Cloudy Days

In recent months I have had more cloudy days than I would like to admit, but I have began to realize how important it is for us Christians to actually talk about them instead of projecting this image of a struggle-free, happy-go-lucky life. Social media doesn’t help either, as more often than not, it’s a reel of good times – which I actually don’t think is all bad, until comparison rears it’s ugly head.

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. – John 16:33 (NLT)

The past 4 years of my life have been incredibly challenging. God sure knows how to prepare us! I have grieved several unmet expectations of perfection, despite knowing the word above. And to be honest, I’ve lost a lot of hope for tomorrow in the process.

I used to sing the same optimistic song: “The best is yet to come!” But, new year after new year, I have waited, and the road to the best has been flooded with tears and more growing pains. My heart has gotten pretty sick of the deferred hope (Proverbs 13:12) for the long-awaited responses to my ancient prayers. My new song belts, “Great is thy faithfulness!” unto the Lord, and in my state of reality or doubt (yikes!), it also faintly whispers, “Even if You don’t, I will be okay…and I will praise You”.

“I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” – Mark 9:24 (NLT)

Do not be ashamed if you have felt or are feeling this way. The healing process begins with honesty. You are not alone! Let me say that again. You are not alone! Myself, many other believers, and our Savior feels your pain! I don’t know about you, but I find it so comforting to know that Yeshua has endured everything that we have or ever will. And we have a book full of reference points to help us with our challenges too.

Quick Story.

At the end of December 2018, as the new year approached, I began reflecting over the year. To be honest, I ruled it as overall horrible, and was feeling quite depressed about it. Before I could swim in the deep end of that lie, my Godmother who loves to take photos and document memories randomly sent me a slideshow full of captured fun times we’ve shared in 2018. Talk about God’s perfect timing.

I literally laughed out loud at how ridiculous I looked sulking, when right there in my face was proof that it wasn’t all so bad. I’m tellin’ y’all…THE DEVIL IS A LIAR! And you want to know what was even more ridiculous?! Some of the moments she shared were recennt! I’m talking within the last month, recent. Geez Louise.

See how depression warps our perceptions regarding our current circumstances; causing us to believe lies and throw a pity party of one? Things just aren’t clear through the lens of depression, my friends. In its selfish nature, it causes us to look for justifications to remain downcast. Instead of mentally going down a slide of injustices, we should be recounting the goodness of The Lord and thinking on virtuous things (Isaiah 63:7; Phil. 4:8). For some of us depression is a short season, and for others, a long one with evidence of being a stronghold. In both, God is the answer.

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. – Psalm 43:5 (NIV)

Now, I am not ignorant to the fact that there are a select few who remain depressed because they flat out refuse gratefulness. Maybe they fear freedom (a real thing), and having been bound for so long, those demons have become family. Maybe they don’t want to relinquish the sympathetic attention that they may gain from wallowing. Only when we genuinely decide that we want to be victors instead of victims is there hope for us through Christ.

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength. – Proverbs 17:22 (NLT)

We also can’t forget that certain foods and beverages trigger mood changes as well. They can cause dips in emotions and/or increases in anxiety. Examine yourself and any habits that may be contributing. We worship God in our eating as well. Give us this day our daily bread, Lord… spiritually and physically! Ask God what you need for today. He knows and has gone before you.

Bottom line: It is impossible to be depressed within the presence of God. The fruits of His spirit are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). So I encourage you to fight to praise Him for who He is and not just what He has/hasn’t done. Worship is key in the slump of depression.

One of my favorite ways to worship the Lord is in song. In no special order below, I have listed 20 songs that have helped me (and others) during dark times when it seems the enemy’s lies are just so dang loud. Maybe some of these can help you jump start a healthy playlist of your own. In my opinion, there’s nothing like reading the lyrics as you listen to really penetrate and motivate the heart to fight.

I pray that each time you get up, you get up stronger.

  1. Draw Nigh (Psalm 42:1) – Fred Hammond
  2. You Say – Lauren Daigle
  3. Fear Is A Liar – Zach Williams
  4. It Ain’t Over – Maurette Brown Clark
  5. Power to Redeem – Lauren Daigle
  6. You Are – Javen
  7. Get Up – Mary Mary
  8. I’ll Find You – Lecrae
  9. I Smile – Kirk Franklin
  10. King of the World – Natalie Grant
  11. Tell Me Wear It Hurts – Fred Hammond
  12. I Ain’t Done – Andy Mineo
  13. Still I Rise – Yolanda Adams
  14. Even If – MercyMe
  15. Yesterday – Mary Mary
  16. Let Your Power Fall – James Fortune & FIYA (feat. Zacardi Cortez)
  17. The Breakup Song – Francesca Battistelli
  18. Please Don’t Pass Me By – Fred Hammond
  19. You Can’t Stop Me – Andy Mineo
  20. Speak The Name – Koryn Hawthorne (feat. Natalie Grant)

Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. – Jude 1:24 (NLT)


©2019 • Chan’tel Nikole Grayson

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Grown-ish.

After watching several interesting “The Skin Deep” YouTube videos of people playing this cool card game which initiates heart conversations, I purchased a couple of card sets of my own to play with others. One of the questions asked on one of the cards was:

At what moment did you realize you found yourself?

It has been a little shy of 4 months since I have turned 32, and I have reflected and stretched so frickin’ much. Yet and still, this question was and still is complex for me. I can think of leaps in my maturity and pivotal experiences that helped me get closer to wholeness, but as I get older I realize that we’re all on a lifetime journey of becoming complete in Christ. He did the work, yes, but we are walking it out. He had to pick up His cross, and now we are picking up ours and following.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. – Philippians 1:6 (NLT)

I am scratching all future new years’ resolutions and declaring that my eternal resolution is Yeshua: Jesus, My Redemptive Savior and Friend. He is truly my only Answer, Way and Hope of better. At the age of 32, all I want is The Truth without dilution or perversion. Four years ago God was teaching me that He was all that I needed, and today, He’s all that I want. .

“The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.” – Isaiah 40:8 NLT

I am becoming increasingly sound and secure in Christ, but maybe it won’t be until age 90 or something (lol) when I can confidently say that I have *clears throat* “found myself”. Afterall, I am still discovering God. With Him as my focus, all of the rest will come, right?

While there are many childish things I have put away, there are also a few childish things that I have adopted (Matthew 18:3-4). I got a lot of questions for my King, loads of things to continue to unlearn, debunk and grasp. There are more experiences to test me and more areas of my flesh to murder. I am still exploring heaven…on earth.

“When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” – 1 Corinthians 13:12-13 (NLT)

My discoveries thus far have been wonderful, peace-granting and stabilizing indeed, but I am not done. Or, not completely undone, I should say. So, if you’re anything like me…cheers to being grown-ish! It won’t always be easy unraveling, but let the adventure continue!

©2019 • Chan’tel Nikole Grayson

Can’t We All Just Get Along?! #Harmony #Unity

As I browse through the timelines and hashtags of social media, I see so many saints distracted. I see celebrity headlines and discussions highlighting Kirk Franklin, Kanye West, Kylie Jenner, Meagan Good, Donald Trump, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera! *gag*. When will it end?! It’s always someone, and if we’re not careful when engaging, it certainly has the potential to destroy our fruit.

weapons of mass destructionLook here: All of these people need Jesus, just like you and I. Where’s the remnant that is praying for them instead of reading and talking about them? We don’t need to indulge past the headlines to do that. Forget pop culture. Where is Jesus culture? Must we mix?!

 

Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” – 2 Corinthians 6:17 (NLT)

Let’s be honest, some of us are just feeding our flesh with these discussions. We gave up “Scandal”, but we’re still “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” (no shade, I used to keep up with them too! lol). This type of chatter just fuels our sinful nature and employs gossip and drama as horrible department managers within our temple. We live in an era where fasts from social media are at times legitimately necessary, and sometimes harder than fasts from food! Believe me, I know. Been there, done that, do that!

 

blah blah blahI see Christians debating over justifiable topics too like what day the Sabbath is, or whether or not Christmas and Easter are pagan and should be celebrated; *sighs* my spirit is grieved. Meaningless! Meaningless! Meaningless! Here’s a suggestion: Keep every day holy. When we feud with one another we don’t represent our new spiritual identities in Christ. No! We shine light on our carnality, and remind the rest of the world why He was crucified.

Now, I’m not saying shut up and don’t ask anything. Questions are the devil, chile! Noooo. But, I do recommend that we check our heart motives for asking, stop relying so heart-check.jpgheavily on people for the correct answer, and we stop judging one another based on what we believe is the wrong answer. It’s meaningless!

This reminds me of the historical bickering in Paul’s day regarding the circumcision of Gentiles. Remember? This is what he had to say about that:

So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law. Listen! I, Paul, tell you this:
If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ will be of no benefit to you. I’ll say it again. If you are trying to find favor with God by being circumcised, you must obey every regulation in the whole law of Moses. For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace. – Galatians 5:1-4 (NLT)

Let’s forget about the legal nonsense and keep God’s grace in the race! Our reasons for wanting an answer should be purely for the edification of the church. In all honesty, some answers will likely vary from person to person, or season to season. I’m ever discovering that God is much more out of the box than I think. If you’re hollering that Jesus is the reason for the Christmas season, yet you don’t feel like it’s Christmas unless you have a tree, that’s a heart matter to address. Do you see what I mean, here? It’s much deeper, and what may be sin or inappropriate for me, may not be sin or inappropriate for you.  The heart of the matter and the preservation and growth of our relationship with Christ should be priority.

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. – Philippians 2:13 (NLT)

So, How about we put an end to all of this dissension and choose to agree to let God reveal His truth to us and make us right? There is power in that agreement. We don’t have all of the answers. We are but little children seeking an Almighty Father for keys to His Kingdom.

 Let us remain focused on this simple sum of instructions given by our Savior:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. – Matthew 22:37-39 (ESV)

i'm for truthA person who loves God keeps His commandments (See John 14:15), and a person who is filled with The Holy Spirit, and heeds the convictions of the Spirit, wants to be right for the right reasons. They don’t want to argue. They just want the truth to win, and one who loves God will rejoice when it does! ( See 1 Corinthians 13:6)

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. – John 16:13 (ESV)

Some things we don’t need to know, but the things that we should, I pray that the Lord would reveal them to us, so that we won’t suffer ignorantly due to lack of knowledge (See Hosea 4:6). If you happen to be that person in the body of Christ that The Holy Spirit reveals it to for us all, please do share it in love. In the meantime, the only question I have is…Can’t We All Just Get Along?!