One of the things I love most about Jesus is His tender mercy. The older I get — it seems — the more aware of it I am. The more I sense His kindness, His compassion, His love toward me. It’s mostly in the little things. Those times when I’m really struggling to stay on top of my week or my day. Battling all kinds of temptations and frustrations. Wrestling with increasingly desperate thoughts and feelings.
Suddenly it’s one of those moments when He speaks directly to my heart. He shines His light in the dark places, shows me just what I need to see. Tells me what I truly need to hear.
And I love Him for it.
I’ll confess, after starting the new year strong, I’ve had a few epic weeks. And not in a good way. I don’t remember the last time I ate so much or so many of my favorite comfort foods so many days in a row. I’ve watched two or three seasons of several different shows on my Netflix list. I’ve read three novels I’ve had in my stack for a year. I’ve finished three-starring every level of the five different versions of Angry Birds on my ipad and topped all my previous high scores in Bejeweled. I’m also totally up-to-date on the lives of all of my Facebook friends, plus current news and world events, as well as recent pop culture trends — thanks to hours of mindless web surfing.
It’s not been pretty… And the longer it’s gone on, the more guilt and condemnation and self-recrimination.
Lost in a whirlwind of swirling, conflicting, confusing thoughts, I couldn’t even find a way to begin to unravel why I was unraveling.
And then I clicked on a link to a blog post shared by a friend. A few paragraphs in, I read a sentence that unleashed a torrent of tears. Not because it was especially profound in and of itself, but because suddenly Jesus was speaking to me.
A word jumped out at me that suddenly helped me grab the tiger by the tail.
It became a question:
What am I trying to escape?
It seems obvious to me now — and probably to you from the start.
All my binge-eating and binge-viewing and binge-reading and binge-surfing was an attempt to escape. Escape pain — physical and emotional. Escape painful realities, painful circumstances, painful (difficult or unpleasant) tasks. Tasks I feel unequal to. Things I don’t know how to do. Situations in which I don’t know WHAT to do. Thoughts and feelings I don’t know how to reconcile or process or put behind me. Anxiety, worry, fear.
Escape isn’t always the reason I struggle in some of these areas — with some of these unhealthy choices or ultimately self-destructive behaviors. There are other reasons.
So that’s what made this revelation such a gift.
It’s hard to face something, fight something, overcome something when you don’t know what it is.
Now that I knew, I spent some time journaling my answers to the following questions. I’m sharing them in the hopes they might also help you….
What am I trying to escape?
What difficult or unpleasant tasks?
What difficult or unpleasant circumstances?
What thoughts or memories?
What worries or fears? (To take this further, see Journal Prompt: What Am I Afraid Of?)
Looking over my own list, it’s no wonder I’ve been trying so hard to run and hide. But that’s only made it much, much worse.
So instead, I’m prayerfully working my way through it, acknowledging my thoughts and feelings, bringing them to Jesus and asking Him to help me see these things as He sees them. Some things I need to act on, and the sooner the better. Some I can now resist or refute or ignore (especially lies of the enemy). Others I must simply relinquish to Him.
Looking over my journal, I’m now speaking to my soul as the psalmist did — specific things my soul needs to hear.
Here are a few of those things:
“This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God and I trust Him.” Psalm 91:2 NLT
“There are two ways of getting out of a trial. One is to simply try to get rid of the trial, and be thankful when it is over. The other is to recognize the trial as a challenge from God to claim a larger blessing than we have ever had, and to hail it with delight as an opportunity of obtaining a larger measure of divine grace.” ~ A.B. Simpson
“All our difficulties are only platforms for the manifestations of His grace, power, and love.” ~ Hudson Taylor
“Just because the current giant you are facing looks like one you defeated in the past, don’t buy the lie that you never really won the first battle! By the strength of God’s grace, you trusted the Almighty and conquered your Goliath. The first giant is dead. Satan is masquerading as your former enemy so he can slip past your faith and regain entrance into your life. Resist him.” ~ Francis Frangipane
“Do not, therefore, fling away your fearless confidence, for it carries a great and glorious compensation of reward. For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance, so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God, and thus receive and carry away [and enjoy to the full] what is promised.” Hebrews 10:35-36 AMP
What does your soul need to hear today?