Galatians 5:1 - It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Chains today are used for many purposes:
So you see, chains can provide security and beauty. Yet, there’s another kind of chain – one that doesn’t protect you, but keeps you bound to slavery and from being able to escape.
Chains to our old life can keep us handcuffed and unable to erase the scars forming around our wrists and ankles. Each time we move, the chain rubs and reminds us about the choices we made in the past, and the ones we’re making right now.
Sometimes we feel like we will never escape and find freedom. It can seem too hard to even try. So how do I unlock the chains of my past? Wikihow.com in their article, “How to Let Go of the Past,” passes on some key ways on how to do just that. One of the keys is to shift your behavior. If you do things the same way over and over again, it can feel like the past keeps popping up. Another key is don’t fear failure. If your past has created some sort of fear about a certain circumstance or part of life, activily work on beating that fear back.
Jesus died for us and has the keys to unlock our chains. We simply need to accept them from his hands and use them. And just as the Bible verse above says, once we are free, we must choose to not let ourselves be chained to what used to hold us fast.
Psalm 4:1 – Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress, be merciful to me and hear my prayer.
There are different reasons why we put a smile on our face:
There’s one more reason, though, maybe that smile means you’re trying to hold onto control because you’re afraid of what others would think of you if you didn’t smile.
What’s the true story?
Life gets tiring and sometimes the reason we’re so tired is that giving a false smile takes a lot of energy. Sometimes we walk into a conversation where everyone else is laughing and we don’t feel like laughing because our emotional pain is off the charts. Do you laugh when you’re crying inside? Do you make an excuse to walk about from your friends?
I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m glad that I have people in my life who help me find a balance, and who believe in me enough to allow me the freedom to show my real emotions. That balance I’m talking about is learning to live a life that is real.
There’s something else that can explain what we’re going through and give us some hope. It’s a condition called, Smiling Depression. Nami.org posts the article, “What You Need to Know About ‘Smiling Depression.’ ” In the article they explain that smiling depression involves appearing happy to others and smiling through the pain, keeping the inner turmoil hidden. It’s a major depressive disorder. One thing that you can do is to find things that are meaningful to you and help you feel productive and accomplished.
God wants us to be able to smile when it’s for the right reason. He will also answer us when we call to him for help in living a real life. He will bring us relief from all of the distress we feel in our heart when we’re trying to decide if it’s an okay time for us to smile. As long as our motives are to live a life that is real in our actions and emotions, he will help us do it.
Watch out: Smiling Depression can be dangerous because it can have a connection to suicide. One of the ways to help yourself and others who are depressed is to seek help. If you or a loved one are having thoughts about suicide seek help immediately. It is a matter of life and death. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255 or simply dial 911.
Isaiah 59:14 - So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter.
Watching bad news unfold can cause our physical and emotional pain to increase.
We’ve certainly had a lot of bad news lately. At some point though, we may need to curb our viewing of the news especially if we find ourselves obsessing over it. It’s so easy to do, because we have instant access through our computers and cell phones to news that is happening right at the moment it happens. Then, as we become emotionally involved in the news, we can feel our muscles tighten and bring pain to our body and to our mind.
But it’s not just what’s happening around the world or even in our own towns and cities. It’s also how we speak to each other about what’s happening. I’m not trying to judge someone. We all can fall into being drawn to a negative news story and make it seem worse than it is when we talk about it to our friends.
But watch out.
It used to be that people took care with how they used their words whether on TV or off. But now, the gloves have been removed and people blurt out what first comes out of their mouths without thinking before they speak. The anger they feel over what’s going on oozes out of their mouths defaming whoever they are talking about.
What happened to common courtesy and respect for the other person? We pass around gossip quite easily whether it’s true or not. And isn’t that what the news media in a way also does? If they hear of a story that they think they can write about, they jump on it. But they don’t just report the truth of what’s happening. They twist and turn it and blow it up to be more than what it really is. And then the headaches start, followed by stomach upset and pain quickly spreads throughout our bodies.
Cnn.com, in their article, “Too Much Bad News Can Make You Sick,” talks about the damaging health risks that come with watching bad news such as lack of restful sleep, anxiety, depression, headaches, muscle tension, and stomach problems to name a few. The article also posts a video showing how we can’t avoid stress, but we can manage it with suggestions in the video on how to do just that.
Justice truly is being driven back and truth has stumbled in the streets and onto our TV where honesty doesn’t ever enter. It has to start with you and me. We may not be able to prevent what those in the news say, but we can certainly ask the Lord to put a guard on our mouths also that we don’t twist the truth and cause someone pain in the process.
Isaiah 48:17 - This is what the Lord says--your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”
Life can feel like a merry-go-round.
You think you’re moving forward when in fact you’re just going around in circles. It especially is difficult for people living with a mental illness.
Sometimes our view of the world is tainted. We feel like the world is against us. We can work hard on a particular habit to erase its influence on us, but when you let your guard down for one minute, you find yourself failing even if you use all the strength you have.
Also, a person suffering with mental illness can’t seem to get off the merry-go-round of life, because someone close to them uses their weakness against them. Maybe we worry a lot, because our “friend” tries to tell us all of the negative aspects of a situation and how we better be careful or we’re going to fail again.
I don’t understand why people have to be so judgmental. This, too, causes much grief. All we want to do is complete the tasks we have to do each day. When someone expects us to not just do our day’s work, but to also complete a whole new project, it can become overwhelming. It’s then that our co-worker may make fun of us, or worse, may turn us in to management as being a hindrance to completing their divisions expected output.
No matter what you do, it can feel like you’re life will always be going around in circles and sometimes you even get stuck. How do we remedy this problem? Planetofsuccess.com has some answers in their article, “Feeling Stuck in Life? 10 Powerful Ways to Free Yourself.” One of their examples includes overcoming the perception of impossibilities. Feeling stuck can paralyze us. It’s time to explore some new options. Also, be honest with yourself realizing that there are many solutions we just have to come up with the courage to choose one.
Now, back to the merry-go-round. In addition to the suggestions of how to get unstuck and get off the ride in the article above, here’s an idea: Stay focused in the moment. There, you can pause and find the off switch. Take some time off and rest. Jesus will heal the dizziness you feel from circling your life and give you his Word and prayer to find direction and strength to become unstuck. This way, if you happen to end up back on the merry-go-round, at least you’ll be better equipped and it won’t take as much effort to find the off switch.
1 Samuel 16:7 - But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
You wake up in the morning, get dressed and ready for work, then you take one more look in the mirror. Yes, you even look like a success story. The world is in the palm of your hands. You just have to reach out and grab it. Then it happens.
You’ve made a plan. It looks good on paper, so you believe everything will head in the right direction and you’ll achieve your goal. But things go sideways. The people who said that they would invest in your idea drop off the face of the earth. You try to do it on your own, but only end up in debt with your family angry at you because you placed all of their futures banking on your idea but the plan failed.
Those plans you made have indeed caused a domino effect on your finances. One domino hits upon another and there’s a great crash. What’s more, you’ve lost your confidence in making wise decisions to try to regain the finances you had, to live the lifestyle your family is used to. But no amount of bargaining with your creditors has succeeded, and you find yourself headed for bankruptcy.
Those plans failed, your finances followed close behind and now you’re having trouble making decisions even at work. You try to hold your head up high, but you begin to slip behind in each of the tasks that are your regular responsibility. And your boss notices. He starts by showing you where your mistakes are happening. Then he moves on to threats that if you don’t turn things around he will fire you. And you guessed it, you get fired.
Your plans went down the tube, your finances ended up in a dumpster, you lost your job and now because of all of the stress you’ve been under – your heath begins to fail. You have high blood pressure. From time-to-time you suffer from chest pain, but tell no one. You gain a few pounds. Then your left arm hurts and you feel a crushing feeling in your chest. It’s a heart attack. Your wife tried to warn you to take better care of yourself, but you didn’t listen.
All of the steps above don’t just affect you. They affect your wife as well. But you stopped listening to her advice; even her concerns about where your life is headed. It doesn’t matter. She’s had enough, and you’re served with divorce papers.
Not only your wife, but other people around you fail you. They jump ship. They turn away. They now think that you’ve failed in every way imaginable, and instead of being there for you, they walk away. Now you experience a pain in your chest that has nothing to do with a heart attack. It has everything to do with a broken heart.
You walk into your bedroom later that night. You take a look at yourself in the mirror. You no longer look like a success or like you hold the world in your hands. You wonder if your life is even worth living any more.
Forbes.com, in their article, “Five Ways to Make Peace With Failure,” provides some ideas that can make it possible to turn your life around. One of their ideas is to not make it personal. Separate the failure from your identity. Another idea is to release the need for approval of others. The article gives the example of how Walt Disney was fired from his newspaper job because “he lacked imagination.” Think about that one. What if he had given up on life and decided he wasn’t going to try something else?
Plans may fail. Your finances might fail. You may lose your job. Your health may fail. Your marriage may fail. People may fail you, but God is the God of compassion and His love for us never fails. So the next time you look at yourself in the mirror don’t think about how much of a failure you are, but remember how God sees you – you are more than a conqueror because of what Christ Jesus did for you.
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.