“Teri, don’t stop writing.” Uncomplicated words, but how those words served to re-ignite my creativity and boost my spirit. Those words came from one of my favorite sisters in Christ, Vera. She delivered this gentle reminder to me after one of the church Bible study classes. As always, the Kipper (her last name)blessed me. 🙂 She had no way of knowing I was in the midst of some heavy Christian struggles.
You gotta understand how Christian struggles impact you, Christian Woman of Valor!
I think stress and struggle impacts us all, don’t you?
There is no “one size fits all” type of impact so there is definitely no “one size fits all” approach to dealing with it. So, I will share what helps me in hopes that it helps you.
Reconcile the fact you will be affected by…life.
Regardless of who you are, or how strong (or weak) your spiritual muscles are, you’d better believe you are touched by life’s pressures.
I know I am.
If anything steals my creativity, it’s stress, struggle and drama.
You know what I mean, when you go through life’s challenges, it can knock the wind completely out of our sails. Others dig a hole in the sand and plunge their head in it.
Either way, it’s gonna “mess” with ya.
Some people withdraw from people.
Other folks eat their anxiety (can you say chocolate chip cookies?)
Still, in the worst-case scenario, some people sleep through the pain with the help of pills or liqueur. No good. This never ends well.
The key is finding an outlet that builds you up, not tears youdown.
For me personally, I lean toward eating. Actually, I eat whether times are good or bad…happy or sad. 🙂 I just like yummy food. Eating is definitely my “go-to” stress reliever.
It’s not the best option, but it’s my pattern. *sigh*
Do you comfort eat too?
Regardless, we all need an outlet of sorts.
As far as “escapes” go, my close second is writing.
However, though, the biggest effect Christian struggles have on me is it completely thwarting my creativity. I can think of ideas, but not create or bring them to fruition for some strange reason. It’s like I have nothing to say in my writing.
Eating doesn’t help either. Thankfully, Vera’s words of encouragement did. Her support helped me a great deal, but I still needed my ultimate remedy. Before I share it, let me tell ya what else doesn’t work.
GIRL, THIS NEVER WORKS!!!!!
Over time, although a popular option, I’ve learned pity parties simply don’t help anything. Don’t believe the hype.
Sister, engaging in one is an utter waste of time!
When I’m muddling through my Christian struggles, those little self-pity sessions feel good for a little while, then they just take a toll and I feel worse than when I started! They just keep me from moving forward.
Pity parties are like revving your car engine when the car is in neutral. It does nothing! You will likely end up going “somewhere” (like rolling for a few feet), but not because of your effort and not to the place you’d hope to have gone. Does that make sense, Christian Lady?
I’m talking to you and me here!
Let’s talk about what does work for me during my own Christian travails?
So, my response (after eating and my pity parties) is to run to that “secret place of the Most High”. Girl, I fall to my knees.
I could lie and say it’s ALWAYS my first response. But it is not. Sometimes running straight to the Lord is the immediate course of action, still some other times, I give myself a “moment” to just be a full-blown pity party participant. Yeah, I do.
I don’t think it’s always a bad idea though. Life will deal you times you just need to “be”…sort of like Elijah did when the raven came to feed him.
He had met his breaking point and wanted to wallow a bit. God lets me have those. I just don’t get to “camp out” in them. Nor do you.
After I come to my senses and deal with my Christian struggles, then there is the Word and Prayer.
Ahhh yes, scripture. That’s where I find advice and direction. I hear from God “hot off the press.”
Comfort comes in prayer time too. Doing both of these often is all I need to get back on track and be creative again.
Add to that the release I get when I journal, write, and encourage others – not long after, I’m hopeful again. I feel better. Writing to encourage is my life’s breath. What is yours? You have to know. It is important you know.
Isn’t it ironic the enemy of my soul attacks that very area of my life (my purpose) when I’m in my Christian struggles?
When life is busy or hard I can’t think of anything to write about. So, I don’t even try and during those times I miss out on my spiritual outlet. It’s so stupid and I often fall for it every time.
He goes after the very thing that brings me relief, joy, and even peace? He goes after the reason I’m alive.
In my opinion, Jesus should call a spiritual “foul” when the enemy does attack my purpose, but, I guess He did that on the cross, huh? I’ll talk about that in a moment.
Can you relate? Does the enemy attack the place in your life you feel most useful? Does your creativity or your gift seem hampered when you’re navigating Christian struggles?
If you’re a Christian blogger, I bet you can totally relate.
Free writing and journaling
Journaling here on GodsyGirl reminds me of my humanity and my need for the Father. My expression here helps me so much, and judging from the regular emails (and stats); others are helped too.
My time with you mysteriously ignites my spiritual imagination and forces me to recall God’s faithfulness, power, and strength in my life.
It also holds me accountable, because as I write about lessons learned in writing, I remember them afresh. As a result, when I’m tempted to fall back into my old behaviors I can be conscious of it and even stop the process.
Discover or rediscover your creativity!
All this to say, don’t allow anything to hamper your creativity or ability to be a blessing, Christian woman. Sure, life is difficult sometimes.
So what. Whatever gift God has given you, stir it up – even in the midst of your Christian struggles – so you can bless the Lord as you share it with the Body of Christ. You have a purpose. Don’t forget that.
Exercising your creativity energizes your spirit and helps you re-focus on Jesus (and not on life’s Christian struggles).
When you see your creativity produce something, you can look back and say “Wow, God! Look what you have done through me!”
Do it anyway, Girl!
You won’t want to do those creative things in the struggling season. Yo, what difference does it make what you want to do? You have a purpose!
As you’re navigating the muck and mire of hard times, I challenge you (and me) to do what we love anyway. Exercise your gift in spite of your feelings.
Moving forward, that is what I’ll try to do.
I hope I can. No, I will determine to do it! Not sure what it will look like forcing myself to write, but I will. 🙂
Update: As I’m refreshing this post I’m reminded of one of the young moms at my church. She put some of her art on Instagram. It was dynamite! When I saw her I told her so! She chuckled and said, “I didn’t know I could draw like that either“.
That’s what exercising our creativity does! It shows us who awesome we are usually when you need to be reminded most.
Besides that it’s therapeutic.
Again, whatever your gift; walk in it and enjoy it, Girl. Whatever your struggles use your gifts to feed your spirit while you trust your God.
A Christian woman’s strength and faith.
Psst…Satan is going to spiritually sucker punch you … that’s all there is to it. Creativity aside, hard times will come.
Today there will be attacks from the enemy. Tomorrow too.
There will be critics, saboteurs, controlling people, and haters.
Sorry, it’s part of being a Christian woman. It’s part of being a human. It’s just life. You’re going to have seasons of strain.
Jesus promised we would have tribulations and He was right.
Rest assured …Christians are ready and equipped for any battle.
If you are not a Christian, you are on the wrong side of life’s fight and completely powerless against the prince of the cosmos.
On the other hand, Christians have access to every spiritual resource! We can quickly access a sword to fight (the Word of God).
Hey, I can show you better than I can tell you. Check out your armor!
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
GIRL, REMEMBER YOU ARE A SOLDIER IN GOD’S ARMY!
(Yes, I meant to use all caps. 🙂
You fight with weapons that are mighty to the PULLING DOWN of strongholds and everything that rises against the knowledge of God!
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,2 Corinthians 10:3-5
Don’t let the battle or those Christian struggles get you down!
Ignore the wicked, petty, or negative people who are not event saved. Don’t let them get you down.
Pray for the weak Christians who allow Satan to use them to attack you.
Know who you are and the power in you! You are God’s girl, the very Holy Spirit of God is inside you!
You got something better than the weapons of Wakanda 🙂 *Sorry, I love Black Panther*
Anyway…you’ve got Jesus!
Take your place, walk in love, and do your thing!
Amen? Don’t let the haters stop you. Walk in your creativity.
Speaking of Godly creativity…
My blogging friend wrote a book and I’m so happy for her success!
Those of you who have been around GodsyGirl.Com for a while may remember frequent comments, love, and support from Mangiabella.
Well, she wrote a children’s book!
I’m so thrilled for her new venture.
I could be wrong, but I think she and I started blogging around the same time.
The point is, you know she had moments of Christian struggle while planning for and creating her book. I’m sure she did. But, I’ll bet she operated in her gift anyway.
The result is an awesome book! I’ve already purchased one!
Please check out her book (and buy it) on Amazon.Com. The title is “Jacq & the Moon” by Jaime Carrillo .
I’ll say, there is nothing better than seeing someone you know or follow prosper.
Remember, God has enough blessings for everyone, so celebrate the successes of others!
You’ll feel a bubbly excitement and joy just as I do for Jaimie!
It’s a great feeling! Cheer them on and you keep moving forward yourself, ok? Just as He is working in the lives of others, He’s working in yours too!
It may not feel like it, but He is at work in your life.
Seeing God at work in our lives can take a little effort on our part.
You must be active in the battle for your peace and creativity. What did I say? You need your armor on, you need to pray and you need to be rooted in scripture during life’s challenges.
I know it can be hard. but hard is not impossible!
For me, when I don’t spend time with God, it’s tougher for me to recognize Him at work in my life.
It doesn’t matter. He’s still working.
He works in good things, He is at work in bad things, He’s even at work in “NO THINGS (i.e. when nothing seems to be progressing).”
He’s God and He’s using everything in our lives for good. I just have to let God use me during the battle and after it.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.Romans 8:28
Again, when I don’t spend time with Him, I often miss that point and the very ability to see beyond what I’m going through.
Time with God is CRITICAL!
It may “appear” like all hell has broken loose. But, it hasn’t.
Turn off the television, stop listening to people with limited faith, and trust your God to work in impossible situations.
He can. Pray that God will open your eyes so that you may see with eyes of faith.
What trips me up is…
I can easily get caught up with what I see, feel, hear, and think. Does that happen to you too? I know it does.
Do you sometimes focus so much on the Christian struggles of life you forget to look for the supernatural work of the Lord in it all? Man, I do.
How I get around living in stress and fear…
Here is what I think. I figure if I’m in close fellowship with the Lord, I’m able to see with supernatural eyes and recognize Him more clearly.
Time with Him rests my carnal (logical) perspective a little. It really does.
It quiets it and helps me to see what really matters and that is seeing God at work in my life.
It bears repeating: God is at work…always at work even in your Christian struggles.
Your heavenly Father is indeed busy threading your experiences, disappointments, and pain into a beautiful testimony.
Don’t miss Him at work in your life, Christian Woman!
He’s always propelling you toward your purpose!
It’s all rather simple when you think about it— then, again it’s not.
Have you heard of “KISS”? I’m not talking about the Prince song.
I’m talking about the whole “Keep it simple stupid” thing.
It always makes me a little mad when I hear someone – like a speaker – use it. As if they are calling me a name, I get a little in my feelings. Hahaha
In the first place, some things in life can never be simple. Plus, that whole “stupid” part ticks me off.
The sentiment or intent of the phrase makes sense, but it’s just not practical to think everything in life can be chiseled down to a neat, simplistic point.
I have an example. The other day someone at work asked my advice on creating a training module. As a training manager, I knew exactly how to advise.
My response was for her to start with the end in mind. For example, I told her to write 3 learning objectives outlining what trainees should learn and what competencies they should cultivate.
Another colleague chimed in and blathered “Oh, just keep it simple”.
In my opinion, she meant no harm even though she sounded dumb. She just wanted me to “just tell her” how to create the training.
Little did she know quality trainings don’t “just” happen. Instructional design requires a touch more planning.
Any success is the end result of several small steps. Very little in life just happens – training is no different.
Neither is trusting God amid a bunch of life chaos.
Guess what! I have another example. I love examples!
Anyway, say you attend a wildly successful conference, more than likely people worked very hard behind the scenes to bring it all to pass.
Folks likely researched, made detailed lists, and generated lots of resources to pull off that huge amazing event. Some intentionality was involved. Someone made an effort.
Last one! I promise!
To further illustrate this point, think of a Christian man or woman you admire. Someone who has made a great mark for the Kingdom of God.
I’m sure their Christian witness is the result of many smaller, intentional processes that occurred years before. She/he didn’t “just” become a strong Christian by osmosis.
They likely spent ample time in their Word, they likely endured TONS of spiritual battles (like the ones you go through).
No one told them “just be a Christian” and suddenly they were a spiritual powerhouse! Girl, please.
You can be sure they put the work in.
I’ll bet they have read lots of books about the Christian walk, researched Biblical texts, and even memorized scripture while transforming and renewing their mind.
Prayer is also probably a huge part of their whole maturation process.
They likely “soul trained” as illustrated in my favorite book of the moment, “The Good and Beautiful God: Falling in Love with the God Jesus Knows” by James Bryan Smith.
My cousin and mentor, Eileen Epps Hamilton introduced me to this book.
Check out her blog, “In the Word Ministries: http://itwministries.org/
Back to the point, your super cool Christian silenced the “noise” and found time to be alone with Jesus. I bet he or she fought on day by day to be strong in the Lord. All the while, God had a desired “end result” for them. That end result is what you likely admire in them now. Little by little…it happened, they became who they are to you.
Some stuff is easy; some stuff requires hard work…
Anyhow, my point is: some things can happen rather simply; others not so much.
Being able to navigate Christian struggles while retaining your creativity requires mini-steps and contributions that can keep you thriving and producing in your life.
Most things, in my summation, only seem simple to those looking in from the outside.
After all, they often have no clue of the sacrifice and work invested.
Same for you. You have to go through the processes. You’re already an overcomer by identity. You just need to become one by practice.
Appearances can be misleading. That’s where faith comes in to play. It can appear God is doing nothing to help in your Christian struggle, but He is.
It can seem as though He is asleep at the wheel, go out to lunch or even on an extended vacation. But, He is not.
By faith and not by sight.
Good thing we are not saved by what “appears” to be so or what things “seem” like, right?
Nope, we have a much more solid foundation than feelings or appearances.
For we live by faith, not by sight.2 Corinthians 5:7
Going by what you “see” can totally zap your energy and your creativity during the challenging times. Don’t rely on it. Go by what you KNOW and you know God is on the throne.
He ain’t confused in heaven, Christian Girlie!
The Word of God clearly states that God is a God who neither slumbers nor sleeps. He is always in control and fully aware of what goes on in the lives of men – especially those who belong to Him.
Don’t you dare allow the enemy to fool or deceive you with that “where is/was God?” crap. He is with you working it all out for your good.
That type of thinking makes me angry and I know it must frustrate the Lord too.
God cares about you..for real.
Girl, He still knows we are but feeble masses of flesh. It’s so cool and mind-boggling how patient He is with us.
You know what else I love?
I love that the Bible is chock full of stories of people who could have easily felt forgotten and wondered if God was on hiatus like we sometimes feel.
For example, when Moses went up to the mountain, the children of Israel had to wonder “what the heck is going on?” or “What’s up with this dude leaving us down here?” They were childish and turned to things other than God. We can’t be that way.
Don’t be a big, “ole” spiritual baby in the struggle!
Again, we simply need to trust Him regardless of how things “look” during our Christian struggles. That’s faith!
Go ahead, operate in your life and your gift by that faith!
After all, faith is the cornerstone of Christianity.
Actually, sometimes, it’s also the most difficult part of it too.
Still, faith is essential in ensuring the peace of God reigns and guards our hearts all of the time.
Camp your nerves, Christian Woman!
As a result, close your spiritual eyes, Christian sister, and just fall back into the arms of a loving God. He’s going to carry you through each and every one of the Christian struggles that come your way.
Trust that He is strong and powerful enough to take excellent care of you. He loves you so much.
Might as well…
After all, no amount of struggling, worrying, or striving can accomplish one iota of what faith in the all-powerful God can do.
You might as well be still and know that He is God in three beautiful persons. Again, you are equipped. You are covered!
Jesus intercedes for you, the Holy Spirit guides, energizes, and directs you and the Father is the great I AM.
You’re more than protected in your Christian struggles.
God of the universe can do anything. Anything.
We still have a part to play, remember?
I’m intentionally telling you this over and over so it sears into your brain muscle. We always have a role in our deliverance.
Pray, Girl! Use your spiritual disciplines!
God moves as His people pray and as His people pray, He moves.
(How clever, I must remind myself of that often). 🙂
You can’t doubt for one minute that God is working it all out.
Wisdom for me…moving toward the practical.
“You’re doing too much” said Eileen.
“Girlie, you need to rest” says Cheryle.
“You’ve got to take care of yourself” my mom said.
“Lord told you to start slowing down” my mother-in-law declared at me.
“Teri, you’re just too busy” griped Michelle.
During the last several years, my immune has been astonishing low. It seems that I can catch a cold from someone across town!
I tried vitamins – for a while.
I tried scaling back my commitments – for a few weeks and I even tried getting eight hours of sleep and eating right – for about a month.
I’m sure it does.
The problem is that we don’t do what I heard a famous country singer call “putting ourselves on the list”.
If we don’t make self-care a priority, the walls of life begin to slowly close in on us and soon we fall into a dangerous cycle of self-neglect.
Spiritually, we can be absolutely beasts, but physically we’re too weak to exercise our creativity.
Do you know what I mean?
Picture it: there you are, taking care of everyone else.
You ride your ambitions to wonderful projects only to cheat the process because you are not taking care of yourself.
This self-neglect does a ghastly disservice to everything (and everyone).
Spiritually, you give birth to great ideas, but because of your weakened physical state, you’re not able to nurture, support, or complete any of them. Sad.
I am determined about doing very little in the evening so I can be available for my family.
Unfortunately, all the stuff I would do during the day would leave me drained by evening. All wrong.
I recently agreed to take a speaking engagement.
As I reviewed my bio the Holy Spirit showed me something.
It looked like a road map to China! I am all over the place! Writing, speaking, mentoring, working a new part-time gig and the list goes on and on!
So, after an physical attack that made my left arm numb for hours, brought heart-wrenching pain and put me in the back of an ambulance, I opted to change my ways forever.
How, you ask?
I have learned the power of “NO”. I can’t do everything well-meaning folks want me to do. Heck, I can’t do everything I want to do. My body just won’t allow it. I’ve learned to say “N-O” with the grace of a raging bull.
In fact, just since I’ve started writing this blog post, I have declined a speaking engagement and a new SEO project! It’s not that I don’t want to do these things; it’s just that I cannot.
My plate is already full. Aaaah, sweet progress, right?
Finally, take care of your physical body as you experience Christian struggles.
You should be fully aware by now that you have to stay spiritually grounded as you go through life problems.
You have to also push through the urge to do absolutely nothing. Stir up your gift operating your creativity and know that God is working everything out for your good. Nothing is wasted.
Now it’s time to talk a bit more practical. Have you ever noticed when you go through hard times you seem more tired physically?
You (and me too) need to take care of your physical body. You need to eat right and you need to spend time on things that fuel your body as well as your spirit. It’s a package deal. They both need you!
Honestly, it’s easier for me to take care of myself spiritually that it is physically. I’m terrible at taking care of myself. I hate taking vitamins, I don’t like exercise and I like to eat all the bad things rather than the good things. Honey, I will reach for a Snicker bar over a piece of fruit any day of the week. That’s just me.
Unfortunately, that won’t work when you’re going through a hard time. It simply will not. It takes physical sttrength to get through the day when times are “heavy.”
Today I challenge myself to do better. I hope it inspires you to do the same.
Here’s the self-care I promise myself moving through my Christian trials (and all the time, I hope):
1. I will no longer prepare a meal for my family only to have a cookie and a coke in front of the computer.
2. I pledge to eat some kind of healthy breakfast every day.
3. I am determined to bring some activity to my life – be it yoga or walking with my DVD.
4. I will drink at least five glasses of water a day (that’s the best I can do for now).
5. I will say “no” more often than I say “yes” for the rest of the year. Further, when I’m tired I will stop and give my body the rest it craves.
6. I will take at least a multi-vitamin every day.
7. I will allow myself frequent time to read a book I enjoy – regularly.
8. In adding myself to the list, I promise to let myself “off the hook” when everything is not perfect. That Proverbs 31 Woman stuff will kill ya!
9. From this day, I will scale back my consulting business, trainings, websites and technical assistance projects. I’ll trust God to guide my career. If I miss Him and make a wrong decision, He’s big enough to find me and re-position me. Today, I trust Him with everything, instead of trying to be everything.
10. I can’t think of a #10 right now. Any ideas you can share about how you take care of yourself?
That’s it! An exhaustive encouragement effort to guide you and me through our Christian struggles.
One thing for sure. If you’re not going through a Christian struggle now, you will. It is the cycle of life.
Keep on creating. I will.
In my case, I won’t stop writing.
Keep on moving and keep on trusting Jesus, Christian lady!
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