Stress

Compassion FatiguePremium Content

I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true.
I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live
by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody
that stands right, and stand with him while he is right,
and part with him when he is wrong. ~ Abraham Lincoln


Compassion is defined as "a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering."

Compassion fatigue is a form of burnout that manifests itself as physical, emotional and spiritual exhaustion. Clinically it is defined as a more user friendly term for Secondary Traumatic Stress Disorder which is nearly identical to PTSD, except it affects those who are affected by the trauma of another, perhaps a family member, friend, acquaintance or client.

Caregivers and therapists/practitioners who serve others are particularly prone to this condition. In the broader picture, I believe that many of us are experiencing compassion fatigue as it relates to the world at large. We are assailed by the news
of war, crime, disease, famine and natural disasters. Reportedly, thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of innocents are being raped, kidnapped, brutalized, tortured, sold into slavery or the sex trade, forced to leave their homes and livelihoods, renounce their religions or be crucified and as is becoming more common, beheaded.

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Help My UnbeliefPremium Content

Our beliefs can either work for or against us.

Years ago, a life altering point in both my eating disorder recovery and my relationship with God involved the scripture, Mark 9:24:

"Lord, I believe. Help Thou my unbelief."


It punctuated the state of my life. I didn’t think I could believe in who I was, in life and in God. My faith wasn’t "enough."

Through my eating disorders, be it anorexia, bulimia or binge eating, I believed God hated me and was going to send me to hell. My perfectionistic thoughts had obliterated His grace. Increasing amounts of shame from my behaviors, which included theft and lying, made me reach a point of no return. I was "un-save-able."

So, when I encountered Mark 9:24, it validated my struggles with doubt. That ninth chapter in Mark, uttered by a man, centuries earlier, sent the reassurance I needed. I was not the only person to ever think this way. And before Mark 9:24’s zinger, there was the set up scripture of the twenty-third verse:

Jesus said unto him, "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth."

Ordinarily, this would have caused me to despair. If Jesus was telling me it was solely up to me to "believe right," then, let’s face it, I’m a goner.

But again, centuries ago, He responded to another doubting person. Mark 9:24 was this man’s only comeback.

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Life Doesn't Have a "Re-do" Button

All our steps are ordered by the Lord;
how then can we understand our own ways?
Proverbs 20:24 NRSV

Over Christmas break, the son of one of my fellow teachers was killed in an auto accident. Both of his parents work for our school district and are loving, wonderful people. Their younger daughter was in one of the plays I helped with. It was a devastating loss for our small community.

When it happened, I tried to get my head around it. Oh, not the fact that such a young person had died and the reason for it, but rather simply that it had happened at all. I began to think about games, in particular computer games, and the ability to "redo" a game when the outcome wasn't what I wanted (in effect, when I lost). I began to wonder if his parents wished that they could "redo" those few hours before he died, keeping him at their home rather than allowing him to drive several hours to his house and subsequently dying.

I think that all of us, at one time or another and for one reason or another, wished that life had a "redo" button, wished that we could relive a certain situation in order to change the outcome. When Proverbs speaks of the Lord ordering our ways, some in the Christian community would see this as confirmation that God has predetermined everything that happens to us and that we don't have free will. I personally don't agree with that view. But what I see this as is the Old Testament version of Romans 8:28:

And we know that God causes everything to work together" for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (NLT)

Matthew Henry writes:

What is the Root Cause of Your Worry?

A scene from an episode of the final season of "Mad Men" captures a self-doubt moment beautifully. The exchange is between the protagonist, Don Draper and that of his protégée, Peggy Olsen. She recently turned thirty years old and, like most of us, life had not turned out how she expected it would. Peggy has a moment of self-doubt, one to which Draper responded…

"I worry about a lot of things. But I don't worry about you."

Worry. We have a lot of it in life. We worry about our jobs, our families, our place in this world and our recovery if we struggle with addictions, disorders and compulsions. We worry, even though "fear not" is mentioned by God numerous times in scripture. We cannot seem to help it.

So, where does all of this worry stem from? How about from a thought? Check yourself and see if you have ever thought some of these things about yourself.

"I'm nobody special…"

This is a biggie, hitting our core identity and our value. Most of us have encountered lying thoughts about ourselves here. Bullying, abuse and peer pressure often lead us to believe we're worthless and unwanted.

Running from Suffering

Who can say, "I have made my heart clean;
I am pure from my sin?" Proverbs 20:9

Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed. Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance. Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; for it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.' . . . Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart. You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God. 1 Peter 1:13-16, 22-23 NRSV

I am an Army mom. My wonderful son is a combat MP who has served in Iraq and who, with his company, is returning there this summer. Being an Army mom wasn't something that I chose for myself, but it is something that I embrace because it is what the Lord has chosen for my son. When my first son was away on his first tour, I met many other military moms who were intensely worried for their children's lives. Many asked me how I could be so calm when my son was in harm's way.

Now, I'm no saint (except for the wonder of being a follower of the Lord Jesus). But I am practical and I try to embrace the heart of God as much as I can. So, I am able to walk calmly when my son is in Iraq or my husband is working hurricanes for FEMA because there are certain realities of life which American society has tried to erase and unfortunately which the Church has pushed away.

The first reality is that the only guarantee in life is death. Everyone dies.

Are Negative Emotions Controlling You?Premium Content

Emotions play a big role in our life. They are active and alive twenty-four hours a day, even in our dreams. Emotions literally tell us what to do with our marriage, family, job, career, self, and how we love others. If we don’t control the course that our emotions run, we might be heading down the road towards destruction.

Are you allowing emotions to control your life?

When was the last time you got angry? What do you do when your friend turns their back on you? What do you do when your spouse disrespects you? What do you do when your children continue to misbehave?

What happens if your emotions tell you that you don't love your spouse anymore? What are you going to do? Do you let jealousy and resentment tell you what to do in certain circumstances?

Before we can understand the full potential of our self and our emotions we need to understand a little bit about who we are, and why we do and say the things we do. How do we handle our selves with certain issues and particular circumstances?

What do we do when conflict rears its ugly head in our marriage? We get emotional, right? We lash out with anger, or we clam up in resentment, or express our self improperly. Are we letting our emotions rule our marriage, our self, and our life?

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What does "Pray Without Ceasing" Mean?

Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 declares that God's will for us is that we

[p]ray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks.

To pray unceasingly does not mean spending twenty-four hours daily in prayer. >b>Rather, it means being open continually to God, sharing our thoughts and hopes with Him in mental prayer, and so on. It means, as we face a problem, praying, in a sentence, "Lord, help me with this problem"; or, "Give me patience as I talk with this trying person"; or, "Thank you for seeing me through that mess," and similar prayers.

O. Hallesby years ago wrote, "We cannot breathe in the early morning in such a way that it will be sufficient until noon. Likewise, we cannot pray in the morning so as to suffice until noon."

Continual sentence prayers are simply Christian breathing. They keep us alive and strong.

Laying Firm Foundations in Recovery

Jesus says:
Matthew 7:24-27
"Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

"And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it."

Matthew 7:24-27 speaks to everyone who is in recovery. At one time or another, we all have built our houses on sand. That sand could be alcohol, riches, drugs, sex, food, another person, gambling, anger, abuse, depression, the list is endless. And just like sand, these God-substitutes slip through our fingers, leaving no trace as we desperately grasp at them looking for something firm to cling to. None of these sand-gods provide a firm foundation. Only God Almighty provides a foundation that is unshakable. No matter how bad things get, God is always there. He never fails. Yes, at times we may feel He is distant, but that is a FEELING. The reality is that He is always present and He holds you firmly in His grip, if you let Him.

The Christian, Stress and AlcoholPremium Content

We are living in an age where stress pushes at us from all sides. We live with a real threat of nuclear war. There is armed conflict in parts of our world. Famine, natural disasters, inflation and unemployment are nationwide. Things are going from bad to worse.

Apart from the pressure in the world, each one of us face stress and tension in our daily lives and situations. Underemployment and unemployment are very real problems that hurt us not only financially, but threaten us with feelings of inadequacy and loss of self-esteem.

Another cause of stress can be attributed to a simple lack of communication - on the job, between husband and wife, or between parent and child. We have the young mother with a thousand seemingly endless duties at home. There is the husband at work with pressure to meet deadlines. At day's end, when the husband comes home, there can be real conflict unless there is an attempt to honest communication.

There is stress in the life of the single person who may have feelings of loneliness or rejection. There is the ministry whose life may become a seemingly endless cycle of handling one counseling crisis after another, while still expected to be an outstanding church leader, perfect husband, and loving father. There is the worker in the factory saddled with what seems to be a boring, dead-end job.

The point is, all of us face stress and tension in our lives. To a certain degree, everyone also experiences occasional feelings of unworthiness or inadequacy stemming from an improper self-image. 0 r self-image also tends to change somewhat as our circumstances change.

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Never Again Will I.....

Never again will I confess, "I can't"
For I can do all things through Christ which Strengtheneth me Philippians 4:13

Never again will I confess lack, for
My God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in glory
by Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19

Never again will I confess fear, for
God has not given us the spirit of fear,
but of power, and of love and of a sound mind.
2 Timothy 1:7

Never again will I confess doubt and lack of faith, for
God hath given to every man the measure of faith. Romans 12:3

Never again shall I confess weakness, for

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