So I’m gonna level with you guys right away in this post and say that I found the majority of this week REALLY FREAKING HARD.
Part of me wants to skip over this week’s blog post altogether instead of dwelling on it – the thought of people reading what a terrible time I’m having when they’ve supported me so much through this process makes me feel a bit icky; buut I also want to be real with you and for you to see the transformation I’m going through right alongside me – the good, the bad and the ugly!
I know this will get better.
So why such a bad start to the week?
Unfortunately my good old friends anxiety and depression decided to pop up and say hello again for a few days, so trying to cope with that amongst 50+ people I don’t really know well has been pretty difficult. Going to lectures and concentrating has been hard, especially with nightmares thrown into the mix – honestly the majority of this week has just been spent wanting to curl up in a ball and sleep!
There is definitely a part of me that is really thankful for people to process with – it’s a very different experience to dealing with this alone like I have in the past. I’m really starting to love the students and staff here now I’m feeling more myself, but it’s also quite hard during thought storms to believe that I fit in here and that I haven’t already ruined friendships with my intensity! Classic me. There isn’t a whole lot of space on base, so I’m also still working out what to do when I need to go and have a big, fat cry alone and there are people to see and hear you everywhereeeee!
The main thing I struggle with going through these phases is unwelcome thoughts in my head, but thankfully I have been through this before so I know how it works by now! I’ve been really focusing on the verse that says to take every thought captive and essentially shove any lies back out of my mind pronto – I’m wise enough to know by now a bit of God’s character, that these thoughts are not true and they definitely didn’t come from my father! I like to visualise it as having bouncers for your head space; you may not be able to control which thoughts start to queue up outside, but you have the authority to refuse entry and decide which thoughts have a right to come in for the party!
No shirt, no truth, no service.
Even if waves of hopelessness still suck as much as they did before, and trying to act semi-normal when I have a constant stream of horrible pictures and words running through my mind will never be a fun experience, it feels good to know I am not starting again and that I have a war strategy.
“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” Corinthians 10:4
During one prayer time this week, I feel like God said to me that if I gave him even just a little then he would meet me where I was and do the rest. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced depression but when you are completely overwhelmed just by sitting next to another human at lunch, the very last thing you want to do is wage war against your own mind and fight! After a good chat with my one-to-one I realised that actually that sometimes in a strange way, our darkness can actually be more familiar and comforting than freedom. If you’ve believed lies for a long time, then choosing not to believe them anymore seems a bit strange and like you’re going against what feels natural!
It’s a bit like being stuck in a cage for a long time, then the door finally being opened, and you not knowing whether to escape or not because it feels like you’re leaving the home you’ve lived in for so long. Praying to be reminded why freedom is actually a good thing, is definitely the weirdest prayer I’ve prayed so far on DTS but I think it has played a part in coming out of the darkness again the last few days!
It wasn’t an instant thing, but on Wednesday I finally decided to give God that inch he asked of me, and man did he give back a mile! With the previously mentioned lack of personal space issue, I decided to take a big stick down to the garden at the bottom of the cabins and basically act like a lunatic for a while. Screaming, shouting, singing, crying and beating up trees and the ground is apparently what thought war looks like in the flesh, and even though I looked like an absolute basket case to the lost people asking me for directions;
denouncing lies and declaring truth over the Australian valley below me with the Holy Spirit is honestly one of the most effective and healthy ways I’ve ever dealt with this! Going straight into evening worship afterwards was so flipping amazing too! There is simply nothing else like a victory dance over a conquered spiritual battle and a genuine experience of God’s goodness!
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:1
So even though this week has been really hard, I now genuinely have a strong sense that God is in this with me and he’s letting me in on how he’s constantly growing me and refining me. It’s good that I am choosing to fight, but I know that ultimately it’s the lion of Judah in all his power roaring from behind me, that is keeping the enemy away. Pretty sure that this isn’t the last spiritual battle I’m going to encounter in my life, so I think it’s important to view this as another opportunity to learn how to step out of victim mentality and perfect my sword wielding skills!
Hearing The Voice of God
I think it’s probably not a coincidence I’ve been dealing with rubbish thoughts the week that we learn about hearing God’s voice! One of the main points that Michael (our speaker for the week and YWAM Toowoomba Base Director) taught us is how
important it is to quiet the noise in order to hear what God is saying – that’s pretty tough to do if other voices are trying to be louder!
He made the point that the noise may also sometimes be caused by us. If we limit God to a box by only listening to him when he speaks in a specific way or in the timing we expect him to, then we could be waiting a while for the word we’re searching for! God doesn’t respond to ultimatums so I think hearing God’s voice is actually a trust exercise in itself. It’s hard but also really important to listen to and seek to be in relationship with God for who he is, rather than what he can do for us.
I was really challenged by asking myself how much of my quiet time is spent talking vs. listening – in normal relationships and conversations, there is a pretty equal amount of talking and listening most of the time, so I’m definitely mulling over whether I give the space for God to do the same in our prayers and one-on-one time with him.
I really love that God speaks in so many different ways – from dreams, pictures, words of knowledge, people, the Bible, creation, visions, angels to using an audible voice and even a “still small” one. God is so creative in the ways he communicates with his people!
I love even more that he knows us well enough to speak to us in ways that we will understand and will resonate with us the most!
One of the exercises we did this week was to pray for a word/picture/encouragement for somebody without knowing who it was, then we would pick out a name at random and tell them what the word was. God gave me this amazing picture of a bright pink lily that spoke of the person’s beauty, sweet fragrance that attracts people, how they stand out from others and a verse in Song of Solomon that says: “As a lily among brambles, so is my love among the young women.”
Honestly I was praying the whole time that the person I was praying for was a girl – might be slightly awks telling a guy that God thinks he’s a beautiful, pink, sweet-smelling flower!!
When the name came though, and I opened it, I couldn’t flipping believe what it said:
I PICKED MY OWN NAME!
I cry every time I even think about it; it absolutely blows my mind that not only could God speak in such a specific way, but he knew exactly what I needed to hear and he thinks so much better things about me than any human has! I genuinely was praying with a heart for encouraging someone else, so the fact that God could feel the same way about me that I do other people has given me a lot of insight! One of the things I’m trying to work on here is learning to actually accept the love that both God and people show me, rather than just letting it wash over me like rain off an umbrella, so I’d say that’s a pretty flipping awesome set of ammo to start off with! Really hoping one of the arts and mercy students can paint this for me as a reminder! 🙂
A powerpoint slide that really stuck with me this week in lectures said:
“Thankfulness is the soil in which good character grows.”
I’ve known this to be so true this year – thankfulness is such a good way to combat hopelessness and shift your perspective! This is pretty cheesy, but in the continuation of stepping into a hope mentality, I just want to finish this post by naming some things I’m thankful for about this week.
- I am thankful that it has been raining the last few days in Toowoomba! I’m definitely severely under prepared for Welsh-like weather in the middle of Australian summer, but it has been so nice not to melt in class and for my eczema to have a break from the heat!
- I’m thankful I finished writing a song for the first time in a few months and that I have non-judgemental, encouraging people to bounce ideas off.
- I’m thankful that during the times I’ve had a clear head, I have seen through the lies of the enemy – I can say that I will develop friendships here and grow, even if I don’t feel it right now.
- I’m thankful God gave me the courage to follow through with performing at karaoke night tonight, even if I was a shaky little wreck on the inside!
- I’m thankful for the amazing jam sessions I’ve had on the weekend and for having the opportunity to play 5 different instruments in one day!
- I am thankful for the battle I’ve been through this week because without it I wouldn’t have a reason to write a new war song (stay tuned!)
- I’m thankful I haven’t seen a spider or a snake in 2 days!
- I’m thankful for cups of tea, milkshakes from Moose and flowery shirts.
- I am thankful for the amount of ridiculous dancing opportunities I have had (and apparently taken) this week.
- I am thankful to have an opportunity to be able to share my story and inspire other people to keep fighting.
NOT TODAY SATAN.