Seeking Joy Through the Fog

This season is teaching me a lot about what it means to trust God’s kindness and choosing to be still (yes, again).

A lot of it has to do with my long-neglected habit of stopping to count the gifts in my life, rather than spending my time entertaining the lies and fearful thoughts that cloud my mind.

You see, if I don’t sit still for a moment, things stay foggy.

Have you ever dealt with something for a long period of time and, instead of using your energy to keep fighting it off, you just subconsciously decide to welcome it as a part of you? Almost as an annoying friend you have to take with you everywhere?

That’s me and anxiety.

There are some days where I’m feeling ultra-victorious, when I’ve been encouraged and reminded of the victory I ultimately have in Jesus. And man oh man, on those days am I ever. But then there are other days when it just feels like too much. I feel I don’t have time or energy to fight. I’m tired – physically, emotionally, spiritually – and I just want to give up.

Do you ever feel like that? Like the fog just follows you?

Like fog tends to do, it makes your vision a bit hazy. When I welcome anxiety as a companion instead of seeing it as an enemy, I can’t see well at all. My circumstances look different and my motivations are off, which then leads me to see God through the lens of my circumstances and not through His promises.

Through the lens of the circumstances of my mental health, I see God as unfair. It feels He’s forgotten me, that my prayers are not heard, that He doesn’t want healing for my life. What a hopeless and lifeless place to be.

In His word, though, and through the little graces in my life – if I’ll only stop and ponder them – I’ll see that none of that is true. It’s where working on my faith comes in, where I have a choice to stop and remember.

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I have a sweet baby girl turning twirls in my tummy, who could make her debut any day now. What a gift, what an unfathomable grace to be her mama.

God promises me that He hears my prayers, and will deliver me from all my troubles (Psalm 34:17, 107:13).

My husband is the sweetest gift from God. He is calm when I tremble, sane when my hormones are everywhere, and patient when I am frustrated with lack of control. He fights for me daily and intentionally speaks words of life over my fears and insecurities. What a blessed gift to celebrate.

God promises me that His kindness and His peace will never leave me (Isaiah 54:10).

God has given me a reason for my pain, an outlet to use my brokenness for good. He’s set His vision for a ministry in my heart, and given me a team of women to lock arms with to share His freedom and peace with others. What an incredible opportunity, what a purpose-filled calling.

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Maybe today you find yourself in a tough situation. Maybe you’re struggling with something in your life, and nobody even knows. Maybe there’s a sorrow – a hollow pain – in your heart that longs to be filled with joy.

Can I speak something over you, my friend? You don’t have to stay there, in that dark place. You have the choice to find joy in the promises and presence of God.

You see, God never leaves His children. The realities of His kindness and His mercies may be fogged by our circumstances, but His light and His freedom are always there behind the haze – we just have to choose to find it.

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Part of being still is choosing to stop fighting and letting Him fight for us. Instead of giving up and giving into the struggles in our lives, we settle in and welcome His truths as holy weapons for our battles.

Let’s search for joy today – in His word and in the little gifts in our lives. Let’s take time to stop, breathe, and choose to believe in His promises, to let Him stir up the hope and peace in our hearts that we so long for.

Your Sickness is Not a Sentence

When looking forward to college, there are three things I definitely did not expect to happen. Yet on a rainy Monday morning as I sat in a chair across from a professional counselor, the words were spoken softly in tone but loudly to my vulnerable heart: OCD, anxiety disorder, and minor depression.

It turns out these three things have walked with me for a while and I just didn’t know. Scary, huh? As you can imagine, the days after were full of questions, fears, and shock. Well, shock and a lot of “ohhhhh, that’s why” moments.

It’s nice to have a name- or, names- for what I’ve been struggling with. But at the same time, it’s completely overwhelming. All of the symptoms and the diagnoses and the treatments in all their long lists and various severities just feel like a sentence.

It feels hopeless, all-consuming, permanent.  

In steps truth.

God is my healer, my protector, and my safety. My identity is not found in the three names that currently walk with me, but in the name of my holy and perfect Jesus. I am sick, yeah. But I am first and foremost a daughter of God and nothing can take that away from me.

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 “Praise the Lord, o my soul, and forget not all His benefits- who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion.” Psalm 103:2-4, emphasis mine

He brings light into all darkness, goodness into all bad news, and this is no exception.

These things are hard, yeah. They come with things that I can’t control and things that make me mad. But God is still using it. He’s using these things to grow my faith in Him and to help others who struggle with the same issues.

He’s also teaching me how to be thankful for the way I am and how He designed me, despite the ‘disorder’ my flesh has created. He’s teaching me to redirect my tendency to obsess to being obsessed with being more in love with Him. He’s showing me how to use my love of lists and need for structure to help in building His church.

I find my hope not in the possible treatments and medicines and doctors, but in the One who created me and has a plan for my life.

In the name of Jesus, OCD, depression, and anxiety have no power over me. I do not belong them, nor am I a slave to them. I am free in Jesus.

That is good news. For me and for you.

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I don’t know what’s going on with you right now. Maybe it’s something similar to what I’m walking through or maybe it’s something else.

Wherever you are today – happy or sad, content or dissatisfied, lost or found, strong in faith or doubtful – hear this: your sin, your sickness, your deepest darkest issue, and your most shameful hurt is not too big for God.

He delights in showing mercy. He is our healer and our safe place. He longs to bless us. He bears our burdens with us. And He will never, ever leave.

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As you probably assume, this post was hard for me to write and even harder for me to publish. Vulnerability is something that I continually have to work on and, especially in times like this, I can find so many reasons not to share. But God asks it of me, so I show up and write what I can.

It is my hope that God spoke to someone through this post. It is also my hope that we would all be willing to pray for each other in all the issues we face.

I ask that you pray for me during this time. For healing, yes. But more importantly that God is glorified above all else and that He’ll use this situation for good. In return, I’d love to pray for you. Feel free to reach out in the comments; I’d love to know how to be praying for you as well.

Accepting His Gifts

I went to class as I’m (for now) in the habit of doing. I sat in my seat and watched as people came in, one by one. My professor sat down and cracked open a small book and started class by reading a prayer – one that spoke to my heart so beautifully with every word.

“Teach me, O God, not to torture myself, not to make a martyr out of myself through stifling reflection, but rather teach me to breathe deeply in faith.”

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I’d never heard something that pinned me so well.

You might’ve noticed I haven’t been here in a while (and trust me, with an uplifted spirit, new glasses, and a red tint to my hair, I’m glad to be back). Part of staying quiet was just not being able to discern what God wanted me to write about, being that I was learning so much and healing so intently that I couldn’t imagine where to begin. Most of it was because I needed the quiet to process and heal.

If I’ve learned anything about myself over the past few months, it’s that my mind is all kinds of screwed up. I can start with a thought and five minutes later I’m completely anxious and nearly shaken at the made-up scenarios and thoughts in my head.

Sometimes God has to even remind me that it’s okay to be joyful in the good things He’s provided. I’m an over-thinker, vulnerable to confusion and disorder in this mind that’s constantly spinning. The Anxiety is real and comes with a mission.

It’s so wonderful how God works in the most personal ways. This prayer, probably randomly chosen by my professor this morning, spoke to my situation and my healing process that I’m currently in – and perfectly matches the phrase God’s written on my heart for this season of life.

Breathe in My blessing. Breathe out My praise.

Accept His blessing and make Him known for it. To glorify Him, I must first acknowledge what He’s given and accept it as a gift.

That’s hard for me.

I guess what I’ve been mostly wrestling with these past few weeks is the idea of being blessed with a gift from God that I’ve been waiting for. I’ve had my desires match up with God’s plenty of times, just never in this capacity. Following what I want, even when it’s what God wants, sometimes feels selfish, like trusting myself, and too good to be true.

It’s in the moments when I believe those lies in my soul that I question my intentions and why God would ever want what I want.

You are probably thinking, “that sounds completely screwed up,” to which I would completely agree. Herein lies the problem.

But God.

He’s constantly showing up and calming my heart. Healing me each day at a time, I’m seeing clearer and walking in more confidence. He’s faithful to speak truth to me again and again, even when I’m doubting Him and His goodness over and over. I doubt His willingness and desire to bless me with good things, and there He is again blessing me even more. He’s helping me to remember that it’s not about what I’ve done but who He is.

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!

Isaiah 30:18, emphasis mine

Can I just say what a beautiful Father we have? I’m constantly amazed. I don’t know if anyone else deals with this struggle like I do, but it was on my heart to share. If you’re with me on this, I hope you’re encouraged today that He wants to bless us far past what we’d ever begin to feel worthy of.

Maybe you don’t deal with this particular struggle, but still face The Anxiety in other ways.

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below! What verses do you cling to when The Anxiety hits? Do you struggle with the idea of blessing?