Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

 

vintage-2373083_1920Awhile back, I posted on my Facebook page a question, “Is it easy to talk about depression in the church?” The overwhelming response to the question was, “No.” In fact, the church was the last place most people felt they could discuss the subject that affects 1 out of 10 people in our country. We need to do better. We need to understand what depression is all about.

Most people are unaware of the many causes of depression. It is a complicated disorder that requires on-going attention and treatment.

Depression can be a result of medical conditions such as hypothyroidism, Cushing’s, heart disease, sleep apnea, strokes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, hormonal imbalances, HIV and AIDS, cancer, autoimmune disorders, seizure disorders and chronic pain.

Depression is also associated with substance abuse and withdrawal from long-term use of many drugs such as cocaine, sedatives, narcotics and steroids.

It is more common in people with a family history of mental illness, suggesting genetic involvement and heritable traits. And people with depression experience biological changes in their brains. Brain chemicals go out of balance and hormone changes can create depressive symptoms.

Traumatic life events such as childhood trauma, death, loss, financial pressures and stress that strains a person’s ability to cope all play a role as well.

Certain personality traits make a person more susceptible to depression. Medication side-effects can cause depression.  For example, a common medication such as Accutane, used to treat acne, has a side effect of depression in some people.

While the causes of depression are complicated, treatment is available and effective. We know the signs: difficulty concentrating, fatigue, feelings of hopelessness, guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, insomnia or excessive sleeping, loss of pleasure, overeating or appetite changes, sad, anxious or empty feelings, and thoughts of suicide.

If you struggle, don’t do so in silence. Tell your physician or a mental health professional and get the help you need. Let’s all be a part of making the church aware that people in our congregations struggle in this area and need to discuss depression without the stigma attached or some accusation of having little faith. Based on all the possible ways people can experience depression, don’t judge, rather love and encourage people to get help.

people-2585627_1920Kim and Jack have worked together now for the past five years. Sometimes, in a joke, Jack refers to her as his “work wife.” They spend most of their day together, work on projects and go to lunch everyday. They know each other very well and lately have shared intimate talk about their marriages. Even they admit, they are probably closer to each other than their spouses.

In fact, last weekend, at a work barbecue, Kim talked to Jack’s wife about their kids. Jack’s wife was a little taken aback that Kim knew such intimate details of their family life. She confronted Jack on the closeness.

When Jack and his wife came for marital therapy, Jack was very defensive, insisting he had not betrayed his wife and she was making a big deal over nothing, that is…until I asked this question.

Is there anything you are telling Kim, or doing with Kim, that would make your wife uncomfortable to watch or know?

Jack stopped. He knew there were moments with Kim that would make his wife uncomfortable. He kept those from her because the closeness was becoming dangerous in terms of an affair. The barbecue conversation brought this closeness out of secrecy.

Jack was having a nonsexual affair with Kim. Instead of turning to his wife for emotional support, Jack had his work wife, Kim.

How do you know when a relationship turns from friendship to a sexless affair?

Ask yourself these questions:

1) Do you share your friend conversations with your intimate partner?
2) Have you tried to pull back from that friendship only to find it difficult?
3) Has your spouse asked you to pull back and you have not?
4) Do you fantasize what could be in the friend relationship when things are difficult with your partner?

If you answer YES to any of these questions, time to pull back from the friendship. The two of you have crossed the line and have created an intimacy that is hurting your marriage.

blogging-336375_1920Labor Day is a day we rest from our work, but Tuesday comes and we are back in the grind.

Jeff has been struggling to go to work everyday. He desperately needs his job to pay bills and provide for his family, but this last year, he has grown disenchanted with his work environment. So much so, that he thinks about quitting. He knows he can’t and feels trapped in an unhappy job.

When someone is unhappy at work, it can spill over to family life. Even in a tough economy, no one likes to be in a job that makes him or her unhappy. But happiness on the job may relate to something you never expected—your ability to stay present. Happiness has everything to do with what is going on in your mind.

Think of all the times you find yourself distracted at work–you worry over a deadline, are upset with a co-worker, wonder what you will make for dinner, are mentally scheduling your next dental appointment, etc.  Worry and thinking about the future are distracting. These mental habit can take your focus off the task at hand and create such distraction that you find yourself not engaging in the here and now. And when you are not here and now focused, you risk your happiness.

Harvard researchers discovered that if your mind wanders during work, this could be the source of on-the-job unhappiness. And according to the researchers, our minds wander about 47% of the time anyway. In the Harvard study that utilized an IPHONE app and received feedback from more than 15,000 people from countries all over the world, mind wandering occurred on the job about 50% of the time.

What the researchers concluded was that we humans spend a great deal of time thinking about things that are not happening in the moment. And apparently, a wandering mind is an unhappy mind–something religious groups have thought to be true for years. We Christians are reminded by Jesus not to worry about tomorrow and remember that God is with us at every step of our earthly journey.

So if you want to get happy on the job, stay in the moment and let go of worry. Worry is future focused and steals our joy and contributes to job unhappiness.

 

For more help on Letting Go of Worry click on the link. God wants you to live your work and home life in peace and contentment. A mind stayed on Him keeps us in perfect peace.

 

 

 

character-1797362_1920You made vows before the Lord. You promised to be with this person through sickness and in health, good or bad times. Right now, those vows feel impossible to honor. The marriage is so problematic, you think it is impossible to fix. You re tired of fighting, or there is too much bad history to overcome, or you just don’t want to be in the marriage. You’ve  grown apart.

I’m not saying those feelings aren’t real. Or that people don’t get to a very  discouraged point and think divorce is the only way out. I’m saying, believe for a miracle and allow God the opportunity to change you, your spouse and your marriage. What often happens is that we don’t include God in our hurt or sense of betrayal. The missing piece is often our reluctance to fix our relationship with God—the very thing that will help turn around our marriage. And we need to do this together.

I could tell you numerous stories of couples who appeared hopeless. Even as their therapist, I confess, I didn’t have the faith for them to fix their marriages-some have lived through dramatic life events and circumstances, others are wounded and hurt over past disappointments and rejections, and others are deceived by the lie that nothing will make a difference. Truth is, we can’t deal with an impossible marriage alone—we need God to rule in our hearts and minds.  But let’s not succumb to the lie, It’s too late, It’s not working so let’s call it quits. It would take a miracle for this marriage to work. I have good news. Our God is in the business of miracles.

We need to remember who the real enemy is—behind all the very real issues a couple faces is an enemy whose chief purpose is to steal, kill and destroy your marriage. It’s a force of darkness and is real—not something imagined for the movies. The enemy of our souls operates in a spiritual realm, an invisible world that exists all around you. You can’t fight in your flesh, an enemy that is spiritual.

So pray.  Line up your thinking with God’s thinking. Get your behavior in line with godly behavior and fill yourself with the Word of God and His promises. Say them, rehearse them and claim those promises as yours. They are yours if you are a child of God. Confessing what God says about you and your situation brings new hope, starts the process. Renew your mind—Greater is he that is in me, than he that is in the world. Take your rightful authority over the spiritual roots of problems. Walk the floors and pray. Rehearse God’s track record over impossible situations and be patient.

We know that if we confess our sins, Jesus is faithful to forgive us. So confess first to God, then to your spouse. And deal with forgiveness. Once forgiven, you still may have to deal with the fall out of that sin, but accept God’s forgiveness. Too often I see people continuing to accuse themselves and feel they have let down their partner too much. But the accuser is the devil (Revelation 12:10), so once you have confessed and forgiven, couples need to move forward in that forgiveness, dealing with the consequences of sin. That might mean going to a Christian couples’ therapist for guidance. It also means you stop sinning and make a turn in behavior in order to build trust again.

Scrripture tells us to not grow weary in doing good. To not give up if an answer isn’t immediate, to wait on the Lord and believe he is a present help in times of trouble. The road to divorce begins in our mind and heart, as well as our behavior. If you stay intimately connected to God, your marriage will reflect that intimacy.

Bringing an impossible marriage back to life requires both parties to open their hearts to the God of the possible. If you surrender your life completely to God, give and receive forgiveness, work to change behavior—a marriage can change and be revived. With God, all things are possible.