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    Renewing Your Spiritual Connections

    Sunday morning. Great. Time to go to church, and I’m fresh out of excuses.

    I used “not feeling well” last week and “out of town” three weeks ago. If I don’t show up today, it’ll be two Sundays in a row, and someone will probably call or want to come over. But if I don’t want to go to church on Sunday, I certainly don’t want to talk about why to someone from the visitation committee during the week. So I’ll just go — a little late and leave as soon as it’s done. I won’t show up on any list that way.

    Okay, so I’m going, but I’m not dressing up. They should be happy I’m there at all.

    Happy. Yeah, they’ll be happy. We’ll sing about joy, and they’ll smile and laugh. If I keep a frown on my own face and pretend I’m rummaging through my purse, I can probably get out of there without anyone coming up to me after services. Happy people don’t know what to do with a frown.

    It’s not that I’m mad at them. It’s not their fault I feel this way. It’s just so hard to sit or stand in the pew and sing about joy when I don’t have any myself.

    I can’t remember the last time I felt joy. I thought when I became a Christian, I was supposed to become joyful, as though God was going to wave a magic wand over me, causing all doubt and fear and loneliness and unhappiness to go away.

    Well, if he did, it didn’t work. I’m still unhappy, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt so alone.

    What’s the deal? Where is God in all this?

    FINDING THE CONNECTION

    God-talk will support your positive self-talk by agreeing with affirming statements, such as:

    • I deserve love.
    • I deserve joy.
    • I am strong enough to learn and grow each day.
    • I can experience contentment in my life.
    • I am able to respond to my circumstances instead of react.
    • I can look forward to tomorrow.

    To each of these, God adds his response:

    I deserve love: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

    I deserve joy: “Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away” (Isaiah 51:11).

    I am strong enough to learn and grow each day: “It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect” (2 Samuel 22:33).

    I can experience contentment in my life: “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation” (Philippians 4:12).

    I am able to respond to my circumstances instead of react: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).

    I can look forward to tomorrow: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

    SOURCE: Chapter 9, “Renewing Your Spiritual Connections,” in Moving Beyond Depression by Gregory L. Jantz, PhD., founder of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources Inc.

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