Tag: dark clouds

How to live when the clouds just won’t move

dark clouds of depression

It’s not easy maintaining a positive attitude when dark clouds seemed stalled over our heads because there’s a lot of bad stuff going on in our lives.  While there is a break in the clouds on occasion, mostly it’s overcast. God seems to have spread a gray sheet between Him and us. 

Would you agree we all have days like that? Sometimes a number of them in a row.  We’re not clinically depressed. We don’t need medication.  We don’t need therapy. We just need a break from our unrelenting cloud-shrouded life.  

I find when I’m under grey clouds it helps to remember the transient nature of clouds.  Even today as I write, the sky overhead can’t seem to make up its mind.  Will the clouds be given permission to part so the sun can shine through or will they remain huddled together in a solid mass?  

I find I respond two ways to the dark clouds. If I’m already having a “reflecting” kind of day, I might actually prefer clouds. If I’ve planned a day to stay inside and pursue a creative project, I kind of like gray days.  I think you know what I mean. There’s something that appeals to us when the sky matches our mood. 

It’s like friends. 

When we’re in the dumps we usually seek friends we know will try to match our moods in their manner of speech, and choice of words. We don’t need them to act depressed, of course, but we don’t want someone who acts too cheerful either. It feels cold and insensitive.

Sometimes a pep talk is needed but not in a “rah, rah” cheerleader fashion.  I try to make sure I act appropriately as well when I’m the one listening. Something I experienced a few years ago brought that home to me.  

 I was in a meeting at church and I mentioned how fortunate I felt when compared to the rest of the world. One individual, (I learned this later) misconstrued what I said and felt I was saying I was better than other people. I meant my remarks exactly as I spoke them. I guess it’s all how you look at things, glass half-empty or glass half full.

I wasn’t aware that this person was struggling with some serious issues at the time. To someone who wasn’t feeling very blessed himself, my remarks must have felt like cold water splashed in his face. While I would say the same thing again I would be careful to explain what I meant. 

I try to remember that while my clouds have moved for the time being, someone else’s clouds have just shown up. I wished he could have seen my past and the clouds that once hovered over me as well or the clouds that are hovering now. But even with the clouds I really did feel blessed. Undeservedly blessed.

But if I’m feeling really down, I don’t want the gray clouds; I want the sun. I want something to interrupt my mood and cheer me up. On those days, I remind myself that clouds, by their very nature eventually move. (Of course, if you live in Michigan as I do, you might have to wait weeks, not days.)

I keep putting one foot in front of the other and eventually the sun/Son does break through.  My mood gets better. I see things more clearly. It’s just the unrelenting nature of life. 

Some days we have to look to the heavens and just wait for the sky to change.

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Related posts

prayer/e.m. bounds

An exciting new series on prayer

Starting in July, I am adding a new menu item. Do I sound like a restaurant?

What shall it be then?

An appetitzer? Main course? dessert?

I think we’ll call it the “tantalizer”.

Have you ever heard of E. M. Bounds?

If not, let’s just say that he has written more about prayer than any other author ever, 568 pages to be exact. The book I have contains all his books in one big volume. have had his book for years and when I want to torture myself I read portions of it.

I use the word “torture” because as the introduction written by Jim Cymbala of The Brooklyn Tabernacle says regarding his book, “You either stand near to enjoy its warmth or you move away because the flame seems too much to bear.”

I agree.

E.M. Bounds took the word of God literally in regards to prayer, something I think many of us don’t do. And that certainly includes me.

I think I am praying believing that if I believe what I’m praying, my prayers will be answered. (Yes, I mean it just the way I wrote it, convulted though it is.)

The truth, though? I think if I really did believe it, I would pray much bigger than I do.

Don’t look at me askance. How many you really believe that if you were to pray really big for something like world peace, it would happen?

I’m not saying it wouldn’t either.

All of this is just to point out that prayer, while really quite simple (after all, it’s only a conversation between two people), is complex. Not because prayer itself is complex but because we are. Prayers in the Bible are simple (and short, I might add), I wonder how we made it so complicated.  

The longest prayer is found in  Nehemiah 9:5-38, that’s only thirty-three verses. It can be read in a matter of minutes and yet is a powerful prayer.

E. M. Bound’s book challenges me and encourages me at the same time. (For some reason, I can’t download the image but you can find it here on Amazon.) And while I still maintain prayer is simple, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot more we can learn.

I hope you will enjoy the excerpts that I will post on Mondays. Remember, 568 pages! So just giving you a few sentences every week isn’t even going to give you an inkling about the book’s depth of insight. I encourage you to buy the book or get it from your local library so you can pick it up if only to read a few sentences at a time.

God bless and have a great day.

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thinking outside the box

How to pray bigger than your faith

Last week, I got my manuscript all together in one place.

I had been working on the chapters of my book in separate documents. Eventually, I have to have it all in a PDF file in order to publish it.

The writing has been easy compared to this part.

I think I also told you I’m reaching out to everyone I know who has a social media platform to help me publicize my book.

As I was thinking about publishing and all I had yet to learn, I thought of someone within our family network who has written some books herself and done quite well. I was hesitant to ask for her help because she has her hands full with her job and her family.

But I reached out anyway just for clarification about a couple of things. In the course of back and forth texting, I asked her if she would be willing to actually be my consultant in this whole process. I told her I wouldn’t take her help unless I could pay her.

Her response was that she had also received lots of help when she started out and this would be her way of passing it on. We scheduled an hour between her dropping her daughter off at a friend’s house and having to pick her up. I told her I would be taxing her brain non-stop during that time.

And I did.

Boy, we worked hard and fast and after one hour I was further along in the process of getting my book published than I would have ever been on my own. We accomplished in one hour what could have taken WEEKS! And that’s assuming I didn’t have a breakdown in the process.

(I hope you read the post from last Thursday because this is kind of the same theme. You can find it here if you’d like. )

This was another example of God going way beyond what I thinking or could imagine. (Eph:3:20)

That got me to thinking. I wonder what we could all accomplish if we prayed bigger and dreamed bigger?

I wonder what we could all accomplish if we trusted God more, had more faith.

If there is one area where I feel I “lack” in my walk with God it is right here, having enough faith. I never feel like I’m even close to having the kind of faith others have.

When I feel like that way though, I remind myself that this is just another way of comparing myself to others, but I don’t recognize it as such because it sounds so “spiritual”. It’s just as self-destructive and every bit as wrong, not to mention counter-productive to my overall spiritual growth.

In my book, I have one day (it’s a daily devotional) when I write about how comparing ourselves to others can trigger a plummeting mood. Left unresolved, it can lead to depression.

Interestingly enough, it’s my faith-walk where I do the most comparing. Now, just who do you think is behind that? It certainly isn’t God, is it?

Think big this week.

Think outside the box.

thinking outside the box

Pray outside the box.

I think God loves it when we pray big. It’s kind of like we’re saying, “I believe you really can do more than I can think or imagine.” Don’t be like me and measure your own level of faith. That’s between you and God anyway, isn’t it? Let him be the judge.

And don’t let anyone else judge you about your faith.

BTW, I wrote the above for me even more than I wrote it for you.

God bless and have a good day. ‘

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ethereal/inspirational

How God works in the most outlandish way

Seriously.

There are times I can’t even believe how God shows up in my life.

I sure hope you have that experience. I’m alway surprised and yet I shouldn’t be because God’s been surprising me my entire life.

Well, as you know I’m working on my first full-length book, a devotional for Christians who struggle, or have struggled with depression/anxiety and never want to face it again.

Well, the writing part has been easy. I’m constantly reading about mental health issues, anxiety, and moods in general. My library records are proof of that. I wonder what the librarians think when my books come in. (We have a small library so I order books online most of that time.)

My mind is constantly mulling over ideas of what to write about. I always have plenty of information to pull from. And then there is my own experience with depression and that of many others I know and have come acquainted with over the years through teaching Bible classes, counseling, and as a hospital chaplain.

When I sit down to write, it’s like my fingers are writing with little conscious awareness on my part. It’s actually a little ethereal feeling at times, like something outside of me is moving my fingers.

ethereal/inspirational

I don’t think I’m unique in this regards. I hear other writers say the same thing. It’s actually very exciting.

I am also concurrently working on a fiction book. It also seems to be writing itself because I’m letting the characters tell me what they want to say and do. I’m not contriving anything and I have no real plot in mind.

Again, the characters are letting me know what is happening next.

I wondered about that. Is that even an acceptable method of writing a fiction book.

Shouldn’t I have an outline?

A plot?

So I bought some highly recommended books about writing. One of them titled, “On Writing” was written by someone whose books I have not and probably will never read. It’s just not my type of book.

Stephen King, no less.

I mean, really. What would Stephen King possibly have to say to me? (Meaning, of course, that he writes horror fiction and I’m writing a Christian devotional. Nothing against the man at all.)

writing/stephen king
writing/stephen king

As it turns out, a whole lot.

That’s what I mean by God showing up in the strangest ways in just the ways we need.

Once I got past the language, and was able to cipher out the “meat”, I realized that I felt totally validated with how I’ve been writing. Things like avoiding adverbs whenever possible. I do.

Using the few words possible to say something and eliminating all unnecessary words. I do. (Which, in conversation though, I have a hard time doing.)

And there is so much more.

We need to always remember that God can give us what we need in the most outlandish ways.

This might be the most outlandish yet.

I hope your day is a truly blessed one.

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