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Doing Life Together

road-sign-1274312_1920Have you ever felt afraid because someone is trying to defeat you, speaks evil of you or has a target on your back? Do you want to face adversity with confidence and know that God sees all your grievances?

Psalm 56 is a prayer for relief from people who torment. David is on the run from the Philistines and is fearful of King Saul who also wants to kill him. Talk about high stress!

But David allows us to see into his emotional life. Given the circumstances, he complains to God and battles fear, anger and feelings of vengeance. David begs for mercy and wants justice to be done to his enemies. In verse 7, he asks  if God is going to do anything about his oppressors. Basically, he says, “Are you OK with those who come after your people? Isn’t it time to bring justice to these evil doers who twist my words and put a target on my back?”

Can we just thank David for his honesty? He says what most of us would be feeling. He is honest with God.

As the passage continues, we see a change in David’s perspective and focus. In verse 3, David says, “In God I will put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?” Instead of focusing on those who oppress him, David looks to a trustworthy God. In verse 11, he reaffirms this renewed perspective, “In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”

When we face trials and adversity, do we trust God like David did? Do we remember what David said in verse 9? “When I cry out to you, then my enemies will turn back. This I know because GOD IS FOR ME.”

Finally, do we hang on to hope in the midst of the trial, knowing that God sees our pain? Verse 8 tells us that God’s eyes are on us, “You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?” God keeps track of our grievances and will do justice to them one day.

David’s hope in God is expressed in praise. “I will render praises to You. For you have delivered my soul from death. Have you not kept my feet from falling? That I might walk before God in the light of the living” At this point, David was still hiding in the cave, pursued by his enemies, but chose to praise God for his faithfulness and trustworthiness.

How did David face adversity? He was honest with his emotions, changed his perspective from fear to optimism and held on to hope in the middle of adversity – a prescription we can all apply to times of trial and fear. God is for you!

 

social media 2If you ask, one out of three teens say they feel psychologically distressed. And the number of teens who report signs of depression and anxiety that reach a clinical level has increased in the past few years.

So is anything new or different that seems to be creating additional angst in the teen years?

Yes, we have to consider the impact of social media and nonstop technical connection on the development of a teen’s mental health. Past generations  were not subject to 24/7 scrutiny of their lives and connectedness. Today, every moment of a teen’s life can be recorded, documented and up for public display. This constant connection, with no down time, leads to a type of angst new to this generation.

With teens as high users of technology, there are more opportunities to be cyberbullied and harassed. This alone can lead to depression, anxiety and in some cases, suicide.

The constant connection also brings comparison and competition front and center. And it doesn’t stop. Teens can be reminded every moment of the day that they don’t measure up and can’t compete in terms of likes, friends and popularity-all important during this phase of development.

In addition, exercise has been a protective factor when it comes to mental health. More screen time means less exercise. Sitting and staring at screens lessens movement which helps relieve stress.

Finally, many teens, will tell you that they are socially connected on media but real, authentic, in-person relationships are not as easy to find. When stress hits, they need someone in person to talk to, but don’t know who that person might be. And when they finally do identify someone to talk to and  bring up their issues, they are often told they are simply experiencing normal teenage angst. While this may be true,  the coddling and helicopter parenting they have experienced has left these teens less resilient in dealing with typical stress.

So here is how you help. There is no substitute for real time, real life relationships. Understand the angst of a teen with social media but also help them set limits, monitor their use and find their identity in Christ.

Has it ever struck you that watching politics is like watching The Bachelorette? Get ready for reality TV at its best!

Last Friday, after the Republican convention ended, I was listening to Morning Joe on the radio on my way into work. Mika was on a tirade about Trump and policy. Joe fired back about the hypocrisy of Obama’s hope and change. Mika went ballistic and wouldn’t give up until she had her way. The two were literally yelling at each other and I thought, how crazy is this? It’s radio reality TV- drama, little real analysis, but entertaining! Despite the entertainment,  those conversations shape our opinions.

Our relationship with political candidates is influenced by media portrayals. This week at the Democratic National Convention, pundits will tell the Hillary story. And media people know the power of story and how to write a script.

We will listen to a speech and then 5 people will tell us how to think about it and what the speakers were trying to say. Really?  They try to convince us that people who lie, don’t. Those who broke the law, didn’t. Those who were rude and insulting were misunderstood. Insensitive remarks were taken out of context, etc. They narrate the story, hoping we will stay with them until the epilogue.

And so our political version of The Bachelorette begins. The characters are cast. Hillary is the chosen bachelorette. Sorry no gowns. She wears pantsuits! But word on the street is that, like a gown, one of her pantsuits cost a fortune! Look for glitter.

The bachelors will come out of their limos as the line-up of speakers begin. Hillary will smile, appear intrigued, but she already knows to whom she will give a rose.

Trump is that guy they show in every bad light possible in order to develop a villain character. We have to have a villain in the Bachelorette–it is standard casting–the one guy the audience is supposed to hate and wantst voted off the show. The pundits will do their best to make sure that is Trump. He will be voted off!

Bernie will provide some drama and make the show interesting to watch. He won’t be chosen, but people like him! So he’s the guy who might be the next Bachelor because he is likable- a teaser for next season.

Then the field narrows. We build up to Kaine who apparently made the cut week after week. Like the Bachelorette, Hillary came to find a man. She did and will offer an engagement. We will witness the vows, “Tim, will you join me for life together in the White House?” Will he say, “YES?”

Spoiler alert-the proposal takes place in Philadelphia and he says, YES.

Unfortunately, we know who makes the cut, who gets the final rose and who moves out of the convention hall and into our voting booth. The suspense is gone because Hillary has already chosen her man. We may lose a few viewers, but the story will still be entertaining.

Too bad it won’t be politically enlightening! For that to happen, the narrators of both conventions would have to focus on real analysis and ask tough questions to both candidates. Don’t look for this at the DNC. The story has already been written.

Oh well, Here we go again…. Action, camera, speed….

 

*We need a little humor-this is not intended to support either candidate. Pray and Vote. You may want to skip the media coverage!!!

couple embraceJealousy, the green-eyed-monster that makes us green with envy! We all have moments when we feel jealous. But if jealousy persists, you need to work on letting it go.

The root of jealousy is usually insecurity. We aren’t confident and fear we may lose something or someone. This insecurity can rear it’s ugly head in the form jealousy and ruin a relationship if left unchecked.

Interestingly, the Bible has quite a bit to say about jealousy:

1) First, be aware of jealousy. It may be normal to have those feelings, but is not an emotion we want to rule our hearts. It will only do us harm in the end. James 3:14-15 says, But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.

Identify the source of insecurity that underlies jealous and deal with that. Get at what drives  those feelings.

 2) Thinking about jealous feelings leads to anger and revenge. Proverbs 6:34 tells us, For jealousy makes a man furious, and he will not spare when he takes revenge. Therefore, we need to take jealous thoughts captive. Ruminating on what you think someone else has or is taking from you fuels anger. Get off the thought and onto what you do have. Be grateful.

 3) Do not to act on jealous feelings. Romans 13:13- Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.

Once we recognize jealous thoughts and stop them, then our actions change. We can be happy for other people when they have success. We can acknowledge others without being afraid they will take something from us. Be secure in who you are, not in comparing yourself to others.

Here is an example. Sally is jealous of her husband’s new administrator who is quite attractive. Sally has recently had a baby and feels insecure about her physical attractiveness. Yet her husband shows no signs of lacking interest in her.

Sally identifies her jealous thought towards the administrator. She realizes her jealousy has everything to do with how she feels about her own body. Right now, she doesn’t like it due to the recent birth. So, she takes that thought captive, “I’ve just had a baby. My body is bouncing back and it isn’t what it was, but that is normal and doesn’t mean my husband will look at other women. There is no evidence that my husband is interested in this woman. I’m feeling insecure and need to talk to him and be reassured.”

Jealousy comes when we feel threatened. It causes us to focus on the negative, not what is going right in a relationship.

Assess your relationship. Rather than allowing jealousy to build, ask for reassurance and build positivity in your relationship.

 

 

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