Pastor Brad Hoefs

Pastor | Author | Speaker | Hope Coach | Mental Health Advocate

Real Hope Has Gotten Me Through My Hopelessness

Real Hope Has Gotten Me Through My Hopelessness

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.

img_6604So 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,

Brad

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

unnamed

30 Things You Can Do When Someone You Love is Clinically Depressed

30 Things You Can Do When Someone You Love is Clinically Depressed

When you love someone that is experiencing deep depression it can be exhausting and melanie-wasser-233297frustrating.  You want to encourage your loved one but don’t want to push them too much. Encouraging them to “push through” but knowing when not to do so is a delicate balance.  You might even find yourself feeling the depression emotionally.  No doubt caring for someone who is in the depths of depression can feel as though life is being sucked out of you.  You can end up having no idea as to how to help or encourage your loved one.

Here’s somethings my wife did for me and/or encouraged me to do when I was in the depths of depression:

  1. Encourage them to do something that they usually have enjoyed doing and do it with them.
  2. Watch an uplifting movie with them.
  3. Make them their favorite meal.
  4. Sit quietly with them. Hold their hand.
  5. Take a walk with them.
  6. Take care of yourself!
  7. Help them establish and stick to a schedule if possible.
  8. Have some expectations of them.
  9. Assure them of your unconditional love.
  10. Assure them that this will pass sooner or later.
  11. Give them a back rub.
  12. Listen to soothing, spiritually uplifting music with them.
  13. Ask them to help you make or do something.
  14. Encourage them to talk and listen carefully.
  15. Encourage them to see a doctor if they have not done so.
  16. Assure them you don’t believe that they are weak or lack faith, but that you know their brain chemistry is experiencing imbalance.
  17. Ask them to promise you that if they ever begin to feel like they begin to feel suicidal that they will tell you. If they tell you, consult with their doctor as soon as possible or contact the Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. If the situation is an emergency, dial 911.
  18. Ask them what might bring them comfort.
  19. Talk about the future. Help them see there is a future.
  20. Encourage them to exercise with you.
  21. Turn on the lights, open the windows.
  22. Find out as much as you can about depression. This is a great website: https://www.lighterblue.com/#lighter-blue
  23. Change your light bulbs to full spectrum light bulbs.
  24. Give your loved one a mood light. Northern Light Technologies has a wide variety of options.  http://northernlighttechnologies.com/  (Before purchasing these you’ll want to check with the doctor.)
  25. Get them vitamin D and B12.
  26. Remind them of times when they have overcome adversity so they know it is possible for them to do so again.
  27. Encourage them to get outside for a walk and some natural sunlight.
  28. Turn off news programs and other negative media. Control negative inputs.
  29. Where possible, encourage them to connect with friends.
  30. Pray.  Every time you find yourself worrying about your loved one, pray instead.

Please know, as a loved one it is SO important that you do take care of yourself too. Stay balanced and do somethings that you enjoy.  Take care of yourself spiritually and emotionally.  Also, know this, the Lord is with you too!  He will see you through this valley. Stay in His word. Hold to His hope. And when you can, laugh a little!  You are not alone. There is hope.  And there is healing.

Cover photo by nikko macaspac on Unsplash

 

 

Freedom from the Thoughts of Shame

Freedom from the Thoughts of Shame

The other day I answered the phone and was greeted with, “This is a phone call like you have never heard before. My name is Jim and I can tell you how to make the cash roll in!”

I hung up.

Get rich schemes abound.

Manipulative people take advantage of you for their gain.

Are you being conned by the master manipulator, depression?

Depression twists your thinking, convincing you of lies that cause shame. Shame takes your life and feeds your depression.

Shame is a set of beliefs that you are defective, worthless, that you deserve misery. Some of these thoughts may ruminate in both our conscious and unconscious mind. 

These thoughts may include:  I’m stupid. I’m unattractive. I’m a failure. I’m a bad person.I’m selfish. I just don’t have what it takes. I hate myself.I don’t matter. I’m defective. I shouldn’t have been born. I’m unlovable.

These automatic thoughts steal from you and feed depression, worsening its hold on our lives. Depressive illness may bring on these thoughts. We can then be manipulated making depression worse.

How can we manage these thoughts of shame? The acrostic SHAME can be a pattern for breaking this downward shame cycle.

S—Support groups. You are not alone in dealing with these thoughts. Finding a group of safe people where you can hear others tell their story and where you can share yours. Talking helps identify manipulative thoughts, discover maladaptive behavior, and ways to disarm shame.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 NIV

H—Honest thinking. You have been manipulated by the lies of depression. Shame thoughts are lies that need to be exchanged for truth. Identifying these thoughts and replacing them can change your feelings and behaviors. Therapy for this is called Cognitive Behavior Therapy.  It is highly effective at creating positive behavior.

“Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” Romans 12:2 Message

A—Appreciate life, even in the smallest details. It is impossible to deeply grateful and feeling shamed simultaneously. Gratitude resets your mind, changing your focus to the positive from the negative. Intentionally keeping a gratitude journal is a tool that many have used.

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”Col 3:16

M—Marvelously Made. You have been made in the image of God. Yes, the image is tarnished but you are still marked in your Creator’s image. He sees you as a Masterpiece of His handiwork. The Good News of Jesus is that God loves us. Period. Nothing you do can make God love you more. Nothing you do can make God love you less.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”  Psalms 139:13-14

E—Empathy. Depression bullies you with its lies. Learn to be compassionate to yourself. Imagine one of your children confided in you they were having shame creating thoughts. What would you say to give confidence and encouragement? Say these things to yourself. Step out of yourself for a moment and empathize with your inner child that is hurting. Having compassion for yourself changes your inner world.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Mph 4:32 NIV

You can use the SHAME model to defeat thoughts and feelings of shame that depression causes.

When you hear the lies of depression, hang up the phone.

 

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

unnamed

Quails-bio-slide

Forgiveness: The Power to Heal by Jamie Meyer

Forgiveness: The Power to Heal by Jamie Meyer

By: Jamie Meyer

Holding a grudge and refusing to forgive hurts you more than it hurts the other person. I liken it to being held captive by a ball and chain. Unable to move forward in life we remain stuck in the past, continually ruminating on what someone did to us. Unforgiveness makes it more difficult to “live well” in spite of having a mental health diagnosis.

It’s human nature to want justice. We want the other person to pay for what they did. At the very least we want an apology. Deep down we even question whether the way we were treated contributed to triggering our mental illness or worsened it.

How were you hurt at the hands of another? Were you bullied, made fun of, or stigmatized because you were different from your peers? Maybe you were hurt, or continue to be, in a relationship. They didn’t understand so they said hurtful things, ignored you, or walked away, leaving you feeling abandoned and alone. I’ll let you fill in the blank.

As is true of all things in God’s kingdom, hope for healing is found in Christ alone. Are you thinking that there’s no way you can possibly forgive your enemy? Jesus tells us “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27). I think that pretty much covers everything, no matter how grievous the violation. If we invite God into the process, then forgiveness is possible.

Refusal to forgive is often the result of not understanding what it means to forgive a person. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to forget what the person did or tell yourself the hurtful experience didn’t matter. As much as you might want to, you can never erase those painful experiences from your memory.

Forgiveness does not mean you let the other person off the hook either. They are still responsible for what they did. The person who hurt you may never come to you and say they’re sorry. In fact, they may have already passed away. Regardless, it’s comforting to know they’re accountable to someone greater than you: “Never take your own revenge….’Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19).

Probably the greatest misunderstanding about forgiveness is that it involves reconciliation with the offender. That’s wonderful if it’s something you want but in most cases there’s no desire to restore the relationship. Why risk the chance of being hurt again? Part of caring for ourselves and maintaining stability requires choosing healthy relationships.

Forgiveness is a process, one that takes time. You don’t wake up one morning and decide you’re going to forgive someone. Telling yourself “I forgive ___” won’t take away the hurt and resentment you feel.

A better place to start is by asking yourself some questions: Do I honestly believe the person who hurt me will someday tell me they’re sorry for their actions? What if they did apologize and beg for my forgiveness? Would that make up for the damage it caused in my life, the happiness and peace of mind I could have had, or how my life may have turned out differently? If that day came, it honestly wouldn’t be enough.

The process of forgiveness begins with accepting the reality that in all likelihood there will be no admittance of guilt, no apology, nor will they have become a better person over time. Letting go of those expectations and the need to get even will enable you to break free of the ball and chain.

The past and its memories will always be a part of you but you’ll no longer be weighed down by them emotionally. Although the length of time it takes to heal varies from person to person, forgiveness is something you do for you. In return you receive freedom, joy, inner peace, and the ability to move forward with hope.

 

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

unnamed

Lessons I Have Learned From My 20 Year Struggle With Fear And Anxiety

Lessons I Have Learned From My 20 Year Struggle With Fear And Anxiety

By: Stan Popovich

Do you currently struggle with fear and anxiety and wish you could talk to someone who can relate to your situation?

If so, I dealt with fear and anxiety for over 20 years and here are some lessons I learned during my mental health struggles.

  1. Listen To The Professionals And Not Your Friends: Your friends may mean well, but when it comes down to it, the professionals know your situation more than anyone. They know what you are going through and are trained to deal with your situation. Consult with a counselor when you have questions about your mental health issues.
  2. Distance Yourself From People Who Give You A Hard Time: Distance yourself from those people who won’t make an effort to help understand what you are going through. You need to surround yourself with positive and supportive people. I felt better when I avoided those people who would constantly argue with me regarding my anxieties and stresses.
  3. Focus On The Facts of Your Situation And Not Your Thoughts: When people are depressed they rely on their fearful and negative thoughts.  Your fearful thoughts are exaggerated and are not based on reality. When you are depressed, focus on the facts of your current situation and not on what you think.
  4. Learn From Your Experiences: In every anxiety-related situation I experienced, I learned what worked, what did not work, and what I needed to improve on as I managed my fears and anxieties. For example, you have a lot of anxiety and you decide to take a walk to help you feel better. The next time you feel anxious you can remind yourself that you got through it the last time by taking a walk.
  5. You Can’t Predict The Future Regardless What Your Thoughts May Tell You: No one can predict the future with one hundred percent certainty. Even if the thing that you are afraid of does happen, there are circumstances and factors that you can’t predict which can be used to your advantage. For instance, you miss the deadline for a project at work. Suddenly, your boss comes to your office and tells you that the deadline is extended and that he forgot to tell you the day before. This unknown factor changes everything.
  6.  Things Change Over Time: Regardless of your current situation, things do not stay the same. You may feel very bad today, but it won’t last forever. Everything changes over time and this includes your current mental health issues.

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

unnamed

You Are Here to Make a Difference

You Are Here to Make a Difference

It is not easy for me to take a compliment or say something good about myself.  I was in counseling for quite some time before I could even say out loud “I matter”.  The first time my counselor had me say it, I cried.  I didn’t believe it.  I did not feel like I mattered to myself or anyone else.  It wasn’t because someone was mean to me or bad things had happened to me. It was what I believed of myself.  Many people, do not think good things of themselves. Here are just 4 things God says you are:

Loved/Chosen – I am greatly loved by God. Col. 3:12

Forgiven – I am forgiven of all my sins & washed in the Blood. Eph 1:17

Fearless – For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, love and a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

Warrior – I can quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one with my shield of faith. Eph 6:16

There are so many more things God says we are. I chose these 4 words because most of us do not feel this way at all. Even on a good day, I struggle with believing what God says about me. I don’t doubt God; it is me who has a hard time believing any one feels that way about me. But God said it in His Word that we are each of these things.

My friends, let this soak into your soul. You ARE chosen by the Almighty God because He loves you. He made you ON PURPOSE. He FORGIVES you of all your sins if you ask Him to. He has also made you a FEARLESS WARRIOR.

Another very important reason you matter because we have a purpose. Even though we have a diagnosis of a mental disorder or a lable of some kind, Romans 8:28 (NASB) says, “And we know God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

He will work things out for good. I believe with my whole heart that the things we go through are to help others when they go through them. We have felt alone at times, ashamed, or embarrassed but there is someone out there who feels the same way and needs help just like we did and do. That’s our purpose. That’s how we make a difference.

2 Corinthians 1:4 (The Message) says “He comes along side us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us along side someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.

That verse also says YOU MATTER. He has given us a purpose. Let’s use all the tools, ideas, and help others and God has given us to help someone else.

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

unnamed

Your Mental Health Is More Important Than Becoming Rich And Famous

Your Mental Health Is More Important Than Becoming Rich And Famous

By: Stanley Popovich

Some celebrities and successful people occasionally pick money and fame over their mental health issues. This can be a fatal mistake in the long run. Money and fame will not help solve your mental health issues.

Here are 7 things to consider regarding your mental health and the pursuit of money and fame.

1. People can’t control their own fame: A person must understand that fame comes and goes and that a person has no control over his or her popularity. Fame is elusive and can’t be controlled. Your mental health issues will remain with you for your entire life.

2. You will be miserable: You can’t enjoy your successes if your mental health issues are overwhelming you. Learning how to manage your mental health issues is the best thing you can do for yourself in the long run.

3. You will have to deal with the consequences: Only you will experience the consequences when your fears and anxieties get the best of you. Money and fame will not take away your fears and anxieties regardless what anyone says. Don’t make the mistake of assuming otherwise.

4. Fear won’t rule your life: You will be in control of your life instead of your anxieties, addictions, and fears. Always being anxious and fearful is no way to live your life. Make the effort to do what you can to manage your mental health issues. You will be better off in the long run.

5. Always remember your values: Your values will be with you for your entire life while your fame lasts for a short time. Do what is right and follow your heart. Don’t give in to peer pressure. When the cameras disappear, it will be just you, your family, and closest friends.

6. You will enjoy your relationships: Managing your mental health issues will help you to manage and enjoy your business and personal relationships. In addition, you will be able to make better decisions regarding your relationships and other aspects of your life.

7. Learn from the mistakes of others: There are many successful people who made the mistake of sacrificing their mental health for money and fame. As a result, their entire life was ruined and some of them even committed suicide. Don’t make the same mistake. If you are not sure of what to do in handling your fame, then talk to a professional who can give you some advice.

 

Fresh Hope is a faith-based non-profit that empowers people to live well in spite of their mental health challenge.

YOUR gift will provide a person with God’s Fresh HOPE for daily living. Click here to donate, today.

unnamed

%d bloggers like this: