The Armor of God

 

Depression. What does it feel like? What is it? I always describe it as a dark abyss….a sea of nothingness.  Where you are aware of everything around you and nothing at all. Where you feel the earth pressing down on you, but you feel so empty. When you can’t differentiate up from down or left from right.  It just happens…sets in and makes a home.  But Why? Why does it find it’s way into our hearts and why do we give it a space to call home? I’ll tell you why, because it’s finds a crack….a hole…a chink in our armor and let’s itself in.  We let our defenses down and in it comes.  So what do we do? In the darkest of dark I would pray Ephesians 6:17 over and over again. I would imagine myself putting on my armor and getting ready for battle. It would try and cover myself in so much holy spirit, that hopefully nothing else would get in. The truth is…sometimes it does get in.  Does this mean that we are not full enough of God and we have room left in our hearts? Absolutely not! Often in warfare the battle wages in waves of wins and losses.  It doesn’t always have an epic finale when we want it to.  Often, we are at war for a reason and sometimes the war is getting us ready for a revolution.  The revolution of ourselves, our families and life yet to come.  So why do we often wave the white flag and give up? I’ll tell you why.  I have stood with my toes on the edge of insanity….wiggling….face looking over into the abyss and thinking that I had come to the end.  I’ve been there! I have walked through the valley and I hate to tell you this….I’ve walked through it more then once.

In my darkest times I prayed for instant healing! To be one of those that God miraculously touches instantly.  I wasn’t though and I’m still not.  I still have a revolution going on inside of me and I know the battle isn’t over yet.  I have a call to rally those around me to pick up their swords and fight the battle that wages in the depths of their souls. To unite our inequities and fight together for the peace of our souls.  TO NOT hide within the shadows in fear and shame, but to stand proud and united in HIM.  To not lower our heads in embarrassment, but to stand proud and declare that I am WONDERFULLY and BEAUTIFULLY MADE! So are you! You are not defected or broken…you are just a mosaic of beautifully shining broken glass.  The TRUE artist knows what you are supposed to look like, but to the human eye you look broken, ugly, torn and bedraggled.  HE however did not create you to look this way, HE created you for great and mighty things. To declare your battle cry and trample over the lies that enemy has fostered in your heart for TOO long! Don’t let him make a home in the shallows of the abyss because though you feel alone, he is waiting to take up partnership with you.  He is waiting for you to bring down the castle drawbridge and lower your gates.

Often, our gates get lowered by life. What does that even mean? We get so caught up in the hustle and bustle that we lose sight of US and of HIM.  That’s why in battle we often have to lose ourselves, in order to find ourselves.  We have to be beaten and bedraggled…in order to be reborn and remade.  Battle wasn’t meant to be easy, but it is what wins wars.  So don’t stand behind the castle walls waiting for the battle to stop…it’s time to take up arms and fight.  Take up your sword, put on your helmet, and hold up your shield.  This battle does not determine who is going to win the war, but who will win the revolution for your soul.  Don’t lose sight of your fellow comrades that are fighting along side of you, because everyone has a battle that they are waging.  Stand side by side with them, because two swords are better then one.  “If you want to run fast, run alone.  If you want to run far, run together (African proverb).”

Who will you take up arms with? Who will you stop to pick up? Who will you save from the depths of Hell? Now as I am writing this, I know that some of you are in a time of pause or rest.  You aren’t meant to gather the troops yet, because you are still working on your armor.  You are crafting your sword and making it from the strongest metal.  You are not ready for a revolution because your battle has not begun. You have not gathered your quiver of arrows for battle! BUT! For those of us who are ready…we MUST fight together! WE MUST trust in our fellow comrades and WE MUST not fight alone! When an animal hunts it singles out the weakest of the herd and tries to get it away from it’s protection.  Let that not be you! Don’t single yourself out and run from your protection! Clasp together and form a bond that cannot be broken! “For two are better then one!”

 

I release you!

white and red plastic heart balloon on sky during daytime

In the last couple of weeks I have jokingly called myself the “Pied Piper” of anxiety. I’ve had countless students and parents in my office and do you know what always comes up…..anxiety. Dark….smelly……dirty…..ANXIETY! I decided a couple of years ago that I refused to hide in the dark and that I would use my anxiety for GREATNESS! You heard me…..GREATNESS! I would overcome, I would defeat and I would share my story with others.  No longer would I hide in shame about my anxiety! No longer would I minimize  it! I’m not going to lie….when I decided to do this my anxiety actually got worse.  It did not want to let go! It had made it’s home and I would have to fight to get out from it’s grasp.

For so long I had told myself, I have anxiety and anxiety defined who I was.  I was no longer a person, I was a person with anxiety. It was my persona and often even my excuse.  It wrapped itself around me and became infused and charred in my DNA.  I never thought I could break myself free of it, but just exist, hide and control it.  Do you have something you like to control? Maybe it’s not anxiety.  Maybe it’s depression or some kind of dependency.  You try to control every aspect of it, but the truth is….if you don’t bring it into the light (and continue to hide it in shame and darkness), it is actually controlling you.  You think that you have the upper hand, but in reality it is pressing down on you and controlling your every breath.

So what do you do?   How do you move on from a life that has consumed you for so long and has become who you are? Maybe you just say goodbye…that’s what I did.  No really! I wrote my old self a goodbye letter and gave it permission to move on, because I did not need it anymore.  You see, the self we release served a purpose somewhere down the line.  Maybe it was for self preservation, the result of trauma or wall we built up for protection.  Whatever it’s purpose, it can still be released!

My Letter to Myself:

Dear Capable Jen,

I want to thank you for all that you’ve done for me and I want to say sorry for everything you had to endure.  You had to learn to be strong and hold in your emotions in order to survive.  You had to endure a childhood that lacked the nurture that you craved and that left you feeling abandoned and sad.  You were taught ideals that were not true and you learned things by watching those around you.  Many of which, were lies.  You put on a smile and sucked up your way through life. 

You were strong when you heard the pooping of the alcohol in the morning, when your mom wouldn’t play with you, when she didn’t want to spend time with you, watch you play or just connect with you.  You were strong, as you watcher her hallucinate and come to her worst.  You dealt with a verbally abusive father, who filled your head with lies and tried to control you with his fears.  You took care of yourself when they abandoned you and did everything an adult would do, when you were still a child. 

You smiled as you were made fun of, teased and tried to fit in and were lost.  You worked hard at school and were always the optimal employee.  You strived for the attention of men and the praise from those around you.  You held strong through a verbally and emotionally abusive marriage, that left you abandoned again. 

You have endured so much and I wouldn’t be where I am without you.  However, it’s time to let you go.  I’m safe now.  I have people who love me for me, an amazing family, have forgiven my parents and have a deeper relationship with God.  It’s time for you to leave and let amazing, beautiful,, funny, and caring Jen move into and fulfill the destiny God has for her.  I’m fine now.  I need you to leave my backpack, because it’ time to give you up as I walk up the mountain.  I need to finish this journey as Jen.  The new Jen.  The Jen who loves herself and who is ENOUGH!.  Who doesn’t have guilt, to please people, and who strives for the glory of God.  The Jen who is kind to herself because she has done nothing wrong. 

Father God, I ask that you take capable Jen by the hand and cover her with your feathers.  Give her the love she so desperately needed all these years and take her hand.  Fly her into heaven.  Take good care of her, because she has endured so much! Capable Jen, go and be free! Don’t worry about me.  You have done your job and now it’s time to fly home.  To a home you always longed for and never got.  Father God, I release capable Jen to you and ask that you take all of her with you!  

Now here’s the hard part.  After you say goodbye….it’s time to forgive! To forgive those who have hurt you, to forgive yourself and maybe even forgive God.  Because it’s when we forgive, that we encounter true freedom! Freedom from our oppressors and freedom from ourselves!

Darkness does not stand a chance…if you have light.

This weekend represented so much to my husband and me. It was some much needed time together and it also represented VICTORY! Many times as I laid in a heap of tears, anger, fear and confusion, I wondered if my life would ever be the same again and if my marriage would survive this wrecking ball because you have to be destroyed in order to be rebuilt.

My husband often asked if we would ever be able to go out again, plan, have adventures and travel. The truth was I didn’t know. I had no idea how I would come out of this, but God promised me I would and I held onto that promise. Because that promise was the only thing that kept me going and that promise extinguished the flames of darkness that smoldered in my brain every minute of the day. Some days I had to remind myself of that promise every minute, every hour and sometimes every second. I had to hold onto it because I was afraid if I let go, I would fall deeper into the abyss of nothingness and despair.

My husband would occasionally speak his fear because he too was afraid of me letting go and watching me fall down the rabbit hole. Even if he didn’t speak it, the fear and worry was written all over his face. He had to stay strong, but his body often gave him away. Fear engulfs everyone around you like a title wave, but the beauty of the wave is that it takes everything with it out to sea. You can either choose to get lost in the ocean or let it strip you clean of everything. Shame, humility, fear and embarrassment. It will either bring you to your knees or sweep the grains of sand right from beneath your feet.

The absence of fear never really exists because fear does serve an intended purpose….if we let it. It stains all the areas of weakness that are present and allows us to see where it’s creeping in and how we need to stop it in its path.

For me control was the big catalyst of my fear and the fear of losing control stoked my anxiety.

I heard God telling me that I was trying to control things that were beyond my control. He controlled the wind, the waves and the seas. I could not control everything. He told me that giving up control was my biggest vice and it would be my greatest victory. I could not control the sun or the moon..only he could. The earth rotates because He told it to. Life was not up to me and not everything could be planned. It had served me well, but it was time to let it go.

Control would will strangle you like a serpent and leave you dead in its wake. You cannot control people, you cannot control things and I could not control Him. He had a plan and a purpose, but I just hadn’t seen it. He created the heavens and the earth with a purpose and did the same with you and me. Victory would be mine, but patience was key.

I needed to delight in the small victories and the miracles that had been happening around me. They were not in vain, but were there to lead me to victory.

I needed to lean on those around me because my weakness gave them strength. Strength to falter, strength to make mistakes and strength to ask for help. He was glorified through my weakness because he sent people to help me. I needed to open my eyes and heart and..shut my mind off. My mind is an amazing tool, but it was destroying me at that moment. My heart needed to lead the way and the door needed to be opened.

There would be no more have tos or obligations…only joy. He did not create me with guilt..only love. I had shut love off a long time ago because it was easier then getting hurt. I need to love with my whole heart and not just part of it. Love was a gift and a great power. When I truly love it emanates from my body and the people around me feel it. That’s true love. Sustaining love. Soul quenching love. I needed to go out and love out of joy and not obligation. Love is not forced. It is the holiest of gifts. A gift not everyone deserves to the fullest extent. It was time to change my mental framework and view myself like He did. Like my husband did. He created me and he did not create a mistake. I was to love myself, like I loved others. I was to choose joy because heavens gates are opened with love and so are our spirits.

When you love out of joy, that shows your true leadership. A forced love never shines. It was time to shine my light and let my heart lead the way. Darkness does not stand a chance in the light of love. It slithers and hides because it’s blinded by the glory.

Heaven was not formed out of guilt, but out of His love for mankind. A father loves his children like no other and I would feel this love again. He promised me that I would twirl and dance and laugh until my sides hurt because it was music to a father’s ears

He delighted in my joy, my happiness and splendor. Love would grow like a fire being stoked by the wind. I just needed to take down the barriers that were blocking it. Once I did this I would see His glory.

Glory was not meant for heaven alone, but the people on earth. My family had taught me obligation and guilt. I needed to unlearn it. I needed to learn to love myself without guilt or condemnation because I was teaching my children to love themselves. My children could not do this if I did not love and nurture myself. Mind, body and spirit.

I had abused my body no longer. It could not go on. I needed to heal in order to love again, but healing would come from the inside. I needed to love myself like he loved me, not because He has to but because I bring Him great joy! Not for what I do, but because of the person He created me to be. I needed to love others in the same way.

  • Choose truth instead of guilt, shame and condemnation.
  • Release my old self and look towards my new self.
  • Sever soul ties with people and events.
  • Picture guilt, shame and condemnation and handing them over to God. Asking God what he wanted to replace them with.

Pslam 18

adult affection baby belly
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

In my darkest days I was paralyzed and unable to think and move.  My anxiety crippled me into a swollen heap.  I could not care for myself nor my children.  I had to rely on those around me and especially my mother.  I do not like to rely on anyone, but myself.  I do not like to appear weak, but I had no choice.  God had humbled me, as I laid motionless.  I cried on her shoulder, I shared my fears and I let her see every inch of my soul.  What was covered all those year was released and forgiveness took root.  I may not understand everything, but I can CHOOSE to forgive.  FORGIVENESS is yours to give, but not yours to take.  It is the key that unlocks the hardness of your heart and in turn brings new life to your body and soul.  Who do you need to forgive? Write a list…I did!  You might have to forgive yourself or ask God for forgiveness for what what you did to others.  Forgiveness is amazing! Let go and Let God!

I heard God tell me that he was fighting this battle right beside me.  I have never left.  Come huddle behind me and I will protect you.  He told me that I needed to heal my relationship with my mother, in order to have one with my daughter.  I needed to know what a true mother daughter relationship looked like and could be like.  My heart was hard and it was made soft.  He told me that my daughter would test me, but that I would choose love.

I Prayed:  Lord I am so exhausted. Physically and mentally.  How do I rest?  Please give me peace tonight and rest.  Let me awake anew and ready to start a new day.  I feel like I’m suffocating, please protect me from my enemies.  Cover me with your feathers and protect me from the enemies arrows.  Be my father protector.  Amen.