Have you felt some extreme exhaustion this year? Believe me, I'm right there with you, friend! Through a year filled with unexpected events, fear, viruses, protests, loss, the "unknown" has seemed to slap us in our-comfortable-American-life faces! What's crazy is that unforseen events are always a part of life, but I think we've all become more aware of how inevitable they are during this year. Not knowing what might happen to you and your family can be scary and I've seen more fear surrounding our culture now more than ever before. Seeing the effects of living in all this fear is breaking my heart, because we were made for so much more than waking up afraid of what the day may bring. So, consider this a love letter of encouragement and challenge, from my heavy heart to yours. Let's make the rest of this year worth the heartbreak we've seen so far.
I feel like I've had to fight to prioritize spending time with God before I head to work, solely because I feel pulled down so easily. Even as an introvert, I've felt the loneliness and heaviness of distancing from each other. These strong emotions are fighting for our joy and the ability we have to dance in God's beauty. What God has continually been pouring into me (because I don't tend to heed a lesson the first time) is that His goodness and my identity haven't changed with this year's circumstances. He's still good, still the source of joy, the giver of peace, and ultimately the One who holds my life. I'm far from perfect and I'll be the first to admit its a battle to keep my heart focused when encountering people that are shooting out all that fear and insecurity. Our hearts are pulled in a million directions every day, but let me share some truth with you: fear breeds fear! When I let fear enter my thoughts, it shoots to my heart and then out my mouth and before I know it, I've spread fear all through my family, to my coworkers and friends. What damage I've caused because I let a fearful thought linger! These days it doesn't stop coming our way, so only I decide what information makes it to my heart. We can't stop the hits from coming, but we can prepare ourselves for the impact.
"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do."
Fear seemed to be the most resounding response to this giant new virus in our lives. And honestly, I let that fear in, but pretty quickly I felt God gently saying... "This isn't for you." From the deepest part of my heart, let me tell you that this fear isn't for you either. God has so much more for our days and so much peace that He wants to fill our hearts with, but we too easily get caught up in our surroundings to see and reach for it. If we look for it, there will always be something that we can fear, so learning to face them with the confidence of our identity is well worth the practice. The truth is, our God is bigger than illness, political unrest, man's most damaging crimes, and loss. That doesn't make our pain less, but it makes living worth the effort.
The good news is that even though fear is contagious, so is love. For those of you in deep hurt in this moment thinking "love doesn't cure Covid" and "Love doesn't bring my loved one back.". I hear and agree with you, it doesn't. BUT, when it comes down to how you are spending your life, I assure you that living out your day secure because you're loved by God and seeking to love the people you encounter, will be worth the fight. You won't have time for all that fear and bitterness. YOU WON'T EVEN MISS IT!! Your Heavenly Father has an endless amount of love and peace that He's standing next to you, holding out to you. All you have to do is LET go of the fear and LET Him pour that peace over you. Your Father is bigger than overwhelming emotions and He wants you to live in the freedom of that.
"It's one thing to talk about faith in a God who comes to our rescue, but another to live as if you're banking on it."
Our hearts are as delicate as a small, new plant life. Now anyone who knows me well knows that I'm not great with plants and would laugh at me giving any gardening analogies. But that one plant in my office is doing quite well so... yeah! What I do know is that it all boils down to the care you give to your plant, especially life-giving sustenance. Your heart loves, processes, and works the best when it's energized and ready to go, and energy comes from food. So what are you feeding your heart? Is social media building up your energy stores, are you listening to podcasts or reading books that entertain you or inspire you to love your people well? Do you feel motivated by your daily routine or burnt out? Be honest with yourself and take action! You can choose to stop feeding your heart one thing and feed it something else instead. I have a little succulent that sits near a window and all the branches grow toward the sunlight. And if I don't want it leaning so far in one direction that it will tip it's pot over, then I have to turn it. Our minds and hearts are the same way, if we want to be filled with peace and joy, then we have to find a balance in what our minds and hearts are consuming each day. Take in more of the Father that loves you. Whether you're listening to a podcast, worship music, or reading Christian books, choose more of Him and less of distracting and numbing media. At the end of the day, it comes down to a battle for your heart, with you leading the fight by the choices you make.
"I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid."
When I felt the most undone from stress at work, the loss of my grandfather, and having a few friends going through difficult seasons; I found myself just wanting this year to be over. But the truth is, there is a lot of time left in this year to do something good! Our days are short, our lives fly by, but the way to make them worth it is found in our every day. The most stressful moments, the fear-filled ones, the quiet and still ones are all where we can shine God's goodness into those around us. Don't fall into wasteful thinking like I have and wish time away. Instead live for growing in all moments, for loving with all your heart, for taking advantage of your words to encourage and build up and to LET God fill you with peace.
As much as I would love to reach through the screen. hug you and hear about your difficulties, fears, challenges and pain through this season, I mainly want you to hear that you are cared about. And not just by one girl who can't fix your problems, but by a God who can AND He'll have your back you along the way!
Let's don't just make it through, let's live the rest of this year dancing in light of being loved by a good Father, together!
If you're in need of positive resources, here's two of my favorite bloggers/podcasts/instagram accounts:
Living Easy Podcast with Lindsey Maestas
Cambria's weekly Wednesday morning email and instagram account!