Faith over fear.
It’s kind of been my phrase going into this year, but I had no idea how relevant and essential that would be going into now. It was something one of my YouTube and fellow blogger friends had posted some things about at the end of last year. And the phrase stuck.
At the time the phrase meant learning to dream. It meant the possibility of mission trips, new adventures, and deepening new friendships. So when the COVID-19 hit Indy, my world felt shaky. It felt like overnight my world was turned upside down and the wind was smacked out of me. I was already feeling emotionally unsteady. I had been struggling with anxiety and depression plus I was struggling with relationship with God if I’m honest. But I still had people. I still had my friends to distract me, to verbally process with, and to go to when I just needed a hug. And suddenly the thought of being distanced from a lot of that freaked me out. Have you ever had such intense emotions and loneliness that it convinced you that if you were left alone in that moment you would not survive? Well that was where I was. It was terrifying. Mental health is real and important friends!
So going into this not being able to see people face to face while struggling through feelings with God and my mental health struggling was extremely difficult. But what is such a blessing is prayer. And specifically that the people praying for you don’t have be physically with you for it to still have an impact. And as day one of the lockdown came and went, I was encouraged by the amount of peace I felt. And now here I am going into this first weekend and that peace has continued. Plus, at the beginning of all this I found my heart filled with complicated emotions with God to now be releasing those complicated feelings. As those feelings dissipate, I am left with the love and joy of God again. But the process I had to wrestle through last week to get me to to where I am now was one of being so terrified and overwhelmed. I broke down ugly cried in front of half of my small group in person and the others struggling to make out my sobs via Skype. Ugh, I don’t like feeling needy or weak like that. But it was what I needed. I’m learning that I don’t always have to be the strong one.
I have been learning so much about being vulnerable with people. About what community means. And why God created us to not live on an island. I’ve been learning that there is healing in trusting people enough to let them in to your broken places and into your mess. Because sometimes when we are in the middle of the broken and mess and our hearts are broken and bleeding out, we need others to shine the light so God can do the surgery. The more I let others in, the more I am realizing that there is something beautiful in community. There is strength, encouragement, and growth found there. But it took more than a breakdown in community for my heart to shift. I had to get alone(yes, I said alone.) with God and wrestle some things out. I’m telling y’all there is nothing like a country dirt road to pull your car onto and sit for a time and cry and yell things out with God. I’ve been told that I should hold things back with God. Come to Him with eloquently crafted prayers and pretty words, but I did that for years and my anger just built. Life is hard. We go through heartbreaking and confusing things. If we have a relationship with Christ then like any relationship, that involves communication. And what kind of relationship would it be without being raw and real with Him. So that’s what I did…for three hours. But I came out of that at peace and realizing that I will be okay.
Yesterday God reminded me of a completely unrelated conversation I had recently had with a gal. I was conveying to her how important it was for her to cling to God and come to a place where if she suddenly found herself without friends or family but just she and God she would still be okay. I realized that as good as community is, I had maybe become too dependent on community. I had been learning what it meant to enjoy life and just have fun without a deeper meaning or mission behind it sometimes. It occurred to me that I can still learn how to do that even by myself with just God and I. And maybe, just maybe, God wants to use this time to reveal Himself to me in new a deeper ways. But I need to learn to chill. I need to learn to be still. To not to be afraid to get lost in dreaming about what He might have for me. I’ve always experience the most breakthroughs surrounded by people and desperately sleep deprived, but maybe I need to learn that breakthroughs can happen when I’m alone and rested. Because maybe there’s beauty in purposefully opening your heart to allow God to heal it instead of waiting until you’re too tired and overwhelmed to fight it.
I talk all the time that if I never end up getting married and it’s just God and me for the rest of my life I will be okay. And I feel like this has really challenged that. I know God had started to put on my heart last year that I needed to not hold on to where I live or even people in a place too tightly. I had been learning what it meant to plant roots while still holding everything with open hands being willing to go anywhere at anytime the God might call me. And this has helped me see that I had become too dependent on things staying the same. Which meant I wasn’t fully trusting God and holding my community with open hands either. So this has been good. Trusting God is difficult. It’s complicated and I am by no means completely there. Having faith over fear is trickier sometimes.
I’m thankful for technology that allows me to keep in touch with people. Technology that allows me to make funny faces and laugh with friends, to have deeper bible discussions, watch church services, and even partake in Bible studies. I’m thankful for time to be more still. To get things I’ve been neglecting done. Time to dance and worship God. Time to cook. And time to just breathe! I think I’ve been running at a million miles for so long my body went into shock when things stopped, but now that things have settled it’s realizing that this change was just what it needed right now.
Before I end, I want to specifically talk to my single friends, sisters, specifically. I understand how this time of isolation could be uniquely difficult for you especially if you do live alone. I’ll be honest, that has made it more difficult for me too. Seeing all these posts about amazing family time or time with spouses and kids made my heart ache. And the extra time plus loneliness have lead to some major struggles with temptation. Especially when this was all fresh and my head was in the “world is ending so what does any of this matter” mode. But I want you to know you are not alone! This time is difficult. It’s difficult if you have struggled with alcohol, drugs, eating disorders, porn, or other relationship related addictions or addictions in general. Addictions are often fueled by isolation. But even if you can’t physically meet, please still FaceTime, call, or text someone! Reach out! And wrestle it out with God! He sees your struggle and He is cheering for you to be strong even more than any human ever could. Look for the out in temptation and take it! I know there may not seem like an end to this now, but I promise you there is. And if you are a friend of someone who is struggling or has a history of struggling with addiction or mental health, check on them. Ask them the direct and uncomfortable questions.
We all need each other so much, and maybe even more now than ever. Being there for each other may just look differently than it normally would. Hang in there. This all will pass. We are all in this together even if we aren’t together. Find thankfulness in the middle of the chaos. Find peace and joy in seeking God and listening to His voice. And remember, it is Christ that binds us from the beginning and He bridges time and space, so what can a little social distancing do to break that?