February 2020

No matter what stage you’re in right now don’t underestimate its potential by obsessing over where you want to be or what you want to achieve. Don’t be fixated on the seemingly insurmountable mountains ahead that you end up missing the current blessings & lessons from God. Don’t focus on the storm ahead and miss the learning opportunities amongst the waves. 🌊

Have a Fulfilling February!

When Specsavers isn’t good enough

We are more than halfway through January but I still want to wish all my readers a Happy and Blessed New Year!

A random fact about myself is that I used to wear glasses when I was younger (probably at the start of last decade 😜) however after a few years I was told I didn’t need them anymore as my eyesight had been corrected. I was so happy because I hated my appearance with glasses. 🤓

I was diagnosed as being long-sighted. For those who aren’t familiar with that term, a long-sighted person can see objects at a distance but closer objects are usually out of focus. The opposite is short-sightedness; a condition where distant objects appear blurred while nearby objects are clear. These conditions of the eyes amongst several others can be corrected with glasses, contact lenses and even laser eye surgery. Without adequate correction, a person will continue to have blurred vision.

So what happens when Specsavers is not enough? – you are stumbling around, confused, unaware of what is happening and what is to come. May I propose to you the idea that some of us Christians are suffering from spiritual short-sightedness. Our vision does not have the clarity that is needed to successfully navigate through life’s circumstances. So where do we go from here? Hold that thought.

I’ve recently gotten into one of my favourite hobbies again: reading. In the past 3 months, I’ve read 6 novels; 5 of which were written with multiple narratives. This a writing style in which I’ve grown to love. In the past when I’ve read a book with a single narrator, I could not help but feel as though I was not getting the whole truth. With a single narrator, there are unknown aspects of the story that do not come into the light until later so for the majority of the time you are kept in the dark. The truth of a story is made up of a variety of viewpoints. The more perspectives you have the closer you are to having a better overall understanding of what is happening. Come to think of it the person who probably has the greatest advantage is the author because he or she has a bird’s eye view of the sequence of events from the start to end. Similarly to the novels, our lives also have an author who knows the end from the beginning, He sees the bigger picture, I’m sure I don’t have to spell that out to you.

The new lens I want to encourage you to intentionally use is God’s. This omniscient being says:

For My thoughts are not your thoughts,

Nor are your ways My ways

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

So are My ways higher than your ways,

And My thoughts than your thoughts

Isaiah 55:8-9

This text clearly states that our thoughts are not compatible with God’s thoughts. It would be foolish to assume that we know God’s thinking and planning. How can we know more than our creator? As humans, we try to fit God into our mould of thinking but this is the wrong way to approach life, we are to conform to His perspective. This distance between God’s thoughts/ways and our thoughts/ways is constant; God will always remain God and us mere humans. Isaiah 55 reiterates the fact that God sees things from a higher perspective, like an author who has the overall picture of a book, like a bird soaring high in the skies. This higher altitude allows things that would not be otherwise seen whilst on the ground to be seen clearly: So why not trust His perspective?

An unbeliever judges events and things by worldly standards, by his or her senses; this lens is defective as it is doesn’t reflect God’s perspective and it often leads to frustration, discontentment and disappointment. A person who wants to view life from a perfect perspective needs to consider God’s views and values in everything.

A person who wants to view life from a perfect perspective needs to consider God’s views and values in everything.

I’m currently reading ‘The Purpose Driven Life’ by Rick Warren and there’s a chapter solely dedicated to ‘Seeing life from God’s view’. Pastor Rick says ‘The way you see your life shapes your life. How you define life determines your destiny” (p.41). I will share more from this book in a future post but a key point that was made is that ‘life on earth is a temporary assignment therefore this should alter our values’. The deciding factors for the decisions we make should be based on eternal values and not temporal ones. Earth is not our final home, we are just passing through so we will experience things that do not make sense to us and sometimes only in hindsight will certain scenarios in our lives make sense.

Life is a test. This metaphor for life can be seen in various biblical stories. God tests people’s character, faith, obedience, love, integrity and loyalty. In the bible, we have examples of those who failed God’s tests (Adam and Eve in Eden, David) and those who passed God’s tests (Joseph, Ruth, Esther and Daniel). One thing we know about God is that He is interested in our character and not our earthly achievements or possessions thus He uses tests to develop and reveal our true character. The specific tests God may put you through this year can’t be listed however we can predict how God may test us through what has already happened in the bible; major changes, delayed promises, impossible problems, unanswered prayers, undeserved criticism and even senseless tragedies. Personally, in hindsight, I notice ways in which God has tested my character; during those periods I was frustrated, angry and confused but when I decided to switch my basic inadequate ‘human lenses’ to God’s perfect perspective, I understand that God is developing and testing my character. Therefore this year when you are going through a trial or you’re faced with confusion seek answers from God: What do you want me to learn?. The best way to seek these answers is to communicate with Him and engage with His Word. When you know that life is a test you realise that nothing is insignificant in your life, you just have to use the correct lens to comprehend what is occurring.

When you know that life is a test you realise that nothing is insignificant in your life, you just have to use the correct lens to comprehend what is occurring.

To conclude I want to share the lyrics of a song I came across last year called ‘Perception’ by a group called Livre’:

one may see a storm

another might just see rain

it’s all a matter of ones perception

Perception by Livre’

I’m sure I don’t have to stress the importance of positive thinking once again but knowing that our thoughts are often flawed and unreliable should prompt us to observe how this affects our perception. Being aware of God’s perspective is vital in navigating the world around us. Without trying to adapt to a glimpse of God’s perspective there is a high likelihood that we wander with negative emotions and dissatisfaction associated with a lack of understanding our experiences.

Finally, remember that “every good and perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” James 1:17. This ultimate goodness of any gift must be measured in light of eternity, so some things that appear good now may lead to our destruction – I pray that we put on an eternal God-given lens/perspective on all that we encounter: Life is a test & Life on earth is temporary.

Stay blessed,

Dara xx

P.S – Please share and bless your friends & family.

Jan 2020

I declare that in 2020, God’s goodness & mercy shall follow you through all the days of this year & decade. May your life be radically transformed by God’s blessings that people wouldn’t recognise you. Most of us are spiritually short-sighted; our vision of the future is blurry. So in 2020 entrust the unknown future to a known God – the one whose promises are YES & AMEN. Let His Word & promises be the laser eye surgery for you to see clearly from His perspective.

Have a Prosperous New Year!

December 2019

Welcome to the final month of 2019!
You may have been hard pressed on every side, perplexed, persecuted, struck down in the past year but through God you are still alive, not crushed, not in despair, not abandoned and not destroyed – there is HOPE. God says in Isaiah – “I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born.” So align yourself with this promise & see how God will work miraculously.

Have a Delightful December & see you soon in 2020!

November 2019

Late in the midnight hour God’s going to turn it around. On numerous occasions in the bible there is action at midnight. As we get nearer to the end of the year I want to encourage you that GOD IS A GOD OF SUDDENLY. We can’t predict when He will show up but we can be certain that He will show up & turns things around in your favour. Trust that God will suddenly show up and turn your situation around for the better – Don’t lose heart.

Have a Notable November!!

Is your thinking correct?

The 10th of October 2019 was World Mental Health day – day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma. This is a great initiative that began in 1992, however, the importance of mental health should not be reduced to one day as it is something that I believe should always be at the forefront of our minds.

Did you know that in England, 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (anxiety, depression) in any given week? This means that it’s highly likely that you’ve come in contact with at least one person that has experienced a form of anxiety or depression or you may personally identify with that.

As a medical student, I have had exposure to learning more about depression and other mental conditions. Today I will like to share more about depression and also put a Christian spin on the topic. I desire that you will be blessed or will be able to be a blessing to others after reading this piece.

Firstly a definition for Depression:

An affective mood disorder that is chacterised by a persistent low mood (≥ 2weeks), loss of pleasure and/or lack of energy accompanied by emotional, cognitive and biological symptoms.

Cognitive symptoms – poor concentration, negative thoughts, excessive guilt, suicidal ideation.

Biological – weight loss & loss of appetitie, early morning wakening,

Psychiatry : A Clinical Handbook by Mohsin Azam, , Mohammed 

We are going to focus on cognitive symptoms as I am an advocate for positive thinking and would like us to incorporate biblical truths on this matter.

Aaron Beck is a psychiatrist that developed a theory on negative thoughts. He proposed that there are 3 types of negative thoughts; negative views about oneself, the world and of the future. He also describes certain thinking errors that make a person more prone to depressive feelings. The table below explains these thinking errors. I was able to relate with some of these and I’ve included examples from my friends in the table.

Thinking ErrorExplanationExamples
Selective abstractionFocusing on one minor aspect rather than the bigger pictureI have failed that exam because I got one question wrong
I was late because the bike lock didn’t open
All or nothing thinkingThinking of things in all or nothing terms If I fail this class, I’ll never get a job
Magnification / MinimizationOver-or under-estimating the importance of an eventThey didn’t invite me so they hate me

She didn’t say hi to me this morning so she must dislike me

They didn’t say “thank you” when I held the door so they are rude
Catastrophic thinking Anticipating the worst possible outcome of an eventI’ve got a mole on my face, I have skin cancer
OvergeneralizationIf one thing is not going well, everything is going wrongI overslept so I’m going to get fired

I forgot the cheese, I can’t do anything right
Arbitrary inferenceComing to a conclusion in the absence of any evidence to support itThey were talking about me before I walked in

No one finds me attractive

Were you able to relate to some of those points? When our thoughts are dominated by these thinking errors we will have a greater tendency towards depression. Positive thinking is a habit that we should all aim to cultivate so we avoid an overall negative outlook on life. Now, let us look at the biblical truths about these thinking errors?

All or nothing thinking

  • Since we usually only see/know our perspective it’s important to remember that only God knows the heart and as it says in Isaiah 55:8 God says: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,”
  • Things are usually not as black and white as we think.
  • When we use words like “never”, “always”, “every” we discourage ourselves from trying, pushing and most importantly having faith in God even during trials – this is counterproductive. Remember Philippians 4:13 states, “I can do all through Christ who strengtheneth me.”

Magnification / Minimization

  • In this well-quoted psalm, there are negative experiences but the psalmist – David has chosen to also remember the positives and focus on the silver lining. ‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.’ Psalms 23:4.
    • David could have chosen to magnify the valley of the shadow of death and filter out the part that encourages him that God is with him. However, he did not, likewise, we need to actively ensure we do not make a mountain out of a molehill and in the process miss out on the blessings in disguise.
  • Another example in which we are to remember to focus on the positives is in Isaiah 43:2 – ‘When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.’

Catastrophic Thinking

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:21 warns us to – ‘Test all things; hold fast what is good. ‘ the message version says “Don’t be gullible. Check out everything.”, the passage was referring to false prophets but it can also apply to our thoughts. Is what you are thinking compatible with God’s truth! You say you are a failure – but God’s word says otherwise – The LORD will make you the head, not the tail (Deut 28:13)
  • Philippians 4:6-7 ‘Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.’

Overgeneralization

  • Yes, one thing went wrong but you should never think you are so powerful that one move will jeopardise everything. We are encouraged in Romans 8:28 that ‘all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.’
  • A negative event will not continue to occur eternally because we’ve been promised in Jeremiah 29:11 – ‘For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.’ Stop overgeneralizing a negative event, it’s a piece of your story that God orchestrated for you to eventually benefit from.

Arbitrary inference

  • First of all, you are not a mind reader you never truly know people’s thoughts or intentions unless they’ve been explicitly stated and even then you need to be cautious.
  • We can be encouraged by the words of Paul in Romans 8:31; ‘What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? ‘

A final verse to conclude with:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8

  • There are numerous occasions in the bible where the mind is discussed – ” be transformed by the renewing of your mind”, “bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”
  • What we choose to meditate [focus] on matters
  • Rather than thinking about the things that worry/trouble you, things that give you anxiety think positively on things that are: TRUE. HONEST. JUST. PURE. LOVELY. GOOD REPORT.
  • There is an upside and downside to everything, some of us choose to only see the downside but I urge you to try to see the silver lining in what life throws at you.

Rather than thinking about the things that worry/trouble you, things that give you anxiety think positively on things that are: TRUE. HONEST. JUST. PURE. LOVELY. GOOD REPORT.

I hope this post has been insightful. Please keep in mind that we’ve only discussed a portion of thoughts about symptoms of depression. Some other symptoms and presentations may not be completely “cured” by changing our thought processes and will require other management options such as medication. I would advise you to see a healthcare professional if you do have concerns.

Stay blessed,

Dara

P.S – Let me know your thoughts about this topic and hopefully I will be back with more related blog posts soon

October 2019

As we enter the last few months of 2019, it is easy to ponder on the mistakes, wrong turns and setbacks of the year. However, Isaiah 43:19; urges us to forget the past defeat and discouragement in order to clearly see the new thing God is doing in our lives. Make this declaration: I declare that God is about to blow my mind and turn my mourning to dancing.

Have an Outstanding October! xx

September 2019

It’s easy to go through life feeling that God isn’t present or showing up. Elijah was going through a rough patch in life but God didn’t appear to him in the strong wind, earthquake or fire, He came as a still small voice. We may miss God’s blessings by expecting dramatic manifestations but the truth is that He often displays more subtle phenomenons. I urge you to be attentive to the seemingly smaller manifestations of God’s goodness then you‘ll understand the magnitude of your blessings. Appreciating your blessings is a magnet for more positive manifestations.

Have a spectacular September!

As humans we waste valuable time and energy any time we think we know better than God. There are times when we cannot make sense of the circumstances we are surrounded by so we feel buried and somewhat hopeless. But just like a buried seed even if all we see is darkness we must believe that growth is inevitable. A planted seed has the ability to reach its full potential so when you find yourself in a dark and confusing situation trust that this is the refining process in which you’ll burst forth from and blossom.

Have an Awe-filled August!

August 2019

July 2019

Just like that we’ve stepped into the 7th and arguably the best month of 2019! 💃🏾

If you’ve been throwing a pity party for yourself in the first half of this year, NOW is the time to quit. You’ve deceived yourself to think that complaining is the way to get God’s attention. The true password into His presence is Praise & Thanksgiving! Don’t limit your singing and rejoicing to sunny skies & amazing circumstances, pray with Joy even when your life appears to be falling apart. When you enter God’s presence with PRAISE, he enters your circumstances with POWER. Have a Jolly July!