A few years ago I attended a church service where a guest pastor was speaking. He was one of my local favorites and I was sitting on the edge of my seat in anticipation to hear what the Lord had laid on his heart. His message did not disappoint and I left there pondering the words he’d spoken.
This man has been through much in his personal life and I’ve always felt that he speaks not only with confidence because of his personal experience but with anointing because He has been faithful to the Lord through it all.
There is just something powerful about a word spoken from difficult places, it resonates deep.
To this day I remember one of the bullet points of his message, something he was trying to drive home in the hearts of those listening. It was about deep waters. If you live any length of life at all you know that life is going to throw difficult times your way, times you don’t think you’ll be able to survive because of the pain or sorrow or stress.
Times when we are dragged out into the deep end of the pool whether we can swim or not.
A few nights ago I was having a bout with insomnia and was struggling to rest, not just physical rest but rest in my spirit, when I had a dream. As I lay there praying and tossing I must’ve fallen into a light slumber because next thing I knew I was fighting the current in a river. I couldn’t touch and I was desperate to swim against the power of the water, I wanted to go upstream.
Don’t ask me why I wanted to go upstream, I just did. It was in the moment of my greatest struggle, when fear for my safety was nearly unbearable, I heard a voice so strong in my mind say, “Why are you fighting?” Wait, what? I’m fighting for my life, I thought it was pretty obvious. Again, the voice, “If you would relax and let the water carry you, you wouldn’t be so tired and afraid. It wouldn’t be so hard.”
Then I woke up.
I laid on my pillow, my heart still racing from my very real dream, and thought about what I had just experienced in my mind; me, gasping for air, trying desperately to stay above water yet slowly losing the battle. And then the calm voice telling me to relax and let the water carry me.
That made me think, why DO I fight? What am I fighting for or against?
Why the struggle?
The obvious thing would have been to let the current take me and see where I ended up. But, instead I fought hard against it. I don’t remember seeing any type of land in my dream that I might’ve been heading for, just me trying to fight the current.
It slowly dawned on me in those early morning hours that my dream was a picture of my life.
The changing seasons of life are trying to pull me along and I’m fighting it for all I’m worth. I fight change, fear, death, the unknown, all the things that I can’t see. I fight because, well, because isn’t that what you’re supposed to do when you don’t know what’s ahead. Fight to stay safe?
But, laying there in the stillness of the night, I realized there has been no safety in the fighting.
So many of the things I’ve been fighting to escape have already happened despite my struggle. I’ve had so much change in the last three years I don’t even recognize my life sometimes. Death has pierced its sharp talons into my heart, children have grown and departed to chase dreams, and I feel like I face one unknown after another.
Nothing looks familiar anymore.
So how do I deal with this season of my life? This season of constant upheaval. How do I change from fighting what’s inevitable to floating with the current?
From denial to acceptance?
I am not an expert on such things, obviously, as I’ve shared so many of my struggles with you. But, the Lord is currently teaching me a thing or two and I want to share them with those of you who may have some of the same struggles.
Dead space in my head is my enemy. “What?” You say. Let me explain. For example, when I put on my make-up in the morning, I pretty much follow the same exact routine every day. Foundation, cover up, eyeshadow, mascara, you get the idea. Well, while I am doing this ritual, my mind is pretty much in neutral, at least that’s what I thought.
Recently, I began to realize while I was staring in the mirror, my mind was actually rehearsing negative situations and thoughts. Difficult relationships, awkward moments, things I wish I had said differently all dancing in my head like visions of sugar plums, only not so pleasant. One scenario after another would play out in my mind making me feel small, insecure, troubled and basically like a failure.
Who knew so much could happen between application of foundation and finishing up with lipstick?
Now I’m learning a new way to fill my mind with positive, encouraging thoughts first thing in the morning. I stream in Praise and Worship radio. I’m finding a way to fill my ears and thus my mind with uplifting words. I call it “setting my day up for success.” Sounds so simple, but I would be willing to bet there is someone else out there who can relate to me, someone who starts their day off with negative commentary inside their head. Maybe some type of inspirational music would work for you too!
Sometimes the simplest of things can be overlooked and yet they are the solution to a bigger problem.
I went for a walk this afternoon and I made sure that something uplifting was playing in my earbuds the whole time. I just can’t be trusted to leave my mind on its own for a second it seems, it heads straight down negative, scary roads. Our minds are powerful and if left to their own vices, they will take you places you don’t want to go. Start looking for vulnerable thought patterns, times when you aren’t really paying attention to what is going on in your head.
Fill your mind with GOOD things, be deliberate about it.
Pay attention to what you allow into your mind because it will
eventually influence your heart.
A couple of mornings ago I was following my new routine of positive input while putting on my make-up when a song came on that has been ringing in my ears ever since. It talks about listening to the “Voice of Truth.” There are many voices that vie for our attention, but only one carries the truth.
Which one are you listening to today? We all have a choice to make, just like in my dream. HIS voice is asking us which voice we will choose. Will we listen to the truth or continue to struggle and fight to stay above water?
I’m learning to keep the calm truths of Jesus rolling through my mind instead of the fears and doubts that constantly want to overtake it. I can tell you it’s not something I expect to overcome soon. I’ve got a lot of negative thought patterns to break. But, I won’t give up. I am learning some new skills and putting them into practice one day at a time.
I guess I’m learning to float and not to fight; I’m listening to the one who not only calms the water, but walks on it too.
Romans 12: (NIV)
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Isaiah 43:2 ESV
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”