Anxiety, Courage, Peace, Strength

Dear Social Anxiety

REAL (1)

Dear social anxiety,

You’ve been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, and we’ve developed a very strong relationship over the years. I’ve learned to let you bully me and trample my self-esteem to the ground. The fear and anxiety you shove down my throat have become a routine.

You rip any confidence I may muster up out of my hands wherever I manage to get a grasp on it. You make me feel so anxious that sometimes I pray that God will strike me down dead before I have to walk inside someplace, preventing me from having to go. I am always embarrassed. Always self conscious. I always have a million fears running through my head because of you.

I can’t imagine life without you—and I’m going to change that.

I’m letting you go.

I learned recently that God says in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Through those verses and a lot of thinking, I’ve realized that you don’t control me. It’s my choice to listen to you every time you point out the negatives in a situation. It’s my choice not to stand up and fight back every time you try to beat me down. I can have rest in Christ if I choose to stand against you—and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

I used to be scared of letting you go. I can’t remember life with you and I was afraid that everything would change. But that’s a risk I have to take. I will not sit by and watch you ruin any more of my friendships, push me farther away from my family, or blow away my dreams of evangelizing to others.

And when I’m talking to someone I don’t know and you make me feel like I want to run and hide, I will push you away and remember that God is greater. When I’m going somewhere alone and you remind me of everything that could go wrong, I will trample you down and think of everything that could go right.

You took my confidence away from me, but now I’m taking it back.

Sincerely,

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Faith, Friendship, Let Your Light Shine

You Are My Sonshine

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“You Are My Sunshine”…the cheerful title of a song first recorded in 1939. Some historians claim that the song was written by a man named Paul Rice, who later sold rights to a Louisiana college professor by the name of Jimmie Davis. Others say that Jimmie Davis wrote and played it with his steel guitar player, Charles Mitchell. Whatever the case, it is a tune we are now familiar with as a rather popular kids’ song. As most of you probably know, the chorus goes as follows:

“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine,

You make me happy when skies are gray,

You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you,

Please don’t take my sunshine away.”

With such simple words and a catchy melody, this song is quick to get stuck in your head! When I have a song playing over and over in my mind throughout the day, I usually have one of two responses. Either I’m sick of the song by the end of the day and am quite ready to get something fresh in my mind, or I might ponder the words of the song and what it means. “You Are My Sunshine” doesn’t necessarily seem like one of those songs you would dissect to find its meaning, as the meaning stands out rather clearly, one might say, but I actually beg to differ.

About a week ago, I was writing a letter to a dear friend of mine, and at the top of the page I wrote the words, “Jesus is my Sun…But you are my sunshine, for you shine with the light of the Son.” My reasoning for this was that as I was writing this letter, that song popped into my head. At first, I thought to myself, “As sweet as those lyrics are, can they really apply to a person? I mean, isn’t Jesus supposed to be my Sunshine??” I mulled over that some and I realized something: That’s not completely true. “Whoa, whoa, whoa!” you might be saying. “She needs to get her priorities straight! It’s Jesus first, and then
people.” If you were to tell me that, I would agree wholeheartedly, one hundred percent, with no hesitation! Confused? Let me explain…

God and Jesus are likened to the sun in a few places in the Bible. For instance, Psalm 84:11, “For the LORD God is a sun and shield…”; Malachi 4:2 (the Lord speaking), “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings…”; and Matthew 17:2 (speaking of Jesus), “And he was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun…” Later in the New Testament, Revelation 21:23 and Revelation 22:5 both tell of how there will be a day when we have no need for the
sun because Jesus will be our light. Pretty cool, right?

Now let’s take a moment to think about our physical sun—that fiery ball that resides in space. What is it’s purpose? Well, looking back in Genesis, you’ll find that God created it to give us light during the day. The Bible also mentions the heat of the sun. Without the sun’s warmth, life as we know it wouldn’t be possible! Then there’s also good old Vitamin D, a nutrient that strengthens our bones and helps us absorb calcium from food. Vitamin D can be found in some foods, but most of the Vitamin D used in our bodies is made beneath our skin when we are exposed to the sun. The sun sounds pretty important, doesn’t it? But here’s my question for you: Is the sun also sunshine? And when I say sunshine, I mean the rays of light that shine forth from the sun. Some people might scratch their heads and answer with a tentative yes. I know I probably would if someone was asking me that question on the spot! And yet, that question can be answered with a no. You can’t have sunshine without the sun, but those dazzling streaks of light, though they may source from the sun, are not the sun in itself. In the same way, we as people are individuals created by God, but unless we are in Christ, we cannot live in light, nor live as lights to this world. “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12) Without Christ, we walk in darkness, but when we invite Christ into our lives and follow Him, He gives us the light of life! What does that mean for us?

“There was a man sent from God whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:6-9). As we can see from this passage, Jesus is the true Light of which John was testifying. John himself was not that Light, the true Light, and yet he was also a light, as we read in John 5:35 (Jesus speaking of John), “He was a burning and a shining light…” How do you think John became that light? Or rather, Who do you think made him that light? Jesus. So if John, who believed on and testified of Christ was considered a light by Jesus Himself, what does that make us as fellow believers??

“For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:” (Ephesians 5:8).

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

When we allow Jesus Christ, the Sun of righteousness, to be our life, He shines His light through us and we become that sunshine spilling forth from the Sun. And what is our purpose as those rays of sunshine? Think back to the song I mentioned at the beginning of this post. What is the second line of the chorus? “You make me happy when skies are gray.” As thick, gloomy clouds roll over the sky, what tends to be the result of that? The sun is no longer visible. Yet we still know it’s there, don’t we? Just because the sun itself cannot be seen, does not mean that it has completely disappeared. How do we know that it’s still there? Because we see the light glowing in those dark clouds. We see a ray of sunshine breaking through the dull canopy above. We see radiant beams, like golden fingers, reaching down to tenderly touch the earth. We are that light.

A good portion of this world “gropes in the dark without light”, they “stagger like a drunken man” (Job 12:25), they “know not the light” (Job 24:16). And there’s another part of the population, people who have seen the Light, who have walked in it, who know its warmth, and yet threatening clouds have come to dwell in their skies, and they find it hard to see the Sun past that dreary curtain. We’ve all been in both groups before. We know what it’s like to stumble in darkness, for just as Ephesians 5:8 says, we were once in darkness until “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). We also know what it’s like to go through seasons of cloudy skies in which we are troubled, perplexed, persecuted, and cast down (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). We know. So what can we do with that experience?

“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light…” (Isaiah 60:1-3).

If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light” (Luke 11:36).

“Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun:” (Ecclesiastes 11:7)

With Jesus as the Sun who shines forth His light through us, we can light the path of those who grope in darkness. We can reach a lost and dying world and bring them to the light of life. We can be that sweet and pleasant light that breaks through the clouds to give someone hope and the strength to press on. That becomes our calling when God “delivers us from the power of darkness” and “translates us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13); when He “calls us out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

“This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:5-7).

Take some time today to meditate on that. Think about all those people in your life who have been that light you needed when life got hard. Ask yourself, “What can I do to be that kind of light? How can I brighten her day? How can I shed some light on his path?”

“How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings…For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light” (Psalm 36:7,9).

Jesus is the Son, and we are His Sonshine, for we shine with the light of the Son!

Nellye

Faith

Hope

img_1524Hope.

It seems as if we’re all searching for it, but we can never find it.

We search for hope in things that will, in the end, make us longing for more hope.

What do you hope for? I’ve seen people and I myself have hoped for health, success, money, acceptance, happiness, peace, joy, and more. But what if we’re placing hope in things that will never satisfy us?

What if we let go of the things we hoped for? What if we let go of longings and hope, and instead gave them to God?

I have been realizing that nothing on this earth can truly satisfy our inner hopes and longings. One by one, I have been laying down all the things I hope for and that want, and started giving them to God. Becoming “hopeless” by the world’s standards but filled with Christ’s hope is a crazy thing.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

God is the “God of hope”. He is the provider and giver of the hopes and longings that we want. His Holy Spirit makes us overflow with hope. Taking hold of this true hope is no easy task. To do this is to become hopeless, by unpacking our hopes at God’s feet, then finding this hope that God so freely provides. This is a type of hope I define as “heavenly hope”.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:1-2

Set your minds and hearts on things above my friend, then you will know the abundant hope. Around 2,000 years ago the world was waiting, hoping, longing, for a Messiah. Their waiting was long and hard, but they patiently waited with a beautiful hope from Genesis to Christmas. Then, on the first Christmas night, we were blessed with the most wonderful hope that we could be granted, the best gift in all of history. Although the Earth didn’t realize what one of the hundreds of babies born would bring to them that night, the angels sang in the rejoicing of a simple newborn’s cry.

A Man named Simeon waited in a temple, filled with hope. “I will see the Messiah before I die”. While a woman named Anna spent all her days praying with hope and anticipation of the world’s greatest gift. Then, the rejoiced at a simple baby. Their hopes and longings had been satisfied before their own eyes.

Anna and Simeon had something special lit aflame inside of them. They had the hope of Christ. This beautiful hope, that literally kept them alive.

(read this story in Luke to learn more about Anna & Simeon) 

We can have the same hope that captivated Anna, Simeon, and hundreds of other Jews of the day. Hope in Christ. Not hope with Christ. Jesus is the living hope that came to us that first Christmas night.

Feeling hopeless? Remember, heaven is our home, where all our hopes and longings will one day be fulfilled. Join me in rejoicing in the living hope that we can so freely have, and by laying down all of our own hopes to Christ! May you be filled with the hope that only Jesus can give you!

As we celebrate Christmas, and the wonderful gift that was given to us, remember that God is the true provider of our hope. Hold tightly to Him! May you have a very Merry Christmas (on behalf of me and all the other girls on YLFC 😀)

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