May is mental health awareness month. This is pretty important to me; for a long time, I have dealt with anxiety as well as had people close to me really struggle with mental health. It’s not a thing I take lightly, and with all of us in a more isolated setting, this could not be a more important topic to talk about. We are all built for relationship, so, the physical distancing that is needing to happen has been a struggle for many people. I’ve seen way too many folks spending all their time on Facebook and getting sucked in to this “doomer” mindset. We’re scared, we’re in the midst of something that has never happened in our lifetimes, and we are putting our faith in all the wrong places.
One of the funniest parts about living in Orlando and working for Disney, is the fact that in the parks it is now full on fall. My dear Danielle and I were chuckling at the fact that the Jack-o-Lanterns are out and the fall leaves are on display, in 90 plus degree Florida weather. I love the changing of the seasons, it always comes just at the right moment. It makes me think about life, and I feel like we all go through seasons. Some seasons are better than others, think about some of your favorite times of year. I love the crisp fall air and the general color of orange all around. There’s just something about watching a spooky cartoon and eating candy that makes me jump back to memories in my mind. We go through great moments in our lives, moments that we cherish and remember forever. Then, there are the seasons of hardship. While I don’t hate summer, I think about the time I was burned terribly during a summer camping trip with the Boy Scouts. I always shudder slightly when I prepare to go to the beach in summer, because of the pain that happened in the past.
The interesting thing that I’ve noticed about seasons, is that in both the positive and negative moments, good comes from both.
The Wolf Man. One of the classic Universal Pictures monsters, a man with a curse, every full moon, he transforms into a werewolf. Howling at the moon and out for blood, a battle he fights to regain control of his poor mind. This is a trope in horror fiction, the Jekyll and Hyde concept, normal person fighting a raging monster inside. This month I’ve been looking at old tropes from horror and looking at how God has used them to teach me, and in turn, teach you. This week, I wanted to talk about something very personal to me, something that I’ve alluded to in the past and on this blog, but never fully talked about. Today I want to talk about it. I want to talk about the creature that tries to control me. One that has tried to hold me back. It’s not a wolf bite; I want to talk about my battle with anxiety.
Have you ever been in a funk? You know, like you don’t feel quite like yourself, your mind tends to not be as focused as much, and you feel like you aren’t making any ground in your endeavors. I’ve been in a funk. The past couple of weeks have been kinda sloggy when I sit down ready to move, my brain decides it doesn’t want to go as fast as my heart. It’s hard, especially being a writer and loving to do creative things, but it’s not just with being a writer. My spiritual walk has felt this way too. I sit down and ask God to speak, but I end up reading the words and not hearing. I ask if something is wrong with me, I wonder if I’ve upset God in some way, or focus on my past rather than trusting God in my future. I felt like I was doing something wrong, and I was beginning to feel depressed. Many of us have faced times like this in our lives. Asking if we are doing the right thing or if we are where we’re supposed to be. We need to step back. You are exactly where you are meant to be. I am exactly where I need to be. The enemy moves to steal, kill, and destroy. He doesn’t want the good things that God is doing in our lives to encourage us, he wants us dead. We need to break free.
None of us like feeling powerless. We want to be strong and stand against anything that comes our way, but so often we end up feeling helpless. I’m talking about both a physical attack, but a mental attack or another way to put it, a spiritual attack. We have an enemy who lurks in the shadows trying to tear us down and make us question whether God is truly there. Now before I continue, this isn’t a post about how “the devil made me do it,” stop that, you did it and you have to own the mistake (rant over). Today I want to write about how to combat spiritual attack, because each of us fight on a daily basis. There are words spoken over us (see last week’s post), there are temptations that arise, and there are hardships that don’t make sense to us. Each of these things are a form of spiritual attack, designed to make us lose sight of the one who loves us, the one who gave his life for us. You see, we aren’t hopeless in the midst of these things, we actually have the tool we need to fight back. It’s so easy for church culture to just say, “hang in there,” or my personal favorite, “I’ll pray for you,” (then never pray when you could do it in that moment with them). This tool is powerful and we all have experienced it, but we often don’t consciously see it as a weapon, then it hit me while reading a book.
“Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.”
1 Peter 1:13
Well it’s that nice warm spring time weather. Here in North Carolina it pretty much skips the cool/warm and goes straight into the heat of the summer. This heat is too much for my bones, but it always reminds me of a classic warm weather movie; Frozen. Not you may being saying, “that’s a winter movie, silly,” but that’s technically not true. The movie takes place in summer, and is that important to what I’m talking about today? Not really, no. The reason I thought of this movie then shifted towards me thinking about the classic song from the film. Come on, I know you just started singing it in your head. The song “let it go” stands out in the flick, we see our ice princess finally using her X-men abilities and decides to cast off the words that people spoke over her. Now where Elsa is a tad misguided with her abilities and eventually learns the power of family love, it made me think of the idea, taking the emotions and words that we feel and hear, and simply letting them go.
I’ve been struggling with anxiety and depression over the past few months. I’ve been so afraid of the future and the path I will take over the next months after school. The stress of trying to finish well but not have a clear direction after this season scares me, it makes me feel like I am failing at my purpose. All I desire is to write words that will inspire others and serve the next generation in ministry, but the path is so unclear and that’s what makes it so difficult. That’s the reason I need Christ more than ever. It’s the reason we all need Christ more than ever. This past week I was worshiping with my brothers and sisters and received prayer of encouragement for this struggle I’ve been facing. After this I prayed with Matt the artist. I call him this because he truly thinks in abstract ways like an artist, and we prayed together in an abstract way. We prayed to look for the moment of origin for anxiety, and when I found it, he asked me to now put God in that situation. Everything changed. You see, Matt the artist helped me understand that I can’t go about things on my own, my foundation needs to be focused on my savior. Our focus needs to be on the foundation of our life.