Do you know someone who lives “in the dark”?
There seem to be so many more people struggling with anxiety and depression these days. Sometimes it is the person you least expect. The challenges of loving someone who find themselves frequently “in the dark” are heartbreaking. Please pray for not only those who struggle but also their friends and family members.
I don’t have particularly dark days but I know people who do. I can’t imagine living in a shroud of darkness, struggling to find light in a day. I know it is disorienting, intimidating, and overwhelming. If you have been in a dark space, you know what I am saying. Even though I can use my imagination, sometimes I am at a loss at how to assist someone struggling through a dark time. I can always pray, and I do, but there are times something more tangible is needed.
It is true that a dark time can be the result of sin and confession and absolution is an amazing gift to someone struggling in that way. It is amazing how guilt, shame, and unconfessed sin can create darkness in our lives. Healthy Biblical counseling can be a great blessing. But that isn’t the only reason for depression. Depending on the circumstance, a psychiatrist and a psychologist can help. Medicine can be useful. Supportive friends and family, healthy eating, regular sleep patterns, and exercise can all be components that benefit someone stuck “in the dark”.
Pay close attention to those you know who struggle in this way. A little extra time from you, a listening ear, and encouraging words may be a way to help them (or their loved one) navigate through a dark space.
On the Road,
If one isn’t into buying fully prepared meals at slow or fast food restaurants, one can buy food in any number of stages:
- Young plants
- Chopped and cleaned
I know I have purchased things in each of those stages at different times in my life. But I do think there is a creative and contemplative process when chopping and cooking things. It can be therapeutic. What can be purchased prepared may work just fine but it doesn’t allow the interaction with the ingredients and the process quite as much.
Preparation takes time.
Sometimes I am so busy preparing for the very next thing that I forget to prepare for other coming things. I tuck aside future prep for another day and, hopefully, a free moment in the future. That is certainly true when it comes to meals. But it also applies to other areas of my life.
Have you ever neglected to prepare your heart for the day? Have you been so pressed for time and the events of a particular season that you have missed an important time of preparation for your soul?
I encourage you to take time to prepare your heart for this week of Easter thoughts: The Last Supper, the empty tomb, and everything in between. Take time to read Scripture that recalls those events from Matthew, Mark, and Luke to see how they each remember the events. Explore the Old Testament prophets—what did they have to say? Allow yourself time to contemplate and give God time to work the soil of your heart. Let His words be yours as you read, ponder, and pray.
On the Road,
Once we are school aged we are often aware that there are some things we need to do to fit in. Some of those are fine things to require. There is a place for order.
Some people comply and “fit in” more easily than others and that has always been the case for any number of reasons. It always depends on the “group” needs and goals. As we get older and enter the work force we typically want to fit into the work culture yet also stand out in a way that shows our contributions are unique and beneficial to the team.
There is a delicate balance to fitting in yet standing out.
But don’t be too surprised when the qualities, strengths, and perspectives that comprise you are not appreciated by everyone. If you are in a work environment that does not appreciate integrity and honesty, you might need an exit strategy. If you volunteer for an agency that asks you to compromise your core values, find a better fit. If you serve on a church board that does not behave in a healthy way, step away. While it is true you can change a system from the inside, it cannot be done singlehandedly. Sometimes the culture of a system is unhealthy and fighting against something so ingrained is like beating your head against a wall.
But don’t forget to look inward and evaluate if you are being too hard-nosed about things that may not really matter. Even though we may be wired a bit differently and may approach a task differently than the next person, it can be a matter of preference. And the difference in approach is what makes life and relationships interesting.
If you know someone who is working hard not to compromise their core values, be supportive by praying for a better fit for them. Be willing to listen as they process and brainstorm. Give them the gifts of encouragement and laughter and unconditional love.
On the Road,
Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.
Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.”
Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. Matthew 26:48-50
Have you ever been connected with someone who flattered you with kisses (or something similar) only to have them turn on you later?
If you have ever experienced it you know it is quite unpleasant. When I have been in this type of situation I wonder where was my discernment? Why was I vulnerable to fall for something like that?
Who does that to people?
But knowing that this happened to Jesus helps. Betrayal happens.
What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9
Of course, our betrayal experiences do not compare with those of Jesus but it is good to know that pain we feel – He can relate. And God can use it for a greater good.
The sooner you can forgive a betrayer the better off you will be. But just don’t expect that to be something you can do without Jesus. He is the one who makes forgiveness possible.
On the Road,
With so much unrest all around us, peace can be a difficult thing to find. Some of the unrest is in the world, some of it is in the not-so United States, some of it is in our churches, workplaces, and sometimes it is in our homes. With so many differences in opinion on how things should be addressed sometimes it is difficult to find and agree upon the best approach to resolving conflict.
- Scientists disprove
- Politicians agitate
- World leaders argue
- Bosses differ
- Theologians contemplate
- Siblings bicker
- Parents wrangle
- Children bandy
It can be exhausting!
Now I think I understand why my mom would occasionally ask for “peace and quiet”. When things are peaceful, it isn’t always quiet and when things are quiet, it isn’t always peaceful. But ask for both and cover all the bases!
We don’t always have control over what is happening in the world and in our immediate circle but we can look to the Lord for His wisdom and strength as we deal with life’s situations and receive His blessing of peace.
On the Road,
Don and I have been able to ride our bicycles three times this week! We have had some gorgeous days recently and I am excited to be able to get out in the fresh air and sunshine. I sleep so much better at night if I ride my bike during the day. I also find I think about things from a new perspective when I ride. I think some of that has to do with being in nature.
We haven’t ridden bikes in New York as much as I thought I would when we moved here. First off, the winter is longer here than it is in southern Indiana. Secondly, where we live there are way more hills so it takes a little more effort to come up with a doable route. And, finally, it is pretty scary just riding on the streets to get to the bike path. There are so many cars and crazy drivers—it isn’t worth the risk to me. We finally put a hitch on our vehicle so we can use our handy dandy bike rack. We put our bikes on and then drive to ride. It definitely takes a bit more effort than I wish because I would ride a lot more if I felt like we could just take off from home. On the up side, we have found interesting places to ride – but some of them take an hour or so to get to.
I am looking forward to more sunshine, warmer days and more time biking. Spending time in God’s creation is good for me on so many levels. For me, it is important to take the time to breath, observe, listen, and stretch — and it even helps me rest better!
As soon as you can, get out and enjoy nature! Whether it is a walk in a park, rock climbing, bird watching, boating, star gazing, catching a sunrise or watching the sunset it can help you remember God’s strength and creativity!
On the Road,
It isn’t fair to say this rule originated in Bronxville, but I saw it here first.
When everyone is lined up at a traffic light and it turns green, the first person in the cue to turn left does not need to yield to the cross traffic. They turn in front of the car that is going straight as soon as the light is green.
That has not been an understood driving right anywhere else I have ever lived.
* * * * * * * * *
When I get to a new place, I try to figure out the unwritten rules. There usually are a few. At first I might notice that something is different and I can’t quite put my finger on it. Then, as time goes on and I observe more, I might be able to decipher it. And then I have to decide if I want to be a part of this new place and their rules.
Whether or not we are conscious about this process, I think it is fairly common but most noticeable when you are the newcomer to a situation.
Every town, organization, church, family, and relationship has rules. Some are formally written out but it is always hardest to figure out the unwritten ones. It takes time. And sometimes we get caught up in a system before we are able to discern whether or not it is healthy.
If you are in a situation that seems a little off, spend a little more time observing, pray for discernment, then decide if you should stay or go.
On the Road,