I used to pray for unshakeable faith. I wanted to be steadfast in belief that God would always come through, never doubting His goodness.
When things go right, when life is smooth… it’s easy to have faith. It’s like breathing, how easy and natural it is to shout His praises and share your good news and blessings.
You breathe in His presence and breathe out your testimony, like Aslan blowing life onto the statues in Narnia.
Our faith and testimony release life-giving encouragement to people in pain, the people in the midst of hardship and struggle. Seeing how mountains were moved for us unlocks their vision, they take heart that their mountains can move too.
But sometimes, we aren’t the Aslan in the story. We are the statue, hardened and in desperate need of the Life-Breath.
Suffering and difficulty swirl around like a funnel cloud of fury and deception. It clouds our judgement and all we see is pain, the Why’s and the When’s of our prayer requests being whipped about like shingles ripped from a storm-torn house.
At first we cling to our knowledge of a Sovereign Father, but as the winds continue to screech and fear rumbles in the distance we might begin to wonder… What if? Where is He?
Grief and bitterness choke us like smoke and our faith doesn’t feel so strong, instead we feel weak and wavering.
The adversary whispers lies, “do you even really believe? Where is God now? There’s nothing left. You can’t do this.”
The steadfastness comes when we dig in our heels. This house will not be uprooted by the storm, because the foundation is 𝘀𝘁𝗿𝗼𝗻𝗴.
You might be clinging to your faith by the width of a hair, but all you need is a mustard seed.
“Go,” you whisper to the lies. And they flee. The storm might not be over, but you stand awaiting the victory.
Your faith may shake in the face of the tornado, but the House The Lord Built won’t fall, even if the siding creaks.
The storm passes and the statue comes back to life, your heart beats again and you breathe in deep.
Now it’s your turn, share the story of the storm and breathe the Life-Breath on the next person worn thin by grief and trial.
Steadfast in action, faith like potatoes.
If this piece resonated with you in any way, I’d love for you to share it! You never know who may need the encouragement.
Come follow along with me at my Instagram! I share daily musings on faith, Biblical womanhood, homeschooling, urban gardening, and critical thinking. Fueled by Jesus, imperfectly learning and living lessons every step of the way!
I’m going on a new journey with my writing space. I’d love if you would continue to follow along as I share it along with my personal posts, but I recognize the topic won’t be for everyone. That’s okay! If you’re curious, stick around 🧡
Something that I’ve struggled with since childhood is my identity as a woman.
Throughout my journey of religion, disbelief, and discovering Jesus “who am I and what is my purpose” has followed me. Plenty of belief systems have tried to answer that question.
I’ve seen so many mixed messages from so many different crowds. The spectrum in our culture swings from radical feminists who hate men to ultra-controlled wives abused by the term “submit.” I’ve witnessed both ends of it, I’m not here to debate the existence of either side.
I think there’s a middle ground that women are missing out on and honestly, we’re kept from.
Jesus fiercely loved women and advocated for them in a time where that wasn’t the cultural norm.
God desiged women עֵזֶר כְּנֶגְדּוֹ – “ezer kenegdo.” A FASCINATING deep term that goes way beyond “helpmeet.”
I want to dive into this topic, our divine design as warriors, not mice. The incredible stories of women weaved throughout the Word, and what this means for us.
How it can EMPOWER us and free us to walk in our callings and live out our purpose.
Whether you are called to teach the next generation of warriors, or you are called to be salt and light in the courtroom, any role in between…
You were created with purpose. And when you know who you are (and the power behind that identity) you can be an unstoppable Kingdom force.
2020 has brought on a “silent rise” in mental health crises.
It’s no secret that it’s been a rough year, but viruses aside, the job losses, bankruptcies, and isolation has had devastating repercussions for mental health.
People already struggling with anxiety and/or depression may feel like they’re barely treading water with their mental health. Others who have never (or rarely) experienced anxiety or depression have, unfortunately, begun having their own bouts.
I know for myself, dealing with end of pregnancy and postpartum, on top of dealing with repressed trauma responses… Covid depression has been the icing on the cake.
Of course there are good days. We feel a camaraderie, like we’re all in this together! We got this! It sucks but we’ll get through it.
Other days though might feel really dark. Numb and apathetic. Lonely and weary. What is the point of x, y, z?
Last Fall was a very difficult time for me, a lot of joy was stolen. As this season has approached I’ve entered it with a jaded attitude. A lot of pain is resurfacing for me to face, and I’m learning the dance of holding space for pain but holding on to joy too.
What I wanted to talk about today is the in-between of those two extremes. The both//and space.
You can hold space for hard emotions and bad days, and still look for the light shining through, for the joy moments and the silver linings.
You can also hold space on your fantastic days for the trauma that you’re still working through. You can enjoy things and still recognize that you are wounded and that there’s work for you to do.
Your joy doesn’t have to erase your pain.
It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. If you’ve ever worked through traumatic situations or had to process hard emotions, we can almost sort of gaslight ourselves if we have good days.
Like, oh I’m having a really good day maybe this isn’t bad as I thought it was. Until something triggers you or you’re faced with more emotions that you haven’t processed through yet.
Likewise, when you’ve dealt with depression or anxiety and have felt like you’re spiraling, we can become consumed with those difficult feelings as well.
Our vision can become clouded with everything that is wrong in the world because of the hardship that we are working through. It feels impossible to “choose joy” because everything is painful, or we are numb to everything.
We do need to be cautious in those circumstances though. We are not victims to our mind, and though we can deal with mental health issues, we must take authority over some areas as well.
Becoming consumed with our depression or anxiety, not seeking help or utilizing tools that can help us, can be destructive not only to ourselves but to those around us too.
I’ve seen depression and anxiety steal away so much from families; I’ve seen it in my own family growing up and the repercussions that it had for me as a child.
This has been the number one driving factor for me in trying to grow and heal, so that my problems would not negatively affect my children.
In that same vein however, we can also be consumed with running from our depression and anxiety, or our trauma that needs to be dealt with. This is also unhealthy.
Rather than communicate our pain, or face difficult emotions, we try to be happy and bubbly and ignore the pain. “Fake it til you make it” can be as damaging for some people as it is helpful to others.
Because pain that we swallow down instead of facing and processing will absolutely come back to bite us. It can look like rage, depression, fear and anxiety, and many other things.
So where is the line? How can we not let depression and anxiety rule our lives and steal all our joy, yet also not force happiness and joy when we are in the midst of pain and grief?
I’m no expert, I’m just a mom who’s done a lot of reading and praying haha. But I would love to share what I’ve learned, and what helps me.
Have grace with yourself. Have you ever heard that phrase? What does it look like though? I’d say it looks like being kind to yourself and what’s going on in your head.
Don’t be a bully. Don’t make yourself feel bad for what you’re going through. If your inner dialogue is making you feel bad, you need to reroute that language!
Even if you have to over and over, tell yourself no! And talk to yourself like you would talk to a hurting friend or loved one.
Would that dialogue be uplifting or edifying for a beloved friend? If not, than don’t speak that over yourself.
Another thing to consider here: when we are numb we might not even be able to give ourselves grace. But we can receive God’s gift of grace.
All praises belong to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he is the Father of tender mercy and the God of endless comfort. He always comes alongside us to comfort us in every suffering so that we can come alongside those who are in any painful trial. We can bring them this same comfort that God has poured out upon us. And just as we experience the abundance of Christ’s own sufferings, even more of God’s comfort will cascade upon us through our union with Christ. If troubles weigh us down, that just means that we will receive even more comfort to pass on to you for your deliverance! For the comfort pouring into us empowers us to bring comfort to you. And with this comfort upholding you, you can endure victoriously the same suffering that we experience.
2 Corinthians 1:3-6 TPT
This might look different for the person or by the day, but we can sit in His grace and comfort when we can’t give ourselves grace. He can hold you, just rest in Him.
2. Choose Joy
I know some people get super irritated by this phrase. I get it, being told to be happy when you’re suffering is upsetting.
But choosing joy in spite of your circumstances isn’t forcing happiness when you’re miserable.
It is tapping into a supernatural gift and a fruit of the Spirit which is yours to have when you know Jesus. The joy of the Lord can be your strength when you have no strength of your own left.
Choosing Biblical joy and gratitude isn’t faking happy, it’s a deep-seated soul joy, soul rest, to enter into.
I wanted to pick a Bible verse about joy but there’s so many!! Let me just reference a few:
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds…” James 1:2
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness…” Galatians 5:22
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy…” Psalm 16:11
“So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” John 16:22
“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:17
“You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.” Psalm 4:7
The list can go on and on! The Lord has joy for you that goes far beyond surface worldly happiness, another verse called it “inexpressible joy.” To me, that goes beyond a circumstantial emotion like happiness.
Joy is like a pressure washer.
A lot of people don’t really know that though.
Pressure washers are wonderful inventions, in seconds, they can remove years of build up. Years of caked on dirt in the most walked on areas around our homes.
We all have these areas, and I don’t mean around our homes. Around our hearts. Places people have walked all over us. Trampled on our hearts. Brought their dirt (and other things) into our lives. The areas that have become not only dirtied, but hardened from so much traffic.
Much of the time, we think we have to get everything cleaned up before we can be joyful. We think we have to have it all healed before we can get out of feeling down and dirty.
And those who think like that often never become joyful. They stay depressed. They stay bitter. They stay hurt. They stay is self-pity. All the while protecting themselves from the very thing that can remove it all.
The pressure washer of joy.
God wants to give us His joy to remove the years of build up. To quickly blast away the years of pain. To clear up the places that seemed impossible to clean.
Is. 35:10 says…”those the LORD has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”
It’s joy that’s makes the sadness and sighing flee. It makes them run from us. It’s joy that blasts it all away.
Don’t wait to be joyful. Don’t fix everything before you smile and laugh again. Don’t wait. Don’t even hesitate.
Receive joy today and watch what happens as you do.
3. Glimpses of Gratitude
A few years ago I tried to keep a gratitude journal. I’d sit at the table and try to comb through my day to recall and write down everything I was grateful for.
While it was a good suggestion, it wasn’t realistic or sustainable for me. I often forgot to pull the journal out or just sat there with my mind wandering trying to pull out something to write down!
And on my bad days? I honestly couldn’t think of things. Of course there’s the I’m grateful for my home, my family, food in the fridge, etc.
Sometimes it’s really hard to see beyond that when depression has a grip on your feelings and everything is numb.
I wrote a post about taking every thought captive; intrusive thoughts, depressed thoughts, spiraling thoughts, and tips to help you realistically take those thoughts captive! Read that here.
Instead, what has been helpful for me is momentary glimpses of gratitude.
It can happen any moment of the day, but it’s something that lights you up. Morning sun dancing on the hardwood floor in my kitchen. My girls giggling and dancing in the living room. The way my warm coffee feels in my hand.
It doesn’t have to last long, but pause and sit in that moment and feel the gratitude. Thank the Lord for that glimmer in your day.
Instead of reciting off everything you’re supposed to be grateful for, look at your day or those moments with your God lens on.
You can even ask Him! Lord help me see with Your eyes today, help me see the beauty. Feel His delight in the moments around you.
Just like joy, there are so many verses about gratitude and thankfulness in the Word!
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17
“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful” Colossians 3:15
“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” Psalm 107:1
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.” Psalm 28:7
“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” Colossians 2:6-7
Gratitude is the key to a heart posture towards Jesus and walking in joy regardless of outward circumstances.
One of my favorite podcasters, Blake Guichet of The Crappy Christian Co. recently wrote about this topic and it’s so good!
“It’s not that our feelings don’t matter or aren’t valid – we should honor one another’s emotions and bear each other’s burdens, mourn with those who mourn, and rejoice with those who rejoice. But the line gets blurry when we start treating those emotions as though they are the facts of the situation.
I know that the reason I personally function this way is because of my generalized anxiety disorder diagnosis. Through years of therapy, I’ve learned to separate how I feel from the truth to avoid spiraling out of control. And for the most part, it really serves me well.
The truth without love is harsh.
Love without truth is enabling.
That’s why we tell the truth in love (Eph 4:15) This a necessary maturity of faith so that we are no longer tossed to and fro by our emotions, but deeply rooted in what God says about us and others.
I’m honestly thankful that our feelings aren’t facts. When things feel hopeless, we know they never are. When we feel isolated, we have the knowledge of God’s nearness. When it seems like the world is out of control, we know the One who holds it all.
Your feelings aren’t facts, friend. And that should provide you with peace. Let’s stop allowing our emotions to run the show and instead turn to the truth.
We are not victims, and living with a victim mentality will steal your joy and suck the life right out of you. Maybe you were wronged, abused, mistreated. That’s valid.
But staying a victim in every area of your life, not growing or healing, is super damaging.
The Word tells us we are more than conquerors, in ALL things. That He works ALL things together for our good. That the Lord can make beauty from our ashes. The ashes of abuse, trauma, accidents, pain, etc.
We see what’s right in front of us. But the Lord sees an entire atlas of roads leading from our current circumstances. We have no idea what He can do through us and our stories!
A note on victimhood…
Mental health struggles are not a free ticket to be a jerk.
Yes it happens. I’ve experienced this. I have seen awful, atrocious behavior justified because of where someone was mentally. This is wrong.
We still need to take responsibility for our actions; mental struggles cannot be a crutch or excuse for bad behavior.
Victimhood clouds judgement and can cause immense pain, for others, and yourself too.
You are not powerless, you are still in charge of you.
“You can sit here but you can’t stay here.”
Validation is important, but dare I say, needing validation can also be a crutch. Some feelings can’t be validated if they are skewed or untruthful, but they can be acknowledged.
Having safe people, trustworthy friends or family, who can lead you back to your foundational truths when you are blinded by pain, apathy, or spiraling thoughts is so important.
Staying somewhere unhealthy and stewing in negative thoughts is a counterproductive narrative that will keep you bound up. Stewing and processing are not equal.
We can sit with grief. We can sit with hard things that need to be processed. Ignoring doesn’t help!
But staying there is when it becomes dangerous. We can miss the steps towards healing that God has for us. We can miss the beauty that’s transforming by remembering only the ashes.
Don’t run from your pain, but don’t let it swallow you either.
You don’t deserve to be consumed by dark thoughts and days of sorrow. There’s a bigger plan for you!
Depression is real, I have felt it’s nasty claws. Anxiety is real, I have experienced is vice-like grip.
We can acknowledge our hard and still see the joys. We can find delight in little things, even when bigger things are going wrong.
Remember the both//and my friend, and remember you are never ever alone.
Have you heard the phrase “do life?” Like “I love doing life with you?” I like it… It makes life an action, a verb, which it kinda is, right?
This post today was inspired because I saw a meme about homeschooling, something akin to “homeschooling isn’t about lesson planning, it’s about doing life with your kids.” It got me thinking.
I often see posts from people in regards to a spouse or friend, that they love doing life with them. So what is “doing life”?
It’s the nitty gritty. The everyday. The mundane. People present for the real stuff, the good and the bad. Who you choose to do life with, your people, are your village. A little like family, blood or not.
Part of doing life with someone, inevitably, is conflict. Conflict is an opportunity; you can push through the uncomfortable, grow from it, and experience increased intimacy in a relationship, or the hardship can be avoided and the pain cause withdrawal or separation of relationship.
Here’s the thing about conflict. It is yucky and weird and hard, but it is normal. When you’ve grown up in an unhealthy or toxic environment, conflict is scary. Conflict often means trouble, even hatred. When you’ve grown up in trauma or dysfunction conflict isn’t a gateway to grow, it can mean someone leaving or someone hurting you. Once you’ve “grown up” its really hard to shift that mindset!
For the longest time I was terrified of conflict, because for my family it meant someone didn’t speak to the other for a few years, or punishment, or the silent treatment. (Research has shown that the act of ignoring or excluding activates the same area of the brain that is activated by physical pain. Read more about that here. Or just Google, theres a lot to read on the topic.)
I thought if I wasn’t perfect or had a disagreement or did something wrong my friends would hate me, forget me, my husband would leave me… the list goes on and on. But as I have been working towards healing my trauma brain can I share something with you?
I have learned, through some deep intimate friendships, that true love doesn’t walk away because of conflict. True love isn’t specifically romantic, though it can be. True love is agape – the steady intention of the will to another’s highest good. Love that goes beyond feelings, but is a choice. The people that have chosen me over and over since I became an adult have shown me what this looks like. People can disagree with you and still love you.
My husband and his family were my first experience in this. Like I said before, my family didn’t have the best track record in conflict. I married into a family that loves HARD. They can fight but they forgive easily. I’ve seen my husband and his siblings fight and then a few minutes later they’re hugging it out and forgiving – and they let go and move on. We’ve been through our own conflict with them when we eloped at 18 & 19 years old and it wasn’t received well. Still they loved; they pushed through the awkward and hard to restore connection. It was mind blowing to me, I felt so emotionally stunted because I couldn’t grasp their love for each other. And so began my journey, I am learning to love through conflict rather than allow it to destroy. (There are times obviously where forgiveness is necessary but restoration is not, there is a difference between healthy people and conflict with toxic people.)
We live in a world that fights hard to show we can stand on our own two feet! We hustle and slay and can make it without any help! Yet we were designed for connection, we were designed to do life with others. Humans need each other, and its okay to need help and support along the way.
Another aspect of “doing life” is discipleship. If you’re a believer we are called to disciple others. When I was younger that seemed impossible and a bit above my level, like only super wise people who had it all together could disciple others. But when I heard Annie F. Downs speak at IF Gathering a few years ago she totally changed my perspective. We don’t need to make discipleship something harder than it is, we just need to come alongside people and love them well.
Discipleship, loving and teaching someone, can happen as you do dishes and someone dries them. It can be over coffee, or while your toddlers play, or after school. In that day to day life, connecting, showing up and letting Jesus shine through. You don’t have to be 60 with your life all tied up neatly in perfect little bows to help someone on their journey. Discipleship doesn’t only happen on a scheduled hour in a cafe. You can have your own mess and still meet someone in theirs.
Doing life with someone is a sweet space. It’s tender and vulnerable. It’s your friend helping you grocery shop because you’re pregnant and herding two kids. It can look like your friend coming over to clean out your fridge and stock it when you’re a week postpartum. It’s taking you out to dinner to have a hard conversation. Loving someone else’s kids as much as your own, helping you paint, offering your couch to sleep on, running an errand, calling you out (lovingly) on your stuff. Bringing cheesecake over and playing board games because doing life also means having fun! Getting through it all together. The glorious and the disastrous.
So let’s do this life thing together, let’s share our mistakes and experiences and help each other grow. I invite you to find those people you can do life with and show up, be kind, and love well. You aren’t meant to go it alone.
And just in case you didn’t know, you are worthy of love, you deserve good people in your life who show up for you, no matter your mess. Cause we all got some mess!