life

Mental Health: A Case Study on Job

I have fallen in love with the book of Job and all the layers of what seems to be two or three weeks of conversations involving God, Satan, Job, Job’s three friends, and my main man Elihu. Most people are familiar with the story of Job, but going through this tremendous book, the Lord has shown me so many things, specifically as it applies to mental health. Before we look at Job, let’s look at Job’s three friends, then Elihu.
Image result for job and his friends
The ministry of presence is a real thing, and we see it in Job 2. One of the best things that they did for him was just be around and mourn with him, not rush to say anything to Job, and just be with him. This is so critical for us to understand as we coming alongside friends and family who are going through, because more times than we realize, they rather than a response, they need presence. Just be there. Furthermore, they let Job speak first. They did not bust out the gate with questions or even “comforting” words. His friends allowed him to open up when he was ready. We must do the same. However…things took a turn.
His friends started off strong, but then bombed. They waited for Job to speak first, but didn’t listen, hurting him more on top of the pain he was already feeling. Job unapologetically poured his sorrow and anguish out to them and they responded to him saying it was his fault. Not a good idea. Job defended himself multiple times, but his friends were not sensitive, nor did they listen to what Job was trying to communicate to them. Granted, I believe that his friends genuinely wanted to help, but were relying on their own wisdom and understanding rather than God’s. Therefore, whenever we try to help, we must ask the Lord for discernment and direction so that we don’t make things worse and or come off arrogant and pious like Job’s friends. Although, any friendship or close relationship will have challenges, for even if we follow God and say and do what He tells us, it’s not unlikely that the other person won’t get upset with you. God’s truth is like a double-edged sword, so by nature, someone’s feelings will be hurt.
Furthermore, what I think was most hurtful is that not only were they not listening to Job, but they really thought the worst of him. It wasn’t even that they were speaking bad theology, but that it was executed so wrong. Furthermore, they were so closed-minded that they couldn’t even process the fact that all of what Job experienced had nothing to do with his sin; they had a very small and shallow view of God, which is why they considered him foolish. As a result, when your mental space is in a vulnerable place, be very careful of the people you allow to speak into your life, even if they do present Scripture, God may not actually be speaking to you through them.
Let’s look at Job’s mental status in all this.
Job was severely distressed, depressed, and though he wasn’t suicidal, he made it known that he wished he wasn’t and dreaded the day he was born. Job was not afraid to acknowledge his emotions and had a support system where he believed he could release. To engage in such a long conversation with his friends, it was obvious that they were close and that Job knew he needed help dealing with his pain. Whenever we go through, we have to acknowledge our pain and find a place to express it. If we ignore, deny, or suppress it, it makes it worse. Get help, even if you think you can handle it on your own, talk to someone you trust.
However, one of the mistakes Job made was allowing his friends to hear his personal prayer to God amidst their negative position. There is a reason we should have a “prayer closet”; it’s personal. God knows our hearts and His goal is not to condemn us nor to make us feel guilty, so it’s makes sense that Job was sure enough of his relationship with the Lord that he was not afraid to tell God how he felt toward Him, ask questions, and express his woes. He took his mask off before God; he was honest to God about all that was going on in his heart and mind. None of his wise friends understood exactly what was taking place.
Moreover, though Job was greatly depressed, overwhelmed, and felt completely alone, including his strained relationship with his wife, which he mentioned after the epic “curse God and die” scene, he never lost sight of who he was and who God is. Even though he was in the most unfavorable place, he knew it was not his fault and that God allowed these things to happen to him, but he couldn’t figure out why, yet he still worshiped.
To keep us from going over the edge, me must first recognize that whatever happens to us has been permitted by God, even if we don’t have any reasoning, and then worship and praise our way all the way through. Job remembered the sovereignty and power of God. Furthermore, he reminded his friends several times who God was and became frustrated with them, if not angry, and let them know more than once that he was not inferior to him and that their stance on his situation was wrong. He was secure in who he was, refusing to agree with what they were saying to him, so at one point he told them to shut up and leave him be with God, because by then they were useless (Nia’s version); he shamed them for being crappy friends several times. Needless to say, his friends did not like when he challenged their approach, which created most of the friction.
As we battle in our minds, our foundation in the Lord must remain firm, because our peace will flow when we are able to distinguish God’s voice from all others. If there is any disagreement in the voices we hear around us, choose God’s voice always, whether He is telling us to simply trust Him or He is humbling us, as He did with Job.
Job’s mistake was that his questioning of God became self-righteousness, which I believe was a deviation of his frustration and self-pity. He allowed his friends to focus so much on himself that he took his focus off God trying to prove his righteousness to them. In trying to defend his name, he made God out to be the bad guy as the dialogue continued. Nevertheless, his saving grace was his boldness to go before God and get the clarity he needed.
One of the biggest lessons we can take from Job to keep us from losing control mentally is to have such a relationship with God that we are not afraid to ask God big questions and be completely honest with the holy and righteous Creator of the universe. He boldly went to the throne repeatedly and expected God to respond at some point, which He did. God wants to know what’s on your heart and wants to converse with you. Share with Him all your cares, frustrations and uncertainties. Disclaimer – there are better ways to approach God than the way Job did, which made this last character in the story we will talk about so important.
My main man Elihu.
I wrote a blog on him previously, but his role in this narrative is vital. Elihu was the friend we all need. He listened, not for the sake of replying, like Job’s other three friends, but to truly understand their perspectives, proven by how he repeated what was said as he stated his points. He sat quietly for a while, but when God burdened his spirit he boldly opened his mouth, and he spoke the truth in love. He showed no partiality and refocused everyone’s on God. Elihu respected and honored who they were, and was not judgmental, condemning, or belittling, instead he was confident in the truth communicated to him by God. Furthermore, he shared his intentions with them before sharing his thoughts. Elihu is the hero of the story, because he indeed prepared the way for God to speak, since He made it clear God pays no mind to foolish talking like that which came from Job’s friends and then Job himself. God gracefully used Elihu to soften the heart of Job in order that he may properly receive what God wanted to directly say to him.
As we are in relationship with others who are battling in one way or another, we shouldn’t be afraid of the truth, rather speak it boldly in love, otherwise, we are doing a great disservice. If the truth that we communicate does not point back to Christ, then what we say is not truth as much as it is flattery or ignorance.
This is an incredible story that brings to life so many of the things we deal with daily. Job, Elihu, and his other three friends are personas that have manifested in our lives on I am sure multiple occasions. So much to glean and so much to learn that will influence out mental behavior if we allow it.
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Puzzle Reformed and Expanded

It’s amazing how we think we know what God wants for us and where He is leading us, but as I have been learning, the deeper you go, the Lord will fill in the in-between. Needless the say, the vision is still the same or rather the end result, but it has expanded. The Lord has given me new passions, developed others, and revived pasts interest or ideas, so that now I have no idea how it will all come together. I thought I had all the pieces to the puzzle picture that my calling would create, but I was missing quite a few, and I am still unsure as we whether or not I have all the pieces or if there is more that aren’t in my puzzle box yet.Image result for random puzzle pieces

I am still growing, still learning, still discovering my gifts and who I am. The Lord is doing the same for you. The closer you become to your Creator the more you learn you who are and who were created to be. It’s truly a humbling thing, when the Lord shows you even the smallest of what He has in store for your life and how He wants to use you. I often question if I am worthy enough to be used as such, but one thing for certain, I look forward to what is in store. On the other hand, I am scared out of my mind, because with great power comes great responsibility and I am certain that the Enemy will go toe-to-toe with me to get me off track or force me to forfeit God’s plan for my life.

My verse for the year has become Luke 12:48, which tells me that because I have been given much, much will be required of me. More than ever, I am focused on my spiritual compatibility for the work ahead, that is prayer, studying Scripture, and operating and depending on the Holy Spirit. This journey has become even more incredible and I am so excited about what the Lord is doing, but not only in my life but in your life as well. I am more than certain that there are so many who the Lord is quietly bringing out of the shadows, whom He will vindicate, restore, and show off to the world.

Now more than ever, there is such a need for the people of God to access and function in the power of the God through the Holy Spirit. The devil is busy and is trying to bring as many people to Hell with him as he can, so we need to fight with all that is within us without fear truly believing that greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world. It’s time for us to step up our game and truly fight for the souls of the lost, by go deeper and being intentional about what the Lord has created each of us to do.

You may think that what God has in store for you is no big deal or is less important or significant than others’. But I am writing this to let you know that the more you trust Him, the more you believe in Him, the more you abandon and surrender your will to His, the more you will realize how incredibly needed you are. Nevertheless, you may think you know everything the Lord wants to do or you may still be trying to understand how all the pieces of the puzzle of your life will come together or even if you have all the pieces necessary for you to fulfill your purpose or even make sense of it. I am a witness that if you keep your focus on God, you may get surprises and be thrown curve balls that will make you question everything you thought, trust the Spirit that is within you that you are exactly where you’re supposed to be and that He knows your future and will not lead you the wrong way.

The completed puzzle of my own life has more details and has more pieces that at this point in my life I am honest enough to say I don’t know how or when they will all fit together, and I often get overwhelmed trying to make sense of things that I have put on hold and or understand what I need to do or focus on next, but simply put, I trust God and find myself praying things that scare me. At some point it will all come together in such an awesome way that only God can get the glory. I beg you to believe the same for your life. One day it will all make sense.

 

No Bones Broken

Wow! It’s been far too long since I have written or posted anything, so I am so glad to be here with you in this moment as you are read this. Thus, my prayer is that you are encouraged and likewise challenged by this blog.

Side note: A great portion of what I write comes from something I read in devotional, recreational, or educational books or texts, where I have taken a point and added my own twist or expounded on it. So, I just want to encourage you to read as much as you can, because there is so much out there to be consumed that you will inevitably grow, be stretched, mature, develop, and become a better person.

Nevertheless, this particular writing is based on a short conversation I had with a co-worker of mine. In a nutshell, she has been having issues with others on the job, almost to the point where she is ready to reach back and awaken the woman she was before she met Christ. As she was dropping me at the train station she told me that she was at her breaking point. And like clock work as I was getting out the car, I said to her, “if Jesus didn’t break any bones, you don’t have to break your temper.” I know for a fact that was nothing but God, because God tends to speak to me when I am speaking and or ministering or encouraging someone else; kind of like the after effects of devotions and readings I guess.

Extra side note: I have mentioned it before, but again, recognize and learn how the Lord tends to speak to you, whether to comfort, challenge, confirm, compel, or convict, that way it becomes easier to know and discern when He is speaking or otherwise. But of course, God speaks to us in various ways in different times and situations, so the worst thing you can do is put Him in a box, so just be sensitive to His voice.

Back to the point of this post. As I considered what I had said, it was so very humbling. Thinking of all that Jesus went through on our behalf, the ripping, tearing of skin, profuse bleeding, bruising, swelling, mocking, and spitting, yet he never broke. Old Testament prophesy told us none of his bones would be broken (Numbers 9:12; Psalm 34:20), but I believe that it goes deeper than the physical. I mean think about it. Jesus had every right and reason to be angry, yet he never responded to the insults hurled against him, let alone did he try to get himself out of being crucified. He didn’t break emotionally, mentally, or spiritually in that the purpose, promises, or love of God through his only son would be compromised. He saw his work completed all the way through and never said a word of rebuttal.

Wow.

As we live to be ourselves for a purpose, what an awesome reminder that despite the trials, storms, and persecutions we will experience, we don’t have to crack or break under pressure assuming the power and strength of the same active Holy Spirit that carried Jesus all the way to the cross. Yes, we will be scratched, bent, bruised, mocked, lied on, persecuted, made fun of, bet against, pained, pierced, and cut – mainly metaphorical but possibly literal – but because Jesus experienced it like us, if not exceedingly more, it doesn’t have to break us. None of those things should have the ability to break the formation of what God is calling us to be, but rather empower and compel us to fully carry out the plan that God has for our lives with the work of His Spirit in us.

No bones broken. Because Jesus didn’t break, and the same resurrection power that raised him up is inside of us, though we might bend, may we never break, less the full, rich, favored, and abundant life God wants to give us be forfeited or disrupted.

Fluffy

So, through some of mine own reading and devotions, I was inspired to talk about the opposing side of being you for a purpose. The more I thought about it, my concern, was that in all that I have written it may have seemed like just waking up one day and deciding to be you for a purpose will be a piece of cake and there will be nothing that will hinder the process, so to speak. In many cases, that is easier said than done.

In this society there are so many things that can hinder out light from shining, because we really want to be accepted, find a sense of belonging, and be liked. There are philosophies of how a person should be based on race and gender alone, and they definitely have their place. However, if you want to look at media alone, what is presented as the “norm” or the ways of a general groups of people is fabricated if not false, yet people believe that what they see and hear is right, about beauty, sex, gender roles, success, money, lifestyle, etc.

People are confused, male and females alike who struggle with knowing who they are and carry burdens of emptiness, loneliness and deep insecurities. These often times can be the result of parents telling them how to behave and what how they should or shouldn’t act, and not being supportive of their desires, thus have learned to conform to what a way that was pleasing to their parents or teachers or other major influences. One could say that the prescription drug issue is the result of people unsure of who they are or have been told not to be as they truly are.

Too often in this culture we try to change people and people many times have others’ best interest at heart, but it tends to add unneeded pressure and low self-esteem. Case and point, I am naturally introverted, but too many times I can recall people trying to get me to be more extroverted or have called me shy or told me that I need to open up more. No offense to these individuals, some who were family, but what they were trying to make me, I knew that’s not who I was and I was okay with who I was, but their lack of understanding or knowing how to interact with me made me feel lost and alone, as if something was wrong with me. But still, I count all to the grace of God that though I had those struggles, less now than I do now, I couldn’t make myself be who I knew I wasn’t. Even times I attempted, I feel uncomfortable, trapped, and just awkward.

In being you for a purpose, most times is not an overnight fluffy-feeling experience There are barriers and walls that need to be broken, wounds that needs to be healed, masks that need to be removed, hearts that need to be softened, closet doors even that need to be opened. Even from a young age we try to please and if our natural way of being is challenged we try to fit in or do enough to please those around us so they can care for us and attempt for their affection and love. In the process far too many lose themselves and are put in this never-ending cycle of finding their identity or just become numb to it all because they have been worked on for so long by media, by culture, by family, by their environment, almost like a game of survival.

With all this confusion that we are privy to, there is so much more value in having a Creator. The Creator knows His creation, its purpose, and how it will best function. My encouragement to you today, whoever is reading this, is to get to know your Creator and find your freedom to be all that He has created you to be. Even growing for a person like me who grew up in a positive and supportive environment, I was still a sinner. Though I never went off the deep end, I realized that for me to be all that He created me to be, there were somethings about me that I needed to change and my heart and way of thinking and motivation had to be changed into His liking. I say that because many times you will hear, as I believed, that when you come to Jesus, he doesn’t want to change you, he wants to enhance you. That is not true. Because of our sin nature and the way way we are programmed, as I have mentioned earlier, there is so much of us that God has to chisel away so that we more and more look like His Son and glow in out identities as He desired us to be. A part of which is understanding there is a time and place for everything, there is a place to be outspoken and a place to be quiet, so the more you know your Maker, the more you understand how you operate at your best and when you are in optimal position to be as uniquely awesome as you were meant to be in any given moment. God knows you better than you, and know what you are capable of better than you. Let Him come in and do his handiwork.

Yes, it may hurt. Yes, it may be uncomfortable. Yes, it may require you to take risk and take a giant leap of faith. Yes, you may have to leave some people behind. Yes, you may have to get rid of some habits. Yes, you may at times feel alone. Yes, you more often than none be the odd one out. Yes, your desires may change. Yes, you may have to let go, forgive those that hurt you, and move on. Yes, people will look at you funny and talk about you. Yes, you will make mistakes. Yes, you will fail. Yes, there will be tears. Yes, there will be doubts and uncertainties. Yes, you will question yourself and at other times question God. Yes, you will be broken, Yes, you will be humbled. Yes, you will have to empty yourself and be vulnerable. Yes, you will be in a cocoon of some sort like a butterfly. Yes, you will be purged. Yes, there will be pressure as an oyster developing a pearl or coal transforming into a diamond. Yes, you will have to go through the refining process, and go into the fire like gold. Yes, there people will walk away. Yes, there will be storms and distractions. Yes, the enemy will hunt you and go after you with all he has.

But yes, it is all so worth it. Yes, you will find freedom. Yes, you will find peace, satisfaction, and contentment. Yes, God can and will fulfill His promises. Yes, He will do amazing things in, by, through, and for you. Yes, the glory and beauty of being you for a purpose will far outweigh the struggle to get back or to finally discover who you really are, through the eyes of the One that created you. All in all, understand your Creator and you will understand you, His creation. Don’t be afraid to get back to you. Don’t give up on yourself, God, your creator still has you alive for a reason, so trust Him with your life. Don’t leave with your work undone.

Simply, put, be you for a purpose and watch God use you and position you in places you could never have have dreamed or imagined.

FreeVerse

So, it’s been a long time, way too long. A lot has been happening and I’m long over due for a post. I call this one FreeVerse because, I have no idea where this post will begin or end, but just stick with me and hopefully you don’t get lost and I won’t get too long.

Between the ALS ice bucket challenge, the start of football season, Robin Williams and Joan Rivers passing, more people claiming to be Jesus, ISIS terrorists, rage against cops driven by the issue of racism, the fire challenge, the pass out challenge, VMAs, Christian persecution, the start of a new school year, and a less than reliable government, the need for people to rise up and stand up is now more than ever.

Every time I heard these stories, and people posting and sharing and criticizing, the only thing I ever questioned is what changes are being made? Changes and efforts that can be seen. Are people just talking to talk and to get likes on Facebook? When the next big story hits the news will the others be forgotten? Do people have all the facts? Is it always an issue of racism? Do blacks get treated the way they do because they don’t treat or portray themselves to be any better? Thanks to videos of twerking and fighting and hurting each other, the value of a race has been diminished and we promote it and find it funny or entertaining, then get mad when a white person mistreats a black person and want to scream racism….I can go on a soapbox, but hopefully you get my drift because I am leaving it there.

At the beginning of a school year I can only pray that this year we will see a difference. More and more children are being denied their freedom to read the Bible or bring it into the school, yet schools in the most refined areas are becoming less and less of a safe haven.

I think of Robin Williams and his committing suicide, and one of the things I am learning this year is that you truly never know the battle someone else is facing and what demons they are fighting; although they may smile all the time, when they are at home, smiles do not exist. Whenever God lays someone on your heart, or you just randomly think of someone, I can promise you it was not random or a coincidence. Even if it has been years since you have seen or talked to them other than Facebook, pray for them, there is something going on or something they are about to walk into that requires your prayers. This has happened to me several times this year; people that the Lord seemed to put on my heart to pray for over the last couple years, even if all it was was a “Lord bless them” or “Lord remember him/her.” I ended up talking to some only to find out they had been through storms and it made me wish I’d prayed harder. Encourage others and always be a light; people are hurting and people are dying. People need Jesus, and you may be the only one to ever introduce them.

I tend to see a lot of pictures of weddings and all that jazz, and as beautiful, expensive, and breathtaking people are obviously spending on their weddings, I often ask “how long will this marriage last”? What investments have this couple made in the success of their marriage? Not to be a killjoy, but divorce is no stranger in the American or the Christian community, which is very sad and heartbreaking. But the media highlights it and promote divorce like its a matter of getting a new pair of shoes. I am waiting to see a strong couple that lasts, and infidelity is not an option, and they face the trials together, and they don’t have friends that tell them to divorce. I want to see a couple that truly makes a vow and keep it. Most marriages seem to fail because someone re-lit their candle; selfishness. For better or worse, and worse can be bad as…well yeah. Life happens and people are far from perfect and so to walk away because it got kind of bad, get real. Now does better just happen overnight, no! Does cheating automatically require a divorce no! And truth be told if people truly followed the heart of God, they would not be in the mess they are in…and I digress. His ways are perfect and the best, why would anyone want different?

On the other hand, it is so sad that people believe virginity to be some disease or to be the wrong way to go. Like seriously, God created sex, but He has a standard and anything below that is less than the best. Virginity does not mean a person is losing out or missing out on life, it shows strength and confidence in who they are. Having sex does not make a person any more of a man or any more of a woman, just like waiting for marriage to have sex does not make any one less of a man or less of a woman. It’s been so demoralized and undignified, the beauty, value, and sacredness of sex, let alone practicing abstinence until marriage, has become less and less.

I learning to really pray for things that scare me. I have done a lot of traveling recently and God has shown me several things, including what I am afraid of as it relates to my purpose. Consequently, I am praying for things that are insane to me; things I know that God is going to have to work out or nothing even remotely close will get done. Additionally, different people are telling me different things that God told them, yet, I got a different message. I am just trying to figure all that is happening. The Lord is doing so much, and it seems there are several directions I could take for various life reasons, but I am learning how to pinpoint God’s voice and limiting my fear of jumping, so that at some point my parachute will open and I will soar.

To go deeper, I am a big reader, and one of the books I am currently reading is on personalities and I am loving it, because I love watching people and learning who they are and responding as such. I am learning about myself, focusing my strengths and weaknesses and learning to grow and perfect my them.

God is doing so much, and I know He is moving behind the scenes. I see Him crafting and shaping and getting things in order, and all that matters is that I do my part. That I am true to what He has called me to be, and who He has called me to be. In being me for a purpose, I am choosing to be a solution. I am choosing to be a light. I am choosing to be hope. I am choosing to be a reflection of Jesus himself, so that this world will be more beautiful because I was here and I gave all I had. Just from some of the things I mentioned before, the world is groaning; it is needy, and I am here, just like you, to fill the need as only I can do. I choose to be necessary.

I am sorry if I lost you or if you think I am rambling at this point, but there is so much on my mind and heart, and I have so much more I could say about what I have already talked about, amongst other topics, but I will stop here and pick up later. Other than that, I am certain that God is moving and He is on His way back. Even with all the despicable things that are happening, it provides many opportunities to share the Gospel message of Christ and his salvation through whatever outlet God has passioned us as individuals to do. Everything about you, your personalities, strengths, gifts, passions, talents, words, thoughts, ideas, and style, the world needs.

Until the next time, be you for a purpose, and be encouraged.