The other night, I was in shambles. I woke up in the middle of the night in an absolute panic. I was sweating and crying and panting and for some reason, I could not calm myself down. All I could think about right then and there was that my world was coming undone from the seams. My eyes were puffy, my chest hurt from all of the crying and heaving, my palms were sweaty, and I felt like nothing would ever be ok ever again. I couldn’t tell you what started that whole episode, but I can sure tell you what was going through my mind in the middle of it. Weak. You’re weak. Why can’t you stop crying? You’re not good enough. You see all the people out there having fun without you? You’re alone. Nobody cares about you. Might as well die right here, ’cause who even cares anything about you? 

And you know the worst part? I believed all those lies. You see, this isn’t what you see on social media. You don’t see the jealousy that tears away at my heart as the enemy is able to penetrate me with the lies he builds his kingdom on. You don’t see the tears running down my face as the aching in the middle of my chest makes me want to disappear in a dust of nothingness. Because in all reality, most nights I want to dissipate into a pile of ashes and be swept underneath a rug and be forgotten by the world, and some nights that’s exactly how I feel – forgotten.

Forgotten by the world. Forgotten by my friends. Forgotten. Alone. As these words echoed through my mind, I fell deeper and deeper in a cloud of darkness. I was a captive to the shackles of despair, and you know what? I allowed it. I held out my hands and let the enemy chain my wrists to the darkness of my own thoughts. I gave up the moment it got hard, and he took hold of me and I couldn’t shake him off. Lucky for me, my God already won the fight. He declared victory over me the day Jesus died on the cross for my  sins, and said It is finished. Lucky for me, the fight was already fought. All I had to do was declare it.

And in that moment, the moment I turned my puffy eyed, teary face into my Father’s arms, His grace washed over me.

Isaiah 61 says that:

“He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come… 

To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair.”

In the moments of despair and chain- linked anguish; in the moments that I felt forgotten and utterly useless; in the moments of pain and heart ache; God saw me. Though I chained myself to the lies the enemy was telling me and encompassed myself in complete darkness, His light broke through and He promised so much more for me. He wiped the ashes from my head that spoke of death and despair and replaced them with a crown that declared my worth and beauty.

He tenderly held me in His arms as I wept, but instead of keeping me blinded in my own darkness, He shone a light on the glory I brought to His Kingdom through my obedience. He placed a crown on my head and proclaimed my authority and worth in Him. I was worth more. I was not forgotten. I was beautiful.

And in that moment, I broke free of the shackles I chained myself with and ran in joy and freedom straight into the arms of my Daddy. No more did the darkness overtake my soul. No more did I believe in the lies of the enemy. No more did I let myself become a prisoner of my own thoughts.

My Father gave me a crown of  beauty for ashes and I declare the victories that come with that.

Friends, as I sit here wondering how to express to you how good and amazing our God is, all I feel compelled to do is pray. I pray that although the blanket of anxiety and depression seems so heavy on your heart, you would find the lightness that comes with God’s presence. Jesus carried those burdens away so you wouldn’t have to dwell in them. Instead, I pray that you choose your dwelling place to be at His feet worshipping Him through the struggles and the pain. Because that is where you will find peace. That is where you will find freedom. That is where you will find love. That is where you will feel whole again. He is for you and never against you; that, I can promise. Friends, I am praying for freedom. I am praying that the bondage that is tethering you to the lies of the enemy’s kingdom be broken in Jesus’ name. All things are possible for our God and I believe in faith that His presence will meet you exactly where you are at, wherever that may be. I love you, sister.