Oh Happy Day (?)

According to the trending news feed on my Facebook page, today is supposed to be “International Day of Happiness”.

Since 2013, the United Nations has celebrated the International Day of Happiness as a way to recognise the importance of happiness in the lives of people around the world.

It is somewhat ironic for me that it falls on a day when I am NOT feeling happy.

My hubby is home sick – AGAIN. He has used up all his sick days and he is now quickly running out of vacation days. I am stressed because our finances are really being stretched at this point. The situation will become worse if my hubby runs out of vacation days and has to start losing paid days. The stress is making me anxious and the anxiety is making me grumpy and definitely UNhappy!

Now I am feeling self-condemnation because, as a Christian, am I not supposed to be “happy” at all times – despite my circumstances?

So I have decided to do a bit of research on the concept of “happiness”.

The online Merriam-Webster Dictionary gives the following simple definitions of “happy” and “happiness”:

: feeling pleasure and enjoyment because of your life, situation, etc.

: a state of well-being and contentment

Well, according to the dictionary, I may have some right to my current state of unhappiness as my “situation” is stressful which is not enabling me to live in a state of “well-being and contentment”.

But is that an accurate “truth”? The fact is that my current situation is stressful, but the whole truth is that, according to the Word of God, because I am a child of God, I should still be living in peace and contentment, regardless of circumstances.

Pro 16:20 … and whoever trusts in Jehovah, happy is he. 

It is interesting to note that the 1828 edition of Webster’s Dictionary includes the following statement as part of the definition of “happy”:

The pleasurable sensations derived from the gratification of sensual appetites render a person temporarily happy; but he only can be esteemed really and permanently happy, who enjoys peace of mind in the favor of God. 

Notice that the first part of the above statement says that happiness derived from gratifying “sensual appetites” (not meaning just sex but anything that pleases all of our five physical senses) only gives temporary happiness. True and permanent happiness comes from knowing God as a faithful, trustworthy, loving, merciful, gracious, compassionate, understanding and forgiving Heavenly Father.

I am a very emotional person and for me, happiness is an emotion based on circumstance rather than on a conscious state of being based on faith. I definitely need to work on that!

Having said that, I do believe that there are times when it is okay to be unhappy. Even the Bible says so!

Ecc 3:1 To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heavens: …
Ecc 3:4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

But I am going to try to work harder at feeling, if not “happy” in certain circumstances, then at least feeling more peaceful knowing that God is in control.

And I am going to review my previous post If You’re Happy and You Know It .

Wishing you much happiness on this International Day of Happiness. 🙂

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Earworm

An earworm, sometimes known as a brainworm, sticky music, or stuck song syndrome, is a catchy piece of music that continually repeats through a person’s mind after it is no longer playing. (Wikipedia)

I am sure that we have all experienced the above phenomenon at one time or another. There are times when I have an earworm singing and I don’t even know how it got into my head in the first place! Sometimes when I wake up in the morning, I already have one singing away! (The early bird gets the worm??)

Aside from the annoying songs and commercial jingle earworms, I can also suffer from negative thought earworms. Joyce Meyers would call it “stinkin’ thinkin”! Fear and anxiety earworms are my most common ones followed by insecurity and poor-self-image earworms.

These earworms chant a changing chorus of “you’re sick again”, “you’re still in pain”, “you’re too tired”, “you don’t have enough money to pay the bills”, “your loved ones are in trouble – again”, “you’re overweight”, “you’re not doing enough for God”, “you’re not believing enough” etc., etc., etc.!

Blessedly, there is treatment for those negative earworms! I simply apply a good dosing of the truth of God’s Word. By filling my head, and my heart with what God has to say about any of those situations, I can drown out those negative earworms. I choose to change the channel and tune into the good things that God has to say about me and think upon all the good things that He has given me.

Php 4:8 Finally, my brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are right, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue and if there is any praise, think on these things. 

Php 4:7 And the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

See – no more negative earworms!

Blessings

The Song That Never Ends  

This is the song that never end
Yes, it goes on and on my friend
Some people started singing it not knowing what it was
And they’ll continue singing it forever just because
This is the song that never ends…

(Norman Martin)

TEE-HEE!

(Earworm image from Room217.ca)

The “F” Word

I wonder if I raised a few eyebrows with today’s title?

No, I am not going to write about the “F” word that probably springs to mind first (especially when stubbing one’s toe). I am going to write about another “bad” four letter word that begins with “F”,  and that is “Fear”.

While I intensely dislike hearing the foul “F” word, I hate feeling the “F” word of “Fear”.

(I am not referring to the “fear of the Lord” which is the  holy awe and reverence that we should have for God.)

It seems like fear has ruled, controlled, affected my life, and made me feel powerless ever since I was a very young child.

The marital unhappiness of my parents and my mother’s subsequent depression left me fearful of what would happen to my family and to my Mom.

When I was very young, I suffered a few severe respiratory infections. The doctor made house calls at that time, and she would come on a regular basis to give me injections. I absolutely HATED those needles and I can remember one time where they had to chase me around the table before they could grab me. I remember another time I was so filled with fear that I had to vomit into a potty. I developed a real fear of needles after that and immunization time at school was pure torture for me. The smell of rubbing alcohol can still make my stomach clench. (But I became a nurse – figure that one out! LOL)

When I was around 11 years old, I was attacked by a young man when my youngest sister and I were playing in the bush behind our house. While he only managed to carry me off a few feet before I got away, the experience was absolutely terrifying and left me filled with fear about men and literally scared of my shadow.

I would be filled with fear if I was late for school. I experienced fear when I had to walk into the cafeteria by myself.

I was afraid of disappointing  and/or angering my parents, my relatives, my teachers, my boyfriends, my boss, my co-workers, my husband, my pastor, and my church. And I was very afraid of not pleasing God.

I have been afraid that I laugh too loud; that I say stupid things and appear a fool; that I am not smart enough; not pretty enough; not thin enough.

Financial constraints have been a very large aspect of my life so there have been many times when I have been filled with fear about how to pay bills or how to purchase necessary items.

The stress caused by all of this fear since the time I was very small has had very detrimental affects on me. I have developed chronic physical health issues, cancer, and mental health issues such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, panic attacks, and depression.

So you can see why I hate the “F” word of “Fear”.

Fear paralyzes. Fear controls. Fear inhibits. Fear can lead to despair which can lead to taking desperate measures. Fear stunts growth – mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Fear can destroy. Fear sucks!!

The apostle Paul tells us that fear does not come from God.

2Ti 1:7 For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 

So where does fear come from?

The first mention of the emotion of fear in the Bible was after Adam and Eve had disobeyed God by eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Gen 3:10 And he said, I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I am naked, and I hid myself.

I find it interesting to note that fear was unknown before there was knowledge of evil. Evil brings fear. When Adam and Eve had committed evil, and knew that they had committed evil, they were filled with fear. Adam had lost the covering of glory that God had given to him. Adam saw himself as he was -naked, helpless, shameful, disobedient – and this filled him with fear.

Disobeying God is sin. Fear is a consequence of sin. The world has been filled with both sin and fear ever since Adam and Eve disobeyed God.

Did you know that in the King James Bible, the word “fear” is mentioned 400 times and “afraid” is used 193 times? That’s a whole lot of “fear factor” happening!

But there is hope! There is a way to overcome fear and that way is through faith in Jesus Christ because he is the Son of God.

Rom 8:15 For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption by which we cry, Abba, Father!

When we believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are freed from the fear of death.

Heb 2:14,15 Since then the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise partook of the same; that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death (that is, the Devil), and deliver those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

No matter what the circumstances or situation, we don’t need to fear when we have Jesus in our lives.

While walking on storm tossed waters, Jesus told the disciples that they did not need to be afraid because of who he was.

Mat 14:27 But instantly Jesus spoke to them, and said, “There is no danger; it is I; do not be afraid.” (WNT)

With Jesus by our side, we don’t need to fear what others think about us or what they may say or do to us.

Heb 13:6 so that we may boldly say, “The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do to me.” 

God loves us. Jesus loves us. When we begin to understand the great love that they have for us, we can begin to let go of the fear, knowing and trusting that we are safe in their love.

1Jn 4:18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has torment. He who fears has not been perfected in love.

Mar 5:36 … Jesus said … Do not be afraid, only believe.

Blessings

 

 

 

It’s All In Your Head

May 4-10, 2015 is Mental Health Week here in Canada. Just as almost everyone can name someone in their family who has been affected by cancer, so, I think,  can we say the same thing about mental illness. I have a relatively small family, but I know of a number of my relatives who either battled mental illness in the past or who continue to live with various aspects of mental illness.

I myself battle Generalized Anxiety Disorder, panic attacks, and occasional bouts of depression. And I am a Christian.

I added the latter statement because oftentimes the pressures of being a Christian made it even more difficult to come to terms with and accept the fact that I have mental health issues. Sometimes the pressures came from within myself from misunderstanding God’s love for me and His will for my life. At other times, the pressures came from other Christians who ‘offered’ ‘helpful spiritual advice’. (I say this with sarcasm) My Mom calls those types of Christians “Job’s miserable comforters”.

Let’s face it – mental illness still carries a stigma, both outside and inside the church.

I have suffered panic attacks since I was very young; and I have already mentioned that there is a family history of mental illness. But, I have believed in Jesus since I was a girl. Therefore, it can not be the simple fact that I suffer because I am an unsaved sinner. Every single human ever born since Adam and Eve’s children, (with the exception of Jesus) have been born in sin. Therefore if being a sinner is the reason for all mental illness, then every human who ever lived has been mentally ill. (I sometimes think that this is true when I look at the state of the world!)

Well then, since I am saved, then perhaps my mental illness is due to some sin that I have not dealt with?? When I accepted Jesus as my Saviour, He washed away all my sins. Not only that, by accepting Jesus, I have ‘put on’ the life of Christ. I have God, in Christ, in me! So, while I still make mistakes in my life, sin can no longer live in me because of what Christ did. Again, if unresolved sin is the cause of mental illness, everyone would be mentally ill because “all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God”.

As much as I have hated suffering chronic pain and fatigue and being diagnosed with cancer, I have hated suffering mental illness. And just as I have fought my other health issues with everything that I could, I have fought against mental illness. I have prayed – intensely – for healing and deliverance. I have claimed scriptures. I have rebuked the enemy. I have spent hours and hours studying the subject of divine healing. I was led to believe that taking medication meant that I was doubting my healing, so I stopped taking my medication, which led to unpleasant repercussions.

I finally came to the conclusion that God is concerned about my quality of life. He gave mankind knowledge to develop medications and treatments to help us when we are sick. God knows that I don’t want to be ill. He knows the road of faith that I have walked in an effort to manifest my healing. God wants me as happy and healthy as I can be and if that means that I must take medication, then He sees with mercy and grace. God would rather have me alive and functioning as an active member of the body of Christ, rather than sick, in an institution, or dead.

I urge you, if you think or know, that you or a loved one has mental health issues, please seek proper medical help. And as you receive that medical help, thank God as you continue to seek His will and His wisdom. Continue to walk in faith, in hope believing for your deliverance. God loves you!

And if you are a Christian who knows another Christian who may be battling mental health issues, please, please do not be numbered among Job’s miserable comforters. Do not judge, criticize or condemn. Be loving. Be patient. Be compassionate. Be understanding. Be supportive. Be forgiving. Seek Godly knowledge, wisdom, counsel and understanding. And pray.

Rom 15:13 And may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

I am including a link to Canadian Mental Health Association.

http://mentalhealthweek.cmha.ca/your-mental-health/mental-health-fact-sheet/

Blessings

 

In The Suffering

In a number of previous posts, I have shared my struggles with various health issues. I share them for a number of reasons. Firstly, I want people to understand that being a Christian does not mean that everything is going to be sweetness and light. Secondly, I want readers to know that I am a real person with real struggles and that I constantly need to turn to God for help, comfort and strength. And thirdly, I want others who may be suffering and/or struggling to know that there is a God of love, comfort, peace and joy who is ready, willing and able to help us through any and all the things that we may go through in this life.

Joh 16:24 Before now you have asked nothing in My name; ask (in the name of Jesus) and you shall receive, that your joy may be full.

1Jn 3:21,22 Beloved, if our heart does not accuse us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask, we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.

Eph 3:20 Now to Him (God) who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,…

The month of February has been a challenging one for me physically. It has been bitterly cold with high winds and blowing snow. My pain and fatigue levels have increased as have depression and anxiety. All of this on top of having to pack and clean for a move. To say that I am a bit grumpy at times may be an understatement. To be honest, I am fed up!!

Yet, even as I sit here feeling like crap (yes, I am a Christian and I said ‘crap’) I realize that I have many blessings for which I should be thankful.

I am thankful for medicinal ‘helps’ which God provides to alleviate my symptoms. I am thankful that He does not judge me for my lack of faith in my moments of weakness. Rather, I know that He is compassionate and understanding.

Psa 86:15 But You, O God, are God full of pity, and gracious, long-suffering, and rich in mercy and truth.

Likewise, I know that my Saviour, Jesus, also suffered pain, fatigue and sorrow.

Heb 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted just as we are, yet without sin.

In this miserable weather, I am thankful for warm clothes and shelter. I think of, and pray for, those who must endure this weather without benefit of warm clothes or shelter and I help in whatever way I can.

1Ti 6:8 But having food and clothing, we will be content.

In my pain, fatigue and grumpiness, I am very thankful for a loving, compassionate, understanding and patient husband. I thank God for my hubby every day because he loves me as God commands a husband to love his wife.

Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it,

In my rough mornings, I am thankful for a comfortable chair, a hot cup of tea, a purring cat upon my lap and a good book to read. I am even more blessed if the sun is shining upon my face.

In my suffering, I am thankful for dear sisters-in-Christ who pray for me and offer words and gestures of help and comfort.

1Th 5:11 Therefore comfort one another, and edify one another, even as you also do.

Jas 5:16 Confess faults to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous one avails much.

And in my suffering, I am so grateful for the sure knowledge of my salvation and for the hope that when Jesus comes again, I will be made whole and I will no longer endure suffering, pain or sorrow.

1Ti 2:3,4 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Rev 21:4 And God will wipe away all tears from their eyes. And there will be no more death, nor mourning, nor crying out, nor will there be any more pain; for the first things passed away.

PRAISE GOD!

I pray that you will reach out to God in your suffering and find help in your time of need.

Heb 4:16 Therefore let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Blessings

 

 

 

The Scream

(The following post is about a topic that is close to me heart – er – rather me head)

In Canada, it is national Mental Health Awareness Week so I thought that I would share a bit about my personal battle in the hope that it may encourage others who suffer and help to educate those who don’t.

According to Wikipedia, Expressionist painter, Edvard Munch, wrote the following poem based on a diary entry he had previously made,  onto the frame of the 1895 pastel version of his famous artwork known as “The Scream”.

“I was walking along the road with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature”.

The artist, Edvard Munch suffered from mental illness. Many, many famous artists, writers, musicians and actors have suffered from various mental problems. But mental illness is not the sole domain of creative people – many “regular” folks suffer too. I know, because I am one of them.

Although I have had cancer, it does not seem as if it has come as close to threatening my life the way that mental illness has done. I have battled depression, anxiety and panic attacks. Like Edvard Munch, I too have sensed “an infinite scream” passing, not through nature, but through myself. I have stood at the edge of the black abyss contemplating a jump into nothingness.

This post is somewhat of a personal challenge to write as there is a stigma attached to mental illness. I have encountered that stigma from both the medical profession and the public, including some family members. I even had one doctor who told me that the reason I was having panic attacks was because I was “high strung”! And then there are those “well-meaning” Christians who like to quote the various scripture verses that tell us not to be anxious and to “count it all joy”.

There is the idea out there that all we have to do is “pull ourselves up by our bootstraps” and “buck – up”. If only it were that easy! Most people will experience periods of sadness and/or anxiety in their lives due to various circumstances – illness, death of a loved one, loss of a job, etc. however, when those circumstances are over, the sadness and /or anxiety usually ends. But for many of us who suffer a mental illness, the episodes may be triggered by exterior circumstances but more often they happen for no apparent reason at all. The reality is that while there may be no “apparent” or visible reason for a mental illness, there still is a very real reason. Brain damage from illness, injury, or substance abuse; prolonged and elevated periods of crisis and stress; and inherited genetics can all  affect both the structure and function of the brain. Just one of the preceding factors can upset the delicate balance of chemicals within the brain. And often the only way to adjust that imbalance is to take medication that affects the creation, absorption and metabolism of of those chemicals.

Recently, a friend and fellow sufferer told me that her doctor explained it to her this way: the brain is an organ like the pancreas, liver and kidneys. When the pancreas doesn’t work properly, a person has to take insulin. When kidneys don’t work, dialysis is required. So when the organ of the brain doesn’t function properly, medication is required.

I want to make an important statement here: if you suffer from mental illness and are currently taken medication for treatment – “DO NOT STOP TAKING YOUR MEDICATION” without proper medical advice and supervision! As a Christian, I believe in divine healing, and as such, I was led to believe, by many healing ministries, that if I truly believed in healing, I would step out in faith and stop taking my medication. I tried and BIG MISTAKE! Not only did I start suffering symptoms again, I had to go through very unpleasant withdrawal. On top of all that, I had feelings of guilt over the fact that since I was not manifesting my healing I must not be believing enough. (Again, if you are a Christian, DO NOT allow another Christian, whether they be a minister, faith healer or another believer, lay guilt at your door and pressure you into stopping your medication) I believe that God led me to finally understand that what is most important to Him is my quality of life. God wants us to be healthy and happy. So I have decided that if I have to take medication in order to enjoy a fulfilling life, then so be it! I still believe in divine healing, but until that time arrives, I will do whatever is necessary to be as happy and as healthy as I can be. I can’t be an effective (I hope) witness for God if I am dead!

 But by God’s great mercy and grace, I am still here.  And by His incredible, matchless love and grace, I am the mental “healthiest” and happiest that I have ever been in my life. The road has been long and hard and there is still the occasional speed-bump, but I have hope that the journey before me will be much smoother than the one behind me has been.

If you think that you may be suffering from some form of mental illness, please don’t be ashamed. Seek good medical help and counselling. And seek God too; He loves you so much and He wants to help.

If you know of someone who may be suffering from mental illness, please don’t be judgmental. Be patient, kind, compassionate, understanding and supportive. And pray for them!

I steal part of a quote from British Prime Minister Winston Churchill – “WE SHALL NEVER SURRENDER”

May God bless you with peace and joy.