Fear of the Unknown

     Lately this has been my greatest struggle. I’ve found myself afraid of the future which is the unknown to me. I’ve found myself worrying about things that are beyond my control. I’ve been over processing in my heart and mind all the what if’s. Just allowing the noise in my head to become louder and louder. Right now the unknown makes me feel unsafe and a little out of sorts. As this world is changing and I see things happening around me, I feel like I can’t trust the things in my world that use to feel stable and safe for me. It feels so overwhelming at times as I consider  what the future holds. I think I’ve believed that Christians are not suppose to  be afraid but we’re human and as humans we are going to experience human emotions. I’m learning how to place my unknown future into the hands of an unseen God who has great plans for my life.

      I want to know all the details of what is ahead of me. I find myself trying to plan out the unknown when all I need is to trust God who created me and knows the details of my future.  I find my heart being overwhelmed and anxious about not being able to see how this world will continue to unfold . Are you like me wanting to know every single detail before it happens? You want to know every step you will take and how those steps will work for you or against you. You don’t want to trust in what you can’t see. You would rather see it all and then trust because only then will you know how it all works. Oh how we wish the world was simpler just like that. Unfortunately that is just not how it all works in this earth. You may never know all the details of what’s next. You can plan and plan and plan and it still not go as you planned but, it’s ok, it really, truly is ok. Fear can paralyze us and keep us from the beauty of what’s in our futures. I will be honest with you, it can’t possibly ALL be ugly, it’s just sometimes we can’t see the beauty because we’re so focused on the ugly.

Fear if allowed can cripple us and keep us stagnant in places that no longer serve us well. Fear is only powerful when we allow it to rule and reign in our lives. Now, you might say fear does not control me…..ummmmm. ok, so make the phone call, go on the interview, write the book, prepare the message, make the connection, start the blog, do the podcast, just stop overthinking it and letting fear decide for you. When we know there are things we need to do and we struggle with admitting the truth, we’re really just afraid of the unknown. Would you do what’s in your heart if you knew it was going to be successful? If you knew the blog would be amazing,would you would do it? If you knew the book was going to be a bestseller,would you be writing it right now? A healthy amount of fear is natural but fear that cripples you into not moving is very unhealthy and needs to be dealt with. Sometimes to face our fears is simply to just admit that they are real. Explore the reason we’re afraid, take time to understand what is it that we’re really afraid of in our future or concerning our future. I will tell you that oftentimes the true reason we’re afraid is not surface level reasons, it’s more in-depth than we’re often willing to go👀. I chose the picture above because it looks like the face of courage and fear at the same time. My motto I adopted from Joyce Meyers years ago is,”Do it Afraid”.

I’m encouraging myself with this one. Fear is natural but letting it keep you stagnant is harmful. Go for it, give fear a punch in the face. Step out in that dream. Write your plan to accomplish that goal and ask God for courage to do it. Write the book, make the call, create the resume and don’t sell yourself short in it. Fill out that application, go to that counseling session( it might just save your life), make that friend connection, join the church you’ve been visiting, have that conversation. You know what it is you have been so afraid of. Only you know the fear of your unknown. I know the unknown to you is known to God. If he said do it, DO it. If he said go, GO. As we are approaching 2023 more quickly than ever, let’s do the thing we’ve been wanting to do. Maybe it’s an art class, a pottery class, maybe it’s a writing class or a branding class for your new company. Let’s go for it. Let’s walk boldly into the fear of the unknown trusting a God that knows.

God I thank you for the person reading this. Give them the peace they need. Help them to not allow the fear of the unknown to keep them stagnant. Help them to know that you are with them in all of of it. Amen.

Do the thing that fills your soul

What is that thing you love to do that fills your soul? You know the thing that feels like your soul is smiling inside you. Whatever that thing is, set aside time to do it. You know how you make a plan to do other things, put that thing on your calendar and don’t compromise it. As long as it’s about you and creates a space that your soul feels nourished and full go for it. It does not have to be the same thing every single time. It can be different and I honestly feel like it should. There are times our souls need something more to nourish it. I love to study my Bible, listen to podcast, read books(Karen Kingsbury fan), write poetry, sit at the lake, guided meditations and so many other things. Lately I’ve found myself taking quiet rides in the car, no music or nothing, just me, my Jesus and my thoughts. I also love to listen to worship music. These things are just a portion of the things that fill this soul of mine. I realize that when my soul is in a good place, my heart feels lighter and happier which helps me to be better and do better.

I guess your probably wondering why I’m I writing a whole blog about this topic. Well when we do the things that fill our soul, I firmly believe it helps us get or stay in a mentally healthy place. Our soul is deeply connected to our mental health. When we can think clearer and our emotions are not overwhelming us, we can do the things God created us for. I hope you know, your mental health does not negate the call of God on your life. You will read that often in this space. I think we all need to be reminded that a mental health struggle does not make us BAD or UNUSABLE. It might take some exploring to discover what really fills your soul. I’m not talking about what makes you happy necessary but that thing that makes you smile inside first. That thing that restores the weary places in your soul. Now this might surprise you but, I’m going to write it anyway😁👀. That thing might not have anything to do with something spiritual. Hear me with this, I’m not saying it cannot be spiritual but it does not have to. I think it can be connected to self care. A day of self care is a way to fill your soul. I can share lots of ideas but you have to explore things for yourself to know. You will know when your running on empty and hopefully you will step away and do that thing or things that will fill your soul to overflowing.

Catching beautiful sunrises is something that has a way of filling my soul. It’s nothing like watching the sun rise and take it’s rightful place. I like to chase beautiful skies and take pictures of God showing out in his masterful work. I love to think he is doing it just for me, because I’m his favorite 😜. I scroll through those pictures and just smile thinking how faithful God has been in my life. When Satan wanted to take me out by my own hand, God intervened and said NO. So, yes I find things that work for me to keep me mentally healthy. One of those things is doing the thing that fills my soul.

I want to challenge you in my closing of this post. What is it that you can begin to do that would fill up your soul? Now, I want to warn you that this might require you to actually think of yourself, which might be hard for you to do. I give you permission to do it anyway. Trust me, you will thank me later. Honestly when I show up here and write, it fills my soul in ways I can’t explain. I give you permission to go on a exploration of what fills your soul. I would love to hear what you discover or what you already have in place and might just need to add to it.

I’m so grateful and honored for your presence here. I do not take it lightly that you would read my words. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart💚.

Father I thank you for every person who would stop here and read these words. I thank you that they will dig deep inside and find that thing that fills their soul. That thing that helps them to smile from the inside out. May your presence surround them and may they feel your love all around them. Bless their coming and going. I thank you for the sweetest of encounters with you. I thank you for love notes written on their hearts from you. You are faithful and good. We praise you for it, in Jesus name. Amen

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