May 20, 2018

Silent Suffering...

"but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." Romans 5:3-4

I have sat down to write this post a hundred times, at least. But, I just could not bring myself to do it.

Possibly,  because I didn't think I was smart enough or wise enough to broach this subject. Perhaps, I was even afraid that I was wrong. Maybe, everything I wanted to say was not the way it really is.

This afternoon, I left the grocery story and headed home. My heart started beating a little faster and my mind was filled with racing thoughts about this post. It was time.

In my late twenties I suffered from terrible panic and anxiety attacks. I had no idea what they were at first. After visiting every doctor under the sun to try to help me, I was finally diagnosed with panic disorder.

I remember being disappointed with the diagnosis.

It sounded so.....

Crazy.

I wanted it to be anything but a mental thing.

I began seeing a therapist. Two of them actually.

Like it was yesterday, I remember telling one of them, "But, you don't understand. I am a Christian. Christian's don't take medicine for things like this. Christian's should be able to trust the Lord enough to heal them and not have to see doctors."

He looked me square in my tear stained eyes and said, "Jill, I am a Christian too. I was called into this profession to help people. All people. Do you think that medicine and doctors are not  from the Lord?"

I gulped loudly.

My mind was spinning.

Peace suddenly filled my soul.

He was right.

If I had found a lump in my breast I would have gone straight to a doctor. I would have asked for prayer. I would have taken the medicine. I would have gotten the help I needed.

But, for some reason, this seemed different.

It seemed so shaming.

I was ashamed.

My life was good. I had a family that loved me and a husband that adored me.

Yet, I could not function.

I could not go anywhere without my heart racing, the room spinning and have a feeling of impending doom.

My mind was not well.

My brain was not functioning properly.

But, I was still ashamed.

I remember praying, "Lord, anything but this."

I started my first anti-anxiety medicine at 28.

It got worse before it got better.

But, finally...

I felt like myself again.

I could go to the grocery store without having to run out of it.

I could take my baby to the pediatrician without having someone drive me.

My life was coming back together.

I still never really talked about the medicine.

I was still ashamed that I had to take medicine to feel normal.

After about a year, I weaned off of it.

I did well for about 3 years, until it happened again.

This time, I was a mother of two.

What was wrong with me??

I went to a different doctor this time.

I remember crying in her office when she asked me if I had ever had suicidal thoughts...

I didn't answer her, I just cried.

She took that as a yes.

I remember her telling me that medicine would just help jump start my brain back into the normal way it functioned.

I was ashamed, again.

Why would God let this happen?? I was praying. I was reading my Bible. I was not in a season of sin.

So, why???

I was angry with God.

But, after the persuasion of my doctor and my husband, I started taking medicine....again.

I kind of just stuffed those angry feelings down deep. I didn't want to deal with them. I buried them deep into my heart.

I began to have serious trust issues with God.

If He won't heal me from this, He must not love me.

I convinced myself of this.

For years.

Until I started devouring God's word in 2012.

I started to trust Him again. Slowly.

He had proven Himself faithful time and time again.

But, honestly, I still did not understand why I had to fight mental battles.

A dear friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014. Something about this made me see God differently.

I knew she was loved by the Lord. I knew she loved Him. I knew she lived a godly life.

So, why??

Then, things began to come into perspective for me.

Why did I think I would ever be spared suffering?

Whether it was physical or mental, it was still suffering.

From what I had read in the bible up until that point, all of God's most beloved people suffered from something.

David. Joseph. Moses. Esther. Ruth. Daniel.

Jesus.

Who was I to think that I would be exempt from suffering?

It has been a slow process for me.

I have had moments where I still question Him about this.

Then, I just surrender to Him. And, at times, that meant taking the medicine I did not want to take.

Listen, this is not a post about medicine.

It's a post about God.

And getting help.

And surrendering to what your husband, or parents, or wise doctors advise you to do.

When we are sick, we need the counsel of others. We need to have the faith of a child and let them help us. To take care of us and point us to what we need.

Of course, all of this should be covered in prayer. Much prayer.

But, I am so tired of Christian women feeling like they have to hide their mental struggles. They are convinced by themselves and sometimes other Christian's that if they would just be "more faithful", or "believe harder", they would be healed.

I have found along this journey, that many women suffer with anxiety, fear and panic. I have learned that they also hide it well.

I have found that they carry shame, just like I did.

We must be willing to talk about this. To get help. To get therapy. To ask our friends to pray for us and with us.

This journey has actually brought me closer to God and to others who suffer. Suffering creates a bond with others like nothing else.

Suffering gives you compassion that you could not have otherwise.

Please. If you are dealing with mental issues, reach out. Talk to someone.

God uses people. He uses doctors. Therapists. Counselors. Medicine.

Don't suffer in silence.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:10


pushing back the darkness,


jill




May 1, 2018

Before you fall...

A few weeks ago I found myself face first in a deep dark pit of fear.

I have been in that same pit before, but this time I thought that I knew better. I thought I was victorious over fear. I thought fear could not hold me captive again.

How very wrong I was.

It started by a very small thought. Then, I expressed this thought to a couple of people. Then, I turned this thought over in my head day and night, night and day.

Then, I started googling this thought. As you all know, google is a terrible place to look for something out of fear and desperation. Anyone been there? Ever had a sick child and googled their symptoms? Yep, full blown anxiety attack.

When we are in a place of captivity, we turn inward. We secretly think things and act on impulses that are completely irrational and against our faith nature.

We rely on flesh.

The last place we often turn is to the Word of God.

We think to ourselves, "I don't need scripture, I need an answer."

We look for peace and assurance in all the wrong places.

I imagine God is looking down thinking, "Daughter, you know you won't find the answer there. Come to me. Come to me, weary girl."

Often when we find ourselves in captivity, we are blind and deaf to the Lord. Sin separates us form Him. [Isaiah 59:2]

I remember thinking in this deep well of fear that I could not even remember what peace felt like. It felt so far away. I even blamed God for letting me get this far into the well of fear.

My own choices led me there. I chose to not take my thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ. [2 Corinthians 10:5]

I chose to go my own way.

I chose to listen to the world and the lure of google to give me an answer for my worries.

God didn't push me away, I pushed away with the help of an enemy who roams around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. [1 Peter 5:8]

Here's the thing..

I know better.

I have been down this road more times than I want to remember.

I knew not to take the dark paths that lead to fear.

But, my flesh desired more. More answers. More information.

Remember what finally got Eve to bite the piece of fruit in the garden? It was her desire for more. She wanted to know more. She wanted to have full knowledge.

I wanted the same thing.

The world will never, ever, fulfill us. The world and its answers will only make us crazy, fearful, and empty.

We must turn to God when we find ourselves on the brink of any kind of captivity.

This is why the enemy loves when we fall into dark wells of captivity:

  • We turn inward.
  • We cease praying.
  • We cease reading God's Word.
  • We turn away from friends and family in our shame.
  • We do desperate things in order to fill the sin craving.
  • We cease being able to use our gifts to minister to others.
  • We cease to serve others because we are self-consumed.
Oh, friends, if I could look you right in the face and tell you something right now it would be to stop looking to the world for saving. The world will NOT save us. The enemy is out to steal, kill, and destroy us.

Only God can save us. Only God can wash us over with peace. Only God is our refuge and our strong tower. [Psalm 61:3]

The world will suck us in and it will feel like we are stuck on the spin cycle of a washing machine.

If you find yourself in this place. Stop. Immediately.

Go straight to the Father and repent of your sins.

Ask Him to give you the strength to stay away from things that will lead you straight back into the black well of captivity. You know the things that tempt you. You know them well and so does your enemy.

I can tell you with all honesty and truth that God will help you. He will rescue you. But, you must be willing to turn away. You must use the strength He gives you to walk back to Him and His Truth and Peace.

His Life Line is always there. Always. You just have to reach for it.

Coming out of the fog of fear, I look back and cannot believe how I fell again. I know better.

However, our enemy is relentless and he doesn't miss an opportunity to tempt us. Often when we are weak, stressed, vulnerable....is when he strikes.

Be alert! Be on guard! [1 Peter 5:8]

Clothe yourselves daily with scripture. Do not give the enemy an opportunity to trip you up. Put your armor on before the attack comes.

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

Don't ever be fooled enough to think that you are so far along in your faith that you cannot be tempted right back to that place of captivity.

Paul tells us to not boast in ourselves, but to boast in Christ alone.

Therefore, as it is written: "Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord." 1 Corinthians 1:31

We must be intentional about waking up every morning and inhaling God's Word just as much as we like to inhale our coffee. We must be intentional about praying as much as we like to browse social media. And, we MUST be alert to the things around us that the enemy is using to trip us up. We must open our spiritual eyes and keep them open every single day.

The enemy is not just out to destroy us...he is out to destroy our husbands, our children, our families. Make no mistake about that. You are not spared. Be ready to take your stand against his schemes.

The good news is, we will always be victorious with God on our side. We cannot lose.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

armor up,


jill