May 26, 2011

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly . . . God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
-Romans 5:6,8

Sometimes our struggles or anxieties will not just go away . . . frustration can't be cured by blaring Linkin Park or a really good workout session (although sometimes it really helps). Sometimes depression and anxiety seep into your bones and start to eat away like acid at your spirit, if you let it get that far. It's not going to heal by slapping a band-aid over it, it's not going to dissolve in your sleep. Giving me a pat answer ("it's going to be OK") or a verse out of context will probably make it worse.

That's when I truly need the Gospel (OK, I need it all the time, but especially right now). I need the truth of God's word to saturate my being and remind me of who He is.

Do I believe that He is who He says He is? Do I believe that He will provide for me, because He's the God of my salvation? Do I believe that He loves me enough to not only rescue me from death, but that He'll rescue me from myself right now? Do I believe that He's bigger than my worst fears, my own emotion and the sin that I struggle with? Do I choose to depend on Him daily?

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
-Ephesians 3:17-19

Do I believe the Jesus of the Bible? That His days were spent healing the lame, the sick, the blind and spending time with prostitutes, tax collectors and outcasts? If so, then do I identify with these people? Surely He is compassionate over me in the same way because I am the crippled, the poor, the needy. I am the rebellious sinner. I was dead in my sin, without God and without hope - and He did everything necessary to save me. I am broken by my own sinfulness, crippled by these anxieties that I have allowed to take over and define me.

Will I look to Him to heal these areas of my life and soothe this pain? Will I trust Him with my life and look to Him for everything? Do I trust that He is enough, even in the wilderness and if things don't work out the way I want them to, that it will still be alright because He is with me?

Praise the LORD, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the LORD, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The LORD works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.

He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel:
The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him
-Psalm 103:1-13

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
-Matthew 11:28-30

May 24, 2011

Sick Cycle Carousel

Random thought . . . you never realize how much you use a muscle group until you're sore the next day from doing an ab workout . . . it's like really? I'm feeling this while driving down 540? aaanyway . . .

I don't know if anxiety is just my own sin manifesting itself, satan's advances on my life, or a combination of both.

If you can predict a pattern of behavior by past experience, then why do I struggle with doubting God's character and how He will act in my life?

I fall into this cycle where I paint the worst possible scenario for my life. I blow things out of proportion and predict what will happen today, tomorrow, years down the road - when in reality, only God knows what lies ahead.

God has never given me more than I could handle (often times it's painful and a struggle, but it never killed me). He has always provided for me, even when things looked bleak with no hope. He has blessed me in ways that I never could have expected or asked for. So why do I freak out so much and struggle with anxiety? Is it a lack of trust? Is worry just one of my weak spots?

Like I said . . . whatever the situation is that's causing me grief, I anticipate the absolute worst possible circumstance, then freak out about it. And you know what? Even those events that cause my stomach to knot in anticipation never turn out as bad as I think they will. Honestly, they never do. So why do I still fall into this cycle?

Shouldn't I look back and let God's faithfulness, presence and provision give me confidence for the future?

I also find it incredibly easy to focus on the negatives and forget the positives. Every flaw or mistake I find in myself, I magnify it and let it define me. I allow my shortcomings to negate anything positive.

If only I could grasp the Gospel more deeply. If I could just see the cross with my own eyes, I would better realize that Christ died for broken sinners who don't have their junk together. God created me and loved me before I could even form rational thoughts. That I could truly understand that I have a Father who loves and wants to care for fallen, messy, frazzled, anxious, needy humans who plague themselves with silly things like guilt and a full spectrum of emotions. That He would have paid that price regardless of how many mistakes I make or how often I flog myself with negativity. That His grace and his love reach deeper than I will ever understand . . . and suddenly I could realize that I am accepted and that we all have struggles and flaws . . . and God wants to not only redeem us, but wants to work through imperfect people.

May 22, 2011

Fed to the fire

Transitions are overwhelming! Sometimes life seems to happen all at once and before you know it, walls start closing in.

I didn't realize how busy moving/unpacking/getting organized would be . . . Target has also become my second home, and I've never been so excited to buy a trash can in my life. I have been swimming in a sea of paint chips, and it totally consumed me until I finally picked (I think) colors that will work on the walls. I also didn't think about all of the things I now need . . . a garden hose, of all things - and flowers? You mean I have to prevent those plants around the house from dying? yeeeah, about that . . .

I feel like in the midst of transition, everything else takes a backseat. When you're trying to adjust to a new situation, it consumes you . . . and even though it's temporary, it's a little distressing.

I feel like my time in the Word is suffering because, well, I thought I had a hard time focusing before . . . but now, I sit down and immediately remember 10 people that I need to email, cookware that I want to buy, let me search for an area rug, oooh loft is having a sale, how can I organize my closet, when will I get this paint on the walls, I need to write up a lease, it's time to clean the kitchen again, I need to get my car inspected, I want more candles, why does my shower door make that god awful noise (seriously, someone help), oh my laundry is done - dang it, I gotta climb those steps again and my hamstrings are burning from yesterday's bodypump class . . . which reminds me, I need to go to the gym today, my grandma's birthday is tuesday so I should send her a card, oh I need to clean the kitchen. Did I mention the kitchen needs attention?

YEAH. I feel like ADHD on crack. And then I'm in a bad mood because I feel like there aren't enough hours in the day and I haven't even spent time with God this morning.

And then I think . . . look at the calendar. I have a test to study for, I've got to figure out the paint situation, I have to go to a meeting for work, trips out of town, weekly obligations, etc. etc. etc.

How can I balance life right now? I feel like my coping mechanisms have been blaring Nicki Minaj and drinking iced coffee while running around this town doing a million errands (but then the coffee keeps me from sleeping well at night, another stressor) . . . yeah.

How can I be a good nurse, a good friend, a good roommate, a good daughter, a good small group leader, and be growing in my walk with God . . . and still maintain personal obligations and appointments, not to mention a clean house, a healthy diet, a healthy workout regimen, and mental sanity? How can I do all of these things well? I feel stretched in a plethora of directions - and I'm just a single woman in my 20's.

If I feel this crazy when I'm only responsible for myself, how in the world can I ever function in a relationship, or a marriage, or a family? If I am this overwhelmed now and I don't know how to balance responsibility and health now, how can I ever take on more or survive in a different stage of life?

Logically, rationally, I know that God does not give us more than we can handle. In my head, I know He will give me grace to handle whatever comes my way. But this present moment is a whirlwind and the thought of the future is threatening to knock me off my feet. My mood is waning and my heart feels faint. I don't want my circumstances to dictate my mood and steal my joy, but that's how I feel - so I might as well be honest about it.

Everything inside me tells me that once I clean, organize and decorate this house, and knock out my to-do list I'll be normal again. But I know that if I could just focus enough to spend time with God, my soul would find rest once again.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

-1 Peter 5:6-10

May 9, 2011

Rolling In The Deep

Sometimes life hits you like a gale force wind straight in the face.

One day, you're straight up chillin' in a green pasture, bored or attempting to be patient with your circumstances . . . and then everything is flipped the next day.

Isn't it funny how not just one thing changes, but almost everything at once? The future freaks me out a little, especially when I can't make out the horizon.

Especially when past mistakes and past experiences haunt this present moment.

I find myself faced with two options when faced with the uncertainty of the future.

I can either allow the fear of failure to take control and paralyze me from moving forward, or I can choose to (very shakily) take a step out in faith (with my eyes squinched closed and teeth clenched) . . .

It's not the absence of fear, but choosing to take action in spite of my fear.

It's making a conscious choice . . . yes, I may make a mistake (and most likely will - I suppose I'm human after all). Looking at a risk and weighing the possibilities. Do I take a chance, knowing the probability of failure, or do I stay static and miss out on life?

Yes, I may very well fall flat on my face and be shattered to pieces. But it's trusting that no matter what tomorrow brings, I am walking with a God who is immensely faithful and has me within His tender loving care. Knowing that no matter what the future holds, it will be OK because He'll give me the grace to handle it. Even when things don't work out.

That He is who He says He is . . . that I can trust Him with my life, that His love will never fail, that He never expects me to be perfect or have it all together - even when I put that pressure on myself.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:35-39

And this is how I choose to live,
As if I'm jumping off a cliff,
Knowing that you'll save me,
Knowing that you'll save me.
And after all the stupid things I did,
There's nothing left there to forgive,
Because you already forgave me.

Every breath that I inhale is followed by exhaling.
Trust the one Who never fails.
I know you will never fail me.
"Life After Death And Taxes" - Relient K
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