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Thou shall not Fear?

As a person dealing with mental health issues, I often find teachings of the bible as a “you should do this and you should do that” or else you’re not a Christian. When I am faced with should and should nots, I feel a pressure to conform or else. Often times I find that preachers and teachers use a fear approach to get those to convert to God’s ways. In my struggle with depression and anxiety the people that have used fear are all about control. I am not saying that those who use fear don’t have the right motives behind what they are doing, but what I think is important to know is when you are dealing with people who suffer with constant fear already, adding more fear only alienates you more from being able to help them.

The Bible has 365 references that say, “do not fear”. One for each day of the year. Yet, the Bible also says to, “fear the Lord”. At first, I found this to be contradictor to each other. What is it that God is really trying to say? If you want my honesty, here it is…fearing God with every decision I make and every turn that I take has often led me to become a pile of shaking, nausea, don’t want to leave the house, and don’t want any responsibility in making any decisions kind of mess. Because the truth is, I do fear the Lord. I fear if I don’t act a certain way, I will lose my witness. If I don’t behave a certain way, God will take me out of this world and define me as useless. I fear if I teach and misquote anything, then I am wrong and God will be angry and will punish me with some life altering event to teach me a lesson. I fear if I can’t use my talents, God will take them away from me. I fear if I am not a good enough mother, wife, daughter, Christian, (virtuous women) I will suffer great lose and heartache and go to hell. These are things I have heard in sermons all my life and hear in everyday conversations about people who have suffering on a daily basis. It is all their fault because they have not feared and listened. They should have done this or should have done that. Another great truth is I cannot live this way and leave my house, let alone my bedroom. The constant fear and pressure to conform and act a particular way is not a reality I can or want to live in. So, how do I move forward?

First, I gain new ground, new perspective. When I read and study my Bible fear is not a tactic, I believe, God wants us to use to control others or ourselves. To control how we think, how fast we move toward a decision, how we should operate our daily lives. This I am most certain of, because if this was how God wanted my life to be controlled then it would come with great joy and happiness, because I know that when I am in God’s will, then I am experiencing true joy in my life. If I am not experiencing that joy and happiness then what I am doing and how I am processing is not in God’s will. So, what is the opposite of fear? LOVE! That is right, love is the opposite of fear. Not faith, not performance, not a should and should not list, but love.

1 John 4:8 “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”

 1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”

I encourage you to go read the whole chapter of 1 John 4, and see how important love is to God. I believe that it is the most important thing to God. But these two verses stuck out to me. You see if God is love, and perfect love casteth out fear, then we can know that God does not desire us to live in fear of Him, but in awe of His love! God does not want us to fear what this life holds for use, because His love is stronger than anything else we may experience or go through. Ya’ll love is the key!

God create you! He loves you as you are. There are not stipulations to His love. It is free and all we have to do is accept it and believe it. Think about the love you have for someone. I think of the love I have for my children. There is not a battle I would not walk through, a sickness I would not take from them, time I would not give up to spend with them, sacrifices I would not make to let them know how much I love them. Now multiply that by 100. This is what God’s love would do for you. It will sacrifice his only son to be crucified for your wrong doings, it will never leave you nor forsake you no matter what, he will never hide from you, he will never forget you. Just like Elisha he will send out an army to rescue you from your darkest night. There is no distance He will not come to help you. God’s love is a love we cannot comprehend and will never find in this world.

I have seen the quote on pictures and key chains and such that say “faith over fear”, or “let your faith be bigger than your fear” and to be honest this makes my blood boil a little. Because it insinuates that if we only have enough faith then we would not be experiencing fear. It gives blame, where blame is not needed. All the amount of faith required for us to have is a mustard seed. The truth is we will experience fear in our life the same as we will experience anger, sadness, and happiness. It is part of our world that we live in and this world is not a fear free environment. What we can have hope in is that love is bigger than any fear we have. God’s love for us, his sacrifice of his only son, puts love at the top of the leader board in success. Love does not give us a do and do not list, or a should and should not list or else. Love does not say if only you do this or that then you deserve to be loved. Love is a free gift. A free gift we get from God and a free gift we give to others. So today go out and love that person who is struggling with mental health issues. Love yourself for the struggle you are facing. Let God’s love carry you through your moments of fear. Let your Love and God’s love for you be bigger than your fear! Love takes time and patience. The result, unlike fear, is a long-lasting result that produces joy. Most importantly hope! To fear God does not mean to be scared of Him and His power. To fear God is to be in awe of Him and the Love He has for us!

I Will Rescue You

by Lauren Daigle

What is Meditation really about?

When I think about meditation, I think of a man sitting in ceremonial robes, cross legged, on a bunch of pillows with his hands on his knees, eyes closed, and making a constant noise of a low hum. “How is this helping him at all?” I say to myself. “He looks like an idiot.” At least that is what I have grown up thinking because in our culture it is not something we consider normal. Normal. That word literally makes me start to sweat and a slight tremor creeps up from somewhere deep inside. I take a deep breath, close my eyes and concentrate. Concentrate on my breathing, and not on the fact that normal is not something I can live up to.

You see, meditation is not about an action to show everyone that we have it all together or we are in control. It’s is also not about a religious ceremony or tradition. Meditation is about training our minds to slow down and think of only one thing at a time. To concentrate on the moment we are living in, and not on the things around us that we cannot control. It is also about making our body and muscles relax. To cast off the burden of being normal and embrace the person God intended us to be. I can’t tell you how many times a day I have to stop and close my eyes and just relax all my muscles. My husband is constantly telling me to stop frowning. Because I am so in my head that every muscle in my face is contracted and tense. I wish I wasn’t this way, but the fact is that I am. I have spent countless hours trying to control this about me with no avail. So instead, I will accept it and take time through out my day to just slow everything down and give my mind a break. A break. I have found there is nothing more important than to give my mind permission to take a break. The expectation we live in to constantly be in control and have it all together makes our minds constantly working in high gear with no brakes in sight. When I close my eyes to rest at night, my mind still goes wide open, because without any breaks in the day it has learned to never rest. If God rested on the 7th day of creation, then why is it that we won’t take the time to rest also. The man upstairs left us a pattern to follow for a reason. If we would have been trained as children to slow down and take a mental break, we would not think of it as such a foreign idea. Our bodies would already be used to it and the struggle to place this in our daily schedules would not feel impossible. So, starting today I will take a break for my mind. I will meditate. Meditate on 5 things I can see, 4 things I can hear, 3 things I can smell, 2 things I can feel, and I verse to set me back on my way. Before I know it, I will have 10 minutes of not thinking about my worries, my anxiety, my troubles, or what I can control. If I am tense all over, I will meditate on relaxing my muscles starting with my feet, and working my way up. Or, I will set a timer and just concentrate on my breathing. My favorite is to count all my blessings. The options for meditating or endless. Needing meditation is not about being weak, but about taking a break and renewing your mind. It is smart, and it gives us strength to endure our next few hours until we meditate again. A time to get out of our heads and into the moment. Before you know it you will have trained your brain to concentrate in positive areas of your life and the days won’t look so grim.

Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is good (benefit), and acceptable (agreeable), and perfect (growth in mental and moral character), will of God.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Tell me what meditations work for you?

How do you know when fear is running your life?

How do you know when fear is running your life? I don’t think running your life is the right word, but I am having one of those days that I just can’t seem to come up with the right words to get out what I want to say. I don’t think fear runs your life, but I do think that it consumes your thoughts, then from your thoughts into your decisions, then from your decisions to your actions. I think fear is a process. It’s like a seed being planted and your mind throws fertilizer and water on it. It starts out small and can escalate into something big. I also think there are those out there that have had such traumatic experiences that a person’s subconscious mind plunges them into a pit of fear at the first trigger of danger. It’s a defense mechanism the body automatically controls for you. I experience both kinds of episodes and it makes it really hard to calm my mind. To get my mind to slow down and concentrate on one thing.



When I first starting having panic episodes my family would say, “You need to get ahold of yourself.” All that did was bring on another wave of panic and make me feel alone. Getting ahold of myself IS the problem. I feel so out of control that the more I try to get in control the worse I become. Its more than me trying to control my emotions, it’s a knee jerk response my body plunges into at the first sign of a trigger. I think trying to figure out what a trigger is, is just as hard as calming my body down. So, I ask myself, not only what do you fear, what is danger in your mind? Most importantly, what is it in the last 24 hours that made your body kick into a defensive stance? You see, something happened yesterday that altered my mood. Instead of it being one thing, I think it was more than that.
Yesterday, I was telling someone about my blog and website. My excitement has had me running around smiling for weeks now. Everyday I feel more and more excited about this book God gave me to write. The conversations and post I have read give me hope that it will help others. Then this person (whom I will call Mo) said, “Well have you ever thought about podcast, because podcast is more popular than blogs right now.” I know Mo wasn’t trying to downplay all that I was doing at that time, but trying to encourage me to move forward and show me my options were endless. Mo continued to say, “I can see you sitting around talking freely about mental health and I think a lot of people would listen to it.” Mo was encouraging and trying to be helpful, but something in me didn’t take it that way. Ya’ll it took me 2 weeks to get my website together not including the 2 weeks before that it took me to create an author face book page, and Instagram page, a support group page. Then I am still trying to figure out how to connect them. Most troubling is managing them. I think all of the sudden I became overwhelmed with the possibilities. My mood went from living on a joyful note, to all the sudden being very unsure if I was doing the right thing. Did I just spend a month of my life wasting it on all the other media avenues when they are a dying source? The agonizing moments it took me of learning to make these pages and websites are they all for nothing?
Then, that afternoon I made a post on a support group, and got no response. I was instantly defeated. What’s the point? This is never gonna reach anyone, no one cares, and I am wasting my time. The thoughts kept coming and coming until I was on a train going nowhere but in circles. The cortisol started flowing and I am so alert everything is catching my attention and I am overwhelmed and my mind is racing. I needed to get off this train. So, I started telling myself that it was okay. I call it self-talk. Then I named off some other authors who didn’t get noticed in their first year of publishing a book. Let alone 1 book. It took them many books and time. I need to give it time. Most importantly, I needed to let God do it. There are so many things out of my control that I need to let loose and let God take this where He wants this to go. Not me. I needed to slow my mind down and listen. The best way to slow my mind down was to watch that train go by. Tell it I didn’t need the ride, because God’s coming with a Plane that will take me to places and sights, I can’t dream of. Most importantly I needed to believe this so it would stick. I remember a couple of my favorite verses and I am filled with hope.


Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”


Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose”


So how do I know when fear is planting a seed? For me, its when that train of thought comes and I struggle to let it go. Or, I am triggered by an event or situation and my body is in automatic response. It’s like being thrown on a fast-moving train without warning. Sometimes I am already on it and speeding down the tracks wide open before I know what’s going on. Instead of getting mad at myself, I do the opposite. I commend myself for recognizing it and I slowing get off the train with thoughts of what’s in front of me or thoughts of truth. For truth will set you free. I will definitely ride that train a few more times today before I lay my head down to try and rest. So, I will continue to get off that train with care. Care for my situation, care for my state of mind, and care with kind words and encouragement for myself. Before I know it, I will be concentrating on what’s in front of me and not on what I cannot control.

“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, if ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

John 8:31-32

Grief

This week has been one of the weirdest weeks of my life thus far. I know there will be more to come, but today is just so different. With Covid still spreading, and the world half way running around us, it seems things couldn’t get any worse. Then they do. The phone call comes in that a close friend lost her mom suddenly from a brain bleed that was inoperable. Not only was she a spectacular lady, but just a year ago she sat with me in a church pew and showed me how to crochet. All because I mentioned one day that I would love to learn. Then another call comes in and someone else in the community has passed, then another, and another! What is going on? Wasn’t it just a few months ago another close friend lost her mother? An eccentric woman who claimed me as an adopted daughter. Then a few months before that I lost my mother-in-law. A woman whose love for her family came from every orifice of her being. A love that she instilled in her children and her grand children. A legacy her offspring will pass on to all who enter their lives. Most of all my grandmother, who I lost just 2 years early, but seems like yesterday. A lady who left a huge whole in my mothers family. So much loss! In so little time! Why? I contemplate this at my kitchen table while writing this. The rain is coming down in a steady drizzle. I’m fighting the urge to let my depression carry me away as tears sting my eyes. I could easily get up, crawl back into my bed, snuggle deep down in my covers and spend the day pondering all the memories and sweet moments I had with these amazing people, and cry. Cry for the hole these people left behind. Cry at the lack of support I now have. Cry because I am mad at God for allowing this process and the sorrow it brings. Cry for the lunch I just burned on the stove because my mind was so occupied by my sorrow. I need to let out this emotion, to express it in a healthy way, but how can I do that when my deepest urge is to hide away? Then a flicker of light comes to me in the dark and reminds me not of my sorrow, but of the great love I received from these amazing souls. A love that transformed me into the person I am today. Would I be the same person without having known them? The answer is absolutely not! What about the love I had and still have for these people, do I regret giving it? Would I trade the love I have for these people, and the love I received from them? Would I give it all back to keep my depression from coming? To keep the cycle of grief from entering my life? The answer is no. As my appetite begins to return and I am eating my burnt lunch, I contemplate the fact that my grief would not be so strong if I hadn’t loved these people so much. Love. Who new that love could bring, not only the highest of highs ,but the lowest of lows. My instincts and body tell me that it is too painful. To love someone and miss them is too painful and the only way to protect myself from this much grief again is to not love so fiercely. To not give of myself. To withdraw and keep my heart safe from this deep depression. A coping skill I have come to embrace in order to survive such intense, debilitating emotion. If I do this. If I withdraw. What will become of my friends and family? If the ones I lost had withheld their love from me, I would not be the same person. If God would have kept His son to himself and held His love for us, this world would have no hope. If I with hold my deepest love from my children, family, and church family what purpose do I have to live for. The realization that to withhold love in order to avoid these emotions would be a continued life of living under the covers. A life of feeling left out, alone, distant, defensive, and dark. A life with no purpose, no hope, no joy. The choice I make now will effect my days to come, my family, my children. Not only in my relationship with them but in the relationships they build with others. The choice, though hard to do, is not impossible. I bow my head, ask God for forgiveness. Then ask for His mercy, His strength, and wisdom to put one foot in front of the other and go show my family, friends, church family and fellow depression and grief survivors love. Love that I need to give as much as they need to receive. Whether its making sure their clothes are washed, they will have supper ready when they get home, or a quick phone call or text to check on those who are grieving. Love comes in many forms. I will continue to grieve and cry here for a few more minutes for the loss I feel, I will then wipe my tears away, get up, and concentrate on those still with me and love them with guidance from above. I may be overcome with emotion later in my day, so I will take a few minutes to cry again, remember the sweet souls of my past. Because its not about never feeling hurt or scared of the depression that comes with my grief. Its about always moving forward and carrying on love. For love never dies, it is passed on. Given to us by our loved ones we have lost for us to pass on to the ones still with us. So, supper time, here I come. A dash of salt, a hint of rosemary, and all the love I can give.( Because I really hate to cook 🙂 )

It’s more than just a change in weather

Fall morning at the Payne house

9/21/20

I never have understood why the change of season is so drastic for me, but as fall looms in I feel this overwhelming sadness creep in. I wonder if it’s the passing of time. You know when you have to say goodbye to the old and move on to the new? There is a mist that comes over my eyes as I reminisce the happy and sad times of summer. Yet, I don’t feel as if that is quite it. I ponder it as I eat my breakfast and get ready to start my day. I hate when I know there is something bothering me and I can not put my finger on it. What could it be? So, I brain storm some ideas and see what emotions follow. Brainstorm. Now that is a dangers thing for me. I start thinking about sad things. Like the cold, the dreaded holidays, time change, stuck indoors, and did I mention the cold? Then I end up thinking about happy things like chili, hot chocolate, snuggling into a warm blanket, clean crisp air, and beautiful leaves of all colors. Then I switch back and think of the winter to follow and dread creeps in.

I know its more than about the weather that bothers me, it is only temporary for goodness sake. Then it hits me and the realization makes me breath a sigh of relief. It’s the fear of being stuck. Stuck in doors, stuck in the cold, stuck waiting for the holidays to come and go. Its more than being stuck, it’s a sense of feeling trapped. The fact is the change in weather forces me to have to work harder at finding a happy and peaceful state. Being stuck in the cycle of forcing myself to be happy gets exhausting. I just got into the groove of summer and found a happy space and now I can’t seem to muster up the energy it will take for me to adjust to a new norm. Why can’t things just stay the same? Why do things have to change? Change. Now there is a scary word! Change takes me from being safe and secure to the front lines of not knowing what will happen next. Let’s just face it! We are still in 2020 the definition of change, fear of the unknown, and chaos have been at every turn. Now we throw in a season change and I am hanging on by a thread. How can I adjust and prepare for this change? I look up at the clock and stare at it, pondering these very words. Then I focus closely on the words written on it. “To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” What? There is purpose for this season? Not just a change in weather, but a true purpose for why I struggle with change? Surely not! I really don’t see how anything good can come out of a struggle. So, I will investigate further and see if any clarity will come.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born… a time to die; a time to plant…a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill… a time to heal; a time to break down… a time to build up; a time to weep… a time to laugh; a time to mourn… a time to dance; a time to cast stones… a time to gather stones; a time to embrace… a time to refrain from embracing; a time to get… a time to lose; a time to keep… a time to cast away; a time to rend… a time to sew; a time to keep silence… a time to speak; a time to love… a time to hate; a time to war… a time of peace. What profit hath he that worketh in the wherein he laboureth? I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it. He hath made everything beautiful in his time.” The truth is there is a balance to life. The good is followed with the bad and the bad is followed with the good. I find true hope in these words, not because I look forward to the balance, but because I look forward to the promise that hard times are truly not permanent. I didn’t realize how important it was for me to have that reiterated. A reminder to instill hope. This transition from one season to the next is going to come no matter what I try to do, but I can have hope that the struggle of it is temporary. More than that is the promise I can dwell on. Instead of dwelling on the dread of the change, I can dwell on the promise that God said he will make everything beautiful in his time. Now that is something, I look forward to seeing. You may be saying, “Ok Keri, I get it. Suck it up and deal with it.” That is not what I am saying, because those of us who suffer with depression, and anxiety need more than that. We need something we can honestly find comfort it. Something we can do to help with the transition. So here is. Here are the steps spelled out:

  1. First when you are feeling low, remind yourself this is temporary
  2. Ensure your self that beauty can come from this change. Look around and see what beauty you can see.
  3. Make a list of things you can do when you are down that will help you sail through the dark times. Because bad is followed with good. This list would be things you enjoy to do that you haven’t done in a while or would like to try. Adult coloring books, cross word puzzles, word searches, taking a drive to see the leaves (make this a yearly tradition to help you find beauty in the change, something to look forward to.) Take a fall vacation. Go for a walk and collect colored leaves. Decorate for fall. Make your own fall décor. Take a hot bath on a cold night, treat yourself to your favorite hot drink. Go to a craft market and just look. The possibilities are endless.

Before you know it, you have come through the transition and gotten yourself into a new schedule and you can rest easy. Don’t concentrate on the change, concentrate on the new opportunities that can come with the change. Hope. With hope the darkest of days can bring such great light. Hope makes the time go faster, makes the days more exciting, and gives us something to look forward to. Then before we know it, fall and winter will pass, and spring will come with more promises and hope of its own.