I know it has been a very long time since I have written anything on here. It’s not for lack of trying. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve sat down over the last few months to try to write even just a little something, and then I’ve ended up staring at the screen for an hour with not a single thought that I felt I should put into writing. I didn’t know what to write. I have been in such a broken, sad place that I couldn’t find the words to encourage you when I couldn’t even encourage myself. Then today I knew it was the day. It was the day for me to share my heart with you all. I am going to be honest. I am going to be real. This is my life. I cannot tie difficulties that are happening in my life to a single season. Every problem is one that is complex and is created over time, not just in an instant. This story is not short. It is not simple, yet it is not grand. And it is not all pretty. But it is mine. The beginning of this story is all sad, but don’t stop reading, the end has joy and even peace.
Depressed. Anxious. Fearful. Apathetic. Frustrated. Angry. Rejected. Hurt.
These are words that I would use to describe how I felt these last few months. A lot of what I was feeling I blamed on the fact that it was my first semester of college, so at first a lot of the symptoms that there was something deeper to what I was feeling went unnoticed. My relationship with God was frustrating. I was still going to church, bible study, and other things, but my alone time with God started to become non-existent. I didn’t want to talk to him because I was feeling a lot of shame, and unworthiness. I am a Christian Theology major and more and more as the school year went on I realized how much I didn’t know about my faith, and it overwhelmed me and made me feel like a failure as a Christian. So I just stopped seeking him with the same fervency I used to. I don’t know what made me think that that would make my life better, because obviously it did not. To give a name to this struggle, I was being attacked by “legalism”. This is when your faith becomes more about the knowledge and the rules, then it is about the relationship with God.
Now when I say I was experiencing depression I don’t use that word lightly. I wasn’t “depressed” because I got a bad grade on something. I was hurting deeply. At random times, I would be extremely sad for no reason. Like on Christmas morning, when I should be rejoicing in the birth of our Savior, I was crying for absolutely no reason. I would just want to sleep all the time, be by myself, and I had no passion for my usual interests and even for my future vocation as a missionary. And even worse, this didn’t even phase me as a problem at the time. I was very pessimistic and hopeless, even though I didn’t usually voice those thoughts. Along with all of that I became more and more wrapped up in fear. Everything that I could possibly be anxious about, I was. I gave my self stress stomach pains because I worried and over-analyzed so much, which of course worried me even more because I didn’t want to get another ulcer. A little less than a month ago I experienced a panic attack on two different days for about 10 hours each. My throat would close and it was very difficult to breathe.
Sickness seemed to be attacking me from all sides this past year. And not all of it was even serious things. Some of it was mostly just annoying. Looking back now I realize that the enemy was just trying to harass me and get on my nerves. In 2014 I was diagnosed with PCOS, which is a syndrome that makes me have to take medicine everyday to have my cycle, and it causes problems with having children, and has other possible symptoms, including cancer, which thank God I do not have. A couple of months later, I got a stomach ulcer, which if you’ve never experienced this, let me be the first to tell you that it is excruciatingly painful. At this point I was done. I had had enough. I could barely move, and so I made myself go get prayer at my church for healing for both of these things. I hadn’t been taking my pills for a month because I was believing in healing. After getting prayer, the very next morning I was healed from my PCOS and my ulcer. Then last semester I realized I had PCOS again. I still believe that God healed me, and that I can be healed again. But these past few months I haven’t found my peace in God, and I allowed the enemy’s doubt and fear to control my mind.
In college, making friends wasn’t a hard thing for me to do. It felt like the best possible friends I could have for this new season fell right into my lap. They were a blessing to be sure. We connected so, so, so quickly and deeply. Yet I was having trouble being transparent and completely honest about my feelings and thoughts, because I was too afraid of stepping on someone’s toes. I have been so seriously hurt by one-way friendships the past few years, that before I knew what hit me, the way that I approached new relationships completely changed. Especially my senior year when all of the hurt just got piled on so much that one bad friend was the last straw. I put so much love into this friendship and got so rejected that I became too afraid to love people at my greatest capacity, because I couldn’t stand to be hurt like that again. I guess some of this kind of sounds contradictory in some aspects, so let me clarify. This past semester, I was still myself, but I only shone through in little cracks of time, for the confidant woman of God that usually defines me for the most part was no where to be seen. If you asked my friends if that was an accurate statement they probably would say no, but I know what I used to be like. I know what it felt like to have an unquenchable passion pumping through your veins to do something great for God, always looking for a place to step up to leadership to change the lives of those around me. I felt like I was walking around with a chasm the size of the ocean that replaced everything I am. It made me sick inside. I had turned into more of an introvert than I ever used to be and I hated defining myself that way, and allowing others to do the same. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with being an introvert, but I had began to take on that label in a way that was life changing. I became increasingly less patient, more easily frustrated, and less enjoyable to be around as the semester came to a close. All of these things that I am sharing with you are so clearly attacks from the enemy, but in the moment I was just trying to get through each day, so I wasn’t able to call it out for what it was.
Then going into Christmas break carrying all of this on my back and heart, I was extremely overwhelmed by all of these feelings that seemed so complex to address. Remember, at this point I had not been able to identify what I was going through as depression, or any of the other words. This revelation happened after meeting with my friend Elizabeth who was asking for some insight on a friend at her school that takes medicine for anxiety and depression. I knew something was up when I was able to clearly understand this girl I didn’t even know. So I started to research a lot, and then I told my mom what I had been experiencing with depression and anxiety. My mom and I have always had a very honest, strong relationship but still this was one of the hardest conversations I’ve ever had, yet it was so life giving to finally tell someone. I was even ready to go to counseling if that was what I needed. Thankfully though, it didn’t need to come to that. A few days later I met with a precious friend of mine, whose friendship is nothing short of God divine. She began to share with me all of the issues and struggles she’s had lately, and it was the same exact things I’ve been battling with, including feeling extremely sad on Christmas. How crazy is that? That day was the first day in many, many months that I felt any real breakthrough in my life. That whole day I just basked in the presence of the Lord, driving around singing praises at the top of my lungs. I finally felt God’s peace through all of my problems. It was a beautiful day.
Then later on that week was when I experienced the panic attacks I mentioned earlier. That was hands down the enemy trying to discourage me from the progress I had made. “No way, Satan!” was my reply. I wasn’t going to let him get to me. I started reading this book called “Breaking Free” by Beth Moore, and I had more spiritual growth in two weeks than I had had in the last six months. Her book talks about the five things that every Child of God should be experiencing on a daily basis (To know God and believe Him, to glorify God, to find satisfaction in God, to experience God’s peace, to enjoys God’s presence) and the obstacles that keep you from experiencing these things (Unbelief, Pride, Idolatry, Prayerlessness, and Legalism). All of these things of which I was struggling with in different capacities and Beth Moore does a beautiful job of convicting you but all speaking love and life over you. She shows you how to speak the word and find breakthrough and freedom from these strongholds. I highly recommend this book.
I know I am writing a lot, but it has been such a long time since I’ve written and so much has happened, I can’t help but share. Through all of these things God has been teaching me so much. Firstly, I have so many things that I can be stressed about right now, but above all of it I feel so much peace. I have a boldness and a passion once again that I can not wait to express. God can give me all the boldness in the world, but unless I choose to act out and use it, it is useless. I need to stand up and fight against the enemies attacks to try to hold me back from what God has for me. The attacks on my life and yours have much more to do with who you might be in the future than who you have been in the past. The enemy fears you becoming who God has made you to be. When you find yourself struggling with legalism and feelings of worthlessness, I want you to remember what I am about to say. In the Bible, when Jesus goes to be baptized by John the Baptist, he has not yet done any works for God. He has done nothing. Yet God says, “This is my Son in whom I am well pleased”. Strip away your titles in leadership, and every other thing that people use to define you, and know that that is the person who God is well pleased with. You don’t have to do anything for God to be pleased with you. So lets stop trying to reach some kind of unrealistic goal we’ve made for ourselves, because we will always be striving in a way that only breeds discouragement. Evaluate your life and take a serious look at where you’ve set your priorities. Your quite time with God should be put at the top of your list, above all of your other commitments. I can’t stress enough how important that is. You won’t be able to function in any capacity as a Godly leader if you’re not seeking his presence.
For a long season God asked me to step down from many of the leadership positions I had regarding ministry and other things, because I had gotten so caught up in “doing His work” that I often forgot that being a Christian is about the relationship. And as often as I hear that as a Christian who has grown up in church you’d think I’d understand that by now, but it’s obvious that God continues to teach us more about the things we thought we already had an understanding of. And now, after a lot of molding and purging, God has opened up the doors to a new season where I can be able to minister to others in a greater capacity again. Because God knew that where I was a year and a half ago was a very broken, wounded place, and if he hasn’t stopped me to focus on him, I probably never would have, therefore I wouldn’t have been in a place to surrender to Him and ask him to put me back together. I have so much more that I want to share with you, but this blog is definitely turning into more of a novel, so I’ll leave you with this: Broken people who aren’t giving their brokenness to God can’t pour into other broken people. Let God fill the cracks between your shattered pieces, and use your story to show his glory. Because your story matters.