Girl, if you've ever walked through hard times, you know how emotionally draining it can be. Pressing on when your heart is heavy feels impossible when there's a gray cloud looming overhead. But I want to encourage you, there are things you can do when you're finding it hard to stand.
But before I share, I want you to know, this happens to the best of us. Life is HARD. You can be pressing forward one day... and then without a moment's notice, a spouse loses a job, a child gets sick, finances fall behind, the cost of living increases...I could name a million and one things you could be going through. It's usually unexpected and leaves you without a plan.
If you've followed my story, you know that even with a plan, things can go awry. As a family, we've experienced the loss of community when we chose to make an 800 mile move away from home. And we weren't even settled when our son began to suffer painful and extensive health issues. Simultaneously, our daughter struggled to process her heavy emotions and experienced intense anxiety, and panic attacks, and at the same time, my husband fell into an extreme depression.
When we arrived to our new home in SC, I also unexpectedly stepped away from a 7 year business partnership. The residual income I built was gone and we lost even more financial freedom. I was suddenly tasked with holding my home together and I had no idea where to start. It felt like more than I could bear and I had no option but to choose whether to sink or swim.
When everything around me seemed so unsure, God held everything together. I learned to rely on Him in the most beautiful way and I felt like I couldn't even breathe if I wasn't clinging tight to Him. But that realization didn't come without stress or trauma.
Recently, I was reading the story of Job and was reminded of his suffering. He was blameless in God's eyes, yet God still allowed him to walk through extreme loss, which included family, financial, physical, and emotional pain. Contrary to his friend's beliefs, Job wasn't being punished by his hardships. Instead, God allowed Satan to test him with them to prove he was a righteous man who wouldn't curse God and fall away. I'm sure at some point in your life you may have felt tested too.
As I read, do you want to know what stuck out to me most? Job chose to WORSHIP GOD in response to tragedy. It reminded me that through grief, we can choose to worship too. In fact, Paul and Silas, when shackled in chains in prison, also chose the same. Mighty warriors before heading into battle, led the procession with songs of praise.
I remember feeling confused at the thought that worshiping through the hard would somehow make things lighter. Other than glorifying God, what does worship really do?
Our worship can be viewed as a fragrant aroma going up to heaven like an offering. It's also an act of obedience to Psalm 96:1 that says, "Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth!" God is pleased when we follow His command to worship.
Here's another interesting fact: Singing engages both the intellect & the emotions - and should not be saved just for Sunday mornings. You can sing with your mind and you can sing in the Spirit on many types of occasions. As you sing, your eyes are opened to God's glory and it also blesses YOU while it blesses HIM.
Let's look scientifically at the effect worship has on the brain. Liedke (2018) thesis found that when we worship God, there is an increase in BPNF, a neurotransmitter that helps us grow healthy brain cells. I won't get into all the science, but you can click here to read more on how 7 Minutes of Worship Can Change the Brain!
Now I know it's not easy to worship when you're feeling broken. And as you read Job's story, you'll see that worship came coupled alongside anguish, questioning why he was suffering, and begging God to let him die. I feel like it's human nature to feel the feels when faced with heavy things! But on the flip side of worship, what can we learn from Job's complaining? Though it is natural to go there, it's not always the exact best thing. When you're feeling stuck in that space, know that God is big enough to handle your anger or whatever other emotions you might feel, and remember that worship can help shift your focus and bring you out of it.
When I was going through the thick of things, I created a playlist of my own to offer some encouragement when I needed to connect with the Lord, and I'd love to encourage you to do the same. Of course, if you don't know where to start, I won't leave you hanging! You can listen to my Spotify worship playlist, here!
TRY TO AVOID COMPLAINTS
If worship isn't your first instinct when faced with hardship, what is? I know for me that didn't used to be my first response. My natural instinct was to reach out and talk to a trusted friend- but often I'd find myself complaining. It's easy to go off on a tangent in a safe space and pour out all the things. Keep in mind, while getting things off your chest is helpful, being mindful of your focus helps to protect you from handing over power and authority to the enemy who's aiming his fiery darts your way! The quote below literally shifted my mindset toward my behavior when I'm in my feels. May it bless you and settle in your heart as a remembrance when times are tough. When in doubt, know that wisdom will give discernment to know where to draw the line when sharing turns into a habit of complaints.
However you respond, keep in mind that emotions left unchecked or even stuffed or buried, can easily spiral out of control. And if you find yourself complaining more than conquering, it may be time to re-evaluate. Our emotions are natural parts of who we are and how God created us: In HIS IMAGE, with feelings just like Him! But sin and temptation corrupts those feelings in different ways. What you want to remember to ask yourself when in your feels is, "Are my emotions leading me TO Jesus or tempting me to sin?" That's a quick way to find discernment.
What I've found in my own life is that the heaviness I dealt with was drawing me closer to the Lord and I began to depend more fully on Him every single day. It caused me to have an increased intimacy with my Savior in a way I'd never experienced before. This built my faith to know I could fully trust in Him. How? Because God works all things FOR GOOD for those that love Him. Even the pain, trials, and tragedies. I might not understand it now, but I know I will someday. And God always has your ultimate good in mind too, despite His plan or however Satan tries to attack your life. Pain is often present before revealing it's true purpose.
BE SURE TO SUPPORT YOUR BODY
Outside of casting your cares before the Lord (which I will forever offer as your core foundation and place to start!), I found that supporting my body was a core responsibility too. After all, it is a temple of the Holy Spirit! God designed human beings in such an incredible way, and the more I learn, the more amazed I am! He also created the earth and all that's in it - and He said that it was good. But in human fashion, we haven't always stewarded His Creation well. As a result, farming has changed, the soil is depleted, the land isn't given time to rest, and we've failed to rotate crops. Then introducing pesticides, & GMO's (genetically modified organisms), processed and "fast" foods, it's left our body's ill equipped to handle the effects of poor care and nutrition. The result? We are nutritionally depleted, experience low energy, imbalanced hormones, and a leaky gut (just to name a few).
Emotional heaviness knows no boundaries...Did you know that mental wellness is the number one topic talked about on the internet? SO MANY PEOPLE are experiencing the exact same things! If you look, you'll notice people saying that they need help- but they often don't know where to start. This is why being an encouragement in the Lord is so important, and so is pointing others back to JESUS to be made whole. (Don't do what Job's friends did, but instead offer prayer, hope, and encouragement!).
When it comes to the physical body (outside of exercise and movement) I want to offer solutions for practical things you can do to support your emotions, mood, immune system, and energy too!
Nearly 43 million Americans struggle with mental wellness and 56% aren't getting the support they need. Scientists are learning that it's not just in your head, it's in your gut.
50% of your Dopamine, 90% of your Serotonin, and 70% of your GABA is produced in the gut- NOT the brain. Most people don't understand that in order to control your mind, you must change how you support your gut. This actually physically determines much of your mood, cravings, and drives behavior. That being said, targeting this system physically is one of the BEST ways to honor your body and give it what it needs.
If you're struggling to check all the boxes in your day and you feel like you've already paired down your schedule, balancing your gut and happy hormones can help tremendously with your stress resilience.
Here's how it worked for me....
Six months ago I was introduced to a product that I didn't know would lead me into a more vibrant life. I ignored it because the name kind of threw me off. I felt like it was kind of hokey. The hard truth? I was passing over all the testimonies and forgoing all the science. Fast forward to needing a solution to my daughters hormones and monthly cycle; friends kept pointing me to this product and she decided to give it a try. What we didn't realize was how impactful those specific strains of probiotics would be when tackling hormones and mental health and wellness. And as a byproduct of healing her gut, this strengthened her immune system too!
As I began to walk through my own health trials only to feel defeat, I tried everything to get well again -yet nothing worked. After 3 straight months of constant sickness and fatigue, I found myself pulling back from life- depressed, overwhelmed, and exhausted, daily. I had nothing to give to my home and nothing to give to my business either. I went from being vibrant and full of life to quiet, hidden away, bogged down with extreme exhaustion and flu symptoms for over 90 days. I didn't know it at the time but prolonged illness like that is not just an effect of a weakened immune system, but it can also be a result of stress. I took all the supplements, had bloodwork done, saw my primary physician and my holistic doctor. I rested like crazy, let myself sleep in. I pulled back from my business, my friends, the bible study I was leading, and other activities almost completely and felt like I was losing everything that made me me. Finally, when I went to my chiropractor, we had a conversation where he urged me to focus on my gut to balance my microbiome and target healing. So once again, I turned to that same product I tried for my daughter, and finally decided to give it a try too. It's called "Happy Juice" and it does a lot more than just taste amazing!
Happy Juice is a 3 part system that can be taken individually or be mixed and matched. It supports the microbiome and connects the gut-brain axis.
Part 1- Mentabiotics:
Combination of unique strains of probiotics, prebiotics, and phytobiotics that helps prime the immune system and connect the gut-brain axis.
Part 2- Edge:
All-natural nootropic that supports neuron regeneration, helps with focus and combats mental fatigue.
Part 3- Energy +:
This provides clean energy, mental endurance, and motivational boost - without the jitters or crash. Options for with or without caffeine, depending on your preference.
All of this company's products are Plant-Based, contain NO preservatives, artificial colors, artificial flavors, or artificial sweeteners. They are Vegan, All natural, Sugar Free. GF, Soy Free, and DF- which make for incredible ways to honor and support your body. What's even better is that they are backed by Clinical Studies and Scientifically Proven to work. Nothing is hidden- ALL OF THEIR STUDIES are linked on their website for you to see!!
Together, these three products target motivation, energy and mood and have made a significant impact in the way I tackle my every day. And the best part? They aren't synthetics, and they don't add anything to the body. They simply create an a state of homeostasis by supporting the gut-brain axis so your body can CREATE the happy hormones it needs in a holistic, completely natural way!!
I want to stress to you that whether it's been 3 months or 3 years of not feeling like yourself, it's never too late to try and feel well again. After one week on this product, I felt like all of that was lifted- and will continue to lift and get even better since the benefits build as your microbiome and hormones begin to balance out and heal. All of us carry the weight of stress and overwhelm - more now over the past few years than ever before. Let's not avoid these simple things that can make us well. I know the burden this leaves emotionally when you suffer silently through the stress. So if you want to chat in more depth about your options with happy juice, please reach out to me so we can start that conversation.
I finally feel ALIVE again. And YOU deserve to feel that too!
SCRIPTURES TO GIVE YOU PEACE
I want to close by leaving you with 5 verses for a