Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Releasing Worry & Trusting God: Whatevers!

In my previous two posts, I've talked about releasing worry and trusting God. The first post was centered on faith; remembering "manna moments" from the Bible, and from every day life, which help us stand firm. Knowing who God is, what His Word says, and reflecting on His faithfulness is the foundation for maintaining and building even more faith to anchor us (especially in the hard times). Though, even with faith, there are still intense emotions that we experience in the midst of it. Faith doesn't mean we can't feel. Powerful emotions often rise up. When they do, we can lean into them in a healthy way to learn from and process those emotions. As we do so, we release them to God and find His comfort and healing.

In my life, I've worked to overcome my "all or nothing" mentality and strive for balance. I've realized that sometimes I stand so firm on faith that I try to stifle and suppress all emotions. Other times, I spend too much time leaning into my emotions that I get stuck in them and spiral out of control into a very depressed state. Both extremes battle brokenness from a different angle. Neither extreme is good for us, and it can be challenging to find that healthy balance. 

I don't know about you, but I sometimes reach the point where I completely burnout and breakdown. I feel completely broken and non-functional; and I struggle to snap out of it. Then, I feel guilty for falling into a dark depressing hole of self-pity; which just piles up on top of everything else that I feel bad about. I tell myself to get a grip, but I've already blown past all the "checkpoints" that I've previously set up for myself. I'm no longer interested in praying, talking to a friend, or encouraging/willing myself to function or think/do positive things. I feel numb, apathetic, and dangerously close to the edge. I've reached "whatever" mode; where I'm like, "It's whatever. I don't care anymore." 

This is why I'm so thankful for the Holy Spirit. I seriously have no idea how I would ever see the light at the end of the tunnel if I didn't have the Holy Spirit to give my whiny depressed flesh a pep talk. When I reach "whatever mode", that's when I start hearing this in my mind: 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. - Philippians 4:6-8

Do you see that? THOSE are the right kind of "whatevers". If I'm going to be in "whatever" mode, that's the good kind of "whatever" to dwell on. However, when I'm just too deep in that hole, I sometimes stay stuck longer than I should and neglect that first part of praying and giving thanks (which is very crucial!). Instead of being transformed by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:2), I end up being like the paralytic John 5:1-15. Jesus is asking me, "Do you WANT to get well?" and all I have are excuses. That self-pity trap. It's awful! Yet, He STILL has mercy on me and tells me to get up and walk! Get UP and WALK! Sometimes, that's all I can do for a while. I get up and walk; taking one step in front of the other even if I don't feel like it. Then, He meets me in my every day walk and shakes things up! **PSST! Be sure to watch this episode of "The Chosen" where they bring this story to life. I cry every time for so many reasons!**

I had been trying to run through my list of "whatevers"; thinking on my "happy thoughts" and "manna moments" so I could start seeing the light again. I wasn't making as much effort as I could have, but I was still getting up and walking. I went to Sunday morning service and that's where Jesus gave me a boost of "whatever". It started when my son, Casey, commented on the coat that I was wearing. It was a coat that belonged to my grandmother and had her initials embroidered on it. He said it must have been a prized possession and that it was nice that I was honoring her. He made it sound a lot grander than what it was. I honestly don't know how much she valued the jacket, but it does have a lot of special meaning to me for many different reasons. So, when he said that, it felt like a warm ray of sunshine. His love and compassion is like a hug from Jesus Himself. Grandma always loved me that way too. When His love shines through people in that "whatever is pure" way, it lets a lot of light in. It brightens you up. And things only got brighter from there! We happened to sing "How Great Thou Art" and that both broke me and lifted me in the best way! I started writing it all out in my journal during worship. He downloaded so much into my heart; including several other songs that I added to my HeartSpeak playlist for this new month. I closed my eyes and I could remember my Grandma. I could see and hear her singing that hymn in church as I stood beside her. I thought about the legacy of faith in my family and how Casey is speaking Christ's love as she did; and he's speaking it because I taught him the language (the language I've learned through what's been passed down in my family). 
As broken and messed up as my life has been, I started thinking about all these gleams of life and light shining through. The mosaic of a stained glass window is beautiful, and when the light shines on the many pieces, it's even more glorious! In that moment, God was showing me that this is my story. No matter how bad or broken my past or present seems, He makes the broken things beautiful. Two verses came to mind. First, Colossians 1:17 which says that in Him, all things hold together. Then, John 1:5 which says "the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." I felt held together; even with all my broken pieces. I felt illuminated and that I could finally turn my eyes towards the light and see. I didn't want to sit in the darkness and look away anymore. I wanted to be "well." I wanted to allow His light to shine in my darkness and swallow me up instead. The darkness can never overcome light. Light always overcomes darkness. 

Over the past couple days at church and prayer meeting, I've been inviting His light to keep shinning on me and in me. I've been going through my "whatevers"; my pre-made list of "happy thoughts" and memories that keep me anchored to truth and reminds me of all the warm sunshine that has (and continues) to light up my life. I will think about "such things". I will be transformed by the renewing of my mind. I will get up and walk because I WANT to be well. I'll be like King David in 2 Samuel 12:20. I'll grieve, but then I'll get up and move on. Like him, I'll take a shower, get dressed, and go worship the Lord. I'll even encourage myself, as he did in 1 Samuel 30:6, when I feel distressed. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). "Whatever" may come, I know that I can "whatever" myself for good or for bad, but it's the good "whatevers" that I want taking up space in my mind. I will think on such things; and such things will renew my mind, build my faith, and give me life!
Grace and peace to you, my friends! I encourage you to make your own list of "whatevers". What things/memories are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy? What lights you up and always makes you smile? Make a list of them and put it in your pocket for a rainy day when you need sunshine. Get creative and make a memory board, collage, scrapbook, slideshow, etc. Showcase your "whatevers" so that you can access that burst of light and joy when you need it. Cherish the moments where God's love touched your heart through the hug, smile, or act of kindness from another. Think on such things. God bless you!

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