I was BROKEN. I reached my endpoint in January 2021.
In tears and full of fear, I stood up and said ENOUGH!
-God is good, all the time.
-God said, “..change your thoughts, change your life.”
-God said, “..anxiety is fear. I didn’t call you into fear; I called you into freedom.”
You deserve to live free right now!
Take a Stand
We all desire to live free. Depression, bipolar, and anxiety have disrupted moments, even years, in my adult life. Outspoken on this issue, I do not hide the challenge. One cannot be a mental health advocate and speaker while hiding her truth in the closet. When darkness sets in, I share it. When joy shines bright, I share that, too.
Through 2020, I experienced a decline in my mental wellness. I tend to plow through all situations, and this was no different. A series of events led to one tumble after another.
I live in Colorado, and we have an extreme snow event right now. I have about four feet of snow on my front deck, in the yard, and around the neighborhood. Driving requires snow skills (not learned in warm, desert states, just sayin), patience, and a shovel. My year required the same thing.
Yet, my experience and know-how on mind matters made no difference in my daily combat. The tools I use did not help me this time. In January, I reached the end of a long battle.
Addiction in those around me took a toll, and left me in their prison, bound, gagged, and beaten. Exhausted and frail, anxiety took over, and I was nothing more than a piece of sand in the hourglass. At the point I was buried, I cried out, “Lord, save me.”
Yes, that worked.
Hard as it was, I took my solo journey this far into one of teamwork. First, I informed my husband (working out of state for months at this time) of my dire position. I stopped communicating months before. One of my master skills is hiding my feelings. It is an old gift from those young years of abuse. He took the time to listen, and for the first time in our marriage, he took it very seriously.
I shared my inability to leave the couch that day, open the blinds and curtains, eat, and chest pain from anxiety. I revealed the lack of sleep for months, the darkness in not wanting to move, breathe, live life. I know he was shocked. He said, “No one is stronger than you. WE need you; you are the glue in this family. You are the one with faith.” (no pressure here, but I get it)
He suggested I find a counselor. He could hear the pain and fear in my voice. His motivation to start moving toward healing was what I needed to get back on track.
Satan had done a job on me. He convinced me through my daughter that I was not forgiven and free; he used words that came from her mouth in a tense, drunken night. (You can read that story here) The following month became a spiral I never want to repeat. Fighting for myself came after I spoke my truth out loud, and one person reminded me who I was.
Though I was ready, things didn’t come easy. As I searched for a Christian counselor, I heard clear as day, “You can’t get help; they’ll think you’re unstable and take the kids!” I threw my phone across the room. I have guardianship of my grandkids due to said addiction, so Satan knew the sensitivity of that subject.
When we cry out to God, he is there. Just as clear as I heard the previous statement, the next thing I heard was, “Find Emery.” Emery was my counselor years ago. He is the reason I found my healing through Christ for the early years of my life. I found him on Facebook, and his number was there. Wow!
I texted Emery and asked for a referral to a reputable counselor. God had other plans. We met the next day, and for a month, he helped me navigate the one place I never thought I’d be again. We met weekly, reviewed an inspiring devotional, talked about my internal resources, and walked through debilitating anxiety until it was no longer there.
For the second time in my life, God used my friend to walk alongside me, provide the biblical answers, and aid in my recovery.
Though I am very grateful for God and Emery coming together, I knew the result depended on me. If I limited my commitment, then I would not experience the healing I deserved. I poured myself into the homework Emery gave me weekly, prayer, and I began changing my thoughts.
I swam in negative thinking for a long time, and I don’t usually allow that. How do we not? Addiction ravages lives. It breaks the one addicted, and it breaks down the family and friends who love them. When we see our loved ones spiraling, we want to help, lift them, carry them through, fix them (especially when it is your child).
Admitting we cannot fix them didn’t change my thoughts. I became addicted to their safety and whether they are alive or not. My thoughts circulated through their addiction more than anything else. I stopped talking to God, didn’t pray consistently, didn’t read His Word. I left my faith journey behind to be imprisoned by an addiction that I did not have. As mother’s in this situation, most of us seem to do this.
My Thoughts Change Things
We all know the verse in the Bible that tells us to renew our thoughts every day. (Romans 12:2) For years, I have preached, taught, and spoke to the truth of our thoughts being the basis for change in our life. Managing our mind starts with understanding that our brain and our mind are two different things. Our mind is the part of our being that thinks, feels, and makes choices. Alone, the brain cannot do these things.
Free will has been a problem from the beginning. Adam and Eve are examples of that. Free will is the ability to act at your discretion, to do what you ‘want’ to do. The choice to think and produce actions like Jesus desires or like the world is up to you. Many people do not take this power seriously.
Renewing our thoughts every day to reflect on Jesus conforms us to his way, how we treat others, emotions, character, and most importantly, our actions in His love. Planting the Word of God in our hearts forecasts what will be and ultimately changes our lives, for what is in our heart will be in our mind. Reading, knowing, and applying the truth of God to every part of our being is a recipe for greatness and godliness in a fallen world.
Freedom is a Choice
“you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”
Salvation is a gift, but freedom is a choice. When I chose to turn my life over to Christ, be washed in the waters of baptism, and dedicate my life to God, things changed. I physically felt the spiritual awakening. Those moments were invigorating and ushered in newness and clarity. It did not take long for the world to invade my happy bubble and come at me.
From issues in my marriage and with my kids, Satan fought to return me to who I was. He longed to separate me from God and enticed me with one temptation after another. Crawling along my Christian walk, I had to dig deep in the Word to find the tools to stay the course. Stumbling through sin is a part of our walk; I don’t care who you are.
There are times we are overwhelmed and then overcome by life. It can happen to anyone. The waves of anguish come and keep coming. Grief, divorce, loss, abuse, and other life experiences can create doubt, fear, anger, bitterness, and many negative emotions and feelings. It is easy to be distracted and streamline all your attention on the chaos around you. I did it myself with their addiction. I became addicted to thoughts of wanting to save my loved ones.
It was hard work, but I dedicated my time to stay aligned with God and not this world. Freedom is ours, but it doesn’t just happen. The truth sets us free; to be free, we must know and live by the truth. The truth is the Word of God. The truth heals, restores, renews, and fulfills our hearts. What we search for in this world is found in the living Word. Spiritual freedom is power over the challenges on earth. But when we don’t keep our mind on God through the trials, and our mind swirls in the muck of worldly strife, we will struggle.
I choose freedom. I choose Jesus.
I decide to keep my mind renewed and growing in the Lord all of my days. Living wholly for Him gives me peace, comfort, joy, happiness, and love. Gone are the drowning negative thoughts of anger, defeat, or fear. I surrender and give control to God. He is all I need.