World Mental Health Day

One in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives.

Around 450 million people currently suffer from mental health related problems.

Mental health disorders are among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide (World Health Organization).

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Over the last couple years, the issue of mental health has become a prominent subject matter in the public square. Celebrities have raised awareness for those who suffer from mental illness and websites like Twitter have allowed more people to have a platform to spread information about the importance of mental health. People are starting to realize that mental health is just as important as physical health—and slowly, the stigma attached to mental health struggles is beginning to fade.

Thus, with it being such an important and widely spoken about issue, I have decided that to write a post about mental health for my blog to help raise awareness for this issue.

If you have been reading my blog for a while now, you may know that I’m no stranger to this issue. For years now, I have struggled with OCD and anxiety, which can at times can be crippling—making it difficult to handle situations that most people would be completely comfortable in. I struggle with both stressful, unwanted thoughts and quirks such as not wanting to touch a doorknob and checking my cups to make sure they’re clean.

Nonetheless, over the last few weeks, I have made a conscious decision.

I have made a decision to be healthy.

By choosing to be healthy, I don’t mean that my OCD has gone away entirely or even that I believe it will go away entirely. In some way, shape or form, I’ve suffered with it since childhood. When I was in grade school, I used to arrange my crayons by color and run to my mom whenever I had a thought that I considered “mean” or “bad”.

Nonetheless, I have recently discovered that there are steps that I can take to cope with it and intentionally lessen it; and I believe that many of these things can help those who struggle from other forms of mental health as well.

Pray

To clarify, I don’t believe mental health problems are a sign of a weak faith or not trusting God, as some suggest. However, I do believe we serve a God who cares about the well being of His children. James 5:13 says, “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.” The Bible encourages us to pray during times of trouble, and I believe that if we ask, God will give us peace during our storms—and the strength to get through them

Eat right

Before I tried it myself, I used to think that people who touted healthy eating as the answer stress and anxiety were crazy. Nonetheless, after changing my diet and implementing more whole foods and vitamins, I’ve noticed that my anxiety and even my acne has decreased tremendously. It is obviously not the answer to every problem, but it can help you feel better and more at peace. Eating less processed foods and more foods with vitamins shown to treat anxiety has helped me leaps and bounds in my journey to mental and physical health.

Exercise

I’m going to be honest—I am a complete and utter bookworm. Given the choice, I would much rather read a good book than hop on a treadmill. However, despite the fact that working out isn’t always fun for me, I have begun to take more initiative to exercise. Exercising naturally increases serotonin levels in our brains, which is often something that people with high levels of anxiety tend to lack. Through exercising, we can increase our serotonin levels while staying fit in the process.

R&R

In a world as fast paced and intense as ours, it can be hard to force ourselves to relax and unwind. There’s always something we need to do or that we can worry about. However, God didn’t intend for our bodies to work like this. As finite creatures, we cannot keep going without facing some serious burnout.

So, the next time you find yourself feeling anxious, depressed, or worried, take some time for yourself. This isn’t selfish—it’s healthy. Read a book. Soak in a bubble bath. Watch your old favorite movie. Do whatever it is (within reason) that helps you relax and calm down. Don’t be afraid to slow down and let yourself rest. If you do this, you’ll be refreshed and ready to face those tasks when you return to your daily to-do-list.

Self-talk

Oftentimes, our worst stress is caused from out-of-control worry and stress. When our minds get out of hand, sometimes it’s best to try to talk ourselves down. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Sometimes we can be nicer to others than we are to ourselves, but according to the Bible, we are called to “love our neighbor as ourselves” (Mark 12:30-31). It’s important that we show the same kindness to ourselves that we show to others, and part of this is remembering that things often aren’t as severe as we imagine them to be.

Talk to someone about it

Sometimes, one of the best ways to stay mentally healthy is to talk to someone—whether it be a pastor, a counselor, or a friend. Maybe you have something you need to work through, or maybe you just need another person to tell you it’s all going to be OK. There’s no shame in seeing a counselor or asking for prayer and advice. We weren’t meant to do this life alone—God has placed other people in our lives and our paths for a reason. Never be too prideful to ask for help. Furthermore, if you feel it is serious, never be afraid to contact a professional.

Note -– If you’re in a moment of crisis and you’re in emotional distress right now, don’t hesitate to talk. Call 1-800-273-8255.  https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

How about you? Have you ever struggled with mental health? And do you have any advice for those who do? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

 

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New Book On Wattpad!

Hey everyone, I have some big news for y’all—I recently published a new teen devotional on Wattpad.com!

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If you have an account on there, be sure to check it out. It’s called Confidence In Christ: A Devotional For Teen Girls, and it’s basically a compilation of blog posts in the form of a book, with a song for each post.

I hope to see you guys on there, and I promise to post more to my blog soon!

Here’s the description and link below!

Growing up as a Christian teenager can be a difficult journey. In each of our lives, we’re faced with questions. Who are we? What do we believe? What do we stand for? In this devotional, we’re going to explore some of those themes together, and learn how God wants to move in each of our lives, helping us to become confident in Him, and live out the dreams He has for each one of us. We were each made for something great, and it all starts with the greatest decision any of us can make.
Will we follow Jesus?

https://www.wattpad.com/story/104871825-confidence-in-christ-a-devotional-for-teen-girls

 

God Likes Us

Every once and a while, we stumble upon something that jolts us in a way that we didn’t expect.

For me, this happened recently, at my local Publix.

Like on many occasions, as we were checking out, my eyes wandered off to the magazine section, and even though I know most of the stuff over there’s complete trash (not to mention gossip), there’s always a weird impulsion to see what’s going on in good ole’ Hollywood. And, as I looked in the magazine area, I caught a quote by William Paul Young that caught my attention on a religious themed magazine: Not only does God love us, He likes us too!

For those of you who don’t know, William Paul Young is the increasingly popular author of The Shack, and whatever you think about The Shack, you have to admit, that’s a pretty insightful quote. And tonight, as I lay awake dealing with a particularly stressful OCD episode, I’m reminded of that quote.

I can’t speak for everyone, since I am only one person, but for me, this is too often an easy thing to forget. I know God loves me, as well as every other person in the world He created. And as a devout youth group attendee in my early teen years, I know literally every lyric from David Crowder Band’s ever-popular song “How He Loves” (“Ohhhhhh how he loves us oh, oh how He loves us…how He loves us oh!” Sorry, I had to do that). Nonetheless, while I know that there’s nothing we can do to earn God’s love, I often fall into the trap of believing there’s something I have to do (or not do) or say (or not say) or a way I have to act (or not act) to earn God’s “like“.

I’ve been a perfectionist pretty much since childhood, so I’m sure that plays into it. I have always strived for the best grades, to earn all of my teachers’ approval, and be the perfect Christian girl who has it all together (even when on the inside I know I’m not and I know I most certainly don’t). When I fall short it’s often an extremely aggravating experience for me and I tend to be far more dramatic about it than I should. I suppose in the back of my mind somewhere, I struggle with this false illusion (or delusion) that I can somehow be good enough and earn enough brownie points to earn God’s like. And as much as the Bible, churches, and evangelical culture tell me otherwise, old habits can be hard to break. Furthermore, this delusion can get all the more frustrating during an OCD episode, when my thoughts seem to be running in every sort of crazy direction with no control on my part—and I end up asking God for forgiveness 15 billion times for some frightening heretical thought or another.

As an OCD struggler, the lyrics to an old Anthem Lights song often ring so true for me.

Before I even know it I’m right back at the start. I’m doing what I hate and breaking my own heart“.

I think each one of us struggles with something. For me it’s OCD and perfectionism. For you, it may be something different. Maybe for you, it’s a struggle with an eating disorder, or a battle with depression. Maybe it’s self harm, or a temptation of some sort. Or maybe you don’t fit the mold of what you think a Christian should look like, and feel people judge you for it. I don’t know what your personal struggle is, or what difficulties you face, but I do know that even if your battle looks different than mine, the core feelings are often the same. Too often, faith can become a marathon instead of a resting place.

Nonetheless, in the midst of all of our our stress and failures and anxiety—God still likes us, delights in us even. Psalm 139:13 says

“For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.

My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth…”

God knows every inch of our personalities, our pasts, and our scars. He knows about our doubts and questions. He knows about our favorite foods and why our favorite movies touched us so. He knows about that time that hurt like nothing else could. And yet He rejoices in saying that “This is my Creation, this is my son or daughter. There is no one else like them.”

Not only does God loves us, He likes us too!

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How To Cope With Heartbreak

This post may seem like somewhat of a downer at first sight, in light of the fact that one of the most relationship-y holidays is on the horizon. Nonetheless, recently God has put it on my heart to address those who may be struggling through this Valentines Day. Thus, I put together some tips that I believe are helpful with sort of thing and wrote a post for all of those who are dealing with a lost relationship (or crush) this Valentines Day.

Valentines day can be one of the worst days of the year if you’re going through a recent heartbreak. Everywhere you look, there are candy hearts, gifts for your significant other, and too many cards to count. Combined with the fact that after a heartbreak, everything seems to remind you of them, this is a very bad combo.

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Though, like I’ve admitted before, I’ve never been in a relationship, I have dealt with heartbreak in the past. It’s ignored or forgotten too often in society, but sometimes a crush gone wrong can cause the same sensation. There were real feelings involved and somewhere along the way, they got squashed. Stomped on. Broken.

It’s a feeling that can feel almost like an illness. Your stomach hurts, your throat feels swollen, and you don’t want to move out of your bed. You listen to Taylor Swift songs on a loop, as the situation goes from “sad, beautiful, tragic” to hating on his “stupid old pickup truck” (If you’re a Taylor Swift fan, you saw what I did there😉). You feel like you’ll never recover. You do, but you certainly never forget. Even years later, you’ll still remember the sound of their voice and meaningless details about them, but that’s OK. It’s a part of your past, and those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it.

Because heartbreak is such a universal topic—and ever so relevant around this time of the year, I decided to write a post about it, and give some advice on how to get through it.

Pray about it 

This is something that, admittedly, I didn’t do enough during my times of heartbreak. I journaled about it. Boy, did I journal about it! As a writer, my journals were the first thing I ran to when I faced heartache and my first one got quite a bit of air time, looking back. Nonetheless, I believe I may have healed quicker if I had prayed for God to take the pain away. As embarrassing and painful as heartbreak can be, God already knows about it, and as our friend, He’s a safe person to talk about this kind of thing with. I tell my earthly best friend practically everything, so why not do the same with our Heavenly friend and Savior?

Let yourself Rest

Going through heartbreak can be physically exhausting. One of the most tempting things during this time is to turn into a vegetable—lying in bed in sweats and watching too many episodes of Gilmore Girls. We should never remain in this position, but it’s OK to give yourself a break. You’ve been through a lot and your body needs time to recover just as much as your heart. Be nice to yourself during this time and give yourself a little thing we as Christians like to call grace.

Be wise

Thankfully, during the times that I went through heartbreak, I didn’t have social media. If I did, I’m almost positive I would have at least been tempted to pull the “social media stalking trick“. But please do yourself a favor—don’t do it! Looking at their pictures and status updates is only going to make this thing a hundred times worse. You don’t need to give this person that much thought. They’re a part of your past, and right now, your job is to find your way into the future. Which brings me to point #4.

Focus On Other Things

You don’t need another person to make you happy. The only one who can fill the emptiness that often accompanies heartbreak is Jesus. Turn to Him! Read your Bible, and maybe some good books. Hang out with some friends. Take up a hobby. Too often, we can make a person into an idol, and let them take up the place that only God should have. Never forget that another person doesn’t complete you—God does.

Allow yourself to remember and move on

The truth is, if the relationship/crush/person was significant enough, you’re never going to entirely forget about them. From time to time, you’ll wonder what ever happened to them and who they became. That’s OK. Like I said before, you’re going to remember them. They were an important part of your life, and hopefully, you learned more about life and yourself through that experience. You can’t live in the past, but you can be thankful for the lessons learned—and choose to move forward in your life.

When I first started this blog, I often used to post a song at the end, and for this post, I believe it will be especially fitting.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” – Pslams 147:3 

We Are Family

I wrote this post a while back for The Recovering Legalist, and since my blogging has been a little slow lately, I decided to repost it onto my blog. This is a topic that I’ve blogged a little about in other posts, but that I wrote about in depth in this one. 

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What does it mean to be a family?

Ask ten different people and you’ll get ten different answers.

To some, it’s the parents and siblings that they were raised with. To others, it’s their current family unit that they’ve created for themselves, through marriage and procreation. Still to others, it’s a grandparent or relative who raised them.

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Family is a concept that is embedded deep within the human heart. We all long for a place to belong and feel at home.

A place to kick off our shoes after a long day.

A place where we can be fully ourselves—quirks and all.

A place to love and be loved.

Society tells us that family is limited to those related to us through blood or marriage.

The Bible on the other hand, tells a different story. When ­asked about His brothers and mother in the book of Matthew, Jesus turns previously held assumptions about family upside-down.

“Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!”(Matthew 12:48-50)

Jesus broadens the definition of family to include every believer who has been washed in the blood of Christ and saved by God’s amazing grace.

You are my brother. I am your sister. We are one giant family connected through the blood of Christ. Whatever your experience with your biological family, you have the guarantee of a family in Christ. This concept is reinforced throughout the New Testament, as familial language is repetitively used (1 Timothy 5:1-2, Hebrews 13:1, Philemon 1:15-16). The Bible even goes into detail about how to live this out, instructing us time and time again to love one and other and walk with fellow believers through times of trouble.

We live in a world that is starving for love. Look no further than the local news station to find that divisions between people are running rampant. This should not be so among believers. If we want to love a broken world, we must start by loving each other. Despite our many differences, we are one in Christ. This point is presented beautifully in Galatians 3:28. “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Imagine how amazing our witness for Christ would be if we truly lived out Jesus’ vision for believers. I have seen the concept of family practiced vividly in the Christian blogging world and pray that this becomes a reality worldwide. No one should ever feel left out in the body of Christ. The first thing that a person should know when the walk through the doors of our churches is that they are loved. When Jesus hung on the cross, His arms were spread wide open, embracing everyone willing to come and follow Him. We are called to live as a reflection of that, and live out God’s radical love here on earth as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Connected as one big, crazy, awesome, beautiful family of believers.