Four emotions to keep in check during the COVID-19 crisis

We’re experiencing some incredible times, where the norm is no longer the norm. Our lives our now consumed with the priority of isolation and social distancing. We don’t really know when this virus will hit its peak nor how soon we will we return to normal.  It seems that by fall time we may see the first anti-viral vaccine for it. But as we process these events and live through them, we must remember that aside from making sure we’re safe, our emotional state and how we respond to this crisis is even more important. We should maintain a healthy outlook on life, our future, and check our emotional condition. There are four emotions that I identified during this season that helped me understand that I must be aware of them and not subconsciously fall into the trap of fear, loneliness, discouragement and paranoia. After all, Jesus did remind us to renew our minds daily, so that we do not fall into temptation, self-pity, anxiety, and a slew of other emotions that can grip us and create strongholds as a result of this crisis.

Here are the four emotions I identified:

#1 Fear: With the thousands of deaths that continue to rise on a daily basis, it’s no wonder that fear is the driving force to this pandemic. Obviously no one wants to die, but that shouldn’t cause us to lose our peace. After all, we all will die one day.  In God’s word, we’re reminded that “to live in Christ and to die is gain,” meaning, death has lost its sting and it is all thanks to the perfect sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If we die, we gain eternal life and if we live, we live for Christ here on earth. Truly, the perfect love of Christ, casts out all fear. So there is no need to consume yourself with the idea of death, if you trust in God’s plan for your life. Ecclesiastes 3:11- “He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

#2 Loneliness: When someone gets infected with COVID-19 virus, it is an automatic quarantine and isolation for a specific period of time. This can definitely be difficult and challenging for families, and it takes a toll on the person infected. It’s important to communicate and provide support for people who are sick. Rejection can bring sadness in the person, discouragement, lack of hope, and even suicidal thoughts. It is advised that a person who is sick should stay home, but at the same time, we should continue to keep in touch via phone or online, to check up on them. And if you’re on the other side of the spectrum and you’re not sick, but at home, try to see the positive in this as hard as it may seem. Look beyond the crisis and see how this has already impacted the world, and it will never be the same. What we once took for granted, has now taken a new perspective and meaning to the lives of everyone.

#3 Discouragement: Discouragement is definitely an emotion that can reach any of us, even the most positive person. It’s pretty normal to feel this way during this crisis. To prevent this cycle from continuing, I encourage you to read the word of God, pray, and worship. Also, do things that you enjoy doing, to keep your mind distracted from the crisis. Discouragement can easily turn into depression, so watch out for that.

#4 Paranoia: I’ve seen news stories where people have become paranoid and clean every five seconds as a result of this pandemic. It’s understandable that we have to be precautious, we need to disinfect, stock up on groceries and basic essentials, but this doesn’t give us permission to become paranoid. Due to the paranoia of people, shelves are empty of the most basic essentials for daily life. Your peace of mind is everything and it is not worth losing your mind over this. The word of God says in Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” I encourage you to remember that the peace of God gives you the freedom to act with wisdom, but not with anxiety. It’s important to be cautious, but it’s not good for it to become excessive. Wash your hands, don’t touch your face and practice social distancing, and you should be fine.

Hope this blesses you and reminds you to keep your emotional state in check. Do not let any of these emotions take over your peace of mind nor allow the emotions of others to be inflicted on you. Trust in the Lord, with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

 

 

 

Aspire to live a quiet life

One of the most intriguing Bible verses that I’ve encountered has been 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, “Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.” This is one of those verses that always leaves me meditating and pondering on what it means to live a quiet life as a Christian. For a long time, I figured it was simply, minding your own business and staying out of gossip. But to my surprise, the Holy Spirit has revealed much more to this than meets the eye. Living a quiet life as a Christian doesn’t mean to live in secrecy or secluded, it means to live a transparent life. In other words, being a representative of Christ and living for Him, not for yourself. Ambition, boasting, self-seeking glory, social media, and anxiety are things that we bring upon ourselves that prevent us from living this quiet simple life. Below are a few keys that will help you reevaluate your life or help you achieve this quiet life in Christ.

#1 Social Media can inhibit a quiet life. In this world of constant and instant feed, it’s very hard to live a quiet life. We’re so busy following people’s lives, we forget about our own. Or we’re too caught up in the frantic pace of society changing, we post every detail about our lives, and eventually we lose the essence of what is important – living a life of hope, faith, and love.  Here are some tips to ask yourself, before you post on social media. Does this post bring me joy and will it bring others joy? Why am I posting this? Is it better to keep this private and exclusive to myself and my family? Is it necessary? Is it edifying? While there is nothing wrong with social media, it is important to keep a leverage on why we post things and the reasons behind it. “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.”- 1 Corinthians 6:12. Too much of anything is never a good thing. Even ministry on social media can cause you to lose focus on your own intimacy with Christ. This medium can become a hindrance of that quiet life so many of us aspire to achieve and this becomes even more evident when everyone, including your neighbor, knows every detail about your life. Intimacy and privacy is suddenly lost. If you’re okay with that, then keep on posting my friend. Overtime, the Lord has taught me to be wise about what I post on social media, to consider why I am posting it, and to pay attention to the internal dialogue I have when I see other people’s feeds. I think this one is the most challenging…even though no one hears , God hears you loud and clear. “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” – Psalm 19:14

#2 Rejoice and live simply. The Christian life is without a doubt, filled with ups and downs. Christ wants us to live a life of simplicity and peace, not turmoil and strife. For many of us, that could mean, living at peace with your family, spouse, job, or relationships with friends. A life without contending and constantly being on the defense. Other things like allowing fearful thoughts to creep in, doubt, and insecurities about your circumstances can become strongholds and make you lose your joy. Comparison is another way to lose that goal of living a quiet life. We can get caught up looking at other people’s accomplishments and we get frustrated by how slow we’re moving. This is where we must learn to listen to God’s wisdom first, be humble, and appreciate what God has given us now. Leading a simple life is not the worst thing in this world, it’s actually very rewarding. And when I mean simple life, I don’t mean sitting idly, I mean being diligent and working hard towards your dreams…but not to the point that ambition or competition overtakes you and you’re never satisfied with what you already have. In other words, be content with what you have now and let the Lord do a great work in you, in His perfect time. Your joy is not dependent upon what you achieve tomorrow, your joy and satisfaction is dependent on Christ.

#3 Declutter your mind. With so much clutter on our minds, we tend to lose our joy and peace. It’s important to learn that God wants us to prosper and succeed in all that we do. But we cannot achieve this, if we’re constantly living in anxiety about what the future will bring. Today, I encourage you to put your thoughts in order, remove the clutter in your mind, and set back your intimacy with Christ. “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” – Colossians 3:2 

Grace and peace to you!

Why are insecurities detrimental to your life?

In case you thought your insecurities were some form of a “fish hook” to get compliments or affirmations from people to make your life better, think again. Insecurities can actually be very detrimental to your health and life. Before we dive into what insecurities cause, let’s look at the prefix meaning of the word insecurity. “In” means “not”… therefore if you have an “in” in front of security, you’re in big trouble my friend. That means you’re not secure about something in particular. Question for you? When has any insecurity in your life ever brought you any victory? Let’s take a look at six main reasons why insecurities are bad for you and can destroy you slowly.

#1 Insecurities causes dependency – If you’re insecure, you’re always fishing for compliments, hoping someone will affirm you “again and again” and your mood changes based on people’s reassurance or applause. Be careful with this, this is an area Satan knows all too well and uses it as a form of idolatry. Yes, you can idolize having constant affirmations from people in order to feel happy about yourself, your talents, your career, your relationships, you name it. If you’re feeling insecure about something, go talk to your daddy, “Abba Father” to be specific. Now don’t get me wrong, affirmations are good to have once in a while, but they shouldn’t be your bread and butter. Psalm 94:19 – When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.

#2 Fear – When you’re insecure about yourself, fear can creep in. Fear about your future, your potential, your purpose, and doubt starts to creep in. You have to be careful how you view yourself. It all begins with you and your thoughts, what type of thoughts do you entertain? Do you speak life over yourself, or do you speak death. A good way of gauging which kingdom rules in your mind is by speaking what you hear in your thoughts out loud (of course whisper it, you never know what may come out that will shock you). When you hear yourself, you will reflect more and be alert as to what goes on in your mind. Speak words of affirmation over yourself so that fear does not creep in and speak the word of God over yourself, which is ultimately the best way to affirm yourself and your insecurity. Keep your mind in check and determine yourself to be in control of your thoughts. Place every single thought under the obedience of Christ. 2 Timothy 1:7 – For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

#3 Envy, jealousy, dishonoring others – The people in this life who are the most insecure are the ones who live their lives backbiting, gossiping about others, never happy about other people’s promotions, and envy creeps in. Now, people can be really good at disguising these feelings from others by simply smiling and pretending to be happy for you. However, your inner thoughts and emotions will reflect in your body (body language, actions and your health). If you think i’m kidding, here’s a Bible verse for ya… Proverbs 14:30 – A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy is like cancer in the bones. If you do not correct your emotions, it doesn’t matter whether people see it or not, God sees it. Insecurities can actually cause you to dishonor others as well. If you’re jealous because you don’t have a position of authority or leadership, you can be disrespectful to them. Or you could be jealous of someone’s talent or attention they are receiving. This only means one thing, your identity in Christ is unstable. If you know God esteems you and has a great purpose for your life, the spirit of insecurity won’t take over. Insecurities can cause you to also become an “Absalom.” Absalom was the third son of David. In this story, you see Absalom gradually undermining King David, usurping his authority and speaking against him to the people. Under the pretense of honoring a vow, he sent messengers throughout the land, proclaiming his kingship. (Don’t allow your insecurities or selfishness to rule you, let God’s law prevail in your heart. You could likely miss out on God’s blessings if you do those things).

#4 Weak character – Insecurities mean you will foster a weak character. You become double minded and you don’t really know where you stand. I’m not saying that there won’t be times of weakness, I am speaking about character in general. People gravitate towards confident people and of strong character. If you’re always speaking defeat or insecurities, no one will feel secure around you. If you wish to confide your insecurities with someone, be wise with whom you share it with. Not everyone cares and not everyone will give you wise godly counsel. If you’re feeling insecure, let God deal with that in your heart and ask Him to help you overcome it. Also, when you portray a life of insecurity or low self-esteem, people will treat you as such. Why? Because you’ve allowed people to form this concept about you and when people smell insecurity, they think it’s an automatic pass to mistreat you or undermine you.

#5 You can get defensive/possessive-   When you’re insecure, you feel a constant reason to prove to people something. This could be as a result of people undermining you and it leaves you feeling insecure and resentful. Or you’re insecure about something you think you may never accomplish and get defensive every time someone asks you about your dreams, career, children, future marriage. You’re never at peace in your heart because you don’t believe in yourself nor God’s plans for you. This doesn’t happen to everyone, but it is definitely one of those things that can happen when you let insecurity rule you. Here’s an example, if you’re single and insecure, if you find yourself trying to prove to others that you are happy when you’re single, but you’re not. Then you know something is wrong. Or it could be the other way around, you’re pretending to have a great marriage, but yet you’re insecure about it. You could also be insecure about someone ever seeing you as a potential partner in life, you’re worried that it won’t be you and you get possessive when you see others around that person. Or you can be trying to prove to someone that you earned a position and take every opportunity to explain yourself why you have that authority. Follow what Jesus did ——> Luke 20:8 – Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

#6 You lose your joy – This is probably the one you should be concerned about the most. Insecurities can cause you to be too much in your head. Your lack of identity in a specific area of your life can lead you to lose joy. You can isolate yourself, bury your emotions because you never confronted them with God. Ask God to help you and His joy will be your strength. Remember what God says about you. Ephesians 2:10 – For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

I hope this post helped you in some way. Remember that God says you are fearfully and wonderfully made. And when you’re weak, you are strong. There is no need to highlight nor exalt your insecurities, instead confront them head on. I’m not saying to be arrogant around people stating you don’t have insecurities, but instead of focusing on that…tackle those insecurities by receiving your reassurance/healing from God. Instead boast about how strong your God is… even in the midst of your weakness/insecurities. God bless you, child of God!

 

 

The Make it or Break it Test

       Are you one of those people who is currently struggling to pass a test? Does this test mean everything for you? Your livelihood is at stake, your career, your destination. You’ve either failed at it several times and you feel hopeless, or you’re preparing for it and the thought of it makes the yoke heavier. The anxiety keeps increasing and you’re literally a slave to this test. If this is you, you’re definitely not alone and God will work everything out for your good; I am serious. These past three years I’ve been working on getting my license for my teaching career. In order to receive this license, you have to go through a series of requirements showing experience, you need a bachelor’s degree, and you need to pass about seven incredibly difficult state exams. Some of the exams I passed with flying colors, others not so much. As a journalism major, learning about the educational field was completely new to me. It was a world I had never entered and I was starting from scratch. After some time, I passed all six of my exams. I thought I was finished, but I wasn’t. There was one more exam I needed to fulfill to complete the requirements of my job. I figured it wouldn’t be such a difficult task, what’s one more test? It turned out harder than I had imagined.

       Throughout my journey with this test and preparation, God taught me a few things that I would like to share with you. This is especially for those people who feel as if this particular “test” defines who they are, what will happen to them, and it has the ability to break you. The truth is, no test has that power to overcome you in any way. Here is what God taught me:

#1 Put God First. ( Sometimes we can be SO consumed with this test, we eat, breath, and even have nightmares about it. We weep about it, we fret over it, and we halt our time with God, our social lives and even our personal time due to this test. It’s important that we always put God before everything else and not worry. He is the only one that deserves all that time and attention, not a test).

#2 Trust in God’s Timing. (Yes, it sounds cliche, but it’s a fundamental lesson. God knows you’re on a deadline, you don’t need to remind him. Psalm 138:8 says, “The Lord will perfect that which concerns me.” God will not allow you to fail, He will give you a helping hand).

#3 Let Go. (This one took me at least six months before I understood why I had to let go. I had to let go of the pressure, the fear of not having a job, the fear of not fulfilling my final task, the fear of failure. I had to trust in God’s provision and that He would be faithful to guide me on the right path, even if I did not pass).

#4 Honor God by Trusting Him. ( I could not do this in my own strength. I came to a point that I could no longer rely solely on my knowledge, but I needed God’s wisdom for this exam. Even asking for the right studying material was something I needed to seek God for. Surrender it all to Him and HE WILL guide you).

#5 Persevere. ( Romans 5:4 – “Perseverance, character; and character, hope.” God showed this verse to me when I asked him what else was I supposed to do when I started losing hope. This is something we must never forget, perseverance is the only thing that will mold our character and give us hope. God allows you to go through this trial so that you will learn this).

In the end, I passed my test. I am so grateful but more than anything I am grateful for what God taught me. I’ll never forget the lessons. This entire time I wasn’t preparing to pass this state exam, I was preparing to pass God’s test. May this bless you and give you the courage to fight and remember this, God never fails… Joshua 1:9- Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go).

God bless!