The Problem of Feelings of Anger and Depression in Those Suffering from Chronic Pain

While Saint Paul in his letter to the Ephesians reminds us never let the sun go down on your anger, this exhortation is especially challenging for those who suffer with chronic pain.  The inability to find relief or perform the daily tasks to which you are accustomed can lead to feelings of frustration, helplessness, and futility.  If these feelings are not acknowledged and dealt with in a healthy fashion through some of the interventions I’ve mentioned in previous chronic pain posts, anger and depression may result.  Anger and depression are powerful negative factors that severely limit your … [Read more...]

Keeping an Even Keel in the Spiritual Life

In Ancient Christian Wisdom I employ many nautical metaphors and apply them to the spiritual life.  There are many similarities between a healthy life of the spirit and navigating a body of water. In both the spiritual life and nautical expeditions a course must be charted, adjustments must be made, and the craft must maintain an even keel—a nautical term for keeping a boat upright—so that it does not heel over on this side or that.  So too in the spiritual life, the ship of our soul must be kept at an even keel by not allowing our emotions or life circumstances to heel us over to either … [Read more...]

Divergent Interpretations of the Same Statistics: Differing Suggestions from Christianity and Sociology

Statistics often present a sobering mirror of our society and the problems that people face. A friend of mine recently sent me an interesting New York Times article by Ross Douthat entitled, “All the Lonely People.”  Douthat notes that since 2000, the suicide rate among men aged 35-54 in the United States has increased 30% while the rate for men in their 50’s increased 50%.  This is indeed a disturbing trend.  Douthat cites University of Virginia sociologist Brad Wilcox who perceives a link between the rise in suicides and weakened social ties as well as economic difficulties. While … [Read more...]

Beyond Thought and Feeling: The Cross of Christ

“But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness” From the moment our Lord first told His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem to suffer and die, the cross of Christ has been a scandal and a stumbling block to many.  Even those who have some respect for the teachings of Christ and admire His treatment of the poor and downtrodden experience difficulty with this central tenet of our faith, especially on a personal lived level. Logically speaking, it doesn’t seem to make sense. Emotionally speaking, it’s counterintuitive, but when the grace of … [Read more...]

Moving out of Depression and into Hope in Christ

In our contemporary age, the term depression is ubiquitous.   The word has become so common in our everyday parlance that we have come to view it as a normal part of life.  We may hear things such as “everyone gets depressed” or “he’s depressed about losing his job”.  We’ve become so accustomed to the word that it’s become a given in everyday human life. And it is certainly true that we lose many things that are precious to us, people and things that we are attached to, abilities and health that make up our identity, and dreams of who we can become. And these losses do make us sad, or to be … [Read more...]

Positive Data Logs in the Service of Acquiring a Christian Mindset

One of the standard techniques that cognitive therapists employ when working with those suffering from depression is a positive data log. In Ancient Christian Wisdom, I note “a therapist may suggest to a depressed patient with the belief, “I don’t accomplish anything,” that he keep a notebook divided into sections for work experiences, social interactions, parenting, and being alone. Under each heading, the patient is instructed to list anything that he did or tried to do, for which he deserves some credit, and to review this log daily. Protestant therapists sometimes try to increase the … [Read more...]