The Lord has been teaching me so much lately and one of the biggest things He’s been teaching little ol’ stubborn me is that I can overcome dark seasons through HIM. I’m not an expert at this and I believe as believers we will go through really great seasons [Jesus even tells us this!], seasons where we’re on fire for Jesus, seasons where we’re just “numb” and then seasons where we’re struggling to believe in have faith.
I recently just came out of a long period of darkness. A time of hurt, shame, guilt, anxiety and depression. My dark season for about six to eight months and just came out of it this past October. I won’t go into details, reason being I’m not ready to broadcast those intimate and dark times with the internet. (Maybe one day, who knows.)
I was really struggling. I felt discouraged, anxious, depressed, and really angry at God because there were some really traumatic events that happened. I questioned my faith. Yup. The girl who grew up in Sunday School, got a degree in Christian studies, who leads bible studies, and never missed church camp, almost wanted to throw in the towel with this whole following Jesus thing.
Can you believe that?
I’m human too, just like you. My life is far from perfect. It’s incredibly messy because I’m a mess haha. I was just really sad and confused. I felt so far from God and believed the lie from the enemy that God didn’t care about me or desire me because of my mistakes. And that lie escalated and took me to some really dark places.
I was in a dark place for what seemed like a while and by the grace of God, through prayer, and sweet [and patient] loving husband and community who encouraged me, I was able to overcome the battle. So, I hope this post will be an encouragement to you if you’re struggling following Jesus or if you just feel stuck. Because I get it. And you’re certainly not alone.
HOLD YOUR THOUGHTS CAPTIVE.
I remember growing up and hearing “voices” telling me I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, that God didn’t love me, that I was never going to be loved, etc. The list was discouraging and lengthy. That voice was satan and homeboy started lying to me when I was a youngin!!! #HeSucks. It’s easy for us to start believing those lies if we aren’t combatting it with TRUTH from the BIBLE! So, as soon as you start hearing those lies, write them down. This way you can physically see them. The, next to all the lies write down all the TRUTHS you know from the Bible – the things God SAYS are TRUE about YOU! You can even look up bible verses online if you don’t know where to start. After you write down all the scripture, repeat them out loud then PRAY over those truths and ask God to reveal his promises to you. I’ve found it helpful to memorize and repeat scripture out loud whenever the enemy starts attacking. Not today satan. You’ve got NO authority over me because I am a CHILD of the One True King. | See this blog post to learn how to have freedom from sin.
ABIDE, EVEN IF YOUR FLESH DOESN’T WANT TO.
Ugh. I know, I know, this is a lot easier said than done…especially if you’re feeling angry or annoyed with God. When I get frustrated with others, the last thing I want to do is be around them or talk to them haha. But in the midst of our frustration, we have to preserve because the enemy wants us to stay mad and frustrated. James 1:2-4 reminds us that we are going to experience trials of many kinds [whether that’s physically, spiritual, or mental. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
In John 15 Jesus tells us the importance of abiding in him through a parable: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”
We learn that we are CLEAN because Jesus washed away our sins when He died for us on the cross, we CANNOT do God’s work on our own, we can only grow if we are abiding in Jesus.
For example, if I were to not talk to my husband, have quality time with him, be real with him, share my heart with him, we would not grow together as husband and wife. The same thing goes for our relationship with Jesus. If we aren’t reading his word, praying, confessing + repenting, and going before Jesus, we will not grow closer to Him. And like any relationship, if we do not confess our anger, it will fester in our hearts and cause us to be bitter. Which then causes us to hermit. And Jesus doesn’t want that! He desires us — all of us, even the messy, cranky, sassy child of God parts haha. He wants to take those parts, prune them, and make us more like HIM. Jesus tells us to abide in His love
BE VULNERABLE + REACH OUT TO COMMUNITY.
Again this is a lot easier said than done. I struggle so badly opening up to others about my hurt and pain. But I know this is my own selfishness and pride. I’ve had to go before The Lord and ask him to give me courage to be vulnerable.
Deuteronomy 31:6 reminds us the importance of courage and that we are not alone! “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 reminds us the power of vulnerability. Paul is sharing with the Corinthians that “[Jesus’] grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Jesus disciple, Paul, is open and transparent and shares his struggles and weaknesses in order to point others back to Christ! He shares that even in his weakness, he is STRONG because he has CHRIST in Him! Man talk about encouragement!
James 5:16 teaches us to “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
Jesus desires us to be in community with other believers so we can lift each other up and point one another back to the truth! We are all in this together! *Queue the High School Musical soundtrack* 😉
PRAY TO GOD EVEN IF YOU DON’T HAVE THE WORDS TO SAY.
Have you ever been so frustrated or confused by a person or situation where you just physically can’t come up with the words to say? I’ll be the first one to say YUP. Been there, done that. If you grew up in the church, you might be familiar with “The Lord’s Prayer.” If not, it’s found in Matthew 6:5-15 and goes like this:
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Jesus is our Father! And as our Heavenly Father, we can go to Him with ANYTHING and EVERYTHING! We see that Jesus doesn’t want us to say all these holy and biblical/churchy sounding phrases or words, He just wants us to talk to Him with what is on our hearts. He tells us to go into a quiet place to pray to him, so we can be away from distractions and be focused on talking to God. Yes God is all knowing and all powerful and God knows our hearts before we ask Him, BUT by us talking to God out loud, it keeps our hearts accountable. Then we are to pray that GOD’S WILL will be done, not our perfect five/ten year game plan. We are to ask God for our daily bread [see meaning here] – which the bible tells us that God supplies all our daily needs! Jesus teaches us that we are to ask for forgiveness for our sins and to pray for us to forgive anyone who has wronged us or hurt us. Lastly, we learn that we are to pray asking God to lead us away from temptations [because we cannot conquer the temptations of the world on our own]. I love how Matthew 6 breaks it down! Moral of praying to God: We don’t have to impress God, we just need to come to Him as we are. When we don’t know what to pray, we must ask for courage and boldness to humble ourselves so we can be forgiving just as Christ has forgiven us.
SURRENDER ALL SELFISHNESS AND TAKE COURAGE IN THE CROSS.
As much as we don’t like to admit it, we are naturally selfish human beings. Even typing that out irks me! I don’t want to be like that! We might not “mean to be” selfish, but the flesh wants what the flesh wants. Sometimes we aren’t even aware that what we are doing or how we are acting is selfish until God reveals it or someone [“hopefully* and gently] calls us out. And honestly, we need it! We need our hearts to be humbled and sanctified by Jesus.
I’m pretty sure I say this in every single faith blog post, but following Jesus is HARD! It’s scary and messy but at the same time, following Jesus is the most joyful and freeing thing I’ve ever experienced. Following Jesus gives me hope, comfort, purpose, and sure does add a lot of spontaneity and adventure to my life!
If you feel like giving up on Jesus, I pray that you will have the courage to keep pushing and keep fighting. You’re not alone and you weren’t designed to do this life by yourself. When Jesus hung on that cross, He poured out his blood for you. He fought for you. His heart broke for you– even though He knew you would mess up and run away from Him, He knew that the weight of your sin would be heavy in your heart. And He didn’t want you to be separated from Him. As His blood poured out, so did His heart. His loved oozed out for you. In Jesus’ pain, He gave us purpose and in His suffering He taught us the meaning of sacrifice. And in His sacrifice, He gave us freedom – that can never be taken away from us.