An Open Letter to The Church About Suicide

Dear Church,

Tragically last week, two mental health advocates have died by suicide. One of whom was a pastor that many followed, including myself. Though many have offered their condolences, I saw the inevitable that was coming: the ignorance behind someone’s suicide. Unfortunately, no one can answer the why except the person that was feeling suicidal, so asking why is a bit of a double-edged sword. So, in this post—this letter— I want to address two things: First being the ignorance around suicide and why the church should be more vocal and proactive BEFORE it happens and Two, how the Church can offer support to people suffering.

I honestly did not intend to write a post on this; I was simply going to pray and then move on. When I realized this compelling feeling wasn’t going anywhere I figured, “may as well write about it”. When I first heard of the death of Jarrid Wilson, I was shocked. Like many of you, I couldn’t believe that he had passed. I was so sad for his family, his church, but even more, I was so sad for him. He had been a pastor of a megachurch, had millions of followers and yet, no one could see the pain that he was going through. I could only imagine how lonely he must’ve felt up until his last days. My feelings of sadness were almost completely interrupted with the swarm of negative comments of how a pastor— a man of GOD— could do something “like that”. One of the things wrong with statements like these are not only are they extremely hurtful, but they are riddled in ignorance and are very inappropriate. Mental illness is a disease. It does not discriminate. It does not care if you are a minority, rich, a Democrat, a child, or a “man of God”. Mental illness affects one in five adults in the U.S. Being a Christian doesn’t excuse you or anyone from being immune to mental illness. I’ve discussed in previous posts on how dangerous it is to judge someone’s closeness to God based on illness. In the same sense that you wouldn’t judge a Christian with diabetes, is the same manner that you shouldn’t judge a Christian with mental illness. 

Imagine you are asleep in your room and suddenly you awake to hear your fire alarm blaring, the smell of smoke, and fire all around you. Imagine you see someone within distance and you cry out for help. The person well-equipped turns to you and says, “I’m praying for you!” and then walks away. This would ultimately make you feel very upset and afraid as the fire begins to engulf everything around you. So often people with mental illness cry out for help to the Church, but they are met with the same lackadaisical statement, “I’m praying for you!” Though it’s a nice statement, it doesn’t help with the issue. Just as re-posting about a pastor’s death by suicide and telling others to pray for their leadership, doesn’t solve the problem and reality that pastors are dying by suicide. What does actually help is that the Church be vocal and proactive in mental health movements and legislation regarding mental health. The longer the Church waits, the longer havoc will wreak in the minds and hearts of the people. In the days of the New Testament, any time there was a political or social event or movement, the Church was involved, so why have things changed now? I believe that stigma has caused the Church to be afraid of the taboo. But Church, don’t you know that if you don’t address these issues, the world will? Darkness will continue to have its way in people. Where the Church falls silent, the world will raise up its voice. The Church is meant to be salt and light to the world (Matt.5:13-16) and when we are silent or raise our voice in ignorance, we lose our flavor and our light grows dim.

Church, you can pray for people and still offer them support! Church, you can pray for people and still take them to therapy! Church, you can pray for people and still support your local mental health organizations! Church, one of the best ways you can offer support to people struggling is by being present. Not wanting to push your agenda disguised as concern, but genuinely listening and asking the person questions about how they feel can be enough to save a person’s life. Even though hearing a person talk about suicide may be hard, you must accept what they are telling you. Take it seriously and get that person professional help immediately. The Church cannot keep treating those with mental illness as invalids because the people could be your friends, your neighbors, or your pastors.

I didn’t want this letter to be long at all, just simply a letter to the people I love. I want us to do better in our treatment of those with mental illness and to apply discretion when posting our personal feelings when tragedy happens. The Church has a long way to go, but I’m very hopeful that we are on the path to getting it right. Take care.

Sincerely, Ash

World Suicide Prevention Day

Happy Friday! I hope you all are staying safe from Hurricane Dorian. This month I’m dedicating most of my posts to suicide prevention awareness. Did you know that 100% of all suicides are preventable? So why not prevent it?! Next Tuesday is World Suicide Prevention Day and since I write on Friday, I figured I could write about this before the day. 

Mental health is becoming a buzzing topic in the world today. Though, taboo, suicide is also slowly making its way to being talked about. All too often, suicide is talked about after someone has already had an attempt or is successful in taking his or her life. I’m glad is mental illness is being recognized and talked about more, but health and prevention should reign over the buzz of illness. John 1:5 says that there is “light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it”. So I don’t want this post to magnify the darkness of growing suicide rates and the tragedy that suicides bring. Rather I want this to be about the light of prevention and health that is available for you, your loved ones… and me.

Below I want to share 3 ways I believe that suicide can be prevented:

  1. TALK; talking to someone is one way to prevent a suicide from occurring. Sounds so simple right? Well, to someone that doesn’t have mental illness, yes, it can be quite easy to talk about things that may be bothering you. But for many others, myself included, mental illness may make it extremely difficult to talk about feelings because one may not know exactly what he/she may feel at all. Does this mean this person is excluded from speaking of his/her experiences? NOPE! No one should ever feel invalidated of their experiences regardless of their mental/emotional ability. Even if you feel like no one will understand, as long as you have someone willing to listen is what’s most valuable. Friends, being a listening ear goes such a long way to your loved one with mental illness. Even if you can’t decipher the ramblings, don’t understand their emotional tantrums, or can’t relate to “brain fog”… listen. As James 1:19 says, Everyone should be quick to listen, and slow to speak
  2. Seek an outlet. This outlet can be anything HEALTHY, so no vices like, smoking, reckless sex, or self-harm. For a creative person it could be dance or art. For a nerd, it could be catching up on Season 3 of Attack on Titan or planning to attend a cosplay event as Kagome (any Inuyasha fans out there?!). The kind of outlet doesn’t matter, as long the outlet is unique and settling for you.
  3. Don’t wait to seek professional help. Years ago, I still struggle to know when to seek professional help. Many times, I would wait until it was too late and I would make an attempt to end my life. Today, I don’t wait to seek help. I seek help regardless of how I feel to keep my symptoms managed. There’s no need to wait till I’m depressed to go see a therapist; I see that as being behind. Instead of waiting to the point of depression, seeing a professional can help alleviate some symptoms. A professional can give you tools and strategies specific to you and your illness. For a long time, what kept me away from seeking professional help was insurance (yeah, I have to talk about it). Many who have mental illness do not have the money to pay for the expenses of therapy, medication, hospitalization, etc. I know I didn’t (and recently find out still don’t)!!! But that doesn’t stop me in searching for a therapist that’s right for me. Thankfully, I’ve had opportunities to have my appointments completely free or someone was able to help me pay for therapy. It was uncomfortable to ask for help, but people were willing to help. Sometimes we have not, because we ask not. Don’t expect the worst. Ask for help when you need it.

In this post, I shared how I believed suicide could be prevented. Feel free to drop a comment in ways you try to help others struggling or even things you do when you’re struggling. If you are struggling, you can refer to the “Resources” tab or submit a prayer request. You are never alone. There is always #AReasonToLive. Take care.

After You Pray… Move!

I remember when I was having a depressed episode to the point where I was missing a lot of school and work. As a Christian, one of the most important principles we’re taught is prayer. Prayer is how we are able to connect and feel close to God. Depression is numbness; a person that is deeply depressed wants to feel something, so I would pray in order to feel better. After I prayed (in my bed) I would turn over and either fall asleep or do nothing. Unfortunately, one of the mistakes I made was not moving. In fact, movement has been proven to ease depression symptoms (exerciseright.com). Dancing, exercising, skipping, jumping, spinning in circles are all ways to decrease depression symptoms. If you are feeling weak, move around for 30 minutes, rest (do NOT lay down in bed; if anything, sit up on top of your bed. Do not get in; issa whole TRAP, fam!), move again for 30 minutes. It’s great to pray, but after you pray, MOVE! 

Science- The science behind movement and mental illness is important to note. According to an article written by Harvard Health Blog regular aerobic exercise can reduce anxiety by making your brain’s “fight or flight” system less reactive so it can reduce symptoms in people with anxiety. Regular exercise such as cycling or gym-based aerobic, resistance, flexibility, and balance exercises can also reduce depressive symptoms (https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/how-simply-moving-benefits-your-mental-health-201603289350). Notice the language in the article, it can reduce; it does not say it can eliminate symptoms. Though exercise is helpful, it is not a complete solution to a mental disorder.

I’ve heard people, myself included, say things like “I’ve moved and I still don’t feel better”. Well, to that I say, KEEP MOVING. The worst thing a person with mental illness can do is to try something once and then stop completely. Even though you don’t see results immediately, you must keep going until you do because doing nothing is worse! 

“When I move, heaven moves with me”. God’s Spirit moves; He can move as still as the waters in river or He can move as a mighty rushing wind. When I say His Spirit moves, I don’t want you to limit His movement to just a Sunday service. When God moves, things (i.e situations, perceptions, and things in the physical realm) shift and change. As a believer, a Christian, God’s Spirit lives in you. When we move, the Spirit of God moves within us, which ultimately causes the Heavens to move with us. The Heavens recognize the God in you! What Am I Saying? When you move, chose to leave your bed of depression and walk or even simply sit up and meditate while in the midst of a manic episode to calm your thoughts, Heaven moves with you to shift you situation, thoughts, and perception. So when I say move, I don’t only mean to physically move but SHIFT. Shift your thinking and perceptions by viewing your situation, yourself, and even your illness through the lenses of God.

Hopefully, these tips have been helpful for you to use or make your own. Leave a comment! Let me know if this has helped you or share so it can help someone else. Take care.

Life After a Suicide Attempt

If you or someone you know needs help, please refer to my Resources page or call/text (chat) 1-800-273-8255 (https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/). 

Before I share my story I want to emphasize a couple of things. One, PLEASE do not ask me how I attempted. I’ve had people ask me this before and, quite simply, it’s none of your business and sharing that detail may be triggering for someone else. Two, everyone that has survived a sucide attempt is different therefore their life and means of survival is different. It is with discretion, that I share a snippet of my suicide attempt. As I know that people of the internet as just that. Meaning, I will refrain from a detailed account of my suicide attempt (I’ll save that for a book *insert charming wink*). 

I stayed inside for weeks, wrestling with the thought of how and when I would take my life. Some days I would search for reasons to live. Others, I would look for ways to die. Unfortunately, hooked on the latter, I would search for hours. Like an addict, I was hooked on finding THE method, the pristine and most absolute way to end my life. The morning of June 27, 2016, arrived like any other day. It was a strikingly beautiful day, but I remember a chilling numbness surging through my body; it was completely unshakable. As the day went on, my thinking went from numb to chronic boredom. I sat up on the corner of my bed and thought to myself, “If this is all life is, then I‘m done”. I reviewed my method one last time, and attempted suicide. 

Soon after, I woke up—shaken— but I woke up.

Life after the attempt was awkward. It’s like trying on a shoe you really like, but it’s way too small. Life, being the shoe I really like and wish to enjoy, but me with my illness trying to live seemed a feat too great. I remember my first meal after the attempt and thinking, “I should be dead right now. I shouldn’t be eating.” I remember after a while feeling very displaced; in that, I wasn’t sure where I truly belonged. In the days that followed, high pitch ringing permeated my ear drums followed by this nagging question: Should I have died that day or am I really meant to be alive? 

Three years later. I have the answer. Not only am I meant to be alive, but I have the power to keep living. I wish to share the insight to that power with you throughout a series of multiple blogs (not solely this one). I share my story now, for the benefit of others. Being that it is Minority Mental Health Month, if a person of color, especially, may be suicidal now or wants to help someone he/she may know that is suicidal, I want to show that there is life— a good life— after a suicide attempt.

Waking up after that attempt meant two things: one, of course, being the physical sense and then the second of waking up out of the mess I was in. It was after this attempt, I was finally able to recognize that I was devoid of many things. Once I realized this, I immediately began to add things to my life that would fill the void. Unfortunately, this was followed up with toxic temporary materials. 

Once those things ran out, I found myself devoid yet again, of anything meaningful in my life. Quickly, I found myself having the same thoughts that led me to suicidal ideation again. Except this time was quite different. I had a will to live and desire to try to fight these thoughts. So, I did with prayer and seeking help from God (Jesus) while using medication and therapy. Unfortunately, some Christians fight mental illness with prayer alone and sometimes much more is required. Afraid of scrutiny from the Church, I hid my struggles as well as my medications from friends and family. Though, I was becoming free from the stronghold of my illness, I was running headfirst into another stronghold: shame. Which is partly why this blog exists: To show the Church and encourage other Christians that live with mental illness, that a person can have a mental illness, be a Christian and live prosperously. 

Suicide doesn’t end the pain, but it does end the posibility of anything getting better. If I would’ve passed away that day, I wouldn’t now have the great community of friends I do. I wouldn’t have ever met my baby niece. I wouldn’t be on track to getting a Master’s degree. I wouldn’t know that I actually like chocolate and mint together. My life really did get better. For a long time, I never thought it would improve, especially in such a tremendous way. 

I refuse to end this with a cliché, telling you that I think everyday is a gift— I don’t. Some days are truly better than others. It has taken years of therapy, trial and error with medications, prayer, money, time, and much effort to avoid another June 27th. There’s not a lot of statistics on suicide attempt survivors, but I know that every year about a quarter million people will become suicide survivors (AAS). I know that I am lucky to be alive and I am even more grateful to God that I am.

Again, feel free to use my Resources Page (or contact https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/) or submit a Prayer Request if needed! Virtual hugs. Take care.

A Father Wound on Father’s Day

Happy Friday! This Sunday is Father’s Day. This month is also Men’s Mental Health Month. When I wrote When Mother’s Day is Painful I didn’t expect to get the responses I did from it. As people reached out, shared their personal stories with me, I discovered that many people had difficulties with Mother’s Day. So, I decided that I would also make a post for Father’s Day. If you’ve had an absent (physically or emotionally) father,  or an estranged relationship with your father, this post is for you. In this post, I will be discussing the role of a father, how an absent one can affect one’s identity (a.k.a. father wounds) and mental health, and what you can do to help you get through Father’s Day if it is rough for you. Trigger Warning: This post contains information that may be emotionally upsetting to some readers.

The Role of the Father

Before I get into the grit of the tips to get through Father’s Day, I think it’s important to mention what the role of a father is. Foremost, the role of a father is to give identity. When we look at the Scriptures, we see that it was the father that named their children. Naming a child is much more than giving a child something to be called by. It is marking them with a meaning and purpose. When children are named after great people, it is because the child’s parents have a great expectation for their child. That’s one way that fathers give identity. Another way is by affirming the child via discipline and by calling the child “son” or “daughter”. In this, it reminds the child what the father expects from his or her actions and puts a responsibility on the child to behave in a way that brings honor to themselves but also their father. Now, when a father is absent physically or emotionally, it can be detrimental to a child’s identity and mental health. But I want you to know that regardless of your father’s presence you are not to blame for his absence. If you were a girl and your father wanted a boy and left, that is not your fault. You father didn’t know how to give you an identity as a daughter. When working with kids that have an absent father, whether that’s through the father’s decision, death, or custody battles, I find that many children struggle in their emotions. I find the child to be detached and absent from their own needs. I believe this is due to the father is meant to provide structure in identity and emotions; that is, how to use them and deal with them appropriately. I find in children with absent fathers grow up to be aimless adults; not that they have no aspirations, but that they are not sure where their aspirations are leading them. Maybe your father couldn’t give you an identity because he didn’t know his own.

If your father was absent in your life as a child, but is attempting to be in your life as an adult, honor his attempt. I know- weird, right? Choose to honor that be angry because that will one deepen the wedge between you and your father. Now, if his motives are impure (for example, if your father struggles with addiction and is using you to get money to support his habit), set a boundary for yourself. This will keep you safe from being drained emotionally, mentally, and financially. You can do this by directing the conversations with him in the way that would be most beneficial to you.

If your father is absent in your life, but has been abusive and is making attempts to be active in your life, use boundaries. Children that are survivors of abuse have to deal with ptsd/trauma, anxiety, and depression even into their adulthood. Abuse from a father is a betrayal of the child’s natural trust in the father to protect him or her. This can make a girl’s relationships with men hypersexual due to the need for acceptance and validation or the girl maybe afraid of being around men; she may become very anxious around men due to the severity of the abuse (this is not the case with every girl-these are merely examples). A boy’s relationship with men may become overcompensating, meaning the boy will assimilate to whatever identity seems the most powerful. This can be joining gangs or being overly involved in extracurricular activities at school for acceptance or validation. Notice how I am using the term “girl” and “boy”? Many of these adults that have dealt with absent fathers, remain in that traumatized state of mind, so that healthy relationships are almost impossible to achieve. This breeds men desperate to in pursuits of people to affirm them as a man. This breeds women desperate in pursuits to find love and validation of other men. All due to a lack of identity.

Identity is not something you find it is something to behold. I have my father in my life; I am a daddy’s girl to the core. But even I struggled in my identity. Having a father to give you identity isn’t enough if the child isn’t willing to sustain it. I had to realize that my identity didn’t come from how I good I did something, my career, or my accomplishments, but that my identity comes from God the Father. He gave me identity and purpose even in my mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5). He is the same God that has given you identity and purpose too!

Now below are some tips to get through Father’s Day:

1.Grieve

Some of the tips mirror my Mother’s Day post because I still find the applicable to use in the case of an absent father. If your father has passed away or is absent, it is healthy to grieve. Allow yourself to feel any emotions that comes up, but don’t allow it to stay. Release that emotion through tears, a yell, drawing, dancing— anything that allows you to release your emotions healthily. For those that have had an absent father, accept who your father was. Imagining the ideal father raises a false hope that your father cannot meet. When you cast down this imagination, you can begin to accept your father for who he is/was instead of hating him for who he isn’t/wasn’t.

2. Honor the Fathers in Your Life

When I say fathers, I mean MEN. I know that sometimes mothers receive Father’s Day gifts, but this can severely deepen a father wound in a person. This can be as simple as calling up a mentor or going out to eat with a father-figure. You can buy this person a Father’s Day card, and show just how much this man means to you. While everyone is enjoying their natural father, you can enjoy the company of someone that has helped developed you as a father. Being alone on days like these can be difficult and may cause you to feel worse, so I don’t recommend isolation.

3. Deal with the Father Wound

The father wound is much like the mother wound, except from the father and it can affect you in different areas than in the mother wound. As I stated earlier, a child that lacks identity, grows up to be an aimless adult. When leaving this wound unaddressed, it can affect how you treat other men and even male children. If a parent is wounded there’s a greater chance of passing that wound onto his or her child. For example, if a parent grew up with men in and out of his or her life, the parent can say something like, “don’t trust men with goatees because they always leave”. Now though this seems silly, what this is actually doing is growing mistrust in the child to not trust certain men because of the parent’s wound. Addressing this wound can be done in counselling, one on one with mentor (male or female), or prayer (deliverance is something to consider as well). I said it in my Mother’s Day post and I will say it again here: If God can reconcile with all of humanity through Jesus Christ, when even He knew people would still not choose Him, then we can reconcile with our parent through understanding. Even if he is an absolute deadbeat… you can still reconcile with him. Not invite him to everything and become best friends. Reconciliation is simply becoming compatible with someone again. Find similar interests and make that a basis of communication. It will be weird, but I’ve seen this work! It is better to deal with it these wounds now, so there’s no reason to have a father wound next year!

Hopefully these tips have been helpful to you. Feel free to use my Resources Page or submit a Prayer Request if needed! Virtual hugs. Take care.

Have Joy Again!

Hi beautiful people! Lately I haven’t been feeling the best. Recently, I posted about my struggles on social media and this is what I had to say that I had been going through a depressive episode where I felt that I wasn’t happy with a lot of my routine (so ironic especially since this is mental health awareness month). I found that the joy that I had previously, was very much depleted. Thankfully, I have regained in the past week. Even though I am still going through quite a lot, the joy I have has been sustaining itself! People that struggle with chronic physical conditions, depression, anxiety, or comorbidities, often lose joy due to their illness(es). It may seem impossible to gain any type of excitement because of these conditions, but it is possible! Here are three points on how I restored joy in my life!

Turn Off Comparison

Back in my day (I think I’m old enough to say that now), the Internet wasn’t as popular as it is today. Sure, we had instant messaging and a couple of social media sites to connect with others, but it is nowhere near as booming as it is today. With all this, comes the comparison. Somehow people have gotten famous off of being on social media; whether people are chasing clout, posting over-sexualized versions of themselves, or radical body modification for likes, people will compare themselves to what they think is the “norm” or popular. On social media, we measure popularity through “likes”, and these “likes” can be misinterpreted as validation or approval. If you’re on social media, one can’t help but compare his or herself to what they constantly see, but this comparison can be toxic! Comparison will rob you of the good that you’re doing even if you don’t think it’s much. Comparison kills joy. To avoid comparison, social media breaks can be essential in preserving your self-image. If avoiding social media isn’t plausible for you practice, try introspection. Looking inwardly can help you to find contentment with the journey that you’re on and not anyone else’s. Introspection can also help you to evaluate what joy feels like for you. It may be different than what others attribute to joy. Ask yourself: What makes me happy? This leads me to the next point of practicing gratefulness.

Practice Gratefulness

I remember as a teen, when I would go through an episode, my peers and family would always tell me things like, “Oh, buck up; it could be worse!”. Hearing this, caused me to be infuriated (remember depression is more than just sadness) because it was insensitive and also because it invalidated my experience because in that moment of that depression the only thing “worse” was death. Anyways, as I matured, I re-evaluated the potential reasons why they would say some of these things to me. It all pointed to their desire for me to be grateful. Though their tactic was very ineffective, I understood their perspective. Gratefulness is something that should be practiced everyday. Gratefulness gives your thoughts an opportunity for a different direction. Instead of overthinking or thinking about how you’ll ever get better in your condition—choose to direct your mind to a different path. You’ve already been down the path of overthinking; it led to destruction. Start small; be grateful for your clothes, be grateful for your medications, be thankful that you have water. It will always be difficult to be downhearted or anxious with a grateful heart.

Appreciate Sonship

Let me reiterate something; This is a Christian blog! So, though I give holistic tips that you can use, but I’m ALWAYS going to write from a biblical Christian perspective. Sonship refers to Romans 8:14-15 that says: “All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’”

Sonship is a fluid concept; what I mean is that it is not only directed to men, but to women as well (Romans 8:14-15 also mentions “sons and daughters of God to avoid confusion”). When God adopted us by His Spirit through Christ’s sacrifice, we became heirs to the inheritance that God has stored up for us. Remembering this has helped to appreciate God’s sacrifice. When you feel joy leaving you or as if there is nothing to be joyful about, I want you to remember that you’re more than important; Jesus thinks you’re worth dying for! You can rejoice in knowing that God has your back in the best times and the worst times.

When your joy disappears, you may feel as if you are completely alone; be encouraged: You are never alone! There is always someone that is going through something. Life has many ups and downs, but you can have joy in all of it! Use introspection to evaluate what make YOU joyful. Practicing gratefulness keeps you to appreciate even the small things in life. And sonship keeps your mind from wandering into darkness because you are focused on God, Your Father, making provisions for you.

I hope these tips will be useful to you. give Leave me a comment and let’s continue the conversation about joy! Until next week, use these tips or make your own. Take care.

When Mother’s Day is Painful.

Happy Friday! I’ve been debating about writing about this topic, but the closer to the day it is, I figured, that I’d just go for it. This Sunday is Mother’s Day and it is not an easy day for everyone and it is definitely not easy for me. Mother’s Day is a day to honor mothers and the role they play in the family. Mother’s Day can be difficult if your mother was abusive and days like these can affect a person’s mental state quite negatively. Since I know I have family that reads my blogs, I want to say this before I go on: I love my mother. However, there have been many unfortunate circumstances that have forced a wedge between a healthy mother-daughter relationship. Trigger Warning: This post contains information that may be emotionally upsetting to some readers.

Whether your mother was abusive (physically, emotionally, financially, or sexually), emotionally neglectful, mentally absent due to mental illness or substance abuse, there is still a way for you to honor the role of your mother.

As mother’s day is approaching, the same familiar feelings associated with this day rises within me: Anxiety, anger, shame. I remember as a middle-schooler I would find myself jealous of the other girls that would brag about what they did with their mother that previous weekend. I would often find myself fantasizing about what my mother could be like. I fell in love with this false imaginary perfect mother I had created for myself. Of course that imaginary mother concept all came crashing down when reality set in (I’ll go more in depth about that in the next section). Below, I’ve provided some tips of how I get through Mother’s Day.

1.Grieve

Though my mother is very much alive, but there was a time that I had to grieve the loss of her. See, I had to grieve the role my mother played in my life. I had to let go of my idea of what I believed my mother was supposed to be. I had to let go of the idea of what my mother was and embrace who she was and still is even if that still meant it wasn’t what I needed. Grieving her role doesn’t mean I need to have an elaborate plan on how to do so. For me it was tears. Tears, at the time, were profound for me partly because my tear ducts had completely dried up (so I literally could not cry) and partly because I was shown that tears were weakness. Deciding to cry (with the help of artificial tears lol) was powerful because I was able to grieve fully. Grief does not come without an emotional response, especially in women. God (Jesus Christ) wired us, women, to weep. When we choose to bottle up our tears, it can turn into physical pain in the body (https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/034c/7de22156be5ec1f96d31c4dd0c9dcbc1da1a.pdf). But that’s just one way. It may be different for you. Whatever you feel as you begin to grieve, let it all out! As I said earlier, I used to imagine my perfect idea of what my mother should be like. Eventually, I fell in love with that imagination instead of loving my mother for where she was, I hated her because she wasn’t my ideal. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 10:5 to take captive EVERY thought—that means even if it’s good— and to cast down or to throw away vain imaginations. So some thoughts that we may have— that I was having—can cause more harm than good. We must accept our reality. Cast down every imagination of what your mom could’ve been and should’ve been for you. She wasn’t. Accepting who she was and who she is makes it easier for us to let go of anger because what we needed she could not have been. Thankfully, Scripture says in Psalms 27:10, When my mother and my father forsake me, the Lord lifts me up. In another version it says, My father and mother may abandon me, but the Lord will take care of me. Whenever we feel or are abandoned, the Lord will always take of us.

2. Make Plans and Keep Yourself Busy (and Stay the Heck Off Social Media!!!)

Making plans on Mother’s Day may be a bit difficult, especially if you know your friends will be celebrating. But there are plenty of other things to do. You can also schedule to meet with your friends after they’re done celebrating so that can give you something to look forward to. Seeing a movie

Trust me. If you struggle with Mother’s Day, the last place you need to be is social media (or Olive Garden). Staying off social media is also important. Years ago, I would find myself in such a sour mood because of I was looking at my friends and even strangers’ post awesome things about their mothers. It was jealousy and it made me feel so much worse. Before I knew it, I was back to imagining my “perfect mother” again to keep me from confronting personal issues. For your mental sake, it may just be better to stay away from social media that day and replace the social media time with something productive.

3. Call Your “Mom”

You may not have a relationship with your birthmother, but there are plenty of positive motherly role models that my be present in your life. These can be a relative, pastor, coach, or teacher. Whoever she may be, calling her on Mother’s Day may quench that desire of wishing a mother well even though she is not your mother.

4. Take Time to Intentionally Confront with Your Mother Wound

If you have been mocked, bullied, punched, slapped, raped, abandoned, or financial drained by your mother, you more than likely have a mother wound. A mother wound is simply being unmothered. A mother wound is pain from your mother or generations of mothers in your family being perpetuated onto you. This pain can be incest, physical abuse, abandonment, or verbal abuse. A grandmother can tell a mother that she’ll never amount to anything and that word curse can be passed on to that mother’s child regardless of the child’s gender (men can have mother wounds as well). A mother wound can be confronted in therapy sessions (as this is also a psychological term), but they should also be confronted in Christian settings as well. Churches that help you confront via prayer and deliverance can help you in the journey to accepting and loving your mother who she is/was instead of hating her for her faults. I’m still taking the steps necessary to heal this wound. I have to realize that whether we like it or not, God desires reconciliation for all of us. If God can reconcile with all of humanity through Jesus Christ, when even He knew people would still not choose Him, then we can reconcile with our parent through understanding.

Mother’s Day does not have to suck! You can enjoy the day without being sad or angry all day. Hopefully these tips have been helpful to you. Feel free to use my Resources Page or submit a Prayer Request if needed! Virtual hugs. Take care.

Christian Meditation

Yes, we’re talking about the “M” word. Now before you burn me at the stake, let me explain meditation and the difference between what you’re thinking and what Christian meditation is. Meditation has become quite a buzz word as its growing popularity in mainstream culture. Meditation involves focus on a particular activity or object to stimulate emotional calmness and stability. Sounds harmless, right? Well, that’s only partially true.

There are some meditations that exist now that involves clearing your mind completely first, and then focusing on a particular activity such as your breathing, energy flowing in and out of your body, projecting your body to other places, or chakras, but I’ll discuss that later.

Christian meditation should never involve clearing your mind. In Philippians 4:8 it says Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think or meditate about such things. As Christians, we are never supposed to clear our minds, but instead we are to actively think about the scriptures so that we may make a daily impact in our lives and the lives of others. In Joshua chapter 1 verse 8 it says, Keep this Book of the Law (or the Word of God) always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. So meditation, doesn’t come from the devil; it comes from the Lord! When we meditate, we are to focus our minds on Word of God, words He has spoken over us, and words He wants to say to us in these quiet times.

So how did we come to meditation being demonized? When I mention meditation to fellow Christians, I get strange looks or someone telling me that it’s wrong to meditate. This is simply not true; meditation has been demonized because of it lionization from celebrities. People have turned to shamans, gurus, and other spiritual people to learn meditation techniques. Though this may seem harmless or even insightful, there are limits to their abilities and they have to channel ancestors or other gods to receive their wisdom. The Bible says in Exodus “You shall have no other gods before me”. Those gods can include any other god, source, or energy outside of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is not only the way into truth, but Scripture says that He IS the truth, and when we go to others that are seeking truth, peace, clarity, etc. through any other source outside of Jesus, they are trespassing in an area that doesn’t belong to them.

The way to meditate in a Christian way is very simple. Personally, I meditate with music, pen, and paper. I’m a writer, so if I hear anything, I want to have in a notebook to review it later, or I may use this time to write things that bother me or letter to myself. Sometimes the music I listen to has Scriptures embedded into it or sometimes it’s worship music. It doesn’t matter how you meditate in this way, but Scripture is clear of its benefits. Meditating is more than listening to worship music for 30 minutes. Meditation is bringing your whole self- your mind, will, and emotions- under the canopy of God’s presence and sovereignty. It will bring sobriety to the heart and mind. For someone that’s struggled with delusions and paranoia, a sober mind is a godsend.
I will post a link to the type of music of meditate to as sort of a baseline for those of you that would like to start meditating. Meditation on the Scriptures, the goodness of God, and puts you in the perfect posture for hearing hearing from God. If you start meditating this week, let me know how it goes! Leave me a comment and let’s continue the conversation. Until next week, use these tips or make your own. Take care.

3 Ways to Boost your Self-Esteem Right Now!

Hey Hey! So, it’s been two weeks since I’ve last written! I hope that you’ve been using some of the tips I’ve been listing… or making your own.

This week, I wanted to conclude talking about self-esteem by giving you three quick and simple ways to boost your self-esteem right now (cus why not?!)

1. Doing kind things for others


Now I know what you’re thinking; “Ash, this is I thought you said this was self-esteem. Esteem of myself. Why do I have to do things for others?” WELL… what if I told you, you’re not here by yourself? Meaning, you don’t exist simply for your own pleasures and personal gains. Each person on this planet has his/her own world. Some people have an expansive, innovative, colorful happy world. While there are some that have a small, confined, bleak, troubling world. According to Elizabeth Svoboda, author of What Makes a Hero? The Surprising Science of Selflessness, she says that neuroscientists show that our brains are wired to reward us with positive feelings whenever we act selflessly. In essence, we feel good when we do kind things for others. When it comes to self-esteem, people that struggle, don’t always feel good about themselves. Getting involved with your local homeless shelter or soup kitchen, volunteering at an after-school program or at your church are all ways to start acting selflessly and start feeling better!

2. Encourage yourself

This one is super fast and really easy because you can do this at any time and any place. Encouraging yourself can be like picking up a mirror and saying an affirmation to yourself, but if you’re busy you may not want to say so many things at once. One thing I like to tell myself quite often is, “today is a bad day; it’s not a bad life”. I know this theme of encouraging words may seem redundant, but bear this in mind: The words you speak, create the world you live in. Your words are powerful. If you’re not careful you can speak yourself in such a low state, it may take years for you to recover. You may not always be how you feel, but you are what you’re saying! Once you begin practicing “you are what you think” the sooner you can begin to build your esteem!

3.  Find your niche

A niche: a place, employment, status, or activity for which a person or thing is best fitted. Your niche: that definition is up to you! Finding a place that fits you is about finding the right culture/community. It begins with asking yourself about your personal values and visualizing your ideal self (which is a better version of you). The right culture/community can reveal to yourself things that have been hidden dormant in you. To find an activity that best fits you, that can depend on a lot of things such as your personality, temperament, and your physical ability. For example, if you like to workout, but have arthritis in your hands, powerlifting wouldn’t be the best fit for you (something like sculpting or pottery may be a better fit). Whatever your niche is, no one else knows it; it dwells in you! Asking yourself the right questions such as,  “What am I good at?”, “What do I enjoy doing?”. If you’re not sure where to start, reflect on your childhood or early adulthood. What was your escape? What made you feel great back then? The answer to those questions are ways to help you in finding your niche!

So those were just three tips to help you build your self-esteem right now! Hopefully you will find them enjoyable and helpful to you or to someone you want to share them with. Until next week, please use this tips or make your own. Take care.

What to do When You Don’t Like Yourself.

Last week, we talked about the power of affirmations and how important self-encouragement is. Writing affirmations are a good way to show self-love, but can be daunting if you struggle with low self-esteem. I believe that most people have struggled with maintaining a positive self-esteem at some point.

As a child I constantly struggled with esteem issues. Some of this low self-esteem stemmed from childhood trauma while another part stemmed from bullying. Bullying is a common way for people to develop low self-esteem. and to the victim it seems like it may go on forever. Oftentimes, I felt myself crying out to God with David’s psalm when he said, “Give attention to my cry, For I am brought very low; Rescue me from my persecutors, For they are stronger than I” Psalm 142:6 (AMP). As I grew older, I had to realize a few things. One was that you could be the most popular, smart, handsome, talented person in the world, and someone will still have something negative to say about you, but hey, that’s life! And one important takeaway is that you can’t control what people say or do, but you can control how you respond to what people say or do! With childhood trauma, it’s a bit different. Oftentimes, children internalize what happened to them and, in turn, become adults that are self-critical and in some instances, self-sabotaging due to low self-esteem. Neither bullying, or experiencing negative childhood events are the victim’s’ fault. It’s not like you woke up one day and asked someone to pick on you!

Unfortunately, low self-esteem is a common occurrence with youth and young adults. Personally, I believe that this distorted self-image comes from comparison via social media and social media addiction, but those are topics I will discuss later. Low self-esteem can present itself in a multitude of ways. For young women, it may present itself as false humility (which is distorted, poor thinking of oneself while calling this thinking humility) or precarious behavior. For young men overstimulated ego or toxic masculinity. No matter how it presents itself, it is important to be introspective and realize that these behaviors are cries for help. If left untreated, low self-esteem can fester into self-hatred.

As difficult as it may be to overcome low self-esteem. One of the ways to overcome low self-esteem is to realize this: you were made in the image of God (Jesus Christ). God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” Genesis 1:26 (NIV). God formed you and shaped you in His likeness. Up to this point in creation, He made animals and vegetation. But to make you in His image means that it was an intentional decision. Our bodies are valuable to God, but there’s more to it than us just being made in the image of God. Psalms 8:6 says You (God) have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet…” This means that we have dominion over the things here on earth. I know that may not seem like much, but viewing yourself in this light, takes away from victimization. You were not created to simply occupy space, but to have dominion and to create! Another  way to overcome low self-esteem is to build a healthy community around you that can understand your struggle. This community doesn’t have to be really big; it can simply be a few people that understand and/or are willing to listen and help you in your struggle with low self-esteem. This does require you to be honest and transparent about your true feelings about yourself. Lastly, acceptance that you are who you are. There’s nothing that can change that. There is only one you and there could never be a more beautiful you (thanks Jonny Diaz). Accepting that you are different, set apart, and chosen for a unique purpose will help you to build self-awareness. Coming into acceptance with who you are—the way God sees you— is important and can help combat negative thoughts about yourself.  

Hopefully, this post has helped you to begin to take steps in leaving low self-esteem for good. Next week, I believe I may go more in depth with everyday tips to boost self-esteem. Until then, use some of these tips or make your own. If you’d like me to pray for you this week, leave me a prayer request! Take care.