Tagged: Christian

Clarkston Life

Clarkston, Georgia is the epitome of diversity. If you ask me, it’s comparable to being at the airport, the Olympics, or a United Nations meeting. There are people from literally all across the globe. But the thing about Clarkston is that here you find people of all ages from all different countries living in the same CITY. In the same apartment complex, even. When I step outside of my apartment, I can run into a Nepali man in a colorful wrap skirt, an Iraqi woman wearing her burqa, a Somalian family piling into a worn-down sedan, and a swarm of barefoot Eritrean kids within just a few yards. This is Clarkston life.

Clarkston is this way because it was chosen a while ago to be the relocation center for millions of refugees coming into America. These refugees come from lives of chaos, danger, persecution, and rough conditions in countries such as Iraq, Iran, Bhutan, Nepal, Burma, Thailand, Afghanistan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Uganda. And they’re squeezed together into this one square mile south of Atlanta.

A lot of the refugees here aren’t fluent in English or even know the alphabet. They struggle to find jobs and pay rent. Homesickness is the least of their worries. They come here with nothing and are expected to thrive when the most they can do under this pressure and in their situation is simply SURVIVE.

I’m spending my summer in Clarkston (for the second time) because 1) these refugees need love, and 2) these refugees need Jesus. I’m working with an organization that strives to provide those two things in the form of ESL classes, summer camps for kids, gardening, prayer, and day-to-day conversations.

But not until today did it occur to me that they have something to offer me, as well.

This morning, my roommate Hannah and I stumbled across a scene we had never seen: an Iraqi woman with her young daughter, an Eritrean woman with her special needs son, and a Nepali woman with her infant… sitting on the same bench and conversing. We approached the three women and joined in on their conversation to the best of our ability. Do you know what they were talking about? How much our apartment complex stinks. They’re unhappy with the complex manager and how they’re treated. With kids in lap, through broken English and thick accents, they were engaging in a dialogue about these irritating and discouraging experiences.

And there was something beautiful about the way these three very different women were taking turns shaking their heads in disbelief, nodding in agreement, and sharing these burdens. Never mind the fact they come from various war-torn countries and different faiths and backgrounds. They just wanted to sit together and bond as next-door neighbors, as mothers.

In that moment I felt like I knew nothing.

I’m a not-even-twenty-year-old who has much to learn about independence, financial burdens, marriage, and raising a family. If I were to sit with two women of my choosing, it’d be women my own age who have no children, no real responsibility. Our greatest burdens would be choosing a major or dealing with our protective parents. And I don’t say that to talk down those burdens. I say that to show how much I have left to experience and learn.

Who am I to think that I’m here in Clarkston to solely teach and to change lives? No. I’m also here to have MY life changed by these refugees.

Image by Leonid Plotkin on Flickr (https://flic.kr/p/j4t1oc)

Image by Leonid Plotkin on Flickr (https://flic.kr/p/abzFKN)

I don’t want to let my pride prevent real friendships from forming while I’m in Clarkston.

I want what those three women had: common ground forged in even the mundane trials of life.

I want to knock on that Iraqi woman’s door and ask her to show me the way of motherhood. How do you raise three children? How do you carve time for your marriage? When you’re a stay-at-home mom, do you struggle to find purpose?

I want to sit down with that Eritrean mom and hear her experience of having a special needs son. Were you scared? Are you still? How does it change you? 

And then I want to spend time with the Nepali woman and her infant son and see how a love for a newborn grows from the start. What was it like when you first took him home from the hospital? What are your dreams for his life?

And then I’d ask them all about living. Not just living as a refugee, but day-to-day living. Is it hard to pray and pursue God in the busyness of life? Do you have unrealized dreams and how do you cope with that? How do you get stains out of clothing? 

I know nothing. And these women know something. Instead of trying to teach, I think it’s time to learn.

And while doing that, perhaps I’ll be opening up doors for giving them the two things I still want to offer: love and Jesus.

I’ll keep you updated on how this goes. I’m nervous, but excited. Maybe I’m on the right track here.

Image by Alex Saurel on Flickr (https://flic.kr/p/j4t1oc)

Image by Alex Saurel on Flickr (https://flic.kr/p/j4t1oc)

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God Is Not Enough For Me

God is not enough for me. 

He IS, but by the looks of my life and a true assessment of my heart, I live as though He’s not.

And It pains me to write that because I so badly want Him to be.

I know that the life I’m living and the life I’m seeking often demonstrates a hidden, subtle insecurity stemmed in the belief that God cannot fill me. He cannot provide me with my needs. He cannot and perhaps WILL not give me the life I desire when I desire it.

And that is a difficult place to be in because I know that’s not how things should be.

I’m a Christian. I’m supposed to love God more than anything (with all my heart, soul, and mind, to be exact). I’m supposed to desire His will above my own. I’m supposed to find fullness and joy in Him, not look to other things or people in this life to satisfy me.

But I’d be lying if I said I am doing any of those things.

There are times when I do love God more. But when I step off of that altar of surrender and worship, life goes on and I find myself whisked away again by love for myself. You wouldn’t know by looking at me, but I know my own heart. And I know that a lot of what I do is to fulfill MY wants and needs prior to God’s or anyone else’s.

There are times when I do desire His will first and foremost. I say it in my prayers, most definitely. But if I really did always desire His will first, then I’d stop trying to control my life. I’d stop resisting the work He’s doing in me, the little acts of obedience He has called me to do.

There are times when I am filled with the absolute joy of Christ. It’s like time stops and I’m just caught up in His love and wonderful embrace. But it never lasts. The song ends, the dance comes to a halt, and I’m left waiting for the next punch in the stomach. Or even worse: indifference washes over me.

Sometimes the hardest thing about being a Christ-follower is accepting that some things don’t last. Distractions, sorrow, and frustrations are always lurking around the corner, waiting for me to take my eyes off of Jesus. I feel like I just have to constantly look up at the sky and beg for more: more patience, more focus, more joy, more peace, more EVERYTHING.

What do I do, friends? How do I escape this life of constant longing?

I have no answers. I have a few theories, but I’m starting to think this is how life is. It’s hard, it’s slow. It cycles through various seasons, as do our emotions and relationship with God.

I can beg God to take my desires away, to strip me of all feeling and all longing for the future or for anything besides Him. I can ask Him to direct my eyes to be on Him and Him alone for the rest of my life.

But I don’t think He will.

Part of the reason we are given this life is to BE ALIVE. And being alive involves feeling, wanting, needing (and yes, hurting). The same goes for being alive in Him. These things don’t go away. I actually think they’re amplified. But it’s a good kind of amplification, the kind of volume that you know you want to live your life at forever. You don’t want to quiet the love you feel, the longing for Jesus that is suddenly stronger than anything you’d ever known.

I find comfort in the knowledge that Jesus was (and still is) alive. He walked this earth. He knew no sin, yet he knew pain. If he could walk this earth now, I’d like to think that he might find me and hug me. He’d hold me close, whisper into my ear and heart, “It’s okay. I know.” I’d stain his robe with my tears, all the tears of longing and wondering and confusion. And I think He’d cherish each of those tears that fell from my eye because He knows they come from a place of desire for HIM.

You see, I am pained by my lack of absolute dedication, focus, and love for God, but that in itself tells me I’m doing something right.

I WANT to want Him. 

And sometimes I get that want. Not always. Not completely.

But when I behold His glory and His worthiness… boy, how I want to be with Him and follow Him more than anything else! The thought crosses my mind: He IS enough.

The thought leaves, but it was there. And I will find it again. And again.

That’s all I have to hold on to.

I can’t always fathom how God can be enough for me, but maybe for now that is enough for Him.

He wants me anyway. He beckons me anyway.

And if Jesus were physically here, I think he’d hold me anyway, too.

I say to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.’ … my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body will also rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand (Psalm 16: 2,9-11)

I Want to Be Blessed

Image

Image by Tori Toguchi on Flickr (https://flic.kr/p/b1eMDt)

I want to be blessed. I desire God’s favor upon my life. I don’t think that is a shameful desire in any way, and I believe God planted that desire in me.

But I have the hardest time figuring out how to get that blessing. A lot of the time I feel like I can earn it. Like maybe if I just do enough good things, God will grant me happiness and blessings. If I honor Him enough with my relationships, then maybe He’ll bless my relationships. If I do enough in my ministry, then maybe He’ll bless my ministry. If I seek him more and more, then maybe He’ll favor me.

Then there’s this passage in the book of Psalms that I can’t overlook.

Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, Lord.  They rejoice in your name all day long; they celebrate your righteousness. For you are their glory and strength, and by your favor you exalt our horn. Indeed our shield belongs to the Lord, our king to the Holy One of Israel. (Psalm 89:15-18)

God, I want that to be me.

How do you learn to acclaim God? How do you walk in the light of His presence?

If this is what makes His children blessed, then I feel like these questions are worth finding an answer to.

I’ll just say here and now, though, that I don’t have the full answers.

What I know right now is this:

  • Acclaiming God means to praise God
  • Walking into the light implies walking out of darkness

Somehow we have to learn to praise God. Somehow we have to walk out of darkness and into His light.

Here’s what else I know:

  • I have learned to praise God most through my difficulties and pain. I have learned to praise God in joyous times, as well. But it’s the dark times in my life and the overcoming of that darkness that has taught me what truly worshiping God and surrendering to God means.
  • I have walked into the light most when I have finally bared my soul and let the darkness go. Not just to God, but to my brothers and sisters in Christ. I can walk in His light by releasing my innermost secrets and desires to God. But I have experienced many moments of shame-lifting, freeing intimacy with people, too. I have found light by first going through the darkest tunnels, whether hand-in-hand with a friend or alone with just the Spirit in my heart.

What I’m thinking is that perhaps blessings must come through difficulties and pain, through the hard stuff of life.

It takes trials to remind you of how powerful He is. It takes rock bottom to remind you that He is what you really need. Through our difficulties and pain we learn to acclaim and praise God.

It takes darkness to remind you that you need light. It takes painful soul-baring moments and conversations to assure you that you are not alone and living in light is a very real, freeing possibility. Through our difficulties and pain we learn to walk in His light.

First comes pain. Then comes gain.

Isn’t that a major concept of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount? The Beatitudes, anyone?

Amidst the hard stuff of life, we receive blessing.

And what is this blessing we receive?

Maybe it’s the next part of that passage. They rejoice in your name all day long; they celebrate your righteousness. For you are their glory and strength, and by your favor you exalt our horn. Indeed our shield belongs to the Lord…

The blessings are:

  • joy in His name
  • celebration for His righteousness
  • glory and strength of God
  • our horn (our power and strength)
  • our shield (our protection)

It all just sounds so wonderful. I can’t even comprehend what fully receiving those blessings would look like because here on earth everything just seems so pitiful compared to the beauty and glory in heaven.

The joy we feel now is not even close to the joy in heaven. The celebrations we have here are nothing like the celebrations in His kingdom. The glory and strength of God can only be glimpsed so much through our tiny human eyes and brains. And the horn and shield, Him being our power and protection, is a whole other concept I think we are far from fully comprehending.

These blessings of God are being unlocked here. I do know this to be true.

But there’s so much more we have yet to uncover. There’s still more praising and walking in light to be done.

And hard stuff must come.

So let’s get ready. Expect the suffering and the blessing because they’re both coming.

Confidently Broken

I’ve been in a writing frenzy lately and I think it’s because I’m starting to finally become the truly confident woman of God I’m meant to be.

And that confidence has come amidst fear, insecurity, hurt, past wounds, and confusion.

Basically, I’m confidently broken. And what that means is that even though I pretty much have nothing in my life together, I am learning more about myself and God and others and I’m somehow able to be myself in confidence and boldness.

It is one of the greatest feelings in the world to know that despite brokenness and shame and hurt, I can still be wholly myself.

And I think that’s where God’s been trying to bring me– into this season of being myself where I don’t have to constantly strive or feel inadequate or feel like a failure.

I’ve been headed down this journey for the past few months (since the start of 2014, actually) and I can think of a few things that God has used tremendously in my life. So here’s an incomplete list of what has meant the most to me over the past 3.5 months.

1. NOT moving out

I was supposed to move out of my parents’ house into an awesome apartment with four girls in the first week of January. Words cannot explain how excited I was for this new season of my life. I finally felt like I was going to get that taste of true community and independence and college life. And yet two weeks before our scheduled move-in date, things just fell apart. Like crumbled.

And all of a sudden, moving out was no longer an option.

It didn’t make sense. Why on earth would God be paving a way for these plans to happen only to let them cave in on me? The least He could’ve done was give me some sort of warning or foresight. It hurt A LOT. And I was convinced that this was going to be the worst semester ever.

But God shone His goodness through my situation. I remained in my parents’ house and experienced a sudden growth in my relationship with my mom. She was there for me through the crushing disappointment I faced and we had some pretty cool “real talks.” And now I feel like we’re closer, or at least more real, than ever before. To think that I almost moved out without having this awesome friendship blossom between us.

Do I still want to move out? Yes. I’m considering trying again in August. But I have no regrets about staying home this semester. I never thought I’d say those words, but God’s sovereignty and goodness has somehow changed my mind.

2. My best friend NOT moving back

It was excruciatingly painful to consider facing yet another semester without my best friend, Lacey. After six months of having her in Thomasville while I remained in Kennesaw, I was ready for her to come back so the “Jessie and Lacey escapades” could begin again. She’s my wingman, my homie, my OTHER HALF. We were supposed to move in together and pick back up where we left off last May.

But she didn’t come back.

And I thank God for that distance remaining between us because even though the physical distance sucks, the emotional closeness that has been forged through that long distance is unbelievably amazing.

We talk anywhere from 1-6 hours a week. We still make it a point to text pretty much all day, everyday. We watch New Girl over the phone together. We take turns making the four-hour drive to visit each other once a month.

And yes, it’d be great to have her here, but having this distance between us has forced us to be intentional and focus on the more serious things of life that we’d otherwise overlook due to our crazy adventures.

We’ve become closer than I ever imagined possible. I can tell this girl anything. In fact, I HAVE to tell this girl everything. She keeps me sane.

Do I still want her here? Yes. The idea of her coming back to Kennesaw is not an impossibility. But I have no regrets about her staying in Thomasville and me remaining here, and I know she doesn’t either. Yet again, God has shown me His goodness through this situation I once considered the worst thing in the world. Now I realize it’s one of the best.

3. NOT having my life together

Having wounds and insecurities and fears surely feels awful sometimes. Well, most of the time.

But because I’m an imperfect human being, I have the opportunity to walk alongside so many imperfect human beings around me. Because I’m hurt, I have the opportunity to hurt alongside other hurting people.

And together, being hurt suddenly doesn’t feel so awful. It’s not pleasant, but it’s not awful either. When two people are raw and upfront with each other about their broken state of being, they suddenly find they’re not so alone after all.

I thank God that He has used my broken state of being to speak to others. And one of the ways He’s done that is through my writing. And I wouldn’t be able to write like this and say the things I do if I wasn’t okay with being broken.

Do I still want to be healed and whole? Yes. I know there’s so much joy to be had in Christ and we are not meant to remain forever broken and hurt. But God has used me this way. He’s used me as I am. And whether I’m in the deepest pit or on the best Jesus high, I’m just glad I can be used for His glory and to encourage the people I love.

So there you have it. The incomplete list of “wrongs” turned right that have brought me to this place I’m in now. It’s crazy to see God’s goodness through it all, but it’s there. He really does work all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). And oh, how I love Him! After having so much just fall to pieces, I really didn’t have much to hold on to but Him. And that’s a gift in and of itself.

Brokenness is okay, especially when you become confident in it. That doesn’t mean you STAY broken and just decide to never pursue healing. No, healing is needed. But being confident in your brokenness means that you let yourself be yourself, broken pieces and all. That means you stop completely hiding. That means you let God speak to you through your wounds and tears. That means you let God speak THROUGH you BECAUSE of your wounds and tears.

I want this for everyone, especially the beautiful young women in my life. Let’s face it: a lot of us girls are hurting and don’t know what to do about that.

Here’s what I propose we do: we confidently let God have our brokenness. Whether it’s taken away or remains, we let Him do something with it. Anything.

I love you, readers. Your encouragement has meant so much to me. Thank you for meeting me in my hurt and letting me know I am in no way alone or a failure.

For now, let’s be messy people together and begin to pursue healing… in confidence.

Bipolar Christianity

Image by Erin Nicole Photography on Flickr (https://flic.kr/p/dNVy75)

Image by Erin Nicole Photography on Flickr (https://flic.kr/p/dNVy75)

I am a victim and observer of what I have decided to call “bipolar Christianity.”

What on earth am I talking about, you may ask. Well, here’s my definition of bipolar Christianity:

Bi-pol-ar Chris-ti-an-it-y [bīˈpōlərˌkrisCHēˈanitē] = having two poles or extremities relating to one’s faith in Jesus Christ.

To break it down even further, bipolar Christianity is when you are a Christian who experiences periodic “highs” of praise and joy in Jesus and yet also experience all-consuming “lows”.

I’m talking about the people who go to church and are ecstatic and overwhelmed by the grace and love of Jesus and then go home only to sob for hours.

I’m talking about the people who are absolutely in love with Jesus and yet have an inexplicable sadness that creeps in uninvited.

I’m talking about the people who are on fire for God and have all these dreams and plans and motivation only to later be found curled up on the floor wondering why they’re even alive.

And these people don’t necessarily have clinical depression or bipolar disorder. And they aren’t experiencing some silly side-effects of PMS.

They just have this problem with keeping their emotions on one side of the spectrum. They love Jesus and they have great faith, but they experience intense ups and downs. That’s just their life.

If you’re reading this and you’re starting to feel like I may be referring to you because you can wholeheartedly relate, then I just want to say now that nowhere in this post will I offer a solution.

I don’t have a solution. Trust me.

I’m a bipolar Christian and I can rack my brains for as long as I’d like and still never come up with an answer to this dilemma.

When you’re a bipolar Christian, you just feel kind of… stuck.

This post isn’t intended to encourage you to do step A, B, and C to get a hold of your emotions and your life. I have no authority to tell you how to do so.

This post is intended to just say, “hey, you’re not alone.”

And I also want to remind you of some nuggets of truth that maybe you can hold on to for now. You might not remember these things when you find yourself in the low moments of your day, but when you’re composed again, I hope they are an encouragement.

Truth #1: Jesus loves you.

You know it, but do you feel it? Stop for a second and just meditate on the idea– the REALITY– of His love for YOU.

You know the way you feel sometimes when you’re worshiping? Like how full of joy you feel to be praising your glorious Father? And in that moment, you don’t feel like a failure or a disappointment. You just feel loved.

When you’re NOT worshiping, you are loved just the same. When you’re just going through the mundane routine of your life, you are loved just the same. When you are unable to speak, move, or pray, you are loved just the same.

He loves you today just the same as He ever has or ever will. He loves you infinitely more than you’ll ever understand or comprehend. And that love doesn’t change.

Truth #2: You are blameless.

I know you wish from the bottom of your heart that you could feel whole and just be fine and not have to deal with the things you do. I know sometimes you feel so guilty and ashamed of your inability to remain joyful in God. Everyone else seems to have it all together and you have no idea of what’s wrong with you. All you know is that it’s wrong.

But it’s not wrong.

Repeat this to yourself: It’s not wrong to feel the way I do. I’m not wrong for feeling.

You are a new creation in Christ and that means the kingdom of heaven is now yours. And if you’re having a hard time understanding what that means for your life, that’s okay. If you’re having a hard time figuring out how to be filled with joy, that’s also okay.

Your Spirit knows. Your Spirit knows God’s joy and how to bring you there. Your Spirit knows your innermost longings and it cries out when you cry out, too.

Do you know what’s IN the kingdom of heaven? PERFECTION.

And even though you’re stuck here on this earth for now and you can’t fully enjoy that perfection awaiting you in the next life, you are already considered blameless and pure and whole in His eyes.

You might think that’s an audacious statement, but it’s only audacious to you if you don’t know Scripture.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be HOLY and BLAMELESS in his sight. (Ephesians 1:3-4; emphasis mine)

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of  your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you HOLY in his sight, WITHOUT BLEMISH and FREE from accusation. (Colossians 1:21-22; emphasis mine)

These aren’t traits that are to come. This is our reality here and now. Once we were saved by faith in Jesus Christ, we were ensured an inheritance and that inheritance, the kingdom of heaven, is sealed in us by the Holy Spirit.

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14)

Because of the Spirit living in you, you are regarded as WORTHY of receiving God’s promises and that worthiness translates to you as being holy and blameless. Only a holy and blameless person could receive these gifts of grace and salvation from God. And only Jesus could bring us to that state of holiness and blameless.

You, my friend, have been brought into that state.

You are holy and blameless, and no depression or anxiety or pain can destroy that.

Truth #3: You don’t have to be alone.

Do you know that there are bipolar Christians (and I’m sorry if you don’t like being called that) everywhere?

There are bipolar Christians around every corner and some of them could be your closest friends.

The reason why we don’t know where to find them is because they’re often in hiding.

We bipolar Christians are fond of hiding because we think it’s abnormal and wrong to feel the things we do and be the way we are.

We’re afraid that if people find out, we will be beat over the head with talk of spiritual welfare and demons. Our faith will be questioned and we’ll suddenly be the odd ones out.

And even though all of these things are a possibility (depending on who you surround yourself with), your true brothers and sisters in Christ would not want you to suffer alone. And God doesn’t want you to suffer alone. No one should have to suffer alone.

As scary as it is, admitting your bipolarity can be the most freeing thing. You suddenly feel like you have allies, people to pray on your behalf when you don’t have the strength or willpower to pray for yourself. You have friends, people who truly know you.

It’s okay to confide in trustworthy people about your feelings.

It’s also okay if you don’t. We aren’t designed to be isolated but if you feel as though you just can’t confide in anyone right now, know that Jesus is your ally. And I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s true.

We serve a God who “is able to sympathize with our weaknesses” and whose “throne of grace” we may approach confidently (Heb. 4:15-16).

 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and FAMILIAR WITH PAIN.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain
    and BORE OUR SUFFERING,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds WE ARE HEALED.

(Isaiah 53:3-5; emphasis mine)

Jesus understands. It’s perhaps unfathomable, but it’s true. He understands you better than you understand yourself, and he beckons you closer to Him because  you are never meant to be alone.

I know these things aren’t the answers you might have been looking for, but like I said, I have no solution to offer. I only have the truth.

And this truth I have to declare over myself all the time because I know how hard it is to hold on to it.

As I’m bombarded by attacks of satan and my flesh, it’s so difficult to remember to put on this armor of God that Paul speaks so fondly of. But there’s something powerful about the armor of God.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of TRUTH, and having put on the breastplate of RIGHTEOUSNESS, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish ALL the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the WORD OF GOD, praying at ALL times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. (Ephesians 6:10-18; emphasis mine)

This whole armor of God thing might be kind of confusing, but it makes sense if you consider what it’s really saying. We must be equipped with truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, the Spirit, the Word of God, and prayer if we are to have any chance of withstanding attacks of the enemy.

And it may sound strenuous to try to equip ourselves with all the things, but just about all the work has been done by God already.

He’s given us truth through His Word and His Spirit, He’s already made us righteous, He’s given us the full story of the Gospel and how through that we have received salvation, and we are worthy to approach Him with our prayers and supplications.

The biggest part of the faith is sometimes just remembering we have these things. It’s especially hard to remember when darkness is so convincing.

But darkness doesn’t win in our lives. Not anymore. The “gospel of peace” that gives us “readiness” (v.15) is the story of Jesus’ victory on the cross and the subsequent victory in our lives. We are ready to fight when we accept that we are already victorious.

Regardless of how overwhelming things are for  you, the truth remains that Jesus loves you, you are blameless, and you don’t have to be alone.

How I wish we could all just dump our sadness once and for all! But that’s not the world we live in.

That beautiful, perfect, pain-free world is coming. And until then, I pray that we learn to fight.