Navigating the Emotional Overload of the Pandemic

It is hard to believe that soon the one-year anniversary of the pandemic will be upon us. As the pandemic has worn on, the ways in which it has affected us have become more subtle and harder to detect; though profoundly felt. Many of us are mentally tired and fatigued. For some of us, activities and interactions that we so enjoyed before the pandemic now seem like a distant memory. We may even have had a moment where something that was so part of our life before, suddenly seemed distant in a way it had not earlier in the pandemic. Perhaps it is the care free coffee hours or other fellowship events at our church that we miss and feel…

Raising our Children to Recognize and Choose the Love of God

Did we know that as parents we have an awesome role to play in helping our children know and believe in the unconditional love of God? The Apostle John in his epistle, tells us simply that “God is love”.  If God is love then truly God cannot stop being Himself and therefore God’s love is truly unconditional. However, have we accepted this? Do we believe that God loves us unconditionally? Most of us would likely answer yes to these questions, however there are many of us who if we look deep into our hearts, might have a hard time feeling or believing on an emotional level that God loves us unconditionally. There are multiple reasons why someone might doubt God’s…

Resolving the Unmerciful Heart

Most of us at one time or another in our life have struggled with forgiveness. Most often this was in the form of forgiving someone else. Perhaps it was a specific incident that occurred with a specific person, group, or even a community. Some of us might find that our struggle in forgiving was largely tied to that specific incident and that we generally do okay being a forgiving person.  However, some of us may begin to sense or notice that we chronically struggle to forgive others. We might notice that we have a chronic unmerciful disposition. It is not just one person or the sporadic incident with which we struggle, the struggle to be merciful and forgive is chronic…

The Nativity Nudging of our Hearts

The Nativity season is here and a window of opportunity has opened. However, the opportunity that is offered requires synergy between us and the Holy Spirit. It is a powerful time of year. The main themes of our Lord’s Incarnation act on all of us during this Nativity season. Humility, love, and a yearning to mend broken or missing relationships tug at our heart. This opportunity, if it is to be experienced, requires those pensive, introspective moments that tend to be more prevalent this time of year.  It is during these moments that our minds and hearts traverse spaces and time they might not normally during other times of year. We are reminded of the famous Christmas Truce of 1914…

The Healing Power of the Nativity

It is the time of year that makes some shudder. The days have become shorter, the colorful landscape has turned darker, the leaves have begun to rustle, the clouds have changed, the air has grown colder, and the way the wind blows speaks of change and of a season ending. However, it is not far into this time that we begin to see a different light appear. It is the light of the Nativity season.  The shuddering of some is now forgotten as we behold the first appearing of Christmas lights, bows, and Christmas trees. We suddenly find ourselves embracing this time of year as we finally let go of the light of summer and embrace the light of our…

Trouble-Shooting the Troubled Heart

One of the challenges of living in a world that is so fast paced and intense, is that we can have life events thrown at us at a pace in which we feel that we cannot keep up. In this discussion, we do not use “keeping up” in the sense of staying on top of tasks that need to be completed, but rather we mean it in the sense of processing the many experiences, events, and encounters that come our way. A natural phenomenon that can occur, is that as the days pass, especially during times like we are presently passing through, we can accumulate experiences and significant events that we never had a chance to process. After some time,…

Who is this that Anxiety and Fear obey Him?

I recall once, during a visit to the Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Ellwood City many years ago, walking into the church alone.  There on the ceiling of the church was the icon of the Miracle on the Sea. The icon depicts Jesus providing the disciples with an abundance of fish when, despite their best efforts, they could not catch any. It is an icon of God’s providence. I then reflected on another miracle on the sea that conveyed God’s providence. The icon of this second miracle on the sea depicts Jesus rebuking the storm that had descended upon the disciples as they crossed the Sea of Galilee. In both icons, Jesus is seen bringing calm and peace to a situation…

Putting everything into its proper place

Many of us have times in our life when we feel overwhelmed. Sometimes it is because there is just too much going on in the present. Perhaps we are too busy or trying to manage too many tasks or responsibilities. In such instances it seems rather clear why we are feeling overwhelmed. However, there are other times when our emotional response to a situation or time in our life is disproportionate. Very often when we have a disproportionate emotional response to a situation, it is evidence that there is a transference occurring. In other words, our distress is not just coming from the present circumstance, it is coming from the past as well. In essence, the past is leaking out…

Living with Hope and Not Expectations

A great service we can do for ourselves and others in our lives is to learn to convert our expectations into hope. Expectations are a great source of grief and aggravation both for us and for others. An expectation consists of a rigid, self-made construct that maps out in advance what others are supposed to do, feel, or be. So much of our frustration in life comes from expectations. Living with expectations rather than hope can also be a significant source of anger. Expectations need to be deconstructed and reframed in the form of hope. In order to do this, we first have to learn where our expectations come from. Many of them are learned from various sources, but we…

Separating the Past from the Present

We are all products of our upbringing to a large extent. However, that product is not “as is” nor is it unchangeable. We require the knowledge of how our upbringing affected us so we know what are the areas that we need to focus on. However, once those insights have been attained, anything is possible afterward. We can unlearn negative ways of relating with the world, others, and God. Our fears can dissipate, closure attained from losses, and a peaceful heart obtained.  We not only heal from past painful experiences, but grow from them. The proverbial silver lining can be found as we find ourselves more resilient, insightful, self-aware, and discerning. Try as we might, trying to merely will away…