When Messages Intertwine
"The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I hope in Him!" The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him - Lamentations 3:24-25 Here's an interesting chain of events: the closing message of my church's most recent series was on dynamics, last week's study message was on God using our dust and how we can turn to Him to get us through our hard seasons, and this week's study message is how slowing down during those hard seasons can help us to be in better relationship with God. This isn't a coincidence. I needed to hear these messages, and God brought them to me at the right moment.
It's Not Supposed To Be This Way is all about navigating hard seasons, changes we didn't want, the things that make life dynamic. And the message at church? It was on how God isn't dynamic, but we are. Dynamic simply means changing. We may experience hard seasons, but God never changes.
"If our souls never ached with disappointments and disillusionments, we'd never fully admit and submit to our need for God." - Lysa TerKeurst, It's Not Supposed To Be This Way (emphasis mine)
And to truly admit and submit, we have to slow down long enough to recognize that we may be only trying to suppress our emotions instead of confronting them and taking them to the One who can help to heal us. To do that, we have to male slowing down a priority and expose ourselves to Him. It's not easy, but it's entirely worth it.
When I chose to slow down, I began to see things I hadn't before. I saw that I was struggling with things I had never expressed, I took time to discover not only what I wanted but what God might be calling me to, I took up new hobbies and learned new skills, I found and invested in a church, I joined groups I never would have joined before, and I actually worked to spend more time with God. I went slow because I didn't know what else to do--I was lost and afraid. But going slow helped me become more in touch with myself and my faith.
Slowing down also allows us to bathe in the Truth of God--that our situations do not define us.
When my depressive episodes set in, the usual first negative thoughts are I'm an outcast, followed by I'm too broken, and it just spirals from there. In fact, that's how I know an episode is coming on, because I can recognize that thought pattern. And that's when I have to remind myself and the enemy of God's truth--I am beloved, and I am His daughter. And, really, that's been the biggest development I've experienced from allowing myself to slow down--I am more connected to the positive voice in my head, and I can better discern God's truth from what people think I should do or what my depressive symptoms and anxiety tell me I am.
Hard seasons are related to winter for a reason: they feel barren. But we wouldn't be able to appreciate beauty if we didn't know what barren looked like. And God works even, and most especially, in our hard seasons. It's then that we encounter Him the most. We may not see the beauty from where we are because He is still working, and it may not look like what we thought it would, but there isn't a circumstance that is too hard for Him.