that time God asked me to be brave, and i obeyed.

like i mentioned in my last post, i just completed going through Redemption Groups at Mars Hill.
i went through it once before - right before maggie turned 1. the problem was that at the time, i didnt have any intentions of letting Jesus work in my heart. this time around, i did. i went in ready to fight and ready to hear whatever it was that the Lord wanted to tell me. even if it was not pretty.

let me tell you something, most of what He had to tell me was not pretty.

it wasn't the " oh you are a total victim of your circumstance" situation that my heart had selfishly wanted.
it was more of a butt kicking - a lot of grace filled butt kicking.  Jesus showed me gently through the words of some very wise ladies, that i am selfish,  and that i don't fight very hard against the lies that Satan spews at me - that i sometimes even find comfort in those disgusting lies.  Someone beautifully put that i often circle the cross with my burdens, and my hurts, and my anxieties but i never stop to lay them down at the foot of the cross where they belong. the picture of me carrying weighted, heavy, burdens around and around the cross and never laying them at the feet like Jesus asks me too, because i felt i was unworthy was burned into my heart and my mind.

i thought, wow! how tired i have been carrying these things in circles, all because i chose to believe the lie that Jesus didnt love me enough for me to leave them at the cross. i'll never forget that it was after that day that i started to realize that Jesus loves me just as much as he loves you, i am not the leftover - i am not lesser, but that He sees me as valuable as the the next person. that realization was life changing.

i am certain that i could write post after post on all that Jesus taught me - and i am certain that you will see posts like that from me in the near future, but what i really wanted to share with you was this huge thing that Jesus asked me to do.

i felt the nudging way back in the spring when i attended a Redemption Group celebration - people get up and share their story, what God has done in their lives and how RG changed their heart/life. the Holy Spirit quietly told me that when i went through RG i would need to get up there and share.

i wanted to puke. which was not uncommon, since i basically always want to puke. (but not really)

but i listened and i agreed that i would obey the Lord and get up and share if my time ever came to do so. and it did.

back in September i walked into the front doors of our church, texted a lady friend for prayer because i thought for sure i would be anxious going into a group of women and sharing all my crap. but Jesus was GOOOOD to me that weekend. i was anxiety free - telling my story was freeing and it felt good to get all my junk out. the next week, i walked into Redemption group, literally snot crying as i opened the doors - overcome with intense anxiety and panic. i melted into a chair next to one of our pastors wives and sobbed about my fears and my anxiety. she lovingly prayed for me, but you know what else she made me do? she made me pray for myself - she made me ask God to help me be brave. it was then that i knew that i had to do this for myself - that i had to work with God, to want Him to help me . not that i could do it on my own by any means, but i couldnt come in week after week and ask others to do the praying and the asking for me, but that i had to take responsibility and do the praying and the asking too. that night was amazing because Jesus blessed me more than i could ever imagine. i talked, i snot cried (which is worse than ugly crying, im an expert at these things...) and i felt Jesus tenderly working away at my heart. each week i went back, and each week i felt less and less like puking and each week i saw Jesus work - in my life and in the lives of 6 other ladies. its probably one of my favorite experiences in my life.

the time came last week for me to get up and share. to be brave because Jesus asked me too, and because Jesus is brave. i prayed about what he wanted me to say, and that night i stood up in front of what felt like 900 people (but was realistically maybe 75) and shared my heart, and i really want to share it with you too - because many of you have followed me along this journey (it is not over, but by Gods grace is now something i see as uncomfortable grace in my life)

i came to redemption group filled with intense fear and anxiety. i started having panic attacks earlier this year and knew i needed Jesus and to have a deeper love and understanding for him than i did. 

Everyday i would watch my daughter be free, brave and so full of life, and i would desire a life like hers - one with no shackles. Jesus has shown me through my daughter a picture of who i can be in Him. 

on the first day of redemption group we were asked to write what redemption might look like in our lives - i basically wrote " that  could fully trust and know that Jesus loves and cares for me the same as everyone else, that i would be able to see Jesus as greater than my fears and find complete joy and satisfaction in Him by making Jesus big and myself small. " this is the psalm that i wrote. 

be still, you command. my days have felt unmanageable. everything feels heavy. the panic and fear sit on me like 2 slave masters who refuse to stop beating. they attack me all day long.
in the morning when i would rise, i ran to false Gods. i compared my life to theirs. i found discontentment in the gifts you gave. in fact, i hated one of them so much i wished you had never given it.
she is sunshine. the bright light in my dark days. yet i abandon her. i turned away from her. i became detached. i was no longer her safe place. she loved me. she loves me. despite the words i said. in my anger i am a punisher. i wanted her to feel my fear, my frustrations, my insecurities. so i shouted them at her with fiery words.
i let go of your hand, turned my face from yours. i wanted to punish you too. you allowed this depression. you through me into this pit of despair. you wanted me to live this way. and i hated you for it. those are lies.
if you would have reached down from heaven and wiped the salty tears from my stained face i would not have even recognized it was you. and even if i did i would have still turned away. my heart was cold and bitter towards you, it was angry and wanted nothing of you.
one day i heard you speak. i found comfort in your words. i came back to you, slowly and with repentance. " let the redeemed of the Lord say so" you said. and i did.
i shouted it from the rooftops. that you saved me from my pit. that you were there seeking my ugly heart.
she was sunshine to me once more. a joy. a blessing. i loved her so much, i hurt for the love i had so selfishly stolen from her. but found peace in knowing that sin was all paid for.
then, like a thief in the night it came. it snuck in and suddenly i realized i had traded my joy and peace for shackles of anxiety and fear.
the loneliness set in like a thick fog. the fear came with the fierceness of a fire a fire that burned down everything i had just built. i ran to what was familiar. myself.
in the depth of my pain you were there. in the darkness of my panic you were there. in the midst of my fear you were there.
i was stubborn. i didnt move. i was afraid to get close to you. what if this was all your will for my life? what if this was my cross to bear? i couldnt stomach the thought that i could be alone and in physical pain and filled with fear everyday. you wouldnt be enough.
but you are gracious. you gently stood by my side, even in times when no one else did. i hit what felt like bottom and i gave up on myself i threw my desires for my flesh and old idols aside and looked at your radiant, glorious face.
i crawled into your lap and sobbed. i held your hand so tightly as we trudged through the mire together. your word says you promise to restore, confirm and strengthen me after i have suffered and i find hope in that.
be still. you said. stop doing. and thinking. and fearing. and trying. and comparing. and hating. and punishing. and worrying. worship me by resting in me. let me quiet you with my love. let me rejoice over you with gladness. let me fight for you. be still. on the last day of Redemption group we were asked the same question, and because of the the work Jesus has done in my heart i wrote this, "God has given me a mind to see truth instead of lies, the ability to be brave because he fights for me and has won, the desire to seek him and his presence all the time, knowing that he loves me the same as others." For the first time in my life i feel and know that i am truly loved by Jesus, that i can trust Him and put my hope in him rather than my circumstances and i have a desire to turn my eyes to Jesus and off of myself and my fears when anxiety hits. He is so good, and i can sit still and be brave while i allow him to keep working in my life.

i got to walk off that stage and into the arms of my husband, who has loved the cuss out of me during this time. i got the joy of knowing one of my best friends was listening to the work Jesus is doing in my heart. i got the chance to be honest and raw in front of my parents, knowing they were not ashamed of me and my struggles, but thankful to have me as their daughter. i am beyond thankful for the work that Jesus is doing in my life. beyond thankful that i can now know that He loves me the same as others, the He wants good for me, that i can be brave and bold and sit quietly while worshiping Him. i know this is not over, but i also know i am not going to turn back and go to my old ways. Jesus has become so real to me, so dear to me, such a friend and a father and a hiding place. i hope you find encouragement in my words, i pray you see Jesus in my writing.  when i am afraid, i can trust in him. and so can you. 


  1. tears. this is beautiful. so thankful for God's ongoing redemption in our lives.

  2. Love you Ally! So glad for what Jesus is doing in your life.

  3. I stumbled on this via Mars Hill and am so thankful I did. I will be rereading this after I post this comment to glean everything I can. I have given into depression more in the last year than ever before. A lack of career, weak relationships, singleness at near 30, laziness, lost passion for the talent God has given me - all excuses for my misery, pressing down so hard that I often want to completely give up. I believe in God's grace, the marvelous gift of Jesus, but keep my sins of regret and misery in my white-knuckled fist. I do relinquish this to Him! I don't want to be useless anymore!
    In those times of fear, doubt and misplaced regret, do you have favorite passages of the Word that give encouragement?


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