For The Crushed In Spirit

Two years ago a pastor and mental health advocate I adored died by suicide. When I read the news I wept.

He was such a strong, powerful voice for those who loved Jesus and also struggled with depression.

In the days that followed I was mortified to see speakers and influencers denounce him and say he should never have pastored if he struggled with depression.

1) that’s a poor view of God and who He can work through and 2) read the dang room and be respectful in the days of someone’s passing.

Over and over in the Bible we see God use broken, flawed people for His glory.

People who had a speech impediment, people who struggled with depression, people who used to kill Christians.

Every person has struggles. Every pastor, leader, teacher, speaker, and podcaster has a struggle you don’t know about.

Thank you Jesus we are worth more than our private issues! We would ALL be disqualified.

Dealing with anxiety/depression/trauma/intrusive thoughts doesn’t mean you can’t make a difference in the world. It doesn’t discredit your testimony or wisdom you have to share.

Mental health struggles are no different than physical ones, we just can’t see them. They’re a lot easier to hide or make assumptions about.

A pastor who may deal with depression can still speak truth to people’s hearts. A mom who has PPD can still love her children and teach them who they are.

Your bad days do not disqualify you from the race God has called you to run.

2 Tim 1:9 says He gave us a holy calling not because of our works, but because of His grace. Nothing you do can earn His love or freedom, it was given to you.

Our effort isn’t what qualifies us for our calling!

Look at Moses, David, Elijah… Elijah experienced a powerful victory in 1 Kings and a few days later asked God to kill him.

Jeremiah cursed the day he was born. His entire ministry was filled with such difficulty that he’s called “the weeping prophet.” He cried out “why was I born if this is my life?!”

David, the man after God’s heart, someone who did great things but also made terrible choices he had to live with – “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?” (Psalm 42:11)

The Word says that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and He saves the crushed in spirit. (Ps 34:18)

If He can use these people, He can use you and me.

If you struggle with an eating disorder, that doesn’t disqualify you from God’s plan and calling.

If you’ve dealt with suicidal thoughts, that doesn’t discredit the giftings God has given you.

No matter your struggles, God has a purpose for your life. No one’s opinions or cruel words should steal that from you.

Don’t receive the lie over your life that you can’t ________ because you have had depression or anxiety or go to therapy or use medications or supplements.

Imagine telling a person with fibromyalgia they aren’t qualified to teach the word of God. They can’t help the condition they have.

Now imagine telling a person who Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that they can’t share God’s heart with the world as they deal with trauma-based anxiety.

That’s like telling God He shouldn’t use David because of all the times he lamented in the Psalms.

Do we believe in the God of the impossible or are we limiting what He can do and who He can use?

Even Charles Spurgeon wrote about the pain of mental health –

The mind can descend far lower than the body, for in it there are bottomless pits. The flesh can bear only a certain number of wounds and no more, but the soul can bleed in ten thousand ways, and die over and over again each hour.

Charles Spurgeon

God uses imperfect people to do incredible things. He has taken people with terrible pasts and given them bright futures!

Whatever you may be working through, what matters is that you are working through. Talk to safe people, go to counseling, change damaging situations.

What matters is your heart. Are you living in a way that shows people Jesus? Does your life show the fruit of the Spirit?

Just like a bad day doesn’t make a bad life, a bad mental health day doesn’t mean that’s who you are.

This week was extremely difficult and stretching for me and everything added up until I woke up one morning feeling the tension mounting inside me.

A glass falling off the nightstand and shattering was the small trigger that set off all my overwhelm, spilling over into an awful anxiety attack.

These moments the despair is so deep. The lies try to creep in to disqualify me, and imposter syndrome rears its ugly head.

“How can you expect to help people when you’re so broken?”

It’s easy to keep these thoughts and moments to ourselves, but calling them out takes their power. Reaching out to someone who loves you and will rebuke the lies calls you back into the light.

Here’s the thing, dear reader… The power of your testimony and victories, the stories of your struggles and successes, they will bring freedom to someone else going through it. Share your story, shame doesn’t get the final word.

Your struggles don’t disqualify you; they might just be what draws someone else to the Lord.

Your perseverance through your mental health battles will show someone dealing with the same thing that they aren’t alone, they aren’t worthless, and they have purpose too.

Whatever your calling in life might be: pastor, teacher, mother, writer, social media manager etc., you are an overcomer. You are a more than a conqueror. You are seen, loved, and valued.

If you ever doubt that God can use you, please flip through Scripture and see the long list of imperfect people that God used to prophesy, lead, evangelize, and heal.

You aren’t your bad days, you are more than depression or anxiety.

Most importantly – you are never alone and deeply loved above all.

Ezer Kenegdo

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.

Right Where You Are

This week I had a phone date with my “NC BFF,” who I am so blessed to still have in my life 11 years and 500 miles later. She’s known me since my early teen years and been by my side through a lot of pain and joy.

She remembers who I was before the life I have now, and as we chatted recently she mentioned how this *gestures broadly* was my dream.

18 year old Alyssa didn’t know if she could have kids. She didn’t think she could be a mom because of her upbringing.

She had grand ideas of producing movies and being a bestselling author, living a wild life to numb the pain she carried, never getting married because boys hurt her, but underneath it all was the dream to be a wife and mother.

I didn’t know how I’d ever achieve this dream, of a husband who loved me and kids and a home and joy.

Lo and behold… here I am with everything I prayed for and didn’t believe possible. A sweet husband, three beautiful girls, and a house I get to make into a cozy home.

I was thrilled. Those early years had their fair share of hardship, but it was everything I wanted. I’ll never forget the morning after my husband, baby, and I moved into our “big” apartment. I woke to sunlight streamed in, hitting our new yellow quilt and a smiley baby. For the first time I felt absolute contentment.

This was it! Hashtag wife life! Starting the day feeding my girlie oatmeal and fruit. The faraway dream was finally reality.

And yet, somewhere along the way something whispered to me. A lie crept in and deceived my heart.

This lie told me it just wasn’t enough. I was just a mom. I wasn’t there yet.

It stole some of my joy, and striving took it’s place.

If I do this then I’ll matter. If I do that, or serve here, or work there, or get a degree, or do ______ THEN it will be enough. When I finally get a house, when I work a “real” job, when we can afford _______.

I know moms aren’t alone in being fed this destructive lie. Women from all walks of life experience this!

I have ________ but I still need to get married and then I’ll be happier. I have the dream job but I still need to visit _________ or do ________ and then I will be accomplished. I need to take that class or have this certification and then things will fall into place.

I should be doing more. I can do it all. If I can’t do it all, there’s something wrong with me.

Let’s break that off right now. May I be bold?

You are enough right where you are.

You can still have goals, you can still walk the steps to get there! But listen to me right now: you matter, you are worthy, you are enough in this season. Before you get to the next one.

Don’t let the “hustle” lies tell you otherwise.

Whether you are a mom, or work at Subway, or are in law school or anywhere in between!

You are enough.

Comparison and striving steals our joy from the right-now moments.

You can have dreams, you don’t need to step into all of them right now. You deserve joy before you get there, on the way there, and when you arrive.

If you are an intern in this season of life, you get to be the best intern you can be. You have purpose. You can have joy!

If you are a mom in this season of life, you get to be the best mom you can be. You have purpose. You can have joy!

The same goes for pastors, counselors, students, graphic designers, artists, and farmers.

You don’t have to be married to be whole. Wanting a partner to do life with is absolutely valid, but you’re a still a whole person on your own.

Traveling the world is amazing! It’s okay if you start small and get to know the city you’re working in til you can afford bigger.

Wanting to be in ministry is an incredible goal! It’s okay if you can’t right now because your family is your first ministry and needs your time more.

Culture sells us “more” but so often we lose hold of what we already carry to grab hold of it. Where you are right now deserves your attention.

This past year has brought me back. 2020 was difficult on so many levels, but it forced me to slow down and reevaluate. To rewire some thinking and take charge in my mental health, boundaries, and growth.

I think the Lord set me free from that deception. The weight of that burden being gone… It makes me feel light as air sometimes (when life drama doesn’t remind me there other weighty things haha).

This picture I have framed on my hutch gave me pause as I perused Pinterest one day.

The little girls, the baby wearing mom with coffee in hand, fresh bread and a cooling pie. The windows open to show off a gorgeous sunset.

A little moment of my dream captured in folk art.

Of all the things inspiring me lately, giving me joy, helping me fall in love with life again… This little painting has stood out time and time again.

It’s the background on my phone now too, because it centers me to my most-importants. It reminds me of what used to be my dream, what I have now that’s so important.

Right here is pretty stinking awesome. I could live only looking forward, dissatisfied with what I’m missing, and pining for the future… but I’d really be missing out.

My season of life can be hard, but it’s still good. It’s where I am. I still have goals and dreams! But I am no less of a person whether I’m “just a mom” or an author too. This goes for you too, my friend.

Dreams are good. God gives us dreams! He has a calling for every one of us. But sometimes we try to rush future dreams into the right now. We can invest in the future and still hold space for what’s valuable right now.

If you can’t breathe because you’re so busy, if you have no time for rest because you’ve taken too much on, if you’re finding yourself unhappy and overburdened… Some things might need to shift.

Plan out your goals, that’s not unimportant, but live in the present. Give yourself room to breathe and time to rest here. Don’t pack it all in to get their faster, because burnout is REAL.

You don’t have to get there before you’re real or valid.

You already are.

Live in that freedom, friend. You are loved and important in every stage.