Tuesday, February 10, 2009
"Self talk, Soul talk," Chap. 6; Look up, hope in God...
Thanks for joining me in the next chapter of our book, “Self Talk, Soul Talk,” by Jennifer Rothschild. If you want to join us in others insights, visit Lelia and check them out!
“Fear betrays; hope never does. Fear and despair make us quiver; hope makes us unshakable.”
“Rather than giving in to fear or despair, we tell our souls to hope. Hope will always be on your side, cheering you on and defending you. Despair always works against you. It serves what you most want to avoid. It deceives, manipulates, and eventually overcomes.”
“Hope anchors us because it provides spiritual grounding. Hope brings stability to every part of our being: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. It’s something steady to hold onto when fear and despair rock our world. We speak the language of hope when we tell our souls to look up.”
I think the past few years of my life could be a testament to this.
I was almost overcome by despair. My soul was downcast.
When I couldn’t get my soul to look up, when I couldn’t talk to it like Jennifer talked about, God surrounded me with people who were able to point me to hope. They constantly prayed for me. They challenged me. They loved me through it. Most importantly, they helped me focus my eyes and heart on hope, when I couldn’t see anything but darkness. When I fell down, and spiraled down in despair, they raised me up.
Through them, I learned to refocus. It was hard work. It was something I had to practice at. Many times, I wasn’t able to refocus. My counselor and friends had to remind me to take care of myself. Sleeping, eating well.
Last year, around this time, I ended up going through a really rough patch. I was able to make an extra appointment with my counselor. The whole week before I had trouble sleeping, and wasn’t eating well. When I hit the weekend, I spiraled down very quickly, to the point that anxiety was making me so sick that I couldn’t eat at all.
When I got the extra appointment with my counselor, I told her how my weekend had gone. After we talked through some of the things that were causing me the extra anxiety, she gave me some bible verses from the beginning of Ephesians. Then she asked me to do her a favor. She asked me to go to a restaurant and get something small to eat.
It sounds like such a little thing.
Going to get something to eat.
But for me, it was huge…
Where my anxiety was at…
How I was feeling that day…
It seemed impossible.
I am a good student and client.
I do what I am told to do.
She asked me to take the time to eat a little bit, and while I was there (since I am a journal writer by nature) to read through some of the reminders of who I am in Christ described in the beginning of Ephesians, and write through it… pray through it. She asked me to take care of 2 of the legs of the table that Jennifer talked about. The “physical” leg and the “spiritual” leg.
It made a huge difference and I was able to cope much better once I ate something and spent some time with God. That night, I was actually able to sleep well which made things better too. Various times during this past year, my counselor would suggest trying things to help me sleep, or eat better, or to take a walk with, and play the kids. All of them really helped me to feel stronger physically, which made it more possible for me to focus on God, to read more and learn more things, and to better control my emotions and recognize where they were coming from, and any lies they were based on.
I liked how Jennifer described how she thought the psalmist was reprimanding his soul for being downcast. I know that I have read and heard so many times the idea that if you are a good Christian you wouldn’t be struggling with depression… because God is your hope. But Jennifer is right.
“Christians who have every reason to hope experiences feelings of hopelessness.”
“Despair won’t go away just because we ignore it, run from it, drown it out, or deny it. A soul in despair must be honest enough to admit the truth.”
I didn’t start getting better, and start healing, until I was able to admit to people that I was depressed and filled with despair. When I stopped pretending, and unmasked, only then was I able to receive help from others, and ultimately from God.
For a long time I didn’t feel any different, no matter how I tried to focus on God and hope.
But like Jennifer said,
“Even if telling yourself to hope doesn’t immediately result in a swell of optimism that lifts your spirit to unknown heights, it will serve to shift your focus. Hope makes you focus on the potential of something broader, someone bigger, somewhere better. That’s what you see when your soul looks up.”
Just this past month, I found that I was struggling again with some depression. It was on and off, hitting me on the weekends mostly, and I was unable to seem to get through it on my own. The first few weekends I just “white-knuckled” through. The last weekend, I finally gave in and ended up on my face before God. I suppose I did what Jennifer suggested about seeing what the difficulties could teach me. I focused myself on God, even when I couldn’t hardly read scripture or pray.
I leaned on the Holy Spirit and trusted Him to pray with groans no words could express.
I leaned on Christ who intercedes for me before the throne of God.
When I was “white-knuckling” it through the weekends, through the depression, I really wasn’t hanging onto anything. I was letting despair and fear take over, and push me into the arms of the enemy. I allowed myself to be convinced of lies that I would never really be free, and that I would never really be able to get by on my own without counseling or medications.
When I turned to God, when I leaned on Him, asked people to pray for me, hope took over. Though my feelings didn’t change right away, as I started to claim the truth, my feelings started to re-align with the truth. I started to “feel” hope!
My passion is to show others that in the midst of their despair and feelings of being downcast, they can talk to their souls, and speak truth to their souls. My desire is to show that there is always hope. Even when you don’t feel it. Even when you don’t see it.
“Hope will ground you, anchor you, and make you unshakable.”