It Is Well With My Soul – Mixed Emotions

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We have reached the end of another powerful series—a series about emotional health. Being a full-fledged senior citizen does not prevent me from recognizing that emotional well-being is of great importance, both inside and outside the walls of the local church.

I rejoice that CedarCreek Church presents topics that are instrumental to growing spiritual maturity. It is a sad day when Jesus-followers never advance past wearing spiritual diapers! Some may find that statement outrageous. If so, it could be you have not encountered Jesus-followers who have refused to grow up emotionally.

Take me, for instance. One would think someone my age would never be so petty as to whine and complain about someone or something for more than a few minutes. The truth is, it wasn’t that long ago that I could whine and complain with the best of them, and whether the topic was any of my business didn’t play into it at all. (Please note: There is no bragging going on here, simply brutal honesty.)

Frankly, this subject of Mixed Emotions is not for sissies! It takes courage and fortitude to purposefully step into a thorough self-examination of one’s emotions, or lack thereof. In the rear-view mirror of my mind’s eye, I clearly recall recognizing God was going about the business of restoring my soul in late 1986. Without realizing it, he was gently and lovingly restoring my soul and leading me. The magnitude of Psalm 23:3 (NKJV) registered deep within me that day.

Psalm 23:3 NKJV
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

That Bible verse put to memory years earlier had come full circle, putting itself on display. Were it not for abused or damaged souls, there would be no need for God to restore them. Spoiler alert—we must choose to participate in the restorative process—there is no magic wand! Were God to offer instant restoration, the learning of important life lessons would not happen.

Spiritual growth and emotional awareness continue as I allow him near this broken soul. Not seeking professional counsel for my “soul holes” has drug this process on longer than necessary. Clearly, CedarCreek is on a mission to offer the tools and understanding to face the very things often inhibiting spiritual growth! The mission of a healthy church includes making known there are struggles in life that are best managed with professional counsel and proper spiritual application of Biblical truths.

Truths such as Romans 8:38-39 offer reminders of how outrageously great his love is for us. God is the only perfect parent. He alone has the power to recycle everything into good to those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28)!

Romans 8:38-39
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Questions:
Which of your emotions catch you by surprise? Have you identified the cause/event associated with those emotions? Have you sought Biblical counsel in understanding how to best resolve/settle emotions that occasionally run amok? Have you taken steps to ensure there is no medical condition contributing to the emotional upheavals you experience?

Next Steps:
Learn to better identify your emotions by referencing the Feelings Wheel. Refer to this tool whenever naming your emotional response is difficult. It’s helpful to name the problem associated with the strong emotion(s). Choose to feel the feeling. (To attempt to deny the feeling is foolish.) Invite a trusted friend into the conversation to help process and heal from the event.

Prayer:
Father, your acceptance of me in my brokenness is beyond comprehension. Empower me to identify the cause(s) of emotional upheavals within me. Give me grace and mercy for those struggling with emotional brokenness. Help me be patient with others and myself as I untangle hurtful events/memories. Remind me regularly, hurting people hurt people. Set me free from being easily offended. Give me courage to speak up when offenses need addressing. Empower me to forgive quickly, allowing no root of resentment and bitterness to take hold. May the light of Jesus shine through me—in word and deed. Thank you for your never-ending generosity.  In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Karen Peck. Karen retired in March 2018 from Lucas County Information Services. She has been married to her husband, E. Michael, for over forty years. Karen is extremely grateful retirement has afforded her several soul-fulfilling opportunities to engage in deeper, meaningful relationship with Him and others.


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Give the Worry Up – Mixed Emotions

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Anxiety is something that many of us deal with on a daily basis. Some of us handle it better than others. And some of us struggle so terribly with anxiety that the stress is enough to cause a mental breakdown.

I’ve been there more times than I can count. Craig Groeschel writes, “The things we worry about the most are the hints we trust God with the least.”

That rings true on so many levels in my life. I worry about almost everything, but through prayer, I can often keep my anxiety in check and help the worry start to fade.

In the moment, our anxiety can cripple us to the point where we can’t breathe, think straight, or even function the way we normally do. But God is bigger than our biggest anxiety. God knows how to comfort us—after all, he’s known us since before we were even a twinkle in our parents’ eyes. If he can handle our cries of anger when we’re upset and still love us unconditionally, I’m pretty sure he can handle any anxieties we cast upon him and guide us through our worries.

Romans 8:31-32
31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?

Over the years I have learned that to calm my anxiety, I need to take my mind off what’s making me worry and, instead, turn toward God.  Anxiety attacks aren’t fun, and I tend to have a “microwave mentality” about them—I want the anxiety to pass quickly. For me, the combination of deep breathing and praying my fears over to God helps it pass sooner.

Philippians 4:6
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

No matter how dark the anxiety and worry become, a light shines at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes we don’t see it right away, but it’s there—and that light is Jesus. So don’t let the darkness of your worries and troubles deceive you. Look for comfort in the light. God wants us to give our worries over to him so that we can live our best life.

As you grow in your faith and learn to seek God’s comfort, he wants you to be of service to others—become that light for others who need to see.

Isaiah 40:1
“Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God.

Questions:
What is your biggest worry? Have you given it to God, who tells us not to worry? Do you pray when you become anxious about something?

Next Steps:
Read what the Bible says about worry and anxiety. Share your anxieties with trusted friends, or seek a professional’s advice. A confidante might offer tips to help manage your anxiety.

Prayer:
God, help me to worry less and come to you more. Help me to cast my worries and troubles onto you and aid others who are lost find your light at the end of the tunnel. Help me avoid getting lost in the ways of this world so that I may always follow you and your ways. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Casey Stengel, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut.


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Look Up! – Mixed Emotions

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When my mom and I run, we tend to look at the ground. The sidewalk we take is uneven in several places, and we have tripped more times than I can count. So, to prevent more scrapes and bruises, we keep our eyes down on the path before us.

While this strategy is helpful, it often means that we miss the first rays of sunshine creeping over the trees or the view of the river covered in ice or the perfect flower beds along the way. When we do lift our heads—if only for a moment—we are sometimes rewarded by a dazzlingly unexpected sight.

We do the same thing with our worries. We often focus on the never-ending amount of work, take extra precautions to avoid disaster, and refuse to do anything adventurous. And, as a result, we miss the little blessings all around us.

Matthew 6:31-32
31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.”

We are afraid to look up, even for a second, because what if we trip? How will we get up? Will we be able to keep going?

We turn down incredible opportunities because they are too risky.

We push aside rest because we are too busy.

We ignore the people we love because love comes with too much heartache.

Instead, we only watch the road before us, missing the gifts God has planted along the way.

What would happen if we looked up, just once? Yes, we might trip, but what then? God will pick us up. What if we don’t fall? What if the path we’re so worried about tripping on turns out to be even and level? What might we see along the way?

Isaiah 26:7
But for those who are righteous, the way is not steep and rough. You are a God who does what is right, and you smooth out the path ahead of them.

God provides every time. Every single time. It may not go the way we hope, but he still makes a way. It is your choice: Will you keep your eyes fixed to the ground? Or will you find the courage to look up?

Isaiah 26:3
You keep him in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

Questions:
Are you refusing to look up and enjoy what is around you? What are you afraid of? What might you be missing? How can you remember that God will provide?

Next Steps:
Look up. Choose to be in the moment, whether that means saying “yes” to an adventure, turning down more work, going out with your spouse, or having a dance party with your kids. Find something to delight you—even something as small as the sun on your face or a conversation with a friend.

Prayer:
Father, you provide each and every time. I tell myself over and over that things won’t work out, but you always come through. I want to stop worrying, and the only way to do that is to look up. Guide my eyes to where you are, and fix them there. I don’t want to ever look away! Amen.


This post was written by Lydia Snyder. Lydia has been a story-lover for as long as she can remember, often found reading books or writing. She is thrilled to be making a difference by inspiring others to take part in the best story ever – God’s story. Lydia lives with her three wonderful siblings and two amazing parents.


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“What if” to “God, if” – Mixed Emotions

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My social anxiety probably started when my mom moved us from Dayton to Findlay. I was only four, but I remember how shocking it was to see white everywhere and start preschool and kindergarten, realizing I was different because no one else looked like me. That was when I started the game of what ifs.

It’s easy to think a little kid shouldn’t have such worries, but the move to Findlay was the conclusion of the buildup of multiple, anxiety-producing events. If adults find it so easy to latch onto the spirals of anxiety, imagine what it’s like for children.

So, it began.

What if the other kids don’t like me?

What if my parents stay apart?

What if everyone notices I’m different too?

When you doubt yourself and those around you long enough, you begin to live in what ifs, and your mind doesn’t know what to think about many things, including God. Last weekend, our guest speaker, Barb Roose, explained three what if categories that create anxiety in us:

  • Uncertainty: What if I’m not OK?
  • Security: What if I’m all alone? What if I don’t matter at all?
  • Responsibility: What if I fail?

We’ve all been there, whether it was in high school, at college, a job, in our marriage, etc. The problem is we tend to make the what ifs bigger while making God smaller. That’s what happens when anxiety feeds on our emotions. Jesus also experienced anxiety, but he didn’t allow it to become bigger than God, not even when he faced the cross.

Anxiety swarmed around Jesus’ mind while praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. However, Jesus did what many of us never do. Instead of asking, “What if?” Jesus said, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Matthew 26:39). In Barb’s book, Winning the Worry Battle, she said, “Switching from ‘What if’ to ‘God, if’ flips you from fear to faith.” You learn to trust God’s outcome rather than what you can never control.

Matthew 6:25-27
25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

That’s worth repeating—will your worries add a single moment to your life?

What if we, instead, let go and let God?

Questions:
How does anxiety take up space in your life? When has living in fear ever made a positive difference for you?

Next Steps:
Pick up your Bible, find an accountability partner, attend a weekend service, and find a Group to lean on to curb anxiety before it starts. Start a prayer journal and highlight when “God, if” becomes more rewarding than “What if.”

Prayer:
Father, God, my fears outweigh my faith more than I realize. I pray that I continue to find comfort in your promises when doubt creeps in. Thank you for healing me when my lack of faith attempts to break my spirit. Amen.


This post was written by Jaron Camp. Jaron is a storyteller and a professional ghostwriter who enjoys using his gifts to write for the LivingItOut. When he’s not developing fictional worlds, researching, and writing, Jaron enjoys watching sports, participating in family game night, and spending time with his wife and four kids.


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Making Sense of Anxiety – Mixed Emotions

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This week, author and speaker Barb Roose taught us that God knows and cares about our deepest anxieties. He is with us during each one of our trials, no matter how scary they may seem. Anxiety has been prevalent throughout human history. As we learned, over 300 verses in the Bible speak on anxiety, and today, 20% of Americans suffer from clinical anxiety.

God wired our brains intricately to experience a wide range of emotions, including anxiety. Anxiety is our automatic physical response to fear and threats. It is helpful when we face imminent danger that threatens our survival, but it can become a problem when it overtakes our lives and gains control of us.

Uncontrolled anxiety has the potential to affect us physically, mentally, and spiritually. It activates our autonomic threat-detection system, causing physical symptoms, and clouds our thinking and decision-making skills. Furthermore, anxiety can affect our relationship with God.

Modern Christian culture can lead us to believe that our struggles with anxiety occur because we do not “trust God enough” or “believe God enough,” as Barb explained. It can lead us to question God and doubt that he truly is with us in our battles and cares about our worldly worries. However, that could not be farther from the truth: God understands our anxiety. The Bible verses on anxiety are there because God understands us; he doesn’t want to condemn us.

On the night before his crucifixion, Jesus experienced immense anxiety while he was in the Garden of Gethsemane—likely more than most of us will experience in our lifetime. When faced with a horrific death, Jesus asked the Father for a way out of the situation.

Matthew 26:39
He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

We can take comfort knowing that God himself has experienced pain and anxiety and knows what we’re going through. Although he didn’t want to suffer, Jesus completely surrendered to God and trusted his will. We can follow Jesus’ example by relinquishing our control to God and not allowing worry to consume our lives.

Barb explained that your response to anxiety depends on how you center God in the story. God does not intend for us to live in fear; however, we live in a fallen world where we will experience anxiety. But we do not have to live there—we do not have to let our anxiety rule our lives. We can give it to God, knowing that his will is better than ours, even when it’s not immediately obvious.

Romans 12:2
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Questions:
In which areas of your life are you most anxious? What are the consequences of not surrendering your anxieties to God?

Next Steps:
This week, write down your daily anxieties on a sheet of paper. At the end of the week, pray over the list and surrender it to God. Join a Group this semester where you can share your anxieties with a lifegiving group of Jesus followers who will support you on your journey of surrendering to God.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for allowing me to come to you with all of my anxieties. You understand and empathize with my fears, but you are much bigger than any anxiety that I will ever face. Help me to remember that everything is in your control and help me to pray that your will be done, not mine. Thank you for walking through life with me and guiding me through my anxieties. In Jesus’ name, amen


This post was written by Isabelle Billnitzer. Isabelle is a regular attender of CedarCreek and serves in the children’s ministry. She is passionate about writing and loves spending time with her family and friends. Her goal is to show people the love of Jesus Christ.


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