A Long & Winding Love Story

We met years before I ever remember him.  It seems like he gradually came into my life, and then suddenly he was there, integrated, and had been there for ages.  He was four years younger than I was, and so the husband-hunting section of my brain didn’t even register him as an option.

He attended the youth group that I had graduated from and was volunteering with as a leader.  Because he didn’t have a car, my family often picked him up and drove him home from church events.  He spent the night on our couch, and I would sit up late at night with him and my siblings, talking about God and life and anything else that came to mind.

I grew to appreciate his perspective.  I liked the way that his mind worked, and the conclusions he came to.  I enjoyed the easy banter we had.  I knew that I was excited to see what God ended up doing in his life.

And then, one day, we were watching a movie with the youth group.  There must have been at least 20 people stuffed into a small living room.  We ended up squished on the couch together.  And suddenly, I realized that he had muscles.  Like, manly manly musicles.  And they were very attractive.  This sudden flip shocked me.

Over the next months, I repremanded myself for being attracted to an 18 year old.  But I had had plenty of crushes in the past, and so I decided that this would pass like the others did.

It didn’t pass.

One night, he was staying on our couch, and my siblings had gone to bed.  He reached over and held my hand.  At 22, it was the first time in my life that someone had held my hand.  He told me that he liked me, and I admitted to liking him too.  Looking back, it seems like such a middle school scenario.

We decided that we wanted to date.  He was my first real boyfriend, my first real kiss.  He holds just about every milestone in my life as my first and only.

But our age difference created tension with my family.  My parents had concerns about our relationship, and I felt caught between respect for them and the excitement of this budding love with someone I truly wanted to be with.  I desperately wanted them to love him the way I did.  This underlying tension continued for years, and it has taken time and prayer to heal the rifts that it caused.

We found encouragement other places, with mentors at church and Christian friends who encouraged us in our faith.  We spent most of our time together volunteering at youth events.  A few years into our relationship, we both knew that we wanted to get married.  But though we were in a much better place with my family, they still felt that we weren’t in a good place for marriage yet.  It was starting to become obvious that we needed to get married or break up, the relationship felt stuck with no good resolution.  We decided that we needed to separate.

I felt that it was the right decision, even though it was incredibly painful at the time.  I decided to take my brother up on an offer to visit him in Guam, and a few months after our breakup, I was flying to the other side of the planet for 6 months.  We had decided that if either of us felt God’s leading with another person, that we were free to pursue it.

The entire time that I was in Guam, he kept in touch with me.  Even without the romantic aspect of our relationship, our hearts were interconnected as friends.  I spent a lot of time praying about other young men that I was meeting, but God seemed suspiciously silent on the issue.

When I finally came home from my travels, I had concluded that some decisions God leaves up to us.  I needed to be able to choose a path that my life would go down, and be confident in it.  I had spent too much time fearing that I would miss God’s perfect will for my life, and it was causing me to second guess everything that I did.

We slowly started spending time together again, going out in groups and seeing each other periodically.  We had decided that if we were going to be together again, we would be engaged and get married quickly.  So we really just needed to decide the time frame for that before we moved forward.

One Sunday afternoon, stopping by his apartment on my way home from a quick trip to New York, he proposed to me out of the blue, and I said yes.  We were married less than 3 months later on a hot July day amidst family and friends.

I still find myself wishing that our love story was prettier.  That we had made different choices, that it wasn’t so discouraging and painful in places.  I have seen other couples who progressed neatly from milestone to milestone, but for us it was a dark and twisty road to where we are now.  I have also struggled feeling that we don’t “fit” together well.  Our personalities, physical appearance, and upbringing are very different.  At one point we were told that we looked wrong together, and my mind fixates on that at times.  As a teen I remember visualizing my husband, and it is hard to tear down that hypothetical ideal and embrace the flesh and blood man that God gave me.

Regardless, God has always been faithful to us.  Every year that passes, I learn more about how to rely on God and how to love and respect my husband.  He is the man that I needed in so many ways, and I am so grateful to walk through this life at his side.

I think that my advice to young women would be to trust God enough to let go of what they want so desperately.  We know, deep in our hearts, what the right thing is to do.  But it is easy to convince your love-struck mind to ignore God’s prompting.  There may also be a time in your life when you just have to choose a path and move forward, and I would encourage you to do that confidently.  Know that God’s will for your life is to trust and obey him, but sometimes he leaves the choices of where and who we end up with to us.

A Drought of Friendship

Over the past 5 or so years I have been living in a drought of friendship.  I’m not sure how it happened, because I had many close friends in my late teens and early twenties, but as life happened and people moved around I found myself without much fellowship.  I had a few people that I would call on the phone or talk to online, but I lacked in person female bonding.  I remember traveling through Oklahoma and spending a few days with a friend from school there, and we spent the whole time curled up talking about life and God, watching sappy tv shows and drinking cocoa.  My heart needs that connection.

I worked with women that I talked to a lot, and I married and had a beautiful baby, so my life wasn’t devoid of human interaction.  But something is different.  Sometimes you need a friend that clicks with you at the heart.

Something that I had taught myself years ago was to go to God first with my feelings.  I am apt to emotionally vomit on people and never get around to prayer, so it is good for me to work things through with God before I talk them over with someone else.  During the drought I went to God a lot, and I worked on investing in my relationship with him.  I prayed about this lack of friendship and asked for him to fill the dry cracks that I felt in my life because of it.

Another thing that I struggled with was overlooking opportunities for friendship because they didn’t fit my preconceived mold of what I was looking for.  God has always paired me with weird people, but for some reason it is hard for me to let go of wanting “cool” friends.

Eventually, I reached out.  I stopped hoping for a friend to come to me, and instead I decided to be that friend.  I realized that I have a lot to offer, and that my strengths are perfectly suited for deep and meaningful relationships.  And I stopped looking for friendship where I expected to find it.

I now have a few women that I see regularly and consider close friends.  I also have a few women that I see infrequently but I have purposed that when we visit I ask intentional questions and share my true heart because I love them and refuse to live in a shallow place with them.  I have also let go of a lot of past insecurity and am trying to build relationships with people that I was intimidated or irritated by before.

If you are going through a friendship drought, be encouraged.  First, you have the ultimate friend in Jesus, and maybe this is the time that you need to build your reliance on him.  Secondly, stop looking for the type of friends you want and start praying about being a friend to the people God has put around you.  The weird ones always make the best friends.  And when you find that person that your heart clicks with, it is like a drink of fresh water in the middle of a long drought.

Learning to Wait

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On my wedding day, my husband and I chose Ephesians 5:22-33 as one of the verses we wanted to live by. I strongly believed what those verses have to say and — by God’s grace — I have kept by them.

I believe as a wife it is extremely important to be submissive to your husband. It is something to take very seriously. We are to be their help meet. What we say, things we do, and how we respond affects them as a person. They need to be built up, not torn down and nagged. Sometimes it isn’t easy, though.

My husband and I got married in 2008. He didn’t want to have children right away. Babies scared him. He was the youngest and really wasn’t around babies as he grew up. He knew that we were going to have some but “not that soon.”

So, I had to wait. A year passed and he still was not sure about having a baby. Year and a half? Nope — not yet. It was really hard to have to wait. There were times that I would talk to him about it and where I would push him away. I had to back off and had to respect his decision even though I didn’t understand.

Then, in the late spring early summer of 2010 (after a year of struggling with God on where I was at) God got hold of me. He really made me see a lot of things about life. Through every detail, He was involved and guided me through His word. Having this spiritual breakthrough really helped me become more submissive to my husband.

Here are some verses and tips that helped me to wait and submit to my husband by submitting to God first.

  1. His way is perfect. 2 Samuel 22:31

“As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is shield to all who trust in Him.”

Every single thing you go through is His perfect plan for you. There are no mistakes. Every situation, every person you come in contact with is a part of His perfect will for you. His word is there to help you understand this and to give you peace. Even when you mess up, He is still a part of it. He is involved in every detail of our lives. It is also important that you and your husband discuss situations and significant issues. In those discussions you could bring it up on how God is intimately involved in every details of your lives. There might be those times he might not be ready to hear that. It is so easy to get upset too, but it is always imperative for you to talk these things through. That is why it is important for us as wives to constantly focus on God’s word and pray for our husbands. But the key is believing God’s way is perfect and what He says is true, so that whenever your husband says something that you disagree with, you can trust God and submit to your husband.

  1. He knows all my days and has a plan for them. Psalm 139:16-17

“Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!”

Every single day that we live has been written down in His book. He knows when you were born and when you are going to die. He knows what days you and your husband had that argument about that same issue that keeps coming up. Our Lord is sovereign and in control. Even your husband’s days are all written down. God knows when your husband will change his mind or even if you will change your mind.  He has great things for the both of you, things to make you grow, things to make you understand your husband or other people. He wants and has the very best for your marriage.

  1. He instructs and guides me in the way He wants me to go. Psalm 32:8-9

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. Do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding, which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, else they will not come near you.”

You might be thinking, “You don’t know my husband. He doesn’t understand what I am trying to do.” Yes, that might be true but God knows the way you and your husband need to go. Allow Him to instruct you in the way He wants you to go. It might be the entirely different way from what you want. But who are you to know what is truly good for you? He knows and He will guide. Don’t fight your husband! You are fighting God because He has called you to be submissive to him. Don’t be like a horse with a bit and bridle. When you let go and be submissive, God will tell you and guide you in the way you should go.

  1. A gentile and quiet spirit does work. 1 Peter 3:1-6

“Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives,  2 when they observeyour chaste conduct accompanied by fear. 3 Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— 4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. 5 For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.”

In today’s society, wives don’t have many examples of what a gentle and quiet spirit looks like. It doesn’t mean that a wife has to sit quietly while her husband does all the talking. That’s not right. It means allowing your actions to speak louder than your words. It means that if your husband is doing something that is not correct, but it does not go against God’s word, your only choice is to fear and trust God and humbly pray that He can help you to be that woman who wins over her husband. In the long run, your husband will respect you because even if you didn’t agree with him, you didn’t put him down or nagged him.

  1. Be thankful in the moment you are in. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

“Rejoice always,  17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

The years I had to wait until my husband decided to have kids was the will of God for me. When I finally allowed God and His word to transform my heart, I am so thankful for the things we got to do. I honestly cannot imagine it any other way. God gave me such a thankful heart and enabled me to be content in every moment.

Very close to our fifth anniversary and only two months after getting off of the birth control I was on for five years, God allowed us to get pregnant. The following year we received a beautiful baby girl who, with all the joy in my heart, daddy loves and adores and treasures with his whole heart. God is faithful, so very faithful during those years.

 

Two Things I Thought I Knew Before I Got Married

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I got married two days after my thirtieth birthday. We celebrated our thirty-second anniversary last May. My daughter asked me what advice I’d give young wives and I had to think & pray about it because it has been a long time since I was a young wife. I now have been married longer than I was single — something I could not imagine being true in my mid-twenties.

I came into marriage with a lot of sound and unsound Biblical teaching along with emotional baggage and unresolved issues. I had theory, but not practice (except in the experience of those who gave advice). I had expectations based on all the books, movies, and music I’d been exposed to. And I was like every other new spouse in that regard. We all come into marriage unprepared for the reality at some level because it is a new thing.

Nothing Will Be Like You Thought It Would Be

At least, not after the first “dream come true” moments when you think your fantasy has actually become real. That organized house, perfect pair of jeans, and every relationship you might have will be different after you live with them a while. I was reminded of this recently by a 9-year-old who confided, “I thought when my dad told me he would have full custody that everything would change, but really it didn’t much.” Her life has had a lot of changes and this one will be good, but it will not be problem-free.

Getting married does not mean “happily ever after” any more than getting to live with your most stable parent means everything will change. But living with the most stable parent is pretty good when you are nine. A stable home is a good thing at any age even when it isn’t like what you thought it would be. Any kind of home can become something good when God is finished with the people who live there. This is something I thought I understood, but the in-your-face dynamics of marriage and parenthood took that understanding deeper.

Things in God’s Hand are Not Wasted

I think the most important thing to remember about marriage is the same thing that is priority in singleness: God is with us. He is with us in the mundane daily tasks that nobody sees. He is with us in the spotlight of high-stress situations. He promises that all the things..ALL of them…are not wasted (Romans 8) but we have no promise that things will be what we planned.

Some heartbreaking things can happen. Discouragement and despair can cloud our vision until we can’t see any hope at all. Is God still working? Yes. Is He still with us? Yes. The entire Bible is the story of His redemptive love for broken, sinful, rebellious individuals. The fact that you are here, reading these words, means that He is giving you another chance to respond to Him.

Most of life is not made up of big things. Life is little things, one after another, day after day. The choices we make in the little things don’t always seem very important. Much of the time, God is the only one who knows what kind of sacrifice it is to keep your mouth shut or pick up that sock on the floor. It’s a sacrifice to stop what I am doing and pay attention to someone who wants to talk. But those are the times I am picking up my cross and following Jesus.

As we do that, the hidden choices pile up. The mundane things are not wasted. It won’t be like you thought it would be, but it will be better than you could imagine eventually.

Don’t Wait to Get Caught

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In today’s world, we see Christian leaders fall into sexual sin all the time.  Each time a name comes to light, it becomes more and more obvious that Satan has a huge foothold in this area.  And if sexual sin is this common in our leadership, it has to be rampant throughout churches everywhere.

What I believe is at the root of this problem is a fear of confession and a lack of trust that God’s way is better than our own way.  I believe this is the root of the problem because it was the root of the problem for me.  I also believe that the church needs examples of confession and accountability.  We need stories of people who choose God over their temptations on a regular basis.  We need to be reminded of what we believe and why we follow Christ.  And so, to that end, I’d like to tell you my story.

I was introduced to pornography at a young age and instantly, something inside of me woke up that I have not been able to put back to sleep.  You may have heard of people who take one drink and are addicted to alcohol, well, I took one look and I was addicted to sex.  My addiction went unchecked for almost 10 years, escalating to include masturbation and cybersex.

At the same time, I was growing up in a Christian home and building a relationship with God.  I desperately hated these urges that I was not able to control.  I was disgusted at my body’s reaction to things that my heart knew were damaging, both to me and to the other people involved.  I educated myself about the realities of the sexual exploitation industry, trying to convince my mind that this was a horrible thing.  I wanted God to magically heal me and take the temptation away, and I prayed for that constantly.

When I read verses like Colossians 1:22 “..to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation..” those words made me cringe.  I related to passages like Jeremiah 2, Ezekiel 16 and Hosea.  I was the child bride who rejected her husband and went out to seek sex like a whore.

But that was all on the inside.  That happened in the dark and behind closed doors and in my cleared browser history.  In my visible life, I held a position as youth representative on the church board.  I was a trusted member of the youth group leadership team.  I led the drama team in our church and started a worship band.  I led two lives, and I had conditioned my heart and mind to accept this.  Sin had an iron grip on my heart, and Satan whispered to me that only men struggled with porn, that I would be humiliated if I ever was found out.  It was only when the Holy Spirit got through my defenses that I cried out to God.

When I was 17, I gave myself the ultimatum to either get help or get out of leadership in my church.  That fall, I entered an intensive discipleship program where I confessed my secret sin issues and got the accountability that I needed.  I hoped that after the big confession that I would be healed, but that isn’t the way God worked for me.

Even with the help of my advisers and close friends, I had a decade of sin with roots that had grown deep into my life and habits that had to be unlearned.  I needed regular and intrusive accountability to maintain a clear conscience for years, but the peace of living without the fear of exposure over my head, of knowing that I am forgiven and that my life is open to God’s prompting and plan, it is the best feeling I have ever experienced.

It has been another decade since I finally confessed and got help.  There have been times when I failed, times when I backed away from accountability and ended up justifying small indulgences.  But God used the decision that I made in my junior year of high school to build a foundation for repentance and pave the way back to a clean conscience.  Just as it is easier to continue in sin after you have done it once, it is easier to confess and repent once you build that pattern into your life.

My prayers for miraculous healing were not answered.  Instead, I was given enough grace to take each step that was put before me.  God’s way has drawn me ever slowly closer to his heart through the years.  And because of this decade of learning to discipline my mind, I am softer when he convicts me.. I am stronger when he challenges me.. I am braver when he asks me to change.  It is both the mystery of his grace and the daily walk in his will that have worked the miracle in my life.

As a body of believers, many of us have lost the discipline of confession.  We are so afraid that we are alone in these temptations, and so afraid of the disgust that we see slung around on social media when a sinner is caught.  But if we confess our sins he is faithful and just.  He will forgive us from our sins.  Don’t wait to be caught; give yourself up.  Turn yourself in.  You have the choice of wallowing in your invisible dirt or walking into glorious freedom.  I bet you would be surprised who all has been wallowing beside you.

I was meant to be holy in his sight.  Without blemish.  Free from accusation.  Should someone point the finger at me and name my sins, I do not need to cringe.  Satan doesn’t hold anything over me that has not already been confessed and forgiven.  As the song says, sin’s curse has lost its grip on me.

If you are reading this, please do one of three things:  

If the Holy Spirit is convicting you of sin right now, tell a trusted friend that you need to talk to them.  Even just setting the appointment is a huge step on the road to confession and freedom.

If you have dealt with secret sin in your past and are now experiencing freedom in Christ, share your story with someone.  The church needs examples of how to deal with their sin, and you can contribute to that cause.

And if you are not in a place that you feel able to do either of those things, please pray.  Pray for yourself and for others to have the courage to give themselves up and finally be free.  Pray for God to give us all the grace to triumph over seemingly impossible trials and that we would trust that his way is truly better than our way.

Contentment in Brokenness: Sexual Impurity and the “Good Christian Girl”

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Women seem to have so many things to hide: zits, wrinkles, gray hair; mood swings, anxiety, depression; exhaustion from working overtime or caring for a sick loved one or staying up all night with a collicky baby; we desperately try to hide anything that shows our imperfections or weakness. We’re often ashamed of our weakness, but perhaps most hidden and shameful of all are all of the sexual impurities that have left their marks on our bodies and our souls.

I was seventeen and naively confident in my sexual activity. Only, I wasn’t really that confident, but the older man abusing me at the time tried to make me think that I was. I carried the secret of my shame for the next two years, even after he was long gone and Christ had become King of my heart.

I kept silent out of a twisted concern for the man who had taken advantage of me, but also out of fear that my new Christian sisters would label me a freak and a sinner and an outcast. “Good Christian girls don’t do those things,” Satan whispered, “and they certainly don’t talk about them.”

Don’t we all believe these lies? That we are alone in our suffering, abnormal in our struggles, and despicable in our secret sins? That we’re ruined, unlovable, and unforgivable? I know I believed them, and still do sometimes. But the truth is that there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1) and “no temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man” (1 Corinthians 10:13). And the even better news is that our God is not a God who can’t relate to our suffering and struggles: “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3); and “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

How gloriously wrong I turned out to be about these lies! My sisters loved me MORE, not less, when I broke down and spilled the secret that had been poisoning my heart. They spoke the truth of the gospel to me: “You have been redeemed! You are a new creation! You are the bride of Christ!” And what a beautiful truth it is, that Christ suffered and died and rose to new life that I may die to myself and be made alive in Him. Even the confusion over that man’s sin and my own sin in it is covered by grace, much to my constant relief.

So why are so many women, especially Christian women, still hiding? Partly because of the stigma that “good Christian girls” (whoever they are) need to be pure in every way APART from God’s grace; that they need to be whole BEFORE they come to the cross.

But the cross is for broken people: the sinners, the abused, the outcasts; the girls with zits and wrinkles and anxiety and depression and every kind of weakness or temptation. And if the cross is for people like that, then I am content to be broken that He may restore me to new life, made whole only by His indomitable grace.

*If you have been physically or sexually abused, the No More website (http://nomore.org/need-immediate-help/) has helpful resources and hotlines.  I also urge you to find a trusted Christian friend or mentor to talk to. Feel free to contact me, as well, at christianc@dm.org.

**If you are wrestling with your own sexual sin that is controlling your life, check out Harvest USA (http://www.harvestusa.org/), a Christian organization aimed at caring for sexually broken people in Jesus’ name.

Contentment in Chronic Illness

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Perhaps the title sounds like an oxymoron to you? To me, this has become a reality. But contentment was not always a familiar place in which I resided.

During my mid-twenties, I was a young wife and mother and had it become quite apparent to me that something was clearly wrong with my physical health. I was in constant physical pain and had chronic fatigue, among other confusing symptoms such as memory loss, migraines, and insomnia (just to name a few). Finally, after almost 5 years of personal research, countless doctor’s visits, and a plethora of prayers, I was officially diagnosed.

The main offender was recognized as Fibromyalgia, along with a myriad of co-existing conditions which accompany this syndrome. As you may conclude, I went through a grief process, for I had permanently lost my good health at a young age. That being said, I do believe that if and when God chose to heal me that He indeed could do so. I was quite familiar with the fact that Paul did not have the thorn of his affliction removed even after he asked God three times (2nd Corinthians 12:1-10). Not to mention, God’s own son — who was perfect in every way — suffered not only physically, but emotionally as well (1st Peter 4:1-19). Therefore, if I was a follower of Christ, should I expect anything different than this?

I suppose before I go on, I should let you know the definition of contentment in which I subscribe. This is from the Holman Bible Dictionary:

contentment — an internal satisfaction which does not demand changes in external circumstances

Okay, sounds like a goal in which a good Christian should aspire to, right? However, how does one attain such a lofty goal?

As mentioned earlier I did go through the stages of grief as I mourned my physical health, future goals, and ideas of what the perfect mom and wife should look like. The first stage is Denial. I must admit I did not spend much time here, due to the fact that I had a few years to mentally prepare myself before my official diagnosis came. In fact, strangely enough, it was a relief and validation that I was not losing my mind. Indeed, something was amiss with my health. Moreover, one of my favorite verses has always been Proverbs 3:5,6:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; and in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

I knew whatever was happening to me was no surprise to God and He would always be there for me!

The second stage of grief is Anger. This is not an emotion that I personally feel comfortable with, especially in light of trying to represent Christ. I know anger in and of itself is not sinful, yet one can sin due to anger. Thinking back, I believe a more precise way to describe this phase of grief for me would be disappointment. I found the medical community to have very little information at the time about this relatively unstudied syndrome called “Fibromyalgia”. Also, at that time treatment for Fibromyalgia consisted solely of dosing with pharmaceuticals. This was contrary to my personal beliefs of achieving a healthier body. I looked to God again, knowing that He had the answer if any improvement was to be had. I let go of any unreasonable hope I may have placed on the medical community. This helped me to move onto the next stage.

Bargaining is said to be the third stage of the grief process. I found this to be a non-issue, for as I stated above, I was trusting God’s plan even if it was not mine, uncomfortable, or even downright painful. If you find yourself stuck in the chains of bargaining you will not know the beautiful freedom Christ has given you. Christ paid the unfathomable price of His precious life so you would no longer have to find yourself trying to work for (or bargain) your way into better circumstances. I recommend reading 1 Peter 4 as one way to have a proper perspective. There are many more scriptures on suffering; just take a look in your concordance.

Now before you think I have just breezed through all of the stages like some super-saint, here comes the cold, ugly truth of my personal struggle: Depression. This is the 4th stage in the process of grieving. This has been my Achille’s heel since I was a young child. Now, this is a common symptom for anyone who has a chronic illness or is in chronic pain. That being said, God has a way to free us from this as well.

I have found the books of Psalms and Philippians to be a soothing balm for this condition. If you want to free yourself of this sad state — start praising and thanking God for His goodness as soon as your eyes open in the morning. Repeat this process throughout the day and pray away any negative thoughts from the enemy as soon as one enters your mind.

I would like to say that this step was a once and done process for me, but unfortunately I have moments, (sometimes seasons), where I struggle. For example, my husband was a youth pastor for about 7 years and during these years I was unable to actively participate in various events. One such event was a mission’s trip to Kentucky. Our own teenagers were going on, and I really had wanted to go with the group. Unfortunately, due to the  nature of the trip and lodging I would not be able to physically withstand the conditions. Did I feel like throwing a pity party? You bet!

However, I knew that was not the attitude or actions God wanted me to have concerning this trip. No, instead He humbled me and showed me that I still could be a vital part of this mission’s effort. I remained at home with only God and became a prayer warrior for our youth group’s missions trip. The trip went well and the now-young adults still talk about the life changing events that occurred on this trip. God is good!

Now we come to the last stage of the stage of grief: Acceptance.  Much like depression, I have my moments or seasons where I question if my condition actually is Fibromyalgia and not another condition such as Lupus or Lyme’s Disease. I do accept I have a medical condition — I am just uncertain about the actual diagnosis. I suppose in reality it may not matter much what one calls this condition — rather that we trust the One who is sovereign. Jeremiah 29:11 says:

“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”

May you and those you know struggling hold on to our only true hope.

While this brings us to an end on the stages of grief, it does not necessarily bring us to the next stage of our Christian life. That is becoming what God has planned (in spite of what may seem like impossible circumstances). Yes, we have hope eternal in Him and He has given us gifts and opportunities no matter the challenge. If He wants us to do something we have our strength through Him! (Philippians 4:10-20)

One of the ways He has me dying to my flesh is looking beyond my suffering to help others in need. I find this distraction from self to be beneficial. Try it and you will see how He fills you with special joy, comfort, and peace. If I can encourage you in any way or answer any questions, please leave me a message below. May God bless you!