The book will be released in February but click here and you can order it now on Amazon.
While waiting to weigh in at a Weight Watchers meeting many years ago, the woman in front of me stepped on the scale and began to cry. The leader, who was the person weighing her in, asked her why she was crying. Between her sobbing and trying to catch her breath, she said that she didn’t have a good week. The leader, of course, asked her why. And she replied that she had eaten some peanut M&Ms. The leader then asked her a very important question: “Did you eat as many of them as you would have consumed before coming to our group?” And the woman between her tears and sobbing chuckled and said,”Ohhhh NO! I only ate a small bag of them. Before group, I would have a huge family size bag!” The leader simply looked at her and said, “Good! See, that’s progress!”
The memory of that lady weighing in has been forever etched in my mind. It was at that moment I learned a life lesson about recovery; recovery is not about perfection, rather it is about imperfect progress.
If you’re like me when you step back into old patterns or are triggered by a situation and react in old ways you can easily believe that you have failed at recovery. And when this happens and old feelings come back like someone unleashed Hoover Dam: guilt, shame, anger, sadness, confusion, hurt and much more. And the overriding feeling is one of total failure. But, the truth is that it is not a total failure. It is imperfect progress if you recognize it and learn from it. See, it’s only failure if you don’t learn from it if you don’t recognize it. It’s only failure if you decide not to get back and remain “there.”
Again, this “journey of wellness” is not one of perfection. It is a journey of imperfect progress. To make this journey you and I must be willing to accept the fact that we are never going to be perfect. No one is perfect. Recovery, which I define as taking back one’s life in a new way, is built upon failures in which we learn from them, get back up and continue to move forward. Shaming ourselves and believing that a failure constitutes us as complete failures simply is a lie straight from the pits of hell! Everybody fails. Everyone falls short of the mark. What makes the difference between those who decide to give up and believe the lie that they are total failures versus those who succeed? It’s simple; understanding that moving forward is one of imperfect progress versus perfection.
Note: it is never too late to get back up and dust yourself off after failing, even after years of failures. No matter how long you might have been stuck believing the lie that you will never be able to change or move forward, it’s not too late to get back up, dust yourself off, learn from what has happened and begin to move forward. It is NEVER too late. When getting back up, it is important to take full responsibility for your issues. Make amends if necessary and decide to learn from it.
When failures involve others that we are in a relationship with it can be difficult to get out of the “stuck spot” of believing the lie of never being able to move forward when the other person doesn’t let it go. This type of situation is very challenging. When someone is “stuck” and not letting go of the past it can trigger you. It is at that point that you have to know that you’ve done what you can about the past (reconciling, taking responsibility, apologizing, asking for forgiveness, etc.), and you need to recognize that it is no longer your issue, it is theirs. I’m learning that when this happens within my relationships with others that I absolutely must have a loving response to their reminders of the past instead of getting triggered and repeating the same things over and over.
I want to encourage you. You are not a failure. Yes, sometimes you fail. So, does everyone else. But, failing does not make you a failure. Failing is a sign of moving forward and learning from it. Wellness does not require perfection at all. It is made up of imperfect progress that is simply handling one’s failures in a healthy and appropriate way.
How about you? Do you want to give up because you “slipped up”? Do you want to give up because this journey of wellness is hard work? Are you learning from your imperfect progress?
Check out Brad’s weekly podcast: Fresh Hope for Mental Health (www.FreshHope4MentalHealth.com)
Brad’s the author of “FreshHope: Living Well in Spite of a Mental Health Diagnosis” which available on Amazon.com
In the last 14 years, I have had no major mood swings, episodes nor interruptions to my life due to having bipolar disorder. Yes, I do have bipolar disorder. Four of us in my family have bipolar, and my mother-in-law died from suicide due to bipolar. And I understand that you might assume that I don’t have too severe of a case of bipolar since I’ve not had any major bipolar episodes in my life for the past 14 years. But, I do have it. I not only bipolar but when I relapsed 14 years I very sick.
I find it curious that I have to defend the fact that I have bipolar disorder. But, in the past when I’ve written about living well for this length of time I’ve received comments from various readers that I must NOT have bipolar. One reader accused me of pretending to have bipolar disorder so I could make money by blogging about it. I could only wish that was true! (By the way, those of us who blog for bphope.com are not paid to blog.)
The truth is, I’ve been able to live well in spite of bipolar disorder for the past 14 years, but NOT without a LOT of work and self-care. Daily I do everything within my power to keep myself stable and living well in spite of the bipolar disorder. And I happen to believe that many of you who have bipolar disorder can, in fact, live well (stable) too. That is, to live without bipolar causing major interruptions to your daily living. You can take back your life from the monster of bipolar.
And no, that does mean that you can be “healed” from bipolar that you can get “over it.” It simply means that through hard work you can learn how to keep the bipolar monster from ruling your life.
I know that there is a mindset out “there” that we are simply victims of bipolar disorder. I don’t see it that way. The only way I end up being a victim is if I do nothing regarding managing my disorder or if I simply use it as my excuse in life.
One of the most important things I do each and every day besides taking my medicine and getting enough sleep is what I call a “self-check-in” (mindfulness). For me, it is imperative to stay self-aware of how I’m emotionally doing at all times. So, routinely I ask myself “how am I doing today?” I check in with me. See, if I don’t stay “on top” of managing the disorder, it way too fast and too easily begins to control me instead!
So, I do this every day. If my ability to live well in spite of having bipolar disorder feels at jeopardy and I feel as though I’m not doing emotionally well (stable), I ask myself the following questions which help me answer why I’m not doing well.
Once I figure out what exactly is the issue I then attempt to figure out what exactly I need to do to hold off a major mood issue or episode. And I do it no matter what.
How about you? What do you do to live well? What do you do to avoid major episodes; questions that you ask yourself?
Life can be difficult. No one makes it through life without painful trials and tribulations. And there is no doubt that having bipolar disorder on top of all of the typical trials and tribulations can make life even more challenging. There’s just no sugar-coating it. Hopelessness happens all too easily. But life can also be beautiful. The truth is, no one makes it through life without experiencing joy-filled events and blessings. But having hope and being hope-filled takes effort, unlike hopelessness.
Probably one of the most peculiar things about hope and hopelessness is that they can co-exist in life. When I reflect on the greatest difficulties and deepest depression that caused extreme despair in my life, it was hope that got me through the hopelessness. But it was not the “wishful-thinking” kind of hope that life would get better that got me through the hopelessness. That kind of “hope” is nothing more than wishful thinking that things may or may not get better. And that kind of hope was not enough for me. Hoping that things might get better could not even bring about the smallest of cracks within my despair.
So what is this “real” hope that got me through and continues to get me through living life with bipolar disorder? It’s the Real Hope that was born and died on the cross and His promise. In particular, it is the promise of Romans 8:28 that has gotten me through the many incredibly painful events that could have easily led to the bottomless pit of hopelessness. In Romans 8:28 the apostle Paul tells us that the Lord will work all things together for our good. As a person of faith, I believe this. Knowing and believing this real hope does not mean that I stuff my feelings. Rather, it means that as I feel my feelings I’m able to work through them and deal with them because I know that He will take even the worst of life’s trials and tribulations and make them work together for me for my good. That’s hope. That’s real.
See, I’ve come to understand how my faith has been instrumental in my living well. I don’t do wishful thinking kind of hope. Instead, I do Romans 8:28 hope. In other words, as I go through difficulties (and there are plenty of them) I recognize them, feel the feelings because I know that the Lord will take all of the pain and make it work for my good. It doesn’t mean that all of a sudden things become easy. But I’m able to move through the pain, knowing how it will end.
The Lord is the real hope. The Father sent His Son into our messy world to redeem us. Born right in the midst of the stench of that stable,He came. And on that cross, He died for you and me. Out of what appeared to be a hopeless beginning and an even more hopeless death on the cross, He rose as proof that He is indeed our sure and certain hope.
There is no way that I would be living well, much less living, without Him as my hope. Romans 8:28 has gotten me through the hopelessness. Grab ahold of that hope my friend. Whatever difficulties you are going through this day, He can and will make though things work together for your good. No, he doesn’t promise a painless life. In fact, He says that in this life you and I will have difficulties. Instead, He promises to never leave you, and to take those problems and work them together for your good. And in knowing this, you and I can move forward in spite of our present circumstances.
On this day, my prayer is that you will grab ahold of the real and certain hope we have that He will take all of your difficulties, pain, and problems, and work them together for your good. Keeping moving forward: moving one step at a time. He loves you. He is with you. He is for you. And Heis at work; making all things work out together for your good!
Blessings my friend,
Our Fresh Hope podcast has been nominated for Wego Health’s Best in Show Podcast award!We encourage you to endorse the nomination by going to:https://awards.wegohealth.com/nominees/13355
We offer this special podcast as a point of hope and healing for pastors and those who serve in full-time ministry. Serving the Lord full-time in ministry can be challenging.
In this special edition of Fresh Hope for Mental Health for October, Pastor Appreciation Month, Pastor Brad interviews Mr. David Anderson who is the Founder and President of Shepherd’s Canyon Retreat.
Shepherd’s Canyon Retreat offers week-long counseling retreats for men and women in full-time ministry who are in the midst of various stages of burnout, stress, depression, and conflicts of all kinds. Each retreat can accommodate up to eight individuals. Our staff includes two counselors, a chaplain, and volunteers who provide outstanding hospitality.
We encourage you to pass this podcast onto your pastor and other ministry staff people at your church.
According to PastorBurnoutStatistics.com:
Yet, LifeWay Research says that pastors are not quitting in groves and offers different statistics and another perspective: http://www.lifeway.com/pastors/2016/09/28/pastors-are-not-quitting-in-droves/
“We have all heard, and perhaps shared, these “staggering” scary stats about pastors who leave the ministry every month. The truth is sometimes worse than myth, but fortunately not in this case.
Also, according to LifeWay, last September, the results of a groundbreaking LifeWay Research survey of 1,500 pastors of evangelical and historically black churches found only one percent abandon the pulpit each year. I can think of at least three implications from this groundbreaking research.
According to LifeWay, pastors are not quitters. But, LifeWay also says that while pastors are ‘tough,’ ministry is also ‘tough,’ and pastors need encouragement.”
According to LifeWay Research:
After listening to this podcast, we encourage you to email us at info@FreshHope.us with a comment or question that we will share on our next podcast.
If you are listening to this podcast on iTunes, we encourage you to leave a comment regarding the podcast. Or you can leave a voice message for us on the site: www.FreshHope4MentalHealth.com
Pastor Brad Hoefs, the host of Fresh Hope for Mental Health, is the founder of Fresh Hope Ministries, a network of Christian mental health support groups for those who have a diagnosis and their loved ones. In other words, Fresh Hope is a Christian mental health support group.
Brad was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1995. He is a weekly blogger for www.bphope.com (Bipolar Magazine). He is also a certified peer specialist and has been doing pastoral counseling since 1985. Brad is also the author of Fresh Hope: Living Well in Spite of a Mental Health Diagnosis, which is available on Amazon or at http://www.FreshHopeBook.com
To donate to Fresh Hope go to http://freshhope.us/donate/
For a complete list of where Fresh Hope groups are presently meeting, go to www.FreshHope.us and click on “find a group.” Or you may attain an online group of meetings of Fresh Hope by going to www.FreshHopeMeeting.com
If you are interested in starting a Fresh Hope group within your faith community, contact Julie at Julie@FreshHope.us
Fresh Hope for Mental Health is a production of Fresh Hope Ministries.
Fresh Hope Ministries is a non-profit ministry.
The copyrights of this program belong to Fresh Hope Ministries and may not be duplicated without written permission.
All of the podcasts of Fresh Hope Today, as well as numerous other videos, are all available on our YouTube channel: Fresh Hope Network
Fresh Hope for Mental Health is on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/FreshHopeforMentalHealth
Fresh Hope is pleased to announce that we have a new online group meeting starting this Thursday, October 19th, at 8 p.m. Central Time Zone. The weekly meetings will be for those who have a co-occurring diagnosis as well as for those who love those who have a co-occurring diagnosis. The meeting is weekly and is FREE. However, you do have to sign-up for the meeting before going the first time. You can sign up for the meeting or find out more information about it by clicking here. Note, you want to sign up for Meeting 2- as it is the co-occurring group.
A significant portion of folks who face an ongoing mental health challenge also have addiction issues. Through the years of holding hundreds of Fresh Hope for Mental Health groups, we have had requests to provide specialized Fresh Hope groups that focus on co-occurring issues. So, we’re excited to introduce this new group.
This group does also include anyone who loves someone who has co-occurring issues.
It will be a weekly meeting held online. The group will be a safe and secure environment for people to support one another in their mental health and addiction recovery. We have special tenets for this group as the issues of both a mental health diagnosis and addiction issues provide unique challenges to those who live with co-occurring challenges. The focus of the group will be on empowering and encouraging one another to live well in spite of the co-occurring issues in their lives.
For more information either go to www.FreshHopeMeeting.com or email us at info@FreshHope.us
Fresh Hope for Mental Health was birthed from the church that I pastor; Community of Grace Church in Omaha. This is the group of people that had loved me at my worst some 22 years ago and provided a safe place for my family and me to heal when we needed it the most. Offering hope and healing is part of the DNA of our church. And each week I have the incredible privilege of preaching a message of hope, grace, and mercy to them. It is indeed a blessing for me.
Recently one of the ladies in the church encouraged me to start offering the messages that I preach as a podcast program like the podcast for Fresh Hope. Others chimed in with her; believing that many people don’t live close by and need to hear messages that are inspirational, healing, hope-filled and encouraging. Messages that are sensitive to the fact that we are all broken; that we all need hope and healing.
So, we here at Fresh Hope for Mental Health would like to introduce you to a new podcast: Refreshing Grace. (RefreshingGrace.com) This is our first edition. There will be more coming. And sooner or later it will be offered on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, iHeartRadio and other podcast platforms. In the meantime, we offer this first edition for your consideration. If you listen to the podcast, I’d love to hear from you. I’d like your input. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
To learn more about Community of Grace Church go to www.CommunityofGrace.net