Thursday, August 27, 2015

On A Journey

It's funny, in life, how we seem to go through things we would never choose for ourselves, yet it always seems that things happen for a very unique reason.

I've been in a learning process of facing every battle that I have in life rather than running from it or thinking I'm abnormal. In choosing to view every situation, whether it's my emotions, my marriage, my insecurities, or something else as a learning curve for what God wants to speak through me to other people, it's opened doors that before I may never have had the opportunity to enter. I have been learning to view my trials with joy, and to view them as a chance to grow and learn another degree of steadfastness.
(James 1:2-4, vs 12)

This post is exactly that. In an effort to be completely genuine about life and it's struggles, I've been really trying to seek out how to approach this post in order to convey it as hopeful.

Have you ever felt alone? I know I have. 
I remember there were times of feeling alone in a room full of people enjoying themselves and enjoying their life. 
What was my deal? What caused such separation from the way I felt to the reality of this beautiful life that I live every day?
I remember reading an email from one of my readers whom I've never met. She, like many have before, told me her story of anxiety and depression and it broke my heart to read it. I used to always think, how could anyone be depressed? Life is so fun! 
But, to my dismay, just a few short months ago, depression knocked on my door every day. 
(Did you know that depression is actually a form or side effect of anxiety?)

I remember feeling really lonely, and no one could help.
I researched everything. I talked in circles with my husband about this issue, and nothing ever helped.
I cried out to God to restore my emotions, my mental health, and my strength to see the world in a positive light.
The enemy had such a grip on my thoughts!
Maybe you have felt this way too.

I remember picking up a book called "A Praying Life: Connecting With God In A Distracting World" by Paul E. Miller.
 I'm not sure if it was the book's content, or the Lord himself speaking and getting ahold of my heart.
Through a slow, restorative process of waiting and listening to what He wanted to say to me or teach me, I slowly learned to pray.
Now, I've always known how to pray, and usually I am good at knowing what to pray.
Words come easy to me, they always have...but that was exactly my problem.
My heart was searching for a connect, yet it felt so disconnected.

Maybe some of you can relate to this regardless of what issues you are facing.
Sometimes when we pray, or even if you've never prayed in your life, your heart and mind feel disconnected.
I think for me, when the Lord taught me to truly press into Him with my heart and with honesty, that's when I began to learn to have a HEART of prayer rather than a VOICE of prayer.

Through learning this heart of prayer, the more I prayed the more thankful I became.
I would pray for God to do something in someone else, and He would do it.
I would pray for small things, He would act, and I would become grateful.
I would begin to ask for big things, and He would come through.
Even in the last couple of months I have been on my knees asking the Lord for a miracle in certain places, and guess what? He was faithful.
As I developed a prayer life of gratitude for every small blessing, I sensed that my heart was conforming to pray for the things God Himself wanted in my life.
As I became more grateful, my anxieties lifted. As I became more thankful, the depression was no more.
(Philippians 4:6-7)
I can't tell you that I will never struggle with anxiety or depression again, but I can tell you that through the Lord taking me by the hand in the dark and lonely times, I have learned more and more of His character and the things He wants to teach me.

I'm for certain that God answers prayers. I'm also certain that just because He answers them in ways you may not agree with doesn't mean He isn't faithful.
In fact, most of what I'm learning, like I slightly mentioned before, is that He is teaching me to pray about the things He is concerned with-- the eternal, not the temporary: the position of my heart, not the presumed answer I deem correct.

When we align our eyes to the things of His kingdom, our hearts to His heart beat, and our ears to His Word, our prayer lives become a beautiful dance with the Creator.
I started to sense and realize that when He closed a door that I wanted to be open, it was actually a profound act of His gracious provision for my life.
I don't know the big picture.
I don't know the whole story.
I don't want to.
I don't need to.
He loves me and cares for me, and that promise over my life is enough for me to trust His process.

I challenge you today to take a step back, and look for the things HE wants you to be concerned about.
He will take care of the rest. He knows you better than you know yourself and this includes your deepest desires.