Have you ever sat in church, looked around at everyone else and thought to yourself ‘these people are a bunch of phonies?’ Like life can’t be that damn good, all the damn time! Every Sunday, they’re smiling nonstop, singing about God’s love, praising Him for their hope, peace and joy, sharing testimonies of how He helped them…like life is so perfect! And you’re sitting there like ‘where is this God in my life?’ You feel alone. In a terrible place with no one to turn to and wonder, what’s the purpose of it all?
I’ve been there.
A few years ago, I was in a very dark place. I can’t even tell you when I got there. I was hopeless, depressed, angry and unfulfilled. Although I wasn’t having any problems in my marriage or with my kids, I was completely withdrawn from life. I was dealing with a lot of unresolved hurt & pain from my Mother’s death that left me questioning my faith big time. It was like I was being tormented by the fact that she was not here to be my Mom & my kids Grandmother. I was growing tired of the mundane stay-at-home Mom routine. I was just irritated, impatient and going through the motions.
I was mentally drained with this huge sense of void. I was on auto-pilot. Everyone else looked like they were moving forward, but it felt like my life had somehow stopped on replay. I was so trained in my routine and mannequin smile that no one knew the personal battle I was having, except my husband. While he did everything he could to encourage, support and inspire me, it wasn’t enough. I was just empty. I vividly remember sitting in church one Bible Study night and envied the people around me. I wanted to know God the way they did. I wanted to experience that hope, peace, joy and love they sang sincerely about. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always believed in Jesus, but I certainly didn’t know Him the way they praised Him up to be.
And the worst part about spiritual depression is that it allows the Devil to come in and wreak havoc in your mind. One negative thought turns into two, two thoughts into three and before long, you’re so deep in self-misery and your own pity party that you don’t recognize yourself. That was me. I sat there as the Pastor preached and thought, “Lord I don’t want to feel like this anymore!”
As we drove home, a song called ‘Deeper’ by Marvin Sapp came on the radio. While my family was laughing and talking, I was in my own world looking out the window as I listened to him sing:
“There is a call that resounds in my ear, it’s calling me deeper. It breaks every failure and removes all my fears. See the place that I’m in, can no longer contain my destiny, though I may have some pain, I adhere to the call inside of me and it’s calling me deeper. This can’t be it; God is so much bigger than this. I was at a point where I wanted to quit…Then I heard a call…deeper.”
I quietly prayed, “Lord How Can I Go Deeper With You?” Then I clearly heard the words INTENTIONAL & CONSISTENT. I knew what they meant, but what did they really mean? The next morning, I looked through my Bible notebooks, over the random pieces of paper I’d written on from various church services and realized how unorganized it all was. -Kind of like my Faith. I wasn’t and hadn’t been intentional in seeking God and I certainly wasn’t consistent about it. For the most part, I prayed on the go or when something happened or needed to happen, and I read the Bible when I felt convicted to, but never just because. I was always too busy or too lazy and I put everything and everyone before God and myself.
God revealed to me that I was spiritually dehydrated.
At that moment, I made up in my mind that going forth, I was going to be “intentional about being consistent in seeking God.” So I created a Faith Notebook. It’s not fancy or complicated, but TRUST ME when I say it has changed my life!!
All I bought is a cute 1” binder, notebook paper & a pack of eight dividers from Target and a bunch of inspirational stickers from Michael’s.
My dividers are:
Daily Prayers: In this section, I wrote a personal prayer for myself, my husband and each of my children. For each child I list ongoing and short-term issues that I want to cover in prayer for each of them. Whether it’s healing, confidence, grades, friends, adversity they’re facing, whatever, it’s listed. The same is for myself and my husband. I also have a sheet of paper where I list other people I’m praying for.
Personal Evaluation: 2 Corinthians 13:5 “Check up on yourselves. Are you really Christians? Do you pass the test? Do you feel Christ’s presence and power more and more within you? Or are you just pretending to be Christians when actually you aren’t at all?” When I read that, I created this. It’s pretty self-explanatory, but it really helps me evaluate myself weekly on what I’m doing or not doing. (Click for Printable)
Gratitude: My favorite section of my binder! Sometimes I forget that ‘God is for Me’ for the big and small things. This section serves as a reminder of His Everyday Grace! I remember one time my son Cameron was having a horrible week. He was worried about his math test, he felt like his basketball coach wasn’t being fair and was hindering him on the court; he just felt defeated. So he & I believed God for a supernatural game and that he would pass his test. He ended up scoring 26 points that next game & earned a B on his test! I wrote that in my Gratitude section! And every once in a while, when I feel moody, I go through this section to remind myself of God’s hand in my everyday life and see that He has & will always be there for me! (Click for Printable)
Bible Study: Every month I choose a word & I study it. This month it’s RIGHTEOUSNESS. I basically go to the index of my Bible and write down all the scriptures surrounding that word. Then I study those scriptures to understand what the word means and why it was used in that context. I also write down if I sense that God is trying to tell me something regarding it. (Click for Printable)
Scriptures: I write down scriptures I come across that I want to memorize. Why is it important to memorize scriptures? I certainly can’t speak for everyone else, but I memorize them because they help me make wise decisions, strengthen me when I’m under stress and comfort me when I feel that emptiness creeping back up. I’ve also learned that it helps me witness to other people when the opportunity presents itself.
Archives: Eventually all these previous sections get full, so I just move them to this part. I also have these two 31 Days of Prayer for my Husband & Kids in this section to refer to every once in a while.
So how exactly did my Faith Notebook help me overcome my spiritual depression? Well it helped me become intentional about making God the #1 priority in my life. And every day I refer to it which keeps me consistent! And in being intentional and consistent, I know Jesus for MYSELF, His personality, His characteristics and His promises for me and my family. I went deeper in my relationship with Him and He gave me closure concerning my Mother, other past hurts and regrets, and he brought me to heights I can’t even describe or explain!
I finally have that real hope, that real peace, that real joy and real love that I use to think people exaggerated or made up. No matter if I’m having a good day or bad day, I maintain a healthy balance in my faith because ultimately I know that’s He’s operating in my life.
And while you certainly don’t have to make a Faith Notebook like I did, I sincerely hope that after reading this, you are encouraged to be intentional and consistent about spending at least 30 minutes every morning getting to know God for yourself. I promise you, it’ll literally change and save your life!
Psalm 16:11 (AMP) You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.