Anxiety RX

 

prescription pad rx

Image courtesy of vculibraries, licensed under Creative Commons

Below is a typical response I give to religious people who are struggling with anxiety and write asking for guidance. They tend to feel as if taking medication is a cop-out and that prayer should be able to completely alleviate the problem. The thing is, in a person without clinically significant anxiety, prayer and other spiritual exercises will probably go a long way toward resolving the problem. In people who have struggled for years and tried approaches of all kinds, spiritual approaches will probably not do the trick either, and this will often leave the person feeling guilty and as if his/her faith is questionable.

I know this will sound strange to hear from a pastor, but I recommend spiritual approaches in moderation. The reason is because so many of us today have been conditioned to use spiritual approaches as a kind of bludgeon, where we feel unspiritual and out of sorts if we can’t fix the problem through prayer, etc. When spiritual approaches help us find, face, and follow truth, and when they help us love and accept ourselves for who we are (just as God does), they are valuable. When they dictate to us lists of musts and shoulds and lay more burdens on us, they just become one more thing to worry about, and that’s the last thing you need. If the spiritual stuff is oppressing you and making you feel bad right now, drop it for the time being and pursue other approaches. Spirituality is a really powerful tool, but just like any tool, if we don’t know how to use it properly it can be very dangerous. In other words, if you notice that every time you swing a hammer you hit yourself on the head, I’d suggest leaving hammers alone for a while.

As far as how you should be relying on your faith, there are a lot of things you should be doing. You should avoid most red meat, not drink soda, work out 45 minutes a day, take a multivitamin every day, go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, never waste time at work, etc. The fact is, almost nobody is capable of doing everything we are told we should be doing. We take that same inability with us into our spiritual lives. You simply cannot, right now, be a person who gives all this over to God. If you could, you’d have already done it. Start there, with the reality of your powerlessness. Having seen that, don’t jump right into “Yes, but by God’s power…” That’s simply not true for you right now. At some point, by the power of God, perhaps you’ll do a lot of things, but we tend to want to acknowledge our powerlessness only long enough to declare God’s power working in us so that we can effectively be powerful again.  

Continue Reading »

Ten Things Christians Say That Drive Me Crazy

speakandspell

123rf.com

1. I’ll pray about it. a.) Really? When? For how long? How will you know when you’ve prayed enough? b.) Most of the time I believe this is just an excuse to avoid having to say a direct “no” to things we don’t want to do. After all, “No” is harder to argue with if you’ve prayed about it. Like “Oh great, the No is coming directly from God now. How can anyone argue with that?”

2. Got saved. Like it’s past tense, or ancient history. Like saving isn’t still happening. Like the biggest thing that has ever happened in your spiritual life happened back then, kind of like that concert you went to way back when. You don’t remember much about it now, other than it was awesome. But it was awesome. And by the way, saved from what? Most people can’t really articulate this very well.

3. The end times, or last days. I’m not sure if any concept has been responsible for more “Christian” lunacy than this. Setting aside the fact that the theological concept of the “rapture” was almost completely invented in the early 1800’s, even if we are “living in the last days,” the response of every single human being doesn’t change one bit — to live with honesty and integrity in the present moment and, if you are a Christian — to know this is what honors God.

4. Is this a sin, or will I go to hell if... This one may bother me on so many levels as to require its own post. Summary — adventures in missing the point. Salvation is life with God. Sin is that which keeps us from knowing that life. Both holiness and wickedness are cumulative. They both grow slowly in the human heart and they both lead a person down a certain path.

5. He/she would make a wonderful Christian. Why is that? It’s usually because they are especially kind or loving or patient, in which case that person already makes an exceptional human being. I think more Christians should focus on what it means to be an exceptional human being. We would discover that being an exceptional human being pleases God. Jesus was an exceptional human being. By the way, Jesus wasn’t a Christian either. He would have made such a wonderful Christian!

Continue Reading »

Why I Will Be Posting Less Often

Writer_John

Image courtesy of Onomatomedia, licensed under Creative Commons

It is clutch-time, dear reader. I have completed my book, Living Truthfully. I have spent the last few months building a platform, partly because I need a platform to get the book out, but also because I love the challenge of platform-building and finding “my people,” and the regular writing discipline is good for me. However, I need to devote most of my writing time to editing the book, finishing the proposal, and finding an agent who believes in it as much as I do. Though I have fears about losing my audience, it obviously doesn’t make sense to not follow through on getting this book published.

I will post one to two new posts per week for the next few months, and will re-post some stuff my readers might like that has been written on other blogs by other writers. My Twitter and Facebook posting schedule has also changed. From here on, it will be less frequent, less repetitive, and less annoying, and there will be days of silence.

God’s Love, prt. 4

No wonder we suffer from the spiritual schizophrenia we do in the church. No wonder the history of the church is full of outright atrocities, committed in the name of Jesus, prince of peace and Lord of Love. These spring directly from human beings who ultimately don’t know whether they are loved or hated, and from the difficulty of living in love. When we come to know the depth of God’s love for us, and that we are secure in that love not just for this life but for all eternity (a la Paul in Romans 8, and all through Philippians), we then have something to stand on other than threat of punishment. We then can find ourselves loving others for the right reasons — not out of fear for them, or for ourselves, but because we have finally found what we have always searched for — love that is truly unconditional, that never changes, in which there is truly no shadow of turning.

Good parents know there is nothing more important to our children’s development than their knowing beyond all question, suspicion, and doubt, that their parents always will what is best for them, that mom and dad will never under any possible circumstance, inflict suffering upon them that is unredemptive. People can say all they want about God’s sovereignty and mystery, and the importance of trusting in God, but whether you are in relationship with God or with a human being, you do not cease being human. Humans, in order to function healthily, need to know they can trust those who say they love them, and this includes every single personal being in relationship to them, whether other human beings, Martians, God, or hobbits. If God is going to harm you beyond any hope of redemption, you cannot trust him, and you cannot help that. God made you to shy away from people and situations you cannot trust. As long as you believe God is willing to punish you beyond all hope of redemption, you will ultimately struggle to trust him, and that is not lack of faith on your part.

The gospel I preach at Wildwind Church starts not in Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, but in Psalm 139. That plants our minds and hearts in fertile soil in which we can begin to imagine that we are truly loved, beyond any and all ability for us to screw up. Then we read the rest of the Biblical text and God’s love is apparent to us. In places in scripture where God is loveless, we realize the writers, too, are struggling to imagine this love (some of the verses toward the end of Psalm 139 are a perfect example of this). We have to make a choice here and that’s why I wrote http://davidkflowers.com/2012/07/right-and-wrong/. We’re scared to death to make that choice. Yet we must.

In this series of posts on God’s love, I have not dealt with any of the implications of what I believe about the love of God. What does this mean about salvation? Where is the need for Jesus? What is the purpose/point of evangelism? Am I a universalist? I will take on those questions in a future series, but I am going to give theology a rest for a while. It has been a long series, and fairly heavy, at least for people who are not accustomed to digging into theology.

Question: What does God’s love mean to you? How far will God’s love ultimately reach?

Email subscriptions fixed

I became aware earlier today that the email subscription feature on my site has not been working. Apparently it broke when my domain name changed a couple weeks ago. I am sorry for the inconvenience. That problem and the problems I have been having with CommentLuv are both fixed, and my e-book The Spiritual Journey has received some editing and freshening up.

I am sorry for the inconvenience. Please let me know of any problems you run into on my site and I will attend to them as quickly as possible. Thank you.