Pastor Brad Hoefs

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

How to Support Our Children with Depression

How to Support Our Children with Depression

Every child experiences “the blues” every once in a while, but when the sadness becomes relentless, it could manifest into depression. Depression can affect a child’s personal life, school work, and social or family life. Children, versus adults, can develop depression based on additional factors like peer pressure and changing hormone levels. It’s important to be alert and supportive of our children in order to help them.

Symptoms

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) recognizes the following symptoms as warning signs of depression in children:

  • Feelings of sadness, irritability, guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • A decrease in interest in activities once found enjoyable
  • Decrease in energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Talk of suicide
  • Poor school performance

 If you recognize any of these symptoms in your child there are ways you can help:

 Support

After an initial diagnosis of depression, the best thing you can do is become informed, for you and your child. Jumo Health, a digital health resource for families, offers a depression discussion guide which provides questions to help foster conversation with a doctor after a diagnosis.

Moreover, there are productive ways to create a dialogue between you and your child. Start by letting your child know why you care about how they are feeling. Ask your child about their feelings, but don’t expect them to completely understand or have all the answers. Follow up with connections and examples of some of your own feelings so that they feel relatable. It’s important for children to know that they are not alone.

 If you want to help your child even further, we previously suggested the “Three L’s”:

  • Logging thoughts in a journal
  • Laughter
  • Long walks

Have your child interpret thoughts through writing. They can use a journal to keep track of moods, visualize patterns, and even write down inspirational thoughts. Journaling is a great way for your child to get their thoughts down on paper to clarify and reflect on their feelings.

Better yet, help your child combat sadness with its opposite: laughter. Activities such as watching a funny movie or show can use humor to play an important role in depression management.

Lastly, utilize the curative effects of exercise. Physical activity has healing benefits that release endorphins in order to relieve stress.

Connect with God

It’s important to remind your child that if God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

 

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.

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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

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.

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Facing Real Together by Lindsay Hausch

Facing Real Together by Lindsay Hausch

I heard her cries with my heart, more than my ears, each wail reverberating in my aching chest. I cradled her head and held her rigid body against mine as she yelled, “no, no, no,” then heaved a shaky breath to release another loud howl. I whispered in her ear “I’m here. I love you,” again and again, as I swayed and tasted the salty tears that ran down her neck.

For five minutes I felt the waves of emotions that coursed through her tired body, confusion, anger, frustration, fear as she succumbed to exhaustion. I absorbed her helpless desperation, but wouldn’t, couldn’t, let myself collapse beneath it. Instead I just held her, rocked her, and continued my chant, “I’m here. I love you.”

There is a sacred space we enter with another person when we can let them feel what they are feeling without avoidance, advice, judgement, or tense discomfort. Simply to tell them, “I’m here and I love you.”

I am not in my daughter’s skin, and so I don’t know what it feels like to have steroids coursing through me, creating a surge of unpredictable emotions and moods. This little girl has all these new big feelings without words to even make sense out of them. I want to understand what she feels, I want to tell her how to make it better, or distract her somehow. But in this desperate moment, after a sleepless night, a long morning, and still no nap, I can only be here with her as a witness.

Yes darling, you are miserable. Your body aches, you are tired but your body won’t behave and sleep as it should. You feel angry and powerless. You want mommy to make it all better, and you are learning, maybe for the first time, that there are some things that mommy can’t fix. But I am here, I am with you in this. I love you.

And in this brave moment between a helpless baby, and her helpless mommy, I begin to learn a lot about how to help someone heal. Because when we are confused, overcome by big emotions we can’t explain, when life hurts and we feel too tired to even make our bed, we don’t need advice; we don’t need platitudes, or our pain to be wiped away like an unsightly smudge of dirt. We need a brave person to stay and hold us through the waves of grief, anger, desperation, and longing, to whisper lovingly, “I am here.”

Because when life knocks the breath out of us, sometimes the bravest thing to do is to inhale and exhale those first few breaths, to be held by the loving arms of those there to support you, and fearlessly succumb to the illusive sleep that our tired souls need.

Sometimes its another person holding us up. Sometimes its on our knees in the sacred  space of solitude. But as we cry out in weakness, “I am tired, I am scared, Lord I am hurting,”  He says “I Am.” In Him we find a perfect match for our needs and emptiness. So we can cry, and shout, or blink silent tears, and wait for His peace to roll over us like a blanket and His grace to hum like a lullaby, “I Am here. I love you.”

“Stubborn cloud, I watch you rolling past
What would it take for you to cry at last
Don’t be afraid to let your feelings show
If we dry up, then we won’t grow”

Grow by J.J. Heller

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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

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

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.

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Choosing Hope in the Face of Hopelessness

Choosing Hope in the Face of Hopelessness

Hopelessness is serious. Every day people fall into the hopeless hole of hopelessness due to their struggle with a mental health issue. Hopelessness begins to knock at the door of one’s heart when you feel and believe that you have no future. It happens so easily, and it can take root all too fast. Each time we face one of life’s interruptions which change our perceived future hopelessness can settle in and live rent free in our hearts and minds.

Over 20 years ago I faced a life-altering interruption due to having bipolar disorder. At that time I was pastoring one of the fastest growing churches in my denomination. However, following that painful manic episode, which had interrupted my life, I was asked to resign. It was earth-shattering. My position and the church had become my identity. I was devastated to the point of complete hopelessness. I had lost my future. Hopelessness had set in. And the deep dark hole of depression became a shameful guilt place of familiarity for me; months and months of severe depression followed.

For years prior to this interruption I had felt as though I had a monster inside of me that I had to manage.

The more stress I experienced with pastoring a growing church, the more impossible it was to control the monster within me. More times than not, the monster was controlling me. So, when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I found out that the monster had a name. And strangely enough, a small ray of hope began to break through the hopelessness what had swallowed me whole.

Why would there be a small ray of hope following my diagnosis?   After all, usually people see the diagnosis of bipolar disorder as the difficult thing to accept. Well, it was because of the people around me who helped me to see that the diagnosis and treatment of my bipolar disorder were a way back to having a future. It was the idea that the bipolar could be treated and I could have a future poked a small pinhole of hope into the darkness of hopelessness. It was not an easy journey, but it was more than worth it. With that small pinhole of hope, I could see a way forward. I began to grieve what I had lost and began to embrace a new and different future; believing that I could live well in spite of having bipolar disorder.

Dr. Sean Lopez, the author of Making Hope Happen, has done extensive research on hope for over 14 years. His research supports what I experienced. When I thought I had no future, hopelessness set in and took over. And when I could see the way to a future, hope began to start. And the clearer the future became for me, the more hope I felt.

Interestingly enough, hope can be borrowed, shared and it can be caught! Think about it, if you hang around a lot of hopeless friends, you will begin to feel hopeless. And if you hang out with people who are filled with hope you will begin to feel hopeful.

So, I have a question for you: How is your hope tank doing? Do you feel like you can see a way forward? If not, do you potentially need to let go of the future that as you thought it would be, grieve it and let it go? Do you need to embrace the new potential future? There’s no doubt that doing this is a process. It is not like switching a light switch on. But, it is a choice.

Hope is truly a choice. For me as a Christian, hope is not only a choice, but it is sure and certain. Paul reminds us that no matter what our circumstances might be there is a future because the Lord will work all things out together for our good. (Romans 8:28) So, I certainly may not “feel” hopeful, but I choose to believe Romans 8:28 and that means that there is a future. It may not have been the future as I thought it would be, but it is a future.

So, again, my question is: how is your hope tank? Is your hope tank empty? Is being a caregiver sucking the hope right out of you? Do you see a way forward into the future?

Are you strong enough to make the choice of hope? If not, I have some hope you can borrow.See, I know because of the storms I’ve been through in my life that God is at work in all things. He is with you. He has not left you. He won’t leave you. And He is FOR you and your entire family! He has a plan. It may not be the life you and I planned prior to bipolar showing up, but in spite of us having bipolar disorder He has a plan!

Everything may not be “good” right now, but all is well because of Him. He has heard every single one of your tears as a liquid prayer.   Look for that little tiny bit of light coming through the “pin” hole poking through the hopelessness you might be feeling. Choose hope. Choose it minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day and your feelings will begin to catch up. There is a future and joy is included in it.

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.

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