It’s interesting. We live in a time when we are often told not to dwell on the past or to know that our past does not define us. We’re told to learn from it and move on.
But we aren’t told what to do when the past and present collide.
When I was in high school I developed an eating disorder and struggled with self-worth and anxiety for years. As a result I struggled with shame- people would constantly say things like, “well you know that your identity is supposed to be in Christ…!” or ” don’t you believe what the Lord says about you??” or “why can’t you just rest in the Lord!?”
Sadly, many in the Church see eating disorders, anxiety issues, depression, or any mental health issue as a lack of faith. (Now I will say this- I do believe that these issues can be a number of things that absolutely include chemical imbalances and possibly genetics but I also do believe that the enemy can cause people to suffer with these things as well. I don’t think we can say it’s absolutely always one or the other.)
The past few months have been harder than previous ones here in Vegas. My grandmother recently passed away, my car was broken into and my guitar was stolen out of it, I worked with refugees in France, and to be totally honest, being a single woman in ministry can be rather challenging.
As much as we love to remind each other that the Father knows us, we forget that the Liar does, too. Not as well of course and it’s a completely different knowing, but he knows the right buttons to push in my heart and mind. He knows how to tell me lies that sound like they just might be true. So anxiety and insecurity began to fill my being. Because YES I am a new creation in Christ and He is doing so much healing work in my life… but that doesn’t mean the devil has any new lies to tell me. It’s the same old junk that got me eight years ago.
So why am I writing this? For attention and pity? For you to tell me that I’m pretty and that I wont be single forever? Nope. I’m writing this because maybe someone, somewhere, needs to know that they don’t need to feel shame or guilt for their pain or struggle with body image, anxiety, depression or any mental health issue. Maybe you need to know that if you fall back into the lies that you thought you overcame, there is SO. MUCH. GRACE.
It’s amazing just how much grace there is.
So, what do we do when the past and present collide?
Here are my thoughts:
First– Receive grace from the Father. Take a moment and just take it in. The Father isn’t angry with you. His heart aches for you to know and believe the truth, to overcome the lies, and to walk in healing and freedom… but He isn’t angry with you.
Second- Give yourself grace. Resist the thoughts that say, “I shouldn’t still be struggling with this.” You’re a human. Being a human is hard and it’s okay to fall and break and struggle. Give yourself grace.
Third- Rest and take care of yourself. With re-struggling with some of these issues, I’ve found it so important to ask the hard question of, “What’s actually the healthiest thing for me to do right now?” I had to squash my F.O.M.O. (Fear Of Missing Out) and stay home the other evening because I knew it would benefit my mental health over a night out with my friends. I’ve honestly found meditation to be incredible helpful, also. Just being still before the Lord, quieting my mind before Him. (I highly recommend this app if you want to begin guided meditation- https://www.headspace.com and don’t worry, it isn’t some weird new age religion thing. It’s just about quieting the mind. I pray before I meditate and invite the Lord to come and quite my soul before Himself.)
Fourth- Lastly, don’t isolate yourself. Satan loves it when we isolate ourselves- he can lie to us the easiest when we don’t have others speaking truth into our lives. Having people to help me battle the lies has put me further ahead of the game than ever before. Give people the chance to show you what they see when they look at you and at your situation. It’ll be well worth it.
Also, don’t be afraid to seek out professional help. I am currently working with the counselor who helped me with these issues back in high school and she has been an incredible help to me. Why there is such a bad stigma of therapy, I’ll never know. It doesn’t mean you’re crazy or extra broken or anything bad- sometimes we just need someone to help us sort through our own head who actually knows how to do so.
Seasons come and go- this one will too. Winter is long, but spring is coming. But winter may come again… but next time, we’ll be even more prepared for it when it does.
“For He has said, ‘I will never under any circumstances desert you nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless, nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you! No, never'”- Hebrews 13:5