At the young age of 27, our Church's Worship Leader, Whitney, was in the battle of her life with cancer. Our church is large enough that I didn't personally know her, but I was believing for her breakthrough. At the same time, I was believing for my own. I needed a different kind of miracle. I was believing for promises that God had given me about my future.
I felt this inexplicable connection to Whitney because as I prayed for her, I was overcome with the Holy Spirit's presence every single time without fail, so I was absolutely sure that she would be healed.
Then, I got the news. Whitney had passed away. This shook my world. I was heartbroken for all of the reasons one would be when someone passes. But there was more to this. I had connected all of her healing to the promises God gave me about my own future.
Suddenly, I had questions and my faith felt a little shaky. I asked myself if I'd misunderstood the promises God had given me for my own life. All of the doubts and fears crept in.
The thing that moved me out of despair and back into solid faith and expectant hope in God was the routine I'd established before the heartache and mystery.
Spending time with God every day not only increases our faith and relationship with Him, but it also becomes the solid ground on which we can stand when our world is shaken. Without this established routine, my emotions and the slightest bumps in the road would toss me around like a kernel of corn in a popcorn maker.
There are 4 things that I do every day that keep me from staying in a place of anxiety, depression, or slumps.
1. Read a good book
More specifically, a life-saving, chain-breaking, freedom-staking book. I know you've probably heard this so much and even as a guy or a gal who's crazy about God, this can get old. Here it is anyway- read the Bible every day. If you're already doing it, kudos! If not, here are some things worth considering.
It can be quick. I can usually get a chapter in while I'm eating a bowl of cereal and still have time to think about some verses that hit home for me.
I read The Mirror version which is a brand new version that isn't even fully completed as I write this but I have to tell you, I have never felt like I fully understood every word in the Bible as it relates to my knowledge of God's heart until I read this version. I can feel God's love for me in every verse. It's an easy read.
I study The New Testament daily because that's the covenant/promise God has given to me. I know and appreciate the wisdom, prophesies, and history of God in The Old Testament but it is not the covenant that God made with me so it's important to me to fully know the promises that God has given me.
2. Sing a little song. Dance a little dance.
Worshiping God is actually the most important step to lifting our spirit when we're down, hurting, lost, or feel like giving up. I've battled with anxiety and depression throughout my life but doing this everyday pulls me out of that defeating place more quickly. It's ok to not be ok but when it comes to depression, anxiety, and slumps, we're either coming out of it or going deeper into it. Worshiping God will help you head in the right direction.
Singing songs to God actually opens up our hearts to Him and invites His Spirit to move in us and then through us (in helping others).
He created us to receive when we give. We receive peace and joy when we give Him worship.
A lot of people like to put God and science into separate boxes. I always see God in science. Singing releases endorphins and increases oxytocin levels and has all sorts of life-giving benefits. It makes us happier and more creative. It helps depression and other mental illnesses. Read more here.
I get it. I've been there. When you feel crumby or you're battling serious depression, it seems impossible to make a phone call or a simple decision. The absolute last thing you can imagine doing is singing. This is where you've got to push through. In fact, I've come to realize that everything about depression comes down to pushing through.
Mumble those lyrics. Even if you don't feel anything. Even if you hate what you're saying. Do it anyway. Keep going. Then get a little louder. Then get a little clearer. Louder. Clearer. Soon, you're doing the very thing your heart and your brain were convinced was impossible.
And guess what. It's helping. It's moving you in the right direction.
And God is meeting you right where you are. He's not sitting high up on some cloud waiting for you to heave yourself up to His level. He's got His gentle, caring hands on your shoulders and is looking deep into your eyes, right into your beautifully complex soul. He's seeing all of you and loving everything about you.
Whether you jumped out of bed with an expectant hope or couldn't think of one reason to open your eyes this morning, praising God is a great way to bring victory into your every day!
3. March it out!
Marching has turned my prayer life of petition into a warrior's claim on victory, and I can feel the POWER! My wood flooring may be soon experiencing a wear-path, but that circular pattern in my kitchen will be the symbol of triumph! Let's hope my husband agrees.
There is something indomitable about physically moving into a space that you are claiming as your own. I'm talking spiritual, kingdom space. When I'm walking as I proclaim, "I'm walking into the promises God has for me," there is strength.
I know Jesus has given me (and you) authority but it doesn't always feel that way. When I march, I actually feel as though I have the authority and the victory that has been given to me by Jesus Christ. Luke 10:19
I claim out loud the specific promises that God has given me. There is power in the spoken word and I am speaking blessing into fruition. I am agreeing with God in all of the good things that He has for me and my loved ones.
Any good relationship requires listening from both parties. God listens to us all the time. Make sure this isn't a one-sided relationship. Nobody likes that.
After I've learned, sang, danced, and blazed a trail into the fullness that God has for my spirit, I listen. I want to make space to hear God, get an impression, or a vision for what He wants me to know.
Usually, He uses that time to give me peace, which I'll take with gratitude. Other times, He wants to nudge me in a certain direction, and sometimes He wants to show me something extraordinary.
In a world full of noise, the loudest being my own thoughts, I have to be intentional about giving Him time to speak. I do that by sitting in my favorite chair, making sure I'm absolutely comfortable and then listening.
And here's the key to making space for His thoughts rather than my own: I focus on my long, deep breaths. I feel my belly rise and fall with each breath. That focus is enough to remove my own thoughts and agenda and make room for His.
1. Read the Bible.
2. Praise and Worship.
3. March in Victory.
4. Listen in Silence.
We are creatures of habit. Practicing these habits with God every day will transform us.
We'll take a journey of becoming the person that God created us to be. We'll begin to see more love, peace, kindness, and compassion in ourselves and less of the stuff that hurts us and others.
We'll stay on a path that leads us to the purpose for which we were created. We'll feel more fulfilled each day.
Here's the kicker: when we experience earth-shattering heartache, grief, depression, anxiety, or any other pain, this routine will bring you through that. This, like God, will be your ROCK.
When we experience deep pain or trauma, it feels as though the whole world has stopped moving and everything is wrong. In fact, we can't figure out why people are still going on about their day as usual when ours has been shattered.
We can take comfort in this routine and the God who participates in it with us.
When all we hear are lies from the enemy about who we are and who God is, this is where we find our truth again.
When we sing and dance, even without feeling at first, it begins to move us in the direction of hope and healing. This is where we find our joy again.
When we march and proclaim the promises that God has given us, we begin to believe those truths and feel the power that they hold. This is where we find our voice again.
When we relax into the silence and just let God hold us, this is where we find peace again.
When you find yourself in the difficulty and mystery, keep your routine with God and you'll move out of a place of helplessness and hopelessness so much quicker and begin to walk into a place of truth, joy, power, and peace even in difficult circumstances. This is how we keep moving forward.
Have I forgotten anything? I'd love to know what gets you back on your feet when you're going through difficulty. Post a comment and let me know!
Next week, I'll be talking about how Reframing Your Memories Can Help You Move forward in Confidence at Own Your Victory. Don't miss it!