Category Archives: Spiritual Reflections

Being Real About Your Feelings for the New Year

At this time of year, we often are focusing on our goals and New Year’s resolutions. Many have new hope, excitement, and motivation for the coming year. That is all well and good, but what if you are facing deep fears about the coming year? What if all you can see is darkness and have no hope?

Maybe you are facing a looming diagnosis or a strained relationship. Perhaps there are just some circumstances that you don’t know will ever get better (at least that’s how it feels). You’re feeling doubt and worry, and then, on top of that, guilt for feeling doubt and worry.

Well, friend, take heart. You are not the only one going through this. I think through all the glimmer and glammer of the holidays, we place this expectation on ourselves that we should be happy, excited, and hopeful for our New Year. But, what if it’s been a really hard year and there’s not one single piece of hope in your heart? What if depression is heavy upon you, and you are just out of steam?

I want to encourage you, whatever you may be facing, that God is still good, and God is still with you. He’s not mad at you that you aren’t feeling all the good things that others around you may feel. He’s not looking at you as a failure for having some doubts and fears about the coming New Year. If nothing else, you can hold on to who God is no matter what you are feeling or experiencing. Don’t give up on the One who does truly hold it all together, even when it doesn’t make sense. Perhaps find a song that brings you some hope or solace. Practice gratitude – I know gratitude is a hard one when you’re overwhelmed by circumstances, but even just the act of trying to think of some good things is helpful for your mental health.

No New Year’s resolutions? That’s okay. But maybe one might be to trust God with the unknown and the hurting places of your heart this year. Remember to keep Him in the center of it all, no matter how difficult the circumstance. Don’t give up on Your God – He will not give up on you. May God lift any burdens on your heart and give you eyes to see from His perspective.

Copyright 2019 Marie Lorah

Thankfulness in the Midst of Pain

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Artwork Copyright 2018 Marie Lorah

It’s that time of year. The holidays. Thanksgiving. Christmas. We are bombarded with messages of happiness and that it is “the most wonderful time of the year.” But what if you are experiencing heartbreak, discouragement, or illness? What if you can’t even look in your partner’s eyes with love this season? What if life just doesn’t make sense right now?

First, I want to validate the pain you may be feeling at this time of the year with whatever you may be facing. Trials are difficult themselves, let alone dealing with them during the holiday season. So be gentle with yourself. When I need to encourage myself of certain truths or reminders, I break out my index cards and write those truths and reminders on them. One truth I have as a painting is: “Be gentle with your heart.” Isn’t is so easy to be down on ourselves and literally beat ourselves up emotionally over the troubles we are already facing? So take heart, lift up your head. There are things to be thankful for. Remember that. Just take a moment to think of even the simplest things you are grateful for. It might not feel like a lot, but I pray this simple exercise will bring at least some relief. You see, when we are in pain, it is hard to get our focus off of ourselves. We can spiral into negativity, which breeds more negatively. Thanksgiving is a way to help you get back on track. And remember, you don’t have to be thankful for everything, but in everything (1 Thessalonians 5:18). In other words, God is saying He wants us to always choose thankfulness, even if it doesn’t all make sense or seem good. So we can thank Him in our distress, as opposed to for our distress. He isn’t the one who sends distress (that is from Satan), but He will use it for our good (Romans 8:28).

Can you trust God with your pain today? Take a step toward Him, be gentle with your heart, and find a little something to be thankful for. Praise God that we have Him as our hope, an anchor for our soul.

Copyright 2018 Marie Lorah

Progress, Not Perfection

Are you seeking progress or perfection in your life? For me, I was humbled by our loving Father that I was striving for perfection recently.

This week I had a colossal meltdown, one of those public, overwhelming volcano of emotions. I felt overcome with shame and more anxiety than I had in a long time. “Here we go again,” I thought. “I fell apart, yet again. I am a failure because of these struggles. I’m never going to get better.” Crazy how easily we can fall into these lies and automatic negative reactions, yet we do as fragile human beings. 

I reached out to a friend, and we did dinner. She reminded me there was no shame in having a tough time and reaching out. I spoke with another friend the following day, who totally re-framed what happened – she said that instead of looking at this meltdown as a failure, look at it as progress, as I had not had a meltdown like this in a while. Having that connection with another person helped me see the truth about my situation and break me free from the shame and condemnation – which is NOT from God.

As I began journaling and talking to God about what happened, I felt He reminded me life is about progress, not perfection. And the truth is, I did make progress. As frail human beings, we can tend to go straight to the negative when processing things. We can think things will never change and believe we are failures. But what is God’s truth? How does He see us in the middle of our messes? Really. Ask yourself. How does God see you in your worst moment? Friend, I can tell you He isn’t look away in disgrace; He is looking toward you with compassion, wanting you to come to Him. 

So today, meditate on what is good. Meditate on how well you are doing – because there are things you are doing well, and things you are still learning. Look for progress, not perfection. Stand tall, confident in God’s love for you through it all.

Copyright 2018 Marie Lorah

How To Grow and Heal From Sufferring

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When we have negative experiences, they are opportunities to grow and heal, if we will allow ourselves to step back and find new perspective. Personally, my mental illness and accompanying difficult experiences have really helped me grow – but it was choice. Was I going to accept where I’m at and learn from it? Or would I let myself get bitter and shut down? I had (and still do have) moments where I’m all in to grow from the pain of it all, and other days where I’d rather do nothing but hide and escape from my problems. I’ve learned to let myself have both days, while slowly moving toward growing and learning instead of avoiding and hiding.

Walking through my own mental illness has made me strong in the midst of chaotic and painful emotions. Also, my struggles have given me compassion for people who go through similar difficult things. I have learned the art of being aware of my emotions, paying attention to what they might be telling me, and responding appropriately. This awareness has allowed me to notice the individuals who hurt the most, sit with them in their pain, and encourage them that, they too, will grow from their pain. We can allow mental illness (or other struggles) to define us in a negative, victimizing way (like “I will always be this way” or “nothing will ever change”), or we can allow it to grow us and change us to become stronger, more compassionate people.

I also have found my faith in Jesus through my battle with mental illness. So, in reality, mental illness is a gift that has kept giving – giving me opportunities to wrestle with God and my beliefs, to find answers (or to accept I won’t have answers!), to feel deeply, and to accept myself more fully. I have discovered my gifts and who I am – my struggles do not define me as weak, but they have allowed me to find God and my purpose in the midst of it. I would not be the kind, caring, compassionate person I am without all that I have gone through.

I share these beautiful things, but they have come from the depths of my pain, anger, shame, disillusionment, severe instability, and fears. They have come from the breaking of me – of life falling to pieces and God and I somehow slowly putting those pieces back together. I have found meaning and purpose through my breakdowns, which has created a deep well of hope and wisdom that I pray shines to others.

Mental illness has been a shaping factor in my life that has brought chaos, disaster, and healing. This cycle of pain and healing will, in some ways, always continue on this side of heaven. Jesus promises us both hope and pain on Earth. We must carry our crosses, learning to fellowship with Him in the power of His resurrection AND in His suffering (Philippians 3:10).

He cares. He understands. He’s been there. Let your pain move in you in a way that heals you instead of holds you back. Take courage that this struggle you are going through is not wasted.

You Are on Your Own Journey

You are on your own journey.

God sees you as worthy.

You are on your own journey.

You don’t have to be in a hurry.

You are on your own journey.

There’s no need to worry.

God has set your path out.

So you can rest and shout.

You are on your own journey.

It is worth the learning.

Open your eyes.

And take your time.

See the jewels and gems

In the learning,

Rather than comparing to what others are doing

Focus on who you are

And where He is taking you.

And watch the fruit of life grow in abundance

And your heart will come alive as you take your own journey.

You are on your own journey.

Lean Into Your Fears

What would happen if you leaned into your fear instead of cringing back into it your fear? Fear tells us to run away and avoid, yet God calls us many times in the Bible to not be afraid.

Instead of running from our fears, we are called to face our fears, lean into them, and overcome them. We may feel fear, but we press through that to be able to do what we need to do. As Joyce Meyer says often: “Do it afraid!”

While leaning into your fear feels counter intuitive to your emotions, it’s a great way to overcome those emotions. It’s also a huge way to learn to depend on the Lord. You’re saying, “God I’m really afraid right now to take this step, but I know You are calling me to do that. So, I am trusting You to help me through this.”

Personally, God has been calling me to lean into my fears right now – fear of man, fear of the future, and fear of failure. He has called me to step out in certain areas such as relationships and ministry opportunities. I could just decide to stay home and be paralyzed by my fear, or I can take a step in the direction of that which is uncomfortable. Taking that step is hard, but as you choose to move forward in the face of your fear instead of backwards, spiritual ground is taken back from the Enemy. You will have breakthrough and freedom. It is SO worth it to fight through your human resistance and face your fear.

Recently, the Lord showed me a picture of me on a water ride – it was a scary, but I felt God inviting me to embrace the adventure of that ride and HAVE FUN! I believe God is always inviting us to embrace and enjoy our journey with Him, in spite of our fears and reservations.

So what fear is eating at you right now? Is it confronting a boss or someone you love? Is it stepping into a new job or role? Is it letting go of something you have your fingers grasped to so tightly to that you’re afraid to let go of it?

In John 16:22, Jesus says “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” So, don’t run away from your troubles and fears, for He is with you in them, willing to comfort you and bring you to the other side.

Father God, thank You for your deep love for me. Please help me when I feel afraid to come to You and to press through to walk into the new opportunities You have for me. When it feels uncomfortable, help me to remember that You will strengthen me to do what I am afraid of. In Jesus name. Amen. 

Copyright 2018 Marie Lorah

Bring Your Pain Into His Presence

Pain sometimes feels like a scary monster waiting to devour me. I often run from my pain, when in actuality, if I just started to tell God about my pain, relief would come.

Pain doesn’t have to be as scary as we make it out to be. I’m in no way discounting the deep pain we go through. I certainly know through experiencing times of deep depression and despair myself. If you are in that place today, I pray God breathes new hope, life, and comfort over you.

Today, I want to bring a fresh perspective to dealing with our pain and the purpose of our pain.

In Laura Story’s book, “When God Doesn’t Fix it” she shares how pain and trials are actually an opportunity – and not a curse. Trials are opportunities for us to turn to God and find God in the midst of it.

I know when I face trials, I have a tendency to shut down, numb out, and distract myself with Facebook, Netflix, or even cleaning my apartment. It feels as if the trial is greater than God. It feels like nothing will change. It feels like God may have left me alone. Thus, it feels safer to run to these other things. And while these things may bring temporarily relief, we know the Lord is our ultimate source of comfort and strength (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).

We must remember our feelings are not facts, but that God’s truth is real. So ask Him to come into your pain. Bring your pain into His presence. Something that helps me is to turn on gentle worship music. I breathe in His love, and I exhale fear. I receive His love in that moment and surrender my pain to Him. It doesn’t mean I still won’t feel pain, but God wants to take off that heavy weight over us. I also write in my journal or go over comforting scriptures. In addition, I must remember to reach out for support and encouragement to others, who can bring God’s comfort and truth into my situation.

I invite you to bring your pain into God’s presence today and find practical ways to surrender it to Him. Trust me, it will bring a load off. And if you feel stuck, reach out to a friend to help recenter you back into Truth. May God bless you today to bring your hurt into His presence that you may find comfort, hope, and peace.

Copyright 2018 Marie Lorah

 

Copyright 2018 Marie Lorah