On a recent morning I told God I wasn’t fine. Nope, I was tired of stupid COVID-19. Frustrated over being far away from my family. Grieved over people being mean on social media. Maybe you can relate?
I used a roll of toilet paper as tissue because that’s what we do in our house (so if there’s another shortage not only will I not be able to pee, I won’t be able to cry properly either). I got up and paced across the room. At one point I paused to read the little canvas sign on my desk I’ve had for a decade now. It says, “She knew that many were the plans in her heart but that God’s purpose would prevail” (based on Proverbs 19:21).
Did I still know many were the plans in my heart but God’s purpose would prevail? Right now in this moment? True confession: The past year has been hard on my faith. I’ve wrestled with questions, struggled with doubts. I’ve said to God more than ever, “I don’t get it” and/or “I don’t like it.”
I talked to someone recently who implied I wasn’t supposed to have doubts or certain emotions. It upset me so much I had to leave for a few minutes and go for a walk to calm down. As a licensed counselor, I’ve studied the neuroscience behind what we feel and why God biologically created us with emotions. They aren’t good or bad; they’re simply messengers. (Even anger, which is often criticized the most, tells us there’s been an injustice, a goal blocked, or value violated.) It’s what we do in response to our emotions that matters.
Also, I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression throughout my life. In 2018 and 2019 I had a season of remission — my longest ever. But with all that’s going on in this world, I’ve had to fight harder than ever not to relapse. I’m still standing, but I’ve not won the battle every day. Statistics say I’m not the only one, that a third of Americans are experiencing clinical levels of anxiety and depression right now. Really, considering all we’re going through as humanity, it’s understandable. Sometimes we can do all the right things, but life happens and we struggle.
So when I asked myself, “Do I know that many are the plans in my heart but that God’s purpose would prevail?” what I really meant was, “Do I feel this way today?” The honest answer? No. Not at all. I felt weary, confused, a bit lonely, anxious, and like I just wanted a cookie.
And that’s okay. God knows our emotions are complex. He built our brains, breathed life into our fallible human bodies, gave us a fight-or-flight response. The way we feel isn’t proof of whether or not our faith is real. (Although it might be proof we need a nap.)
What was proof of my faith? That I was ugly-snot-crying into toilet tissue telling God I didn’t understand what the heck He was doing and furthermore that I wasn’t sure I liked it and maybe He could just hurry up and fix the whole world, starting with me. (It seems the Psalmist often did the same, only with fancier words and no toilet tissue.)
The word “know” in Scripture is often deeper than intellectual facts; it’s about intimacy. It’s about vulnerability and laying ourselves bare, holding nothing back. So, in that sense, the answer to my question was “yes.” Somewhere deep down I still knew, still believed God wasn’t done with the world or me yet. I think you do too — even if right now you’re wiping away tears, yelling at the sky, dodging doubts, or your soul feels as numb and unnerving as a foot that’s fallen asleep.
It’s okay to have whatever emotions we do, or none at all, but there’s one thing I don’t want us to embrace: shame. Shame over our anxiety and depression. Shame over our “lack of faith.” Shame over how we can’t get stuff done. Shame that comes from thinking we must be the only one.
We’re in a hard place, all of us, and we’re going to make it through. We’re going to heal, regain our strength, even dream again. But right now we’re still in the messy middle. So for one more day we fight on, cry, laugh, yell, pray. Because we know, we still know that many are the plans in our hearts but that God’s purpose will prevail.
Mrs. Sarla Williams says
Thank you Holley for being so vulnerable and honest. The fact is that many of us especially in the year 2020 and even now struggle with a whole gamut of emotions.
You have a way of bringing things into perspective and thus give us a reason to look up …hope ♡
Sarla Williams, sri Lanka
Stacey Super says
Amazing… God is so good… You’re words are MINE this morning, and your response was just what I needed!! “Our emotions are messengers”…. Love it!
I am a nurse, working in a long-term care facility. Your article rang so true with my soul today. Not only am I losing patients left and right, frustrated over the angst in our country, frightened by what is yet to come, but I am also grieving a child that I have lost during this pandemic. I have had to tell myself that it is ok to have raw emotion, but to continue to let God share my struggles and weights. It will be alright, maybe not today or tomorrow, but I will get there!
I am so sorry, Tina. Praying for you right now!
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
As a lifelong sufferer from anxiety and depression, I am well aware of what these months and years? of COVID are doing to our psyche. Like you, I often reach for the toilet paper when a fit of crocodile tears comes upon me. I will do okay for just so long until the dam bursts and then look out. Our feelings and emotions are indicators, not flaws to be judged as being right or wrong. We need to be very wary because the enemy of our soul prowls about seeking to kick us when we’re down with false guilt and shame. Praying for you and all struggling souls that God would give us the strength to kick “the creep” and his lies to the curb where they belong. Truly a vulnerable and powerful post…thank you!
Thanks so much for putting into words how I am feeling. I am printing Proverbs 19:21 to hang above my desk!
Ruth Mills says
Thank you for this post! In this moment I haven’t struggled with the anxiety others are/have but I know well others who have & are. You spoke their truth in words that help me see their struggle more clearly. I am now better equipped to encourage them! What a blessing this is to me & how many countless others! Thank you!
Thank you Holley for your transparency and honest reflection and I do see the pattern of the Psalms in the snippet you shared! I too am printing Proverbs 19:21 as you weaved hope into this encouraging post. May God continue to bless and uphold you and your family and all the readers as we travel this pandemic ridden stretch of the road on our journey to the celestial city.
Donna K Schultz says
Thanks – I needed to hear that today. God bless you.
Ann Woleben says
Thank you so much for this message. I needed it. God knows I needed it and He reassured me through your message.
cynthia butler says
it was a excellent article. and it fits the heart beat of america right now. Thank you for your frankness and positive thoughts. it was very comforting to hear your words. That god is still in control, and everything will turn out ok, in gods time. We just need to hold on to our faith. and dont be so hard on ourselfs. Our emotions will come up and down but thats ok. looking forward to reading more of your articles god bless cindyyyyyyyyy
Cheryl Hopkins says
What I want to know has nothing to do with today’s devotional. What I want to know is: Does this organization support the current president? If so, I can’t support you. Thank you in advance for a brief and truthful response.
Leave politics out! What would Jesus say about it?
Beth Williams says
We don’t discuss politics here. We were founded on Christian principles. This blog was formed for women to have a safe haven to express their ideas & pray for each other. The best thing you can do right now is pray for whomever is president & ask God to guide Him & heal our nation.
Suzanne B says
Most of what you said is ME – right here, right now. Thank you so much for affirming that my faith is still intact, because I know it is, but doubt loves to whisper lies. Some days I feel like I can’t go on but most days I hear Abba tell me that He’s got this, He’s got me & I just need to breathe, be patient & trust Him ✝️
Oh my goodness, doubt certainly does whisper lies and I must stop listening to them!
Yes!! All of this! Thank you
Barbara K Rothman says
Thank you Holley for your honesty & open devotion. This past year has been really tough & we’ve had a few times that we were able to celebrate some special moments. My mother-in-law turned 100 in March & is still with us. We were able to give her a wonderful party before everything shut down in California. The pandemic has been hard on her because she lives in a Christian facility & we can only visit from the doorway. My husband calls her daily. We are in our later 60’s & have to be so careful so we don’t socialize hardly at all. I’m so thankful for my husband that he’s a believer & we watch our Pastor preach on-line.
Yesterday I felt anxiety & some depression over all what is happening with our country. I know God is totally in control & my solutions are not His at this time. We are just to wait, keep our eyes on the Lord & trust Him for the outcome.
Your devotion really helped me this morning along with reading some of the other ladies responses. We’re all in this together & someday we’ll be able to socialize & go to church again, just not in our timing but God knows!
Lord bless you,
Holly, I love you. You make me laugh and cry with you. You put words to feelings and thoughts I’m sure we have all experienced at any given time. When I was young, the cows and birds were my audience as I very loudly expressed all my feelings to God. I relate easily to David. As a young man he too spent his time alone with nature. There is something about shouting, singing, and yes crying and laughing out loud, that allows the soul to just be. There is no judgment only acceptance of what is. No condemnation only forgiveness from the only one that matters – God
Thank you so much for putting into words what I have been struggling to say. I get the anxiety and depression part, having dealt with this myself. I struggle sometimes to believe God is really out there. I can’t seem to hear what God is telling me and feel like I am floundering most days. This is why I await each morning to read what the day’s message is. I pray but wonder to what purpose. Then the guilt sets in. So, again, thank you. And please let this isolation end soon.
I am not fine at all today. I am struggling each and every day to drag myself out of bed to what new misery the world might throw at us. My family has been hit personally by both COVID and the attack on the Capitol last week. We’re getting through each day with a heaviness in our hearts. Thank you for the reminder that it is okay to not be fine and we can still have hope that God will fulfill His purpose for us.
Maura Michael says
You put into words exactly how I feel about myself when I have doubts and questions. God wants me to bring them to Him and stand at the Cross to receive his grace.
Janet Williams says
OH MY GOSH…..Holley! Yep, tears, laughter, shaking my head in agreement AND a sleeping foot! What an amazing “real life, real feelings, real morning message. Thank you. I appreciate the realness.
“She knew that many were the plans in her heart but that God’s purpose would prevail” (based on Proverbs 19:21).
This version of Proverbs really spoke to me. I needed the personal “she” and “her” for it to resonate and remind me that God, the one who loves me and knows my hearts desire more than anyone (even me) will prevail. Even when it makes no sense. It will.
Thank you again Holley….I appreciate you…and ALL the writers and contributors to (in)courage.
Have a wonderful blessed day sisters \0/
Mitzi White says
Thank you, Ms. Holley. This article ministered to me so much. I’m going to print it and reread. God is soo good to us, all the time.
I needed this so much today as well as the comments to help me realize that I am not the only one who is struggling to understand our world right now, to get out of bed in the morning, to not be angry and to be depressed. It is difficult now, it has been difficult for the past year, but I do know God is good. I don’t feel it, BUT I KNOW IT!! God does not promise us an easy life but says we will face struggles and persecution. I continue to pray for our country and for a huge revival. In the meantime, I know that I need to be still and KNOW that He is God. Thank you for this devotion!!
Thankyou Holley for your truly heartfelt message of God’s love for us.
Blessings to you all,
Rut Bak says
Thank you Holley for a timely and honest devotion! This is so me right now! Just as all the Covid stuff started last year, my 89 year old Mom had a stroke and required 24/7 care in her home. While the world dealt with the virus, I was consumed with taking care of my mom for 3.5 months before she died in July (I might add, my 95 year old dad had just passed away only 6 months before her stroke so I was already in a whirlwind of emotions when this all started). And now the stressful and hostile climate in our country (and then still dealing with this stupid virus!), I just feel like it continues to be one thing after another. blow after blow. We are in the messy middle right now and even when it doesn’t feel like it at times, God is right in here with us, and that alone helps me through each day. The part about shame especially spoke to me heart. Boy, I needed to hear that today! Thank you!
Ruth Bak says
Haha! Somehow I missed the “h” in my name and I can’t see where I can edit 🙂
K Ann Guinn says
I’m so sorry for the additional hardships and grief you’ve had to endure. Praying for your peace and comfort today.
Ruth Bak says
Thank you K Ann
Jennifer Johnson says
Thank you SO MUCH for this! I can so relate! Sending up prayers for you and me.
Brenda M Russell says
Thank you for this outlet to vent and to encourage others. I appreciate the authors who are brave enough to be vulnerable.
I can’t say that I have arrived yet at that level.
It is very difficult to find a
moment to just breathe slowly and think of a calm and peaceful day. The news is filled with chaos and anger along with lies and confusion. I don’t think the adults are setting a good example for the students in school looking at the grownups.
We, as normal society, have a long way to go. I aspire to make the journey in a short amount of time with the least amount of hurt and discomfort. We are all God’s children. He gave us different talents, gifts, personalities, skin colors, academic abilities,
economic levels, and we live all over the world.
God had His reasons for how He created everyone and everything. Let’s pray for understanding and healing so our children will have a healthy future.
God bless us all, everyone!
YES YES YES!!! Thank you. Depression, irritation, anger, lots of crying…. especially with regard at my mom’s advancing dementia with nothing to do about it, and no in-person hugging as she is in assisted living. Not to mention the lack of common sense and basic “loving one another” of so many people in the USA today….
I started and am halfway through a very helpful book by David Powlinson: Good and Angry, which I was reminded of when you talked about emotions. Great book.
Great thoughts, Holley! I’m so glad I’m not the only one having a hard time emotionally. We all have to keep doing whatever it takes to hang on to hope, don’t we? God is in control and he understands how we’re feeling. Hopefully we’ll all get to better places (literally and figuratively) very soon!
Thank you so much for sharing honest feelings, Holley. You speak my heart and make me feel less alone. Just like your book about Introverts did. Love and blessings to you!
Sara Willoughby says
Such a good post and exactly what I needed to hear today. <3
Tara Boswell says
Holly, Thank you. I need to read this pintoday:: :::::: God Is Still In Control. As I have been suffering from Anxiety and Manic Depression for tge last six years. And diglouage thih with Mild Bipolar in 2019. I am well aware of what last year 2020 and the last month January 2021. I always have a handkerchief pin to my top to catch the tears coming down my cheeks. I have not been doing okay ar all. Our feelings and emotions are indicated,not flaws to be really judged as being wrong. We all need to be very brave because the enemy of our soul prowls about seeking to kick. all of us to the curb when we are down. with. alot of guilt and shame. I read Proverbs 19:21 several times a day. I know that God is still in control,and everything will turn out okay in God’s time. We just need to hold on tight ly to our faith and don’t be so hard on ourselves.
St.Elmo Boyce says
Love the encouragement. It is tough to keep going through all the uncertainty. I found when I was unwell,how dark and foreboding everything seemed. But thank God,He came through for me.
Michelle Sigmund says
What a wonderful post! Thank you for reminding me that it is not shameful for me to sometimes feeling frustrated and depressed. Some days I want to scream and have to hold it in. I never wanted to scare people while I am work so my car has been used to both scream and cry (not while driving!) and I now know I am not crazy for feeling such up and down thoughts. I, too, have been upset by others assessments of my emotions. I pray to the Lord and I am learning to let Him handle that for me and to just let this anger and frustration go. Thanks again for this post!
I loved this message from you. It is all so true for me, except for the toilet paper. I use Kleenex! I love your sense of humor. Keep up the good work.
Rebecca Sexton says
I needed this today especially. Thank you
Kim Bouchillon says
Thank you for your encouraging words, Holley.
Holley, thank you for this post. I needed this today (1/16). My anxiety which is usually mild and always with me is worse today this post so spoke to my heart. Oh, and forget the cookie, I want a pan of warm brownies covered with chocolate therapy ice cream.
Beth Williams says
My family uses toilet paper as tissues also. Oh I can so relate to feeling frustrated right now. Sometimes I just want to scream enough already. Come Lord Jesus heal our nation now! My emotions have been all over the map this past year. In these trying times I’ve clung to Psalm 23:4-5 “Yea thou I walk Through the valley of shadow of death I will fear no evil, for thou art with me. Thy rod & staff they comfort me.” it gives me hope that He will see us through these tough, trying times. God won’t leave us or forsake us ever. We will heal, regain our strength & rise up again. It is all in His perfect timing.
Thank you for your precious words: encouraging, and yet convicting; consoling and still so real! I love the picture of the sign sitting on your desk; I could imagine you looking at as you wrote this piece.