In The Name of Jesus

For any of you that read and follow my blog, you know that I typically post at the end of every month, specifically on the last day of each month. You probably noticed then, that I did not post at the end of or during the month of April at all. For that, I am sorry. My goal when I started this blog at the end of last year was to never give up on it and to never be inconsistent with it. Which, just to be clear, I have not given up on it, but I have been inconsistent. I truly know that my mission in this life is to share Christ with others. Right now, the best way I know how to do that is by writing. Instead of continuing to write for myself in a journal that no one ever saw (which is healthy and I still do that), my desire was to share what God was teaching me and speaking to me with others through my writing. My hope and prayer was that it would reach someone. Maybe I wouldn’t receive a lot of feedback, and maybe few people would read my blog posts. But that’s ok. That was not the goal. My intent was to write for the one. The one person that needed to hear what God is speaking. The one that happened to stumble across my blog at just the right time in their life. I may have sought acceptance from others before in my writing, and maybe even written with selfish ambition. Ultimately though, my heart behind Beloved and Brave and what I write is to glorify God and reach as many people as possible, pointing them back to Him.

So, I am here today to share with you the journey I have been on over the last few months, and hopefully speak truth and hope into others that may be struggling as well. I unintentionally checked out from writing over the last few months. I was struggling. I was hurting. I was confused and overwhelmed. I was lonely. I was slowly being paralyzed by fear. And one of the many lies I was believing was that I could not write or be a source of truth and light to others in my current state. I believed that I was useless for the cause of Christ, and that I needed to get through this and be on the other side of it before I could effectively lead others. I thought that I needed to clean myself up and make myself perfect before coming to Jesus, instead of allowing Jesus to clean me up and rescue me in my mess. I believed the lie that God couldn’t use me where I failed, and that I wasn’t worthy or capable of being used by Him in my storm. So I drew back, and found myself in a place of complete loneliness. I shut everyone out, and put on a fake face so that no one would ask what was wrong. I was convinced that no one could or would ever understand, and that it would only burden who ever I told, so why try explaining it to them? It seemed pointless, and I was afraid of the vulnerability required to let anyone into that part of my pain and suffering. I didn’t want to bother with explaining something I wasn’t even sure I understood myself.

I have struggled with fear for as long as I can remember. But this time was different. It was much greater and much more powerful than the other times I have experienced it. Fear, anxiety, and panic attacks run in my family. It’s generational. So it was inevitable for me to inherit it, right? I fear things like heights and rats and bridges over water, but I also struggle with the much deeper fears like death, losing a loved one, failure, rejection, insecurities, being outside of God’s will, hurting and disappointing others, making myself unlovable, being a burden, being the reason behind someone’s setback, and the list goes on. My fear may be somewhat generational, but when I have experienced fear in the past, I have always prayed over myself as if it was a spirit of fear that was holding me captive as opposed to any other reason I could be fearful. I understand my battle with fear to come from generational ties, to possibly come from other contributing factors, but to mostly stem from spiritual warfare. I have found myself in a place many times declaring the name of Jesus over myself and attempting to cast this spirit of fear out of my life. It seemed to work most of the time. All of my fears seemed to be fleeting. At least for a little while. Until a new fear surfaced. Or until the fears I thought were gone joined together with another fear and another fear, building off of each other to create greater fears. And then the cycle of prayer over myself, to myself, and by myself would begin again. I was treating these prayers as some sort of band aid fix for the deeply rooted problem. I wasn’t searching for the deeper problem and praying over that so that I could cut it off at its roots to keep it from regrowing. I was cutting off the branches. And when the root was watered, the branches grew back. Kind of like Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy (I love this movie and think it’s hilarious). Anytime Groot loses a limb, aka a branch, it grows back. But if he were to be cut at his core, his limbs (branches) wouldn’t be able to grow back.  I wasn’t looking for the place, the wound, that originally broke me, and I allowed this spirit of fear to enter into my life. I allowed the problem to take root so deep inside me, that it went too deep this time. I reached an all time low in my fear and anxiety. I hit rock bottom. As long as I resisted, and as much as I didn’t want to, I needed other people to get involved.

Now I am not here to share with you my victory story and how I overcame fear and am doing great now. Sometimes healing comes in sharing our suffering. I am still in this battle. I am still fighting the fight and seeking healing from the wound that fear has left me with. But I am here to share, heal, relate, encourage, and walk alongside some of you that may be experiencing some of the same things. I have made some strides forward, and I know I am on the road to healing, but this did not come without intervention, courage, deep digging, tears, honesty, and that complete vulnerability that I told you earlier I was so afraid of.

As I mentioned earlier, I have always struggled with fear, but it seems that I have started to fear more as I have gotten older. As I have received more responsibilities. As I have gained more to care for and care about. As I have had more to lose. Over the last few months I found myself waking up everyday feeling fearful and anxious. Sometimes about something specific, and other times just feeling that way for reasons I didn’t even know. I had frequent dreams that confirmed and encouraged my fears, or that created new fears that I hadn’t even considered yet. If I didn’t wake up feeling that way, it came. It seemed as though I could not escape one day without fear making its appearance. Without reaching a point of feeling like I couldn’t breathe and of complete desperation. I tried everyday to fight back and overcome this so that I did not have to deal with it, and so that it would not get to a point where I had to get others involved. I would have No Longer Slaves playing in the background of my mind everyday, singing along with the lyrics that say “I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God,” and trying to believe it was true. But I was undoubtedly a slave to fear. Fear and anxiety had me shackled, and I was serving it, obeying it, and revolving my life around it. At this point, the enemy had pushed me to a peak of great weakness that I had lost any and all strength to fight back. I was giving up and Satan just kept throwing punches.

I kept asking God, why? Why now? Why me? I knew the answer in my head, but my heart failed to follow. It wasn’t God that was doing this to me, it was this spirit of fear. This spirit of fear was not from God because 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” So the question was not why God, but more of why is this spirit of fear attacking me so relentlessly now? I could think of no other reason than to keep me from what God has for me. God has something in store for me, a plan, for His glory, and maybe that is coming sooner rather than later. So the enemy acted now. He knows where I am weak, he made me vulnerable, and he attacked me there. I can’t help but think that Satan was trying really hard to keep me from whatever it is that God has coming. We all know that there is nothing that the enemy hates more than God gaining more followers and God being glorified. This crippling fear was succeeding in accordance with Satan’s plans in every way. It was affecting my attitude, my behavior, my thoughts, my actions, my work, my marriage, everything. And those seemingly small things have the power to prevent and hinder whatever plan God has for me to fulfill. You see, it’s a domino effect. Satan wasn’t directly targeting some master plan that God has for me, he was crippling me in the smaller places that, if not fulfilled in accordance with the Lord, had the power to keep me from the “master plan.” The fear was affecting my attitude and behavior, which was in turn affecting my actions, which was in turn affecting my marriage. You get the idea. It was subtle attacks in the seemingly small parts of my everyday where Satan was finding victory, winning the small battles to prevent the ultimate win for Christ.

So where did I go from here? Honestly, I didn’t go anywhere. I didn’t do anything to help myself. I just continued to internalize and thought it would all go away on its own. I could handle it myself. You see, I have this selfish flaw of being extremely independent and thinking I can do everything myself. Which obviously I am nothing and can do nothing without Jesus, and thankfully I have a husband that knows this about my character. Not only does he know this about me, but he has no fear in calling me out in it and intervening. So that is exactly what happened.

During the first week of May, my husband and I took a road trip together to Alabama for a very short work trip of mine. He so kindly tagged along for a full day of driving, a full day of work, another full day of driving, and hardly any sleep in between. I felt bad that he endured this not so great trip with me, but I am rejoicing that he did because God used the time that we had together, the many many hours in the car, to bring forth conversation and healing for me. God intervened on Mitchell’s behalf and used him to help rescue me. God had a plan all along that I couldn’t see, that I could not have even hoped for. But should I be surprised? God always seems to work like that. Here I was, feeling bad that I dragged Mitchell along with me on this trip, and I could see no good coming from it. Satan was even stirring fear up in me about this trip. That I would suffer the consequences for “forcing” my husband to come with me. He was making me live in fear and reconsider Mitchell coming at all. Satan was fighting me because he knew this was the end of the road for him and the spirit of fear that he had instilled in me for so long. He tried to keep the healing from happening, but this time he was not victorious.

I had told Mitchell about some of the fear that was controlling me, but I had not let him in far enough for him to know the true extent of it. He knew though, without me having to tell him, and decided to try and do something about it on our car ride home from Alabama. It was a huge leap of faith for him, having no idea the extent to which fear was holding me captive and having no idea if any of his attempts for healing and restoration would work. But thankfully he cares enough about me and stands so firm in Jesus that he was willing to try anyways. I did not seek Mitchell out for this, I didn’t even seek God out for this. But God sought me out, and used Mitchell to do it. It was the best way for Him to get to me, through someone so surrendered to the Lord and through someone I care about more than anyone in the world. Jesus met me where I was at when we invited Him into our little Subaru.

Mitchell began asking me questions about my fear, not necessarily so that he could better understand, but so that I would. That I would find answers and healing. He began praying over me as I was driving (bad idea because I just started crying), breaking generational ties of fear in the name of Jesus, and casting out this spirit of fear that had made itself a home in me for so long. He surrendered himself and me to God, and in that moment, divine intervention took place. I was set free. I found healing in my tears. I could not believe that someone (Mitchell) cared enough about me to pray this thing away, especially when he didn’t understand it and when I didn’t understand it enough to even explain it to him. That he would allow God to move through him in such a way that cast this spirit of fear out of me and to the feet of Jesus for judgement. He shared with me after that as he was praying for me, he was looking at me, and for a brief moment he closed his eyes. When they were closed he saw 2 yellow eyes staring at him, just for a moment, and then they were gone. As if the spirit of fear was angrily staring at him because we had won, Jesus had won. As if the spirit of fear was saying, “How dare you? Come into my home after all of these years and kick me out just like that?”

Now, I am not sure where you stand in your belief of spiritual warfare and casting spirits out in the name of Jesus. Honestly, if you would have asked me how I felt about it all back in high school and maybe even college, I would have told you that it freaked me out a little. So if you’re feeling that way by reading this story, that’s ok, I understand. What I want you to know is that spiritual warfare is real, and the healing power of God is real. Spiritual warfare may not always be the cause behind your struggle, but it could be a factor to consider. Satan is at work and we are in battle against him everyday. For me, the spiritual battle with my fear was what I needed to be healed from. In that moment of Mitchell praying over me, casting out the spirit of fear in me and ending generational ties of fear within me, I was set free. The spirit of fear no longer resides in me, and has now found its way to the judgement of Jesus. However, this does not mean it is not always going to be trying to find its way back in. I may be free, but I can never stop fighting.

I mentioned this verse earlier, but I want you to read 2 Timothy 1:7 with me again, and really look at all of its parts this time, seeking to understand all of what it means. “...for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (ESV). So God does not give us a spirit of fear. We have established this. Got it. But it doesn’t end there. Not only does he not give us a spirit of fear, but he gives us something else instead. He gives us a spirit of power, love, and self-control. So, what does that mean and how do I get this power and love and self-control from God?

As much as I did not want to let someone into my pain and suffering, I needed someone. You need someone. Don’t be like me. You need to seek out that person, or people, in your life that can help you and point you to Christ. Someone that you trust and that will be honest with you. Someone that can pray for you and pray over you. Someone that can walk alongside of you down the road towards healing. Someone that will never give up on you or leave you, and that will fight alongside of you as long as it takes. For me, that person was my husband, but for you this could be a spouse, a friend, a sibling, a parent, a spiritual leader, or another family member. When you let this person, or these people, into your fear and suffering, you are no longer alone. Don’t fight this alone. And by letting them in, you experience that spirit of love that God so graciously gives us. Mitchell had no idea what I was going through. He did not relate to me in it, and did not understand it. But he loved me so much to allow God to use him to help me. I experienced love from him, and in his love for me, I experienced Christ’s love.

In Mitchell’s faith and faithfulness I experienced the power of God. I received the spirit of His power. This spirit of power that is mentioned in 2 Timothy is not our own, but God’s. It is God’s power that worked in and through Mitchell. It is God’s power that cast this spirit of fear out of me and set me free. It is God’s power that now resides in me to help me fight and continue to bring victory. Even though I may have the power of Christ to be victorious, in order to remain victorious I must tap into the spirit of self-control, or as some translations say, self-discipline. Like I said earlier, just because the spirit of fear is gone, doesn’t mean that it is going to stop trying to enter back into my life. I have to establish self-discipline by finding the strength to keep fighting. I need to find my strength by spending time with Jesus in prayer and in His word, by continuing to pray over myself, and by allowing others to pray for me and over me. I need to surround myself with His truths to combat the lies that may be thrown my way.

As mentioned before, I did not write this post to let you know how perfect my life is now, and how I came out on the other side of this battle. I am still in it. I will always be in it. I have made some great strides in healing, but I still need to focus on enabling those spirits of power, love, and self-discipline to come alive in me everyday. I want to encourage you that you are not alone. You are not fighting alone, and God has given you tools to fight and be victorious. Find them. Use them. Fight back. Get others involved. Stand firm in His truths and in who you are in Christ. Allow His spirit of power, love, and self-control to establish themselves in you and bring you victory in your war. Search for the deeper problem and cut it off at its roots. For you are not a slave to fear, but YOU are a child of God. You are Beloved by the Most High King, and you can bravely march into your battles trusting that the victory is already yours in Christ Jesus.