JUST AS DIRTY AS I AM – Nobody gets in a bath unless they’re dirty!

God welcomes everyone. As we learn from him and about him, we can’t help but fall in love.

It was 1996, I’d recently gone through a divorce with a violent, drug addicted and schizophrenic man who had me living in fear for almost 17 years. Wanting to get closer to God in the cold Canberra winter of 1998, my sister took me to her little Pentecostal church held at a local school hall, as they didn’t yet have their own building. Looking around at people with seemingly perfect lives noticing they were nicely groomed wearing dressy but casual clothing, their kids were happy and all I saw was one big happy family. Panicked within (anxiety), in my mind there was no way I’d ever fit into this scene.  Within me there was a storm.  At the time I was angry, sad, unhappy, lonely and just sick of life.

Feeling uneasy about being there I confided about those feelings to my my younger sister who is a strong Christian.   She said to me, “Sandra, don’t think that these people here have got it all made, they’re just as dirty and dysfunctional as you are.  The only difference is that they admit it and want to change.  They acknowledge that God is the source of all life and that it’s God who cleanses them. You don’t get into a bath unless you’re dirty!”

Then she said something else, “God accepts you as you are so let him in and he does the changing from within.”   I thought, “what? Wait a minute he accepts me then he changes me?  Isn’t that a contradiction?”   Reading my bible, I couldn’t help but fall in love with Jesus and his words.

I read somewhere that Jesus died for us while we were still sinners. It’s not the sin God loves, its us. He wants our hearts and Jesus also came so that we may be reconciled to God, have life and have it abundantly.  So the change in me was that I was going to befriend God and learn the true meaning of life and love it?  That was exactly what happened. The changes were gradual but sure.

It’s June 2017, I’m still in the bath, I’m not perfect and I’m slowly transforming into what God wants for me and I have inner peace in my life.  We hurt and deal with our hurts in our own dysfunctional way that can make us really bitter, or we can be free from fears and hurts while keeping our peace.  Its Jesus who wants to heal our hearts with his perfect love that casts out all fear.  

If you’re worried about sin, God forgives us, no matter what we have done.  What the bible calls sin, is sin, everyone in the world falls short because God is holy.  Nobody is perfect and we can’t point the finger in judgement of anyone else.  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son for who-so-ever believes in him shall have eternal life” John 3:16  OK it states who-so-ever.  It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done? That’s powerful.

If you believe that then pray this short prayer asking Jesus into your heart.

Jesus, I know you died for me and take me as I am.  I’m not perfect and will never be that in this world.  Thank you that you took my sins upon your body and they were crucified with you on the cross. I ask your forgiveness and for you to come into my heart and grant me your peace. Let me grow in your wisdom and in truth. Fill me with the Holy Spirit that I may have your helper so I can follow you. Amen

What can you do now?

If you prayed that prayer, find a local Christian church, be baptised, read your bible and pray regularly. Walk close to God and remember that nothing can separate you from His love. If you have done all that and are filled with Holy Spirit you have been born again as the bible requires you to do so you can enter heaven. Live in relationship with Jesus offering constant prayers for those you love and for your enemies.

Christian bloggers are invited to share your posts on my Facebook group at Christian Blog Space

WHY CHURCH LEADERS NEED MENTAL HEALTH TRAINING

With mental health training church leaders can help their communities more than they know.

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Most of us have friends who we can trust when the burden of our troubles become too heavy a load to carry. Christians often reach out to members of their pastoral care team or to close friends, while others choose to keep their problems to themselves.

Talking to someone is a great way to vent allowing for the release of some of that pressure. Friends can be really good listeners and advice givers, but depending on our circumstances and state of mental health at the time, they may not be able to give the right advice or point us in the right direction.

The church is uniquely positioned to help the community in difficult times as most believers will run to their church leaders for help.  Mental health training will help support the congregation with issues like depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder just to name a few.

THE WHOLE BEING

The bible is clear that humans are a three fold being consisting of a mind, body and spirit.   When one of those is out of peace, the other two are affected.  Keeping all three healthy is to find balance and wholeness.

“I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow (body), and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12).

Two Types of Crisis

Grief – Unfortunately the majority of us will suffer loss at one point in our lives and loss can lead to grief.

Some types of loss are:  Substantial financial loss, death of a close relative or friend, loss of a job, divorce, separation and loss of a family home or death of a beloved pet.

Mental Health – People with a mental illness like depression or anxiety can have overwhelming emotions and feelings that often alter their thought processes leading them to overreact to normal everyday situations.  Having lived all my life with the fortnightly roller-coaster of Pre-menstrual Dysphoric Disorder, it was a common occurrence to cry about problems during ovulation. After having my daughter in 2004, I became peri-menopausal and that’s when my symptoms, that included rage, became extreme.

Those who have a mental illness often find normal activities become overwhelming.  For some this might mean the inability to function as they normally would, they can lose their jobs often leading to a loss of quality of life and isolation.

Those Who Have Helped & Supported Me

Counsellor, Gynaecologist & Doctor – good listeners & resourceful – The best help so far for PMDD.  My GP sent me to a gynaecologist who recognised my symptoms.  He put me on a birth control pill (Norimin) suggesting I cut out the sugar tablets so to stop my menses completely, thus stopping what happens to my brain during that time when receptors shut down causing a depletion of my happy hormones.  I was also put on anti-depressants (Pristiq).   This helped me to function normally only to experience mild symptoms of PMDD now and again. The counsellor helped me to organise myself mentally in order to help me with my circumstances.  Finally I was beginning to function normally.

Family & Close Friends – Advice differed according to personalities, religious views, professions and some of those with mental health training (My two sisters) listened and then pointed me in the right direction.  Untrained friends lacked the ability to help me with my mental health problems which to them was foreign.

Pastoral care – Able to help me with personal and spiritual problems but when my mental illness was kicking in with intense bouts of depression that left me crying for hours nonstop, my thoughts were dark and gloomy and it seemed like the weight of the world was on my shoulders.  My pastoral care team were untrained to recognise symptoms of mental health problems; they didn’t know what to do apart from praying for me, which was great for me as I was hoping for a miracle.  But, miracles don’t always come when you want them to and it’s not through a lack of your personal faith.  God’s timing for your life is perfect. When a person is physically sick they go to see a doctor.  A person who has mental health problems needs counselling support.

That’s why I believe in mental health training for all church leaders.   Knowing the difference can make all the difference to a person in need.  Christians who have mental health disorders need to know that they are supported within the church, be pointed to mental health support services and resources when needed and they also need to know that they’re no less a Christian for being mentally unwell.

The body is all interconnected.  If our bodies can get sick, then the mind is no exception. Caring for the three fold being, mind, body and spirit leads to wholeness.

Sandra Ciminelli
PEN WITH A VIEW

Where to get help in Australia

Talk to your doctor who can point you in the right direction if you feel that you have a mental health issue.  You might be able to qualify for a mental health plan.

Lifeline A free 24 hour crisis counselling service – 13 11 14

Mens Line – A free 24 hour counselling service for men –  1300 78 99 78

Kids Help Line – Email Counselling and Web-chat available – 1800 55 1800