Faithfully Thinking: When All You Have Is God

It’s hard to write about something you don’t want to write about.

Over and over I heard this in my head when I start to write: “No one cares, Lisa. No one cares.”

And maybe no one does care about the time last year when I was in the hospital with Covid and I felt closer to God than I ever had before or since, but I’m going to write about it anyhow.

For the last couple of weeks, I have been thinking a lot about how there was a time I thought I wouldn’t be here to enjoy the smallest joys in life.

I’ve been finding myself stopping in the middle of a frustrating moment with my child or pet or husband and taking a deep breath and letting it out again, my shoulders relaxing as I remember how lucky I am to be here with them, enjoying life.

When you think you might never come home again, you find yourself noticing the simplest things and smiling. You stop on your way in to the house after Thanksgiving dinner with your parents and look in the kitchen window and watch your daughter and your cat and your husband and smile.

You tip your head back and you look up at the sky and just sit for a few minutes in the silence, grateful for your feet on the ground and the breeze on your cheek, even if it is a cold winter breeze.

I’ve been interrupted, distracted, and thwarted every time I’ve tried to write this post.

I’ve typed, deleted, typed and deleted again.

I’ve reworded, taken it apart and put it back together again and then I deleted it all again.

Apparently, this post is something someone doesn’t want me to write, which is why I’m going to write it anyhow.

When I’m done, I won’t like how I wrote it and I’ll want to rewrite it again, or maybe even delete it, but I’m not going to. I’m writing this while the chaos of my house is going on around me and it may not make sense, but I’m writing it, posting it and hoping it encourages someone, shows them that God is with us in the small and big moments, even when we feel like he’s not.

On this day last year I was admitted to the hospital with Covid after my oxygen dropped. I didn’t feel like my oxygen was low while I had Covid. I was tired and weak, but I could take deep breaths. While I had Covid I read about oxygen dropping and some people not noticing it because of something called silent hypoxia.

 I had been reading too much about all the bad that can happen, quite frankly, partly because I’d had a fever for eight days and couldn’t get it to go away and partly because I was worried about the rest of my family.

My pulse ox was lower than it should be on the morning of Thanksgiving, but not super low. Just not coming up past 95, which I had read could mean that things might be getting bad. An ambulance ride and a visit to the ER confirmed my oxygen was even lower than what my home pulse ox was saying. I was hooked up to oxygen and transferred to a hospital 45 minutes north. I was relieved when I was transferred to that hospital because originally they had thought they might need to transfer me three hours south.

I knew if I was 45 minutes north my family would be able to visit me. Three hours? Yeah, that would have been a lot harder.

In the ER I was started on an anti-viral that would keep me in the hospital for five days. I didn’t want to do it or stay in the hospital, especially when it looked like my oxygen was responding well to a very small amount of supplemental oxygen.

Oddly, a sense of peace settled over me as if I knew God was going to be with me. I won’t say I was totally calm the entire time. I did wonder if I was going to die, but the nurses were very reassuring and my stats were doing well.

I started out my stay in the hospital in a private room but was later moved to a room with a roommate when they needed the room for a male patient.

I detailed a lot of this last year in a post I shared shortly after I was released from the hospital, but during my stay I found myself listening to worship music and praying not only for myself but for the woman next to me who was in much worse shape. There was more than once I thought the woman wouldn’t make it. At one point I stood and walked to her bed, laid my hand on her shoulder and prayed for her while she fitfully slept, fever and exhaustion overwhelming her.

The nurses and respiratory therapists had been trying to encourage her to use a cpap and had also been increasing her oxygen while decreasing mine.

When I laid my hand on her and prayed, the numbers on the monitor began to rise. Her oxygen level had been in the 60s at one point ,then the 80s and as I prayed it rose to 98 and the woman was able to rest some.

The night I was preparing to leave I was being given my last dose of antiviral when my blood pressure rose. The nurse in charge didn’t want to let me go home, which was a devastating thought to me. I knew that I needed to be home with my family to heal. I began to panic, which, of course, wasn’t helping my blood pressure.

I silently asked God why he was doing this to me. Why was he having this happen when my blood pressure had been doing so well while I was in the hospital?

My roommate was sitting on the edge of her bed behind the curtain, breathing hard, waiting for a nurse to come and help her to use the portable toilet next to her bed.

I felt like I needed to pray for her, tall her how she could talk to Jesus any time she needed to. I felt weird even thinking about it. I am not a bold Christian. I am not someone who walks up to someone and asks them if they know God. I had already prayed with the woman a couple of times and she had told me she appreciated it. This time I prayed over her and told her how she could talk to Jesus and ask him into her life while we waited to see if my blood pressure would come down.

It didn’t come down but the nurse finally agreed to let me go home if I would monitor it at home, call my primary care doctor the following day and return if it continued to rise. I agreed to all of this and was sent home.

Relying on Jesus to be with me when no one else could was what got me through those five days and it was what got me through the next two months while I recovered.

This Thanksgiving I couldn’t stop a giddy feeling bubbling up inside me as I remembered where I was last year. Before dinner I hugged my son several times, telling him how happy I was to be here with him, with the whole family.

I wished I could explain to them what it feels like to be handed your life back when you think you’re going to lose it. I wish I could explain it better even now. I wish I could convey to anyone who reads this what it is like to be dragged to the bottom of an ocean and just when you think you can’t hold on another moment you’re dragged up to the surface, bursting from the water, taking a deep breath and feeling the sun warm against your skin again.

I wish I could capture in a bottle that feeling of thinking you’re life will never be the same and then realizing that it never being the same isn’t actually a bad thing because it’s going to be even better now that you have been shown what it means to live again.

For the last year I have had many moments of fear. I have had many moments of questioning if I will catch Covid again and if my lungs were damaged or if my oxygen will drop again. I have questioned what is wrong with my health or what my future will mean. Each time the fear hits me, though, I try my best to remember the peace I felt those five days in the hospital. I remember a voice I’ve heard more than once saying, “I saved you then, I’ll do it again.

 I can’t stop the feeling that I’ve been given a gift, that God yanked me from my comfort on Thanksgiving Day of 2021, tossed me into one my biggest nightmares, held me close while there, then ushered me home and whispered, “Never forget how I was there for you in the hospital. It’s exactly how I am there for you now.”

Thanksgiving Day is to remember what we are thankful for. How fitting that God gave me an experience that will never let a Thanksgiving go by without me remembering one of the biggest reasons I have to be thankful.

Faithfully Thinking: You have to water the plants every day

In May my dad picked me up this huge, beautiful hanging basket and I couldn’t figure out why.

I kill plants. He knows this. The only thing I could think was that he felt guilty because the only plant I ever kept alive was one I had when I rented out our old house from my parents and right before my wedding my dad put it outside and it got burned in the sun and died. It was a plant I grew from a cut-off from one of my mom’s plants.

After that incident, and many other moments of plant death, I sort of swore off plants. A friend sent me a prayer plant in the mail last winter when I said my house was gloomy and amazingly it’s still living, a couple years later.

Other than that low-maintenance plant, though, I try to stay away from plants. Another downside to indoor plants, besides my killer instinct, is that my one cat always tries to eat them and then inevitably throws up whatever she ate somewhere in the house.

See, here is the thing — I forget to water plants. I forget I even have them half the time until I walk by and see it dead.

I remember to feed my children and my pets and sometimes I remember to feed me, but I don’t remember to feed my plants.

So there sat this plant from my dad on my front with big purple blooms and I freaked out. I just knew I was going to kill it by forgetting about it, forgetting to water it, or move it out of the sun.

The Husband helped water it at first, because it was hanging up too high for me and because he remembers to take care of plants. Then I took the plant down and tried to remember myself.

I did well for a while and then during a hot week, when my husband was super busy with work, I did it. I forgot to water it.

I looked out the front door and the plant was a dried-up, brown husk of its former self. All the purple blooms were gone, the green was shriveling to brown. I had done it. I had killed another plant.

I lamented my murderous ways, or my neglectful manslaughter ways, to The Husband.

“Just start watering again,” he said with a casual wave of his hand because he is much more laid back about such things than I am. “It will come back.”

His words were encouraging and reassuring but I didn’t have much faith.

The plant was dead.

There was some green, yes, but for the most part –— death had set in.

Our spiritual life is like that plant.

If we don’t water our spirit with God’s word, his truth, during the week, our spiritual leaves fall off. We start to dry up and shrivel inside. We begin to feel withered and worn.

Like my pastor said this week, if we sing three songs, listen to a sermon, and walk out the door but don’t plug ourselves in to God throughout the rest of the week, we aren’t going to do very well – just like my poor plant.

Last summer I planted green beans and as I pulled some beans off, I accidentally ripped part of the vine off the main stalk. (See, I even kill vegetable plants! You don’t want me near your garden. I’m the angel of death for plants.) The part of the plant that got pulled off died, while the rest that was still connected to the nurturing soil and the main vine, kept growing and blooming.

As soon as I saw the disconnect of the plants and the brown setting in, I thought about how we become weak if we don’t stay connected to the vine — to Christ and to his followers, to a nurturing church that can help us stay connected to God’s word, to encouraging written or spoken words.

Back to that plant my dad gave me. I began to water it again, each day and then moved it into the rain if we had any. One day I walked out and it was not only green again, but the blooms had also returned. All the plant needed was to be nurtured and have its thirst quenched, similar to how our souls need the taste of the living water that will never leave us thirsty.

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” 

 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?  Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” 

 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,  but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4: 10-14

Ways I stay connected to the truth of God throughout the week:

  • Reading the Bible
  • Devotionals
  • Worship or Christian Music
  • Christian podcasts
  • Praying for and with other Christians
  • A weekly egroup (online Bible study)
  • Church on Sunday (in person or online)

How do you stay connected with God or in tune with his direction for your life throughout the week? How do you keep your spirit watered?

Faithfully Thinking: When your soul feels dry

The earth has been parched, craving the rain for weeks now. The grass in our backyard is yellow and dead and hard under our bare feet.

The weather service says we’re not in a drought. I find it hard to believe, even though I know the designation has to do with water table levels and other such things. Our rivers and creeks are almost like rock beds.

Our farmers’ fields are dry and not growing.

Sometimes my soul feels the same way. Like there are days when I feel so dry, my insides being strangled by the vines withering in the hot rays of the sun.

Everything I try fails, falling on the dry, dead earth.

Each effort I make to improve our finances sputters to a start then runs out of air, out of gas, out of water, or success, or whatever you want to say.

It’s on days like that that I look for water to quench my thirst. Yes, only Jesus can really quench our deep, soul-level thirst but on the more surface level, I look for things like good books, good food, good people and they help me on a physical and mental level at least.

God never promised our lives would be easy but he promised He’d be there when they weren’t easy.

He never promised we wouldn’t go thirsty or our souls wouldn’t dry up in the heat of it all. What he did promise is that the well that provides his living water will never go dry.

How do you refill the well of your soul?

With things? With social media?

Or with better things like good books, good food, good people and ….?

Faithfully Thinking: Letting God Lead

I was scrolling through Instagram this past weekend when I saw a post/video from novelist Nadine Brandes. She was talking about acne she had dealt with after a virus during college. It was all across her face and she said many people would offer unsolicited advice or make awful assumptions about it. She eventually developed a deep depression over it because nothing worked to remove it — not medications or creams or expensive medication. All those things did was make her sick.

She said that one day she started to cover the mirrors in her house and began to focus on Jesus and her relationship with him. She stopped trying to take care of the problem herself. She wrote under the short video she posted that she never actually figured out what the source of the acne was, but one day, she began to notice it was fading, and then it was gone. She wrote, “All I can say is Jesus. Jesus removed the stress, the anxiety, and the shame. I think peace affects our bodies just as much (if not more) as creams.”

I could relate to her story, not because I have ever had her acne, or even because of the frustrating health issues I do deal with, but because I have found myself focusing too much on situations, people, and my perceived failures and not enough on Jesus many times.

Most recently this focus has come in the form of trying to figure out how to build a following for my books so I can earn a little extra cash to help my family financially, but also because I enjoy sharing my stories. I started checking off all these steps that “experts” insist you must do to be noticed on social media. I created an author page and group on Facebook. I searched for ways to increase interactions and followings on Instagram. I tried to do everything that was being suggested without totally driving myself crazy since I had walked that road before and ended up with a near mental breakdown.

I’ve learned there is nothing wrong with building a following, either to help promote your work so you can support your family or to get the word out about something you’re passionate about (like your faith in Christ), but if it is replacing your relationship with Christ then it will bring you more misery than you were prepared to handle.

Nadine’s post was a reminder to me to step back again, lay it all in Jesus’ hands and not worry so much about followers or sales or anything other than my relationship with him.

He’s the ultimate provider and all my hard work means nothing if I don’t lean into him and let him lead.

This is something I will have to remind myself of over and over again because so many of us know how it should be and we do fine for a while but then life — argh! Life gets crazy or scary or crazy scary again and we lose our way.

We forget to trust.

We lose focus.

We get distracted. It is in those moments of distraction that we have to be reminded of what we had committed to in the past, which was focusing on Christ and letting him take care of all that weighs us down.

Doing anything other than that will not only frustrate us but make us sick, mentally, spiritually and even physically.


Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;  and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Faithfully Thinking: Jesus said it had to go

Little Miss and I were watching The Chosen (a show that follows the life of Jesus) on Sunday and there is a scene where a demon-possessed man is attacking Simon. In the middle of the attack, Jesus arrives and shouts, “Out! Out of him!”

The man immediately spasms, then falls to the ground and is still. A few seconds later the man begins to cry as everyone looks on in horror mixed with relief.

“What happened?” Little Miss asked.

“The demon left because Jesus said it had to go,” I told her.

My own words stopped me.

Wow.

It left because Jesus said, “Out! Out of him!” or essentially, “Leave him!”

How many times every day should we be saying the same thing in our life? How many times should we be saying to our thoughts, our emotions, or worries: “No. You can’t be here. You have to leave.”

In TV, movies, and books, Satan is a caricature, a joking evil character who humans with common sense aren’t supposed to believe is real.

But if you’ve been around long enough, you know that there is evil in the world and that evil fits in well with the Bible’s description of Satan and his influence. You may deny in your mind that there is a real devil but deep down your spirit knows there is.  All day, every day, voices whisper around you and you may not hear them or see who are speaking them, but they see you and they want to hurt you for their cheap thrills.

That’s when we need to be like Jesus and tell those thoughts, those residents of the spiritual realm, which torture us, or try to, that they have no place here.

That spirit who speaks to you has no power, and it needs to leave.

Fear?

Jesus says it has to go.

Anxiety?

Jesus says it has to go.

Jealousy?

Jesus says it has to go.

Infirmity?

Jesus says it has to go.

Anger?

Jesus says it has to go.

Hurt?
Jesus says it has to go.

Doubt, depression, pride, arrogance.

All of it.

When Jesus says it has to go, then it has to go and it can go with one word from him.

One word.

But also one word from us because when Jesus rose to heaven he told us that the Holy Spirit would be with us to help us do as he had done here on earth. It is Jesus’ power through us, and we can demand that spirits, that demons, that all evil that goes against us leave.

Now.

“Out!” Jesus said.

We can do the same with the thoughts that come after us, with the spirits that come against us because don’t be fooled — there is spiritual warfare, there are battles going on around us in spiritual realms and we are fighting against more than flesh and blood.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints. Ephesians 6:10-18

Faithfully Thinking: Dear Fellow Depression Sufferers, extend grace to those who simply don’t understand

When you wake up in the morning you feel it. A dark cloud hanging over you that you did not place there. There is a sense of foreboding that something bad is about to happen. You find yourself on edge, constantly in a state of “waiting for the other shoe to drop.” The phone rings and you jump. There it is. The bad news you were dreading.

Only it isn’t bad news. It’s simply a family member calling to say “hey” and you don’t have to worry. Whew. You breathe a sigh of relief. Calm settles over you.

 For five minutes that is because you suddenly start to think about how maybe that news isn’t bad but worse news could come soon. Then you begin to list off all the bad things that could happen.

And your heart rate? Now it’s really picking up.

“Is that normal?” you think. “Should my heart be doing that?

“Good grief. Stop it,” you tell yourself. “Everything is fine.”

And it is fine.

For five minutes before the cycle starts all over again and continues until the end of the day when you collapse in mental exhaustion.

Such is the life of someone who lives with anxiety and depression. I am someone who lives with anxiety and depression. Is every day of my life like this? No, thank God and because of God, it is not.  Does my mind switch to worry after worry every day, all day? Again no. Some days are like that, though, and it’s a very scary and out-of-control feeling.

It has taken a lot of prayer and a lot of lifestyle changes to help me deal with anxiety and depression and for a short time, I also took medicine. For now, I am taking CBD oil and it is helping (even if the one I have right now is a little too concentrated so I need one that won’t make me so sleepy). I am also practicing mindfulness and positive thinking, telling myself as many times as I need to do in a day that I am fine and that whatever I am anxious about is something I can handle with God’s help.

I just want to give a heads up to those of you dealing with anxiety and depression.

Inevitably some well-meaning person, usually at church, will say to you, “What are you so down about? You have a wonderful life! Wonderful children/grandchildren, a roof over your head, food on the table. You have nothing to be depressed about! Jesus is your Lord, be glad and rejoice!”

If they haven’t yet, don’t worry. They will.

It can be hard not to be angry with the people who seem so flippant about your mental health. It can be hard not to scream “But you don’t understand!  I don’t even understand. The sadness and dark clouds are just there even when I know they shouldn’t be!”

Oh, how I have wanted to scream that so many times. I have wanted to tell them how clueless they are and how hurtful it is to tell me to simply “cheer up” when I am trying so hard to do just that. And if I hear them recite Philippians 4:6 (Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God) one more time like it is an admonishment and not an encouragement, my head might just explode right off my neck.

This week I had to remind myself of something and I want to offer it as advice from one depression sufferer to another — extend grace to those people who encourage you to not be anxious.

They don’t mean to hurt us with their comments. They don’t mean to be rude (most of them don’t anyhow). They don’t mean to dismiss our feelings. They mean well. They really want to help but they simply don’t know how. They think they are being encouraging and kind. They think you simply need to watch a comedy, walk in nature and listen to worship music and the depression will be gone. Why? Because that’s how it’s worked for them.

They don’t have a clinical depression they can’t explain.

They have a slump in their mood and for them what works is journaling and yoga and “centering” themselves.

Sometimes that even works for us hardcore sufferers, but most of the time we need much more. We may need medicine, we may need counseling, or we just might need to stop being told “to perk up”, “shake it off,” “get into nature,” “sing a song,” or “read your Bible.”

However, all of those things can help, and the Bible is needed so when someone says one of those things to you, thank them.

Thank them for their attempt and move on. If they condemn you for not cheering up the way they think you should, then maybe you can offer them a comment about how their advice is no longer needed, but otherwise, simply thank them because most of the time they mean well and some of the time their suggestions might at least take the edge off it all.

Faithfully Thinking: God is our shelter

It’s been one of those weeks, or I guess two weeks.

One day a couple of weeks ago I learned that a former classmate of mine had passed away.

A few weeks before that, a good family friend passed away and last Saturday we attended a memorial service for her.

While working on edits for my recent book, my husband called to tell me a friend of ours, who we hadn’t seen in years for various reasons, had passed away in a house fire. A half an hour later a fellow writer learned that a child in her Sunday School class had been removed from their home because they were being abused.

When bad things happen, I want to pull a bubble or shelter up around me and hide inside that shelter so nothing else bad can reach me. Sadly, that’s not possible. The bad news will still get through and defile that clean, stress-free space I tried to create.

What is possible and real is that God can climb inside that shelter with me and while he may not take the bad news away, he can hold me and walk through the grief, heartache, or fear that stems from the bad news. God never promised us a life free of sorrow or trials, but he did promise that he would be there with us to shelter us in his comforting arms.

Psalm 27:5 For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; In the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock.

Psalm 18:2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Faithfully Thinking: The need for us all to show more grace and less judgment

Do you know what it means to judge not lest you be judged?

In my simplistic explanation, it means that you shouldn’t judge someone when you don’t know all the facts about their life because eventually, someone will do the same thing to you.

Is that fair? To be judged on the assumptions of others instead of facts?

Two weeks ago, someone my dad knew passed away from Covid. Then her son-in-law died from it as well. You would think that in a time of grieving, there would have been more compassion and less judging. Yes, there was compassion, there were condolences offered, there was comfort without judgment even offered. But there were also comments, on a Facebook post announcing the death, where the family could see the comments, about how the people should have been vaccinated.

Were they vaccinated? I haven’t got a clue and the people making the comments probably don’t know either. They were assuming.

If they were unvaccinated maybe they had a legit concern, whether medical or otherwise, about the vaccine, but the people commenting didn’t care. They wanted to sound superior. They wanted it to sound like they made the right decision, and the other person made the wrong decision and therefore deserved to die.

Well, if we are going to go that route then maybe the people who made those comments will die one day and someone will say to their family “well, should have stopped smoking,” instead of “I’m so sorry for your loss.” Maybe someone will say, “Welp, they deserved to die, they drank too many beers a week.”

Is this where we are right now? Where we judge and assume when someone dies? Where we judge their whole lives based on decisions they made that we don’t agree with?

I can answer these questions by saying yes, that is where we are at.

As a society, we have lost compassion.

We have lost understanding.

We have lost the ability to extend grace.

We have lost the ability to see a situation and not project our personal experiences on it.

We have lost the ability to see in anything other than black and white.

We don’t know what truth is anymore, but we decide to adopt one for ourselves and then try to force our truth on others.

As Christians, we believe Christ is the truth. We believe the Bible is the truth, but I do not believe God wants us to force that on anyone. If someone does not accept that our faith is true, do we look at them in judgment? Do we ostracize them and believe we are better than them? Some of us do, but we shouldn’t. God gave us free will and part of that free will is being able to decide for ourselves how we feel about him and what we believe.

If someone doesn’t believe the same as us politically, should we believe we are better than that person?

What about if they make medical decisions differently than us? We can express our concern for them, but once we’ve done that, it’s time to step away and let them live their lives.

I know people who read my blog know that I am unvaccinated for a legit medical reason, but I want you to know that even if I was vaccinated, I would disagree with judging the unvaccinated. I may be vaccinated in the future and if I am, I absolutely refuse to sit and judge those who don’t vaccinate, the same way I vow right now to not judge those who have chosen to vaccinate themselves.

I am not impressed with those who get vaccinations and brag about them or try to shame those who made a different decision. I am more impressed with those who get vaccinated and move on with their life. No matter who I am “impressed” with, I don’t want to be the person who judges a person based on their personal decisions, including their decision to brag about getting a vaccine, or whatever I think is a little strange simply because I wouldn’t do it.

Some people make decisions I think are poor, and if there are drugs or alcohol or abuse involved, the decisions are poor, but I need to do my best to understand why the person has made the decision they have. It’s not always because they are being purposely selfish. Sometimes people are being selfish in their decisions, but many times they are making a decision because they feel it is right, not because they are trying to hurt someone.

My wish for this next year is that we extend more compassion, that we judge less, that we hate less, that we stop bullying people who don’t believe like we do, especially when a person is deep in grief and hurt. You have heard the saying “Don’t kick a person when they are down,” but that is what is happening these days. When a person is grieving, they are being told they deserve to grief. When a person is frightened, they are being told they are stupid for being frightened. When they are hurting, so many people are standing on their wound.

I really hope that we will start showing more compassion this year and try to understand others just as we would want to be shown compassion and understood. Instead of judging someone, I urge us all to talk to them, understand them, or at least say to ourselves, “That’s their decision, not mine and they have their own reasons for making that decision. I will not assume what their reasons are based on their political party, their faith, their social media statements, or anything else.”

I hope you know that I am preaching to myself with this post as well. I need to have more compassion and understanding and it’s something I truly want to work on in 2022.

How about you? Will you join me in this effort?

Faithfully Thinking: Ought’n we be prepared for the best too?

A lot of people tend to think of the worst outcome for a situation they are in. We call those people pessimists and I am one of them.

I try not to be, really, but for some reason I always find my brain hopping to what could go wrong instead of what could go right.

I would imagine that even the most optimistic people frequently find their minds bouncing to the “worst what-if scenarios” even when they tell others not to do the same.

A quote from Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery reminded me that we humans often focus on the possible bad we may face, rather than the possible good.

Eliza shook her head. “Doctors always talk like that to keep people cheered up. I would have much hope if I was her. It’s best to be prepared for the worst.”

“But oughtn’t we to be prepared for the best too?” pleaded Anne. “It’s just as likely to happen as the worst.”

As most of you know (because I’ve posted about it several times) I was recently in the hospital with Covid (and, yes, I will eventually stop talking about it). In the days before I went to the hospital, my thoughts were filled with worst-case scenarios, but I kept trying to push those scenarios away. I truly did not think I would end up in the hospital and I thought if I did, I would be sent home quickly. Even when I imagined something bad happening, my brain would never allow me to go to the worst, worst-case scenario for Covid, which is one, being vented and two, dying.

I had a lot of negative what-ifs in my brain during that time, but I promise I was doing my best to replace them with some positive what-ifs. I was just too tired and sick to really conjure up the positives, I suppose. A pastor’s wife and my mom helped fill me with some of the positives, reciting or texting me verses from the Bible.

One of those verses, Philippians 4:8, helped me immensely.

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.

After that, I tried to focus on happier thoughts, including focusing on me getting out of the hospital.

On the day the nurse was about to turn my oxygen off, letting me know I no longer needed it, I panicked and started asking what if I couldn’t breathe or my oxygen dropped. Would they put the oxygen back on? The nurse said she would if any of that happened, but she didn’t believe it would. I apologized and told her I always worry about the worst.

She said she understood because she often does the same but has had to remind herself to focus on the positive what-if questions.

“What if everything goes fine? What if I don’t have any issues? What if I do better than expected?”

“We all need to focus a little more on the good that can happen than the bad,” she told me. “Me included.”

Fifteen years ago, I was pregnant with my son, and every time I went to the midwife, I would ask her about all the bad things that could happen.

During one appointment she looked at me and said, “Lisa, why don’t you start thinking about what good will come from this pregnancy instead of what bad can happen during it.”

Oh. Well, there was a new concept.

I worked on it, but here was, and is my problem, I feel like if I don’t learn and know about the bad things that can happen, I won’t be prepared for those bad events when they come.

This might be a valid argument for planning for the worst, but on the other hand, a person can know about the bad, but not focus on the negative so much that the negative possible outcomes overshadow the positive possible outcomes.

I’m sure that thinking the best instead of the worst will be a lifelong battle for me, but it’s something I want to work on. I want to change my negative thinking, dismissing those thoughts instead of claiming them. I want to think the best, not to be naïve enough to think every situation will come out with the best-case scenario but to be brave enough to believe that some situations will.