Internet highlights – w/c 31st July 2016

6 08 2016

Survival tips for introverts at Christian Festivals

Things more famous than ‘celebrity’ big brother contestants

Phoebe was never meant to end up with Mike!

Things to do in a boring sermon

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Reasons to stay alive – by Matt Haig

17 03 2016

This book is brilliant, everyone should read it, it should maybe even be on the National Curriculum.

I believed this before I even read it. The quotes on the front, back, and inside covers set the bar very high indeed – here are a couple of my favourites:

  • “Brilliant … should be on prescription” – Rev Richard Coles
  • “A small masterpiece that might even save lives” – Joanna Lumley

And they’re correct. Technically an autobiography, we travel with Matt Haig through his experience of anxiety and depression, through five sections: “Falling”, “Landing”, “Rising”, “Living” and “Being”.

One of my favourite things about the book is that I don’t think there was a chapter longer than 6 pages, and most chapters were 1-4 pages – it’s well and truly bite-size, which is handy for something that while massively educational for some, has the risk of being triggering for others. It’s not a long book either – it’s quite small in size, well spaced, and only ~250 pages, so really not too intimidating. For what can be a very heavy subject, it’s broken down brilliantly.

For me this book had two very different sides to it. I’ve said before that I have anxiety disorder, and so for that section of the book, I was reading him put into words things I’ve felt but never been able to explain, and just reading about others that have the same struggles is encouraging in knowing you’re not alone. The other half, depression, I have friends that struggle with this, but don’t know a tonne about it myself, and so for this side of the story, it was hugely educational. As someone experienced, and someone clueless, this book had something to say to me.

Some chapters are simply lists: How to be there for someone with depression or anxiety, Things that (sometimes) make me better, and of course, Reasons to stay alive, among many others. There’s also a further reading list at the back.

I’ve put some of my favourite nuggets below, but please please read this book.

  • “Doubts are like swallows. They follow each other and swarm together.”
  • “Adding anxiety to depression is a bit like adding cocaine to alcohol. It presses fast-forward on the whole experience. If you have depression on its own your mind sinks into a swamp and loses momentum, but with anxiety in the cocktail, the swamp is still a swamp but the swamp now has whirlpools in it.”
  • “If pills work for you it doesn’t really matter if this is to do with serotonin or another process or anything else – keep taking them. If licking wallpaper does it for you, do that. I am not anti pill. I am pro anything that works.”
  • “When every bit of you is panicking, then walking is better than standing.”
  • “I was starting to find that, sometimes, simply doing something that I had dreaded – and surviving – was the best kind of therapy.”
  • “I have been ill before, then well again. Wellness is possible.”
  • “Depression is smaller than you. […] It operates within you, you do not operate within it. [..] You were there before it. And the cloud can’t exist without the sky, but the sky can exist without the cloud.
  • “To panic without a reason, that’s madness. To panic with a reason, that’s sanity.”
  • “We cannot save ourselves from suffering by buying a [expensive gadget]. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t buy one, it just means we should know such things are not ends in themselves.”
  • “Just as none of us are 100% physically healthy no one is 100$ mentally healthy. We are all on a scale.”

reasons to stay alive

Gospel Perseverance – Philippians 4 vv 1-9

24 03 2014

We had a great sermon this weekend – here’s the passage and my notes 🙂

“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!

I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, 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 about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

This passage gives us things to watch out for so we can stand firm in the Lord and persevere in our faith (v1)

  • Unity with other Christians – vv2-3
    Soldiers would stand shoulder to shoulder, and if they didn’t break rank they were virtually invincible.
    The enemy is looking for cracks and divisions in the church to exploit.
    One of the most common causes of church splits is personality clashes.
    In this example Paul doesn’t take sides.

    Disagreements, disunity and unforgiveness can weaken the church and destroy our faith.
    Warmth of close Christian friendship strengthens the church and builds our faith.

  • Relationship with the Lord
    Paul gives three ways to do this

    • Enjoy the Lord – v4
      Paul mentions rejoicing 16 times in Philippians, but not a certain style of joy.
      Joy may be expressed in silence, tears, delight or peace.

      The ground of our joy can never be in our circumstances.
      If our joy is based on our circumstances, then when they change we’ll be miserable.
      Our joy and delight must be in the Lord.

      When you get down in the dumps, read the promises of Christ.
      Try reading Ephesians 1 vv 3-14 and dare to still be miserable at the end!

    • Expect the Lord – v5
      Gentleness means moderation or graciousness. Being willing to forego retaliation.
      We should expect His return at any time.

      Crowds gather with excitement for royalty or celebrity.
      We should have expectancy and excitement for the arrival of the King of kings!

      The Lord is also near through the Holy Spirit in us.

    • Petition the Lord in prayer, with thanksgiving – v6
      “When I look back on all these worries I remember the story of the old man who said on his death bed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which never happened.” – Winston Churchill
      Worry can wreck out lives.
      Paul says that we must never be anxious.
      Rather than indulging in anxiety we are to pray about everything, no matter how small the issue.
      When we are anxious, it is because a situation seems out of control and we feel we can’t fix it. Either we continue like that, or we turn to prayer.
      God promises never to leave us of forsake us.

      It can be helpful to memorise verses that relate to personal issues for us, and then speak them to your spirit when you struggle.
      Some find it helpful to keep a prayer journal or prayer diary. It helps concentration, and helps look back and see how God has answered prayers. Then we can pray with thanksgiving and have greater confidence as we go on praying!

      As we bring worries and anxieties to God and leave them with Him, He gives us His peace in exchange.
      Peace means wholeness, soundness, well-being, oneness with God, every kind of blessing!

      Others can’t understand how we can be so peaceful amidst major worries.

  • Thoughts – vv8-9
    What we think about affects every area of our lives.
    If we want to become more like Jesus then we need to set our minds on the right things.

    The world we live in is quite different to this. We are bound to be tempted daily by wrong thoughts!
    “You can’t stop a bird flying overhead, but you can stop it nesting in your hair” – Martin Luther

    “Occupy your minds with good thoughts, or the enemy will fill them with bad ones; unoccupied they cannot be.” – Sir Thomas More
    The way to get wrong thoughts out is to get right thoughts in.
    Starting the day with this from the moment we wake up is a great way to start, to set the agenda for the day.

    Our unseen thought life is like the roots of a tree – our ability to withstand the storms of life depends on the strength of the unseen parts.

The hardest part of all of this is putting it into practice!
We must practice:

  • Avoiding quarrels and staying united with other Christians
  • Avoiding worry and anxiety by bringing it to the Lord in prayer
  • Thinking about good things

Uganda – testimony

30 10 2013

I just wanted to share a little bit of testimony from the week

I have problems with anxiety disorder, have done for years, and last year got bad enough to go on anti depressants. Sometimes panic attacks are triggered by nothing particular, but high pressure situations are often tricky. E.g. last month I went to the theatre and in the interval I had my worst panic attack in 6 years.

So I never expected to get through a week in a new country, new continent, new food, new people, new all sorts – it was going to be difficult. I thought that even if I managed to remain in control all week I’d at least be fighting it and it’d be hard work.

I was fine ALL WEEK. Other than a slight issue with breakfast on the first day which didn’t even feel that anxiety like, I didn’t even feel a slight hint of it. I had many friends and colleagues praying for me over the week and God massively exceeded my expectations!!!

Praise God!!