“hope is never lost”

I know it’s all you’ve got to just, be strong
And it’s a fight just to keep it together, together
I know you think, that you are too far gone
But hope is never lost…
Just remember that you’re a fighter, a fighter
You never know just what tomorrow holds
And you’re stronger than you know…
Hold on, don’t let go…
Just take, one step, closer
Put one foot in front of the other
You’ll, get through this
Just follow the light in the darkness
You’re gonna be ok
And when the night, is closing in
Don’t give up, and don’t give in
This won’t last, it’s not the end, it’s not the end
You’re gonna be ok
Brian and Jenn Johnson – You’re Gonna Be Ok

I know that I haven’t been faithful about writing, but I needed a little bit of break. I needed to spend some extra time with God, and figure some things out.

But, today, I just want to say, whatever you’re going through… GOD IS FAITHFUL. I found out that I had a lot of medical conditions … slowly. For a time, I was essentially slowly wasting away, and I was losing weight and sleeping all the time to the point where my family and I wondered if I would live to be 18 (I was 16 and 17 around the time). I didn’t respond well at all, which ended up causing depression and a worsening of my already present anxiety.

But God was faithful. He was there every step of the way, bringing me to the right doctors, even if it took several to receive the full list of diagnoses. Recently, I swam 72 consecutive laps before being too tired to continue (66 is a mile). I cannot explain the feelings of joy and thankfulness that I felt when I finished lap 66. When I first got really sick a few years ago, I never would’ve imagined being able to swim a mile – I just wanted to get through practices without having to skip laps. I am doing better, and I am going to be ok, medically.

Psychologically, I am still pushing through. And I love the song I shared, because it reminds me how I got this far medically – one step at a time. It also reminds me that God will be faithful to me in my psychological struggles as well. Even if it isn’t healing to the point where I am totally “normal” (whatever that’s supposed to mean), I am trusting Him to heal me to the point where I can honestly say that I am ok. There have been several times that I wanted to give up everything. It’s been a long road. And it isn’t over. But I will fight to live for Him with every breath I have left, because He has redeemed me spiritually and restored my health.

Just wanted to give a quick shout-out to a few people. To my freshman year roommate, thanks for giving me the strength to fight until I found the strength I needed in Christ. You have truly changed my life and I will be forever grateful of your willingness to tell what I needed to hear, if I really didn’t want to hear it. To my friends in InterVarsity and the small group Bible studies, thanks for the support and prayers and love. To my friend who I have known since we were, what, like 7?, thanks for our walks and card-making sessions. To my friends at AWANA, I am sorry that it took me so long to be honest about what I was dealing with. Thanks for your patience, love, and prayers. To my family and other friends – even if you didn’t think you did anything, you probably did. Just smiling or sending me a card on my birthday or anything like that makes me a little happier and gave me a reason to fight when I was still searching for my purpose in Christ. I love you all.

And to God, I will be forever indebted to You for your grace and love. Your blessings to me are more than words can describe. I will be forever grateful of your healing and grace and love and patience and… and everything else.

 

To anyone who’s struggling out there – it might seem impossible right now. Keep searching for a glimmer of light in the dark places. Keep fighting, and keep trusting the Lord to be faithful. He will never let you go.

You are so much stronger than you know. Anyone with an invisible chronic illness or psychological disorder knows that it’s hard being called lazy or a health freak or whatever because people don’t realize you’re not ok. But you are stronger than you know, because they don’t see how hard you fought to get out of bed and take a shower and brush your hair and brush your teeth and go to class or work or wherever you needed to be on time. And hopefully, one day, you won’t have to fight so hard. But even if you do, God will be faithful through it all. And if your struggles aren’t invisible, then you are facing different struggles that the rest of us cannot begin to understand. We don’t know how much strength it takes for you to fight each of your battles.

I heard this on the radio yesterday, and I decided to share it. You can’t compare your situation to that of someone else, because you might be in different seasons. You might be in winter and see them enjoying summer, but you weren’t there to see them go through fall and winter and spring to get to summer. Keep holding on, because your summer is coming, just at different time for you than it did for them.

Keep fighting, one step at a time. You’re gonna be ok.

an encounter with light

Written in my journal in mid-February….

Today was beautiful. God is awesome, and I was reminded of that today. I am at InterVarsity’s winter conference.

The past week before coming here involved breaking down several times. I am seeing a counselor, and we discussed some deep things recently. Together, we reached the conclusion that panic attacks were no longer my biggest struggle. At one point, they were. But, at some point in time, another issue reached the forefront: repressed emotions. I have been repressing emotions for years. Some emotions come through the cracks but not always to their full extent, and sometimes they do not surface at all.

So, back to this particular week. I’ve been having a lots of little moments this week where bits and pieces would surface, and I would just start crying. I was not totally sure at the time what it was that needed released, but I knew that something needed to come out. I have been praying all weekend that whatever needed to be released could be released so that I wouldn’t go back to my college with the same buried issue. Tonight, though, I did not pray one of my normal, everyday kind of prayers. It was a cry out to the Living God. It was a plea for freedom from the very depths of my soul. It was a cry for the One who defeated death to break the chains that had me so trapped for so many years.

After a few minutes of that, this feeling of darkness washed over me, but it didn’t consume me. It was all the bad emotions I’ve suppressed over the years. It felt dark and cold and … broken. I felt the brokenness, the disconnect between what I felt and what life was originally designed to be before the entry of sin in the Garden of Eden. These feelings were accompanied by images of scenes where people hurt me and of other bad experiences that impacted my life greatly. It was terrifying. It was far worse than my worst panic attack. It was worse than hallucinations of monsters I’ve had in the past. It was real, raw emotions. It was like 10 years worth of pain and emotions, all at once. I was sobbing, and making that like wail-like sort of sound. Tears were pouring in rivers down my face, to my shirt, my lap, the floor… I was a mess. But, somehow, I was okay with that. I was at peace with all of it. I knew that God was there, and I knew my prayers were being answered. I knew that it would pass, and I had to let it happen. I knew that if I tried to stop it, then it would not accomplish fully its purpose.

But then, when the darkness was draining out, this light came flooding in, along with joy and hope and more peace than I ever thought was possible to exist. I am pretty sure I started laughing at some point, just because I couldn’t contain the joy that filled my entire being. I was shaking, to, because the amount of hope and joy and light and life…. my body couldn’t contain all of it.

May I never forget what happened tonight. May I always remember that He is the peace amidst the most scary thing I’ve ever known. Let me never forget that His light shatters the darkness, and the darkness cannot even attempt to fight back, because the light is too powerful. Fear and peace don’t have to be antonyms, and aren’t antonyms for those who place their hope and trust in Christ. I was terrified, but still at perfect rest.


What God did that night was a miracle. He worked through my hurt and my pain to do something beautiful. This, too, is a part of my story. And I cannot keep it hidden. What is written above was recorded in my journal (with some minor edits) on February 18, 2017. I have avoided telling my family and some people about it, but I shouldn’t do that. It is a story of how God works in broken places and it is now a part of my history.

getting that initial diagnosis: some days it will be hard and that is ok

A little about me… I am a college student with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, hypocholesterolemia, and some other medical stuff. Getting that first diagnosis is hard.

Getting that diagnosis is confusing. It made me wonder what the rest of my life would be like. I wondered how much it would affect me every day until the day I would die. I wondered how long I would live, and I caught myself googling the name of each diagnosis followed by life expectancy. I started reading other people’s stories and life hacks for managing these diagnoses. I read about all the diagnoses and the vitamins and supplements I was given.

Adjusting is also really hard, but I think the hardest part is managing all the emotions that come up. Confusion. Anger. Frustration. Fear. And then all the questions too: How do I deal with this? Why does my doctor seem to be so confused by these lab results? Which doctor do I go to next? Why did all those other doctors not understand this? Why did no one pick up on this when I was 11 and was tested for this then? Why me? Why now? Why can’t I do this the way I used to be able to?

Getting that initial diagnosis is hard, and it can be really confusing, especially when you know there is a missing piece that doctors do not understand. It is frustrating when you have to wake up at 6 to get up by 8. It is frustrating when you cannot play the piano on some days because your hands are too shaky. It is frustrating when you have to take breaks in sports practice and eat a ton of food – just to prevent passing out. And it might get better, but it might not. It might get better, but it might be hard every day, for the rest of your life. If you were looking for false hope, I am not giving it here. It’s pointless. It might not get better. But that’s ok. You might not be able to do things the same way, and maybe there will be missed opportunities. But that is ok.

We who have chronic illnesses have something that others do not. We can relate to each other. I have really strong bonds with others that have chronic illnesses, because we understand what it’s like to have to miss a class because of having a rough day and not being able to get out of bed until later. We also have beautiful stories. I could tell you about 400 different times that God spoke to me through the autoimmune disease and the other things. God works through us in unique and different ways. Our pain can be beautiful. Our testimony can lead others to Christ. Our weakness can show the strength of Christ within us.

So, to anyone who just got a scary diagnosis, it is going to be hard. You have a long journey ahead. But Christ gives strength! Trust Him, for He is painting a beautiful story that includes your pain and your weakness.

self-harm

TRIGGER WARNING: This post discusses self-hate and self-harm.

I first heard about cutting when I was 12 or 13. My initial reaction was “Wow, you must be really hurting to choose to hurt yourself.” But I had no idea. Even a week before I first hurt myself, I still could not understand why someone would choose that.

I did it because I wanted to try it. I wanted to do it once. So I did. I told myself I would do it once that I would just scrape the surface. Just once. Not bad. No more. I did not even totally realize why I wanted to do it. I thought about it some for a couple days before doing it, but it was more just deciding when and where to do it than anything else. If I had thought about it, if I knew why I wanted to do it, I think things might have been different. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

The following is what I wrote in my journal the day I almost did it.

I want to hurt myself, but I just don’t have the courage to do it… I’m also scared that someone will figure it out… But tonight, I’m going to do some minor stuff, with a safety pin or scissors or something sharp. Just some scratches, and maybe a few drops of blood. So just a little but not too bad…

But I didn’t do it that night. The next day, I convinced myself that I wouldn’t do it that badly and that it would be ok. So then I did it.

I couldn’t help it.  I’m sorry.  I didn’t do much,….  Only had a few drops of blood and some scrapes. …  I’m sorry.  But it felt like I didn’t have any other choice.

The thing is, I did have a choice. I didn’t have to do it. I didn’t think through it. I didn’t talk to anyone about it. And I started a living nightmare. Right away, I caught a glimpse of what I started. The next day, I wrote this.

6:15 am. Last night… I did something crazy.  Something I never thought I’d actually do.  And then I tried justifying it, saying it wasn’t that bad.  And it wasn’t that bad, but that doesn’t change the fact that I hurt myself on purpose.  I took a safety pin and scraped my skin until it bled a little.  At first, I enjoyed it.  It felt good. But then, as I realized what I had just started, I just felt the pain of all the years built up,… and I was just shaking and wanting to cry but not able to really cry it out… I don’t want to do this again.

1:50 pm. What did I get myself into? … Was this worth it?  I’m afraid I started a chain reaction of events that will be rather difficult to stop… I want to do it again tonight.  It felt good last night, until it was over…

Each time for the first week or so, almost every single time was worse than the past times. In a sense, I was gaining confidence in self-harm. Each time, I told myself that it was not bad last time and that this time it would be ok to do a little worse. Over time, minor scrapes became shallow cuts. It was an addiction. I got started, and then it became harder to stop. The more I did it, the more I wanted to do it.

A couple weeks later, I wrote this…

People can look at my smile and think I’m ok.  And I am.  But maybe there’s something behind it – intense fear maybe – that most people don’t see.  And maybe, deep down, I’ve wanted them to see it all along.  And maybe, in those few moments that I revealed what I’m hiding, I discovered who I really am.  Yeah, I’m that “monster” that allowed herself to be controlled by the panic attacks…  But maybe, deep down, maybe I’m also the girl that just was waiting to be told she was beautiful.  Maybe I was waiting to be told that those words weren’t supposed to mean what they did.  Maybe I was waiting for someone to believe that I really was hurting.  Maybe the girl that everyone thought was crazy just wanted to be loved and understood.  Does that make sense?  Or am I that “monster”?

And then a few days later I wrote this…

To everyone that’s ever hated me, you were right.  I’m an idiot.  To everyone that’s ever told me I’d be better off dead, you were right.  I wish I hadn’t been born right now.  To everyone who has ever told me that I wasn’t worth it, you were right.  If I died then, I had like no friends so it would’ve been easier to say goodbye and I would hurt way less people…  To everyone that ever hurt me, I’ve been angry at you, but it’s ok now because I understand you.  I’m that obnoxious, annoying, stupid, worthless idiot that you always thought I was.  Thanks for being honest even though it hurt a lot.  It ruined my life in a way but it showed me how awful I really am.

These were my thoughts. I hated myself. But I just wanted to be heard, to be understood. I wanted to understand why someone called me a monster when I had a panic attack that I didn’t know how to deal with. I learned quickly to keep everything inside. And then when I hurt myself I initially only told one person and even doing that much was hard.

The next day, I wrote this, which was part of what made me really want to stop.

Right now, I just feel so empty inside.  I don’t know but I hardly know who I am right now…  I’ve been told to be myself, but sometimes I don’t even know who that is.

Self-harm caused me to question the very foundation of who I was. I was doing things I never thought I would ever do. I was on a roller coaster that alternated between doing ok and hurting myself.

Now, I haven’t hurt myself for a while. But I still struggle with it every day. I pray every day for the strength to get through the day without doing it. Some days are worse than others. A lot of the time, I see gory images of myself covered in blood with stab and cut wounds all over. In my head, that image is portrayed as good. I fight with all my might and pray just to convince myself that the image really is not good. I fight and pray every day to not hurt myself. A lot more friends know now, so I have a lot of people to turn to for help. Finding healing has not been an easy process, but it is going. With self-harm, seemingly minor victories are major accomplishments, because each victory takes so much courage. Each day that I stay strong is another victory. And I am learning that this too can be a part of the beautiful story of my life that God is writing. It is broken, but He is making into something beautiful.

 

all glory be to christ

Should nothing of our efforts stand
No legacy survive
Unless the Lord does raise the house
In vain its builders strive

To you who boast tomorrow’s gain
Tell me, what is your life?
A mist that vanishes at dawn
All glory be to Christ!

This is an excerpt from “All Glory be to Christ.” I prefer the version by Sovereign Grace Music, but King’s Kaleidoscope does it well too.

Anyways, I just really like thinking about these words. They are kind of depressing, in a sense. Like what if nothing lasts? What if we die and everything we build doesn’t last? But did you catch the problem with that… the focus is on us. What if WE die and everything WE build doesn’t last. It should focus on Christ, hence the “unless” in the third line. It doesn’t have to all fade away. If God raises what we are striving at, if God is present in our efforts, then we won’t be working in vain.

We are like a mist, and one day we will be gone. Whatever we did for Christ with eternity in mind will last. Nothing else will last.

I lead a Bible study, and we did a 4-week session on busyness. One thing we talked about is that 50 years from now whether we had an B or a B+ in a class won’t matter as much as taking some time to pray for people and care for people. But what about 2000 years from now? We all will be long dead. No one will even care if we graduated with honors or not. No one will care what our GPA was. But if we listened to God and planted a seed that led one person to Christ, that won’t be just important in 2000 years – that will be important for eternity! So to those college students who are obsessed with grades – study hard! but if someone needs you to listen at 2 am, then listen. Who knows, maybe that conversation will save a life.

Just something to think about. What are you doing this week? Where is your focus? Is your focus on something that matters?

living with long-term illness

I don’t think I have mentioned this much before, but I have an autoimmune disease and hypocholesterolemia (meaning my body doesn’t produce enough cholesterol) and a bunch of other diagnoses. And some days it’s hard to know how to respond and to stay strong mentally. I am sharing this not because I want an outlet to complain, but because I want others to understand the confusion and frustration and discouragement.

Imagine this for a second. It’s 6:30 pm. You have pain right below your stomach that’s worse than the normal everyday pain. You have already taken the maximum medicine for the day. You’re also totally exhausted from walking to classes and barely keeping up with note-taking in classes. You want to lay down and curl yourself up into a ball under your blankets and listen to some music. But you are also in college and have a short paper and 150 pages of reading and two quizzes the next day. What do you do? Do you sleep for a few hours and wake up at midnight to finish your work, knowing you won’t get much sleep between finishing work and having classes? Or do you try to finish everything first and then sleep? Or do you finish everything except the reading and ask a friend for a synopsis? Or maybe you skip studying for the quizzes too and hope to do ok without studying? My point is, how do you decide whether to try to feel better or to do really well in school? And sometimes, I don’t make the right decision. I had to get an extension for a paper once. I’ve skipped reading before. I’ve failed quizzes that I could’ve aced with a little studying.

And, as someone with anxiety, when my pain levels increase, I freak out. I list off things that could be wrong. Once I calm myself down, I can think through things to identify the which organ(s) are located in the area that hurts and think through things logically. Slowly, the time required to calm down is decreasing. But it is a slow process.

It’s really easy to get discouraged. For example, my abdominal pain will get progressively better for a period of time. Then, all of a sudden, it’s back – sometimes worse than before. And while some progress is consistent, a lot of it is not. It’s easy to start complaining. It’s easy to get angry at God. It’s easy to want to give up. And for me, this is my hard thing. I think everyone has that hard thing in their life. This is mine. While the anxiety and the panic attacks are bad, if I could change only one thing, I would choose medical healing, not psychological healing.

Through it all, I am trying to remind myself that God is still up there, watching over me, protecting me. I am reminding myself of the many, many blessings I do have – antibody levels decreasing, energy levels are a little better, less unexplained muscle pain. While it feels like repeated piercing of fiery knives 24/7/365, I am trying to be thankful for the days that are a little better. When I want to complain, I remind myself of days that have been worse. I remind myself that Jesus never left and never will, and that He is right there with me in the pain. I remind myself that if I finish strong, one day I will be in a place with no more pain and no more tears. And in that beautiful promise, I can rejoice.

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. – Revelation 21:4

daniel 1, part 2

So, on Tuesday, I talked about Daniel. Now, let’s take a look at Nebuchadnezzar.

First, we need some background information. Egypt and Babylon were at war, and Israel was allies with Egypt. So, Babylon, under the command of King Nebuchadnezzar, attacked Egypt and Jerusalem (the capital of Israel). Because Israel was being disobedient to God with idol worship and other sins, God allowed Babylon to take some Israelites captive as a punishment.” And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his [Nebuchadnezzar’s] hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God” (vs 2).

Here is some personal speculation. Nebuchadnezzar was the king of this massive empire. He probably thought he was in control. He thought he was doing just as he wanted. Um, sorry, but no.

What he had was given to him by God (vs 2). If God had not allowed it, Israel would not have been overtaken by Babylon, and the Israelites would not have been taken captive. Also, he probably didn’t know about the water and vegetables diet. God blessed them, and he benefited from their wisdom. That was not the result of his order that they be taught. That was the consequence for their faith in Christ.

God is in control. God is always in control. Every beautiful and good thing that you have comes from Him (James 1:17). So you need to stop taking advantage of what you think you did on your own and give Him the credit.

**Keep in mind that some of this is my opinion based on the facts of the Bible but not totally rooted in Biblical truth. I would encourage you to read Daniel 1 for yourself.

a reflection on life in light of the ressurection

I know, I missed an entire week of posting. I needed to take some time to think and process things. I needed to take some time to think about who God is and who I am in light of that. I learned some things this week. None of it was really new, but it reminded me why I need to continue the fight.

Isaiah 53 prophecies Jesus’ death on the cross. He suffered for us. He suffered so that we could be healed and made whole. Isaiah 53:5 says that “by His stripes we are healed.” Because of His wounds, we can be made free.

Let’s think about this for a moment. We say God can do anything, right? Then, why did Jesus have to die? Can’t God just forgive everyone? This kind of thinking puts us in a weird place. It puts us in the place where we find questions like, “Can God make a stone so big He can’t lift it?” Rather than talking about what He can do, let’s think about what He will do. If we know that He won’t do something, then it doesn’t really matter if He can do it or not, because He isn’t going to do it even if He could. To put this into simpler words, it makes more sense for us to talk about what He will or will not do than to talk about what He can or cannot do.

That said, He won’t do anything that is not consistent with His promises and with His character. Because He is holy, just, and righteous, it would be inconsistent with His character for Him to allow sinners to go free. Because He is loving and merciful, it would be inconsistent with His character for Him to not show mercy and grace. Therefore, He could not let sinners go free, and He had to provide some sort of redemption. That is why Jesus had to die on the cross. Jesus died so that we don’t have to die (spiritually).

So, then, what does this mean for us? It means that the God of the universe sent His only Son to die for us so that we could be made free. It means that Jesus left heaven to die for simple-minded humans who cannot begin to understand the idea of infinity. It means that we are loved by the one who can strike people dead and can heal sickness. 1 Corinthians 6:20 says, “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (NKJV). We were purchased with His blood. We are made whole through His suffering. We are healed to serve Him. Our bodies are His, and our spirits are His. This means that we need to glorify Him in the way that we treat ourselves. Self-harm hurts Him too, because we belong to Him. If we waste our lives, if we give up this fight, it’s over. It’s over and there is no going back. We have one life, and once it’s gone, it’s gone. Don’t make a permanent decision to end the struggle of something temporary. Keep fighting, and keep living for Him, because one day those who trust in Him will be in heaven, a place with no more pain and no more tears.

And if you don’t know Jesus as your personal Savior, I can tell you right now that you will not find hope anywhere else. I haven’t found peace anywhere else and I don’t know anyone who has. You will never be at peace until you’re whole, and only Jesus can fill the empty you feel. If you want to talk to someone about this, email me via the contact form on the about page. I’d love to answer any questions and let you know about some resources.

Don’t give up, because you only have one life. Give up your life and it’s gone. You were bought at a price, so use your life and your body to glorify Him.

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.

16 lessons from 2016

It feels like an understatement to say that it has been a rough year. I hallucinated this creature every now and then from April to October. When I wasn’t hallucinating, I was worried that I would. My panic attacks got worse because I stopped internalizing them and decided to face them head on. My depression was worse this year. Despite everything bad that happened this year, it’s been a good year. I went on a family vacation, on a mission trip, and to a Christian conference. I made new friends and became closer with old ones. I learned a lot about myself and about trusting others. I finally started seeing a counselor. So, 2016 has been a really hard year, but it has also been a really great year.

Without further ado, and in no particular order, 16 lessons from 2016:

  1. God uses those who are willing and not just those who are the most qualified. I didn’t have to be a construction worker to go a a mission trip. I wasn’t a pro, but I got the job done.
  2. God enables those who are willing to serve Him to complete the tasks He gives. I never thought I would be leading a Bible study or writing a blog or going on a mission trip this year, but He called me to these things and gives the strength for the completion of the task.
  3. I won’t always be able to feel God, but that’s okay. Maybe we only feel God when we need to the most. If we felt Him all the time, we would probably lose the awe and wonder that comes when we can feel His presence.
  4. I don’t need to know all the answers. I don’t know always know why God allows His children to hurt. This year, I have been trying to remind myself that He has a plan and a purpose for suffering.
  5. Suffering teaches us how beautiful God’s blessings are. We need the dark to appreciate the importance of light. Maybe we need suffering to appreciate the beauty in friendship, laughter, and all of His many blessings.
  6. God works on His clock. Sometimes, a 1.5-hour worship session needs to last about 3 hours for God’s work to be accomplished. We need to be willing to adjust our schedules to work around His timing.
  7. I don’t spend enough time with God. I have started something where I pray at the end of the day without looking at the time. I need to do this more often, because it feels pretty awesome, just spending sometimes almost 2 hours with God.
  8. God never leaves. He is always there. Looking back on this year, I can see the times when God worked. He worked in times that I wasn’t even confident if He was there.
  9. The God of today is the same as the God of the Bible. If you had asked me if I believed this truth earlier this year, I would’ve said that I did. But deep down, I didn’t live like I believed it – until a few months ago.
  10. God still works miracles all the time, but it doesn’t mean He will. Sometimes, He does allow death and suffering, but sometimes He heals and works miracles. I used to have fibromyalgia but God healed that over the course of about 24 hours.
  11. It’s ok to miss someone. I still miss someone who died over a year ago, and that’s ok, as long as I move on and continue living my life.
  12. Anxiety isn’t always a bad thing. To be honest, I think my anxiety has saved me from making a lot of bad decisions that I was afraid to make at the time. I later realized that the decision was not a good one.
  13. It’s really important that close friends know about panic attacks and other psychological stuff. I don’t mean just like your one best friend, but anyone that you consider a close friend. If you actually think you can’t tell them, they might not be a good person to have as a close friend.
  14. When you don’t tell close friends about personal things, it hurts both you and them. It hurts you because they can’t help you. It hurts them because a good friend would wonder why you didn’t tell them if they found out later (and they often do) and would want to support you.
  15. “Sorry” means nothing without action. One word can’t take back what I said or did. Saying sorry and meaning it is one step, but it means nothing if the same thing happens again and again and again.
  16. I only have one shot at life, and I don’t want to waste it. I have one shot. No day will come again. I need to enjoy the day I have been given, panic attacks and all, because there is beauty in life that I’ll miss if I focus on the anxiety and heartache.