Comfort and Encouragement In Heaps of Ashes

Hi friends…

Have you ever gone through something so peculiar and wondered, “Now what the heck was the point of that?” or “What good could possibly come of it?” Has it left you desperate for a word of comfort or encouragement?

I have found myself in this thought process in the past where situations didn’t make sense and all seemed like a giant heap of ashes. We all go through this. Situations can end up feeling like a giant wasteland.

Sometimes, we get to see the point of it all. Other times, we just don’t. It can feel frustrating because we don’t see the big picture.

One time, I felt that a situation was so horrible that nothing good could ever come out of it. Looking back, I see how the sad situation actually kickstarted an endeavor – a goal – which I ended up completing. I don’t believe I would have accomplished my goal had I not gone through the hardship. In the end, other people were helped and comforted. Also, I was strengthened, and I appreciate my new insights going forward.

There can be sweet that comes out of the bitter (sort of like turning life’s sour lemons into lemonade).

Take a look at this beautiful inspirational message from Mildred Page* who shares the following encouragement and wisdom:

“There are some scriptures that are so familiar that we tend to almost hurry by them and forget the benefit and grace they are meant to bring to our lives. Romans 8:28 is one of those verses. It says, ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’ Who doesn’t go through something in life that for all appearances doesn’t show any possibility of producing good in our lives? The world is full of circumstances that feel as if after the heat of the trial, all that could remain are ashes devoid of hope.

Let this verse in Romans, and God’s love comfort your heart and bring a peace of mind that no matter what you have gone through or are facing now, God promises that His love will actively work in it and weave his story in your life that will be for your good and bring glory to Him. He will be faithful to work in all things, and that leaves nothing untouched by His sovereign, loving hand.

Be strengthened with comfort and encouragement as you journey through difficult, seemingly impossible times that while God works in it for your good, He will be right by your side, helping and strengthening you, and holding you up.

Isaiah 41:10 ‘Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.'”

“To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”

Isaiah 61:3

 “People seldom see themselves changing. It’s like going out in the morning or in the springtime to pick flowers. You pick and you wander ‘til suddenly you find that the light is gone and the flowers are withered in your hand.” – Zora Neale Hurston

*Special thanks to Mildred Page @mildred_page on Instagram; Shared with author’s permission (please do not copy).

toxic relationships

toxic relationships and trusting God with anxiety

What is the opposite of anxiety? How do we heal from toxic relationships and emotional abuse? The way I see it is that fear is the emotion/anticipation of a real threat. Anxiety is the emotion/anticipation of an imagined threat. A lot of our anxieties and fears come from traumas of the past. These can be traumas from past relationships through traumatic memory. Our brains learn to expect certain outcomes. Individuals involved in unsafe coercive-control groups or destructive cults have traumatic memories that linger for many years.

Our first primal fear is a fear of heights (that is, a fear of being dropped). We all learn this as small children. There is no shame in this. It’s a survival thing.

We can remember God’s promises for today:

☀️ He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5)

☀️ We can press on from the past, receive forgiveness, forgive others and forgive ourselves

☀️ We can have faith that God will bind up our wounds if we ask (Psalm 147:3; Mark 11:24)

☀️ Let the past be a lesson for today and the future, not an anchor

☀️ Stay in the arena and fight for what we believe in, letting everything fall to the wayside that was and is a weight that hinders

☀️ We can let go of the fear of people because it’s a trap. We can trust God instead

Today, I pray God’s healing waters would flow into your soul as you feel refreshed and ready to move forward with a future focus. Onward!

If you are dealing with fear, anxiety or trauma from toxic relationships you are certainly not alone!

If you would like, visit Cardinal Care Group on Instagram where I share my creative side and weekly inspirations!

Xx Becky

#anxietyhelp #covidanxiety #christianinspiration #biblequotes #bibleverse #jesus #jesuslovesyou #anxietyawareness #anxiety #anxietyrelief #covidmentalhealth

loneliness, coronavirus and depression

Loneliness and Covid-19: helping the lonely at high risk during Coronavirus

Hi Lovely,

We’ve all been feeling lonely during this pandemic. Please know that you are not alone in your loneliness.

For some of us, especially if we live alone, we can feel the effects of loneliness even more. For others, we can even feel lonely in our relationships in our own homes!

We are all at risk for loneliness, now more than ever. Our lonely loved ones and lonely friends need us, now more than ever.

A multitude of lonely individuals are experiencing coronavirus and depression simultaneously. Especially, those who entered into the pandemic with previous trauma or mental illness.

I’ve been studying some of the grand challenges of modern social work.

What I’ve learned is that there are great risks to loneliness. We often think loneliness only affects the mind and emotions.  Of course, the mind, body and emotions are all linked! The reactions of rejection pain (which can cause the pain of loneliness) and physical pain are rather similar to the brain.

It is interesting that when we take Tylenol, the main ingredient eases physical pain as well as emotional pain. A study of acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol) indicates that the ingredient can dull emotional pain (like feelings of sadness). It can also dull feelings of empathy and other more positive emotions, thus easing the highs and lows (I am not suggesting taking Tylenol for the relief of emotional pain).

Did you know that the United Nations has banned solitary confinement for periods which exceed 15 days? This is because confinement beyond this time frame is considered psychological torture. It is not that hard to see that ten months of lockdown causes loneliness. It doesn’t take a UN human rights activist to determine that experiencing prolonged solitary confinement is no joke! Solitary confinement is a torture tool used by prison guards to punish prisoners for negative behaviors (this is part of conditioning).

Four common signs of loneliness are…

  • Feelings of fear (anxiety)
  • Feelings of a crushed spirit (i.e., this could feel intense, like your dog just died)
  • Feelings of intense fatigue (this could include lack of interest in activities once enjoyed)
  • Feelings of abandonment (i.e., rejection) which often lead to a counterproductive desire to withdraw even more

These feelings can manifest in emotions and physical sensations alike.

Some longitudinal studies have indicated that painful childhood experiences contribute to loneliness later in life. Insecure/anxious attachment styles can contribute to loneliness.

Helping those with high risk for loneliness is crucial.

Even though we are all at risk, I have found that caregivers in particular experience a heightened risk of loneliness during this time. This could include caregivers for children, the disabled or the elderly.  

For example, someone I know in another state is a full-time caregiver for an elderly person. This caregiver has little social support and no outside help. There is little or no time for self-care. There is nowhere to go during this lockdown to get a change of scenery because this caregiver cannot leave the elderly person.

Military families also experience intense loneliness, now more than ever.  Being a full-time mother (or father) without a spouse at home, and without any outside help, is particularly exhausting.  Not being able to take children to the park or to play with friends adds to the stressful dynamic for the whole family.  This intense caregiving without social support contributes to burn-out and intense loneliness. 

Children are of course at high risk for loneliness as they miss seeing their peers at school. Their parents are exhausted. Children feel the effects.

Did you know that countries which have a strong sense of social community (along with a tendency to engage in daily outdoor activities), like Finland and Switzerland, are the best places on earth to live?

They report the highest quality and length of life among their citizens. The loneliness factor in these countries is generally lower than what we see in other countries.

We must solve this loneliness epidemic caused by coronavirus and depression. We can’t afford to ignore the link between loneliness and the body.

Of course, under usual circumstances, spending time in community with others helps ease the burden of loneliness. With the current state of the world, that is not all that realistic.

Plan of Action

For now, it’s important that we embrace our voices concerning social issues that matter. For some of us, the issues are loneliness, coronavirus and depression.

The truth is that the action of helping ease the loneliness of others is a proven way to ease our own loneliness too! Is there an elderly person you can help? Perhaps you can drop a gift on their doorstep or spend some time with them outside. Have you considered bringing dinner to a military family or babysitting their children?

If you are a spouse, have you considered putting your phone down for a while to focus on your loved ones? Focus is a simple way to help our spouses and children with loneliness. They need our leadership, now more than ever!

In the UK, there is actually a Campaign to End Loneliness. You can join the movement or follow the campaign on Facebook.

Coronavirus is no joke for our bodies, but neither is loneliness. In a future article, I will discuss some solutions to loneliness when it comes to coronavirus and depression (please subscribe if you would like updates). In the meantime, there are some simple things one can do to feel less lonely (click here).

Remember, you are not alone in your loneliness. There is hope and a light at the end of the tunnel…

Xx Becky
Related:

Toxic Relationships, Narcissism, Communications, Healing, Conflict Resolution, Christianity, Christian Relationships, Love, Personal Growth, Relationships, Self-Help, Trauma, Betrayal Trauma, Psychology, Social Psychology, Counseling, Church Growth

Toxic Relationships and Conflict Resolution: Confrontation Or Corrosion? Growth Or Poison? Discerning the Difference In Relationships

“Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”

Proverbs 27:6

Do we comprehend the difference between confrontation and corrosion? When it comes to relationships, strong and worthwhile ones can withstand healthy confrontation.

Confrontation is uncomfortable yet positively productive.

It leads to more growth, mutual understanding and all in all, a better relationship. Though it is temporarily uncomfortable, healthy and loving confrontation is not corroding to self or the relationship.

Weak relationships crumble at any sign of pressure or stress. This pressure which could be beneficial in the long run is mistaken for toxicity. A true friend will hear you out because they value you as a person. This is the opposite of selfishness. Real friends do not think only of themselves! They don’t think of you as a mere extension of themselves. They are not threatened by your honesty or feelings. They don’t love you for the sole reason that you make them “feel good” at all costs.

Toxic relationships corrode one or both individuals. Instead of addressing issues head on, one attacks the character of the other (gaslighting). This is damaging.

Recently, I was chatting with some friends of mine about this topic. Conflict in healthy relationships cannot equate with poison in toxic ones.

Many are deathly afraid of confrontation.

This stalls their personal growth as well as growth in a relationship. They excuse good relationships as “toxic”, a word that is too common these days. It’s often thrown around at the first sign of discomfort. They confuse personal discomfort with toxicity. We tend to like comfort in our lives and relationships at all costs. We avoid the hard conversations to make ourselves feel good. We stay in our protected bubble. In our ignorance and narrow views, we often lose relationships that could have been amazing. This is tragic!

It’s also a danger to ignore the warning signs of toxic relationships. We have the intuition to know when someone is trying to bring us down and destroy us as an individual, right? Any relationship that sucks the very life blood out of us and disables us from being valuable to our children, families and other friends…needs to go. For those of us who tend to see the good in people at our own expense, we may stay in a poisonous relationship (to our own detriment).

Relationships are supposed to be life-giving, and that includes uncomfortable yet positive growth.

Still, how often do we dismiss worthwhile relationships and keep poisonous ones?

Toxicity can come in subtle, disguised forms of poison.

We all have people in our lives who “multiply kisses” and overdose on the compliments as they try to make us feel “warm and fuzzy” all the time. These individuals avoid the hard conversations. Instead, they let conflict and their true feelings fester. Instead of addressing the issue one-to-one, they let gossip spread. They adhere to the “think positive” (i.e., sweep everything under the rug) movement at the expense of positive growth! This is corroding.

Could it be that these are well-disguised toxic relationships? As the saying goes, “Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with his tongue.”

They may not be good for us at all. These may be relationships that are covert poisons…ones that should expire.

In healthy relationships, the two parties value each other enough to confront with love.

Yep!

Their mutual respect leads them to engage in the difficult conversations.

When it comes to confrontation and corrosion, God forbid we confuse the two! It would be just as tragic to lose a good relationship thinking it is “toxic” as staying in a toxic relationship thinking it is “good.”

Every good relationship will go through testing from time to time. May we have the wisdom to discern between the tested ones worth fighting for and the corrosive ones worth leaving.

Xx Becky

Related:
Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find – and Keep – Love by Dr. Amir Levine
“On Expired Relationships” by Eggshell Transformations

#toxicrelationships #narcissism #conflictresolution #bible #peace #love #communication #marriage #counseling #psychology #socialpsychology #Attachmenttheory #Amirlevine #eggshelltransformations #imilo