Recognizing That Your Unique Voice Matters

While sitting in church recently my pastor said something that felt like he was speaking directly to me.

I love when that happens, don’t you? It’s like a little wink from God.

He was teaching on the faithfulness and goodness of God, reminding us that if we have family and friends who are not Christian, we can pray for God to bring someone else to speak into their life.

He reminded the congregation that we are not the only voice speaking truth to those we love.

And then he said something else—eight words that have changed me;

It’s the same story from a different voice.

It occurred to me then—Maybe it really does take a different voice.

As I was getting ready for church that morning I was wrestling with the same old enemy:

Feeling a bit invisible and unnecessary.

For years I have felt this nudging to tell my story, to speak up and speak out, to help other Christians that suffer as I have with depression, anxiety, and worry. To be a voice of comfort and reason in a world that seems harsh and unforgiving.

To give hope to others that lack hope as I once did.

Closely following on the heels of these good thoughts are also extremely critical ones that taunt me; “You don’t matter, it’s all been said and done before.”

I have struggled frequently with the feeling that my story doesn’t have value.

Or more specifically, that it’s all been said before.

Like maybe I’m a little late to the game.

I wrestle with how any insight could be added to a million voices that have gone before me.

What could I possibly say that hasn’t been said before?

How could my minuscule life help anybody?

God Knows How

Although my pastor wasn’t speaking directly to this issue that morning, his words spoke perfectly to my heart.

He had no clue that his words and his voice would change my perspective that day.

But God did.

I’ve probably heard it said a thousand times before:

Your story matters.

But for some reason, that morning, those words—the same story from a different voice—that is exactly what God knew I needed to hear.

That is why it is imperative that we speak our stories. We truly never know how God will use them.

My voice does have value.

I know I will most likely continue to have days where I doubt my value, but I now have a truth to stand on when those days come.

I can remind myself that my life is absolutely important and I should share.

So, I will.

My narrative may be just another “look what God has done” story, but I realize now, that’s the point— to hear of God’s faithfulness from yet another voice.

There are literally innumerable amounts of people who have dealt with struggles of every shape and have found hope and healing through Jesus.

What if every one of them kept silent?

What if they didn’t blog about it, talk about it or share their story with others that were struggling?

There would be countless exceptional stories left unspoken, and even more so,  an untold amount of spiritually crippled people because of it.

God can’t use a story that’s been left untold to change lives and give hope.

Therefore, He asks His people to speak of His goodness.

He requests we share the good, the miraculous and surprising things that He has done because every single one is meant for a unique purpose.

Your story really does matter

Have you felt the need to share hope with others because of something you have gone through but haven’t done so yet?

It might not look like the way I choose to share my story—maybe it’s on a smaller level. Perhaps it’s to a friend or someone you know that is going through a hard time similar to something you have gone through.

Regardless, of how or when, remember that your voice matters.

A different voice telling the exact same story of a God that is bigger than any amount of pain or suffering we have endured is necessary.

It doesn’t matter if we’ve heard it a million times—go ahead—be the million and first.

Because it’s needed.

YOUR voice may be the exact thing someone needs to hear today in precisely the only way YOU could tell it.

The truth is, that we can hear the same thing over and over again without any response until finally, something clicks.

Who’s to say you’re not the one to speak to make it click?

Speak your story to be that different voice

Don’t decide that your story isn’t important because it’s not as spectacular as the next person’s. Don’t give in to the lies that nobody will benefit from your voice.

I know I’m just another girl with a story.

But it’s a beautiful story.

It’s a story of redemption. When God turned ashes into something beautiful.

It’s a tale about God’s faithfulness through the valley of hurt and pain and how He continues to carry me through to the other side.

I am truly just another voice with the same story of faithfulness.

And you know, I’m okay with that.

Because it is uniquely mine.

Though it’s not entirely new.

But that’s the point.

It’s the same story of God’s faithfulness from a different Voice.


Share your unique voice, friend, it’s needed.


Recognizing That Your Unique Voice Matters

 

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Do I Trust in GAD or GOD?

Do I trust in GAD or GOD? Snazzy little play on words, am I right?! *currently patting my own back. (Don’t worry, if you stick around long enough you’ll get used to my bizarre sense of humor)

And apparent lack of conventional writing rules, like actually discussing what the post is about.

Moving on—I’m assuming you’re here because you know what GAD is, or perhaps you’re curious to know.

GAD is the acronym for Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

I was diagnosed with GAD about 17 years ago although I have always dealt with an underlying nervousness or dread. These emotions are quite unexplainable to someone who doesn’t have this struggle.

The most simplistic way to explain GAD is having a nervous, sometimes doomed feeling that follows you literally everywhere and can’t be shaken. (Like that ugly cat that someone dumped off by your house which has decided that you’re it’s lucky new owner and loves to gift you regurgitated mice on your front porch in gratefulness.)

Yes, it’s as delightful as that little scenario.

I digress.

During extremely stressful times GAD causes me to have a near persistent bombardment of thoughts and feelings about something bad happening, especially in regards to those I love.

Living with GAD

Having an anxiety disorder means I become nervous and anxious beyond what would be considered normal over simple, everyday things. Something like sending my kids to other people’s houses or my teenage son driving can cause panic.

Things that other people find fairly easy to do can be extremely distressing for me and can often lead to a breakdown.

Having GAD also means I like love normal.

I love routine.

Because you see, it gives me the feeling of being in control (which I think we all know is about as real as a unicorn.) Any deviation from normal leaves me off-balance and out of my element.

My oldest son, for example,  just went on a week-long trip across the country.

Oh, I’m sure you can only imagine what fun that was for me!

Every frightening, uncomfortable thought that could materialize in my mind was present. The thoughts reverberated in my brain and down through my body, causing a channel by which everything else in my life funneled through.

I’ve learned to ask myself the same question every time I arrive at this point;

Do I trust in GOD or GAD?

There is always only two options:

  • I can trust in GAD—my feelings and thoughts I am experiencing.

OR

  • I can trust in God.

It is not easy living with an anxiety disorder that screams that something terrible is around the corner.

Quite frankly, it’s really, really hard.

Although having GAD is terribly difficult, I have found that God is bigger.

I don’t want to trust the crazy, irrational, lying fears and thoughts that race through my mind. I don’t want to live my life being held hostage by fear and what ifs.

I’ve tried that before. Surprisingly, it didn’t turn out too well for me.

Through much trial and error and many, many tears, I know that if I don’t want to believe the crazy in my head and body, I don’t have to. Sound too simplistic? Maybe it is, but it’s also entirely true.

A Spirit of Self-Control

God says He has given me a “sound mind” or “self-control” in 1 Timothy 1:7. In fact,  in this exact same scripture, he says that he DID NOT give me a spirit of fear.

GAD tells me to panic and to fear.

GAD also tells me that I can’t control myself and that I have to give in to the anxiety I’m feeling.

In short, GAD makes me feel like a victim.

God shows me I’m not.

I often have to make scary tough decisions and yes, sometimes I shrink away from them. When I do, I must acknowledge that I’ve allowed fear to dictate my life. It can be discouraging.

However, every time I struggle with GAD I look at it as an opportunity to lean in deeper to God.

Does this mean when I choose to trust God that all of the fear falls away?

Simply put, no.

I still feel the uncomfortable, prickly fear feeling that creeps up my neck and descends into my stomach.

GAD still says NOT to let the kids go or NOT to take that new opportunity.

But where does my trust lie? In the anxiety I experience or in the GOD of every experience?

Where does my trust lie? In the anxiety I experience or in the GOD of every experience?Click To Tweet

He has faithfully kept me, faithfully answered prayers and calmed my fears when I have humbly handed over the scary in my head.

He has promised peace and his promises are true.

I may still struggle with GAD but I have more peace walking in courage through the fear than I ever did when I gave in to it.

So, I continue to trust Him.

I don’t always do it perfectly and I’ve been known to fall apart.

But because of His grace and my daily dependence on it, I continue to pick myself back up and move forward on this journey.

I am not a victim.

I am a daughter of the King. (Even if my tiara’s a little crooked.)

I am redeemed.

These struggles and labels that I carry are not what define me and therefore I will not put my trust in them.


Do I trust in GAD or GOD?

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How to Have Hope Through a Season of Depression

The first bending of my soul from depression was over the summer season, a rather unlikely time to be sad, however, depression doesn’t play by the rules.

So now, when this season of early sunrises and waning light arrives, it brings with it a bittersweet reminder of the time I waited in the middle.

The middle of depression…


How to have hope while waiting through a season of depression.

The summer held two more months of stifling heat but in the gentle breeze I hear the soft sigh of trees, “I grow tired of sprouting leaves and long for autumn’s rest.”

I feel a leaning inward when August tumbles precipitously into September. This time period prompted me, like the trees, to await the relief of another season. Nestled within their shadow’s stretch, the whispers of fall beckon as I longed for the weather to match my soul’s condition.

Depression caused a tenderness in my spirit like a broken arm before a splint. It brought with it an uncomfortable waiting…

For sanity.

Reprieve.

For hope.


Hope in the middle

My mind drifts from the trees to my boy with the chestnut hair and dark eyes as he strolls over. He plops down next to me and lays his head on my shoulder, looking up with lashes a mile long.

“I hate being in the middle.” He exhales as his plump lips tighten into a thin line.

“What do you mean?” I ask gently, feeling his tender heart at that moment.

“I’m stuck in the middle of my brothers. They always get their way because one is older and one is the baby, and it’s not fair.” His sad brown eyes shift over to where his brothers play and relay the seriousness of his situation.

Kissing his forehead, I think of the picture he unknowingly painted with his words. My son grieves his place in the middle and I grieve my waiting during the pain; that complicated, unpleasant in-between.


 Aren’t we all waiting here in the middle?

To be human is to wait. We can find hope in the waiting—a yearning and a stretching towards something greater—often though, we harden during the wait.

We can miss the very best.

The Israelites waited for the promised Messiah, some, having grown tired of the wait missed Him altogether. Walking beside humanity on those dusty roads so very long ago was the very living, breathing, fulfillment of all our waiting.

He wasn’t only missed, he was completely rejected. He didn’t look how they thought he should so hearts were hardened and He was sentenced to death.

And now we find ourselves awaiting His return again—sure that we won’t miss Him this time around.

Like my boy, we lament the middle and the places where we feel stuck between the old and the new. We feel destined to never get our way.

And yet…

The middle is where grace is able to meet us best.

It is in the waiting, where He calls us His own. It was in the middle that He came down to us.

Walked beside us.

Wept with us.

Bled for us.

God with us.

The pain finds us here in the middle, somewhere between birth and death.

But so does He.

In the hospital.

At the graveside.

Through the depression.

Before the bad choice.

After the betrayal.

Despite the consequences.

He doesn’t leave us alone in the middle.


Content in the waiting

“We can’t see Him.” My dark-eyed boy answers as I tell Him of the Savior’s presence.

“Can you see the wind?” I question.

“No.” He replies.

Squinting, we gaze heavenward, toward the gentle giants above. “They feel the wind.” I point to the willows that bow low to touch their humble beginnings and sway in the summer’s breeze. “The wind becomes visible because of them.”

“So, you see, there’s no mistake. He placed you perfectly, right there in the middle to help hold up your brothers,” I say with a smile and a kiss on his freckled nose.

The boy with the dark eyes runs off, content for the moment with his place in the middle. And I, once more, find peace in the waiting.


I’m reminded that healing often happens in the waiting.

Because waiting takes faith and faith needs the wait to work properly. I don’t want to make the grave mistake of hardening during the wait and destroying the hope he places right beside me.

So, I wait.

He is here in the wait with me. Just as mighty as those towering willows, which bow low, he bends down to touch the simple. He speaks life through the smallest of places—like a hazel-eyed boy stuck in the middle.

I wait in the summer’s heat, in the middle, bending, but not breaking beneath the gusts of his love. Awaiting, like the trees, for autumns rest.

Here, I find the hope my heart has been longing for.

“I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope.” Psalm 130:5 NASB


If you or someone you love experiences depression please know this; you are loved, valued and more precious than you know. Please seek help and seek out someone you trust to talk to about it. Whether you are the one going through the valley or the loved one helping – bringing your pain into the light brings healing.

Please feel free to contact me, I would be privileged to pray for you or your loved one.


 Awaiting Autumns rest-How to have hope through a season of depression.

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The Anxiety and Depression Series – Grace for the Unfinished

Do you feel like you can't get things finished and finalized? Always in the middle of things? Here are hope and help. It's grace for the unfinished.

**This is the final post of a series here at Carry on my heart, you can read the first part here.

 

I’m notorious for running head first into anything—I love new beginnings.

The end? Yeah, not so much. I’m not really a goodbye kinda girl.

I’ve never been a closer and I’m not what you would call a strong finisher. Wrapping anything up (*aside from gift wrapping, I’m actually known for being a killer gift wrapper) is a struggle for me.

So, although my gift wrapping skills are epic, my wrapping-up skills are left lacking. I’m not sure how to end this series without just leaving you hanging.

But in my defense;

How do you end something on paper that could never be wrapped up this side of heaven?

 

The Anxiety and Depression Series – Grace for the Unfinished

I am not complete and therefore, my story is not wrapped up in a neat and tidy bow. I’m betting that neither is yours and let’s be honest, some days that leaves us hurting.

When we’ve been in the trenches for longer than we care to be, we become weary and battle worn and expect some type of resolution. Quite often they don’t come or at least not in the way we’d like.

Maybe it’s just me, but endings seem sad when you can’t wrap them up neatly with a bow. Oh, the abundance of gift wrapping references.

The end better than the beginning?

The wisest man who ever lived, Solomon, (aside from Jesus) thinks differently on that matter. He said the day of one’s death is better than the day of birth and the end of a thing is better than the beginning. (Ecclesiastes 7:1, 8)

It seems too counterintuitive to be true.

We celebrate babies and weddings with smiles and laughter, showering mothers and newlyweds with well wishes and hope. And in turn, we grieve the death of anything, pounding our fists on the fresh dirt of the grave, whether it be of our loved one or some long-held dream.

The end clearly can’t be better than a beginning.

Or is it?

On a spiritual level, where Jesus resides and I believe what He has done, I know my death will be better than my birth. But my finite mind grapples with understanding how the giver could be so much greater than the gift.

In the same way, I wrestle with how right now isn’t perfect and how there seems to be no tidy end. The same message is often on replay in my mind; “shouldn’t I be over everything now? Shouldn’t I be “fixed?” I mean, after all, I have Jesus and I’ve worked so hard.

The answer to these questions is simple really;

We weren’t meant to be perfectly happy here.

We were never meant to feel completely content on this swirling ball that hangs perilously amidst an unending black void.

For now, there really is no perfect ending, there’s “to be continued…”

We’re just in the midway.

I find we are in the middle here, processing, not so much paused—our pain certainly does not pause—the hard we experience here is not put on hiatus. Until we come face to face with the One that put us here in the first place, the struggles we face may have no real ending.

It’s okay to feel unfinished because truth is, we are.

Do you feel like you can't get things finished and finalized? Always in the middle of things? Here are hope and help. It's grace for the unfinished.

 

Friend, grace finds us where we’re at and not a minute after.

We will not be all tidied up this side of heaven. It’s just not how the story goes. I have come to believe we are meant to feel slightly unsettled with where we’re at.

My point to all of this is that if you’re wrestling with your anxiety and depression—or whatever you grapple repeatedly with—you are right where you’re supposed to be.

Don’t wait for tomorrow when your anxiety has stopped or when the depression finally ceases to do that thing you long to do.

If you’re waiting for perfect, chances are, you’ll wait a lifetime and it’ll never arrive.

We can search all day long for how to heal the broken spaces within us but without gazing directly into the face of the Holy, some broken spaces will stay… for now.

I still wrestle with my fears and doubts and long to tame the anxious beast that resides inside of me. I am not perfectly whole just yet and the same goes for you.

These truths may make you sad and a little unsettled, but Friend, I pray you’ll find comfort in being unfinished. It is here in the middle where He shapes, refines and perfects. There is SO MUCH unbelievable beauty in a God that died for our sins and imperfections and yet leaves them with us to shape us.

Beauty in the ugly

I have a love for flowers and I cherish that I can plant an ugly little seed in a bunch of gross, worm-ridden dirt and over time the most stunning, vividly bright and fragrant wildflowers will grow. I also adore the fact that it takes equal parts bright sunny days and gray, rainy ones to make them appear. Gorgeous little poppies or foxgloves will attract every type of curious little pollinator, they can’t help but be drawn to the fragrance and beauty.

I think it’s the same with our hard places;

Loveliness grows out of the most unlikely of dirty, worm-ridden spots and others are drawn to us because of them. Why? Because comfort, help, and hope have never come from perfect. Instead, it’s born from hard places in order to share with others.

There is no need for perfection and there is no need for getting it just right. Not here, not with Him.

There’s just heaping, endless amounts of grace for the really hard, crappy, useless days and likewise, for the sweet, simple, mostly perfect ones.

He didn’t come here for the fixed, He came for the sick, the sinner, the anxious, the depressed, the perfectionist, the addict, the prideful, the vain, and the (_____). Fill in the blank… (See Mark 2:17)

And you know what He calls them?

Chosen. Ephesians 1:4

Redeemed. Ephesians 1:7

Forgiven. Ephesians 1:7

Friend. John 15:15

Justified. Romans 3:24

We may be here in the middle, unfinished with broken places.

But not to Him.

He washed us, made us clean and calls us His own, even on our absolute worst days. We don’t have to tidy up to completion and have perfect endings and well-rounded stories. Because He already did all of that. He is the ultimate storyteller—His end is always SO much better than any of our beginnings.

In our battles, we find grace for today and that is all we need. Step by step, minute by minute, perfect, glorious, gritty, grace.

He is not finished with us yet

I’m ending this series, not because it’s complete, but because there’s not a perfect ending.

I want my blog to reflect the way I live my life; in the middle, a bit unfinished with equal parts rain and sun, making something beautiful from worm-ridden brown.

Here in this middle place of waiting to see the One that holds my heart and life in His hands, I long for the ending. I wait with a hope that honestly can’t be explained on an intellectual level, no matter how many well-placed words I string together.

My sweet friend, keep fighting the good fight and know that I fight it with you and so do a billion or more others. And one day soon we will meet Him face to face and He will tell us “well done.” Not because you got all perfected, but because you were bloodied and dirty and kept getting back up to fight.


The Anxiety and Depression Series – Grace for the Unfinished

I’m linking up with some other fabulous bloggers this week:

Grace and Truth Link Up: Cultivating Wisdom
Tea And Word Link Up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#LMMLinkup: Happy Indepence Day

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