Posted in Depression, Faith, Life

5 Practical Ways to Endure Your Anguish

As humans we have all experienced some sort of hurt, pain, grief, suffering, and distress. Otherwise known as anguish. Anguish comes and goes. For some of us, anguish lasts longer than what we anticipated. But what do you do when anguish does not leave you as quickly as you hoped?

There are two ways in which we can deal with the anguish in our lives. We can either choose to dwell in the negativity of it. Or we can choose to endure it.

To dwell means to live in a given condition or to continue in a given state.

To endure means to hold out against, to sustain without impairment or yielding; to undergo.

There is a woman in the Bible who experienced anguish herself. She teaches us how to endure it in five practical ways. Her name is Hannah. I highly encourage you to read her story in 1 Samuel 1.

  1. Pray

Hannah could not have children. She was infertile. Due to her circumstance, there was a woman by the name of Peninnah who is described as Hannah’s rival. Peninnah intentionally and constantly would provoke Hannah for the sole purpose of irritating her.

For years, Peninnah was mean to Hannah and teased her about her infertility. As a result, Hannah would not eat and would oftentimes cry. In other words, Hannah was depressed. However, Hannah’s depression and situation did not stop her from praying. In her deep anguish, Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly (1 Samuel 1:10).

There are going to be times in which you will not be well. Maybe you’re not doing well now. Whatever your circumstance is, it’s not bad enough, crazy enough, or impossible for God. Rather than waiting around listening to the lies of the devil, rise up and fight through prayer!

Hannah did not allow Peninnah’s words to define her. Instead, Hannah prayed despite how she was feeling. Friend, don’t allow the lies, negativity of others, and your current circumstance to define you.

  1. Pour Your Heart Out To God

Hannah was not ashamed of her depression. She openly prayed before others about her bitterness and most importantly entrusted God with it. People won’t always understand your anguish. But God does. Hannah understood this, which is why she poured her heart out to God (1 Samuel 1:15).

Have you felt ashamed for feeling a certain way?

Unfortunately, a lot of us feel ashamed about feeling depressed. A lot of it has to do with the negative stigma that comes with it and how others view it. However, depression is simply a natural feeling and at times a severe medical condition that people experience as a result of their circumstances.

Feeling depressed is not a bad thing. It’s not a sin either. Depression is part of being human. However, God desires for us to endure our depression and not dwell in it. Pouring our heart out to Him about what we’re going through is considered enduring depression.

Friend, feeling shame about your depression is not God’s desire for you. The devil will want you to feel ashamed so you don’t go to God and pray about it. The devil knows that when you do, God can and will give you a grace and strength to get through it.

  1. Express How You Are Feeling To Trustworthy Friends

Hannah did not only express how she felt to God. She also expressed how she felt to Eli the priest (1 Samuel 1:15-16). In doing so, Hannah was allowing peace and comfort to come into her life. After Hannah had poured out her heart to God and expressed her sorrow to Eli, she started to eat again and was no longer sad (1 Samuel 1:18).

There is power in our willingness to open up with God and with each other! Last week I wrote a blog titled, Do You Have Friends In Your Life? In this blog, I write about the importance of having friends. This is exactly why. Because having trustworthy friends to share our deepest sorrows with help alleviate the stress and anguish from our lives.

Do you honestly express yourself to others when you’re going through a bad season? Or are you ashamed to do so?

The Bible tells us in James 5:16 to confess our sins to each other and to pray for one another so we can be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful! Similarly, in Galatians 6:2, we are told to carry each other’s burdens.

Friend, you were created for companionship, first with God then with each other. Isolation is not the solution as we’ve already read in James 5:16 and Galatians 6:2.

  1. Choose To Worship No Matter What

While Hannah continued to pray and wait on God for her miracle, she worshiped before the Lord. After she had made a promise to God, and time passed, Hannah did not become impatient. She continued to pray and worship God through her anguish. Not knowing whether God would answer her prayer or not. Eventually, God did answer Hannah’s prayer of wanting a son (1 Samuel 1:20).

Like Hannah, we too should worship God no matter the outcome. God is worthy of our worship no matter our circumstances.

  1. Keep The Faith In God’s Promises

Hannah’s faith kept her steady. She endured her anguish mostly through prayer. She placed her faith above her condition of infertility. What about you? Do you still have faith when you’re in a season of suffering? Or do you allow your circumstances to affect your faith in God?

If you find yourself in a season of anguish, what are you doing to endure it?

The devil’s plan is for you to dwell in your depression rather than endure it. God’s plan is for you to endure it just like Hannah did. If she got through it by applying these 5 practical ways, you can too!

Friend, you are not alone in your anguish. God is there and He is more than willing to help you endure it if you simply allow Him in.

Let’s chat:

Which of the 5 practical ways mentioned above do you need to implement more in your life? How can you start implementing them?

Posted in Life, Relationships

Do You Have Friends In Your Life?

What would life be without friends?

BORING! That’s for sure. And probably very, very sad.

According to dictionary.com, the word friend is defined as: “a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard; who gives assistance and support; who is on good terms with another; a person who is not hostile.

In simpler terms, a friend is someone who cares, encourages, and provides hospitality.

So in reality, there’s no such thing as a bad friend. We either have friends or we don’t. If you consider people in your life “bad friends,” they’re simply not your friends at all. Because a friend as defined above, is not a “bad friend.”

How can a friend by definition be a friend and bad at the same time? It just doesn’t make sense.

It is of the utmost importance for us to have friends. Here’s why:

“There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. “For whom am I toiling,” he asked, “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?” This too is meaningless – a miserable business!”

– Ecclesiastes 4:8 –

It is meaningless to be alone and have no friends.

Friendships minimize our brokenness and depression. They also minimize our exhaustion and heaviness from our jobs, relationships, and circumstances. The reality is, we will all go through hard seasons of exhaustion, depression, loneliness and much more. But whom will we have next to us when we go through it?

The scripture above tells us that no matter how much wealth we have, it does not compare to having friends in our lives. This man was alone and had wealth. Yet, he was very unsatisfied. He basically asked himself, “what’s the point of having wealth when I have no one to share it with?” This man was miserable! Life without friends is miserable.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, once can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”

– Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 –

Together is always better!

Togetherness makes room for encouragement, support, and refinement. We can’t encourage, support, and refine someone if there is no on in our life to do that with. The verse mentioned above talks about having each other’s back. When one of us is not having a good day or is going through a hard time, a friend steps in to help pick that friend up. When we need guidance figuring things out or making decisions, a friend is there to help with that.

We ought to feel sorry for those who have no one to help them up when they go through hard times in their life. It’s not good for us to be alone! God himself said it in Genesis 2:18. God created us for companionship, first with Him, then with each other.

“Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

– Ecclesiastes 4:11-12 –

Hanging out brings comfort.

We cannot comfort ourselves fully. We need the presence of God and each other to bring comfort into our lives. Each other’s presence brings confidence and assurance that we can and will overcome anything that tries to put us down. The verse mentioned above tells us that a cord of three strands is not quickly broken. In other words, two is better than one, but three is even better!

The more friends we have, the better! Each friend is different; therefore each friend will encourage us differently. Sometimes we will need to reach out to a certain friend for a specific situation we’re going through, while at other times, we’ll need the encouragement of a different friend. This doesn’t mean one friend is better than the other. It simply means we are each unique individuals with different personalities and experiences. What one friend can help with the other cannot and vise versa. More is better!

So, do you have friends in your life?

Friends, who care about you, encourage you, and love on you despite your circumstances?

I highly encourage you to carefully evaluate your friendships based on the truth shared with you on this blog. Remember, “bad friends” are not your friends at all.

 

Let’s chat: How have your friends helped you become a better version of yourself?

 

Posted in Character, Life, Women

What Type Of Girl Are You?

Although there are several types of people in this world, I want to focus on two types of girls. First, there is the type of girl who seeks to be known, in other words, she seeks to be famous. Second, there is the type of girl who seeks to make others known.

The girl who seeks to make herself known operates from a mentality of “Me.” While the girl who seeks to make others known operates from a mentality of “Him.” The major difference between these two types of girls is that one seeks to glorify her-self and the other seeks to glorify the Father. God.

Although you may have encountered these girls in your life, let me introduce you to them in a more detailed manner.

Type of Girl # 1: The Materialistic Girl

The materialistic girl is all about herself and getting others to praise her, like her, love her, follow her, and comment on her good looks, outfits, hair, makeup etc. Now don’t get me wrong. Having people admire your beauty and fashion is not a bad thing or wrong at all. What’s bad is your search for attention. Are you genuinely attracting people’s attention based on your natural self? Or are you intentionally seeking to attract people’s praise by posting about your looks and your possessions?

Type of Girl # 2: The Kingdom Minded Girl

 The kingdom minded girl is all about God and serving others rather than being served by others. Everything she does has purpose. Everything she posts has meaning. And her intentions are always to bring honor and glory to God her heavenly Father. The kingdom minded girl chooses to use the life she was given to be a positive influence and role model in another girl’s life. She is more concerned about encouraging others to follow Jesus and praising Him. Rather than following or praising her.

Let’s be honest. There are countless of girls out there who consider themselves “influencers.” However, what is their motive behind their actions and words and especially their posts? Social media is full of both these types of girls. While scrolling through my feed, I couldn’t help but notice these two types of girls out there.

“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

– 1 Samuel 16:7

What’s most important to you? The way you look or the condition of your heart?

Seriously though. Think about it for a minute before you continue reading. Be honest with yourself.

Don’t know yet? Ask yourself the following questions to find your answer:

  • Do I spend more time on shopping for an outfit or picking one out, than shopping for a faith-based book or picking out a devotional?
  • Do I spend more time on putting on makeup than putting on the armor of God by reading his Word-the bible?
  • Do I spend more time doing my hair than I do listening to sermons or praying?

Again, don’t get me wrong. Spending time on your self is great! And I highly encourage you to do so! But are you also spending significant amount of time in your spirituality? If your spirituality is not increasing, something is not right. Remember, God looks at your heart. He doesn’t focus on your outward appearance. He focuses on the condition of your heart. God can’t take you places you want to go if your heart is not right first. Our character is what matters most to Him.

I’m not perfect and I hope that’s not what you think of me when you read my posts and blogs, or when you look at my pictures on social media. I don’t want you to look at my social media feed and feel less than or less beautiful or less anything. I want you to look at my feed and be empowered to embrace your own journey without having to compare it to someone else’s.

Before I post or share anything on social media, I pause for a heart check. What’s my motive? What’s the purpose for me posting this? The last thing I want is people comparing themselves to me. Please consider the questions listed above. Take time to reflect on them. Don’t look at people through your human eyes. Strive to look at others through God’s eyes.

When we focus on the outward appearance of others, we automatically begin to compare ourselves to them. God, I don’t ever want to fall into the comparison game because of what I see other girls doing or posting about on social media. Sisters, let’s focus on us, on our heart, and on cultivating our inward beauty rather than our outward appearance.

“A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.”

– Proverbs 22:1

How do you want to be known or described by others?

Do you lean on your worldly riches for approval? Or do you depend on the Holy Spirit to impact the lives of those around you?

What do you desire most? A good reputation or fame?

It’s better to be considered and regarded for our internal value (integrity, dignity, and noble character) than to be chosen for our external accomplishments or beauty. Are you more concerned about the amount of “likes” and comments you get on your social media feed, than you are about the number of lives you are impacting or influencing with your true character?

I want to be a kingdom minded type of girl. What about you? What type of girl do you want to be?

 

Posted in Faith, Life

Getting Over The Confusion

I’m not even going to ask because I am more than sure you have been confused before. Am I right? Some of us are confused every day about the simplest things like what to wear or eat for lunch. But other times we are confused about more serious matters like life, people, beliefs, etc. You name it!

Being confused is not easy to navigate through. There are lots of questions left unanswered that we, as humans want to desperately find answers to. What’s worse is that confusion births side effects such as fear, anger, and uncertainty. It manifests itself through these negative emotions. Bottom line, confusion is the root of this chaos.

Confusion is a roadblock to peace, joy, and confidence. I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t want to live the rest of my life confused. I don’t want my life to be a mosaic of fear, worry, anger, and uncertainty. I want my life to overflow with peace, joy, and confidence to the point where others are filled by it. And the only way that will happen is if our faith is rooted in what God says.

Have you ever witnessed or gone through something in your life that left you confused? Perhaps an experience or encounter with something or someone? I have.

I remember fasting coffee and social media for a week and praying for specific areas in my life that I wanted to see breakthrough in. My prayer focus was on Matthew 7:7-8,

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives, everyone who seeks, finds. And everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”

That particular week I was asking God to prompt the man He has set apart for me to pursue me. I told God I would seek His will no matter what presents itself, and that I would also seek His wisdom, clarity, and direction for my life. Lastly, I told God I would knock on the doors of prosperity, opportunity, and favor.

Fast forward almost a month later, an unexpected person made his way into my life. Yes, a guy started to pursue me! Of course I had completely forgotten about the prayer I made almost a month ago. However, as I got to know this guy, I found myself attracted to his personality, values, goals and dreams for his life. There was just one thing I was not attracted to…

His looks.

I started to feel so confused about whether I should give this guy a chance or not. It was in that moment where God reminded me of the prayer I made literally a month ago from that date I was feeling confused. Honestly, the only reason I continued to get to know this guy was because he could potentially be God’s answer to my prayer.

Long story short, what I thought could be the start of something beautiful and meaningful didn’t end up working out. Things didn’t unfold the way I expected or hoped for. I started to feel confused again. Why would God answer my prayer and then not allow things to work out between us? I couldn’t understand the why of this experience until much later.

The devil used my confusion and frustration to his advantage like he always does. But rather than allowing him to consume my mind with anger, fear, and uncertainty, I chose to rise above them and press through. To ask, seek, and knock for answers just like I did before. Surely God did not fail. He answered!

I was determined to get an answer from God regarding my situation. I sat there in my room quietly waiting and asking, Lord, is [name of person] the right man for me? I don’t want to feel like he’s the right man for me. I want to know he is. As I waited, God answered through a previous blog I had written: Are They Worth The Risk.

God reminded me of the free will he gives us. He desires for us to choose His will above ours. He won’t force us to do anything unwillingly. It was in that moment where God’s peace embraced my heart. He reminded me that love is a choice, not a feeling. There is no such thing as “The One.” There are only the “Right Ones.”

God gives us the wisdom to choose who we want to choose every day for the rest of our lives despite what the world or life throws at us. So even though I was willing to move forward with the relationship, he chose not to and I respected that.

With every experience we go through, God uses it to expose our heart and test our faith. Even though I prayed Matthew 7:7-8 and God indeed answered, the confusion crippled in from the expectation I had that did not come to pass. I truly believe God used this experience to test my faith.

Was I still going to pray Matthew 7:7-8 and believe God answers even if the results of my prayer weren’t what I expected or hoped for? Or was I going to allow the confusion of the unexpected results consume me?

Friends, God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33).

The passion translation quotes, “For God is the God of harmony, not confusion.” I really like the message translation though, “When we worship the right way, God doesn’t stir us up into confusion; He brings us into harmony.”

My encouragement to you is this. If you currently find yourself confused about something or someone, don’t dwell in it. Ask, seek, and knock for answers. Ask, seek, and knock for clarity and most importantly, for peace. God will indeed answer because His Word promises that in Matthew 7:7-8.

Let’s get over the confusion together. Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead (Philippians 3:13). One last thing,

“All the disappointment in the world will never change the promises of God, the reality of Jesus, or His destiny for our lives. Everything we experience ultimately becomes a tool we can use to serve others. There are divine appointments beyond our disappointments if we’re willing to embrace the unexpected.”

– Christine Caine

P.s Make time to listen to PEACE by Amanda Cook. Be encouraged and pass it on by sharing this blog.

Encouraging you always,

– Crystal

Posted in Life

When Did The Big Sis Become The Little Sis?

katy-belcher-674803-unsplashHave you ever wondered what it would be like to be the youngest sister?

If you are reading this and you are the youngest sibling, maybe you have wondered what it would be like to be the oldest brother or sister. I am the oldest of three girls, which means I have two younger sisters. Being the first-born came with responsibilities, by definition, I was expected to set the example for my sisters. To pave the way for their success was the expectation.

For most of my life I enjoyed being the older sister. I felt in charge and entitled to “Big Sister” privileges like getting everything first and then passing it down to my little sisters. Being the big sister instinctively set me up for a role model position. A position I was not only responsible for, but also a role I desired to walk in and be excellent at.

I have never wondered what it would be like to be the youngest sister.

I have however, wondered what it would be like to have an older sister. For the passed years I have worked hard to be the best big sister I can be, and still try my best to this day.

I’ll be honest with you though, my “Big Sister” role no longer feels the same. As the big sister, I grew up expecting to experience life’s stages first and then helping my sisters navigate through them when it was their turn. For a while my expectations did not disappoint. I was the first to get a boyfriend (that includes first heartbreak), a driver’s license, wear make-up, leave the house for school, etc.

Life as the Big Sister was good!

It meant looking out for my little sisters. With every experience I encountered, I would learn from and then teach my sisters what NOT to do. I wanted my sisters to avoid the pain of my mistakes and wrong choices.

Almost a year ago in August, one of my sisters got married! I had a very difficult time accepting she wanted to marry her boyfriend at the time, which is now her husband. Not because I didn’t like him or didn’t agree with their relationship. It may have come across that way, but the truth was I wasn’t ready for her to marry.

Reflecting back, I was using the excuse of my sister being too young (even though we’re only 13 months apart) and not ready to marry. But now that I’m deeply reminiscing on that time, it was me who wasn’t ready for her to marry. I just couldn’t believe she was getting married first than me!

How can this be?

I am the oldest!

I am the first-born!

I need to get married first before she does!

These were my constant thoughts during that time.

Wow! I was one bitter big sister. God had to deal with my heart. I had a decision to make. Choose to be happy for her or choose to remain upset at the fact things weren’t happening the way I had expected. Of course I chose to be happy for her although it was still difficult for me to accept it wasn’t me.

Once my sister got married, things seemed to get back to normal. I still felt like the big sister because I had my youngest sister whom I needed to lead and encourage in the ways of the Lord. Surely, I would be next in line for marriage! There was no way my youngest sister would get married first than me. No way!

Well, I was wrong. Shortly after wedding #1 in our family had passed (2 months to be exact), my youngest sister gets engaged! Are you kidding me?! If you thought I was upset about my other sister getting married first than me, you can just imagine how I felt about the youngest of my sisters getting engaged!

Fast forward to now (July 20, 2018), my little sister will become a “Mrs.” and I will still be a “Miss.”. My journey as the big sister has been quite the adventure. There have been times in which my sisters have taught me lessons without them realizing.

Today I feel like the little sister.

I feel like my Big Sister role is over and now my little sisters are “bigger” than me. For them, my role as their big sister will never change. But it has for me. At least that’s how I feel right now considering my sisters have gotten married first than me.

I share all that to say this: Being the big sister is a humbling experience. I’ve learned to not be right all the time. I’ve learned to say sorry and be OK with things not always going my way. Most importantly, I’ve learned to love and be genuinely happy for my sisters and their accomplishments even if I’m not there yet.

So, my encouragement to you is found in 1 Peter 5:6 “Humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.” When we become prideful or entitled to a position and its privileges, God has a way of humbling us by showing us it’s not always about what we want or what we expected. It’s always about him and the character he’s building in us.

Be blessed! Much love to you my lovely readers.

PS. I would love to hear from you! Have you had a similar experience? What was that like or what did you learn from it? Please comment below!

Stay humble,

Crystal