Social Anxiety & Judging Others

social anxiety and judging others devotional diva

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog by Melody Quinn. Welcome back, Melody! Melody is back today to share what I thought was an interesting take on social anxiety — if you have social anxiety, are you constantly judging others?]

Romans 2:1

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.

I’ve been trying to visit as many Sunday School classes and plug into as many groups at my new church. It still feels new even though I’ve been going there for a year. My husband and I met with another group for the first time last month and just that one lesson sent my mind into a whirl.

The topic was bearing burdens, but over the course of the discussion, anxiety came front and center. The lesson leader was trying to explain how she deals with social anxiety and why it’s hard for her to share herself with others. I was slowly nodding my head in agreement to everything she said. Silent as usual.

But not everyone wanted to remain silent.

One of the other women in the group started firing questions at her until, finally, they stumbled upon something that really hit a nerve. “I’m just trying to understand. So you’re saying that you don’t open up to people because you assume that they’ll judge you, or they’re already judging you…so aren’t you doing the exact thing that you’re accusing the of? Aren’t you always judging others?”

The speaker paused. I saw several pairs of eyes around the room double in size, as I imagine mine did, and then there was a collective exhale. “Yeah, I guess, yeah. I do judge people.”

I felt that her admission was echoed silently by a half dozen other people.

It certainly stole the breath right out of my lungs. I know social anxiety intimately, and I know the feeling they were talking about. But I always chose to describe it with other words: suspicion, paranoia.

Not good thoughts to have, but only weaknesses.

With that one simple question, suddenly all of my excuses flew out of my mind. I saw so much judgment in myself, a form of sin that needs to be addressed. I’m talking about myself, of course, but I wonder how many other people have this problem. How do you address it?

I would say day by day, with a lot of prayer and growing self-restraint…and if you’re like me, those first prayers might be followed by an evaluation of every single moment that you might have reacted to others with judgment through your anxiety. Once you confess your “anxiety” about those past moment, put them behind you. Easier said than done, I know, but well worth the struggle. I pray that the same God who gives us the discernment in moments such as these keep us from stumbling over our mistakes, but give us the strength and the grace to keep growing and keep moving forward.

Melody Quinn is an associate editor for TouchPoint Press. She graduated from Stephen F. Austin in 2014 with a BA in English and Technical Writing. When she isn’t working, she enjoys reading YA and fantasy books, writing stories, cooking and baking for her husband, and playing with her guinea pig. She currently attends North Fort Worth Baptist Church. Her new blog is: anxietyfaithandgrace.wordpress.com

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Anxiety in a Christian Woman’s Life

anxiety in a christian woman's life

anxiety in a christian woman's life

 

Anxiety in a Christian Woman’s Life

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Melody Quinn. I really appreciated Melody’s outlook on anxiety in a Christian woman’s life and I hope you do, too. We have a few posts on Devotional Diva on this topic, because it is not uncommon and certainly nothing to be ashamed of! Be encouraged.]

I am a Christian woman who has struggled with anxiety all of my life.

It has only been in recent years that I have begun to explore my identity outside of this statement. In my search to understand my identity as the Lord created me, I began to look at how anxiety has touched all aspects of my life. What I found surprised me. I found that the roots of anxiety ran deep through every part of me, but God’s light shone brighter.

God can use whatever he chooses in our lives, whether it is good or evil in nature, to accomplish his glory. With this in mind, I studied how anxiety was connected to my faith walk and my spiritual gifts. My relationship with others and with myself. Basically every part of my life.

Anxiety is a part of the universal human experience. Those of us who find anxiety more than a mere occasional stumbling block may feel like anxiety is the cage through whose bars you see the world. I’ve been there. I still feel that way myself at times. But at other times I see anxiety for the purpose it could serve – opportunities to grow in my faith.

I could provide you with my own personal definition of anxiety, but even if I could form recognizable words from my thoughts, it simply wouldn’t resonate with anyone else so well. Instead, here is a powerful definition from from BibleStudyTools.com: “Anxiety is an uneasy feeling of uncertainty, agitations, drear or fear. In the Bible, anxiety is frequently depicted as the common human reaction to stressful circumstances…Anxiety is portrayed in the scripture as begin inconsistent with trust in God…Anxiety frequently manifests itself in ungodly concern about provisions, performance, or reputation, and appears to be rooted in incomplete knowledge, lack of control over circumstances or failure to take an ‘eternal’ perspective on things.”

My deepest wish is that my words will reach others who have been struggling with anxiety. I want to tell you that you are not alone, you are not broken, and there is nothing wrong with you simply because you are struggling with anxiety. I have felt all of these things. It breaks my heart to think that there are others who might currently believe those lies.

We are strong, beautiful children of God. The journey towards healing begins by recognizing God’s true identity, and ours. Anxiety doesn’t mean that we have failed being a Christian in some way. It means that we are human.

Here are some ways that I’ve seen the Lord use my anxiety and the anxiety of those around me to create something good. These are just a few examples. As you continue to seek God’s will in this matter, I believe that He will begin to do wonderful things in your life.

  1. Anxiety is a tool that teaches you to rely on God in all things. I’ve come to realize that anxiety does serve a very important role in my life. If anxiety can teach to rely more on God, day by day, little by little, then that is all that matters.
  2. Anxiety can be turned into a prayer-filled life. The easiest way to turn anxiety back around is to use those moments as chances to seek God in prayer. When you start to feel anxious get down on your knees.
  3. Anxiety will make you more accessible to others. We have all dealt with paralyzing anxiety at one point or another in our lives. There is nothing more humbling, or more gratifying, than knowing that someone else has struggled with the same problems that you have. We are meant to help strengthen each other.
  4. Anxiety can motivate you to lead an active faith life. Anxiety is an active state of being. Our faith is meant to be active as well. The fight is not easy, but we do not have to walk around in a constant state of fear and hopelessness. But there is a catch Your relationship with the Lord must grow. You must let Him help you.

I hope that by sharing this small piece of my story, that you have been encouraged to draw closer to God in your daily lives. As a final parting gift, here are some verses from God’s Word that have show like beacons of light in my life. Please take them to heart: Jeremiah 1:5; Romans 8:28-30; Jeremiah 29:11; Philippians 4:4-7; Matthew 6:25-27.

 

Melody Quinn is an associate editor for TouchPoint Press. She graduated from Stephen F. Austin in 2014 with a BA in English and Technical Writing. When she isn’t working, she enjoys reading YA and fantasy books, writing stories, cooking and baking for her husband, and playing with her guinea pig. She currently attends North Fort Worth Baptist Church.

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Worry Free Living…Joyce Meyer Excerpt

Worry Free Living: Trading Anxiety For Peace by Joyce Meyer

Worry Free Living: Trading Anxiety For Peace by Joyce Meyer

[Editor’s Note: I received a copy of Joyce Meyer’s new book, Worry Free Living: Trading Anxiety for Peace to read and select an excerpt from! I have to say, this was a very relevant book for me and I loved it! I always love Joyce, but man this spoke to me. I really, really enjoyed it and I’ve been referring back to it already. Here’s an excerpt from a later chapter. It was hard to choose, but this was my favorite. Joyce just really makes a lot of sense in this chapter! I hope you’re encouraged!]

Prayer Produces Peace, Rest, Patience, and Hope

Several times in this book I have mentioned the importance of casting our care upon the Lord (1 Pet. 5:7). When we hold on to the stress and cares of our lives, we end up anxious and upset. But when we let them go and allow God to take care of them, we can enter into peace.

Practically speaking, though, how do we cast our care upon the Lord? We do it through prayer.

In Philippians 4:6–7, the apostle Paul does not say, “Pray and then worry.” He says, “Pray and don’t worry.” This is the same thing as releasing our cares to the Lord. When we do that, we end up with many blessings, including peace, rest, patience, and hope.

Prayer Produces Peace

When the enemy tries to put burdens of care on us, we are supposed to turn and give that care to God. That’s a big part of what prayer is—acknowledging to the Lord that we cannot carry our burden of care, and giving it all to Him. If we pray about something and then keep on worrying about it, we are mixing a positive and a negative. The two cancel out each other, so we do not end up with the benefit we hope for.

Prayer is a positive force; worry is a negative force. I believe one reason some people operate with less power in their spiritual lives than they could have is that they cancel out their positive prayer power by giving in to the negative power of worry. Too often we pray and make positive confessions for a while, then begin to worry about a situation and make negative confessions for a while. We go back and forth between the two extremes.

As long as we pray and worry, we are not trusting God completely. When we pray according to His will, we need to have faith and confidence that God hears us (1 John 5:14). This kind of prayer produces peace and also leads us into rest, patience, and hope.

Prayer Produces Rest

Hebrews 4:3 says, “For we who have believed (adhered to and trusted in and relied on God) do enter that rest. . .” Continuing the theme of rest, Hebrews 4:9 says, “So then, there is still awaiting a full and complete Sabbath-rest reserved for the [true] people of God.” The next verse goes on to say that those who have entered into God’s rest have “ceased from [the weariness and pain] of human labors.”

We know from Hebrews 4 that God definitely makes rest available to us. If we are not at rest, we are not truly believing Him because verse 3 clearly teaches us that the fruit of believing is rest. The kind of believing that allows us to enter into the rest of God is simple childlike faith.

A child’s faith is pure and simple. When faced with a dilemma, children quickly go to their parents. They do not try to figure everything out and make detailed blueprints about how they will solve their problems. They simply believe their parents will take care of them.

For many years in my life, I claimed to be believing in God and trusting in Him. But I was not doing either of those things. I did not know the first thing about believing God or trusting in Him. All I did was say my prayers, then worry and fret, speak negatively about my circumstances, and try to figure out everything on my own. I was anxious, panicky, irritable, and on edge constantly. Yet I said I was believing in, and trusting, God.

As believers, our rest and peace are not based on doing or achieving, but on believing in faith that God will take care of everything that concerns us. If we are really believing and trusting the Lord, we will enter into His rest. We will pray in faith and cast our cares on Him; then we will sense the perfect peace of His Presence. Part of faith is also being willing to do whatever the Lord might ask us to do, but the rest He offers us is a rest in work, not from work.

Prayer Produces Patience and Hope

Romans 5:3–4 says:

Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation.

To say to someone, or even to ourselves, “Don’t worry” is easy to do. But to actually not worry requires spiritual maturity that comes from experience with God. The more we experience the faithfulness of God, the easier it is not to worry. I also believe we must realize how useless worry is in order to give it up. Worry accomplishes nothing positive in our lives. It changes nothing for the better.

This is why continuing to have faith and trust in God, and not worrying in the midst of trials and tribulations, is vital. In hard, trying times the Lord is building in us the patience, endurance, and character that will eventually produce the habit of joyful and confident hope.

When you and I are in the midst of a spiritual battle against our enemy, every round we go through produces valuable experience and strength. Each time we resist a temptation or endure an attack, we become stronger. If we are patient through the trial and refuse to give up, sooner or later we will gain victory in the situation and enjoy increased patience, hope, and spiritual maturity in our lives. God always gives us the victory if we remain steadfast and refuse to give up.

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Cross Over

devotional diva christmas

[Guest Post by Rayni Peavy. This post is a part of the 2015 Devotional Diva Christmas series entitled, “Extraordinary Christmas.” It was originally published on Devotional Diva in 2012.]

I’d never been afraid to fly. From the time I was a baby I’ve been flying on a regular basis. Even flying across the country a few months after 9/11 didn’t scare me because I trusted God with my life.

And then it happened.

Several years ago, out of nowhere, I began having anxiety attacks. Unfortunately two of them came back to back on a long plane ride overseas. It was a traumatic experience, to put it mildly. From that moment on stepping onto a plane was a trigger for extremely high and almost unbearable anxiety.

But, I have found that when I trust God and lean on Him, who is the only One truly in control, there is no room for anxiety.

On each intensely anxiety-filled flight I took after the “fateful” flight overseas, I asked God to come into my feeling of anxiety and dissipate it…to take it away.

Guess what?

Every single time He did it.

Sometimes I had to ask more than once because I was so worked up, but God has always been faithful to meet me in the midst of my anxiety and remove it. Because of this I know without a doubt that God will not fail me. Ever. But even with those victories I still had intense anxiety when approaching a flight.

I wanted the anxiety to be gone for good.

And then the Washington trip came.

The thought of having to get on a plane made me want to crawl into a hole and hide out. Forever.

My boyfriend Joel (now my husband) and I had plans to fly to visit his family. I wanted to cancel the trip…but I knew I had to go and that God would go with me. So I asked God to completely deliver me from this flying anxiety once and for all.

God requires our faith to have an action step.

I likened it to the Israelites in Joshua 3. God wants to lead them into a new place, but in order to get there they have to cross through the Jordan River, which happens to be in flood stage at the time. Minor detail, right? God tells Joshua to have the priests (who are literally carrying the presence of God in a box called the Ark of the Covenant) to take a few steps into the river and then He will make the flooding stop so all of the Israelites can cross to the other side.

“Now it was harvest season and the Jordan was overflowing its banks. But as soon as the feet of the priests who were carrying the Ark touched the water at the river’s edge, the water began piling up at a town upstream…Then all the people crossed over near the city of Jericho. Meanwhile, the priests who were carrying the Ark of the Lord’s covenant stood on dry ground in the middle of the riverbed as the people passed by them…until everyone had crossed the Jordan on dry ground.” (Joshua 3:15-17)

I love that it says that the people crossed over on dry ground. Not wet, muddy, soggy ground.

Dry ground.

As I walked toward the plane bound for Washington, full of anxiety, I asked God, as soon as I took the first steps onto the plane, to “pull the waters” of my anxiety back so I could “cross over” through the flight on dry ground.

And He did!

Two flights. No anxiety on either one. None. Coming from where I came from, that, my friends, is truly a miracle.

God’s deliverance!

What are you struggling with today?

God desires to meet us in the midst of every large and small burden we experience. Invite Jesus into it and ask Him to deliver you. Sometimes the journey is scary or painful but God’s deliverance and freedom are worth every step! What’s your story?

Over the past 15 years Rayni has discovered that nothing is better than knowing Jesus! She has enjoyed working at churches on the East and West Coasts as a Bible teacher, mentor to young adults and an event coordinator. In her free time Rayni likes staring at the ocean, exploring new cuisine with her “foodie” husband and learning to speak French. You can read more on her website www.RayniPeavy.com and follow her on Twitter.

 

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From Depressed to Blessed: How I Found an Attitude of Gratitude

depressed to blessed

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Kristen Vortices. I wanted to have some gratitude-focused devotionals in November, as we are celebrating Thanksgiving in the US. This week’s devotional is the why? to practicing gratitude and next week’s answers the how?]

A few years ago I found myself depressed. My job became really frustrating and the more I tried to fix my situation at work the more stressful my job became. I became short with my family and friends who I loved. Instead of focusing on others I began to focus on myself. As I focused on myself,  I became less and less happy. Finally I fell into depression.

For months I lived with my depression until I discovered that God gave us a solution for depression in Jesus. Obviously because we have been forgiven we should be happy. But let’s go one step further.  I began to read through the book of Luke and found Luke 9:23, Jesus said “whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”  This scripture convicted me.

Had I denied myself and crucified my needs and desires?  No. I was so focused on myself and my situation that I could not see all the good things God had given me.

I began to realize how I felt about my job was not important. My circumstance was nothing compared to Jesus dying on the cross for me. My emotions were indicators not dictators of who I am.  So I replaced my feelings with Christ and all He has for me. Because He gives us victory over ourselves.

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:57 ESV

An Attitude of Gratitude

The easiest way to combat depression is to live with an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude is the opposite of depression.  Every good thing in life comes from God. And whatever my circumstance may be I can always find something to be thankful for.  Today I am thankful I can step out onto the back deck and see the crystal blue ocean glistening in the sunlight. I am thankful God made it. I am thankful He gave me eyes to see it. I am thankful to have my family to share it with.

When I begin to find things that I am thankful for, my mindset transforms.

It shifts from what I don’t have to all the things I have to be thankful for. The Bible says every good gift is from God. Everything in my life is a gift from God and I am not entitled to my car, my house, my job. I don’t deserve them, because everything in my life is a gift from God.

Give thanks.

When I give thanks in all circumstances, I fulfill one of God’s purposes for my life. I am happiest and feel fulfilled when I am living in God’s purpose for me. Thanksgiving is so important God made it a command in the New Testament.

“give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV

1 Thessalonians 5:18 gives us a command, and the command is not conditional. It doesn’t say, “When you feel like it give thanks,” or “Give thanks on a good day.” God’s Word says give thanks in ALL circumstances. Because when we live with an attitude of gratitude we stay focused on God’s character and his abundant blessings. Blessings that are all around us every day.

Count your blessings

            I have started making a list of 10 things that I am thankful for everyday. Now when I begin feeling discouraged by my situation, I go back and read my list. Looking back on all my blessings, I remember the many things I am grateful for. In conclusion I am so thankful God showed me through His Word how to be thankful. Our God is so faithful to provide everything we need in Christ Jesus.

“give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV

kristen-vorticesKristen also enjoys speaking to girls and women of all ages about their worth in Christ and his undying love for them. She posts a weekly blog “The Young and Beautiful” where she talks about living, staying and being young and beautiful in Christ. To find out more about Kristen follow her blog http://www.theyoungandthebeautiful.com

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Becoming a Mom is Completely Terrifying

becoming a mom is completely terrifying maggie winterton on devotional diva motherhood anxiety christian blogBecoming a mom is completely terrifying.

Almost every night for the past few weeks, I’ve started falling asleep…and then I realize, I’M GOING TO BE A MOM.

I go into a panic, thinking about how hard it will be to take care of my new baby and trying to think of all the things I still need to do. I try to rationalize my knowledge of infant care and how I can get everything done.

In my mind, if I can make sense of something and have a reasonable plan, I start to feel better.

I’m excited for my little boy to arrive, really, I am. I want to be a mom, but at the same time, it’s just so scary.

There is no way one can really prepare themselves for becoming a parent, right? I am reading all the books on having a newborn, I’m planning on taking some classes, and I already have a lot of experience with babies. But I imagine you don’t know what you’re really in for until you’re there.

I hate that! I feel so much better when I’m prepared for things.

And it’s not just that I will have this little being completely relying on me in about two months. I still feel like I have so much that I want/need to accomplish before he gets here. Because, obviously, things we be different once he arrives!

So I want to try to get a lot of stuff out of the way, like home organization. I know that my son will not need our pantry to be reorganized when he comes home from the hospital. (Well, hopefully he is not a demanding little neat freak right out of the womb!) If it’s not reorganized by the time he gets here, oh well, I just will have to wait until things settle down and I have more time to do it. But I have still set that goal and feel I need to complete it.

The pregnancy books say that anxiety is normal, but I kind of feel bad about it. I guess I just didn’t think I would feel this way right now. It’s not like I thought I would be so ill during my pregnancy, either. Sometimes I have such silly expectations for myself.

It’s always amazing to me how, at stressful times, God will show me He’s got my back. A couple weeks ago fellow Christian blogger Kelly Crawford reached out to me to send me her eBook on motherhood entitled (get this): When Motherhood Feels Too Hard.

I think I laughed out loud when I read the email. There was no way Kelly knew I was just starting to struggle with motherhood. She only knew I was going to become a mom. Oh, but God knew, alright! God is so good.

It’s things like a devotional targeted just to what I need, that feeling of God’s love, and knowledge that He totally knows what’s going on with me that encourages me to carry on. To put down the baby care book at 1 AM and try to get some sleep; To stop looking at Pinterest to figure out how I’m going to reorganize my entire house.

And to just trust that, really, truly, everything is gonna be okay!

dd-sig

 

 

 

Disclaimer: As I mentioned, Kelly graciously sent me her eBook for free.
photo credit: Ezra toes via photopin (license)

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I Must Be Perfect

i must be perfect perfectionism perfectionist rachel madden devotional diva[Guest post by Rachel Madden: I think Rachel’s story on perfectionism will really encourage some of you, especially those who struggle with being a “perfect mom.” Remember “I must be perfect” is just a lie!]

 

Psychology Today quotes, “For perfectionists, life is an endless report card on accomplishments or looks. A one-way ticket to unhappiness, perfectionism is typically accompanied by depression and eating disorders. What makes perfectionism so toxic is that while those in its grip desire success, they are most focused on avoiding failure, so theirs is a negative orientation. And love isn’t a refuge; in fact, it feels way too conditional on performance.”

Please tell me this quotation strikes a chord with one of you as well, that you come dangerously close to connecting to this quotation as much as me. We started a sermon series titled “Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire,” and the first lie uncovered was “I must be perfect.”

Thirty seconds into the sermon I knew I was in trouble.

Although I claim to be a “retired perfectionist,” it is a work in progress.

The topic of the day told me paying attention was essential and notes may be required. And if I hadn’t recognized this fact on my own, it was clear as my husband Chris continued to jab me in the side, saying, “This is you! This is you!”

Both of us had a child on our lap (11 month-old twins) and he had to take our son Miles to the cry room. That left me with the choice to take notes or continue to hold our daughter Norah. I’d like to think it’s the teacher in me (although more likely it’s the obsessive compulsion), but I chose to throw Norah to the curb, or somewhat pay attention to her on the floor, while I ferociously took notes.

Before you judge me, please know that bless her 11-month old heart she doesn’t crawl and can’t go from sitting to laying down on her own; therefore, Norah spent the service on the ground. For the church members who witnessed the borderline negligence, I told myself I was already breaking free of the “I must be a perfect” lie, specifically the “I must be a perfect mom.”

This sermon hit me so hard I specifically told the pastor after church that bullying was wrong and I didn’t appreciate being profiled.

We know human perfection isn’t real. We tell ourselves it doesn’t matter.

But for those of us who are challenged in this area, we may accept those truths for others, but not for ourselves.

For example, I don’t think Norah is any less of a person because she isn’t developmentally in the same place as Miles. Of course not; the thought doesn’t even cross my mind. And yet for most of us, especially perfectionists, the lie that we aren’t measuring up creeps in daily.  

It doesn’t matter if I ate a healthy lunch, I had a donut for breakfast. Who cares that I spent two hours playing with my kids earlier today? This afternoon I turned on the TV so I could catch up on work. Losing 10 pounds can’t be celebrated; I shouldn’t have gained weight in the first place; I’m so lazy. Or a current lie in my own life right now: So you nursed your twins 11 months? It doesn’t count if you don’t make it to the full year.

The lie that says striving for perfection means you’re hardworking and accomplished, a person worthy of love and happiness is all-consuming and paralyzing.

We put the pressure on ourselves because somehow being the best we can be at everything we do makes us…what? Good?

As Christians, we know this isn’t true. No matter how good we try to be on our own merits, it doesn’t change our need for God. If we could find perfection on our own, there would be no reason for Christ’s death and resurrection.

Sometimes I’m preoccupied attempting the “perfect life” because it somehow validates me as a person. Have your achievements ever taken precedent over what truly matters? For the perfectionists out there, it doesn’t mean you have to be okay with mediocrity. It doesn’t mean it’s time to lower your standards or become less passionate. But let’s intentionally choose not to measure our worth based on our performance and abilities.

In 2015, let’s stop carrying a validating performance record around – one that affirms us because of our achievements or accomplishments. As the Bible says in Romans, “There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Today, let’s celebrate this freedom and bask in His perfection alone.

rachel madden on devotional divaRachel Madden is a teacher, wife and mother of twins. She experienced a bout with bulimia in college and was later diagnosed with anxiety and depression. She started a blog in 2014 at crazyMADDENINGworld.com to share her story about motherhood and living a passionate, Christian life with mental illness.  

photo credit: finger painting via photopin (license)

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The Scarless Pledge

takiela bynum on devotional diva

[Guest post by Takiela Bynum: Do you struggle with self-harm? Are you ready to take the scarless pledge? So glad God brought Takiela to Devotional Diva to share this!]

Some people cut for relief, I cut because I wanted to die.

She’d taken several pain killers to prevent her from feeling any pain. Besides, she needed a backup plan in case the other thing didn’t work out.

She located the vein, turned her head and quickly slid the razor across her flesh. She winced at the sharp sting. The warm ooze drizzled down her hand and left its trail on the hard wood floor. She climbed into bed and hoped for death to quietly greet her while she slept.

That was a dark day in my teen life, one I’ll probably never forget. The pain and hurt I endured left me hopeless. Numb from any feelings of hope and craving death.

I know what it’s like to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. Family issues, the kids at school, boy drama, grades, and the list goes on. Sometimes, life has a way of upgrading from bad to worse.

When in a hopeless state of mind, having hopeless thoughts and making hopeless decisions come with the territory (i.e. depression, cutting, suicide thoughts/attempts, etc.)

In actuality, although I didn’t realize it at the time, my hopeless disposition conveyed that even God is incapable of salvaging my mess of a life. It’s entirely too complicated for Him. From my view, things were the worst it could ever be and would always be this way – hopeless.

Ultimately, I shut out the only One who could bring me out.

Thank God His view is far beyond mine, His thoughts and ways soar high above my own. I was absolutely oblivious to God’s plan for my life. I desired death, but the Lord…abundant life. There is no way anyone would have convinced me that God had a plan for my life that was full of hope. I would have completely rejected the idea.

Since I was a little girl I’ve Ioved math. Why? Because to every problem there was an answer, each formula would provide an inevitable solution, simplifying the complex. I wanted answers to my life’s problems. Me plus life never equaled hope. Ever. However, Christ plus life always equals hope. Always. It took some time, but after many struggles here’s what I know, the Lord is my answer and He is neither simple nor complicated.

Can you relate to any of my struggles? Do you know anyone who self-harms? I’d like to invite you to join me in taking The Scarless Pledge right now!

Today let’s make a pledge, from this day forward we’re going “scarless!” We can’t do anything about the old scars but we can choose not to make new scars. Let’s put down our razors and pick up scarlet red eyeliner. When or if we ever get the urge to cut, use the red eyeliner. It’ll help remind you of the blood Jesus shed on the cross for you and it’ll also wash away…never leaving a scar.

I, (insert name here), being of sound mind and body, here do pledge to God and all who love me on this month (insert month here), of this day (insert day here), in this year (insert year here) to bury all self-harming ways, never to be exhumed again! In the sight of God and all witnesses, I promise if and/or when I get the urge to self-harm, I’ll replace my instrument of destruction with an instrument that represents hope, a scarlet red eyeliner pencil, instead. I will do this in remembrance of the blood Jesus shed on the cross for me, (insert name here). I am committed to the “scarless” pledge. With God nothing is impossible.

Find an accountability partner, someone who will help you commit to this pledge. Know that you have fans cheering you on and praying for you in heaven and all over the earth. Even though I’ll already be praying, if you’d like me to pray for a specific person/situation or if I can help in another way comment below publicly or email me privately (takiela@takielabynum.com).

Take the “scarless” pledge today!

 

takiela bynum on devotional divaTakiela Bynum, founder of Leading Young Women to Hope Ministries, is a speaker and author with a passion for any hurting women. She empowers and encourages young women to have hope in Christ, equipping them with the tools (word of God) necessary to live victoriously in spite of life’s tragedies. She tackles hard topics while pointing young women to the redemptive power of the cross. Find out more at www.TakielaBynum.com

 

photo credit: Miss C.J. via photopin cc

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I'm Moving On From A Painful Past

moving on from your past

I have spent this summer introducing you to myself. Guest posting will return on September 2nd, but after today Devotional Diva is going on a short hiatus. I still have a lot of ideas for post topics, but last week I asked my husband what he thought I should write for my final post.

Without asking for any of my ideas, he just replied, “You should write more about your life now.”

He’s completely right. I’ve written quite a lot about my past this summer. It makes sense, because all of us draw on our past for hints on how to handle our futures.

I’ve written about my physical assault at work, my suicidal thoughts, and why I chose to marry young, among other things.

I have experienced a lot of pain in my life in relation to my age. And I know I’m not the only one.

For a long time, that pain has eaten me up.

But I want to say now: God has healed me!

I knew my unique personality when I was younger. But when I went through all that pain, I got depressed. The depression changed me and messed with my confidence.

When I was a kid, I was different than a lot of my peers simply because I wasn’t afraid to be different. I didn’t want to blend in. I didn’t care about what was “cool.” I dressed the way I wanted to dress — and I must say I was a stylish 8-year-old with my collection of vintage coats.

Some other kids didn’t appreciate that about me, but most of the time I didn’t really care.

In junior high and high school I became even more extroverted. I got really involved with school activities and I feel like I had quite a few friends. I remember having so much fun and being so happy those years.

But most importantly, I knew who I was and I wasn’t afraid to show it.

After delving into “depression land,” I questioned who I was. I think I got a lot more shy – not that shyness is bad; I am just naturally more extroverted.

I have finally healed from the pain – however, not without scars. I will always carry those scars.

But I am happy and content with my life. And nearly every day I can see the little bits of myself that got hidden coming out again.

I have so much more personality! While I hope this does not come off as conceited, I realized that I am actually a funny person. I like cracking jokes, making people laugh and just interacting with others — I feel like I’m really living again.

When I first started feeling better, I had to stay away from certain things that would “trigger” sadness – like some depressing movies or things that would remind me of my past. Lately, I’ve noticed my ability to enjoy them again.

That’s one of the biggest indicators to me that I am moving on from my painful past. I mean, truly moving on.

It’s also been nearly one year since I stopped taking daily psychiatric medication. Even though those medications can help with depression and anxiety, I just feel so much clearer without them – more like myself.

I laugh so much; my husband and I are ridiculously silly together. I have dreams again and I’m motivated to make them come true. I am embracing the things that make me who I am (like how buying a pet stroller for my cats made my day, or my unreasonable love of Diet Pepsi). I’m just having more fun being me.

God healed me from all that pain. Now, I’m able to move on. And I’m so much stronger now.

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Looking Back on My Physical Assault at Work

assault and courage

I believe my physical assault at work led to my downward spiral into depression and anxiety. But it also taught me about my own courage.

 

I was already depressed. I had already suffered trauma. I was still physically sick. But I was trudging on. I tried to keep up with my job at Chuck E. Cheese.

Chuck E. Cheese has a system in place that aims to ensure children’s safety called “Kid Check.” Families that enter together (adults included) all get a stamp with a number on their hand. That number is checked upon exit to make sure that kids leave with the right adults. Babies get a sticker with the number on it that can be placed on their carrier.

When I was training, it was one of the first things I learned. The video stressed that all kids must have their number match an adult they are leaving with, and if there is any sort of problem, to get a manager.

One low-key night, it was my turn at Kid Check. A very large man approached the exit with a tiny baby in a stroller. I got out my little black light flashlight to check their numbers.

I saw the sticker and number on the baby’s carrier and then I asked to see the man’s hand. He didn’t have a number.

I explained to the man how the Kid Check system worked, and I told him I could get my manager and straighten it out. But he got really agitated.

And then everything seemed to happen really fast.

He pushed the stroller through the ropes that guarded the exit and it rolled five feet and hit the door.

He’s trying to steal this baby, I thought.

That is the very thing Kid Check is designed to prevent – especially for young babies who can’t speak up.

And I could NOT let that happen.

Instinctively, I blocked his way through the exit.

This man was probably about six feet tall and 300 pounds. At that time, I was about 5’2” and 130 pounds.

He hit me in the face and tried to push me down as I remained steadfast in my effort to keep him from leaving with the baby. I screamed for the cash register clerk to get a manager.

After what felt like ages, he turned and headed back into the restaurant, leaving the baby at the door.

My manager, an even smaller woman than I, came to the front and I tried to explain what had just happened. The man quickly reappeared and began yelling at us.

My manager couldn’t reason with him either, but she sent me to the back.

Tears flowing down my face, I headed to the kitchen. I remember how my drink nearly spilled because my hands were shaking so much.

My friend and coworker saw this, having no knowledge of the commotion. She grabbed the drink from my hands and guided me toward the back door to get some air.

Through my hyperventilation and gagging outside of the kitchen, I tried to tell her what had happened. She was shocked; although we were trained to protect kids against abduction, nothing like that had ever happened at our store.

I remember ending up in the break room. My manager came back and told me that the mother of the baby had come forward and the baby was okay. Apparently, the man was related to the baby somehow but didn’t enter at the same time. Whatever the case, the family left. She asked me if he had hurt me and if I wanted to call the police.

He had hurt me – a small bruise was beginning to form on my cheek. But I just wanted to go home.

No police report was ever filed, but Chuck E Cheese gave me worker’s comp to get help with the extreme anxiety I developed after that night.

I was getting along fine, and then that happened. It was like everything going on in my life culminated the night of my physical assault at work and I became a complete wreck. What happened that night is still hard to talk about, and I’m anxious as I write this.

But everything happens for a reason.

It’s taken years of healing to deal with everything, but I’m really okay now. And when I feel small and weak, I remember that night. I remember how strong I became to protect that baby. Even if it that man had permission to take the child, he sure didn’t act like it.

The therapist I saw after the event told me I should have just let him go and not put myself in harm’s way. Maybe that’s true, but I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.

I know I did what was right. And I know what courage lives inside of me.

→M

photo credit: tvol via photopin cc

 

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