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Ephesians

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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.
2 Corinthians 1: 3-5

What Happened:

When I was 15 one of the most traumatic and stressful events in my life happened which altered the course of my teenage years and early adult life.

I remember my mother telling me that my older brother had been in an accident, that she and my dad were going to the hospital about three hours away and that I would be staying at a friends house that night. Her face was pale, her eyes were filled with tears, and I was confused and scared. The next day came, and a family friend gave me a ride to the hospital, and after a restless night filled with questions, the answers I got were few and far between.

I know that my brother was working on a tractor-trailer when something went wrong, and his pelvis ended up pinned between the trailer and the ground. He was airlifted to the nearest trauma center that could handle the severity of his injuries, and his heart stopped twice during that flight. The doctors didn’t believe he was going to make, but they were going to give it their best shot. But I didn’t know any of this until much later.

From my point of view, this was the beginning of a three-month span of him being shuffled between surgery and ICU with little to no idea of what was going on.

By the grace of God, my brother was released from the hospital and while he does have some limitations of movement and occasional pain his physical recovery was nothing short of a miracle.

My emotional recovery, however, would take much longer.

What I Did:

Since most of the physical drama was occurring in a hospital several hours away from my home and I was still a freshman in high school, I had to return to my hometown to go to school during the week.

For the first month of this ordeal, my parents were in the hospital with my brother full time, which meant I needed someone to stay with. Fortunately, I was blessed to have a friend who welcomed me into their home. However, instead of being thankful that God had provided a place for me I felt abandoned by my family. I knew they were keeping me out of the loop with what was happening with my brother and now they weren’t even in the same home I came back to every night.

Logically I understood that my parents needed to be there for my brother and in hindsight, it’s clear that some of their secrecy was out of a desire to spare me most of the grim reality of the situation. But at that moment in my heart, it felt like I was a clear number two priority for my parents. It felt like the only people who were supposed to be there unconditionally for me were gone. Meanwhile, I was going to school and classmates and teachers would ask how my brother was doing and I had nothing to tell them. My reaction to this was to stop talking to people to keep myself from thinking about him and the embarrassment of not having any news on his condition.

By the second month, my parents had a system where one of them was with my brother, and the other was at home with me. This allowed me to further my isolation by losing contact with the friend I had stayed with and just stay at home as much as possible. The stress of this was taking a toll on more than just my relationships and my test performance at school started to decline, something that was already dicey due to test anxiety, dyslexia, and ADHD.

By the time my brother was released from the ICU, I was spending my weekends losing myself in fiction in his hospital room rather than trying to resuscitate my flailing grades. My weeks were consumed by depression and anxiety and the feeling that I was truly alone in the world.

By the time the my brother was able to come home and the school year was over I was so into my isolation that I demanded that I be homeschooled so I wouldn’t have to even see people my age during the week. I spent the next 4 years struggling to finish high school online while working full time in a preschool, with no friends my age, dealing with severe depression, and a future that looked bleak at best.

Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone?

Ecclesiastes 4:11

What I Learned:

Isolation is never the answer

To steal a phrase from my husband “Christianity is a team sport.” I felt miserable and alone for years because I decided to be defensive rather than letting trustworthy people in and sharing what was going on in my life. With the risk of sounding crazy, I can say for certain that the longer you go without communication with other the more convincing the voices in your head become. Depression and isolation are a vicious cycle that can be broken! If you are a Christian and feel yourself slipping into depression or isolating yourself, let someone know!

God is able to comfort me

My biggest mistake in this whole story. Bigger than staying out of community, bigger than isolating myself from people who cared about me, was not trusting that God was in control and that he had a plan for my life. My hope was in myself and my ability to make myself comfortable in my surroundings. This led me to collapse when I was no longer able to do that. I would encourage anyone who is in the pit of depression or hopelessness to examine what is giving their life meaning. If it isn’t God then it will always let you down.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
Ephesians 3:20

What God Has Done:

My goal with sharing this story isn’t to share how my life was terrible and that I lived miserably ever after. I want to show the mistakes I’ve learned from, so hopefully, you won’t have to repeat them. I also want you to know that if you’ve made similar mistakes that God can and will redeem you.

Since this is a new blog and you don’t know a lot of my story I wanted to tell you that my attitude and life has improved significantly since my dark teenage years. I’ve been renewed and transformed into a person whose greatest joy in life is building others up.

If anyone reading this can relate at all to my feelings of depression and anxiety, I want to let you know that I am here for you and I am praying for you. More importantly though God loves you and you were not created to live a miserable existence. I pray that you would turn to him. If you are interested but don’t aren’t comfortable alone or don’t know how to talk to God, reach out to me in the comments or the social media of your choice.

For we are God’s masterpiece He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Ephesians 2:10

The Dilemma:

If God considers us his masterpiece, then why do we think it is ok to treat ourselves like trash? Why do we start to believe the lies the devil tells us instead of listening to the truth of God’s word? All too often I find myself being consumed by lies that ensnare my emotions and lead me into a mental trap of not feeling good enough.

This is an issue that I find myself still struggling with today. I face the thoughts of living up to the standards of other people in my life or social settings. Sometimes it happens when I’m serving God by trying to do my job well, and suddenly it twists to me having to be the best employee and be recognized for it. Other times it’s just being in conversation with one of my friends and listening to what they did last weekend and thinking “so you made time for that person, but not me.” One that I’m sure almost all of us can empathize with is instant jealousy from looking at good news on a friend’s social media.

Each day seems to bring a new batch of neverending ways to try to put down others to boost my self-confidence, sabotage friendships by misreading intentions, or just give in to feelings that I’m never going to amount to anything. Basically, our challenge is not to be consumed with all these influences that tear many of us down.

Sometimes I did well and rose to the challenge, however, I’ve often found myself in a cycle where these comparisons spiral out of control. I was constantly beating myself up about how I wasn’t keeping up or learning anything or getting anywhere. The more accustomed I grew to this behavior and way of thinking, the less confident I became.

This resulted in isolation, depression, and spending less time in the bible.

I don’t know about you, but I never planned to come to a place where I wasn’t finding my confidence in the Lord. One day I was trying to follow God’s will for my life and the next I was caught up in lies that I wasn’t good enough and never could be. I don’t want to live in fear of never being good enough to live the life God has planned for me.

The good news is that I don’t have to and neither do you.

The (wo)man who trusts in the Lord whose confidence indeed is the Lord, is blessed.
Jeremiah 17:7

The Solution:

Let God determine your identity.

I know this is not exactly earth-shattering to many who are long-time Christians. However, nothing will ever be as comforting as the fact that the God of the universe, who knows every thought you’ve ever had much less everything you’ve ever done, fully loves and accepts you for who you are.

In fact, he created you to be that way. He is looking down on you as his daughter and can’t wait for you to trust that Dad really does have everything under control.

Today I am taking a leap of faith and starting one of the most ambitious projects I’ve ever done in launching this website. I have constantly had such a strong desire to encourage other women who are going through trials that it took me tearing my walls down and started actually going through what I was being called to do.

The reasons for why I shouldn’t are all around me:

  • I’m a horrible writer
  • I’m inconsistent
  • I have no experience with any kind of web stuff

But my reason for why is bigger:

  • God has placed this on my heart to do

I honestly don’t know if God is planning on using this as an epic failure to teach me to rely on him more fully or if this website will eventually reach millions for His Glory. What I do know is that the end result really doesn’t matter as long as I am following where he is leading me.

What is it that you feel God is calling you to do that you just don’t believe is possible? What kinds of steps could you start taking in faith that God is leading you this way to reveal more about himself to you?

My encouragement to y’all is to dig a little deeper and not to ignore the desires the Lord has given you or live in the lies that you will never succeed. Spend more time building a healthy image by relying on God’s word instead of other sources and go do something great for Him.

I’ll be right there with you.

 

Oh and as I’m still learning this whole blogging thing. I’d love to hear about anything that really resonated with you or what fell flat. Also, I would love to read about any plans, big or small, that God has laid on your hearts to pursue!

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