The Total Eclipse and the Rapture

Awhile back there were murmurs that this eclipse was special. Special in a apocalyptic-Jesus-is-coming-back sort of way. I was going to look into it, but I decided that if He was coming back I’d let Him surprise me.

The Rapture: the experience anticipated by some fundamentalist Christians, of meeting Christ midway in the air upon His return to earth.

I’m a bit jaded when it comes to talk of Jesus returning. It started in 1988 with a book titled, ’88 Reasons Why the Rapture will be in 1988′. The title alone sounds like something from the pages of the Enquirer and seriously should have been a big clue that nothing was going to happen.

Edgar C. Whisenant (September 25, 1932 – May 16, 2001), was a former NASA engineer and Bible student who predicted the Rapture would occur in 1988, sometime between Sept. 11 and Sept. 13. He published two books about this, 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988 and On Borrowed Time.

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Sadly, I wasn’t the only one in my evangelical circle to eat this book up. There was a frenzy of talk in my church and everything was gearing up for the return of Jesus. The author believed that God revealed to him when Jesus would return. It was to be during the Jewish festival of Rosh Hashanah starting September 11, 1988.

Matthew 24:36 King James Version (KJV)

36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

Why I would believe some schmuck who wrote a book with a cheesy title and not the bible I don’t know. I got caught up in the frenzy.

It was a depressing year for me as I looked around and wondered who would go and who would stay. I was obsessed. Everyone I crossed paths with had me worrying if they would go or not. All I could see were the walking dead. People that would be left behind to face a torment so terrible it made me a little mental just to think about it.

As the week of September 11th neared my anxiety was through the roof. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go which must sound odd coming from a believer, but I was only 25 and there was so much living I still wanted to do. I felt immensly guilty for not warning everyone about the coming apocalypse. If I truly believed this was going to happen, and I did, why wasn’t I out warning the world.

When September arrived the waiting was excruciating. September 11th came and I watched and waited for the moment to happen. When Rosh Hashanah was over I still waited. What if the revelation was off by a month, two months, three? What if it was Rosh Hashanah 1989? 1990? 1991, etc?

Every year for years I would become anxious around Rosh Hashanah. Then it was Y2K and another prophecy that Jesus was coming. When Obama became president there was talk that he was the anti-Christ and his rule would see the end of the world. The next big event was in 2012 with the end of the Mayan calendar. I watched and waited. Then there was the 2016 election and when Trump was elected I again felt that old worry flare up.  Maybe Jesus comes, maybe He doesn’t.

So, here I am on the day of the great eclipse. Michael, the man I love and live with, picked up a couple of sheets of welders glass to safely view the eclipse. We sit on the deck out back with our protective eyewear and a drink. He’s drinking Keith’s Pale Ale and I’m drinking Jose Cuervo’s Classic Margarita in a glass rimmed with salt. Before the eclipse is fully underway Michael suggests we watch it naked.

“Why?” I ask.

“Why not? It’s not every day you can watch an eclipse naked”

We strip down and sit in the heat of a sunny day and enjoy the moment.

But in the back of my mind I’m wondering if this is it. I joke with Michael about the possibility that the rapture might happen.

“When this is over, if I suddenly disappear I just want you to know what happened.” I giggle.

I giggle partly because I think it’s ridiculous and partly because I’m anxious. He knows what I’m talking about and grins, saying nothing.

“Now, if the rapture happens and I’m still here, then I seriously over-estimated my relationship with God. I don’t want you to think I’m being cocky.”

We watch the eclipse together sipping our drinks, in our birthday suits, in total awe of this spectacular moment. I tell Michael that I wouldn’t have watched the eclipse if not for him. He smiles. We sit there for a while watching the moon pass the sun.

“I’m still here! I have to check the news!”

Michael just shakes his head as I pull up the news on the internet and I realize that I was not left behind. Another false alarm.

I have to wonder why Jesus would pick this particular time to return. In a world more Godless than ever doesn’t He want His ambassadors spreading the good news? Isn’t this the ideal time for us to be here? Shouldn’t we want to be here?

We are so focussed on Jesus returning that we forget to live in the moment and touch the lives around us. There is so much we can do to show the world why we believe.

Matthew 25:35-36 New International Version (NIV)

35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

This is what Jesus wants the world to see. His love in us. Taking care of the needy, loving our neighbour as ourselves. Maybe, God is waiting for us to step up to the plate, so when He sends His Son it will be to find His people worthy of the Rapture.

Our Distorted View of the World

Don't Believe Everything You ThinkOptimism can feel like too much work when you’re mentally ill. Our brain is constantly thinking, reacting to the information our senses and emotions send. Sometimes our thinking gets skewed, and we look at everything through a distorted lens. Distortions hold us back from living a full life. Knowing what those distortions are can help us change our thoughts.

 

Cognitive Distortions

1. All or Nothing

    “I’m either a success or a failure.”

If you can’t do it all, why bother trying? Trying something new is a success in itself. Life isn’t all-or-nothing. Would it be a disaster if you tried and failed?

2. Mind Reading

    “They probably think I’m incompetent.”

The truth is you’re not a mind-reader. You can’t possibly know what they think of you and your abilities. Where is the proof     this statement is true?

3. Emotional Reasoning

    “I feel inadequate, therefore, I am inadequate.”

You are not your feelings. Think about past successes and don’t tell me you don’t have any.

4. Personalization

    “They were talking about me when they made that comment.”

This is one of my personal favourites. I’m sensitive, so if you say something negative, I assume you’re talking about me. Oh wait a minute, it’s not always about me, is it? If you think someone’s comment is about you, ask them. Stay calm, no tears, the answer most likely will surprise you.

5. Global Labelling

    “Everything I do turns out wrong.”

Really! Everything? This can’t possibly be true even if it feels real to you. Depending on where you are in your life, you might be setting yourself up for failure. You expect yourself to go to the gym, but in reality, all you can manage is a walk to the shower? Keep your expectations realistic.

6. Catastrophizing

    “If I go to the party, there will be terrible consequences.”

What is the worst thing that could happen? What are you worried about? If you go, have an exit strategy so you don’t feel trapped. Maybe you will stay home because you’re not ready yet. In my case, I would stay home because I don’t like parties, but sometimes I stay home because I don’t want to deal with it.

7. ‘Should’ statements

    “I should visit my family every time they want me to.”

Remove ‘should’ from your vocabulary. Every time you use the word ‘should’, your self-esteem takes a hit. We grow up knowing there are expectations for how we conduct our lives. You are an adult, you should live life on your terms. Mental illness is a battlefield and you are fighting for your life. Do what you need to do to stay on the road to wellness.

8. Over-generalization

    “Everything always goes wrong for me.”

See #5. It feels like everything goes wrong, everyone doesn’t understand, all your dreams are lost. You’re in a dark place, so of course everything looks hopeless. It won’t always look so bleak.

9. Control Fallacies

    “If I’m not in complete control, I will lose control.”

You will be okay if you are not in complete control. If you think you will lose control, make a plan to call a friend, a crisis line or 911.

10, Comparing

      “I am not as competent as my co-workers or supervisors.”

How do you know? There will always be someone better than you, that is true of everyone except for a few. Comparing yourself to others is self-defeating.

11. Heaven’s Reward

      “If I do everything perfectly here, I will receive my reward later.”

God doesn’t expect you to do everything perfectly, so give yourself a break. You don’t want to set  yourself up for failure. If you did everything perfectly you wouldn’t be human. If God doesn’t expect it, neither should you.

12. Disqualifying the Positive

      “This successful experience was a fluke. The compliment was false.”

Do you find yourself downplaying compliments and then taking criticisms to heart? When someone compliments you, just say thank you. You don’t need to explain why you don’t deserve a compliment, embrace it and realize someone sees you differently than you see yourself.

13. Perfectionism

      “If I don’t do this perfectly, I’m a failure.” There’s that word again, perfect. See #1.

14. Time-tripping

       “I screwed up the past, and now I am vigilant to secure the future.”

All of us have screwed up at one time or another. Leave the past behind you, and focus on living in the moment. Living in the moment or mindfulness, is difficult to do, but it is worth the effort. Dwelling on the past and worrying about the future won’t help heal you.

15. Objectifying the Subjective

      “I believe people will like me if I’m funny, so if I believe it, it is true.”

Be yourself. There are people who will like you just the way you are. How awesome is that?

16. Selective Abstraction

      “All the good men have married.”

 There are a few good men left, and a few good women, too. All is not lost.  If all the good ones are gone, we don’t have to try, and if we don’t have to try, we will never be vulnerable. Don’t retreat into your shell, you are not a turtle. Being vulnerable is difficult for everyone. You deserve to have a full life.

17. Externalization of Self-worth

      “My worth is dependent upon what others think of me.”

Silly brain, stop it! There has never been nor will there ever be someone like you. There is only one truly amazing, unique, wonderfully made you! I think that makes you valuable, don’t you?

18. Fallacy of the Change of Others

      “You should change your behaviour because I want you to, it will make me happy and I will feel better.”

You, and only you, are responsible for your happiness. No one can make you happy, sad, angry, etc. On the flip side, you are not responsible for someone else’s happiness.

19. Fallacy of Worrying

      “If I worry about it enough, the problem will resolve itself.”

,Worrying is like a tape replaying in your head, making you sick.Try channeling your worry by trying to come up with a way to resolve it sooner.

20. Ostrich Technique

      “If I ignore it, it will go away.”

Trust me, it never goes away. If you put your head in the sand, the problem will still be there niggling away at the back of your mind. Don’t put it off. Deal with it       and you will feel better. You will have to deal with it sooner or later, so make it sooner and it’s done.

21. Unrealistic Expectations

      “I can never be less than my best.”

Keep your expectations reasonable. What is reasonable will change as you get better. You want to set your self up for success. Today you took a shower. Yay, you! It is not reasonable to expect yourself to run a marathon when you can barely get out of bed.

22. Filtering

      “I must focus on the negative details while I ignore the positive aspects of a situation.”

See #12. It is so easy to see the negative when you’re in a dark place. Finding the positive takes more work but you’ll be glad you did.

23. Being Right

      “I must prove that I am right, being wrong is unthinkable.”‘

Not true. There is no shame in being wrong, people are wrong all the time. Apologize and move on. Making mistakes is a part of being human, being perfect is not, so go with the flow. Try to avoid becoming the person who thinks they’re right when clearly they’re wrong.

24. Fallacy of Attachment

      “I can’t live without a partner. If I was in a relationship, all of my problems would be solved.”

See #18. Solving your problems starts with you. Wanting someone in your life is a better option, than needing someone in your life. Being alone doesn’t mean being lonely, get to know yourself. Think of it as an adventure where you get to discover yourself. You might find your own company tremendously enjoyable. Now wouldn’t that be lovely?

The Distortions and their statements are from the Oakville-Trafalgar Memorial Hospital Out-patient mental health program. The commentaries are my own.

I was in this program three or four times, so I understand this material, but putting it into practise is still difficult. The path to wellness  can feel like one step forward, two steps back, some days. When you’re in the depths of despair, nothing feels possible. This list is meant as a guide, to make you aware of the distortions in your mind.

Some of us take baby steps and some of us can run, but we are all headed towards