Seeking Freedom One Step at a Time

Do you know what you are worth?

For the last couple of months, and hardcore the last couple of days, I have been struggling with this idea of worth. It’s funny though, it doesn’t really present itself in my life as my feeling worthless though. This idea sneaks up on me with thoughts like, “I’ll never be good enough for anyone”, “I fail at everything”, “people will eventually decide it’s too hard to be my friend”, “Everyone is judging me and is thinking these thoughts about me”, “why bother trying to be ‘good’ at anything when I will just fail?” These are the way devil creeps in and brings me to a dark, dark place. He is very good at it too- he knows how to manipulate all my feelings from past hurts, past expectations or let downs and struggles to beat me down. Where is God in all this? He is standing beside me, hugging me and whispering in my ear, “You know none of this is true. You know you are worth so much more to me. All you have to do is STOP listening to him and he will go away.” So why do still let the devil in? Honestly, I don’t know. My guess (and what I know deep down to be truth) is as soon as my focus becomes something other than God (pride seeps in, emotions get high, something doesn’t go my way and I get mean, or whatever), the devil takes that sliver of entry and strikes! But here are some of the truths I’ve been focusing on today:

-We know that for those who love God all things work for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28:

-For I know that plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

-“Therefore do not be worried about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 19:26

-Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10:

-Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Ephesians 3:20

-For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

And these are just a few! God is for me. He is never mad at me. He never thinks less of me. He doesn’t think any of that junk about me. He has created me to live a life believing that I am worth something, that I have a purpose, and that I am loved. And none of these ideas is contingent on what I do, say or feel. Even if I mess up, fail, or have a bad day, He still will love me, believes I am worth something, and gives my life a purpose.

I haven’t been doing super great with my sobriety; I have been eating more junk than I should, or not eating at all. I have had some bad days at work where I have messed up. I have hurt my friends. I have been prideful. I have been selfish. All these things are true about my behavior but you know what I have learned? These things don’t have to define who I am. I am not defined by all of those things. I am defined by one thing and one thing only and that is a I am a child of the One True King. And you know what- that says it all. I don’t need to think about anything else as long I remember that truth. And you know what- that is the truth for you too. YOU are a child of the One True King too. And he made you Worth so much more than you can imagine. My prayer for you is that you seek this truth too.

A song that really helped me this week is “Greater” by Mercy Me. Check it out. Really listen to the words and let them speak to your soul.

With Love,

Wendy

The Struggle and HOPE

So as I was driving to work this morning, I was pondering over God’s infinite wisdom. I believe that God is all powerful, all knowing, and completely in control of my life, however, I still find myself questioning His reasons for things rather than accepting what He has chosen for my life.

This weekend my struggle looked like this: I felt waves and waves of depression for no reason. I suffer from depression so I am constantly taking my meds, going to my counselor, trying to maintain a decent diet and exercise program and reaching out when I need help. This weekend though none of that seemed to help. All I wanted to do was sleep or binge eat (my addiction is food). Knowing that I have a four year old to take care of and that I have committed my life to God’s hands, I didn’t want to fall prey to my addiction nor did I want to shut my daughter out by sleeping all weekend long. I prayed and forced myself to get things accomplished. I started to notice a couple of things while I was praying and forcing my body to move this weekend. When I quit praying and let my mind wander – the devil would slip in. He would say things to make me feel worse about myself, my decisions, my situation, whatever. He would start telling me that food could fill my voids and sleep would shut out all my problems. But when I prayed in those moments for clarity and help, God would provide it. I wouldn’t crave the junk I had wanted a moment ago and I could keep going for ten more minutes, then twenty, then thirty. You might be thinking “that sounds great. Where is your struggle? You seemed to have figured it out.” Yes, I figured out how to make it through the day, but then comes those quiet moments during the night. Those moments during the night when the kid is in bed, the TV is no longer capturing my attention and there is only time to think. That is when the questions in my prayers creep up like choking vines. Questions like “God, why won’t you heal me from this?” or “Why can’t I just eat what I want and not feel guilty – everyone has to eat right? Why should I be any different?” It never ceases to amaze me how God answers my questions. When I was whiney and asking Him these questions last night, I wasn’t listening for an answer. But this morning, when I was open to His voice, He really revealed to me a couple of things about my questions to Him. First, He hates to see me depressed. That isn’t what He wants for my life. He didn’t create me to have to fight against my own self-loathing because He created me for so much more. Why doesn’t He heal me then? Because He can use me. Over the last year of my life I have been able to talk to so many people about my person battles with depression and help them help themselves, their family members, or their friends. He also uses my struggle to help me become closer to Him. I know in my moments of desperation that the only place I can look for solid truth is Him. He doesn’t heal my depression so that I can overcome it with Him and help others who may not know God is their healer. I think the same could be said about my addiction. In my weakest moment this weekend I made a poor choice and I went to the store. I know that I should never do this when I am feeling sad – in the past it has only led to binge eating and shame. Well, I was defiant to myself and God and went anyways. As I was wandering the food isles, I reached for the foods that give me comfort – chips, candy and ice cream. As I checked out, I knew the choice I was making was not surrendering to God’s plan for my life. And finally, as I drove home, before I had even take a bite of the items in my bags, I felt shame. When I got to my driveway I sat in my car for a few moments and I finally prayed. I asked God to send me some comfort; to help me to not give in to my emptiness and consume all that I had bought. I went in the house, I put the groceries away and I decided to take a shower. Amazingly, by the time I had done all of this, I no longer wanted to binge eat. Did I eat a few chips and one mini ice cream – yes. But did I feel like eating the whole bag and box to feel comfort- no. I already felt a sense of comfort. I knew that God loved me and He didn’t want me to feel shamed by my action. I knew that if I gave into my flesh and addiction and ate until the pain wasn’t there, I would feel a different type of pain and shame. Did God make me feel less depressed in that moment- not entirely- but did He bring me enough comfort and peace to make it through the evening- He sure did. And when I seek Him to fill these needs, He always does.

I encourage you to look at your life. What are you holding on to? What sins are you hiding from everyone that you feel shame for but are convinced you are the only one it’s hurting? What questions are you asking God about your life that you really aren’t seeking an answer for from Him? I know now that letting God truly handle things and fully trusting Him is the only way I can make it through another day. What about you?

Have a listen to Danny Gokey’s “Hope In Front of Me”. It’s all about how God is our HOPE. He is always there and He knows what is in store for our lives. All we have to do is BELIEVE!

Worn and Weary

Hey Freedom-Seeking Friends!
I am so sorry I missed last week – I was down with the stomach flu. Thank God that is over! I really missed connecting with my Freedom Family!
So as I was confined to my solitude last week, I saw first-hand that the devil is a tricky little bugger. The longer I spent alone, the more he tried to creep into my thoughts and play with my feelings. I started feeling like I was being “left out”, feeling that people didn’t real care I was missing from events, feeling like I was a failure at everything for letting people down by missing obligations and just plain feeling really sorry for myself. I will admit I wallowed in these feelings of self-pity for a bit and even thought about reaching for my favorite comfort foods (my addiction- which we both know would have made me feel like even more of a failure) and then this thought dawned on me… “this is not MY truths; this is not the person I created you to be.” I prayed in that moment that God would help me come out of my pity-party and see truths about the world around me. And like always, God always answers. Here is what I learned: Yes, the world does go on without me, but that doesn’t mean I am being left out, it just means the world doesn’t revolve around my being a part of things (which really, why do I always feel like the world needs to revolve around me anyways?) I learned people did/do care that I was missing from things. I received texts, fb messages, emails, etc. because they were concerned about my health and sanity. And lastly, I learned it was okay to feel sorry for myself for a moment, but then I needed to regain my sanity, not let my pity take me to dark lie filled places and move on. Sometimes, I am going to miss stuff I want to be a part of; sometimes I am going to be too busy or sick or I might just need a day to regroup. Does that mean I have failed at life or that I am no longer wanted or God can’t use me anymore? Heck no! I was reminded that God made me and He always knows what is TRUE in my life. In the moments I felt like reaching for a “snack” and just giving in to my self-loathing/pity I remember that He wants better for my life. When I reached out to Him for comfort, He always gives it. My goal this week is to find comfort and approval in Him, and not in my addiction, my peers, or anything else. I bet it will lead to greater confidence than I could ever imagine. I encourage you to try it too.
Wendy

Tapped Out

I don’t know about you but lately I have been feeling tapped out. You know, like in a wrestling match where you want to tap your partner’s hand and just take a break for a second? Yep, like that. Except yesterday, I felt like I had no one tap in the ring. I was very wrong! Yesterday when I was having a complete breakdown in my car at lunch, blubbering about all the things I needed to get done before I could lay my tired head to rest, I heard a voice loud and clear say “give it me”. As I continued to think about how stressed, overwhelmed, what a failure I felt like, under-qualified, etc. I felt like yesterday, I heard “you are whole and amazing in me”. In that moment I realized I was so stressed because I was trying to carry the whole load of my life on my own. I had asked God for his wisdom on all the things in my life, but after I received His answers, I tried to carry them all on me alone. God was telling me in that moment that He hadn’t expected me to fulfill all I needed to get done without His help. Duh! I remembered that He tells us a few things:
1. God says he will give us strength and He will help us. Isaiah 40:10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
2. He has promised never to leave us and to stand strong in that truth. Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
3. We are to call on Him! Psalm 34:17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. John 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. Philippians 4:6
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
So you know what I did? I prayed. I prayed that God would help me to see people the way He sees people, that He would comfort my aching heart, that He would give me strength to conquer the things that seemed too large, for confidence in the things He guided me to do, and I asked for Him to be my protector for the rest of the day so I could find rest early in the evening. I also thanked Him for all the goodness and promises He keeps. And for the amazing people in my life that I have failed to ask for help from (there may have been some tugging at my heart about that too- but we’ll save that for another day). When I came back in from lunch, I felt much more at peace. The conflicts in my office didn’t disappeared and my work load hadn’t suddenly dissipated, but you know what – I didn’t feel stressed about it. I didn’t feel attacked one time that afternoon. I was able to get everything I needed to get done completed and I felt confident about my work. When I got home, my husband had taken care of more than half the things I had on my “must be done today” list I had running in my head, and I was able to get my at home projects completed and get to bed at 9pm! When I asked God for help, He delivered. And if you ask Him to help you carry some of your loads (all your loads) – He will. He will carry you too if that is what you need. All you have to is ask Him and really let it go to Him.
Today I am remember to be in constant prayer and continue to ask God’s help throughout my day. So far I haven’t had any breakdowns or stuffed my face with food (my addiction), and I feel pretty at peace with my life, so I will call it a good day! Hope you have a good day too!

Am I too busy?

The idea of busyness baffles me. I constantly wonder if I have too many irons in the fire, my hand in too many pies. I am a busy person by nature and like most Americans fill my day from beginning to end with out stop. I am a wife, a mother, I have a full time job, I am an active member of my local church – volunteering with youth, a 12 step program and singing back up in the band, and I also try to find time to spend with my family and friends when I get a chance. I am constantly moving, thinking and going. Sometimes just finding time to think seems to be a daunting task. But then I think to myself, “are you really that busy? Or do you stay busy to avoid the things you don’t really want to do?” I think that is how the word busy really should be defined:

busy (adj): a describing word used as an excuse made with one’s time. Example: She was too busy to make dinner this week.

For me anyway, that is what busyness boils down to. It is that act of putting things off til later. It is my go-to excuse for anything that seems tedious, boring, or hard work. I say things like “Sorry Lord, I was too busy to spend adequate time with you today. I’ll make time tomorrow to squeeze you in between some quiet “me time” and Big Brother!” This is how I used to spend my life- being wrapped up in “busyness”. I had to take a step back and re-prioritize my life a little. Are t.v. shows really important to my life? Do they offer me support, hope, healing, friendship, love or any real connection to life? Not at all. Does God? Heck Yes! Does reading His word? Yes! Does going to my support group, life group, church, meeting friends for coffee, playing a game with my family… etc? Yes, Yes, Yes! Am I am a person who has many tasks and commitments in my life? Certainly, we all do. But what is more important to me and what fulfills my life more: filling my life with menial tasks like t,v., playing on the computer or cellphone, “me time”, or whatever my busy excuse is, OR making time for things that encourage my life and help me grow with God? It seems like a pretty simple choice to me! (Now, please don’t get me wrong- I am not saying that one should never have “me time” or veg out in front of the t.v. or computer. I am just saying that for me, these tasks were taking up more of my time than I realized and that my “busyness” was more about excuses than actually not having the time to do certain things that seemed like more work than just vegging out).

What do you think? Has the devil sucked you into believing you are too busy to have a meaningful relationship with God or with others? Have you listened to the lies that you can live alone in your busyness and that it isn’t affecting you that much? If so, I encourage you to look at your schedule this week. What things can you cut out that are blocking you from spending time with God and with others? What things have you been filling your time with in order to try to feel adequately busy enough to skip things that might benefit your life? (For example – for quite a while now I have said “I am too busy to go to counseling. This week I took “vegging in front of the couch mindlessly” off my schedule and went to counseling. It was awesome! And I didn’t even miss my mindless hour of vegging! I felt so much more productive after going even! And it has way more potential to benefit my life than mindlessness!) Anyway, ask God what you can be doing to make your life more manageable and I promise he will reveal areas to you. He desires you to have an abundant life full of people and activities that bring you closer to Him.

Love you people.
Wendy