Positive Thinking and the Bible

Good - and Godly - Things to Think About

Child with BibleIs it magic? Is it “mind over matter?” Does faith mean white-knuckling it with positive thoughts and affirmations? What do you do with negative realities such as ISIS, your spouse’s infidelity, or your doctor speaking the dreaded word “cancer”? Is positive thinking compatible with both reality and Christian faith?

That may seem a difficult question for some. There are preachers who teach that speaking (or even thinking) something negative will bring it to pass, and that the only Christian response is to exclusively think and speak positive things. And then there’s the positive thinking “movement,” where the message seems to be that if you visualize something good long enough and often enough it will come to pass.

Research is abundant that our thoughts and words do have enormous power.

The risk with these ideas is that they imply your mind can control anything. And that’s a distortion of the truth. There is truth here, but it’s not the whole truth.

The Stockdale Paradox may help put this into perspective. When faced with extraordinary challenges, it’s important to “Retain faith that you will prevail in the end regardless of the difficulties, and at the same time confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they may be.”

Our minds are powerful, but they are not all-powerful. But here’s the truth:

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What to do with Pain as a Widow: 2 Critical Keys

The most helpful truth I learned

There’s no way to make death and grief OK. Death is an aberration in God’s universe, and every time we meet it there is suffering. We try all kinds of things to delay it, ignore it, and pretend we can evade it, but not one of us can escape death. Death hurts – a lot.

Grief is many things; loss, loneliness, anxiety, stress, anger, depression, exhaustion, and so much more. Grief comes in waves, and each one is different than the one before. If you’ve lost someone close to you, even caring friends are unlikely to fully appreciate its deep and long-lasting impact on your mind, heart, and life.

I think the best word to describe the impact of death on those of us left behind is pain. What do you do with the pain as a widow? The death of my husband Al last year wounded me deeply. And yet I’m still standing. Some days are harder than others, but I keep going. Some have asked how I can do so. It’s more than simply knowing God, although that’s important.

Several things have been helpful in my grief journey, but there’s one thing I’ve come to know that has made the most difference. And it is this:

It’s not supposed to not hurt.

You could take out the double negative and it would still be true; this is supposed to hurt. This is not OK. And when we as Christians try to make it OK we cripple our own hearts and miss out on the empowerment God would like to gift us with.   Tweet that.

For those of us going through grief it often seems that if we could just make the pain go away everything would be alright. But that’s not what God promises, at least not yet.

And it’s not even true. If the pain would magically go away, so would the memories, the love, the gift of that person in your life. That is true even if the relationship also included suffering.

Pain means we care. Pain means we loved. Pain means this is not the way God intended our lives and the world to be. Pain means our love was deep, our lives are different because of that loved one’s place in it, and their time on this earth changed us forever. Those are good things. Would we really not want to hurt at the death of someone we cared about so deeply?

It’s not supposed to not hurt.

So what do you do with the pain? How do you go on? Can you even go on?

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Preserving Your Marriage while Building Your Family

Staying Married during Infertility

I’m thrilled to be guest posting for my friend Elisha Kearns over at Waiting for Baby Bird today. Thank you! If you’re struggling with building your family, I hope you’ll check out all Elisha has to offer. And I hope you’ll check out the full post on her site.

Building Your FamilyI haven’t kept track of how many infertility couples I’ve worked with over the years. It’s been thousands. But there are two whose tragedies will always stick with me – and it had nothing to do with whether or not they became pregnant.

Shirley and Jackson had both been busy with their careers for several years. Both had become quite successful, and now they felt the only thing still lacking in their lives was a child. Shirley was approaching 40, which you all know makes achieving pregnancy statistically more challenging. But being take-charge kind of people, once they decided it was time to have a child they jumped in with both feet.

A few months of ovulation inducing medications and IUIs passed quickly, and Shirley was ready to move on to IVF. Jackson came with her to almost every one of her appointments. The embryo transfer seemed to go well and Shirley’s initial pregnancy test was positive. Sadly she lost that pregnancy a couple of weeks later, and we shed some tears together.

But that wasn’t the real tragedy. Shirley came by the office a couple of months later and told me that Jackson had moved out. Their marriage was over. She was devastated.

Melinda always brought her two children with her to her appointments, but her husband was never with them. She had some nearly expired vials of medication she had saved after her last successful infertility treatment, and she wanted to try again. Why now? “My husband is threatening to leave me, but if I have another baby he will stay.” He wasn’t interested in supporting her through treatment, but she was sure he could be counted on for timed intercourse.

I talked with Melinda about how unlikely it would be that having another child would fix her troubled marriage, but she insisted she wanted to try. Melinda did not get pregnant again, and the last time I spoke with her she was still begging her husband not to leave. She daily lived with the fear and dread of being left to raise her two children alone. Another tragedy.

Those stories may not be like yours, but they illustrate something important. Not being able to have a child when you so desperately want one is heartbreaking and stressful. Others who have never struggled with infertility cannot fully understand even if you try your best to explain. It becomes all-consuming to you. And yet there are worse things than infertility. The loss of your marriage would be one of them.


In the full post I share three specific tips to help you preserve your most important human relationship while trying to build your family.

I hope you’ll check out the full post here.

Tweetables: why not share this post?

  • 3 tips to NOT losing your marriage while trying to build your family.      Tweet that.

Suffering in Marriage

When it Hurts to Love Well

I’m honored to be posting over at To Love, Honor, and Vacuum. Thank you, Sheila Wray Gregoire, for the opportunity! I hope you’ll check out all Sheila has to offer, and read the full post there.

Suffering in MarriageMarriage isn’t supposed to be about suffering, is it?

There may be a few marriages where everything goes smoothly and life is truly “happily ever after,” but truthfully I haven’t known any marriages like that. I considered my marriage very happy, happier than most, but it was not devoid of suffering. But it was actually those challenging aspects that brought me the greatest satisfaction and became the most valuable.

Suffering in marriage is a touchy subject. That idea may immediately bring up thoughts of abuse, control, manipulation, addiction, violence, and any number of other painful and destructive ideas. I just want to get this out of the way right now: those behaviors are never OK. Never. Period. End of story. If there is abuse, manipulation, or violence going on in your marriage, get some help now!

But there’s a whole other aspect to “suffering” that is much more common, perhaps universal.

As human beings we are basically selfish, and when two selfish people become joined in marriage there is certain to be suffering.

You are certain to be hurt if you get close enough to someone, and you are certain to hurt them also. And life has a way of bringing its own suffering in a thousand different ways. It’s not a matter of if, but of when. But it’s what you do next that really counts.

Suffering can crop up in many different ways. Your spouse wants sex when you don’t, or you want sex when your spouse doesn’t feel up to it – over and over again. Your spouse develops a serious illness. Your teenage child gets involved in drugs. Your baggage or your spouse’s baggage from your family of origin spills over into your life now. You’re forced to choose between a job you love and doing what’s best for your marriage or family.

Your suffering may be larger or smaller than someone else’s, but it feels really heavy – and probably unfair.

I hope you’ll check out the rest of this post over at To Love, Honor, and Vacuum. There I talk about how to tell the difference between “good” suffering and “bad” suffering. I’d love to see your comments and questions.

Christian Women, their Hormones, and their Mental Health

How to NOT be a victim any longer

You feel crazy. And your man is CERTAIN that you’re crazy. You feel as though you are a victim to your raging hormones, and you never know what to expect from one day to the next.

If only I could get my hormones under control!

You’re not the only woman who feels this way. Questions about women, their hormones, and their mental health is one of the most frequent health issues I am asked about by my patients, their husbands, radio listeners, readers, or audience members when I speak. If you feel crazy, you’re not alone. And there IS hope!

You don’t have to feel crazy and out of control. There are things you can do to master your hormones instead of letting them master you. Don’t be a victim any longer!

I’m happy to share with you this video in which I talk about women, their hormones, and their mental health. In this video you’ll discover:

  • The three times during a woman’s life when hormones impact mental health most dramatically.
  • The single most important factor that determines how and when hormones cause mental health symptoms.
  • 7 Specific Steps that will allow you to take charge of your hormones rather than letting your hormones master you – ALL WITHOUT A DOCTOR’S VISIT OR PRESCRIPTION!

Are your hormone issues affecting your mental health and wellbeing?

Then you’ll want to download my FREE checklist of the 7 Specific Steps to Mastering your Hormones right away.

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