I am on a journey back to find her. The girl I once was. Maybe you can relate to this…
Once upon a time, I was a young fifteen year old girl who tasted Jesus for the first time. I ran into the arms of my Heavenly Father for everything and wanted nothing more in life other than to see people run to their Father’s arms as well.
I remember the days following my salvation, seeing the world in a totally new light. The world seemed brighter than it once had been before.
But Somewhere along the way, I lost her. I lost that girl who had the ability to see the brightness in the world that outshines the darkness. Maybe that’s adulthood for you or maturity, but I find as a 26-year-old woman that I do not see life as brightly as I once did when I first gave my life to Christ.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” John 1:5 (NLT)
The world at times just looks dim. I am now aware of the world’s problems, I am aware of the church’s problems, I am aware of my personal problems in a way that sometimes clouds my once singular focus of simply seeing Jesus in the midst of a dark world.
When I gave my life to Christ, He was the picture. He was everything and nothing else was crammed into the big picture that I saw Him in. It was all about Him and connecting with Him and connecting others to His heart.
I miss that fifteen year old girl. She was overzealous and a bit prideful at times, but she got what was important. She did not let the world’s darkness cloud her view of the world. She did not allow people’s judgements or opinions to cloud her focus, and she did not let world systems or politics cloud her mind. She did not care about climbing the corporate ladder or about buying a house by age 30. She simply abided in Jesus and enjoyed Him.
I am on a journey back. A journey back to find that girl. I think she could teach this woman a thing or two about simplicity.
The simplicity of the gospel.
Jesus makes it plain in Matthew 22:36-40 (NLT) , it says,
“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
The gospel is plain and simple and beautifully laid out in scripture. We must love God with every fiber of our beings, and love our neighbor in the same way we love ourselves.
SO simple. Yet, as humans, we complicate it, or we allow the world to cloud our views of what is truly important.
Today, I want to encourage you to strip the things that cloud your mind. Maybe it is religious habits, politics, worry, anxiety, or comparison. Whatever it is, let it go and look to lock eyes with God like you once did when you first got saved.
It really is that simple.
“Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.” Isaiah 45:22 (NKJV)
It was 6 p.m. (bedtime is 8 p.m.), and the baby was an hour into a deep nap.
It was time.
And it was not a pretty sight.
Wailing because he was being held too high. Whining because he was too reclined. Throwing of food and pacifiers because he
So, sucking it up, I took the usual mama’s boy, outside to his daddy.
And there it was –
And just like that, all was right in the world.
Later that night (after bedtime) as I was doing my daily studying, I came across these words:
“Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Psalms 16:11 (KJV)
Just like my son, perking up from a bad mood when he saw his father, we, as Christians, gain joy just by being in the presence of our Heavenly Father.
The news is full of negativity – this group hating this group, a shooting here and an assault there.
This world can be a scary place.
But I have GOOD news for each and every one of you!
We are not meant to be part of this world! We are set apart (Psalm 4:3). We are a peculiar people (Deuteronomy 14:2).
We have been chosen by the One and Only God, and in turn, we must choose to keep our Godly mindset.
Philippians 4:8 (KJV) says, “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Of good report.
Worthy of praise.
It is all outlined word-for-word for us. It is not about making daily difficult decisions. It is the simple task of choosing to observe the good things in life, both in the world and in our spiritual walk.
Did you hear about all the people that flooded to the Bahamas to help with the hurricane destruction? Did you hear about the 16,000 people that crashed the University of Tennessee website after they began selling a bullied teens’ T-shirt design?
Good news is out there.
Yes, this world is full of bad things. Many are unavoidable to a point. But, what we choose to let in, what we choose to dwell on, and what we choose to allow to define our actions, is what determines our view of our surroundings and our mindset.
Galatians 5:22-23(KJV) says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.”
It is not a one way street. We are given the blessing of love to share, joy to spread, peace within, longsuffering through the hard times that we are bound to face when we choose to dwell on God and to let Him define us!
And just like the quick change in attitude with my son, when we get ourselves in the presence of the Father, physically and mentally, He will always choose us. He will provide us with that missing piece.
Feeling stuck in life is not the easiest place to be. You begin questioning yourself and questioning where God wants you, but you cannot seem to put two and two together. Do not be discouraged in this season, but let God continue to shape what He has for you. God does not have you between a rock and a hard place. He is preparing you for this next season coming up.
After graduating college in 2017, God was throwing open door after open door for me, and I was having a great time walking through each of them. At the time, my friend and mentor Amber seemed to be clear from cancer, a guy was pursuing me, and I had some amazing friends. However, it all came to a crash by the end of the year. My beautiful Amber passed away from breast cancer, the guy decided not to continue his pursuit, and I lost a great friendship to confusing and unfortunate circumstances. Life did not pause for me, but I did stop. I stopped embracing everything God had for me.
For a year after that, I sank low in depression and just wanted the world to stop so I could mourn the many losses I had in such a short amount of time. God was still beside me, but I could not fathom how He would let so many things fall apart after He opened so many doors beforehand. In those moments, I just wanted to close those doors and stay in my bed forever. I had enough energy each day to get out of bed, go to work, and come home to lay in bed again. I did not make any effort to ask God to remove me from depression, but my spirit was crying out.
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)
In December of 2018, God asked me what my heart wanted, and He broke through my depression and tears and made my heart beat again. I felt alive, and I felt like I could finally breathe. After God broke depression off of my life, I was ready to take on the world, but that did not happen. Months passed by, and I began to realize how much I was not doing with my life. My personality had gone from extrovert to barely leaving the house, I stopped serving in the many areas I was in, and my friend circle was smaller than it had ever been. I was no longer who I was.
When these truths hit me, I began crying out to God. I wanted to feel the Joy of the Lord again. I wanted to be the Gabby I was before tragedy overtook my heart, but that is not what God has planned for me. God has a new and fresh perspective for me, and He does not need the old Gabby to fulfill it. He needs who I am now.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
I was still wrestling with feeling stuck, up until a few weeks ago when I realized something; I was the reason I felt grey! I had begun to take a step back from God, and all the while, I was questioning why He was not there! I was feeling the pressure of depression because I decided to not seek God for His joy. God revealed this to me, and I began worshipping who He was and what He had done for me. I felt his joy rain down on my life again.
If you are feeling stuck in this season, I encourage you to hold on and continue praying that God will reveal His will to you. This is not an easy season, but God promised to be there with you no matter what. Keep seeking the face of God as He brings you out of this season into something new. Keep seeking His joy in your sadness, His peace in your chaos, and His love in your loneliness.
“Wait for the Lord ; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord .” Psalm 27:14 (NIV)
These are some of the thoughts I dealt with in the past. As a child, I was bullied in school. I was told that I would never measure up to anything because I was “fat” and that I “would never get married” because I was so ugly. These words scarred me. I would get in the car every day after school and just cry to my mom.
I would say things like “am I really that ugly?”
“Why are they so mean?”
I would take these words and meditate on them. I would think to myself, “Maybe they’re right. I may never get married. If I do, I’ll probably marry an abusive man and have a daughter who resents me.”
And I would get carried away with all these lies. Due to my choice to believe the lies, I dealt with severe depression. I was very insecure about the way I looked. I hated who I was. I wanted to die.
And as far as getting married, I would think that since a man probably would not love me, maybe a woman would. This led to me questioning my sexuality.
All of this was tied together by one thing; I did not know who I was in Christ. I did not recognize that this was the voice of the enemy. I thought all of this was me.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 (NKJV).
This scripture basically says that Jesus loves us, no matter what we do. He loved us before we even knew how to love Him back. There is a song that I love, that many are familiar with, called “Reckless Love”.
In the bridge of this song, the artist sings the following: “There’s no wall You won’t kick down, lie you won’t tear down, coming after me!”
I love how he says that there is no lie God won’t tear down to get to us. This means that if the enemy puts a lie in someone’s head, God will tear it to bits. All we have to do is believe what God says about us, instead of believing a silly lie Satan puts in our head. Sometimes, it may be difficult. The lie may seem rational. It may be logical and line up with our circumstances, but God’s word is true, no matter what may surface.
There was another song I was listening to not too long ago. The artist went into a little spontaneous worship, and she sang these words: “Just a whisper, and You shut the mouth of the liar!”
Let’s say I am going to get in my car, and someone on the street, who I don’t know, and have never seen before comes up to me and says, “Your mom said I could buy your car, give me the keys.”
He is obviously lying, but he takes circumstances and tries to twist them to make me believe him. I would have two options: believe this guy and hand over the keys to my car. Or, I could just choose not to believe him, take my keys, and drive away.
It’s the same way with the devil. It seems so easy to just believe what he is saying because he has “evidence”, but it is just things he is perverting to make it look like he is right.
Just like in the Garden of Eden where the serpent (who is really the devil) tells Eve that God does not want her to eat the forbidden fruit because it will make her more powerful than God, when that is far from true. The truth is that it would give her knowledge of evil and separate her from God.
So, the enemy takes what is factual, not necessarily truth, and twists it to make it look the way he wants. For example, someone could go to a doctor, and the doctor could say they have a mass, but only one in a million of these are cancerous.
The devil will take it way out of proportion and say “You are the one in a million! You have cancer! You are going to die,” when the truth is that Jesus is the God of miracles, and He is stronger than any mass, malignant or benign.
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 (NKJV)
This means believing the lies of the enemy will not get anyone anywhere. It will result in death and destruction whereas pursuing Jesus and believing His word will result in an eternity in heaven.
In the end, everyone has a choice. Believe the lies of the enemy or walk in freedom and truth. Personally, I am done believing the lies of the enemy. Satan has taken a big enough toll from me, and I am going to take back my authority and say “SHUT UP DEVIL! You are a liar!” Because Jesus is the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, and I have chosen Him.
I grew up in one town that had two faces. One face was the glossy McMansion playground fully equipped with Trader Joe’s, an outlet shopping mall, and a Starbucks on every street corner. This upmarket face is a magnet for San Francisco foreigners hoping to take their Stanford or Berkeley education and retreat a small distance from The City with their children.
However, the second face came first. It is the remnants of a railroad town established in the Gold Rush. The former shanty town’s main drag by the river was converted into a quaint tourist attraction with its brothels and trading outposts repurposed into antique shops and old timey candy stores. The dingier remains lurk in the neighborhood next door.
Both faces of this town are imprinted on my very soul, and both faces are represented in my spiritual development.
My best friend Megan attended a megachurch on the new side of town. It was a typical model of two church services where those at the nine am service never saw anyone from the 11 am service. In fact, there was not much interaction between those who attended even the same service.
Attending Megan’s church made me feel small and anonymous. I liked their children’s program because they had great snacks and so many other children to play with. The worship seemed really professional, like a concert, and the people stood and listened. Very few people raised their hands which always struck me as strange. Twice, I gave poor Megan’s mom a challenge by revealing that there is a Devil, and that we will all die. The existence of evil in the world and life’s transience seemed natural to me. Megan’s church primarily taught on the blessings of following Christ.
My childhood church was lodged in the old part of town. It was housed in an old converted warehouse sandwiched between a print and mechanic shop. The bowling alley across from us reeked of stale beer, and bums lounged in the parking lot with their paper wrapped bottles. A large sign hung at the end of the street, “Where the West Came and Stayed”. Later, city council would remove this sign, and the western boots shop beneath it would close as we increasingly wanted to forget that we’re the Wild West and instead pretend to be in the 90210.
I spent at least half of my childhood in this building. The congregation was a family in all the best and worst ways. We were brought together by the strong convictions that God not only can but will heal and perform miracles, the day of Pentecost unleashed the Holy Spirit on earth, and prophecy is not just for the people in the Bible.
Pastor Don was a square-jawed software salesman who received no salary, but still took on all the burdens of a full pastorship. Instead of taking any of the money that we occasionally scrounged up to help support his family of five, he used it to bring in guest speakers. These guest speakers were often missionaries who made me cry with stories of starving children, but they were otherwise uneventful outside the four hour sermons they gave. However, I’ll never forget my first experience with a traveling prophet.
I left with my dad as usual that Sunday morning. His idea of proper church attire was a baseball cap and 49ers sweatpants, whereas my mom always arrived a solid twenty minutes late from taking so long on her hair. Dad and I stopped for coffee beforehand because the church coffee pot was continually used but never cleaned. He let me share his orange mocha with him and read the news to me. I loved being treated like an adult. We picked up our normal box of donuts to share and lounged about in the church kitchen with everyone before service.
We started every sermon by breaking into prayer circles insuring the whole congregation was personally prayed over. After, Pastor Don announced any larger prayer requests from the pulpit. If someone was sick or struggling we took volunteers on the spot to make sure they were consistently fed and had company. People always raised their hands to chip in. Pastor never had to ask twice. He personally filled in any remaining gaps. Looking back, I wonder how he had time to do so much. I guess he didn’t have time. People don’t have time laying around, they make time for what they care about. He cared about us.
The Pastor’s wife led worship and his eldest daughter played the piano. Worship was a raucous event. We danced in the aisles, some pounding the ground as if they were trying to stomp Satan right down into Hell where he belongs. Since the spirit was particularly present, Pastor broke out the shofar. People clapped and cried. A few of the more spiritually sensitive fell to their knees, faces lifted heavenward. The last speaker taught us about flag worship, and its power to usher in spiritual breakthrough. My favorite flags to grab at the start of worship was the set depicting a lion and a lamb. They looked like trembling watercolor when you spun them around. The pastor’s youngest daughter, Lydia, my nemesis, caught on that I loved those flags and always tried to beat me to them.
Lydia wielded her considerable hierarchical power to make my life miserable. She formed her own club with one entry requirement: to be one inch taller than I was. I was the shortest kid in our age group. All the kids in her club sat together in Sunday school, but Lydia exiled me to the little kids table. I usually ended up next to TJ who liked to squirt Capri Sun in my ear. My mom told me he did this because he had a crush on me, but that seemed like a really stupid reason to make the inside of my head feel sticky. I wanted to get out of Sunday school and into service as quickly as possible.
I was particularly excited for this sermon not just because it got me out of having snacks dumped on me, but because my mom told me that at the end the prophet would do an alter call and prophesy over those who came forward. I’d told her that I was excited to have my fortune told– like some lost princess stumbling upon a crystal ball. She corrected me saying that fortune tellers use the demonic to see the future, but prophets hear from God.
I can’t recall exactly what the prophet preached on, but I remember it having a “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” tone, and my mom wincing between her Amens’. My dad fell asleep. I, on the other hand, was eager for the actual prophesying to begin.
Towards the end, the prophet started hand selecting people out of the audience and giving them words the Lord laid on his heart for them. I was envious when I wasn’t chosen. I guessed those people just needed it more than I. A few of them fell down in the aisles, and I thought this was strange, so I asked my mom about it.
“Sometimes, when a word is given, the Spirit is released and knocks a person to the ground.”
“But not everyone is falling”
“It’s different each time you’re prayed for. God knows where you’re at and what’s going to move you.”
It seemed like an awful lot of trouble to fall. There were people standing behind whoever was prayed for to ease them to the ground, so it wasn’t like the impact was doing any damage. But I had fainted before and that wasn’t fun at all. I started to feel my excitement drain out of me.
Searching her face, I asked, “Have you ever fallen before?”
She smiled and nodded.
“Does it hurt?” I whispered.
My mom stroked back my hair, “No, it doesn’t hurt. God would never hurt you.”
I nod slowly, feeling consoled but still a little uneasy about the whole thing.The altar call begins and I get in line to receive my prophecy. Lydia and her crony, Lauren, cut in front of me. I hoped the preacher wasn’t too worn out by the time he got to me, but since God doesn’t get tired I decided not to fuss about it. Turn the other cheekand all that jazz.
They were whispering to each other in line.
“Is it cool to fall?” Lauren asked.
Lydia paused, “You get more attention if you do.”
They’d taken it too far this time. Falling down shouldn’t be some cool trend like the latest Hannah Montana song. If it’s supposed to happen, it should just happen. Leave it to Lydia to be such a fake, making a joke out of the whole thing.
Sure enough, when Lauren and Lydia got prayed over they both fell down. Lauren collapsed so quickly and dramatically the poor people behind her hardly had a chance to ease her to the ground. This received a chorus of “Hallelujahs” from the church. Lydia performed her fall with a bit more grace. Lauren’s was a cannonball; Lydia’s a swan dive. I wondered if God came to them at all or if the entire thing was a fake. If it was just a big joke, shouldn’t the prophet have caught it? My uneasiness returned, and it was my turn.
The prophet wore a starchy suit which struck me as stuffy and intimidating since Pastor usually wore Hawaiian shirts and Levi’s. He smeared oil on my forehead. My mom always hated when they did that because it’s bad for your skin, but I figured if it has symbolic meaning it’s worth it. I tried to focus my thoughts on his prayer. I was finally getting my chance to know God’s plan for my future.
I don’t remember the words the prophet started to say over me, but he took the palm of his hand and started to push into my forehead. I began to lose my footing, but it was in no way related to the Holy Spirit. It had everything to do with the considerable amount of force this man was applying to my elementary school sized skull. He was trying to knock me down.
He was a fraud! But I wouldn’t let him get away with it. He spewed a bunch of generic garbage to buy himself time until he could knock me down. I was infuriated that this joke had smeared oil onto my forehead and was now pressing it in with his stupid hands. I could picture a line of acne forming underneath his palm as he pressed. But I pressed back. His pressing turned to shove, and I had to take a step backwards. The people lined up to catch me stepped forward, but I dug my heels in and regained my balance. The prophet met my eyes, and I scoffed defiantly up at him. In that moment, we recognized each other as adversaries. He kept up his show “Hallelujah” and “Thank you Jesusing” onto the next schmuck.
I fled angrily to the bathroom. A cocktail of fury and shock fogged my mind. Had he pushed everyone down? Or, like Lydia and Lauren, were they all too willing to fall, so he didn’t have to bother? Where did it end? I wished he was a fortune teller even if that’s evil. At least then, he would have been honest. This man made a joke of something I believed in, and now I did not know who else was a joke too. I stuck my forehead in the sink and scrubbed off the anointing oil.
I sulked on the car ride back to the suburbia side of town where we lived. Mom could tell something was off with me, but I didn’t want to try and talk about it over the local sports station dad played in the car. When we got inside, I fell to the ground where Shiloh was jumping at my knees, and she bounded into my lap. I petted her somberly. My mom sat down next to us.
“How’s our honey?”
“She seems good. She’s wagging.”
“And how’s my other honey?”
I paused for a long time tracing the tiles’ grout lines. “He pushed me.”
Her eyes bulged, “Who pushed you?”
“The prophet. While he was praying over me, he tried to knock me down.”
To my tremendous surprise, she laughed.
“Yeah, they’ll do that sometimes. You didn’t fall though.”
“Of course not, he was nothing but a big stupid fraud! I’m not going to let him push me around.”
She smiled widely. “Good for you. I’m proud.”
I just stared at her, confused. I had expected her to be shocked, for this to change everything.
“But he was supposed to be a prophet! Everybody said so!”
She nodded. “We thought he was going to be a prophet. God may even speak through him sometimes, but with situations like this, it’s important to be very careful. You can’t assume people are who they say they are, or even always trust what your church says.”
“So our church is a joke?”
“No, I didn’t say that. I’m just saying that churches are run by people, and people mess up sometimes even when they try their best. You always have to take everything people say with a grain of salt. That’s why it’s very important to know the Bible for yourself, so you don’t end up being pushed around.” She smiled jokingly, but it was too soon for laughter.
She kissed my cheek. “You are my smart, strong girl. You have your own discernment. Use it. Prophets are real, and they can provide insight, but never forget that Jesus speaks to everyone. You don’t need some prophet to tell you your future. In fact, relying on prophets can be dangerous.”
“Because they can be frauds?”
“They can be frauds, or they can just rely too much on their own false interpretations. People never have all the answers, and if they say they do, something is wrong.”
I felt like I understood the world a little more after that. Although, this would start me on a path of distrust in people and preachers, it never once made me question the existence of God or the Holy Spirit. It is strange to look back and consider since God’s powerful presence in my life wouldn’t become apparent for years.
Believing in God always seemed the most natural thing in the world to me, I just couldn’t believe in people. The best you could ask for seemed to be loyalty and follow through, and I had those things in the congregation of Victory Life Church to a degree I may never find again.
I saw the world’s two faces. The face of mankind aiming for God, and the face of them missing the mark. The face of an undistinguished church on the wrong side of town, and the face of a steadfast family. The face of a large congregation worshiping in a beautiful building, and the face of those isolated by a crowd. The face of pioneers who braved the west, and the face of those who civilized it. I cannot reject any of these faces, because I wear them all.
Here’s a confession: I am a girl who loves a hot shower – rain or shine, summer or winter, springtime or harvest. I need my water pressure high and my shower just short of boiling. As the water flows, I think of the events of the day or plan for the day ahead.
I will stand under my shower head replaying conversations, analyzing interactions, deciding what I could have done or should have said. I feel free to share all of my feelings without biting my tongue.The timid girl from the office is free to have an attitude, to tell off that coworker, to yell out the car window at that inconsiderate driver. And sometimes, this version of myself that lives in my daydream rears her ugly head in the real world.
Do you ever struggle with the tension that exists between saying the right thing versus saying what feels good in the moment?
I certainly have, and too often, I have allowed myself to give in to the temptation to “put someone in their place.” Angry, vicious words have a way of making their way into a room and infecting the air with their invisible influence. Spreading like a sneaky virus, it can almost be impossible to stop those words. This does not only apply to angry words. Criticism, judgement, gossip, slander, sarcasm, cruel jokes, and complaining all have a way of making their way through a room.
It is especially easy to use words as weapons against the people we spend the most time with such as our family, friends, and coworkers. However, in this age of constant interaction via the internet and the ability to hide behind a computer screen, even strangers and people in authority are not exempt. It is a toxic culture where everyone seems to take an offensive posture, because anyone can be a victim.
Though times have changed, human nature has remained the same. Scripture describes this phenomenon in James 3:2, 3:5-6:
“Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.” James 3:2 (NLT)
“In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.” James 3:5-6 (NLT)
Can you see it? The mean-spirited comment that changes the atmosphere in a room, spreading like wildfire? And just like a fire, once negative words are spoken, the initiator no longer has the power to stop the series of conversations and events that follow.
The gossip or mean-spirited comment has taken on a life of its own. When a person cools down, the comment rages on in another form, on another’s lips. Words said in the heat of the moment can break down friendships that were once solid.
Gossip cannot only destroy a person’s self-image but can ruin a hard-earned good reputation and lead to that person isolating themselves. Because words once spoken cannot be unsaid, this is a situation where an ounce of prevention is better than curing after the situation.
What steps can we take today towards taming our tongues?
Search for the source of the fire
“But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” Matthew 15:18 (NLT)
Our words reflect our hearts, and fortunately for us, the Lord is an expert at heart work.
Ask Him to show you what is at the root of any patterns of negative speech. Is it insecurity? Bitterness? Pride? Ask Him for discernment to recognize your heart condition and for the desire to lay it down before Him so He can weed it out.
Practice fire safety
“Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but such as is good for edifying as the need may be, that it may give grace to them that hear.” Ephesians 4:29 (NLT)
Be intentional about speaking life. Keep an eye out for opportunities to encourage, comfort, praise, and build up. A kind word at the right time can change a life. Just as negative words can have a domino effect, so can positive ones.
Train as a firefighter
You may not be the one who started a negative conversation, but peer pressure is powerful and soon you can find yourself joining in with gossip or complaining because it is just easier not to swim against the tide.
Brainstorm ways to subtly redirect a conversation that is headed in the wrong direction. For example, many of us may find ourselves at work when the conversation becomes a session to sound off on everything that dissatisfies them about the job. This can be an opportunity to empower someone about their gifts and how their presence in the workplace can make a difference or make an improvement in the workplace.
Changing our patterns of speech can be uncomfortable and downright difficult at first. It is a lot like choosing to walk through the trees in the forest instead of the well-worn path, but the more we take this new route the easier it gets.
May we pray with the psalmist David daily,
“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14 (NLT)
“And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” Exodus 3:14 (KJV)
There are multiple passages in the Bible that God is referred to as “I AM”. An english teacher may look at that sentence and say it is incomplete. But God finishes it. He is God, the Almighty, the omnipotent, the omnipresent, Jehovah, Immanuel, and so forth. God embodies all that is good. He is truly all in all.
In order to fully understand who God is, we must understand who we are. We are the opposite of good, overwhelmed by our sins and incomplete without the great “I AM.”
We live in a society that encourages us to self-promote whether for job interviews, when trying to make friends or impress family.
“I am a good person.”
“I am a successful entrepreneur.”
Yet, we are still incomplete. Until we can humble ourselves and see ourselves for what we truly are, God cannot reign in our lives.
The Psalmists realize their inabilities and worthlessness without the grace of a Savior.
“I am a worm, and no man” (Psalm 22:6).
“I am poor and needy” (Psalm 40:17).
“I am . . . a stranger unto my brethren” (Psalm 69:8).
“I am full of heaviness” (Psalm 69:20).
“I am poor and sorrowful” (Psalm 69:29).
“I . . . am as a sparrow alone upon the house top” (Psalm 102:7).
“I am withered like grass” (Psalm 102:11).
Fortunately, the Lord is the answer to any problem we have. He fills every emptiness and longing our hearts desire. Whatever we need in our life, HE IS. When we need financial provisions, God says I AM. When we are searching deep for love and happiness, God says I AM. When we need courage in the face of fear, God says I AM. When we are searching for hope and comfort in the midst of tragedy, God says I AM. He is EVERYTHING.
“After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” Gen. 15:1 (KJV)
Like a shield, He protects us from harm that may face us. When we have faced our giants and have gone through tribulations for his name, He is our great reward. What greater reward is their in life than the one who created us and knows exactly what we need?
“…I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed..” Gen 26:24 (KJV)
We have no need to fear because HE IS. He will be the courage that are feeble hearts lack. When we let God be everything in our lives, He is able to bless us in mighty ways.
“And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am Almighty God; walk before me and be thou perfect.” Gen 17:1 (KJV)
If God is everything, we should be spending every moment serving Him. Walk every step in obedience to Him, seeking to be like Him. His ways are perfect and our only chance of being such is walking in His guidance.
No matter how our circumstances change, the Lord never changes. We can always count on Him to be everything we need.
“I am the Lord, I change not..” Malachi 3:6 (KJV)
“The Lord is my strength and my shield: my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore, my heart greatly rejoiceth, and with my song will I praise Him.” Psalm 28:7 (KJV)
I see you. I feel your anxiousness. I feel your worry; how deep it goes in your chest. I know that your head tries to tell you that you need to lose that weight. I know it tells you that you are not as pretty as her. I know it tells you that you do not have the skills.
I know it tells you that they do not care.
And I also know it keeps those words on a repeat soundtrack at all hours. Day and night.
I also know what you have been through. You have overcome so many things already. You’ve been to the darkest of days and back in your life.
Yet, that lonely feeling stands. It reminds you every day of the times you have failed and been failed by others. Your mind tells you that God has no idea where you are. You are one in millions. There is no way that He can feel the need to help you.
But, honey, God sees you as ‘one in a million’. You are unique and perfect. He created the you that you are and cares enough to send His only son to die on a cross for YOU. God is so much greater than the thoughts that the devil puts in your head.
“My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (KJV)
That means YOUR weakness.
His strength is the PERFECT thing that comes from admitting the weakness you feel.
Your significant other is not always available. Your best friend needs sleep, too. Your social media friends will not quite get it on the level you need.
Your mind is a dangerous prison, love.
Mentally: It holds you in a controlled environment and in some ways that provides comfort. You are in a place that is familiar, and you have grown used to the numbness. It is mostly in your control. But on bad days, you just need to reach a little further than it is letting you, and the chains around your neck dig a little deeper. That restraint makes you feel like you are never going to make it out alive.
Physically: You are tired. And not an “Oh I couldn’t sleep last night” tired, but an “I can feel it in my bones, and it isn’t going to change” tired. You are tired of faking the smile for others. You are tired of trying so hard to be “normal”, and it is weighing down your shoulders and making it harder to get out of bed.
You need help.
And asking for help does not mean that you have failed. It means that you have WON. It means that you have finally stepped back, let go of control, and held to the hand of Jesus to drag you out of the pit that your head has held you captive in all this time.
Now, listen to Him.
Rebuke the devil from off your back. Tell him he has no place. Take hold of your Savior’s hand and let him break those chains.
Get out there. Seek the help. Talk to the doctor. Take the medication. Get on the path that helps you be the best you.
For your family.
Recovery is a road, but you have got a friend to walk down it with you. Through each step, He will place your foot. Each bump, He catches your arm. Trust in Him.
It can and WILL get better. I am telling you from the other side.
Your mental health is so important, and you are worth every bit of effort.
Never forget that.
Love, New Me
Follow Emily’s Instagram @the_modest_wife and/or email her at email@example.com.
As Christians, we believe Jesus is what every soul on this Earth is looking for, whether it be intentional or unintentional.
For a moment, I would like us to pause and think about this next question.
How many of us truly believe that we have found everything we are looking for in Jesus?
When I first heard this question in my spirit, I was immediately ready to respond. However, I heard God tell me to STOP and take a moment before responding.
The truth is there was still a thirst inside of me despite all that Jesus gives me.
Have you accepted and received the gift of salvationbut for some reason are just not fully satisfied?That hole in your heart or a certain area of your life just does not seem to have been filled – not all the way at least.
You may have said in your heart “Well, I do have a thirst, but at least I am not smoking, drinking or sexing it away.”
Maybe you do not exactly do all of the following, but what about on a Friday night when depression and loneliness kicks in?
Could our means of satisfying our thirst be more private right now instead of visible to the world?
Maybe masturbation, binge eating, isolation, oversleeping, or doing drugs is your means to quiet your thirst. Or maybe even the sense of company and doing things helps you to avoid the reality of your thirst.
For years, I have struggled with a thirst called the validation of man. One minute I feel like I have been delivered, and the next, there I am again longing for man’s affirmation. Why do I allow it to control my emotions and leave me feeling defeated? Why do I exalt “IT” and give it so much authority over my life?
The reality of this thirst sickens me to my stomach. The further I go into my purpose there it goes reminding me that:
“You don’t know the big dogs, you’ll never make it.”
“You don’t have a big enough support system, so how are you going to change the world through this gospel message you are so passionate about?”
“Look at the post you create, no one pays them any attention. Nobody is calling you and no one knows you. You’re nobody. You don’t even have that many friends. You don’t even have a platform. You don’t need God, You need MAN.”
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Matthew 5:6 (ESV)
I do not doubt for a moment that our adversary has taken so many opportunities to take his shot. The biggest mistake of my life was allowing myself to consider a view that the enemy presented. I somehow managed to move from a place of certainty in Christ to feeling that I just do not have enough.
Before I knew it, there I was surrounded with blessings from God, but it just was not enough for me. Every time God would prompt me to do something my first response was “How? I do not have enough.”
Looking to those around me, I have noticed their amazing support systems. These people are writing books, leading worship, preaching to thousands, starting women’s groups, mentorship programs and more. People have even bought into their vision. They have resources everywhere you look.
Here I am, a girl with a big dream, filled with passion and purpose to change the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ, but I am left thirsty, feeling like I am missing something. I am a Christian who is supposed to be filled by God, but still I am thirsty.
It was not until I developed a fight on the inside of me and made up my mind to intentionally allow Christ to satisfy every thirst within me that I began to move out of that place of darkness. Every day, I do my best to be intentional about choosing to allow Christ to satisfy every thirst within me.
Some days when I am not doing so well I avoid compliments to the fullest. If someone attempts to compliment me, I quickly try and change the subject because I know a part of my flesh desires these things. The validation of man sometimes can feel like food to my flesh and the last thing I want to do is feed it.
When people come up to me and say things like “Oh you are so anointed. God is going to do so many things in your life….,” immediately my head goes down. It is because I am trying to keep a monster tamed that is seeking to take my life little by little. I don not want to gratify the desires of my flesh not even for a second.
Honestly, some days I am deeply saddened when I feel this thirst inside of me that wants man to see me and notice me. Some days, I am prostrate on my face asking God to completely take this desire away.
When I hear the thoughts of comparison and thirst, I fall to my knees and in His presence I stay. Even if it is mere silence as I weep my eyes out, I do not move until He meets me. And there goes my Daddy, laying his hand on my head and comforting me. When He does this, I melt in His peace. He reminds me that I am not the thoughts that I wrestle with in my head and in my heart. He reminds me that though that temptation may come and go, if I daily come to Him for my portion He will always fill me. His sweet communion is what I long for daily.
Daily, I bring a gift to the altar of the Lord. My gift is me, and on the altar I lay, where God consumes me so that I may forever burn for Him.
Where there is no communion with God, it is impossible to be sustained by Him. Allow Christ to satisfy every thirst within you. Doing so means we have to come face to face with the ugly reality of our thirst. The enemy comes to sow seeds in us by planting a kind of thirst in our hearts and feeding off of that. However, he needs permission to do so
The only way to fully guard you heart is to consistently and continually lay it upon the altar, where it is always fully open to God and the sanctifying work of His precious Holy Spirit.
It was day two at my new job, and frankly, I was feeling overwhelmed by all of the information my brain was trying to absorb and process at the same time.
I could remember thinking to myself, “You were not created for this extreme amount of multi-tasking. You are going to hurt yourself with information overload.”
I was feeling a little pressured by the amount of expectation that had already been placed on me with this new title.
Then, like a gentle reminder from heaven, my new boss said to me, “I like the way you walk. You walk with purpose.”
I stopped for a moment and turned to thank him with a smile. I imagined God’s voice whispering these words to me and felt my anxious spirit soften. I had only heard this phrase said one other time when my Pastor told a story a few weeks earlier. I had in no way imagined hearing it here, in my new work space. However, I needed to hear those words more than anything. I needed the refreshing reminder that my life is not mine. It is not working or living for the simple act of happiness. I am alive because God created great purpose within me. It was not earned, gained, or learned, but wired inside of my DNA.
Jeremiah 29:11 says that God knows the plans He has for us-to prosper us and give us hope and a future.
John 10:10 says that the enemies purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy, but that Jesus’ purpose is to give us a rich and satisfying life.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 says that there is a season for everything under heaven.
When I read these verses, I hear the word PURPOSE. God has created a purpose for us. Jesus’s purpose was to give us life. Everything under heaven has a purpose. You, me, the animals, the plants, the galaxies, we all have a purpose in life.
I used to believe that we only had one purpose. Each person was granted one purpose that they had to fulfill. However, I do not know how correct that is anymore. If we are in one season of our life, there is a particular kind of purpose that goes with that season. And as we change seasons, so do our purposes. Of course, we all have a giant purpose that is exactly the same – the great commission from Jesus to make disciples.
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” -Matthew 28:19 (NLT)
However, I believe we each are destined to fulfill temporary purposes as we achieve the great big one. I believe they intertwine and connect us to the greater one. Whether we are studying for our future professions, working full time, taking care of sweet babies, or creating a home, somehow, someway our “smaller” purposes will set us up for the bigger one.
We are not walking just to get to study hall, just to finish our shift, just to pick up the crying baby, and just to make sure the house is clean. We are walking because there is a purpose to our lives. There is a purpose in our steps, and each one of us is walking into the bigger picture of God’s glory, something that we could never get closer to by sitting still.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said,
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
A lot of us are walking to fulfill an unsatisfied happiness that could never be accomplished because happiness is based on feelings. I believe that if we walk because we know there is great purpose in where we are going, who we are around and what we are doing, then great joy will begin to flow from our lives. Not happiness that is fleeting, but great joy because we are fulfilling that which has been wired inside of us.
Maybe your boots were made for walking, but you, you were made for something bigger than you could ever imagine. And each step, each act, each encounter sets you up to fulfill that. Keep walking, friends. You are getting there.