Have you ever felt like the circumstances of life were weighing so heavily that it felt like literally, physically, you couldn’t even take another step?

“Been there. Done that. Got the T-Shirt.”

“Make that ten T-shirts”

“Wait, make that the Platinum T-Shirt.”

“No, no. I’m LIVING the T-Shirt”!

Sometimes, the weights seem to pile on one after another. Maybe one gets lifted off, only to replace it with something heavier than before.

When I think about the weight(s), I start criticizing myself for focusing on them and feeling sad, in despair, anxious etc, because I know that living in those emotions isn’t the life God has for me. Then, my self-criticism can quickly turn into condemnation. Then – my mind reels some more and says, no condemnation! 

My thoughts go from one thing to the next, and none of it is a healthy place to stay in.

In the heat of the battle, a spiritual battle takes place in the mind; constructive conviction gives way to destructive self-talk and self-condemnation. 

Self-condemnation is a path Satan wants to take us on so we won’t find the blessings God has in persevering.

Constructive conviction helps us make changes that ultimately strengthen us and give glory to God.

This time your heart said it’s had enough
Sick and tired of everything that’s so messed up
You don’t wanna move on just playing games
Praying hard somehow that your life will change
When you feel like you don’t know what to do
Stuck inside this maze you can’t go through 

Then, in some way, I hear God’s voice again. Maybe through a song on the radio, a call from someone who cares (even if the whispering voice tries to tell me that they don’t), the smile of a child, or simply the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit reminding me to seek the Father’s face.

I am reminded of words treasured in my heart. 

“For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11

That verse. It’s so frequently quoted that it often loses meaning and impact.  Have you noticed the words before and after it? The Lord shares this verse of hope to his people after telling them they will endure many trials for many years! I know my challenges aren’t as bad as what the captured Israelites endured in Babylon.

Even so, pain is real, and Hope remains.

His kind voice reminds me as I read further,Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for me with all your heart.” -Jeremiah 29:12-13

By taking the time to focus on God’s truths and the words He’s shared with people he loved throughout history, I can choose a different path for my thought pattern. I can remind myself that by calling on Him and praying to Him, He will hear me. Not only that, but I WILL FIND Him when I seek Him with all my heart. In this process, I can go from destructive self-talk to words of truth and promises.

Fear, sadness, anxiety and despair.  These feelings are real – but they are not the end! I have to remind myself of this. They do not have to become reality.

These walls around you are caving in
And your life seems like it is wearing thin
and your hope is drowning in despair
It looks like you’re not going anywhere
Step inside this heart and then you’ll see
Such a love that is so amazing.

These words were very real for me several months ago when I reached another point of feeling like I couldn’t go any further. God used this song to speak to me when I needed it most.

I was pushing through and trusting God to provide, yet I just didn’t have the strength to “do” anymore. I couldn’t listen to anymore of the Christian radio station and turned it off. My mind was going into unhealthy territory, right where the enemy wanted me to go. I felt extremely alone, unloved and incapable to persevere.

It was silent in the vehicle, from the the radio not playing, for all of about 5 minutes. But, the multiple children in the back continued their fighting and screaming at each other so loudly and unrelentingly that I turned the radio on FULL BLAST. My intent was to change the atmosphere in a shocking way to get them to pause the fighting for a minute.

My little plan backfired.  Ahem…

Honestly, I don’t recall what the children did next or if they even stopped fighting for the next week.  What I remember clearly – was HOW LOUD and exact the words were that played in my ear at the time I needed the reminder the most.

Dont’ give up
Help is surely on its way
And don’t give up
And the dark is breaking in to day
And just keep on moving through these storms
And soon enough you’ll find the door
Just don’t give up
Oh, and don’t give up

Don’t give up. As simple, and hard, as that. God reminded me to keep going, to keep trusting, and to keep praying and seeking him. I did not have the strength, but He provided it in small ways that helped me get through.

Strength upon strength. He gives what is needed for each day, as it’s needed.

Sometimes help comes in ways that we don’t recognize, but it’s there. Sometime it comes in the form of a bible verse we’ve heard many times over. Sometimes it comes in the form of a phone call or interruption at just the right time which causes a disruption of unhealthy thought patterns. Sometimes it’s in the words of a sermon, or in a book, or from a friend and it encourages us and reminds us of God’s truths and promises.

Help is surely on its way, but if we aren’t looking for it we might miss it. By looking for it I mean preparing our hearts to receive what God has for us – even when we feel he has nothing for us or that what he has is something we don’t want. When our hearts turn to the Father and seek Him, desiring His will, we can hear and recognize His voice over the din of life’s circumstances. 

Help, Hope, came in a reminder not to give up.

I had to trade the thoughts of despair into hope. The only way to do that (as I understood it in the beginning of my journey) is by spending time in God’s word, the Bible, and in prayer. This gives us a path to hear His voice and the truths we need to replace the many lying whispers.

Not only that, we choose to focus our thoughts on those truths.

Finding hope by seeking Him and His truths. Not giving up.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1

(“Don’t Give Up” lyrics by Calling Glory)

February 28, 2024 Update:

It’s been almost 11 years since I wrote this post. Turning to God as the source of strength and truth was, and is, a primary anchor for me in my faith. At the same time, through the healing journey God’s taken me on, I’ve learned ways God works that go beyond the limited path I expected of myself at the time.

All around me were the messages that reading God’s word, praying, and trusting were the keys to dealing with intrusive thoughts, and any other struggles Christians have. Have you been surrounded by this too?

Today, I approach healing from a trauma-informed perspective that incorporates God’s design in our bodies, minds, emotions, nervous systems, and relationships. Prayer, as well as time with God and scripture, are vital practices for a life of faith. So too are practical applications of God’s principles that help us take in the good God provides. Like encouragement from friends, rest, boundaries, and honoring the reality of our limits.

The framework I lived with, which included giving more of me even when I had nothing to give, perpetuated unhealthy patterns that fueled shame and pain. When I read this article today, I remember the internal pressure I felt to never give up. At the same time, I was encouraged. I felt seen by God.

Through ongoing healing and God’s leading, I’ve seen how reminders to not give up can give you a boost to keep going when you have to. I’ve also seen how they can bind you to an incessant wheel of performance-based living.

If you’re feeling burdened to do more and more, without the freedom to say no, set limits, or honor your needs, may you hear God’s gracious heart for you – as you are. May you take a deep breath and find rest for your soul.



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