We went to a For King and Country concert featuring Moriah Peters last weekend and I left filled with joy and a newfound strength. I've always liked their music, but hearing them live was absolutely incredible. Each member of the band plays like 91209849743874 instruments perfectly. Moriah opened for the band and is the co-lead singer's wife - makes touring super easy for them I'm sure! Every single musician on that stage had such a glowing joy, faith and love for Christ that I found renewed my spirit.
I've been praying about revealing my heart on here for a couple weeks now. Earlier this month I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's hypothyroiditis. Thankfully, it's something that many people have, especially women, and is usually very treatable. I was really shocked for a while, then I felt trapped, which led to more anxiety. I've had so many people tell me everything is going to be okay, even plenty of people that have the same disease I have. But I couldn't get over the fact that I was facing this at 22.
All throughout college I felt tired, anxious, oddly emotional, and random ailments would pop up that I couldn't explain. I didn't really tell anyone, but it was extremely frustrating and I eventually convinced myself that everyone must feel like this and they just handle it better.
Then Stan and I graduated, got married, and moved to Austin and things really started to hit. Even through all the most wonderful and precious moments of my life, I was facing very difficult obstacles for the very first time.
I was always extremely happy go lucky, positive, and determined my entire life. But now I was feeling uncontrollable anxiety, facing panic attacks, and depression was creeping in. I was terrified by what was happening to me. And Satan new it. He used every single angle he could to attack me - and honestly, it worked for a little while. Those were the darkest times of my life. Even though I appeared far from it from the outside looking in, inside I was at rock bottom. The only two things that got me through was God and my wonderful, sweet husband.
I was paralyzed by fear. Fear because for the first time I felt two major psychological issues that I had never faced before personally. I had no idea how to handle anxiety and minor depression, especially both at the same time. I had all these things I wanted to do, especially since we were in a new city and we were newlyweds, but I could not get up to go do them.
I would cry out and pray constantly for help, and I would hear God whisper that this was all for a reason. Why, I still don't know. But what I do know, is that God makes all things beautiful, and He would use even this for good. Quite honestly, a lot of the time I felt like I was alone and Christ wasn't listening to me because my problem wasn't bad enough - even though I knew that wasn't the truth. I had to remind myself constantly that what I was feeling wasn't what was really happening. Satan used my emotions, anxiety, fear, and everything else he could to wedge himself between me and Christ. I'm so thankful that I'm so stubborn and determined, because everyday I'd have to push through all those lies that often buried me and my spirit, and keep pressing into God, His truth and His overwhelming grace.
Right before I was diagnosed I grew ridiculously fatigued, my aches worsened, and my anxiety grew so bad that anytime I felt just minor stress my chest would hurt terribly. Of course, no one knew this but Stan. I truly felt that I had to maintain a normal exterior because, maybe if I did it enough, I'd get better. But I had no clue what was going on inside of me except that something was very wrong. Even though I now had a reason for all the strange things that were happening to me, I still had no idea how to handle any of it. I'm just beginning to feel that I have more control over how they affect me.
After a week or so after we got the news, I grew even more frustrated that I'm so young and should technically still be in college being crazy and staying up into the early morning - yet, this was happening to me. I felt trapped in my own body at 22, newly married, and I was incredibly blessed with every single thing that was happening in my life around me. I had a new husband, successful job, new puppy, and we just became first-time homeowners. So WHY in the WORLD couldn't I get up to go on a walk with my family around the neighborhood to meet people? Why couldn't I go explore all of Austin and go hiking, kayaking, swimming, shopping and do all those things I love doing? Of course, all these thoughts just added to my anxiety and depression. To this day I'm still frustrated with myself and my situation. But the Lord has BLESSED me beyond belief with an incredible family, prayer warriors, and the most understanding and loving husband in the world.
Let me just take a quick moment to brag on Stan. He had absolutely no idea what was happening when my symptoms first started to really show. He educated himself as best as he could and the most precious of all, he prays with me every night specifically for my health and our marriage, for all of it to glorify Him. His sweet love, rock solid faith, and understanding blows me away. As I'm sure you can imagine, I don't feel very attractive or loveable at the moment, but he continues to make me feel more beautiful each and every day. I still pinch myself to make sure I'm not just dreaming that I married him! God is GOOD.
I had a very rough weekend, probably the worst I've felt in a long time, but the past few days the dip in my thyroid levels has evened out and my mind and body are somewhat clear again. I was driving home a couple days ago, had the windows down (first fall weather for us in Texas!), and Oh Fear started to play over my speakers (listen to it in the clip above). Here I was stuck in major Austin traffic and God reached deep into my heart. In that moment I knew I was whole again, I had my fearless faith back and felt physical strength again too. This song is so dear to me because it's my heart's cry. As I was singing it in the car I could feel every fear, anxiety, and depressive burden leave me and God's peace and fearlessness replaced them. Throughout that dark season that started last fall I knew this freedom would come, that I needed to go through all of that for a reason, and I'm so thankful that freedom is here.
I still feel somewhat restricted in what I can do physically, but the only thing I really care about is that my spirit is back and my strongest faith restored. Now that the strange cloud that was blocking me from seeing Christ clearly is gone, I feel like myself again! Sometimes you just have to look fear straight in the face and tell it exactly where it should go ;)
I'm blown away by how Christ continues to pursue me relentlessly. Every moment I look back on He's been there holding me, teaching me, and making me smile. He's held me throughout that entire season that I felt so far from Him, but He used it to grow my faith and allow me to hold on tight to Him and His promises. Just like any relationship, I feel even closer to Him because we went through something extremely difficult together. I'm so blessed by this disease because of what He's taught me through it. I'm reminded (whether I like it or not!) that my strength and very life itself comes from Him and Him alone.
Friends, I say all of this because no matter what darkness we go through, God is always good and He is always with you. We weren't made for this world, we were made to be with Him in a place that we cannot begin to fathom in these earthly bodies, a place that is vibrant, full of light and love, and best of all, Him. Satan tries to make his darkness seem bigger and scarier than it really is, just remember we are the children of a very big God who knows and loves each of us, right where we are, just the way we are, simply because we are His. Nothing in this world can overtake you.
"For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father.'" - Romans 8:15