Step by step

HPIM0267“The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?”    Proverbs 20:24

 

Depression is real. It is many times a disease that frustrates loved ones as much as the person afflicted. The Christian community has often shied away from sharing their pain for fear that their faith would be questioned. Many try to mask their feelings of despair with unnatural gaity and busyness only to deepen their pit of helplessness. My friends, depression is real. And it is not always manageable only by faith.

Depression is defined as “feelings of severe despondency and dejection.” There are many causes for these feelings, both internal and external. So many people have sunk deeper into their hopelessness by listening to well wishers who cite scriptures encouraging them to just “let go and let God.” Others are told that it is a spirit that must be cast out by prayer and reliance on God. And when that fails, and the person still feels that weight on them, they sink even further under the sodden blanket of sadness. Don’t get me wrong, I know without doubt that prayer and fasting and belief in the ultimate sovereignty of God is critical to all life. And for some people, that is all they need. But we live in a broken down world where pain happens and we are sometimes faced with illness and situations that require treatment and counseling over and beyond blind faith.

If we have turned our lives over to God, completely and utterly trusting in Him, then our steps are ordered by God. Sometimes those steps are obscure and we have to really focus on the path in order to clearly see that we are following Him and not the advice of the world. God will direct our steps as we walk with Him whether through depression or other illness, health; financial woes, times of wealth; sadness, or happiness. God walks with us every step of the way and will direct us to the path we need to take, all the while helping us to see his Hand in action.

Depression is rampant in our family. It was evident in my husband, his Grandmother, his Mother and, now, our daughter. I have had periods of despondency when tragedy strikes our family, and I have fibromyalgia which causes depression along with the pain. But I have never experienced what I see in my beloved hubby and child. They have struggled with questions of “Why?” Knowing they were children of God, trying to rely only on Him, and crying out when their faith did not seem to be enough. Let me tell you, the world will break you if you let it, and that includes well meaning Christians who have a misguided belief that taking medication is a sign of lack of faith.

I like the way Billy Graham put it when asked about depression and faith, this is from Answers  on January 9, 2017;

Q: Is it a sin to be depressed? The doctor says I have a chemical imbalance in my brain that he can treat with medication, but a friend of mine says I shouldn’t do this because I just need to pray and have more faith. Who is right? I can’t stand this much longer.


A: (Billy Graham) Let me ask you a question: If you broke your arm in an accident, do you think your friend would claim it was a sin for you to have a broken arm, and all you needed to do was pray? I doubt it. Neither is it a sin for you to seek treatment for a chemical imbalance in your brain. The Bible says that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14)–and it’s true: Our bodies and minds are very complex. Although doctors can’t solve all our problems, we should be grateful that God has enabled them to understand more about our bodies and minds, and has given them new ways to overcome many of our problems. Don’t feel that you are somehow sinning by seeking treatment for your depression; it would be wrong for you not to seek treatment.

I sound like a broken record, but I have realized that, depression is real. It is a disease that is treatable just as any other disease. I know that someone out there needs to hear this. Please, walk with God daily and let Him direct your steps. Be open to that path leading you to medication that can help. Don’t let the world add to the sense of hopelessness.

You are in my prayers today,

Sheila

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FIXINGUS MEUS

mirror imageProverbs 31:30-31 reminds us that, “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.”

I, like many of you reading this, have had a struggle with my body image. I’m not sure when it started, maybe one day my Mom was changing my diaper and she said something like, “Look at those chubby legs!” And off I went, thinking that I would have those chubby legs forever!

Or maybe it came from years of watching my Mom go through diet after diet, and gimmick after gimmick trying to get to where she liked how she looked. I remember in the 1970’s, she went on a grapefruit diet. Supposedly this diet worked because of a fat – burning enzyme that is only found in the grapefruit.  This fad took off and became the thing to do, probably because, as long as you ate ½ of a grapefruit or ½ cup of grapefruit juice, you could eat anything else you wanted (within an 800 calorie per day limit) and  lose weight. And no exercise required! Needless to say, that didn’t last very long and whatever weight was lost was soon put back. After all, you can only eat so many grapefruit!

I used to love to eat the sweet caramel and chocolate weight loss candy that Mom kept around. You were supposed to eat one right before each meal to curb your appetite, but I would sneak two or three throughout the day, just because they were really good!

There was even one time that Mom had her ear stapled and every time she got hungry, she had to tap her staple to make her not want to eat. And I wonder where my lack of body image came from?

She taught me how to iron my hair (literally!) so that it wouldn’t be so curly. And she tried every color of dye on my hair. I remember when I was thirteen I sat  in a beauty shop chair for eight hours while the beautician tried to bleach the red out of my hair. Needless to say, the best she could do was what they called “strawberry blonde.” Once a red – head, always a red head!

So many of us live as reflections of how our Mom’s felt about themselves. We struggle with seeing our bodies as less than perfect no matter how much weight we lose. There is danger in the words we speak to our children, especially our daughters, when those words are anything less that positive.

I have to wonder where it all started, and why. I remember as a child watching shows such as “Lassie”, “Father Knows Best”, and “The Brady Bunch” where the main women of the show were of average size and dressed modestly. They were confident in their role in the family and I don’t remember any of them pausing in front of a mirror and saying, “Gee, this dress makes me look fat!.” (Unless, of course, that was the topic of the show and then there was always a moral outcome that showed the woman’s true beauty came from within.) Somewhere along the line we have convinced ourselves that the scale is our

My Mother – in – law bought me a juicer for my birthday one year. Not sure why. Maybe it was because I said I wanted a juicer so that I could get healthy. And she believed me.

Anyway, my hubby was on a fishing trip recently and I decided to pull the juicer out of its hiding place and get started on my new healthy lifestyle. I opened my juice book, highlighted a few really healthy recipes and made out a shopping list. Even the titles of the juices made me feel instantly healthy: Potassium Power, Nature’s Wash, , and Bone Builder’s Cocktail. I feel healthy already just reading the recipes! I threw in the Green Drink ingredients and headed to the market.

I strolled down the produce aisle of my local grocer and started putting items in my cart: parsley, ginger, Granny Smith apples, spinach, celery, beets, cabbage and kale (oh, so that’s what kale looks like!), just to name a few. I couldn’t wait to get home!

It was dinner time when I finished carrying in the basket load of goodness from my Jeep. I decided I would start with the Green Drink since it seemed to have the most vegetables in it. I don’t know why, but I associated the vegetables with a heartier dinner.

The recipe called for a handful of parsley (or wheatgrass, but even I wasn’t going that far on the first try!), two Granny Smith apples, two kale leaves, and a handful of spinach. At the top of the ingredients was the saying, “When you are green inside, you are clean inside!” I certainly hoped it was true as I put the parsley in first and watched as the juicer separated a slimy dark green juice into the juice cup. I then put one apple in. I guess they went that way so that I wouldn’t give up. Then the kale and spinach and just when I didn’t think I could look at the resultant juice one more minute, I put the second apple in. Whew! The juice was not too bad looking, actually, once everything was added. I couldn’t wait to try my concoction and start on my journey to health.

I had a towel in my hand and I had not noticed that the edge of the towel was lodged under the juice cup – there’s that aging eye thing again. As I turned to get a glass to pour my healthy drink into, the towel pulled the cup over and I looked with startled amazement at the green juice spilling out all over my counter. My life flashed before my eyes and all I could see were the monsters in the 1968 science fiction movie, The Green Slime. Green juice started sliming its way down the front of my dishwasher and onto the floor. It hid under the coffee pot and proceeded to chase the paper towels I was trying to mop it up with. When I finally got the mess cleaned up, I opened a can of spaghetti and meatballs, covered it with cheese and stuck it in the microwave. I’ll start all over tomorrow, but today I need comfort food.

Some days you eat salads and go to the gym, some days you eat cupcakes and refuse to put on pants.

It’s called balance.

I hate how I see myself in a mirror. And yet, it was brought to my attention (by my loving daughter) that I subconsciously do the same thing to her that my mother did to me. Oh, I have never forced any of my children to dye their hair or use diet aids, but I have seen their faces when I make a remark about me. When I say, “I hate to go swim suit shopping, I’m just never satisfied with how I look,” they hear, “Maybe I don’t look so good in a swim suit, either.” When I say, “I can’t make this curly hair do what I want it to,” they hear, “Ugh! My hair never looks good.” You see, my girls have genetic traits that I gave them. If I don’t like how I look, and speak of it often, how can I expect them to like the way they look? And they are beautiful!

Ladies, we are responsible for teaching our daughters that however God made us, he made us beautiful. We are to love ourselves first so that they will know how to love themselves. This is a huge responsibility that can only be accomplished through much prayer and soul searching.

And if we are not eating healthy, then it’s time to start, but not in a way that is defining how we look. We should eat healthy to define how we feel! The scale is not your friend, but your energy level is. Our blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, and heart rate are all indicators of good health. If we are eating with these in mind, we will be healthy just as God designed.

Looking back to the opening verse in Proverbs 31, our works are the words that we speak in front of our daughters. We teach each day how these impressionable young girls will face the world and we must teach them that we are not measured by our outward appearance, but by our inner spirit. God should be the mirror that we face each morning, face – to – face, and then we, and our daughters, will know in full how beautiful we truly are.