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7 Ways to Find Strength When You’re in the Middle of a Mess
Women of Faith speaker, author, recording artist
7 Ways to Find Strength When You’re in the Middle of a Mess
Life is messy. I don’t think that will come as any great surprise. If you’ve lived more than thirty minutes you know that life is both beautiful and broken. Over the years the number one question I’ve been asked more than any other is this, “How do I find strength when I’m right in the middle of a mess?”
Not all messes are huge. Some are just the daily annoying things we have to do over and over, the endless laundry or trying to find one more way to cook chicken. But some messes are overwhelming and it’s hard to know where to turn when it feels as if life is falling apart. My struggle is with clinical depression which can be hard to talk about in the Church where mental illness is not always understood or acknowledged. I used to think I was the only one but I know that’s not true. Whatever your mess is, you’re not alone either.
Here are a few simple things that have helped me. I pray they help you too.
1. Call on the name of Jesus.
Start here. It sounds so simple but there is power in the name of the Lord.
Are you fed up with your own solutions and ready for real healing to occur? Simply call on the name of Jesus. Even if that is the extent of your prayer, say His name. Call on His name. I have done this so many times when I’ve been in really big messes.
Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.
When Jesus called on His Father, He was basically reminding God of His pain. “It’s heavy, it’s weighty, it’s hard.”
During my own darkest places, I have learned to be gut-level honest with Jesus and let Him know how I’m feeling.
“Then I called on the name of the Lord: “Lord, save me!”
Psalms 116:4 (NIV)
2. Acknowledge your pain.
It’s okay not to be okay. Can you grasp that?
Are you tired of hiding and pretending, weary of acting like nothing is wrong? It’s time to acknowledge the presence of your pain and struggle.
“I’ve failed again”
“I can’t stop this addiction Lord”
“Life feels hopeless”
Finally, after pouring out His pain to the Father and accepting the burden He was called to bear, Jesus made an incredible choice. He chose to stop concentrating on the presence of pain and focus on the Father and the divine purpose for His life. This was the power that carried Him through.
“For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2 (NIV)
I love these words from Simone Weil:
“The extreme greatness of Christianity lies in the fact that it does not seek a supernatural remedy for suffering, but a supernatural use for it.”
3. Turn your face to your Father.
God is ready and waiting.
I love the story of the father and two sons in Luke 15. One rebelled and ran away and yet the father watched and waited for him every day. One refused to join the party celebrating the prodigals return so the father left the party to ask him to come in. Whether you feel as if the mess around you is your fault or the fault of someone else, your Heavenly Father is waiting to throw His arms around you.
He is near and He is listening.
At my lowest in a psychiatric hospital diagnosed with severe clinical depression, I wrote this in my journal:
“I never knew you lived so close to the floor, but every time I am bowed down, crushed by this weight of grief, I feel your hand on my head, my breath on your cheek, your tears on my neck. You never tell me to pull myself together, to stem the flow of many tears. You simply stay by my side for as long as it takes, so close to the floor.”
God is here.
4. Tell Jesus what you want.
In Mark 10 we read that Jesus had set his face toward Jerusalem. He told his closest friends that he was about to be betrayed, executed and then rise again. The weight he was bearing must have been excruciating and yet, although there was a noisy crowd all around him he heard one lone voice crying out. Do you remember? His name was Bartimaeus and he was blind.
“When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Mark 10:47 (NIV)
The crowd told him to be quiet but Jesus asked him a simple question, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Mark 10:51 (NIV)
Be specific in your prayers. Tell Jesus what you want, what you need.
5. Confess your sin.
Confession brings freedom. James encourages us this way,
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
James 5:16 (NIV)
We are not made to do this journey on our own. We need each other. I have two “safe sisters” who I can tell all my stuff to, who will love me and pray for and with me. Find one or two trustworthy friends who love Jesus and love you.
6. Be thankful.
One of the greatest pieces of advice I ever received was from Ruth Graham, the late wife of Dr. Billy Graham. She told me that even was life was at its messiest I should pour out my prayers to God but never forget, thanksgiving. She reminded me of this verse,
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Philippians 4:6 (NIV)
Thanksgiving is an act of faith in the middle of your mess.
7. Start again.
Grace doesn’t come with a sell-by date. If you’ve determined to call on the name of Jesus, to trust him and you feel as if you’ve failed, start again. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ, there is grace to pick us up each time we fall.
The enemy loves to use our brokenness to remind us how vulnerable we are. He loves to brag about how much damage has been done. He loves to make us believe that nothing has changed.
But Jesus changes everything. You can start fresh, having accepted what is broken, grieved your losses and pain, spoken the truth about your life to God and others and live a life of gratitude. You are invited to come as you are. God is for you, in the middle of your mess.
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”
Philippians 1:6 (NLT)
Sheila Walsh reveals the hardened defenses that kept her from allowing God into her deepest hurts and shares how entering into a safe place with God and practicing this daily connection with him have saved her from the devil’s prowling attacks. Though we will never be completely “fixed” on earth, we are continually held by Jesus, whatever our circumstances.
This is Sheila’s most personal book, exploring her battles with depression, opening up for the first time about her struggle with suicidal thoughts. She wants women to understand that it’s ok for them to have these feelings and they are not alone in their struggles.
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