Have you ever experienced an immense trial, and found you managed to bear through it? You knew that you had a good reason to loose the plot, however, you found a supernatural place of calm amidst the storm. Have you gone through some of the most troubling ordeals and not been shaken, in faith or character, by them? I believe I have, once or twice.
On the other hand, in the most unfathomable fashion, a tiny splinter of affliction can send us spinning into a cycle of destructive behaviour. Transforming us into the most ungodly version of ourselves. I have definitely been there too. When being a prisoner of our own flesh becomes unbearable. I have felt like this more times than I can count, especially during bouts of depression. I am sure many others have too.
Don’t get me wrong, most of the time I quite like being me. But sometimes, other times, I get sick of the sound of my own voice, sick of the thoughts piling up in my head, sick of the sight of my reflection. These times I just want to escape myself, because I know there is a much better version of myself out there somewhere. Somewhere elusive.
The tricky part is, I can’t MAKE myself be the better version. No matter how hard I try, I can’t stop myself falling into the sin and nature that is part of my flesh. I say to myself to do one thing, and find myself doing another. Sometimes it is as if I can hear myself from a distant place in my mind, through miles of murky water, saying the very thing I ordered myself not to say. I am a wretched version of myself sometimes!
These times bring me to my knees, and in need of comfort. There are times we all need comforting. Who is the best comforter I know? The Lord. I open the pages of His word, I see Paul, a great man of God struggling with the very same inner enemies as me. The words comfort me…
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate, I do.”
“So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am!”
“So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature – a slave to the law of sin.”
(Romans 7:15 & 21-25)
Woa! Those words bring me such comfort, because they express my own battle so perfectly. Empathy is a wonderful consolation for shame and self-condemnation.
I think, the reason I, and others, have found that calm place amidst the biggest storms, is because we knew we couldn’t manage it all. Somewhere in our subconscious, we knew the trial was too big for us on our own, our hearts were fragile and we accepted that. Our ego got turned off, our pride took a step aside. Our broken and contrite hearts were exposed, and God will not ignore a heart like that.
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”
The greatest peace I have found while trapped in this body, is when I see the Lord take over. When I have reached my wits end. When I stop kidding myself into thinking I have enough self-control to be better, and beg God to take the reigns. I repent of all my misgivings, my efforts to depend on myself and not on Him. I repent of my easily led flesh that encourages me to wander toward the distractions of the world and away from God.
When you reach your wits end, that’s when God begins. I hope you enjoy the words of this wonderful poem.
Wit’s End Corner
Are you standing at “Wit’s End Corner”?
Friend with troubled brow
Are you thinking of what is before you,
And all you are bearing now?
Does all the world seem against you,
And you in the battle alone?
Remember-at “Wit’s End Corner”
Is just where God’s power is shown.
Are you standing at “Wit’s End Corner”?
Blinded with wearying pain,
Feeling you cannot endure it,
You cannot bear the strain,
Bruised through the constant suffering,
Dizzy, and dazed, and numb?
Remember-at “Wit’s End Corner”
Is where Jesus loves to come.
Are you standing at “Wit’s End Corner”?
Your work before you spread,
A mountain of tasks unfinished,
And pressing on heart and head,
Longing for strength to do it,
Stretching out trembling hands?
Remember–at “Wit’s End Corner”
The Burden-bearer stands.
Are you standing at “Wit’s End Corner”?
Then you’re just in the very spot
To learn the wondrous resources
Of Him who faileth not:
No doubt to a brighter pathway
Your footsteps will soon be moved,
But only at “Wit’s End Corner”
Is the “God who is able” proved.
Poem by Antoinette Wilson
I started this blog for a number of reasons. I have a strong desire to share with others how to recognise and overcome our inner enemies. I hoped my experiences would prevent others from being captives of lies and destruction in their lives. Yet recently the Lord allowed me to come face-to-face with a new level of my own inner war.
I had known for a few weeks that a trial was coming in the form of a get-together. I knew that my forgiveness and trust would be challenged. I won’t lie and tell you I wasn’t anxious. I wasn’t afraid of who may come at me, I was concerned about how I may react if my boundaries were challenged and the situation turned ugly. I still don’t trust myself or my reactions when faced with inner enemies from my past. I know I need to keep my boundaries strong when they are shot at and stomped upon, but strong boundaries are a relatively new practice for me and I have yet to test them properly against the ‘big guns’ in my life, not enough to feel secure in them anyway.
I decided to go on a 3 day fast, and to pray for God to hold me in His safe grip. I reminded myself that all is in God’s hands and to be prepared, rather than taken unaware, if the situation turned down an ugly path.
The shock factor is what sends me into an uncontrollable spiral, so I try to avoid being shocked if at all possible.
I sensed the spiritual pressure building a day or two before the test, my reactions were aggressive and volatile. I kept praying, and filling myself with the word of God, apologising to all around me for my prickly nature. The trial came and went without drama, but it was when I relaxed in the aftermath that my inner enemies saw fit to sink their claws into me and my old insecurities. This was an onslaught from left field and I was entirely shocked!
For the following 3days I was completely overwhelmed with spiritual attack, I believed the lies they were feeding me, and allowed them to control my reactions and emotions. No matter how much I prayed or read my Bible, I couldn’t lift my head out from the murkiness to see clearly. I truly believed every lying thought in my head. My attack opened the door, inviting itself into my home. Arguments and tears flooded the rooms, harsh words and discord became rampant. Love, joy, peace and truth were nowhere to be found!
On the fourth day the curse was broken and I saw….
My enemies had been telling me I was failing God, that I would never complete His request of me to write His novel. That my Husband didn’t really support my writing, or understand me, or love me for all my uniqueness, lies provoking thoughts that all my blessings were a moment from collapse. No matter how hard I tried to explain, hoping someone would convince me differently, I was left hanging over the abyss with only lies to keep me company.
In my usual analytical fashion I assessed myself trying figure out what had inspired this attack. Besides the fact that I am usually spiritually challenged around a full moon, and had the lingering residual pressure from the get-together. I was also facing strong emotions as I cleaned out old boxes, ones which had belonged to my Dad and had been sitting in my garage, since he passed.
As I sit here and reflect on it all, I feel so weak for allowing my old insecurities to rise up and cause dysfunction in my family. I’ve confessed, I’ve praised, I’ve sobbed for my Dad, wishing him to be here to pray for me, like he used to, when times like this arise and I am left exposed and vulnerable.
Yet I can’t help but understand that something huge happened in the spiritual realm as a result of all this. Plus of course my own massive realisations. New levels of self-awareness, humility and growth. Renewed faith and confidence in God’s strength to still pull me out of all the dark times, and all in His perfect timing and not mine.
I would love for all my posts to be filled with encouragement from my accomplished victories, rather than wallowing in despondent self-assessment. Yet I refuse to hide from the truth of my weakness, and will give glory for the only strength that gets me through. His!
I wish every woman would read this post. The voice of our Inner Enemies has this scheme so worked out that it has no need to be creative or change a thing. It repeats the same lies to everyone of us! Blessings to you all!
Let me tell you a story about Wednesday night. I really debated writing about this, because my husband reads my blog, however, I’m going to ask him to skip this one because I think the women reading this blog, need to hear about Wednesday night.
I’ve already posted on this blog about discovering some major disrespect for my husband. The kind that doesn’t even appear like disrespect in the world we live in today, that seems completely justified, and is so intertwined in my every day life that it’ll be like lifting boulders100 times my own weight to remove these nasty habits. Yeah, that kind of disrespect.
Wednesday was just an ordinary day until my husband got home from work. We haven’t been sleeping very well, and he’s been tired. So he sat down in the chair and turned on the TV while I started fixing supper.
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I am coining this as an official title,
I am beginning to see a pattern form, of getting an emotional hangover after a day of emotional battle, a day of raw exposed fear. The kind of inner battle when you can’t control a thought in your head or a word from your mouth. When you are so overwhelmed with the onslaught of emotions that your clarity of thought isn’t even in the same suburb as you! Tears are shed, hearts crumble under the painful attacks of fear and guilt, words are rambled and all capability is lost. Many psychological conditions bring on these bouts, such as Depression, Anxiety, Bi-Polar Disorder, Cyclic Mood Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, etc. The battle itself is difficult at best to get through, however I have noticed the next day or two I am exhausted and extremely sensitive. I feel like I’ve been through hell and back.
Every ‘Drinker’ knows a real ‘Hangover’, you may as well write-off the whole next day because you know you are going to be useless. Getting out of bed is like lifting a wreckage from the bottom of the sea, that first sip of warm Coffee or Tea gives you slight hope, which only fades as the cup drains. The second cup doesn’t hold the same potential as that first hopeful sip, regular responsibilities are unbearably weighty, if you can manage anything at all then you’re grateful.
Not too long ago, I suffered from this type of “Emotional Hangover”.
Getting out of bed caused an argument with myself, until I managed to drag myself off the mattress.
I snapped at my family members when I saw the rubbish overflowing onto the floor, spewing out of the bin which was well over capacity.
I cringed and growled out loud “ARGH!” when I saw the heavy rain fall onto my work uniforms as they hung neatly on the washing line.
I could barely hear my children speak to me through the thick fog of unfathomable thoughts, and each question they threw at me squeezed into my mind which was as full as the rubbish bin. When I tried to conjure a response, the pressure inside my mind became too much and only something regrettably negative burst from my mouth.
I stood in front of the pantry trying desperately to come up with a side dish I felt able to make with dinner, I slid down the cupboard door behind me until my backside hit the floor, looking up at the shelves of food begging something to cry out “I am easy to make, you can manage to make me”. Only to give up and go to bed for an hour or so.
My head was heavy, my heart was heavy, my body was heavy, my mind was mush under a heavy fog. I’ve felt this before, many times.
I was very grateful to read a fellow bloggers post Mental Fatigue. Which let me know I wasn’t alone, every word rang true as I read, my realisation sparked this post.
I began to remind myself that these battles haven’t been so common recently, that I have been much better for many years, even though I do still get hit randomly, though not as often, but still HARD. An overflow of the inner war I discussed in a previous post Why so Fragile? I know that my inner enemy is using fear to deter me from writing…again. This time bringing out the ‘Big Guns’ of my psychological disorder to dissuade me from exposing these tactics.
The details might be different for everyone, but my deep personal fear is similar to many. Fear of being unloved, fear of being rejected, fear of being worthless, fear of temptation, fear of failing, fear of suffering, fear of regret.
I pray more than ever in these times, I instinctively reach for the powerful words of my Bible. My faith will get me through, I know this. He is my strength when I am weak.
In a confident state of mind, and a trusting, loving connection with God, these fears are irrelevant. I know I am loved by my Heavenly Father, that He will never reject me, I know how valuable I am to Him, I know my sins are forgiven, I know I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me, that I can endure suffering and be better for it, and that my regrets are what improves me.
I Know this! I Know this! So why do we still get attacks of feeling this way, believing these lies, folding under the fear? Whether for days on end, or just for one day here and one day there?
Because in this fragile state, this knowledge is hidden behind the heavy fog.
I used to think I was alone in this until I began sharing my story, I have found there are many of you out there, many like me who battle these inner enemies at various times in your lives.
So why does God let all this happen to us who love Him, who trust in Him?
I believe He wants to make us avid opponents to His enemies, He wants to strengthen our abilities on the battlefield, this fragile state of mind forces us to stretch our faith and reach further for His hand, to bring Him into our circumstance. These difficult times remind me to be vigilant in wearing my Godly armor, and to keep me truly hungering and thirsting for His word. What about you? Do these types of battles diminish your faith in His protection, or do you understand that He uses all things to bring about His design and build our relationship with Him and our strength of faith?
I watched the film “The Vow” recently, it touched me so, and a part of the story fits in here. The husband tells his wife who is suffering from amnesia that He will make her feel the love they once shared, that it will be like reading her favourite book for the first time. She will get to experience the most amazing feeling in the world again, the feeling of “Falling in Love“.
I feel like that when this fog lifts and I am saved by my Loving Father in Heaven! I fall in love with Him over and over again. I feel the safety of trusting in Him return to my awareness, I marvel at His demonstrations of Love when my prayers are answered. I am humbled by my weakness and encouraged by His strength. I am uplifted and enlightened, yet mystified and amazed by His complex puzzle for life and growth.
It may seem confusing but He knows things we don’t, He sees around the corners of life which we have yet to view. He uses these times to refine us as one would remove the impurities of precious metals, heating up the rocks with the hottest of fires causing the imperfections to rise to the surface and be removed!
“I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’
Zech 13:9 (ESV)What about you? Do you also struggle and battle with fears similar to mine? Do these types of battles diminish your faith in His protection? Or do you understand that He uses all things to bring about His design and build our relationship with Him and our strength of faith?
A few years ago I read this statement by Author Lysa Terkerst and have tried to refer to it ever since.
“Don’t let the compliments of others go to your head, or their criticisms to your heart”
I failed to adhere to this advise recently, and it has become the foundation of a new level of perspective.
Having had a very successful couple of months of blogging, I have become somewhat ‘hyper-enthusiastic’, it has been so wonderful to see people all over the world reading my stuff, then even ‘liking’ some and giving such wonderful compliments. Yet I have fallen into a trap set for me by my inner enemies, I confess that I have come to rely on my ‘blog stats’ to verify the success of my calling. I can hear all the horrified ‘GASPS’ of shock. (*Wink) I imagine this is pretty common.
Unfortunately it is not as trivial as it may seem, nothing ever is with me!
This is dangerous territory, treading way too close to pride than I like to get. By no means can I take any credit for any of this success, I completely acknowledge all glory goes to the Lord for any ability He has given me to write. Besides people always like His stuff much better than anything I try to come up with on my own 🙂 I suppose it is simply that I have become overly animated by the evidence that He can use me.
A big element of my personality is an addiction to WORDS. As I’ve mentioned before, I have a very busy mind, often have many thoughts, words and ideas buzzing around inside my head and I am drawn into sharing these with others. Sometimes expressing them and seeing them more clearly brings tremendous benefit to my chaotic state of mind, other times I become manic and fear that my testimony may be damaged as I ramble on in a state lacking control.
I am also compulsive by nature and harbor much nervous energy. I used to smoke irregularly when my busy mind found an empty moment to kill, when I quit smoking I took up Facebooking, filling the spaces by automatically checking for notifications using the app on my phone. On a bad or slow day this simple act can get out of hand, so I knew I needed to once again take action. When I quit Facebook, I took up blogging. You see a pattern here? I am now constantly tempted to check to see – Who has viewed? Where were they? Did they ‘Like’ it? “Does someone want to share ‘words’ with me?” All stemming from these long standing traits.
A month into blogging, this pattern began emerging (again) so as usual I went on a 3 day Fast. I didn’t go onto my blog site at all, didn’t check my ‘stats’, was determined not to read any comments or reply for 3 whole days! (Luckily God didn’t allow me to be tempted by comments during those three days, as my blog received none, He knows! Lol)
I have come to find that fasting something for 3 days, is extremely beneficial to our development of faith and victory in overcoming the habitual temptations of life. In times when either breaking a habit, or preventing one from forming, or simply going without something we enjoy for God, is a symbol of recognition that we need Him in our situation more. This is because 3 days is fairly achievable, and therefore we are less likely to break our promise and become self-condemning. 3 days is also long and difficult enough to need help to reach the promised goal. Every time the tempting thought pops up during this time, we can acknowledge the promise we made, and ask God for Help, this breaks up the automatic train of thought. It invites Him into the situation and an army of angels are dispatched to our aid.
So even though I have fasted blogging a couple of times, I must admit that due to all the new experiences it has brought me, my state of mind has become even more excitable than usual and I have allowed the compliments of others to somewhat go to my head (or perhaps rather my hands).
Compulsive nature can be easy fodder for our inner enemy to form habits, dangerous ones that try to to push us off the narrow path. It brings a whole other side to the coined phrase “Idle Hands are the Devil’s plaything”.
Next came phase two, when I received a couple of blunt criticisms which I let go straight to my heart, deeply. I reacted badly, defended, felt guilty, then that old familiar fear began to rise up from the depths of my soul, pressing hard on my heart, it began to choke me, forming a lump in my throat, and by the time this fear got to my head I was lost and consumed by it.
The main focus of these criticisms:- my unruly mouth. A negative response to the easy and common temptation to think too much and share every thought in my head, especially during a bout of psychological ‘mania’. I am aware of this, I have been all my life, it has brought me great shame, I have prayed and confessed about this more than anything else. While I have seen much improvement during the years God has been changing and developing me, this is the one area of weakness that I experience the most regular and regrettable backward slips. Old habits do die hard!
Often the desire to force being different from the reality of who I am causes severe bouts of depression.
When I get attacked with a bout of depression like this a few things commonly happen. I doubt and condemn myself and confess it all to God, I believe the words of people I care about and respect so much that I ask God to help me become what they think I should be. At the same time I try to remind myself that this is how God made me, I need to love and accept myself, and that I need to work with Him to bring about any changes He is guiding me to make. It can become quite a confusing mixture of thoughts as I try to determine which ones I should listen to.
This inner to and fro can lead to thoughts of insanity which creep to the threshold of my mind, leaving me unable to trust a thought in my own head. Battling these types of psychological conditions causes mental fatigue, I refer to this as an ‘emotional hangover’ , a few wasted days spent heavy and extremely sensitive. After this it is common to want to make up for lost time and I can become manic and go into overdrive to catch up and get ‘on top’ of things, only to fall short of my own expectations.
It is common to want to reach out to someone, needing them to help clear away some of the self-condemnation, however often human misunderstanding of spiritual or psychological systems can lead to badly timed good intentions which can clumsily handle a fragile heart. Now while I personally have found much support through professional therapists, they can not cover all the bases these situations require. Only God and His word know how to properly handle this type of vulnerability, so we need to reach out for Him in prayer.
These attacks soften the heart, making it fragile as it prepares to receive the new level of perspective and to break off old unwanted strongholds. Forcing a new level of complete submission to God, depending on Him for every thought and every action, begging Him to take the wheel and drive.
As usual I prayed for clarity and for sanity, I prayed for Him to keep a tight reign on my lips, I prayed for freedom and self-acceptance, I cried bitter tears of remorse, I asked for forgiveness, and I begged Him to meet me in my pit and rescue me.
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: A broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise”. Psalms 51:17 (ASV)
Within a few minutes of intense prayer at the time my heart was at it’s most fragile, I was sent comfort. First I received a pleasant surprise to distract me from my thoughts, a little later an unexpected, warm, lingering embrace and a confession of Love. The next day a special family evening, spent sharing ‘words’ with those I love and cherish most on this earth. Then a days break, a day alone to listen to soothing music and allow me to begin to collect my thoughts. Hallelujah!
Since all this has really taken it out of me I have taken some much needed R&R, which you may have read about in my recent post A Fragile Heart.
When we obey and make steps to fulfill our calling we open ourselves up to the inner enemies attacks to try and put us off track. This may come in obvious ways through physical circumstances such as a verbal attack from someone unexpected, perhaps burning your hand or cutting a finger while cooking dinner, or disturbed sleep from petty annoyances, perhaps just an unruly household with everyone in a ‘mood’, rubbing each other in the worst ways. Sometimes the enemies attacks can come through more subtle ways, through temptation, or creating a fearful mindset, through psychological weakness, or a moment of confusion at the expense of your faith. These are his scare tactics, hoping we will not follow through in obedience, and you can be sure that if we do continue on the obedient path we will see some of these attacks result afterwards as well. This is the enemies backlash in retaliation to any ground we may have made toward God.
Yet this is the war we are in, and when we are obeying the Almighty and keeping our hearts open to Him, He gives us comfort through faith by knowing He will be victorious. We are on the winning side even if the evidence all around may appear bleak. Depend on His strength when you are weak, find comfort in knowing you are Loved no matter what lies the enemy or the world tells you. And be prepared to suffer and to grow, and to rest and to fight again and to succeed, then suffer and grow, then rest and then fight and then succeed ……..and so on and so on….. Until this war and life as we know it ends, and we are finally free from this battle, changed by Him forever. When the enemy loses all influence and Righteousness Reigns into ETERNITY!
I haven’t been in the blogosphere much this week, because I am being dealt with, being brought a new level of perspective and change. I recognise that this type of growth usually springs forth from a fragile heart. My heart has been extremely fragile this week…..
In this condition I write and write, pouring my soul out in front of me. I have written 6 or 7 posts this week alone. Yet my state of mind and vulnerable heart are preventing me from seeing my words clearly and I am unable to trust myself or my writing. I am too close to it at the moment, so it’s impossible to edit or publish anything. I guess as usual I have too much to say.
I am going to try to use this time to withdraw, to calm my mind and spirit with relaxation, drink plenty of herbal tea and meditate on God’s word. Perhaps this break will even help me work on the novel which I have been trying to write for over a decade. I will come back to the wonderful blogosphere soon, I will read your fabulous posts and comment when I can get my head around it. I will publish only in God’s timing and His certainty. Until then I ask for your prayers, prayers for me to gain some clarity and some calm inspiration. I am fighting off my inner enemies as best I can, I need time to concentrate on my faith, put on God’s armor and call on my inner angels. I have faith that something amazing is going to emerge from the midst of these trials…..Until then…..
“Jehovah preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he saved me. Return unto thy rest, O my soul; For Jehovah hath dealt bountifully with thee. For thou hast delivered my soul from death, Mine eyes from tears, And my feet from falling. I will walk before Jehovah In the land of the living.”
Psalms 116:6-9 (ASV)