More Than Coping… God — Where Are You?

I wasn’t quite sure about the first article to post. What I have done is reposted something I wrote while posting at From The Ashes.  My hope is it might provoke some participation.  Some have already read this but the majority that are visiting have not.

Just a quick note.  I am not able to be at the computer all day so if I fail to respond it’s because I’m doing something important like watching television or eating!  🙂  God bless!  Allan  AKA  Erunner

I believe this has been the cry of many a believer through the centuries. In the book of Psalms David cries out…..

Psalm 13:1 How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?

There are those valleys, trials, or dark times in our lives that have caused us to wonder if the faith we were clinging to was actually true. The God who said I will never leave or forsake you ( Joshua 1:5 and Hebrews 13:5) at times seems to have done just that. God placed these words in Scripture because they are true, even when everything in our life screams just the opposite.

When these “dark” times come quite often what happens is we start to focus on our circumstances and feelings and we begin to lose hope. Sadly, for many of us when these “dark” times come we drift away from God. These “dark” times have visited believers all through time. Job’s counselors concluded his trials must have been because of something Job had done. Some sort of sin or failure in his life. Yet we read in Job 1:1 …..

(ESV) There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.

For many years I equated suffering to diseases like cancer or maybe being in a terrible accident. I didn’t equate suffering with the mind, which is exactly what happened to me. So when I began to experience my “dark” times with panic I was not prepared for it in any way at all. I had bought into the lie deep in my Spirit that emotional suffering was a sign of a spiritual problem with the afflicted and they needed to latch on to God’s promises. This thinking set me up for a big fall.

So I began to try to reason and figure out what was happening to me. This led to years of me trusting my own heart and creating for myself what amounted to many false truths. Today in Proverbs I read this sobering verse.

Proverbs 28:26 Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.

In my mind, God had not only deserted me but He had failed me. As a result I determined that I would do what was necessary to protect myself, because the reality was I didn’t trust God. I realize now the trap I fell into. At the same time, it didn’t help when I got so many mixed messages from sincere believers who shared their thoughts on why I was suffering.

Looking back, my life during those years was not in vain. I had unwittingly bought into a false set of beliefs that I had created to help me cope with my suffering. Years ago, God showed me He wants us to not simply cope and struggle through life, He wants the best things for us.

I believe for those who read these words who may be in a place like I have been and to a degree still am, if you were totally honest with yourself you might admit that you feel like a failure, that God has indeed abandoned you, and that there is no hope. Yet we still attend church. We do good works. We help others. But at our core we are hurting so badly we don’t know what to do. So we simply keep quiet and survive the best we can.

In my mind, I believed that in order for God to help me, it would have to be something “spiritual” that would be the solution he offered. I fought against the idea of medication or me even having to participate in my recovery by facing some of my fears. It didn’t seem fair and I made myself a victim. And the years went by because I did the same old thing and got the same old results.

During those years I led Bible studies at church. I was part of leadership. God used me in my broken condition but He didn’t desire that I remain there.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

When we feel abandoned by God and see others in the Body doing well we begin to think all sorts of things that aren’t true and not only that, we have to contend with the powers of darkness who are delighted to see us in such darkness and confusion.

So what do we do when we find ourselves in “dark” times? What I did was to buy every self-help Christian book I could, figuring if I read a certain chapter there would be a magic solution for me and God would touch me. I even thought that as each Christmas and birthday that came up, maybe God would heal me as a gift. Finally, I started going back to CCCM on Sunday nights. I was saved there and I figured God’s presence was strong and I would attend afterglows. No luck! Finally, one Sunday night as I was sitting in the service, God spoke to me in a very quiet way and told me I didn’t belong there. I got up and went home and didn’t return. I had almost resorted to superstition I was so desperate.

I still am on my road to recovery but I’m here to say there is hope for all of us. God’s way of working in our lives is not something we can predict, but He is more than willing to help out. That might be through honest sharing with a Pastor, trusted friend, or in some cases a professional Christian counselor.

What the outcome for each of us will be is a mystery to me but I do know that I am in such a better place now than I have been for the last 15 years. Instead of looking back with regret, I seek to look forward, one day at a time.

I must share that for me, God pointed out sin in my life He wanted me to take care of. I was filled with anger and unforgiveness and I needed to make those things right. We all need to examine our hearts and lay them naked before God.

He has never seen His children as useless or as garbage. That’s simply a lie. He sees us as His precious children who loves us more than we will ever imagine. Don’t make the mistake of relying on your feelings. They will fail you. Hold on to His promises. He said He has come to give us life, and that more abundantly.

The road isn’t always easy, but God is always faithful.

Joshua 1:5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.

Hebrews 13:5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

We serve a mighty God and some of His greatest warriors are sitting out and He’s asking you to come back so He might show you the amazing things He has for you.

I am a lay person, speaking from my personal observations and experiences. God bless!!

Grand Opening

Well, this is the first day of a blog that has been bouncing around in my head for some time. Do you ever allow yourself to daydream and do the “What If” scenario? That’s pretty much what has been going on with me since I made the decision to move forward with this blog. You need to understand I am pretty “dim” when it comes to computers. ! So putting something like this together was very intimidating.

I’m very thankful for dusty, Buster, and Michael for the help and advice they gave me to allow this all to come together. They are good friends that I have made through posting on two other blogs; From The Ashes and Phoenix Preacher. God saw fit to allow those blogs to directly impact my life in a positive way and I know He can do the same here for others.

You may take a look and decide to move on and that’s fine. Maybe you might choose to take a look around and click on a few links and find some excellent information. Hopefully, some might be drawn to what they see and choose to post a comment or two. There are pages up top and duplicated off to the left that explain a bit of my vision and who I am. You might want to check those out. Off to the right is what I hope will be multiple resources for you to take advantage of. I hope to populate the church category with churches from all denominations covering as much of the country as possible. The same is true for the Counseling and Psychiatrist links.  As this is an issue that crosses denominational lines, my hope is this can be something that will bring people together.  

I am excited about the prospect of sharing testimonials from various people, which may include you. These testimonials will be from those who have come through a mental illness, been healed supernaturally by God, and from those like me who are walking through the healing process. These testimonials will hopefully allow people to read and get a glimpse of what it is like to be deep in depression, suffering panic attacks, dealing with Bi-Polar Disorder, as well as other mental illnesses.  My hope is God might use them to let people know there is real hope and that He has not forsaken us.

My prayer is this blog will be a place of hope rediscovered. We all need to know down to core of our being that we aren’t one of God’s mistakes, and certainly not a victim of personal sins or weaknesses. I will be honest in sharing that MY problems were made worse because I allowed sin to take root through bitterness, anger, and unforgiveness. We all need to examine ourselves and ask God to show us if there is sin we aren’t willing to own up to.  This was crucial for me and it has allowed God to work in my life in ways I dared not imagine.  As I said, I am only speaking for myself and am in no way implying that sin might be an issue for you.  I am saying to simply be open to the possibility. 

You might be a person who has a spouse, child, or friend who is struggling with any of a number of mental illnesses. Hopefully, you can learn about their specific situation via the resources provided. If you happen to be a school teacher there is an excellent link for you to take a look at. Maybe you have stumbled across this blog and you are not a Christian. I encourage you not to dismiss this site based simply upon that fact. You will be treated just as anyone else, with kindness and compassion. I intend as much as possible to make this a place totally free from arguments or anyone who has an ax to grind. That is non-negotiable. Many who may visit are suffering and vulnerable as it is, and I will do all in my power to not allow anyone to be mistreated in any way, shape, or form.

As most know, I’m a middle aged lay person. I am not an expert, and I am not qualified to to diagnose or try to tell you what your issues are. I am a person who does have a heart for those who are afflicted with a mental illness as I have lived it myself. I will offer encouragement through articles I will write and by interacting with anyone who chooses to post.

I am truly thankful that Larry Taylor and Maryellen Stipe have each agreed to contribute to this blog. Larry is a board certified pastoral counselor with a PhD in psychology. He is also a member of the International Critical Incident Stress Management Team. On top of that Larry also Pastor’s “Oasis Christian Fellowship” in Indiana.

Maryellen has a Masters degree in Counseling and is a licensed professional counselor in Colorado. Maryellen and her counterpart, Geoff Nelson, direct a fully operational mental health clinic on the campus of Crossroads Church Of Denver. The center is an intricate part of Crossroads outreach to the community.

I’m excited about posting articles periodically that each of them have written along with those I write. They have great insights to offer us.  Possibly, I might coax a few of the Pastors to write for us in the future!!

I am looking forward to see what will take place here. I’ll try to be faithful to God in all that takes place. I am open to comments, suggestions, and whatever may happen to be on your mind. Above all, please pray for this undertaking. If one life is impacted I will be satisfied. Thank you for dropping by.

A Brief Introduction

This is the first article I posted for this blog.  Along with the title it also stated “What We’re Not About.”

As today is the beginning of a new year I thought I would re-post the article to re-introduce “More Than Coping” and to let anyone who is new have an idea of what in the world is going on here??  🙂

As we enter this new year my prayer is that each of us would grow deeper in our walk with God.  And don’t think for one minute that isn’t possible while we are in the midst of very tough times.  May we all experience God in a fresh way as we seek to serve Him while doing what we can, when possible, to encourage others. Allan

Jeremiah 29:11  For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

The topic of mental health in the Christian community is one that needs to be discussed quite carefully. I say that because there are two views in the church that are totally at odds with each other when it comes to this topic.

The first view is the error that Christian Psychology is an oxymoron. It serves no valid purpose and actually undermines the Word of God. Those who practice in this field and their patients are seen as walking on dangerous and compromised grounds.

The other error is the idea that every trial that comes along in our Christian walk is a valid reason to see a Psychologist or Psychiatrist and get on medication as quickly as possible. There are real concerns though, in this area. There are “Christian counselors” who will stray from the Word of God and possibly exacerbate a situation. The other concern is the ease in which a person can receive some very powerful medication when it is not warranted. At times, it seems it can be passed out like candy.

In this endeavor we are seeking to find a balance. This means recognizing there are abuses out there when it comes to counseling and medication. This is a valid concern. At the same time, we can not allow the idea to take root that Christians with mental issues are somehow lacking in faith, steeped in sin, or not praying or fellowshipping enough.

There needs to be discernment in these areas with the bottom line being that there are scores of Godly believers who are suffering mentally who have not compromised their walk with God in any way. These people need to KNOW that they are loved and accepted and they need not live a life in the shadows, carrying their “shameful” secret. The stigma of mental illness in the church must be shattered. There are real people who are suffering in ways many will never be able to comprehend. They need to know God accepts them and loves them and that their peers will not view them as projects that need fixing.

With this in mind, anything that takes place here is for the education of all and most importantly, to try and be a tool that God might use to bring hope and healing to those who are suffering.