If ever there was a quote for this picture it would be that. For the last week and a half, I have been unwell. On top of daily headaches, several of which have turned into migraines, I had a chronic fatigue syndrome flare-up which triggered a spiral into depression and left me battling some major anxiety. While I am already on a depression and anxiety med, I can say it’s been some time since I’ve been in this place. I’ve slept till I can’t sleep anymore. I tried being creative but ended up just organizing my craft area. I’ve stuck with some routines of doing dishes, taking our dog out, making an at-home iced coffee, listening to my favorite worship music, praying, reading/reciting some of my favorite scriptures, and reminding myself of God’s faithfulness. It’s helped but it’s not been enough.
In my sleep, I was and am plagued with anxiety-filled dreams. I woke up last week during an unrestful nap to Joey praying over me. This past Friday morning before getting up for the day, I shared with Joey all the weird things I dreamt during the night. I could pinpoint why certain things happened because of a TV show we had watched or something that I read earlier in the day on Thursday. The most surprising was a specific date I hadn’t even thought about that my subconscious pulled out in my dream.
Most of my dreams have centered on high school. It’s not lost on me that it’s been 20 years since I graduated from high school. So, I’m not surprised that I’d have some dreams about that but it’s the fact that I am always finding out that I am missing out on some classes to graduate. I am always wondering if I can still walk and then secretly finish those classes in Summer school. I often have to remind myself in the morning that I not only graduate high school but also have my bachelor’s and masters. One thing I am thankful for when it comes to my high school dreams is that I often use it as an opportunity to pray for those classmates who make an appearance. I do believe the Lord uses my dreams as a call to prayer and I’ll admit that I am not always faithful to follow through. I mean I frequently ask the Lord to do a fresh work in me and help me to be a person of prayer but then miss His invitation to spend time with Him. Sometimes, I wonder if He’s like “Why don’t you just lean into the ‘work’ I’ve already started in you instead of asking for a fresh dose?” Am I just waiting for an emotional moment to dig deeper when what I really need is to be disciplined in my time with Him? Yea, I’m pretty sure it’s a discipline thing.
Friday, though, my anxiety was so high. Upon acknowledging to Joey what I dreamed, I could feel my throat thicken and the weight of it all swell in my chest. Thankfully it was a slow morning at work. I pulled my Bible out (I keep one at work) and turned to Philippians 4. I made a copy of the chapter to revisit those verses throughout the day. I spent some this past weekend digging deeper into several of these verses but a few words stood out to me that I clung to on Friday. In the middle of the call to rejoice in the Lord and the reminder to not be anxious, we are told, “The Lord is near” (Phil. 4:5). Then after being told what to think about, Paul tells us in verse 9 to “practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you”. The word practice reminded me that faith is not a passive experience. It is an active process! We have to put into action rejoicing in the Lord, casting our cares on Him, holding our thoughts captive, and thinking about things that lead to life to actually see the fruit of those things in our life. Practice doesn’t make us perfect but it does make us better. As believers, we are called to action.
I know the majority of you already know this … this isn’t anything new to you. It’s honestly not new to me but I needed the reminder. I thought I knew all the “good” verses in Philippians 4 but then I read something I don’t remember reading before. Everyone loves to quote Philippians 4:13 as a verse of encouragement when someone is down, ill, or struggling. Paul writes, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. And all God’s people said, “Amen!” While it’s true, have you ever really read the verses surrounding verse 13? In that section, Paul is sharing how he has struggled and had some needs. He has learned “to be content in whatever circumstances” he’s in but after his assertion of being able to do all things through Christ, he acknowledges that it’s because of those who have shared with him in his difficulty. Yes, Christ is sufficient to meet his needs but the Lord also met his needs through His people, the Philippians. This is just another reminder to “bear each other’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2). We can do this through listening, praying for, and physically helping those struggling.
This is why I am sharing my struggles this week on such a public platform, I need prayer. I’m not being hard on myself or expecting too much from me spiritually, I am simply being honest. If you think this isn’t the place to share these things or that social media should just be a light-hearted place … I hear you. I completely understand but I am not going to apologize for being so vulnerable. Feel free to scroll on. We can’t bear one another’s burdens if we don’t know what they are. Since Joey and I are in between church families, I need the big Church family right now. I need prayers for peace, wisdom, and direction. I need to know when to lean into this discomfort and what to root out of my life. I want to work through what needs to be worked through not just push it further down only to surface at a later time … cause that’s clearly not working well for me. I know I am not alone. The Lord is near and I have Joey. But there is work to be done and I’d covet your prayers.