Prayer and Anxiety Are Like a Really Badly Mixed Drink

I hate silence.

Silence gets on my nerves. So if you see me at work or at home, there’s probably something being played, whether it’s a TV show episode or music or something that goes into my ears. Just about the only time there’s nothing played is when I’m in conversation with someone, and that’s because there’s noise being thrown in my direction.

The main reason silence gets on my nerves is resultant of my anxiety. Because I’m constantly on edge, I need noise to distract me from what’s going on in my head. If I stop to think, my brain kicks into overdrive and I start thinking about the millions of things that are going on in my life. OK, perhaps the “millions” is a bit of an exaggeration.

One of the major side-effects, I’ve learned, of dealing with anxiety is that prayer becomes a million times harder.

Sorry, exaggeration again.

Just now, I was sitting down and I was going to pray for a little bit and I got anxious about a couple things. I began asking questions of myself, thinking over and over about the pertinent questions I currently face. I couldn’t calm down my mind enough to pray.

To pray! To spend time talking to my Creator, my Lord and Savior! I couldn’t calm down enough to do that. The guilt is overbearing in those moments. I want to pray, but I don’t want to overthink. One of the easiest ways to combat anxiety is to just change the topic, do something different, but in this situation, I was going to pray.

If only prayer was as easy for everyone as it is for the dude in the picture at the top of this post.

So I end up avoiding prayer. It’s become a pattern over the last few weeks. I can’t just sit and concentrate on prayer alone. I can worship, I can read the Bible, but I need something going on in the background or else I can’t focus. I’m listening to music right now as I write this so I don’t get distracted.

I don’t know if this is a result of the society I live in where distractions are left and right. I don’t know if this is solely a result of my struggle with anxiety. Heck, it could be something entirely different. Living with anxiety means you rarely ever get to slow down, relax, enjoy what’s going on around you. It takes very special circumstances.

Perhaps I need to explore more options for those circumstances. Perhaps I need to be more intentional. Perhaps I’m being sinful. Perhaps I’m missing something.

I’m writing this really as a way to get all my thoughts out and, perhaps, help someone understand more about the spiritual implications of physical anxiety. Lots of people deal with anxiety and stress, but for some of us, it’s a chemical affliction that’s a daily part of our lives, not just something that comes every now and then when there’s a big decision. It affects your whole life, everything about you. And it can be quite damaging spiritually.

That’s where knowing the depth of the Gospel grace that Christ gives is so important in dealing with anxiety and depression. It’s so easy to just say, “Let go and let God,” but it’s not that simple. It takes work, effort and time.

All things Jesus gave so that it’s OK that I struggle to pray. It’s not the end of the world. God’s grace is much bigger than my anxiety.

Now let me try praying again.

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You Don’t Have to Run Away

Everywhere that you turn
Somehow every face is another bridge that you burn
So you fade, you can’t stay
If you can find another life in another place
And hope the world forgets your name
But I can’t, no I won’t, forget you

I think there’s a bit of fantasy in every kid where they want to run away from home and experience the world. It comes in one of two ways:

  1. You’re ticked at your parents, and you want to run away as a sign of disapproval with the way things are going.
  2. You want to explore the world, and your home life is holding you back from the destiny you were destined for.

I remember one time when I tried to run away. I didn’t even get to the end of the driveway. I was just mad and running out of the house with no shoes on and claiming I was gone was my way to handle the problem that was going on. I think for a long time that was how I dealt with problems: running from them.

There’s a couple songs that I really like that deal with running away. And I think they both teach different things.

Runaway | The Afters | Light Up the Sky | 2010

The song is written from the perspective of a person who gets a phone call in the middle of the night from a friend who wanted to run away from their problems. Lead singer Josh Havens shares the inspiration for the song in a video linked here.

The idea behind the song is that, if you want to run away, remember that God really does love you and cares for you. Even if it seems like the world doesn’t care, God does. The God who is love will catch you when you fall:

You think you lost it all
And there’s nothing left of you
There’s nowhere you can fall
But love will catch you

I’ve been in this place many times. It’s a lonely place to be. You’re trying to find relief from something, and the easiest option seems to be running away from your problems.

The easy lesson here would be “don’t run away.” It’s not always that simple. In situations like that, what is required is someone who will listen, someone who will care, someone who will reflect the love that God has for us. But it does also take some bravery and gumption to be able to share what’s going wrong, what’s on your mind.

It’s not an easy process. And running away is the easiest option. But I’ve found that, when I don’t run away, when I do share, it’s freeing.

Runaway | Alex Faith feat. Andy Mineo | ATLast | 2013

Andy Mineo’s verse in this song is tight. Probably one of my favorites. He raps about having a hard time picking a girl to settle down with, not being able to commit:

I done found myself in the same position
Trying to pick a dame, but I can’t, playing games
Entertain different names, we exchanging digits
Uh, but you know what I’m thinking
I’ve been overthinking this whole commitment thing
Dang I wish I didn’t know the difference
Between a broken heart and one sewn with stitches

This is another way in which I tend to want to run away. I’m afraid to commit to things because I’m afraid it’s the “wrong thing” or I’m making the “wrong decision.” Basically, I’m afraid to take risks. It’s a fear thing. It’s taking chances. And that’s what Andy says in the hook:

You can stay here, runaway
Flee from town, runaway
You can hold on, runaway
Stand your ground, runaway
If you don’t take your chances there’s no way you’ll ever know
If you don’t take your chances there’s no way you’ll ever know

You can either take the risk or you can run away. And Andy’s repeated line at the end of the hook – “If you don’t take your chances, there’s no way you’ll ever know.”

So often I find myself scared to take chances. But if I don’t take that chance, if I don’t step out in faith, if I don’t take that risk, I will never know. That’s why I love Alex’s line in the first verse: “So I’m pushing back and I believe the promise that the Lord always gonna hold me down.”

We can take risks and not have to run away because, if we’re in Christ, God’s got us. Even if we make a mistake, we’re forgiven and loved by the God who created everything. That’s the ultimate mattress factory we can fall into.

You don’t have to run away. I don’t have to run away. Take the leap. Take the jump. God’s got you.

Josh Duggar, Christian Celebrities and Misguided Choices of Idols

So here we go again. Another Christian celebrity is in the spotlight for something, and the Christian army is going to war to fight for him.

Josh Duggar, one of the “19 Kids and Counting” on TLC, was investigated in 2006 for inappropriately touching minors when he was a teenager. In Touch magazine reported it recently. It was all over Twitter. It was all over television. It was a big deal.

In a statement of response, Duggar said:

I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing, and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life.

The response from the Internet was vitriolic, blasting Duggar, his family and TLC for covering it up. The network has since pulled the show from its schedule.

Of course, the Christians had to come save the day. Mike Huckabee, in a Facebook post:

Janet and I want to affirm our support for the Duggar family. Josh’s actions when he was an underage teen are as he described them himself, ‘inexcusable,’ but that doesn’t mean ‘unforgivable.’ He and his family dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities. No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story.

There’s more, but I want to say what most people aren’t going to say about this. A couple things.

First, Christians betray their self-proclaimed “moral high ground” by supporting Duggar and bashing every other celebrity who does something bad.

The guy that comes to mind first for me is Justin Bieber. Oh how many Christians I’ve heard that have very negative things to say about Bieber and every other young guy that has made a fool of himself in public. “He’s a terrible role model for the children!” “What a shame and a disgrace!” When we get so defensive about Duggar and his actions and refuse to offer others the same type of second change we’ve given him, there’s an incredible hypocrisy.

And I think it’s a symptom of Christianity in general. If it’s a Christian who’s repented and their life has changed, it’s OK! He’s changed, so there’s nothing to worry about. But if the person is still in the middle of the issue, BASH BASH BASH. We refuse to let grace and the possibility of grace permeate every situation. We’re forgiving of Christians we agree with and unforgiving of everybody else. We hesitate to give the benefit of the doubt.

Jesus loves Josh Duggar just as much as he loves Justin Bieber, Robert Downey Jr., and Michael Phelps, all celebrities who have been in trouble with the law, whether or not they have professed any connection to Jesus.

Second, Josh Duggar is just like every other Christian out there. He’s messed up. And he still is. We shouldn’t idolize him.

A lot of the Christian blogosphere will probably tell you – and rightly so – that Duggar is an example of the power of Christ to change someone and that mainstream society just doesn’t get the Gospel. And they’re right.

But what they won’t talk about is that Duggar is a Christian who has done some bad things in his past and still does. I don’t know him. I’ve never watched the show. I’ve never thought twice about watching the show. OK, maybe I did once. But I’m pretty darn sure that he’s not the best poster child for Christianity. Here’s the thing: there is no poster child for Christianity except the one who lay in a manger over 2,000 years ago. That’s the problem when we prop up sinful people as our idols. Jesus is the only idol we should have.

As human nature, it seems that we are searching for people to look up to. That’s why we follow people on Twitter, buy their books, listen to what they have to say, watch their movies/TV shows/sermons/messages/music videos, etc. But our idols are often the wrong ones. And situations like this expose our flaws in choosing our idols. Can we look up to people? Yes. But we should never see any man as the pinnacle of Christian obedience. And anyone who paints themselves as such is lying.

So before you rush out to defend Duggar, please keep these things in mind. And maybe perhaps I don’t need to be so cynical. If he’s a Christian, he is forgiven. He is loved. He is a new creation in Christ. And the Gospel is so unbelievable to society that they do miss it.

But let’s try to treat everyone the same. Just like Jesus did.

A Conversation Between Me and God, After a Sin

A conversation with God about my sin.

ME: Well, God, I did it again, I sinned. I screwed up, I did something I shouldn’t have. I feel like crap right now.

GOD: (silent)

ME: Well, are you there? Are you even listening?

GOD: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.¹

ME: Well that’s good. Glad to know that. (A trace of sarcasm drips from my voice, as if GOD’s words mean little to me.) I mean, why must I do this? Why can’t I just be perfect?

GOD: None is righteous, no, not one.²

ME: Well, I know that. But why can’t I just be perfect? Isn’t that what you want?

GOD: I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.³

ME: But I’m weak and insufficient! Why can’t I just get better? (My voice is desperate now.)

GOD: My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.ª

ME: So your grace is sufficient. Your power is made perfect in my weakness. But I’m super weak! Why would you even think to care about me in my weakness?

GOD: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.º

ME: You love me? You gave Jesus for me? (Hope begins to peak.)

GOD: For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.†

ME: I am lost, God. I am wretched. I am wrecked. Show me grace and be with me. (The repentant heart has come full circle.)

GOD: I will never leave you nor forsake you.⌊


 

¹ Matthew 28:20

² Romans 3:10

³ Luke 5:32

ª 2 Corinthians 12:9

º John 3:16

† Luke 19:10

⌊ Hebrews 13:5

The Great Depth of ‘All Things for Our Good’

I’ll just be straight with you: Romans 8:28 got me through my senior year of college.

I had a lot of ups and downs during that year. I had a potential job fall through, I dealt with a lot of depression and anxiety and I graduated with no guaranteed employment after the end of the summer. It was a rough time for me. There were many nights I stayed up anxious about what was going on in my life.

Romans 8:28 was my rallying cry that helped propel me through all the random circumstances. Somehow, some way, I was convinced (not beyond a shadow of a doubt though) that God was working everything out, that it was all going to come together in the end, that everything was going to be OK.

I mean, that’s what Romans 8:28 says – “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” As I was having breakfast with a friend yesterday morning, this verse came up in conversation and I realized something crazy.

So often we limit this verse to our personal experiences. And it’s appropriate to apply it to our personal experiences! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve repeated it to myself, how often I’ve relied on its truth. I limited it to just myself and to other personal experiences of friends and family.

But this verse is so much deeper than that. It says so much more.

For those who love God and are called according to His purpose (Christians), all things work together for good. All things means EVERYTHING. Each and every little thing. Nothing goes unused in the purposes of our Father.

Think back to the events of the Garden of Eden. The snake came and deceived Adam and Eve and sin entered the world. No bother, God says, one day I’ll provide a way for sin to be defeated, for the serpent’s head to be crushed. Today, we can read that story and learn of the nature of temptation and what not to do All things work together for our good.

Think back to David and Bathsheba. David happened to be home, saw Bathsheba bathing on the roof and had sex with her outside of marriage. No bother, God says, I’ll give the world the man who was the wisest of all, and down the road, my Son will come from that familial line. Today, we can read that story and learn about the graciousness of God in His treatment of David and about the humility and repentance David displayed. All things work together for our good.

Think back to Gideon. God calls him to be a leader and a general of a small army against a big one. Gideon is fearful and worried. No bother, God says, I’ll show him how powerful I am by defeating that big army. Today, we can read that story and learn to trust God when circumstances seem overwhelming. All things work together for our good.

Think back to Jesus. Each and every action He took led to Him being crucified, led to the defeat of sin, the crushing of Satan. Every obedient act added up to perfection, which meant Jesus was the perfect sacrifice. Today, we can read about Jesus and be psyched that our salvation was paid for in full and that it’s set in stone, not moving, not changing, forever the same.

God works all things together for the good of His children. Everything. All the events of the past, all the events of the present, all the events of the future. Everything that’s happening today, God will make it for the good of the church and the members of that body.

Couldn’t ask for anything better.

The Christian Bachelor: Episode 8 – Season Finale

Last Week on The Christian Bachelor: Caleb spent days in Ottawa and the surrounding area with Maggie and Savannah separately. This week, we find out Caleb’s pick.

On Friday, Caleb hangs out with Phil, his brother Aaron and his brother’s girlfriend, who had been spending time with Savannah and Maggie on days off for each woman. She spoke with the group about what she saw and what she learned.

Caleb: “Talking with Aaron’s girl was really helpful. Just like discussing things with my mom and with my sister, it’s always good to get some female opinion. I know my brother values her very highly, so it’s good to hear from her.”

The Final Decision – Ottawa, Ont., Canada – Saturday afternoon, week 5

The Saturday was set aside for the final decision. Caleb sat outside the Canadian Parliament building on a bench and each girl was given a walkie talkie that matched one Caleb held in his hands.

He buzzed Maggie first.

Caleb: “Maggie. You’re not the one I’m picking. You’re a fantastic girl. You love Jesus, you’re talented as a musician, you’re funny and you’re beautiful. But I think I see you more as a sister in Christ and less as a romantic partner, potential wife. I hope and pray you find a great guy somewhere out there soon. And thanks for going on this journey with me.”

The two hug and Maggie leaves the bench.

Maggie: “I’m a little disappointed, but it’s clear that God has different plans for me and Caleb. And I’m ready to follow those all the way.”

Caleb then calls Savannah to come down to the courtyard. He’s standing with a rose when Savannah arrives.

Caleb: “Savannah, I pick you. Will you allow me to pursue you?”

Savannah: “Yes. Definitely.”

Caleb: “You’re a wonderful representation of Jesus in how you speak and how you act. You’re thoughtful, you’re loving and you’re not afraid to tell me how you feel. I want to see what’s going to happen with us. I want to take that first step to possibly being married. And I want you along for the ride.”

Savannah: “I’m ready to go on that ride with you!”

The two hug and begin to chat some more. Caleb reaches for Savannah’s hand and they grasp each other’s hands. The two speak to the camera later.

Caleb: “I’m really excited to start dating Savannah. I love her personality. She’s a very peppy, excited and enthusiastic person who loves Jesus and I think has a pretty big crush on me. I’ll take that!”

Savannah: “I can’t wait to see where God leads Caleb and I. I have hopes, but I’m submitted to whatever the Lord has for us. He’s got so many fantastic qualities, most importantly that he loves Jesus.”

This has been the first season of The Christian Bachelor! We hope you all enjoyed it and we hope you come back next year for season 2!

Did Caleb pick wisely? Where do you see the relationship between Caleb and Savannah going?

If You Missed An Episode…

The Christian Bachelor: Episode 7 – Down to the Wire

Last Week on The Christian Bachelor: Rebecca was eliminated after family dates, and Caleb got a brush with fame at his church, which threw him off a little bit. This week, it’s time for the final dates. It’s crunch time.

Date 6: Day Dates in Ottawa – Ottawa, Ont., Canada – Tuesday and Thursday, week 5

The trio arrives in Ottawa with Caleb’s brother and girlfriend and Phil. Caleb says it’s important that he travel with dudes he can trust, and with a big decision coming up at the end of the week, it’s important that he’s got guys he can bounce ideas off of.

A coin flip determines who goes Tuesday and who goes Thursday. It’s heads, which gives Tuesday to Maggie.

Caleb: “I’m really looking forward to spending time with Maggie in Ottawa. It’s a beautiful city with some great sights. And we’ll get to see a Hillsong concert, which will be a lot of fun. The benefits of going on dates like this is I get to spend a whole day with her. So that will really, really help.”

Maggie and Caleb start their day by meeting outside Maggie’s hotel. Caleb brings Maggie’s favorite coffee from Tim Horton’s, a Canadian version of Dunkin’ Donuts. The two spend the morning walking around the city and doing some shopping. They eat lunch together and then take a car ride to Toronto to walk around that city too, visit the Hockey Hall of Fame and cap off the evening with dinner at Wayne Gretzky’s restaurant and a Hillsong United concert.

One of the bigger conversations Maggie and Caleb have is about personality differences and what they can and cannot live with.

Caleb: “Personality differences can be really helpful. There’s ways in which people balance each other out. But there’s also some ways in which the differences can pull people apart. With Maggie, there’s some crucial differences that may or may not be a breaking point. That’s one thing that these dates are about. We got some alone time to really talk some things through as I see if this is the girl I’m going to pursue.”

The Hillsong United concert was a particular highlight for Maggie, who has sung many of the band’s worship tracks in her church. She also enjoyed getting to see Caleb in a free-reign worship space.

Maggie: “He’s got the hands-raised idea down, and he’s actually not too bad a singer. Wouldn’t be a bad idea if we decided to sing a couple duets together.”

The next day, a Wednesday, Caleb, his brother and Phil go play a couple rounds of golf outside of Ottawa and get away from the busyness of the show. We talked to Caleb when he got back.

Caleb: “I think the best part about getting away is just being able to relax and not take things so seriously. But at the same time, I got to have some really good conversation with my brother and Phil, who’s like my brother. We discussed Maggie and talked about what was coming on Thursday with Savannah. I’m really excited to see what happens on Thursday.”

On Thursday, Caleb pulls up to Savannah’s hotel and she climbs in the car. There waits a couple donuts each from Tim Horton’s as well as a cappuccino for Savannah (Caleb doesn’t drink coffee). The two drive an hour to Outaouais (pronounced oo-doo-eh), where they enjoy a scavenger hunt in the small towns of the area. Lunch is served at the same golf course where the guys played on Wednesday.

After a drive back to the city, Caleb and Savannah walk around Ottawa. Caleb reaches for Savannah’s hand at one point but then he pulls back. The pair attends an Ottawa Senators hockey game that evening and Caleb takes Savannah back to her hotel and walks her inside. The two chat in the hotel lobby for an hour before Caleb leaves.

Caleb: “I think there’s something special about Savannah. Can’t really put it into words. She’s just so caring and understanding. She’ll ask hard questions and she’ll challenge me when I need it, but she also listens and cares. She’s also a lot of fun and is goofy as I’ll get out. Her love for Jesus is really evident. She lives out the Gospel, and that’s what you really want in a girl.”

Savannah: “I love his heart for truth. Caleb really cares about what God’s Word says and wants to follow it. Plus he’s super-caring about people. He loves Sienna and, well, maybe he loves me too. I don’t know. I guess we’ll find out.”

Next Episode on THE CHRISTIAN BACHELOR: Caleb makes his final decision. One girl is sent home, while the other gets to embark on the journey of dating Caleb Christian.

Who’s going to win? Comment below with your opinion?

If You Missed An Episode…

Oh, Oh, We Need Each Other

One of the most dangerous times for me is when I’m physically alone. When I distance myself from people and from interaction with humanity, my mind begins to run marathons and sprint the 100-meter dash over and over again. Often, my mind begins to tell me that I am alone, that no one really cares about the struggles I’m going through and the difficulties I face. Whether that’s Satan or me that says those things, I don’t really know for sure. Whichever way, it’s scary.

It leads me to places I don’t want to go. And as someone who deals with depression and anxiety on a regular basis, it’s worse.

So I learned this weekend I can’t be alone. I shouldn’t be alone. Not for too long, at least. And this is tough for someone who enjoys his alone time, someone who tries to avoid large gatherings of people.

I think about my wedding in the future (Lord-willing I get married). I’m not looking forward to the reception, mostly because there will be a couple hundred people who will want to shake my hand or give me a hug, and all I’m going to want to do is be alone. Granted, I think that’s how every married couple feels in the minutes after they get married, but for an introvert like me, the aversion is double.

Back to the point: I need my alone time. But not for too long. We were meant to live in relationship with people. We were meant to be around people. And I think for a long time I only pursued that because I knew I was supposed to. I did see a lot of benefits and saw why I should do it. But I don’t think I knew why I shouldn’t avoid it. And this weekend I learned.

I learned the hard way. I learned what loneliness really looks like, what it feels like, how it hurts, how it stings, how it limits, how it pains. There’s a certain amount of loneliness I can handle, a certain level I can take. But at the same time, I need people. I need to be around people. I need to have relationship and community. I desperately need it.

It’s here where I learned that God did truly create me for community. That’s why Hebrews 10:24-25 says:

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Something I noticed this time I read the verses: The author says we must encourage one another “all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Since “the Day” is always drawing nearer and nearer, we must continue to encourage one another more and more.

I spend a lot of time on this blog encouraging encouragement and love of people who are downtrodden. But here I want to speak to myself and to those who are downtrodden: come out from hiding. Open yourself to the people around you. Take off your mask.

Life revolves around the need
Of having someone
Causing every complicated feeling
Oh and I don’t want to lose you
And there is nothing wrong with
Telling me what you need
To keep our love strong

The Christian Bachelor: Episode 6 – All in the Family

Last Week on The Christian Bachelor: Anna left the show after Carrie and Hayden were eliminated, shaking up the whole process. So there’s just three left: Rebecca, Savannah and Maggie. This week, family dates.

Date 5: Family Dates – Sanford, N.C. – Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, week 4

First up, Rebecca. The group has a delicious dinner of honey-baked ham with mashed potatoes and green beans, one of Caleb’s favorite combinations. The family thinks Rebecca is a swell girl, but they’re concerned that she might be too serious for Caleb. Caleb is a serious fellow, yes, but they’re afraid there’s no fun there. Caleb debates this with his parents the next day in the reflection time.

Caleb’s mom: “I know Caleb loves having serious conversations, especially theological ones. We’ve had some of those ourselves. But I feel like he doesn’t have real fun with Rebecca.”

Second on the docket: Maggie. Caleb’s brother Aaron is an accomplished musician himself, and the pair lead the family in some music selections. This is an attractive thing to Caleb. As Jack told us before, Caleb is all about musicians or people with musical skill of some sort. Maggie also strikes Caleb as a really fun girl. He thinks back to the picnic date and claims that as one of his favorites.

Caleb’s brother Aaron: “I think Caleb has got a keeper in Maggie. I know how much he loves to sing, even if it’s not all that great. Maggie seems to enjoy it though. And enjoy him. And that’s all I want for him.”

Third: Savannah. Savannah brings Sienna to the dinner on a Saturday night, as Caleb’s dad cooks steaks and grilled asparagus. Caleb’s younger sister Kaitlynn gets along splendidly with both Savannah and Sienna as they play games. The dinner is wonderful and Savannah and Sierra seem to fit in quite nicely with Caleb’s family.

Caleb’s sister Kaitlynn: “I really like Savannah. She’s a great mom and I think she’d be a great wife for Caleb.”

With this elimination round, since Anna left, there only has to be one elimination before the final week trip to Israel. But there’s been a change of plans. Security issues in Israel leave the team scrambling. The trip has been moved to Ottawa, Canada, one of Caleb’s favorite destinations. Caleb has a tough decision to make, but it seems to be one of the easier ones.

Caleb: “I’ve really grown attracted to Savannah and Maggie. I’m really kind of stuck between those two. I hope that the trip ahead will help decide it. As for Rebecca, great girl, but you can’t build a relationship solely on agreed theology.”

Rebecca is eliminated. Remaining Bachelorettes: Savannah, Maggie.

Savannah and Maggie go with Caleb to church on Sunday. Caleb is asked to speak at his church during the evening worship service about the process of the show and what to look for in a relationship. There’s a Q&A at the end and Caleb is asked if he’s made a decision yet. He chuckles and shakes his head. “I’m not going to answer that,” he says. “Both Savannah and Maggie are wonderful sisters in Christ. It’s not an easy place to be. I’ve got a tough choice to make.”

Some of the congregants want to take pictures of Caleb with Savannah and Maggie afterwards. Caleb complies, but later, as he talks to Savannah, he’s not sure that was a great idea.

Caleb: “I just wonder what that means. Am I putting myself on a pedestal as a celebrity through this, when really I’m just trying to see if I can find the person I want to spend the rest of my life with?”

Savannah: “I understand, Caleb. Was there anything about it particularly that bothered you?”

Caleb: “I became a celebrity. And I don’t want to be a celebrity.”

Savannah nods and puts her hand on Caleb’s shoulder. He turns and smiles at her.

While discussing things with Maggie later, she decides to push him a little bit.

Maggie: “Did you really want to speak on this?”

Caleb: “I want to help people understand what relationships and romance within the Christian context is really all about.”

Maggie: “Do you think this was the wrong context to do that?”

Caleb: “I don’t know.”

It’s nearly time for the final dates. Maggie and Savannah pack up. Savannah spends a few hours with Sienna playing at a park. Maggie plays guitar in her room at the house. Each woman has a house to themselves now that the rest of the girls have left.

Savannah: “I’m really hoping to find someone who cannot only be my husband, but who can be a father to Sienna. Caleb has been really good with Sienna, and he’s been an awesome partner with me so far. I’m hoping that he picks me. What do you think, Sienna?”

Sienna nods and smiles.

Maggie: “I think that Caleb and I have a lot of fun together. I love his heart for the Lord and what he values in life and in other people. I think it’s a good match!”

The camera talks to Caleb one last time before the trip to Ottawa.

Caleb: “Despite all the mess around everything that’s gone on, this has been a refreshing experience. I’ve made some friends, I’ve had some great experiences and I’ve been able to really have some great conversations. I think I’l be friends with people like Monica and Anna for a long time. It just goes to show that you don’t have to be in a relationship with a girl to have a solid friendship. The point is that the friendship is all based around Jesus. I want to find someone who is going to be my best friend. Someone I can share anything with and they’ll be understanding, they’ll give grace, but they’re also willing to challenge me on things when I’m wrong. But in a graceful way. I’ve got a ton of growing to do, a ton of maturity and sanctification. I want someone who will push me towards the cross, not away from it.”

NEXT EPISODE on THE CHRISTIAN BACHELOR: Caleb spends full days in Ottawa and the surrounding areas with Maggie and Savannah as he gets the last chance to get to know them before making his final decision. Tune in on Monday for the next episode of THE CHRISTIAN BACHELOR.

Who has your vote? Which girl has stood out? Did Caleb make a mistake in sending Rebecca packing? Comment with your thoughts below!

If You Missed An Episode…

Don’t Wipe Your Eyes. Tears Remind You You’re Alive.

Yesterday, I wrote about the idea that we hurt ourselves by our actions, our sinful behaviors that bring us down and distract us from our relationship with Jesus. Today, I want to cover a different kind of self-hurt. Self-harm.

I’ve found myself more and more writing and talking about things that we don’t talk about in the Christian community, things we like to avoid. I know that very few people read this, but I hope to at least start a little bit of conversation. This is one I most definitely want to start conversation about.

I’ve known people that have cut themselves. I’ve known people that have turned to self-harm as some way to find relief from the internal turmoil. I’ve heard stories of people who have taken whole bottles of pills hoping to get out of whatever life they’re living.

The easy reaction is to feel sorry for the person, perhaps pray for them, and then move on. It’s uncomfortable to think about and talk about. But we should talk about it more. We should discuss it more. And I want to start that now by saying I’ve thought about it.

I’ve never cut myself or done any type of typical self-harm that is often linked to depression or anxiety. But I’ve thought about it. I’ve stood in the shower with a razor in my hand and briefly considered finding out what it felt like. I’ve held a knife in my hand in my kitchen late at night, distressed by a sin I committed, hoping to find some sort of atonement in dragging the knife across my wrist. I’ve thought about intentionally driving my car off a bridge, thinking that maybe somebody might finally give me the time of day. If I survived.

Yes, I was a Christian while thinking all those thoughts.

According to KidsData.org, more than 30,000 children were hospitalized in 2012 due to self-inflicted injury. In 2013, 41,149 suicides were reported, making suicides the 10th leading cause of death for Americans, according to the CDC. A study done by the Center for Suicide Research at Oxford University in 2011 found that 1 in 12 young people “engage in self-harm such as cutting, burning or taking life-threatening risks and around 10 percent of these continue to deliberately harm themselves into young adulthood.”

These are people who have gone further than I. I only thought about it. I never actually did anything. But these kids did. Unfortunately, they saw self-harm as the way to deal with the emotions they were feeling, the stress and anxiety they were dealing with.

Why? For some, there’s a promise of relief in the pain, a relief for emotions that are too heavy to bear alone. For others, like what I was feeling, there’s a punishment aspect to it where there’s an atonement being done. I did something bad, I get punished. For others, it’s a silent cry for help that often never gets heard.

Teens resort to this when things get too hard. And often that happens because there is no one who is truly invested in loving them and caring for them. It’s so hard to bear some of those emotions by yourself that you hope that, by doing something drastic like self-harm, you can lose some of that weight.

So with this in mind, my final words.

To those who don’t self-harm: Please, be aware, and love.

Teenagers often feel like outcasts in today’s society, particularly within the Christian context. Those who deal with self-harm feel that even more. There’s no telling where some of their emotions are taking them. Please take the time. Please love like Jesus loved. Take off the kid gloves and get down and dirty.

To those who do: Please, don’t.

You don’t deserve punishment for any wrong you’ve done. Jesus took that punishment on the cross. Talk about the things that are weighing you down. Be honest with them. Share them with a friend, a family member.

I understand the desire, the weight of emotion you feel when you do that. You feel like no one cares, like no one really loves you for you. Look for them. And if you truly find no one, e-mail me. I would love to talk with you. There are organizations like To Write Love on Her Arms and Heart Support who want to help you.

If you’re a Christian and you self-harm, that doesn’t deny you being a Christian. It makes you human. Just realize that Jesus took the punishment for you on the cross, so you don’t need to harm yourself. To steal from TWLOHA, hope is real. Help is real. Your story is important. And He cares about your story.

I’ve found hope in knowing that the God of the universe sent His Son Jesus to earth to live a perfect life, die a perfect death and rise again so that I could have the opportunity to have a relationship with Him, to be forgiven of my sins, to experience the love and grace of the Gospel.

You have the opportunity to experience the same thing. Jesus is with you and wants to love you unlike any other love you’ve ever experienced. Your hope is not ultimately in that other people struggle with this, it’s not in the fact that I’ve struggled with the thoughts.

Your hope is in Jesus. So it’s alright to cry. He did.

 It’s alright to cry
Even my dad does sometimes
So don’t wipe your eyes
Tears remind you you’re alive
It’s alright to die
Cause death’s the only thing you haven’t tried
But just for tonight
Hold on*


* “Even My Dad Does Sometimes” by Ed Sheeran