Be close to us, Father.
I come to you right now and ask for prayer for my friend…
For the one who is paralyzed with a daunting decision.
For the one who desperately wants to know the future, but cannot see past the fog of tomorrow.
For the one who is crippled by debt and financial concerns.
For the one struggling with deep fear.
For the one starting something brand new, terrified of messing up.
For the one who is scared to let others down and fearful to disappoint You.
For the one who is overwhelmed with the chaos of the current season.
For the one who wonders when things will ever feel “normal” again.
For my friend who wants peace but cannot imagine what that would even feel like…
Be close to us, Father.
Light the path.
Take our anxious hearts in Your hands and bring calm.
You are the God who sees us– help us to know that. You know every single detail of our lives, Lord– from the number of hairs on our head to the deepest longings of our hearts. And You are the God who loves us with a deep, wide, everlasting, unconditional love. Be close to us, Father.
Help us to breathe deep the incense of Your presence with us, in the midst of the unknowns and the fear.
Increase our trust in you, God. Help us to know in our minds and our hearts that You are a good father and a gentle shepherd. Help us to believe that You will make the way clear, and that You want our best.
Be close to us, Father.
Light the path.
Lord, when we cannot seem to move in any direction because we don’t know the right decision, help us to remember to take things one step at a time. Help us to reflect on something small and manageable right in front of us, rather than fixating on the whole big picture.
When we cannot see through the fog, help us to cling to You; be our guide. Light the path, one step at a time.
Lord, when we don’t know how we will pay the bills or pay off the debt or provide for the big things right over the horizon, help us to trust and know that You are our provider. Help us to remember, Lord, your faithfulness. Remind us what we can control for now, and in the meantime, be close to us.
When fear is loud and daunting, quiet our racing thoughts of the unknowns and our imagination of the “what ifs.” Strip away the layers of fear built around our hearts, and bring us to a place of resting in Your protection. You are our shield. Lord, let Your Truth be the loudest thing, over the enemy’s lies and our deepest insecurities and the fears that threaten to overtake our sanity. God, quiet our racing thoughts and bring peace.
Help us to remember that You care for us. Wash Your peace over us, from the tops of our heads to the tips of our toes, and to every aching part in between.
Breathe Your peace into our exhausted bodies, tired minds, and these weary hearts. Lavish Your love on your sweet child.
Be close to us. Light the path.
Lord, when we cannot see the goodness in the midst of the hard, train our eyes to see You. You are good, even when we’ve lost sight of that. Lord, we ask Your guidance in seeking out the blessings, focusing on the gifts, and noticing the sweet moments that are from You. Be close to us.
Father, more than anything else, show us how we can glorify and praise You, even in the midst of our pain and anxiety. Bring us closer to You, and remind us that You are close to the broken-hearted. We love You Lord.
Some additional resources to encourage you today:
Psalm 34 (v. 18 is my favorite: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”)
Printable Scripture cards- “11 Powerful Truths for when the lies get loud”
*NEW: The Peaceful Playlist (20 songs chosen by me, just for you. Open up this free Spotify playlist on those hard days.)
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P.S. Special thanks to Ben White of the Unsplash community for the photo to accompany this post.
Happy Friday, friends! This week’s story echoes what I’ve heard from so many friends and women in my life. It is hard to give up control from the desires, dreams, plans, and courses of action we map out. So, what does it look like to peel away the layers of perfectionism and surrender that control to God? Amie does a beautiful job of showing us. Thanks for kicking off 2019 Freedom Stories with an honest and beautiful piece, Amie!
Here is Amie’s Freedom Story.
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I silently stared out the window at the barren fields and cloudy skies, as we drove the five hour trip back home after a whirlwind trip to visit family for the holidays. The kids had their headphones on and were listening to a story CD, and my husband, Josh, was zoned in on the drive; I welcomed the quiet and temporary solitude free from distractions. As I watched the gray storm clouds rolling by, I couldn’t help but parallel the bleak skyline to the past year’s disappointments. It seemed as though, despite my best efforts, things just hadn’t gone at all according to plan.
My mind wandered to 2017, which had ended rather disastrously as I’d stretched myself too thin and ended the year with a panic attack, due to over-commitment and my desire for control and perfection in nearly every aspect of my life. This forced me to stop and re-evaluate my priorities. I remembered choosing the words “purpose” and “present” to define 2018, believing that a schedule and well-thought-out plan would cure the anxiety and stress I’d been unable to shake. I told myself that if I just had a clear-cut purpose and plan instead of aimlessly saying yes to everything, things would get better.
Instead of finding my purpose, however, God began to peel back the layers of my striving to reveal imperfections, weaknesses, and failures. I fought for control, for this perfect ideal I had in my head for what I thought God wanted. I looked at what others were doing and questioned why God didn’t create me with the ability to accomplish what they could. I kept asking myself why I seemed to have all of these limits that they didn’t and begged God to take away what I considered to be shortcomings so that I could do all of these great things for Him. I just knew I could be of more use if He’d created me without all of these struggles! My inner critic was relentless. My desire for personal perfection began to grow into a critical view of others as well, and I attempted to lay the blame for my failure on others. I told myself that if they had just behaved differently, my reaction would have been better.
Perhaps you’ve found yourself here before: wondering why, despite your gold foil calendar and multi-colored sharpie pens, life seems to be spiraling out of control at a speed you just can’t keep up with. You’ve found fault with yourself and others, as your inner critic keeps a running list of all the mistakes that give you cause to just throw your hands up in the air in defeat.
The GPS startled me out of my reflection as it reminded my husband that we needed to take the next exit, and it suddenly hit me: Josh wasn’t wringing his hands and wondering what the GPS was thinking, or if it was making the best decision. He was simply steering the van in the direction he was being told to go. He trusted that the GPS had the right answer.
Perhaps that was the answer to why last year had gone so horribly, terribly wrong. I’d been more consumed with the set of directions that I had so carefully laid for myself, that I forgot to trust the One who ultimately guides my steps. I’d ignored God’s whisper to rest in Him and allow Him to lead, believing the lie that the success or failure of my kids, my ministry, and my journey lay solely in my own hands. If I wanted to stop the mad cycle of failure, guilt, and regret, I had to stop striving on my own and sacrificing people on the altar of perfection. Wanting a perfect house, a perfect life, and perfect responses to anything that life threw at me was unrealistic, but how could I come to terms with the fact that life isn’t always ordered and controlled? I desperately wanted the peace that comes from knowing that it wasn’t all up to me.
Could it be that the secret to peace and rest simply lay in putting my trust in Jesus? I pulled out my phone and began to search for verses on peace. I found Isaiah 26:2, which says, “You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You.” (CSB) Jesus has already done the work for me, laying out His perfect plan for my life, and willing to freely give me the perfect peace if I will simply trust Him. It all began to make sense. Freedom and peace could be mine if I chose to trust that He has my best interest at heart, even when life is messy and things don’t make sense!
Now please hear me out. I know I can’t realistically live with the assumption that because God is leading that I’ll always like the direction I’m heading, but I can choose to rest in the fact that I don’t have to figure it all out on my own, control other people’s choices, or throw my hands up in defeat when things don’t go according to my plan. I continued reading and found that Isaiah 26:12 reads, “Lord, You will establish peace for us, for You have also done all our work for us.” (CSB) What difference would it make in my life if, instead of believing the lie that it’s all up to me, I believed the truth that every good thing that I do comes from God graciously enabling me to be part of His plan? This perspective eliminates my need to struggle through on my own, because He has become perfection for me.
Heavenly Father, help me to trust that Your plan for my life is better than anything I could ever dream up for myself. When I feel like I’m losing control and anxiety starts to creep in, help me to find my rest in You. Thank You for the privilege of being a part of Your master plan, and for allowing me to be an imperfect vessel to be used by You for whatever you see fit, even when things don’t go according to what I think is best. May my imperfections continuously point me to You, reminding me that You became perfect in my place. Help me to choose to accept the freedom You offer from perfection by resting in the truth that You have it all under control.
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Amie is a banker’s daughter turned farmer’s wife, who loves lazy days at the beach and a good conversation with friends. If she isn’t running here, there, and everywhere, you can usually find her doing extraordinary things like cleaning out her flower beds or washing dishes. She is a recovering perfectionist who is learning to see the beauty and purpose in each ordinary day, and hopes that sharing her journey will point readers back to her heavenly Father, who can take the mundane and use it for our good and His glory. She and her husband live in the country with their two children and pet goldfish named George.
You can follow Amie’s writing here!
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P.S. Want to read more Freedom Stories? Find more stories of hope and freedom from others here. Also, special thanks to John Canelis for the picture to accompany this post (via Unsplash).
This is a story for you.
The one who feels broken. The one who is struggling.
The one right in the middle of the hard stuff.
This is a story for the one in the waiting.
For the one standing at a fork in the road, frozen on which way to turn.
For the broken-hearted soul, staring at the pieces and unsure of how you will ever feel whole again.
For the one crippled with anxiety or sitting in darkness, praying for the light.
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Can I whisper something to you right now?
Freedom is for all of us. That means you, too.
Sweet friend, I wouldn’t have believed it if you told me this fifteen or ten or even five years ago, but freedom is possible and it is available to us here. In this life.
This past fall, God pressed it on my heart that this freedom thing I’m passionate about is bigger than just the story He is weaving for my heart. There are a lot of people walking in freedom, who have amazing stories of healing, redemption, and hope to share. I shared 15 of them with you from September to December, and you know what I heard?
“Amen.” “Me too.” “Tell me more.” “I wish I had that kind of story.”
Here’s the thing…
I believe that you DO have that kind of story. You, my fellow traveler on this journey, have your own freedom story. We are the wrestlers- the ones who work things out with fear and trembling. The ones who are not scared to look at the hardest parts of our story and pray for healing. Freedom is sometimes a quick turning point, a 180, or a miracle, but more often than not? It is a process.
Thank you for being brave enough to believe that freedom is possible. Not just for others, but for you too.
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I am REALLY really really excited about two things right now:
- A whole new group of Freedom Stories, currently scheduled to begin next week (January 11) and run through the middle of April. God opened the doors for about 15 more women to join in on Fridays to share their stories here too. So check back each week for more stories of hope and freedom. I can’t wait to see the new connections, ah-ha moments, and inspiration He brings through these women’s brave sharing.
- Something just for YOU. I want you to know that this freedom is not just for others who have stronger faith or better resources or less messy stories. It is for you, friend. If you want to dig deeper and imagine a life of freedom, enter your email address here for a free 5-page workbook to start looking at the areas where you long to be free. More to come on this soon (to go deeper!!!), but for now, get your free PDF:
As we begin a new year, we praise you.
Lord, you are Creator. In you, we find new beginnings.
We discover and delight and praise your good works- the sunrise that reminds us that each day from you is a gift to unfold. Freshly fallen snow that shows us a clean slate. Crisp air that fills our lungs so that we can breathe anew.
Thank you for providing for all of our needs last year, and for the abundant blessings above and beyond what we asked. We praise you for all of the ways we grew, for the new people you brought into our lives, for the lessons learned, for the ways you made us more like you.
Thank you Lord for carrying us through the hardest times of this past year. We thank you, Father that you are our protector. Thank you for sustaining us and holding us when we did not have the energy or strength to walk on our own.
Thank you, too, for those hard seasons. For the pruning. For casting out the things we needed to let go of, and for sharpening us as we pushed through the trials of this past year. We also thank you Lord that in the midst of the hard, the pruning, the sharpening, the waiting, you never left us once. Thank you Lord, that when we face difficulties, you are close to us in our pain.
Lord, your Word tells us that your mercies are new every morning. We thank you that each day you begin again with us. The past is behind us, and we can move forward with your mercy covering us. Help us to walk in your power and strength today. May we remember that this new year is an unfolding of new mercies.
As we face a new day, a new week, and a new year, help us to rely even more on you and your strength rather than ourselves. Help us to dwell on your promises and keep your eternal perspective during our day to day lives. May your Truth continue to inform the way we make our decisions, fight our battles, and build up those around us. Jesus, may we be more like you this year. Thank you for all that you have done this past year, and all that you will do in the years to come. Today, Lord, and this year, are yours.