Praying Honest Prayers

I collect thoughts like a child collects pebbles on a rocky sea shore.

Some of my thoughts are lovely, colorful, and I will keep them forever. Some I will discard immediately. Others are ugly and useless but it still takes a while to let them go…

…you know the ones.

We are told to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. Honestly, that just sounds exhausting. But something I’ve learned about creating new habits, the longer you do them, the easier they become. What is initially self-discipline becomes automatic.

Ah!

Taking every thought captive doesn’t necessarily mean consciously inspecting each thought, it goes much deeper than that: it also means thinking honestly.

Eh?

I used to be a habitual lier. I started lying to cover abuse, and then shame, and it grew and grew until I had so many lies they were like those ugly little pebbles, only I didn’t know how to open my fingers and release them. Even deeper, I often lied to myself and God.

I am learning. I am learning to be honest and to tell the truth. First to God. Then to myself. Because it is actually really difficult to present all your thoughts openly before the throne of grace when your thoughts aren’t even honest.

I always felt I needed to pray these eloquent, somewhat emotionally distant prayers. But now, I often find myself praying in earnest…

God, I don’t know how to feel. I don’t know what to do. I need some direction. Show me what I ought to do. Change me. Make me more like you. Heal my heart. Make me brave.

Praying honest prayers has changed my life.

I am more prone to honesty and less prone to fake emotions.

When you can’t be honest with God, you’ll never be honest with anyone else.

Can I just encourage you to pray brave and courageous prayers of honesty today? All those pebbles you are clenching, it is time to toss them back into the waves and move on.

Be brave. Because God isn’t surprised by you or your sin or your brokenness. He just loves you. And he longs to reside in fervent communion with you.

3 Quick Tips For Combating Anxiety

I didn’t know I had anxiety until a year ago. Can you even believe that??? That heavy feeling on your chest? That quick beating of your heart? The fear that can just overwhelm you? Yeah. That…

I had anxiety all growing up and did not know what I was experiencing had a name.

Honestly, if you were one of my dearest friends, and you were struggling with anxiety, I would instantly clear time to have you over for coffee and we would talk and laugh and probably cry at some point.

Because you know what? I so get it.

Here are three things I literally do every. single. day. that help me enormously.

  1. SUPPLEMENT – I take THREE supplements that help me drastically. I take a B-complex, plant-based vitamin. I take a lemon-raspberry magnesium supplement that you mix into water. And I keep a small herbal supplement handy called Rescue Remedy (think concentrated tea). You can buy all three of these supplements on Amazon. I even give magnesium to my boys before bed to help them sleep. Sometimes, your body just needs a little boost to help your nervous system calm.
  2. LEARN TO SAY NO graciously and kindly. If you don’t say no for yourself, chances are no one else with either. Be kind to yourself. Busyness is a HUGE anxiety compounder, and you need time to take care of your body and your relationships and your home and all the things that matter most to you.
  3. GO OUTSIDE! Go for a walk. Dig in the dirt. Plant some flowers or herbs or carrots. If it is raining and super nasty outside, open the doors and let all that delicious fresh air inside for a while and just stand there and soak it all in…

I have learned the past two years that sometimes our body adjusts and heals and learns at a different rate than our souls. It is a strange thing to realize and even more strange to live through.

Be kind to yourself. Take a deep breath. And go be an advocate for your own life.

I’ll be cheering you on from the sidelines…

When Abuse is “Normal”

About a year ago, when I began timidly wading through the mess of my brokenness, I began experiencing distance in many of my relationships. This was completely unexpected.

The books I was reading and the questions I was asking…the stories I was beginning to share…all of it opened a door to a fresh kind of heartbreak.

There were two main responses: encouragement and doubt.

The people who encouraged me told me I was brave. They told me that Jesus was clearly working in me and healing me in deep ways. These people listened to me and cheered me on. They validated me. Agreed with me. Told me they were honored to watch my journey. And the dearest ones cautioned me to keep my heart in check so that bitterness would not overwhelm my healing.

The people who doubted me told me I was “playing the victim”. They told me if I really loved Jesus then I would have forgiven all the brokenness, and that forgiveness means trusting your abusers even if  they have never changed or apologized or admitted to their actions. They disagreed with me. Questioned whether I was full of hate. Told me I was lying. Ultimately, many of them stepped out of relationship with me or our relationships drastically changed. Because when abuse is “normal” it’s actually really hard to see it for what it is. It takes a level of personal willingness and bravery. And you know what? Its ok if you get there ahead of others. Its lonely. But its ok.

I cannot say how deep the hurt goes…when you have come from dark to light, from suicide to joy, from self-harm to confidence and then you are brushed aside as you begin to speak out loud all the things…

It’s like all the years of abuse happen all over again in an instant.

Its exhausting…

Can I just say, that if you identify with this for even a moment, you are not alone?

There is a road along which the broken walk toward healing and wholeness. It’s a journey that begins with deep valleys and crevices and ends in joyous calm.

Right now, you might only be able to crawl. That’s ok.

Right now, you might feel like going back. That’s ok. But don’t.

How you feel right now is not a reflection of the outcome of your journey. It’s just a small part of your travels.

Behind you, there were the scars and the tears and the heaviness.

Ahead there are healed wounds and joy and peace for your soul.

Oh! Lift up your face. And look, and look, and look…don’t you see that? That dark horizon changing? That is the hope you’ve been waiting for.

Now go and catch it.

Even if you have to crawl…

What You’re NOT Responsible For

You are not responsible for the way people treat you.

You are not responsible for what other people say about you, or any lies they might tell about you.

You are NOT responsible for your abuse.

You are not responsible for the things that were done to you in dark and quiet places, or for the scars you carry or for the heaviness that lays over your heart like damp, heavy blanket.

Listen to me. There are plenty of things in this life that you are responsible for…but there are also plenty that aren’t yours to shoulder.

You ARE responsible for your response. For your actions. For the words that escape from your lips. For your thoughts…

And that’s all.

Own what is yours to own.

And let the rest go.

I Will Thrive Anyway

One of the most devastating side effects of abuse is self doubt. Honestly, I struggle to put into words the heartache that physical and emotional and verbal abuse have on a child’s sense of self…and how we carry a longing to know who we are and to be known into adulthood. Continue reading I Will Thrive Anyway

When You’re a Christian Who Struggles With Depression

In 2008 I had just finished up my first senior semester with a 3.6 GPA. I had worked my butt off to get those grades. 6 classes. 4 senior level. 2 Theology classes. 4 English classes.

It literally took everything in me to finish strong . And by the end of the semester, with Christmas just days away, I found myself depressed beyond what words could even describe. It didn’t matter that I loved God or what I told myself…I could not get better.

I was living in daily abuse and lies. I simply could not cope.

Honestly, I knew that I had to make a choice: visit my doctor or die. I wouldn’t have made it through another two weeks…and the small pill she prescribed me changed everything.

I think of depression so differently now than ever before.

To Depress – to lower in force, vigor, or activity; to weaken; to make dull; to press down; to lower in amount or value.

Now, bear with me for a moment…when you take a verb and change it into a noun it is called “a nominalization”.

When you take the action of “depress” and apply it to a subject so repeatedly that the subject takes on the behavior of the action we say, “She has depression.” The verb becomes a noun. The action of the verb becomes a thing.

See it?

Now here’s the thing…depression is so multifaceted that there can be any number of causes. Those causes can be either SELF-inflicted or ENVIRONMENTAL.

An example of “self-inflicted” depression might be lack of proper nutrition, lack of exercise…etc. These are actions YOU have some control over.

But there are also ENVIRONMENTAL causes, actions or events you have zero control over.

This might be death, disease, a traumatic event, lack of proper care as a child…etc.

No one is surprised when a rape victim struggles with depression. No one is surprised when a solider struggles with PTSD. No one is surprised when an overwhelming life event causes anxiety or fear.

There is such a thing as being able to control your depression. But there is also such a thing as not being able to control your depression.

In a lot of ways, depression is a natural response to sin and brokenness.

We were never intended to live in a world with rape or slavery or brutality or childhood abuse or manipulation. God didn’t create the world that way…he created this world perfect and sin destroys perfection.

Is it any surprise that our bodies might have a physiological response to sin?

Is it?

Our bodies respond physiologically to sin every single day simply by the mere FACT that we AGE. Why are Christians so surprised when the very cells of our bodies respond and cry out against brokenness?

C. S. Lewis said, “You are not a body. You are a soul. You have a body.”

We are not mere mortals. We are souls designed to live in perfect community with our Heavenly Father. Sin breaks that communion in ways deeper than we usually care to reflect on.

Here me, and hear my heart. If you are a Christian who struggles with depression I GET IT. In a lot of ways, I have had to take hard inspection of myself to see the places in which my depression has been environmental or has been as a result of my own actions…or lack of action. I am not gonna lie…it’s hard to do this. But it is so worth it. It is also fully possible for depression to be lengthy and lifelong depending on its causes and roots, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still glorify God in and through it.

We are not victims even if we have been victimized. That is not our identity. Our worth is in the simple and beautiful fact that we are created. That’s it. Value of personhood is not earned or gained. It is thrust upon you by your creator. Value…is…intrinsic.

Ask yourself these three questions to test your motivation behind your actions.

1. Is this good for my soul?

2. Is this good for my relationship with Jesus Christ?

3. Is this good for my most intimate relationship?

It is OK if you struggle. It is OK if your body struggles to regain healthy function after trauma. There is no shame. God knows and he sees and he is not surprised by your body responding in a way that he designed. He’s not. Depression does not scare or intimidate God. He is a whole lot bigger than that. And he waits with wide open arms to receive you and receive your pain…

…and he has beautiful things ahead for you.

Living With ALL The Intention

Listen. You don’t have to be famous to be successful. You don’t.

Living a Well-Lived life might not be easy but it is SIMPLE. Really…you only need TWO things: Willingness & Intention.

Willingness – Cheerfully consenting or ready.

Intention – an act of determining mentally upon some action or result.

Take some time to brew yourself a cup of coffee and sit with a blank sheet of paper and write down all the hopes and dreams and visions for your life. Just write. If you should live to be 100, what do you want to look back on and be proud of? WHO do you want to be? WHAT do you want to do?

Me? I want a PHENOMENAL marriage. I want a home full of joy and peace. I want to be healthy in body, mind, and soul. I want my children to grow to love others and love God and I want them to find joy in life. I want to help impoverished people locally and globally in practical and sustainable ways.

What do you want from this one, beautiful life you get? What do you need to surrender? to change?

It takes absolute bravery to step into a life you love, especially if you come from brokenness or a place of abuse. It might actually be the hardest and most scary thing you’ve ever done. You might shake. Hear me when I say, that it’s ok to step forward unsteady. If we waited for fear to leave before we chose to act, we’d be stuck in the muck of indifference indefinitely.

Be brave, dear one! Step into the sun. Pull that foot out of the muck. Turn your eyes toward Jesus and look FULLY.

I promise you will be changed.