Claim Ownership


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People can say some harsh things to us, but when someone close says ‘Curse God and Die’ you have to go to a deeper place of faith than they possibly have. I was watching him wilt. He was once like a flourishing plant, enjoying water and sun and growing and giving out beauty. But now the water had dried up, the sun beat down like a torturer, and the once gentle winds were hammering and stripping him down to a skeleton. Who will come To the aid Of a man like me Who will come to a man of poverty Who will rescue the ship From the wayward sea Who will come To a man like me Derek Lind Shooting the wounded The first book I read about Mental Health and Christianity was ‘Why do Christians shoot their wounded‘ by Dwight L. Carlson. It’s a classic, in my opinion. The author writes from a place where he has seen people with Mental illnesses getting wounded by well-meaning but ignorant Christians saying the mental illness was due to some sin in their life. This ‘shooting of the wounded’ still goes on today, and it’s been around a very long time. Whatever we don’t understand and are uncomfortable with, we attribute to sin. This calamity is because of something you’ve done wrong and God is punishing you. It’s the law of retribution. You do something wrong, and you get the punishment. You do something good, and you get the reward. If bad things are happening, you must have done something bad. But what if you have done nothing wrong and bad things happen. The whiplash of the tongue That’s the situation of the biblical character Job. Every measure of what we would call success had been taken from him. His health, his wealth, his children. He goes to the place which feels the most welcoming to his heart. The local dump site. There he sits in the ashes of yesterday’s goodness and picks at his skin. That’s what you do when life is hollowed out. You grieve and go to a cave. Another response, one of many, as we will see, is to lash out, particularly at those close to you and God. The first of the whip lashes was from his wife. She, too had seen the trauma and tragedy of her children dying (Job 1:13-19) The tongue swings are wide and deep. Job took a potsherd with which to scrape himself, and sat among the ashes. Then his wife said to him, ‘Do you still persist in your integrity? Curse God, and die.’ Job 2:8,9 Note that before she told him what to do, we see an affirmation of Job’s deepest quality, the one being tested. His integrity. This word integrity (tummah in Hebrew) could also be translated as innocence. Read this further here  FOLLOW ME! Website: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: Podcast
It can be so easy to lose hope. But when we ask, ‘How is it with your soul?’ an opportunity opens to journey to know wellness. ‘How are you?’ they asked. My response was polite, and I said that I was okay. They repeated the question. They wanted to know how it was with my soul at a deep level. Eventually, I caved in to their gentle and persistent curiosity and shared a few more deep things. We hugged and prayed. It was good. It was church. But that’s a question that can challenge us. Do I go deep, or do I go shallow? Is this person safe to confide in, or someone to avoid? There are a couple of people that I would have liked to have gone deep and known more about their souls. One of them was named Horatio, and the other was named Job.   Read this further here FOLLOW ME! Website: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: Podcast
You have a story. You are a story. To receive a story is to listen to the white space between the words. I hear stories every day. You do too. But there are some stories I hear where I sense I am on sacred ground. It’s when you feel that the other is taking some risk as they speak the hesitant words. Words they may have told others and been rejected for. So they have nailed the door of their heart that little bit tighter. Maybe even used super glue to seal any gaps. But stories have to be told. Untold, they can eat away like a parasite feeding on its host. There sits within all of us a need to be heard, known, loved, and embraced. We were designed for oneness. That beauty of being known and knowing someone else. It’s a scent still lingering in us from Eden days. We want it, long for it. It’s in our DNA.   Read this further here FOLLOW ME! Websiite: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: Podcast
We need a weight loss program for the heart, but we can’t do it alone, so a vicar steps in and declares, ‘You are forgiven. Be at peace.’   I could feel a kind of weight leave my body. I had carried this tension and held this stress for so long that it felt normal. But once I heard the words ‘You are forgiven. Be at peace.’ it was like someone had lifted a huge burden off my shoulder. We’re not talking about a few extra pounds of weight you might be carrying because you overindulged at Christmas. It’s more the emotional weight of events that have happened to you. The kilograms of guilt, the burden of shame, the gravity of regret. It’s the anger and resentment festering away and eating at your soul. The bitterness that still snipes in your silence. This burden can be so heavy that it feels like it pushes you into the ground. You groan under the yoke of what you carry.   Read this further here FOLLOW ME! Websiite: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: Podcast
We want change, and we want it now, but deep change requires the granting of space and time. So grant it to our self and others.   It was all becoming too much. Pressure from others to ‘get over it,’ to ‘let it go,’ and ‘sort your life out’ was beginning to cause them to feel less than capable, dumb, and stupid. That everyone else had their lives together but not them. They felt different and very, very alone. In talking with many people, there often comes a time in the journey to wellness when they can feel immense pressure to change. They aren’t moving along as fast as others or want to. They want change. Quick change. I remember someone expressing a lot of impatience that this journey to wellness was taking too long. Their family was putting pressure on them. But then we talked about the progress that had been made. The millimeters of deeply significant changes and how we were building something new and that good things take time. Are you in need of some space and time? Do you need to give others space and time?   Read this further here FOLLOW ME! Websiite: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: Podcast
We want a behavior change, but it doesn’t seem to happen. However, it will happen with many changes in the mind (repentance). We always notice significant behavior change, don’t we? Yet, people who change dramatically are often given the stage and a microphone to trumpet the difference. I remember as a child listening to a story of a gang member and how he met Jesus, and his life was turned around. We marvel at how this happened. It’s always the dramatic change we notice because it’s so obvious. But I think some of the greatest stories of change happen over a much more extended period. It might be years, not days. It’s safer to do it in small incremental shifts when you want to change course on an ocean-going cruise liner than in sudden sharp rudder turns. This change is so subtle that no one on board even notices. If we were to take a long view back over your life and observe how you have changed, I think the subtle and unseen influences have changed you the most. Those slight course corrections add up over time. The changes in behavior are so tiny that we and others hardly even notice them. That’s where journaling can be so revealing. Looking back over past journals to see how we thought and behaved even a few years ago can be very revealing. Repentance, with a little ‘r.’ Some words are loaded with emotional baggage—loaded terms. You hear a word, and the brain immediately adds specific values and beliefs. In the faith world, it could be words such as God, Church, Sin, Heaven, Hell, Pastor, etc. You hear these words, and immediately, there is a visceral, internal emotional response. You attach a specific response and meaning to that word, possibly because that particular word was always connected with certain other words and emotions when you were learning the language. One of those words for me, and I think for many others, is ‘repentance.’ It was always attached with negative consequences. ‘If you don’t repent, your going to hell.’ ‘If you don’t repent, God will be angry with you.’ ‘You haven’t repented, and that’s why these bad things are happening.’ Repentance was loaded with guilt, shame, control, and fear. But the Greek word metanoia,  translated as ‘repent’ in the Bible, means ‘to change your mind.’ Repentance can be seen as those minor changes of the mind. As small as all the minor alterations to a car’s steering wheel as you drive down the road. Hardly noticeable but absolutely necessary.   Read this further here FOLLOW ME! Websiite: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: Podcast
Emotional pain can lead us to some very dark places, but embracing the pain may open doors for the Christ light to come and eat with us.   It was another email of pain. I looked at my inbox, and someone had sent me an email in response to my ‘God, I want to die’ blog post. They wanted help. They wanted me to pray or offer suggestions. Most of all, I believe they wanted a connection with someone somewhere. I get about two emails a week from someone in a dark valley. I’m glad they have reached out.  I email them back and say that I am praying for them. Sometimes I get a response, but mostly I don’t. For some, this dark place was a brief moment of pain, and in the morning, the darkness clears, and they resume the journey. For others, the dark valley of pain is more like home. Memories and traumas sit with them and talk about the old times. What happened, why, and how it’s all hopeless, and there is only despair. I have found that there is not much I can DO for them, but I can BE for them. The pain of others makes us uncomfortable. It triggers our pain points. Our shadows of guilt, shame, betrayal, loss, and despair. All the ghosts that still haunt and taunt us. Sitting with a fellow pain bearer can catapult us into our dark valley.   Read this further here FOLLOW ME! Websiite: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: Podcast
To demand or expect forgiveness is like a chess player trying to manipulate the board, but that’s not true repentance. Instead, repentance submits itself to the poetry of waiting, praying, and hoping. They thought they could use the Bible to manipulate and control. Verses were hurled, and they were told, ‘You have to forgive because the Bible says so.’ If you’ve been on the receiving end of this form of manipulation, then you will have heard these lines and others trotted out. But the Bible was never meant to be used to whip people into compliance. A spiritual leader [anyone] who lacks basic human compassion has almost no power to change other people, because people intuitively know he or she does not represent the Divine or Big Truth. Such leaders [people] have to rely upon role, laws, and enforcement powers to effect any change in others. Such change does not go deep, nor does it last. Richard Rohr Eager to Love Have you ever had someone come to you and demand change because ‘The Bible tells us so’? One of the worst abuses of the power/ guilt trip manipulations is to demand forgiveness.   Read this further here FOLLOW ME! Websiite: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: Podcast
Accepting the consequences is a repentant heart saying ‘Yes’ to what has been done, praying for mercy, and possibly discovering grace. A few years ago I was caught speeding. I was going too fast. The police officer pulled me over and asked if I knew what speed I was traveling. I didn’t. He told me and then wrote out a ticket with a fine. I duly paid the fine. There was a consequence – embarrassment and a hit to my wallet. There was justice, no mercy, and certainly no grace. I accepted the consequence of my actions. However, thinking back now, I’m glad that the consequence was only a fine and not something much worse, such as hitting a pedestrian because of my excessive speed. When you’ve been caught doing something wrong, what is your very first reaction? You may run, hide, blame someone else, or get angry, even at God. Anything to avoid an awareness that the consequences are entirely on your shoulders. My ancestors have always done this. My parents tried to hide their crime under some figs leaves. My first father blamed my first mother, and my first mother blamed Satan. Satan laughed with glee. We are all stuck in the same curve. You did it. Your choices got you where you are today, but your choices will also lead you out. Yes, I know we live lives where so many other people’s choices affect us. But you have to take responsibility for that which is in your control. I was the one that pushed the accelerator down too much—no one else.   Read this further here FOLLOW ME! Websiite: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: Podcast
I want to make amends

I want to make amends


We do something we regret and want to make amends for, but what about the heart. Come as a servant but don’t become a slave. I was working in a garden the other day when I accidentally knocked over a small pot plant. It toppled over and fell onto a concrete path below and broke. I was appalled at what I had done. Of course, it was clumsiness, but these things do happen. I immediately spoke to the owner and apologized. I offered to pay for a new pot. She said that wouldn’t be necessary. I was happy to give some money to make amends for what I had done, but she wouldn’t hear of it. A broken pot. What about a broken heart? What about something significant you have done relationally and want to make amends for your actions. Definition of ‘make amends’ – to do something to correct a mistake that one has made or a bad situation that one has caused It’s relatively easy when it has a financial basis. You offer to pay for the cost of replacement. Perhaps the justice system is involved, and a sentence is imposed on you to make amends for your crime. How often though do the victims still hold the pain of what has happened to them? Even though the perpetrator has possibly shown remorse, apologized, and paid with some punishment? Reconciliation is both head and heart.   Read this further at I want to make amends FOLLOW ME! Websiite: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: Podcast
We trip, fall, and land in the black, but with grace, a friend comes to show a pinpoint of light. I knew what he had done, but I still loved him. I told him I loved him too. He found it hard to take that he was worthy of anyone’s love. But in all honesty, he was a sinner like me. We were both beggars trying to find bread. Christianity is one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread. D.T. Niles He sat there recalling his crimes and the pain he had caused others. He needed to, and I prayed that he would feel both the embrace of my compassion and the compassion of Christ around his heart. We had some bread, some grape juice, and a little feast of forgiveness and reconciliation. Two sinners both needing a spark of hope. He was appalled by what he had done, and I knew that forever this would be part of the Cross he would have to carry. Read this further at FOLLOW ME! Websiite: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: Podcast
A feeling of being abandoned can be like a cold chill across the soul. But God is always at work, so we need to remind ourselves of this truth. I was recently at the help desk in a large store returning some items, and I noticed a small boy in the cubicle. One of the shop assistants then picked up the phone and made an announcement over the phone system. ‘We have a small boy at the help desk. Could his parents please come to collect him’ Within a few minutes, his father appeared, and they were reunited. The father and the son must have drifted apart or lost sight of each other. I wonder what the little boy was feeling. Alone? Lost? Abandoned? In a world created out of intimate, perfect connection, we can at times get lost to that sense of being known, loved, and held. Life can at times strike a deadly blow to those intimacies we were born for. We live in an imperfect world with imperfect people making imperfect choices. Have you ever felt the cold winds of abandonment chill your bones?   Read this further here FOLLOW ME! Websiite: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: Podcast
At times there are things we can’t do for ourselves, but perhaps someone else can. So we ask for help with our untied shoelaces. Recently I woke up with pain in my left shoulder. I was in agony. My wife was away from home, and I knew that I had to go to an emergency doctor. So I dressed. But when I came to put my shoes on, I realized I wasn’t able to tie the shoelaces up. I didn’t care. I needed help so I left home with untied shoelaces. When I reached the 24/7 emergency care center, I was greeted by a nurse. I asked if she would mind if she could do my shoelaces up. She kindly reached down and tied them. She did for me what I could not do for myself.  Eventually, I saw a Doctor, received some medication, and went home. I had been overworking the muscles and had damaged them. After some rest, physiotherapy, and a change in some of the garden machinery I was using, my shoulder is better now. But it was that small, simple act of someone tying my shoelaces for me that helped me in my distress. We encourage independence and having a Do it yourself (D.I.Y.) attitude. We validate and endorse the ‘self-made’ man or woman. With rugged individualism, we pride ourselves on what we can do. But there are some things you can’t do for yourself. For me, as I looked at my untied shoelaces, they represented something undone and messy. That I was a bit unkempt, unfinished. I felt like a disheveled mess. How could I enter a Doctors surgery looking like that? I have certain standards of appearance, yet here I was confessing my weakness and inability to do such a simple (but actually quite a complex task) of tying a few pieces of cord together. I’ve had the privilege of listening to people share their untied shoelaces. Those deepest hurts, disappointments, and struggles. Unresolved pain where shame and guilt have clotted together. It’s a weight on weary shoulders—a burden of regret and loss. It’s like they need someone else to be there and be a witness to their shoelaces. That life isn’t neat and tidy, and stuff happens along the way that can leave us disheveled. Perhaps untied shoelaces have caused them to trip up in life repeatedly. Or maybe they have adjusted their walk so that they don’t trip.   Read this further here FOLLOW ME! Websiite: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: Podcast
Who are the Five people you spend the most time with? They will be the ones who have the most influence over you. Her response to a betrayal of friendship has probably helped thousands of others to get a better group of friends. The other day I was listening to a podcast from Simon Sinek where he interviewed Marissa Meizz. A young man, Drew Harding, happened to be on his lunch break, and while walking through Central Park New York, he overheard two young ladies discussing how they were planning a party but that it had to be on a day when their 'friend' Marissa was not going to be in town. He couldn't believe what he was hearing, so he posted a video on 'Tic Toc' telling the story and hoping to connect with Marissa to tell her she needed to find a better group of friends. The video went viral in the quest to find her. Eventually, she saw the video, and Marissa and Drew connected. They are now friends. The next chapter of the story is incredible. Marrisa didn't turn bitter; instead, she chose to use the fame of this viral internet story to help people who are lonely to connect. No more lonely friends was created, and they have meetups where people who don't know each other can come and make new friends. Many who come have had moments of being rejected. Her Instagram page has fifty-one thousand followers. Have you experienced rejection? Perhaps a betrayal by people who you thought were on your side. Gossip slips around and stabs you in the back. You're alone, deeply alone. You feel abandoned and lost. No one 'gets you,' and there is no desire for community with your soul. Its loneliness and rejection and betrayal and loss all rolled up into one big ball of pus. Do you know what that's like? Or maybe the relationships you are in aren't a source of encouragement to what matters most to you. Read this further here FOLLOW ME! Websiite: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: Podcast
Does God hate Me or Does God love me? What you think about God will form the patterns of your thinking and life. Oh, that my heart might know a new reassurance. Recently in my conversations with people, I have been giving them three little phrases to meditate on and speak into themselves. I am loved I am held I am known. When the anxiety starts to build, and the depression starts to drown, these are phrases that can quietly bring peace. It’s the love of compassion for our hurting self, the being held while emotional storms rage, and it’s the being known fully despite all the flaws. It’s what I hope a good friend can offer, but it’s also what God in full glory speaks to us. You are loved, you are held, you are known. In our last post, we looked at the question Does God hate me? and I suggested 12 questions that I would have running in the back of my mind if someone had that question. Read this further here FOLLOW ME! Websiite: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: Podcast
Does God Hate me? Is God punishing me? Questions like these need gentle and grace-filled responses, so here are twelve questions that I would like to ask and explore. Sometimes, when I listen to people, I hear little comments that bring a sense of sadness to my heart. Some firmly held beliefs that over time and repeated often enough create in them mental unwellness. Phrases such as ‘God is punishing me.’ ‘God is angry with me.’ ‘God hates me.’ I don’t think I have ever felt that God hates me, but I have wondered, particularly as a child, that my illnesses or problems might be the consequence of something I’ve done. That God is punishing me. ‘You did this, and so here is the punishment or consequence.’ ‘Start doing the right things, and then God might be inclined to help you.’ Seems logical. Isn’t that what typically happens? You do something wrong, and there is a consequence. We can so easily create a conclusion by how we add up the facts or what we perceive as the facts. Those conclusions become belief systems through which everything passes. They can become so deeply entrenched that everything flows into them. The brain then wires itself to look for further evidence that our conclusions are correct. We have a negativity bias. It’s like A+B+C+D+E = God hates me. Read this further here FOLLOW ME! Websiite: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: Podcast  
We want to change, but willpower alone is never enough. It runs out. We need to have a stronger power - a heart power that strengthens our thinking. I was going to change. I was determined. No more of those old habits and going down those old stupid ways. Now it was going to be different. So with grit and determination, I tried harder to steer the ship of my life away from this behavior. And it worked for a while. I could see the changes happening. But suddenly, the steering wheel snaps back to the old ways. It was like a magnetic force pulling me back to the old. All the willpower in the world didn't seem to help. But then I hear a pep talk. Someone tells me about how they have changed. I get inspired by their change, so I throw myself into the wind again and grit my teeth. This time will be different. I'll do it right. I will try harder. Then life happens. Stress comes. We get tired, and willpower seems to wilt away. So back we go into the old ways. The familiar is comforting. We give up and resign ourselves to being like this forever.   Read this further here FOLLOW ME! Websiite: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: Podcast
It’s probably easier to give than to receive, but we can’t give what we haven’t already received. How can someone love, when they don’t know what love is? Are you open to receiving love?  It was awkward. Plain embarrassing. It was so uncomfortable that they wanted to run from this gift-giving. They had made some foolish mistakes that hurt people very close to them. How could they ever repay? This was the only family they had ever known, and they wanted to have a relationship with them. For much of their life, they had clothed themselves with shame and guilt. They had truly messed up, and all they could focus on now was their failings. How could anyone love them? They couldn’t even love themselves. They despised themselves. But hands were reaching out to them with gifts. Clothes, jewelry, a party. All in their honor. They quickly clasped their hands and arms over their chest. ‘Protect, keep safe, don’t let them in. I won’t receive a gift I don’t deserve, a gift I haven’t worked for.’ The gift giver walked away saddened.   Read this further here FOLLOW ME! Websiite: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: Podcast
Our self-talk can keep us depressed and anxious, but we can learn new thinking tracks. Your rehearsal can change your mind. I always marvel at how the experts seem to effortlessly do something that I would difficult. My earliest experience of this was watching shearers shear our sheep on the sheep farm I was raised on. I would be mesmerized by the smoothness and speed by which a fleece would be removed. He had done this over and over again. Rehearsed and practiced the skill repeatedly. There was speed, but there was also a gentleness and fluidity to his movements that seemed to come so naturally. Like he was born with a shearing handpiece in his hands. He had created muscle memory. He had created thinking tracks in the brain that were automatic. He could have done it blindfolded.   Read this further here FOLLOW ME! Websiite: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: Podcast
We see things, hear things, experience change, and become afraid. But when we know we are precious to God, a deep peace can come and flood us with strength.   It was only a couple of words, and I felt stronger. Words can cut, hurt, and harm, but they can also bring a deep sense of security. Words can speak healing into pain like nothing else. Your dark tunnel There can be times in life where it feels like you are going through a dark tunnel. There is a sense of abandonment and deep loneliness. Tiredness hangs off you like a wet towel. It's enough to give up any sense of hope altogether. And if you've been there a few times before, it seems like the brain has a fast-track off-ramp to this place. Any little struggle catastrophizes you into this dark place with incredible speed. You somehow 'pull yourself together' and regain some footing, but you know it's there, ready to swallow you up at a moment's notice. You're vulnerable. Walking on the edge of a cliff, knowing even a tiny breeze of struggle could tip you over.   Read this further here FOLLOW ME! Websiite: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: Podcast The intervention
Comments (1)

Brenda Beneda

very encouraging. looking forward to hear more..

Nov 19th
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