Category Archives: On OneChristianVoice.com

Depression: Curing Stigma within the Church

Standard

Thanks to One Christian Voice for posting this article on their site. Mental illness is a heavy topic, but it’s one we need to discuss. Only by bringing the topic out of the shadows can we help those who suffer in silence. 


Do you know someone suffering from a mental illness? The answer may surprise you.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), in America alone, 43.8 million adults experience mental illness in a given year. That breaks down to one in five adults!

Unfortunately, only 41% of adults in the U.S. with a mental health condition received help in the previous year. NAMI states that social stigma creates “an environment of shame, fear and silence that prevents many people from seeking help and treatment.”

What are the consequences of a lack of treatment? Increased chances of further mental health issues, chronic physical conditions, addictions, and even suicide.

That’s why NAMI has designated May as Mental Health Month, with #CureStigma as this year’s theme. They propose we tackle social stigma by promoting “compassion, empathy and understanding.”

If you think that stigma is only an issue “in the secular world,” think again.

In my experience, the stigma of mental illness is actually worse within the Christian community than outside of it.

 

Personal Experience

After my grandmother passed away, I struggled with grief and depression for two years. Normally, I would turn to my family in times of need, but they were struggling, too. Although I could have reached out to a counselor, doctor, or pastor, I never did. Looking back, I think it was the fear of being labeled as crazy or weak that kept me from seeking help.

Thankfully, God lifted my depression supernaturally. A couple years later, I finally sought Christian counseling and received healing for the root causes of grief and anger. Today, I’m whole and healthy. Still, I can’t help but wonder if I could have recovered faster if I had sought treatment earlier.

Today, I know many Christians who struggle with mental health issues including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, ADHD, phobias, and PTSD. While some of them are open about their issues, most of them suffer in silence for fear of judgment (only sharing their experiences with me in strict confidence). Those who have sought help through counseling or anti-depressants tell me they’re glad to being doing well, but they feel weak, ashamed, and less-faithful because they needed the extra help.

This self-condemnation is often the result of judgment they received from well-meaning Christians who believe that mental illness is really spiritual illness in disguise.

There are three main lies that perpetuate this belief in churches across America. Let’s fight these lies with God’s truth so we can cure stigma and make the church a safe haven for people with mental illness.

 

Lies We Hear at Church

Lie 1: Christians can’t experience mental illnesses.

“What fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14b NAS).

Many people think that Scriptures like this one indicate true mental illness can’t exist in someone filled with the Holy Spirit. The problem with this line of thinking, though, is that it equates mental illness with demonic possession. (And the Scripture noted above? It’s in reference to Christians forming alliances with non-believers. It has nothing to do with illness or demonic possession.)

While demons and their interaction with humans are well-documented throughout the Bible, true mental health issues can and do exist without a demonic source. Such was the case with King David. He was a man after God’s own heart, and yet he experienced periods of depression: “My heart throbs, my strength fails me; and the light of my eyes, even that has gone from me. My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague; and my kinsmen stand afar off” (Psalm 38:10-11 NAS).

So what causes mental illness? According to NAMI, “Genetics, environment and lifestyle influence whether someone develops a mental health condition. A stressful job or home life makes some people more susceptible, as do traumatic life events like being the victim of a crime. Biochemical processes and circuits and basic brain structure may play a role, too.”

Becoming a Christian doesn’t erase a painful past. Nor does being a Christian promise a trauma-free, healthy future. In fact, believers everywhere fall off ladders, get the flu, and suffer from cancer.

Trauma and illness are a result of our fallen world; they have nothing to do with the spiritual state of the one who gets injured or sick.

 

Lie 2: The cure to mental illness is to repent and have more faith.

It is true that some sins can open the door to mental illness. For example, the guilt of aborting a child or killing someone while driving drunk may result in mental health issues, like depression, later on. Such people can certainly find grace and spiritual healing through repentance.

The problem comes when we assume that all mental illness has a sinful source. The truth is that many people who suffer from mental health issues are victims of others’ actions or circumstances, not perpetrators who need to confess their sins.

As far as faith is concerned, the people I know with mental health issues rely heavily on their faith. It’s what gets them out of bed in the morning, helps them face their stressful jobs, and enables them to put one foot in front of the other. These people have a lot to teach the rest of the world about living on faith in the face of adversity.

In the end, only God knows our hearts. (See 1 Kings 8:39.) He also knows what ails us and what is needed to mend us.

When speaking of others, we should always extend grace and remember Jesus’ words: “Do not judge so that you will not be judged” (Matthew 7:1 NAS).

 

Lie 3: Medications like anti-depressants are evil.

I know several Christians who take medications for anxiety, ADHD, or depression. Each of them has told me how it enables them to think more clearly, respond more rationally and, in general, handle life better. Yet they’re ashamed of having to take medication and afraid of what their families and churches would think if they knew.

God enables doctors to create medicine to cure diseases, mend damaged organs, and repair physical deformities. Why would medication for mental illness be considered evil when other medicines are touted as “miracle drugs”?

We would do well to remember Paul’s words, “that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean….Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil…” (Romans 14:14, 16).

Helpful, effective medication is not evil when used appropriately. If you know someone who takes medication for her mental illness, don’t create a stumbling block for her by insinuating that’s it wrong for her to take it.

 

Depression – Helping Others 

As James said, “pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (James 5:16 NAS). If you believe someone at church is suffering from a mental health issue, you can help by praying for God’s protection and peace over her, as well as a complete healing. Also pray for yourself, that you would do and say the right thing at the right time.

Many people with mental health issues feel isolated and rejected. You can help fix this by including them in your conversations, your Bible studies, and your lunches. You never know when a kind word can be the lifeline someone needs.

Paul said that God “comforts the depressed” (2 Corinthians 7:6a NAS).

As representatives of God on earth, we should seek to do the same—to bring comfort to those in need. To do so, we’ll need to stand on God’s Word and stop perpetuating the lie that mental health issues are really spiritual issues. Only then can we cure stigma in the church and reach out to our brothers and sisters who struggle with mental health issues.

 

Resources

There are a lot of helpful resources online. Here are a few to get you started:


Did this story resonate with you? I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to leave a public comment below or send me a private message through the Contact Big Sister link above. – Ashley

10 Tips to Save Big On Your Car Insurance

Standard

The following article was first published on OneChristianVoice.com. Check out their site for more news, entertainment, events, and inspiration.


There’s nothing like getting the keys to your first car! For most of us, it’s a huge sign of maturity as well as our ticket to freedom.

Unfortunately, schools don’t often teach teens about the cost of driving. Sure, we know that cars can be expensive to buy and maintain, which is why many of us drive beat-up jalopies until the wheels fall off—then we just put the wheels back on and keep on going. But there’s another expense: car insurance.

I have a degree in insurance and have worked in the industry for over 15 years, but even I’ve struggled to get good coverage at a good rate. Just this week, I re-quoted our policy and was surprised by the cost differences and the changes introduced by self-service online systems. I can only imagine how hard it is for teens (and even adults!) who haven’t been schooled in insurance. It’s enough to make you throw your hands up and say, “Forget it!”

But we can’t do that. Getting the car keys is only a sign of maturity because it carries responsibility. We have to take care of ourselves and others on the road, as well as the car we’re driving. Whether we like it or not, car insurance is the best way to protect our car and our cash.

So whether you’re new to the road or an experienced driver, here are my best tips to help you save money on your car insurance while getting the coverage you need.

 

Save Up Front

 

1 – Buy It

Car insurance is legally required if you own a vehicle. There are strict penalties for driving uninsured, so be sure to buy insurance!

If you’re looking to buy a car, then call around or go online for quotes first. Insurance prices are based on a lot of factors, including the value of the car, the security and safety features, and the type of car (whether it’s a sports car that you’re likely to drive fast or a station wagon to haul your drum set around). If you have a monthly budget, make sure you can afford the car payment, the insurance, and maintenance fees combined.

 

2 – Combine Forces

Companies usually offer multi-policy discounts, so if you need renters or homeowners insurance, have the company quote both policies.

Also, take advantage of discounts that are available to you through special memberships. For instance, AAA and credit unions often obtain discounted rates for certain insurance companies, but you have to be a member to qualify.

 

3 – Talk with an Agent

Agents are educated and licensed to sell insurance in your state, so they know the laws that affect you. While they actually represent the insurance companies—not you—they do have a “fiduciary responsibility” to sell you only the coverages you need, want, and can afford.

Today, you can buy insurance online by answering a few questions. However, you won’t know if you’re getting the best prices and options or if you’re missing important coverages. If you do shop around online and find a quote you like, call the company to speak with an agent. Your insurance policy is a legal contract, so be sure you understand it before you make a payment or sign on the dotted line. (If you have any questions or concerns, contact your state’s department of insurance.)

 

4 – Understand the Quote 

A quote is a cost estimate based on the details you provide. Oftentimes, companies will give you an initial quote based on a few basic facts. If you like the quote, they’ll perform a credit check and pull your claims history. After considering this information, the price (called the “premium”) can change drastically. That’s why it’s important to provide honest, accurate information up front (and another reason why you should avoid bad credit and aggressive driving).

 

5 – Careful with Payment Plans

Most companies offer a monthly payment plan, but it can be more expensive than paying it all upfront. (In one quote I received, the difference between the monthly and single-pay plans was $150!) If you can’t pay it all at once, look for a company that offers a better monthly rate.

 

6 – Watch out for Bells and Whistles

Many companies now offer special programs like accident forgiveness or new car replacement. These can be extra coverages or special tiers (or programs) that can cost you more in the long run. If you see these bells and whistles, ask for a quote without them for comparison.

 

Save Going Forward

 

7 – Watch for Your Renewal

The standard length of car insurance contracts is only six months. At the end of the policy term, the company can decide not to renew your contract or can increase your premium. That’s why it’s important that you look out for your renewal—or non-renewal—about a month prior to your policy’s expiration date. Even if your policy renews at the same rate, you may want to shop around to see if other companies can give you a better offer.

 

8 – Ask for Better Rate

Companies change their rate structures frequently, but they may not apply a reduction automatically. That’s why it’s important to call your agent (or the company directly) before each renewal and ask if there are ways to cut the cost. Be sure to report any changes that could lower your premium, such as reducing your annual mileage by working from home instead of 30 miles away. (I just saved over $400 by having my company re-quote me in a different tier with a lower annual mileage!)

 

9 – Take Care

Your car insurance policy won’t cover regular maintenance, but that doesn’t mean it’s not necessary. In fact, the company assumes that you’ll take proper care of your vehicle. If you drive with a known maintenance issue and have an accident, it won’t be your car’s fault, it’ll be yours, and that can lead to an increase in your premium. Besides, you really don’t want to be stranded on the side of the road because you failed to change the fluids!

 

10 – Be Diligent

Accidents are expensive! Not only can there be big upfront costs, but the company can increase your premium for years by removing discounts and applying additional charges.

But accidents impact more than just wallets. According to the National Safety Council, about 100 people die every day in car crashes. When considering all crashes, up to 94% are caused by driver error. One of the biggest distractions is talking on the phone while driving. In fact, the NSC states that drivers using phones (handheld or hands-free) are four times as likely to be involved in an accident. Bottom line: if you want to save money and be safe, then keep your focus on the road.

 

It’s true that buying car insurance can be a pain, but it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. With these 10 tips, you can use insurance to protect your cash and your car without breaking the bank.

 

[Click to Tweet: Insurance insider shares 10 Tips to Save On Your Car Insurance. #bigsisterknows #savemoney #frugal]

To Romance Your Wife, Consider Her Love Language

Standard

The following post was first published on OneChristianVoice.com. Check out their site for news, entertainment, events, and inspiration.


I don’t like roses. I never read romance books. And under no uncertain terms do I want anyone reading poetry to me!

According to the media and most romance movies, I am not a “romantic person.” But that’s not really true at all.

You see, my primary Love Language is Quality Time. A romantic evening to me involves hanging out with my hubby on a Friday night. I don’t need gifts or flowery speeches, just the sacrifice of his time.

In other words, my Romance Language coincides with my Love Language—and I bet the same holds true for your wife!

According to Gary Chapman, author of the hugely successful series The 5 Love Languages, all of us have a primary Love Language. When our spouses and families speak to us in this language, we hear them loud and clear, and we feel truly loved.

So if you want to introduce a little romance this Valentine’s Day (or any day for that matter), stop and consider your wife’s Love Language. Here are some suggestions.

 

Words of Affirmation –

  • Tell her you love her. If you miss this one, you’ll miss the boat entirely.
  • Tell her why you love her—and be specific.
  • Write a love letter. It doesn’t have to be long or filled with quotes or poetry. She’ll love the fact that you made the effort, no matter what you write.
  • Write a bunch of little notes (e.g. “Be Mine” and “I’m lucky to have you,”) and scatter them throughout the house. This is a great option if you’re uncomfortable writing an actual letter.
  • If her secondary Love Language is Receiving Gifts, then memorialize your love by giving her a necklace, bracelet, or wall art that tells her what she means to you. (You can find homemade, personalized gifts on Etsy.com.)

 

Acts of Service –

  • You know that honey-do list? She wrote it down for a reason. Start there.
  • Write her a coupon that entitles her to a “day off.” When she redeems it, let her put her feet up while you do all the things she would have done, from cooking dinner to doing the dishes. (Make sure you put in the same amount of work she would have. Avoid Chinese takeout and paper plates.)
  • If her secondary language is Physical Touch, then incorporate it by giving her a foot rub or a back rub…after you do the dishes.

 

Receiving Gifts –

  • Has she been dropping hints about something she wants? If it’s within reason, get it for her.
  • See if she has a “Wish List” on Amazon. You can find what she wants and order it as a surprise. She’ll think you read her mind!
  • If she mentions items she wants, write them down. She’s telling you for a reason.
  • Give her something that fits her secondary Love Language. If it’s Physical Touch, get her a spa certificate. For Quality Time, buy tickets for the two of you to see a play, watch a special movie, or see her favorite band.

 

Quality Time –

  • Dedicate a day to spend time with her. Let her pick the activity or destination. If she likes surprises, plan the whole day and let each event be a little surprise.
  • Don’t assume your time together has to be fancy to be considered “quality time.” If she’s more of a home body, or you can’t find a babysitter, order takeout from her favorite restaurant and enjoy it together while watching her favorite movie.
  • If her secondary Love Language is Physical Touch, hold her hand while you’re spending time together. If it’s Acts of Service, then spend the day helping her with whatever activity is on her to-do list, from cleaning out the garage to shopping for groceries.

 

Physical Touch –

  • Be physically affectionate. Even something as small as holding her hand can go a long way to filling her love cup.
  • Think outside the box. Consider activities that involve touching, such as going dancing. She may also appreciate different physical sensations, such as a late-night swim in the pool.
  • If her secondary Love Language is Receiving Gifts, then give her a gift certificate for a couple’s massage. If it’s Acts of Service, give her a foot rub and then paint her nails (which you’ll both find hilarious).

Being romantic with your wife is easy when you know her Love Language and you’re willing to make the effort to make her feel loved.

If you don’t know your wife’s primary Love Language, then have her take the quiz at www.5lovelanguages.com. She’ll appreciate that you want to know more about her, and you can take the quiz, as well. You can also research the latest books in the 5 Love Languages series.

You only have one wife; make sure you’re speaking her Love Language!

What are your plans for Valentine’s Day? Does it fit her Love Language? I’d love to hear from you!

[Click to Tweet: This Valentine’s Day, I’m considering my wife’s love language!]

[Click to Tweet: My romance language is my love language.]