Project Semicolon Starts a Tattoo Trend

You may have heard about a growing trend via USA Today or Huffington Post that is raising awareness of mental health issues: people are getting tattooed with a semicolon.

Why a semicolon?

According Amy Bleuel, founder of the faith-based Project Semicolon,

A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life

Amen to that, Amy.

I can’t begin to count that ways that living in this world makes us want to put a period at the end of today. But I hear a reason for hope for today and tomorrow. I listen to a promise given to whoever will utterly depend on God,

I will never leave you nor forsake you.—Hebrews 13:5

This is what we call the gospel. It’s the good news we didn’t expect and don’t deserve. It’s the love of God He lavished on us through His Son, unexpectedly, undeservedly.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners [and needy, and broken, and desperate], Christ died for us.—Romans 5:8

Let God hold your days, each one. And at the end of them, at the end you don’t choose, you will find His promise true.

Dawn and I are staking our live on it. Millions through history have done the same.

Life is hard;

You feel alone;

You feel you have failed;

Someone abandoned you;

You were abused; betrayed; exploited;

The chemicals in your brain won’t come into balance;

You can’t escape that memory; that moment;

;

But God…

Selah.

There is real hope for you, from God, in Christ, today.

You can read more about Amy’s life and hope here: Why Me God? Why My Testimony? – A Story of Hope in The Midst of Despair

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6 Ways to Love Someone With Anxiety or Depression

The following is a guest post I wrote for Anne Marie Miller’s website on June 16, 2014. It was republished by ChurchLeaders.com. I wanted to share it with you today, here on Average Us.—Lon


You’re probably familiar with this passage of the Bible written by the Apostle Paul:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.—1 Corinthians 13:4-7, ESV

We love these verses, don’t we? Beautiful written, wonderfully inspiring. You may even have had them recited at your wedding.

But what if loving this way involves supporting a spouse or a child with emotional health issues? What does 1 Corinthian 13 look like in that kind of real, often dark, life?

I live with three such women—one wife and two daughters, all in counseling, two on medication—and I want to share what I’ve learned about loving and supporting them as Paul instructs. I hope you’ll find inspiration and new courage to love a similar someone in your life.

❯ ACKNOWLEDGE IT

Love believes all things…

What your spouse or child is feeling?—It’s real. It’s not “just in their head,” not in the dismissive way we usually use that phrase. The single most loving thing you can do for someone struggling with a mental health issue is to let them feel the validating sense of relief that comes from being believed.

Let your loved ones know it’s safe to confide their weird, icky, creepy, dark, scary thoughts with trustful, trustworthy, compassionate you.

❯ DON’T GUILT

Love is not arrogant or rude…

Most mental health issues aren’t caused by sinful decisions a person has made. Being bipolar, or depressed, aren’t sins people commit. Rather, they are specific manifestations of the universal human fall into sin and misery. They are signs of the same broken, sinful nature abiding within you. Anne Jackson has written more about this in Your Anxiety is Not a Sin.

Let your loved ones know you still respect and admire them. They need to know your good opinion of them hasn’t changed.

❯ LISTEN PATIENTLY

Love is patient, not irritable…

You may hear the same, or similar, story over and over and over…

Don’t roll your eyes. Don’t let exasperation slip out, even if you feel it once in a while. Instead, listen actively, patiently. Ask gentle questions, not to fix “it,” but to hear “it.”

Give your loved ones the sounding board they need to process how they feel.

❯ KEEP LIVING

Love hopes all things…

“It” is real, but it doesn’t haveto be the 24/7 center of family life.

Keep your daily routines and annual traditions to maintain a sense of order and rhythm to life. The idea isn’t to pretend nothing is wrong, but to remind you and your family that life is still worth living.

Help your loved ones see the meaningful enjoyment of small accomplishments, and family games, Sunday sermons, and trips to the beach. Make fun together. Make memories together. Laugh together.

❯ PRAY TOGETHER

Love bears all things…

Pray with them. For them. Out loud.

Few things will fire more warmth and trust in a relationship than the simple act of asking God to help your loved one.

A childlike plea will do. Often, the very act of praying for a loved one in need becomes the answer in the moment of need.

❯ GET USED TO IT

Love endures all things…

Life as you knew itmay be interrupted for a while.

You may have to become a caregiver and life coach for a season. You may be needed at 3 am to sooth a panic attack.

You may have to make time just to help your loved one walk outside, to experience the sun and grass and flowers. You may need to do the laundry, at the last minute, just because. You may need to attend counseling or a support group. Maybe because he wants you to, maybe because she won’t go without you.

You may have to become more than you imagined you could.

But, love will endure all this and more.

❯ OVERWHELMED?

Where will you find the inner resources to love this way?

I’ve found that I have to rely on God for that.

I have to bring my weakness to Him to ask for His strength. I have to confess my inadequacy to ask for His sufficiency. I am the average husband and father who makes mistakes, speaks too harshly, listens half-heartedly, who sometimes, just doesn’t get it.

But God is great for us in His Son, Jesus Christ. God will pour out the Spirit of Christ to fill you with His love, patience, kindness, endurance, and all that you need to love the struggling person in your life well.

And even if this season of life lasts longer than you can imagine, set your hope on Christ’s promise of eternal peace and rest beyond the present suffering. Trust Him for this.

He is great, even when life isn’t.

Do you love someone, or are you someone, who struggles with anxiety or depression? Any thoughts to share? Please do in the comments below.

Have You Seen Our Most Recent Guest Post?

Hey there!

Lon here, letting you know that I recently had the privilege of guest posting on Anne Marie Miller’s blog!

The post explores what 1 Corinthians 13 (the love chapter) looks like in real life when the person you love struggles with depression or anxiety. It was quite well received on Anne’s blog and I hope you’ll find it honest and helpful, too.

Here’s the link to Loving Someone with Depression or Anxiety on Anne’s blog.


Anne Marie Miller

Anne Marie Miller is a popular blogger, speaker, and published author of several books. Her newest book, Lean On Me: Finding Intentional, Vulnerable, and Consistent Community, is due out in October 2014.

More about Anne