learning to rest in the peace and promises of God

I Will Rest – City Harbor
I will rest, I will rest
In the promises that You
Have given me
I will rest, I will rest
All Your goodness
And Your mercy follow me
They follow me

I will not fear
I won’t forget
That you are always near
Even when the road I walk’s unclear
In the waiting I’ll be still
And know that You are God, You are God

You’re my Shelter, my Refuge
Fortress for my soul
I will trust You
You’re my Shepherd, my Rescue
Forever my stronghold
I will trust You, trust You

Calm. Peace. Rest. Safe. Those words should be comforting, but sometimes they feel a bit intimidating. They feel like an impossible dream sometimes. People talk about we don’t have to be anxious because we have God, but that’s easier said than done – especially for someone with generalized anxiety disorder.

Sometimes, we think that putting up walls will make us more safe. So we keep it in. We internalize it. But the best thing to do is to take it – all of it – to God. We are commanded in Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” We are to bring our requests before God with thanksgiving. Ever prayed and felt worse? You probably came to God with the wrong attitude. I tend to do that a lot. Sometimes, I don’t go to Him to prevent having that weird feeling. We want God to fix everything and forget to give thanks for what He has already given us. We focus on the anxiety and the bad memories instead of remembering His promises and the good memories.

Philippians 4:7 continues, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” I have felt the peace of God and it is a beautiful feeling that is beyond words. It only comes when most needed. This is just a theory, but I wonder if it rarely comes so that we can appreciate it more in those few moments when it is there. A few years ago, I was dealing with some medical issues and wasn’t getting answers. I was sick. I had lost a lot of weight and was constantly tired. My doctor and mom were afraid I’d only live for another year. I had a few diagnoses but something was missing. That day, I screamed at God. Tears streamed down my cheeks. This lasted for a while; I don’t even know how long. All of a sudden, I half-fell into my chair. I was crying still, but I wasn’t angry. I wasn’t happy but I had this sort of contentment and peace. It came out of nowhere. I remember vividly the way it felt, but I can’t really describe it. It’s so beautiful that there aren’t words in English to describe it. I guess things kind of happened out of order that day: I brought everything to God, then felt His peace, and then brought it to Him with thanksgiving. (I did see another doctor and am doing really well now though still have some symptoms.)

The song I quoted at the beginning is one that has been encouraging to me lately. It talks about how we often put up walls for protection but end up not being strong enough. It talks about resting in God’s promises. Resting in His promises has two parts: remembering how He has always kept His promises and believing that He will keep His promises. Resting in His promises is remembering that this isn’t your first panic attack, and that He has been there for every one. Resting in His promises is believing that He is always there and you can never escape His love. Resting in God is living, struggling, fighting with the peace of knowing that we will one day be in a place with no more pain and no more suffering. And with this rest comes a spirit of thanksgiving. You can’t reflect on how He has always been there without being at least a tiny bit thankful.

2016 was very challenging emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. To be honest, I didn’t expect to live to 2017. A lot has changed in the last few weeks. I’m growing closer to Christ, and I want to get better. I am learning to rest in the God who gives me the strength to do what my anxiety tells me I can’t. I have been drawing energy and strength to keep fighting from the God who gives rest in the middle of the storm. For me, resting in God is like feeling a sense a peace while in a kayak without a paddle on the Pacific Ocean during a typhoon. Everything around me is still hard and I have to keep fighting every day.

God brought me through 2016, and He will give me the strength to survive the storms of 2017.

Merry Christmas!

This won’t be that extra basic Christmas post that everyone puts up on Christmas day. This is personal, about how Christmas hope has changed my life.

Up until a few weeks ago, I wasn’t into “the whole Christmas thing” and kind of just wanted this holiday to get over with. I told my family at thanksgiving that it was ok to put up the Christmas tree without me. I didn’t feel like doing it when I was home for thanksgiving so I just said I had too much work to do. When I saw my sister’s snapchat story a few weeks ago, I regretted that. Why? Because I had found hope – hope that I didn’t even realize was there to be found.

If you haven’t read my post yesterday, you might want to do that. I will probably be referencing that a lot. It references what has been so far the hardest day of my entire life. I wanted to give up my fight on a Monday a while ago. On the following Thursday night, I knew I would do anything to live. What changed? God answered my prayer on Monday. He showed up when I felt like all hope was lost. He was there to say, “Hey, I’m still here. I hear you, I see you, and I know your hurt.” By Thursday, I realized how free I was. I realized that my fight was just beginning. I promised God that if He did something to take even a little bit of the hurt away, I would keep fighting no matter what. I didn’t expect to have to keep that promise, but God showed up in a miraculous way that day. And so I have a promise to keep. I realized that day how big God is that day. And for the first time in years, I got a taste of the heart of Christmas.

Christmas is today, and it is a day of HOPE!! Christmas is God coming down to us to be among us. Christmas is the hope of a Savior who came to us as we are. Christmas is a message of hope and light for those who feel like the most unwanted. Shepherds were, in a sense, the unwanted and cast out. But the shepherds were the first ones to be told that Jesus was born. God doesn’t give preference to the rich or the popular or the intelligent or whoever you admire. On the inside, we are all the same – broken, flawed humans. He came for the ones who need a doctor, not for the ones who are “perfect” (anyone who thinks they have no problems needs to check themselves and find the plank in their own eye). That’s the heart of Christmas. A perfect God stooping down to us and becoming one of us so that we could find freedom through the cross (which came 33 years later).

This Christmas, take the time to read the Christmas story (I recommend the first few chapters of Luke) and really consider the importance of Christmas, especially in your own life. Christmas brings hope and freedom and life. Not always the kind of hope that takes away the storm (I still fight my anxiety and depression pretty much every day) but the kind of hope that gives you calm within the middle of the storm.

Wherever you are in your walk of life, there is hope. Look to a baby who was born in a manger to rescue your heart and set you free. Fall on your knees before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who gave up heaven to become a human baby and feel pain and suffering so that you could spend an eternity with Him in a place void of all pain and all suffering. This year, don’t miss the heart of Christmas.

i’ve lost control but i’m free

I’m standing knee deep but I’m out where I’ve never been
And I feel You coming and I hear Your voice on the wind
Would you come and tear down the boxes that I have tried to put You in
Let love come teach me who You are again
Would you take me back to the place where my heart was only about You
And all I wanted was just to be with You
Come and do whatever You want to
Then You crash over me and I’ve lost control but I’m free
I’m going under, I’m in over my head
Then you crash over me, and that’s where You want me to be
I’m going under, I’m in over my head
Whether I sink, whether I swim
It makes no difference when I’m beautifully in over my head

In Over My Head – Bethel

It is a beautiful thing to be in over your head in God. I am sinking, I guess. I am daily surprised by His love and His greatness. Our God is so big. He can do anything. He can do the impossible. In reflection on this year, a lot has happened. I started hurting myself. I had hallucinations; my hallucination died. I started having nightmares and terrifying daydreams so realistic I’d wonder afterwards if they were real. I’ve had to question whether or not to switch churches. God showed up in my darkest places through the Bible, friends, my Bible study group, music, and just in the most random times and ways.

I wanted to control my life. And for a while I thought I could. But I can’t. And I was a fool for thinking I could. I needed to let go. And that’s hard. With anxiety, that is hard. It is so easy to think that control is the best and only good approach. But it isn’t. Trusting God is. And so I am so slowly losing my control. And that’s ok. That’s good. It is good because even though I am not in control, I know that the one who is in control is always good and never makes mistakes. And yes, there are still days when I want to take over. But I’ve been learning to let it all go. I’ve been learning to let His will be done. Because it is only through doing His will that I find true joy and peace and the hope I need to fight for tomorrow.

Wherever you are, even if reflecting on this year is painful for you, know that God is there. He always has been, and He always will be. To those who trust in Him, He will never let you go.

where have you built your house?

The rain came down
And the floods came up
The rain came down
And the floods came up
The rain came down
And the floods came up
And the wise man’s house stood firm.

If you’ve grown up in the church, you have probably heard this song before, maybe too many times that you forgot to think about what it means. And if you haven’t, check out this video here. So yeah, it is a silly kids song. But maybe it’s more than that.

Anxiety can feel like an endless storm. But if you have to have the storm either way, would you rather stand firm through it or be smashed to pieces? That’s what the song is about. The song is about standing firm in Christ despite the storms raging around you.

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” – Matthew 7:24-27

The song originates from that passage. Two people try to accomplish the same task. The task mentioned is building a house. So let’s liken that to building and living your life. So the wise man lives his life by relying on God through reading the Bible and doing what it says. The foolish man disregards the Bible and builds on a much weaker foundation. This foundation could be the lies of the world, a false god, another religion… really anything that is not of God. The storms of life come. Things get hard. And only the one who is founded on God will have the strength to stand. 1 Samuel 2:2 says, “No one is holy like the Lord, for there is no besides You, nor is there any rock like our God.”

This is something I am still working on – to make Jesus my first thing. Sometimes, I go to other things first. And yeah, going to my support group and listening to Christian music are great things. But Jesus needs to be first. Reading the Bible and crying out to Him need to be first. And it is something that I will continue to work on.

Where is your house built? Where are you building your life? Because if it’s not God, there is no hope. Jesus brings hope and truth and life, because He is all of those things. Without a firm foundation, a house – and your life – cannot stand.