Defeating Depression: 5 Tactics from Psalm 42

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It doesn’t take much to make me cry.

God has wired me in a way that I feel various emotions on a very deep level, whether it be joy or sorrow, pain or relief, sadness or gladness, satisfaction or discontentment, frustration or peace, excitement or apathy….etc.

My emotions change so rapidly that even I can’t keep up with them. Anyone else with me?

When I am tired or stressed, I am irritable, moody, and unnecessary sarcastic.

When I am anxious, I either cannot sit still, am overly talkative, or silent. When I am anxious, I often hold it in around most people and let it all out when I am alone or with my husband.

When I am at peace, I am usually in conversation with the Lord or another person. When I am at peace, I am present in the moment. My mind doesn’t wander.

When I am in pain, I close my eyes and run my fingers through my hair. I become more rigid and frustrated.

When I am bored I go on social media.

When I am joyful, it’s because I am doing something that I am passionate about.

When I am energetic, it’s because I am around people that I am comfortable with.

When I am on my period, I feel like I am going crazy (as do most women).

When I watch an emotional scene in a movie, I cry.

We all have our quirks, and we are all wired in very unique ways. We have all experienced these emotions at some point in our lives. But there is something fundamentally different between a heightened emotional experience and depression. Heightened emotions come and go. Depression, on the other hand, lingers. It rises and falls. There are peaks and valleys, seasons of relief, and seasons that are heightened… but even the valleys are still something that have to be managed.

Sometimes, we know why we feel how we do…

It makes sense to be a  little emotional when you are stressed out.

It makes sense to be emotional when you are in physical pain.

It makes sense to cry tears of joy when receiving good news or practicing gratitude.

It makes sense to feel a little insecure at times.

It makes sense to get a little frustrated when things don’t go our way.

…and sometimes we don’t, sometimes I don’t. 

It doesn’t make sense to feel hopeless, lonely, or unworthy when you are surrounded by people who love and care about you.  

It doesn’t make sense when you cry yourself to sleep. 

It doesn’t make sense when you have doctors and medications that are supposed to be working, yet you still feel overly emotional or numb to everything.  

It doesn’t make sense when your life looks good from the outside, yet on the inside, it’s aching and yearning to be held, understood, and healed. 

It doesn’t make sense when you are married to the man of your dreams. 

It doesn’t make sense when you are financially stable. 

It doesn’t make sense when you have friends who pray for me and believe in you. 

It doesn’t make sense when you have a relationship with Jesus. 

It doesn’t make sense when your tears are your food by day and night

Depression doesn’t make sense, but a lot of time life doesn’t either.

We have very limited control over our lives here on earth. We may think that we have some sort of control through our daily choices, attitudes, and routines, but the reality is that nothing can act against the sovereign will of God. So we can’t always change our circumstances. I can’t just wake up and decide to not struggle with depression, but I can decide how I am going to respond to that situation, how I am going to fight, and how I am going to overcome.

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Insight from Psalm 42:

We don’t exactly wrote this specific song. David wrote the majority of them, so some theologians believe that it very well could have been him. Whatever the case may be, this psalm was written by someone who was very honest and open about working through his depression with God:

“As a deer pants for flowing streams,
    so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
    for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
    “Where is your God?”
These things I remember,
    as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
    and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
    a multitude keeping festival.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.

My soul is cast down within me;
    therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
    from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
    at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
    have gone over me.
By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
    and at night his song is with me,
    a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God, my rock:
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning
    because of the oppression of the enemy?”
10 As with a deadly wound in my bones,
    my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me all the day long,
    “Where is your God?”

11 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.

 

The psalmist doesn’t know why his soul is in such despair, why he feels so defeated, and why there is turmoil in his mind. His tears have been his daily bread, he feels forgotten by God, and feels oppressed by the enemy, whether that be satan himself or surrounding foes. He feels like he is drowning; waves of sorrow are continuously crashing over him. He is being taunted, mocked, and encouraged to question God’s presence in all of this. Yet despite his feelings, he did not waver in his trust in the Lord.

1. He seeks out the presence of the Lord:

“My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?”

Rather than distancing himself from God, he asks him to draw near. He knows that God is the only one that can save him from the mess he is in. He knows that is what his soul is longing for. He wants to be touched by that living power. So withholding nothing back, he prays.

2. He reminds himself of God’s goodness:

“These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.”

He reflects on the joy that only the Lord can produce. He remembers the shouts of gladness and songs of praise that came out of his mouth. He knows that’s still in him, and he wants God to restore that.

3. He doesn’t settle in his sorrow:

“By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.”

Here we see a shift from “my tears are my food by day and night” to “by day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is within me, a prayer to the God of my life.” It doesn’t say that all of his tears were wiped away, however, he doesn’t allow himself to settle in them. He reminds himself of God’s love for him, and he worships him even through the tears that fall down his cheeks.

4. He places his hope in God:

“Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” 

He says this twice. Once in the middle, and once in the end. He knows that even if he isn’t healed from his depression right then and there, that God is still his only hope. He knows that his salvation is secure in God, and because of that, he doesn’t stop praising him, even in this season of depression. He fixes his eyes on the author of his salvation, his strong tower and refuge, rather than the enemies surrounding him and the despair that he feels in his heart.

5. He shares his struggle with God, & with other people:

So what does all of this mean?

  1. It means that you aren’t alone (globally, it’s estimated that over 300 million people struggle with depression).¹
  2. The psalmist can’t make sense of his depression. He doesn’t understand why his soul is down cast. But this doesn’t stop him from returning to the one knows him and is known by him. As much as it can feel like it does, depression cannot separate us from the love of God. It isn’t our fault. It isn’t his fault. He doesn’t love us any less.
  3. The spiritual anecdote for depression is praise and worship. It doesn’t take away the tears. It doesn’t fix the problem. But what it can do, is slowly and gradually start to heal the places in our heart that need new life. We have to let go of what we thought life was supposed to look like and embrace the “here and now” knowing that God is always with us, and that he does restore and redeem and heal in His own timing.
  4. We need to talk about it. I’ve blogged about this topic several times before, but I don’t want us to miss this, and I know I am not the only one who struggles with this issue. We can’t do this life alone. There are days where the only thing I have the strength to do is eat, sleep, and lay in bed. There are days where it takes everything in me to make it through the day without breaking down. There are days when I feel like I am not going to be able to breath because I am crying so hard. There are days when I feel like I am a burden to everyone that I know, because of my depression. There are days when I feel unlovable and lonely, even when I am surrounded by a group of people. There are days where God seems so small and so far away. If you experience this, you aren’t alone.

And then there are the days, when I walk in victory; when I experience the chains of bondage being broken in my life; when I realize that strongholds are being torn down; when I am able to sit and be present and enjoy myself with peace; when I am able to engage in relationships; when I am able to go out and be excited about it; when I feel tangible relief from the physical toll that depression takes on your body.

Sometimes a battle has to be fought more than once before full victory is attained. For depression, the battle has to be fought a lot, sometimes every minute of every hour of every day. But we start to see more victory when we realize that the one who has already overcome the world is on our side. Keep fighting friends. The final victory belongs to God’s beloved. Depression doesn’t have to have the final word.

Reference:

  1. World Health Organization

What My Lack of Rest Says About My View of God

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t make self-care a big priority in my life. Until a few months ago, I didn’t see the importance of it…it honesty seemed like a waste of time. I rarely wake up later than 6:00 (even on the weekends). I don’t like watching T.V. without either working on research, writing, or reading at the same time. I find it almost impossible to sit still for an extended period of time. I do take naps-but it’s only when I have exhausted myself enough in the AM to justify the “lazy day” activity. I hate wasting time and doing things that I don’t think have a purpose. It would about kill me to lay in bed and watch Netflix all day. I feel like I always have to be doing something. I want to be a good wife, sister, daughter, friend, writer, dietitian, Christian, and so on. Because of this, I always feel like I have to be doing something-no matter what that something is.

I have seen a pattern in my life over the past few years that I’m not too proud of.  It seems “more efficient” for me to trudge through each day until I am exhausted and collapse. I tell myself that I don’t have time for rest everyday…but that a couple of hours each month will do the trick. I realize that I have a tendency to neglect rest and self-care until I am physically sick or in emotional despair. Last week I got sick- really sick. 

My stomach wasn’t feeling too great. This isn’t really out of the ordinary due to the nature of my chronic GI disorder, IBS. However, this time was different. I had a major headache, felt nauseous, and lacked major energy. I knew I needed sleep, but I was going to try to avoid it while I could. I came home from work that day  and slept from 6:00 PM-9:00 PM, and then 10:00 PM-7:00 AM. The next two days I slept. 

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As you can imagine, I hated it. I had to rearrange my schedule and cancel all of my plans. What an unproductive weekend, or so I thought. 

What I didn’t realize is that weekend was exactly what I needed when I needed it. The fact that I could sleep so much within a 48-hr time span was unreal to me. It opened my eyes to the fact that I’m really bad at taking care of myself sometimes. 

I wanted to figure this all out, so I went to the one who I know knows me better than I know myself. I asked God to help me process my excessive need to be busy. I know that even God rested, that Jesus often went and spent time alone praying and processing through his day. If God-the creator of the universe, the most mighty one, my sovereign king-took the time to intentionally rest-how much more must I need that? 

I realized that my view of rest said a lot about my view of God-and not in a good way. 

My unrelenting desire to do the best, be the best, and do the most only shows how little I think of God sometimes. If I really trusted in his sovereignty, his provision, his plan, his goodness, his kindness, and his unchanging nature, I wouldn’t feel the need to try to work all of those things out on my own. 

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Father, forgive me for trying to depend on my own self-sufficiency, for my desire to perform for acknowledgement & praise, for not trusting in your provision, and trying to make a way for myself. Lord I praise you that you make a way for me. That I don’t have to have everything done on my checklist to be following your will. If anything, my check lists get in the way of real rest in you- with all adoration, praise, and worship. Lord I am defeating myself when I choose to neglect the times of rest that you invite me into. Rid me of my pride and change me. Help me to see the value in rest and self-care. Help me to rest in your finished work, the price you have already paid for my salvation. 

Taking time to rest isn’t selfish; it’s making sure that we are filled up enough to pour into other people. If we are only filled up half-way, that’s all that we will have to give. Rest isn’t a waste of time. If anything, it’s a necessary, precious, much-needed gift that we must not take for granted. It’s as important as eating 3 meals a day and drinking water. 

Because we live in a culture that boasts in our business, it’s easy to be caught up in that. I know I often (if not always) am. But there’s a difference between healthy productivity and being in a chronic state of unrest. It’s a hard balance to find, but when we fix our eyes on who God is rather than all that we have to get done, His presence + provision + guidance don’t compare to our biggest to do list. 

Why live in a constant state of un-rest, anxiety, and exhaustion when God has allotted us time in each day to rest, recharge, refocus, and re-energize? The time is there, I promise you it is. It just depends on whether or not we make self-care/rest a high priority on our to-do list.

I used to think that exercise alone was all of the “rest” and “self-care” that I needed. Burpees, mountain climbers, knee-tucks, box jumps. All things I enjoy. All things that help relief some stress. But is it really truly resting? No. When my heart rate is elevated, my body is dripping sweat, and I am longing for a drink of cool water, I’m not resting. Stress relief? Sure. Healthy? Maybe so. Restful? No.

For me, rest looks like prayer, singing in the car, watching TV with my husband, petting my dog, talking on the phone to a friend, listening to worship music, daydreaming, taking a nap, deep breathing, working on DIY projects, going outside and feeling the wind on my face. Sometimes writing, sometimes reading, sometimes not. 

The chronic stress, anxiety, and physical sickness pop-up more often than not when I am refusing to take care of myself. But I am thankful that God is teaching me that it’s OK to enjoy his creation, to receive his gifts, and to enter into His rest. 

With Jesus, there is no work to be done that compares to the finished work of the cross. 

With Jesus, we are saved by grace-not good works. We are loved because of grace-not good works. We are cherished and adored because God is love-not because we have done all that we want to do. 

With Jesus, I don’t have to figure out life all on my own. 

With Jesus, there is always provision.

With Jesus, there is no lack. 

With Jesus, there is time for rest-something that is such a great need for me…for everyone. 

This labor day weekend get some fresh air, enjoy the beautiful weather, & embrace the gift of rest.

“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; or anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest…” -Hebrews 4:9-11

 

 

 

I Wore White to My Friend’s Wedding

“I Wore White to My Friend’s Wedding”

By: Whitney Johns

“I’ve been a bridesmaid in quite a few weddings, 8 to be exact. Many people look at me with huge eyes and with mouths wide open when I tell them that. I know what they’re thinking:

That must have be SO expensive…

And so time consuming!

I don’t know how you did it…

But I’m okay with it, really. In your 20’s, you go to weddings every weekend, in your 80’s, you go to funerals every weekend. I definitely prefer the first alternative; plus, I truly rejoice in the opportunity to be apart of such a special day for so many of my friends.

So I enjoy being a bridesmaid. I enjoy the bridal showers, the bachelorette festivities, the planning, and the excitement and anticipation that leads up to each wedding day. I enjoy the unique opportunities that arise to serve the bride and her family during the wedding season. I enjoy the ceremony. And, boy, do I enjoy the dancing at the reception! Dancing itself is a great joy, but the amount of joy that is added when two friends make a covenant to become one does something weird to me. That amount of joy in my heart is the kind that makes you forget that your feet hurt. It makes you dance like no one is watching, despite the fact that you don’t (and never will) know how to wobble, juju, or dougie.

Like I said, I enjoy being a bridesmaid for more reasons than one.

And I’ve been one enough times to know the rules:

Don’t cause drama.

Do whatever the bride wants.

Shower the bride with love.

Be ready to respond to any lsat minute crisis situations.

Basically, sacrifice anything and everything that day make sure that the bride has the best day of her life.

But recently, I broke one of the biggest wedding rules…

I wore white to my friend’s wedding.

Okay, I actually wore navy blue. It was a really pretty navy blue bridesmaid dress I might add. Stick with me here.

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One of my favorite wedding day moments is when the bridesmaids surround the bride and pray over her before the ceremony starts. It makes for incredibly sweet wedding photos, but a picture can only capture so much. Prayer is a way of welcoming the presence of the Lord and acknowledging His goodness. It’s surrendering the relationship to him and asking for his will to be done in the soon-to-be marriage. It’s thanking Him for his covenant and his promises that are always true. It’s a way to bring peace to the bride in the moments leading up to her union with her groom. It’s a way to honor God in recognizing that marriage is a covenant that reflects Christ’s love for the body of believers. It’s a prayer of thanksgiving for all the good He has done and a prayer of hopeful anticipation for all the good He will do.

So at this particular wedding, just minutes before the ceremony began, we all surrounded the bride in our navy blue dresses and took turns praying for her.

It came to be my turn to pray, and I was silent for a few seconds, trying to take in the incredible reality of speaking to the Creator and sovereign King of the universe. I prayed for the bride, I prayed for the groom, I prayed for the ceremony, I prayed for their future wedding, I prayed for much fruit to come from their marriage.

We continued around the circle until the last person had prayed, and we began to open our eyes and move away from the circle.

“Wait! Wait God! Actually, one more thing!” I said as everyone giggled and moved back into the circle.

God had reminded me of scripture in that moment, and He needed to be praised for it. This wedding was about so much more than we could wrap our minds around.

“God we praise you that today, Emily gets to wear white.”

 “God today, Emily is the bride. She gets to wear white. You have allowed her to be clothed in beautiful, perfect, spotless white today as she walks toward her husband to promise impossible promises to him this side of heaven. By your grace, they will be able to fight to keep those promises, as those promises reflect the perfect and grand promises you have made to your children.”

 “Even more, God, we praise you today that you have granted it to your children to be clothed in white.”

 This prayer came from scripture. This prayer came from Revelation 19:6-8, in which the author is detailing a vision from The Lord about things that will happen in heaven. The long-awaited union of Christ (the Lamb in this verse) in heaven with the children of God is often described in scripture as a marriage celebration.

“Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like a sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,

                        ‘Hallelujah!

                        For the Lord our God

                                    the Almighty reigns.

                        Let us rejoice and exult

                                    and give him the glory,

                        for the marriage supper of the Lamb has come,

                                    and his Bride has made herself ready;

                        it was granted her to clothe herself with

                                    fine linen, bright and pure.’”

 Just as it was granted to Emily to wear white on the day of her wedding, it has been granted to the children of God to be clothed in fine linen, bright and pure on the day of the greatest wedding.

Fine, bright, spotless, white. This clothing is a picture of purity. And despite our wickedness, despite our selfishness, despite our pridefulness, despite our evil nature, the children of God have been granted to be clothed in complete purity.

Clothed in white, despite the filthy and stained rags our sin nature causes us to wear.

This is how I was able to break a major wedding rule. This is how I wore white to my friend’s wedding. This is how I’m able to wear white every day, despite dirtiness I may carry. How does this become “granted” to us though?

Elsewhere, in Revelation 7, we see a picture of the children of God washing their robes white in the blood of Christ.

The blood of the perfect, spotless, holy, righteous Christ is the only thing with the power to wash white the garments of those who sin against a holy God. By Christ’s death and resurrection in front of a multitude of eyewitnesses, he proved he was indeed the Son of God, and furthermore proved that he alone holds the power to defeat sin and death. And he offers this to you.

We know from Romans 3:23 that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” No one wears white on his own. No one is invited to the great marriage of Christ and his church on her own.

But everyone has a great invitation:

Come! Wash your filthy garments white in the blood of Christ! Experience forgiveness! Experience freedom from sin! Drop the heavy weight and baggage that sin has entangled you in! Forget ashamedness! Live in the sweet and undeserved love and freedom of Christ!

Come! Wait in hope for the great marriage supper of Christ the Lamb as his Bride!

Come! Be clothed in white!

In just the same way that earthly weddings bring such joyful anticipation, unique opportunities to serve, beautiful covenant promises of forever, and tremendous celebration, so will the marriage supper of the Lamb be. We wait in great anticipation for this wedding, we seek ways to serve while we wait, we long to be joined in perfect unity, and we tremble with excitement for the great celebrating (and dancing!) that will continue into eternity.

“Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb!”

-Revelation 19:9I

 

Dear Younger Me

Dear Younger Me,

College will be a season of great change and growth for you, one that is full of excitement and so much fun. College is one of the most transformational times in your life; it’s normal to feel overwhelmed, excited, and anxious all at the same time. It’s a big change, but it can be a really good change. God has set the path before you, there is no reason to fear. You will adjust to the change. You will miss your family, but you will also grow to appreciate them on a new level. You will figure out a major that fits you, even if it takes a few years. You will make some of the best friends in your life, even if it takes a little time. You won’t be stuck in the dorm eating cafeteria food forever. Don’t worry about the “freshman 15” (or the freshman 5, for that matter), it’s okay to gain a few pounds when your body is still growing and maturing. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t worry about what you cannot control. Don’t be so busy with school that you forget to live.

God will provide for you financially and in every other way that you need. You will love Him more than at any other point in your life. You will learn how to share the gospel with other people and be bold for Jesus. You will experience unity with the body of Christ in a radical way. You will learn how to fight for joy on the harder days. Your faith will become your own, the rock and solid foundation that you build your new “adult” life upon. 

Over the next four years, you will learn and be reminded of many things, the most important being who God is and who you are in him. 

God is your loving father. 

Ever-present.

Sovereign savior. 

Glorious king. 

Righteous redeemer. 

Fountain of satisfaction. 

Protector.

Deliverer.

Defender. 

What does this mean for you? Because you have entrusted your life to Jesus…

You are never condemned. 

You are paid for. 

You are washed clean. 

You are redeemed.

You will be made like Jesus. 

You will be set free from anything that is enslaving you on this earth. 

You are a beloved daughter of the most high king. 

The plan for your life is already figured out. 

You have been saved from death, hell, and the grave.

God has marked you with a seal, that is, the Holy Spirit. 

Nothing will satisfy you more than being in the presence of the Lord. 

You will be protected by God.

You are never alone. 

You will be delivered from evil. 

Nothing will over take you. 

You soar on wings like eagles. 

You will run and not grow weary. 

You will walk and not be faint. 

The angel of the Lord encamps around you. 

You are precious to God. 

You are beautiful to God. 

You are made in the perfect, precious image of God. 

You are a righteous child of God.

You are a conquerer in Christ. 

You are going to rock it these next four years.

Believe in yourself, because God is within you, and you will not fall.

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Where is God in Depression?

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If you have walked through a season (or lifetime) of depression, or know someone who has, you understand that it is much more than having a few bad days.

Depression is draining and so heavy on the heart.  

People with depression can’t just “get better” with their own will power and hard work. If they could, they would have already done so. I would have already done so. 

I’ve spent hours wrestling with God, asking him where he is in my depression. I don’t feel like a have a good reason to be depressed. I just graduated from college with a 4.0, married the love of my life, have a wonderful group of friends, and a family that I love dearly. I am financially stable (by the grace of God) and the beginning of my career starts in just a few weeks. I have no reason to feel the way I feel sometimes, but some days I can’t shake the weighty shadow following me around.

That’s hard to explain to people, and even harder to understand. I don’t even understand it sometimes.

My mind often races with thoughts about how I am not good enough at anything that I do. I am bombarded with attacks about my physical appearance and diet + exercise routine daily, and must constantly fight back so that I don’t act on them. I still struggle with insomnia and anxiety, which worsens my depression. And last year at this time, I weighed 30 pounds less and was extremely malnourished, entrenched in the depths of anorexia.

Food restriction leads to psychological problems; it makes your brain crazy, and so does having an eating disorder.¹ My depression made a little more sense from a world standpoint just a year ago.

I now no longer restrict food. I am no longer malnourished. I am no longer underweight. My sleep patterns are starting to normalize (although there is still much room for improvement). I have developed a much healthier relationship with food + exercise (again, there is still room for improvement), and I am starting to kindle a new relationship with my body. I feel like I should be able to move on & leave behind everything that I’ve been through the past year. The eating disorder. The anxiety. The compulsive exercise. The poor body image. 

Yet, the depression still lingers, for reasons that I cannot fully comprehend.

I can’t count the number of times I have cried myself to sleep, begging God to take this burden off of my shoulders.

In many ways, he has.

His love has healed my heart in ways that nothing else on this earth could.

His promises lift me up and give me hope. 

His presence has filled me up with joy even on the darker days.

His faithfulness in the past encourages me to trust him in the now. 

His provision sustains me day in and day out, even when the anxiety and depression levels are both high.  

But there is still healing that is yet to be done. 

Last night I had a particularly difficult night so I did the only thing I knew to do at 3:00 AM: I sought out his word and asked him to come close to me. 

He led me to Psalm 42:

“As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?

My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”

These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
under the protection of the Mighty One,
with shouts of joy and praise
among the festive throng.

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.

My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.

By day the Lord directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God my Rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?

Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?”
My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”

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.”²

As I read these words tears began to roll down my cheeks. The psalmist put into words what my aching heart has been trying to process and piece together in these past couple of years. 

“My tears have been my food day and night…”

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed in me? Put your hope in God!”

“I say to God my Rock, why have you forgotten me?”

“Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?”

“My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, where is your God?”

He doesn’t hold back. He doesn’t try to cover up. He doesn’t have a filter. He simply comes to God and asks to be healed, just as he is. This, my friends, is the first step to healing. 

Only God can heal the heart burdened by depression. 

From the very beginning, he writes, “My soul thirsts for God, the living God. Where can I go and meet with God?” The psalmist knows. He understands that it is only God that can lift him out of this pit.² He doesn’t run to other false Gods for temporary relief. He doesn’t look for easy ways to numb his pain. He runs to the one he knows will restore his joy- and he doesn’t waste time. I am so guilty of this. When I see anything that can provide me with some sort of relief I run to it so quickly that I don’t even realize what I am doing until it’s too late. And then I end up empty handed and even more broken than before. 

The very first thing he asks God is where he can go meet with him. He longs for the presence of the living God. He knows that only God can heal his heart.

As much as they may love us, our friends, family, and even doctors can’t restore to us the joy of our salvation. Alcohol doesn’t restore us. Sex doesn’t restore us. Relationships don’t restore us. Food doesn’t restore us. The perfect body doesn’t restore us. Only Jesus can do that.

Remembering God’s faithfulness gives us hope for the future.

The psalmist doesn’t understand why his soul is so burdened. We see this clearly when he asks multiple times, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?” It’s okay to ask why. It’s okay to wrestle with God. But there is a fine balance between asking why and living in the why. The psalmist doesn’t stay in the “why”. He moves into a place of thanksgiving and remembrance. He knows that the “whys” of his situation will only lead him to further frustration and despair. So he does what he knows to be true- he reflects on the ways that God has delivered in the past, which then leads him to worship God for who He is. He lays down the crippling circumstances in which he finds himself in. This lays the foundation for hope and is the beginning of his restored joy.

The psalmist isn’t healed the moment he lays it all out to God. There is a good chance that he had to wait on the Lord before there was any change. But he does just that. And in the waiting, he draws near to God and worships him. He invites God to be the joy in his waiting, in the time in-between. 

 

I’m not sure why depression has to be apart of my story. But I do know that it causes me to yearn for the presence of God and my home in heaven so much more so than if I didn’t struggle with it. It reveals to me the brokenness of the world we live in, and in that, makes the light of Jesus shine even more so in my life. It magnifies my need for him and pulls me into a deeper joy that I wouldn’t be able to appreciate without it. 

God isn’t absent in depression.

God is near to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.It’s not in his nature to let his beloved stay in a place of complete sorrow and despair. Even on the many days and nights where it has felt like God was far away, I know that he wasn’t. Because he never is. He promises to be with us always, & that he will never leave or forsake up. It is by his grace alone that I am where I am today, and by the joy that he has produced in my heart, a joy that could only come from worshiping and serving him. Our God is a god of hope, and there is no power that depression has that is more powerful than the finished work of the cross. This world is broken and running rampant in pain and suffering- but do not lose heart. There will be a day when he will wipe every tear for the final time, that there will be no more crying, suffering, pain, or depression. This is the hope I am holding on to. 

REFERENCES:

  1. Lasker, Gabriel Ward. “The effects of partial starvation on somatotype: an analysis of material from the Minnesota starvation experiment.” American journal of physical anthropology 5.3 (1947): 323-342.
  2. Life application study Bible. New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011. Print. Psalm 42. 
  3. Life application study Bible. New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011. Print. Psalm 40.
  4. Life application study Bible. New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011. Print. Psalm 34:18.

 

 

 

 

 

 

King of My Heart

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Y’all, sometimes my heart doesn’t feel right. Sometimes I can pinpoint why, and other times something just feels off. My heart longs for immediate gratification, complete understanding, and order + control. My heart isn’t tame; it loves fiercely and hurts deeply (both of which can get me in trouble at times). I can go from sorrowful to full of joy (and vice versa) within just a few minutes. My heart is unpredictable & has no filter. Above all, my heart reminds me that I am constantly in need of saving, in need of comfort, and in need of Jesus. 

Our hearts are so deceiving. Maybe other people aren’t as much of an emotional rollercoaster as I am. But we all can’t deny that our hearts are deceptive and broken. The prophet Jeremiah puts it like this: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”¹

Our hearts are in need of saving, and that’s where Jesus comes in. Ezekiel prophesied that God would one day restore and transform our hearts: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”²

A new heart.

A new spirit.

Not just a better one, but a completely new one. 

This heart is a precious gift from our father and we are to protect it as such. Proverbs 4:23 reminds us to guard our heart, because everything that we do flows from it.

God didn’t include this in his sacred truth for no reason. He reminded us to guard our hearts because he was sure that they would come under attack. He knew that a heart built on his truth would often be playing tug-of-war with our emotional responses and aches & pains of this world. He knew that we would be tempted by the enticing and evil desires of this world. He knew that the enemy would try to tamper and discourage a heart that has been redeemed by the blood of Jesus.

The song King of My Heart, written by Sarah McMillan, hits the nail on the head when it comes to this topic. In these lyrics, you will see a plead to God, that He would reign in the hearts of those he is king over, the hearts that rightfully belong to him.

But there is this thing called sin, that we will all be fighting against until the day that we see Jesus face to face. The good thing is that if you are a follower of Jesus, God is fighting for you not against you. Nothing can compare to our king. He knows how hard it is. He isn’t surprised with it, which is why sent Jesus to die on the cross to save us from his wrath. Yet, in our limited thinking and processing, we so often try to “fix” or satisfy our hearts with things other than our king, which always leaves us worse off than before. We can’t outrun or escape these things on our own. So what do we do? Run to our king. When I listen to “King of My Heart”  it reminds me that the answer is Jesus.

“Let the King of my heart
Be the mountain where I run
The fountain I drink from
Oh, He is my song
Let the King of my heart
Be the shadow where I hide
The ransom for my life
Oh, He is my song

Let the King of my heart
Be the wind inside my sails
The anchor in the waves
Oh, He is my song
Let the King of my heart
Be the fire inside my veins
The echo of my days
Ohh! He is my song.³

Jesus, be the mountain we run to. When we want to run away, may we run to you, not another relationship, dead-end path, or road that is outside of your will. We don’t want to chase anything short of your glory. We acknowledge that you are the mountain in which we will flee to in the last days. You are highly exhaulted lord; help us to fix our eyes on you.

Jesus, be the fountain we drink from. When we are unsatisfied and thirsty, be our living water. Satisfy our souls with your presence and your word. We are yearning for our hearts to be satisfied, and we often fill them with everything but you. Forgive us Lord and be our satisfaction. Be our everything. Quench our thirst with the power of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus, be our song, our battle cry of faith. We worship you and proclaim your goodness. We ask that you would help us process the things in our hearts. In sickness + health, sorrow + joy, death + life, and discontentment + satisfaction, may your glory shine through us. May we never stop praising you and proclaiming the good news that sets all people free.

Jesus, be the shadow where we hide, the rest that we desperately need. Comfort us when our physical and emotional limits are tested by the weight of this world. Reassure us that we will be okay. Remind us of our safety in you. Be our protector; our safe place in the scorching dessert. Help us to rest from the emotions + feelings that so easily drain + discourage us. When we want to curl up in a ball and hide from all of our responsibilities, relationships, and everyday realities, be the shadow in which we hide. May our time alone spent with you strengthen us and give us everything we need to walk in the scorching sun.

Jesus, be the ransom for our lives. May we understand our position before you: saved by grace & so deeply loved. Help us to rest in the work that has already been finished on the cross. Convict us when we try to perform for you with good works. We thank you for delivering us from death & the grave. May we not take our salvation for granted; may our lips never stop spreading the truth of the gospel.

Jesus, be the wind inside our sails. Help us to not become weary in doing good. Encourage us when we are down. Convict us when we are heading in the wrong direction. Holy Spirit be our internal compass, our teacher and our guide. Don’t allow us to stray from you.

Jesus, be the anchor in our waves. Be our strong tower when our world seems to be falling apart. Be the rock that we stand on. Hold us up so that we don’t get knocked down by the waves that are intended to harm us. Be our stability in situations that are unpredictable and out of our control. Level out our emotions when they are about to burst at the seems. When we feel like we are going to drown in the depths of the sea lead us to what is higher and greater than any circumstance. Lead us to you. Remind us of our blessed assurance, that we are marked with a seal and have a forever home in heaven. Jesus if its in your will, settle the waves + calm the storm. If not, sustain us until the day we see you face to face.

Jesus, be the echo of our days. May our lives be worth nothing to us unless we use it to tell others about the good news of the gospel. Be our meaning and purpose. Be our fire. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Jesus, be the king of our hearts.

REFERENCES:
1. Jeremiah 17:9

2. Ezekiel 36:26

3. “King of My Heart” By Sarah + John McMillan

 

 

Jesus, how long?

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“How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? 

How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts, and day after day have sorrow in my heart?

How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.

Give light to my eyes or I will sleep in death,

and my enemy will say, ‘I have overcome him.’

But I trust in your unfailing love, my heart rejoices in your salvation.

I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.”

-Psalm 13

Here we find David, a man after God’s own heart, crying out to for deliverance, freedom, and redemption, running to Jesus with his heart as it is; he didn’t try to cover up his thoughts or feelings. He let God have a piece of his mind and heart. 

He didn’t understand. 

He needed comfort. 

He needed reassurance. 

He needed to hear. 

He needed to see. 

He needed to feel. 

He needed to know that God hadn’t forgotten him. 

He needed to know that God wouldn’t hide his face from him. 

He needed to know that he would not always have to wrestle with unwanted thoughts. 

He needed to know that one day there would no longer be sorrow in his heart. 

He needed the eyes of his heart to be enlightened. 

He needed to know how long, how long it would be until he could make some sense of the broken pieces in his life. 

The worst part? 

God seemed to be silent– at least in that moment. 

Although David knew the Lord and loved him,

He felt forgotten.

He felt abandoned.

He felt hopeless.

He felt defeated.

David is desperate for relief; from what he needs relief we are not exactly sure.

It is safe for us to assume that he is agonizing over a few things: 

  • Abandonment v.1
  • Wresting with his sin v.2
  • Lack of Joy in his heart v.3
  • Lack of victory over his enemies v.3

Sound familiar?

How long, Jesus?

How long will I have to fight off lies from the enemy?

How long will my tears be my food day and night?

How long will my prayers go unanswered?

How long will I have to fight off anxiety?

How long will I be uncomfortable in my body?

How long will I feel like this?

How long will I wrestle with unhealthy thoughts?

How long will it take to break bad habits?

How long until I am a little less broken?

How long until I am free?

How long until my heart begins to believe what my mind is certain of?

How long until you will act on my behalf, & do what only you can do?

How long will I struggle with the temptation to turn back to my eating disorder?

How long will I be in recovery? 

How long until I am healed?

How long until I am no longer broken-hearted?

How long until I am completely free?

How long until you come back?

How long, Jesus? 

How long.

This is David’s ultimate cry. This is our heart’s cry: Jesus, when will you make this all right? When is it all going to make sense? When will you return?

David doesn’t try to minimize it or diminish it. He expresses his pain. He cries out in anguish. He brings his raw and real emotions before the creator of the universe. He is simply asking with an earnest heart, and he doesn’t immediately hear back from God, & so often we don’t either. 

In the time waiting, David shifts his focus and proclaims, “But I trust in your unfailing love, my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise for he has been good to me.” v. 5-6

In other words:

Even when it hurts, I will praise you.

Even when nothing makes sense, I will trust you. 

Even when I am sorrowful, I take heart in the joy of my salvation. 

Even when I face trials, I will praise your name. 

Even when I don’t immediately hear from you, I will choose to believe in your unfailing love. 

David didn’t know how long, & neither do we. 

But God didn’t abandoned David, & he doesn’t abandoned us. 

In his own timing, wisdom, understanding, & sovereign hand, God delivered David from his enemies. He forgave his sins. He brought forth joy in his heart. He walked in victory. 

Through his blood came the awaited messiah, our savior, redeemer, deliverer, and peace in the time waiting. 

It’s okay to ask how long. 

It’s natural. 

It’s healthy. 

It’s freeing.

Wrestling with the “how long” reminds us that this world isn’t our home. It’s a reminder of our desperate need for Jesus each day. It’s a reminder of how truly great the good news of the gospel is. The gospel that saves us from it all. Even with a broken heart, weary soul, anxious mind, and lacking ability, we can move into a place where we rejoice in our salvation and trust Jesus even when it doesn’t all make sense. We can move from “how long” to “this won’t last forever”.

We can freely say:

We trust you. 

We trust your promises.

We trust that you are good. 

We trust your ability to heal, to redeem, to show grace, to provide, to keep your promises, to be with us always, to deliver us, and to finish the good work that you have started in our lives, to make sense of our suffering; we trust in your timing & let go of the burdensome “how longs” that so often rule our minds. 

 

To love less

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”

[Luke 14:26 ESV]

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This verse has made me feel uncomfortable since the day I first read it.

I have been a christian for around 10 years (whoop whoop, praise Jesus), however, there are still many parts of God’s word that I wrestle with.

Luke 14:26 is one of them.

HATE my family?

My parents?

My sister?

My dog?

Myself?

Every time I come across this verse I quickly dismiss it and move on to something different. I don’t like to confront the idea that God may be asking me to do something that doesn’t make sense to me.  

Last week I finished packing up all of my things & moved out of my house completely for the first time in my life.

I couldn’t hold back the tears rolling down my cheeks and the anxiety that took my breath away.

I was shaking, trembling, and honestly heartbroken.

Life as I knew it for 21 years was about to the flipped upside down and I wasn’t ready.

I love my family more than anything in this world, & in many ways my parents home is my safe haven. My sister is my joy. My sweet puppy is my peace.

I was excited to move in with my husband; I was excited to decorate the apartment; I was excited to start figuring this whole “adult” thing out.

But I was also at a loss.

The time went by too fast and it felt like I was losing such an important part of my life.

Saying “see you later” just didn’t quite have the same ring to it.

I knew I would see my family later, but when? A few days from then? A week? A month? Longer?

I didn’t know how to process all of the change, so I did the only thing that I know to do in these types of situations: I opened God’s word and asked him to speak.

I was looking for a “feel-good” verse, something that would bring me comfort, reassurance, and relief.

I eagerly opened up my bible, the word that has nourished my soul with love, joy, comfort, encouragement, and peace. I was ready for what God had to say to me. I wanted to hear his voice. I needed some insight into this situation.

I put on my pajamas, brushed my teeth, turned on my side table lamp, & began reading the first verse that I had found that related to “family” in my bible index:

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” 

[Luke 14:26 ESV]

Why did Jesus direct me back to the same verse that I have wrestled with for so long? Out of all of the verses in the bible, why did he lead me to this? This wasn’t making me feel better…if anything, it made me feel worse. 

So I started processing:

I know that God loves everyone.

I know that God is a God of relationship and fellowship.

I know that God loves me.

I know that God loves my family.

I know that the bible tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves. 

I know that God’s word tells us that love covers a multitude of sins (I don’t see anything about hate in there). 

I know that we are called to bear with one another in love.

My own understanding wasn’t enough. I decided to dig a little deeper & do some research.

In the original greek, the word used for hate in this passage is miseō. Strong’s concordance has a few different definitions for this word: 

  1. To hate  
  2. To detest 
  3. By extension, to love less

A lightbulb turned on in my head:

In this verse, Jesus isn’t commanding us to spew words of hatred towards the people that we love (or ourselves). He wants to emphasize that we need to love him more than we love anyone or anything else. To hate means to love less. “If anyone comes to me and does not LOVE LESS his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” 

Why? 

As Tim Keller simply states in his book, Counterfeit Gods, “Human make terrible Gods.” As much as I love my family, there have been many, many times when I have hurt them or have been hurt by them. As much as I love myself, there have been many times when I have chosen what has hurt me rather than what would have kept me safe. We are all fallen and imperfect. If I place all of my trust into my family (or myself), I will be crushed when they disappoint me (or when I disappoint myself). To believe that humans were created to satisfy us more than Jesus is to believe the lie that God isn’t who he says he is.

When I choose to run to Jesus before anything else, it actually enables me to better love my family, because God’s spirit will produce in my joy, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control, & peace.  

God isn’t asking us to hate our families, but he is making it clear that I cannot be his disciple if I don’t love them less than him.

I’ve been very lucky to grow up with a family that loves Jesus and reflects his glory on a daily basis. I am confident that God uses them to encourage me and love me in tangible ways…but if given the choice, the deepest parts in my heart would always choose Jesus first, even when it’s hard. 

Why? 

It is only God who can produce inexpressible joy in our hearts. It is only God who can flood us with peace that surpasses all understanding. It is only God who can heal my deepest wounds and redeem my life from hell and the grave. 

My family and I weren’t made to do that.

I cannot be his disciple if I let my family determine every decision that I make and action I take. 

I cannot be his disciple if I rely on my family to be my Holy Spirit. 

I cannot be his disciple if I rely on my family for salvation. 

I cannot be his disciple if I don’t love him more. 

I cannot mature in my relationship with Jesus by always staying in my comfort zone. 

No one can. 

 

I don’t always put God before my family… it’s a very difficult thing for me to do. 

I seek first their opinions. 

I crave their love. 

I desire their approval. 

I want them to satisfy me in ways that only God can. 

I want to be comfortable with them. 

Family is such a beautiful blessing from God. He created it the ultimate family model in the father, son, and holy spirit. God created families and desires to be glorified in them on earth and in heaven. It’s such a sweet gift to be able to walk in a family that encourages, prays, uplifts, and gives life.

But when I place my family on a pedestal, I elevate them into a place that only God can rightfully reign, and I begin to become bitter and angry when my family doesn’t do what I think that they are supposed to. I have to guard myself against this temptation.

Loving Jesus more than I love my family produces freedom that can only be found in the union with christ.

For me, loving Jesus more is being okay with moving out and going out into the community and working, because that means that I will have more opportunities to share the gospel and bring God glory. I have to be okay with going where Jesus wants me to go, no matter where my family is. 

For others, that may mean removing yourself from a toxic situation, speaking out about your faith, or providing your child with the resources to head oversees to share the gospel. It also may mean risking your life, status, or position in your family all for the sake of Christ. 

For everyone, loving Jesus more & the world less means: understanding who Jesus really is: the savior the world, king of kings, prince, of peace, fountain of life, living water, good shepherd, lover of our souls, ultimate sacrifice, high priest, intercessor, and our only redeemer. 

Our God is not a withholder of good; he knows what we need, when we need, & why we need it more than anyone else on this earth, even ourselves. 

Even when it hurts, even when it’s hard, & even when it doesn’t quite make sense:

Love less so that you can love more. 

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How I know He is the One

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Josh and I have been dating for almost 6 years; it’s crazy how fast time goes by when you’re having fun!

We’ve navigated both high school and college together.

We used our weights class as a study hall and pretended to “do abs” the entire 55 minute class period (we put the “student” in student-athletes).

We somehow managed to get A’s in AP calculus & AP psychology (I’ll let you guess who was better at which).

We convinced our college professors to move our tests when we wanted a long weekend (true story).

We’ve celebrated more holidays together than I can count (from Christmas to St.Patrick’s day….?)

We’ve laughed until we had tears streaming down our face.

We’ve road tripped 14 hours to NYC, 9 to KC, and 7 to PCB.

We’ve had some long-distance summers, & others spent together.

We have gone on so many fun dates, from picnics at the park to fancy dinners in downtown Nashville.

We’ve laughed, cried, danced, adventured, made memories, and grown together in so many different ways these past 6 years.

Let me tell you a little bit about Josh, & how I knew he was the one:

Josh shows me love each day even when I don’t deserve it.

He always pays for my meals (even when I accidentally order the most expensive item on the menu…oops 🙂

He gives good gifts & it generous with his time.

He often gives up his own plans for mine.

He always knows how to put a smile on my face.

He makes me feel funny and he laughs at my jokes (most of the time).

He has gone to therapy with me to support me in recovery.

He is sweet to my friends.

He holds me when I cry.

He drags me out of the house when I need a pick-me-up.

He challenges my thoughts when they are irrational (hard to believe, I know).

He let me buy more than 5 throw pillows for our apartment (a big compromise on his part).

He has the most balanced, healthy relationship with exercise, & encourages me to follow him in that.

He encourages me to eat dessert when I want it, & to save it for later when I am full & satisfied.

He only makes positive comments about my body & appearance.

He takes my mood swings like a champ.

He comes and watches me speak every chance that he gets.

He shows love to Maddie even when it means getting her hair all over his black shorts.

He is very intelligent & good with money (thank you Jesus that I don’t have to construct our budget or do our taxes).

He loves spending time with family.

He respects me & doesn’t hesitate to tell me how proud he is of me.

He supports my career & is willing to work while I do my dietetic internship.

All of these things are great, but they weren’t the deciding factor in determining if he was “the one”.

Jesus was the deciding factor.

I knew that a relationship that wasn’t built on the rock-solid foundation of the gospel wasn’t going to work for me.

I’m not sure how it works for anyone.

With the divorce rates in the United States ranging from 40-50% (even within the Christian community), I wasn’t going to take my chances with just anyone.¹

I wasn’t just looking for a guy who went to church, attended a bible study, or lived a moral life.

I needed someone who shared my love for Jesus.

I needed someone who was born-again, & believed in the daily work of the Holy Spirit.

I needed someone who would fight his sin like a true man, while also encouraging me to do the same.

I needed someone who would hold my hand during worship.

I needed someone who would be to me who Jesus is for the church.

I needed someone who would receive the grace, mercy, and forgiveness and God, because Lord knows I need that same grace, mercy, & forgiveness every day.

I needed someone who would prepare for the return of Jesus with me.

I needed a good “kingdom-building” partner.

I needed a man who was after God’s own heart.

Josh is that person for me.

What makes loving him so easy is his humility, willingness to turn from his sin, and recognition that his purpose in life is to know God & make him known. He understands that it is only by growing in intimacy with God that he can grow in intimacy with me. He loves Jesus, he fears the Lord, he believes in the power of God’s word, & he has been born again, a new creation through the blood of Jesus.

It isn’t because of the nice dates, fun times, or even memories made. It isn’t because of the cute pictures & holidays spend together. It isn’t his good looks or his charm. It isn’t even his personality. As wonderful as some of those things are, they wouldn’t have held us together these past 6 years.

It’s because of Jesus.

Nothing more, nothing less. The saving blood of Jesus unites us together in a relationship that can only become more intimate through the covenant of marriage.

REFERENCES:

  1. http://www.apa.org/topics/divorce/

 

Wedding Week.

All of our plans from the last 13 months are coming together this week.

Thank you notes are being written at full force.

My bags are packed for the honeymoon.

My dress was taken to David’s Bridal for a last minute button repair (yikes!)

Rainy weather prep has been taken care of.

The marriage license has been signed.

We are both more ready now than ever before (how could you not be after dating 6 years?!)

In 4 days, I will be marrying the man of my dreams; the one who has loved me through the darkest season that either of us have walked through; the one who makes life less complicated & reminds me to make time for work AND play; the one who holds me and prays for me when human words are not enough to comfort.

In 4 days, we will make a covenant before God (how cool is that?!), promising to love each other deeply, in sickness & in health, for better or for worse, & to build a life around the gospel that glorifies Jesus in everything we do. What a beautiful blessing that could only come from Jesus.

Life couldn’t be any better, but this week hasn’t been a walk in the park. “Wedding bliss” has been a far cry from my reality.

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I lost my retainer & had to pay $300 dollars out-of-pocket (for a new piece of plastic).

My anxiety has been ramped up & I haven’t been able to sleep very well (let’s be real, when do I ever sleep well?)

My stomach has been in knots & I have had sharp pains on and off each day, often without explanation.

I went to the doctors office to get a physical done & I about threw the scale across the room when she told me my weight (dramatic? maybe so.)

My eating disorder has attempted to resurface this week, so I’ve been having to fight the lies with truth & fight to practice good recovery.

I haven’t spent much time recently with Josh because we are both super busy between the wedding & work.

Feelings of depression have flooded my heart.

Oh…….and my dog, my sweet Maddie May, has a cancerous tumor in her right eye, & she tore her ACL.

What a week, & it’s only Wednesday.

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I know that none of these things are a coincidence. See, the devil doesn’t like it when two people who love God commit to marriage. He knows all too well that a cord of 3 strands cannot easily be broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12). He prowls around like a lion & devours me every chance he can get (1 Peter 5:8).  He wants to steal, kill, & destroy not only me, but everyone who inhabits this earth (John 10:10). He is bitter towards God & tries to reap havoc on everything that he can.

Do I think it’s a coincidence that my eating disorder urges are strong, my anxiety is high, & my dog’s illness was revealed to me this week?

No.

Josh & I are both Christians & we are both committed to marriage…the devil has already lost those battles, but that persistent, pesky fallen angel doesn’t give up easily. He tries to do everything in his power to deceive, distance, & disrupt our relationships with God. He does everything in his power to render the Christian as powerless, ineffective, and unfruitful.

When responding to his attacks, we have a few options:

  1. We can run to the things of this world to distract ourselves from what we are feeling & relief our pain temporarily.
  2. We can try to run & isolate ourselves.
  3. We can become bitter towards God.
  4. We can turn to Jesus and fight back.

I ran through my options:

I could revert back to my ED behaviors to numb myself to what I am feeling…..maybe skip a meal, go on a long run, or binge on cereal until I am sick to my stomach.

I could just sit in my room with my door closed until the day of the wedding…life is too much sometimes. It would be easier just to not do this week or talk to anyone.

I could just get pissed at God & distance myself from him because I don’t feel his presence in these situations. “WHY would all of this happen on what is supposed to be the best week of my life?! Does he not know what is coming up in just a few short days? Does he care?”

I could turn to Jesus & refuse to lie pray to the enemy’s schemes. I could fight back for joy, fight back for peace, & fight back for my soul. 

Number 4 isn’t necessarily the easy option. It doesn’t always feel good. It doesn’t always make sense. It’s hard.

But, even so, how could I not turn to the savior who has redeemed dead places in my life more than once; the one who loves me more than anyone else on this earth (even my fiancé); the one who has NEVER left me or forsaken me; the one who has already won the battle on the cross?

When I decided to turn to God rather than run away from him, he gently reminded me of the scripture that has been engrained in my mind since my late high school years, the scripture that reminds me of the power of Christ that lives in me, the scripture that has been the most helpful to me in fighting off lies from the enemy:

“Although we walk in the flesh, we do not wage war in the flesh. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal (of the world, man-made), but mighty in God, for the pulling down of strongholds, casting down of arguments, & every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, taking every thought into captivity & placing it under the obedience of Christ”­ (2 Corinthians 10:4-6).

Modern Day translation: You are not fighting your circumstances, the things that are seen. We are fighting off the lies that the enemy whispers to us in the midst of situations that may or may not already be difficult to walk through. He makes things up. He tries to pit man against man, woman against woman. He wants us to believe we are powerless. But, God the Father has granted to us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm to fight off these attacks. The power of the cross is great enough to break down sin patterns that have been engrained in our lives for years. The power of the cross speaks louder than any argument the enemy tries to engage in. The power of the cross tells us that there is nothing too big or too hard for God.

God knows that the enemy will attack us, but he doesn’t leave us to fight the battle alone.

He asks us to take our thoughts captive. He wants us to discern what is true & what is not through his word & the guidance of the holy spirit. He takes hold of the destructive thoughts when we surrender to him. The weapons that he has given us are the sword of the spirit (the word of God), the helmet of salvation (our secured victory & eternal destiny), the breastplate of righteousness (our position before God because of Jesus, our identity), feet fit with the gospel of peace (a foundation of peace & trust in the gospel), and the shield of faith (God himself, protecting us & guarding us from the fiery darts that the enemy uses in hopes to wound & discourage us). Our weapons are more powerful than the weapons of this world (Ephesians 6:10-18).

Satan wants me to turn back to my eating disorder because he knows it renders me as useless & crippled.

Satan tries to worry me because he knows my body doesn’t process anxiety well.

Satan encourages me to fixate on small details that don’t really matter in light of eternity.

And Satan tries to destroy me here on earth because he isn’t powerful enough to seduce my soul.

Friends, the battle has already been won, which is something we so easily forget.

So as I continue to prepare for the wedding on Saturday, I refuse to sit back & allow the devil to beat me down. I will sing songs of praise to Jesus, fight back with scripture, & pray by the spirit any chance I get.

I will crush satan’s head with every step I take towards my groom on that glorious Saturday afternoon. I will make a public declaration that he hasn’t (and will never) win battles against me. I will rejoice in the beauty of the gospel & the privilege of getting to do life with such an amazing man, one who is after God’s heart. I will live in the now rather than looking ahead and worrying about the future. I will not be shaken by circumstances or lies that are only meant to destroy me. Not from my own power, but from His. Saturday couldn’t come soon enough!

 

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