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Facing Our Issues Together

Written by Tom Gage

July 18, 2014

There are issues we facebook. And there are issues we face.

My last Facebook status update was a wry sarcastic quip about going up a shirt size. I got, like, 20 likes.

Everyone has issues. It’s true. You do, too. But that’s okay, because like I just said, we all do, and because we have issues, we need Jesus.

The Life Project recently launched a brand new mentoring initiative called Issues I Face, designed to meet people in their struggles, to build relationships with them, and ultimately point them to the strength that we have in Jesus Christ. Hazelle Schenk is The Life Project’s editorial manager. “It’s very simple. It started with five issues,” she says of the new website. “The whole premise is there are issues you face, but we face them too.”

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

The whole premise is there are issues you face, but we face them too.

Tia Glenn-Cooke is a member of the initiative’s content team. “We were thinking, ‘What are the issues we have faced in our lives, especially those that have helped us get to know Christ,’” she explains. “For me, [it] was depression. So I wrote a piece about my issue from a place of firsthand experience without really filtering what that experience is like for me.” (You can find Tia’s article here)

For Tia, her very real experience with clinical depression has brought her to a place of complete reliance on God that she commemorates with a tattoo of an anchored heart, referencing St. Augustine’s Amor meus pondus meum. “Love is what keeps me grounded,” she explains. “God is Love. And it is that love which keeps me from floating off into despair and apathy.” Although she is very open about her experience, she admits that it is difficult for her to take anybody seriously on the subject of clinical depression who has not also struggled with it. There’s a perspective that comes from crossing through the valley of the shadow of death that is richer than merely observing it from the surrounding mountains.

When readers get to the site, they can click a button, “I face [depression, for example].” They fill out a submission form, entering their name and email address, that is sent to the team at Issues I Face. From there, a mentor who has firsthand experience in that particular issue gets in touch with the reader and starts a conversation. “We want them to be able to connect with a mentor who can empathize with them,” Tia says.

Since its launch in May of this year, Issues I Face has accumulated 9,067 page views. In the past week, they averaged 359 visits every day, and at least one in ten of their visitors ended up contacting a mentor!

NO MAGIC PILLS

We live in a culture that tries to photoshop our lives.

Michael Jantzen is another writer who opened up about his struggles to make his blended family work. “I talked about how that’s really challenging,” he says. “Marriage is hard, but when you add a blended family situation, it exponentially increases in difficulty… But I don’t talk about us being perfect or anything. That’s not the point of this site.”

Jantzen explains that Jesus isn’t shown to be “this magic pill” that will fix everything in life. “We live in a culture that tries to photoshop our lives,” he says. “When we show the raw and the real picture of what it’s really like, the people who read it say, ‘Oh wait a second, this is real, and yeah, I have big problems too…’ I think that’s a part of the power of [Issues I Face].”

“I think most of us are longing for a place where we can be totally open, take off the mask and say, ‘This is who I am, warts and all,’” Jantzen says. “And some rare churches have that experience, or small groups, or one-on-one relationships among Christians. But I think we are really lacking it.”

STRENGTH IN WEAKNESS

We don’t need a saviour because we’re strong. We don’t need a redeemer because we’ve got it all together. We don’t need a refuge because we’ve got great DIY skills (for the record, I really don’t—although my wife’s pretty good).

“What depression means is that I have chemicals in my brain that are screwed up, not that Jesus isn’t in my heart!”

We believe in the God of the broken, of the humble, and of the weak; we believe in a God who doesn’t ask us to put on a brave face and pretend that our life’s cracks don’t exist, but who meets us when we’re on our knees, shattered into a billion pieces and helps put us back together. He is our strength, our hope, and our refuge. In a crazy way, our issues are His glory. So why do we hide them?

“One of the guys on our team,” Tia says, “he used to be addicted to porn and he even says that that’s something that probably will always be a temptation for him. That doesn’t make him less of a Christian. It means that he gets to continually rely on Christ to redeem him and to fight that temptation.”

“Jesus didn’t make my depression go away,” Tia says, “and I don’t expect that He will make my mentees’ depression go away. He might, but he might not. The main thing is that He is the place to go when it’s hard.”

COMMUNITY

That’s what it’s about in the end, isn’t it? Building a genuine community where people really care because they really know you. To be encouraged, or to have people cry with you or celebrate alongside, that’s only a part of it. What better form of encouragement is there on this rocky road than to get a glimpse of other people stumbling around and still making it up the hill? Nothing gave me more hope for my marriage than hearing stories of couples who had petty fights or faced mountains of trouble and still rocked at marriage.

“I’ve seen more mature Christians than I face the same things that I’ve faced in my life and seen them make it through,” says Tia. “And I hope that our team can show that depression isn’t the end, job loss isn’t the end, an identity crisis isn’t the end, that you can make it through these issues.”

Would you be interested in sharing your story and connecting with others? The Life Project needs more mentors at Issues I Face. Click here to contact them.

There are Issues you face. We face them too.


2 Responses to “Facing Our Issues Together”

  • Sharon says:

    good article I just went through something where I got support it was good to have and knowing that I wasn’t alone thank you God

  • keijo leppioja says:

    Yes and amen for freedom and victory from issues today in many believer life in to harm and give hard life ,but the lord will know our troubles and send help from above by the angels host or someone who can pray and speak kindful encourage to not be worry or doubt in life problem ,but move on in Jesus name,thanks and bless,keijo sweden

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