Faith, Spiritual Growth

How to Keep From Drowning When Life’s Storms Begin to Overwhelm You

Hello everyone, I’d like to take a moment to introduce myself before diving into what the Lord has put on my heart to share with you all.

My name is Kayla, I’m an Oregon native, born in the southern part of the state in an area known as the Rogue Valley, I’m an avid Oregon Ducks Football fan and now I live in the Portland, OR area. I’m very active in my local church, volunteering my time there regularly on Sundays and with special events and that is also where I met the owner of this blog, Woman of Purity. 

I’ve known the writer of Woman of Purity for the last 2-3 years when I joined a small group she was running in our church and began to help her organize and grow it. In that time we’ve done a lot of fun together and a lot of ministry together and I was so honored when she asked me to write a guest post for her blog.

I pray my words below bless and encourage you and help you grow in your walk with the Lord.

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I’ve been a Christian for the past 17 years, since I was 13. And before that I spent my childhood in Sunday school and Vacation Bible School, receiving Bibles as gifts for life events, basically all the normal, surface-level Christian stuff that so many in our world do. But it really wasn’t until my college years and young adult years that I really began to dive into my faith and my relationship with God. 

But the years 2016-2019 were the hardest in my life, and the desperation those years brought, taught me more about God, His faithfulness and myself than any other season of my life before then. 

In February of 2016 my father became sick, got diagnosed with cancer, underwent treatments and numerous emergency surgeries and hospitalizations, and ultimately passed away in January of 2017 after just 11 months of sickness. In 2017 and 2018 we had to sell his business and our family home, my mother got diagnosed with cancer and underwent (successful) surgery, a ministry I was a part of shut down, I was unhappy in a toxic work environment and then, in September of 2019 I lost my job. 

Not exactly the stuff that makes for a favorite season of life, but in some ways, it is my favorite season. Don’t get me wrong, I’m living with a permanently broken heart for my father, and there was a lot of pain and fear through all of that. But I learned so much about God during these times, and so many doors have opened for me that would not have opened without that season. Doors such as being asked to write this blog post, or being asked to appear as a guest on podcasts and being asked to join new ministry leadership roles that I never thought would be something I would be considered qualified for. I just can’t help but be amazed at God’s goodness in spite of all that happened.

There are 3 main things that I learned and that I clung to through all this. My hope is that by sharing these, they will help you when your storms of life come. These are just general principles that I live by and that work for me, that doesn’t mean that because you do it differently, you’re doing it wrong. Life is hard and a relationship with God is different for every person, but I pray these 3 principles bless you.

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  1. It’s okay to know your scripture without knowing your scripture

Throughout my storms, one thing I would do was repeat to myself the promises that I know scripture holds. I couldn’t always tell myself the exact book, chapter or verse (that’s what Google is for), but I knew those promises and I would repeat them to myself. 

There was more than once, while grieving my father, that I would look up from my crying, and say to God, “Your word tells me that you make good out of all things, I don’t see anything good from this, so I need You to make that good happen” (Romans 8:28). When I lost my job, I would remind myself that His word tells me that He takes care of the birds of the sky, so He will take care of me because I am so much more important to Him than the birds (Matthew 6:26-34). And through all the storms in my life, through all the valleys and all the mountains, Jeremiah 29:11 keeps me grounded:

 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)

It’s such an amazing feeling and revelation to be on the other side of something and to look back at what happened and then look forward at what’s happening now, and to see how God does keep his promises and does answer our prayers. Never in a million years did I think that I would be asked to appear as a guest on podcasts or to guest write blog posts, but God has opened so many doors for me that wouldn’t be there except for the storms that I went through, He truly does work all things for His good.

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  1. Guard your heart from anger

This one is so important, anger is such a dangerous emotion. We must guard ourselves to ensure that we process it in a healthy way, especially anger towards God. 

Please understand me, I am not saying that you should never be angry, or that to be angry is a sin. Jesus himself displayed anger (Matthew 21:12-13). I am saying, that living in a place of anger is dangerous, and a victory for the devil. 

I’ve had my moments of anger towards God. You don’t bury someone you love without having a few moments of raging towards God and asking Him why He would take them from you. Anger is a part of healthy grieving, but I’ve always been very careful to not let my anger harden my heart towards God. 

There’s that old marriage adage, “never go to bed angry.” Well, I never go to bed angry with God. Be careful, allow yourself to feel your emotions, all of them, including anger. The key is to process them and work through them. When you’re angry with God, tell Him that. Go to Him and ask for answers, pray, worship, find a bible study in the Bible App or a book that addresses whatever you’re going through, reach out to a trusted friend, pastor or mentor, but don’t allow your anger to go unresolved.

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  1. Just say it out loud and get it out of your head

This one is simple, there is power in getting things out of your head, and out into the open. I regularly pray aloud in my devotional time and when God and I are having a moment, when I’m going through something particularly difficult, I repeat to myself, out loud, what I know I need to remember and hear. I repeat scripture, I say God’s promises to me out loud and I talk to God out loud.

I have literally been on my knees in my living room, listening to worship music and saying out loud to God, “I will not allow this to make me walk away from You. I will not allow this to make me mad at You. I will not allow this to make me doubt You.” 

I’ve been laying in my bed, unable to sleep and having a panic attack and I will say out loud “devil, you have no authority over me, I belong to the Lord and you need to leave now.”

I also like to place post-it notes in my bathroom and my desk at work with a verse that I’m trying to memorize or that I need to remind me of something. All of these things pull me out of my own head (which can be a dark, swirling mess) and re-plant me into God’s truth and God’s faithfulness.

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I pray this list has blessed you and would love to hear from you what your strategies are for coping with life’s storms in the comments. 

Please also remember that it’s okay, to not be okay. If you feel like you need to speak to someone professionally to get through life’s storms, there is NO shame in that. Reach out to your local church, they may have a list of counselors they recommend or just google counselors in your area or ask your insurance for a list of in-network providers. 

Please just take care of yourself and remember that God loves you and is faithful to fulfill His promises to you.

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