Stinking Thinking

Some of you may remember from my book, “Turning Blue to Blue: How God Used Art to Lift My Depression”, that I have watched and learned from some of the saddest reality shows. Well, I came upon another lesson recently.
The show follows morbidly obese people for a year after their weight loss surgery. In the season finale, a woman believed to be 800 pounds was featured. They were not able to weight her initially due to timing and health concerns.

Her background story was that she had been kidnapped and held at gunpoint by her boyfriend after trying to end their relationship. He managed to escape after killing 2 police officers who had come to rescue her. She continued to fear for her life and hid in her home for years. Food became her comfort. Now she is in her early 40s and wants to change her life.

Due to the severity of her situation, surgery is immediately performed on her. Usually the doctor asks patients to lose 50 or so pounds first to see how serious they are and what kind of family support they have. After surgery it is usually advised to get up and walk as soon as possible. But this patient refused to even try. She would tell the physical therapists at the hospital to come back later. She was busy on her laptop. That went on for several months. Eventually, the doctor sent her home. Despite family that seemed supportive, she continued to refuse to try to walk for 10 months. Finally, at a family member’s request, the doctor came to her home and coaxed her into allowing the paramedics to help her stand. They showed her standing twice in a row for about 5 seconds each. Afterwards she smiled and seemed so relieved. She said she hadn’t believed her legs could hold her. That’s why she wouldn’t try.

Now I realize this is “reality” TV. It was edited in such a way to make it a compelling story. It ended on a hopeful note that now she would continue the hard work to regain her mobility. However, the lesson for me was powerful.

I’ve been watching that show for years and have seen the miraculous physical and emotional breakthroughs patients have had in their first 12 months. But because this woman didn’t believe she could stand, she shut herself down from trying or even getting more help. Many of the patients see a therapist and I certainly think that would have been beneficial for her. So in effect, 11 months were wasted. At 600 – 800 lbs, every day is precious and proven professionals offering help is a godsend.

I thought about myself and some other people close to me. How long have we been refusing to “stand”, because we don’t believe we can, when all the while we have access to everything we need to not just walk but run? What we believe about ourselves and our situations is so powerful. We just can’t allow stinking thinking to hold us back any longer.

Everyday I’m working on freeing my mind. At some points in the day I may need to recite a scripture or sing myself a song. My meds continue to help and so does my art. Through inspirational words on my Facebook page, my writing workshop, my art workshops or talking with me one on one, I hope to encourage those I can touch to free themselves from self-doubt, self-hate, perfectionism, anger and fear.

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I was angry with God

At this point in my journey I’m all about being honest with myself first,  the Lord second and the world third. It’s not like I was ever big on lying to the world, but I’ve learned I couldn’t really be honest with them when  I wasn’t honest with myself. And really what point is there in lying to God? He already knows!

English: Angry woman.

English: Angry woman. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So I was angry. I had come to believe that God had let me down when He should have been protecting me from emotional harm. Also, when I prayed earnestly for a particular situation to resolve itself as I wanted it to, He ignored me. Perhaps the real fuel was that I found myself in those situations as a new Christian. I hadn’t made it through the entire Bible yet. I didn’t know about praying in tongues. I didn’t have any good female Christian buddies yet. No one in my immediate family was walking with Christ. All I had was Him. And He let me down.

When this revelation came to me in therapy, I was embarrassed and immediately penitent. I realized how foolish I had been. I realized how ungrateful I had been. How could I ever know all that the Lord had protected me from? How could I take for granted that I was still breathing? I couldn’t!

On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it?  -Romans 9:20

Romans 8:28 became real to me all over again. “All things work together for good for them that love the Lord…”

You may have asked or stated, “Why did you let my uncle do those things to me?”

“Why did He let my son be murdered?”

“I was a good husband. I deserved better, God.”

The reality of our lives is that some incredibly painful events and loses have taken place. As Christians, on  a certain level, we want to feel we will be protected from the hurts and losses. But really we know, or we come to know, that neither of those are true. As we mature in our understanding of the word and God’s nature we accept  that pain and loss is a significant part of this walk. We gain strength accepting that God’s grace is sufficient[i], that He has equipped us and that when we lack wisdom we can ask Him for it and we will receive it[ii].


[i] 2 Corinthians 12:9

[ii] James 1:5

all verses from the New American Standard Bible

 

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Unfortunately, he was a stone cold drunk…

www.carsforcollectorsclub.com

My parents separated when I was three years old. The
story is my dad started selling drugs and brought some
guys back to the apartment. My mom said he absolutely
could not expose her babies to “those folks” and “that life.”
She told him he needed to head back south to Georgia
and his parents’ house. He went, but they never divorced.

Through the years a few men drifted in and then
out. Only one stuck. Unfortunately, he was a stone cold
drunk. I believe he loved her. He tolerated us. But the
booze had a twenty year hold on him. And actually I’m
not sure my mom ever required him to stop drinking. I
can honestly say I liked him more when he was drunk. He
was angry and mean when he was sober. Even as a twelve
or thirteen year old I knew to be alarmed when he drove
his light blue Cadillac fast through the bumpy streets of
the Bronx, clearly intoxicated. My brother and I were in
the white leather backseat. Back then, seatbelts were just
a suggestion, but I made sure we were strapped in tight.

Even though my mom had a stable job working for
the City of New York and didn’t have a car, high inflation,
high unemployment and the energy crisis at the end of
the 1970s hit hard. I remember watching the news and
seeing cars lined up to get their gas on odd and even days.
Our landlord decided to sell the house we were renting.
My mom couldn’t buy it and she didn’t have the money
to secure an apartment. At that time in NYC, not only did

you need one month rent and one month security, but
you needed an equal to or greater amount of cash to pay
under the table in order to have your name moved up on
the list. We moved in with the alcoholic and stayed there
for a year or so.”

– excerpt from Turning Blue to Blue: How God Used Art to Lift My Depression

Guest Post from Dr. Angela Hargrow

Tough Love

Tough love is a term that is often used when parents treats their children in ways that some might call harsh, with the sole intent to help them in the long run. The use of tough love has been scrutinized by many as nothing more than reasons to be unnecessarily harsh and punitive towards kids who are already suffering. I believe we can use tough love with kids who have mental illnesses. This form of tough love means loving them enough to set tighter boundaries and allowing them to experience natural consequences. When our children are mean or act poorly with others who then reject them, we have to love them enough to not only let them feel the pain of that rejection but to talk with them about how their behaviors puts others off. When they don’t do their homework and we are stressed out by arguing with them, communicating with their teachers, and frustrated by keeping up with their assignments, then we have to be tough enough to let them live with the consequences of their actions, even if it’s a failing grade. Life’s experiences will begin to help us motivate them to understand their own illnesses and to work with us to help them not only manage their symptoms but also to manage their complete lives.

Tough love means not always avoiding the tantrums, tears, and rages. It means holding tight the boundaries that not only we have set but those set by society because our children will have to live by those boundaries someday without us. Tough love means we stop making so many adjustments to keep them happy because we feel bad that their friends didn’t call or they missed out on a school trip because of their behavior. And yes, it means letting them fail a grade or even letting them leave your house when they reach a certain age. Sure, it will be hard to watch them falter, fall, and sometimes fail.  With our guidance life can be a great teacher if we use its experiences to teach our children. It will be tough, but we have to love them enough to help them succeed by not holding their hands and feelings so afraid for them. We have to be tough enough and love them enough to let them go so they can stand on their own two feet.

http://ahargrow.wordpress.com/2013/05/24/tough-love/

Angela Hargrow is a licensed psychologist with over 15 years of experience. Not only does she have a child who has been diagnosed with a mood disorder but also she has worked extensively with parents of children who have a variety of mental illnesses. She has used her experiences as a parent and as a psychologist to help families understand their child/teen’s disorder and to cope with the stressful impact that the disorder has on not only the child but the entire family. Used with permission

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From One Heart to Another

Vector version of Image:Color icon purple.png

Vector version of Image:Color icon purple.png (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I know a delightful man, loquacious and sensitive. When you come into his shop be prepared to stay longer than you should, enjoying his honest and humorous pondering on life.

In a conversation about a year ago, he was telling me how much he loved purple. His business pens are purple and if he could find more supplies in his color, he would. I was just starting on my art adventure back then and I had already been visiting him for four years.

I was inspired to create something for him.  I thought about it for over 6 months. And then the vision came to me. He and his wife had just had their first child. She is an absolutely adorable angel. My vision combined the purple with being new parents. It is called New Family.

New FamilyI had enlarged it and put it in a simple, durable, black frame with a white mat for the library display. After the display, it was sitting in my living room,  just sitting. Finally I said, “I’m going to take it to him!”

When he saw it he was dumbfounded for a few seconds. Then he said it was beautiful and expressed how much he loved it and how touched he was. I asked him what he saw in it. He saw the family, exactly as I had intended! That shocked me because no one else had. Even when I  would explain it to others, the response was, “Ohhh.”

He shared with me some of the pains and joys of his life, unashamed to let tears well up in his eyes, and how at those times, creativity flows from him like a powerful salve.

Once again I was richer for having been in his presence, sharing heart to heart.