Therapy and Jesus

I must admit that this might be a little touchy for people to read. I promise to tread here softly but truthfully. I know that a lot of christians believe that if we have Jesus we have everything that we need. I truly believe that Jesus offers to us everything we need but I also completely believe that he uses others as well to help him be that in the earth. I’m going to try to make this a little clearer. Jesus cannot come in the flesh and sit with us and offer wisdom and support in a flesh body but he can embody a therapist and fill him or her with his wisdom to do just that in a fleshly human body. The same with doctors, nurses, psychiatrist etc…he uses so many different avenues to be all that we need in the earth. So with all that being said, I want to share with you about having Jesus and still going to therapy. I will not say that therapy is for everyone because I strongly believe it is an individual choice. I do believe that anyone that needs therapy should be able to go without the judgement of others. Therapy does not say you are a weak Christian as a matter of fact, to me your just as strong of a Christian as the next person your just doing what you need to do to remain in a place that God can use you. Did you realize that being mentally healthy is important to you doing ministry healthy?

I will share my own personal journey with you on my experience with therapy and Jesus. I will never forget the moment I entered a therapist office for the first time. I was scared and felt a little ashamed because it had come down to me desperately needing that level of support. I felt like I was somehow failing God by needing to go. What I didn’t understand was that God would meet me in that therapist office and I would sense his presence with me in every session. I did not know how desperately I needed to get those trauma secrets I had been carrying out. I needed to do it with a trained professional who could support and guide me in voicing those experiences that needed to come out. See those secrets were in the dark because I was too ashamed to share them. Once I voiced them they were brought into the light in the safety of her office and after processing them in a healthy place, they soon were rendered powerless. I felt like I was no longer keeping poison inside that was rotting me from the inside out. I’ve gone to counseling off and on for many years now. I’ve also loved and served Jesus through all of it. I have come to realize that Jesus did not stop loving me because I went to therapy. I wasn’t sat on a shelf somewhere and deemed unusable. I believe that he still took all of it and used it for his glory to help others to come to him with their mental health struggles.

I’ve been seeing a therapist for a little while now and it’s been the best thing. I’ve seen a few therapist over the years and it’s been amazing. I’ve seen Christian therapist and secular therapist. I’ve learned that with any therapist you have to take what works for you and leave what doesn’t. Even seeing a Christian therapist does not mean that every thing that they share is going to work for you. The beauty of therapy I believe is the right that you always have to choose. At the end of every session, you get to choose what you walk away with. A good therapist will never force you to use every single technique they teach. The words they speak are not the gospel😉. Good therapist want you to remain in control, they want you to use your voice and remember that this is your life given to you by God and only you can live it. I think of them as someone who can help me to process things that are causing me pain. Oftentimes I view their offices as safe places to let go. I see them as places I can rest from my heavy protective armour and just be. I can be present in that moment with them it is safe to voice my struggles in the safety of their office. When I was processing very painful memories, I longed for those sessions to check in and process those moments. I reminded myself that God was with me and he was going to help me get through the process. Therapist are not God’s but they can be led by God and they can be used by God to help us heal.

I want to leave this thought with you. You can absolutely have Jesus and STILL go to therapy. You can serve Jesus and love him with your whole heart and STILL go to therapy. You can preach, teach, read, quote, study and memorize the word of God and STILL go to therapy. It does not have to be one or the other. You can have them both and still belong to Jesus. Maybe you have been feeling the need to go to therapy but struggling with the stigma that is placed on Christians and therapy. Let that go and get what you need. If therapy is what you need, I pray for courage for you to go after what you need. I am so grateful for your presence here. The fact that you would read my words here in this space means so much to me. I honor your presence here.

Lord Jesus I pray for every person reading this blog post. I pray that you will give them the courage they need to go to therapy. Lord I pray that you will lead them to the therapist that will be the best fit for them. I pray that they will know that you are always with them. I pray they will encounter your love in new and deep ways. In Jesus name I pray. Anen

Hiding the Lows

Sometimes even in a space full of other humans, we can find a way to hide our deepest pain or feel so unseen in our broken pieces. It’s like we treat the lows as some deep dark secret that even those closest to us can’t see. So we plaster on those fake smiles so that our deep sadness is tucked safely behind them. We do our best to fade into the crowd and not be seen. What would others think if our thoughts were heard out loud. If they could feel what we’re feeling, how would they get through it? Why do we find comfort in hiding the lows? We believe that were protecting those we love from our pain. It is okay to not hide the lows, it’s okay to invite those we trust into those moments. You nor I have to walk through those moments alone. I know it seems best to hide when we’re struggling with a low but, if you feel strong enough to reach out to your safe people, please do it…..please.

One thing I struggle with is feeling ashamed of being in a low place when I’m having a hard time. How do you tell someone your sad but you don’t completely understand why? How do you bare the dark night that is happening within your soul? Those are questions I asked myself a lot. Sometimes I found myself choosing to try and walk through it alone. My walking through it alone looked a lot like crying downstairs, or in the shower so no one saw me. I did a lot of avoiding eye contact with people I love dearly. I found myself slowly withdrawing from hanging out with others. I thought I was hiding it but the truth is they knew I was struggling but didn’t know how to help. I believe my hiding it from them made them more uncomfortable reaching out to me.

I wanted to believe I wasn’t alone but the lies of the enemy felt so real. Those lies felt like my truth. You know how it feels when your spiraling down and you feel as if you can’t grasp on to anything of truth. This might be hard to hear and believe but Jesus is right there. We can never hide the low moments from him. He sees them, he feels them and rather you care to believe it or not; he truly understands them. He knows the thoughts you are having, those thoughts that you are ashamed to even voice. The thoughts of ending it all, stoping the pain but leaving those who love you in more pain than you could ever imagine in that moment. Moments no matter how long they feel are only temporary. Those moments are not permanent…..they do change.

I want to encourage you as I encourage myself that there is no shame in reaching out for help in the low moments. There is no shame in admitting that you need prayer or someone to be accountable to in those moments. I actually benefit from checking in with my safe people that never judge the struggle but they just walk with me through those moments praying for me all along the way. We’re going to get through the lows because Jesus is with us. Jesus loves us so much. I believe that his heart is turned towards us in a deeper way in those moments. Don’t be afraid to let him in to those moments. I’m grateful for your presence here. I don’t take it lightly that you would read my words. My hope and prayer is that you will find strength and courage to keep going. I hope you feel less alone.

Father I pray for the one reading these words. I pray that they will feel your presence and know that they are not alone. I pray that they will feel you with them and know that they are surrounded by your overwhelming love. Give them strength for the journey and fill them with your overwhelming peace. In Jesus name. Amen

Medication or Not

I must admit that this can be a touchy subject for many. Everyone has their own opinion as it relates to taking medication for mental health struggles. You have some people who shame others for needing medication, you have those who are totally for taking medication for mental health needs and then you have those who feel like it’s a complete lack of faith or a weakness because you do. I guess you can say, there we are in the middle left with the decision to take meds to support our mental health or suffer in silence if we choose not to. I believe the decision to take meds is a individual decision that only the person and those they invite into that decision making process can make. Only you know in fact what you need to help support you with your mental health. Sometimes we may choose to go to therapy and work through the issues that might be causing the struggle and we need meds to keep us in a good place as we work through those things. In such cases your seeing a therapist who will probably teach you tools to help as well as taking meds. I am truly proud of you for realizing what you need to help you remain mentally healthy. I want to share my story with you in hopes that it will encourage you and make you feel less alone.

This is a photo of me a few years ago on my lunch break in my car crying. I must tell you that this was a very vulnerable moment and I never take photos of myself like this. This particular day I felt like I needed to take a photo to mark this moment because I knew change was all around me. I’ve had countless moments like this where the deep sadness felt like it would drown me. Many moments I felt like I couldn’t breathe the sadness was so deep and painful. The tears many times turned into sobs and thoughts of suicide felt like a comfort soothing blanket. Have you ever been there where suicide ideation felt more like a way out than a permanent solution to what might be a temporary emotion. I will tell you this, in those moments they feel endless rather than temporary. The desperation is real. I’ve been on and off medication countless times. I would take it and feel better then decide I didn’t need it anymore. For those of you who have experienced this you know the downward struggle is real and painful. I finally came to a place that in that season of my life I needed the help of medication to be able to process traumatic events from my childhood. I often times say that medication stands between your emotions and your overwhelming emotions and cause them to be manageable. Medication for some is the answer and for others it might not be. I believe what is most vital that we do what is most beneficial for staying mentally healthy.

“The taking of medication is not a sin but the judgement surrounding it is”.

Lora Terry

This quote really struck me when I first read it. I could not stop pondering it, because yes medication is good , but making sure that were not medicating symptoms of a greater issue is also something to consider. Hear me closely with this….. medication can not take away the effects of traumatic events in our lives. It will take some level of talk therapy. The power of voicing your story and sorting through the emotions attached to it can be very healing. I believe therapist create safe spaces where we can voice our stories and do the work to heal in a safe non judgemental space. I still believe though there are times in order to get to that place we need medication. What I hoped to do with this post was to help you feel understood. I oftentimes felt so misunderstood when I would try to talk about the internal struggle I had with medication. The struggle that made me feel powerless. After really processing the struggle, I realized that I was allowing others opinions about medication, faith and the church to cause shame for me surrounding taking my meds. We should never make others feels ashamed of getting the help they need. If anything we should applaud them.

In closing, I want to remind you that you are amazing, you are strong. To take medication or not is an individual decision. I believe that you have to gather all the information you need in order to make an informed decision about your mental health. Gathering the information might look like having a conversation with your primary doctor. In that conversation share openly about the symptoms you are having. Gathering information might look like making an appointment with a therapist and sharing openly(there’s that word again😉) about what is happening in your world and the symptoms you might be experiencing. In those conversations, they will share their thoughts about what it might be, they might even suggest you see a psychiatrist. Now remember, you are only gathering information to make the best decision concerning your mental health. At the end of the day, the decision is yours to make. Thank you for sharing this space with me. I value your presence here💚.

Boundaries and My Mental Health

I could not fathom how much putting boundaries in place to protect my mental health would change so much inside of me. It was almost as if those boundaries gave me permission to protect my healing. I needed to set up boundaries around what was not mentally healthy for me. All environments are not mentally healthy for you, though they may be good for others, does not make it mentally safe for you. I am learning that not every relationship is mentally safe for me. Safe relationships for others does not negate the fact that they are toxic for your mental health. It’s okay to say no to that invitation, or to not answer that phone call or respond to that text. The more you establish boundaries to keep you mentally healthy the stronger you will become. I sometimes take inventory about my feelings and emotions after I spend time with certain people. I notice how I feel after I come out of certain environments and then I decide what boundaries need to be in place to keep me mentally safe. It might be something as simple as limiting my time in that space or refusing to partake in certain conversations. You have a right to protect yourself and you deserve it. Good boundaries are a great form of self love.

            The word boundary is not a derogatory term. It is not a word we should avoid using in our vocabulary. It also is not a word we should throw around lightly with no intentions of enforcing them. Right now, take a moment and think…….what is one boundary you have in place to protect your mental health space? Do you actually enforce it? How does it make you feel when you do? Consider the benefits you have reaped from having that boundary to protect your mental health space? I personally believe healthy enforced boundaries help to support our mental health in ways we have not even experienced fully yet. When was the last time you said No to something to protect you mentally? Having boundaries in place even with our family is healthy as well. I know this  is hard to believe but, there are family members that we can only take in small doses in order to protect our mental space. I know you love your family and close friends but that doesn’t mean long periods of time with them is good for your mental health.  Sometimes you leave them and your exhausted emotionally. Sometimes you leave them and mentally you feel all over the place. It is okay for you to leave that environment to stay mentally safe and healthy. You are worth protecting and if boundaries protect you from spiraling downward mentally, then they are worth having and even more valuable to enforce.

Now, I must tell you that setting up boundaries is so much more easier than enforcing them. We have to get rid of the idea that having boundaries will offend people or hurt them. We have to get out of the thinking that they won’t like us if we say no, I’m sorry I can’t do that. You can say no without any explanation. You just have to believe that your worthy of protecting. Did you know that repeatedly enforcing your boundaries makes it easier every time. The first time you do it might feel very uncomfortable but remember, it is a act of love for yourself when you do. To continue to enforce your boundaries is a continued act of love for yourself and your mental health. Boundaries are not put in place to hurt others or keep people out but they are put in place to limit access to you where you don’t feel safe. To be honest though, enforcing your boundaries may keep certain people out, it might even hurt some people but keep in mind that is not your intentions. Your intentions are to protect your mental health as much as you possibly can.

So, in closing this post, I would love to hear how boundaries have protected your mental health space. I would love to hear about boundaries you intend to put in place and how you plan to enforce them. Let me tell you, I am still on this journey of putting boundaries in place. I’ve learned that the more I enforce them the more I feel empowered to say No, that just doesn’t work for my mental health. The more I do it, I feel less guilty about saying No. I noticed that I do less thinking about how I might have made them feel with my boundary and more thinking about how I made myself feel about enforcing them. I might not know you but I know the struggle of putting boundaries in place. I know the way I’ve felt before realizing that I needed boundaries surrounding what I allow to affect my mental health. I know how empowered I feel when I find the courage to say No. A friend once told me that, “No, is a complete sentence”. You will want to remember that as you start this journey. Thank you for showing up in this space to read my words. I truly do not take it lightly and I honor your presence here. I believe in you.

God Can Hear You

      I cannot began to tell you the many times I have thought I was at my lowest and cried out to God, but I honestly thought he could not hear me. I thought that from the place I was at, there is no way God hears my cries and lets me stay there. My thoughts were, if he could hear me then why won’t he change me, why doesn’t he heal the sadness or stop the intrusive thoughts that keep sending me in this downward spiral. I remember countless times crying out to him but all I could say was ,”Help me”, there were no words to express what my heart felt inside, I could not find words to articulate how desperate I felt in that moment for God to step into my circumstances and fix me. I wanted him to fix the racing thoughts, fix the sadness, fix the isolation, fix the sleepless night….I wanted God to fix me. Something had to be broke inside my heart, inside my mind, inside my life that nothing seemed to be able to fix. I wanted the creator to fix what he made because there had to be a defect. There had to be something he miscalculated when he created me. The truth is in those moments where these words tumbled out of my mouth…..Jesus heard me. I will go even further to say not only did he hear me, he saw me and he felt me. Jesus had not abandoned me in my moment of desperation he was right there. I must admit that every single moment I found myself crying out to Jesus, he truly did help me. I see now looking back how he helped me walk through those dark moments. I see now how he held my mind safe in his hands. I see now how he helped me fight the thoughts of suicide with his power and strength. Jesus is right there, he has got you. 

     

      Anxiety and depression can be scary. I know the feelings of sadness and it seem like people want you to explain why you feel that way. I notice that people need an explanation for the sadness. You can’t just be struggling, there has got to be a deeper reason. You just can’t be crying through the night, just because your depressed. You have everything and your still sad, what in the world could be wrong. You are a believer, you hold a title in your church, for God sake you are always serving at church, how can you be dealing with this? When others can’t understand depression and anxiety, it’s difficult for them to support you in a healthy way. It might take you using your voice to explain as much as you can about your struggle. You will need to shape their views as to how they can support you . Oftentimes people say very hurtful things simply because they just don’t understand. We through sharing our struggles can help others understand. Despite all of that, I want you to know that God hears you and me when we cry out to him. We don’t have to pretend or say certain words to get his attention. God desires to hear from us. He wants to hear what we have to say, he hears our cries even when we have no words left and we only have tears, he hears that unspoken language of our hearts. You know those moments when the pain is so real, so raw , so palpable but you don’t have the language to express it, it just hurts. God hears you. Our pain is important to him. Our struggle is important to him. Your not just screaming into empty space and not being heard….that seemingly empty space is filled with the sweet presence of Jesus. I have to remind myself that I’m not alone because he is with me.

      As I find courage to share different parts of my story, I hope it gives you courage to trust that your story is valuable and important as well. The more we can share our stories, the more we can educate others about mental health struggles and how they can support our community. I share my story along with my faith. It has been my faith in Jesus along with medication at times, therapy, my love ones support, support from friends that has been so much help to me finding a healthier place. Do I still struggle?…..YES , but I keep fighting, I keep believing and trusting that because Jesus hears me, he is helping me and if he is helping me…. together we win.

Lord Jesus help me to trust that when I cry out to you that you always hear me. Lord help me to rest in your love for me. I trust that you are always with me no matter what. Thank you Lord for your love.

Amen

The Mask We Wear

I was looking at some of the photos my daughter has taken and edited of herself. I’ve always been captivated and intrigued by this one of her. Our daughter is absolutely beautiful but in this mask you can see slight glimpses of her beauty but some of her beauty is hidden behind the mask she is wearing. I must admit that the mask intrigues me. It makes me curious about who is behind the mask and what is she hiding.

I think that as a person who is learning to thrive even with a mental illness diagnosis of depression and anxiety I have worn many mask. I believe I had chosen to wear the mask of happiness because I felt afraid to let others know the deep sadness I faced daily. It felt like no matter what I did, there was this underlining sadness that was always there underneath the surface. It felt like I couldn’t quite be happy enough to make it go away. No matter how many times I put on the mask of happiness it couldn’t change the reality of what was happening in my heart. I truly believe that choosing to wear mask to cover up our mental health struggles are keeping us in a place of hiding and hiding leads to shame. So this post is to talk about the mask we wear to cover up our mental health struggles. I believe sometimes those mask hinder us from receiving the help and support that we truly need. I know hiding it feels safe, it makes you feel like your protecting others from your pain but really you might just be keeping yourself from the real support you need.

Please hear me…..YOU have absolutely positively NOTHING to be ashamed of because you might have some mental health struggles. Please don’t hide this struggle from those who love you and especially those you feel safe with. Sometimes we crack jokes, and make others laugh but inside were hurting. A pain you cannot put into words but it’s there. It’s just as real as the happiness you feel from time to time. Be you, the beautiful authentic, raw, real honest you. You are so brave, you are so strong and more than anything you are capable. I know it can be difficult to navigate the ups and downs of depression. Sometimes the medications seem to treat one part of it and cause difficulty in other parts of it. Just keep going, keep pushing through, keep fighting, keep raising your voice to advocate for your needs to be met. You are not hopeless, you are not worthless….you are worth the son of God’s life. Jesus gave his life for you. I truly believe that the crown of thorns that were placed on Jesus head was for mental health issues. I believe that he allowed that suffering so that we could find peace from our suffering. I hope you can find the courage to take off the mask around those you feel safe with. Be honest with them about where you are with your struggle. Share those thoughts that keep rushing around inside your head that you feel forbidden to share with anyone. Suicidal thoughts can be indicators to the deeper issue that is going on inside. If your depression has taken you into consistent thinking suicidal thoughts, it’s time to reach out for help. Do not allow yourself to suffer in silence. You don’t have to hide behind the mask of happiness, you can get the help you need and truly find a level of happiness. There is joy inside of you just waiting to be discovered.

Just remember the mask we wear to hide our mental health struggles that really need to be brought to the light only hinder us from the help we need. Mental health struggles are no match for who God created you to truly be. Our struggles are a part of us but they don’t define us. Our struggles don’t dictate our destiny. Keep going the light is just beyond the place you lay down the mask.

I see you and I am truly inspired by your courage, faith and strength.

The Fight with Anxiety

Proverbs 12:25

“Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad”.

I felt it creeping in one thought after the other. I tried to stop it before it spiraled completely out of control. I knew I was heading into the fight for my life once again. Anxiety does not give up easily, it fights you until you feel as if there is nothing left inside you to fight back. Anxiety fights you in the good and the tough times. When something good happens to you, anxiety comes to make you feel unworthy of that good thing. When something bad happens to you, anxiety comes to make you feel that you are deserving of that bad thing. At night anxiety keeps you wrestling for any amount of peace and calm so that you can rest and not just sleep. When you cannot find that peace, you fall asleep, but you do not rest, so you wake up feeling exhausted. The reason is that even in your sleep your thoughts are still going and going and going. You wake from sleep oftentimes and feel like you have been wrestling and fighting all night. When anxiety becomes too big inside of us, it finds a way to show up physically in us. It can show up with rapid heart rate, rapid breathing and sweating.

Anxiety is not a lack of faith issue. Anxiety is not a punishment for some type of sin you think you have done. It is not in your life because you are a bad person. There are many causes for anxiety but regardless of the cause for it, God can still heal it. I believe that for healing God uses a mirage of different ways to bring it to you but healing is healing. No matter if it is currently coming by exercise, relaxation tools, talk therapy, scripture declaration, prayer, fasting, medication or worship however God chooses to heal you, please don’t complain like Naaman in II Kings 5:11, he wanted to be healed but he wanted it a certain way. He wanted the prophet to lay his hand over the leprosy but that wasn’t the way his healing was coming to him. We cannot always decide how the process looks to healing but we can decide if we’re going to submit to it.

Anxiety is real and misunderstood a lot of times. It seems that as a society we judge harshly sickness that we can’t necessarily see then things we can. We can’t see anxiety but we can see the symptoms of it though. Did you know an estimated 275 million people suffer from anxiety disorders. That is around 4% of the global population. This was a shocker to discover that 62% of those suffering from anxiety disorders are female(170 million). It was also shocking to find that 264 million individuals worldwide have an anxiety disorder. Did you even know that 40 million adults in the US alone (19.1%) have an anxiety disorder. So, this is proof if you needed it that anxiety is real and you are absolutely not alone in your struggle. Please know that you are seen, known and loved by God. I believe that he sees us in our struggles and he cares so deeply for what we are walking through. He has not given up on you, he has not forgotten us. We are stronger than we allow ourselves to believe. Be encouraged anxiety does not define you but it definitely creates a strength in you that you didn’t even know you had. Please if you need help, don’t be afraid to seek the help you need. There is no shame in getting help when you can’t find your way through the hard places. I believe in you and I believe in God to see us through.

Me Time

It all started recently with a small group I joined at church. I decided that it would become ,”Me Time’. This may sound a little selfish to you when you first read it, but please give me a chance to explain. I am a wife, a mama, a friend, a cook, a cleaner upper 😁, a employee and so many other roles I operate in as me. I love all of them deeply and because of my love for those roles, I need my, “Me Time'”. I needed time set aside on purpose that was for me, important to me and ALL about me. I needed a moment that was for my benefit alone but honestly those I love benefit by default because the better I take care of me, the better I can be for me and they get to benefit. Sometimes after small group ends, I get in my car and cruise the big city of High Point with my music blasting and windows down. Those moments have become important to me, I feel like it is my highest form of self care. So with all this being said, I have some questions I would love for you to consider?

1). What do you do that is solely for you?

2). If you had one hour of ,” Me Time”, what would that look like to you?

3). How do you think it would change you if one day each week you set aside one hour that was just for you?

4). Last question, mentally adding a little ,”Me Time”, in each week, what would it do for you?

I want to encourage you to take time for YOU. The world is so heavy right now. So many things are happening in all of our lives. We need moments to pull away and be alone with ourselves and our Jesus. Sweet moments where we can spend uninterrupted time with ourselves and our Savior. Moments where we only consider ourselves and what we might need. Moments we drink in peace of mind, peace of heart and peace in our souls. Please read this carefully, you are not being selfish when you consider yourself and what you might need. You are being amazing. You know why your being amazing, because you are taking care of yourself which helps you to be better to take care of those you love. So, go ahead and think about which day will be your day. What will you do? How much time do you need? Let your family know the day, try to keep it the same day and time each week. Don’t compromise that day unless it is absolutely necessary. I have no scripture to give you in this post but just know that their are moments where Jesus pulled away from everything and every body to just be alone to pray or whatever he needed in that moment. So, it is our desire to be just like him, so follow his lead on this, follow his example on this as well.

Please know that I am cheering for you and so excited for you finding time for you. Don’t be afraid to sit with yourself, get to know you. Discover all the beauty in who you are. Love the moment, live in the moment and be in that moment. Go on beautiful one and enjoy your,”Me Time”.

Building Safe Community

I Corinthians 12:25-27

“So, that there should be no division in the body, but that its part should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it, if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”

I want to share with you about something that is very near and dear to my heart. I think I have spent a lot of my lifetime searching for the truth of this. It is one of my greatest struggles to build. Yet I think it is a game changer for those who struggle with mental health issues. The thing that I want to talk with you about is the importance of building safe community. I am not talking about family connections that make us feel safe but I am talking about building safety within the community that might not be within our family unit. Trust me, I know how scary it can be to let people into our world in a way that causes us to be vulnerable and to trust that they will not hurt us intentionally. I also know how vital it is to have in our world. It can honestly make a difference knowing that we have a group of people who are walking with us through the struggle. I promise you building safe community is no easy task and it is filled with ups. downs, in’s, out’s and heartaches but the reward when you finally build it, I believe will be so worth all of it. I am on a mission to build a safe community around me. I hope you will join me on this mission. So, let’s talk safe community.

When I think about safe community, the first thing I think of is a place where I can be all of me. It is not community if it is a place that I have to hide any part of myself from those within it. Have you ever considered that you could be the hinderance to finding safe community? I think because of wounds left unhealed we tend to build protective walls around our lives and we shut out even the safest of communities. Oftentimes we don’t even recognize we have found it when we do because we are too busy protecting our hearts from getting hurt. I completely stand with you in protecting ourselves from being hurt but in reality I know that we are unable to do this no matter how many people we shut out. No matter how many protective layers we put in place, we will get hurt. The thing we forget is that we can also heal and build safe community if we allow the process to take place. I know the fear of letting go and being vulnerable, the way we count up the cost in our minds before we do it. Usually we come up with the amount of what we would pay is not worth it. We let the fear we are carrying be worth more than the beauty of having a safe community. I know how it feels to protect your heart but desire community deeply in your soul. We want it but at the same time, we don’t desire the pain or difficulty that comes with building it. Nothing good that you will ever build will come to you without sacrifice and some pain.

I want to share with you some statements that my friends sent me about what safe community means to them:

“Sisters in Christ who walk alongside one another in love and with transparency”. Carol

“A safe community is being in an atmosphere where I can be vulnerable in sharing who I am without it coming back to hurt me”. Val

“A group where you can be yourself without judging and receiving judgement”. Sylvia

“A safe community is somewhere that no matter who you are or who you are or what you believe you can go there without fear of judgement or persecution”. Avi

“A place where all people can live, work, grow and play without fear of being hurt or injured by anyone within the community”. Sonya

“The intentionality of a people to give a secure space of love, of requite, of respect and retrospect, of listening and sharing all with purpose and truth”. Precious

“Safe community to me would be a place where each person involved feels seen, heard, validated and accepted without feeling judged, less than or rejected”. Jane

“A safe community is a place where you can come as you are, because the love of Jesus Christ unites you”. Lisa

“A safe community is a space where you can be vulnerable to just be you-in sharing ideas, thoughts and spaces with others”. Maria

There is a theme that I hear within all of their quotes and that is a safe community is one without judgement. A safe community is one with unconditional love, a safe community is one that you can feel free to be yourself. Only you can truly determine what a safe community is for you. We are all different and we all require certain things to bring about safety and to build community within that space. Community may look different for me than it does for you. I honestly believe our mental health is a factor in how we do community, how we build community and how we determine what safe community looks like for us. Please know that safe community does not mean that we all believe the same way. It also does not mean that we have to agree with what everyone within that community believes in. Safe community means we invite the views of others without judgement.

In closing this post, I want to be totally honest with you. I to struggle with building safe community. As a matter of fact, I struggle with feeling safe in community. My mind is always working overtime trying to sort through or bargain with the fear of being rejected in community. I know the pain of rejection and the fear of feeling that again sometimes robs me of the opportunity to be vulnerable enough to let all of me be seen. Building community is hard work, it can be full of disappointments and wins. I believe in the end it will be worth it to find our people. You are worthy of a beautiful safe community. You belong in safe community. Pray for it, believe for it and fight for it. God desires to place you in community, will you let him?

Lord Jesus please help me to feel safe enough to be in community with those you have given to me. Amen

What is the truth?

“Denying the truth doesn’t change the facts”.

There are times when I am really struggling with depression and oftentimes it is hard for me to grasp what is really the truth over the lies screaming at me in those moments. My mind knows the truth but in those moments it feels like the lies beat away at that truth till I am left with what feels right in that moment but not truth. So, I began a practice when the spiral of lies began to drag me into the sadness once again and that is, I take a moment and ask myself, ”What is the truth?” When I do that it gives my mind a moment to consider what is the truth in that moment. My thoughts are something like this. I am having a moment with depression and I am feeling really sad right now, but my truth is that this moment is NOT forever. My truth is that I am stronger than this moment I am having. My truth is I might feel alone in this moment but I am not alone. This is not something that is easy to do because sometimes those moments are so deep, so painful that I am not able to get space freed up to think of those questions and that is where I find myself just saying,”Jesus, Jesus”, and I know he hears me.

Depression lies present as the truth and then they try and surround us with things that look like they support that truth. When I am really struggling the first lie that depression tells me is that no one cares about my struggle and they would be better if they were not having to see me suffer. The lies tell me that I am failing at life. I often see myself as a burden and find myself hiding my struggle rather than reaching out to those who love me and telling them I am having a tough time. I feel like I can do it on my own with medication, prayer and studying my bible without the connection of those who can walk with me. Oftentimes the fight to connect to others feels so scary and often I wonder if it is worth the fight, worth the pressure, worth the feelings of being uncomfortable. The fear of rejection sometimes honestly wins out and I loose the courage to reach out my hand for help. All the things I listed that I use such as prayer, studying my bible, medication, therapy and definitely music that lifts and places my heart in the presence of my Jesus they are all amazing. I must be honest in saying the other one is CONNECTION.

One of my greatest fears is connecting to others and letting them in to me. Letting them in to my heart, letting them see me in all of who I am and who I am not. Connection allows others to see you in that place between who you are fighting to get to and the person you are right in that moment, Oftentime that in between place is not pretty, it is messy but people assigned to walk with you can connect to you and walk right into that place with no judgement. See God connections come with God purpose and no matter how ugly it get, they are in it with you. Did you know that we tend to test those people the most? We test them to see if they will stay. We test them to see if they really care. We test them to see if they really love us. The connection does not happen over night but when it does our hearts find sweet rest in it. We stop fighting it and we just let go and trust God with our heart, knowing that this person is God sent to walk with us in this place.

So, what is the truth? The truth is that depression is real and it is painful but God is right there with us. The truth is you really are amazing and strong. You are not failing right now because your taking medications for anxiety and depression, you are winning. The truth is that no weapon formed against you will prosper, the weapon might be a mental health diagnosis but medication, prayer, therapy and eating right even exercising keeps it from prospering. The truth is the Lord is singing over you beautiful one. The Lord is cheering for you sweet one. Even in our darkest moments God is not pointing his finger at us and saying we disappoint him. In our darkest moments he is not turning his face away from us but honestly he is turning toward our pain. God is reaching into our pain desiring to touch us where we have felt like we could not be touched. My message that I pray you were able to get out of all of this is the truth is God has me and God has YOU. We must fight to hold on to that truth and we must rehearse it to ourselves over and over again.

I want to leave you with one last thought. John 8:32, “And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free”. When I read this as I was writing this post I thought about how we limit this to a one time thing. I believe that in those moments we are struggling in the deep darkness of depression that we have to grab a strong hold of the truth that we KNOW and allow it to set us free. Every single time we have to grab a deep grip on the truth that we have within us and let that truth that we know set us free in those moments. I don’t believe that God is counting how many times we need the truth to set us free as long as we allow it to set us free. Notice that when your struggling and you start speaking truth to those lies they start shrinking in size and loosing their power over you, because the truth is setting you free, let it do it as many times as you need it. I am with you my friend and I am for you.

Prayer:

Lord we need your truth to be greater within us than the lies of the enemy. In those moments when the darkness seems more than we can bare, let the truth of what we know rise and set us free. Lord sometimes the truth of what we know gets so lost in the struggle, in the sadness but in those times please give us strength to fight. Thank you for loving us. Amen