God and I haven’t been talking a lot lately. Instead, I’ve been daydreaming… mostly of running away to live on an idyllic tropical island where life moves at snail’s pace. You might think that being in a rural African village, we’re already living life at snail’s pace but the reality is far from it. The workload is quite frankly overwhelming. The emotional strain at times feels unbearable. I feel I’m being pulled in so many directions; I’m going to break. The temptation to run, hide or disengage is constantly lurking just below the surface.
I remind myself that it has little to do with where we live or the day-to-day circumstances. I distinctly remember feeling this exact way back “home” when everything was pretty much perfect. I promised myself I wouldn’t forget that moment, knowing that these days here would come and it would be all too easy to blame it on Africa.
Sometimes I get that big overwhelmed with the whole of life feeling and other times it’s in the smaller things when it feels like God’s given me a particular job to do and I’m just not courageous enough for the task. Like when I know I should go and talk to people in a language I don’t really speak, about a topic I know nothing about in a culture I don’t understand. Some days it’s easier to stay home, get busy with other important things… or watch Netflix.
It’s then that it’s so important for me to go back to God’s promises. To remind myself of what God has asked me to do and how he did that. To tell stories of his faithfulness. To flee from evil distractions. To get away from it all for a while knowing that sometimes people are just going to be difficult no matter how hard you try. To still the storm of doubt and fear inside my head.
It almost sounds easy when it’s written out like that but it’s far from a simple recipe to courageous faithfulness and more a long, hard battle that I’m fairly confident never ends. Sometimes that battle doesn’t seem worth fighting anymore but I think it is and if you think you might be in that place now; here are a few things I find helpful. If nothing else, it’s a good reminder to me.
1. Go back to God’s promises
The bible’s good for this. One of my favourites at the moment is from Joshua. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
2. Remind myself of what God has asked me to do and how he did that.
It’s so important to write down our stories and encounters so we can come back to them in the times of doubt. One of my favourite stories is one where I found my best friend’s husband’s wedding ring on a football oval after God told me to go and look. I often remind myself of that moment when I’m having doubts about hearing God’s voice. Sometimes the stories you have aren’t for now – but God wants you to keep hold of them for the future even if they’re full of audacious prophecy.
3. Flee from the evil distractions.
There are so many of them around. Sometimes they’re clearly wrong but other times they look like “good” things – getting busy with work, cleaning the house… the devil uses all sorts of methods to get us and keep us off track.
4. Have some fun and let off some steam.
We went through a stage where we played a lot of Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” and danced around in the lounge or the car and sang about how the haters were going to hate. Obviously it doesn’t have to be that but it’s important to blow off steam sometimes – get a punching bag, go for a run, do something adventurous or just stop for a moment and don’t take life so seriously.
5. Tell the storm inside my head (whether it be fear, sadness, self doubt or anything else that might be getting you down) to shut up. It’s
There are a few things that I tell or ask myself pretty regularly but it’s different for all of us:
– Just go to sleep, you’re tired and blowing this way out of proportion.
– What’s the absolute worst-case scenario here?
– Not everything is your responsibility! Take care of the important things that are yours and leave the rest to God and others.
– Just do what needs doing today.
When you take out those negative thoughts – fill the space with positive ones and that’s when friends and family or your tribe are important. There’s nothing like a bit of perspective and advice to get you back on track. I would highly recommend getting yourself a mentor.
I’ve decided I should follow my own advice and remind myself about what God has asked me to do… to read more go to Hearing God’s Voice Part 2