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Archive for Saturday, January 19, 2013

Faith Forum: Can faith help fight the winter blues?

January 19, 2013

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The Rev. Jay B. Henderson, pastor, Central United Methodist Church, 1501 Massachusetts St.:

Faith can certainly influence moods

The first step in answering this question is to define the term “winter blues.” For the purpose of my answer, I will define the winter blues as a periodic lack of enthusiasm or excitement. I have heard the term “blah” associated with winter blues. If the feeling is deeper or longer lasting, I would advise contacting a mental health professional or qualified medical professional to address the possibility of more serious issues such as depression.

There is also a phenomenon known as “seasonal affective disorder.” Whether it is the blues or something more diagnosable, faith can certainly have an impact on our feelings and even our illnesses. This is the time of year when there are more hours of darkness than hours of light each day. This is the time of year when the holidays are finished, it is cold, and maybe part of our nature is to hibernate or escape from the world.

I would suggest two avenues involving faith to address the winter blues. The first is the Bible. The first few words from the Gospel of John come to mind: “(Jesus) came into being and in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” The Bible is filled with references and stories reminding us that even in our darkest moments, we will find hope in and through Christ. Take a few moments each day to read words that uplift and strengthen your faith journey. A second avenue is the church. Churches always provide a place of worship, study and fellowship that address our joys as well as our struggles. Being with others who share common feelings reminds us we are not alone in our journey. Getting out of the house, going to worship or a church meal or event will place us with our church family where we can experience support and encouragement. Many churches use the seasons of the Christian year to host special events, studies and worship services that address a variety of human needs.

At our church, we are in the season of Epiphany, which means we are celebrating the Light of the World (Jesus) coming in our midst in sometimes surprising ways. Faith is a wonderful gift that connects us with a God who is with us through the highs and lows of our lives. We can rely upon the God who came to us in the form of Jesus on Christmas, and stays with us all year long.

— Send email to Jay B. Henderson at cumcpastor@sunflower.com.

The Rev. Pam Morrison, addiction recovery minister, The Healing House, Kansas City:

Faith is absolutely the answer

Our Christmas decorations are sitting in a chaotic, sparkling pile on the dining room table. The places from which they have been removed look barren. Sometimes, at this point in the year, with holidays over and the days still short and cold, we can feel sad, stalled with the winter “blues.”

Faith is absolutely the answer to this midyear sadness, as it is at any time when depression settles in like a fog.

One of the feelings the “blues” can bring is a sense of isolation — “I am the only one down and no one knows or cares.” Two faith-filled thoughts can call that negative view into question. God is named as the One Who Sees (Genesis 16:13) and the One who can lift us out of our “pits” (Psalms 40:2). Again and again, his love is described as “unfailing.” We are also reminded in scripture that we’re NOT the only one who goes or is going through difficult times. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation [in this case, the temptation to stay in this heavy mood] has seized you except what is common to all. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

So, your sadness is not strange or unique or permanent. Since God does care and is willing to help, pray for his “sunshine” to flood your thinking.

Choose positive thoughts and words.

Look for passages of hope-filled promise in scripture.

Because God cares about us as a whole person, check and see — am I eating right? Exercising? Getting enough sleep? On the other hand, do I need to make some spiritual adjustments — forgive someone, forgive myself, worship more?

— Send email to Pam Morrison at revpmorrison21@aol.com.

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