Die to Self

I had a really weird dream last night about death being a person “after me” or rather I thought he was so I ran from him, but he wasn’t after me. He literally said I have come so you can now have life. There was more complexity in it but it brought me to prayer.

I realized how self centered I had been. I had been focusing on me and not the mission of Christ. I was focusing on my development and my advancement but not the advancement of the Gospel.

I don’t know if you’re like me or not. But there’s a lot of us who let their flesh dictate more than we want to give it credit. We allow out flesh to run our lives without even realizing it. It’s found in our daily decisions, our moment to moment reactions and ultimately our life altering decisions.

How do we not realize it? It’s called the enemy is cunning, he’s disguises himself as what we want to see not what God wants us to see. The enemy’s best friend is bitterness, jealousy, pride, and self righteousness. We filter our next move through whatever we let rule, either our flesh or spirit.

Lately, I’ve had some tough discussions with people. I was angry at some and frustrated at others for no work of their own. I did let my reflection of self dictate their reactions and decisions and ultimately misjudged everything because I let filtered it through the flesh and not the spirit without even taken a note that it was even possible.

I had been hoping for a miracle for so long to cure me of my depression and my anxiety that I didn’t realize I was the one holding the shovel digging myself further and further into it. I allowed myself to dictate that my value comes from man, that my worth is identified in wealth and that I must do this or that to better this or that job. I didn’t see how much I wasn’t dying to self and how much I was so self focused.

I was blinded, blind sided by the enemy when I thought I was doing what was right for me, I didn’t think of what I was doing as what was right for Christ. It stems from people reaching over me saying, “you need to take care of yourself”, “your not valued enough”, and my own voices of unworthiness. I let others dictate my reactions causing my flesh to take over. Now do I need take care of myself mentally and physically, absolutely, but I internalized it as watching out for Tanya and not allowing other take advantage of of which they never actually were.

What I’ve learned is so elementary but so raw and true. That my job isn’t to make my life as best as it can be my job is to die to self everyday. It’s putting God back in control of my life. It’s giving up my reigns that I’ve held onto that I thought I let go of. It’s allowing him to use me again. I will never be free from any of it but through Jesus I am set free.

I can bash myself for everything and point fingers at myself for not seeing it. I can bury myself further and further down but it’s by God’s grace I have be set free and I am forever being sanctified.

Today, I die to self. Tomorrow I pray I will to. I want to be used to advance the Gospel and I want to be able serve God’s people and church. I must have Jesus to be at center of who I am. I just have to stop trying and letting him rule again in my life.

My life is not mine to live it’s His and His alone to use me for his glory. I can’t do anything by my accord. My decisions, reactions, must be filtered through the Spirit that dwells within me not the flesh that is so easy to let rule.

“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.” -Galatians 2:20

Swallowing the Pill

Over the past few years, I’ve written about and have talked about the struggle with depression. This one is no different.

Some of you are aware that since about August I went into a really dark place with major depression. What some of you don’t know is I was diagnosed by my psychiatrist with not only major depression but also PTSD and panic disorder. The reason why I believe people should know is that this world is not okay.

Many of us disguise our depression, our anxious thoughts with a vice. Because we are taught in early age that we are not allowed to feel down, depressed, worried, to have a mind full of fear, that it’s okay to not know how to show and receive love and that’s it’s okay to not want to be a part of the world. We are shown by examples in media that suicide has to be a result of something major we are hiding, that depression is looked down on, that PTSD is something only war vets get, that mental hospitals are for the crazy people and that being “normal” is hiding who we really are.

Vices can be anything that makes us feel numb even just for a moment. It might be alcohol, drugs, food, porn, anger, literally anything can be formed as a vice. I can say I’ve never felt the high of the drugs but I’ve felt the alcohol pour through my veins. I’ve felt the food layer in pounds and the porn become mindless. Vices make us numb and quiet our voices and stresses but never confronts the problems.

The issue many of us face is we don’t see that our problems are not ours to bare. We get up trying to fight them and become worn out and beaten. We become exhausted, never wining, always giving up. What we need to do is to surrender and stop trying to fight them. We will NEVER win, we are not suppose to. God won already. God took your burdens to the cross through Jesus.

Jesus is our hope we should be fighting for. He is the only way for us to get the strength to fight the enemy because it is only through him we have won against him. Depression, anxiety, anything that makes us turn to vices and addiction needs to be given up to surrender. We cannot control those dark places in our minds, but He can. He has numbered every one of our days, every hair on our head. He is our redeemer, our hope , our fighter, our rescuer, our Father, our love, our everything. He knows every down fall, every breathe we take he has known and will know.

We cannot hide from him any thoughts he does not already know. I wanted to end my life earlier this year because I saw no hope. Hope was no where to be found. I lost meaning. I lost me. I saw no future, no friends, no love. As hard as it may be to say, I was scared of myself and this world. I just wanted it all to be over. Today, I still struggle, I’m not perfect nor healed. I’m on medication and in counseling. But if I never got to that places where I saw no hope, I wouldn’t of surrendered inside my car outside of a Starbucks with tears running down my face. I had to reach that point of brokenness so that he kind mend those pieces.

I’ve been through this path before. I’ve been through this struggle. But this time I know God is here to mend the broken pieces that he’s never been able to touch before because I never fully surrendered everything to him.

If you believe you might need help in any sort of manner. If you’re down, sad, suicidal, addicted to drugs and alcohol, anything there is hope. Hope is alive. You are not meant to walk this path by yourself. Seek help from others. There are more people out there who care for you and love you than you will ever know.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1 (800) 273-8255

Crisis Text Line: Text “Home” to 741741



A Letter to my Poppop

Dear Poppop,

You are missed. As the 21st anniversary of your death is approaching it still feels like yesterday I lost you. I walked beside you as you fought a good fight to stay alive. I remember being beside you as you lay in your hospital bed. I remember the pain in your eyes yet your love and humor never ceased to make me smile.

I still remember the smell of cigarettes and leather with a hint of double mint gum on the rides to church. I remember sitting in the garage watching you doing what you love and never backing down from a challenge. I remember you falling asleep watching wrestling or NASCAR and we would try to change it and you would wake up and yell at us.

I’ve held onto 11 years of memories but I’ve held onto 21 years of hurt. The last words from you I remember are, “Tanya, give me one more hug because I don’t know if I’ll ever see you again”. In the moment I was quiet, I took it like a champ just like you’ve would’ve wanted, I was dying inside. A week later we got a phone call, you went home.

But I lost the man who loved me unconditionally, the man who couldn’t get mad at me regardless of how many times I messed up and acted up. I lost my best friend, my grandfather, I lost a piece of me.

God gave us a time together that will go down in history but I’m still struggling with my 11 year old self trying to get passed this hurt today. I’m not who I was 21 years ago. The root of my pain and is driven by the hurt I felt the day you took that last breath. I ran away from God. I pretended he didn’t exist for many years. I filled my void with alcohol, pornography, and men beginning at the age of 13. I lost all self worth and identity. I stopped believing in who you told me I was. I blamed myself for your death, “If I only prayed more, if I was there more, if I was a better granddaughter, if I loved more”

I didn’t know who I was anymore. I never found myself until I got a glimpse of the God you believed in, I met Jesus. I got to finally feel the love you had for me. I got to witness the man you tried to be for me. I want to say that from that moment I was a completely different person. But I wasn’t. My life changed drastically, roads I was going down rerouted to where God wanted me but it took years to dig through the sin and it’s still taking time fighting the enemy and my flesh to get back to who I was before you died. There’s still shame, guilt, and more I’m still digging up I have to work through. But with Jesus I can do all things, you taught me that, I was just too blind to see.

Thank you for loving me like your own daughter. Thank you for teaching me even though I was too blind to see. Love you Poppop. Until we meet again.

Your Granddaughter,

Tanya

Sacrifice

The other night in growth group one of the ladies asked “How do you even begin to know what Jesus went through?”

I answered with something our Pastor said awhile ago.

“Love is rooted in sacrifice.” – Pastor Tally Wilgis

God sent his Son, Jesus to be the sacrificial lamb. He sent Jesus to die for us so we didn’t have to.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

He sent his Son because he loves us because he wants us to be with him for eternity. We get the free gift of eternal life, but Jesus lived in this world and then voluntarily hung on executioners cross and died for our sins just so all of us can have the gift of eternal life.

Think about that for a moment, Jesus died for you. He voluntarily got up on the cross. He is God in flesh, he could’ve stop it. But he didn’t. He didn’t want to die in Matthew 26:39 Jesus says “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” In another Gospel it says he was so anguished that he was sweating drops of blood. Can you now imagine what he was going through? I still couldn’t.

But I said to them for us to experience even a glimpse of what he went through. Try doing something for someone else when you don’t want to or don’t have the time to. It might be a silly sacrifice but when you had a hard day at work and all you can think about our pjs and your favorite shows and someone you know is hurting or is having a rough day, try switching your plans around to put them first above your own. You’ll get frustrated and you might even get mad because you don’t want to sacrifice the time or energy of your own time.

One of my big things I tell myself is when I don’t want to do something it probably means I should be doing it. Meaning that when I evaluate something by my mere flesh and worldly views my automatic response is I don’t want to. I don’t have time. I don’t have the energy. But when I evaluate through the lens of the spirit I immediately go through it differently. I ask is this purposeful? Does it impact a person? The Kingdom? Is it meaningful? So when I don’t want to do something a lot of times it’s my flesh fighting back because my flesh doesn’t want to put others above me.

One of my pet peeves is when people say they follow Jesus and “live it out” but there is no sacrificing for others and it’s always about them.

God is Love. Love is rooted in sacrifice. And in order for us to show the love of God we have sacrifice time, talent, treasure. We have to be willing to give something even when there is no return.

Dwelling in the Past 

20 years ago my life was altered. It was shattered into tiny pieces, some getting lost along the way. My Poppop died 20 years ago after a battle with leukemia.

I remember where I was when I heard the news, alone. I was downstairs trying to hold it together. I swollowed the sadness and held it in, even though I wanted to just run away or even die myself.  My life was ruined. I was only 10 years old. 
You see I walked the journey with him. I held his hand has he fought the cancer. I went to most doctor visits and always was there with him in and out of the hospital. If no one was allowed to go, I was the exception. Yet, I couldn’t save him. I couldn’t fight it for him as much as I wanted to. 

I saw every up when the cancer would go into remission and he acted like himself again. I got so hopeful every time. And every time I would be heartbroken when I saw him getting worse. I remember being so angry at God for not healing him. 

I saw every low when his flesh became so pale, his skin so cold. I remember seeing the look on his face when he knew we would never see each other again. I remember that last hug he gave. I didn’t want to let go. 

Poppop died a few days after I last saw him. We were taken out of town to see other family. Honestly, it probably was on purpose so we didn’t see him die literally before our eyes. 

I still remember thinking his death was my fault. I took the blame and shame onto myself. “If only I…” just kept repeating in my head even though I knew I couldn’t stop the cancer.

Today I went back to a place where he underwent his cancer treatments. It was a very freeing experience. I wasn’t there for mourning, I wasn’t there to have the memories flood. I was there for a friend. I was there because it’s where God brought her to undergo observation and where God ultimately led me to. It’s no coincidence that God brought me back to where I lost myself over 20 yeas ago.  

God always has a plan, even if the outcome isn’t in our best interest. My Poppop might have died. I might have lost myself in that and defined myself by that, but it makes me no less of the person I am today because of that.  

I wouldn’t be who I am if I never went through the storm. So I can sit here and try to say a part of me died that day but really it was God ultimately using that to define my path and my story.  God’s not done with me. He’s not done with you.