Today I read something that basically said, “be who God made you to be.” It reminded me that I gave that advice to someone I love very much several years ago. She was struggling with depression and anxiety and it so grieved me to see this vibrant, passionate, witty, scary- smart person languishing, emotionally paralyzed from doing anything that I knew she could do to “set the world on fire.” I knew then and I know now that it’s what God wants each of us to do – set the world on fire with His love.
I told her then, you are not doing the things God intends for you to do, you are not living the life God wants for you, while you are mired in this lake of indecision, fear, doubt, and self-loathing. God loves you more than you can imagine, each of you reading this right now. He wants so much more for each of us. In the case of this loved one, I urged her to seek help from a behavioral health professional (a psychologist), which I am so thankful to say, she did. And her life is very different than the one she was leading then.
Where there was doubt, there is faith; where there was despair, hope; where there was sadness, joy. If you’re familiar with the Prayer of St. Francis*, you know the rest. But, as I told her then, and I’m telling you now if you don’t know this, all those negative, destructive, self-defeating feelings and attitudes are not of God. So pray and then do something to improve your state of mind, heart, and soul. Reject the evils that are trying to attach themselves to you in those three areas. Show them who’s boss.
God has the victory in eternity, but in the here and now, we get a say. We have a part to play. God wants our cooperation and our commitment to working with Him. We don’t have to doubt that Love (another name for God) wins. We just look to the cross where Jesus died for us and to the empty tomb where God rose up and ascended to Heaven.
Then death and sin were/are defeated so we can rejoice in new life. But we can’t rest on our laurels (of victory). We’ve got to keep running the race set before us, asking for God’s strength to be our strength, opening ourselves up to God’s grace to keep us focused on Him. We need to keep cooperating in this earthly realm for the things of Heaven. Our mortal life becomes easier not because there are no troubles, but because we know we have a Redeemer who took on/takes on still the sins of His created, and buys us back with His own sacrifice. And so we look to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit with great faith, hope, and love.
The joy from knowing we have a Savior like that, who will ‘march into hell’ to carry us out, is what should give us comfort, bring us joy. If you are feeling depressed, confused, defeated, unloved, unknown, misunderstood, you are not alone. There is Someone who loves you and wants you with Him. You just need to ask God in to your life, into your heart. And then do something. Whether it’s phone a friend or a suicide hotline, or a charitable organization who offers help to others, get up and move forward. I’m praying to the God who loves you to guide you in the right direction.
There may be setbacks, there may be times when you stumble or even fall. But get back up again and grab hold of the Lord who is nearer to you than your own breath. Don’t be afraid. God is there, and loves you so much, more than you can imagine. And God is rich in mercy. There is nothing you’ve done that He won’t forgive. Remember that God will never leave you or forsake you, though it can seem that way sometimes. (Tragically, we often don’t try to seek God out when we’re feeling like that.) Just try it. He’s waiting for you. You are meant for more than this. God loved you into being and is with you now.
Let me know if you need any help. I can certainly pray for you and I ask that you find someone where you live, a resource, to assist. There are people all over waiting to be God’s hands and feet and voice for you. Look for them, listen for them. This may seem like an odd post so close to the joys of Christmas Day. But really, the Incarnation (God made flesh), is about what Jesus was born to do. God with us, Emmanuel: that’s every day until the end of the world. It begins on that glorious Christmas Day. But it’s as true today as it was 2,000 years ago.
* Prayer of St. Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.