Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Setbacks, Struggles, and Stress

I had a minor setback this morning. It didn’t feel like a setback in the beginning, though. What it felt like, to me, was the beginning of a heart attack. Trust me when I say that I was a bit concerned. Okay, not concerned as much as a little scared. Okay, not a little scared… A LOT SCARED!

Heart disease runs in my family. But let me explain something. So does cancer, arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, anxiety, oppression, the need to control, and many other things. But I had decided that I was going to rise above it. I was not going to follow in my family’s footsteps and let these things dictate my life and how it would play out and ultimately end. No sir!

I had decided that Jesus was going to rule my life. I decided that He was in charge and through Him I can do all things, because He gives me the strength to do so (Philippians 4:13). However, I began to get a little comfortable in my new walk, my new healing, that I became a little too confident and let my guard down for just a bit… and I had a setback.

I realize that I will have ups and downs, just like everybody else. But what I hadn’t counted on was it sneaking up on me. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that, because 1 Peter 5:8 warns, “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” And when I say he's sneaky, that’s quite an understatement. Because he will lie in wait until I have forgotten to set my guard. He will wait until I’m not paying attention, or putting off my prayer time, or my Bible reading time, and then he will attack!

This morning, he attacked by giving me chest pain. I’ve had them before, because I have a hiatal hernia that sometimes flares up and causes these pains, in the exact spot I was having them this morning, and in just the same way I have always had them… but since I have not had them in many months, I had forgotten. And I wasn’t prepared. So I thought I was in the beginnings of a heart attack. So I did what every normal housewife does when in distress...... I called my husband.

My Grandma Ann used to tell me (repeatedly), “You’ve got such a good husband.” She was right. He came rushing home to check on me. When he walked in the door, I started crying. Then he reminded me of some things that had happened in the past 24 hours, and the light bulb came on! Ohhh, maaan! Because you see, as soon as I realized my mistake, the pains left. Ohhh, maaan! As soon as I realized what I had been going through, and when the pains hit, I knew. I had been duped by the enemy. Ohhh, MAAAN!!

But here’s the best part about it. Even though I still had a slight twinge of pain (more a nuisance than anything), I realized that I had not had my prayer time. So, I went. And while it was just a short prayer time, I denounced the pain. I thanked the Lord for His love and for His always being there. And I apologized for my negligence. Oh yes, He can and still will use me. His word promises that. But my minor setback only proved to strengthen my resolve to pay more attention and to focus even more on the Lord.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ~1 John 1:9

You see, stress and the Holy Spirit don’t mix. In fact, the Holy Spirit knocks stress right out the door. I have but to think the thought, and He comes running in and takes care of things. I had not been under any stress at all for months. Not like I was having this morning. But one evening, I had a visit from a family member who was struggling with some issues. And as we talked, as I listened and gave comfort and encouragement, I forgot to pay attention to the fact that for this reason, I keep my distance from family. The oppression, the need to control the lives of others, the lack of encouragement and support, the constants throwing the past back at you, and the constant feeling that you aren’t good enough for anything, is what God healed me of many months ago. I had not dealt with any of that in so long that I had forgotten what if felt like…until this morning.

The weight of oppression was so strong that it literally gave me chest pains. But through Christ, his mercy, and His grace, the Holy Spirit took care of it. It was like a re-charge to my spiritual batteries. Oh how my heart hurts for those suffering under the weight of oppressing and intimidating people. I lived it for years. And when I married out from under it, the mental and emotional scars that it left kept me in a continual state of oppression and kept me under the control of the very people I married out from under! Nearly 47 years of being controlled by various people, being manipulated by others, being intimidated by others, suffering depression, panic, anxiety, feelings of unworthiness, loneliness, despair, rejection, and ultimately thoughts of suicide… all these things were swept OUT of my life with one touch, one breath, from God.

People want to know why I write the things I do. This is why: The fact that I was healed of it; the fact that I struggle every day with keeping Christ FIRST in my life. The fact that I KNOW there are others out there who are suffering needlessly. If my story helps just ONE, then I did my job and it was well worth it.

I can’t just walk up to someone and say, “Hey, I know what your problem is and if you’ll let Jesus heal you, your life will be so much better.” One, they’ll think I’m crazy, and two, they’ll tell me it’s none of my business! BUT, by writing about my own experiences, by writing about the things that are so personal to me, opens up my life to others and lets them see that yes, I have been there, yes, I have suffered, and yes, I know exactly what they are going through. Because I have lived it…and I survived!

I’m a survivor! You are, too! Don’t let the enemy rule over you anymore! Don’t let him use others to control and manipulate and intimidate you! YOU have power over this. If you know Jesus, then you have all the power you need to stomp the enemy and his games. Use it! Use your Trump Card! If you need reinforcements, contact me. I’ll be happy to pray for you, declaring victory over you, in the name of Jesus! Because if you read the back of the Rule Book (the Bible)… we win!

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. ~Romans 16:20
Oftentimes though, we feel as if we won't survive. And while God is our Healer, sometimes we need a little professional help. If that's you, if you feel as if you could use a little extra help, it's no disgrace to seek out a good counselor to help steer you in the right direction. 

If you don't feel comfortable talking face-to-face, you might try an online counseling service. Better Help online counseling has counselors who can help you through the stressful times. They boast having affordable, professional, and confidential counseling services. If you're skeptical, you can find answers at www.betterhelp.com. Let them help you be a survivor. Let them help you get through the setbacks, struggles and stress.


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