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Helping Siblings

Helping Siblings

Moving DayHello and welcome back! Sorry I haven’t written in a while. A lot has changed…. this past month has felt like a whirlwind…. I quit my job of five years, moved to a new town, started a network marketing business (in a new town, gosh!!!), and began taking Psychology classes at the local community college. What’s more, I was doing some research three days ago and… I think I know what I want to do with my life now!

How I Hope to Change the World

One of my clearest memories from childhood was the sound of my brother crying… sobbing hysterically. Shouting things like, “That’s not fair!” or “You never let me do what I want!” Those sobs and accusations shaped how I viewed the world…. I only realized that three days ago. I listened to my brother’s description of the world (unfair and disappointing), and I believed him.

Tiger SiblingsSiblings… we grow up together. We learn from one another. Because we are family, we stay in touch throughout the years, even after we’ve lost touch with other friends. And we’re the same age, so we grow old together.

Yet there is very little research into how mental illness impacts the sibling relationship. I Googled this phrase: “developmental impact of having sibling with mental illness.” Each search result I reviewed said there was almost no research into this matter. Most research so far has focused either on the illness itself or on the parent-child dynamic. And there are very few resources for the siblings of those suffering from a mental illness.

And yet… there must be an impact….How does a “well sibling,” the one without the significant mental illness, learn to trust others when life is a dangerous, chaotic mess? How does the child learn autonomy and initiative when the sick sibling consistently lashes out against him or her? How does the well sibling discover his or her place in the world when he or she constantly feels overshadowed by the presence of the mental illness?

Please understand: I’m not blaming the child suffering from a mental illness…. That child did not ask to suffer from schizophrenia or a similar disorder, and should never be blamed. I’m just wondering about the dynamics….

My Plan of Attack

Collin_CollegeOver this next year, I will take four basic psychology courses and one class in elementary statistics at the local community college. In September, I hope to take the GRE and finish researching placement options, so that I can apply for grad school before the end of the year. …Whew… I still don’t know where I want to study….

If everything goes according to plans, I’ll start graduate school in August 2017 and eventually earn a Ph.D. in Psychology. Then I’ll apply for positions on staff at a university where I can conduct research into the sibling relationship, exploring how the presence of one sibling with a significant mental illness (such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia) affects the early childhood development of the other sibling.

After that, I hope to develop resources for both siblings and parents. Small workbooks that could help siblings learn how to understand and cope with the situation. Other pamphlets or books that could teach parents how to better balance the responsibilities of raising a special needs child without neglecting the emotional needs of the other healthy child.

Workbooks

That’s the goal anyway. I have to say I’m nervous…. The idea of getting a Ph.D. sounds like a long, scary journey…. But at least right now, I believe this is what God has for me. It’s surreal and exciting! Jesus take the wheel!

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When You Just Need Some Validation…

When You Just Need Some Validation…

Does anyone love me?

Journaling_at_StarbucksSitting here at Starbucks, drinking my grande java chip frappuccino, I stare down at the empty page in my journal. What do I pray? What should I write? It’s my custom to have a daily devotional, a time meant to grow in intimacy with Jesus, but I so often fall into the habit of “performance.” I want people to like and admire me… because it helps me feel validated, like I’m an ok person. So I often focus my quiet time on uncovering some great theological truth that I can share on Facebook. Then I’ll finally feel like I’m on the right track. I’ll feel validated, satisfied in my own deep (prideful) “wisdom.” Especially if my post gets a lot of Facebook likes!

But today? … Nothing. A blank page.

He loves me! That is enough!

How do you forgive when you have been so deeply hurt?These last few months have seemed… so dry. I’ve been tired. Not physically, but in just about every other sense of the word. Tired.

I haven’t wanted to go to church. I haven’t wanted to spend time with Jesus. Sometimes I haven’t even wanted to get out of bed. I’ve just been tired. A mess.

But here’s the amazing truth…

Even when I feel like an absolute mess, God is still absolutely committed to me! Click To Tweet

God loved us first! When we hated Him, when we were evil, even then, He loved us! Even then, He let His Son take our place on the cross. So… now? I don’t need to have it all together. That means, even on my worst days, He still loves me!

He loves me!

If I can remember that,

I’ll be ok.

I feel it again today: the nagging lie that I must come to some great revelation if my time with Jesus here at Starbucks is to be “worth it.” But if I’m seeking validation through my actions, I’m missing the gospel. There was nothing we could do to earn God’s grace and forgiveness. Yet He still loved us and He sent His Son to die on the cross, in our place, that we might LIVE! 

Why is it so hard to believe that He loves us, just as we are? We don’t need to earn His love, especially when spending time with Jesus, journaling or reading the Bible. That’s when we should be at our most peaceful with God! Our most secure. Why can’t we rest and simply hang out with our Friend?

I’m not saying there’s something wrong with studying the Bible or seeking to grow in our understanding of Scripture. I actually believe that is quite important! But what lies behind our drive to study the Word? Is it so that we can impress people as we spout off various Bible verses we have memorized? Is it because we want to be the teacher’s pet at Sunday School (and on Facebook)? Or is it because we hunger to know our Savior better? Because we want to stare into the depths of His soul and discover more deeply His love for us?

Y’all! The Creator of the universe loves me AND YOU!! He chooses to hang out with us. He longs to be with us!!! Oh if only I could never lose sight of that truth! What a comfort to my soul! Everything else could be falling apart, but I’d still have one thing–one Person–who is FOR ME! 

Even when there is nothing else I have to cling to, there is nothing else I need but Jesus! Click To Tweet

Encouraging Scripture Verses About God’s Love for Us:

  • “God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” –1 John 4:9-10
  • “Who is this coming up from the wilderness Leaning upon her beloved?” Song of Solomon 8:5
  • The Good Shepherd“The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name…. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” — Psalm 23:1-3, 6
  • “But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)” — Ephesians 2:4-5
  • “For I am persuaded , that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” — Romans 8:38-39

Oh, what joy is found in those passages! The next time I’m tempted to seek out a brand new “most-liked Facebook post” during my time with Jesus, let me just turn off my phone and simply focus on these verses! Lord, make these ring true in my heart today!


 

Thanks for reading! I hope this post was an encouragement for you. If this blessed you, please share the love with others! You can also subscribe to this blog if you want to hear more encouraging messages.

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