resting & believing

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These past months have been intense, unexpected, challenging, and ultimately a great blessing. Without launching into all the details or an online pity party, let’s just say — over the past few years there have been things I wanted to see happen that didn’t, and there have been things I desperately didn’t want to happen that did happen. I experienced loss in ways that left my heart in such deep awareness of my need of God. This is a good thing, though never comfortable.

Each instance in and of itself was painful enough, but when stacked together, the cumulative effect felt absolutely crippling. I knew in my head and heart that I was not defined by external circumstances but I still had to grieve the sadness and loss. I went awhile without smiling, I hated small talk, all I wanted to do was cry or sleep, and somehow when I laid in bed, it was the greatest feeling of God wrapping His arms around me saying “I am with you.”

In the midst of this season of being stripped, and being forced to be at rest, I wrote this crafted daily declaration which I have been reading and saying daily over myself. The funny thing is, these declarations are things that I actually struggle with. But since years of “trying harder” and seeking ways to change myself has not worked… I have taken a new approach. This approach is resting and believing. It’s actually harder than trying harder. It is resting in Him and believing His power over me and through me, which necessarily requires relinquishing what power I (subconsciously) thought I had to change myself.

It is harder for me to rest and believe, perhaps because of my ‘get ‘er done’ mentality that likes to work hard and see change. I love projects in part because it shows me change in the matter of hours. It is a sense of accomplishment. But God has not created us to have a sense of accomplishment in changing our souls. This is why He has given us the gift of His Son’s death on the cross and the resurrection that gives us power to live new. His primary intention is for relationship with us. It is our weakness that pulls us to His strength and allows us to relate to Him in the process. And so I no longer see my weakness as a liability but an asset.

These following declarations are essentially about receiving the power that God has already supplied me through His Holy Spirit. Instead of asking Him and begging Him to help me change, I am believing and declaring actively that His truth and His love are changing me every minute of the day.

Without further, I will share this piece that has become a part of my (mostly) every day over the last 4 or 5 months.

I am Holly Ann Southerland, and with God’s help, I am strong and brave. I complete what I start and I accomplish my intentions and goals. I live by His Spirit and truth, not by how I feel. When I wake up, I ask myself not how I feel but what I believe. My days are in His hands. When bad news comes my way, I am not scared. Instead, I rejoice in the many possibilities of how my God will show up for me. I look for Him constantly and I find Him in the little and big things. I look for Him in other people, and encourage and lift them up. I never complain or tear others or myself down. I love myself and treat myself with care and compassion. When I fall, I get back up one hundred times. I never give up. I regularly feed my body nutritious and delicious meals. I enjoy various forms of exercise to keep my body and mind active and alert. I handle my money with diligence and wisdom. I maintain a neat and beautiful environment for my peace of mind and ready hospitality. I give generously of myself and my resources without holding back. I view others as more important than myself so I look to their needs first, trusting that God will meet my own needs. I am others-focused and servant hearted, so I do not seek others to speak well of me. I hear God’s affirmation of me every morning and I am filled up in Him before beginning each day. I delight in His unfailing love. I experience His kindness in happy and sad times. I trust that He is pleased with me because I have been redeemed by the blood of His Son Jesus. No weapon formed against me shall prosper. I trust His appointments for me and I am committed to showing up each day rather than retreating. I believe that in every appointment set for me, I offer value and love to those I encounter. I see them with heaven’s eyes and approach feeling hurt by others with curiosity and understanding, rather than judgment. I look beneath the surface to see people. I forgive easily and quickly because I am not surprised by the sinfulness of humanity and because I have been forgiven much, so I forgive much. This includes forgiving others and myself many times over. I do not hold the past against myself or others. I see myself with the eyes of heaven, as one who is loved, known, valued, needed, wanted, appreciated for my uniqueness and for my God-given talents and abilities. I define myself by who He says I am, and not by what I do or don’t do. When I succeed or fail, I know heaven sees me no differently. I know that God is not disappointed in me and so I am not disappointed in me either. I hear how He sees me and I internalize it as truth, letting it permeate my thoughts and emotions, until I feel His thoughts as truth in my bones. I am driven by truth and not circumstance. I am defined by inward realities and not by anything external. What happened on the cross is for me today. The cross and resurrection defines me today. I am forgiven, I am loved, and I am free.

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