Hitting the Spiritual Wall: How God Breaks Through When You Are Broke Down

Learning in the Isolation

I want to try and explain hitting the spiritual wall through the lens of what has been happening to us as a nation, as a global community during this coronavirus pandemic.

It is day, I- don’t-really-know-what-day-it is-because-all-the-days-run-together, of the lockdown that we have been placed in.


There is much that I have learned from this unusual experience; some good, some bad; some wanted and some unwanted. One thing I can say with absolute certainty:

There is revelation in the isolation.

It has been a crash course in a classroom of harsh reality with God as the consummate teacher pointing to the scripture on the blackboard:

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.”

If we are good students, we better be taking notes.

And so I scribble things in a journal I will probably never read again, and the bell rings and class is dismissed.

I stay in my seat in an empty classroom. It’s just me and God now. I look at my Teacher for permission to leave, but I don’t.


I don’t because I see the look on His face and it frightens me; although somewhere deep down into the core of who I really am, I know that He doesn’t mean to frighten me.

God is looking at me as if He wants to put the kettle on the stove and talk to me over a cup of tea. He wants to tell me things, important things; the way that my grandmother did whenever we shared a cup of tea.

God wants to teach me about the spiritual wall over a hot cup of tea


As the kettle whistles and coughs white steam, God holds a teabag and whispers, “A teabag is just a teabag. Its strength only comes when it is placed in hot water.”

Being Lukewarm

A sinking feeling fills the pit of my stomach because I know, and He knows, and I know that He knows, that I am not hot water nor am I cold water, I am the worst kind of water—I am lukewarm.

I don’t want to be lukewarm, but I am. I don’t want to be lukewarm, but I know that I am choosing to be. And, like Paul, I do the things that I don’t want to do, and I don’t do the things that I know I should do.

And this time alone is like a giant mirror of self-reflection that I can’t escape from.

Here is what I have discovered—I am a runner. Lest you think too highly of me, I don’t mean that in the good way. I mean that in the most cowardly of ways.

I run to avoid.

I am like the mouse in a labyrinth that knows there is a wedge of cheese as a reward waiting for me, and I run halfway and then stop and hide in the corner; pretending the cheese isn’t there.

What am I so afraid of?

Taking me Deeper

God wants to take me deeper
God longs to take me deeper.

I love the ocean.


Living in the Midwest, going to the beach once a year is like opening the best Christmas present ever.

The closer I get to the water, the air changes and so does my soul.

I love the sound of the waves as they crash again and again in their predictable pattern, the scream of the seagulls, the tangy smell, and the way the the sand squishes between my toes.


I don’t, however, go into the ocean. I stand at the shore and allow the frothy water to cover only the lower portion of my legs… but no more. It so large and so powerful. As much as I love it, I fear it.


And so I only go so far and no further.


I like the way my feet sink deeper and deeper into the sand each time the waves roll in and out. The longer I stand there, the more I become anchored in that place and I feel in control.

The shore makes me feel safe.


I am grateful in that moment that the Lord said to Job;


“Who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed?'”


I know Jesus is calling me out into the deep. I sing the words of the song, with arms raised, and eyes closed, “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders. Let me walk upon the waters wherever you would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander. Where my faith would be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.” (from “Oceans” Hillsong United.).


And I want to mean it…but I don’t. I want to mean it…but my actions prove otherwise.

Lyrics can be sung with your mouth and not felt in your heart. I can sing all I want to and still get it wrong, and then a song is just a song.

What am I so afraid of?

What I Have Discovered


You see what I have discovered in this unprecedented time of aloneness is that I will only go so far with Jesus and then I stop.

He wants to waltz with me through this one life I have been given, but He can only lead me when my feet are willing to dance.


Typically, my life is so busy that I can keep these truths at bay. I can fill my day and my time with the frivolity of life that seems so important and I can avoid what is really important.

I fuel my time with the things of this world and I put the things of God on the back burner.
In the night watches, when sleep eludes me, I should be running to the Light of the World.

Instead, I run to the light of the cell phone screen.

Now the busyness has all been taken away and I am forced to ask myself:

Why won’t I let Him in? Why won’t I surrender? What am I so afraid of?

Every time I get close to the breakthrough, I hit a spiritual wall.

The Spiritual Wall


I know that many people hit spiritual walls.

But I believe that most people despise the wall. They beat hard against the wall with their fists.

They dig through the Word of God to find spiritual hammers they can use to strike, rip, break, fracture, and tear down the wall.


I have always found solace in the wall. The wall is a welcome reminder that I haven’t gone too far. Some walls are there to keep things in. Some walls are there to keep things out.

Each one of us must decide which of these describes our spiritual wall.
And then… the virus came.

 

 

Things Are Changing in Me Because of the Change in the World

Miraculously, I am coming out of this quarantine different than when I went in. This virus has scared me, but in many ways it has scared me straight.


Oh what the devil meant for evil, the Lord truly does use for His good!


Time, like toilet paper and loaves of bread, was something I took for granted; something I thought would always be there for me.

The luxury of “waiting for the right moment” has disappeared like large gatherings and eating at a restaurants with friends.


I have come to a place in my relationship with the Lord that I have never been before. I have walked deeper into the ocean; I’m still only knee-deep, but it’s farther than I have ever been.

My feet are ready to dance. I am running toward the cheese. I am breaking down the wall brick by brick.


When I had it all I didn’t need Him. In this time of anxiety, fear, and uncertainty, I realized that He was all I had. I have cried out to Him like never before. I have leaned into His Word like I never have before. I love Him like I never have before.
What was I so afraid of?
Avoidance was my normal.Not getting too close was my normal.Wanting to be in control was my normal.
God is breaking through when I was broken down. I am experiencing a NEW normal with Him!

While we were shutdown, God opened me up!

Amen, God bless, and may you learn to fully surrender to Him. The first step into the deep is the hardest, then you lay back and float.

Susie

All photos courtesy of unsplash.com

All scriptural references are from the English Standard Version (ESV)

7 Days of Scriptures to Combat Fear and Anxiety

The Symptoms of Anxiety

When I first noticed I was having symptoms, I wasn’t really sure what was happening. Strange things started occurring, especially during the night.

I would be asleep and then I would suddenly awaken with a multitude of physical symptoms:

  • racing heart
  • heavy chest
  • irregular breathing
  • sweaty
  • nauseous
  • feeling like the walls were closing in
  • feeling like I had to get out of the room
  • feeling like I was going to die

When I wasn’t having what I now know to be panic attacks, I would experience nervousness and dread almost all the time.

Even when things were good and calm and life was not stressful, my mind and my body was betraying me.

I had trouble sleeping; couldn’t turn off my mind. My thoughts would race like horses going around the track and never reaching the finish line.

Why My Anxiety Started

I had gone back to college when I was thirty-five to obtain my bachelor’s and my master’s degree.

It wasn’t long after I started back to school full-time that my symptoms began.

I knew I was doing a lot; going to school full-time, taking care of everything at home, trying to be a loving wife, a good friend, keep my obligations at church, and be a mom to two daughters who were 8 and 5.

Apparently, I wasn’t doing as good of a job as I thought at managing all of it.

Long nights of trying to combat anxiety and stress
Long nights of trying to overcome anxiety and stress

It Seemed Liked No One Understood

As things slowly began to unravel, and I could no longer keep what was happening to me a secret and I revealed to my husband what was going on.

He didn’t know much about anxiety and so he was sympathetic, but I felt like he believed it was an easy solution of mind -over- matter. “Just relax,” he would say as he rubbed my shoulders. “I’ll try and help out more around the house so you don’t feel so stressed.

You’ll be ok.” he added with a kiss on the forehead.

But, he didn’t understand what I was going through. I’m not sure that anyone really understands unless they have lived it themselves.

Getting the Help I Needed

I finally got the courage to see my family doctor. It was then that I got an official diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

He prescribed me an anti-depressant and recommended that I see a psychologist for some cognitive behavioral therapy. Both of which helped me tremendously.

As helpful as my doctor was in getting me on the right track to feeling more like myself again, the best thing that he did for me was to reassure me that I was not alone, that there were many people who were dealing with the same issues.

And, most importantly, he told me that there was no reason for me to feel ashamed or embarrassed about my condition.

I had a real chemical imbalance and needed medication and help to deal with it.

The Real Medication Came From the Word of God

 

 

As wonderful as the medication and the therapy were, there was one more piece of the puzzle that I found helped me immensely and that was turning to the Word of God.

 

 

 

 

For that to work, there were a few things that I needed to accept and change:

  • I had to believe that God’s Word is true
  • I had to remember that He is a loving Father
  • I had to confess that I couldn’t handle this problem on my own
  • I had to see Him as my Jehovah Rapha—the Lord Who Heals
  • I had to change my thought patterns
  • I had to change the way I spoke about myself and my situations

There are many scriptures in the Bible that deal with the subject of fear and anxiety.

I am giving you seven of them; one for each day of the week.

Strategies I Used

This is one of the strategies that I used when I was in the midst of the anxiety nightmare.

I would pick a scripture and I would recite it every day, multiple times a day. I would highlight it in my Bible, I would write it down in my journal, and I would write it on sticky notes and put the sticky notes in places where I spent a lot of time—on my bathroom mirror, on the refrigerator, in my car, as many places as I could.

Then, the next week, I would do the same thing for a different scripture.

There was something about the constant repetition of speaking it, writing it down, and seeing it everywhere that made those verses come alive for me in a way they never had before.

You can use any strategy that works for you.

Don’t Fall Into the Trap of Shame

I openly share my story because I know that there are people who are going through what I went through.

You may be confused as to what is happening, or you may know what is happening but you don’t know how to fix it.

See a doctor, get medication, get therapy if you need it, and trust the Lord who loves you and cares for you. He wants you to be healed.

7 Scriptures to Overcome Fear and Anxiety

Psalm 56:3: “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”


2 Timothy 1:7: “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”


1 Peter 5:6-7: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.


Psalm 4:8: “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

You’re Halfway Through the Week—Keep Going!


Philippians 4: 6-7: ” Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”


Isaiah 41:10: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”


Joshua 1: 9: ” Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord you God is with you wherever you go.”

The Enemy Is Out to Get Your Mind

We fight a real enemy. He wants to attack your mind. One way we can fight the enemy and combat these unhealthy thoughts is through the Word of God.

I pray that you will use these scriptures in whatever method you feel comfortable to help you fight this insidious battle.

I also encourage you to seek medical help if you need to. There is no shame in admitting that your anxiety may need to be treated by a professional.

It is important that we break the shame that is often attached to mental illness. There should be no stigmatization—even for the Christian, especially for the Christian.

I recommend reading “Rhythms of Renewal” by Rebekah Lyons. She gives some practical and faith-based advice on how to trade your anxiety for a life of peace and purpose.


I pray you find peace in the holy Word of God.

You are never alone.

Blessings,

SUSIE

All photos courtesy of unsplash.com

All scriptural references are from the English Standard Version (ESV)