(Journey Toward Wholeness Reblog from 8/26/18 Journey Blog Post)
Among the notes I made when I went through Anxiety Valley, I found these prayers:
In my distress I cry out to You, Lord (Psalm 18:6*). My thoughts and feelings say that my interaction with You is inferior to that which other people experience. I feel sure it must be my fault that I’m not connecting well with You, but I don’t know how to do or be different. These thoughts have a grip on me, and I struggle to break loose. The panic continues.
I see the source of some of my panic this morning— I compare myself to others, and I think of myself as “less than” and “failure.”
Lord Jesus, please help me get my eyes on You, the Author and Finisher of my faith (Hebrews 12:2). Father, You have begun a good work in me and will continue until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6). Please calm my anxious thoughts. Please help me stay, anchor, my mind on You .
Lord, I had thought that if I practiced certain devotional habits like read my Bible more or pray more (or practiced them better), then my spiritual life would look more like that of Christians I admire. But You are God, and You want real relationship with me, not some imitation I try to conjure up by copying other saints.
Thank You God for Your patience with this stubborn piece of clay!
From my current viewpoint on the other side of the valley, I can see that I had fallen into “comparison quicksand.” I can also see that God threw out a plank to me in two of the scriptures noted in my prayers: Hebrews 12:2 and Isaiah 26:3. [Hebrews 12:2 (NIV) “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith….” Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV) “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”] Now when I’m in a similar bog, I can grab that plank by getting my eyes off myself/other people and onto Him, and He can pull me out.
For me that is easier said than done, but it is worth the work. Otherwise, I would continue to sink down into the comparison quagmire.
*Psalm 18:6 (NIV) “In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.”
(Re-blog from 7/6/2018 Post–Journey Toward Wholeness #19)
In 2017 while I was still journeying through Anxiety Valley, I wrote in my journal:
Lord, You told the Israelites that You would help them, strengthen them, and hold them up with Your victorious right hand (Isaiah 41:10). Does that promise apply to me also? All of Your promises are “yes and amen” in Jesus (2 Cor. 1:20), and I am in Jesus.
Thank You, Father, that You are helping me fight the fear and doubt. You are helping me believe You and not feelings. I wonder if I really believe You are helping, or just hoping You will. Whichever it is, maybe I can just choose to believe and trust You anyway. You are strengthening me. Please help me believe.
When my mind gets well, will it be easier to believe You? I hope I will feel like my belief is real and not just something I’m pretending to myself.
Now that I’m on the other side of that particular valley, I know the answer to my question— YES. It is easier to believe and trust God with a stable healthy mind.
Thank You Jesus for healing my mind, body and emotions. Thank You also for providing the capsule I take every morning to balance the brain chemicals that keep my mind stable. Amen.
Mark 9:24 “Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (NKJV)
Isaiah 41:10 “ Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice.” (Amplified Bible)
2 Corinthians 1:20 “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.” (NKJV)
God has given me a new day, another chance to “follow the Holy Spirit in every part of my life” (Gal. 5:25), and I’m thankful. Back in the dark days of depression and panic, I didn’t welcome the days as opportunities. Instead, I struggled through them wishing I could feel better and feeling afraid I never would.
Now I do feel better. I continue to need medicine to keep brain chemicals in balance, but I do very well as long as I take it. The “down” time was miserable, and I don’t recommend such experiences for anyone. But looking back, I can see how God used it to give my soul a boost. It triggered a change in my thinking patterns so that I could apply God’s Word to my mind and my life more. My faith in Jesus has grown, and I’m walking with Him more closely.
And now I can encourage those who are still going through extra tough times with anxiety/depression. I can say, “Maybe God is preparing a fresh start for you too. Or maybe He’s preparing you for something new. Whatever He’s doing, you can be sure God is working. We can trust Him.”
Thank You, Father, for today, another day to walk with Jesus and live for Him. Amen.
One of my journals from 2017 contained this entry:
“Another bad night last night. Lord, You are my God. The truth is that You are here, that You love me, that I am Your child, and that You hear and answer my prayers.
“But today I’m having trouble believing the truth. The fear and the lies shout loudly, and I don’t feel Your presence. I have trouble hearing Your voice. I want, need, to know You and walk in real relationship with You. Could I please have a sense of Your presence today? Would you show me how to come into Your secret place and hide under the shadow of Your wings (Psalm 91)?”
I wonder why I had so much trouble trusting the truth. Maybe because my brain chemicals needed adjustment. Or maybe because I wanted to feel like those things were true. When I started telling myself that I could choose to believe the truth no matter what things seemed like or what my natural feelings were, I made spiritual progress. As Moses told the people, “Today I set before you life and death. Therefore, choose life (Deuteronomy 30:19).” To choose to believe the truth—that’s life. To choose to believe the lies and how I feel—that’s death. Now I’m free to choose truth and life.
Journey toward Wholeness Re-blog #16, December 23, 2020 (First Published March 28, 2018)
Day by day, I’m still learning on this journey toward wholeness. I struggle with lessons in many areas including the area of corralling wild thoughts. Thankfully, God hasn’t given up on me.
The “wild thoughts” don’t cause as big a problem now as they did a couple of years back. At that time, one thought triggered others which went in a dozen different directions–all scary or sad. I remembered a phrase from 2 Corinthians 10:5, “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ.” The New Living Translation puts the phrase into these words: “We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.” I couldn’t seem to capture my rebellious, tangled thinking. But I’m learning–
Medicine helps. Practicing focus on verses or passages of the Bible helps. Also prayer, And just speaking the thought or thoughts out loud and saying, “Jesus, I’m bringing this thought/ these thoughts captive to You. Please help me now to think about things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8)”–this makes a difference sometimes too.
Journey Toward WholenessReblog #15 10/6/2020 (Originally published January 16, 2018)
This is a journal entry from January 2017:
Dear Lord, I wish other people would deal with these fear thoughts for me, but I guess they can’t. Please forgive me for seeking other people instead of looking to You. Only You can help (Psalm 62:1, 5). I am Your child (1 John 3:1). You have chosen me for Your own (Colossians 3:12). I will praise and love You with all my heart.
The feelings of panic aren’t so bad this morning, but fear thoughts tumble in. Today I slept an extra hour. I felt afraid to face the day. Now I’m afraid that I won’t get everything done that I need to do, and that would be awful.
Today, many Christians face persecution, loss of loved ones, lack of basic necessities, etc., and here I am—afraid to do household chores, write some checks, and make phone calls because I might not get it all done. “Shame on me,” I think.
When I think of Scriptures like Hebrews 12:2 (“Keeping our eyes on Jesus…”) and Colossians 3:1-2 (“Seek what is above where Christ is…. Set your mind on things above…”), all I can think about is that I haven’t been doing that, so shame on me again.
Jesus, what are You saying to me when I get into these disturbed thinking patterns?
Maybe you are saying, “Don’t be ashamed. Just repent and turn back to Me. Trust in Me. Let your body and mind rest so healing can begin.”
It seems like I’ve come a long way since I wrote these things, and day by day I am learning to love and trust Jesus more.
Oh Lord, You are so merciful and faithful and good! All praise belongs to You. Amen.
Psalm 62:1 “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.” Psalm 62:5-6 “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.” 1 John 3:1a “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” Colossians 3:12 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved….” (All NIV)
(JOURNEY TOWARD WHOLENESS POST REBLOG #14) 8/19/20
One day as I traversed part of Anxiety Valley, I wrote in my journal:
Jesus, You know me (Psalm 139) and You walk and talk with me—in reality, not just imagination. You are here. I will trust in You. Please help me believe and trust You more. You gave me a good night’s sleep last night in answer to my prayer. Thank You. I pray that I would always be grateful for all your good gifts.
In anxious times, doubts attack. Like I get afraid that God might expect me to do everything “right,” and I wouldn’t know what right was or how to do it. This line from a Carroll Roberson song might help me relax: “He did for me what I could not do for myself. He did the saving, and I did the crying for help.” Oh. Right. I’m not in charge. I don’t have to be in control.
Lord God Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, it comforts me to remember that I’m in Your hands. Nothing can pry me loose from Your hands. Not even my failures and poor choices can loosen Your grip on me. When fear or self-focus blocks my view of You, You are still here. You don’t quit loving me. You never give up on me.
Thank You, Lord, for your unfailing, everlasting, unbreakable love. Amen.
Psalm 73:22-23 “I was a fool and didn’t understand; I was an unthinking animal toward You. Yet I am always with You; You hold my right hand.”
John 10:27-30 [Jesus said,] “My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”
Psalm 139:5 “You have encircled me; You have placed Your hand on me.”
Psalm 139:7 “Where can I go to escape Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence?”
Deuteronomy 33:3 “Indeed God loves His people; all His holy ones are in His hands. They follow in His steps and accept His teaching.”
(Scriptures are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible except for Ps. 139:7 which is from the New Living Translation)
Can any good come from overwhelming panic feelings? Yes, but you couldn’t have convinced me of that when I struggled with them day after day for a few months. One day, I wrote this in my journal:
‘“In Your unfailing love, silence all my enemies and destroy all my foes, for I am Your servant.’ –Psalm 143:12 New Living Translation
“Lord, I wake up each night in panic after sleeping only a couple of hours. And when I get back to sleep, again I wake up in about 2 hours. Then I wake up each morning in panic. I try to hold onto Your unfailing love, to Your faithfulness, but the fears overwhelm. Please help me!”
Then 3 hours later I wrote, “The anxiety continues to overwhelm. I remember some lines from a Chris Christian song: ‘Don’t give up; don’t give in. Give it all to Him cause He cares so much more than you know….’*
“How do I give it all to You, Lord? I reached my hands up and said, ‘I give this anxiety to You.’ I still feel anxious. But maybe my feelings are lying to me again.”
Today on my journey, though, I can look back and see that in that time of misery, God worked in my heart. He prepared the soil. He planted seedlings like greater humility and deeper trust in Him. In the time since those months of difficulty, I have seen God’s seedlings grow. Patience flowers bloom. Fruits of faithfulness and joy develop.
So I can encourage those Christians who struggle today: God is holding you close. He is working. He will bring you through this wilderness, even as He has brought many others through their rough seasons.
To those who have never made Jesus their choice, could He be calling you with your current troubles? Jesus makes all of life, even problems, worthwhile.