The Calling

“What if?”

My favorite phrase. The phrase that holds me back. The phrase that makes me choke.

Turns out, Moses liked that phrase, too (Exodus 4). I think he and I would’ve been friends, judging from this chapter. God told Moses his plans of using him, and he was plagued by the what-if. He feared no one would listen to or believe him that God chose him. He gave every excuse he had not to go to Egypt. He argued with and begged God to choose someone else. But God chose Moses for a reason. In fact, Moses was chosen not only to go to Egypt, but to be an example for people like me, thousands of years later.

Regardless of his crippling fears, he obeyed. And God used him, alright.

Fear rules my mind so much so that it’s extremely difficult for me to decipher which voice is God’s. One of my biggest goals is to learn how to hear God’s voice not only when I’m at my lowest, but every day so I can enter further into my calling. If only I could get rid of that obnoxious “what if.”

God gave Moses all the proof he needed, and then some. When Moses asked why him to do the job, due to his poor speech, God told him not to worry. That He will provide the words. No matter how many things held Moses back, God wiped them away. Moses had to trust him. Even though he was terrified and confused, he had faith.

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I think my anxiety plays a big part in not being able to hear God’s voice. I fear I’ll be chosen like Moses. I fear God’s plans for me. I fear the unknown. The what if. What if I’m not hearing God but Satan? What if this is a trick? What if I’m flat-out crazy?

Whatever it is God has chosen me for, I pray for strength. I pray that I hear Him clearly, and am strong enough to follow Him.

Advice Tip #15: If it’s not something that glorifies God, it is not from God. How do you know what glorifies God? Read His Word. It has all the answers, and that’s where He directly speaks to you. The more you read, the more you’ll recognize His voice, therefore hearing His calling for you more clearly. Even Moses had anxiety. But even Moses overcame it.

Exodus 4(ESV)

Moses Given Powerful Signs

Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’” The Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A staff.” And he said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses ran from it. But the Lord said to Moses, “Put out your hand and catch it by the tail”—so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand— “that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.” Again, the Lord said to him, “Put your hand inside your cloak.”[a] And he put his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous[b] like snow. Then God said, “Put your hand back inside your cloak.” So he put his hand back inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh. “If they will not believe you,” God said, “or listen to the first sign, they may believe the latter sign. If they will not believe even these two signs or listen to your voice, you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground, and the water that you shall take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.”

10 But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.”11 Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” 13 But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” 14 Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses and he said, “Is there not Aaron, your brother, the Levite? I know that he can speak well. Behold, he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. 15 You shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth, and I will be with your mouth and with his mouth and will teach you both what to do. 16 He shall speak for you to the people, and he shall be your mouth, and you shall be as God to him. 17 And take in your hand this staff, with which you shall do the signs.”

Thanks for reading,

Sarah

 

 

 

 

 

 

As You Are

“The presence of fear does not mean you have no faith. Fear visits everyone… But make your fear a visitor, not a resident.” -Max Lucado, author and pastor.

Recently, I was listening to a podcast, and something was said that struck me.

“Anxiety is a sin.”

I get it. They explained that anxiety happens when your faith is in the wrong place. You’re not putting your trust in God but in the world. Yes and no.

Sure, I think we could all use a little more faith, no one is perfect, but I think calling it a “sin” is a bit harsh. Is justifiable sin a thing?

I’m going to have to agree to disagree with them on this one.

Everyone gets anxious, and I get that that might be where the faith thing really comes in. It’s natural for us to get nervous and it’s natural for us to sin. Living with severe anxiety for almost 20 years, though, I can tell you with confidence that it’s not something that can be controlled. I don’t wake up every morning and think, “I’m gonna be anxious today because I’m in the mood to sin!” It’s just not like that. I make personal goals every day for my anxiety (I highly recommend it!). I’ve been trying to get into the habit of singing worship songs to myself or praying when I feel my teeth starting to grind. Who knows? Maybe that’s why God gave me anxiety.

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I just started a book that I can’t wait to share with you called “How to Live in Fear” (book review next month!). The author is a pastor who also lives with panic disorder, and let me tell you I’ve never felt so connected with an author. One of the very first things he makes clear is that he understands. And that means a lot to me. So far, it’s been really helpful and is chopped full of great advice and relatable heartfelt stories. If you want to get ahead of the game and read along, you can sample and purchase it here.

But where I’m getting at is this: God loves you no matter how much anxiety, panic, anger, or regret you have. He simply loves you no matter what. When I heard that statement, it filled me with shame. For a moment, I felt like God was mad at me, like he didn’t want to hear from me, again, about my anxiety. He’s over it, done. But that’s the exact opposite of the case.

Matthew 11:28-30(ESV)

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

God wants you to come to him with your burdens. God wants to hear your cries so he can silence them with his love, grace, and forgiveness.

Advice Tip #13: Come just as you are. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done in your life. We’re all covered in sin. None of us are worthy, no matter how good or bad we are. Seek God when you hurt, when you have anxiety, panic, depression, and everything in between. Sick or healthy, rich or poor, it doesn’t matter. That’s the beauty of it. God loves to make brokenness beautiful. You are deeply loved just as you are. Anxiety and all.

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Thanks for reading,

Sarah

Change

I don’t know about you, but change freaks me out. I get comfortable with things and then suddenly they’re different and I’m suddenly filled with all the useless fears again. Even anxiety, itself, changes. It comes and goes. Sometimes you can tell when it’s about to hit, other times you can’t. Sometimes something you think will trigger your anxiety doesn’t, and something you thought would be okay isn’t. Every day, every situation is different.

God stays the same. He’s always patient, always loving, all-knowing, everlasting, the one and only God who will never change.

For me, that’s super difficult to wrap my mind around. It’s hard for me to trust something so unfamiliar. How do I know He’s not going to get upset with something I did and punish me for it at the worst possible time just to spite me? What if he gets mad when I’m quick to judge, or when I have an anxiety attack? What if he gives up on me? What if he’s not okay with something that He was okay with yesterday? Anxiety talks a lot. And it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense (I picture anxiety as a drunk old man outside of a pub in New York who yells at everyone who walks by).

I’m used to being on edge because I’m so afraid of the unexpected. Taking comfort in God is amazing, but it can be hard sometimes when you’re being plagued by the “what if.”

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We have all-access to everlasting joy. Because God doesn’t change, we can trust with all of our heart that His love endures forever. His power never weakens. His grace is all you need. We need God. There’s no way around it. And we can call out to Him whenever we want to, and He will listen.

He’s not a shady friend who messes with your emotions. He’s not a bully. He’s not your friend one day and your enemy the next. He’s not a neglectful parent who skips out on his children. He is our true Father and He always will be. Nothing will ever change that.

Advice Tip #12: Remind yourself that even though we may not be able to comprehend it, there is an everlasting God who wants to fill you with the same everlasting joy He feels. Don’t fear the unknown in your days. The same God who is in control of everything in this universe is the same God who created you and cherishes you. And that will never change.

Psalm 90:2 (ESV)

Before the mountains were brought forth,
    or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
    from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

Thanks for reading,

Sarah

 

 

The End of Me (Book Review)

“Brokenness is not trending on twitter. It’s not on anyone’s resume, and it’s no business strategy at all. It is, however, the one hope Jesus holds out for us, the inside-out, upside-down way that is somehow the only path that ultimately is right side up.

Embrace the paradox: brokenness is the way to wholeness.”
-Kyle Idleman

This book of paradoxes was a great read. The author, Kyle Idleman, is hilarious and does an excellent job explaining the upside-down inside-out ways of God. This book talks about coming to the end of yourself, dying to yourself, for Him. It covers everything from the importance of mourning to filling emptiness.

This book really spoke to me as it made me think of all the times I’ve come to the end of me. All the breakdowns and freakouts. We’ve all come to the end of ourselves, one way or another. But do we do it every day?

Dying to yourself means making decisions that you wouldn’t normally make in order to please God. It’s sacrificing yourself to become a new you. A Godly you.

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My most recent end-of-me moment was a year ago when I had to be given tough love and learn the hard way that my attempt at selling art had failed miserably. I broke down. I felt lost like I was no longer good enough for that dream. I felt like God was disappointed in me for not knowing how to use one of His gifts. I didn’t know where to go or where to direct my life. And I was completely embarrassed. It was a rough day, but I needed it. Once I calmed down God gave me peace and strength to sit down, put my anxiety aside, and find not one job, but two. He gave me opportunity after opportunity and I took them one at a time, and now I’m here today. I no longer make the same choices I did then. I was trying to force a life I wasn’t prepared for. I wouldn’t give God control.  At the end of me, I let go and let Him put me where he needs me and grew closer to Him because of it. He proved Himself faithful time and time again and continues to do so.

Another time when I reached the end of me it involved a half a jar of cookie butter being thrown across the yard. That was another bad day. But again, as I sat in my car and let out two years worth of pain, I was dying to myself. It took a few hours, but I calmed down and haven’t acted like that since then. I sought help, and handle things differently now (I refrain from throwing jars of cookie butter and screaming in my car). Now I pray. Now I’ve grown. I died to that part of me.

Advice Tip #12: This one is from the Challenge Questions at the end of the book (I recommend answering them as you go): Make a list of all your weaknesses (your “disqualifications” from serving God, the things that bring you to the end of you). Then surrender them, renounce them, and tear up the paper you wrote them on. When I did this, I realized that God is bigger than my weaknesses.

“At the end of yourself, you have an opportunity to experience the presence of God in a way you never have before. Maybe you’ve embraced some wonderful things and lost them. But there’s no embrace like the divine one.” – From chapter 2 “Mourn to Be Happy”

I highly recommend this book to literally everyone. Because it’s an example of a way of living for God that is just as upside-down as he is.

Purchase The End of Me on Amazon

Thanks for reading,

Sarah

 

 

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

We all have one heck of a past. We all have stories, we’ve all been hurt, and we all have things that are hard to let go of. I have an entire list that goes on and on!

My “yesterday” is full of chasing big dreams and completely wrecking my life while doing so. None of my attempts were focused on God, so naturally, they didn’t work out. My plans weren’t His plans. I’ve learned the hard way that God didn’t put me here for recognition, but to be used by Him. Even if that means living a small and noble life doing work that the world doesn’t consider to be glamorous. But I’ve never been more content. Because I know that God is holding our yesterdays to be used today to shape our tomorrows.

Every day should be celebrated because every day is new and holds its own special purpose. A lot of times, especially with anxiety, that’s much easier said than done. A lot of days begin with fear. So how can we get into the habit of celebrating instead of fearing?

Advice Tip #11: Let go, embrace, have faith. Let go of yesterday, embrace today, have faith in tomorrow. Write it down, memorize, and when you begin to worry about tomorrow or things of the past, repeat it to yourself.

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Embrace todayTake it one minute, one hour at a time. How can God use your yesterday for today to strengthen your tomorrow? Focus on today, no matter where you are or what you’re doing so God can lead you to tomorrow.

He will never lead you to failure. When you have faith and allow Him to lead you, you then can be used to your fullest potential. We’ve all been given gifts that can make our lives meaningful when we let God use them. There is nothing wrong or shameful about noble living. There’s nothing wrong with chasing dreams, as long as you’re letting God lead you. Regardless, you should never worry about tomorrow. God has already prepared it for you.

1 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)

9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit,

Matthew 6:34 (ESV)

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Thanks for reading,

Sarah

Minutes vs. Moments

Does anyone ever get freaked out by the ticking of a clock? I do. Each tick is another second gone. I remember looking at my fur baby when he was very sick and hearing the ticking of my wristwatch thinking, “And it won’t stop.”

I’m never happy with time. It’s a constant race, sometimes a bloody battle. It’s also a huge trigger for me. I’m constantly checking the time. At work, at home, when I wake up, before bed, I count how many hours I have for literally everything (there might be a hint of OCD in there somewhere). I tend to drive separately everywhere I go with family because if I can’t leave on time, I have a meltdown. I have to have enough time for all of the windows between home, work, and church. I have to have a certain amount of time to “chill” and relax before and after work or I get worked up. I hate being late to anything, and if I am then I squirrel out. If I only have 5 hours left to sleep and I’m wide awake I get angry. I’m a huge pain when it comes to time. Time, time, time!

Time has become a giant annoying distraction for me when it comes to focusing on God and His plans for my day. While I’m fighting the clock at work, I could be busy finding ways to let God use me. I could be praying and praising instead of looking at my watch every ten minutes, counting down my shift.

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I really dig this verse. It’s such a simple reminder that there’s more to life than racing the clock. Opportunities fly by each time I glance at my watch. We are surrounded by opportunities all day, every day. But we’re all so busy, busy, busy that we forget to just stop, breathe, and look around. Let’s come back down to earth for a minute.

How can God use you if you’re worried about hours and minutes? How can God use you during those hours and minutes? How can God use you right now, at this very moment?

“The butterfly counts not months but moments and has time enough.” -Rabindranath Tagore

Advice tip #10: Stop counting minutes and start counting moments. God can use us in ways we can’t imagine, big and small. Even if the only opportunity you have at the moment is to pray and talk to Him. When you find yourself getting anxious about the clock, bring yourself to the present and let God use you. It could be for anything. We are where we’re supposed to be. Wherever we are, we are there for the time that we are there to be used by Him somehow. There are no accidents with God. He puts you where He can use you. Slow down. Open your mind and heart. Welcome the opportunities.

Ephesians 5:16-17(MSG)

11-16 Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It’s a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ.

Wake up from your sleep,
Climb out of your coffins;
Christ will show you the light!

So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!

Thanks for reading,

Sarah

Forgive and (Try to) Forget

“You don’t owe me, anymore.”

I’m in the middle of a devotional series called “Enemies of the Heart.” It’s exploring 4 different “heart conditions” that keep you from being your best. Day 3 was all about letting go of hurt and anger.

As mentioned in my testimony, I hold a lot of anger towards my youth. There’s quite a list of people I not only need to forgive but need forgiveness from. Those people I have already begun repairing my relationships with and with God’s help are doing better than ever. For the ones who hurt me, however, most of them are completely out of contact for personal reasons. Regardless, I choose to forgive them today. I choose to stop comparing myself, stop dwelling on it, and to seek God with my pain.

What happened to me in high school contributes to most of my anxiety today. However, there are a lot of things I do now that also contribute to my anxiety. I creep them, I dwell on their actions from ten years ago, I still find myself wanting the worst for them. And you know, that’s not doing anything but distracting me from becoming who I really want (and need) to be, who God needs me to be. It’s not doing anything but wasting time. It’s not doing anything pleasing to God. It’s hurting him. It’s hurting me. It just hurts.

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This day of the devotional asks you to identify who you’re angry with, determine what they owe you, cancel the debt by forgiving them and don’t let the anger build up again. Oh, okay.

Anger is hard to control and is one of my demons (or “rats” as some call it). Not letting it build up is something God’s definitely going to have to help me with, along with the rest of it, let’s be real. My heart is pretty tough in that area. But, like literally everything else in life, there’s a verse for that.

Ephesians 4:25-32(MSG)

25 What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body, we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.

26-27 Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.

28 Did you use to make ends meet by stealing? Well, no more! Get an honest job so that you can help others who can’t work.

29 Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.

30 Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted.

31-32 Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.

“Say only what helps, each word a gift.” That sentence really jumped out at me. It’s short and beautiful. It’s something for me to easily refer to when my mind wanders too far back. When I want to dwell and beat myself up and get angry. Say only what helps. Speak only good, positive, kind, and honest words. “Each word a gift,” each word is able to impact anyone at any point. You never know what your words can do. After all, they’ve hurt me all this time.

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Advice tip #9: Be kind. Forgive. Let God help you forget. Don’t beat yourself up every time you start to get upset. You’re doing the best you can and He knows that. And he’s there waiting for you with verses like these to keep you focused.

Thanks for reading,

Sarah

‘Tis the Season

Oh, June…

This month has been an emotional one, full of goodbyes, celebrations, and new beginnings. My family and I had to say goodbye to our fur baby of 14 years, Charlie. I started a new job that perfectly fits my anxiety, my guy and I celebrated our 7 year anniversary, and then we celebrated Father’s Day.

Saying goodbye to a fur baby is excruciating. A lot of people don’t understand the impact of a family pet. They’re family. And losing one hurts just as much as losing a family member. My heart is still aching trying to remember he’s not here anymore. But for the first time in my adult life, I sought God with this pain. If you know me, I dwell on death. I fear it, I dread it in every sense, I hate it, it freaks me out. It usually takes me a long time for me to heal from the death of a loved one. But I felt His peace. I feel like He quietly reminded me that He is with me, and my Charlie is with Him. I do believe our fur babies go to heaven, and I take comfort in knowing that he’s safe, happy, and pain-free. I can’t wait to be greeted by him when I finally get there. God hears your broken heart, and He heals it. I felt Him the whole day, telling me He’s got him and he’s doing great.

Matthew 5:4(MSG)

“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

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In the book The End of Me, there’s a chapter about the importance of mourning. It opens you up to God’s love. His power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). It can be hard to focus on God when you lose a loved one. But when you do, you will feel him.

Getting back into a normal routine helps a lot. I’ve started a new job that is an answered prayer for my anxiety. God has once again blessed me with a great manager and co-workers and I’m happy with what I’m doing. It’s a great distraction.

Advice Tip #8: Seek God in all seasons of life. Don’t give up when you’re hurt or when everything is going your way. Always praise him for everything: good and bad. Open up your heart and let him mourn with you, comfort you, and celebrate with you.

Ecclesiastes 3(MSG)

There’s a Right Time for Everything

There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:

2-8 A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace.

9-13 But in the end, does it really make a difference what anyone does? I’ve had a good look at what God has given us to do—busywork, mostly. True, God made everything beautiful in itself and in its time—but he’s left us in the dark, so we can never know what God is up to, whether he’s coming or going. I’ve decided that there’s nothing better to do than go ahead and have a good time and get the most we can out of life. That’s it—eat, drink, and make the most of your job. It’s God’s gift.

14 I’ve also concluded that whatever God does, that’s the way it’s going to be, always. No addition, no subtraction. God’s done it and that’s it. That’s so we’ll quit asking questions and simply worship in holy fear.

15 Whatever was, is.
Whatever will be, is.
That’s how it always is with God.

 

I hope everyone had a great Father’s Day!

Thanks for reading,

Sarah

 

 

The Hope Antidote

 

“Anxiety occurs when you believe your nightmares instead of your dreams.” -Bob Beaudine, Author

This morning I finished my YouVersion 7-day devotional called Anxiety Relief. I think it was one of the best devotionals I’ve read, yet. If you’re interested, you should totally check it out. The devotional starts off with this quote by Bob Beaudine that sums up anxiety into a simple sentence. And it’s so real.

Another one of my triggers is crowds. I get weird about people enough as it is, but when there are several in a small area, cue the sweats. Yesterday being Memorial Day, and working in a tiny little boutique, all I could think about as I got ready to go in was the crowd that could possibly form and me being frozen in the middle of it. Of course, it ended up being a quiet, slow and steady day, and I was beyond thankful.

Even though it was quiet, my palms still sweated, my stomach still sunk with every person who walked in, and I still caught myself being afraid of possibilities that didn’t even happen. My nightmares tend to override my faith, more times than not. My mind is so used to being in fight-or-flight mode (usually for no reason) that the idea of just handing that all over to God, with all due respect, is almost a joke. Like how do I even do that if I can’t even control these fears and racing thoughts? The sweaty palms and upset stomach? The tension headaches and tears?

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“The Lord will perfect that which concerns me.” One of the days of this devotional calls for you to list your anxious thoughts (your nightmares) and then list your hopes (your dreams) of God’s use for them. Considering 90% of my thoughts are anxious, I couldn’t organize them into a single list. So I just wrote down the first things that came to mind:

  • My job(s)
  • My fur baby’s declining health
  • My future husband’s salvation, health, and love for not only me but for God.
  • My younger brother
  • My parents’ well-being
  • Finding a home
  • Working with people
  • Time

Yeah, I don’t know, either. But that’s what came out. Then I went on to the list of hope:

  • A full-time job where I am happy and thrive.
  • Peace for my fur baby for the remainder of his life.
  • My future husband and brother accepting Jesus and letting Him transform their lives.
  • My parents’ comfort as my brother and I leave the nest and experience life as adults.
  • God provides, and he will provide a roof along with all of my other needs.
  • God will use me.
  • God’s timing is perfect.

Did this magically make all my fears go away? No. But it gave me a reference when these things are weighing on me. The more I refer to them, the more inspired I become and encouraged to pray and thank God for the blessings that have yet to come.

I love the story in Mark 2:5 where it talks about Jesus asking why people are skeptical of him and his miracles. The story is referring to the paraplegic that he healed, but it’s so relevant. I struggle with faith every day. Sometimes I wonder if He hears me. I know in my heart he does, but it’s natural for us to doubt sometimes. God’s hard to comprehend. In fact, we’re not even capable of comprehending his love as humans. But there’s a reason for that: So we can prove our faith.

Advice tip #7: Write down your anxious thoughts, then write down ways God can use those thoughts and fears to give you hope. Keep it close to you so you can remind yourself when you’re overcome with anxiety. Remember, God loves you deeply. Deeper than any human can comprehend. And just like the paraplegic in Mark, God will heal you.

Mark 2(MSG)

A Paraplegic

1-5 After a few days, Jesus returned to Capernaum, and word got around that he was back home. A crowd gathered, jamming the entrance so no one could get in or out. He was teaching the Word. They brought a paraplegic to him, carried by four men. When they weren’t able to get in because of the crowd, they removed part of the roof and lowered the paraplegic on his stretcher. Impressed by their bold belief, Jesus said to the paraplegic, “Son, I forgive your sins.”

6-7 Some religion scholars sitting there started whispering among themselves, “He can’t talk that way! That’s blasphemy! God and only God can forgive sins.”

8-12 Jesus knew right away what they were thinking, and said, “Why are you so skeptical? Which is simpler: to say to the paraplegic, ‘I forgive your sins,’ or say, ‘Get up, take your stretcher, and start walking’? Well, just so it’s clear that I’m the Son of Man and authorized to do either, or both . . .” (he looked now at the paraplegic), “Get up. Pick up your stretcher and go home.” And the man did it—got up, grabbed his stretcher, and walked out, with everyone there watching him. They rubbed their eyes, incredulous—and then praised God, saying, “We’ve never seen anything like this!”

Thanks for reading,

Sarah

 

The Gift of Empathy

Who would’ve thought that our overstimulated emotions were a blessing? We have the gift of empathy. We feel deeply what others are feeling. We simply feel deeply.

This week we covered overcoming apathy and how God blesses us with uncomfortable situations to make us turn to him so he can show himself. Whether it be anger, depression, anxiety, or all of the above, we were made like this for a reason. We need to feel these emotions to know right from wrong. To know what to stand up against. To show God’s love through shared pain. To be an example of how God suffers with us.

It says in the Bible that we will have trouble in this world (John 16:33). When you have anxiety, ‘trouble’ means everything. Every day can be troubling. But what if instead of getting angry about our situations and how we feel, we embraced it and turned it into passion? Passion for giving, for helping, for standing up for what’s right. What triggers you? Ask God to remove the curtain on your pain. Then ask him to give you strength to find ways to make good of it.

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“Consistently expose yourself to something that creates a righteous discomfort.” As I mentioned on my instagram post, it took me a while to think of my righteous discomfort. I finally realized that I long for certain loved ones of mine to get saved. The thought of them leaving this earth without knowing Jesus scares me to tears. But He gave me this weight to carry for a reason. He gave me a passion for witnessing to the people in my life. So far he’s given me the courage to start inviting them to church. I have a feeling that my loved ones are only the beginning for me. Even in my discomfort, he eases me into growth.

Being someone who was on the fence of being agnostic, I understand the doubt. When everyone around you has some profound come-to-Jesus story it’s easy to use your lack thereof as an excuse to not care; to decide that God doesn’t want you, to go about your business. That’s apathy. How do you overcome it? With passion.

Advice tip #6: Apathy finds an excuse, passion finds a way. Find your righteous discomfort and act on it. Pray about it and ask God to provide you with opportunities to grow your passion for whatever it is that gets you going. Stop beating yourself up for your anxiety, depression, and anger, and realize that these are undercover gifts to be used for the better good. Not only for us but for everyone.

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May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

-A Franciscan Blessing

Thanks for reading,

Sarah