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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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Breaking the Suicide Addiction

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Did you know that suicide has become the No. 2 killer of teenagers in North America?  Suicide is a taboo subject that no one wants to talk about.  It may frighten us; yet it has to be faced.  In North America the suicide rate for male teens aged 15 to 19 has increased to 3 times the 1967 rate (2 ½ times increase for females).

So what can we do about teen suicide?  How can we get the help to teens who really need it?  Well, first of all, we need to know what the causes of suicide are.  Why do people do it?  Experts say that there are five main causes of suicide:

Severe feelings of guilt and hostility towards others

Punishing others through suicide

Emotional illness (35% of suicides involve severe depression and temporary insanity)

Physical illness such as cancer (40% of men who commit suicide and 20% of women)

Losses such as death of loved ones, or financial ruin

Camus, the famous philosopher, once said that there is but one philosophic problem and that is suicide.  It revolves around life’s apparent meaninglessness, despair, and absurdity.

I think Camus has a point.  You see, life sometimes can feel very unfair, very abusive, and very cruel.  Life can often destroy your dreams, and make you wish that you’d never been born.  For some people, they never feel any suicide temptation.  Some others feel it very infrequently.  There are others who feel these emotions on a regular basis.  They may have never acted on those feelings, but the feelings still haunt them.

Every time those feelings come, it becomes a major struggle to once again choose life and renounce the powers of death.  The suicide temptation is often an addiction.  Anything becomes an addiction when it controls our lives, when no matter how much we dislike the activity, we seem to return to it again and again.  I believe that Jesus Christ, through counseling and prayer, can break the power of any addiction.  But it’s not easy.  There’s no such thing as a quickie cure.

The root of addiction is none other than fear and guilt.  All addictions, whether to suicide or whatever, are fed by bondage to fear and guilt.  The more fearful we become, the guiltier we become, the greater control the addiction to suicide gets over us.

The cycle may go like this.  Say you’ve had a very depressing week, your teacher flunked you, your parents grounded you, your girlfriend dropped you, your baseball coach cut you, and your car died on you.  In the midst of this depression, you may begin to feel; “What’s the use?  I wish I wasn’t alive”.

Suicide addiction can easily set in at this point.  First of all, you feel guilty that you just felt that way.  Secondly, you may feel fear that those feelings will become worse.  So you just try to avoid these suicide feelings and shut them out of your mind.  But it doesn’t work and you just feel more guilty.  Winning over temptation by mental avoidance never works.

Another thing that increases the suicide addiction is that when we feel guilty about these feelings, we’re too embarrassed to have God around.  We feel too unclean, too unspiritual; so without fully realizing it, we ask God to leave the room and wait outside until the temptation is over.

This, of course, makes us feel even more rejected and guilty.  Then we feel abandoned by God just when we need him.  The old saying, “If you don’t feel close to God, guess who moved?” is still true.  But we tend to say to ourselves; If God abandons me when I really need him, why bother to fight it.  I’m not worth it.  Why resist it?”

So then we take the other step of self-abandonment.  We abandon ourselves to the hopelessness of wallowing in our suicide feelings, and to an ever-increasing vicious cycle of fear and guilt.

How then does Jesus break the addiction of suicide?  Jesus breaks the addiction by breaking the power of guilt and fear.  By dying on the cross as the forsaken one, as the abandoned one, He exchanges His cleanness for our uncleanness.  He was abandoned and forsaken so that we need never feel abandoned or forsaken.  You may remember that He died on the cross, saying ” My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus became grieved and distressed, saying “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death”.  In Gethsemane and on the cross, he took our agony, our guilt, our depression, our fear, so that we don’t have to be stuck with that garbage any more.

The Bible says that Jesus has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).  That means that Jesus allowed Himself to feel the awful pull to death and suicide, and then he broke its power on the Cross.  In an allegorical sense, you could say that Jesus “committed suicide” on the cross so that we don’t have to.

As a result you don’t need to punish yourself anymore.  Jesus took your punishment.  You don’t need to condemn yourself anymore. “Now there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1).  You don’t need to be consumed with fear any more. “Perfect Love casts out all fear.” (I John 4:18)

Some of you reading this may be secretly struggling with suicide feelings.  Some of you feel very guilty and fearful about it.  I challenge you to give these feelings to Jesus and accept his offer of forgiveness.

I challenge you to seek professional counseling and really give Christ a chance to do some long-term personal healing. “Choose life that you may live in the love of the Lord.”

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 USD/CDN

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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Say No to Bitterness in Marriage

by the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird_MG_1233

All married couples want a relationship filled with joy and intimacy.  Sometimes the disappointments of life can steal our joy and leave us with the root of bitterness.

Hebrews says that bitterness will defile and harass our most valuable relationships.  Bitterness can leave our hearts hardened and cold.  Without realizing it, we end up exchanging a heart of love for a heart of stone.  Hardening of the arteries can be not just a physical thing, but sometimes a spiritual and emotional reality.

Cecil Osborne once said: “Marriage is the Ed_Jan2most rewarding and the most difficult relationship known to man.”  Studies have shown that no marriages are free from occasional marital conflict. The famous marriage researcher Dr John Gottman commented recently: “when Julie and I do our workshops with couples, one of the main messages we give is that we’ve found that really good marriages, people who are really happy, have terrible fights, where they’re thinking at the end of the fight: Why did I marry this person?”

Some marital problems never go away, but the wise couple doesn’t get gridlocked on these unsolvable problems.  They refuse to go bitter inside. The AA Serenity Prayer expresses this wisdom of ‘the serenity to accept the things that cannot be changed.”  No one can really change or fix one’s spouse. It is always better to work on oneself, which requires ‘the courage to change’.

How we interpret the meaning of marital conflict is just as important as the conflict itself.  Our values and hopes for the future profoundly affect how we navigate the challenges of marital conflict.   It is vital that married couples do not give up on their ideals and dreams.  This is why Dr Gottman encourages couples to explore each others’ dreams and hopes, with an aim to create shared meaning.  Higher expectations for romance and passion have been linked with increased marital satisfaction.  Sometimes in a desire to get along, spouses give up something essential that actually fuels the romance and passion of their lives.  Bitterness is often about the death of our dreams.

marriage-ringsOne of the ways out of bitterness is through the use of gentle, self-effacing humour.  Aggressive humour like sarcasm kills marriages.  Blaming and mocking seals the coffin on your marriage. Dr Gottman found that successful marriages have on average five times more encouraging behaviours than negative behaviours.

Encouraging behaviours do not just have to be the extraordinary, like taking our spouse to Maui or to Crete.  Despite what Hollywood sometimes implies, a healthy marriage celebrates the ordinary, not just the extraordinary. After thirty-two years of marriages, my wife and I are learning afresh the joy of simple pleasures: taking regular time together for peaceful walks, for chatting and listening, and for physical exercise.

While doing my doctoral courses, I was pleased to discover that the social sciences have verified the benefits of forgiveness in healing marriages.  Dr Grace Ketterman found that couples who refuse to forgive pay a heavy price: “The physical costs of unforgiveness may include hypertension, chronic headaches, high blood pressure, cardiovascular ailments, and gastrointestinal disorders, to name just a handful.  Because negative emotions have a depressive effect and can suppress immune function, unforgiveness may even have an indirect link to major and severe disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and cancer.”  Jesus’ words ‘forgive and you will be forgiven’, say Ketterman, lie at the heart of marital harmony and health.  She speaks both as a psychiatrist of the Christian faith and as a victim of infidelity who chose to forgive and remarry her husband.

Research also indicates that shared spirituality can help protect against the roots of marital bitterness. Ordinary practices like attending church, reading the bible and praying together have been shown scientifically to strengthen one’s marriage.  Sadly I have found that many couples view the idea of praying together to be too intimate.

heartbreakBefore my spiritual breakthrough at age 17, I viewed marriage as just ‘a piece of paper’.  Research shows that couples who view their marriage as something that God has joined together are more likely to act and think in ways that protect their marriage. I have discovered that God invented marriage and believes in it; therefore marriages are worth fighting for.

Anything that we believe in, we invest in. I admire the courageous couples I know who have been willing to go to marriage counselors like Bonnie Chatwin.  There is no quicker way to make progress on marital bitterness than to go for professional help.  Social science studies prove that counselling is much cheaper than divorce lawyers.

My prayer for those reading this article is that our marriages may be sweet and full of joy, and that any roots of bitterness will be eradicated through the bonds of love.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-author of the award-winning Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD,102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. TheBattle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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My Dad has always stood with me…

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Ed Hird Photo Jpeg May 2004

I remember when I lost my voice for 18 months back in 1980.  I will never forget resigning my job, going on sick leave, driving to the Government Employment office only to find out that my company did not have any long-term disability insurance.  In the midst of those devastating experiences, my strongest feeling was that I was disappointing my father.  However my dad was not feeling that way at all.  He was just concerned that I DSCF2160recover my voice and get back on track.  Deep within most of us is this inexpressible desire to please our fathers.

In the early 1980’s, I spent almost five years in Abbotsford, during which time we had our second child.  Each week I went to visit the sick in the local hospital.  While visiting the psychiatric ward, I met a man who had Anglican and Roman Catholic parents.  He said to me that he hadn’t seen a priest in thirty years.  Out of the blue, he told me that he never prayed to God.  ‘God was too angry’, he said. ‘You just couldn’t talk to him.  He would always blow up.’  The man went on to say that he only prayed to the Virgin Mary.  ‘She was kind, loving, gentle, and would always listen’, he said.

I said to the man, ‘Does God ever remind you of your earthly father?’.  ‘Funny you should say that’, he said. ‘ They are just the same.  They never listen and they always blow up at me.’  I went on to say, ‘What about your own mother? Does she remind you of the Virgin Mary?’  His eyes brightened up, and he said to me, ‘You must know my parents.  My mother is just like the Virgin Mary.  She always listens to me’.

I said to the man, ‘Your problem is not with God.  It is with your earthly father.  If you are willing to deal with the pain of your relationship to your dad, you will find that DSCF3371you will be able to talk to God.’  A week later, a local psychiatrist phoned me up and informed me that this patient had experienced a major breakthrough in his counseling as a result.

In A.A., they say that you are as sick as your secrets.  I would agree, but also add that we are as healthy as our relationship with our fathers.  So many men nowadays are caught in painful ambivalence and confusion, because they have never really felt affirmed and blessed by their own fathers.  The gift of a healthy father is the gift of courage.  The gift of a healthy father is the gift of being willing to lay down our lives, if necessary, for our families.  In this age of compromise, I give thanks for my own father who has not been afraid to stand up for his family and his convictions.

Without a father who believes in you, it may be very hard as a teenager to feel that you are going to make it through.  They say that teenagers experience most things far more intensely than many adults.  Their highs are twice as high and their lows are twice as low.  That is why premature sexual intimacy and the usual relational breakups are so deeply devastating for our teenagers.  A courageous father does more than just give a condom to his kid.  He explains to him the real risk of broken hearts and diseased bodies, as well of the benefits of waiting for real commitment.  By our faithfulness to our wives, despite the ups and down of life, we give our children courage to believe that they too can enter faithful lasting relationships.  The concept of future marriage for many teenagers and young adults has become filled with so much fear and uncertainty.  Yet as Dr. Laura put it, ‘Without commitment, there is no future.’  Courageous fathers give to their sons and daughters the courage to commit to the unknown future.

One of the things I love the most about the DSCF1656North Shore  is the beautiful trails that are woven throughout our area.  Recently I encountered a neighbour walking his dog.  Out of the blue, I said, ‘What is a courageous father?’  He said, ‘Someone who holds down a job and cares for his children’.  Simple words, but very true.  In this age of compromise, in this pressure-cooker world, so many fathers are tempted to run away from it all.  The stress just becomes too much.

 

I thank God for my own father who never ran from our family during good times and bad, during sickness and health, for better or for worse.  I thank God for being the father of the fatherless, the one who gives me courage to not run from stress, who gives me the courage to stand my ground when everything else is falling apart, to stand for truth when many seem to be compromising.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-author of the award-winning Battle for the Soul of Canada 

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca