Seven Dwarfs That Reflect Real Life

Not long ago I saw a colorful, captivating picture on a doctor’s office wall. It was clearly a parody of Disney’s movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Snow White
(Image from Pixabay)

Remember those jolly little round, robust fellows who whistled, worked, and walked home singing catchy tunes? Good ol’ Doc . . .

  • Grumpy
  • Happy
  • Sleepy
  • Bashful
  • Sneezy
  • Dopey

They seemed to make life a bit lighter wherever they went.

The picture on the wall was titled “The Seven Dwarfs of Despair.” I read their names:

  • Spacey
  • Lonely
  • Empty
  • Guilty
  • Worry
  • Angry
  • Gloomy

For a number of reasons, there was comfort in that picture—life isn’t always the happiest place on earth.

I have to admit; on many occasions I feel more like the despairing dwarfs than Snow White. There are days when I do feel . . .

  • Spacey
  • Lonely
  • Worried
  • Angry
  • Gloomy
  • Irritated that my brain functions differently than “typical” brains

Wonderfully Flawed

We are fearfully and wonderfully made and also fearfully and wonderfully flawed. That includes everyone on EARTH! Sometimes by choice, sometimes by life, sometimes by genetics, and sometimes allowed by God.

I seem to have a good mixture of it . . . these daily challenges which can get messy without taking it all to Jesus.

I learned that unless the Lord allows differently, I will always struggle with PTSD, generalized anxiety, ADD, and seasons of depression.

The “ups and downs” are often manageable, but not always. Last week, for example, I felt more worried, spacey, and gloomy than I did happy, sleepy—and for sure, bashful is not in my vocabulary.

Let me just say to those who are enduring despair or suffering, I’m so sorry. I’m here for you—I understand!

You will NEVER hear me say words like the following, which often add to our pain rather than comfort.  I, and perhaps you, have heard a few of these . . .

  • You don’t have enough faith.
  • There must be sin in your life.
  • Just pray more.
  • God heals those who trust Him. You must not be trusting the Lord.
  • If you would just do ____ or _____, you would be fine.
  • Aren’t you past that yet?
  • Some people use sickness as an excuse for getting attention.
  • God helps those who help themselves.
  • Well, at least you don’t have _____.
  • Maybe you need to try a different diet.

While most are said innocently and sincerely, they reflect a need to “fix” people rather than endure their trials with them. After all, life isn’t all about “you, you, you.” However, what does help is to reframe our perspective on mental health and suffering.

A Thorn in the Flesh

Paul the apostle was a master at this. Imagine if Paul confided in you about his “thorn in the flesh.” I wonder, would you say any of those things to Paul the apostle? He unashamedly spoke about his “thorn in the flesh” in 2 Corinthians 12:7.

The passage says his suffering was a “messenger of Satan” used to “torment” Paul.

In spite of Paul’s pleading with God to remove the thorn, God didn’t. Yes, our good, loving Savior and Lord allowed Paul’s enormous, debilitating pain to remain in his life (Galatians 4:12–15).

How do we make sense of that? How would you respond to that?

Having studied the brain’s functions and connections, I’ve learned there are countless reasons people struggle.

For example, have you ever considered those with PTSD who are not war veterans? A number of statistics reveal the following:

  • 70% of adults in the U.S. have experienced some type of traumatic event at least once in their lives. That’s 223.4 million people.
  • Up to 20% of these people go on to develop PTSD. As of today, that’s 31.3 million people who did or are struggling with PTSD.
  • An estimated 8% of Americans—that’s 24.4 million people—have PTSD at any given time.
  • An estimated 1 out of 10 women develops PTSD; women are about twice as likely as men.
  • Among people who are victims of a severe traumatic experience 60 to 80% will develop PTSD.
  • Almost 50% of all outpatient mental health patients have PTSD.
  • Somewhat higher rates of this disorder have been found to occur in African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans compared to Caucasians in the United States.

In Combat:

  • Lifetime occurrence (prevalence) of PTSD in combat veterans is 10 to 30%.
  • In the past year alone the number of diagnosed cases in the military jumped 50%—and that’s just diagnosed cases.
  • Studies estimate that 1 in every 5 military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan has PTSD.
  • 15 to 43% of girls and 14 to 43% of boys will experience a traumatic event.
  • 3 to 15% of girls and 1 to 6% of boys will develop PTSD.
  • As many as 30 to 60% of children who have survived specific disasters have PTSD.
  • According to the National Center for PTSD: “Rates of PTSD are much higher in children and adolescents recruited from at-risk samples. The rates of PTSD in these at-risk children and adolescents vary from 3 to 100%.”
  • 3 to 6% of high school students in the U.S. who survive specific disasters develop PTSD.
  • More than 33% of youths exposed to community violence will experience PTSD.
  • According to the National Center for PTSD: “Studies have shown that as many as 100% of children who witness a parental homicide or sexual assault develop PTSD. Similarly, 90% of sexually abused children, 77% of children exposed to a school shooting, and 35% of urban youth exposed to community violence develop PTSD.”
  • According to The Effects of High Stress on the Brain and Body in Adolescents1Public domain, http://www.ptsd.va.gov/index.asp report from Yale, stress is believed to contribute to the physical and behavioral health problems of adolescents. Of adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17, 2.3 % have fair or poor health, 5% miss 11 or more days of school because of illness or injury, 10% have smoked cigarettes, and 17% have used alcohol; of adolescents between ages 12 and 19, 18% are overweight. Stress also impacts cognitive functioning, diminishing concentration, memory, attention, and decision-making capabilities.
Kids

(Image from Pixabay)

Identifying Our Struggles

As we see in the statistics above, many conditions are unrelated to warfare but rather to life in general:

  • Abuse
  • Fear
  • Disasters
  • Trauma on many levels
  • Genetic abnormalities
  • Insufficient vitamin intake
  • Sleep
  • Stress

Anxiety can come from a tremendously unstable environment rife with abuse, fear, bullying, or genetics connected to ADD. This could also cause a great deal of anxiety, food intolerance, insufficient vitamin absorption, or metabolism malfunction.

Depression can be triggered by anything from environmental or seasonal issues to toxic substance interference, lack of sleep, genetics, unending caregiving demands, hormones, or major life changes.

With so many possible causes of trauma and suffering, we are all susceptible, and we should all be more compassionate toward those who are suffering.

For whatever reason, most Christians who have somehow escaped personal suffering seem to believe if they can “name it and claim it,” we who are suffering can control it. Those who cannot control it are at fault.

Can’t we ONCE AND FOR ALL QUIT THIS BLAME GAME! Stop blaming those who struggle; instead, try loving and serving people who are challenged. Serving is far more difficult. Loving without blaming or dismissing is a necessary skill—a virtue—that needs to be developed.

Paul told us God allowed the pain to humble him and keep him dependent on his Savior rather than relying on his incredible gifts and intellect.

Pain and dependence knock pride out of our lives when we’re willing to accept what God allows. God has allowed my disabling emotional and physical conditions, my children’s enormous pain, and my son’s disabilities for a purpose.

All this continues to transform my soul. Not a day passes without dependence upon my Lord to do His work. Not a day passes when the Lord isn’t honored and glorified as I serve Him. It’s all Him, not me.

Where do you stand on accepting others who struggle, are different, or present challenges you don’t understand? Struggles may be from a thorn God has allowed: a disease, a wayward child—whatever reveals our need for a Savior.

Some may be given a “thorn in the flesh” which Christ never defined specifically. This leaves room for a lot of misunderstanding if we are not careful.

Some may be suffering or acting differently due to invisible challenges or trauma.

Do you have a tendency to label or distance yourself from those you can’t “fix”? We were never meant to fix others, so resign from that position. Instead, consider that there are countless reasons why someone may be struggling. Come alongside them by asking what they need, and allow God to use you as He wills.

For those in pain, remember Paul’s thorn and know that God is present in your circumstances. And most important, remember, there’s hope in the grace and goodness of God.  David declared, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 43:5, NIV).

Let Me Hear from You

If you are free from ongoing challenges, ask the Lord how He wants to use you in others’ lives.

Now is a good time to look into Scripture and see how God lived among those who hated Him.

What is your greatest struggle with those who are in a season of suffering? Can you sit with them and listen instead of giving cliché answers?

What are some of your most pressing challenges? Where are you struggling the most with pain? What has you feeling that God has let you down? Will trusting Him make things better or worse?  I invite you to let the Reframing blog and social media stir up thoughts and questions.

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Notes:   [ + ]

1. Public domain, http://www.ptsd.va.gov/index.asp
  • So

    Hello dear Colleen, I have missed you so much too. The radio station I listen His Radio.com is amazing and supportive in prayer and truly a ministry for so many listeners. There is a program in afternoon that is “in the living room” and a sweet gal Erica always says, “you are so loved”, and that is what comes to my heart here, that Colleen you are so Loved! I love you! I did receive your post yesterday and I was so thrilled that God opened us up to each other again after what seems like a long while. I could hear, like you can in me too at times, I can hear through your writing a renewed calm, a peace and quiet that from what you shared and my insight I believed it from all the good that you are doing with you and Jon, the massage and all the lymphatic moving you say has been successful. I am so happy to hear this for you. I would love to know what you have been doing for this lymphatic movement. I eat beets cooked in am, and sip warm water during days and exercise by walking. I will be biking soon too. The house is the problem for me for sure. When I was away I so did not wish to return, the thorn in my flesh , to come back I have continued a Christian music mediation each and every morning and that is amazing time for me to be with only Jesus, and to give me that time to connect with him ,dialogue,worship,praise, and embrace , He is the most glorious and filled with incredible Love and LIght for me. I know that you relate so well to me, I am always grateful and express my thanks to God in every prayer in my days for you and extend to a Blessing requested for you and Jon and your family. I find it amazing as well that here I was and have been thinking through exactly what you have posted here, and even before looking up your blog I was online finding a support group for PTSD ,that is not only for veterans. I have personally struggled with this feeling like I have fallen through the cracks of a system that favors one population, and do not get me wrong I honor and respect every military soldier, it is sometimes it is discouraging for me to be excluded from some amazing healing opportunities, the latest and greatest of research and programming that I would be there asap if civilians included. THe range as you have set forth here is astounding really, all what I have been praying to find a way to bring this message outward. I even had written a letter to our President prior to his office stating that there are many especially woman who are not working and majority are not having the services available for PTSD ,and to please address this core issue to help all with PTSD function first and then assist to what abilities to serve will come. I struggle mostly with being different, I have insights that others do not,a sensitivity that I see more than others give me credit I feel, and at same time all this information coming in and then the smirk or smile, or shunning with smirk, or feeling laughed at are probably the most disturbing to me and most hurtful that someone even of a high status, an attorney or someone who claims to be Christian and a developer that probably millionaire can mock and smirk to not be available to someone with PTSD , I have learned there are those with compassion, true goodness,and God has been surrounding me with those like you Colleen and I am so grateful. I continue to search for an attorney with compassion, I pray and left prayer with His Radio prayer team for God to provide whether it be a Faithful Attorney or how to cleanse and purify my house of mold and remedy all repairs for a livable and healthful condition. This is what I need. Truly Peace from our Glorious Father is key for me to sustain, so that would be first, that my mind remain clear and I am not living in this earthly distraction and to continue my focus on HIs love for me, and that He will provide because he is faithful and with God nothing is impossible. So I have prayer to God for a miracle to bring this to be right. And surround me with those that are of his goodness and Love. I pray too that our Lord continue to shield me from the effects of mold as I have skirted any severe health issue really from my living in this space, especially recently with Mayo Clinic. I even did discontinue all herbs. I have one herb triphala from Life spa that continues to help with allergies and it works on the gut lining and helps eliminate toxins from small intestine. THe herbs are not any type of laxative, they are very gentle and healing herbs in this formula. I find if I eat the beet cooked every morning I am at my best and also exercise and if I can have a better surrounding I will be beyond estatic and beyond the inflammation which is the allergy to mold when it surfaces as symptom. I am positive it is the house that has kept me from moving forward with my full completion of healing. The lonliness seems to lessen with my embracing our Lord in my presence, the goal is to get around this attorney need, to have God deliver what or how to remedy my home will help me tremendously let all this go. I do agree it has kept me dependent on our Lord, and I would not ever want to loose my connection,although I so do pray for his releasing the thorn from my flesh for my divine purpose to grow like a branch or vine of fruits to the waters edge with more freeing of this painful situation. The wait is most tiresome part and I have noticed I do better with no physical symptoms when all seems to be moving forward, so I do make effort now to keep reminding myself of the higher perspective over my life, as you have noted so many times that I would have responded to some of these issues so differently three years ago, and to see how GOd “is” so working his way with crafting me like a piece of wood in every way, in every area of my life. I was introduced to scripture by His Radio I want to share because I believe I found my favorite scripture in this, Numbers 6 24-26, “THe Lord bless you and keep you. the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace”. and the other scripture I found myself and know a clinging favorite of scripture for me right now is Luke 23:46
    “Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.”. I ask every morning for our Father to shine his face on me and give me peace and that I into his hands commit my spirit. Amazing Father we have. I also like 2 Tim 1:12, “….But I am not ashamed because I know the one in whom my faith is set and I am convinced that he is able to protect what has been entrusted to me until that day”. I did want to share something else Colleen, with regards to relations. I had to not return a call recently that came late after my trip to Mayo Clinic, an old friend who I had been speaking to from my town I grew up, I let her know of my apt and concerns and she never called at Christmas, my bday or to see how that apt was. I had similar issue with another female friend, although I have realized these are not true friends for me of goodness of God, I found that I had attracted colder females as friends, and when I recently heard a voicemail from one of them it was about their interests, no question of how did I make out at the Mayo Clinic rather how is the house and I know that she wanted me to have my house repairs so I could go live with her , that was what she had shared months back and when I heard that voicemail her asking me to call her was for her own interests. That did bother me for I really did not care to find out this imperfection of self interest and without insight of compassion for me that I so hoped in this friendship. I found also manipulative in some ways as she wanted me to live with her as she taking care of her mom,but she wanted me there so help her with her mom, and i did not want to live there, but her being from the northern state, she would put down the south as there are no good drs here and she mocked where i live, for again her intersts.There were also many of what you have described,continously analyzing why i have the house hardship,and some relational issues, is it something God not happy with she would anaylyze, and found that fixing pattern i steer further from now that i am more aware,and i think she is a good hearted person, it just was that i do not wish to have a lecture but a friend to just be and pray with me and allow God to do his work ,and just as you have described that it humbled “david” was it that you mentioned here, to keep him dependent on God, whatever the reason there is a purpose but to love each other and find the joys rather than strain the relation with analyzing and “blaming”. I truly have grown so much I chose to place my energy with more healthful situations with those of His goodness and love and compassion more and more. even if It turns me back to only one, Jesus in my life. SO I say all this as where do we compromise, where is it the PTSD not wanting to call her back for reasons of not wanting to be hurt, where is it healthy to step out more. My thought was if it did not seem of His goodness and “intentions of good” consciously and caringly of me,then I could not respond to call back. I do find myself very comforted to know Jesus is with me and Loves me and the void of lonliness lessens although it is healthful for me to find more and more relations that are healthful and respectful and balanced with compassion mutually,and if not that we can speak of anything. THat is a dialogue that we have found, we can speak about anything and it is okay always. When i begin bicycling i am going to be taking part in rides and looking to connect with others that love Gods beauty of nature and wellness,and see how that fares for me. I am optimistic,another thing I so pray to continue keeping my mental thoughts postivie and optimistic.
    I so loved reading your blog as I always have, and I am so very happy that we connected.
    Much love your way and for Jon and your new path of wellness, refreshing and revitalizing every cell that God created sounds wonderful .
    WIth Love Sand