Psalm 40:2 - He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
When walking down the road of emotional pain, often we stop caring about the things we used to. It just doesn’t matter anymore. We’ve tried and tried to get back on track, but we find ourselves stuck in a muddy pothole.
You stand there and watch the world go by. But, no one’s stopping. No one seems to care. And what’s worse, they don’t even see when we’re in trouble. It’s normal to care about the things going on in your life, but it’s important to stop having tunnel vision and notice the changes in someone else.
Perhaps it’s because we don’t see them as often. But do we stop and try to find out why? In our tunnel vision, with so much on our plate, we only see how circumstances are affecting us.
So let’s take a look at your friend that’s stuck, because losing interest in things we used to can be a sign of depression. Find some of the symptoms of depression on webmd.com in their article, “Symptoms of Depression,” such as difficulty concentrating and feelings of guilt.
And as webmd.com says: “Depression carries a high risk of suicide. Anybody who expresses suicidal thoughts or intentions should be taken very, very seriously. Do not hesitate to call your local suicide hotline immediately. Call 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) -- or the deaf hotline at 1-800-799-4TTY (1-800-799-4889).”
So what can we do to help our friend out of that muddy pothole?
Find some suggestions on how you can help a person who’s depressed on helpguide.org in their article, “How to Help Someone with Depression.”
And as the Bible verse above says if we’re the one stuck remember that God can lift us up and place us back on our feet in a firm place. God cares about us and can use family and friends to give us that hand up that we need.
So, don’t be the person that simply walks by and does nothing for a friend. Be the person that stops, listens and helps.
For more information on depression and how to help, select the links below.
Hebrews 12:1 - Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
We try to stay caught up on the clutter that grows in our homes, but what about the clutter in our minds?
So here’s one for you. What’s something that can clog up your mind every day without stepping outside your door?
Mail, with all of its ads, used to be a primary distraction. Now though, we don’t just have mail piling up on our countertops, we have an increase in things that clog up our minds.
First, the old fashioned distraction called TV. It’s easy to slip into becoming so fascinated by the drama of our favorite TV show that it becomes part of your life. You talk about it to your family. You pick up the phone and dial a friend who also watches the show and trade ideas of what will happen in the next episode.
And as far as doing anything else when you’re show is on. Probably not. That show seems to call your name and begs you to sit down on your couch and turn on the TV.
Now there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a relaxing evening watching TV. It can even be a chance to talk to your teenage son or daughter, because in a way, you’re at the same level. Plus, it gives you something to talk about without trying to turn the conversation into a heated argument.
Second, your TV show is off and now it’s time to fill your mind with another kind of clutter – your computer and cell phone. Both of these items can connect you with people all around the world. You can find information on a topic that perks your interest and even find information on an upcoming procedure you’re having.
Once again, on the surface connecting online isn’t a bad thing. But when it takes all of your attention, and you come to the point of ignoring your family, then that’s bad news. After all, your phone makes a noise and you quickly grab it off your side table to see what someone else posted on Facebook. And should your internet go down or you lose cell service, it can feel like the end of the world.
Third, let’s take a look at your cell phone again. Here’s another way it can clog up your mind – phone calls. Plain. Ordinary. Phone calls. You know you’re in trouble when after you hang up you realized you just talked to your friend for over forty-five minutes.
And don’t forget texting. It used to be that we’d wait until we spoke to someone on the phone or saw them in person before finishing a conversation we’d started. But now as fast as a flash you can pick up where you left off.
It used to be that you could only access the internet on your computer, but now with Smart Phones, you can watch a YouTube video anytime you want whether your computer is on or not.
Fourth, both on your TV and on the internet we get delivered to our homes news almost instantly after something has happened in the world. We can watch the news all day now on our phones, not just the TV. The news tends to be negative and may make us angry or worried when something happens. We wonder how our lives will be changed and all of it is delivered right into our living rooms.
Fifth, there’s also an old fashioned almost outdated way to also get the news and along with its clutter – newspapers and magazines. These not only deliver world news, but the latest gossip on our favorite celebrities.
And then we step out the door and discover most of the clutter I mentioned earlier is following you on your way to work and even at work when you think no one is looking.
But here’s a problem – many times what we forget is that what we post on Facebook and Twitter can be read by anyone depending on your privacy settings. But even without those settings, whatever you post on the internet becomes fare game. It’s like what you wrote is floating on the “clouds”, because it is.
I’m sure there are many other ways that can clutter your mind. But one thing you can count on, if your mind is overly cluttered it can be a real distraction and you’ll be unable to bring all of your attention to the task at hand.
Like the Bible verse above says there are things that entangle us and keep us from finishing the race of life marked out for us. Let’s put down that phone and pick up our Bibles. In there we can find peace and ways to push out the clutter in our minds.
Hebrews 4:12 - For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Have you ever heard of a double-edge sword which, because both sides of the blade are sharp, can cut in two directions at the same time?
That’s like chronic pain – it cuts through the physical but also the emotional.
With physical pain you might try to keep it from affecting your day. Or you may try not letting it affect your family and work. But it’s hard to keep your emotional reactions at bay.
It’s like a sailboat in the middle of a storm. You may try to tack into the wind, but when that fails you may have to take down the sails. You can hold on for dear life, but when that enormous wave heads straight for you there’s not much you can do. The boat topples over and you find yourself in the dark heart of the stormy sea.
Some people feel guilty when they have an emotional reaction to pain. But there’s nothing wrong with the pain affecting how you feel. It’s going to happen. There’s no use pretending it doesn’t exist. It can cause you to be thrown into that dark stormy sea.
But like that double-edged sword there aren’t just the negative emotions cutting into our hearts. There’s good that can at the same time replace those negative emotions with the positive.
So instead of being afraid of that two-edged sword pain, remember God can help you navigate your way out of the storm and to the shore where a fire and a warm blanket are awaiting your arrival.
Romans 15:1 - We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.
On the outside, it’s quite obvious when someone is being aggressive. They’re the bullies of the world who push what they want onto others.
They get their way, because they cause fear in those around them. Maybe they physically hurt someone in the past and they threaten to do the same again, if they won’t do what the aggressive person wants.
Their aggression is worn like a garment, obvious to all that they’re angry; especially if they don’t get their way.
On the inside, it’s not quite as obvious when someone is being passively aggressive. So what exactly does that mean?
They still get their way, but by a hidden road. They manipulate others, yet most people are unaware of their tactics.
The passive aggressor may use crying or wear a look of sadness on their face. Or, they can be the one who works behind the scene in such a way as to cause others to think that what the passive aggressor wants is their own idea not the passive aggressor.
But look out – underneath all of the manipulations lives a hidden hostility toward others.
Then there is the passive personality. This is someone who will avoid conflict and accepts things as they are because they don’t want anyone mad at them. Unfortunately, the passive person is taken advantage of by both the aggressor and the passive aggressor.
This personality is also prone to depression, because it seems like their dreams will never come true. They’ve stopped trying to have their voice heard and withdraw from society.
None of these choices is healthy. Healthy relationships are based on a give-and-take and seek to uplift the one they care about. They also put the other person first and like having a discussion with the other individual before a plan is implemented without forcing their ideas as the only way to get the job done.
This is where the forth personality and the healthiest comes to play - assertive.
The assertive person recognizes other people’s wants and needs, but also their own. They are willing to listen to all sides of a situation and will contribute what they think without becoming aggressive.
Whichever personality you may have there’s a way to keep things balanced. The Bible verse above states that those who are strong should bear with the mistakes that the weak make. And they should help the weaker person, but not as manipulation or to please themselves.
Balance comes when we remember others and their strengths and weaknesses; and work on lifting them up not tearing them down, like the aggressive or passive aggressive personality does.
It’s okay to sometimes be weak in an area. But be willing to take the risk and ask for help. The assertive person who doesn’t try to make others look bad will be ready to lend a hand. They always want what’s best for others.
Karen Dalske is a freelance writer, public speaker, is active in her church and writes her blogs out of her own experiences of pain, illness and loss.