for when your soul feels like it’s suffocating

This is one of those posts. The kind that I just have to type out because the truths may explode from inside of me if I don’t get them on “paper.” And that’d be all kinds of ugly for the Starbucks employees that are so innocently standing behind me doing their jobs.

Two things.

First, I have a question for you. “What thoughts are suffocating your soul?” Think about it for a minute. What’s suffocating you?

 

when your soul is suffocating

 

I had a long, desperate chat with God the other day that included lots of capital letters written on legal-sized, yellow notebook paper, telling Him how my soul felt like it was suffocating in one particular area of my life. And I realized it was because I kept. thinking. about. that thing.

I kept analyzing and wondering and managing and turning it on all its possible angles and the thoughts were killing my joy and my peace and…me! The last words I scribbled on that paper were, “I’m tired of thinking so much about this, Lord. I’m tired of trying to control this. I want YOU to consume my thoughts.”

And He started ushering in freedom.

What does “He ushered in freedom” mean? Well, it means He drew me in. It means that, by His grace, I dove into His Word and shared my heart with some dear friends and prayed. It means I started hearing the sermon my faithful Father was tenderly, sweetly speaking to me. The sermon of FREEDOM.

Freedom to rest. Freedom to trust. Freedom to love Him in the midst of the unknown. Freedom to not think the thing to bloody death.

 

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
Galatians 5:1

 

Here’s where it really steps on our toes.

And He showed me, whatever suffocates our peace and joy may be an indicator of some idol we’re allowing into our heart. Granted, life is straight-up hard at times. Things affect us. And God is tender to our humanity. But soul-suffocation isn’t in His job description. That’s a work of the enemy. That’s a work of our short-sighted flesh. God Almighty is in the freedom-business.

So first, what thoughts are suffocating your soul?

Second, there’s only one way out of that suffocating-cycle: WORSHIP. Worship. On Sunday our pastor mentioned idolatry and he said something that felt like water to my soul. He said (and I paraphrase), “We get out of idolatry the same way we got in. We worship our way out.

Drop. The. Mic.

Is that not brilliant?! We worship our way out. If something other than our God consumes our soul — suffocating our peace and hope and joy — the way out is worship. We worship our God with singing and repenting and praise and prayer and reading His Word and fellowship with other believers and dancing (yes, dancing….possibly utilizing the “Roger Rabbit” or whatever your particular brand of dancing includes). We worship our way out. Because He’s got this! Whatever this is, our God hasn’t forgotten His children.

More than a solution to our problems, our awesome God wants to grace us with a solution to our souls. He stands in love offering fulness in Him — a fulness we actually experience by His absolute grace through the stirring of His Spirit which happens through worship.

That’s it. Two things. Identify any thought patterns that suffocate your soul. And then worship your way out. And now I don’t have to explode. You’re welcome, Starbucks.

 
Fill me, Lord…

Is anything suffocating your soul? What can worship look like in your life today?
 

them’s fightin’ words

I used to be so diligent at memorizing portions of Scripture. But in recent months, I haven’t been as purposeful. Until now. {dun dun dun} I felt like that called for some dramatic music.

A few weeks back I was so privileged to be a part of the Beautiful Life Conference. Which, sidenote, was in.credible. And for the record, seeing Angela Thomas behind the scenes…she’s the real deal. But I digress.

On the Friday night of the conference, Ellie Holcomb gave a concert. And she inspired me. She stirred up that old desire I used to nurture that drove me to purposefully meditate upon specific portions of God’s Word. She told a story about memorizing Scripture with a friend and how “them’s fightin’ words” and…well…my passion reignited.

 

fightin words

 

I know it sounds churchy. But it’s just a thing. We have to — have to — meditate on true things continually or else our mind will become the enemy’s playground. But not a nice playground. A playground with dirty needles in the dirt and broken swings and creepy music playing in the background.

If we’re not purposefully meditating on what’s true, this world and all its brokenness will invade and take over our thought lives leaving us depressed and hopeless and anxious and fearful and…ad infinitum.

So I decided my first “order of business” was to memorize Psalm 73:21-26. I enlisted a trusty friend to hold me accountable. I wrote the words on paper. I looked at the paper. I repeated the words. I looked at the paper more. And now, it’s stuck in my brain.

Why is that good? Because here’s what my heart is tempted to say:

“My soul is embittered and it has every stinkin’ right to stay that way. Did you see what they did to me? You have no idea how deep these wounds go. I don’t care if I’m ignorant or beastly, the world did me wrong so I’m campin’ out here. Pass the chips.”

~ Eating worms,
The depraved folds of my heart

But here’s what the Psalmist says:

“When my soul was embittered. When I was pricked in heart. I was brutish and ignorant. I was like a beast toward you. Nevertheless I am continually with you. You hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you. And there is nothing on earth I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

~ With love,
Truth from Psalm 73:21-26

And yes, I typed that passage without looking at the Bible. Woohoo!

Here’s what happens. When I have truth stirring around in me, my heart may (as in “will”) say those foolish things but then I remember what’s true. I remember that even when I’m an ignorant beast in my thinking, God is right there with me. He’s holding my hand. He promises to guide me with His Word. And slowly but surely, my heart turns its attention away from the ever-present-and-pushy-me and onto the faithful-pursuing-awesome-God.

Remembering this passage causes me to ask myself, “What do you truly desire, Lara?” And then I remember that God alone satisfies. He alone fulfills my soul’s thirst. He is who I ultimately crave. “There is nothing on earth I desire besides You!” Then my soul lifts. Hope rises. And joy begins to show up on my face.

I need God’s Word rolling around in me. Need. Like oxygen. Because my heart deceives me. The enemy lies. This world inflicts sorrow. But God!

We need fightin’ words on the tip of our tongue. Need them. So maybe, just maybe, your passion to memorize is now reignited (or fanned into an even bigger flame). Press on, friend. With true words scribbled on notecards and taped to your bathroom mirror, press on.

 
Fill me, Lord…

What Scripture are you memorizing these days? (Or what do you want to memorize?)
 

and the winner of “Fruitful Affliction” is…

Sarah! You won a paperback copy of my newest Bible study set to release the first week of May! Yay! I will email you with the details.

And about the cover font. Wow. We as humans have very different tastes, don’t we? Which is a beautiful thing. God didn’t create a bunch of robots. But, alas, I had to choose one cover font. And personally, I liked all three. Which made it that much harder. But strictly because of the votes, we’re going with #2. No personal offense to those who chose #1 or #3. I still greatly love you.

 

fruitful affliction cover

 

Thank you for your comments and your excitement with me. I’ve been truly awed by God through my time of writing this study. I pray even now that God graciously uses it in our lives to draw us deeper into Him. Stay tuned! More details to come.

Oh and if you haven’t yet signed up for my (monthly-ish) newsletter, this may be a good time to do that. Click here to find out how. I (irregularly) send out insider info on my upcoming projects and offer my newsletter subscribers exclusive VIP coupons. Sounds really exciting, doesn’t it. I’d love for you to join me.

OK, back to the cave I go.