“For He Himself is our peace.”

Yes, my soul, find rest in God.

I haven’t posted in awhile, forgive me for that! I have just been busy, as life is busy. So grateful to report that my anxiety and bad days have decreased 1,000-fold since the last time I posted. Now instead of having entire bad days, I have bad “parts” of my days and instead of 4 days out of 7 its maybe 1.5 or 2. Praise the Lord!

This detachment and feeling of looking at my life from outside my body is the biggest symptom that still bothers me. I truly think it’s my brain trying to protect me from freaking out and experiencing the full weight of my anxious thoughts and the physical reactions that go along with it. I realized this past weekend, that it’s the worst when I spend time with the “world” i.e. people who are not believers. It frustrates me because I want to be the Light of Christ to them, and I know He is still using me even in those instances where I feel totally panicked and not myself. I just pray that even out of my weakness (actually, 2 corinthians 12:9)- especially that in those weakest of moments, His strength would shine.

Talking with people I am really close with and other believers has been so healing to me, as well as reading Gods’ truth aloud in those moments and declaring my identity in CHRIST over my life. I feel like since this has all began, satan has been trying to get me to question my identity, just as he did to Jesus in the time of tempting in the wildnerness.

“If you are the Son of God”.. he said

But, our Savior didn’t hesitate for a moment; He KNEW His identity and who the Father said He was. As soon as Christ was baptized and came up out of the water, before Jesus even BEGAN His ministry, God said to Jesus: “This is my Son, whom I love, with Him I am well pleased.” And Jesus was confident and bold in that identity, so that when Jesus was offered another false identity from the enemy, He was able to say,

“It is written: man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of GOD.”

In other words.. we are defined by the mirror of Gods’ Word and that alone. I am who GOD says I am, not who my OCD, anxiety, or the enemy says I am.

Friends, I am learning so much about the power and gift of prayer during this time, and the true meaning of “praying in the Spirit on all occasions” and “pray without ceasing.” In every moment an intrusive thought or anxiety pops up, I go immediately to God in prayer, no matter how weak and feeble that prayer may feel, He hears me, He rescues me, He provides me His peace.

For He Himself is our peace. And I will run to Him time and time again, because I can find comfort only in the shadow of  His wings. Even in the valley, the darkness cannot overcome His light.

 

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And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. – 1 kings 19:12

After another tough weekend and a much better day Tuesday; Now I am really learning that God does not want me to be a Pharisee.

I mean, how many times in the gospels have I read Jesus telling the Pharisees not to be self-righteous and religious?! Not that He is condemning me by any means, but He IS telling me that I dont need to be perfect.. and He is teaching me about this word that you may have heard of if you are indeed a follower of Christ ūüôā

 

Grace.

Grace, Grace, Gods’ grace: Grace that is bigger than all of my sins, grace that is bigger than I could ever imagine, Grace that stretched His arms on the cross, bowed His head and said “It is finished.”

Grace¬†is teaching me that relating to Jesus¬†does not mean needing to meditate on scripture all day everyday. Grace is teaching me that relating to Jesus does not mean reading my bible for 1.5 hours every morning before work. Grace is teaching me that if I slip and get angry at a family member or friend, or if I don’t feel joyful 24/7, or If I dont listen to worship music while I run in the morning because it’s making me more anxious than happy, that that is OKAY. In fact, God is teaching me to talk to him like Moses did: face-to-face, friend-to-friend, Creator-to-creation.. and I’m loving every second of getting to know Him better this way.

Sometimes my prayers in the morning are, “God, I need help. I feel awful today. I hate today already. But I love you, trust you, and I walk by faith no matter what my head says or my flesh feels.” Sometimes my devo (I highly recommend New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp) is so much more grace-filled than the passages I am choosing to read in Scripture, so that speaks to my heart way more. Sometimes listening to Jeremy Camp or Danny Gokey reveals the heart of love of Christ more to me, and reminds me who I am, more than reading the entire book of 1 Corinthians in one sitting (although I absolutely love reading Scripture, it has just been kinda anxiety provoking for me at times, so I am trying to gain Gods’ wisdom about how He is speaking to me in these other ways.)

If you’re feeling far from God and feel like He is a million miles away, here’s my recommendation: First, He is not. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever: praise Him for that! Hebrews 6:19 tells us “We have this hope as an anchor for our soul, firm and secure.”¬†SWITCH IT UP! Try a devo, try meditating on grace-filled passages of Scripture (such as Ephesians, Colossians, Romans 8). Try just sitting on your bed, crying, dejected, afraid, whatever you are: and TALK to God as if you were venting to your best friend. This means holding nothing back and being as vulnerable and transparent as possible, even if it pains you to say and admit some things. Believe me, I am sitting here telling Jesus there are crazy thoughts¬†in my head saying “You are not who you say you are, I dont believe in you” and He is able to handle it: He knows its not from me, its not true, and that nothing can separate us. Healing comes from this openness with God, believe me.

For in Him we live, and move, and have our being. As your own poets have said,

We are His offspring.

Talk to your Heavenly Father like you talk to your mom or dad after a bad day. Let it out. He loves you and wants to take you deeper into His love.

Listen to this song while you’re at it.. absolutely beautiful. Love me some Danny Gokey!

xo-J

 

If your eyes are on the storm, you’ll wonder if I love you still. But if your eyes are on the cross, you’ll know I always have and always will.

I feel awful this morning.. why sugarcoat it, right?

I felt awful Saturday night, and all day Sunday too. And it’s painful. And CONFUSING. and frustrating. and scary. and I absolutely hate this. I don’t understand what’s going on, why this is happening, or how to get out of it.

But there is still a part deep down inside of me, in my soul, that KNOWS the Lord will pull me out of this.. and today. I have FULL confidence that Jesus will not leave me like this. Even though I can admit that I havent “felt” His presence since Saturday night, I cannot rely on my circumstances or flesh feelings, but only on JESUS’ LOVE.

I won’t judge Jesus’ love by my circumstances; I will judge my circumstances by Jesus’ love.

Hebrews tells us that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews also tells me me God has said,

I will never leave you nor forsake you.

Therefore, I will stand on the promises of God rather than on my depression, OCD, anxiety, biggest fears, mental confusion, lies from the pit of hell being fed to me, etc etc.

GOD is bigger than my problem right now.

Just going to jot down some of my feelings this weekend since Saturday night up until now so I can reflect back on a good day and see where I was at and Jesus’ faithfulness to pull me out of this dark place:

  • Confusion was the biggest piece of this weekend
  • Feeling ‘detached’ from myself and reality of who I am (especially in my relationship to the Lord)
  • Feeling as if I had lost everything, particularly my salvation and relationship with God
  • Hard to read Scripture and pray
  • Feeling rushed around
  • Difficult to get out of bed, difficult to run, difficult to get dressed
  • Agitated with people (not wanting to talk to people)
  • Socially isolating myself
  • Sleeping excessively
  • Very critical of my appearance and my body weight (weighted myself a bunch of times, monitered closely what I ate and how much I worked out)
  • Feeling unworthy of a relationship with Christ
  • Feeling unworthy of being called a Christian
  • Questioning whether I will come out of this or if I am done for good
  • Comparing myself to other Christians, and other women my age
  • Thinking about how I will never get married to a Godly man because I am “crazy” now


Thats all I have right now, I wont try to pretend I have more to say, or feel better this morning at 5am on a Monday, because I dont.. but I will, by the grace of God and the power of Christ in me, get through this. 

 

I look forward to journaling again later (maybe today who knows:) ) and seeing Gods’ faithfulness through this tough weekend.

So when you’re on your knees,

and answers seem so far away,

You’re not alone,

stop holding on.

And just be held.

-Casting Crowns “Just be Held”

 

 

 

 

“Launch your nets out into deep”

Woah, what a rollercoaster of a week it has been!

My week started off rocky and shaky when we had a snow day and off from school on Monday. I went to bed Sunday night anxious, and then woke up in a heightened state of anxiety and panic and sort of disconnect from reality. I couldn’t seem to grasp on myself or focus my attention on anything at all, and all I really wanted to do was pray, read my Bible, and lay in bed all day. But I found it hard to even do any of those three things. So I ended up praying with the little strength I had, laying in bed and then getting up again, and then trying to distract myself by hanging out with my nephew and sister and laughing with them until it was time to go to bed. Less than a functional or enjoyable day to say the least.

Praise God, that He knows exactly how much I can and cannot take, and I woke up Tuesday morning feeling confident, refreshed, joyful, alive, focused on Christ: myself. Yeah, this is who I am. Joyful, energetic, kind, compassionate, patient, lover of Jesus above all things. I had a great Tuesday and Wednesday, asking the Lord to reveal what He is teaching me through all of this, and coming up with great intervention ideas and activities for my kiddos in the meantime. I was able to run in the mornings, read my bible with my coffee afterwards and rest in His presence without my racing thoughts, shaking, anxiety, fear or rushing around.

Thursday morning started out alittle rocky but I was able, with Gods’ strength, to pull it together for the work day and my morning routine (workout, read and pray, get ready for work). Thursday afternoon around 4:30, right before I left work, I started feeling this darkness and anxiety settle over me.. I prayed immediately, had my worship jams on my ipod on my office floor as I was assembling and cutting out various pieces of a bunch of interventions I’m in the process of making for my kids. But, I couldn’t seem to stop ¬†it from settling over me. The songs seemed to lose their effect on me, I started to feel panicked, scared, and started moving around alot faster and uncoordinated (which always happens when I have a bout like this). I wasn’t able to fix my thoughts on Jesus or just about anything other than,¬†I need to get home now.

Once I got home, nothing improved.. I ate (I seem to rush eating and not really think about what I’m eating when I’m anxious, or forget to eat) and then tried to do some more work on my projects that I brought home while listening to worship music on Pandora with my mom. But that didn’t really help, except one song, “When God ran” by Craig, Phillips & Dean which just about made me cry, which I needed:)

I didn’t sleep barely a wink Thursday night, and I found myself wide awake at 1am with my worship jams on to no big avail, it kind of made me more anxious because I get SO DESPERATE to feel the presence and peace of Jesus and nervous that I have lost Him that it can at times make me feel more despaired than when the anxiety attack started.

I woke up anxious, did my whole 8.5 mile run anxious and literally had to force myself to stay on the treadmill and not get off (what else was I going to do at 4am? I had already left myself an hour and a half to read and pray): and the exercise and running is good for my mental health and blood flow, so I like to do  it every morning and keep myself in a good routine. Also, running is such a big part of who I am, and how I relate and talk to God, and I want to keep that going because it makes me feel like me again.

My prayer time was mostly me just crying out to God, crying, and asking Him to help me figure out what is going on and how He is teaching me through this and not only teaching me but LOVING and COMFORTING me through this. Its so important to note lose sight that not every trial is God saying “This needs to become more holy in you” but also “I see how sick you are, my daughter, and I want to LOVE and HOLD you through this- just be held by me.” Through these past 6 weeks and the craziness it has brought, the biggest thing I’ve heard from Jesus was not “You are being trained and refined” (although God is definitely doing that and bringing to light many things that I need to surrender also), but it has been an overwhelming¬†I love you more than you can even comprehend and I want you to know that I see your pain, your hurt, your tears, and I am here to hold you through all of this. I know how much you love me and you are doing a great job.

Man, does it break my heart to wake up most days of the week and not be able to think about my Savior and relate to Him in the way that I am used to. I couldn’t think of anything worse. But the truth is, He is the air I breathe. He is the sun settling over the mounds of white snow outside of my window each morning. He is the smiles I exchange with strangers and people who are hard for me to love that I never used to care about before I met Jesus. He is the laughter and smiles of my students when they walk into my room for therapy and are so excited to see me. He is the warm first sip of coffee on a cold day that brings joy to the deepest parts of my being. He is my moms’ soothing voice on the other end of the phone when I am barely able to talk I am so anxious. He is the only One who is able to handle all of my brokenness, ugliness, sin, shame and fears and turn them into something absolutely, outstandingly beautiful, and the only One that I even want to be around or show my face to on a day like I had today.

He is my Savior. He is my Lord. He is my Rock. He is my Refuge in the storm. He is my Best friend. He is the Lover of my soul. He is my Healer. He is my All in All. He is my Life.

Jesus is the best thing that has ever, and will ever, happen to me. And nothing that happens in my mind or life will ever change the relationship we have or His love for me. Or you. Or any of His children. Because He was perfect for us, we don’t have to be perfect. Because He overcame the evil one for us, we never have to worry about being hurt by evil. We are already seated with Him in heavenly places and will spend an eternity of pain-free living with Him someday.

 

And that’s enough of a reason for me to face another day, whatever it may bring.

“You have been given fullness in Christ.” – Colossians 2:10

 

 

“even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.”

Psalm 139:12 sums up our God. Even the darkness, even OUR darkest, most scary and painful days, are still as light to the Lord. His guiding and loving hand is still upon us, even when we cant feel or see it. His Spirit is still comforting us and indwelling us and leading us closer to Him through trials and pain.

This weekend was wonderful. We had a huge blizzard in Philadelphia (and the whole east coast in general). We got crushed with about 21 inches of snow! After a really rough week last week, especially Wednesday and Thursday being particularly painful and anxiety-ridden, the Lord broke through the darkness and Friday, Saturday, and Sunday my best friend and I were snowed in together, worshipping the Lord all weekend, and just having an amazing time! PRAISE HIM! We worked out together, ate meals together, laughed, did bible studies and talked about Jesus, and worshipped on her guitar together.

Sunday night took a turn as my anxiety started creeping back and a friend (who is a believer) said something to me that set my OCD thoughts and anxiety running wild again. I asked him a biblical question (I shouldnt have, I was already feeling anxious and should have just rested and turned my phone off for alittle) and his response made me feel like I committed a huge sin. I asked him a question about the judgment seat of Christ and if God (the Father) would not be present at judgment because He cannot be in the presence of sin. My friend, who can be really harsh and judgmental at times, though I always pray that I can forgive him.. told me “its important to not talk about Jesus as separate from God.” I did NOT mean that at all, and Jesus knows my heart and that I did not mean that, I was just trying to have a nice, calm biblical discussion together and was feeling good up until that moment. Katie and I had even discussed it in the morning, and since her response was not judgmental but kind and we just discussed calmly back and forth and then moved on from it and kept up our bible study, I was able to not worry about it. However, his response started the enemy and my OCD thoughts on a wild trip of “You just committed such a huge sin, thats unpardonable, Jesus has left you, God now hates you..” and the same pattern and spiral of thoughts began again.

So there I was… a mess again.. but held together by the all-knowing, all-redeeming, all-merciful God and King of Kings.

“He who dwells in the Shelter of the Most High,

will rest in the shadow of The Almighty.

I will say of the Lord, “He is my Refuge, my Fortress,

my God, in whom I trust.”

Psalm 91:1-2

I woke up with the same anxiety, and am still struggling. During these times it is hard to remember who I am in Christ, and to even see or hear God or His Word clearly. But I will not give in to the devils’ tactics.. I know I am His, and nothing can separate us. I have been here before, but I WILL NOT STAY DOWN.

“And the God of all grace,

after you have suffered for awhile,

will Himself restore you, 

and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.”

We will overcome, because Jesus already won this battle. Fight the good fight of the faith brothers and sisters.

Xo- J

Light is breaking through, in a stable for a throne.

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
¬†¬†¬†¬†we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.‚ÄĚ

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

[|Romans 8:35-39|]

Let that truth sink in to the deepest parts of your soul, heart, mind and bones today. NOTHING can and will separate us from the mighty grip of Christs’ love on us, through the power of God, who makes us stand firm in Christ.

This was one of the most difficult weeks for me anxiety wise. I cried, and cried, and cried again to the Lord about how much this hurts and spilled out my heart to Him. I fell down, and He picked me back up and put me on solid ground. I told Him I was weak, He told me “Jeannie, but I am strong.” the enemy told me I had lost it all and messed up for good, Jesus whispered to me “Nothing shall separate us, Jeannie. I am Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

To what shall we compare love like this…

I woke up this morning crying and in a panic, my heart felt shattered. First thing I did was turn on my Pandora worship jams, and went on instagram to read scripture. I found that, over the past month, satan has capitalized on my anxiety by “blanking my mind”. I usually would meditate on Scripture and Gods’ truth ALL day everyday. Since this OCD crap began, I stopped because thinking about God would make me anxious (exactly where the enemy wanted me) because it would spiral my “trains” to start. However, today reading truth, my soul felt fed, watered, MY SOUL FELT ITS WORTH AGAIN READING THE WORD OF GOD AND THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST.

Then He appeared, and the soul felt its worth….

Feeling alive again today. Praise God for that. And for all He will continue to do in me despite what my mind or the enemy tells me. Be encouraged brothers and sisters. Be strong and immovable.

Satan is the father of lies. He has been lying from the beginning.

“Then you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free. Therefore whom the Son sets free, is FREE INDEED.”

xo- J

January Blues

Hi all!

Welcome to my blog! I’m a 26 y/o woman who lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA. I was raised in a Christian home (my mom and nana are born-again Christians, as well as myself) and started seriously following the Lord and was baptized in His name when I was 24. I am an occupational therapist who works with kids with special needs, and I also co-lead a special needs ministry at a local church. I love Jesus, Major League Baseball, exercising, reading Christian lit and scripture, watching movies on the couch with a blanket, strong coffee, good food (especially banana pancakes and ice cream), meeting new people and spending time with my friends and family, traveling, and going to the beach! For personal reasons, I will refrain from using my name so I will shorten it to “J” on all my posts.

The purpose of this journaling and blogging is to share my battle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (in particular, OCD thoughts) as a follower of Christ. I have struggled on and off with OCD thoughts and compulsions my entire life as far as I can remember, but when I accepted Christ as my personal Lord and Savior the thoughts subsided greatly. The thoughts usually attack whatever is most important in my life, so for years that was my eating disorder/exercise addiction, graduate school, and relationships with men. However, recently the thoughts have began to attack my faith.. the most important and defining aspect of who I am and what I live for.

I wanted to begin to journal and share my journey with others since this is such a taboo topic and I want to help other Christians who are (or may go through in the future) this same battle. It is scary, unfair, crippling and debilitating at times. I have days where I want to curl up in the fetal position and stay in bed, but by the grace of God and who He has called me to be, i continue to press forward and He is always faithful to come through for me. If you’re reading this, I don’t have all the answers, and my journey is just beginning. I have started receiving Christian counseling once per week and am on an anxiety medication to help, but God continues to be my biggest warrior and source of comfort through all of this. If you’re reading this, know this:¬†those thoughts in your head are not your own, and the enemy WILL capitalize on your weaknesses to make you feel more ashamed, condemned, and alienated from the Lord. You are chosen, called, beautiful, loved, and there is nothing about those thoughts that define who you are. The truth is, there is nothing you can think that you will either act on or that will separate you from the love of Christ.

I am going to list some of the common “trains” (i like to call them trains that go by, that I can either choose to ‘hop on’ or ‘let pass by me’.) that go through my head on a daily basis (some days not at all, some days all day!) so that you can know what I am referring to. These are¬†my OCD and not any thought I would choose to have on my own, and it helps me to remember the words of Jesus:

27¬†My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28¬†I give them eternal life,and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29¬†My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all[a]; no one can snatch them out of my Father‚Äôs hand. 30¬†I and the Father are one.‚ÄĚ John 10:27-30

The truth is, I know my Shepards’ voice, and when I hear these thoughts, they cause in me fear, panic, shame, anxiety and confusion– these are NOT of God and that is how you can begin to distinguish your own personal “Trains”. Or think of them as a package given to you by a stranger or satan himself, and you can choose to say “okay I will check this package out and open it, even though I did not order anything,” or you can make the decision to say “I did not place an order for anything, you must have the wrong address.”

My unwelcome trains:

  • You are falling away from the faith, the branch that does not bear fruit and the summary of Hebrews 6: you cannot be brought back to repentance because you knew the gift of the Holy Spirit and then fell away
  • You will be condemned to hell and judged more strictly because God revealed His Son to you and you turned back
  • You do not accept the gospel of Jesus Christ
  • You do not believe the Holy Bible is Gods’ ONLY and final Word to mankind
  • You question parts of the Bible, especially the Gospels and the Divine Birth and Incarnation of Jesus Christ
  • You dont believe that salvation is eternal and have lost your salvation
  • You cannot rest in Jesus, and more than that, you dont want to rest in Jesus
  • You are resisting the promptings of the Spirit (not being ‘led by the Spirit’)
  • You wonder about other faiths, in particular the faith of Judaism and Islam, and wonder whether these faiths have it ‘right’ and wonder if Jesus is who He says He is
  • You are a fake Christian, and are ‘going through the motions just to try to please God’
  • You are the epitome of what God says in His word about “these people worship me in vain, their hearts are far from me’
  • You have lost the gift of the Holy Spirit
  • You should pull yourself away from other believers because you should be embarrassed that you were once a strong Christian and are not anymore
  • Jesus is disappointed in you
  • You will never experience the joy of Christ again because of your lack of faith and disbelief
  • Is Allah God?

These are the intrusive, disgusting unwanted visitors that pass by in my head, day and night. sometimes less frequently, depending on how I respond to them and my level of anxiety on the particular day. Needless to say, I do not agree with any of these thoughts, and would never act on any of them. Here I have developed a list of my actual thoughts on a good day where I have journaled without the presence of these intrusive thoughts:

  • God loves me, and He sees my struggle right now.
  • Jesus is so proud of me for continuing to fight even though these OCD thoughts are so distressing and painful.
  • Jesus tells me that “I would never leave you, just rest in me, i will fight for you”
  • God tells me that I am a daughter of God and adopted into His family for eternity
  • God tells me that He will never turn away from His chosen work of grace
  • God tells me that He guarantees me a seat in eternity with His Son
  • Jesus reminds me who I am in Christ: victorious, loved, accepted, clothed in righteousness, forgiven, chosen, adopted, called, unique, beautiful, free from condemnation.. the list goes on!
  • Jesus reminds me that His joy is always available to me and He is here to help
  • Jesus tells me he sees how sick I am and loves me even more when I am weak and sick
  • God tells me that sometimes faith looks like putting one foot in front of the other and choosing to trust Him when I dont see how anything good could result from this pain.
  • God tells me that better days are ahead and this will be a part of my testimony.
  • God tells me to stay in His Word and to NOT pull away from Him and the body of Christ during this time.
  • God brings people (believers, family, therapists, doctors) into my life to help me overcome this battle.
  • Jesus tells me He LIVES in me and it is literally impossible for me to run away from Him or be separated from Him because He is part of me and I am being sanctified as a new creation
  • Jesus tells me that I am loved and He wants me to cry to Him about all of this.

I am hoping to be able to inspire others towards a deeper relationship with Christ through this battle. Please join me on my journey as I walk with Jesus and battle OCD.

2 When you go through deep waters,
    I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
    you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
    you will not be burned up;
    the flames will not consume you.

Isaiah 43:2 NLT.

-J