Overcoming Anxiety

Dear World Changer,

We are starting an OVERCOMING series on the blog! We’re touching on topics such as overcoming anxiety, overcoming eating disorders, overcoming depression, overcoming low self-esteem and so on! Your leaders have SLAYED these topics and I am beyond excited to share all the wisdom with you!

Here’s the first of our series….overcoming anxiety written by our own Jenny!

________________________________________________

Let’s talk about that feeling. That feeling of intense fear, that latches on to our hearts and our minds. It can’t be talked away, won’t be shaken off, and is heavier than a ton of bricks. It sits on our chests, in our guts, completely psycho-analyzing any and every situation that we encounter.

I’m talking about anxiety.

I wrote the following post within the past year, on my own blog, as I reflected on my own personal struggle with anxiety. For about 8 to10 years, I was crippled by anxiety. It showed up over a variety of areas, but was mainly surrounding my future. I’m talking anywhere from days in the future, to years in the future. If I hadn’t experienced it yet, it was going to be something that daunted me. Anxiety limited my life, my boldness, to the point where I started missing out on the excitement and beauty that life had to offer.

For me, this changed completely on the first night of youth convention back in May 2016. Jesus showed up to me in a fresh new way, as the Prince of Peace, and I experienced full breaking off of my anxiousness. I want to share with you, World Changer, four things that I learned about the true character of anxiety, as well as what the Lord taught me about maintaining and thriving in a peace that passes all understanding!

Four Characteristics of Anxiety…

  1. Anxiety is IRRATIONAL

It is lacking in truth, value, and goodness, yet has an amazingly strong grip. Yes, it can be based on, or stemming from, something that has occurred in our lives, but it is an aggressive, magnified, twisted version of that truth. Another thing that I found aggravated the anxiety I faced was THE Truth. Our battle is not against any mere human in this world, but against the devil and his demons. And the devil knows that Word. Think about it. If he didn’t, how could he get us to stumble? How could he twist anything to deceive us into sinful living? How did he know the Truth when he tempted Jesus in the desert? The devil is the master of twisting truth until we are so confused we believe him. For me, this was related to fellowship. Something Jesus practiced and desires for us is fellowship. Coming together, breaking bread, sharing both time and thought. It is a beautiful thing, and something we should practice and followers of Christ. But, the devil saw something that happened in my life when I was fellowshipping, and knew that Jesus wants me to connect, and so he went after my peace when it came to fellowship. I would often become paralyzed when the opportunity for fellowship and connection arose. It got to the point, however, that I became angry at the devil for the foothold he had in my life, and I believe that anger helped get me to the point where I wanted none of the anxiety any more. And believe me, get that “Shackles” by MaryMary playing, have yourself a little “stomp on the devil” party every now and again, and you’ll feel pretty free!

  1. Anxiety is PERSONAL

If someone has encountered/ is encountering anxiety, I am able to empathize with their battle, but when it comes to the struggles they are specifically facing, I may not be able to understand/ make sense of their specific struggle. Because just like humans, anxiety is unique. I have felt, and have talked to people who also experienced, the guilt, confusion, shame, and embarrassment that comes when you don’t understand why you are anxious about something that everyone else seems cool with. Like why am I anxious about socializing with people over a meal? I shouldn’t be. I must be weird or deeply broken in some way. NO. Get out of that cycle. It is not true and it leads to destruction. Yes, people may not be anxious about something that you are anxious about, and yes, maybe your anxiety is irrational, but you shouldn’t be embarrassed about it. Speaking from personal experience, stuffing down anxiety only works for so long. After a while, you will realize you have missed out on a ton, or have fallen so deeply into letting yourself be fearful that your heart is nothing but clenched and scared at all times. Your story, your struggle, is going to help someone. I promise. Mine has, and I only consider myself to be free for a year!

  1. Anxiety is COMFORTABLE

Moral Revolution, an amazing organization pursuing purity in our generation, says it best:

“The process of getting free often seems harder than slavery, which is why so many people stay in bondage.”

-Moral Revolution

In a weird way, the iron grip that anxiety possesses in lives becomes a resting place, a source of comfort, even if your soul is weary and your heart is distressed. Relying on excuses and “the norm” is often easier than stepping into freedom and LIFE. I can tell you, thoughts would go through my head like: “What if more is expected of me?” “What if I get sick?” “What if life without anxiety is scary?” . But all those “what ifs” were simply excuses, because given the option of the known normal or the unknown freedom, I wanted nothing else but to stay in the known, even if it was slowly breaking my soul. Let me tell you, that the moment you decide to throw off the lie that the freedom waiting on the other side of your comfort zone is worse than the anxiety, your life will open up. Peace will flood in, opportunity will sprout, and joy will flourish. Not to say you won’t have moments of the old habits, because they will be hard to break, but your prison cell (let’s just call it for what it is) will become more and more distant every single day.

  1. Anxiety is NOT YOU

It is so easy, when you have been battling something for so long, to identify as your struggle. To say “I am anxious” rather than “I am struggling/battling/walking through anxiety”. Because you are not, at your core, anxiety. You are you. You are His. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You were together by a caring Father, created with purpose, for a purpose. And to identify as your struggle is to give the devil too much credit. I saw a video recently on Facebook that talked about depression, but I equated what the person was saying to anxiety. He compared us to the sky, and [anxiety] to clouds. Even though clouds are in the sky, can at times cover the sky, and pass through the sky, the clouds are NOT the sky. In the same way, anxiety can come and go. It can stay for what seems like forever, or creep back in after a long period of clarity, but it always comes and goes. You are NOT what you face. If you allow it, what you face can refine, strengthen, and change you for the better, but it will never BE you.

 

Now, I mentioned earlier that the Lord taught me about how peace, pure and true and lasting peace, is something that needs to be maintained. If you are someone who wants to overcome your struggle with anxiety once and for all, you need to be prepared and willing to work for your peace daily. The apostle Paul, the dude who wrote some of the most epic books of the bible, says in Romans 7 that “there is another power within [us] that is at war with [our] minds”. He is acknowledging that there is a battle for the throne of our minds. Will we continually choose to place the Lord, and all the goodness He has for us, to reside there? Or will we become tired of pursuing Jesus, and allow anxiety and fear to take control once again?

Here are some ways to continually maintain an atmosphere of peace in your mind:

  1. DAILY give praise to the Lord

If you are continually, on a daily basis, choosing to praise and look to Jesus, the anxiety that is trying to eat up your focus and attention will fade. Choosing to take time to make HIM the center of your all will allow His presence to invade your heart. And that is glorious!

  1. Get His Word in your heart

You want to be able to speak against the voices and lies of your anxiety? Declare Truth! And the only way you can do that is by memorizing His Word. Whether this means memorizing a verse a week, or writing verses on sticky notes and putting them on your mirror, or setting your lock screen as a verse, simply make sure you are in the Word (reading your bible) and surrounded by the Word.

  1. Write down the big stuff

If you’ve been at IntenCity for long, you will know that journaling is highly recommended by PK, Pastor Natasha, and all of the leaders. We view journaling as a way to remind ourselves of where God has walked with us, what He has promised us, and where He said He’d take us. To have a physical record of what has actually occurred allows us to combat the lies of the devil when he tries to tell us something hasn’t actually happened. It is kind of like the modern version of creating an altar, like they used to do in the Old Testament when God would show up. Write down your “altars” (the day you were set free, the first time you do something you couldn’t while bound up in fear….) and return to them to praise the Lord and declare the Truth of who He is and what He has done in your life!

Sweet one, you were fashioned and designed with greatness in mind. We don’t call you “World Changer” for nothing! But you will never fully step into ALL that the Lord has planned for YOU unless you allow Him to fully free you from ALL your anxiety. Trust me, as a sister who has walked through the same battle you are walking through, a life of peace and freedom is SO worth it. Don’t let the devil convince you that staying comfortable in anxiety is worth it. He is a liar, a robber, and he seeks ONLY to destroy you.

World Changer, the devil desires to keep you bound because he acknowledges that if you become free, you will be unstoppable. Become unstoppable today. Walk into God’s presence with you hands open, lay your anxieties at His feet, and let Him replace them with His incredible peace.

Beautiful one, you were made to be a WARRIOR, not a WORRIER. Walk into the freedom that is yours!

And we, your sisters, are cheering you on.

Much love,

Jenny

Initiative and Courage Go Hand In Hand

Dear World Changer,

It’s been a while since we’ve posted! There’s been some brainstorming going on about new and exciting posts and here is our first one! We’ll be back to posting weekly once again so look out on social media and subscribe 🙂

This post is from one of of very own IntenCity goers – Meghan Hickey – and this is her story.

Some of you may know me, my name is Meghan Hickey. I was a grade 12 at Intencity and I’ve been going for just a year. I’d like to say I wish I had been going for all of my high school career, but I know that God brought me here when he did for a reason.

I was your average church goer my whole life. I went to a catholic school for elementary and high school and a Catholic Church for the same amount of time until until grade 11. I went every single Sunday and on holidays. I was also very involved in my church; I was even a Sunday School teacher. Now this seems like pretty smooth sailing, my routine of church was down to a tee. I did my nightly prayers. I thought I was doing everything right. But then things got rocky and I went through a hard time for my grade 11 year. I felt hopeless and lost my faith that year. I even stopped attending church regularly.

At about May or June last year, I had been scrolling through Instagram when I saw this girl named Kayla. I had first seen her positivity on twitter and followed her on Instagram from there. She always seemed so happy on social media. I understood that social media is just a highlight reel and that her happiness might only be shown to the public, but none the less it seemed genuine. I tried to understand how she was so happy. What does she have that I don’t to inspire her joy?

One day she posted a picture of a page from a book. So I direct messaged her on Instagram casually and asked what book she was reading (it was a devotional called Jesus Calling). She then started speaking greatly on her faith and how much happiness Jesus brings her. And that’s when I realized that it isn’t her boyfriend or her sunny Georgian weather that is the source of her happiness. It’s her happiness within herself and her relationship with Jesus.

She had a youth group in her town that she attended and spoke highly of. She convinced me to seek out a youth group in my own town to help build my own relationship with Jesus. That’s when I thought of Intencity. I had heard of it before, as many people at my school went or currently go to Woodvale, so I seeked out a close friend and asked her if she would join me on my first night.

Friday June 17th, 2016 was my first night at Intencity. I remember Pastor Kyle’s sermon very clearly that night because it closely mirrored my situation and it made me want to come back again to hear more. I’d like to think that even if I didn’t relate at the time that I would’ve still been intrigued, but I’m very thankful for that night’s message because it inspired me.

However, the night that changed me the most was at OVPC. I still had a young heart that yearned to learn more but I still wasn’t there yet. I would look around at all the other girls in my connect group and I didn’t quite look like them. I wasn’t as openly singing. I couldn’t talk aloud to God. I didn’t close my eyes or lift up my arms. I felt like I lacked passion compared to them. And I think someone noticed my curious, lost eyes as I watched everyone else. My connect group leader, Charity, sat me down that night. She asked if it was okay that she asked me a personal question and she said “Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus?” and I kind of looked around, teared up a bit and when I looked back at her I said “I don’t know.” After that, she had a long talk with me about what it means and what I have to do and the one line I’ll never forget is that Jesus is “a best friend that never leaves”. And after everything that happened the past year in my hard time, that was a very comforting thing to say to me.

Since that moment, I was hooked on building a strong relationship with Jesus and I haven’t looked back. I attend youth group every chance I can. I had the privilege of attending Fervor this year. I look forward to being apart of The Forge and entering Strive next year.

So, how does this relate to you? How does my story make me or anyone else a world changer? Too often we wait for things to come to us. I could’ve sat around for months and months and waited for something to come along and make me happy. But I saw it in someone (thanks to the power of social media being used for good) and I figured out how to get it for myself. I reached out to Kayla and asked her questions to get answers. I reached out to my friend to bring me to Intencity so I could see it for myself. I continuously brought myself out to Intencity to strengthen my faith.

I believe initiative and courage go hand in hand. It took courage to reach out to all those people, and even though I didn’t have enough courage to strut into Intencity alone that first night, I have that courage now. So I challenge you, world changers, to go out and take initiative to go after the things you want.

– Meghan Hickey

Choosing God’s Plan A, Not Mine

Dear World Changer,

Lately at our school bible study meetings, those of us who lead the group have been sharing about things that God has been teaching us in our personal lives. This past Wednesday I spoke on how I came to choose what university I am going to, and what God taught me about making decisions through this. For those of you who are looking to make a decision about where you are going for university/college, or are faced with any big decisions in your life right now, I hope this can help you in some way. But keep in mind, we are all different and at different places in our walks with Jesus etc. So, your process to getting to a firm decision about something might need to be different than mine. Whatever your path may be, trust in Him and willingly let him lead you through it.

I applied to 3 schools at the beginning of September, one of which I had loved and been talking feverently about to my friends for years. I knew I wanted to apply to one more school, and after taking some more time to think on it and do some research, I applied to my final school during Christmas. I received acceptance into 3/4 of the schools I applied to fairly quickly, and then received my last acceptance to the school I had loved for years in early March. I was so excited when I got that acceptance, I was in tears! I didn’t think I would get in, so suddenly something that seemed unattainable was a real possibility and I thought and acted like that was where I was going. However, confusion soon set in and I had no idea where the right place to go was. I wanted to be able to make a decision by a certain time, so this made me quite frustrated. I spoke to one of my leaders about it one night at youth, and she suggested that I fast. So, I decided to fast. In worship that night I felt as if I needed to fast boldly, and give up EVERY distraction if I wanted to get anything out of it.

A few days later, I entered a 2 week fast where I gave every distraction in my life up and focused on Jesus. I use the First 5 app for my morning devotionals, and it so happened that the first day of my fast was the the first day of the 1 Samuel study. As I began to fast, I began reading 1 Samuel along with the First 5 app and God taught me SO MUCH through it. So much of 1 Samuel has to do with faith, following and trusting in God, decisions, callings in Christ and heavily related to my situation. Through Holy Spirit and this book of the Bible, He led me through a process of changing my perspective and getting to the point where I could see the decision He wanted me to make. I learnt that I was seeking after what I thought was my best (that school I had loved for years), and not God’s best – this is the reason why I had gotten so confused. I knew deep down once I had gotten in that said school wasn’t where I was supposed to be, but I didn’t want to let go of my own dream. Once I had gotten past this, He slowly showed me where I was supposed to be and I eventually accepted my offer to the school He had placed on my heart.

What did God teach me about making big decisions through this?

#1. Be Faithful First

Have complete faith in Him. Seek and ask Him to increase your faith if that’s what you need to do. Faithfully give Him the praise and honour He deserves because He is good. Ensure that you aren’t just praising Him for the answers He can give you, but because you truly love Him and know that He is always worthy of praise.

#2. Be Ready

Be ready to receive what He has for you, to listen to Him, acknowledge Him, and be obedient to whatever he calls you to do. Open yourself up to all the options; all the possibilities and leave your own desires and what you may think is right behind. Allow him and choose to let Him transform your heart to one that is ready to receive and respond to what He is telling you to do.

#3. Repent & Surrender

This step relates a lot to being ready. Surrender your wants and desires to Him. And instead, choose to seek His wants and desires for you. Get rid of anything between you and God by repenting of any sin, taking the first step and humbling yourself before God and his great plans. Actually REPENT, which means to be committed to being better and actually, permanently changing your ways. Surrender any deadlines you may have set for your decision to Him and trust Him to reveal the answer to you on His own time. Remove that pressure from yourself so that you don’t rush into the wrong decision. If you are to clearly see the decision he wants you to make, this step is crucial.

#4. Rely on Him, His Holy Spirit, and His word

Finally, trust Him. Trust that what He is leading you into is the best for you, and that it is going to be absolutely amazing. That you have the ability to do whatever he is calling you to do, even if it doesn’t seem like it now. Rely on Him to give you what you need to accomplish it. Don’t hide behind other things or excuses, allow him to work in you & reveal what needs to be revealed. Take the time to just be still in His presence, to read your bible, and listen to His spirit so that He can properly do these things.

We believe in you World Changer – you’ve got this.

 

Jordan

How To Have A Better Relationship With Your Mom

Dear World Changer,

I wanted to talk to you about moms, and ways to better and/or maintain a solid relationship with your mom!

Maybe you just read that line, and you’re thinking, “I have nothing to work on, my mom and I are fine”. I encourage you to see if you can’t learn even just one method to maintain that great relationship you already have. Maybe you are reading this thinking, “My mom and I fight all the time… this doesn’t really apply to me”. I encourage you to ask God how He wants YOU to work at improving your relationship with your mom. Mothers are some of the most valuable people God has placed in our lives, and we can’t take them for granted!

DISCLAIMER BEFORE WE CONTINUE…

I am writing as someone who is still learning how to have the best possible relationship with my mom! I am not saying I know everything, or that my mom and I are perfect. I am simply writing based on my observations, lessons I’ve learned, and my experiences.

Now, without further ado, here are the tips and tools I wanted to share, in hopes that you may take even one idea with you into your relationship with your mom!

  1. SHE’S NOT YOUR ENEMY!

I can’t remember how many times (there have been that many, yikes!) that my mom has said to me, “I’m not your enemy,” while I have been dishing some serious sass (not my finest moments). Sometimes it is hard, especially as young women, to healthfully direct our pent up frustration, stress, anxieties, etc. So, sadly, we end up spewing that “toxic build up” on our moms when they come into our rooms to tell us what time supper will be at! I have been learning over the years, with the HELP of my mom, where and when I should release that negative build up in order to avoid it being directed at her. Our moms are our number one fans. And often times they have walked through exactly what we have. Let’s try and see our moms as our support instead of our party poopers/opposing forces.

 

2. FIRST, MOM. SECOND, FRIEND… RESPECT!

Maybe your mom is keeping up with fashion trends better than you are, and resembles a sister or a friend rather than an older figure of authority. And hey, if my momma wants to embrace ripped jeans and American Eagle, I say go for it! But we can’t diminish our level of respect for our moms because of how they may look or act sometimes. When my mom goes from my closest friend to someone listing off chores I need to do, it can be easy for me to shut down, or push back against her authority. But in those instances, I (WE!) must remember that she committed to being my mom before she ever committed to be my friend. Not to say she can’t be close to me, but to say that she is deserving of a high level of respect because of the position God has placed her in in my life. If you stop trying to cram your mom into the “best friend box” before the “authority box”, your relationship with her will shift to be a healthy, fulfilling relationship.

  1. OPEN THE LINES OF COMMUNICATION…

In correlation to the two last points, you and your mom will not have a thriving relationship if you aren’t communicating with one another. I have learnt this and relearned it multiple times over the course of the past years. Your mom may not know you really well, but even if she does, she can’t read your mind! I’m not saying you need to spill your guts about everything going on in your life to your mom right this instant, you need to start communicating based on where you and your mom are right now, but start opening up to her. Instead of saying “good” when she asks you how your day was, actually answer her with a sentence or two. Instead of texting while she is telling you something, make eye contact and e n g a g e. You will be amazed in the ease with which you two share with each other when you are both engaged in your time spent together!

  1. DROP COMPARISON!

No relationship is perfect, because it is made up of two imperfect humans! Don’t strive to be like that mother-daughter duo in your church, on Instagram, in your neighborhood… I can assure you that you are only seeing the highlight reel of their relationship, plus you and your mom can have an awesome, unique, thriving relationship if you just focus on being your best selves…aside from what that looks like in other mother-daughter duos! Work towards achieving and maintaining a solid relationship with YOUR mom, who is a unique and special woman you shouldn’t take for granted. Invest in her, and your relationship, rather than the image/idea of another.

 

I hope you took something away from this post, and that you are spurred on to continue investing in your bond with your momma. A unique and irreplaceable bond. I’ll leave you with this Proverb, which I think sums up mothers pretty well:

 

‘When she speaks, her words are wise,

and she gives instructions with kindness.’

Proverbs 31:26

 

Now go, be a world changer alongside your world-changing mom!

 

Much love,

Jenny

The Journey to Uni

Dear World Changer,

 

Uni or college? Stay home or leave? This program or the other?

 

If you’re in grade 12, you’re probably thinking, feeling, and being asked, those very same questions. And it can be scary…trust me, I know.

And because I understand the struggle that you are experiencing, I want to share my story with you. My story, this journey I am still on, is one marked by His love, His kindness, and His faithfulness.

Throw it back to last May, at YC 2016, I was freed completely from anxiety, from something that had gripped my life for years, and had crippled me deeply. But sadly, in the weeks and months that passed following that incredible moment, I began to allow doubt and fear to creep back in. Because this was around the time I was entering into grade 12, all those fears encompassed my future. How was I going to react to change? Where was I going to go?

 

After some time, I realized the following fact:

 

Life goes on.

Seasons were never meant to last forever.

God knows you. He created you and your life with purpose.

Nothing He has planned will hurt you.

But it is YOUR choice to move or to stay.

 

I began to realize that I was never intended to stay who I am in THIS season forever. That high school will not be the peak of my life, but rather if I trust God with it all, I will continually be amazed at His power in my life.

Once I held that truth in my heart, and let it run into every part of my life, God began to place burdens and passions in my heart. He made me intrigued with what could and will be, instead of afraid of it. By November, I had applied to three universities, of which only one is in Ottawa. By January, I was awaiting responses from four establishments, the fourth being a college in BC. Why do I mention that? Because had you told me a year ago that I would be a) anxiety free, b) have applied and be excited for uni, and c) have applied to a school across the country, I would have laughed. But isn’t it amazing how God transforms us from girls who laugh in fear and disbelief, into women who laugh AT fear, in belief of His promises and love for us!?!

So, maybe you have read through my story, and feel the exact same way. Or maybe you are younger than me and are looking for tips when it comes time for you to make the decisions I am making now. Below are some tips and pieces of advice that I have received and learned throughout my own application and deciding process:

 

  1. Drop comparison at the door

You’re going to hear about everyone’s grades, everyone’s early acceptances, everyone’s scholarship offers. Don’t let comparison make you doubt your ability, intelligence, or strength. Someone once said: ‘Celebrate her success without questioning your own.’ And it’s so true. I am surrounded by people who went to uni, to college, who took a year or two off, who received early acceptance, and some who are still waiting for an offer of admission. Are some of those people more or less valuable than others?? Heck no!

 

  1. Stare down, and don’t listen to, your fears

When you feel the familiar doubts beginning to fill your heart and mind, take them captive and allow His perfect love to cast out those fears. Realize that those fears will not benefit you in any way, but that they actually distance you from the promises and gifts God has for you. Trust that all things work together for good, that His plans for you are for your good, and that He WILL protect you no matter where He calls you!

 

  1. Apply, apply, apply

Maybe, like me, you don’t fully know where you’d like to be. If that’s the case, you can never “over apply” to uni. Apply to a variety of schools, varying in location and program, so that you have options. I found it is more comforting to be able to eliminate options rather than regret not applying somewhere.

 

  1. Obey

If He says go, then go. If He says wait, then be still. But no matter what and where He prompts, answer in obedience and step out in faith. Dig into the Word for strength, lean on Holy Spirit for comfort and guidance, and consult your mentors for discernment, but don’t use those things as excuses to ignore what He is obviously asking you to do. Trust me, I understand the struggle with this one, I am still working towards fully listening and trusting Him. But I have also experienced the peace that abounds, excitement that blooms, and the strength that is revealed when you take a step of faith. So step out and trust.

He’s got you!

Women, Daughters of the King, World Changers… I’m rooting for you, along side of Heaven. I can’t wait to see where Heavenly Father takes each of you, each of us, and I can’t wait to experience the impact each one of you is going to make on the World around you.

 

I’ll leave you with this verse:

 

‘I prayed to the Lord, and He answered me.

He freed me from all my fears.

Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy;

no shadow of shame will darken their faces.’

Psalm 34:4-5

 

Sisters, you are powerhouses, strong and unstoppable when partnered with the Lord. Step fearlessly and boldly onto whatever campus He calls you to, and prepare yourself for the amazing plans He has for you, and your future, to unfold.

 

I love you all and I am cheering you on!

 

Jenny

 

xxoo