To those suffering in silence, this is for you..
Today I was helping Glory with some math and she kept getting mixed up because she wasn't using the chart I gave her. I was getting frustrated and told her if she'd use the tools I was teaching her, she would so get this! (Not a proud mama moment, I know 😦 but I digress.) This evening God showed me the profound lesson in this statement, but let me share some background first.
This season of life for us has been a roller coaster, to put it lightly. I remember a time in my life when people often told me I had the gift of faith. No matter what happened – good or bad, I had faith. But in this season, I could barely pray, read the word, or even be around people in general. Suddenly, I had become accustomed to hearing the lies of Satan so much louder than the gentle voice of the Father, and I began to drown.. I was deep in the trenches of depression, unable to keep my head above water on most days. I tried my best to stay afloat for my family and tried to keep face for my business. My husband outwardly seemed he was doing well, but inwardly was going through his own struggles. Weeks of darkness turned into months and suddenly it was mid 2017 and I questioned everything about my life. I didn't know how we got to this place of confusion and chaos.
This isn't a story of a miraculous healing or an incredible encounter with God – although those things did happen. This is a testimony about what God has done and some tools he has given me that I want to share with you.
In life, Satan will come and attack you where you are weakest or where he feels most threatened. He also hates marriage and family, so of course those are his main targets as well (so predictable- ugh!).
God allowed us to go through these trials to help us understand the importance in spiritual warfare and to give us tools to fight.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:10-12
The tools he gave us are not earth shattering revelations. They are simple, basic truths that require one thing – a yes in our hearts.
Read the Word. Everyday.
It's easier said than done, right? There are days when I dread it and days when I absolutely could not. But now, having come out of the darkest time, I know I cannot live without the word of God. There are days when I would rather scroll mindlessly on Instagram or watch the latest episode of Food Network Star than open my bible or turn on worship music. But I physically feel different now when I don't meditate on the Word or immerse myself in worship – I am more critical, irritated, frustrated..
I've prepared myself for the days I don't "feel" like reading because those are probably the days I need it the most. I voice recorded some key "battle verses" that help to lift my eyes to God and that tell the truth of who I am and listen to the recording when I don't want to read. Revelations from his word and getting lost in worship fills my heart so. much. 😭
Only Love Today "OLT"
I learned the concept of OLT through an article that was circulating on Facebook about parenting. OLT means ridding yourself of a critical spirit by praying to "only love today" when a critical thought comes up. It's truly an Ephesians 6 tool of taking every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ. But this OLT really starts within ourselves. How many times do we have a critical thought of ourselves and we take it in as truth? For me it is usually, "I'm not meant to be a mother.. I'm such a bad wife.. I'm not good enough.. etc." but to take each of these lies/criticisms and turn it into truth takes time and practice, to turn it into a habit. The truth is, I may be a hot mess mom but I'm doing the best I can.. and so forth. Only Love Today starts with you and once you love yourself, know who you are and Whose you are, from that place you can truly love others and not project a critical spirit onto your loved ones. This helps so much in the area of bringing peace into your heart.
Listen for the voice of God
The moment I started to come out of the pits was when I realized I had been listening to the voice of Satan on the regular! So I started to practice hearing the voice of God in prayer. The first time I tried hearing the voice of God for myself, the first thing I heard was, "You're not going to hear anything. This is a joke. You're sitting here in silence.." and it went on. And I knew that wasn't the voice of my loving Father. So I kept praying and then I heard it. Like a still small voice, an impression in my heart that was quieter but more powerful than the first, "You are beautiful. You are my creation." And that was the voice of my Father.
Hearing the voice of God in prayer with my husband also has brought unity to our marriage like never before. Unknowingly, we can often look to our spouses for our ultimate fulfillment and satisfaction. But when we look to God to fill our hearts because He is the source of love, then we have so much more to pour out to our spouses and families.
Find your people and be real
When you're going through a tough time, it's hard to talk about it – especially if you're experiencing anxiety or depression on top of everything else. Putting on a happy face and saying you're alright when you're not does nothing but mask the pain. Pray to find people who will hear you out and not judge you, but pray for you. This is so, so critical. These are people who will listen but also aren't afraid to tell you the truth even in your pain. You need it more than you know.
During this dark time in our lives, God put people in our lives who would listen and pray. Whether we asked for it or not, we knew people were praying. We had friends who would hear us out when we were at our worst and not commiserate but lead us into truth. We know that God used them to keep us strengthened through our weakest times. The world will tell you what you want to hear and feed into your emotions but true friends tell you the truth, even when it hurts. And on the other side of your overcoming, you will thank them. Thank you, friends.
Going through seasons of trials and testing are not easy but they weren't meant to be either.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4
At first that passage was so hard for me to understand. The last thing I felt during this season of darkness was joy. But I understand now. There is joy in His presence when we are resting in Him. It's not an ignorance of your circumstances; it's a trust that He's going to work it all out for your good.
The first day I cried out to the Lord after feeling freed from depression and anxiety, I heard a gentle voice in my heart, "I was here the whole time.." and of course that wrecked me. 😭 When we are struggling through depression, it is a very real thing. And the realization that God is standing right there with you through it is hard to do! But here is truth – just because you are depressed doesn't mean God has left you. He's holding your hand through it and just wants you to turn your head and look at Him, instead of your circumstances. It's not easy.. but just don't quit looking at Him. Just don't quit. That's what faith is – trusting in that which you cannot see, again and again.
So here we are now, a few months out of the valley and a few weeks from that mountain top experience. God reminded me through the comment I made to Glory this afternoon. Just as I was reminding her to keep using the tools I taught her to get her math right, God was showing me to keep using the tools He taught me to have victory over sin and Satan in my life. There will be hard times but He hasn't left us to fend for ourselves. He has given us strategic tools for warfare, tools that lead us to Truth. Tools we need to pick up daily because this is not a sprint, it's a marathon. The beautiful thing about it all is the fact that Christ has already defeated Satan, and those who trust in His saving grace are all a part of the eternal celebration.
Beloved, if you don't know this already.. know that God is for you, not against you. He knows the numbers of hairs on your head, he knew you in your mother's womb, he created you! He loved you so much that He sent his son to die for you, that you might live. And not just live, but live in an abundance of freedom with Him for an eternity. Invite Him into your heart, into your pain, into your weariness.. and hear His still small voice of love. He is always with you. 💕
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble.But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33