When plans get canceled and things keep piling on it’s easy to slip down into that pit. You know the one…depression. It’s slippery and deep. Once you’re down there Satan wants you to focus on the stresses that’s piling up around you because when you’re busy focusing on the stressors, then you’ve taken your eyes off the Savior.
But friend, can I share something that the Lord reminded me of this week?
It’s been awhile since I’ve shared. Admittedly, the physical pain gets so bad that it’s hard to focus on writing and sharing, but maybe it’s also because my eyes started to look within instead of up?
One day last week I had a really tough time…it was one of those times where you beg the Lord to take you because it’s just too much. I went to bed sobbing. Y’all…the Lord is so good…He gave me a dream. I’m sharing because I know that I’m not alone…no matter how often satan tries to peddle that lie, I’ve learned…he’s wrong. I’m not alone.
In the dream, I’m sitting alone in a dark muddy pit. I know it was muddy, though I couldn’t see, because I tried desperately to climb my way out…one, two, three times…each time was just as futile as before. The mud just sucked me right back down. I sat like a child, legs crossed, sobbing, & hopeless. But then appeared Jesus. I couldn’t see his face but I knew it was him. He’s my Shepherd, my Lord…I know it was Him. He held me. He just sat and held me. I woke up and while the pain was still there, so was the peace from such an intimate encounter with my Savior.
Later on that day I was praying for a precious friend and the Lord gave me a vision. I know it sounds crazy, but I tell you that the Lord IS able and faithful to communicate with us! We should ALWAYS test these dreams & visions against the Bible. If it contradicts God’s Word, then we can know it’s false and not of God. However, if it aligns with the Word of God we can KNOW that the vision is true and from Him! The vision was of Jesus carrying me on His back as He climbed out of that pit. Then of my friend on Jesus’ back as He brought her out of the pit as well.
Here’s the thing Jesus could have spoke and brought us out of that pit without getting down in there with us, but that’s not who Jesus is. He meets us in that pit and then we must cling tight to him every step of the way up so that we can look back and say – that was not me, that was all God.
If you are struggling to see out of the darkness, cry out to Jesus. He’ll be there.
I know that I’m not the only one who loves to scroll through social media and see Bible verses or Hymn lyrics in pretty fonts on beautiful backgrounds. It’s such a refreshing change from the hate and division that has become the norm across social media land. One of my favorite songs says, “when I rise give me Jesus.” It’s the perfect pithy phrase that has been plastered on shirts, mugs, and homes across America. But did you know that it does not actually exist anywhere in the Bible? The songwriter did a wonderful job of taking God’s word and through proper exegesis pulled together a powerful summation of several different passages of God’s word. Does that make it wrong? No, certainly not. However, I wanted to share something that the Holy Spirit laid on my heart today. When we first wake up who or what are we turning to? Our phones or to Jesus? Have we traded pithy statements on beautiful backgrounds for actual time spent at the feet of Jesus in His word? Honestly…I’ve been guilty of that more times than I care to admit to y’all.
Does this mean we should quit sharing those gorgeously scripted Bible verses on varying floral backgrounds? No, by all means, SHARE the word of God – ALWAYS! The point is that these pictures should never replace time studying, meditating, and praying over God’s word. The former will lead to a shallow religion at best, the later will lead to a deep and richly satisfying relationship with Abba God.
The Lord brought these verses to mind which prompted this article…
1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread. 4 But he [Jesus] answered, “’It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:1-4)
Isn’t that just typical Satan, attacking when we are tired, hurting, lonely, hungry, etc.? Jesus made this statement to Satan after fasting in the wilderness for forty days and forty nights. Y’all. I get hangry* at the end of my intermittent fasting time so I’m pretty sure I’d have stabbed a fool [satan] after 40 days. Praise God that Jesus is Jesus and not me. Amen?! Amen. The Bible even makes it a point to say that Jesus was in fact hungry. For him to have not had a lick of food for FORTY days and nights, yet his response to Satan was to quote scripture…how very telling as to the enormity of daily feasting or meditating on God’s word!
I challenge you, dear friend, let us reach for our Bibles and not our phones in the mornings so that we can be prepared at all times.
By His grace,
*hangry = when one reaches a certain level of hunger that incites anger.
Today, God spoke to my heart through tangles. Sounds crazy, I know. But lean in and I’ll tell you how…
My lovely daughter has always had the most tender head known to man. The irony is not lost on me since I, myself am so hardheaded; however, when I was her age I, too, was extremely tender headed. My mama owned a beauty shop back in the day and I loathed…yes, loathed, having her brush my hair. It always ended in tears and frustration – sometimes from both of us. I would have sworn that my mama was not being as gentile with me, her own daughter, as she was with her customers. And truth be told…I think I was right. Just kidding, Wanda Sue.
Fast forward to present day. We have had numerous discussions with L about the importance of taking care of our hair, body, etc. Mainly because proper hygiene is important, but more so because we believe it is important to be good stewards with what the Lord has given us. There have been many times that she has been reminded to brush her hair before we go somewhere only to see her come bounding out of the house with a giant wad of matted hair in the back (y’all the kid is a crazy sleeper!) Unfortunately, we have had to dole out consequences for not obeying us, such is the nature of parenting.
This last week we talked about our morning routines and how sometimes we do forget to do thing that need to be done; however, if we are consistently “forgetting” then it has become a heart issue of disobedience rather than accidental forgetfulness. So, for the last few days I have reminded her to brush her hair then let her go about her merry way without checking it.
Today was library day with her Daddy. It’s a special weekly date that’s just for the two of them. She loves it. As she hurried past me, I said, “No, ma’am. Go brush your hair.” She pulls the brush through 5 times, lays it down thinking she has finished. At which point I said, “I’m sorry, but Mommy will have to get those out.” She immediately starts crying.
I prayed that the Lord would give me wisdom in that moment. That I wouldn’t give in to the frustration and anger that have welled up in me so many times because my child had yet again not obeyed a simple instruction.
As I sat brushing her hair section by section, trying my best to not cause her more pain than necessary, the Lord reminded me that just like those tangles, sin usually starts as something small, that most wouldn’t notice or think it’s a big deal. But as it’s left unbrushed it continues to build into something so grotesquely matted that when the time comes & God says ok, my child that’s enough…then the consequences involved in removing that sin are going to be so much more painful than if we had turned it over to Him sooner.
And as I started to share this with Laylah she stopped crying and apologized for not obeying, then proceeded to have a look of hope on her sweet face & asked, “I can’t wait to get to Heaven cause there won’t be any tangles there, right Mama?” That’s exactly right, baby girl. There will be no more tears, no pain…and no tangles. Amen.
But the story does not stop there, friends. See just like L, I needed this reminder more than anyone. As I was removing that speck from my child’s eye, there was a giant log in mine.
In Matthew 7:5, Jesus had a specific title for someone like me. “You hypocrite” – ouch. Shew, he surely didn’t pull any punches with that! See y’all, here’s the thing…Jesus didn’t come to save the sinless, but the sinner. Which (spoiler alert) everyone is a sinner; therefore, a hypocrite. But y’all, that is GREAT NEWS because that means that there is nothing that is too big or too small that He won’t forgive! And if I can get real, real here – it is man that puts levels on sin. To a holy & just God it is all the same sin. Sin that He cannot look upon. Sin that breaks that fellowship with Him. Just like it grieved my heart to see my child hurt today…it grieves His heart infinitely more to see His precious creation continue in sin.
That’s been a grace-filled truth and much needed comfort for my heart today. For those who did not know me pre-seminary, I was always working out & in pretty good shape. Over time, however, I gave up taking care of the body that God gave me. I started to eat all the unhealthy foods in gluttonous proportions. Brace yourself I am throwing some brutal honesty out there – I have been living in the sin of gluttony. It’s been going on for quite some time and the effects on my body are both physically & mentally painful.
As the Holy Spirt convicted me of my sin, He reminded me that God’s forgiveness and grace hadn’t stopped. That YES, I have been/am a hypocrite, but I have not gone beyond the arm of forgiveness of my Savior.
I share this deeply ashamed; yet, in my weakness I will boast of the greatness of my Savior. Though my sin has been festering for quite some time & the road to reversing the consequences will be long and painful, I stand confident in 1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us & cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
What do you need to confess to the Lord today? Whatever it may be, know that Jesus loves you & WANTS to forgive you.
I beg your patience as this will be lengthy, but I believe it to be worth the read. This is my first post in almost 2 years. Every time I sat down to write, there was this wall. I couldn’t see past it and was ashamed to admit it so I let the blog go unattended.
Ya’ll, I’m about to get vulnerable. Please, be kind. And if you would pray for me as I can assure you I am trying not to have a small (ok, gigantic!) panic attack as I type knowing I’m publishing this for others to read. Letting people in has always been a struggle of mine, but my desire above all is to glorify the Lord especially in my weakness.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
2 Corinthians 12:9
These last several years have been nothing short of painful torment from migraines to pain that consumes every inch of my body and as of late degenerative arthritis within my spine. If I’m being fully transparent these last few months have been hell on this earth. My body is breaking down, betraying my once vibrant and active self. You might not know it if you see me because I try to hide it with a smile. Not a fake smile, but one that was forged through the darkest of times and came out victorious through Christ.
It began in college after almost 2 decades of non-stop sports. Most weekends consisted of at least a 3 game series maybe more if it was a tournament. Those Sunday mornings I would awaken to what I could only describe as feeling like being hit by a Peterbilt. Even making it to the restroom was a feat which consisted of me hobbling like a 90+ year old in desperate need of a cane. Over time, I came to resent that even in my prime healthy state my body screamed almost constantly with pain. Eventually I gave in. I quit. I quit trying to eat healthy. I quit working out. The depression was dragging me under like a rip tide. And I quit caring.
Consequences of my own sinful gluttony have compounded the horrible genetics that plagues my family. Today the physical pain makes it nearly impossible to function as the wife and mother my family need & deserve. My mind is often so clouded by the pain, that I’ve shut myself off from real face-to-face interactions as its become increasingly harder to form coherent thoughts and have genuine connections with others. Not to mention the internal battle with knowing the person folks see – the obese me – is not who I was or want to be. The shame. It’s massive. It’s always in my mind. There is never a moment where I’m not so self-aware of the size of my body and how it reflects on me, my family, my husband, and my Lord. From this pain has come an even deeper desire to see Jesus…sooner than what He’s planned. Full stop. Yes, yes those thoughts invaded in the midst of agonizing, ever increasing pain. They have screamed loud…and persistent.
No one sees the struggle. It’s invisible, but the pain is ever present.
As I lay my heart open, bare and raw, for the public to see, I know that some will inevitably say, “Well, its your fault. You make the choice of what goes into your body.” “Just suck it up and quit throwing a pity party. You don’t like how things are, then get up and make some changes!” I get it. You have no clue about the depths of depression and severe chronic pain. I don’t blame you for your ignorance. I, too, ashamedly reacted to others without compassion before. Now I know.
If you are still with me, please continue reading. Allow me to share what the Lord has taught me about depression and thankfulness.
God has blessed me abundantly, but even if He hadn’t, if Jesus was all I had…it would be more than I deserve. Hear me. Jesus is my ALL, my everything. He is who I cling to in the dark when I’m writhing in pain unable to sleep. He is my only source of joy in the midst of the sorrow and what sustains me when Satan tempts me to relieve myself of this earthly pain. Jesus is the reason why this broken mess of a woman smiles.
This is not to say that medicine isn’t a biblical option, because I very much believe that it is. Just as the Lord saw fit to inspire doctors with treatments for cancer and other diseases, I believe that in the right context medicine for depression is valid and needed. However, I believe that first we must take a long, hard look at our hearts. We must ask ourselves the hard questions. How is my walk with Jesus? Am I daily spending time in the Word? Have I sought out biblical counseling? If you’ve done all of those things, but still the depression deepens – talk to your doctor. One of the best decisions I made next to accepting Jesus was recognizing that I needed help. For years I lived in shame that it made me “less than” as a Christian, but after seeking out some solid biblical counseling I have realized that my weaknesses confirm my need for a savior. In Christ I will boast, though He may never remove this “thorn in my flesh”1, I know that it is for my good and His glory.
Friend, if you are reading this and you do not have a relationship with Jesus, I would strongly encourage you to start there. The only remedy for any of our brokenness is Jesus. Please, reach out to me or another believer that you trust.