If I could…

If I could speak to every person who has or is struggling with depression, I would say this…
It’s okay to struggle, it’s okay to be upset, but it’s not okay to keep it to yourself and isolate yourself. There is a God who loves you and cares for you. This God will never forsake you. He will never walk away from you. He will make your paths straight, you just have to surrender. God gave His son to die for our sins. Sins that we struggle with because we have used them as a coping mechanism, even if we don’t even realize it. And let me tell you, it’s hard to let go of those sins. But it’s not impossible. God has your back and will be with you every step of the way.
Lift your head up and open your eyes look at the people around you. He has placed certain people in your life so you don’t walk through this alone.  
I’ve lived with depression since I was around 10. There are days that are way harder than some. What I’ve realized is the more I isolate, the more those days seem to multiply. The more I dwell in the past, the more the days multiply. But the more I trust in God, the more I pray, the more I spend time with others in the faith in community, the less the days happen.
God loves you and cares deeply for you because you are a child of God. 
And if I can help anyone with anything by using my testimony and allowing others to realize they are not alone both spiritually and physically than whatever I went through was worth it.

My God

I’ve talked about it multiple times before I am going to go back to where it all began… my story.

When I was little I was the problem child. The child always into something and getting into trouble. In church, I was that “evil rascal”, I was the one who got caught kissing some teenage boy in the nursery at church when I was maybe 9 or 10.  The one who was running up and down the pews, the one laughing when people started raising their hands, running around, screaming. I was the child no one wanted to see.

I was the person everyone thought would fail. I was the person that people thought was hopeless. Maybe growing up with negativity thrown at me constantly, may of had something to do with it, but I believed them. I began doing miserable in school, I failed 9th grade while in special ed classes. My life looked bleak. I began online relationships because it’s where only words mattered, and the idea of “love” and “attention” is what I was craving. I began watching porn through this entire thing,  triggering an addiction. At 14, my life was in shackles. I wanted to end my life. I was ready. But right when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I was knocked down and strangled, literally. After that moment, I remember laying in bed crying thinking if there was a God then why is my life so bad. If there was a God why doesn’t he just end my life, but there was turning point in that moment that I took a deep breathe, to just be. I remember looking back at happy me, and I wondered if I could ever get back there.

To be honest, I don’t know what my definition of “happy” was back then. Maybe it was a feeling of love, maybe it was a laughing little girl, maybe it was me being completely rotten, either way I wanted to be that person again.

Today, I look back and see God was writing my story. I see him woven throughout my entire childhood, always placing a hand over me protecting me. When I went the darkest corners, He was with me and I didn’t even know Him.  There are so many things I can pinpoint that I know where He was writing my story.

But yet there are times where I tend to forget all that and I look around and say “where are you?” I look around and feel empty, unloved, worthless, and I feel he has forsaken me. However, a God that made sure I didn’t end my life, a God that helped me get through my darkest moments, that God would never forsake me, would never un-love me, would never disown me, that God would cherish me. That God is my God.

I am thankful God led me to where I am. I am thankful for my church family. I am thankful that He saved my life over 2000 years ago and again 16 years ago when I was at the end of my rope. I am thankful He still loves me no matter how much I denied Him, challenged Him, and gave up on Him.

 

 

Shackles 

We all know that God breaks out chains, right? He frees from everything, because this world isn’t out home. He frees from our past because we are no long bond to it. We no longer have to let our past and our failures depict who we are. He claims us as His sons and daughters. 

But how many of us rush back to put the shackles back on ourselves? You can say none, but think about that addiction to whatever you have or had, let be food, alcohol, porn, drugs, anything. At first when God opened your heart, you realized it was wrong so you gave it up and you stayed away. But how long did it last?

A year? A day? Maybe even 5 or 10 years? And then that moment of temptation hits at the moment where you are stressed and down and you give in just that once.  You feel guilty, sinful, and comepltely unforgiveable in that moment. But then you remind yourself God will forgive me because He already has. You convince yourself you’re okay and it won’t happen again. THEN the next time of giving into temptation came a little sooner than last time, and the pattern just keeps going.

The thing is we do it ourselves. We put the shackles of sin back in our lives. We let that temptation dictate our moves instead of God. We let our own sinful self get in the way of true freedom from God.  But the thing is the shackles aren’t locked, we can walk away at any moment but we don’t and they will just keep getting tighter and tighter the more we give in to our addiction and temptation.

But what if we instead of turning away from God to hide our sin nature in times of stress, depression, and worry, what if we turn towards to God? Temptation will always happen, but instead of giving in, open your bible. Instead of giving in call someone. Instead of giving in pray. 

Your mind is powerful. If you create a system in to battle temptation that comes in front you, you will combat it. But you have to be willing to not only give it up for now, but completely. You have to be willing to talk about that darkness of temptation to other people. You have to be willing to walk away from the shackles of sin and not look back. If you don’t you will hold yourself captive there. 

Don’t be held captive in chains that were broken once. Find yourself a path to get out, because God already created it for you, you just have to find the right one. 

Unintentionally Intentional Ignorance

Today during the sermon, I began to question whether or not I was intentionally avoiding connection with God or if it was unintentional.

There’s this saying that is “You will set time for things you want to set time for” So if you don’t make God a priority are you intentionally avoiding connection with Him?  You could argue both sides. However, I believe at least for me, it’s  unintentionally intentional. Meaning that at first I unintentionally placed God on the back burner. I unintentionally allowed my time with Him to be put aside, but as time marches on you get to a point where you recognize it, but instead of acknowledging it and setting time aside, you continue ignoring it and it becomes a pattern in your life.

Why do we get to that point? Why do we let it become a pattern?

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m the only one who struggles with this whole connection thing. Maybe it’s just me who feels broken and tries to hide it and hide from it. I mean seriously if I don’t talk no one will know right? If I don’t say anything no one will know that I’m secretly struggling with my connection with God, if I don’t say anything no one will know that I struggle with loneliness, no one will know that I struggle with worthiness, no one will know that I struggle with accepting any compliment as genuine, no one will know that I struggle with relationships, no one will know that I am a complete mess and completely broken.  Hiding prevents the light from coming in and allows for darkness to creep in.

Don’t hide. Don’t be afraid to tell people who you trust in your life what you are going through because God doesn’t want you to go through life alone. God put those people in your life for a reason. Yes, it will be uncomfortable, but God doesn’t grow you in your comfort zone. You are allowed to struggle. You are allowed to not be okay in moments. You allowed not to be perfect. Don’t let your sinful self be what’s holding you back from your connection with God.

So if we don’t make God a priority  we will lose that connection. We lose our ability to keep fighting, because we aren’t allowing God to provide our strength, we only rely on our own. God has amazing plans for your life, you just have to be able to make Him a priority again in your life. Let God be your King of your life again, let Him be God again.

God’s in Control

 

Let’s be honest for a moment, we all know God is in control. But how many of us would rather say, He’s not because we don’t want to face that fact that we are not perfect, that we fall short, we don’t want to admit that we need Jesus every day of our lives. We all do, even the people you see as “they can do no wrong” they too fall short! We can do nothing in our power, in our own strength, to make us not fall short. The beauty is Jesus came and died for us to build the bridge, so that we no longer fall short. He covers our sins.

You can say, “I know that”, but do you? Do you actually sit there and realize that every time you have a setback, that God is in control? I bet if you get the promotion, “it’s all God, thank  you Jesus.” But in the hard moments do we go and say, “thanks God, I know I fall short, and I know you and me have some work to do, so thank you so much for allowing me to go through this hard moment.” No, we don’t, we say, “Where is God” “I don’t understand” ” What did I do wrong”. We underestimate God in the hard moments, we feel if he was in control, then we wouldn’t be going through the things we go through. But sometimes we have to go through the hard moments, to get us to where He wants us.

Those hard moments are when we have our biggest growth. Why? Because you get on your knees, you get back into your relationship with God, you realize the sins that you have been allowing to dictate your life and you give them over to God, and you start focusing on the voice that should be.

So many of us are called to do great things, but sometimes we get discouraged because we have a major set back happen, or maybe we get depressed. And we let our circumstances dicate our life versus letting the Light dictate it.

I have battled depression for years. But the moment I surrender to it and I let it control me, is the moment I find myself, isolated and alone. I have to battle it, I have to fight it because I wasn’t called to live my life depressed, I was called to serve a God with joy, I was called to love others, I was called to be where I am in this moment. I can either take my depression and hide it away and pretend it’s not there or I can help others going through the same thing.

Yesterday, at church was so powerful, we did an illustration on how we are better together. We were told to lift our hands, to feel the burn of burdens we carry everyday by ourselves. Then we interconnected with each other, showing that that if we keep each other lifted, we can hold together longer, we can help each other when someone begins to fall. It was in that moment Pastor read out all the things we wrote down that were battling. We are better together, we get through things together not alone.

So when we face that next challenge or setback, there is a reason, even if you don’t see it. Don’t run, don’t hide, face it because God can use this moment in your life to help someone else out down the road because you’ve been there. God knows what he is doing even if it doesn’t feel right in the moment. Look around you, there are people there who’ve been through similar things, connect with them, learn from them, we do better when we do life together.

 

 

Saying “Yes” to God: The Journey

The Journey

I don’t know where you are in your faith walk, maybe you just accepted Christ in your heart and you’re searching, maybe you’ve been a Christ follower for years, maybe you are just struggling right now, but regardless of where you are or who you are, God is there with you. Like what it is written, God will never leave you nor forsake you. He is always be there, you cannot hide from Him, even when we think we can.

I say this because there are many times I struggle and I feel like God hasn’t been with me, that if God was in it would not be this particular way. But that’s just me trying to control my own destiny.Which my path was already written by God, he knows when I’ll  fall, he knows when I rise up. He knows it all. He knows your path too, he knows what he is doing.

But if you don’t trust him, if you don’t hand the reigns over to God, and you try to steer,  your life just keeps repeating it self and you wonder why things are not going anywhere. It’s because you’ve been spinning in circles trying to control your own life. Listen, God has a path for you. There will be some rockiness, there will be storms, but there is also light, joy, happiness. Trust God no matter which direction he calls you.

I’ve recently battled on of my worst depressions of my life. I felt that God was not with me, I felt that abandonment. I had followed what God had called me to do, and I end up in a dark pit. I was scared, I was worn out, I was curled up and was done with life. But here is the beauty of it, God was there the whole time. He never left me. I just had to look up.  I was so focused on my own self pity and my own self worth, that I never realized how much God was trying to steer me, I just had to let him.

If you would have told me that today July 1st would be the last day of my job, that I didn’t hold at the time, if you would have told me that I would start working on July 5th in the administrative side of ministry, I would call you completely crazy, but not to God. If I didn’t follow his calling to quit my job, I would not be here right now, I may have not fallen into that pit, but I followed Him. God was there the entire time, even in my darkest moments.  God is not done with me yet, and he definitely is not done with you yet.

God is on the move in your life. Just trust in Him. Lean on Him.

 

 

 

 

Harden Heart

I was flipping back and saw this old picture of myself…

 
I was 19 at the time. I was immature. I was dark. I thought I knew it all. I thought I was a nobody. I thought I wasn’t worth anything.

These lies I remember telling myself over and over again. I’m worthless. No one likes or loves me. No one even cares. 

But the problem I have found its not that no one does, it’s because I didn’t allow them to. I closed myself off from anyone who had a glimpse of possible hurting me, and it all started in childhood.

Growing up with a mother who loves me dearly but a father who was barely home and said horrible things when he was around. But all I wanted was daddy’s love. 

So I inadvertently gave up all together. I fought my mom about not wanting to get out of bed, I didn’t want to face the world of harsh and nasty people. I even failed a grade because of it. 

Through it all, I lost Tanya. I lost the girl I used to be before my heart became stone.  I lost communication with world. I lost the ability to communicate. In groups I wouldn’t take charge or hardly communicate because the lies people I loved just played over and over in my head. I was the “quiet” one. I was the one no one noticed because it was easier for me to not talk and not be noticed then to have to bare the chance of being hurt. It wasn’t worth it, because I felt I wasn’t worth it.

One day my parents found a poem of mine talking about death and taking my own life. It’s the only day I remember as a kid when my parents both told me they loved me and they were sorry for ignoring me and for everything I’ve been through. Life didn’t change much after that, there was more people tiptoeing around the truth that made me feel more unloved.

I say all of this because 10 years ago I was still that little girl. I didn’t mature from the point at which my heart harden, which was around the age of 10. I simply grew in age and the voices in my head just grew stronger.

It wasn’t until I allowed Christ to soften my heart did anything even begin to change. He began to work in me through the Word and he began to replace the lies I tend to tell myself. I still hear them today, I still battle this but the more I replace the lies with God promises the less and less I hear the lies. The more I see the core of who God made me and it’s beautiful.

I am a flawed person and it’s okay not to be perfect. It’s okay to think what comes to mind and not everyone will judge you. It’s okay to open your heart and to let people in. It’s okay to be me and there is no one better to play the role of me in the story God has already written for me.