“Hold Nothing Back”
That phase always keeps coming back to me from time to time. It was the theme of a retreat (Buckeye Awakening) I helped lead two years ago. A theme focused on giving God everything – from your sorrowful moments to your joyful moments. I remember during that time, I was going through RCIA, on this leadership team, and balancing my senior year of college. One thing in my prayer life at the time I realized I was struggling with was giving God my decisions and anxieties. I had a journal entry in which I wrote “Here I am.” multiple times during adoration. Only to end up writing, “Jesus, Here I am. I’m holding nothing back. I keep repeating this because I AM holding back.”
A week after that entry I went on a retreat called Fan into Flame. Guess what? I finally let go. I finally let God take it all. I let him take my fear of the devil, I let him take my anxiety, and I finally let his love in. Here is actually a video of my testimony after that retreat: https://vimeo.com/118817997 .
Its been almost two years since all of that. It really is crazy how time flies and how the Lord works in out hearts. But, sadly the devil took my heart on a ride again as I was still struggling with giving God my whole heart. So lets back track to over a month from today.
I was hurting. I was losing control of my anxiety and fighting this battle inside my brain. It was the worse my anxiety has ever been. Never did I think a break up would lead me into such a state of pain. From, the insomnia, to the nightmares, to the panic attacks, I let my mental state run wild. I had always knew my self worth and said I would never let anyone make me think other wise. Well little did I know… In a moment of weakness the devil flew on in for a ride. I was so scared of my thoughts. I was embarrassed to let anyone see me in these panic stricken states even though I am this person that preaches “the importance of vulnerability.” I’m someone who helps others in mental crisis.. and here I was having my own. It just didn’t seem right. I wanted to be my joyful self again.
My last panic attack was on Nov 12th, and the only reason I remember that is I actually journaled during that one. Reading that entry… the messy shaky writing, the painful words, my plea up to God for help. I do not like reading it, it still pains me. But, now looking back at it.. I know God answered that plea.
The next day I started to make the effort to reach for God’s heart as best as I could. I started reading my bible and journaling every single night before going to bed. Slowly, the nightmares stopped and I never had another panic attack. That first week journaling.. God was obviously telling me something:
The devil took a hold of my big, loving, positive heart and was bringing it into darkness. I began to get lost in that darkness. I began to feel lonely. I began to feel abandoned. The devil was swinging my heart around out of control, but God was fighting back and trying to catch it with all his might.
He did. He so graciously caught it.
After reflecting on those journal entries, I knew what God wanted. He wanted me to
TRUST IN HIM
The following week I signed up to serve two meals for the poor at the Dream Center and signed up for extra volunteer shifts at the suicide hotline. For my heart to heal, I knew I needed to love on others and see Christ in these beautiful humans. That is what God was calling me to do.
During that week, my debit card got deactivated for fraud. Then, I got in a car crash that totaled my car… Goodness. What else could go wrong in my life, I thought. I stayed strong and even joked up to God, “Alright, what is next? I’ve been through so much. Just keep throwing it at me! I’m ready!”
In this moment of suffering and feeling abandoned, I finally, for the first time in my life realized that Jesus was all I HAD and all I NEEDED. I began trying my best to give him my whole heart to follow his will.
Then, my favorite time of year came!!!
TALK ABOUT PERFECT TIMING?!
What better way to “joyfully surrender” to God than during advent
and that I did…
and guess what?
Joy, came flooding into my life.
I met the 5 candidates and catechumens who I will be leading in Break Open the Word for RCIA at Newman this year. I LOVE them all so much, already. Our first retreat and finally meeting them at the beginning of December brought so much JOY.
I have started to remember some of the names of the regulars that come to the Dream Center as I have been trying to help serve dinner there weekly. Last night was actually a Christmas service and I got to meet a group of lovely ladies, all who were victims of human trafficking, but now on the road to healing. One of them has been sober for 2 months!!! WOOT WOOT and another started her own beauty business on the East side. Despite our differences, as we all sat and ate together, we all became friends and even gave big hugs before leaving for the night. My heart felt so much love and so much JOY.
Oh, and one last joyful thing…
I have been carless and my dad and I honestly had no clue how I would obtain a car, neither of us have great credit or money to put down. But, I just kept praying, “Its all in your hands Gods. My trust is in you.”
Well, after 2 days and 6 stressful hours at Ricart and with the help up of my amazing loving Papaw, I am now the owner of a NEW CAR! The Lord has blessed me with a cute little blue 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage. I may have to get a second part-time job now, but at least I am no longer carless!!
The past two months have been quite the journey to say the least. But, during these last 3 weeks of Advent the Lord has worked wonders in my heart. I finally realized how much I need the Lord’s love and how following his heart brings so much JOY. (Ironic- that the third week of advent is focused on JOY 😉 hehe)
I am so ready for what the Lord has in store. I am so ready to Love him and others. I don’t know what he has in store, but I know that its going to be AWESOME. With focusing on his heart and his will, I have been finding more beauty in my friendships, in the callers at the suicide prevention hotline, and the poor and homeless who come to the Dream Center. The Lord blessed me with a big loving heart and happy spirit and I am so blessed that its back. I have been finding so much joy in loving others and giving back to the community this past month and I look forward to the all the people I am going to encounter.
This is my calling. TO SERVE GOD. LOVE and FORGIVE. To love the broken, the weak, the wounded. To forgive those who have sinned greatly and have even maybe hurt others. But, guess what?! Christ is is EVERYONE. I am beginning to see Christ in all I encounter and I am so excited for the ways in which the Lord is going to make my heart more full and filled with his joyful love.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. “
– James 1:2-4