There's nothing better than Jesus.
He is the Redeemer, Healer, and Savior. He exudes grace and mercy all in one. He's the hospital for the broken. He's a shepherd for the lost. He's with us in our highest highs and darkest lows. He makes all things new, turning sorrow in joy, giving peace in chaos, beauty from ashes.
I've shared a lot of my anxiety journey lately, probably more than you wanted to know. A lot of what I have shared is about how I've struggled in the moments and what helps me cope. But today, I'm going to share the other side anxiety: how God has graciously taken seasons of hurt and pain (ashes) and turned them into beauty.
I still have seasons or moments of anxiety, but that doesn't mean I haven't experienced freedom from it too.
Every anxious moment, day, week or month has always resulted in God graciously working with me through it. I struggle to remember truth in anxious moments, but the second I recognize God gives beauty from ashes is the moment I am able to step towards that freedom.
Probably the worst season of anxiety I've experienced was shortly after my last breakup. I lost my identity in that process. I lived a year full of anxiety, running from Jesus, and I then felt I had lost everything. I struggled to know how I would get through each day because I often I couldn't get out of bed, eat a full meal or get past the mental block that everything would be okay. I questioned, doubted, and feared my future, wondering if I was too far from God to ever return. My desire to be with Him had been stripped away by my hardened heart, but I wanted it back.
As days and weeks passed, my loving family and friends provided the support and encouragement I needed. They were there when I needed to cry, made sure I was fed, and continually spoke truth filled with grace. I slowly began to find myself again: better than I was before. At times, I felt so sick for ever running away like I did, but God graciously whispered in my ear every day that He was never going to leave. He healed my heart and anxiety, helping me embrace His goodness.
I left that season and entered some of the best months and years to follow. I still experience(d) anxiety here and there but I think that specific season sticks as a reminder that no matter what, He takes shame and turns it into glory, turns mourning to dancing, gives beauty from ashes.
If you haven't seen, my next product launches March 8th (shameless plug). They're t-shirts that say "beauty from ashes." I hope after reading this you can see why I chose that specific phrase. I hope this phrase offers hope in your dark days.
Because we follow Jesus doesn't mean our struggles go away, but it does mean we have eternal hope and peace. God working with me through anxious moments looks differently depending on the situation, but often it looks like internal peace: mentally and physically. He helps me have the courage to be vulnerable and seek help when needed, seek logic based in Biblical truth, and most importantly: experience unexplainable joy.
When I allow myself to step into this freedom and away from temptation or worldly distractions, I know that whatever I face God will see me through to the other side, providing everything I need. Sometimes, I have to look into my past to remember that He has my future.
What are you struggling with today friend? Where do you need God to enter and give beauty from ashes? Whatever that struggle is remember this truth that comes from Isaiah 61:
1The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me,
because the Lord has anointed Me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent Me to heal[a] the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and freedom to the prisoners;
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of our God’s vengeance;
to comfort all who mourn,
3 to provide for those who mourn in Zion;
to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
festive oil instead of mourning,
and splendid clothes instead of despair.[b]
And they will be called righteous trees,
planted by the Lord
to glorify Him.
- Isaiah 61:1-3