I grew up in a Christian home where, we loved God and Jesus. My mom, sister, and I attended a Bible-believing church and, at age twelve, I asked Jesus to come into my life and was baptized. However, we did not have much understanding about connecting with God in an ongoing, daily relationship, or about growing spiritually.
When I was thirty, and the mom of two small boys, I was invited to attend a young mother’s Bible group, and enjoyed it. As a group, we would choose a book to study (either a biblical topic or on Christian living). Everyone joined in our discussions. I often shared, too. One time after a couple of women talked—it hit me with a jolt—I could not relate to what they were saying spiritually and the way they talked about God through their daily experiences. This scared me. Later that day at home, I went to my room and prayed. I shared with God that I didn’t know what those women had, that I didn’t, but I wanted it. I asked Him to help me know Him and live for Him.
Life, up through this time, and for quite a number of months afterward, went along rather smoothly. The boys kept us busy and entertained. They were growing well and only had the usual childhood colds and doctor’s appointments.
But when I was five months pregnant with our third child, my husband, Keith, and I were told that our four-year-old and our two-year-old had a life-threatening illness called cystic fibrosis (CF). This heartbreaking news, along with their needed daily care, took time to process and learn about, even as we wondered whether our soon-to-be little one would have CF.
Seven months passed as we continued to try to adjust to the news, and the changes in our lives, and found out that our newest little guy did not have cystic fibrosis. But then, when he was five months old, my grandmother died and, one month later, my mom died. My mom’s death was terrible and unexpected. She died from a ruptured aortic aneurysm, although she lived for eleven traumatic days in the hospital’s intensive-care unit. Mom didn’t look like herself at all and observing the effects of the aneurysm on her body was difficult. In addition, she was uncommunicative.
There was another problem. Although my mom and I were very close, and she was a big source of help and wisdom—especially now with the boys—we happened to have a disagreement the night before her ruptured aneurysm. Between the disagreement and the shock of her situation, I didn’t know what to do or say as she lay there. And so she passed away after eleven difficult days.
Obviously, I was struggling with the kids’ diagnosis and care, and all that was involved with losing my mom and grandmother when, shortly after this, there was a show on television about a family in which aortic aneurysms were hereditary, and family members were dying from the condition. This certainly wasn’t what I needed to hear at this point. I tried to tell myself that everything would be all right, and I knew that God was with me, but my body revealed the stress and fear affecting me.
I went round and round in my mind over many issues, especially these questions—Why was all this happening? Why did I see that television show? Were these things from God, or were they from Satan? Depending on the answers—what was I then supposed to do? One day, while experiencing painful struggles again, I decided I needed to think through these questions to find an answer. (Thankfully, God helped me in this.)
I considered the first question. “Were these things, especially the TV show, from God?” Yes. I knew enough to know that God is in all things (Ephesians 4:6). He is always seeking to draw us closer to Himself and teach us His ways.
Then, I considered the question, “Were these things from Satan?” Yes. This was true, as well. Satan is always seeking to destroy us and draw us away from God (1 Peter 5:8-9).
I was shocked. The answer was both! Both God and Satan were at work!
Scripture powerfully declares both of these truths. God is at work in our lives and, especially for those who love Him, He uses all things for our good (Romans 8:28). But Jesus certainly wasn’t kidding or exaggerating when He said, “Satan, the thief, comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
God was at work in my life. Several times in desperation, I would grab my Bible, open it, and ask God to give me a word or two of hope and truth from Him that would help me. And He did. The first time I did this and opened my Bible, my eyes fell on the verse, “Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to [you]; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security” (Jeremiah 33:6).
God gave me a personal promise of hope and healing! However, it took time and God teaching me many things to learn how to receive peace from His promises. Knowing God’s promises, and trusting them, so that they give us peace, are two different aspects. Through it all, the Lord continued to give me more verses on peace, health, and healing.
I kept telling myself what I thought were the right things and what I thought should help—“I’m fine,” and “It’ll be okay.” But still, I struggled. Fear and pain were constant, and I began having anxiety attacks.
I visited a couple of counselors and, while each brought some comfort and insight, I needed more peace. Hearing great things about a particular counseling pastor and how he had helped many people, I made an appointment to meet with Pastor Dale.
When Pastor Dale and I talked, I shared my story, my fear, and my anxiety attacks, and I concluded with, “But I know God is with me, and it will be okay.” After listening to all of it, Pastor Dale quietly and kindly said, “You know, it is okay to feel your feelings.”
Actually, I did not know this. I had never wanted to feel my feelings. I tried to shove those uncomfortable things down. Feeling my feelings was the last thing I wanted to do. I tried to minimize everything.
This truth was huge for me. I knew this counsel was an important piece I needed. For me, accepting my feelings has meant that I need to learn to identify my emotions and accept where I am on my journey. I have to get real with myself and with God.
I was trying to be good and strong. I didn’t think good Christian people were supposed to have fear, anger, pain, regret, or needs. So I didn’t. Well, I tried not to. I denied all of it. I thought admitting those things would make everything worse. I said, “I’m fine,” and never got anywhere.
But now I realized if I want God to be strong for me, I need to admit that I’m weak and need Him! As long as I pretend that I can do it, and keep trying harder, His power is cut off from my life. I have to ask for His help. I can’t pretend to be fine. If I want God’s help, I must accept my problems, needs, and feelings, and seek His aid.
I thought problems and feelings would become worse if I admitted anything, but my life and relationships have improved as I’ve learned to do this. In fact, Scripture tells us that God desires truth in our inmost hearts (Psalm 51:6). As I’ve learned to be honest with myself, accept where I’m at, and share with vulnerability, my connection with God grows closer, as does my connection with others.
There is more to receiving great peace than simply accepting our feelings, but it can be a starting place to understanding and accepting ourselves. It can be the starting place for connecting with God and others at an honest level from where we can receive His help and grow.
Before leaving this topic, let me briefly share a few key truths that provide further encouragement for us to grow in emotional health and vitality.
Our emotions are important because God’s emotions are important. God’s emotions reveal much about Him and help us know Him. God loves us with great emotion. He loves us deeply, passionately, and fully. In the Bible, God reveals His love for us and His jealousy and anger. There are long passages in the Bible where God pours out His heart in love, seems to “rant” in anger, and shares how He is jealous for our love as He passionately cries out in His desire for us to return to Him.
God created us with a range of emotions because He feels each of these emotions toward us. In addition, He wants our lives to be full and rich. Joy, tears, and laughter will all have their place in a well-connected and meaningful life.
Finally, Scripture declares that we are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. (See Matthew 22:37 and Deuteronomy 6:5.) This means that our emotions are to be engaged and involved with God—passionately! Therefore, we must not ignore and shove down the painful ones.
Since God created us with emotions, we are to be a people of healthy emotions, with a passion for Him and a deep love for others. Our emotions count because He tells us to bring every burden we have to Him (Philippians 4:6). May you and I be honest, and take everything that concerns us to the Lord, and know His comfort, hope, and answers. May you and I find greater peace and joy as we draw near to the Lord and discover how deeply and actively He loves us!
God did not just teach me about my emotions, give me a couple of promises, and leave it at that. No, the Lord has continued to bring me healing, growth, and blessings in a variety of ways. Through the years, He has been faithful and good to our family. He has granted us many times of healing and miracles with our (now grown) boys, although the journey for them has not been easy.
In part 2 of my story, I will share how God taught me much about the power of His Word and promises. As He has worked, He has enabled me to experience peace and joy, helped remove doubts, and increased my faith.
The following two posts share more of my story and important truths for growing in faith and peace.
My Story—How the Power of God’s Proof Brought Faith, Hope, and Peace—Part 2
My Story—How I Learned to Lean on the Power of God’s Promises for Faith, Peace, and Breakthroughs—Part 3
My short bio can be found here at About Robbi.
Leave a Reply