Someone To Run To In Times Of Stress

In times of stress, I used to run away from reality, to a place in my mind where a certain imaginary person lived. This imaginary person was smart and pretty and talented, the kind of woman I wanted to be. She had exciting adventures and the freedom and self-confidence to come and go as she pleased. She was a version of “me” that I had created as an escape from my fears and troubles.

The problem with this woman, though, was that she was never the hero but always a victim. Whenever I visited her in my mind, she suffered some terrible physical trauma, a different pain-filled scenario each time. How strange that this person would get hurt over and over again, never finding peace and rest. She was my creation, but I had made her vulnerable and victimized rather than strong and victorious. Why would I continually run to this person and dwell on hurtful things? Was this “me” the embodiment of how I pictured myself, as a woman who deserved evil instead of good?

Before I started counseling, during my most depressing days, I often longed to go to bed early or to stretch out on the couch just so that I could go to the place in my mind where I could find this woman, this woman who was so real to me. With counseling, though, I retreated to this place in my mind less and less, almost to the point of forgetfulness. I no longer needed this place, so it was no longer real to me.

Then one day something happened to upset me, and in reaction I fled to this place and this person in my mind. And it was almost as if I were seeing them for the first time. I had forgotten about them, but here I was returning to them in my time of despair. What a shock! I knew that this was not what I wanted in my life. I was alarmed to think that what I had been experiencing might not even be normal. I was so confused.

Then God in His awesomeness gave me a clear picture of my predicament. He used one of my favorite movies, The Two Towers from The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the character Sméagol/Gollum to illustrate what had been going on in my life. As Sméagol/Gollum waged war with himself, battling to determine whether the good personality or the evil personality would prevail, I recognized that the same sort of battle had been going on inside of me for years. It was a vivid image. In one scene, “good” Sméagol triumphed over his bitter nemesis, and his freedom was joyous. But in a later scene, when Sméagol/Gollum perceived that he had been hurt by a friend, the “evil” Gollum supplanted tender Sméagol. According to Gollum, he—and not Sméagol—had been right all along.

That had happened to me! I had been doing so well with counseling, having victories left and right until—Bam!—a bump in the road. I had experienced an emotional trauma, and I had gone running back to that other “me” in my mind. I had gone running back to bondage and hurt, where there was no peace and no rest. Why would I do that? Perhaps I did it because it was what I had always done. But finally, I saw that this was not good and not right for my life. But what was I to do? Oh, God, help me!

Once again God came to my rescue. He spoke to me through the words of a song on the radio. The song talked about how the very air I breathe is what it feels like to have God’s presence living inside of me, and how desperate and lost I would be without this presence. I realized that the other “me” was not who really lived inside of me.

Now, the other, very real person living in my life is the Holy Spirit, and He wants only good things for me. And I am lost without Him. Now, when bad things happen, I can run to Him.

How about you? People have hurt us and violated our lives, but we can run to the One Who loves us so much. Let’s do that today. Come with me. Let us find rest and peace in Him alone.

2 Corinthians 3:17 says it best: “Now the LORD is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty (emancipation from bondage, freedom)” (Amplified). Only after we realize and believe that the Spirit is within us will we be truly free. Then, our freedom will be joyous!

Blessings – Lisa

From Despair to Hope

My word for the day: despair. I still battle with despair—weeping and sorrowing because sometimes it seems that I will never be able to change who I am inside. And today I am so very tired. I have shut down, and I cannot feel any real emotions. I walk around, doing what needs to be done, but I know that I should be enjoying the people around me—the people I love and cherish so much. I am doing what I usually love to do. I am cooking for and serving those who mean the most to me. But on the inside I am numb. I do not understand feeling this way, and I do not like it. Even as I write this, tears are in my eyes for the despair that I feel. I want to be alive inside and not numb!

I plead with God to give me a sign, to give me some hope, to give me the strength to continue my walk on the path to wholeness. But the tears are falling and falling as despair washes over me again. Oh, God, what is there for me now, in this moment? And now my tears are slowing to a stop. God has brought me a glimmer of hope. He reminds me of a recent road trip through the Southwest.

On that drive through the desert, I saw myself in the terrain around me. I saw desolation in the barren rocks, thorny cactus, and general nothingness all around me. My heart felt just like that desert. I felt hard like the rocks and prickly like the cactus. I felt empty. The relentless desert wind made driving difficult. The wind blew and blew. It reminded me of all the things in my life that were beyond my control. Circumstances in my life were blowing me from here to there, making it hard to navigate. There were situations that made me feel sad and helpless, situations that I didn’t want to face or even to think about. These things were like the wind that just kept blowing.

Then there were the road signs along the highway, signs I had never seen before in my life. One of the signs read, “Zero Visibility Possible.” Really? I’m supposed to keep driving even when I cannot see? Yet that’s what the signs instructed me to do, to drive and not to stop even with zero visibility. And that’s exactly what I felt was going on in my life. I was traveling down a road I had never been on before, and sometimes I could not see where I was going, but I had to keep moving. Keep getting up, keep getting dressed, keep cooking, keep cleaning, keep loving the precious ones around me, keep living.

On this same road trip I saw an ominous black cloud that appeared to touch the ground right beside my car. It was heavy and oppressive, and I felt as if I could get lost in it. It was an amazing sight. I had never seen a cloud so black and so close. To me, it represented the storm that was going on in my life. I feared that the black cloud in my personal desert might cover me up or take me away. I cried out to God as despair threatened to crush me again.

But then, in the distance—down the road, past the cloud—I saw it. I couldn’t believe it. I saw a rainbow, but not just any rainbow. This rainbow that God had sent me was huge, enormous, the biggest rainbow I had ever seen! On the flat desert landscape, the rainbow stretched from horizon to horizon, filling up the entire sky with huge, bright bands of vivid color. I was amazed. I was awestruck. It was a rainbow for me.

So I looked again at the desert terrain, this time with different eyes. God showed me His truths using the cactus. I saw some cacti blooming and others standing firm against the relentless wind. I saw strength and beauty, even in the desolate desert, and I was reassured that I would find strength and beauty even in this difficult, stormy time of my life. I knew that I must remember the rainbow and cling to the belief that new life would once again fill my heart.

What about you? Are you going through a season of despair and sorrow as you read this? Let us look at Isaiah 35:1: “The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom: it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy” (NIV). I have been allowing the enemy to taunt me and oppress me, but today I am going to remember that rainbow and praise my God. I put my hope in God, that one day I will be able to stand firm like the cactus and bloom beautifully in the desert. I will not allow the winds to blow away my hope.

Hey, let’s go through the desert together. Let’s keep going, even when there’s zero visibility. Let’s bloom where God has placed us. And always, let us keep our eyes on the rainbow. It fills the whole sky. Look at how beautiful it is! And it’s for us.

Blessings – Lisa

It’s a Team Effort: No One Has to Journey Alone

As you may have noticed, I have not posted any blogs for the past few weeks. That is because my life has been so very busy, so busy that I have not even had time to think. I have been writing reminders to myself that I need to sit down and blog, but the notes just kept getting pushed to the next day, then the next day, and so on and on, and now it has turned into three weeks of no writing. Finally, after hearing a sermon and a Sunday school lesson about recognizing what God has called me to do and then actually doing it, I have finally made the time to sit and think about what I want to share.
Stress. This is my word for today. Last week when I got my hair cut, my hairdresser noticed that I had become quite a bit more white-headed since my last visit. Really? I first started getting white hairs years ago while potty-training one of my children, and my hairdresser at that time noticed and asked me what was going on in my life. I guess that when I get super stressed, white hairs start popping out of my frazzled head where my brain is living on overload. For years after discovering those first white hairs, I colored my hair. I wasn’t really aware of how stress affected my hair until I stopped coloring it, and then I found that the white was just there, coming along steadily. But apparently the stress of the past few months has made those white hairs start multiplying quickly again.
That stress has affected my life in other ways as well. Not only have I not blogged during the last few weeks, but I have had no time for counseling either, and that is not good for me right now in this time of my life. Without my regular counseling, I had lost the boundaries that were meant to protect me from exploitation, and as a result I felt as if I were losing myself. It is amazing how quickly I can go downhill. So exhausted, allowing myself to run ragged meeting the needs of others, I realized I needed to stop the running around. I needed to go to counseling, and I needed to get back to a normal life (whatever “normal” really means).
So, one of the first things I wanted and needed to do was to blog. Writing has helped me so much. While I have not really been able to talk with others about what is going on in my life, for some reason I can write about it. And my counselor has taught me that sharing my journey on my blog will help others like me, others who may feel weird or afraid or alone.
In Sunday school we studied about Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the wall in Jerusalem. Two things spoke to me. The first thing is found in Nehemiah 4:2b: “Can they bring these burnt stones back to life from the mounds of rubble?” (CSB). Sometimes I feel as if my insides are full of burnt stones that can never be more than just mounds of rubble. Can I ever be healed? Will I ever go back to an ordinary life again?
The second revelation was how often the word we is used in Chapter 4 of Nehemiah. The rebuilding of the city wall was a group effort; it was not something that could be done by any one person alone. As I keep on this white-haired, stressful journey to wholeness, I am thankful that I do not have to do it alone. I have a counselor, a loving and supportive family, a church family, and friends. They are willing to help me restore my life, pray with me, and stand by me as I rebuild the wholeness that I am working toward.
What about you? I hope and pray that you also have a support group that will help you on your journey to freedom and wholeness. If you don’t, please find some safe people who will stand by you and help you as the enemy comes against you. For there is an enemy who wants to burn up your life. But as believers we have the resources to rebuild our lives from the rubble that he has strewn all around inside us. Friend, I am on your side, I understand what you are going through, and I am praying for you right now.
Blessings – Lisa