I still want to believe that this life is worth living…

So, I made it through another Christmas. That sounds a bit sad to me. I am sorry if you think so too. Honestly, I have been battling the sadness AGAIN. Since I became a true Christian almost nine years ago, I always thought that Christmas is supposed to be a wonderful time with people we love, with hearts filled with gratitude for the Perfect Gift that each of us has been given – the night the Savior was born — born to die so that we may have a chance at life…something like that. But when you’re like me, it is just trying your best to make it through family/friend time without being too much of a Debbie-Downer. I love my family. I love my church family and friends. But I must say, it continues to be extra challenging being sober. It is my 9th holiday season being 100% sober, and this year I found myself once again wishing I could be drunk through it. Well, at least through some of it. I guess there are times when I still think I can hide the real, messed-up-Deb, behind a mask of booze, but I am thankful that I know better. I am still a miracle in the making.

It has been a tough few years. I am blessed and grateful that I can share that a loved one overcame cancer, but the experience and treatment has changed things drastically and that is about all I can share at this time due to privacy. Basically, it has been hard on my heart. I have learned that since I have made it past 50 years of age (which I believe is another miracle), that I was nowhere close to being prepared for what life might bring at this stage in my life. My heart keeps getting hit hard by uncontrollable circumstances. I keep giving it all to God, but it still hurts.

When I feel this low, I find myself fading away a bit. That is the only way I can think of describing what it feels like. I am here, but hopefully invisible. Sometimes I think it really works because someone can be near me but they look right through me as if I am not really there. It’s weird. Like an out of body experience, I guess. Being invisible is mostly what I want, yet when my plan works, it does not feel so good at times.

So why am I taking another risk by putting my vulnerable self out there like this again? It is simple. People need to know that no matter how bad life seems, no matter how much pain is in their heart and mind that never seems to end, there is a reason to stay and suffer through. And although it may be hard to fathom for some of you, it is worth it. I believe that I am here because too many have given up on hope, and too many are thinking about it at this very moment. It makes me cry.

My heart feels too much, but I think it is a gift from God so I can understand the pain of others. You cannot truly encourage others to keep pressing on if you have never known what it is like to want to end the pain in death under your own terms. My heart was pained by the teenager who gave up on hope somewhere around the Thanksgiving holiday. Oh, the pain. And the pain that his family is now enduring for such a devastating loss. One of the parents happens to be a colleague of mine. My heart still hurts. Another colleague had PTSD and suffered for I do not know how long and could not hold on to hope so he took his own life in October 2017. That one still stings as well. They discovered Jesus, so I am blessed to know that He was there to receive them with open arms, for NOTHING shall be able to separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39).

I cannot do anything about those who are already gone, but I can pray that someone believing that death by suicide is the answer would somehow feel the love of God through me and/or others that know the pain and choose to stay, trust God, and press on. We need more people of faith to share their stories for encouragement. Many want to keep their stories private. I can understand, but I hope they will pray and receive the courage that God gives because this is a matter of life and death. Please prayerfully consider this mission. If you have not found your purpose, perhaps this might be it or a piece of it.

And for those who do not know what this deep dark emotional despair that sometimes wins is like, I pray for you too. Especially if and when you are ever faced with someone near and dear that you know or suspect might do something so drastic and devastating. Please be patient. If you are not close to God, I pray that this will be a time that you do become close. If you do not believe in Him, I pray that you would seek Him out to see if He is real. That’s what happened to me. I found Him, just like His Word in Scripture said I would. I…we all need God to help through all of this. I have people I care for in my life and they have no idea how much it hurts when I see them living apart from God. When they use His name inappropriately in front of me, I used to think I needed to defend my God. But I realized something recently, the pain in my heart is because some of my friends do not know the love of God as I have discovered and that breaks my heart. I have learned that the best thing I can do is pray that my being open about my faith will help open a door to their heart for God to come in some day. I have to leave that up to God.

God-honoring people in my life have no idea how much they continue to help save my life by being a true example of faith. They draw me near to God, they do not do things that might lure me away from Him.

Telling someone to “snap out of it” or “get over it” or “I can’t take your depression any longer” or “you are being selfish” will only make things worse. I even think quoting Scripture or reminding someone of their blessings is not helpful if it is not a message nudged by God. When you get close to God and discover His heart, you become very familiar with those kinds of nudges. I believe if God nudges you to say something specific to someone else, that He has gone ahead of you to prepare that heart to receive it. I have learned, thanks to my mentor, to never run ahead of God. I do not want to risk pushing someone in the wrong direction because their heart was not ready. Whenever I have said something that was nudged by God, I am always amazed at how it was received. I can see God moving in their hearts.

I also think about the friends that we read about in the story of Job. I want to be that kind of friend. I need those kinds of friends. I need to clarfiy, if you haven’t read the story in a while or at all, take a look at Job 2:11-13. I am talking about prior to them opening their mouths and ruining everything. Initially, they sat with Job without a word and cried with him. How amazing would that be if we learned to do the same for those around us who need comfort instead of trying to fix them or their circumstances with our so-called words of wisdom? The Bible encourages us to weep with those who weep in Romans 12:15. We should also rejoice when they rejoice…this life isn’t always about pain. I thank God for that!

Here is something I can rejoice over. Through all my pain and suffering I have discovered purpose. There IS purpose in pain!! I am living it. It is nothing new than what is written in the Bible — to love God my Creator with all my heart, soul, and mind (troubled mind and all) and to love others. When you have this love of God pouring in and out of you, you can’t help but share about Him and His goodness in your life. We should not be surprised by our pain and troubles in this present evil world. I do not live this life perfectly, but I try my best and continue believing that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13) and I take God for His word! God’s Word never fails.

This is the first time I have been on here writing in such a long time. I work full-time, go to college part-time and the emotional struggle has been deep, but I am grateful for the courage and strength to share this tonight. I am thankful for those of you who encourage this tiny unknown blog. I may be a miniscule ministry, but I am mighty in the name of Jesus. Amen? I love how God will use any willing heart.

If this has touched you in anyway, I hope you will share it. It is my heart pouring out no matter what the cost.

If you are suffering, like so many of us, I pray that you will know God’s life-saving love so you will keep courageously choosing life and be an encouragement to someone else. Imagine if each of us touched one heart. It only takes one heart to reach millions. I love knowing that and it is so cool to think about.

And my humble request for anyone who is reading this, will you pray with me? Please pray that there would be such an outpouring of the Spirit of God that those hearts lost in the dark will know His love beyond a shadow of a doubt and will be changed forever. Pray for strength. Pray for perseverance through the pain. I pray more lives will be saved. Not just for the other side of eternity, but for this precious short time that we have been gifted on this earth.

I DO still believe that this life is truly worth living. Thank You, Jesus, for the everyday chance to choose Your precious gift of life. Friends, let’s keep holding on to hope of Jesus Christ who came to seek the lost and save us no matter what. May you come to know His deep abiding joy that is not based on circumstances of life. May you come to know just how much you are loved and may that love give you courage and the desire to keep on keeping on for the glory of the Lord. †

Thank you for stopping by and praying with me. God bless you richly.

I Cannot Do Anything from the Grave

The god of this world is relentless. I do not need to tell any of you that, the news media does a good job of it. Every day, we hear about tragedy upon tragedy of the lives that have been lost to violence. We hear and see lives without hope. We do not need news media for that, if we are paying attention, we are surrounded every day by it. Maybe it is just me, but sometimes I think we feel some things are so hopeless and we believe we are too helpless, so we go about our days the best we can. The battlefield of my mind gets brutal at times, and if I am not careful, I know that I can end up losing big. There is no doubt that the evil one never gives up on trying to get me to turn away from God. How is it that I have not lost this battle? Well, because I have learned how I can be equipped to fight, not by my own might, but by the Lord God Almighty. My mighty weapon is His Word and not a day goes by that I am not studying and living out God’s Word. It is never done perfectly and that is OK. Getting to this point in my life has taken the last eight years of learning and growing through painful lessons and it will continue through the rest of my time on this earth. However long that might be, only God knows. I am grateful for this surrender that has taken place in my life that keeps me alive–truly alive.

The Bible warns us through Peter in the New Testament – 1 Peter 5:8: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Friends, we do not stand a chance in this present evil world if we are not wholeheartedly seeking out God (“sober” from distractions of the chaos near and far)—the Creator of ALL, through His Living Word. God’s truths cancel out the enemies lies—lies that we are nothing and can do nothing worthwhile in this life, so we might as well just live for ourselves in the now and forget about God. His perfect LOVE cancels out the enemy’s fear that keeps us stuck and many of us in the pit of despair. If you are in God’s Word, not just hearing and reading, but DOING, He will protect you from those lies that want to draw you away from Him and draw you to all the temporal things in this dark world that leave you empty and hopeless. It is like being led to a cliff that you cannot see, and the pending doom does not appear until it is too late.

My heart hurts to share that two people in my area fell off such a cliff this week: Recently, a woman refused help to leave her mentally dangerous boyfriend during his short stay in jail. The boyfriend was off his medication and relatives thought he was about to snap and hurt somebody. The woman rejected the offer insisting that although she knew he was struggling mentally, she believed that he loved her and would never hurt her. This week, only a few weeks later, she is dead—murdered by her boyfriend during a heated argument. The other tragedy was a man with no hope decided to end his life by jumping in front of a moving train. You can imagine the gruesome scene moments later.

Two unfinished lives that mattered, are finished on this earth. I did not know these people, but I know they mattered because their Creator is also mine and nobody cares more than Him.

I struggle with deaths like this. When I become vulnerable, no matter what the cause, the enemy wreaks havoc in my heart and mind to the point where I feel mentally sick and tearfully wonder “Why I am still alive, God?!” When I grow weary, I start to go where I should not go—the old familiar place of darkness and feel like I will never be able to help anyone else in this journey. But then, “lies, lies, lies” is spoken to my heart. God reminds me of everything that He has done in my life, not only in the last eight years of when He made Himself real to me, but He shows me how He was there before I even knew Him. God was there before, during, and when I finally chose to leave the abusive relationship I was in for over five years. I see now, that it was a deathtrap. I chose to give God a chance and surrender my entire life (not just the easy parts of it—ALL of it) to Him. I chose (and continue to choose) to reach for Him, rather than consuming deadly amounts of alcohol in failed attempts to fill the emptiness and numb the pain that only became worse with each drink. I chose to live, not just any life, but one that leads to eternal life and hopefully encourages and draws others to Him so they will do the same. He was there then, and He is here now. My amazing God…

Currently in my daily devotions, I am in the Old Testament book of Jeremiah and I want to share the encouraging Word that God has brought to my heart through it. It came from Jeremiah 10:12—“But God made the earth by His power; He founded the world by His wisdom and stretched out the heavens by His understanding.”   Through this I learned, “Once people admit their need, they should turn away from their emptiness and focus on God’s fullness. True wisdom is to be found in God alone (James 1:17). Ultimately, there is nothing and no one who can successfully substitute for God.” AMEN. This, I know to be true because I am now living it.

I found that after my struggles this week with those tragic losses that did not have to happen, I realized something amazing that came to me through my time in seeking God, and He put these words on my heart: “You made a choice to admit your need for Me and chose to turn away from your emptiness! They chose not to! You are alive, and I plan to use your life to help others to choose life too. Trust Me!” I cannot spend time wondering why they made their choices, but I can spend time thanking God that I am still choosing His gift of life and perhaps others will see and want to live too. No matter how painful this life can be, it is only temporary and does not compare to what He has in store for us. So, every day I can say, “Yes, Lord! I trust You, with my whole heart!”

I cannot encourage people enough to surrender all to God and daily live in His presence and seek out His will for their lives. Every answer to every question, every comfort for every pain, every need for every want, absolutely EVERYTHING, can be found in His Word, The Holy Bible that teaches us how to live in this fallen world. The Spirit of God is here with us now. He is waiting to help more and more to discover a whole new life, an abundant one. I can keep sharing my heart so vulnerably, it is a chance that I am willing to take. I cannot save people, I cannot not heal the pain, I cannot fill the emptiness, but GOD CAN. Say YES! to Him today.

I have learned, and I keep learning and believe, especially in those times when I am thinking the dark thoughts that want me to give in…I cannot praise God, I cannot share His greatness in my life, I cannot share His life-saving HOPE with others, I cannot do anything from the grave. THAT is why I choose life and I pray that it touches at least one heart. It only takes one…amen?

May God bless you all richly as He has blessed me.

Thank You, Jesus, my Lord and Savior. I am grateful to be alive. †♥