Two years ago a pastor and mental health advocate I adored died by suicide. When I read the news I wept.
He was such a strong, powerful voice for those who loved Jesus and also struggled with depression.
In the days that followed I was mortified to see speakers and influencers denounce him and say he should never have pastored if he struggled with depression.
1) that’s a poor view of God and who He can work through and 2) read the dang room and be respectful in the days of someone’s passing.
Over and over in the Bible we see God use broken, flawed people for His glory.
People who had a speech impediment, people who struggled with depression, people who used to kill Christians.
Every person has struggles. Every pastor, leader, teacher, speaker, and podcaster has a struggle you don’t know about.
Thank you Jesus we are worth more than our private issues! We would ALL be disqualified.
Dealing with anxiety/depression/trauma/intrusive thoughts doesn’t mean you can’t make a difference in the world. It doesn’t discredit your testimony or wisdom you have to share.
Mental health struggles are no different than physical ones, we just can’t see them. They’re a lot easier to hide or make assumptions about.
A pastor who may deal with depression can still speak truth to people’s hearts. A mom who has PPD can still love her children and teach them who they are.
Your bad days do not disqualify you from the race God has called you to run.
2 Tim 1:9 says He gave us a holy calling not because of our works, but because of His grace. Nothing you do can earn His love or freedom, it was given to you.
Our effort isn’t what qualifies us for our calling!
Look at Moses, David, Elijah… Elijah experienced a powerful victory in 1 Kings and a few days later asked God to kill him.
Jeremiah cursed the day he was born. His entire ministry was filled with such difficulty that he’s called “the weeping prophet.” He cried out “why was I born if this is my life?!”
David, the man after God’s heart, someone who did great things but also made terrible choices he had to live with – “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?” (Psalm 42:11)
The Word says that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and He saves the crushed in spirit. (Ps 34:18)
If He can use these people, He can use you and me.
If you struggle with an eating disorder, that doesn’t disqualify you from God’s plan and calling.
If you’ve dealt with suicidal thoughts, that doesn’t discredit the giftings God has given you.
No matter your struggles, God has a purpose for your life. No one’s opinions or cruel words should steal that from you.
Don’t receive the lie over your life that you can’t ________ because you have had depression or anxiety or go to therapy or use medications or supplements.
Imagine telling a person with fibromyalgia they aren’t qualified to teach the word of God. They can’t help the condition they have.
Now imagine telling a person who Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that they can’t share God’s heart with the world as they deal with trauma-based anxiety.
That’s like telling God He shouldn’t use David because of all the times he lamented in the Psalms.
Do we believe in the God of the impossible or are we limiting what He can do and who He can use?
Even Charles Spurgeon wrote about the pain of mental health –
The mind can descend far lower than the body, for in it there are bottomless pits. The flesh can bear only a certain number of wounds and no more, but the soul can bleed in ten thousand ways, and die over and over again each hour.
God uses imperfect people to do incredible things. He has taken people with terrible pasts and given them bright futures!
Whatever you may be working through, what matters is that you are working through. Talk to safe people, go to counseling, change damaging situations.
What matters is your heart. Are you living in a way that shows people Jesus? Does your life show the fruit of the Spirit?
Just like a bad day doesn’t make a bad life, a bad mental health day doesn’t mean that’s who you are.
This week was extremely difficult and stretching for me and everything added up until I woke up one morning feeling the tension mounting inside me.
A glass falling off the nightstand and shattering was the small trigger that set off all my overwhelm, spilling over into an awful anxiety attack.
These moments the despair is so deep. The lies try to creep in to disqualify me, and imposter syndrome rears its ugly head.
“How can you expect to help people when you’re so broken?”
It’s easy to keep these thoughts and moments to ourselves, but calling them out takes their power. Reaching out to someone who loves you and will rebuke the lies calls you back into the light.
Here’s the thing, dear reader… The power of your testimony and victories, the stories of your struggles and successes, they will bring freedom to someone else going through it. Share your story, shame doesn’t get the final word.
Your struggles don’t disqualify you; they might just be what draws someone else to the Lord.
Your perseverance through your mental health battles will show someone dealing with the same thing that they aren’t alone, they aren’t worthless, and they have purpose too.
Whatever your calling in life might be: pastor, teacher, mother, writer, social media manager etc., you are an overcomer.You are a more than a conqueror. You are seen, loved, and valued.
If you ever doubt that God can use you, please flip through Scripture and see the long list of imperfect people that God used to prophesy, lead, evangelize, and heal.
You aren’t your bad days, you are more than depression or anxiety.
Most importantly – you are never alone and deeply loved above all.
I have wanted to be a writer as far back as I can remember. Poetry, investigative journalism, novels… I just wanted to write.
Books inspired me, grew me, and kept me alive. In my darkest and loneliest times I had Jesus and books.
I started writing books as a preteen when I learned that Christopher Paolini, who had also grown up homeschooled, wrote and published Eragon as a teenager.
Ever since, I have had big dreams of writing novels and speaking and changing lives. Life took some twists and turns (Good twists! Hard turns!) and writing took a backseat for a while. I have gotten married and worked and had babies and served in ministry and done XY&Z!
And I have never called myself a writer.
Through it all, though, I have never stopped writing. And every time I write something vulnerable, something big, something brave, something that makes me want to vomit as anxiety and imposter syndrome creeps in…
Every. Single. Time. That I doubt or am unsure, someone shares with me how much they needed what I wrote.
That’s when I realized… You don’t need to be published with a huge company behind you or have a million Instagram followers to be a writer.
So, I guess this is my announcement to the world that *gulp* I am a writer.
It’s my passion. It’s my God-imbued dream. I have brilliant, complex worlds of people and stories in my mind waiting to come out. I have been slowly working on writing and world building for my dream novel for years now, and it’s time to get the ball rolling.
This week I made an investment into my dream and joined hope*writers. I am a hope*writer!
I want to write books that inspire readers, like Narnia and LOTR did for me. I want to share and empower women to be everything they’re destined to be. I want people to know that there is hope and joy in this world, that life doesn’t have to be all sorrow and pain and despair.
This is why I write. This is why I keep going. I don’t have to have it all figured out right now, I just have to keep going!
Like I’ve told my kids, my youth, my friends: sometimes you have to do it afraid. So here I go!
I recently shared on my Instagram how the Lord is leading me on a new writing journey. I shared it in my most recent post on the blog – Ezer Kenegdo.
Today I wanted to talk about Deborah. She’s one of my biblical heroes, and my first realization that women in Christianity are often slighted in leadership.
Why is that? After growing up in a church culture that had women as Sunday School teachers but never pastors, I read about the female leader of Israel.
Deborah was a prophetess and poet, but most importantly one of the Judges of Israel.
This was huge to me when I learned this. Israel was ruled by judges for some 300 years before they asked for a king, and Deborah was one of those leaders.
This was even more astounding to me because the judges of Israel were appointed by God. That meant, contrary to what I had been taught, that God placed a woman in leadership, over His people.
The office of judgeship in the tribal confederacy of the Israelites, which was centred at a covenant shrine, was not hereditary. The judges arose as Yahweh saw fit, in order to lead an erring and repentant people to a restoration of a right relationship with him and to victory over their enemies. The quality that enabled a person selected by Yahweh to be a judge was charisma, a spiritual power that enabled the judge to influence, lead…”
The villagers ceased in Israel; they ceased to be until I arose; I, Deborah, arose as a mother in Israel. Judges 5:7 ESV
Judge here comes from “Shophet” – שׁוֹפֵ This type of “judge” doesn’t mean a person presiding over legal issues in court. Shophetim were heroic, highest ranking leaders in the land in both the political, spiritual, and military sense.
Let’s set up Deborah’s story
Life in Israel during this season was extremely difficult, and it was because of the Tribes’ disobedience.
When God delivered them into the Promised Land He told them to drive out all the Canaanites, and while some listened– other tribes allowed the Canaanites to stay, perhaps trying to make peace believing things would change or be okay.
In choosing passivity with an enemy they disobeyed God’s command, which was given for their protection and abundance. This led to the Canaanites pushing Israelites from their land and the slow fade of losing who they were as they mingled with these people who did not honor God.
They began to worship false gods and idols and behave in wicked ways. “So He delivered them into the hands of plunderers who despoiled them.” (Judges 2:14)
He allowed them to be overtaken by the culture and people they welcomed. He didn’t do this with a hateful heart, but that they might repent after feeling His absence.
There was a cycle of obedience, bondage, and rescue in the history of Israel. Judges 2:18 says God was moved to pity by their groaning because of the oppression they were under, and yet they would still return to the same patterns that ensnared them.
When God was setting up judges for them, he would be right there with the judge: He would save them from their enemies’ oppression as long as the judge was alive, for God was moved to compassion when he heard their groaning because of those who afflicted and beat them. But when the judge died, the people went right back to their old ways—but even worse than their parents!—running after other gods, serving and worshiping them. Stubborn as mules, they didn’t drop a single evil practice.
Judges 2:18-19 MSG
The Lord was angry. Can you imagine? Rescuing a prodigal child over and over for them to spit in your face and return to deplorable ways?
Because of His anger and their violation of the covenant, He left them.
Judges 3 shares the compelling story that comes next, the continuous cycle of judge, rescue, and disobedience. One judge, Ehud, defeated an enemy and led Israel to peace and rest for 80 years, one of the longest breaks in the cycle of this 300+year cycle.
As we can expect, again, the people of Israel fell into evil deeds after Ehud passed away. And so yet again the Lord allowed them to experience the brunt of the repercussions for this.
The Canaanite king’s army was led by a man named Sisera. “Then the people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help, for he had 900 chariots of iron and he oppressed the people of Israel cruelly for twenty years.”
Judges 4:3 ESV
During this time, Deborah became judge of Israel.
As I have studied this, some of the commentaries have felt the need to weaken the legacy of Deborah, saying she was only appointed because there wasn’t a man strong enough or worthy enough to take on the position.
Only. I laugh at that! She was appointed not because of a lack of men, but because God saw her fit to lead His people!
I also read that she was permitted to lead because she came under Barak’s authority and leadership. But I can’t find Scriptural evidence that confirms this. Barak was a military leader but Deborah was listed as judge over Israel.
“In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were abandoned, and travelers kept to the byways. The villagers ceased in Israel; they ceased to be until I arose; I, Deborah, arose as a mother in Israel.
Judges 5:6-7 ESV
In this season of cyclical pain God appointed Deborah to lead His people to freedom again. She rose into her calling, into her position of leadership, and partnered with her military to defeat the oppressive enemy.
The book of Judges says Deborah summoned Barak. When she asks him about the Lord’s command to confront Sisera, Barak tells her he will not go to battle unless she comes with him.
Various theological ideas abound here, might Barak have said this in sarcasm? Because he was spineless and weak? Or because he valued her leadership and prophetic connection to God?
It’s disheartening that so much male-written commentary and opinion seems to discredit Deborah’s authority or worth on some level.
Why would Barak ask her to accompany him to battle in a sarcastic manner (he wasn’t being emasculated), or because he was weak (he led the military forces)?
Could it be that Barak asked the highest leader in the land to join him because that wasn’t uncommon for leadership to go into battle?
He respected her, he recognized the authority given to her from the Lord (Deborah is the only Biblically documented prophet AND judge of Israel, aside from the last judge – Samuel).
Deborah was appointed by God to lead Israel and bring them to peace.
She stepped into a divine calling, obeyed, led her people and brought them into rest as a mother to the land.
“Now Deborah was a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth.” What is interesting here is this word in Hebrew, eshet, can mean wife. Because of the culture at the time, women were often identified by relation to a husband or father.
“Eshet” also means woman. Lappidoth could be a husband or a place, but neither are mentioned in Scripture to confirm.
There is a third way of interpreting “woman of lappidoth.” Rather than being a proper noun, lappidot in Judges 4:4 could be the plural of lappid, a word usually translated as “torches” elsewhere in the Old Testament, including the book of Judges where the word occurs in two fiery and fierce situations (Judg. 7:16, 20; 15:4-5). Did Deborah have a fiery or fierce personality? Does eshet lappidot mean “fiery lady”?
Lappid can also refer to lightning flashes (e.g., Exod. 20:18). This has led a few scholars and rabbis to suggest that Deborah was a “woman of splendours”.
Marg Mowczko (Who has a theology degree and an MA in early Christian and Jewish studies)
Deborah. Wife, mother, prophetically gifted, governing leader. She is an incredible example of Biblical womanhood.
We, too, can be wives and mothers and leaders. We all have a God-created design and purpose.
In hindsight we can see the great purposes of various women in the Word. Did Esther realize the grand outcome of her story? Did Rahab know the legacy that would come from her?
Are all women called to be political leaders? No. Likewise, not all women will be mothers. Not all women will marry.
Like Paul, there will be women called to not marry. There will be women who mother nations, who mother school rooms, who mother emergency rooms instead of biological children.
I believe we have individual callings for His glory and purpose. We must be careful not to measure another’s role against our own.
If you have been led to be a homeschooling, stay at home mom, I believe there is greatness in the purpose there. You should be supported and equipped on that journey!
If you are called to minister to hearts in social work, there is greatness in the purpose. You also should be supported and equipped well for your journey in that.
A woman’s role is not strictly confined to be a wife and mom. Culturally, in biblical times much else wasn’t always permitted.
In Judges we can see that God does appoint women. In our culture now we have so much more freedom to lead, grow, and serve.
Some of us will serve as wives and mothers. Some will serve in careers. Others will serve in both realms, and all areas covered here deserve our support.
Let’s be women who cheer each other on in our various glorious callings here on earth.
There doesn’t need to be competition or comparison, those are tools of the enemy to divide us and hurt even further.
Women of the Word, let’s rise up like Deborah. Let’s mother our children well, mother our careers well, and mother our callings well together.
Help your spiritual sisters as you can in their own journey. Deborahs partner with Esthers and Tamars and Ruths. Partner with the Baraks and Boazs of our lives!
Let’s dive into biblical womanhood together. I’m excited to dig more into our powerful and divine design! Thanks for joining me along the way.
2020 has brought on a “silent rise” in mental health crises.
It’s no secret that it’s been a rough year, but viruses aside, the job losses, bankruptcies, and isolation has had devastating repercussions for mental health.
People already struggling with anxiety and/or depression may feel like they’re barely treading water with their mental health. Others who have never (or rarely) experienced anxiety or depression have, unfortunately, begun having their own bouts.
I know for myself, dealing with end of pregnancy and postpartum, on top of dealing with repressed trauma responses… Covid depression has been the icing on the cake.
Of course there are good days. We feel a camaraderie, like we’re all in this together! We got this! It sucks but we’ll get through it.
Other days though might feel really dark. Numb and apathetic. Lonely and weary. What is the point of x, y, z?
Last Fall was a very difficult time for me, a lot of joy was stolen. As this season has approached I’ve entered it with a jaded attitude. A lot of pain is resurfacing for me to face, and I’m learning the dance of holding space for pain but holding on to joy too.
What I wanted to talk about today is the in-between of those two extremes. The both//and space.
You can hold space for hard emotions and bad days, and still look for the light shining through, for the joy moments and the silver linings.
You can also hold space on your fantastic days for the trauma that you’re still working through. You can enjoy things and still recognize that you are wounded and that there’s work for you to do.
Your joy doesn’t have to erase your pain.
It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. If you’ve ever worked through traumatic situations or had to process hard emotions, we can almost sort of gaslight ourselves if we have good days.
Like, oh I’m having a really good day maybe this isn’t bad as I thought it was. Until something triggers you or you’re faced with more emotions that you haven’t processed through yet.
Likewise, when you’ve dealt with depression or anxiety and have felt like you’re spiraling, we can become consumed with those difficult feelings as well.
Our vision can become clouded with everything that is wrong in the world because of the hardship that we are working through. It feels impossible to “choose joy” because everything is painful, or we are numb to everything.
We do need to be cautious in those circumstances though. We are not victims to our mind, and though we can deal with mental health issues, we must take authority over some areas as well.
Becoming consumed with our depression or anxiety, not seeking help or utilizing tools that can help us, can be destructive not only to ourselves but to those around us too.
I’ve seen depression and anxiety steal away so much from families; I’ve seen it in my own family growing up and the repercussions that it had for me as a child.
This has been the number one driving factor for me in trying to grow and heal, so that my problems would not negatively affect my children.
In that same vein however, we can also be consumed with running from our depression and anxiety, or our trauma that needs to be dealt with. This is also unhealthy.
Rather than communicate our pain, or face difficult emotions, we try to be happy and bubbly and ignore the pain. “Fake it til you make it” can be as damaging for some people as it is helpful to others.
Because pain that we swallow down instead of facing and processing will absolutely come back to bite us. It can look like rage, depression, fear and anxiety, and many other things.
So where is the line? How can we not let depression and anxiety rule our lives and steal all our joy, yet also not force happiness and joy when we are in the midst of pain and grief?
I’m no expert, I’m just a mom who’s done a lot of reading and praying haha. But I would love to share what I’ve learned, and what helps me.
Have grace with yourself. Have you ever heard that phrase? What does it look like though? I’d say it looks like being kind to yourself and what’s going on in your head.
Don’t be a bully. Don’t make yourself feel bad for what you’re going through. If your inner dialogue is making you feel bad, you need to reroute that language!
Even if you have to over and over, tell yourself no! And talk to yourself like you would talk to a hurting friend or loved one.
Would that dialogue be uplifting or edifying for a beloved friend? If not, than don’t speak that over yourself.
Another thing to consider here: when we are numb we might not even be able to give ourselves grace. But we can receive God’s gift of grace.
All praises belong to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he is the Father of tender mercy and the God of endless comfort. He always comes alongside us to comfort us in every suffering so that we can come alongside those who are in any painful trial. We can bring them this same comfort that God has poured out upon us. And just as we experience the abundance of Christ’s own sufferings, even more of God’s comfort will cascade upon us through our union with Christ. If troubles weigh us down, that just means that we will receive even more comfort to pass on to you for your deliverance! For the comfort pouring into us empowers us to bring comfort to you. And with this comfort upholding you, you can endure victoriously the same suffering that we experience.
2 Corinthians 1:3-6 TPT
This might look different for the person or by the day, but we can sit in His grace and comfort when we can’t give ourselves grace. He can hold you, just rest in Him.
2. Choose Joy
I know some people get super irritated by this phrase. I get it, being told to be happy when you’re suffering is upsetting.
But choosing joy in spite of your circumstances isn’t forcing happiness when you’re miserable.
It is tapping into a supernatural gift and a fruit of the Spirit which is yours to have when you know Jesus. The joy of the Lord can be your strength when you have no strength of your own left.
Choosing Biblical joy and gratitude isn’t faking happy, it’s a deep-seated soul joy, soul rest, to enter into.
I wanted to pick a Bible verse about joy but there’s so many!! Let me just reference a few:
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds…” James 1:2
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness…” Galatians 5:22
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy…” Psalm 16:11
“So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” John 16:22
“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:17
“You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.” Psalm 4:7
The list can go on and on! The Lord has joy for you that goes far beyond surface worldly happiness, another verse called it “inexpressible joy.” To me, that goes beyond a circumstantial emotion like happiness.
Joy is like a pressure washer.
A lot of people don’t really know that though.
Pressure washers are wonderful inventions, in seconds, they can remove years of build up. Years of caked on dirt in the most walked on areas around our homes.
We all have these areas, and I don’t mean around our homes. Around our hearts. Places people have walked all over us. Trampled on our hearts. Brought their dirt (and other things) into our lives. The areas that have become not only dirtied, but hardened from so much traffic.
Much of the time, we think we have to get everything cleaned up before we can be joyful. We think we have to have it all healed before we can get out of feeling down and dirty.
And those who think like that often never become joyful. They stay depressed. They stay bitter. They stay hurt. They stay is self-pity. All the while protecting themselves from the very thing that can remove it all.
The pressure washer of joy.
God wants to give us His joy to remove the years of build up. To quickly blast away the years of pain. To clear up the places that seemed impossible to clean.
Is. 35:10 says…”those the LORD has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”
It’s joy that’s makes the sadness and sighing flee. It makes them run from us. It’s joy that blasts it all away.
Don’t wait to be joyful. Don’t fix everything before you smile and laugh again. Don’t wait. Don’t even hesitate.
Receive joy today and watch what happens as you do.
3. Glimpses of Gratitude
A few years ago I tried to keep a gratitude journal. I’d sit at the table and try to comb through my day to recall and write down everything I was grateful for.
While it was a good suggestion, it wasn’t realistic or sustainable for me. I often forgot to pull the journal out or just sat there with my mind wandering trying to pull out something to write down!
And on my bad days? I honestly couldn’t think of things. Of course there’s the I’m grateful for my home, my family, food in the fridge, etc.
Sometimes it’s really hard to see beyond that when depression has a grip on your feelings and everything is numb.
I wrote a post about taking every thought captive; intrusive thoughts, depressed thoughts, spiraling thoughts, and tips to help you realistically take those thoughts captive! Read that here.
Instead, what has been helpful for me is momentary glimpses of gratitude.
It can happen any moment of the day, but it’s something that lights you up. Morning sun dancing on the hardwood floor in my kitchen. My girls giggling and dancing in the living room. The way my warm coffee feels in my hand.
It doesn’t have to last long, but pause and sit in that moment and feel the gratitude. Thank the Lord for that glimmer in your day.
Instead of reciting off everything you’re supposed to be grateful for, look at your day or those moments with your God lens on.
You can even ask Him! Lord help me see with Your eyes today, help me see the beauty. Feel His delight in the moments around you.
Just like joy, there are so many verses about gratitude and thankfulness in the Word!
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17
“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful” Colossians 3:15
“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” Psalm 107:1
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.” Psalm 28:7
“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” Colossians 2:6-7
Gratitude is the key to a heart posture towards Jesus and walking in joy regardless of outward circumstances.
One of my favorite podcasters, Blake Guichet of The Crappy Christian Co. recently wrote about this topic and it’s so good!
“It’s not that our feelings don’t matter or aren’t valid – we should honor one another’s emotions and bear each other’s burdens, mourn with those who mourn, and rejoice with those who rejoice. But the line gets blurry when we start treating those emotions as though they are the facts of the situation.
I know that the reason I personally function this way is because of my generalized anxiety disorder diagnosis. Through years of therapy, I’ve learned to separate how I feel from the truth to avoid spiraling out of control. And for the most part, it really serves me well.
The truth without love is harsh.
Love without truth is enabling.
That’s why we tell the truth in love (Eph 4:15) This a necessary maturity of faith so that we are no longer tossed to and fro by our emotions, but deeply rooted in what God says about us and others.
I’m honestly thankful that our feelings aren’t facts. When things feel hopeless, we know they never are. When we feel isolated, we have the knowledge of God’s nearness. When it seems like the world is out of control, we know the One who holds it all.
Your feelings aren’t facts, friend. And that should provide you with peace. Let’s stop allowing our emotions to run the show and instead turn to the truth.
We are not victims, and living with a victim mentality will steal your joy and suck the life right out of you. Maybe you were wronged, abused, mistreated. That’s valid.
But staying a victim in every area of your life, not growing or healing, is super damaging.
The Word tells us we are more than conquerors, in ALL things. That He works ALL things together for our good. That the Lord can make beauty from our ashes. The ashes of abuse, trauma, accidents, pain, etc.
We see what’s right in front of us. But the Lord sees an entire atlas of roads leading from our current circumstances. We have no idea what He can do through us and our stories!
A note on victimhood…
Mental health struggles are not a free ticket to be a jerk.
Yes it happens. I’ve experienced this. I have seen awful, atrocious behavior justified because of where someone was mentally. This is wrong.
We still need to take responsibility for our actions; mental struggles cannot be a crutch or excuse for bad behavior.
Victimhood clouds judgement and can cause immense pain, for others, and yourself too.
You are not powerless, you are still in charge of you.
“You can sit here but you can’t stay here.”
Validation is important, but dare I say, needing validation can also be a crutch. Some feelings can’t be validated if they are skewed or untruthful, but they can be acknowledged.
Having safe people, trustworthy friends or family, who can lead you back to your foundational truths when you are blinded by pain, apathy, or spiraling thoughts is so important.
Staying somewhere unhealthy and stewing in negative thoughts is a counterproductive narrative that will keep you bound up. Stewing and processing are not equal.
We can sit with grief. We can sit with hard things that need to be processed. Ignoring doesn’t help!
But staying there is when it becomes dangerous. We can miss the steps towards healing that God has for us. We can miss the beauty that’s transforming by remembering only the ashes.
Don’t run from your pain, but don’t let it swallow you either.
You don’t deserve to be consumed by dark thoughts and days of sorrow. There’s a bigger plan for you!
Depression is real, I have felt it’s nasty claws. Anxiety is real, I have experienced is vice-like grip.
We can acknowledge our hard and still see the joys. We can find delight in little things, even when bigger things are going wrong.
Remember the both//and my friend, and remember you are never ever alone.
It feels like such a Christianese term nowadays… “I’m being refined.”
Do you know how silver is refined? It’s a process to be sure. Yet afterwards, the metal is gleaming and shining with all the impurities removed.
Despite the overuse of this term, I feel like I’m being refined right now. This season is hard.
I’ve been struggling recently. I don’t want to call it postpartum depression, maybe it’s the baby blues or hullabaloo of hormones and emotions…
But I’ve been experiencing my first depressive episodes since my time of healing five years ago.
There are days that are good and easy and joy-filled. There are also days that I am so weepy and morose.
On those difficult days my emotions try to spiral. Negative thoughts, lies, fears and anxieties abound. It’s exhausting trying to keep my mind in check. This is when “taking every thought captive,” as 2 Corinthians 10 tells us, comes into play.
What we feel is not necessarily truth, feelings aren’t fact.
Not everybody hates you or is out to get you! Not everything is going to go wrong. You’re not a failure.
My logical brain knows this. In those times of mental spiral and negative to thought, we need to stand on our foundation of truth to keep us steady when we feel shaky.
What’s Your Foundation of Truth?
This is a place in your mind that you can come back to when you’re struggling. It’s your core, unshakable beliefs.
This can be things like-
Jesus died for me and rose again.
I am chosen, redeemed, and loved.
God is for me, not against me.
I am a child of God.
My family loves me.
_____ is not my enemy.
God will never leave me.
I am safe.
I was created with purpose.
God is not taken by surprise and knows what’s ahead of me.
When thoughts come into our mind like “I can’t feel God, He’s left me, He isn’t speaking to me” we have a baseline to come back to to correct ourselves and align our thinking with the truth.
No I am not alone, because the Word says God will not abandon me, leave me, or forsake me.
Let’s go back to 2 Corinthians 10:5, where Paul tells us to take every thought captive. This passage is so important and addresses the battlefield in our minds.
As the Enduring Word Commentary says (really awesome insight into this passage), we are not helpless victims to our thoughts! This might be unfathomable to you, but hear me out for a moment.
You cannot help what pops into your mind, but you are in control of what you choose to dwell on.
An example of this for me is when I drive. I often have intrusive thoughts about getting t-boned when I go through intersections, or getting in an accident on the highway.
Can this happen? Of course. But if I give space to these thoughts in my mind I can easily be consumed by fear. I might even get to the point of not driving at all out of my fear!
Instead, I need to take those thoughts captive and reroute my thinking.
For me this looks like reassuring myself, and if those thoughts are really loud, I sing a song or talk to my kids to shift my mind, I even pray out loud.
If your thought life is damaging to yourself or your relationships, you might need to think about how you can take authority in your mind.
Maybe on your bad days you have thoughts about your spouse not loving you, or your friends hating you. How can you take those thoughts captive?
Think about your good days. How do your friends make you feel when you’re with them? Do they uplift you, edify and encourage you?
Remind yourself of the good things and assume the best.
All couples have moments of conflict and experience times or even seasons of struggle. But like above, go back to the moments on good days. Assume the best of their words or intentions.
We can’t live in a constant state of offense or victimhood. This is dangerous and so damaging to our mental health and relationships.
(This is not meant to simplify or condone abuse or toxicity in anyway, of you are truly experiencing that in your relationship consider counseling and help! Consider separation from friends that aren’t safe or take advantage.)
When we entertain negative thoughts again and again we can develop patterns. We can also develop positive patterns overtime as well! It just takes practice.
According to Dr. Athena Staik of Psych Central, an independent mental health information and news website, our thoughts create “inner standards” that spark neurochemical dynamic processes that govern our choices and actions.
Thoughts spark emotions and drive decisions to take action or no action at all. Whether we realize it or not, our thoughts are very much linked to our reality.
When you start homeschooling and follow these fun, amazing accounts on Instagram and mommy blogs, it’s so easy to get swept up into comparison.
I know I did! Big school rooms, gorgeous posters covering the walls, big whiteboards, desks, cubbies upon cubbies for organizing, and every educational toy or manipulative you could think of.
It was overwhelming to me and made me feel so inadequate because I couldn’t give that to my kids in my “small” house.
But here’s the deal. You don’t have to have a designated school room to homeschool your kids. If you do, that’s so awesome! You are blessed by that space you get to utilize! One of the beautiful aspects of homeschooling for me, though, is doing it wherever you feel comfortable.
We mostly do our schoolwork in the dining room. Sometimes we do our reading on the porch, our math on the couch, and on one rainy day we even did school from my cozy king-sized bed with cocoa to sip.
Homeschooling gives you the versatility to make it what it needs to be for your kids.
If you’re concerned about homeschooling taking up space in here to show you it doesn’t have to! Here’s my homeschooling space…
This bookshelf and craft cart hold everything we use for our school! I’ve even reorganized these shelves since starting this post.
I have a shelf for –
My grown-up books about homeschooling and parenting.
A shelf for Bible/devotions and read aloud books.
A shelf for my oldest’s curriculum.
A shelf for my middle’s curriculum.
And a resource book shelf for miscellaneous things like topical books and dictionaries.
If you take a step back you can see that our homeschooling supplies only take up one small corner of our dining room!
I have room on the walls to hang some things and actually started putting up our chore chart from The Peaceful Press on the big mirror we have. Take advantage whatever space you have!
We have magazine holders to separate some binders for art and projects, and I love using baskets and trays to organize. I have one I keep on the top shelf for scissors and glue, and another for smaller items like flash cards, Play-Doh, and the like.
Simple and easy. If you have a smaller home, an apartment, or even just don’t too much space to give up – you can still homeschool.
Now that I’ve created a space for me and my kids that suits us, I can appreciate my favorite Instagram homeschool mamas even more. I might not have the space they do BUT they still offer incredible advice and perspectives. And I even snag some of their ideas too!
If you are new to homeschooling, I know it can be a lot. But you’ve got this! You know your kids better than anyone else in the whole world. Cut down to basics and find a place that will make this the best experience it can be for you and yours. 🧡
And stay tuned, coming soon I have some cool tips and products to share from a momma whose designed some really helpful printables and bundles for distance learning and homeschooling families alike!
To follow along my homeschooling mama journey, let’s connect on Instagram!
TGIF!! 🙌🙌 Oh. Wait. It’s Thursday 😬😆 I know I’m not alone in merging all my days together! Life is a bit of a blur right now, what month is it…?
I am switching it up this morning and having tea on the porch instead of coffee, mostly because I didn’t pre-grind my beans yesterday and I’m keeping the baby asleep at all costs this morning 😅
My oldest is with Nana so my middle girl and I are enjoying the morning; me with my bible and her with her water toys.
I got this mug at Target this week, because frankly I needed the reminder. So many people are operating out of fear, lack of control, anxiety, and it manifests pretty frequently as anger. The world is full of anger right now. Some if its justified! Some isn’t worth the energy.
When people in public are cruel, when it feels like all the joy and laughter has been sapped out of the air, I need this reminder to see the good. Assume the best in people. See the darling little things, the tiny moments that can keep us all from spiraling into a space that’s not healthy. Look for the small delights.
Our thought life affects our behavior, how we treat others, how we make choices. If we are consumed by negative thoughts and fear we act out of that place rather than love or even kindness.
Scripture has so much to offer on thought life; taking our thoughts captive (we can’t control what pops in our brain but we have the choice to entertain it); dwelling on things that are pure, honorable, and lovely. Renewing our minds, guarding our hearts. Don’t be weighed down by the cares of the world. “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
Here’s your reminder (and mine!) to let go of the weight of the world, to seek joy and peace. Look for the good in the world, the kind people, the sweet moments. We certainly don’t need to go searching for the bad – it’s everywhere. We DO need to have boundaries with how we let it affect us though. Don’t assume everyone is out to get you, don’t lose sight of the beauty all around because you keep staring at the awful. Take charge of your thought life!
Happy Friday Eve friends, let’s live as victors, not victims.