Courage, dear heart.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:28-30

I’ve been thinking all morning about how to write this post. And at this moment, I’m not sure where I’m going with it. But it’s the new year. And things change and people deal with things differently and sometimes it’s really hard.

2014 was a year of great things and difficulties and good food and good friends and God. 2014 was a year of the highest spiritual mountaintop I’ve ever been on and the year of the lowest pit of hopelessness I’ve ever felt.

And this new year? This new year is full of uncertainty. I would say it’s the most uncertain I’ve ever been about anything. I have a feeling everything will change this year.

I just got back from a college conference with my campus ministry. I didn’t want to go. I wanted to stay home and be comfortable and alone and continue ignoring the things going on in my head. I wanted to pretend I was fine. But I’m not. So I went to the conference in a state of bitterness and cynicism. I still feel like this a little.

I went through the motions of worship and note taking during sermons, like I’ve done all semester. I faked smiles. I put on the mask I’ve been putting on everyday since July and played the part I’ve played so well this year. But I’ve been lying to you.

It took this conference and a long session with Twenty One Pilots and their album, Vessel to get me to the state I’m in now.

I sat rather emotionless through most of the speakers I heard this week. I took notes and thought, “When I’m in a better mental state, this is going to be good. This is going to mean something.” But it never did. Then Marian Jordan Ellis spoke to the women, and she told us that we are going to be viciously attacked by the enemy and the darkness for the rest of our lives and the battlefield is in our mind. That’s not so encouraging.

She said that the enemy tells us lies and we believe them and it leads to our undoing.

I’ve been believing the lies. I’ve been believing no one actually cares about my blog or my writing and the things I reveal. I’ve been believing that no one will ever want to read the book I’m trying to write and it will never be published so I may as well give up. I’ve been believing my friends and boyfriend are faking their love and they’ll eventually leave me to find someone better. I’ve been believing God doesn’t care about me and he’s mad at me for falling away. I’ve been burdened by the lies and shame and feeling like the only person on the earth struggling with anxiety and severe worry and a constant state of wanting to vomit because I’m always on the verge of having a panic attack. I’ve prayed about it and gotten angry at God for not making my mind normal again. I’ve been quiet.

Quiet is a violent state. Quiet makes you think. And I’ve been thinking alone. And I’ve convinced myself that I’m unlovable and unworthy and insignificant.

But the song I posted above and then something Marian spoke about told me I was wrong. What I’ve been feeling is misleading because feelings are not truth. The song tells me that my writing is the greatest weapon I have against the enemy and he hates that I have an outlet to share the light and escape the darkness that lives in my soul. The song also revealed exactly what I’ve been feeling and it’s broken me down to my core.

I’ve been living as if I’m solely responsible for the shedding of the Son’s blood and I keep denying Him and telling Him that following Him is not worth it. It would be so much easier to give up. The enemy and the demons living in my head have told me to give up. They told me I was too far from God and I could never get back. They told me my anxiety would never stop and I would have to live in this mental state for the rest of my life. They told me no one understood and that I had to face it alone. And I believed the lies.

The truth is I’ve been given a great purpose and as the lyrics imply, it would be easier to say there is no plan for me and I’m insignificant and what I do won’t affect the kingdom. But that’s simply not true. It would be easier to tell the demons they have nothing to worry about and I won’t keep fighting against them because it’s too hard to deal with the great burden and weight I feel on my shoulders.

Marian said we’d always be attacked and that’s really lame and discouraging to me. Honestly, it brings me more anxiety thinking about that. But she also pointed out that Jesus is greater. I can’t lift myself out of despair, but my God can. I can’t fight for my soul and I can’t battle the darkness, but my God can. I can’t reach God, but God can reach me and He will. I’m the daughter of a King. I’m the daughter of a King that fights for me. I’m the precious daughter of a King that already carried my burden.

1 Peter 5:7.

Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you.

It seems so simple, but the enemy had convinced me no one cares, not even God. And this anxiety has been on me for months and I’ve been trying to carry it alone when I don’t have to do that. My heart is still very heavy. Coming back from a summer surrounded by missionaries and close Christian friends and a long subway commute giving me time to actually read the Bible was hard. Because when I got home, I was alone and I stopped learning about God and I stopped talking to God and my faith grew weak. I grew weak.

Thankfully, God uses our weaknesses to reveal to us just how much we actually need Him.

2 Corinthians 12:10. 

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I can’t say I’ve delighted in this weakness. I’ve been angry and depressed and lost. But what I can delight in is the hope I finally caught a glimpse of. The hope that I can get out of this and come out with a stronger faith and a stronger reliance on the God of the universe.

So here’s to a new year. Here’s to a reawakening. Here’s to the future when I can confidently put on the armor of God and bravely fight against the enemy. Here’s to finally facing the anxiety and burdens I’ve been trying to ignore. Here’s to turning back to Jesus. Here’s to the hope of the Gospel. And here’s to courage.

Courage, dear heart.

21 thoughts on “Courage, dear heart.

  1. Love this post! Thanks so much for opening up, Summer!

    Love that you included the part when she said that our feelings are not truth– so simple and obvious, but something that we all forget.

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  2. I read your blog on occasion – whether I do or not depends on how much is crowding my inbox and already vying for my attention. Today, I picked it out to read first, simply because of your title – “Courage, dear heart”. Because, you see, I need courage also, and even though I know the title was for you to have courage, God also spoke to me with it.

    I have had a tough year, and 2015 will be full of additional challenges. It gave me hope to hear God tell me to have courage thru your blog. I wanted you to know you are not alone – and even if not everyone who follows your blog reads it each and every time, does not mean it is pointless for you to write it. Let God take care of who reads it and who needs it. Even if the only person is you that day.

    Keep stretching your faith. Keep learning. Keep questioning. It’s how you grow. I have been at this for 25 years (Christianity – not writing…lol) and I still doubt. I still have issues. But I have seen and experienced God’s grace and mercy in my life and each hard crappy event has done more for my faith than any of the rainbow, care-bear, sugar coated events have ever done combined.

    I will shut up now, because this is turning into a blog post, and not a comment – just wanted to let you know your are not wasting your time.

    Best,
    Sue

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  3. HELLO SUMMER…I AM THE AUNT OF A FRIEND OF YOURS…KASEY BASS…I READ YOUR BLOG AND IT TOUCHED MY HEART…IT BROUGHT ME TO TEARS….I SUFFER FROM EXTREME ANXIETY AND THIS YEAR HAS BEEN ESPECIALLY TRYING…I LOST ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT PEOPLE IN MY LIFE…I JUST CAN NOT UNDERSTAND WHY GOD WOULD ALLOW SUCH A TRULY INNOCENT PERSON TO LEAVE THIS WORLD AT 36…HE WAS AUTISTIC AND WAS THE LIGHT OF HIS PARENTS LIFE….HE LOVED ME SO MUCH….HE ALWAYS WORRIED ABOUT ME AND TOLD ME THAT EVERYTHING WAS GOING TO BE OKAY. ..I WOULD DO ANY THING TO HE AR THAT A GAIN….I PRAYED SO HARD…I MADE DEALS WITH GOD….FOR 3 DAYS AND NIGHTS I WAS ON MY KNEES BEGGING FOR A MIRACLE….BUT I GOT NO MIRACLE…I FEEL THE PAIN SHOOTING THOUGH MY WHOLE BEING…WHAT YOU SAID ABOUT FEELING ALONE…I KNOW…I KNOW…LAURA LEE RAYNOR

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