I’ll say it now, I can’t say that I’ve had an easy relationship with God, nor do I now, but the one thing that I’ve learnt is that God’s not the enemy. He never has been. Although it may seem like what I’m about to say is crazy, I promise you I’ll explain it.
Personally I think it’s good we go through the hard times as when I’ve looked back, so many things have got a lot better. Okay… initially you may think “No it’s not okay that I’m suffering through anxiety or depression, because all that’s come out of It is pain, embarrassment, low self-esteem … etc.“ and yes that is true, but it’s a matter of looking back and looking at the small details , where we can see how much our lives have changed from having those obstacles . I’ll explain from an example of something that happened to me recently. So, if you have already realised I have anxiety and so basically everything I do is a battle and I have to physically force myself out of bed to face the day. Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I had work experience with a TV post production company as I really want to get into that field and it is required that in sixth form we have work experience. So for me, having anxiety meant that I was actually dreading this work experience even though I really wanted to enjoy it; so it basically made me really annoyed with the fact that I had anxiety. I practically had a breakdown because I kept on thinking “why am I the one who can’t enjoy anything- why is it that GOD has made me anxious person?” and it just kept on replaying in my head. I actually couldn’t get away from the thoughts until after the experience, which for the purpose of this blog post I’ll say was amazing. I truly didn’t feel any anxiousness while being in the job. I’ll admit going in every morning was scary but after completing the work experience I was on such a high and after thinking about it, it’s moments like these that are so memorable because I was able to conquer something that may have been scary to some, but to me was something I’d been scared to do for years. This is why I think anxiety can be cured. By no means is anxiety nice to have or easy (I know!) but through doing something like this, it’s how I believe God is working for good in our lives. In other words, it is the enemy who creates our anxiety not God, who is loving, so therefore He will give us pleasure, even if it’s something small.
The way I see it is that the enemy is ever present in our world, and in some ways is the thing that many of you side with. You might not consciously side with the enemy but through letting your anxiety get to you, you are letting the enemy win. However God is also ever present In our world and is constantly trying to give you what you deserve; we often get confused and blame God for our anxiety or depression (or any other mental condition) because (a) we think “well He’s someone to blame and He’s the easiest option and it makes us feel better and (b) because we’re not looking at the positives. We can’t say there is no God when we’re not looking at the amazing things He’s done for us. It’s a matter of forgetting about the suffering that may have happened in the past or possibly still happening and rather looking at the small things that have developed from the suffering, such as character development or maturity or experience. I don’t know what God has shown you from your suffering but for me, God has used my constant battle with anxiety to allow me to be a grateful, mature and understanding person. Usually I don’t speak good words about myself but I know that God has taken the anxiety that the enemy has given me, to make me the person I am today and I’m aware He’s done the same for you. What I ask of you is to take this moment, to just forget every negative quality you may have because of your mental health and rather look at the skills that you have developed through going through all of the hardships. I’ll help you out, you’ve developed the skill of bravery. We may think that there’s no God because there is the existence of anxiety, depression, agoraphobia, insecurities (the list can go on…) but I think the question that we should be asking ourselves is surely there must have to be a God if there are people like me and you are survivors of the problems of anxiety, depression, agoraphobia, and insecurities. If you don’t understand what I mean, maybe you’ll understand from this example. Think about how you’re feeling right now; you might be fed up with life, worn out, confused, anxious, feeling like you want to shout all of your problems away. Well… I’ve felt all of the above, plus many more. You may think God has made me feel like that, or rather thought the reason I’m feeling those emotions means there must be no God. I’m here to tell you that both of those statements are wrong… because that’s because God doesn’t create suffering. Whatever life may throw at you, it’s not God (I promise you, as does God “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way.” – 2 Thessalonians) but I know that for many of you, you’re probably still confused and needing more answers. I’m not the one to explain it all, but what I can explain to you is that suffering isn’t from God. It’s from the enemy; in person the enemy can come in the form of our “presumed friends”, “our thoughts”, the enemy might even create an illusion, i.e. a ‘fake reality’. The enemy makes us see things that aren’t true and therefore it leads us to have a mental health condition, e.g. Anxiety and depression have occurred in people from social media solely because we’re viewing something that isn’t true, such as ‘The perfect image’ – that people are out all the time, having fun, going out with friends – which trust me, isn’t how it is. People post on social media to make themselves feel better about their image and in some ways they might just be as insecure as you. The enemy always wants us to see the worst perspective on our lives, through our anxiety (which he created to torment us and make us turn from God) or through situations that seem as if they could be leading to rock bottom.
Because I’m a huge lover of films (like crazy obsessed) the way that I see it, is that the enemy is like the villain of the film and God is the hero. In some ways the villain always disguises herself. The villain will often pretend to be your friend but at the last minute turn on you and show their true colours. God however is like the hero; the hero usually being the person who no one believes can help but ends up ‘saving the day; they’re also usually scapegoats and blamed for all of the suffering that goes on, when they turn out to be the one who cared about the wellbeing of the ones around them. The only difference I can say between the hero(ine) in a film and God is that rather than just caring about a fair share of people, God cares about every single person. The reason I use that analogy is because it’s so similar – the enemy does hide and at the very last minute, he grabs everything that you’ve achieved, everything that you’ve loved and throws it away. God however is the one person in the entire world who wants everyone to have happiness, while people still blame him. If I were God, I’d be annoyed if everyone put the blame on me for their suffering when all I was doing was helping them. And it’s true, if I haven’t already made it clear through the whole article, God essentially takes the mess that the enemy has caused to give us hope in life, rather than the pain that would’ve taken over our lives without the help of God.
Still, even reading most of this article, some of you may question why God lets us suffer; surely if He allows suffering to happen He can’t be all loving. Additionally, He can’t be all powerful if He lets the enemy get to us; that being the same reason I didn’t believe there was a God for so long. What I’ve learnt is this: Yes, God does let us suffer but it’s only because we’re given free will in life so we can fight our battles that the enemy has given to us. If God took away all of our pain, we would be like toys, i.e. the owner/creator is the only one who decides what happens meaning that we wouldn’t be able to learn new skills, take on new experiences etc. God is all knowing so if He knows that a situation is physically tearing you apart, He will help. People are often so doubtful that God won’t come in and help and therefore don’t believe but I can tell you, from first-hand experience that God has changed the situation that I may have been facing because He knew that I wasn’t getting better and emotionally and physically couldn’t get through it and I’m sure He will do the same to you, if you are going through a situation at the moment that is too much for you and is physically draining you.
A word I want to emphasise is patience. The real reason I’ve been able to trust in God was through patience and time. Nothing will come easily, nor does anything come quickly. We’re not just on this earth to have fun and happiness all the time. Of course it’s something we all desire but to be honest, it doesn’t mean just because we’re happy, we’re living our best life. If anything, correct me if I’m wrong but I think we need to be challenged in life so that we can experience everything in life – because the definition of ’life’ isn’t to be happy all the time, it would be unusual if we were. We need to embrace all the challenges we face, asking ourselves these questions: Can I get through this? – the answer is going to be yes; am I suffering or am I being tested? (Such a huge difference) and what will I learn from this, in the long run? It’s so important that when you ask yourself that question, that you look at your situation, as whole, not just looking at it from your view on it; of course we don’t know why we are suffering in the beginning but after looking back on it a couple of months after, I promise you will be able to understand what God’s plan is for you.
To have faith and live a life that’s fulfilled, you have to let go of all the negative thoughts and fully embrace the positives. The analogy I use to understand it is a picture or a painting. If you were to look so close at the picture/painting all you’d see is a few shades of colour. You also only see part of the picture when you look at it close; the main image of the painting is usually seen until you look at it from a distance. Imagine it like you’re in the Louvre, you see the Mona Lisa painting from a distance away and what you see first is the woman, because from that distance that’s all you can see. However as you gradually walk towards it, you can see all the intricate details, the movement of the brushes, the shading of colour etc. (I’m not an art expert but you get the idea…) which all count towards the bigger picture. That’s the same as our lives as humans; we are paintings. When we look at our lives up close, we only see half of what it’s really going to look like. Take my anxiety as an example, to me it seems so major in my life but in some ways, my anxiety is only something in the background, its equivalent to a tree on the Mona Lisa painting. However, we need it in our picture as without those details, the painting would only be half finished, and we need it to complete the full potential. For example, in relation to my anxiety, initially I thought ‘this is so unfair – my life consists of restrictions, this is what it’s going to be like my whole life’. WRONG. I was just looking at the picture from a close viewing – I only saw the intricate details, I wasn’t looking at the full picture. Sometimes It takes looking at it like this, although it’s hard, just know that if it wasn’t for your mental health condition, your picture would be a lot different. Although some of you might be angered by the fact that your image might be a lot different, take it as a positive. You would not be that strong, courageous person that you are today, if it wasn’t for the battles you had to face. We just need to take the time to step back from the picture. If anything when you look at a picture too closely, it’s pixelated anyway, so why would you want to look at a picture that isn’t clear. Often in life, it’s like that; that certain situations aren’t clear as to why they happen and I’m certainly not the person to give you an answer but what I will say is, everything that happens, good or bad is purposeful for a reason that will eventually benefit you.
Like I was saying earlier, the outward circumstances might be bad, you might be suffering, but the overall picture and purpose for it is only helping you to learn something or to teach you something or even to discover a character trait. It could be anything, just having trust that something good is going to happen is a lot better than suffering in life, thinking that the world is out to get you and there’s no hope for you. I know that if someone told me that there’s a 99% chance I won’t marry Harry Styles and only 1% chance that I will ( I’m coming after you Harry!), I would be clinging on to that 1% because I have faith that positive always outweighs the negative. The same goes for God and the enemy; it doesn’t matter what the enemy tells us statistically or not, God will always overpower the enemy’s actions. For example it could be that you’ve been told you’re going to die and even doctors can’t save you – that’s the enemy and I know I can’t explain why some people die without reason, but I know that God has performed miracles and those people have gone on to be incredible people. So whatever life has said to you or shown you, it doesn’t matter because God can change all of that, because He doesn’t care if it makes sense to other people or not, He wants to show you in the craziest ways possible, that you will not be controlled by what the enemy tells you. His word is stronger than anybody else you talk to. (Okay… I literally have no idea why I rambled for so long and I’m sorry if you’re now confused than you were in the beginning but I will make sense of it all, I promise. )
Your question before reading this blog was probably ‘What is the purpose of a God if he doesn’t stop me suffering’, and you’re right for questioning that, I still am questioning it, but instead I think the question we should be asking ourselves is ‘what is suffering’. We should first try and understand what suffering consists of before we blame it on God. However, you could tell me that you’re dealing with depression and in that case, you could suggest you’re suffering and I know that that is what is seems to be but I know that when I was dealing through minor depression, I didn’t think to look at why I was suffering? What was the cause? Sometimes there never is but through looking at the situations that happened at the time of that stage in my life, I learnt so much about myself and other people and if anything at my weakest point, I turned to God because if anyone was going to help me it is going to be God. We may question if there’s someone there or not, with everything going on in the world but I’d just say what the harm in asking someone for help. He won’t judge you if you’re only testing him to see if He’s there or not. Don’t use your mental health as a way to blame God; instead use your mental health in a positive way. Think of it like this: because God is all loving, He must have given me this condition or worry for a reason. Like I keep on saying, although it seems hard now, I know the future is going to be bright for all of you because you’ve suffered so that you have the skills, abilities, thoughts etc. needed for future life, whatever that may be. You never know; God may have given you anxiety so that you can discover a job that you never even thought of prior to having anxiety and it could end up being your dream job. Let the message from this blog be that I have faith because I know God has a purpose for me and He’s used the anxiety that enemy has given me to create a beautiful ‘painting’.
I also thought I’d say the only way we can truly understand the reasons behind suffering is through having patience and not overthinking things until we’ve taken the time to see the small positives in life. It’s so important that we don’t see situations as 100% negative; there can be so many reasons why we may think a situation is bad with no purpose and there’s no necessary reason for it but I promise you that whatever it is, it is necessary. So many great things have occurred purely from bad circumstances Anyway I promise you I’m finishing this blog post now but I really hope at least some of you have used this blog to see a different perspective to your life. Additionally, that you understand God isn’t one we should be blaming. Of course feel free to message me if you still don’t understand and I can try to make sense of it, to you.
Love, Emily xx