Cara is a freelance writer and stay-at-home-mom living on the East Coast with her husband and two sons. After years of working in student ministry, she has come home to raise her boys and begin tackling grad school. She loves hanging out with college students, watching Parenthood and eating chocolate like it's one of the food groups. In addition to iBelieve, Cara is a contributing writer at RELEVANT and Today's Christian Woman. She writes about faith, marriage, motherhood and intentional living at www.carajoyner.com. She can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.
Some of you may recall a post from last September, when I talked about my struggle with an eating disorder and the road I walked to recovery. The responses that followed were incredible. And humbling.
It’s winter now and like many of you, I’m ready for Spring. I loved winter before having kids, but now winter means dozens of tiny socks to keep up with, less sunlight, less playing outside and a huge increase in germs. Spring is hopeful. And on the biting cold days of winter, I look ahead to March with excited anticipation.
I think back to my walk towards recovery and remember the days that felt like an especially long, hard winter. On those days, we can forget the hope ahead and be tempted to believe that giving up would be better than fighting forward. Maybe it’s an eating disorder, depression, persistent anxiety, an addiction, an abusive relationship you are fighting to stay away from, a sense of hopelessness in a life that is a far cry from your dreams, crippling fear, a fight to get healthy, or whatever else you might fill in the blank with. These words are for the days you feel like giving up.
Jesus came that we would experience abundant life. Not just life…but abundant life. Does that mean wealth? No. Does that mean a life free from pain, trials or imperfections? Definitely not. It means a life full of joy, peace, and love regardless of our circumstances. It means a life lived in complete connection with a beautiful God who loves us deeply. And it means breathing free from the weight of chains produced by anything that sucks dry the life Christ intended for us.
The abundant life Jesus offers calls us into a story bigger than our own lives. It calls us into the redemptive story of God’s love for this world and the role He is allowing us to be a part of in it. He offers us the keys to the kingdom and invites us to participate in His incredible message of love and grace. We were rescued from death so that we could experience this life!
The opposition: The battle isn’t against people or the things we can see (Ephesians 6:12), so if there is an enemy set on stealing that joy and life God created us for, that life Jesus died for us to have, I have to ask myself – why does satan care so much?
We were made with intention and for a purpose. That purpose is so much greater than we could imagine and is a part of God’s glory and love in this world…so when we are attacked by an enemy bent on destroying the life Jesus came for us to have, it must be about something more than us. It must be about interfering with the story of hope Christ has invited us to be a part of. The attacks at us are aimed at the glory of God.
So again, I have to ask – what is satan afraid will happen if we shake loose the chains and step fully into the life we were made for? That life must hold more power and redemption than we could imagine. It must be a life of a great importance in this world.
It’s a story of generations changed. Lives we will never see but whose roots begin with our decisions today. It’s a story of children who will not inherit the struggles that were passed down to us. It’s the story of lives that are transformed because we are around, focused and prepared to be present with the full love of Christ. So if you feel like giving up, fight to be a part of that story.
What does that look like though? How can we practically fight for the life we were made for? How can we fight to get out from under the heaviness of lies holding us back? If you feel like giving up and desperation is choking out the life around you, start with the following today…
1. Tell someone. Pull that pain, secret, struggle, fear straight into the light by telling someone today. Fear loves the dark. Drag it into the light. (if you need someone to talk to, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and speak with someone now).
2. Get mad. This is your life and it’s a gift. God made you with purpose. Fight to be a part of that purpose. Draw a line in the sand and tell the darkness it doesn’t get to come any further. You are moving on without it.
3. Say “no” to the little compromises. Walking away means walking away. Refuse to believe the lie that tells you it’s okay keep “just a little bit” around. You deserve the full richness of this life you’ve been given. Say “no” to the little compromises that try to steal it in slivers.
4. If you don’t have a plan, make a plan. To say that we are struggling or fighting a battle implies we are doing something about it. Do something. Make a plan today that involves help from other people. And talk about that plan with someone you trust.
5. If you already have a plan, stick with it. The road takes time to walk and it’s easy to become discouraged. We are changed through the process, so commit to it. Stick it out. If you’re walking and the winter feels especially long, be proud of yourself for fighting the fight! And keep walking! It’s okay if you haven’t reached the end destination yet, you have accomplished so much by simply pointing yourself in the direction of life. Keep moving.
6. Address the whole picture. Lean into God, press into His word, pray with vulnerable honesty, and do not allow these necessary steps to replace the practical, physical, emotional and mental steps needing to be addressed. Engage in scripture. See a counselor. Connect with community. Feed your body well and exercise. Think of each of these circles as a vital part of your plan, collectively drawing you into the life you were made for. Don’t throw one out in place of the other.
On the days you feel like giving up, remember that your story is rich and worth telling. Keep moving. Keep fighting. And run to the life you were created to have.
*For a beautiful blog about hope in recovery, check this out.