Posts Categorized: christianity

Patty Mason Interview Part 3:Offering Hope as Caregiver and Church

There is no degree needed to help others, whether you are caring for a loved one or ministering to others wrestling with depression. Jesus used fishers of men. Patty testifies, in her book Finally Free: Breaking the Bonds of Depression Without Drugs, that the only requirement is that others can see—you’ve been with Jesus. 

If you are in the Nashville, Tennessee area, Patty is hosting a book launch on Monday, September 30th, from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm at Branches Counseling Center in Murfreesboro. Come meet Patty and be encouraged by her testimony. It was a pleasure presenting Patty’s story to you.  

Scripture to meditate on:

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people” (Matthew 4:19).

“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).

TPOS: About seven years after your experience, you became the caregiver for your husband as he too battled depression. What words of encouragement do you have for caregivers?

It is challenging to take care of someone who is battling depression, so do not feel guilty for taking care of yourself, it is vital. You will also feel a lot of emotions yourself, maybe even frustration or anger. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling that way, many of those feelings are perfectly normal emotions. This is a lot to take on.

TPOS: How does a caregiver take care of themselves during their loved one’s crisis?

Eat well, stay hydrated, make sure you are getting enough rest, stay in the Word. In fact, my relationship with the Lord went to a whole new level. I clung to Him during that season of my husband’s depression. Join a support group. Get into a bible study. Take breaks. Go have lunch with a friend. Take a bubble bath. Give yourself time to recover and recuperate. 

TPOS: Is the Bible silent on depression and our response? How can we encourage others through God’s Word?

The Bible is not silent on depression. Even though it doesn’t use the word depression, it uses words like despair, gloom, downcast, oppressed, misery. God’s Word is life. Continue to speak that Word of life over people. I encourage others to speak God’s Word out loud. Often, I would take the Bible and march through my home and proclaim the Word of God out loud.

TPOS: Why is it easy to hide depression?

Actually, it is not easy to hide depression. It’s work. It’s a conscious choice to hide the depression. There’s a stigma, and as Christians aren’t we supposed to be exuding peace and joy? Aren’t we supposed to be happy all of the time? We don’t want to admit, especially to our church, we are not okay. We come to church and often wear the mask more because we think we have to look like we’re okay.

TPOS: As a newly freed from depression, a believer in Christ, what training did you receive to share hope to others? 

None. I was just invited to share my story. God gave me a testimony, and testimonies have a way of reaching people in ways nothing else can.

TPOS: What does the church do well in addressing depression?

The church is really good at encouraging people to stay in the Word. They can be a wealth of information and can help you find direction. They can guide you to counselors, resources, and contacts to find help. I would like to see church leaders receive training on depression and how to handle depression, rather than referring them to others. It would be great if people could actually come to someone in leadership who knows how to talk with them, direct them, and help them see the root. In Finally Free, I offer tips on how to handle someone who comes to them with depression. 

TPOS: In what ways does the church need to grow in its response to believers wrestling with depression? 

As mentioned in Finally Free, it’s important to treat the whole person—body, soul, spirit. 

Encourage pastors and leaders that their input, encouragement, and inspiration as a spiritual leader is so important, because the spiritual element of the treatment plan is often missing.

TPOS: What should be the church’s response to unbelievers struggling with depression? 

I was a non-believer battling depression. Once I started to turn to God, that is when I was set free from depression. In the book, I address depression from a Biblical perspective. For example, sin and rebellion can bring on depression. Living separated from God and doing our own thing can bring on depression. I was released from depression by turning to Jesus and allowing God to be my life.

TPOS: How does a church begin developing a ministry of awareness and discipleship for those wrestling with depression?

We offer basic training for the church. Our materials help train leaders to see and address depression from a biblical perspective. We explore the causes of depression from God’s Word and what God says will help cure that depression.

TPOS: “…unless we’re familiar with depression, it can go undetected until something drastic happens.” What should we watch for in our loved one?

Watch for changes in their normal behavior. Is there a change in eating habits—gaining or losing weight? Do they start sleeping more than normal? Do they start turning to drugs and alcohol? Are they pulling away from friends or activities they once enjoyed? 

If you are dealing with a teenager, it can be difficult to determine if they are dealing with depression or if it is peer pressure, academic stress, lack of sleep, or a bad diet. This can be difficult for even a trained counselor to discern. I have a teen and depression sheet that offers keys to building communication with your teen, warning signs, knowing when to get help, and helping your teen to beat depression, I’d be happy to send out if you email me at patty@libertyinchristministries.com

TPOS: How can lay people reach into the lives around them struggling with despair?

Listen. Be supportive, don’t criticize or condemn what the person feels, even if what they are saying doesn’t make any sense. Sometimes a depressed person just wants to talk about what they are going through, and not feel like they are alone. 

TPOS: How can we pray for your ministry?

Pray for Finally Free, that God would open doors and allow us to continue to offer this message of hope. Pray for those reading it, that their lives would be changed by hope and healing through Jesus.

TPOS: Final thoughts?

You are not alone. There is hope. What I thought was devastation, God saw as an opportunity to draw me near and change the trajectory of my life. Depression is not the end; it can be the start of a beautiful beginning.

Finally Free

Patty Mason is an author, national speaker, and the founder of Liberty in Christ Ministries. For more than two decades, Patty has shared her story of God’s redeeming grace and deliverance from depression before numerous audiences, in several books, blogs, and magazines, such as Lifeway’s “Living More,” as well as radio and television programs, including American Family

About Patty

What are Your Tags Showing: REDEEMED

John 19:19 Pilate also had a notice posted on the cross. It read: Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.

“Your tag is showing.” The lady behind me whispered at church yesterday, as she tucked the sales tag into the back of my shirt. First of all, let me just say . . . I got a killer price on the shirt! But what do you do when your tags of brokenness are showing?

  1. Hide them
  2. Lie about them
  3. Claim them and laugh
  4. Flaunt them

Everyone was labeling Jesus. They were trying to understand this man who claimed to be both God and man. Was he here to usurp power, or lead a rebellion? Was he a prophet? Yet Jesus cared more about who his heavenly Father thought he was. “This is my son, in whom I well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) He did not hide who he was.

For many of us, others see what we think hidden. They see we are unhappy in our marriage; coworkers are painfully aware of our arrogance; friends feel the draft of our hopelessness. Some just laugh and are grateful that it’s not them suffering those problems. Others lean forward and tell us to hide them better. Still others pluck the tags from us thinking they are being helpful.

I can’t hide the tag of survivor of suicide because it permeates from every aspect of my life. I miss that blue-eyed, dimpled chin young man. I miss his laugh, our conversations, seeing him at college, and all the things that were to come. But in this life we will have troubles. I hope you see, though deeply wounded, I will not back down from living! Be encouraged, our circumstances may tag us with heavy burdens. but no matter how may labels show, the original price on my life has been marked out. In its place are the words: REDEEMED! PRICE PAID IN FULL! BEAUTIFUL! WORTHY! JUSTIFIED! FORGIVEN!

Do you still carry the tag of who you were, or has it been marked out by Jesus Christ? Are you convinced, no matter what tags this broken world tries to pin on you, that you are a son or daughter of a risen king! Murderers tried to tack “King of the Jews” above Jesus on the cross. But, I declare that he was and is the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Redeemer and gratefully my Savior. That is a tag I don’t care if anyone catches hanging out of my shirt!

Prayer:  Lord, we have tags showing. May your love redeem all of them and lead others to a saving knowledge of who you are. Amen

the cross is necessary

Sanctuary, You keep saying that word . . .

Psalm 73 . . .Still, when I tried to figure it out,
    all I gt was a splitting headache . . .
Until I entered the sanctuary of God.
    Then I saw the whole picture: . . . {The Message)

Give me sanctuary! For the past few weeks I had multiple excuses to not enter the sanctuary of God. I have literally felt oppressively hot each time I entered, to the point of feeling faint, and this week I was on the threshold of seizures as a result of my severe insomnia. But each time, with equal grit, I entered the sanctuary anyway!

Why? Because sanctuary is where my thinking is reborn. I’m no longer in the vacuum of my own thoughts and see more clearly God’s hand on my life. I am not alone! Pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up. (Ecclesiastes 4:10) How differently the aftermath of my son’s suicide would look if I chose to go through it alone.  So many of us, struggling with depression, become echo chambers as we withdraw from any voice but our own. I have had 42 years of playing my own thinking . . . there might be a broken record or two.

So I sing a new song each week, along with hundreds of brothers and sisters in Christ. This Sunday I let the truth of More than Conquerors remind me,  God overcomes every obstacle in my way. I can defiantly proclaim his love, truth, and presence to others desperate for answers. While participating in the sermon–which by the way means conversation–I hear God’s voice. You are not alone. Look around you. Do you think that you are the only one struggling to be here? Communicate your need to me, let me carry your burden.

I encourage you to enter the sanctuary, not out of obligation, but because there is relationship.  I raise my hands to praise, not because I have it all together, or have arrived at some spiritual nirvana! I raise my hands because I am defiant! I have a God who loves and fights for me and I recognize the warriors who surround me.

Find allies in the sanctuary of God.  (Please note, I have been abused by those who called themselves Christians, so I say this with the full awareness that church does not always feel like a place of protection.) But, I have also witnessed the generosity of Christians. I have experienced the provision and good gifts of a God who is not blind to my wounds. In the sanctuary I see that God is just.  We can angrily slam the door on God and Christians for perceived let downs, or we can enter the sanctuary and find our battle never was against each other. We have a common enemy and we cannot defeat him alone. Come to the sanctuary with me and raise your hand in defiance!

 

Lord, I praise you for placing a fire in me to be in the presence of your people. Thank you for the great music that encourages me and lights our way with the gospel of peace. Thank you for pastors that point to your truth and do not lean on their own understanding. Thank you that you raised your arms in defiance to death and teach me to become more than a conqueror! Amen

 

 

God’s Tattoo (Isaiah 49:16)

I etched part of my story into my arms, temporary

tattoos of my brokenness that time will fade, but you

You hammered my personhood into your hands

for eternity.

 

 

Do Not Anticipate

“Do not anticipate.” is the mantra pilgrims hear on the Walk to Emmaus. You do not take a watch, electronic device, or clock. People tell you where to go at the appointed times. It is the weirdest feeling to spend the majority of your life run by all of thee above and suddenly leave them all behind. But, you stop anticipating and begin living in the moment.

Today I realized that I am anticipating July 1st. My son dies that day and since his birthday in May my anxiousness and anticipation has increased. I was overwhelmed by a sense of impending doom. But, WE DON’T HAVE TO ANTICIPATE! If God is enough each day than what comes tomorrow really doesn’t matter to today.

July 1st will come, no matter what I anticipate and it will be whatever it will be. Jesus didn’t pray, “Give me enough bread for July 1st.” He prayed, “Give us, this day, our daily bread.” It is amazing the peace that washes over us when we stop anticipating and become open to God’s will, come what may. What are you anticipating?

 

God’s Signiture Piece

We are not die stamped, manufactured

on the factory floor and manhandled down

the assembly line, only to be discarded if we are

defective.

 

God’s hands took intimate pleasure

in sculpting man and women.

He dug into earth, kneading clay into

his own image. Checking proportions, building

the detailed science of vein, muscle, bone and ligament.

smoothing skin to skeleton with thumbs, chiseling

eyes, curling lips and dipping dimples. When he stepped

back, he was pleased–

And signed his work with his own DNA.

 

 

Accepting the Lifeline: God’s Yoke is Light

Matthew 11:29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

If you’re a Christian and His yoke doesn’t feel light, why is that? I used to think a light yoke meant my circumstances weren’t heavy, but clearly my circumstances are extremely heavy. Our yoke becomes light when we know God’s gentleness and humility so well that the yoke is nothing in comparison. Paul touches on the difference of our earthly weight compared to the heavenly yoke, in Romans 8:18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. If my yoke still feels heavy, it is because I am the one still carrying the weight! I don’t know or trust God’s character; giving him full reign of my life. The yoke becomes lighter and lighter when I love Him completely and recognize his complete love for me. Have you ever been secure in that kind of love? Can we accept that he carried our burden on the cross, and therefore, find rest (relief) in the yoke of our savior.

Much of faith is getting to know our master’s character so well that we trust him implicitly. Think of it this way. We are drowning in sin, sin we are doing, and sin that someone is enacting on us. We are exhausted and God has thrown out his life line. We must choose to grab the line before we can rest and allow him to pull us to safety. Now I can keep attempting to save myself, or allow others to pull me under in their misguided attempts at saving me, or I can trust the character of God. This is so much easier when we get to know his character. We read his love note (scripture) over and over. We witness that he has rescued others, we ourselves might have thought hopeless, and we act on his character over and over. I’ll grab the lifeline of the certified swim instructor who has swum the channel! Jesus swam the channel of humanity! He tells us his yoke is light, because he wore the yoke of his father, and knows it to be true.

Observe His gentleness and humility throughout scripture. Don’t discount his love for mankind in the Old Testiment as well as the New. From the birth of creation he has loved and called you by name. We have to decide, will we take His yoke upon us? Will we accept the lifeline and rest?

 

 

Laughing our way to the Cross: Practing Lightheartedness

I take things so seriously and I have been that way from the womb. Cultivating a light heartedness, no matter our personality, is a part of character development. How is that even possible for one as serious and sometimes awkward as me? Well how did Jesus do it?

He partied!

He ate meals with his friends!

He spent time with children!

He was disciplined!

That last one seems out-of-place in our wild life of the party mentality. Disciplined people can be fun to be around? Yes, because discipline lightens our load and makes us more effective in our celebration. Amazing how much more creative I am with a clean desk. Jesus was disciplined without attempting to control the outcome. He retired to a quiet place to spend time with his heavenly father, but if the crowd searched him out, he ministered to them. There is a difference between control and discipline. Control says, I must have things a certain way to function, but discipline stretches, strengthens, and prepares for us to receive our day.

As I am becoming more disciplined in exercise I am better able to be a blessing to my family. Consider the wise words of Elle Woods,”Endorphins make you happy, happy people don’t just go around killing their husbands.” (Reese Witherspoon, Legally Blond) I took her advice. Sunday I was extremely agitated, but after spending forty minutes on the bike trail calmness reigned in my out of control thinking.

Start small 5 minutes. Start with 5 minutes of outdoor time. Love gardening, spend 5 minutes daily weeding your bed. All kinds of biblical lessons there!

Spend time with children. My church has a stain glass window of Jesus on his throne, welcoming little children into his lap. It is easy to see how much pleasure Jesus took in them. My kids wrote me a birthday puppet show last night. They even broke out in song. Love it!

Creation itself throws one big God party! Are we too serious to pause, laugh and celebrate? Life bursts forth with streamers and noise makers every morning I wake up. I am not going to be outdone by the colorful pansies in my garden, or the robin singing his praises outside my office window. My art class surprised me with a cake and sang happy birthday to me yesterday. A gift arrived under my Jonathan tree. Delightful!

How much I value fellowship with you! Even though my “letters” for many of you, come a considerable distance, I still feel a bond with you as we share life together. Some of you I get to break bread with in person. I learn so much, and take pleasure in watching God in your lives. So, throw your streamers! Don’t become so bogged down by the brokeness that we forget that the cross wasn’t the end of the story. Resurrection was God’s invitation, and ALL of us are on the guest list. That is worth celebrating!

The Rescued Rescue

Are we prepared to plant our flags, still crisp and starched

with victory, on

the filthy front lines of humiliated humanity? Tend to

“their” soldiers? And surrender

to suffering, for an enemy still spewing venom as we wash

their wounds?

 

We are ready when we recognize ourselves as

former P.O.W.s. Defeated, and in the ditch of despair.

Rescued by the one who planted himself deep in the flesh

of our territory. Mocked and torn by a crown of barbwire. Tortured

by the enemy, to free us ALL.

 

 

 

 

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If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call the National Suicide Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or go to the website at  SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.