We all hear it.. that little voice in our head telling us no.
You can't do that. You'll never make it. You aren't capable enough. You aren't worthy.
No to this, no to that. Good luck with that. You might try but you won't succeed. You'll always struggle with that sin.
If you give the devil a little tiny centimeter crack in the door, he'll use it to swing the door wide open and flood your mind with lies that we soon enough become convinced of.
Anxiety. Depression. Medication. Stress. Comparison.
I recently heard that 80% of any type of sickness begins in the mind. Woah. That's huge.
If we know that, then shouldn't we be doing something about it? Shouldn't we be learning to control our minds, to figure out ways to encourage one another in our journeys to prevent these conditions from worsening?
I've struggled with anxiety since I was a kid. Yes, I know.. I ask myself all the time what did I have to worry about as a child that'd make me sick and anxious and worry about the silliest things. It's continued to come and go throughout the years, and the past few months it's been back again.
If you've ever experienced it, it can be scary. It can bring on feelings of panic and fear out of nowhere for no reason whatsoever, in the places I'm most comfortable and excited for. Most excited for until I get there and my palms get all sweaty. I'll fear that I'm going to pass out. I look forward to leaving and being away from that place, back where I'm comfortable.
I'm completely aware of it, and it drives me absolutely nuts when it happens because I know that it's in my mind.
The other morning one of my devotionals was talking about when we focus on our problems, they become bigger. As is true with this. The more I think oh my gosh, I'm going to get anxiety, you betcha, it's self-fulfilling. When I let that door creak open just a tiny bit, it's as if the enemy just keeps them coming. He knows that one little thought will lead to another and another and before you know it, he has complete control over my thoughts and emotions. Rather than focus on the negative thoughts, it says to thank Him for the good, for His promises. [[which I'll get into more below]]
I declared 2018 the year that I will overcome it for good. I absolutely hate experiencing it. I know that I don't have to, and I know for certain that it doesn't come from God. The fear, the panic, the feelings of being weak and unworthy, none are promises that God has given us. In fact, those are quite opposite of what He says about each and every one of us.
Whether you struggle with something similar, or your struggle is something completely different.. we still all have that one thing, that one area in our life that we need help. We have those voices flooding in that tell us no, that cause us to question our worth, question who we are and what we can actually accomplish.
So, how do we go about overcoming these voices in our head that stand contrary to what God wants us to think? Since the beginning of the year, I can say that the amount of anxiety I have experienced has indeed gone down. It isn't completely gone, but it's much less than it used to be. It's been a freeing feeling, and it makes me excited to continue to overcome it until it no longer has a hold on me.
How? These four things have been huugeee in this process. It might be different for everyone, but these particularly have been things that have helped me and things I know have helped others, with similar situations or with other struggles that are completely different. Wherever you're at, these can help you quiet that voice inside your head.
1. People. Don't isolate yourself. If you're struggling with something, it's easy to keep it quiet and try to manage it yourself. You don't want them to think differently of you because you "don't have yourself together." This is where the enemy wants you. The less people that know about it, the easier it is for him to have control. If you don't tell anyone, then he will be the only one occupying your mind. Instead, be vulnerable. You don't have to tell the whole world. Seek the people in your life that will encourage you, that won't judge, that will pray for you and offer their guidance and support. Be open with what your struggling with so they can help you through it. We don't have to do this alone, and that's why God places the people He does in our lives, to help us through the good and the bad.
2. Saturate your mind with His truth. Whether you're broken, healing, struggling with comparison, or some other thing.. find verses that speak truth to what you're feeling. If you have anxiety, focus on the truths that He gives us about His everlasting peace. [[Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”]] If you feel unworthy because of things you've done in the past, remember you are made new. [[2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here.]] Find verses that will you encourage you when you are weak and close to giving in to the opposition. His Word will stand strong and true, and you must declare those affirmations over you, time and time again until you believe them with your whole heart.
3. Thank Him. It sounds silly, but rather than letting your mind wander to the issue you're facing, thank Him for it. Don't focus on the problem, but thank Him for the opposite. When I start to feel anxious thoughts creep in, I thank Him for His peace. I thank Him for being bigger than any problem I will ever face. I thank Him for wrapping His arms around me and calming my spirit. If you feel like you aren't good enough for someone or something, thank Him for creating a masterpiece. [[Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.]] You are fearfully and wonderfully made [[Psalm 139:14]]. Thank Him for the blessings, thank Him for His truths. Waking up with a grateful heart can do so much for your outlook and appreciation for life. It brings a refreshing joy to the place that used to be a robber of your joy and energy.
4. Turn up the music. Music can change your entire attitude. Turn on your favorite song and dance it out. Who cares if you look silly. There are times my friend and I will look like fools when we're driving in his truck. The music is up and the dance moves are out. We sing in our imaginary microphones. No cares in the world because you know what? It makes us laugh. Whenever I'm driving, I turn up the worship music and it brings such a calmness to my mind that tends to wander far and wide as I'm driving, no matter the distance.
Don't give the devil an inch, don't even give him a centimeter. You are worth so much more than the lies he will feed you. He wants you down on yourself, he wants you feel incapable, unworthy, unlovable, stressed, anxious, depressed.. he wants everything that God doesn't want for you.
You were created for so much more than to be ruled by the one who wants the worst for you. You see, the Lord knows the worst about us, but still loves us the MOST and He wants the most for us.
Each and every one of us have the ability to overcome our weaknesses, to quiet that voice in our head that tries to prevent us from achieving the best that God has planned. It might not be easy and it might take some time or it might take a long time, but it's there inside of us, the choice and ability to listen to, believe, trust, and seek the voice of the One who created us each for a unique purpose.
We might start of at a slow, slow walk, but soon enough, we'll all be able to run free after the life that we were meant to live. A life free of the lies of the devil, a life full of love, peace, joy, grace, forgiveness, laughter, and fulfillment.
What does it take for anything to be planted and grow?
Planting. Nurturing. Feeding. Watering. Weeding.
We must pay attention. We must be aware of how we are giving it life.
The other night, my perspective was changed in how I view the lies of the devil that try and do creep into our minds. They were compared with trees, trees that take root in our souls, growing deeper and deeper over time if we allow them to.
It convicted me in many ways and has been a thought crossing my mind multiple times per day, reflecting on the trees that are oh so easy to plant in our own hearts everyday.
Fear. Anxiety. Insecurity. Depression. Insufficiency. Comparison. Unforgiveness. Bitterness. Selfishness.
Sometimes without even realizing that we're doing it, we plant these seeds and then the people we surround ourselves with, the things we do, what we tell ourselves, what we believe to be true, all feed and nurture these seeds until soon enough, they sprout into trees and before we know it, they're giant sequoias with roots as deep as they can grow.
Some of these seeds have been internalized and taken deep root over the years, others are freshly planted after a bad incident, a painful breakup, a hurtful comment, an unhealthy relationship, job loss, unexpected life changes.
There are those we are aware of, while others may still be taking root without us even realizing it. That is why it's key to be in God's Word, surrounding yourself with people who can help you overcome them, focusing on His truths, His promises, His peace, and the joy found in Him.
Without Him, we will stumble and fall, become weak and weary. We will be overcome by the crippling lies of the enemy.
The devil tells us:
"You aren't good enough."
"You'll never be able to do that."
"You don't deserve a man/woman like him/her."
"You'll always get anxiety when you go somewhere."
"You can't forgive because they hurt you deeply."
"You can't fix that friendship or relationship because it's too far gone."
Lies, lies, and more lies. The list could go on for miles if we let it.
BUT. That's not what the Bible tells us.
What the enemy tells us is in stark contrast to what is the truth.
What trees have you planted in yourself or allowed others to plant in you?
For me, I've battled anxiety and feelings of being unworthy, among many other things. We all have our own battles we face, and each and every one of us will be different, but yet the culprit is still the same.
I've fallen into the pits that Satan wants me to be in. He's had me right where He wants me.
He waits for me to allow a single anxious thought in and once I do, he keeps them coming. He wants my palms sweaty and me to feel the fear and panic. To not go this place or that because I've convinced myself that it'll bring on the anxiety.
The thing is, I know it's in my mind and I know that he's right there waiting for me to slip. I've become so aware of that, that when I find myself just about to fall into his little trap, I just imagine him right below me, and me stomping on him, saying "Not today, Satan."
The truth: [[Philippians 4:7]] And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Snap. Snap. Rip. Thank you Jesus for your peace.
There I break off one branch.
One step, one twig, one branch at a time until I can make my way to the trunk, and then pull out the roots.
It's what we have to do. One step at a time.
At the beginning of 2018, I prayed for a word. A word that I'd use as my word for the year. Yes, I set goals, but I also wanted to have a word that I'd turn to when I needed encouragement, to deepen my trust and dependency on Him. Day after day, He was nudging me towards perseverance.
//Perseverance: steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.\\
I took hold of that and reflected and prayed on it, and realized how many areas of my life I do need to persevere. Persevere against these lies the enemy tries to plant in my heart being a big one. So I declared this year the year of persevering. In my will to overcome the anxious thoughts, in my journey for God's plan for my life, in deepening my friendships, in my daily interactions with friends or strangers, in being in the Word and filling my mind with His Truths.
You see, the seeds we plant, regardless of how long they've been taken root within us, take time to eradicate. I googled steps to uprooting a tree, and one of the results was How To Dig up Tree Roots: 12 Steps. A majority of the results were solutions that had 6 or more steps involved.
The steps are where I find myself struggling sometimes. I want it to be quick and easy, but it's exactly the opposite. It's a process. It takes time, it takes dedication, it takes learning, and persevering. If you think about it.. How long have we been feeding this tree inside of us, watering it, filling it with the thoughts that caused it to grow?
If it's been long-term, then wouldn't it make sense that it's going to take time to uproot it? That's what I tell myself day after day. It takes time. It takes effort, concentration, and support.
Regardless of the amount of time it takes to uproot these trees in your heart, there's one constant that will never change, and that's how valuable and loved you are in the Father's eyes.
When you find yourself stumbling, turn to His truths, turn to those around you who will remind you of those Truths when you can't seem to muster up the strength to do so yourself. The enemy wants us to try to do it on our own, so he can try to suck us back in when we're vulnerable and without the strength and encouragement from others.
Don't allow him to win. Jesus didn't go to the cross for you to be crushed by the enemy. He wants you to have life and to have it abundantly. Don't water those trees any longer. Soak up the Truth. Get out your chainsaw and get to choppin.
Music.. it has the ability to pump us up, fill us with joy, get us super motivated, and brings a certain energy to our days. It on the other end of the spectrum, can also be listened to when we're feeling down and just need to listen to sad songs because we're sad and that makes total sense, right? Tell me that isn't something that we've all done.
I'm a big music fan. If i'm not working or somewhere where I can't listen, then I likely have some tunes on. I spent a lot of hours in the tractor this fall, so you can bet that the radio was always cranked up and I probably looked goofy as can be singing by myself for hours on end. 2017 also involved ALOT of driving--back and forth to Michigan, around the Grand Rapids area on days off to explore, and once I moved back home, I've still been driving all over for different things.. aka, I have listened to music, a lot.
According to my 2017wrapped, I listened for 25,423 minutes to 2,318 different songs and 908 different artists. Woahhh. Okay, yes, I'm not exaggerating when I say I'm always listening.
I have a Spotify account so I can listen to anything, anytime without any ads and disruptions. It has the sweet feature where it creates Daily mixes based off of your listening, and at the end of the year it came out with a playlist of Your Top Songs 2017. I was listening to it when I was driving the other day, and holy moly... I've been listening to some upbeat, encouraging songs lately, but let's just say, the first half of my year was quite the opposite, judging by the amount of sad, depressing songs that played.
The first half of the year wasn't the greatest.. I struggled with a big hurt, loneliness, stress, uncertainty, fear, feelings of not measuring up. I knew it was by choice that I let those things control me. It was on a drive back to Michigan after being home for the weekend, a Friday night in which I was able to attend my first Gathering, that I knew I needed to make some changes if I wanted to get past those feelings.
I decided then that I'd no longer allow another person or situations to negatively impact how I felt about myself. Instead of putting myself in circumstances in which I knew I'd feel less than I know I am, I promised myself to never do that again, and instead surrounded myself with encouraging, uplifting people.
When I moved back home, I found myself in community with some amazing, amazing people-- ladies at Bible studies, the Gatherings, and friends I've known since childhood. Day by day, as I practiced positive affirmations, dove into the Word, and was more intentional with friendships and digging deeper than just surface-level conversations, my view of myself and the world around me became brighter and brighter.
Music was a huugee part of this. Regardless of what I was feeling, I knew I could turn on certain songs and it'd change how I was feeling by the end of it. Whatever you're going through right now, wherever you're at in life, let me tell you..
You might feel defeated, you might feel overwhelmed, anxious, fearful, panicked, not good enough, lost. Or there are some of you who feel on top of the world, certain, content, happy. Wherever you're at, remember. You are enough. You are loved. You are valuable. Your circumstances don't define you. If you're going through some hard times, remember that they won't last forever. God is using these times to mold you, shape you, and lead you to the people and places you're supposed to be.
Back to the music. These fifteen (I tried to limit it to 10 but it was too hard), so these 15 songs got me through 2017, and if you're looking for some encouragement, I'd recommend them wholeheartedly. On repeat. Daily. Some are encouraging, some are just songs I love to listen to.
1. Lean On-- 7eventh Time Down-- when your strength fails and your faith is worn, you can lean on Everlasting arms.
2. Just Be You-- Anthem Lights, Sadie Robertson-- all that you are is enough. just be yourself in a world that tries to tell you to be otherwise.
3. Control(Somehow You Want Me)-- Tenth Avenue North-- God doesn't need us, but He wants us, always, every moment, every day.
4. Better Off Broken-- Tasji Bachman-- some things are just that-- better off broken.
5. King of My Heart-- Kutless-- He's never gonna let us down. Never. ever. ever.
6. Set the World On Fire-- Britt Nicole-- with You, there's nothing I can't do.
7. Live It Well- Switchfoot-- one life, one story to tell.
8. Hills and Valleys-- Tauren Wells-- no matter where I am, I'm standing in your love.
9. Still-- Hillary Scott-- sometimes, even though it may be the hardest thing to do, we just have to be still.
10. I Can Wait-- MIKESCHAIR-- He's right on time, never a second late.
11. The Day You Stop Lookin Back-- Thomas Rhett-- the future sure beats the heck out of the past. Believe it.
12. Different-- Micah Tyler-- don't wanna spend my life in a pattern.
13. Upside Down-- Jonny Diaz-- I keep finding out everyday that losing my life is the only way it can be found.
14. Unapologetically-- Kelsea Ballerini-- rather fall apart than love half-hearted
15. Yours-- Russell Dickerson-- you make me better than I was before. I probably listened to this every day for the past year and that isn't an exaggeration. Also slightly obsessed with him and his wife. they're the cutest.
So there you are. Music is healing, music is joy and sadness and every emotion wrapped into a few minutes. It can change you, it can help you through the best and the worst of times, and it can inspire you to go out and be the love, the kindness, the joy, the light that the world needs.
This year, I don't plan on having as many (or any) sad songs on the Top Songs 2018 playlist. It's going to be a good year, and God's going to do some incredible things, I just know it, and you better believe most of these songs will continue to be listened to on the daily.