“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
Do you ever dream about “when you grow up?” I’m a legit grown-up with a house payment and husband and kids and a dog and I often think about the way I will be when I grow up. In my dreams I have it all together…. I am a great mom and wife 100% of the time, I can balance housework and a job and still make time for fun hobbies, I love the Lord with all of my heart and everyone knows it, I have no worries, no anxiety, and no struggles because I am a grown up. I so wish this dream could come true but unfortunately it won’t. I will proudly say that I have days where I have it more together than other ones and I do my best to show my love for Jesus to the world but on most days I struggle. Some struggles I have outgrown or overcome but some are very much there all the time.
I want to tell you a story of something that happened to me several years ago. I grew up traveling and flew on an airplane for the first time when I was three or four. My family flew often and as I got older had many opportunities to travel alone. While I sometimes got a little nervous upon takeoff there was never any fear or anxiety, flying just wasn’t a big deal. While I was growing up I had lots of worries about lots of things but flying was not one of them. One thing I have always done though on flights is keep my eye on the flight attendants. Anytime I would hear a weird noise or we would experience turbulence I would look to see how the flight attendants responded. Because they were always calm, I would be too. However, in the blink of an eye it all changed.
Several years ago I was flying home from seeing my college roommates. I was flying alone on a small plane and because it was fairly empty there was no one on my row and I could only see the backs of a few heads in front of me. I was about half-way through my second flight when our plane started having some significant issues. It was a terrifying few minutes and as the oxygen masks came down the only person I could find to look at was the lone flight attendant. It was at that moment that I needed some reassurance or a look that everything was going to be ok. But instead, the one person I was putting all of my hope in was freaking out. She had panic all over her face and instead of making sure the passengers had the masks figured out, she was crumpled in her seat hysterical. Obviously I made it home but that 5 minutes on an airplane has sent me down a road of fear and anxiety ever since.
I have learned a lot about myself because of those brief minutes on an airplane and it is not pretty. I have flown many times since that incident but only with my husband or family and unfortunately have had to take medicine. I pray and pray and put it on the prayer request list before every flight. People give me pep talks and I recite bible verses. I have even tried reading my bible but then I get on the flight and loose it. You know why? I can’t seem to give that fear and worry over to God. God doesn’t just want some of us, He wants all of us. I like control and somewhere deep down, I think I can do a better job than God. That is hard to admit, but it’s the truth. We flew to Hawaii recently. We live on the East Coast so it was a long trip on an airplane. Once again I did all of the things- prayed, had others pray, recited verses, surrendered the fear to God and I felt a peace on the trip out to Hawaii that I have not felt EVER. I did the whole flight without the help of medicine. I was amazed by God and then unfortunately, I became very amazed by myself. “I did it!” I told myself and anyone else who cared. “I did it!” Well I have to tell you that “I” can’t do amazing things by myself for very long. On the flight back we were tired, we flew overnight and the skies were rough. I didn’t keep my focus where it needed to be. The fear and anxiety crept in quickly and I was too tired to put up a fight.
Obviously as an adult I don’t have it all together. I struggle with lots of things and anxiety is one of them. Unfortunately in this world we have an enemy called Satan that does not ever want us to depend on God. The enemy doesn’t want us to win and most importantly he doesn’t want God to win and he fought me hard on the way home from Hawaii. I let him get the better of me. I didn’t surrender to the One who is always victorious. Instead in my humanness I worried. My worrying is not going to change the outcome of a flight. My anxiety is not going to make a pilot fly better or for us to avoid mechanical issues. God gives us the ability to make choices but He has our whole life in His hands. I have felt how it is to surrender to His control. The peace that came was overwhelming but for some reason in my humanness I snatched it back. When we struggle we are in a battle and with God we can always win!
“He shall say; ‘Hear, O Israel, today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.’” Deuteronomy 20:3-4
Written By: Heather
Ladies, in order to know who you are, you must know whose you are. So many times in my life I’ve forgotten this truth, and tried to define myself by who I’m with, what I like, and what I’m good at, instead of Who created me. This was a challenge for me years ago in middle school, and even now in my twenties I still struggle with it from time to time.
I know that I belong to God, and that who I am is not dependent on what others or myself may think, but sometimes I don’t remember that. I stress too much over getting perfect grades, fitting in that extra work out, or making a certain person like me, because I think that my success will give me more value. It can be mild at first, just taking up a bit more space in my thoughts than it should. But time and time again, when that guy left, my plans fell through, or that girl found a better friend, I’ve been left feeling hopeless.
Disappointments happen, there’s no way to avoid them. But disappointments are far greater when the thing letting you down is something you’ve anchored yourself and your identity to. What I’ve learned overtime is that I cannot escape all pain, but I ease the affects by anchoring myself to the One who never changes. I was not created to find my identity in things that come and go, constantly causing me to look for a new source of self-value. I was created by God to be held tightly to Him, defined by Him, and experiencing all things through Him, and so were you! When I’m rooted firmly in Christ and disappointment comes— like a friend letting me down, or a grade coming back lower than expected—I can weather the storm with strength and grace, because I know that who I am is not affected by my circumstance. Regardless of what happens, I belong to Christ, I have value in Him. Whatever I believe about myself or what others say is not true unless it aligns with God’s Word about me. God’s Word is full of promises that remind me who I am and Whose I am…
“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:14
“For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
Next time something goes wrong and you feel down and hopeless, remind yourself of who God says you are! Look to Him to find your identity, not the changing people and things of the world. It’s taken me years to learn this lesson, and I’m still on this journey along with you!
Written By: Emily
It’s hard to hurt alone. If you have ever struggled in silence, you know what I mean. It sort of feels like drowning. You are buried beneath the weight of the struggle with seemingly no escape and the worst part of it is that no one sees how much you are truly hurting. You are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulder with no one to help ease the burden. Maybe you have tried to reach out for help, but no one understands what you’re experiencing. Maybe you’re so ashamed of your struggle that you sit in the bondage of fear without saying a word to anyone. I have been there.
For those of you who don’t know my story, my struggles’ names were anorexia nervosa, anxiety, and OCD. No one knew about these things for the longest time, or if they did notice them I was unaware. When I was at my worst, I would lay in my bed for hours because I felt like that was the only safe place I had. The television show Friends was my lifeline as it was the only thing that brought me joy. I would sleep all day because at least my brain would shut off for a while. I felt like my mind was attacking me and I had no idea how to fight myself. It sounds so ridiculous, right? What does fighting yourself even look like? I didn’t have an answer. I cried out to God every single day to take away my pain and it felt as if my prayers were just bouncing off the walls. I could be in a room full of people and still feel so alone. I would find myself waking up in a panic attack often. I lost sight of who I was and whose I was.
Friends, one of the greatest lies that Satan tells us is that we are alone in our battles. He wants us to hide in our brokenness and shame. What does the Lord tell us about this? Romans 12:15 tells us to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” We are called to community with one another. The darkness cannot be dissipated if it is never brought into the light. Find someone or a few people that you trust and allow them to help bear your burdens. In my situation, this took place in the form of counseling and asking some dear friends of mine to join me in being my prayer partners. Allowing others to know that I was hurting was one of the best things I ever could have done. It’s okay to not be okay. You don’t have to be ashamed of your brokenness. I found that the more I talked about it, the more I realized that other people were battling the same things I was and that they needed to talk to someone about it too.
Some of you may be sitting here thinking “Ad, you don’t understand just how bad it is” or “that’s great, but I have literally no one to talk to.” Let me point you to scripture again. Guys, the most beautiful thing about our Savior is that He has already been there and that none of our pain or struggles come as a surprise to Him. Two of my favorite verses that highlight this are Hebrews 2:18 and James 4:6-7. Hebrews 2:18 says, “For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” He has been there, He understands when it seems that no one else does. James 4:6-7 says, “But he gives more grace. Therefore, it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” How cool is the first part of that verse? He gives us more grace, he never stops. Resist Satan and he will flee from you. Go before the Lord on bended knee, like actually get on your knees, and ask him to shield you and be near to you. There is something so incredibly powerful in assuming a posture of submission before the Lord.
I know sometimes verses aren’t the only thing someone needs to hear when they are struggling. I want to speak to the person that feels broken right now, completely shattered: it will be okay. It will get better. You have a God who loves you so much that He sent His Son to die in your place. It’s bad, I’m sure it is, and I know what it feels like to be completely disgusted with yourself. I know what it is like to not be able to tell anyone what is going on. I won’t pretend to know everything about your situation, as I would hope you wouldn’t do that to me, but I know what it’s like to feel utterly broken. None of this comes as a surprise to God and He will see you through this just like He has every single other time, He will never fail you. God may not deliver you from this as quickly as you would like Him to, but know that there is always a purpose to your pain. He does not let His people suffer in vain. Let’s get practical here. Cling to the cross and never let it go. Reach out to someone that you trust, it may be the most freeing thing you ever do. Try to focus your energy on other things or other people. Often times these inner battles draw every ounce of our focus inward and if we would just look outward, we may find some relief. Don’t use this as a means of neglecting yourself though, get the help you need.
Now speaking to everyone: show kindness to all people. You never know what someone else is going through, even if they tell you about it you can never understand the full extent of their pain. Never force someone to talk about something they aren’t ready to discuss. Be present and be patient, “remember that you do not ever look into the eyes of someone whom God does not love.” Be a light for Him, always.
You are loved, dear one. You are loved more than you could ever possibly imagine. We are in this together.
Written By: Adyson
Panic. Manic. Frantic. Those words have described my mental state all too often. Struggling to feel in control, trying to rely on myself while knowing my inevitable humanity, fighting to catch each breath before it escapes my chest. There was a time in my life where insecurities dictated my actions, fear was authority over my thoughts, and anxiety loomed in every crowded room and tough decision. One thing I wish I could tell my younger self—there is Hope.
There is Hope, ladies. This statement took me a while to figure out. I used to think I needed to have hope, lowercase ‘h’. I tried to find hope in myself, in my grades, in my friends, in man’s opinion of me. Over time, I ran to all of these for strength. Each time, I left feeling more void, more hopeless, and even more failed than before. But the Lord sought me out and corrected my ways. He showed me His ultimate reliability, His unfailing nature, and His great sufficiency. I shifted all of my hope and trust in Him. In turn, my mind and life became the dominion of the Lord.
These verses I had heard all my life felt like a new song for me to sing. Their ultimate truths refreshed my soul:
Even a decade after being saved, I have found that I need the Lord to save me every single day. I am still desperate for the Lord to refine me, transform me to look more like Him today. I don’t believe that I have been promised a stress-free life of roses and butterflies. I expect anxiety to overwhelm me and for lies to food my thoughts. But now I know whose I am and whose Power lives inside me. Through calling on the name of the Lord, saturating myself in His truths, and declaring His Power over my life, I have found a Hope no man can deny.
Written By: Laura
I was the girl who was afraid of going nowhere in life, but now I’m more afraid of not living the life God is calling me to.
I am a die-hard planner. At any given moment, I can tell you about my plans to live in England for a year, what I will be doing each summer, and what seminaries I will be applying to. I knew that I wanted to work immediately after I finish my undergrad and then I would go off to seminary. I was going to work as a camp counselor this summer, and next school year I would have a hall leadership position. I would then spend a summer in Greece as I worked with human trafficking victims and then I would spend the year in England as I did ministry and finished undergrad. The not so funny thing is, none of my plans are coming into fruition.
It seems like each time I turn around God is telling me “no.” Doors are slamming in my face, and frankly, I am hating every moment of it. I don’t appreciate the fact that my plans are not working out the way that I wanted them to. And I certainly don’t appreciate the fact that I don’t see any new plans forming because God has drawn me into a period of silence and waiting.
I know all of the clichés. Yes, God has my future under control. Yes, God’s will is better than my own. And yes, I just need to trust God a little bit more, and it will all work out the way he intended it to.
The thing is, there is nothing comfortable or natural about saying those words. I know those truths in theory, but coming to a place where I genuinely believe them is painful. Despite how unnatural it is, I have to come to a place where I am content with waiting. I must come to a place where I am at peace with the notion of not having my will. Ultimately, I have to trust that the will of God is better than my own.
God’s will has collided with my will, and it has resulted in my doors being shut. When the will of God collides with the will of man, something must submit, and it is the will of man that must submit. Truthfully, I want God’s plan to be the path that I follow, but my frustration lies in the fact that now I truly don’t know what tomorrow looks like. For the first time, I have to genuinely step back and surrender my life. For the first time, I have to honestly believe that God’s will is better than my own plan, despite the fact that I don’t know what his will is. It is far better for me to be in a place of discomfort and waiting for God’s direction than to be in the comfort of my own plans.
Not knowing anything has been the most painful part of this process, but I know that it will develop into the most beautiful part of this process. While there is nothing natural about placing my trust in a God who is withholding his plan, that is where my soul is most at rest. There is something so incredibly beautiful that happens when I relinquish control of my life. While I have felt incredibly confused and lost, I know that this time will prove itself to be for my benefit. And no, typing those words has not been easy, but that’s faith. Faith is letting go of my desires in the hope that God will prove himself to be far better than anything I can do for myself. It is better for me to follow a path that I cannot currently see than to have my own will come into fruition. Even though I feel out of place, I can rest assured that it better to trust God in this season of confusion than to place my trust in myself. This season will draw me closer to God because it will force me to remain dependent upon his and his sovereignty. I can only bring myself pain, but my God brings about a perfect plan.
Written By: Tara
It's that time of the month again. The heart shape candies are placed on store shelves, stuffed teddy bears are sold at outrageous prices, and the overflow of red roses seem to be on every street corner. Once again, it is the month of reminding myself, that I let myself stay single. Yes, let myself stay single. A promise I made to myself and god, about two years ago now. Why would you do that to yourself? Don't you want a companion? I am sure that's what half of you are thinking. I ask myself these same questions at times. The struggles real. That's just me being honest with you all. However, two years ago, it felt like the right commitment to make. I was a young freshman in college; young, (still young) wild, party child in need of learning to self-love, instead of looking to find love in the next boy I would sleep with. I committed to bettering myself and my relationship with Jesus before any physical relationship with a guy.
Before this commitment I would boy hop and sleep around. My friends knew me as the "Non-Committer" friend, when it came to dating and boys. It was a life that consumed me in every aspect. My reckless behavior lead to me waking up many mornings, questioning my self-worth and trying to make excuses for my behavior. I let my past and childhood be an excuse. The fact my parents weren't quite around, I came from abusive background, nobody cared, etc. I believed my own excuses, until one day, I saw my excuses got me into a situation that wasn't undoable. My faith I once ran from was the only thing I could run back to now.
I knew Jesus from young age. You know the typical kids church service, with a message, and apple juice and gold fish crackers. I even grew up going to church camp every summer. I asked him into my heart at, Sugar Pine Christian Camps in 2004, at the age of eight. I knew he loved me, I just wanted to feel love. I thought I knew Jesus. Turns out I didn't know Jesus; I just knew of him. I knew he loved me, but I didn't know the depth and sacrifice of how much he loved me. Jesus was a true gentleman. He loved with no requirements or judgment. I wouldn't realize any of that until I made an active life choice to start following him as I got older.
1 John 3:1,"See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him."
In my child mind, I thought once I accepted Jesus into my life that summer at church camp, I wouldn't feel as lonely, my emptiness inside would go away and I would live a joyful life. Problem free and heart break free. That didn't happen. I turned from Jesus and that's when I made my own life choices. I thought that love people talked about he gave, would never be a part of my life. It was a myth.
The first step in the right direction is always the right step leading to somewhere. That's the step I made when I decided to start going to church and follow him again. This time I got what I didn't get when I was eight years old that summer in 2004. If you want to feel that love from Jesus, you need to actively pursue after him. Read his word, it's right in our bible's, play your favorite worship band and actively release all your burdens to him as you worship, and know in your heart that he knows best. He truly wants the best for us. Jesus didn't promise us a carefree, painless life, he promised us, he would see us thru our trials and wouldn't leave us. He wants to better us in the trials, to grow us as individual's and Christians.
Deuteronomy 31:6,"Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
As my heart changed towards Jesus, I realized I was falling in love with a man, I once hated and blamed for event's in my life. As one of my teachers told me," everyone has their own life experiences, that shapes them into who they are." It's true. Jesus uses these life experiences to pursue us more, to say, I know your hurting, just follow me. Let me take your burdens and make them lighter for you.
Matthew 11:30,"For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light."
See friends, Jesus knows every hurt and wound, but, just like a true gentleman will do he won't force you to come to him, he will lovingly keep reaching out to you, to say, I am here. Choosing Jesus as my first love wasn't the easiest thing to do at first, but it became the best choice I made. Now, I live for him, because he chose to live for me, even thou he knew he was going to die. That's true love. Love that sacrifices for one another. Chose him. It's not easy. Boys are and will always be a distraction, I am not perfect either. No one is. When you fall, just get back up again. His grace is new every morning.
Galatians 2:20," I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."
Written By: Vanessa