Removing “Divorce” From Your Vocabulary

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While it would be inappropriate to say that “divorce” should never be on the table (even the Bible which speaks strongly about maintaining marriage speaks of situations where divorce is acceptable), it is unwise to have the word “divorce” as a regular part of your marriage vocabulary.

When in conflict or frustrated, throwing around the word divorce is an unhealthy form of emotional blackmail.  The word also states that you are only willing to being in the marriage during the “for better” parts and are unwilling to work on the marriage during the “for worse” parts of the marriage.

Even joking about divorce as an option while the marriage is healthy sends the signal of a lack of commitment to one’s spouse and working through life’s struggles together.

Marriage365 says it this way one of their instagram posts:

If you threaten divorce at any time, it shows your spouse that you have given up on your relationship. Divorce is the end game. There’s no where to go after divorce has been brought up. We cannot stress enough that you should remove the word divorce from your vocabulary. Think about it, when you said your vows on your wedding day, were you really thinking in the back of your mind that one day you would be considering divorce? Heck no! The word divorce carries huge ramifications! #marriage365#ichooselove

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If you are wrestling within your marriage or considering divorce, please contact CornerStone Family Services to see about healing and enriching your marriage.  You can set up an appointment with a coach or counselor by calling 614-459-3003.

5 Ways A Good Marriage Can Decay

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Sometimes we can wonder what happened to a once-good or great marriage.  Things seemed to be great but now there are problems and unresolved conflicts.  Joy has faded away.  What happened?

Here are five ways, taken from a Ron Edmondson article, that a “once-good marriage slips away – or falls apart“:

Other interests come between them. It could be a relationship—even other good relationships—or a hobby, or work, but something gets a higher priority than the marriage. Distractions will destroy a good marriage.

Unresolved conflict. Conflict left unattended sometimes sits like it never existed. But, oh, it did. And it does. Someone is holding on to it. Trust me. And the longer it sits the deeper the wedge it causes.

The couple stops dreaming together. When a couple is dating, they have lots of dreams together. They discuss their future. They dream about where they will live and travel. They dream about family and adventure. It’s an energy that fuels the relationship. When it stops, the fuel it brought stops.

Boredom. I’ve long said this is one of the leading causes of marriages unraveling. Couples quit dating—quit laughing—quit having fun together. They get caught in the routines and busyness of life. Boredom sets in and the closeness they once shared begins to drift. The enemy love this, and suddenly one or both spouses seek excitement elsewhere. Dangerous.

Living separate agendas. It’s OK to have separate identities. Even encouraged. It’s OK to have separate interests. It keeps things interesting. But it’s not OK to have separate agendas. The agenda should be two very different people blending those differences into one. When that’s not happening—the strength of the marriage will slowly—or quickly—fade.

If you would like help in enriching your current marriage or reversing an unhealthy situation, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to set up an appointment with a counselor or coach.

Christians, You Will Suffer

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Christians, You Will Suffer

By Amy Hall

I had a brief interaction with an atheist on Twitter a couple of weeks ago that unexpectedly turned to the issue of suffering when she said:

You clearly never had a time you were hurt. I don’t mean sick. I don’t mean heart broken. I mean literally a near death experience or rape or abusive relationship…. You can keep floating on a [expletive] cloud thinking Jesus will do everything for you but it’s a lie. What makes you so special?

That surprised me at first because it didn’t seem to have anything to do with the tweet she was responding to, and I was confused as to why she would assume I’d never been through anything traumatic. But then in subsequent tweets, when she revealed she had been raped, it became clear that her trauma had played a central role in her becoming an outspoken, obviously angry “antitheist.” She’s a self-described antitheist now because she thinks Christianity teaches Jesus “will do everything for you” to give you a perfect life, and now she knows that’s a lie. The rape proved her understanding of Christianity false.

So it made sense for her to reason that since I believe Christianity is true, I must still be under the delusion that Jesus is making my life special, which means I obviously never encountered any evil or suffering to shake that delusion…

A friend of mine who was deeply suffering once said to me that many Christians are in for “an epic letdown” when they realize their preconceived notions about what God is expected to do for us are false. Pastors who preach a life-improvement Jesus are leading people down this precarious path to disillusionment.

If suffering disproves your Christianity, you’ve missed Christianity. The Bible is filled with the suffering of those whom God loves. The central event of the Bible is one of suffering. Love involves suffering. “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” That means suffering.

But Christianity also promises justice for evil. And grace. And life from death. Resurrection. New bodies. Hope. Jesus is the only hope for true pain. Without Him, there’s nothing left to do but rail against God with the most perverse insults imaginable.

The truth is that even if you’ve been taught these things, a time will come when an experience will make this real to you, and then you will struggle to learn how to entrust yourself to God when you can’t trust He’ll protect you from pain and tragedy, can’t trust that things will get better. The only thing you can trust is Him. That He is good. That He knows what suffering is. That if He was willing to give His son over to death for us “because of His great love with which He loved us,” then we know His love won’t stop there—He’ll withhold nothing else from us that we should have. The good He seeks for us is to reveal Himself and conform us to the image of His Son. We will suffer no pain without purpose.

Go to the Christians who learned this before you—Richard Wurmbrand, Elisabeth Elliot, Joni Eareckson Tada, Helen Roseveare, Corrie ten Boom, Kara Tippetts—Christians who learned through torture, death, disability, rape, terror, and terminal disease the truth of Paul’s “secret” to facing a life of pain: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

I said to the atheist, “Those who suffer know Him better,” and I meant it. He is the God who knows suffering. He is the God who suffered. He is the God who works beauty through suffering. He is the God who resurrects.

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Are you struggling with bitterness, anxiety, depression, boiling anger, and grief as you suffer?  Has your faith been blindsided and you don’t know what to do? Are you looking for hope and healing?  If so, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to set up an appointment with one of our helpful coaches or counselors who will walk alongside of you in the healing process.

Interview of Kelly Williams About Postpartum Depression

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Here is a snippet from the interview of Kelly Williams by Natalie Razavi about postpartum depression:

You’ve been open about your battle with postpartum depression and anxiety.
What was that time like and what fuels your vulnerability?

Postpartum depressionOh man. It’s honestly so difficult to capture in words, but the easiest way to describe it is to say that it was by far the darkest chapter of my entire life. I was blindsided by the intense pain that I felt while under that darkness. I wasn’t prepared for it in the slightest. I had never suffered from any type of depression previously, and the feelings that I felt were crippling in all aspects. I literally felt like I was going crazy. Sleep was my only escape-as soon as I woke up, I’d immediately have a panic attack. I thought I had made the biggest mistake of my life by having a child; not that Story was a mistake, but that I had entered into something that I couldn’t back out of, and I was terrified. I’ve always been an open book, so it felt quite natural for me to share my story. I know a lot of women feel a sense of shame associated with PPD/PPA, but having full disclosure with others about what I was going through and had gone through became a part of my healing process.

For the full interview, including how she worked through postpartum depression, check out the full article.

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If you are struggling with postpartum depression, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to set up an appointment with one of our helpful counselors.

The Grief of Losing a Child

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What I Wish More People Understood About Losing a Child

By Paula Stephens

Four and half years after the death of my oldest son, I finally went to a grief support group for parents who have lost children. I went to support a friend who recently lost her son. I’m not sure I would’ve gone except that when I was in her shoes, four years ago, I wish I would’ve had a friend to go with me. Losing a child is the loneliest, most desolate journey a person can take and the only people who can come close to appreciating it are those who share the experience.

grief crying motherThe meeting was a local chapter of The Compassionate Friends, an organization solely dedicated to providing support for those who have lost children, grandchildren or siblings. The facilitator was a tall gentleman who had lost his 17 year old son eight years ago. He opened the meeting by saying that dues to belong to the club are more than anyone would ever want to pay. Well, he couldn’t be more correct: no one wants to belong to this group.

The group of incredible survivors included parents whose children had been killed by drunk drivers, murdered, accidental overdose, alcoholism, suicide and freak accidents. The children’s ages ranged from 6-38 years old. When hearing the stories, I had a visceral reaction to being part of this “club,” but was also humbled by the greatness of these mothers and fathers.

Most of what I share in this article came from this meeting, but also from my own experience of having lost a child and being four years into that lifelong journey of healing from deep grief. The following five tips can be your compass to help you navigate how to give support to grieving parents on a sacred journey they never wanted to take.

1. Remember our children.

The loss of children is a pain all bereaved parents share, and it is a degree of suffering that is impossible to grasp without experiencing it first hand. Often, when we know someone else is experiencing grief, our discomfort keeps us from approaching it head on. But we want the world to remember our child or children, no matter how young or old our child was.

If you see something that reminds you of my child, tell me. If you are reminded at the holidays or on his birthday that I am missing my son, please tell me you remember him. And when I speak his name or relive memories relive them with me, don’t shrink away. If you never met my son, don’t be afraid to ask about him. One of my greatest joys is talking about Brandon.

2. Accept that you can’t “fix” us.

An out-of-order death such as child loss breaks a person (especially a parent) in a way that is not fixable or solvable — ever! We will learn to pick up the pieces and move forward, but our lives will never be the same.

Every grieving parent must find a way to continue to live with loss, and it’s a solitary journey. We appreciate your support and hope you can be patient with us as we find our way.

Please: don’t tell us it’s time to get back to life, that’s it’s been long enough, or that time heals all wounds. We welcome your support and love, and we know sometimes it hard to watch, but our sense of brokenness isn’t going to go away. It is something to observe, recognize, accept.

3. Know that there are at least two days a year we need a time out.

We still count birthdays and fantasize what our child would be like if he/she were still living. Birthdays are especially hard for us. Our hearts ache to celebrate our child’s arrival into this world, but we are left becoming intensely aware of the hole in our hearts instead. Some parents create rituals or have parties while others prefer solitude. Either way, we are likely going to need time to process the marking of another year without our child.

Then there’s the anniversary of the date our child became an angel. This is a remarkable process similar to a parent of a newborn, first counting the days, then months then the one year anniversary, marking the time on the other side of that crevasse in our lives.

No matter how many years go by, the anniversary date of when our child died brings back deeply emotional memories and painful feelings (particularly if there is trauma associated with the child’s death). The days leading up to that day can feel like impending doom or like it’s hard to breathe. We may or may not share with you what’s happening.

This is where the process of remembrance will help. If you have heard me speak of my child or supported me in remembering him/her, you will be able to put the pieces together and know when these tough days are approaching.

4. Realize that we struggle every day with happiness.

It’s an ongoing battle to balance the pain and guilt of outliving your child with the desire to live in a way that honors them and their time on this earth.

I remember going on a family cruise eighteen months after Brandon died. On the first day, I stood at the back of the ship and bawled that I wasn’t sharing this experience with him. Then I had to steady myself, and recognize that I was also creating memories with my surviving sons, and enjoying the time with them in the present moment.

As bereaved parents, we are constantly balancing holding grief in one hand and a happy life after loss in the other. You might observe this when you are with us at a wedding, graduation or other milestone celebration. Don’t walk away — witness it with us and be part of our process.

5. Accept the fact that our loss might make you uncomfortable.

Our loss is unnatural, out-of-order; it challenges your sense of safety. You may not know what to say or do, and you’re afraid you might make us lose it. We’ve learned all of this as part of what we’re learning about grief.

We will never forget our child. And in fact, our loss is always right under the surface of other emotions, even happiness. We would rather lose it because you spoke his/her name and remembered our child, than try and shield ourselves from the pain and live in denial.

Grief is the pendulum swing of love. The stronger and deeper the love the more grief will be created on the other side. Consider it a sacred opportunity to stand shoulder to shoulder with someone who have endured one of life’s most frightening events. Rise up with us.

5 Ways to Boost Your Brain Power

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5 Ways to Boost Your Brain Power… Today!

By Daniel G. Amen, MD

brain powerThe movie ”Lucy” stars Scarlett Johansson as a drug smuggler for a Taiwanese Mob. A drug (implanted in her body) leaks into her system, allowing her to ”access 100% of her brain function.” The result is telekinetic powers and incredible memory capacity. Although entertaining, the premise is simply not true. Yet still, two-thirds of the population believes that humans only use 10% of their brain.

The truth is…

If we only used 10% of our brains, we’d be evolving backward. Through the lens of brain SPECT imaging, we can actually see how the brain is functioning at rest and during concentration activities. All of the brain’s systems are active—except for when the brain has been damaged or is otherwise low-functioning (click here to view images).

Even when you are resting or sleeping, your brain is still functioning! Your brain is the command and control center for everything you think, do and say. So, how can you keep your brain active and in shape?

5 Ways to Boost Your Brain Power

  1. Get in the classroom! Take up a new language or learn a new hobby by enrolling in a class. You’re never too old to learn new skill!
  2. Read. You’d be surprised how many new connections you can make by reading for just 30 minutes a day.
  3. Play board games. Engaging in play—especially with youngsters—keeps you sharp!
  4. Teach. As you’re learning a new skill, teach it to someone else. That will increase your understanding too!
  5. Learn an instrument. Music has a calming effect on the brain and learning a new instrument establishes new neural connections that keep your brain healthy and active—that is, as long as you continue to practice!

…Just imagine what would happen if you exchanged an hour of TV watching for [one of these 5 ways to boost your brain power].

3 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Was Single

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3 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Was Single

By Lysa TerKeurst

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.” Matthew 6:34a (MSG)

I remember the hardest day of the week for me when I was single was Sunday. Specifically, Sunday right after church.

Many of my other single friends would have plans with their families that day, but not me. My family lived nine hours away.

Single relationshipSo, I’d walk through the parking lot, watching young moms ooh and ahh over Sunday school artwork and I’d think, Their lives seem so blissfully full.

I’d walk past an older couple holding hands and think, They are so lucky to have such an easy, breezy life.

I’d walk past a gal walking arm in arm with her boyfriend and think, She is so fortunate to feel loved.

And then I’d get in my car and decide happiness, fulfillment and contentment were something to hope for in the future, when I found the life I desperately wanted. I was focusing on what could be instead of looking for evidence of what God was doing right in that moment, like our key verse Matthew 6:34 instructs us to do.

Boy, do I wish I could go sit in that car beside my single self and tell her some life-giving truths I now know:

1. Loneliness isn’t fixed by surrounding yourself with more people.

Sure, having people to go grab lunch with you after church is great. And having the built-in companionship of your own family is wonderful. But it hasn’t fixed my struggles with loneliness like I thought it would.

Some of the loneliest women I know wear wedding rings.

I had to learn to enjoy life without being dependent on someone else to create the fun for me. That way I could bring the fun. I could bring the interesting conversation starters. And I could start to better discern the kinds of people who would get me.

What are those things you truly love spending time doing, creating or researching? Invest your lonely moments there. Create life-giving experiences around your unique passions. After all, people are attracted to others who are full of life.

2. Learn from the pitfalls in friendships.

If only I would have dared to really look, I could have seen patterns of pitfalls in my relationships. Some of the same relationship struggles I had in my single friendships quickly popped up in my marriage.

Being a little more self-aware of how I contributed to frustrations in friendships would have helped me work on having a healthier marriage even before I met my husband.

I could have learned valuable self-improvements like taming my spontaneity a tad, remembering that not everyone likes to talk before the sun comes up and working to not interpret everything with way more emotion than necessary. Just to name a few.

I absolutely would have encouraged my single self to make good use of those hard friendship moments by learning … really learning … from them.

3. Stop expecting perfection.

All those people I was watching those Sunday afternoons weren’t living perfect lives. They were having a moment of perfection in the midst of very imperfect relationships.

None of those moms were perfect moms. None of those couples were perfect couples. None of those families were perfect families.

I obviously know this with my head. But sometimes my heart gets tripped up looking for perfection and missing what’s really good.

Single self, realize perfection doesn’t exist on this side of eternity, and it’s exhausting to chase something that doesn’t exist.

So, look at relationships through the lens of grace. Instead of asking, “Is this the perfect relationship I’ve dreamed about?” ask yourself, “Is this a person with whom I can both give and receive grace?”

Sundays are no longer the hardest days of the week for me. But it wasn’t because I got married and had kids.

It’s because I finally learned how to bring the joy I wanted to experience, became a healthier version of me and stopped chasing perfection.

Dear Lord, I’m choosing to give my full attention to what You’re doing in my life today. Help me to keep the right perspective as I place my plans and my future into Your hands. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” (NIV)

 

Six reasons you’d be happier if you stopped saying “busy”

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Six reasons you’d be happier if you stopped saying “busy”

By Megan Wycklendt

A study in the Journal of Psychological Science shows that we’re much happier when there’s a lot going on in our life.  But if keeping active and “busy” is positive for our health, why do we often feel overwhelmed or exhausted by our list of responsibilities?

It may not be our “to do list” that is the source of our unhappiness. Instead, our choice of words can have a negative effect on our experience. A study on the psychological aspects of language use tells us that our words have more power than we may think.

busy workHere are 6 reasons why we would all be happier if we stopped using ‘busy’ to describe ourselves and our lives.

1. It keeps you from being present.

Being busy implies that you are preoccupied. Right when the word “busy” comes out of your mouth, life becomes more hectic. Instead of enjoying the present moment and your surroundings, the only thing you are doing is running through your to-do list in your head. For more information on the benefits of being present, check out this study that uses mindfulness to increase well-being.

2. It disconnects you from other people.

“I’m too busy.” Even saying the word makes me feel stressed and disconnected. Saying you’re too busy is like telling the other person they have too much time. It can be demeaning and come off self-centered, even if you are ‘busy’ saving the world.  Take a look at this infographic on how important social connection is to our health and happiness.

3. It is a choice.

When I complain about how busy I am, it is as if someone put all these things on my plate without my approval. When in fact, I make my life the way it is. I chose to be in school. I chose to work three jobs. I chose to pack my weeks with plans and travel whenever possible. The question is: Is it all worth it? If it is, be grateful and proud of everything you do. If it’s not, make a change.

4. It is a cover-up.

If someone asks you to do something and you either don’t want to or have other plans, say it. “It’d be great to see you, but I think my body needs a good night’s sleep.” “Sorry I made other plans, maybe we can reschedule.” “I’d love to but I really should study tonight. I’m trying to raise my grades.” Tell it how it is, so your loved ones don’t constantly hear that you are “too busy” for them.

5. Busy is not a feeling.

Why is ‘busy’ used as a response to “How are you?” What are your true emotions associated with being busy? It’s okay to be honest. You may feel stressed-out or anxious.  At least those are feelings that the other person can understand and connect with.  This is also a useful tool to gain awareness of how being ‘busy’ is making you feel.

6. It can easily be re-framed.

Summing up your life as “busy” doesn’t acknowledge all the good things you are doing.  If you really feel like you need to sum your life up in one word, try using the words ‘active,’ ‘eventful,’ ‘involved’ or lively. These words have a more positive connotations and many times it’s what you mean anyway.

Before trying to figure out which responsibilities you should cut out of your life, try removing this one word from your daily conversations.  It just may happen that life starts to seem a little less hectic.

Article originally posted in the Washington Post.

Marriage Thunderstorms

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thunderstorm conflict

Thunderstorms

By Tim Walker

“It’s thundering and lightning, get away from that window” my wife declared anxiously from the other side of the room of our newlywed nest.

“It’s no big deal,” I answered. “I’ve grown up in Georgia. I’ve seen a few thunderstorms in my life.”

Her request seemed silly to me. She’s not from her, I thought. We have thunderstorms all the time in Georgia. I love thunderstorms. Especially those moments when the sky is lighting up, the rain is imminent, and the wind is blowing the leaves in the trees. I don’t even mind when the storm arrives. There’s something about a thunderstorm that reminds me of the awesomeness and power of God. Something I tend to forget in the everyday moments of life.

But my wife didn’t share that perspective. This was news to me. “How could anyone not love thunderstorms?” I thought.

But her reaction also had a backstory. Apparently her great-grandmother was struck by lightning while standing near a window in a thunderstorm. And as she explained that story, I felt like I was hearing a mythological tale. It sounded so foreign to me. But to her, it was a truth she lived by during bad weather.

That was the beginning of realizing something . . . there would be times in our lives where the two of us would have very different, and opposing perspectives on something.

And despite how wrong I thought she was for being so fearful of a thunderstorm, and despite how wrong she thought I was for being so carefree about an ominous threat, we had to find a way to work through it.

Her concern for safety would have to override my love for the storm. Because here is what was at the heart of the concern—she wants me around. She likes having me in her life. She wants me alive.

This was just the first of many opposite moments.
Picking out furniture.
Buying a home.
Picking out baby names.
My hatred for tuna and raisins.

There are others. And while some may seem like bigger deal than others, there were two things that were happening whenever we bumped up against one another.

One, we were learning about one another. Especially if we took the time to discover the “why” behind the reaction.

And two, we were learning how to work together. When we ran up against a wall of conflicting viewpoints, we had to find a way to keep moving. Whether it was bending to the other person’s will, or finding some kind of middle ground, or agreeing to disagree (like we did on the tuna issue).

In Mark 10:7-9, Jesus references the joining of a husband and wife and says, “the two will become one flesh.”

There’s the obvious flesh analogy from the honeymoon, but there’s also one that is ongoing. One that involves learning about your spouse through every circumstance, challenge, joy, pain, life stage.

Those moments are what we bind two together, both perfectly and imperfectly as we sometimes stumble through situations.

So don’t be afraid of those “polar opposite” moments. It’s part of the process.

And don’t be afraid of thunderstorms, they are majestic and beautiful. Just enjoy them a few steps away from the window.

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If you would like help weathering the thunderstorm moments of your marriage and relationships, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to set up an appointment with a counselor or coach.

A Therapeutic Way to Deal With Heartache or Tragedy

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A Therapeutic Way to Deal With Heartache or Tragedy

By Linda Mintle

depressionHe sat in my office and told me his father died suddenly of a heart attack. There was no warning and he and his mom were heartbroken. 

She was crying as she talked about her 20 year marriage coming to an end. Her husband words, “I don’t love you and want out,” hit hard. 

He never saw it coming. For years, his trusted friend was his confidante. How could this lifelong friend betray him with a one-night stand with his girlfriend? 

Love, loss, tragedy, trauma…what helps in the healing process may surprise you.

A host of studies have shown that people who write about their trauma and difficult experiences heal better, They sleep better, feel better, do better academically, cope better, and are more positive.

Not everyone will go to someone to talk out a loss or trauma, but anyone can write. Writing helps you take your story of loss and make meaning of it. We open up and express our thoughts and feelings, especially when we need to allow grieving.

Expressing your feelings through writing helps organize your story and gives perspective. Writing releases your story and keeps it from being bottled up. Not talking or writing about difficult events can negatively impact your health.

So if you feel stuck and need to move along the healing process, add writing to your prayer and reading of God’s word. Try 15-20 minutes for a week or so. Write from your heart. Don’t worry about grammar, spelling or sentence construction. No one has to see what you wrote and you can tear it up or delete it at some point if that is your desire.

Label your feelings, talk about how this event affects your life. Get it down on paper and see if writing is a little like taking good medicine. Then write out a few of God’s promises to you–ones that relate to your experience, e.g., God will never leave you, He will be with you through difficulty, He will give you wisdom, comfort, peace, etc.

Writing is therapeutic. Give it a try and see if it helps!