Where Do You Fit In The Big Drama?

Christian LifeFor many people the Christian life seems difficult. You’re trying. Really, you are! But much of the time it feels so stressful. There are some things you know you should be doing that you just aren’t very good at. And the other things you’d like to do you’re really not supposed to be doing. You try to knuckle down and push yourself to make it work. But that’s just it: it’s work!

Perhaps you feel like our grandson. He was about three and a half years old, and his daddy was trying to teach him to be respectful and obedient even when he didn’t feel like it. After struggling for several minutes he sighed and in a somewhat teary voice said, “It’s so tough!” If you feel like the Christian life is just so tough, who can blame you for getting tired, frustrated, and weary of the whole thing?

That perspective sees the Christian life as work. There’s a list of things to do and not do. And just like with any job, there are performance evaluations. Some people perform better than others, and there are sometimes arguments over what should be on those “to do and not to do” lists.

Seeing the Christian life as work will always make it seem difficult. It may help keep you out of jail, but it certainly won’t be much fun.

Let me suggest a much more engaging way to look at things. Rather than work, consider the Christian life as part of a very great drama. Think of what you know of the Bible. God creates a world full of beauty. But the people He creates soon turn on Him and align with His enemy. Violence, tragedy, and almost unbelievable sub-plots fill the pages of the Old Testament.

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Managing Your Mental Health

Sad Teenage GirlThe National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that at least one in four adults suffers from a diagnosable mental illness during any given year. That includes problems such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and many others. Antidepressants are the second-most commonly prescribed class of medications. That’s a lot of people! If it’s not you, then perhaps it means your parent, child, spouse, coworker, or best friend.

Sure, there’s controversy over whether the one-in-four number represents an over-diagnosis. But what is absolutely certain is the pain and loneliness many of those affected struggle with. For many it may be an accomplishment just to get up in the morning.

What leads to mental illness? We know there are many factors. Genetics, nutrition, and substance abuse certainly play a roll. So does a history of being abused, or serving overseas in the armed forces for some people. Our human brain is a sensitive complicated instrument, and our world offers trauma much too often.

Added to the personal struggles of those with mental illness, our society often presents even more hurdles. Those with mental illness often face stereotypes and stigma from others, and significant financial challenges in getting the help they need.

There are a number of things you can do on your own to maximize your mental health. You don’t have to accept emotional or mental problems as your destiny. Here are recommendations that will make a difference in managing your own mental health:

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15 Things You Can Do In Your Time With God

Alone on Beach at SunsetYou know you “should” spend time alone with God. Some of your Christian friends talk about how God speaks to them, about how much they pray, or what wonderful things they “read in the Word.” Perhaps you feel a little guilty for not having something spiritual to answer them with. But more than that, this all sounds so, well, boring and unimportant. It’s OK for them, but it’s just not you. You just can’t do “pious and spiritual.”

Somewhere between the guilt and the disinterest perhaps there’s a part of you that does want to be closer to God, or at least wishes it could happen. That’s the part we’re talking about here. What if it really were possible?

God works uniquely in each person’s life. The way your relationship with Him works will be unlike anyone else’s. And He knows how to connect with you better than anyone else does; after all, He created you! You can’t surprise Him or shock Him. There’s no need to judge your Christian experience based on what anyone else says.

So if you’re up for an experiment, here are some suggestions to try. See what fits with your personality.

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Senior Moments, or Alzheimer’s?

Elderly LadyOur memory is a big part of what makes us human. One of the biggest fears many people have as they get older is the possibility of developing Alzheimer’s or some other dementia. And it’s not only the impact on memory directly, but on one’s ability to remain independent, to interact with loved ones, and to enjoy even the simple things that give our lives meaning.

Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in this country. One in 3 seniors die with Alzheimer’s or some other dementia. Direct costs of Alzheimer’s disease in the United States will top $203 billion this year. And the value of care given by unpaid caregivers is estimated at over another $200 billion each year. Clearly this is a big problem. And it’s getting bigger. For more facts and figures, check this Alzheimer’s Association summary.

But these numbers don’t really touch on the personal cost of dementia. Many of both the patients and family members affected feel like Alzheimer’s steals what should be some of the most meaningful years of one’s life. Family members put careers on hold. Financial savings are wiped out. And the physical and emotional toll of caregiving becomes overwhelming.

Medical science has made some intriguing inroads into the world of brain science and dementia, but there are still no truly effective treatments to cure, delay, or stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. We need some scientific breakthroughs to stop the personal and economic cost of this life-altering tragedy.

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Single: When You Live Alone

Single: When You Live Alone

Single Person Walking AloneThe rates of marriage may be going down in our society. But for most, you expect to grow up, find a man or woman to join your life with, create a family, and live happily ever after. There may be bumps in the road, but you probably expected to be married, and married for a long time.

Your mental life plan, conscious or unconscious, probably did not include being single. But for every one of us there is a significant part of life where you are living without a spouse. There are of course the years prior to getting married. And what if those years stretch into your thirties, forties, or fifties? What if you never get married? At least for some, marriage will never happen.

And then the truth is that marriage is temporary. Every marriage has an end. Your spouse dies, or your marriage ends in divorce, and you face being single again. Whether never married or newly single, the single life has special challenges.

I know what it’s like to be single: I was single for 48 years. The extra freedom you have as a single person may seem like small comfort when the waves of loneliness roll over you.

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