Monday, 25 August 2014

Day 16, 100 days of reasons

I worship God today because he paid my rent top up when I was low on cash. When I was living in supported housing there were times where money didnt come through on time, and money was tight, it still is. But there were times where I was behind with my rent because my money didnt come in, but the payments were paid. I do not know how, but the money for my rent top up was paid onto my account, which really blessed me. God provided for me in my time of need, and he will for you too.

What will you worship God for today?

Day 15, 100 days of reasons

Today I will worship God because he has enabled me to be involved in TNT. TNT is my churches childrens club for 7-11s. I started helping at TNT when I was an Urban Warrior, and I grew a deep love for those kids and that club, I got excited about going and planning each week. I have been blessed enough to journey with them and seeing the kids grow and the club grow! TNT and those kids made me want to keep going and keep fighting, to see them each week! Im about to start my 3rd year of helping at TNT and I couldnt be more excited to see what will happen!

What are you worshipping God for today?

Day 14, 100 days of reasons

I will worship God because he makes things come together for my good. Recently I've been pretty unwell, mentally and physically, but I was somehow well enough to go to Momentum for the day, and God provided all I needed to go. We went on the most convient day, day two, without knowing the program. It turned out that the day we went both Patrick Regan (XLP) and Arianna Walker (Mercy Ministries UK) were leading seminars. Not many people in christian leadership know a lot about Mental Health, or benefits in relation to them, and I was blessed to be able to ask both people for their advice on mental health. Along with that the seminars were both brilliant and God really spoke through them to me. The day could of turned out very differently but God blessed me and I had a great time with friends. So I will worship God, because even these little things in the ways he cares about me work together for the good of people who love him.

What is your reason for worshipping God today.

Day 13, 100 days of reasons

I will worship God because I am still alive. Recently I went to momentum, and I realised while singing in worship to God, that I had gotten through a year where I could have died, and I am still alive. I will worship God because of all the times he has saved my life, saved me from physical death, and sved me from deserving death. When I sing about being alive in him, I will be reminded that it is really the case, that the whole reason I am alive is because God made a way for that to be so.

What are your reasons for worshipping God today?

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Day 12, 100 days of reasons

Yes, I am still doing this, no I haven't given up, yes I am doing it slower and with some gaps. Good, that's that sorted!

Today I am will worship God because he created music. Music has a big place in my life, as a way of coping, as a way of worshipping God and declaring his goodness, as a way of expression, using for dance, to help me get places with less anxiety, and more! Music plays many roles in my life. 

One more specific thing is that certain lyrics and songs have helped me through difficult times, sometimes just listening to them, but sometimes using the lyrics as a reassurance or a declaration. One particular song is Even If by Kutless (http://youtu.be/_HdJufg4g_c), which has these lyrics:

Sometimes all we have to hold on to
Is what we know is true of who You are
So when the heartache hits like a hurricane
That could never change who You are
And we trust in who You are

Even if the healing doesn’t come
And life falls apart
And dreams are still undone
You are God You are good
Forever faithful One
Even if the healing
Even if the healing doesn’t come

Lord we know Your ways are not our ways
So we set our faith in who You are
Even though You reign high above us
You tenderly love us
We know Your heart
And we rest in who You are

You’re still the Great and Mighty One
We trust You always
You’re working all things for our good
We’ll sing your praise

You are God and we will bless You
As the Good and Faithful One
You are God and we will bless You
Even if the healing doesn’t come
Even if the healing doesn’t come

These lyrics have really helped me through difficult times, through both myself and family members being seriously ill, and praying I would trust God more and declaring his goodness even when it was hard and even when I was in great pain, or someone I love was. I hope these lyrics or other lyrics can help you in a similar way.

What are you worshipping God for today?

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

More than depression.

I feel like sometimes as a society we get ourselves in a bit of a pickle. One particular pickle I feel we are pushing ourselves into is that as we raise awareness for mental health and mental illness we seem to be predominantly using depression as the example. I'm in no way trying to diminish the difficult that depression is or say that stigma doesn't need fighting, but there is more to mental health and mental illness than depression.

I have a mental illness and my diagnosis is not depression or anxiety. I have borderline personality disorder, commonly shortened to BPD and also known as Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. It's not rare, around 1 in 100 people have it. But lots of people don't have any idea what it is. There are plenty of other illnesses too, Bipolar, Schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, eating disorders, generalised anxiety disorder, post-natal depression, psychosis, just to name a few.

When I first went to my doctor to talk about my mental health the only thing talked about was depression, which was something I struggled to feel I completely had. As someone with BPD my emotions change quickly and are very intense, which does include periods of deep difficult emotions that bring on a period of depression, but it includes intense anxiety, and other very intense emotions. 

People need to be aware that mental illness is more than just depression, there are many different ways mental illness can affect you, and many different diagnoses. Also, mental health (and I mean having positive mental health) is more than just a lack of depression, there's a lot more to it than that. You can not have depression and still struggle with your mental health.

Another thing I want to share is that depression isn't the only thing that causes suicide. Suicide isn't very well understood, because you can't ask someone why they decided to do it, but a lot of the time we are told people do it because of depression, which may sometimes be true, but there can be many more things that lead suicide.

So please, don't expect all people suffering with mental illness to fit the box of depression, and don't make assumptions of how we should struggle, everyone's struggle is different, and depression is not the only struggle.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Jesus and pain

Second post in one day, but I really felt this needed sharing.

Recently I have been studying Matthew, and today while reading some things really struck me, both from what the bible said, and from what Tom Wright wrote in regards to what the bible said, in Matthew 26:36-46.

The first bit that really struck me was this 'Then he said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me"'. Jesus is sharing how he is feeling with his disciples, he's telling them what great and overwhelming pain he is in emotionally. He is so overwhelmingly sad it is to the point of death. I don't know if you have ever experienced such a deep deep sadness, some of you might, some of you might not. I'm not sure I could say I felt exactly how Jesus felt at that time, but I could confidently use those words to describe the extreme and intense sadness I face sometimes with BPD. Sadness so intense that you fear it will kill you, or it will cause you do endanger your life because its convinced you death would be better than this. Im not saying I believe Jesus was suicidal at this time, I'm talking of my own experience of the intense emotion he may of been feeling, and what it has felt like to me.

He then tells them to watch, which made me feel as though this was something important for them to know and understand. He wanted them, and us, to know what to do when you feel overwhelming emotion to the point of death. So what did Jesus do, following these words? He fell on his face and prayed. He made himself low, physically, and humbled himself against the God of all things. He prayed "my father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will". He repeats similar word 3 times. He asks God to please make it stop, words I have used on many many occasion, pleading with God, telling him how much it hurts and how difficult it is. Yet he ends his prayer by saying that he submits to Gods will and not his own. How many times have we begged for something to be over, to be healed, to stop? I know since Ive been ill this is a prayer I have prayed many times, but only recently have I found my faith deepened and strengthened as I try to declare that although this pain is terrible and overwhelming and 
I would rather die than carry on with this burden, I trust Gods will, and I put aside my desire and trust that his ways are best. Yes, this is hard, and I often forget, or struggle to add the ending, but its important, its the real strength needed to get through hard times, its trust in God and therefore hope for the future, because God's timing is perfect, even when it is painful. 

Also, if we are not going through hard times, we will undoubtable know someone who is. Jesus asks the disciples to come alongside him and support him and watch over him while he is vulnerable. The people in our lives going through hard times are vulnerable, and we can do the same, journeying with them and silently praying while they journey through the difficulty with God. This is why God made us to be in community, to support and love one another and to journey the soul crushing desperate and painful times with each other. This can be hard, I know it can be difficult to be open and honest with others, its something I struggle with, but it seems clear in this passage that Jesus needed people around him, and he is the messiah, how much more must we need each other? 

Days 9, 10 and 11, 100 days of reasons

I missed a few days, things have been a little hectic, so here are three days in one post!

I will worship God for the NHS. The NHS has done a lot for me since I've been ill, both for my physical and mental health. I worship God because he set that up in the UK; because he made and provided training and all the other things good doctors and nurses and cleaners and porters and HCAs need to do their job; because if I didnt live in the UK and I lived somewhere with a more privately ran system that required insurance I would most likely be dead. Although the NHS sometimes has long waits and things don't go perfectly, it saves so many lives and imporves so many more. Its one of the ways, as a country, we care for those struggling, with health or poverty, and I really am thankful God has provided it through the government in the UK. When I was in hospital a lot one of the cleaners was really caring and took the time to talk to me when others didnt, and it made a real difference to how I felt mentally, and its experiences like that that show God and I thank him for.

I will worship God because he created DBT, for those wondering what I'm talking about, it stands for Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, and its the main therapy for people with Borderline Personality Disorder/Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder, Borderline Type (although in reality its helpful to a much wider range of people!). I worship God for creating this because its a very valuable set of skills that has improved my quality of life and really helped me on my road to being well. I thank God that 
I had the oppertity to take part in group DBT skills workshops, its so nice to know your not alone in your struggles and others struggle to, but even nicer to know that although you all struggle your all getting tools to help! So I thank God of all he put into this being available to people!

I will worship God because he has provided, through government, help for those unable to work, through benefits, due to ill health, and support for those going back to work with ill health. I worhsip God because this is one of the ways he looks after people who are unwell and suffering and struggling day by day, he provides for them, through a nation and a government who has placed systems to care for those struggling. Yes the system has its faults, but fundamentally its a system that cares for the unwell. I am especially thankful for this, as its the situation I have found myself in, and God has provided for me, not just in benefits to stop me being completely broke, but it many other ways. So I thank God and worship him for the caring hearts he has placed in many to help and care for those who are unwell. 

What will you be worshipping God for today?

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Day 8, 100 days of reasons

Today I worship God because he has given us the bible. The bible tells us all about God, about Jesus, about life, about how to do things. It tells us God's promises, it gives us words to pray and sing. Sometimes I have found it difficult to understand, or to persevere reading it, but other times I have found real comfort in its words, in the truth, in the love it declares God has for me. Recently I've found that Ive been able to really get into the gospels and spend time there. 
This is an example of lots of verses put together, called the fathers love letter.

My Child,
You may not know me, but I know everything about you. 
I know when you sit down and when you rise up. 
I am familiar with all your ways. 
Even the very hairs on your head are numbered. 
For you were made in my image. 
In me you live and move and have your being.
For you are my offspring. 
I knew you even before you were conceived. 
I chose you when I planned creation. 
You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book. 
I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live. 
You are fearfully and wonderfully made. 
I knit you together in your mother's womb. 
And brought you forth on the day you were born. 
I have been misrepresented by those who don't know me.
I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love. 
And it is my desire to lavish my love on you. 
Simply because you are my child and I am your Father. 
I offer you more than your earthly father ever could. 
For I am the perfect father. 
Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand. 
For I am your provider and I meet all your needs. 
My plan for your future has always been filled with hope. 
Because I love you with an everlasting love. 
My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore.
And I rejoice over you with singing. 
I will never stop doing good to you. 
For you are my treasured possession. 
I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul. 
And I want to show you great and marvelous things. 
If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me. 
Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart. 
For it is I who gave you those desires. 
I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine. 
For I am your greatest encourager. 
I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles. 
When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you. 
As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart. 
One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes. 
And I'll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth.
I am your Father, and I love you even as I love my son, Jesus.
For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed. 
He is the exact representation of my being. 
He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you. 
And to tell you that I am not counting your sins.
Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled. 
His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you. 
I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love. 
If you receive the gift of my son Jesus,myou receive me. 
And nothing will ever separate you from my love again.
Come home and I'll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen.
I have always been Father, and will always be Father.
My question is…Will you be my child? 
I am waiting for you. 
Love, Your Dad
Almighty God


Saturday, 2 August 2014

Day 7, 100 days of reasons

I worship God today because...he is always good. In every situation, he is good, whether it's an easy situation or a hard situation, he is good. 

As humans we often think we understand good and bad, and we ask God why things happen and we blame him for our pain and hurt. It hurts him when we hurt, it hurts him when anyone hurts, and I believe he never wanted us to hurt. But there is sin, and evil, and so we hurt, and we cause hurt. But all our hurt, all our labour of keeping on going is not in vain, god will make good out of it, god is good, and everything he does is good, even when we don't understand it.

Sometimes I get little glimpses of God using things I've been through to help others, and for me that's a wonderful feeling. The growth God has brought me through during being ill and having difficult times is good, and it will be used for good. I can empathise with people better, and love people in a different way than before. I can understand to a different level what it's like to be homeless, to worry about money, to suffer daily and battle to keep going. Yes, I am saying that this is good. I'm not saying it's easy, I'm not saying it isn't painful and horrible and difficult. But I choose to believe God is good, always. Therefore he is good in my pain, and he will use me for good, and use my experiences for good. So I will worship him because of his goodness, and his ability to make all broken or damaged things good again.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Day 6, 100 days of reasons

Today I will worship God because he provides my every need, including medication. I have needed a lot of different medications in my life time, for many different things. I will worship God for those medications, and the repeated times he has healed me, restored me, kept me alive when I could have died, set me back on my path to health and comforted me in my pain, and all these can and have included times he has provided me with medications. 

Particularly in mental health there is often a stigma attached to taking medication. But God used my mental health medication as part of the way he has saved me from death and set me on the road to recovery. I'm not ashamed of needing to take psychiatric medication, or medication for my physical health. I am thankful that I live somewhere that this is possible, and that God has provided the right medications to support my recovery.  He knows my body better than any doctor and better than I do, and he provides all it's needs, and I will worship him and thank him and testify to his goodness because of it.

What are you thankful for and worshipping God for today?