Dear Inner Critic
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Dear inner critic,

I would call you friend, you have been around that long, but you are far from being kind to me. You tell me all the ways that I am not good enough; not as woman, not as a wife, not as a mother, and especially not as a Christian. You are constantly pointing out how much I lack and today you called me fat and ugly and old, you pointed out the rolls on both my body and my neck, and I agreed with you.

I had a slight melt down in front of my family, because once again I was listening to you rather than Jesus. My son kept apologizing to me that I was upset, as though he had some responsibility in it. My husband told me he loved me and my family told me I was fine just the way I was, but instead of letting their love in I only heard your voice yelling louder that not only was I wrong and disgusting physically, but I was once again failing at being a wife and scarring my children for life.

No, you definitely are no friend of mine. Religious yes, oh boy are you dressed in your best religious clothing, looking down at me from your long pointed religious nose, pursing your lips, squinting your eyes as you shake your head back and forth at me. You are constantly telling me what a disappointment I am to the Lord and to every Christian who knows me. To be honest, I would like a break, if you don't mind, I am exhausted from your nagging.

I love Jesus and want to please Him more than anything else in my life. He spends so much time whispering His truths into my heart and all I want to do is shout it from the rooftops, but there you are with your wagging finger pointing it in my face saying things like, "really? Just a bit extra aren't we?" You disguise yourself in other women's voices and faces that pop into my head, but I know it's really you.

My husband supports every. single. thing. I am attempting to do as does my mom, my sister, every person who knows me best, yet your nagging voice comes to me in the form of strangers with folded arms saying things like, "there is no way you can try and do all that and be a good mother. No one could possibly attempt all that. I am rooting for you to fail!"

  Yes, I want to serve God and His kingdom but I also want to help support my family financially so we can let them play soccer, and have beds or maybe one day own another vehicle. But there you are, stomping on my heart. Should I want to be a banker, a school teacher, or a barista I don't believe your accusing voice would be so loud, but maybe I am wrong?  Maybe you are just as loud no matter what.

I have cried and cried over if this is OK with the Lord or not, no matter how much support I get from people I love and cheer me to go for it because your voice never stops screaming in my head. 

But then....the fighter in me stands up again. I seek God, I ask for His wisdom, I tell Him it's all His, I give HIm my life and I ask for ears to hear and eyes to see and want to be surrendered to Him, and I believe I am. Why on earth do I trust your voice of criticism more than my own relationship with a God I speak to daily?

You know what, inner critic, you're right about one thing... I will get it wrong, I will make mistakes, I will let myself, my family and God down sometimes, but that is not my aim. I am not ignoring Him or them, but I am going to learn to ignore you. God will love me even if I fail, He will love me and redirect me even if I get off track. Your voice comes from both my fear of failing and my pride from thinking I can worry myself out of failing.

I. AM. EXHAUSTED. I can't live my life in fear of you anymore.

What you don't know is, I know your real name. You call yourself righteousness, you call yourself self-preservation and even safety, but in the end, I know your true name is nothing but condemnation. 

I find I am not so different from Paul when he said, 

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God."

Romans 8:1-8

I love God, He loves me, I love and live in the Spirit and so I don't have to put up with you anymore. I know you will still try and speak to me, my religious guilt gene runs deep, but Jesus came to set captives free and I will run with Him until He does. 

I only serve one master, and it isn't you.

 

Ashley Jackson Comment
How to help someone suffering from depression
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If you’ve followed me for a while you will know I went through a long five year battle with anxiety and depression.

There were some very dark days that I went through. I have known the Lord since I was six years old, have loved and served Him most of the days after that, so I knew all the “right answers” and all the “right things to believe” and the faith I should have had, but that only buried me deeper in my guilt.

A few of you shared the sad news of a pastor who has taken his life in Southern California, and it grieves me deeply. It makes me sad to know that he truly believed that it was better for everyone he loved to do what he did.

It also makes me mad, because the Enemy is so good at what He does, lying and isolating and playing the same scenes in front of our eyes over and over again with every desire to get us to believe that things will never change, never get better. It’s just not true, it can, it will.

People who struggle in this area already know they “shouldn’t” feel the way they do. From the outside everything may look fine, “what could you be sad about?”

A person who is deeply struggling with depression and even suicidal thoughts can go on like normal, because they have to. There is no broken bone to point to, no surgery to recover from, it can be incessant and debilitating and overwhelming, both to the person struggling and to the people watching them suffer.

As someone who has felt like I was drowning in those seas and have had those thoughts, here are a few things we can do to help those who are suffering.


1) Pray, fast and pray. If you’ve never fasted before start. Fasting is prayer on steroids and is highly underutilized by Christians in our society. This calls for the big guns and we have them through prayer and fasting.

Take your sword of the Spirit and get on your face and intercede for the person. They are weak, tired, sad and so lonely in their suffering. When there is nothing you feel like you can do tangibly, rock the heavens and seek God to do what no one else can.


2) If you’re particularly close to them, take them physically to help. This helped me as I felt stuck to help myself; too tired, too scared to call, too poor, too overwhelmed. If they’re open to help, make appointments for them and take them there. Would you be willing if they had cancer to do the same?


3) Be there, listen. One of my favorite quotes from during that time is “a friend is someone who helps you up when you fall down, and if they can’t they just lay down and listen for a while.” 

We are in a results driven society, wanting to find and give solutions and check boxes and move on. We’re busy and have things to do, being with someone is not all that productive to society, but to a heart it’s life giving. 

Perhaps those with mental illness,  depression,  anxiety and the like are not so unlike the man beaten by the side of the road in Jesus’ parable of the good Samaratin. People sometimes here about it and don’t know what to do, and for goodness sake are busy, and so they cross to the other side of the road where maybe they can find someone to help less complicated. Someone they can feel better about helping because they can see the result quicker.

No fingers can be pointed here, I’ve been the beaten and I’ve also been the road crosser. Maybe it’s not always lack of empathy but rather lack of understanding, lack of feeling capable to help,  but the result is the same.

When someone is suffering like this, they feel like a burden to everyone. Sometimes solutions aren’t what they really want or need in that moment, but for a friend or loved one to be willing to stay with them and simply say, “I don’t have answers but I’m here, I love you, you matter to me.” 

Maybe it is easy for me to write a post on the other side of this and offer my point of view from coming through, but in the middle it’s scary and dark and feels impossible. 

I took medication and I did talk therapy and it made a world of difference for me, it helped me be able to address things more than when it felt like I was drowning.

No,  there’s no simple and easy solutions that you can tie up in a pretty red bow, but there is hope. His name is Jesus. He says in IS 61 that He came to bind up the broken hearted, to bring those who sit in darkness into light, and give to people a crown of beauty for their ashes. This is His mission, for us and for those we love. Declare it over them in faith. Their lives are so worth it. 

 

 

If you or someone you love need help here are some resources for you... 

Suicide  

Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-827-7571
Deaf Hotline 1-800-799-4TTY
NineLine 1-800-999-9999
Holy Spirit Teenline  1-800-722-5385
Crisis Intervention 1- 888- 596-4447
Crisis Intervention 1-800-673-2496

 

 Christian Counseling Services-General

New Life Clinics 1-800-NEW-LIFE
National Prayer Line 1-800-4-PRAYER
Bethany Lifeline Pregnancy Hotline 1-800-BETHANY
Liberty Godparent Ministry 1-800-368-3336
Grace Help Line 24 Hour Christian service 1-800-982-8032
The 700 Club Hotline 1-800-759-0700
Want to know Jesus? 1-800-NEED-HIM
Biblical help for youth in crisis 1-800-HIT-HOME
Rapha National Network 1-800-383-HOPE
Emerge Ministries 330-867-5603
Meier Clinics 1-888-7-CLINIC or 1-888-725-4642
Association of Christian Counselors 1-800-526-8673
Minirth Clinic 1-888-MINIRTH (646-4784)
National Christian Counselors Association 1-941-388-6868
Pine Rest 1-800-678-5500
Timberline Knolls 1-877-257-9611

Ashley JacksonComment
No one really knows what they’re doing...
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We live in a world where everyone seems to be playing some weird game called, “I want you to think my life is more put together than it is.”


We think real life is unglamours, unpresentable, and if truth be told - mostly boring.


Our days are filled with dirty houses and laundry and the kids losing their minds at the end of a long summer break and their parents are right there with them.


We love Jesus and want to serve Him but we still have fights with our husbands, we get frustrated with our finances, we worry over every day details all the while feeling guilt because compared to so and so, we are failing at life.


Here’s something I know to be true; not one person really knows what they’re doing, where they are going, how they will get there or how they even got here, for goodness sake.


Everyone is doing their best to raise their kids, sometimes too hard and sometimes too easy. Everyone struggles with relationships, the ups and downs and mostly the what nows. Everyone has a million things they have to do that are not glamorous or Instagram worthy, that make life keep running.


The closer we get to God the more we understand the depth of our need for Him, the more we can say, “I have no idea what I’m doing or what to do now. Help me!”


Most of our lives are lived in the mundane and the messy, but God is there, loving us, teaching us, for us.


We are in desperate need of a Savior every day, not just once from hell. Ou joy is not found in how we think our lives should be, but in remaining in His love.


“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:9-11 #walkingreflections