As I shared in Part 1 of this blog post, many years ago I found myself emotionally in over my head due to difficult circumstances. My levels of anxiety and depression led my husband and me to make an appointment with my general practitioner. She prescribed me anti-depression medication which I debated whether I should take for about a week. When it came down to it, I didn’t feel a peace about it. So, I asked God for guidance one afternoon as my kids were napping and He led me to the book of Psalms. Years earlier I learned the concept of praying through the scriptures. As I sat in my living room before a roaring fire, I began to pray out loud a few of the Psalms to God as if I had written them myself. Tears flowed, emotions were released, and in this, two beautiful things happened:
First, I began to experience God’s presence in a profound way. The Bible teaches us in Psalm 34 that God comes close to those who are broken-hearted. I certainly felt Him so close to me as I poured out my heart to Him. And as I experienced His sweet and loving presence, I learned to find joy again. Even in my pain and sorrow, He was glad to be with me, and I was glad to be with Him! This changed things for me because I was no longer alone in my pain. Knowing and feeling Him with me strengthened me to face what I was going through.
Secondly, not only was I building a new pathway from despair to joy through these moments with God, I was also learning new pathways from David as I read through the Psalms. The Bible can provide us countless examples of mighty men and women who experienced negative emotions yet trusted in God and returned to joy in Him. David’s candor with God, yet ability to return to the security of His bond with God, provided an example that my brain could learn from.
Although praying the Psalms back to God is something quite simple, it marked a turning point for me. This is the beauty of the Relational Brain Skills. They are not rocket science. They are honestly quite basic. But if we actually put them into practice, they are powerful tools the Lord can use to create lasting transformation in our lives.
This difficult season of my life went on for several more months. However, I continued to pray the Psalms to the Lord and seek His presence. Through this process God taught me many skills, including skill 1 (how to share joy), skill 2 (how to soothe myself and quiet), skill 11 (how to return to joy from negative emotions), and skill 12 (how to act like myself, even in difficult circumstances). As a result, my capacity to endure difficult circumstances was expanded as I formed new paths back to joy from fear and despair. I had a greater sense of God’s presence, and there was now a deeper joy in my life that was based on my relationship with Him rather than my circumstances.
If you find yourself in a season where you feel emotionally in over your head, please don’t lose heart. Not only does God care, He is able to take you by the hand and grow you through this season. Now is a beautiful time to invest in your emotional capacity through learning the simple relational brain skills that help us to connect with Immanuel and grow in joy and peace. If you are new here, a great place to start is with our free webinars (I recommend starting with “Let’s Make Peace Contagious) or with the book Transforming Fellowship which explains the 19 Relational Brain Skills and gives guidance on how to cultivate them in your life.