Keep Hope Alive

By Nancy Virden (c)2023

We had an interesting conversation tonight in my emotional resiliency class. I teach these groups 2-3 times per year. Each one has a different flavor depending on who is in attendance. This group has been meeting since January 4 and is chatty and uplifting.

Tonight’s question was, “How do you choose to cope during difficult times, and how does your go-to coping mechanism make you feel? After a few minutes of writing out their answers, I asked if anyone would like to share.

The answers were as varied as there are people. TV, isolating, and talking to Jesus are three examples of coping mechanisms group members mentioned. Can you relate to any of those?

Regardless of how we choose to cope, it is a choice. Coping mechanisms give us something we like or we wouldn’t use them. The idea is to learn to find relief, peace, and joy in healthy ways when facing the hardships of life.

I am on my umpteenth effort at changing one particularly favorite coping mechanism to something healthier. It is a tough challenge. Already though I feel energized and motivated to make better decisions. Why?

As one therapist said years ago, “It feels better to feel better.” (Cue a collective “Duh!”). We tend to think we are making ourselves feel better by engaging in temporary distractions or relief from stress. Yet many times, our coping mechanism is tearing us and our relationships apart. Substance use is an obvious one. What about gossip? Bitterness? Yelling?

We choose to hide in front of the TV believing that somehow, this time, our issues will go away if we ignore them long enough. However, healthy coping involves facing challenges with truth and honor. In the end, we may be free of the difficulty once and for all!

Burying my head in a coping mechanism that has continued to fail and harm me is nothing short of self-deceit. I like my lies that it is ok with God and fine for me. If other people do not like it, they can just, well… grow up. Then I feel miserable about my choices, my health, stigma, and other painful consequences. Having made the decision to try again, and seeing two weeks of success, does feel better than despair. Movement in the best direction keeps hope alive.

How do you cope, blow off steam, and get yourself through another tough day? The group member who mentioned talking to Jesus had it right. Seeking the support and help of the Highest Power will never cause us harm. He guides us as we surrender the stubbornness that is driving us into the ground.


Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 32

Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!

When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Interlude

Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. Interlude

Therefore, let all the godly pray to you while there is still time, that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment. For you are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble.
You surround me with songs of victory. Interlude

 The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”

Many sorrows come to the wicked, but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord.
 So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him! Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!

If you are feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988, or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S. or go to your nearest emergency room. In the EU call 112. (For other international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours!

Always the Fight Ministries (ATFM) has been displaying compassion for those fighting mental illness, addiction, or abuse since 2012. Nancy is the founder and voice of ATFM and openly shares her emotional resurrection from despair. NOTE: Nancy is not a doctor or a mental health professional, and speaks only from personal experience and observations. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.


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