Wellness Wednesday- It Is Okay to Ask For Help

Trigger warning. This post deals with suicidal thoughts. If that makes you uncomfortable, please click away.

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As an American I have never understood why the UK keeps a monarchy nor the fascination with the Royal Family.. As someone who is busy with ministry and teaching, I have never been a big fan of talk shows like Oprah. I have always felt I have better things to do with my time. But when I saw a promo clip of the interview with Harry and Meghan, I decided to watch it. My motivation was simply to listen to someone give voice to what so many people struggle with- Depression and what some people struggle with- Suicidal Thoughts.

In the interview she shared that she confided in her husband Harry about her suicidal thoughts and that she needed help. Sharing that so publicly will hopefully help others to share with and confide in loved ones or people they trust.

She also shared that though she asked for help other than from her husband, she was not given help. That is very concerning.

Living with four chronic illnesses all of which have depression and anxiety as possible symptoms, I understand depression. I talked with my doctor and he prescribed medication for me to treat depression and Fibromyalgia. When I confided in one of my pastors, and he said, “Matt it is medical. You do not need to resign your ministry.” it was a moment I will never forget.

My experience has reinforced for me that God does indeed care. Jesus cares and works through other people. God wants us to ask for help.

There is hope for depression and struggling with suicidal thoughts. It is not only okay but wonderful to seek help. If family is not a safe place to confide in, there are school counselors, pastors, mental health facilities. There are hotline numbers.

In the USA-800-273-8255

In the UK- Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90 (UK – local rate)
Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 91 92 (UK minicom)
Hotline: 1850 60 90 90 (ROI – local rate)
Hotline: 1850 60 90 91 (ROI minicom)

In Canada- 1.833.456.4566

There is always hope and we can ask for help. If we have depression, we can seek help. Talk with a doctor, a pastor, a trusted teacher, talk with someone. If medication is needed, it is not only okay but important to do so. If suicidal thoughts, PLEASE SEEK HELP.

I love the message in these videos. Stay Another Day and Your Story Isn’t Over Yet.

Music Mondays- Faithful by Sarah Reeves

Even when I cannot see, You are moving
Even when I cannot hear, You are singing over me
Even when I can’t hold on, You won’t let me go
You are faithful, You are faithful

I love the lyrics to Faithful by Sarah Reeves. So many times in my life I thought I could not hold on, but Jesus never lets go of us. He is always with us. He will never leave us.

Singing over me? Where do we get that from? In Zephaniah 3 we read:

“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing”

Jesus rejoices over us with singing. Have you ever seen a mother sing over her child? God is our father who sings over us. That is how precious we are to God.

When we can’t see the way out of a situation, a problem, a trial, God is at work. He knows the outcome because he is there and with us now at the same time. I experienced that recently. Last summer was dismal for me and put me behind financially, but God was at work. First my dear Vietnamese friends helped their old teacher. Then three weeks ago I received an extra missionary support check. Last week I received anonymous letters with money. Now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

God is faithful. He is faithful even when we are not. Whatever we face in life, he is with us.

Struggle with depression/anxiety? Jesus is there for you.

Struggle with chronic illness? Jesus is there for you/

Financial problems? Jesus is there for you.

Uncertain about the future? Jesus knows your future and is already there. He is there for you now and in your future at the same time.

In the worst moment we can think of which is death, Jesus will be there for us waiting to welcome us into heaven if we have accepted him as our Savior.

He is faithful!!

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

When God Gives Confirmation

A little over a year go, I began to share in my blog about living with depression and anxiety which for me were symptoms of living with chronic illness. It felt a bit risky at the time, but I found that many people responded to my posts whether through comments, likes etc.

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Yesterday a woman I respect a great deal for her work with children who have been traumatized, responded to me sharing a few posts on her Facebook Wall. She had given me permission. I let her know that I share from a Christian perspective. She responded that we should seek to bring Christ into mental health issues. After I posted a few links on her Facebook wall:

Jesus Understands Trauma

World Mental Health Day-October 10

She responded with this message:

“Matt, Thank you for sharing these blogs. I pray others read it as you candidly shared your personal experience in a very relatable way. We are all searching to be heard & understood. Especially searching for our deepest desire: Jesus. Some might not believe or understand His healing power & gift of Salvation is waiting for them in the most deepest hurts, mental health, medical problems & any sin. He indeed experienced trauma. Stories like yours lead people to the Lord because you spoke biblical truth & love in despite how hurtful your trauma was you looked Him & found healing & peace.”

To receive such a message from a woman who is a Christian and also a Licensed Mental Health Counselor meant a lot to me. I felt it gave me confirmation to continue to share.

My desire is to share with others the comfort Jesus has given me whether it is regarding depression/anxiety or about living with chronic illness. I always think about the truth of 2 Corinthians 1:

“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.”

Her message was confirmation for me to continue to share about how God has helped and is helping me to press on with my ministry and life living with chronic illness and also with depression/anxiety. After my day Friday with friends, and also with the extra support from my home church, seeing my colleagues message Saturday, I feel God is telling me to continue.

On another note, a few of my followers on this blog recently went to my short stories blog- Encounters with the Ancients. I am thinking about making one of my short stories into a book. I would like HONEST feedback from my followers on this blog. I would like to ask you to read a story I wrote a year and a half ago- Jessica’s Encounter at the Harbor Coffee Shop.. What I want HONEST feedback about is if a book version would be of interest.

Thank you for reading. God bless.

Music Mondays- Till I Met You by Laura Story

Yesterday the pastor of my church taught about what it means that God is love as it says in 1 John 4. It was a wonderful message. The message basically was:

God is love means that love is part of God’s core being. He doesn’t love because of what we do, who we are, or anything else. He loves because it is part of who he is.

When we come to God, our motives are not pure. We do not bring anything to the table that God needs. God does not need anything from us, but he loves us because it is part of who he is.

We bring to God our failures, our sins, our struggles, our depression, our anxiety, our illness, our doubts. our mess. God loves us. Not because of what we do or who we are. He loves us because he loves us.

I love this video by Laura Story. The lyrics of the song so beautifully express the truth of how God loves us even though we are a mess. I hope the song blesses you as you start your week. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

World Mental Health Day- October 10

Today is World Mental Health Day.

Living with chronic illness has also meant dealing with symptoms I did not know would accompany two of my chronic illnesses, depression and anxiety.

I will never forget the day that I finally started taking the prescription my doctor had given me for them. It has since changed for one that also addresses nerve pain associated with Fibromyalgia. I did not want to start medication. I was not even sure if it was the right thing for me to do. There is still stigma in some churches when it comes to Mental Health issues.

God spoke to me through watching a movie. The movie was Brain On Fire. It is based on the true story of a woman with a rare autoimmune disorder that affects the brain. She was about to be sent off to a permanent stay at a psychiatric hospital when a psychiatrist tested her for the autoimmune problem. She was placed on a medication for the problem and it cleared up her problems.

After watching the movie, I realized that autoimmune problems can affect our whole body including the brain. I researched it as well. So I went ahead and started the medication the doctor prescribed. Within a week, I felt much better.

I will also never forget the response of the pastor for missions and outreach had when I offered to resign my ministry as a home missionary if taking medication would be a controversy. I have always been aware of the stigma in some churches when it comes to Mental Health issues like depression. His response was, “Matt it is medical. You don’t need to resign.”

Jesus said in Matthew 11:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Jesus wants us to come to him with everything. If we struggle with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, OCD, or any other mental health issue, his invitation is to come to him. 🙂

I wanted to share a bit of my story in case it helps someone. Also in honor of World Mental Heath Day I want to share a few videos.

First a Spoken Word Poem video by Racheal Stevens- Your Story Isn’t Over Yet.

And a music video by Jenn Johnson- You’re Gonna Be Okay.

Story Time- A Tiny X-Ray Tech Had to Catch Me

This is a picture of me when I was about 20 years old. I weighed about 200 pounds due to working out with weights a lot.

One day I started feeling sick and had a fever. It wasn’t the normal flu type sick, so I ended up going to the ER. The ER doctor called a surgeon who ordered x-rays of my stomach. A nurse came in with a wheelchair. She was about 5′ 2″ and weighed maybe 110 pounds. Being the young prideful man I was, I didn’t want a petite woman pushing me in a wheelchair. I told her I could walk.

I had to lay down, stand up, lay down and stand up for the x-rays. The last time I stood up, I began to faint. The poor x-ray tech who was also a petite woman had to try to catch me and guide me to the wheelchair.

When the nurse came back. I swallowed my pride and agreed to be pushed back to the ER room in the wheelchair. I ended up having my appendix out that night.

I am grateful that Jesus has all power. God created the universe. Nothing is impossible for God. Jesus is more than able to catch us when we falter. I often think about what Jesus said in Matthew 11:

“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Jesus has all power but he is gentle of heart. He invites us to come to him. If we struggle with depression, anxiety, chronic illness, addiction, family problems, or financial problems, he invites us to come to him. His invitation is for ALL. No one is excluded from his invitation.

The only thing preventing us from coming to Jesus is our own pride just like my pride got in the way in the ER that night.

Thank you for reading. God Bless. 🙂

Music Mondays- Eternal Light by John Michael Talbot

Life today is increasingly stressful. There are so many opposing forces pulling at us each day. As someone who lives with chronic illness and also the accompanying depression, how I start my day is SO important. Starting my day with Jesus in prayer and listening to worship music helps me to renew spiritually for the day. It also helps me to clear my mind of negative things.

There are songs that I love to listen to simply because they help me to focus on Jesus while I pray. They help me to simply experience his presence as I begin time with Jesus in prayer, bible reading, and meditating on scripture.

I wanted to share a song with you today that I love to listen to. Eternal Light by John Michael Talbot has the message of Jesus is the Eternal Light and the message of let’s live as children of the light.

The choral background voices make the song one of beauty and lifts me up into the presence of Jesus.

I hope this song blesses you as much as it blesses me.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Journey Together While Blogging-Spotlight on a New Blogger

This week it dawned on me. It is unusual for me, so it sneaked up on me. I am healthy this week.

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I had the worst Fibromyalgia flare up I ever had the first week of September and then I had bronchitis for four weeks. This week I am breathing normally, well for someone with asthma, and my pain level is low only maybe a 3 out of 10. For me that is a healthy week. Healthy is kind of relative term when living with chronic illness. Nonetheless, I am calling this a HEALTHY week for me. 🙂

Photo by Vishnu R Nair on Pexels.com

I wrote a post in August about how looking to Jesus helps me while living with chronic illness. It was-Jesus Understands Pain. Mornings are so important for me. Some mornings my prayer and worship time is deep and meaningful Some mornings it is a time to barely manage a prayer of please help me through this day while I listen to worship music. Either way, Jesus sustains me and gives me strength.

A new blogger I follow is Bro Craig. He recently wrote a post that I think captures the experience of someone living with chronic illness. His post was In Between My Fears. It is an excellent post to read.

I appreciate other bloggers who are willing to share struggles with health or with depression/anxiety. I remember when I first started to share about my struggles with both. I wasn’t certain about the response. But I felt as someone who has been a Christian for many years and as a person in ministry, if I would be willing to share about living with chronic illness and the depression/anxiety that are symptoms of 2 of the chronic illnesses I have that perhaps it would help others. My hope is also to be a small part of lessening the stigma.

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One thought I have about this blogging community is that for those of us who blog, in a way we are walking with each other to home. In this life we are strangers in a foreign land looking forward to our eternal home in heaven as Hebrews 11 says:

“Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”

But our journey in this life is a marathon not a sprint. We can journey together as fellow Christians who blog. Writing a blog is something I can do even on my down days with chronic illness. I appreciate my fellow bloggers and look forward to seeing more of your posts.

It is my privilege to share about new bloggers. Please check our Bro Craig’s blog.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Music Mondays- Breathe/What A Friend by Hillsong

The worship song Breathe has been on my mind but perhaps for a reason one would not normally think. I have asthma and part of that is getting bronchitis. When I get bronchitis, it is difficult to breathe and I lose sleep because I cough all night.

When the medicine starts doing its work and the bronchitis begins to clear up, it is such a freeing experience to feel- just simply breathing. When I can sleep through a night for the first time, it is moment of private rejoicing. Just to give an example from last week, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights I slept for one to two hours.

I go through this once or twice a year. When my lungs begin to clear up, this song is very much on my mind.

I think about how Jesus gave us life when he created us, He did so by breathing into us. In Genesis 2 we read:

“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

Jesus is our source of life, healing, forgiveness, restoration, and much much more. I am keenly aware of that when the bronchitis begins to fade away.

Living with chronic illness such as Firbomylagia and also living with depression./anxiety as a result of chronic illness, I can choose to focus on the pain, the fatigue, and other symptoms, or I can look to Jesus. I can express things to him I express to no other person. He invites us to cast all of our cares on him because he cares for us. I literally have days that Jesus keeps me going.

Jesus is the friend who is closer than a brother. He is our friend who out of love, died for us and our sins.

Whatever you are going through at this time in your life, please stop, take a moment, and listen to this song. Let it encourage you. Let it help you come into the presence of Jesus and cast all of your cares on him.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Music Mondays- God’s Not Done With You by Tauren Wells

Standing in your ruins, feels a lot like the end
So used to losing, you’re afraid to try again
Right now all you see are ashes
Where there was a flame
The truth is that you’re not forgotten
‘Cause Grace knows your name God’s not done with you
Even with your broken heart and your wounds and your scars
God’s not done with you
Even when you’re lost and it’s hard and you’re falling apart
God’s not done with you
It’s not over, it’s only begun

I love the lyrics of the song God’s Not Done Yet. Thank you to my little sister Sherita of plantingseedsingodsgrowinggarden.wordpress.com for suggesting Tauren Wells. 🙂

Jesus is alive. Our God is a LIVING God not some dead statue. We may feel like we are forgotten or feel like there is no hope, BUT because of Jesus there is hope.

He knows our name. He knows our situation. He knows our struggles. He is not done with us. He will never be done with us. People might give up on us, but Jesus never does.

So many times in my life it seemed all was lost, BUT Jesus came through.

Dear readers there is hope in any situation because of Jesus.

Thank you for reading. God Bless. 🙂