• Guest post: Alie Benge’s Strategy for Managing the Crazy

    Alie is a former member of Resolved who moved to NZ a few months ago. She is focusing on carving out a writing career while studying a bachelor of arts in Philosophy. Follow her writing at www.searchingforourselves.wordpress.com

    Welcome to my five point strategy for how to deal with the things life throws at you. No one’s life is a perfect ray of sunshine and every now and then you may find yourself in a rut. It’s ok, it happens to the best of us. Whenever you need it, here’s some ideas for how to get back on the happy train.

    1.Keep a book of crazy.

    Get a journal and write in it how you’re feeling, why you are feel the way you do, and try to bring it to a resolution. The benefit of writing things down is it forces you to carry a thought to completion. I have the tendency to mull over something, turning it over in my mind, never actually thinking helpfully about it. Writing it down gets it out of your head, puts it where you can see it and enables you to be a problem solver, not a problem wallower.

    2. Don’t be a jerk about medication

    There seems to be a stigma attached to medicating things. Believe it or not, anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medication isn’t concocted over a cauldron and there’s no eye of newt thrown in there. It definitely shouldn’t be a first resort as there are side effects involved, you also don’t need it if you’re just feeling a bit down in the dumps that particular week, however if a doctor has agreed that it would help you then there is nothing wrong with taking it. We aren’t living in a dark age. There’s nothing to fear about modern medicine. However, they should be used in conjunction with some kind of counselling. What the drugs do is help with the process of getting better by lifting your mood and allowing you some perspective. The idea is to reach a stage where you no longer need medication.
    3. Don’t run from your problems. They run faster.

    Seeing a counsellor or psychologist is mentally depleting. You’ll be asked hard questions and asked to think about things you’ve been avoiding. You know those memories that you’ve buried away in a dark corner of your mind? Well, you’ll need those. You’ll have to brush the dust off and bring them back into the light. I used to have an image of myself standing on a cliff, facing land. Over the cliff was all this crazy, hovering menacingly in the open space. I thought if I turned around and really looked at my problems they would drag me over the edge. Now I see that as one of my face palm moments. By not looking behind me, I couldn’t see that it had already begun pulling me over. My psychologist asked me hard questions. She made me feel uncomfortable, she made me take deep breaths, and she left me feeling like I’d run an emotional marathon. Sometimes I left her office feeling confused, sometimes furious, sometimes terrified, but I realised after a while that I hadn’t fallen over the edge; in fact I was walking away from it, descending the hill. You can ignore your problems, keeping them in your peripherals, but that’s where they’ll always be, growing and manifesting in secret ways. Or you could muster all your courage, face your problems and begin pushing them away.
    4. Don’t be a hero

    This is the part where I need to take my own advice. Don’t be the strong, silent one, bearing up under suffering all alone so as not to hurt others. I’m a witness to the dangers of internalising. Soon the problem will warp and mutate and blow your brain up. It will become a heavy secret that will bear down on your shoulders and cause you to distance yourself from people. Those who love you would be more horrified at the thought of you suffering alone. They’ll want to help you but they can’t read minds. Talk to your pastor, parents, siblings or friends. Trust the wisdom and perspectives of others and don’t be afraid of being a burden. It is one that most would gladly bear.

    5. Find healing in the Bible

    No one gets through life entirely un-bruised. We’ve all been damaged in some way by the people around us or by the things we’ve lost. At some point in your life you may not have been loved perfectly, maybe your parents, your friends or your spouse let you down, maybe you were rejected or anxious. Not everything that damages us is unreasonable or even noticed. Lucky for us we have in the bible one who has loved us perfectly. One who will never reject us or let us down. One who will keep loving us and keep forgiving us every time we turn around sheepishly and ask to come back. You can trust God with your anxieties. You can ask him to forgive you when no one else will. You can see how he loved you on the cross when it seems you are unloved. When you feel you are unworthy you can know that you are made in the image of God.

    You may also like:

    God will not forget your suffering but he will reward your faithfulness

    Guest Post: How the gospel shapes my life as a single woman

    Guest Post: How the gospel shapes my life as a young mum

  • What if I’m not excited about my church’s vision?

    My church, Resolved, unveiled its vision the weekend before last and it was received very well. Our vision for 2012 is to grow to 80 people coming every week at Resolved, to see 20 people converted and grow from 3 to 6 community groups.

    But I have had a few people say that they want to be excited about this vision and yet they can’t be for some reason. Here is some advice if you find yourself in that position:

    1. Check your heart

    One of the things that can stop us from buying into a vision is our hearts. Sometimes we have unresolved tension between us and the leader(s) of our church. Maybe there is a lack of forgiveness or something else. Maybe there is pride, maybe you think you can do it better than the guy up the front. So first thing to do is check your heart then pray that God would change your heart if needs be and then seek out resolutions for the tension you feel. That being said, I don’t think this is an issue with anyone who is finding it hard to buy into the vision of Resolved.

    2.Inquire about the vision

    Maybe you have significant unresolved questions about the vision. Maybe it is a new vision or a different direction that your church is being taken. These times can be very hard and there could be confusion. If this is you I would suggest sitting down with your pastor or an elder and asking about vision. See if you can get your questions answered and see if you can see the heart behind the vision.

    3. Realise where you are in life makes it impossible to be excited about most things

    I don’t have depression or anything like it but I do know that depression and other mental illnesses makes it hard for some of us to be excited about most things so it would be only natural for those of us who suffer under these oppressive conditions to find it very hard to be excited about a vision no matter how good it is. I am encouraged when a person with a mental illness will say “I see the vision, I see how good it is and I want to be excited” because this person has probably already bought into the vision in a significant way. Because anyone can feel hyped about a vision. It is when the hype goes and the vision remains is when we see who really bought into the vision. So if you are suffering from a mental illness and yet you want to emotionally buy into the vision of your church and yet you can’t it may be the case that you have already bought into the vision in a far deeper way that you first realise!

    What do you think?

    Am I missing something here?