2017 tried to take me out. I’m not talking about a few hard things happening and me being distracted or upset. I’m talking about punches landing right and left, each one with the potential blow to knock me completely out. There came a time that I just gave up. I was so weary from fighting the thoughts in my own head, the circumstances that seemed so difficult, and the constant barrage of punches that I turned my back on God and gave into the depression. I decided it was always going to be that way and that apparently God didn’t care. Let me just tell you, that is a scary place to be, an absolutely terrifying, heartbreaking place to be. What amazes me is that I have entered 2018 with renewed faith, with a much more solid footing, and with the knowledge that while the fight won’t go away – neither will my God.
A dear friend recently told me that she would love to hear what I learned from my time in the wilderness. While I am guessing she meant over the phone (which I will do as well), I had to write down the words first to get them into some sort of comprehensible, coherent form. What follows is the short version. Y’all know I have all the words and I could – and might – go into much more detail about each of these lessons. Right now, I’m just going to lay them out in list form.
God showed me:
~That the extent of His grace and love is higher and deeper than I can even fathom. He chose to offer me a way to spend eternal life with Him through the death and resurrection of His son, and that alone is reason enough to be abundantly grateful every single minute of every single day.
~He owes me nothing. He created me which means that He has the right to do with me as He pleases. He chooses to love me and rescue me from myself. Which means that I owe Him everything. “Every good and perfect gift from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17 I need to be thankful for every gift He has given me.
~He is real, even when all of my senses, feelings, and circumstances say different. I have so much more to say about this because I questioned this often and He really had to teach me this truth.
~The only way to hold onto His goodness is to replace lies with truth. The world, the enemy, and the tape that plays in our head tell us an incredible amount of lies about who we are, or aren’t, who He is or isn’t, and what is good and right and pure. I must replace these lies with the truth immediately before they develop into these huge, warped, ugly monsters that pull me down.
~Armor up. The devil is very real and he is determined to keep me down and God from being glorified. I should not only expect his attacks – but prepare accordingly through time spent with God in prayer, reading His word, putting on the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-18), and listening.
~I need to listen more – to God, to those I love, to the warnings of the Holy Spirit, and even to the nay-sayers because they can help me grow. I need to take in what is said and think about it and respond in grace and kindness. When I listen well I feel more connected and I know that the people to whom I am listening feel more connected to me as well.
~Don’t isolate myself. I crave connection. The longer I cut people off the deeper I fall. God created us for fellowship so that other believers can remind us of His goodness, our worth, and help guide us back to a healthy place.
~Trust in God is an all or nothing deal. Having a little trust – or even a lot – but not complete – will fail me in times of great sadness, trials, or attack.
~God always has a reason and I don’t have to know what it is to trust that truth. Listen, I know how cliché’ that sounds. When your loved one is the hospital more days than out, when you lose someone you love, when your heart is absolutely shredded, this seems ridiculous. Why would God ever allow those things to happen? What sort of reason could there possibly be to cause those immense levels of pain? I don’t know. I really don’t. With all my heart, though, I believe God does. If I didn’t then what is another reason all these things happen? I prefer to trust that my God, while not causing all the hurt, allows it for a reason that He knows. Plus, the Bible says so – and I believe it.
~Satan is a bully and he uses bullying tactics. I have discussed this point briefly in a former blog. It was my ministry partner, Tracy, who pointed all of this out to me and it has made a huge difference in the way I respond to everything. The enemy will find what works best to bring me down and shut me up – and exploit it until I refuse to let it move me. By praising God, trusting Him, and standing on His promises, I can battle that attack. Eventually he will move on, probably to another strategic attack but the same principals will still apply: trust, praise, armor up, and time with God.
~The sooner I stop the downward spiral by choosing to believe God and quit playing out the lies in my head, the quicker I become healthy again.
~God is always there. I am never alone. If I will “draw close to God, He will draw close to me.” James 4:8
That’s a lot of words. These lessons are so much deeper than a sentence or two can possibly explain. If I went into detail on each one, this post would never end. Look for more to come on each one though – but as its own post. I believe that the lessons God taught me this past year He has been trying to teach me for some time. I’m rather stubborn. I also believe that they apply to us all, maybe not all of them will apply to you, but some of them will. If you wonder, ask Him, He is faithful to answer.