A video for those who are suffering with depression, despair, or suicidality, prepared by Sarah Colyn.
No matter how long or deeply we’ve suffered in a dark place, Christ has opened the path of life, love and true fulfillment by His cross. We pray that His life-giving Word will flow through this video into your soul today.
Need more teaching and prayer on hope vs. despair?
Listen to this audio recording of a ministry session on the virtue of hope from our Wheaton school.
Clay McLean’s 3-part teaching on recovery from depression
A heart-to-heart talk by Clay about the roots of depression and a loving invitation to come up into God’s healing light (Grieving Childhood Losses; Recognizing Self Pity; Extinguishing Burnout) available at mcleanministries.org.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.
To connect with a counselor for emotional support and other services via web chat visit the Lifeline website.
New Hope Crisis Counseling Hotline – 714-NEW-HOPE (714-639-4673)
New Hope Crisis Hotline provides telephone intervention and telephone suicide prevention counseling. Trained crisis workers provide peer counseling to those who are struggling to cope with day to day life. Services are free, and are available 24 hours a day/7 days a week. A faith based, ecumenical program of Catholic Charities of Orange County.
Need help finding a skilled counselor?
We’ve provided this guide on finding and working effectively with a counselor, pastor, or mentor in your healing journey.
If you’re unable to find a personal referral in your area, Focus on the Family provides this Christian counselor referral service.
Lifeline Aotearoa Call 09 5222 999 if you live within Auckland or 0800 543 354 for those outside of Auckland.
A pair of videos with worship, teaching, and prayer to help us grow in fortitude, prepared by Sarah Colyn.
This is a 2-part teaching: the first video introducing what fortitude is and how we use it, and the second looks at how we grow in fortitude. The second video closes with a time of prayer, looking to the power of the Cross to dismantle barriers and strengthen us in fortitude.
We pray that the Lord will anoint this video for you in a personal way. Fortitude is a substantial topic, and so these teachings aren’t so brief or simple. Take your time with them and give yourself space to dialog with the Lord and ponder these things in your heart. As you watch, remember to invite God to actively minister to you, connect your head and heart, and move in your life with His great power and love.
Thanks to Fr Ryan and Emily Brotherton of Holy Trinity Edmonds church for the music clip.
Part One: What fortitude is and how it operates in our lives
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. Deut 31:6
And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him… the spirit of counsel and might. Isaiah 11:2
But take heart, I have overcome the world. John 16:33
casting down the evil one like the strong young men of I John 2.14
We are afflicted but not crushed, perplexed but not in despair, persecuted but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed. 2 Cor 4:8-9
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 1 Peter 4:12
When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. He shall say: “Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.” Deut 20:2-4
For love is strong as death… Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.
Song of Solomon 8:6, 7
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom 8:38-39
Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows My name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. Psalm 91:14-15
I love you, O Lord, my strength. Psalm 18.1
Leanne Payne, Heaven’s Calling
Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica
Josef Pieper, Four Cardinal Virtues, and On Hope
Servais Pinckaers and Bernard Gilligan, Virtue Is Not a Habit
Craig Titus, Resilience and the Virtue of Fortitude: Aquinas in Dialogue with the Psychosocial Sciences
“We Christians are called to an apostolic courage based upon trust in the Spirit…” (Pope John Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, p. 219).
“act courageously on behalf of the good, the true, the beautiful, and the just… to initiate change and impact the surrounding culture positively ” and the “capacity to live fully in the present moment, recognizing the transcendent, the ‘gift of eternity’ in it… (Payne, Heaven’s Calling, p. 295).
“Now I think that I understand a bit more about what it means to truly love, because for my men, love was something much more than emotion…” (Donovan Campbell, Joker One, p. 301, 302, 303)
“Virtue enables us to perform excellent actions easily and joyfully, in a stable manner, with profound interior freedom, the freedom of children of God” (Charles Nault, Noonday Demon, p. 77).
Fortitude doesn’t allow “oneself to be forced into evil by fear,
or to be kept by fear from the realization of the good” (Josef Pieper, Four Cardinal Virtues p. 126).
“Cowardice is almost the only vice at which men still feel shame” (C. S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters, p. 51).
To “meet the challenges that we face concerning meaning and commitment, coping and constancy,
and constructing something good out of human suffering and failure” (Titus p. 134).
“the friendly and intelligent assistance of another” (p. 81).
“It is afraid of the light and air of the spiritual world” (Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 154).
A video with worship, teaching, and prayer to encourage us in fear of the Lord while ministering healing to any fearful heart, prepared by Sarah Colyn.
We pray that the Lord will anoint this video for you in a personal way. Before you press “play,” please get comfortable in a place where you feel free to stand, sing, and speak out in prayer. Invite God to minister to you, and be fully responsive as He accepts your invitation!
A friendly exhortation: this teaching and prayer is not a substitute for participation in your local church. Please don’t let this video or any of the other Christian media that’s currently on offer turn you into an isolated consumer. Active engagement with your local church body, even if from a physical distance, is essential now — you need your church, and your church needs you.
This is a brief teaching (the video with worship and prayer is just 24 minutes) — those of you who’ve been to an MPC event know that is a big victory for me! There is much more to this topic, so if you’d like to dig deeper, consider these resources:
Leanne Payne, Restoring the Christian Soul Through Healing Prayer, chapter 1 on self-acceptance.
An MPC lecture and prayer on sense of being and well-being can be downloaded here
Josef Pieper: On Hope, chapter 5, “The Gift of Fear;” the section on fortitude in The Four Cardinal Virtues.
An MPC lecture on seeing God rightly, and prayer for healing of fears can be downloaded here
This Godly Play Parable of the Good Shepherd sneaks past the watchful dragons of the rational mind and impresses the heart with the reality of our Lord’s faithfulness in places of danger.
For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,”
are you not being merely human? What then is Apollos? What is Paul?
Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each.
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.
So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything,
but only God who gives the growth.
I Corinthians 3:4-7
It is in looking to Him that we become like Him! Tyrants, as C. S. Lewis has said, are monotonously alike — their minds are on themselves and their own aggrandizement. But as for the great saints, that is another matter. There is incredible diversity among them. …
To be a disciple of a disciple is to be pale indeed. I do not want to be a pale Christian. With St. Paul, I say, “To me to live is Christ.” With St. John, I lean my head on Christ’s breast and hear what He says to me. This is the walk in the Spirit. This is the way we cross over into a serene self-acceptance, no matter what our psychological needs have been and into the freedom of the realized true self in Christ.
Imitation is the heart of learning, and we thank God for all the good influencers in our lives. But Christian maturity calls us higher up and deeper in. If any leader or mentor has called us into subjection to them, we must cast off that false yoke. If we have put any fellow human on a pedestal, so that it is their authorization we wait for, their standard we judge ourselves by, or their approval we work for, we must repent. We need a Church full of men and women who are being Fathered by God Himself, discipled personally by Jesus of Nazareth, liberated and counseled by the Holy Spirit. We need vibrant, even dangerous Christians, saints whose excellence delights us. We are called, not just to admire others who have walked this road of becoming, but to walk it ourselves, taking our glorious places in the communion of saints.
Lord Jesus Christ, I thank You for Your presence with me now. I thank You for calling me to be Your disciple, even a member of Your royal priesthood. Lord forgive me for any way that I have shirked this calling and put others between You and I. Meet me now in my garden of solitude, draw near to me as I draw near to You. Speak Lord, I am listening.
 Leanne Payne, Restoring the Christian Soul Through Healing Prayer (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 1991), 54.
Sculpture: 14thc., John the Apostle resting on the bosom of Christ, photographed by Andreas Praefcke [Public domain]
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord,
are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.
For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
2 Cor 3:12-18
When Christ strengthens us in the inner man, what is He strengthening? Some of us have, in recent years, preferred to ignore the strictly human side of incarnation: that which thinks, feels, imagines, dreams, symbolizes, remembers, wills, and is the vessel through which the Divine Light is to shine. Just as we feel safe in thinking of Christ in His divinity, but not His humanity, so it is with ourselves. We may even speak rather glibly of Christ’s indwelling us (our divine side), but fear to marvel at how wondrously our inner being is fashioned and constituted to receive and pass on this imposition of divine splendor. 
What a rescue, what a gift! We have been awakened from the zombie-like daze of alienation from our full humanity. It takes faith, yet more than faith, to embrace this truth. It takes greatness of soul, the deepest courage. We Christians are to live confidently because every aspect of our humanness has been interpenetrated by God’s glory. We are to live unselfconsciously and without anxiety as those who are becoming noble, beautiful, and true. We are to live humbly, honestly and freely because all that we are, and all that goes on inside us, is in His loving presence.
Gracious God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I thank you that I am in You, and You are in me. I celebrate the reality that You are transforming me and making Your great splendor visible through little me. Thank you for taking the fullness of my real, human being into your incorruptible life. You indwell my sensations and emotions. You indwell my thoughts, imaginations, and dreams. You indwell my memories and the symbols in my heart. You indwell my desires and my will. Grant me gifts of faith and courage to rest in Your promise and stand in Your glory.
Comments Off on Crossing the Threshold of Self-Acceptance
by Sarah Groen-Colyn
“The true self is the self that abides in Christ and collaborates with Him, the justified new creation, the soul that is saved and lives eternally, which we joyfully and in great humility and thankfulness accept.” Restoring the Christian Soul, p. 26
Self-acceptance is an “authentic and necessary Christian virtue, one that is available to all who seek it” (Restoring the Christian Soul, p. 32). The journey from self-hatred to self-acceptance is the bridge over the line from immaturity into maturity, from being under the Law, a law, or many laws into the walk in the Spirit, and from listening to many voices (of the unhealed heart, the world, the flesh and the devil) into listening to God (RCS, p. 25). Why is self-acceptance absolutely necessary for life in Christ? Without it, we are unable to practice God’s presence. Self-hatred is the antithesis of self-acceptance, and puts us at odds with our God, for He wants to give us life even when we are still His enemies (Romans 5:6-11). “The acceptance of oneself, like all that is great and valid in the Christian faith, can never be a secondhand experience. We must, each of us, apprehend Christ and the fullness of His salvation for ourselves. To so apprehend Him is to come into our full uniqueness… ‘To me to live is Christ'” (RCS, pp. 53-54).
To meet His gaze we must be open to His view of us, and we must also be prepared for Him to see all of what is true about us in any given moment. Shame and self-hatred block honest dialog with our Father as we are motivated, often without realizing it, to censor and filter what we share with Him about our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Self-acceptance often begins with facing painful aspects of our selves and lives.
I recently had the privilege of providing pastoral care to a dear woman who began her journey to wholeness in just this way. Rosemary sought help to heal a toxic level of conflict in her marriage. Early in our conversations God highlighted deep-heart connections between this current strife and the wounds of insecurity and rejection in her childhood. I believe Rosemary’s condition at our first meeting is representative of many believers today: a faithful Christian, active in prayer, devotion, and service to Christ, yet burdened by shame and humiliated by her powerlessness to right the difficulties in her soul and relationships. As we talked, I could readily hear Rosemary’s self-hatred, as well as the plague of shame and its counter-balancing sin of pride that manifested in a critical spirit toward others.
The door to Rosemary’s healing journey was opened by the key of self-acceptance, and her entry into self-acceptance came through God’s gentle, merciful conviction of her own fallenness. As we prayed through some key wounding moments in her childhood – moments when her parents’ sin and failings misnamed and deprived her – God blessed her with a broken heart over her own grievous reactions to these sins. Almost simultaneously, as she cried out in sorrow over the ways she’d lived out of her wounds, wounding and dishonoring others, she heard her Father’s voice of acceptance for the first time. When shame and pride had blocked her from this true experience of prayer, she’d been unable to hear His blessing. But from this new place of humility, Rosemary received the healing word of truth from her Father: the sin patterns in her soul and relationships are not her true self, and the woman she truly is, and will be for all eternity, is good, loving and loved. Once Rosemary encountered this truth and crossed the threshold into self-acceptance, she began to dialog with God as a daughter who is accepted by Him and can therefore be open and honest with Him. Her prayers have become true conversation, her needs and flaws come into the light of mercy, and her desires are honored. By crossing this line into the journey of self-acceptance (a journey she will continue for the rest of her time in this world), Rosemary has gained access to all she needs to seek healing and wholeness in her soul, relationships, and ministry.
Like Rosemary, for any of us the first willful step into self-acceptance comes through knowing ourselves as fallen and in need of forgiveness through Christ. “The humility that acknowledges ourselves as truly fallen is a first priority in coming to accept ourselves… The humble acceptance of myself as fallen but now justified by Another who is my righteousness is the basis on which I can accept myself, learn to laugh at myself, be patient with myself. And then, wonder of wonders, be enabled for at least part of the time to forget myself” (RCS, p. 51). Acceptance of the self is best understood as a virtue because it will not be automatically acquired in the process of living but must be pursued and cultivated. Self-acceptance is born in the waters of baptism. As we rise in Christ’s life, we are empowered to seek freedom from the self-hatred and rejection of the true self that are endemic to the old man.
My husband is a civil engineer, and he works as a project manager for massive-budget bridge and tunnel building. I’ve learned the term “critical path” from him, which means the action that must happen in order for the project to stay on a successful trajectory. In the project of becoming a whole human being in Christ, and the project of becoming effective in ministry, self-acceptance is on the critical path. Why? First, because without self-acceptance we cannot truly practice God’s presence. As Rosemary discovered, aligning with God’s acceptance of her has ushered her into a new place of hearing His voice. And once a disciple can hear the Father’s voice, all manner of healing and becoming are possible! Secondly, self-acceptance is mission-critical because we cannot offer a love to others that we have not appropriated for ourselves. God has loved us while we were yet enemies, and even in the aspects of our lives and souls in which we are still estranged from Him, He freely pours out His life to us. As we drink deeply from this well, Christ’s life within becomes an increasingly potent source of living water that flows freely to others. As Rosemary practices His presence, she is discovering a more tender, compassionate, and wise love in her heart toward her husband and all those God calls her to minister to. It is the virtue of self-acceptance that enables us to “celebrate our inadequacy, our smallness, knowing Christ to be our full sufficiency” as well as to pass affirmation on to others, to “see and call forth the real person in others” (RCS, p. 41). Praise Father, Son and Holy Spirit, our Holy God who is making all things new!
I’ve recently been thinking of, and receiving more deeply of the virtue self-acceptance, which of course means I’ve been repenting more! It can be painful to see the pride that masquerades as humility, but to see and repent of that pride is a gift of grace. Pride makes its demands as “shoulds” and “oughts” – “I should have been better or done better. I don’t measure up; I lack.” We are born into a world where wounds of rejection by others, shame, and even rejection by ourselves have shaped us. We often see ourselves through the eyes of those who rejected us and we believe that is reality!
One day when praying with a client, I was given a picture of the soul with an internal measuring device, a thermometer of performance and worth. This indicated a sort of “spiritual schizophrenia” where the thermometer vacillated according to subjective assessments of the self. When this distorted self-image drives performance, we actually live cut off from self, engulfed in pride and shame, minding our own introspective standards, going deeper into the oppression of unworthiness. This self-hatred may emerge as judgmentalism, perfectionistic demands, preoccupation with undue guilt, fear of the future, feeling abandoned, and feeling that we don’t fit in.
Many Christians who have had wonderful experiences with God are still living with this terrible self-hatred. They are waiting for one more breakthrough so they can feel different, not recognizing that often they are blocked because they have not come to embrace the process of self-acceptance. Leanne Payne, in The Healing Presence, commenting on the failure to acquire the virtue of self-acceptance, wrote: “However much a person lives out of the diseased attitudes and feelings toward the self, to that extent he will fail to find and live from his true center where God dwells, speaks and empowers him.”
To bring this all to Christ and name it is powerful. What grace can then come from our repentance! We exchange that false humility for a genuine acceptance of ourselves – the true self now free to grow in the graces of Christlikeness and virtue of self-acceptance.
Our narrow, demanding measuring instrument is smashed, replaced by joyous abiding, daily learning to walk in the truth of who we are as Christ-bearers. We exchange our faulty internal measurements for His truth. We stop listening to the lies of the enemy who distorts and confuses us, and instead by renewing our minds, we listen for God’s healing word that transforms. We come to know that ” …He hath made us accepted in the beloved” (Eph. 1:6). His merciful esteem and acceptance of us in the Beloved changes our thoughts, feelings, and responses and empowers us to live from our true center.
Underpinning self-acceptance is growth in this virtue by faith, by the Word, and the Spirit, as we agree to be the persons we are created to be. This takes courage; this is no passive acceptance, but an active, courageous choice to listen to His voice when He tells us who we are. We then begin to enjoy a sense of belonging, of being loved, wanted, accepted, and cared for; we recognize our worth; and we expand our sense of being competent, that we are able to meet life as we need to because of His abiding presence.
By receiving His forgiveness deeply, we are enabled to forgive ourselves. Self-acceptance is a virtue both courageous and beautiful, a glorious acceptance in the Beloved. May we be listening for His voice, practicing His presence, abiding so that our internal thermometer is rendered inoperative in His light and through His Word. Come take this journey with me!