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It's ok to not be ok

Editor's note: Jenna Bezold has served as our student ministries intern since July 2017. She will be leaving us at the end of February. She and her husband Jake are jetting off to Kenya, where Jake will do a stint for medical school. Please be praying for Jenna and Jake as they begin this new adventure.

A few months back, as Elia and I were planning for the upcoming year, we wanted to do a series on mental health. It is obvious that mental health is a “hot topic” these days, and not at all unfamiliar to middle and high school students. It doesn’t take long to see that many students are struggling with anxiety, depression, or thoughts of suicide; or they know someone who has. In fact, in Indiana, suicide is the second leading cause of death for teens ages 15-25. Elia and I knew it was an important, prevalent matter, and we wanted to address it. We decided to do a 2 week series, the first week focusing on anxiety and depression, and the second week focusing on suicide. Knowing that we are not equipped or educated in these areas, we wanted to bring in someone who was. We got connected to Mandy Baldwin through a member here at ZPC. Mandy was a pastor at a local church for over 15 years, and spent 12 of those working with youth ministry. After realizing that counseling and teaching were what she loved most about her role in youth ministry, she went back to school to get her master’s degree in counseling.

According to Mandy, it’s important to address the issues of mental health and suicide because “it is something that influences everyone, and also the most difficult thing to talk about, especially for people of faith.” She explains that in the faith community, struggling with depression and anxiety can look like a lack of trust in God, so people affected by anxiety and depression often struggle talking about it. But, as she continues, “we have a God who loves us, is for us, is fighting for us and desires good things for us. He is with us, not against us. That means he stands with us in our struggles and hurts; depressions and anxieties; griefs and wounds.”

Mandy talked to our middle school students (7th and 8th graders) and our high school students this past Sunday. She talked about depression, suicide, and her own journey, all the while encouraging students that they are not alone. She had students repeat this mantra:  “it’s okay to not be okay, and you don’t have to stay that way.”

We’d love for you to watch one or both videos and hear her messages, and hopefully, have some engaging conversations with your family.

Please leave comments below or feel free to reach out directly to with any questions or comments.

Middle School Video

   

 

 

 

High School Video

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He is our peace

Editor's Note

About the author: Jenna has been working with ZPC Student Ministry since the summer of 2017. She married Jake in May and they have a sweet Great Dane puppy named Darla.

About this post: This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals where we are exploring traditional Advent themes of hope, joy, peace, and love. To sign up to receive text notification of these posts, text zpc advent to 39970. Advent booklets are also available at the ZPC Welcome Center. We welcome your comments and questions each day.

TODAY'S SCRIPTURE: Hebrews10:5-10; Micah 5:2-5a

In our reading today, the writer of Hebrews contrasts the Mosaic law with the new covenant under Jesus. In case you need a refresher, God’s people in the Old Testament had to bring sacrifices and offerings to maintain a relationship with the Lord. The presence of the Lord was restricted to the innermost room of the temple, which was completely off-limits to the average person. Even more so, sacrifices and offerings were not long-lasting, and they were never perfect. This meant folks had to constantly work for a relationship with God. Talk about the opposite of peace!

Luckily, this is not so for us! In Jesus, we are under a new covenant. God himself became the perfect sacrifice, doing away with the sacrificial system and a works-based salvation. And, his sacrifice is eternal! With his perfect sacrifice, we are covered in forgiveness and grace. No more working for it. No more insecurity. No more condemnation. We are under the strength of the Lord, dwelling securely (Micah 5:4). Now that sounds like peace.

The thing about peace is that it isn’t based upon our to-do lists or responsibilities. The Hebrew word for “peace” in this verse is “shalom,” which means completeness or wholeness. To be “at peace” doesn’t mean getting everything done or having no problems. It means being in right-standing with God, unified with him. And guess what—with Jesus’ perfect sacrifice, we have this peace! He offers us an inner-peace, a peace despite the chaos around us. We are enough and complete in him.

When we think of the holiday season, I doubt the first word that comes to mind is “peace.” This season is filled with endless to-do lists, errands, wrapping presents, and parties. Our schedules fill up while our bodies feel overwhelmed and exhausted. Peace? Not so much. Stillness? Nope. Or maybe we feel lonely, missing loved ones or old holiday traditions. Maybe we’re experiencing new challenges or changes this year. But under the new covenant, Jesus offers us a deep peace. He himself is our peace, and we are complete in him and with him. No matter how busy life gets, or the difficulties that come our way, He is our peace. Eternal, steadfast, and complete—he is our peace. Amen!

Activity:

Find a comfortable spot, dim the lights (if you can), and light a candle. Turn off all noises or distractions. Set a timer for 5 minutes and practice being still. Focus on your breathing – take deep breaths and try to quiet your mind. Don’t worry if you have to redirect yourself a million times in the next 5 minutes – it’s part of the process. You may also want to slowly repeat, “In you Jesus, I have peace.” Remember that we are enough and complete in his perfect sacrifice. Hallelujah!

Prayer:

God,

Thank you so much for the reminder of “peace” this season. Thank you for sending your son to sacrifice Himself for us and be our peace. We pray that we can lean into your peace, tuning ourselves in to your steadfast love, even when things are busy or difficult. Help us to fix our eyes on you. We love you and we’re so thankful for all of your blessings. We pray these things not in our name, or by anything that we have done, but according to your son’s name.

Amen.

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