Amber Rylan Rivers is the singer and co-songwriter of the husband and wife music duo, Rylan Rivers. She is also a published poet and painter, blogger, and fiction writer. At the heart of all her work is her love for Jesus and sharing His light with others.

In this new series, I am going to tackle some of the toughest subjects I have encountered – subjects that have shattered people’s faith. I’m started with a major faith killer in today’s society, which is the Bible’s take on the role of women. I’ve watched my female friends bow out of Christianity because they believe the Bible makes women out to be weak, helpless, and inferior to men. They thought the Bible oppressed women and glorified men.

So, let’s clear things up! What does the Bible really say about women and how does that apply to us today?

First of all, Genesis 1:27 tells us that both men and women are created in God’s image. This means that God views us as equals. He didn’t create Adam like Himself and then make something up for Eve. Both are made to be like God in character. It is very important to remember that when the Bible is dishing out the roles of man vs. woman, there is no difference in value or importance. God designed each gender for the roles defined.

Genesis 2:18 says, “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helper fit for him,’” and in verse 22-23, “and the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of man.”

God made Adam, but realized that he shouldn’t be alone. God had given him authority over the Earth and animals, but without a companion, without someone he could share it with – it wasn’t enough. He then begins creating all different animals and creatures as Adam’s “helpers” but no one is “fit for him.” This means that nothing else is going to cut it until God creates Eve. When God crafts Eve, he literally takes part of Adam away in order to make her – this makes them one flesh. In other words, God specifically designed Eve for Adam and Adam for Eve. They complement each other. It does not imply that women are less than or even reliant on men. It is also important to note that the Bible is specifically showing a husband-wife relationship here, not just a man-woman relationship.

Things start getting more confusing in Genesis 3. Here Eve has given in to the temptation. She ate the fruit and now God is revealing the consequences: she must suffer childbearing pains (as the “mother of all living,” originally a blessed title), she will be ruled over by her husband, and now Adam is going to suffer and toil all the days of his life for joining her in eating the fruit. The key thing I want to focus on is in Gen. 3:16 when it says, “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”

Assuming Eve is representing all women to follow, this would suggest that wives will be ruled by their husbands. As a woman, that’s a bit frustrating to hear. Why should all women have to pay for what Eve did? I thought God was just?

I’m just going to let that sit for a moment. In fact, I’m probably going to make you feel worse.

1 Timothy 2 has a lot to say about women’s roles after The Fall. Paul first stresses that women should be modest in how they dress – that seems reasonable. Tempting others to sin is sin (even unintentionally), even if they don’t follow through with the sin, they’ve thought it, and just thinking it is also a sin! Obviously, if we want to be clear of sin, choosing to dress respectfully to ourselves with the body God made for us is a good place to start.

But then, it goes on in verses 12-14, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.”

NOOO! If you read this out of context, it sounds like God’s decided no woman can ever have authority in any situation. She must be quiet and cannot teach anyone anything. Furthermore, man came first so man is superior and a woman messed up, so it’s all her fault the world is fallen.

Yikes. This is how I would have taken it in the past. Context is so important to understanding the true meaning of passages in the Bible. What is happening in 1 Timothy is that Apostle Paul is writing to the church of Ephesus, telling them how the church is supposed to be, in accordance to what God has revealed to him. When it says, “I do not permit,” that is Paul speaking in his authority as the one God called to raise the churches after Christ. When it says women cannot teach or exercise authority over a man, he is referring to women serving as Elders in a church. The Bible is very clear that men should be the leaders/overseers/elders of a church. Women are allowed to teach children and other women, but should be “quiet” as in not leading over a congregation.

I want to pause and point out that many theologians debate that the only reason things were laid out this way for the church in Ephesus and several other churches, is that in that culture, women were generally not educated. Most women, based on the laws (which we are told to follow the laws of our lands), could not even read. This means that those women could not study the Bible on their own and had to learn from their husbands, who were educated. It is a widely accepted theory that in today’s world, this means women with education and an ability to read the Bible and learn from it themselves are now fully “allowed” to teach and lead congregations (hence Joyce Meyer). Additionally, in Acts 18:24-26, two women are shown pulling aside a well-educated elder and teaching him the way of God. Obviously, this is not over the congregation, but it shows that women are allowed to teach and guide men.

Back to the verses, when Paul mentions Adam and Eve, he is showing us that the roles of men and women were part of God’s design and not necessarily just a result of the original sin. God intended for men to lead and women to support. This created a balanced relationship. If both tried to lead, there would be conflict. If both only supported, there would be no direction. Again, remember this is meant for married couples. Marriage was designed to symbolize the relationship between Christ (the groom) and the Church/Us (the bride).

This is best described in Ephesians 5:22-24:

“Wives submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”

Here Paul is saying wives submit to their husband just like they submit to Christ. Still sounds a bit frustrating, but submission does not make us slaves to our husbands. God wants wives to listen to their husbands, respect them, run ideas past them, be agreeable, and trust them. Obviously, this doesn’t mean husbands should get to walk all over their wives and treat them like slaves and property. It doesn’t mean get in the kitchen and make dinner because he said so. It means God’s dream – if you will – is that wives will be eager to help, support, and please their husband. Also, notice it doesn’t say, “Women submit to men, as to the Lord.” It’s only to her own husband. He is illustrating the best way for a woman to be a godly wife – the way that will lead to the most happiness! Remember, God has our good in mind!

Ready for the flipside?

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her… In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself… Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” (Ephesians 5:25-31, ESV)

The husband is supposed to put his wife before himself – to be willing to die for her, give up all that he has for her. This means that if he’s striving to be like Christ, he’s going to be leading in a way that is not best for himself, but best for his wife. The husband is supposed to be self-sacrificial. In God’s perfect dream for marriage, the wife is helping the husband and the husband is leading them toward her best interest. They take care of each other. Neither is more important. They are devoting themselves to each other’s happiness and fulfillment.

Let’s take on another difficult verse!

 1 Peter 3:7 says, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”

I like how when I first read this, I was all about it until I got to “weaker vessel,” then that was the only thing I originally took out of it. It’s easy to read that and think, “oh so now women are weak?!” There’s a couple ways to take it. Personally, I take it as cultural status. Women were viewed as lesser than men in that culture, so husbands were supposed to treat them as equal heirs because in God’s eyes, that’s what they are. Notice also, it says that the husbands’ prayers can be hindered by how he treats his wife! So, if a man is abusing his authority, mistreating her, hurting her, God’s going to look down and stamp a big fat “NO” on his prayers because he is disobeying His command. This can even be taken as a warning against physical abuse, since yes, generally speaking, most men are physically stronger than women and have a greater potential of hurting their wives. (Of course, it can go the other way too, and I’m sure God won’t answer the prayers of an abusive wife either.)

Most of the “trouble” verses are about wives and husbands, some of it applies to churches, but none of it applies to the workplace, school, or any other situation. Women are not inferior to men according to the Bible. In fact, if I had more time, I’d write all the examples of how much God loves his daughters and how big of an impact they have had! The bottom line is that God has a vision for the dynamic between a man and woman, but because it is so easy to misunderstand what is really being said, take things out of context, and misuse the Word, it was perceived and taught in the light of women being lesser than men.

As a final note, here’s some “Verses to Remember” about the type of women God actually hopes his daughters will be!

Proverbs 31:

  • V. 17: “She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.”
  • V. 20: “She opens her hand to the poor and reaches her hands to the needy.”
  • V. 25: “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the times to come.”
  • V. 26: “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”
  • V. 30-31: “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.”

There are countless examples in the Bible of Jesus and his disciples physically healing people. From the blind, to the lame, to those dying from the plague, to the already deceased – Jesus seemed to have no boundaries about healing the sick. And yet, how many of us today either struggle with permanent physical ailments or know someone who is? Even devote, spirit-filled people sometimes are left in poor health, and this right here is really, really difficult for me to wrap around. Ironically, just in time for me to broach this subject, God’s prepared for me a testimony. It’s a bit lengthy, but I think God brought this to me now for a reason, so I hope you’ll take the time to read my story:

After my husband and I married and gave our lives over to Christ, our lives began to change. Things became more about God’s vision than our vision. But, honestly, I didn’t have a good grasp on what God wanted from us. So, I spent many hours a week praying that God would share with me his dream for our lives. It took time, but one day I had this “revelation.” I was meditating on those prayers, wondering what God had in mind, when several crisp visions and pieces of understanding hit me. It was amazing! I didn’t know much detail about anything – how it would happen or when – but I knew God had a big calling in several areas of our lives.

The biggest one: we are supposed to have a son.

I was a little dumbfounded by that. Honestly, I love children but the thought of having my own was never that appealing. I had a lot of reasons, but anyone in my family will tell you I’ve always been at least mildly against it. My husband didn’t have much of an opinion on it either. We both were in the “if it happens, okay – if not, okay!” mindset, though I was leaning more toward it not being okay if we had one. So that is how I know the revelation I had wasn’t my own. I was terrified, upset, and a little excited. Of course, having God reveal anything to you is thrilling – but really? Why did it have to be that?

I told my husband all about what God shared with me, and he reacted close to the same as I did. We both agreed God must mean this is for later down the road. That brought me some peace, and almost made me excited. I would get a few years to let this settle in and grow on me!

Well, as time went on, this lingered almost constantly in my mind. I started to be okay with the idea, then I started to wonder when God intended this to happen, and then I started to wonder if I actually wanted it to happen. I started praying again, but God wasn’t responding. I started to doubt the revelation, thinking maybe I just made it up and was being silly anyway. Maybe God was up there chuckling at me for being so anxious about this subject. I had my husband pray about it, asked him to ask God for confirmation. I kept asking for confirmation myself too. I’d say, “God, I’m going to open my Bible and I want you to say whatever it is you need to say to me,” and I’d open it and there’d be something about a child.

At this point, I realized my revelation simply must be right but maybe I wasn’t spending enough quiet time with God to hear him answer. I knew I had some time off work coming up in September, so I vowed that during that time, I was going to stay in deep prayer, study, and mediation until I understood God’s vision and what my role was in it.

Almost immediately after this, I got very sick. It started with a minor throat infection, turned into tonsil stones, canker sores, a swollen and very infected throat with blisters as far down as doctors could see, then a fever, shakes, chills, a cold, and a very high resting heart rate. I had three different strep tests, an EKG, and blood work done. They even put me on a beta-blocker to calm my heart down. Most importantly, she ordered me to take off work for the next four days.

I was physically miserable. It hurt to talk, swallow, and even breath sometimes– and forget eating anything besides chicken noodle soup and mashed potatoes. And naturally, my husband had to work all of those days, so I was stuck in my room alone with no energy to do anything besides—

Pray. It was exactly what I needed. Sure, I felt terrible, but God had me right where he needed me. He wasn’t about to let my busy work schedule get in the way of what he needed to tell me. He needed me out of the game, unable to do anything productive besides focus on him.

So that’s what I did. The first three days I sat and studied the Bible, read books by my pastor and his brother, prayed, and listened. I was so sick that it was very hard to concentrate too, so I started writing down my prayers – an old trick I used a few years ago. It helps you stay on subject and keep your mind from wandering, then you have that prayer recorded so it’s easier to see all God does!

On the third day, I was getting really frustrated, bored, and a bit depressed. After all, God told me I was supposed to sing (as I’ve mentioned before) and I could barely even talk! I figured I’d recover but I wanted to sing right then! I wanted to use my gift and sing praise songs and write music to God, and I was getting so impatient. What made it worse, I realized I didn’t even really know how to “worship.” Worshipping isn’t just singing praise, it’s about adoring God for who he is. I’m great at thanking God for what he does, but I didn’t know much about adoring him for who he is. In my frustration, I picked up my prayer journal and begged God to teach me how to simply adore him instead of just appreciate what he does for me.

Within the next thirty minutes, I felt urged to pull up some of the music files my husband and I have made, then I went to a certain song we’d let go, then suddenly I was editing the sound and changing the lyrics—

Then I was singing – yes, singing, with blisters down my swollen throat, with vocal chords not used for at least a week – singing. I recorded the new lyrics, and the whole song was about God’s awesome character and power. I was thrilled! And almost immediately after recording, my voice went back to its sick self.

It was incredible to experience that. I knew that was part of why God pulled me out of my work routine – he needed to show me the key to falling in love with him so I could feel passionate about music again and be inspired. It was so amazing to have my voice healed just enough to record that song so I wouldn’t lose it, even though I lost the strength in my voice again after.

What it really did was lift up my faith. So, by day four, I knew God was on a mission. I had reached a point where I was ready to listen and learn from him. That day, I picked up my prayer journal and wrote all about how incredible he is. How amazing it is that he listens to all of his children all at the same time and has such a deep personal relationship with all of us at once! Then I thanked him for the teaching and inspiration and the people in my life. Then I came back to my original question: What about this child?!

By starting my prayer focused on God: his character, love, power, wisdom, strength, etc. I made myself open to hearing his voice, not just my voice asking questions. So this time, when I brought it up, the most breathtaking thing happened – the Holy Spirit wrote through me.

This part might sound crazy to some, but I know what I experienced! As I was writing, I started to feel the Holy Spirit’s prompting, just like it says in the Bible, that the Spirit will guide us in prayer. Then suddenly I felt this overwhelming sensation and my eyes basically glazed over, I wasn’t looking at what I was writing, but I could hear the words of my prayer loudly inside my mind. So I wrote fiercely what was resounding within me.

God answered me. He told me his vision for this child he’d simply mentioned to me before – he wants us to have this child soon, to raise him with the Spirit, and grow him in God’s love and way. He’s supposed to be part of our spiritual journey, part of the other elements God revealed in the original revelation. He wants him to grow to be a spiritual leader.

This was a lot to take in. I literally stood up to walk away, get some water or something, but instead fell on my knees and wept. I was overcome with emotions – mostly humility and gratitude. God had listened and answered me, and he had a big dream for us that we were so afraid of before, but now I wanted it to happen. He changed my heart, and my husband’s heart about having a child – and I think that was the biggest demonstration of his power.

I was still sick, however. I had to return to work the next day and I was totally out of it. Between still feeling shocked about what God said to being sick and having to go back to my management job, I wasn’t ready. I felt pathetic. I couldn’t concentrate and I felt like I was in slow motion. I looked terrible and people were pointing it out. I still couldn’t talk or hear well. Plus I was having an anxiety crisis because I realized I couldn’t keep taking the beta blocker if we were going to try to get pregnant, which is what God said to do!

I got home and turned this up to God. I told him bluntly, “You said you want me to have a baby, and you want this to happen now, so I need you to heal my body because I can’t take that medication and be pregnant. I give my physical body to you like everything else I have. Do with me what you need to fulfill your will and purpose, but I know you want this child so whatever is wrong with my heart – heal it, in Jesus Christ name!”

Like I said, I get my prayer tips from David.

But what was beautiful, is the next day, I was alright. I told God I wasn’t going to take that medication. I was going to trust him to keep my body healthy for his future plans. My heart rate returned to normal. My voice came back. My illness left me. I still took time outside of work to rest and recover, but I knew that I’d prayed in accordance to God’s will, he’d answered, and he’d healed me.

Again, I know that was lengthy, and you’re probably trying to figure out where I’m going with this in terms of God’s promise for physical healing. Honestly, this subject is very difficult for me for a lot of reasons. But what I learned in my down time with God is that he has a plan and purpose for everything, even sickness.

I am guilty, sadly, of accusing people of not having enough faith and not being healed because of that. And while I think in some instances, a lack of faith is the problem. The Bible even says that God cannot perform miracles for those who do not believe (note: “cannot” because he will not act outside of his own rules and order). But there are plenty of earnest believers that are not healed, that have permanent illnesses, injuries, deformities, or diseases. What it comes down to is this: we cannot understand God or his purposes. We can only work with what he reveals and seek him desperately for more wisdom and understanding in those circumstances. In some backwards seeming way, God might be protecting us by allowing us to suffer physically. He might be using it as a tool to connect with us, to heal us emotionally or spiritually. Maybe he’s trying to get your attention. Maybe he has your attention but needs to hold it this way. Maybe he’s going to heal you at exactly the right moment for your greatest benefit or the greatest benefit of his kingdom (to provide testimony). Maybe he’s going to let you stay that way to teach others compassion or to teach you to accept help. Maybe he is testing your faith. There are more reasons that I can think of or list!

Just remember, God always works for the good of his children. I learned a lot by turning my sick time into prayer time. He healed me right when it was appropriate, not a moment sooner. There are things I still have, like a broken tailbone, that he hasn’t healed. But I trust him with that. I think physical ailments show us dependency on God. He wants us to rely on him. When we are weak, he his strong – that goes for physical situations too.

God’s promise for physical healing is personal. He ultimately grants us a new body in heaven without pain or illness. But whatever your struggle is, give it to him and trust that no matter what he does, whether it’s healing or not, he is doing it for you, even if there seems to be no reason, no lesson, no hope in it. Trust him to provide for you and to pull you through – not out of – your physical suffering. God’s ways are beyond our comprehension – every type of suffering is a chance to further our faith and dependency on God.

In closing to this series, if you have prayer requests for healing, whether it be physical, emotional, or spiritual, please send them to me! I would love to pray for you. If you like, I can anonymously post your requests for my readers, so they may pray as well!

Write to me or send requests here:

I used to have this cute little thought that my life was going to be a breeze if I believed in God. If I just trust him, love him, and seek him, nothing bad would happen. I thought if something bad did happen, it meant I was doing something wrong and being punished. As I became an adult, I realized bad things happen all the time to everyone and it doesn’t matter if you believe in God or not. So, then I started to ask that big question many of us face and many theologians have tackled:

Why would a loving God let me and all these other people suffer?

When this really hit home, it took a major toll on my faith. I would say this is the first thing that shook my faith before I let it go. Ironically, when I found God again, this was the first subject coming up in my bible studies (not even on purpose) and at church. It’s like God wanted to make sure I really understood this one this time so I wouldn’t give up on him again. So, in case you haven’t heard, here’s why you’ll still suffer, and what role God promises to play while you do.

I mentioned in my last post that after we’ve been given a new heart, one with Christ, our main objective in life becomes transforming as close to Christ’s image as we can get. What happened to Jesus? He was ridiculed, prosecuted, tortured, and killed. Sounds like some suffering, right? Unfortunately for us comfort seekers, this means if we are going to become like Christ we need to suffer like Christ. Fortunately for us, not many of us are meant to suffer that intensely.

1 Peter 4:18 says, “Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good,” (ESV).

God’s ultimate will is for you to become like Christ, so if you are suffering so you can become more like Christ, you are suffering for a right reason. Let’s refresh, becoming like Christ means living in love, grace, mercy, righteousness, helping other people, and advancing the kingdom of God. Of course, everyone knows about “growing pains.” Our pain and suffering grows us and molds us. Your suffering is not in vain. It is a healthy tool God uses to help you become more than you believe you can ever be. Just like a coach pushing athletes, God will help us overcome future obstacles, self-doubts, and physical barriers by allowing us to suffer. He doesn’t enjoy it any more than you do, but he is highly aware of the end goal. You need to be too.

I know this is rough. Many of you are thinking, “Why become a Christian than if it basically promises suffering?”

Well, you are going to suffer no matter what. Just think for a moment about all the other things you could suffer for, things that happen when you are living an unrighteous life without Christ. You could suffer from a hangover and something mean you said while drunk. You could suffer from addiction, weight-loss, and health problems caused by drugs. You could suffer from cheating on your significant other or spouse. You could suffer from spreading gossip and hurting others with your words. You could suffer from lying to your employer, your kids, your friends, etc. There all sorts of things people suffer from today that are not beneficial to them in the long run. These things hurt you and the people around you, and they take you away from God’s plan for your life. Christ suffered for people’s salvation, not from drunkenness, addictions, maliciousness, gossip, or deceit.

Personally, I would rather suffer because I’m doing the right thing, not because I’m doing the wrong thing. It’s up to you. Will you suffer for a cause or from bad choices?

So, wait, what about healing? What does this have to do with the series topic at all?

This is a large subject. I will likely write more about suffering for Christ later, but for now, let’s tie this together. Part of emotional healing is understanding what I explained above. You have to keep yourself from thinking that suffering means God isn’t real, doesn’t care, or is mad at you. You will never find peace if every time life gets rough, you turn on God. Unless you are acting in total disobedience and throwing faith in the garbage can, your suffering is not an indicator that you are doing anything wrong or even that your faith is weak. People die, wars start, jobs are lost… it’s part of living in a fallen world. If you follow God, he is going to put meaning to your suffering. He’s also going to bring you comfort and emotional healing.

King David tells us a promise from God in Psalm 34:17-19:

“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”

God will deliver the righteous out of their troubles. He’s going to draw close to them. He’s going to save their spirit. It still tells us there will be many problems in life, but if you are focused on God – loving him, serving him, and leaning on him – he’s going to see you through it.

Very important thing to note, he isn’t going to “spare” us from our troubles. He’s not even going to deliver us “from” our troubles. He is going to deliver us “out of” our troubles; this means we still have to go through it, but he is going to walk with us through it. He will be there suffering alongside us and carrying most of the weight. He will not let it crush you. He will only let you struggle enough that it makes you stronger, gives you a testimony, and grows your faith.

In Psalm 28:6-8 it says:

“Blessed be the Lord! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. The Lord is the strength of his people, he is the saving refuge of his anointed.”

Earlier in that psalm, David was crying out to God. He was telling him like it is. He told God exactly how he felt and exactly what he wanted God to do. God listened to him, and in the above verse, we see the outcome. God knew David’s heart and when he asked, he received. David trusted in God to help him so God did. It’s as simple and as complicated as that.

When it comes to our emotions, when we are in the midst of suffering, it’s hard to just calm down and “be still” and know that he is God. If you’re angry, you probably don’t feel like talking to God right now. If you’re sad, you might not think he cares or wants to hear it anyway. I imagine David yelling in about half of the psalms… Just, “GOD WHERE ARE YOU AND WHAT ARE YOU EVEN DOING? LISTEN TO ME!!” or “HEY I THOUGHT YOU HAD THIS ONE?! WHAT HAPPENED?” But wow, God responds to our blunt honesty. I take my prayer tips from David all the way, and honestly, the more I just pour it out and stop trying to sound so “holy” the more God answers me.

What’s also important is that in order to receive God’s help, David not only had to trust in him, but he had to be grateful. Imagine if someone asked you for help, you gave it, they never thanked you, but kept coming back for help. Would you want to help them? No. God will decide what to do regardless, but keep in mind to be grateful, regardless. No matter what he does, he is doing it because it is ultimately what is best. Praise him! Thank him for keeping your best interest in mind!

This brings me to the next big wrecker of all peace and happiness. Want to spoil any good moment? Just dump some anxiety into it. I have an anxious mind. I am constantly tempted to just stew in my worries, even about things I know aren’t even true. For example, I know God’s called me to use my voice to sing for his glory, but then I get some allergies, get sick, and lose my voice and want to totally freak out because how will I ever fulfill my purpose now?!

Our friend, Apostle Paul, has a remedy: “The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made know to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 4:5b-7, ESV).

When you bring your worries to God, he will give you peace and guard your heart and mind. When we give all of our concerns to God, he promises to bring us peace. It makes sense – if you tell someone who can fix your problem about your problem, doesn’t it make you feel better? So imagine if you tell an all-powerful God about your anxieties. Won’t it bring you comfort to know that you are no longer in control of this thing, that someone who promises to bring good to you is in control?

This is a lot to take in, and I want to put more detail in, but I know it’s long enough already. Most of this is easy to agree with and understand in our minds. Most of us can read this and feel comforted right now. But, when the heat turns up in life and it’s time to endure some suffering, all this just sounds like a cute little idea. When my social anxiety kicks in in front of four people, I want to panic at thought of ever singing in front of a crowd. When my depression tries to come back and tell me I’m not good or pretty enough for my husband, I want to disappear off the face of the earth. But, when I cast these concerns on God, he guards my heart and calms me down. My spirit is healed and I have the strength of God within me. No level of emotional pain or worry is a match for God. We will all still struggle and suffer, but in those moments, know that is when God is closest to you. He will bring you through it.

Verses to Think About:

Romans 8:37-39: “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death not life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will ever be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord,” (ESV).

Matthew 5:4: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted,” (ESV).

There comes a point where there is seemingly no solution to our pain. No matter what causes it, you just feel broken. You try to occupy yourself constantly with petty distractions – whether it’s hours of YouTube or Netflix or drinking or being around people constantly. Your emotional suffering can be anything from overwhelming to dull and dead. But it’s there. Always. And no distraction, no drug, no drink, no person, no medication is going to fix your broken heart.

If you’ve read my testimony, you know I have struggled with depression and anxiety on a deep level. I didn’t go wildly into detail but we will leave it at I was reaching a point where I was hoping to get smashed by a semi. My circumstances weren’t terrible, and certainly not the worst I’d ever seen. But my foundation in faith was gone and therefore I stood in quicksand, just waiting for it to pull me under, and sometimes hoping it would.

When I look out, I see a lot of broken hearts. Sometimes I see even worse – empty chests. That’s where I was. Dried up. Empty. And when your heart decays this much it affects everything. The relationships around you, your emotional state, your work ethic, your passions and hobbies, and even your physical health.

You can’t bandage your way to healing. You have to heal from the inside out. It starts with a new heart.

God says, “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you,” (Ezekiel 36:26a, ESV).

This changed my life. God tells us that he will start us completely new on the inside. You can’t fix what you have, so he’s going to give you a new start. Whether you know Jesus or not, like him or don’t like him, you’ve probably heard that Christian’s become “born again” because Jesus Christ died on the cross for our salvation and rose again. That’s what God is talking about here. He’s going to completely resurrect us from the sin that is hurting us and bring us new life.

This means not only are we now saved from damnation, but we are changed here and now in our current life.

Ezekiel 36:26b-27 says, “And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a new heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules!” (ESV).

It just gets better! Now, God is telling us that he’s not just giving us a new heart and a new spirit, but he’s also going to put HIS Spirit in us. This is one of my absolute favorite things about God. He actually sends us his own Spirit to guide us and help us through our lives. Of course, many people may want to cringe at “obey my rules!”, but God is an orderly being. The rules are meant for our good and our protection. When we stray, we leave God’s protection and enter ourselves into a whole lot of trouble. If we listen to the Holy Spirit, we are led to things that will grow us, make us better and stronger, help other people, and advance the kingdom of God so that more people may know his incredible love. Sounds like a better path, right?

So what does this all mean for us? Ephesians 4:14-19 paints a nice picture:

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (ESV)

The Apostle Paul is about as wordy as I am. So let’s break this down:

First of all, Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit strengthens us with his power into our inner being. Divine, mystical strength? Um, yes please! This is how we endure our suffering right here. This is why once we have a new heart and spirit it will prevail through all trials and prosecutions. There is literally an all-powerful, all-mighty Spirit inside of me and all who allow him in. That means there is nothing, not one thing, that could ever stand between me and my salvation or my purpose given to me by God. That means when someone tells me off, when I am sick, when I am injured, when I feel weak, a living being inside me will hold me up. So stand down depression, stand down anxiety — no one has power over the Holy Spirit of God.

Secondly, Paul tells us that Christ is in our hearts. So what’s in my new heart I didn’t have before? Christ. What does that even mean? That now we can begin to be molded into his image. Jesus Christ was the only perfect human being to ever live. He is the ultimate role model and teacher. We can never be him, but with him in our hearts – his love, his compassion, his mercy, his wisdom, his understanding – we are able to become like him. So perfectionists, you wanna be perfect? Let Jesus into your heart and see how close to his image you can get, because he is the only perfect thing worth striving to be like. When you have this new heart of Christ, it becomes much easier to forgive others, move past your grudges and regrets, heal, and live a joyful and effective life. It becomes way more difficult to throw your heart and other peoples’ hearts into a blender, or live bitterly, or fall into pits of depression.

Lastly, Paul tells us that the ultimate key to this is love. “The love of Christ that surpasses all knowledge.” This means Jesus loves us beyond all reason and understanding and that if you let him into your heart, your love will grow and grow and grow until you start to experience the “fullness of God.” That is to say, God will work in you, around you, for you, and most importantly through you. You become a vessel baring the heart and spirit of God.

I could go on about this forever. There is nothing in all the world that will ever heal you like a heart transplant from God. If you are sick of feeling bitter, anxious, angry, sad, heavy, empty, lost, disconnected, broken, or depressed – you can go to the doctor, you can take a pill, you can see a counselor, or drown yourself in whatever you have to distract yourself. Or, you can give it to God. Tell him how you really feel, even if you have to scream it at him. He can handle whatever you have to say. Just know, he is there, full of mercy and healing. He wants to heal you from the inside out. He wants to make you feel alive and restore a purpose to you. Ask him for a new heart, for his strength, for his Spirit. The Lord never fails a promise and he will draw close to you if you draw close to him (James 4:8).

Verses to think about:

Philippians 4:11b-13: “…for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Colossians 1:11-12: “May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.”

As I wrote in my last post, losing my faith destroyed me on the inside. Regaining it, brought an incredible healing and ripped me from depression and a destructive path.

But what changed? What happened to shift my perspective and raise me from my ashes?

It started many years before. My dad, a fairly new pastor, mailed me a book called The Reason by Lacey Sturm, a Christian rock singer. At this time of my life, I was not close to my dad. I didn’t understand him. I didn’t like the decisions he made. I thought he had gone off the deep end with his religion and I just was not willing to go with him. So, I thanked him for the book, promised to read it, and tucked it away.
Well, if you read the last post, you know there came a point when I just couldn’t take my depression and anxiety anymore. I was miserable and probably miserable to be around. I did what every one does when they reach such a breaking point – I called my mom. She stayed on the phone with me for hours, listening to me cry and try to explain the depths of my pain and worry. She comforted me and related to me and gave me some really great advice about how to cope and heal. The best thing she told me was a subtle reminder that God was with me.

After I hung up, I felt this incredible need to pick up that book my dad sent me. I felt something stirring inside me as I read it. I could practically hear Lacey sitting there telling it to me with this light in her eyes as she talked about her very similar struggles to mine. At some point, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I set the book aside and started praying. And God was with me. I felt him there, guiding the words as they fell out of my mouth. I felt the tension of regret, anger, and hurt leaving my body. I just gave myself to God. Trusting him with all. It was incredible and I wept tears of gratitude and joy for the first time in a very long time.

But then, I woke up the next day feeling incredible conviction about my relationship. My boyfriend in many ways had replaced God in my life. It wasn’t anything he’d done on purpose or that I consciously done, but I had placed him high above everything in life, even God. That morning God reminded me of something I had realized long before but it never sunk in.

When I was a child, my dad had also urged me to start praying for whoever I would be with someday – that God would prepare us for one another and bring us together at the right time. Of course, being a little punk, I told him I wouldn’t be with anyone ever so why would I do that. But, actually, I prayed this most everyday of my life. Ironically, the same time I started praying was the same time my boyfriend had picked up his guitar and started learning to play. Then years of mirroring situations go by and here I am with this man. Music had brought us together and was the thing we believed we were called to do together. And, our lives had so well prepared us for each other that we can understand one another in ways a lot of others can’t.

So God reminds me of this. He reminds me that he made us for one another, prepared us through our lives, and that when the time came to be together it was a promise to me fulfilled by him and I had taken this beautiful blessing and used it to replace God.

This hurt. Faith is not a walk under the stars. There’s a lot of pain in growing and becoming someone better, and when God gets involved, he definiately pushes you to become more that you even meant to be.

I prayed for forgiveness and asked God to take control of my relationship. This honestly was the most terrifying prayer I’d ever prayed. I basically said to God, “You are in control and I am letting go, even if I lose this man so I can be closer to you.” The struggle really came when I told my boyfriend this. I was crying so much I could barely speak. I thought for sure if I told him that we had trampled on God’s blessing and were living in sin by living together and placing each other above God that he’d leave me. I knew his love was strong, but I didn’t expect him to stick around while I chased after something as “uncool” as a relationship with God.

Long story short, that’s not what happened. My boyfriend instead became my husband within the month. We started doing bible studies together, then found a church where the sermons actually directly tied into the Bible studies we had done (the Holy Spirit is so intricate and dedicated to each of us!). We pray together and have given our whole lives to God.

So this is how I know God is real. He healed me from my soul; something medications and counseling could never do. He prepared my husband and I for each other and for our destiny together since we were children. He used my dad to give me that book years before I needed it and used my mom to pull me back into His presence. He spared my relationship and turned it into something so much more beautiful than before. I hear his Holy Spirit guiding me, prompting and teaching me. I have strength when I don’t have strength. I have peace when I don’t have peace.

The more you give to God, the more blessing he pours over you. If God wasn’t real, the more you give away, the less you would have. But he provides. He is more than enough. And he is real.

This is the story of the 546 days. This is for those who were wounded in my fall and to those who need to see what happens when God lifts you out of yourself.

I grew up believing in Jesus Christ. I believed in the bible and went to church. My dad even became a pastor while I was still a child. I was a Christian because it’s what my parents told me to do and because I liked the idea of God. I made many mistakes and have plenty of horror stories of how I turned away from God while still thinking I was following Him (I’ll write on that another day). But the worst thing I ever did, happened in the last 546 days.

I stopped believing in Him altogether.

It started before I moved out of my mom and stepfather’s house. I started to simply doubt, then I questioned, then I couldn’t explain faith against science. Then a friend encouraged me to indulge in what psychics and tarot cards could offer. It was meant well. Meant to help me, and I honestly, was excited. She didn’t know how damaged my spirit was, and I didn’t bother to tell her. I just went with it, wanting to be accepted and hoping for some answers to my growing depression and my crippling anxiety.

I involved myself for awhile before remembering that as a “Christian” I shouldn’t turn to these things, and eventually out of fear alone of what God might do to me if He did exist, I told her I couldn’t partake in it any longer.

Not long after, I moved in with my best friend. A friend of over a decade that I had barely gone a day without talking to. I was co-dependent on her and no matter how much I tried to be a good friend and simply love her, I was also envious of her. I wanted to look like her, act like her, be brave like her, have her talents, and be as good of a friend as she was. I saw her as the better version of myself. Well, once we moved in together, I dealt with my lack of self-esteem every day. She tried to build me up and supported me. She did more than anyone I’d ever seen to help me. Yet, even her trying made me feel like a worse person than her. I couldn’t stop comparing us and it got to a point where I loathed myself whenever I was around her.

Well, she and my other friend became close as I started to pull away. They indulged in psychics, tarot cards, and other wiccan practices. I kept telling them I couldn’t join them and asking them to keep it all away, because “I’m a Christian.” Unfortunately, I wanted to join them and my faith had officially left me. I was becoming a shell of a person – denying my desire to join them simply because I didn’t want to not be a Christian, even if I already stopped believing.

In the meantime, I had fallen in love for the first time of my life. I had entered into my first real relationship and the warm fuzzy feelings were about the only thing keeping me from completely withering into depression from my spiritual decay. I didn’t compare myself to my boyfriend (now husband!) and I looked up to him. It was much easier to accept his encouragement and see how he loved me for me and feel like I was an okay person, than it was to go home to my best friend. Not because of him or her. Because of me.

I felt so guilty all the time. I always had to own all the conversations with my best friend and tell her about all the great things in my life just so I could eat away any chance she had sharing her good things – in case it gave me another reason to envy her.

Envy is a wicked thing. It tore the love out of my friendship until I didn’t want to be around her anymore simply because I didn’t want to see her “being better than me” or getting recognized for things I wanted to do. I couldn’t stand seeing her and my other friend involved in Wicca, mostly because I was watching them get answers and results God wasn’t giving me.

So, I moved out. I moved in with my boyfriend and stopped talking to both of my friends. I didn’t offer much of a reason. I’m sure they both think I just fell in love and forgot about them. Or that I decided I was “too holy” to be around a couple of “witches.” What they don’t know is that my spirit, my faith, the foundation of my life, my moral compass, the essence of my energy, the purpose for my future, the fabric of my identity had been lost. I totally lost myself and who I am meant to be. I forgot where my value lies and without the identity of being a Child of God, I didn’t know how to even like myself. I was so self-centered that even though I didn’t like myself, I walked away from my friends just to see if I’d feel better about myself. Why couldn’t I just be happy for them? Love them?

The next several months were painful. My anxiety and depression got worse. I had nightmares about people I love abandoning me, telling me to kill myself, wanting me murdered, wanting to betray me. I started to feel so empty and broken that I was physically wearing down. I went to a doctor and she gave me antidepressants. My body couldn’t tolerate them – fortunately – but she strongly urged me to find both a psychiatrist and a psychologist.

I was so humiliated. My boyfriend was my only friend besides a few people I talk to like friends at work. I had become distant from my family. I was told I required medication to handle my pain. I cried so much it felt like routine. I had to hide in the office at work so people wouldn’t see a manager in the store having meltdowns. I felt pathetic and hopeless. The only daily light I had was the love of my boyfriend, and as much as that meant, no man can heal a broken soul. No man could bare that weight. No man could be asked to do such a thing.

Except for one. Jesus Christ.

I realized it, finally. I wept. I had made so many mistakes. I hurt and abandoned my friends, distanced from family, and placed an enormous and unfair weight on my boyfriend. I cried to God to forgive me. I laid it at His feet. I prayed over everyone I was angry with, everyone I’d held a grudge against. I prayed and forgave and asked for strength. I asked for guidance and help. I gave my life back to Christ.

Since that day, my life has not been perfect. I’ve still cried and felt down at times. I still struggle. But, God has given me such peace and strength. I see my calling is to help his people. To love. Not to turn from people, hurt people, not to hate myself. To love. To love Him. To love each person He’s created. Including myself.

The more His Holy Spirit works in me, the closer I get to peace and joy. The more answers I receive. The more purpose is actualized in my life.

I want all who have wandered away, or never known God, to know what it feels like to have God raise your spirit from the dead. I don’t need therapy. I don’t need medication. I don’t need psychics. I don’t need to be as beautiful and brave as my best friend. I just need to have faith in God and love in my heart.

I now know who I am without God. I am nothing. I am weak, selfish, and envious. But with God, I am brave. With God, I am capable. With God, I can fulfill dreams beyond what I can imagine for myself. With God, I can help people I never would have noticed if it were just me.

With God, you can raise from ashes. You can start over. You can find new purpose and meaning. You can see your life and your identity through the eyes of the one who created you. He made you, every last detail, for something special. With God, you can have an impact that will change lives and raise others from their spiritual ashes. You are everything in Christ.

It’s been 546 days since I’ve written on this blog. I could break this down to the hours and  maybe even minutes since the last post, but I could never count the amount of ways my life has changed. The moments between where I sat then and where I sit now have rocked my life. I’ve seen the worst and best of myself. I’ve seen the worst and best of others.

Most importantly, I’ve seen why all of these moments mattered and who designed the path I’d be on. No matter how many times I walk away, my Father follows me. No matter how many doors I hide behind, He finds me. My life is inevitably His. And, at last, I’ve realized that every moment counts. Every conversation and every action I take. Every where I go, I am surrounded in opportunities to help the people around me – by listening, by helping, and by loving.

So here, 546 days later, I am redirecting this blog. This is no longer a blog about my art, my poetry, or my “life lessons.” This is about someone bigger than me –  greater artist and writer, and His beautiful book of life.


I am strong


Strong enough to save my tears

For when your eyes are turned


I am brave


Brave enough to hold my head high

Against fear, doubt, and rejection


I am resilient


Resilient enough to return in mercy

To those who have wronged and shamed me


I am secure


Secure enough to admit my own mistakes

And work to amend their repercussions


But just because I am strong

Doesn’t mean I don’t yearn

For the aid of a friend


Just because I am brave

Doesn’t mean I don’t wish

Someone would walk beside me


Just because I am resilient

Doesn’t mean I don’t ever need

Someone to help me back up


Just because I am secure

Doesn’t mean I don’t long for

Your reassurance when I feel weak


Because I can do it on my own

But that does not mean

I sometimes shouldn’t
Have to



They have tried to tell me

What I am to do

Who I am to be

To this world


They ask of me

To do what no one else

Knows how to do


Because of

My name


After cold has cut

The hope of buds and bulbs

After wind has shaken

Trees naked and left them

Blackened from the frost


After snow has smothered

Every blade of grass

And sent the creatures

Of the wood into a sleep

Which consumes nearly half

Their lives


They call upon me


I am to melt the cold and frost

I am to raise the dead

And nourish the forest

And save the soil

From the bitterness of Winter


But what if I feel weak?
What if I no longer can stir

Warmth back into the wind?

What if my breath is not strong enough

To blow away the clouds from the sun?


What if I wither?

Then who can they call upon?
Who if not I

Can ease away the ice and snow?

The Summer is too harsh

Too sudden

For the gentle

Sowing of my Spring


The Fall is too weary

Too burdened

For the heavy

Raising of life out the earth


The Winter is too stubborn

Too relentless

For the mercy

Of letting go


And if the Summer won’t soften

And the Fall won’t liven

And the Winter won’t give in


Then I

The withering Spring

Must begin