Hello, readers. I hope you all have been doing well. I feel like it’s time for me to give a life update to any of you who still follow me. If you’ve read my blogs often, you’ve probably heard me mention anxiety and depression. Today I just want to talk a little bit about my continued journey with that and what’s up in life.
So back in March I moved out-of-state, away from my family. I felt like I had been in a particular season of struggle, loneliness, and lack of community for a long, long time, and God was now calling me out of it.
It all really started when I went to the Cross conference back in January of 2019. I started seriously praying about moving. I backed out, in a decision made in fear. But about seven months later, the idea of moving was put on my heart again. I pretty much made up my mind to go. But the time wasn’t quite right yet. So I waited. Another seven, prayer-filled months ensued…filled with days of deep faith, and also days of deep fear and depression. Some days I felt like I could hardly keep my head above the “water”. I kept going back to 1 Peter 5:6-11, which had long been on my heart. I even memorized it. Amidst the struggle, God provided beautifully right where I was at – no outward circumstances changed. But I truly believed that He was calling me out of those circumstances slowly but surely, and into a time of healing where He would more firmly establish His purposes for me.
1 Peter 5:6-11
6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
So, my tentative plan was to move spring 2020. But as spring drew near, my anxiety grew. I desperately needed a new car. I had no job lined up in my place of destination. I wasn’t 100% comfortable about a living situation. And I didn’t want to make this trip alone – I’m a nervous driver. How was I going to do this?? Was I really ready for this? Was I running away? What if my depression overcame me in a new place away from my family and comfort of familiarity?
I even had a woman tell me that she thought I shouldn’t move and God was telling her all these things about my life contradictory to what I was thinking. In that moment, though, as I prayed through fear, I felt a boldness rise up in my spirit. As if God through His Holy Spirit was prompting me: Tell her what God has been telling you. How He’s been confirming this move through prayer, your godly counselors, Scripture, and sermons. Don’t be tossed about by every wind and wave that comes your way. Be steadfast. Don’t doubt the Lord’s work in your life. Don’t doubt what He’s been growing a pleasing faith for in you.
So I did. And I kept praying. And committing this to God. And seeking godly counsel. And I surrendered this into my Father’s hands. “Make it happen, Lord.”
Within a couple weeks of really surrendering, a cousin offered to drive me and haul all my belongings. My living situation was established. And I had peace and hope that God was going to provide all that I needed – including a car and job. (Matthew 6:25-34)
I was officially moving March 17th. It felt good to have a set date.
A day before I was supposed to get on the road, all the covid-19 stuff started really blowing up. That night people were literally whispering about a national lock-down. I had my few minutes of freaking out. But there was no turning back now. Did I believe God has opened up the doors for this? Yes! I was going to do this! No more wavering and weakness. I was taking the leap of faith in obedience and leaving the rest in God’s hands. So be it.
6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
So I moved. Shortly thereafter, social distancing and shelter-in-place happened. But God provided so abundantly even through these strange times.
And by the end of March, I had a car! April 6th, I started a job at a grocery store! Wow! It was so stunning to see God do above and beyond what I expected. Demolish my fears. Grow my faith. He is my provider.
An even bigger blessing is the way He has gifted me with incredibly sweet and deep friendships, and kind, wise spiritual mentors. Rich, faith community in a way that I’ve never experienced it before. I got a taste of it at the Cross conference. And now I’m here in the midst of it. I marvel at the group of godly young people the Lord has established here and I nearly weep at the thought of how He in His Fatherly love has settled me among them.
7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
God answers prayers, indeed. I’ve talked often on this blog about how important I believe a tight-knit, sound, loving church and authentic fellowship is. How deeply I long for friends who grow my affection for Christ. How much I need spiritual leadership. I’ve shared how I’ve been petitioning God for such things in my life. So let this be a testimony to you, my dear readers. God answered. I am overwhelmed by what He has poured into my life.
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!
I have recently been able to actually meet for church on Sundays and I already feel at home. This small, solid, loving, Christ-exalting church is what I have prayed for. The pastor is such a spiritual leader/mentor for me already. And again, I can only marvel at God’s goodness and faithful hand in my life.
Oh, how He loves His children.
I don’t believe I have ever felt so loved, belonging, sheltered, and cared for. This is faith community. This is fellowship. This is doing life together. This is encouraging each other in the Lord. This is making much of His name together. Already I have such an affection for my church family.
It does my soul good to recount this journey of faith and ponder my God’s grace toward me. To remember all the prayers He’s answered in such a short time and where He’s brought me!
32 “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
In many ways, I’ve moved out of my season of struggle and into a time of being enfolded into a dear flock of brothers and sisters in Christ.
But in other ways, I struggle on. This is life.
Depression and anxiety come for me periodically, without fail. Almost always they linger in the dark, back corners of my heart and mind. And some weeks, even here amidst a dear church family, I feel near hopeless and my thoughts scream for me to escape myself. For days, I try to get away from the dark cloud, but it lingers and heavily oppresses.
Today I am perhaps coming out of one such week. Glimpsing the light! I spent all afternoon at a park, walking and talking with God. And yesterday evening I was out on the water, kayaking, which seems to be very good for my soul.
The darkness that plagues me is every bit as black even after moving. As I knew it would be. But still, it makes a tremendous impact on me when my pastor pulls me aside Sunday morning after church and listens to my heart and prays over me. And when several others express care and concern and also pray.
See, life is full of troubles. But to have a community of believers to walk alongside you and bear your burdens with you brings deeper hope.
We are His, and Christ is ours forevermore.
So I fight on through depression/anxiety. And I pray for victory. And I know I already have victory. I will not be overcome, because of Christ. I claim the joy that is mine because I am His. The joy of the LORD is my strength.
I do not – can not – give up because of the Holy Spirit within me and the eternal joy and goodness that awaits me. Christ is mine and I am His. And nothing can change that, no matter how numb and “feeling-less” I feel. No matter how the darkness and questioning press. Now matter how the hopelessness and panic squeeze my soul.
I cling to Truth.
And I lift my hands and worship God for Him. And praise Him for putting me here and giving me these people.
This week I’ve been blessed to have trusted friends who listen to me talk and process and agonize and talk some more over this thing I face. They empathize, and pray, and turn my gaze to my precious Jesus. I’ve been blessed to be out on the water – it is soothing and still. I’ve been blessed to go alone to a park and spend hours talking aloud to God – pouring out my heart, reading Scripture, quoting memorized passages, doing devotions, writing, calling my mom and sister, and practicing disc-golf.
In the midst of depression, I often feel like I’m never going to find my way out. I know that’s not true – I always do come out. But yet it always comes back. I get so sick of it. I become panicky at the thought of fighting one wave after another for the rest of my life.
In the darkness I oftentimes feel like a really bad Christian. A failure. Spiritually immature. I wonder if I’ve been doing something wrong and this is God turning His back. I fear I am too much of a burden for people.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
And yet God brings me through again and again and I find my joy again. And I see His work in my life. And I see the purposes He has for me. And I feel His face shine upon me. And my heart is filled with passion and love, and I rest in His embrace. He is my desire.
I still pray for victory over this … healing. But in the meantime, may my Lord’s power be on display in the face of my extreme weakness. May the dark days increase my dependence on Him. May the numb mornings make me long ever more for the day when I will be more alive than I have ever been – when He returns. Then I will be made whole. I will know and be fully known. I will feel perfect love and love perfectly. There will be no more questioning or tears or darkness. I will be truly united with the Lover of my soul.
May you grow in this hope with me.
❤ Lady Grace
I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul shall make its boast in the Lord;
The humble shall hear of it and be glad.
3 Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together.
4 I sought the Lord, and He heard me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
5 They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces were not ashamed.
6 This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him,
And saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him,
And delivers them.
8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
9 Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints!
There is no want to those who fear Him.
10 The young lions lack and suffer hunger;
But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.