings throughout the day.

But first, the music: the first song off the excellent soundtrack to the game Monument Valley–a peaceful album that just happens to be excellent for times of meditation.

I’ve never spoken about meditation before, but I imagine from articles that I’ve read that, when this practice is mentioned, there typically follows a fear of ‘New Age’ philosophy. I hope the readers of this blog would know me better than that, and have the intelligence to Google ‘Christian meditation’ before panicking. This fear has been addressed hundreds of times before, so I won’t go into that here; rather, I hope to be practical here and explain what exactly I am doing and how it is helping me.

How does meditation work? I’m not sure, but I have heard that it’s really good for one’s mental health, and I have found that to be true. In times of meditation you quiet your mind to focus on a single thought–perhaps a single verse of Scripture, perhaps a concept. The quietness apparently helps, or at least it seems to help me.

More after the break. Continue reading “Controlling Anxiety Through Meditation”

Three Things That Got Me Through Hell

No matter what you believe about hell in the afterlife, if it’s literal or figurative, some of you, like me, have have been through hell on earth, and can testify that it’s no fun. Some of you have a loved one or friend who is hurting inside and you don’t know how to help. Hopefully this post will help you or them a little.

First, though, the music: This Feeling by Ryan Ellis, off the album Kingdom Glory–just because it’s catchy and fun. It helps to listen to good music when you’re talking about serious things.

Continue reading “Three Things That Got Me Through Hell”