Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Is Having Faith in God Simply a 'Placebo Effect?'

Yesterday, I was reading up on an article that was explaining that our minds are these powerful tools to use for positive and negative. It's kind of like the internet, you can either use it for good or for bad, that's up to you. You'd think that our minds would protect us, rather than hurt us. So why would our minds give us anxiety? Well, we also have our primal minds, where it thinks that we are in danger, when in fact there is none. So our 'fight or flight' response kicks in, as if a tiger's chasing us, and BAM---anxiety. It's also what we say to ourselves, tell ourselves, think about certain things and situations that can create either peace or chaos. Our minds create phobias, and it can create a phobia of a certain place where you once experienced anxiety, so it'll pull the avoidance tactic. Agoraphobia can be debilitating for some. For me personally, I suffer with it on and off. Some weeks I'm all over the place, while other times, I'm a bit of a shut-in.

Sometimes when I'm in the midst of a panic attack, not even the 4,7,8 breathing technique works. I try to "ground myself," and to no avail, my heart still pounds relentlessly. With having been checked out by every doctor and cardiologist, the final result is anxiety disorder. God shouldn't be the last resort, but unfortunately, many Christians use God as a last resort when they're desperate or sick. But why not use Him when we're also feeling well? Back to the article I read, it was explaining that praying to God or having faith in whatever religion you practice can bring a euphoric sense of peace into your mind. They were basically saying, that if it gives you comfort, then keep doing it. But see, my faith is a type of faith where 'I know that I know that I know' type of faith. Even if someone practices it just for the "placebo effect"---then they are unintentionally inviting God into their lives. There's gonna be a sense of hope that overwhelms them, and when God truly answers them, it'll not only be faith, but a knowledge that there is a God.

As you know, I've been having a hard time adjusting to my new home. I wake up with a pounding heart that makes me feel like hiding under the covers or running to the doctor's! But this morning, I just said, "Not today, Satan!" And then all of these positive thoughts came flooding through my mind, as if some kind of gate opened up. I woke up, showered up, worked on my editing and advertising and then poured myself a big ol' cup of coffee. Coffee is always a 'no no' for people with anxiety, but I just can't give that part of my life up. I'd rather drink coffee than wine. That's how much I love it. Anyway, once these positive thoughts came flooding through, everything around me kind of looked different---in a good way. It's so hard to stay positive when your mind is fighting you not to be---giving you false alarms of danger. It's absolutely maddening. But what I've learned lately is that YOU are in control. I had a hard time grasping that concept when I couldn't control my response to anxiety the other day. So I prayed. It took some time, but things started to shift. I then played worship music throughout my home and the entire atmosphere shifted in a positive way. I guess if this really was a placebo effect, then I'd rather worship God and risk being wrong, than risk not believing, and then being wrong. Eternity is a long time to be wrong.

This life is so temporary. Our homes here on earth are temporary, until we go to our real home. What got me to come to terms with losing my ancestral home was that everything is temporary. Everything. And the next home will also be a temporary situation. Time goes by fast, flying at the speed of light. We once see our kids as babies and in the blink of an eye, they're taller than us, smarter than us, faster than us... Where did the time go? It was just yesterday when I was sitting with my mom having coffee and talking about everything. And now, she's home with the Lord---something I could never wrap my mind around. It was one of those "God forbid" type of thoughts. But God doesn't forbid death. It's all apart of life. I used to get upset whenever someone would say, "Oh God forbid," and I'd say, "God doesn't forbid that." They'd just give me a blank stare like, "Shut. up."

Getting back to faith----faith is a solely a belief system. So if you go in believing that it's just merely a belief, keep praying and trying the "placebo effect" and watch what happens. You're inviting God into your life. It would be interesting to see someone try this, because God will definitely show up in some way or another. It would no longer be just a "belief system." It'll become more of a knowledge that God is very real---more real than the traffic you're stuck in, more real than the tree outside on your yard, more real than the stars and the moon, and much closer to you than your very own breath. I never push my beliefs on anyone, I can only share. I can elaborate more here on my blog, because it's not a personal email to you. You can simply "X" out if these articles make you uncomfortable. You chose to hop on yourself. So welcome! And thank you.

What makes "religion" frustrating are some of Jesus' followers. Not everyone is going to believe the exact same thing as you. It gets confusing when there are certain sects broken up into branches. Like Catholicism is kind of like Lutheranism. Not sure why they're apart really. Christianity coincides with most Pentecostalism, Mormonism, Baptist, and others alike. They are all trinity-based, with slight differential aspects of their faith. These are all "religions." Do you know why Jesus was so persecuted? Because He went against "religious people."  All you need is a personal relationship with God---not a "religion." Religion is what tears people apart, and in some cases, it kills more than heals. Jesus came to take away the rules of the book, and base everything according to your heart. I'm not saying to throw your bibles out---I'm just saying that Jesus came to pay the price for all of our iniquities, so that we can live. In Galatians, it clearly states that if there was a law to obey, then there was no need for Jesus to die up on the cross for us. That doesn't mean go around doing evil things and killing people, praying for forgiveness every night, but once the Holy Spirit is in you---you become a new person. You'll feel it---and it's by no efforts of your own. Never get discouraged when "religious" people judge and ridicule you for the person you are, or even for what you did in the past. Not one person is free from sin. I was judged by a couple in my church who always sat in the first pew, raising their hands and dancing to worship music, all the while being on their fourth marriage. It's like, just stay in your lane. Don't you trust God enough to fix me if you think I need a little fixin'? If someone judges you and tries to "correct" your life, or tells you that you're not good enough, then they don't have enough faith in God, because that's not something Jesus would do to someone. There's a fine line that gets crossed between "righteous judgement" and pure criticism. Some people will want to help you in your journey. You can choose to listen, accept it, or simply ask God for what is meant for you. I think faith in a very personal thing. I don't think Jesus expects all of us to be alike, so there has to be some level of individualism with it.

Oddly enough, after I write one of these types of articles, I always get someone that says, "Maybe a little less Jesus and more on the topic of anxiety." Then I wouldn't be the authentic Deb I would hope to be. I want to be completely honest in where I get most of my help. You know, Jesus hung out with many sinners who weren't "fit" in the eyes of religious people. I was recently judged by my Christian friends for being friends with someone who is Pagan. Listen, if it doesn't affect your own faith and doesn't steer you away from God, then why would spending time with someone of another religion be bad? I'll tell you one thing--my Pagan friend has been the most caring, generous, good hearted person I've ever met. She used to come over when my mom was alive and we would all cook together. My mom loved her. My mom even said to her out of the blue, "Maria, I love you!" And Maria started crying, and then said that she has never met someone else's mother who has ever told her that.  If you cast a person out because they believe differently than you, then how is that being Christian-like? It can be frustrating trying to look into Christianity, when some of the followers put this great expectation of perfection on top of your head. Jesus just says, "Come as you are." Even when you feel you have sinned or did something wrong, just go to Him with ZERO guilt, ask Him for forgiveness or just talk to Him. He's not the monster most Christians make Him out to be. He is the most powerful, above all creation, which is why YOU have that power too, if you have the Spirit within you.

And now, God has called it upon my heart to give you an opportunity to reconnect with God.

If you say this prayer, you will become a new person, and you will feel it. Others will even notice something 'different' about you.

"God, I'm sorry for my sins. Right now, I turn from my sins and ask you to forgive me. Thank you for sending Jesus Christ to die on the cross for my sins. Jesus, I ask you to come into my life and be my Lord, Savior, and Friend. Thank you for forgiving me and giving me eternal life. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen." 

If you said this prayer, keep close to God, find a spirit-filled church if you'd like (helps with fellowship) and always know you're never alone. And remember, church can always be in your very own home.

Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. --Isaiah 41:10

I am leaving you with a gift--peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn't like the peace the world gives. So don't be troubled or afraid. --John 14:27

I dare you to delve into your faith, into your Bible, into a new world that'll change your life forever. I also would love to hear a praise report if you found comfort in seeking God out before medication. I'm not saying medication is bad, but sometimes, faith or what some people would call the "placebo effect" is far greater than any pill.

If you're reading this and not feeling well, I pray that you find peace that transcends all understanding, and perfect health from head to toe. And of course, it all starts in our heads. Let Him heal everything. I'm choosing faith.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com
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