Overcoming Despair

(This blog is an encore to the six topic, “Overcoming Series” concluded earlier this week)

 

INTRODUCTION

Despair is hopelessness and hopelessnes is despair. To be in despair is to be without hope. To be without hope is to be in despair. 

DESPAIR SYNONYMS 

  • anguish
  • dejection
  • gloom
  • misery
  • sorrow

Despair encourages surrender, not like pride for humility, but of surrendering to the fatalism that all is lost.

DESPAIR WANTS YOU TO BELEIVE THAT:

  • You will never succeed. 
  • There will never be another chance.
  • No matter what you do, you will fail.
  • Giving up and quitting are the only things you know. 
  • Life has past you by and you’ll never catch up. 

 

THREE SUGGESTIONS

  1. Keep Fighting: failing, falling, and finishing last can be habit-forming. So, no matter what, don’t give in to hopelessness, refuse to believe in it. Some days you won’t have the strength or will to keep fighting, but keep going and keep trying. Persistence will ultimately win the day. 
  2. It’s How You Know: the struggle can be overwhelming, but we strive to overcome what’s overwhelming. If we quit struggling then we accept losing. Battling tough temptations, or the conflict in relationships, or the heartaches of life can threaten to defeat us. If we keep going then we know that we haven’t quit. 
  3. Divine Support: some burdens are too big for one set of shoulders and can lead to deep despair. I can’t carry a bucket of water forever. And what if there’s two buckets? Weighed down, back stooped, neck throbbing, and hands breaking, it’s too much! Prayer and faith can off-load some of the weight. “Cast all your anxiety on him for he cares for you.” I Peter 5:7.

TWO QUOTES

Mahatma Gandhi: “When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won.”   

Marion Bradley: “The road that is built in hope is more pleasant to the traveler than the road built in despair, even though they both lead to the same destination.” 

Despair is hopelessness. And hopelessness is an empty, gut wrenching way to live. Build your life in hope. Believe in the path of truth and love. Do all you can, with divine assistance, to fight against despair!

TO CLOSE

My son is a film maker and part owner of a production company called

Epoch Filmmakers ( epochfilmmakers.com)

He recently wrote, directed, and produced a short film called:

“Despair”

The story is about a dad who happens to be a minister. He begins to believe that is failing both his ministry and his family. The film portrays “Despair” as a character, an enemy who attacks him and plots to destroy him. Will Despair emerge victorious? 

You will be blessed and uplifted by watching the film.

To See the film, “DESPAIR” click here. 

Overcoming Depression, Part Two

INTRODUCTION

It’s a touchy subject and there are lots of opinions and misconceptions. For example, it’s not unusual to hear someone who has had a bad day say, “I feel depressed.” The word has become an umbrella for almost any emotional stress:

  • sadness
  • loneliness
  • disappointment 
  • grief
  • despair
basement_series_sadness-500x332
We get the blues and we get down, but it isn’t necessarily depression. 

In popular culture the word loses identity, so how do you know if you are clinically depressed? Well, there are medical and therapeutic professionals who specialize in the  treatment of depression. Please know that I am neither of those. But as it happens, my wife is a professional counselor and my daughter a practicing therapist. They have helped my understanding. And, I can read. 

NOTE: There was a time when church’s wanted ministers to counsel the members. Many of us had little or no training and were unqualified. We meant well but often waded in to waters over our heads. Today we refer to faith based mental health practitioners. 

CAUSES & SOURCES

Some of the causes of depression:

  • unrealized expectations
  • severe criticism 
  • memories
  • self-preoccupation 
  • cumulative effect from many causes

The encouraging news is that those with depression can get better, they can get help. My advice is to seek wellness with a holistic approach to body, mind, and spirit. But as a minister, I’ll limit my advice to the spiritual. Be sure to understand the following: 

If  you are suffering from depression, or think you are, please seek professional help.

men and women who have failed

THREE SPIRITUAL ENCOURAGEMENTS 

  1. Replace your self with your God. A healthy step is realizing that God loves you and wants to help. He isn’t a genie in a lamp, there are no wishes for making your life better. But you need to recognize that the Lord is on your side. He is larger than your suffering. You are not alone. Let God into your life and live in your heart.
  2. Replace your thoughts with God’s truth. Depression produces a negative state of mind, and is a destructive illness. You will want to tear yourself down, to denigrate yourself and constantly play in an endless loop a message of a guilt, failure, and blame. Those debilitating attitudes are not of God. His message for you is that you are loved, wanted, and have great value. Look to replace your destructive thoughts with his message of love. 
  3.  Replace your past with God’s future. When flat on your back in the pit of despair, there seems to be no way out and no way for life to be good again. You feel defeated and broken, with nothing to look forward to. But it isn’t true, it’s only true that you feel that way. You can’t relive or rewrite your past, but you don’t have let it define you. It’s what you choose to do each day that determines who you are. Your future is a reality that God has promised. You can trade your past with God’s future.

I’ll share with you that I’ve struggled with depression. It comes and goes. Sometimes my struggle is the crushing weight of life we all experience and sometimes it’s something for which I seek help. I’ve learned to recognize the triggers that push me towards depressive thoughts and have acquired techniques that help me avoid sinking into the pit. 

ManWalkingThroughDarkTunnel
We can get better, there is hope, there is light at the end of the tunnel!

THREE THOUGHTS

“You can look around and be distressed. You can look within and be depressed. Or you can look to him and be at rest.”

“Why are you so downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 43

“In this world you will have many problems, but take heart, for I have overcome the world.”

TO CLOSE

In review, I realize how paltry these efforts, how insufficient my words, and what hubris to think a blog post could help overcome depression. I apologize for my inadequacy.

However, I encourage you to make good decisions. Remember, there is more to depression than the spiritual so seek healing of mind, body and spirit. Don’t suffer silently. Help is available. I got better and you can too. 

May God richly bless you as you seek his grace in your time of need. 

Shalom

Overcoming Depression, Part One

This Series Has Addressed The Following

Overcoming:

  1. insecurity
  2. mistakes
  3. failure
  4. inherited behavior
  5. betrayal
  6. loss

The final topic for this series is overcoming depression.

Depression is a wide topic with many trails. Generally, we think of depressed people as being sad, discouraged, or defeated. Clinically, the following symptoms are generally recognized as signs of true depression:

  1. little interest in doing anything
  2. feeling sad or hopeless
  3. trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  4. little energy, always tired
  5. not eating, eating too much, considerable weight changes
  6. feelings of failure and guilt
  7. trouble making decisions
  8. thoughts of harming yourself, even fatally 

THREE FLAWS

When dealing with depression, especially for Christians, there are three flaws we need to acknowledge:

“It’s all in your head, it’s just your imagination.”

“Christians who are depressed just have a lack of faith.”

“If believers are depressed it’s because they are worldly and unspiritual.”

RECENT HISTORY

In the past it was suggested that depression wasn’t real, but an invented “illness” to sell over the counter remedies. Maybe so, but not today, there’s just too much evidence. 

Today, ample research regarding brain chemical imbalances have eliminated such caveman thinking. Those ideas in the past were mistaken, antiquated, and dangerous.

People have lived with depression and not known what caused so much misery.  In the past, people shunned seeking medical or therapeutic assistance due to the stigma of  a mental disorder.

basement_series_sadness-500x332
Depression doesn’t seem real until you have it. 

CONSIDER THESE EXAMPLES

Job: he lost his children, home, all his wealth and his health, and then his wife turned against him. Imagine him sitting on the ash heap scraping himself with pieces of broken pottery. Does he look depressed to you?

King David: When his baby died that Bathsheba delivered, he spent a week on the floor, weeping and grieving. 

Apostle Paul: blinded by the brilliant light he went days without eating as he wrestled with the implications to his future. He faced a total life reboot.

In my opinion, each struggled with levels of depression. If you read the book of Job, or research the lives of David and Paul, you’ll realize they were men of deep faith. Would you tell them that they were weak, worldly or faithless? That it was all in their heads?

IN CLOSING

Look for Part Two of Overcoming Depression this Wednesday morning. I’ll seek to offer encouragement and suggestions for getting help and coping with debilitating depression. 

 

Overcoming Loss, Part Two

INTRODUCTION

In Monday’s blog,  Overcoming Loss, Part One I mentioned losing my teddy bear Charlie. He would he never be replaced, but there were new things to look forward to. Can we look forward to new things when the losses are more significant? 

Loss is when we give our best effort and still lose. It’s about relationships broken by death or conflicts. Another kind is when we lose ourselves. 

ManWalkingThroughDarkTunnel
There are many kinds of loss, some more difficult than others.

THREE KINDS OF LOSS

1. LOSS OF PEOPLE

The toughest loss is losing someone: a dearly loved spouse, one of our kids, a heartbreaking divorce. 

Recovering is about the stages of recovery. There are five of them and it’s helpful to know about them, take a look:. https://grief.com/the-five-stages-of-grief/

widow 2
The bride of three years or thirty, doesn’t matter, it all hurts.

Establishing a new normal will take time, even years, and the first will be the hardest. It’s hard because the person can never be replaced. But maybe there are other people to love and who love you. There may yet be something to look forward to.

2. LOSS OF SUBSTANCE

  1. Losing a job can feel like death. It’s not unusual for unemployed people to grieve as if someone has died. 
  2. Professionals say it takes one month of searching for every $10,000 earned. If you are tying to replace a $100,000 position then it could take a year to find it. That can be very discouraging and financially difficult. 
  3. The lost job will never be restored. But it wasn’t the only job, there may yet be a new position even better than the last one.

3. LOSS OF SELF

  1. Losing yourself is losing self-respect, dignity, even integrity and character. Those losses are hard to accept and challenging to repair. It’s because they come out of your soul and ripped from your heart. 
  2. Reclaiming yourself isn’t easy. You may want to consider professional assistance. But there is good news. Unlike the first two kinds of losses, the loss of self can be restored. You have heart, a soul and determination. You can get better! 

HOMEWORK 

Don’t give up on God. If you are angry with him then tell him about it and get work to get that relationship where it needs to be. He is a fine companion when we are hurting. 

god lending a hand
We all need a little help, especially when grieving. It’s better with God than without him.

 

Read/listen to good books. Find encouragement, helpful information and motivation. 

Establish a schedule and stick with it. Don’t binge Netflix eight hours a day. Determine  each day the time you will spend job searching. Maybe find some friends to have coffee with and socialize. Keep up the house and yard. Stay busy. Be productive. Pray. 

THINK ABOUT IT

After Jesus was resurrected the apostle Peter returned to Galilee to fish. Not for recreation but to resume his commercial fishing business. Fishing wasn’t his destiny, but until he figured that out he stayed busy and productive. 

A key difference between believers and unbelievers is this: believers hurt and grieve just like unbelievers, but people of faith have someone greater than themselves . I would rather grieve having the Holy Spirit in my life then grieve without him. 

TO CLOSE

Loss is a huge topic. I pray something I’ve written has been helpful. So, from a veteran of loss to those who may be starting:  

Don’t give up, keep looking for a better day, it will come.

Overcoming Betrayal, Part Two

MOMENTS OF DEEP BETRAYAL

Her husband moved out to move in with someone else.

The long promised promotion was given to a lesser employee.

The investigator’s report revealed one affair after another. 

Discovering her best friend was the one who stabbed her in the back.

 

THE AFTERMATH OF BROKEN TRUST 

The pain of betrayal can be so damaging that the betrayed are unable to trust, or love, or move forward with their lives. 

broken-trust
Broken trust often results in broken lives.

THE BETRAYER 

  1. Blind sided you, you just didn’t see it coming.
  2. Was someone you believed would never hurt you. 
  3. Devastates marriages and destroys relationships.  
  4. Was intentionally reckless, leaving a trail of broken people. 

THE BETRAYED

  1. Can become obsessed with self-incrimination. 
  2. Are filled with bitterness and thoughts of revenge. 
  3. Are often unable to let go of the pain and embarrassment. 
  4. Sometimes retreats into a dark emotional place, and stays there.
Betrayal-4edde75f206fe
Is betrayal the worst cut of all? 

 

SOME THOUGHTS ON OVERCOMING BETRAYAL

THE LONG HAUL-the first step is to acknowledge that recovery will take time. Of course, it depends on the kind of betrayal, but for the worst kind, it may take a year, or two, or even longer. Deep betrayal is not unlike a death, causing grief and pain. Betrayal can also create deep anger and bitterness. It’s going to take some time to work through it so be patient. You are in for the long haul. 

CLARITY-recovery will include some introspection: “Why didn’t I see it coming?” or “How could I have trusted him?” and “Am I stupid, gullible, or blind?” Recovery wrestles with tough questions. You may discover that you’ve been naive or living in denial. If you have a history of relationships that end with you being ended, then gaining some emotional intelligence may be in order.

A HEART OF STONE-a stone heart isn’t healthy. Invulnerability only locks your pain inside. Never trusting again is a natural reaction, but it isn’t good. Be advised, you will likely experience a phase encouraging emotional withdrawal while seeking angry revenge, don’t let it consume you. Healthy forward progress isn’t found in closing your heart but in letting it open. It’s choosing a path that will lead to your best life. 

WISE SUPPORTnot walling yourself off means staying available for healthy support. Overcoming betrayal almost certainly requires assistance from others. Choose carefully. If you have family and friends that love and care for you then don’t let pride and embarrassment hold you back. We all need help now and then. Finding wise support is good and healthy. You may also need professional help. Find the support you need.

 

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION

Jesus was betrayed. He knew it was coming but I’m guessing it still hurt. How did Esau feel when his mother and brother stole their father’s blessing? Did King David’s affair with Bathsheba violate trust within his household? How did Moses feel when he found his brother and fellow Israelites engaged in pagan worship? 

Many of us know betrayal in its various and toxic forms. Perhaps this blog is being read by some who have done the betraying? 

TO CLOSE

A blog can’t address all the needs, questions and issues created by betrayal. But I hope it’s offered some encouragement and comfort to those living with its wounds. 

So, to those who have been betrayed, know that I am one of you, and I pray that God will bless you and be with you on your journey to overcome betrayal’s pain. 

Shalom

Overcoming Betrayal, Part One

AN INTRODUCTION

Betrayed or Betrayal

“to deliver by treachery or disloyalty”

“willingly and willfully violating a trust”

“to reveal or disclose a confidence”

Little else cuts as deep or hurts as much as betrayal. The nature of betrayal is to willfully fracture the trust extended from another. It fractures the respect within a marriage, friendship, or close association. 

Betrayal-4edde75f206fe
Is betrayal the worst cut of all?

BETRAYAL’S WORST CUTS

  1. Vows shattered by abuse, adultery, or abandonment.
  2. By making public a closely guarded intimacy of another.
  3. Being used, manipulated and then disregarded.
  4. Stabbed in the back by a friend, partner, or employer.
  5. Promises openly given but deviously broken. 

There are many kinds of betrayal, too many. 

THE PAIN OF IT

When betrayed we feel subdued and defeated. We feel used and abused. Broken people will often attempt to break us too, using betrayal to gain their victory. 

The pain runs deep because it is such a violating act. It’s an abuse of our respect and trust. It breaks our hearts and crushes our spirit. 

broken-trust

OVERCOMING BETRAYAL 

Moving past betrayal is hard because we are not only grieved, but often angry and vengeful. It’s not uncommon for betrayed people to entertain thoughts of revenge. The betrayed wants to hurt the betrayer. 

IN CLOSING

In Wednesday’s blog I’ll try to help those who have been betrayed. The answers aren’t found in getting even, but in letting go.

I’ll give examples and offer some hopefully helpful hints for recovery. I say, “Hints” because overcoming betrayal requires gentle and sensitive language; more of a scalpel than a broad sword. 

So, stay strong, hang in there, and don’t give up. 

Overcoming Our Bad DNA, Part Two

INTRODUCTION

“People don’t change,” is something I’ve heard my whole life. Would that be an example of the Nurture argument for behavior, that people aren’t predisposed with a will to change? Actually, people can and do change. But certain aspects of our behavior can be more difficult to change than others. Within that difficulty comes the sense of being too hard, and so,

“People don’t change.”

different kinds of people
Emotionally, we all come in different shapes and sizes and from various life situations. Can we overcome our issues?

A REFERENCE

In the Jesus narrative we learn about Simon Peter and Judas Iscariot. The former denied Jesus and the latter betrayed him. The first wept bitterly but was able to reconcile with Jesus. The second evidently chose a different path, he took his own life.

Both men failed Christ. However, Peter was able to alter his behavior and move on, but not Judas. I don’t know why one was able to change and the other couldn’t. Did Peter rely on a greater and higher strength while Simon only obsessed over what he had done and plunged into despair?

 I’m a believer in change. I believe with the Spirit’s help:

Change can happen.

 

SUGGESTIONS FOR CHANGING BEHAVIOR 

STEP 1, OWN IT: Denial and disinformation keep us stuck in the mud. If we maintain denial about a behavior, and if we feed our minds the message that we are fine then change remains unnecessary. To overcome a behavior:

We must own our need to change.

STEP 2, GET SPIRITUAL: Almost all needed change is likely something the Holy Spirit is prompting within us. It’s hard enough to change on our own, so why make it harder by resisting the Spirit? Inviting the Spirit to help and support us is an excellent step towards recovery.

Holy Spirit, please lead and guide us to make healthy changes.

STEP 3, REACH OUT: There may be people you need to talk to. You may want to approach a parent, or someone from your past who contributed to that part of you that needs to change. Approaching them to gain understanding may help you. Confronting them if they willfully hurt or damaged you will help to forgive them. It will facilitate your own healing and the ability to let go of unwanted attitudes and behaviors The apostle Paul wrote in Colossians 3:13:

“Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” 

STEP 4, BE PATIENT: Changing behavior, even with the Spirit’s support, takes time. Don’t make it be about how long, but on how much you want to change, on your commitment to overcoming. Bad attitudes and hard emotions take time to resolve. Replacing them with good attitudes and positive emotions will also take time. Don’t give up, don’t get discouraged, and definitely: 

Resist the urge to view setbacks as failure. 

A BRIEF EXAMPLE

I learned something from my father, something that was transmitted to me in childhood. He had many good attributes, but he struggled with a poor self-image and low self-esteem. When faced with set backs or failures he would say with strong emotion, “I can’t do anything right.” He was plagued with all that and I was plagued with it too. I fought it for years. Through the help of good people and applying the steps above, I discovered where my self-esteem issues came from and why I felt the way I did. I needed to change my core identity. It wasn’t easy and it took a long time, but I did it. Today I am much improved and living my best life.

For a long time I was overcome with some Bad DNA. But I learned to overcome it, to not let it defeat me. And so can you.

Change can happen.

 

Overcoming Our Bad DNA

 

NATURE/NURTURE

Do you believe in hardwire behavior? It’s the idea of being genetically predisposed to certain behaviors such as alcoholism, anger, violence and other such things. It would mean we could blame our genes for being too heavy or too skinny. Certainly our appearance comes from our genes. It might even explain an aversion to green beans or the love for football. This illustrates the Nature theory. 

However, much research has explored whether personality and inherited characteristics are the result of the environment in which we were raised. It’s the Nurture side of the debate, that behaviors and attitudes are learned in early childhood and carried with us into our adult lives. 

 Examples of Nature or Inherited Behavior?

  1. Red heads are predisposed to anger. 
  2. Irishmen are natural-born drinkers.
  3. Females are more naturally fearful than males. 
  4. “I was born to hate.” 

Examples of Nurture or Generational Transmission

  1. Low self-esteem or negative self-image.
  2. Prejudice, hatred and violence towards certain groups. 
  3. Wife and child abuse.  
  4. “Grandpa was like that, so was Dad, and so am I” 

Are any of those eight ideas rooted in fact? Are any of them true? Have they been established by scientific study?

AN INWARD PERSPECTIVE

We may not like certain aspects of ourselves. Aspects that were either transmitted in childhood or received at birth. People can struggle with behaviors and attitudes that overcome them, creating many kinds of conflict in adult life. Do we accept it for the way it is, that we have to live with it? Or can we overcome our, “Bad DNA?”

different kinds of people
Are we hardwired for personality and behavior? Or did we learn it from home?

IN CLOSING

Whether it’s hardwired or something we were taught, many struggle with habits, behaviors and attitudes assimilated in childhood.

In Wednesday’s blog I’ll try to give some encouragement and some hopefully helpful steps in overcoming some of what we’ve carried since childhood. Things that defeat subdue us.

On Wednesday: “Overcoming Our Bad DNA, Part Two” 

Overcoming Failure, Part One

FAILURE

It can be hard to talk about, difficult to admit and challenging to cope with. But failure is something we’ve all experienced and struggled with. It can be anything from getting a “C” instead of an “A” on a report card or receiving a “positive” instead of a “negative” on a medical test. 

NATURE OF FAILURE

Recognizing failure requires only a casual glance. Like a blimp in the sky, failure looms large, is instantly recognizable and available for all to watch. Blimps move slowly, almost glacially slow, like a three-toed sloth. Failure moves away from the failed at an almost imperceptible speed. Such is its nature.

Examples of Less Serious Things

  1. Someone else got the promotion: “I’ve failed professionally.” 
  2. Struggling with your kids: “I’m failing as a parent.” 
  3. My spouse doesn’t get me: “My marriage is failing.” 

These things are important but not failures. They may be temporary setbacks. You can work towards the promotion you deserve. You can figure out how to communicate better with your children. There are ways to improve a marriage. None of these constitute failure. 

Examples of More Serious Things

  1. Being a disappointment to your parents: “Unfulfilled life expectations can be failure.” 
  2. Your marriage is in divorce: “The marriage is over, it final, its failed.”
  3. Your life-long dream went bankrupt: “Money & efforts lost, gut wrenching failure.”

The worst failures are the things that mean everything to us, the things that are stripped away, fallen apart, and forever gone. It’s a terrible feeling, final and destitute. 

FEAR AND FAILURE

What do men fear most? It’s weakness. Weakness for a man would be failing to provide for his family, failing his wife in the bedroom, failing to live up to expectations. His greatest fear is appearing weak, and therefore his biggest failure.

What do women fear most? It’s being abandoned. Abandonment for a woman suggests  she isn’t good enough, reflecting her inability to please her husband and the heartbreak of losing her family. Her greatest fear is abandonment and therefore her biggest failure.

men and women who have failed

CAN FAILURE BE OVERCOME?

The pain and pressure of gut wrenching failure can be overwhelming, subduing and conquering us. But we can break its bonds of despair and depression. We can overcome our significant failures and move our lives forward again.

It’s difficult and not quickly achieved.

In Part Two of Overcoming Failure I will provide encouragement, suggestions, and support on how to conquer and subdue our failures.

Look for Part Two on Wednesday.

Shalom