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Grieving With Jesus #6 Acceptance

Getting Back On Track

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Today, as I write this blog, I am remembering the death of my Dad. I love that man, and like all children with their parents, I had some issues with him over the years. Yet, I became free as both he and I manned up, worked through our issues, forgave each other and demonstrated real love for each other.  Though he is now in heaven, I still love him deeply, and I admire him more than many sons can imagine; yet, years after his  death, some grief finds it’s way into my life. My Mom passed further back in the past; yet, I have similar experiences with this special person in my life. Losses of the present trigger the grief process a little, but I am at a place where it does not nearly impact my life as much as it did during those days of his  or her passing. Acceptance of each of their home goings is more a part of my life; therefore, I am on track, but sometimes I get off track even today.

Surprises of Grief

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Before I get too far along on this last stage, I think it is important to realize that, while these stages of grieving like Jesus are neatly written in order,  it may mildly astonish you that, when grieving,  we can jump to different places in the grief journey. We can be in this stage of acceptance, and then a new loss can send us all the way back to shock or anger or depression. Or we could get into bargaining.  We might even be surprised by this because we  thought we had “dealt with this.”

“Stepping on a Heart.”

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I had this happen to me today as I was “accepting” my Dad not being here: I was actually feeling nostalgic. I was feeling warm inside, as I remembered him,  and all of the sudden,  I was surprised by a picture on facebook, and it reminded me of what my Dad had as a  parent, grandparent, and a great grandparent, that can never be mine. It also reminded me of a wise saying: One thing he taught me, and the rest of my siblings is, “When children are small they step on your feet, and when they are grown, they step on your heart.” Our  children have heard me say this before.  There are many ways this can happen. And one of the most painful heart stompings comes when a parent loses a child to death. Indeed, this really steps on a parent’s heart. It’s not the child’s fault, but the heart is broken nonetheless.

Needless to say, my Dad didn’t invent this saying. It was not original with him. I don’t know who shared these thoughts first, but It seems this saying has been around for a long while. Since the generations keep sharing this, there must be an element of truth in it. I do hope the upcoming generations  learn this. There is a need for each one  to know this because life moves more rapidly than I could have ever imagined. Life will throw things at you that you cannot dream about. The decades slip quickly through the hourglass of time, and each generation is not far from learning this vital lesson themselves.

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Well today this old heart was stomped on extremely hard. My emotions became raw.  I was in some real pain! Why? This is so because I thought of my Dad, I grieved his loss again as I continue to grieve these losses of today. I guess they all got mixed up together.

What I am trying to say is this: While acceptance is important, and a genuine part of grief, grief is fluid. And we would do ourselves a big favor “going with the flow” of this free flowing journey of grief. Resisting it or trying to stop it would only be detrimental. The challenge, therefore, is to enjoy the acceptance, but also be willing to be flexible. One triggering event changes things and new griefs enter our lives.

A Thumbnail Sketch of Jesus Acceptance

  1. Peter was told by Jesus that he would deny him three times. Do y’all remember this story? I do, and I remember Peter’s response.
  2. Though Peter said he would not deny Jesus, he did indeed deny Jesus three times. Peter really stepped on Jesus’ heart. For all intents and purposes, Peter abandoned Jesus at the worst possible time. Though we won’t get into the weeds on this, Peter started his own grief process. But Jesus was really grieved because he knew, first,  Peter would reject him despite all Peter’s denial. Second, Peter’s arrogance was hurtful. Third, Jesus grieved losing Peter as well. You may have experienced this kind of Jesus grief with all its elements. Being rejected, abused by arrogant behavior and the loss of the ones rejecting you is quite common in our society today.
  3. Sometime later — three separate times — Jesus asked Peter if he loved him (Jesus,) and each time Peter did indeed express his love for Jesus. Jesus used these three separate incidents — of asking about and receiving assurances of love — to forgive Peter three times. Even in grief, forgiving others is essential to our well being and the well being of all concerned.
  4. Jesus, of course, grieved Peter’s three denials. But during these moments of acceptance, there came the settling of grief for Jesus and Peter. Jesus forgiveness helped bring the final stage of grief. The resurrected Jesus, of course, was in total acceptance by this time. He had already navigated the entire grief process through all that he had experienced  up to and during the Cross experience. But real healing also came into Peter’s life for his failure. At this stage of acceptance, all lives involved were changed in a positive fashion.

There are usually layers or levels to our own way of finding acceptance that the grief process provides. Multiple griefs may need processing. Surfing each one’s different grief wave is necessary. What is even more important is to know that Jesus understands your grief and my grief because he grieved, and he can help us through the entirety of the grief process to a place of acceptance. Yielding to Jesus’ divine help can change all lives concerned for the better. If we ask his help, he will help us through to the other side of this healing grief journey.

I hope you experience good grief during this holiday season. I hope you don’t walk alone, but that you truly allow the Lord to be like a shepherd to you, and let him journey with you through the valley of the shadow. He has gone before you.  He will go with you, and he will help you get to the other side.

Merry Christmas! Or at least be blessed by this sacred season as you experience God’s grace in your time of need.

Chaplain Mac

 

Grieving With Jesus Stage #5: Sadness

The Weeping Stage

Jesus Wept
John 11:35

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In our culture, it seems tears are a sign of weakness.  I remember, as I was growing up, that I was told explicitly or implicitly, “Boy Don’t Cry!” Or I was told, by friend and foe alike, “Only sissies cry!” To some extent, even the girls didn’t catch a break. We even had a popular song entitled “Big Girls Don’t Cry.” More abusive types might even threaten their children with, “If you cry, I will give you a reason to cry!” As a counselor, I cannot tell you how many times I listened to folks who had experienced tremendous loss; therefore, justifiably, they were crying, and as soon as they composed themselves they would apologize profusely saying, “I am so sorry to be going on like this blubbering like a baby.” Healing tears definitely get a bad reputation. If we believe the junk our culture teaches about tears, we are setting ourselves up for complicated grief beyond anything we could imagine.

A Tomb Entrance Flooded With Holy Tears

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Tears are important in helping us get back the balance of life we lost when we experienced our loss.  It really is important for Christ-Followers to know that Jesus set the example for demonstrating what I call holy sadness: After being four days late for one of his best friend’s funeral, Jesus stood by friend Lazarus’ tomb, and the Apostle John declares the shortest verse in the bible: “Jesus Wept.” The Septuagint version of this greek word, which is  ‘dackryo,’  can also be translated “to pour out, to gush forth, to bring to the melting point.” In other words, these two english words “Jesus Wept” don’t give the translation it’s due. Jesus really poured out tears. His tears gushed forth from him.  He almost was demonstrating a melt down of tears. He really did cry deeply.  And this is just as healthy/holy for children of God like you and me. 

God And The Tear Bottles

God holds a different view of tears, He does so, not only because of Jesus’ example, but because he describes them as being something precious that He will keep for us, as He witnesses our tears of grief:

Psalm 56:8
“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle.  You have recorded each one in your book.”

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Indeed, your loving parent views your suffering tears from heaven in a precious way. He lovingly keeps track of them. He empathically tracks all your sorrows.  He collects those tears in a bottle He has made just for you. And He has recorded each one of them, in “your book.” It does not seem that we are helping ourselves one bit if we don’t cry when needed. As a matter of fact, it is far more spiritually sound to cry. Boys do cry. Big girls do cry. Men and Women cry, and Jesus Wept; so, give yourself permission to use the one part of your body that men and women have in common: Let your tear ducts flow freely before your God. Don’t grieve alone. Grieve with Jesus and experience Good Grief.

God Bless You,

Chaplain Mac

Grieving With Jesus Stage#4 Bargain

“Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
Luke 22:42

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A major part of grief which we need to allow ourselves to go through, with the Good Shepherd guiding us, involves a phase that is called bargaining.  Like all the other Jesus grief stages that we have discussed previously — Shock/Denial, Anger and depression — this one will surely happen along the way. The key is to simply let the journey continue.  Don’t resist it. Don’t build up some way to dam it up to keep it from happening.  Just surrender to it, and go with the flow of grief.
The “If Only’s” Or “Only Ifs”
One way to understand this part of the journey is to think about the “if only’s” or the “only ifs” that you might be surprised will flow from your lips, as you seek to make a bargain with God. You may find yourself in a grief situation like many military people whose lives are in danger, and a bargain is struck with God. “God, if only you will help me get out of this, I will never get drunk again.” Or, “God, if only you help me get out of this, I will go to church every Sunday for the rest of my life.” Still another way of looking at bargaining could include statements like the following: “If only I had done __________ (fill in the blank) my child wouldn’t have had to suffer.”  “If only I had been a better parent then _________ (fill in the blank) things would have turned out differently.” Or “If only I had been there this wouldn’t have happened.” So, we are not talking about just making some bargain with God, but we are also talking about using this stage to help you and me cope with whatever loss is potentially looming on the horizon of life or has already occurred. You may think that this is insane, but it is not. It’s a necessary experience that, while it may not seem rational, is indeed helpful.
A Bargain of Sorts Jesus Made
When Jesus was in a very scary place in a garden, he knew that the wounds, bruises and painful agonizing death was coming soon.  He knew that his purpose for being on earth was about to manifest itself in some horrific ways.  The clearly human part of Jesus made a bargain, and it worked in helping him get to the next level in his journey.  The bargain, did not change the outcome anymore than our bargaining actually physically changes our circumstance.  But it does help us to keep on keeping on. As many know he is recorded in Luke 22:42 as saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. It’s like he was saying a similar thing to what our military folks above said, “Father, you have what it takes to remove this painful experience from me. If only you would do it that would be great” Then he gave the rest of the bargain: But if you want’ something else, then let it be as you want.  Circumstances did not change one bit; however, Jesus was given the strength to, as I said, keep on keeping on.
Give Yourself Permission: Go Ahead and Bargain 
If you want to experience what I call “Good Grief,” go ahead make your bargains. You are in good company, even the company of Jesus and a myriad of people who have grieved before you.  God is willing to listen to you, and God will help you.  I am not saying God will change the circumstances, but he will transform you through it all and help you get through to the other side of this valley of the shadow of deathTo receive spiritual, psychological, sociological and physical benefit from your grieving, go ahead and process the grief by writing about, sharing with others, OR talking to God about your personal “Only If’s” or “If Only’s.” God bless you.
Chaplain Mac

 

Grieving With Jesus Stage #3 Depression

Jesus Depressed? Say What?

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Thinking of the Son of God being depressed is for some almost impossible to believe. Many would think that this Son of Man was much stronger than this while he journeyed here on earth. If you struggle with this, please let me ask you some questions:  How could Jesus be “a man of sorrows acquainted with grief?” How could he be “tempted in every way like we are tempted” or be empathic regarding our feelings and infirmities, as mentioned in Hebrews 4:15ff, if he didn’t process grief like you or me?  

Now when I talk about this stage of grief, I am not talking about chronic depression. I am talking about the acute onset of depression that comes upon us when we experience a significant loss. I am talking about those dark overwhelming feelings  and grief triggers that cause us to feel low down and or loaded down.  This includes a semblance of sadness or sorrow,  but it carries with it more of a heaviness of heart.  Some feel almost like they could die. This is what Jesus said when he was loaded down with grief.

“Then He said to them ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow
to the point of death.
Stay here and keep watch with me.’”

Matthew 26:38

Notice that his soul was “overwhelmed with sorrow…” How bad was it? It was so bad that his being overwhelmed and sorrow brought him to the “point of death.” We could easily say Jesus was so overwhelmed that he felt like he could “just die.” Now, I don’t know about you, but this sounds like Jesus is pretty low, as the Cross looms awesomely on his horizon. It sounds just like the onset of acute depression. The good thing he did, however, was not to seek isolation but company. For he asked three disciples to “Stay here and watch with me.” He was actually requesting the support of a small  group consisting of Peter, James and John. Now, to be sure, they let him down badly; however, there is a teaching moment in this for you and me:

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You and I need to emulate what Jesus exemplified here when we grieve through any stage of grief, but especially this dark stage.  We would do well for ourselves, and for others, if we were honest about our feelings, and if we were honest about our grief. He spoke out loud what was in his soul.  He did not bottle up the grief, he confessed his grief feelings to a few people he knew cared deeply about him. He did his “grief work” in sharing with his small group of three disciples, and this helped get thim through it.  Quite frankly, he did not isolate himself. He asked for help.

It is because of this wonderful example of Jesus sharing with others out of his pain and suffering, that I really like to find a way to help anyone grieving to get into a grief group for the purpose of authentically sharing.  And while they are in the group, I encourage them to grieve with Jesus by getting connected  intimately with others so as to be able to grieve in the healing way that God intends. You may feel so low that you might even say, “I feel like I could just die.”  Feel this fully, BUT keep accepting friends close by.  Solitude is good, but Isolation is deadly. Follow Jesus example, as you walk through “the valley of the shadow.”  

So, in closing this blog, please consider that you might just need help.  Please consider that you might just help  others in the group. Yes, talk to God about it.  Talk to a friend or individual counselor about your grief journey. But, be sure you add to all of this very important one on one activity a few other standing people who need you and you need them. If you are grieving, may you have good grief today. 

 

God bless you.

Chaplain Mac.

Grieving With Jesus Stage #2: The Forbidden Emotion

The Forbidden Emotion: Anger?

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Sometime ago, a person for whom I care deeply, and who shall remain nameless to protect the identity,  was struggling with enormous complicated grief. This one had experienced grief after grief, as this person’s loved one almost died several times, and each time, because of some very good choices made by this individual, the love of their life came back and lived a while longer. This was quite an emotional roller coaster. When the beloved actually did die, the emotions were real and raw. This included stage two of the grief process, which involves ANGER.

Giving Advice Especially Bad Advice?

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This wounded soul revealed their anger to a fellow Christian who knows far less than he/she thinks they know.  It  was made very  clear, by this bad advice giver, that the person who had experienced such a horrific loss would wind up in hell, and they would not see their loved one, if they didn’t get their attitude right. So, if I understand this correctly, this advice giving “friend” actually tried to help by getting “preachy” though they were ignorant of how God heals us through our grief. In a nutshell, they apparently believe that expressing authentic grief produced anger, if it is continued to be expressed, would land a grief stricken soul in hell.  If you have a friend like this run away from them as fast as you can!  Or at least consider tuning them out.  If you wear hearing aides, turn them off. Because they are wrong! They are dead wrong!

Jesus Life Challenges Lies About The Emotion of Anger

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Matthew 21:12

One of the things I have learned over the years is that emotions are neither bad nor good. What can make an emotion “bad” or “good” is determined by what you do with those emotions.  I am still learning, and I find it healing to believe,  emotions are painful or not painful. Jesus, as we said in an earlier blog, is a “Man of sorrows acquainted with deepest grief.” And while on earth, he experienced a whole plethora of emotions, Yes, and  he actually got angry; yet, people, like the bad advice giver I wrote about earlier, seem to actually believe the lie that “Christians shouldn’t get angry.” Or they believe even worse that, “If you get angry, you are not a very good Christian at all.” The most extreme would be, “If a Christian get’s angry, they are going to hell.”  If all this were true, Jesus should never have gotten angry, which he did. He wouldn’t have been a “good” Christian because he got angry, and in the extreme, this philosophy would condemn the very Son of God to hell.  Just check out Matthew 21:12,  and you see what I am talking about: In the Temple, Jesus fulfilled Prophecy – and acted in healthy grief – as he faced the Cross. With zeal he grieved bad behavior. He actually plaited a whip.  He kicked over tables, and He ran them out of the temple.


I Get Angry

I get angry.  I served on Air Force  Family Maltreatment Case Management Team as a Chaplain.   I also served on the Air Force Child protection team. During my decades in the Air Force, both as enlisted and officer, I saw some extremely worst case abuse against children, wives and other relatives. I remember a little girl, whose hands were bandaged because each hand was raw and one big blister. How did she get burned? Her parents wanted to teach her to not “play with matches.” So, they held both her hands to the eyes of a red hot stove. This is enough to make  a person get REAL angry.  Just thinking about it makes me angry.

I saw an early abortion. As I shipped out “surgical specimens” from my duty section, in late 1973,  as  young sergeant in the Air Force,   I was shocked, petrified and REALLY angered to see a “specimen” floating in a large bottle. A baby, the size of my twenty-three year old fist, was floating in liquid. It’s head was torn from its torso and crushed. It’s arms and legs were also torn from the torso. The surgeon called this “Uterine Cuttings.”  Here is another example: When a loved one has died, yes, I “know they have gone to a better place.” But I eventually get angry about the death. Don’t be surprised, that this happens to you as well. And doing so does NOT make you sinful.

Anger’s Place In The Bible

“Be angry but sin not.  Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath.
Ephesians 4:26

Now, I know that there are times that Anger is inappropriate and downright wrong, but did you catch what the verse above is telling you and me? It gives you and me permission to be angry. It also tells us, that even though it’s okay to be angry we are to “sin not.”  So, being angry isn’t sinful.  This is really clear. Now, if it becomes wrathful and unending, then it can be a problem. It could turn into sin. I have seen it do so in the raped body of a young woman, the blackened eyes of an abused spouse and the battered or burned body of a child.  However, this is not a blog about anger management.  Suffice it to say, healthy anger during grief, is … well … healthy and healing. 

Anger and Grieving A Loss

How does your healthy anger manifest itself in grief? Well, if you don’t allow it, and you bottle it up, you can have a somatic response.  That is, your body will get sick. Anger, or any emotion not properly “vented” or expressed, can impact your heart, your blood pressure and or you digestive tract. It can impact your ability to think clearly in a negative way. If you believe the lie of the bad advice giver above you can be filled with guilt and shame as you believe expressing your emotions some how makes you sinful, which it does not.

If you do allow yourself to be angry, don’t be surprised that one individual at which you are angry is yourself.  Then too, you may displace your anger on your friends.  This is a time, when eventually, you make things right with them.  A grief counselor is helpful hear. Why? This type Counselor will simply let you verbalize of vent you grief , including anger, and not take it personally. Some grieving souls actually get mad at the one who died.  I didn’t say that emotions are rational. They simply are what they are. More than will admit it get angry at God for letting the loss happen. My wife has a great thought about this.  As she said to our grieving daughter once, “God has big shoulders. He can take it.”  He knows all about this stuff called grief, and you and I are told to, cast all our cares on God because God cares about us.  (1 Peter 5:7)

So What?

So, what are we to be? What are we to do with this “forbidden” emotion anger. I think you would be wise to grieve it out.  Don’t let the emotions pile up inside. Don’t drug them. Find an outlet to express or vent your grief. Journal or write about what is going on. Find a grief counselor who will listen without judging. If you have a friend who will do this, and if they don’t try to fix you by giving advice, but if they will lovingly listen, unload your burden with them. Find a grief support group.  I think these are better than talking with an individual counselor. They are especially good if the group you visit has enough people with similar losses as your own. Finally, don’t isolate yourself from the outside world.  Solitude and quietness are helpful as you process your struggles, but isolation will be detrimental to your health. Live in a mode of “good grief.” Grieve. Process your anger. And don’t sin.  You can do all three, and it’s okay with God.

God Bless You.

Chaplain Mac

 

Grieving With Jesus: Stage #1

It May Surprise You

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There are some things about Jesus, grief and you that might take you by surprise; for example, when it comes to grief,  it may amaze you just how human the Son of God, Jesus, really was while on this earth; furthermore, it might just catch you a little off guard to understand how much like Jesus you are when you have experienced the loss of a loved one, or the loss of a job, or have been abandoned, or have gone through any kind of really life altering and painful loss. And it might just give you some comfort to know how this Good Shepherd of the sheep understands your pain and wants to shepherd you through “the valley of the shadow…” 

The Man of Sorrows

One bit of ancient wisdom that can help you and me see this comes from the Prophet Isaiah who tells us in the NLT (New Living Translation,)  “He was despised and rejected — a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.” ( See Isaiah 53:3 NLT) This passage points us to the Messiah. It points us to God’s anointed and appointed one. It points us to the very Son of God, even Jesus. Jesus truly was despised, and he was indeed rejected or abandoned. He experienced sorrow up close and personal, and deepest grief, as we shall  see,  clearly was an acquaintance of his.

“Hey! You Shouldn’t Do That!”

Today, when people grieve, well meaning friends — even clergy — give you and me terrible advice regarding grief. These who should know better, for example, will get on your case when you experience Stage #1 of Grief.  You may know what I am talking about. The grief begins with what I have already called previously as “God’s Shock Absorber.”  Some call this stage the “Denial Stage.” Others call it “Shock.” Still others like myself call it “Shock/Denial.”  This stage is like a shock absorber because it may leave you feeling numb or dazed. You may even appear to others to be “strong” as they say. But you just don’t initially feel anything because the grief blow is absorbed by the shock of it all; however, that is not to say you don’t feel pain that is really overwhelming. When this pain does feel more than is bearable, many do this: They ask God “Why?”

It is when you or I ask God “Why” that the pontificators will preach, “You should never ask God Why?” Really? If this is true, then how can you “cast all your cares on him because he cares for you?” ( 1 Peter 5:7) How can you go to the “Wonderful Counselor” with your concerns? How can you experience Jesus as the “Great High Priest” who understands and go “boldly before the Throne of Grace to obtain mercy, and how can you find grace to help in time of need?”(Hebrews 4:15-16.) Some will even go so far to complicate your grief by saying “Asking God why is a sin!” This is simply NOT true.  Asking God “Why” is NOT a sin! Believing such a lie will make things worse for you emotionally.

How do you know Chap? I am so glad you asked: You see, Jesus, on the Cross,  was overwhelmed by the burden of carrying the sins of the world. It simply was too much. He had always had perfect communion with his loving Heavenly Father. He and his Father were “ONE” on a daily bases. Now, God the Father could NOT look on sin, and Jesus was covered with your sin and my sin. He was sin flooded that day. He also became separated from his Father. So, he cried out to God, “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?  (Matthew 27:46) If there is anything I do know about Jesus it is that he NEVER sinned. (See 2 Corinthians 5:21) And Jesus, in his deepest grief, was shocked by all the trauma. So, he asked God “Why” God had abandoned him. He felt abandoned by God, and he wanted to know why he was abandoned. 

Grieving child of God follow the example of Jesus as you journey through grief. Reject the beliefs that are contrary to how the Son of God, Jesus, lived in the midst of grief.  Understand he became acquainted with deepest grief. Jesus experienced grief fully! He certainly understands you better than you can imagine, even in Stage #1 of grief. I know, if you go to a grief counselor, you will be allowed to share anything with them, if they are any good at all. Why not let the Wonderful Counselor help you with your grief? He is closer than your next breath during this holiday season. Let him help. He is waiting for you today.


Let God Bless You In Your Grief.

Chaplain Mac

 

 

Holiday Grief

  Triggering Grief During The Thanksgiving Season To Be Jolly   



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Just a few hours ago, someone whom I intersected during past days of my journey, reminded facebook friends that depression is real during the holidays, and this true. Perhaps even more true is that grief really becomes a necessary, but not so welcome, companion during this “season to be jolly.” Something will happen, and it will be like a trigger.  You may observe a picture. Or you may smell a certain smell.  Or you will hear a familiar voice. BOOM! Something you thought had been “dealt” with will become fresh as if the loss causing the grief happened just a few moments ago. Trying to dam up the emotions will only push them down for a while and they will burst to the surface, if you don’t let the emotions flow.

WHY?

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Denial will return. God’s shock absorber for the soul, will take place, and that “Why is this happening?” question will likely flow painfully from your heart to your mouth. You will become like Christ Jesus  on the Cross when he felt abandoned or he felt forsaken. He cried out in agony, “My God! My God! WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?” Like him you may ask God, “WHY?” What will really hurt would be for someone to just give you their opinion of what they think of you and how you are acting. Rather than just being available to help you get past it they “pontificate” and opinionate.  If this happens, your grief just might become complicated grief.

Anger

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Anger is also not too far from coming topside during this renewed and fresh grief. Bottle it up. Try to shut it up. Disallow it to flow from you during your pain, and it might just become rage. If there is no one who will listen, take it to the Lord in prayer.  Write him. Journal to him.  Blog about it as I do. Cast all your cares on him. Why? Because he cares for you. Write God a letter. Read it. Ask what is God saying to you. Tear it up. Send it up to heaven in some fire pit, and allow the anger to flow away from you to your loving Creator. Or you can just go for a drive. Find a private location and pray out loud all that is going on inside of you. Don’t keep it inside, and don’t share it if no one will listen. If they listen the, by all means, share your story.  But, again, if they will not listen, simply share it with your loving Creator.

Depression

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Depression might just take you down to a dark place where you have some very melancholy like thoughts wafting over your being. You may feel like just going to bed and pulling the covers up over your head. So? Why not? How many hours have you spent in bed normally speaking.  Now, I am not saying stay in the bed for days on end, but I am saying some “sack” time might just be what you need as you cry for a while.

 Taking Some Time Out

As the “fog” clears, check out how your are thinking.  Take time out to think about how your are thinking about what you are thinking about: Are you thinking things that are actually true? Or are you believing stuff that is more like “stinking thinking” which will keep you swimming in “stinking feeling.” Are the messages you are allowing in your mind thoughts that condemn you? Then there is a real good chance you need to revamp your thinking toward more truthful and accurate way of processing healthy thoughts. The Devil really wants to find a way to accuse you and  get you to think badly of yourself.  Add all the chemical stuff going on in your body, head and heart, and it’s time to intentionally reflect on hope filled life giving thoughts.

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Sadness might still linger and visit with you for a while.  That’s okay.  You might even shed some tears. Well, you are in good company. For even “Jesus Wept” after the death of one of his best friends. Your triggered loss is just as real to you. God gave me a poem over four and a half decades ago that goes something like this:

Tears are not bad they are good.
They help get the hurt out like they should.
Like the pressure valve of the soul …
They make you whole.
And they help set you free!
As you pour out your tears to God,
the help you grieve
Al McGowen 1971


Acceptance

After bargaining with God, which we will talk about at a later time, next comes acceptance. No, it doesn’t mean that you are all balanced and perfect. But there is a semblance of grace that tells you that you, by the grace of God, are going to be okay. You might jump back and forth through the various stages I mentioned above, but you do begin to find the homeostasis (the balance) you crave. You just might find that someone has been comforting you along. You may discover God’s Holy Spirit is helping you through this valley of the shadow. You may surprise yourself that you are tending to move toward getting on with life. Yup! In time, your holidays may just be much improved. Or maybe a little improved. And if you let all this grief through you flow, your can let go of what is hurting you and live for a while.

I know all this to be true. Yes, I have been educated on this, but I also lived this, even today. I also know what it is like, even this special thankful time of the year and this jolly season,  to be surprised by this unusual but usual thing called holiday grief. May God help you is my prayer as he helps me.

Be Blessed Y’all
Chaplain Mac

 

V-I-C-T-O-R-S

Veterans In Christ Teaching Others Resilient Spirituality

Twenty-Two Million People

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As I write this, I am thinking of twenty-two million people who live somewhere in the United States of America …maybe elsewhere. One million live right here in Florida. Some are doing quite well.  They have served and came off their active duty time living relatively functional lives.  Each one’s family is intact, they have a fairly good relationship with their spouse and children.  They make an okay, or better than okay, income. Life for them is good, but just maybe something on the inside is missing.  There is something in them, like a void, that they need to fill. They are reasonably resilient, but … 

STRUGGLES

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Others may not be so well: Maybe memories of a friend who paid the ultimate sacrifice is plaguing them, and they haven’t processed the grief so well. The pain from their service needs to somehow be managed better than they are able to do alone. They have strained or broken relationships.  They are not sleeping so well, and they have real difficulty relating: Not only is it difficult to relate  with  their spouse and children, but relating with others is even more challenging. Sadly, drinking helps a bit, and other intoxicants also help the pain; yet, it seems they need more of the drink and the drugs to function. They feel a strong need to be guarded, and trust is very difficult for them. Isolation is what they do, and this is one of those things that sounded like a good idea at the time; however, the more alone they are, the worse the feel.  Depression seems to become one of their daily companions. They need help, but they either don’t know how to ask for help, they are embarrassed to seek help, or they flat out are just too proud because they think they “should” be better than this. Does this sound familiar?

Reaching Out

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I am reaching out to see who is out there, who have served in the U.S. military in my local area, even central Florida, and I simply want to see if there is an interest among Veterans  who want to acquire skills on how to become V-I-C-T-O-R-S and help others do the same.  I am looking for Veterans who just want to tell their story and help each other grow toward health and wholeness.

So, if you are out there, do us a favor, and please send me an email to ammac123@tampabay.rr.com. Let me know if you want to spend some time each week in a different kind of a group than you have experienced in the VA. I am  looking for those who want to learn how to become more resilient through a small group based on the best psychological principles, and more importantly,  this group is based on faith in one who can make you into a new creation as you journey toward a healthy resilient spirituality.

If You Are Out There…

Come on. You can do this: If you are out there, just email me ammac123@tampabay.rr.com  Tell me you want to tell your story, gain more than just knowledge, but gain wisdom, and you want to respectfully listen to others to help them do the same. If you are out there, I want there to be at least be twelve people who want to learn how to use the Wisdom Wheel, and other spiritual practices,  to become a Veteran In Christ Teaching Others Spiritual Resiliency.  Notice that, if you decide to do this, that you are willing to be committed also to  helping others become V-I-C-T-O-R-S  This is not about just you or just me.  It will be about “We” who do not want to leave anyone behind. And it’s not about me “fixing” anyone. Shucks! I can’t “fix me.”

For Now There Is No Commitment Necessary

At this time, I am not asking you for a commitment. Nor I am I making a commitment. I am only seeking information. This will be the first step to gaining power and getting your life back. Let’s give this a shot, and see what God can do in you and me and through us.

God Bless You

Chaplain Mac

 

 

Living Blessed Or Needing A Do Over?

Putting Down Roots: Living Blessed 

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What is is like to put down roots? What kind of behaviors grow out of such a life? Are their any positive effects that come from being rooted? Or does it make any difference whether or not a person’s life is rooted and grounded by those original designed values which secularist now call “traditional values?”

I am fairly certain that it’s difficult for some to put down such roots as these. For some who hold the secularist mindset — formerly called by originalist — a “worldly” mindset,  such a life is just too restrictive. They would, in their words, want to be “free.”  For them having any guidance for holy or sacred living  sounds archaic, irrelevant,  and not in step with the twenty-first century world in which we live.

The Blessed Person

Avoiding Wicked Counsel & Walking The Walk 

The blessed person, according to ancient wisdom, actually noticeably avoids certain life entrapping behaviors. We don’t walk in wicked counsel. “WICKED COUNSEL?”  YUP! There are wicked counselors out there in the real world: That’s right!  I actually said a word that has virtually been erased from public discourse along with the word “sin.”  Some synonyms for this word “Wicked” are evil, sinful, immoral, wrong, bad, corrupt, base, mean, vile villainous and or nefarious. 

Such counsel, which the Psalmist calls wicked, is sadly the norm for all too many people, just as it was in the day of the Psalmist. Much counsel was given then, as it is now, where that which is evil to God is considered good to the wicked, and that which is good to God is considered evil. I could spend the entirety of this blog spelling out wicked counsel in which the righteous person will not walk. But this is not the purview of this blog today. Needless to say, it is my opinion that walking with Jesus is the best blessed way to walk through life.

We Stand In Good Standing

The blessed/righteous one also doesn’t stand a certain way in order to be in good standing with God. They do not “Stand in the way of sinners.” Nope. They don’t take their stand on principles that are contrary to the truth.  They know for a fact that in knowing THE truth, the truth will set each one of us free, and this is indeed a blessing. What is truth?  Jesus tells us  “I am … the truth.” He calls the Holy Spirit the Spirit of Truth.  Finally he says of God’s Word, “Your Word IS Truth.”  Blessed ones also  know lies will have the opposite effect and enslave the ones believing the lies.

We Sit Elsewhere

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There is a whole new generation of haters who are hate filled and hurtful. They have a value system that is scornful of anyone holding to The Creator’s original design. The couple, Aaron and Melissa Klein, were fined $135,000 for not baking a cake for a homosexual couple in Oregon. The hatred demonstrated toward them by the State of Oregon, and what is called “the gay community,” surely were not acting with much gaiety. Pure hatred spewed from them and even some of the “church” in that area. True Christ Followers do  not “hate” anyone! To be sure, the haters project (projection is clearly one of their defense mechanisms) their hate on us calling us what they are,  but the righteous only want people to be liberated, just as we were,  from bondage to sin and death. God will indeed bless these who are being persecuted by haters for living godly lives. And God knows his followers are not scorners/haters. We only,  along with all others who are righteous through faith in Christ, clearly walk right, stand right and sit right.

Living Blessed, We Are Delighted In God’s Word!

God’s Word delights us. It transforms us. It makes us better people.  It makes us Godly people. It takes we, who are ordinary people, and causes us to be transformed to do extraordinary things. God’s Word contributes to us receiving new God hearts. As we delight ourselves in Him, He gives us the desires of our hearts. (Psalm 37:4-5)

We Become Like A Deeply Rooted Tree Near River Water.

One need only look at California to see the horrors of dried up trees that became scorched kindling, and which fed horrendous  fires, to understand how great the promise of blessings of God are for us. Now, I am NOT saying everyone burned by the California fires is evil or wicked. But I am saying of we who put down roots in God’s word that  “We are like a tree planted by the water.” We continue to grow now matter what season of life.  We grow up in Christ and our roots go down into the Word of God, and God blesses us as a consequence of settling our lives down in him. 

 “The Wicked?”

Can I Get A Do Over?


The ancient writer speaks in some fairly harsh terms regarding these who do Walk in the counsel of the wicked.  The writer is fairly clear regarding these who actually do stand in the sin filled ways. He doesn’t “pull any punches” regarding how such as these sit in scorning seats. Since they don’t put down roots in the eternal, God blows their earthly lives away like chaff (trash.) Whatever “toys” they gained in life, they do not take them with them.  He also says, when Judgment comes, and it surely will come, they don’t stand up under the scrutiny of God.  He prepared a way for them to be able to do so, but they wanted nothing of it while on earth.  This is so sad. After judgement they do not get to congregate with the blessed righteous one in God’s presence. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but as the ancient one says, “The wicked will perish.” Such will be the fate of the wicked or “or nots.”

This Last Horrible Outcome Can Change As Long As You Have Breath

The good news is that NO ONE has to perish. As the Apostle Peter tells us, “God is not willing that any should perish, but that everyone should come to repentance…” turn from sin/wickedness to Jesus:  Jesus paid the price for everyone’s wickedness.  And anyone who turns from their sins, and from their wicked ways to receive Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord, God will hear their prayers of confession,  and God will forgive each one and cleanse each one who comes to him. Yes he will “wash them whiter than snow” from their sins/wickedness and the consequences of the same. God WILL grant a do over. 

Let me ask you: Do you want a do over? Do You want to be blessed … OR NOT?

Chaplain Mac

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Trifecta of Miracles.

So, I have been walking on this journey for 67 years, and I became a different man when I met Jesus when I was 17, nearly 18. And in no time BAM! He called me into ministry shortly thereafter. Since that time, my life has been one of challenges, what TLOML and I call adventures and even miracles. Here is the story of one miracle that became three:

TLOML married me at a very early age. I think I was 20 years old when we were engaged, and then married shortly before I turned 21.  So, my beloved was about 20 as well. Anyway, we wanted to start our family early and as soon as possible. Months past and no child seemed to be anywhere near our future. After a year of trying, we were told that we probably could not have children, and even if we could, TLOML would not be able to carry the child to full term.  Now that was not in our plans.

So, we began to pray, and one day, while praying, I said to God, “Lord, if you did it for Abraham, why not do this for us?” I was thinking about how God gave Abraham and Sarah a son.  I know the miracle wouldn’t be as big as Abe’s and Sarah’s because they were punching 100 years old fairly hard.  We were in our early twenties, and that was in our favor; yet, we still didn’t have a child on the way. Now, I don’t really believe in Bible roulette.  You know what I mean? Bible roulette is where people talk to God, open their Bible, and put a finger on the verse, and the verse jumps out with just the right answer to the prayer; nevertheless something wonderful happened after I prayed. I did open the Bible and look, and 1 Timothy 2:15 said to me …

” She will be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and  charity and holiness, with sobriety.”

Guess what happened, in a very little while, TLOML became pregnant, and nine months later  we had a little girl.  A MIRACLE! Eight years later we had a little boy! Then three years later we had another little girl! Yup we had three grand events of little human beings, OUR CHILDREN, discovering America over a period of time. 

Now I do not know about you, but when I hear of a couple being told that they wouldn’t or couldn’t have children, and yet they had THREE, then something supernatural is at play.  Or as I like to say, a trifecta of miracles was experienced in a glorious way.  THANK YOU JESUS!

Oh! By the way … I do believe in miracles.

Chaplain Mac.

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