Seeds of Deception

Photo by  Clint McKoy  on  Unsplash

Photo by Clint McKoy on Unsplash

Have you ever stood beside something so large and wondered how it ever grew to be what it is today? Standing next to one of these redwood trees is enough to make anyone feel a bit small. It is enough to put things into a different perspective. When you stop to think of where this massive redwood tree began, you are taken to a tiny little seed like in the picture. It is hard to imagine that something so large could start with something so small.

I recently sat down to go through Chazown in order to seek God on His vision or dream for my life. I had gone through the teaching a few times before, so this was more of me reexamining what God had shown me in years prior. I was seeking to clarify a few things and make sure I was headed in the right direction. I was going through part of the exercises in the course which have you examine key events, people and past experiences which have had an impact on your life.

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A part of this exercise has the participants write down these items on sticky notes and arrange them into chapters. As I was going back over these chapters I started to look back at one particular chapter where God was pointing me. As I began to review this chapter, I started to see a distinct pattern which I had never seen before. I began to see these ideas which were introduced early in my life which were complete garbage.

Seeds

These ideas were more than just ideas. The lies initially were very small and seemingly innocent, much like the seeds of a redwood. So I began the process of naming the lies and asking God how I ever started believing what I will refer to as seeds or lies. I use the word lies, but they were much more crafty or cunning than what I let on. These were small and very deceptive in nature. Funny thing is they seemed like they came from my own thoughts. .

Each of these seeds started very small and each seemed innocent enough at the beginning. Fast-forward to today, what I found looking back was that these seeds were no longer small or innocent. One was figuratively the size of a redwood tree. I could look back and see the events in my life which had reenforced the validity of the initial idea. I could even see other events which served to help the idea gain acceptance in my life.

I now found myself staring at this massive lie which has now taken up residency in my life. If you were to stand under it like a redwood tree, you might gaze with awe upon its majesty. It is now the primary root of my anxiety and contributes regularly to overwhelming fear. The scary thing is that it was not content to stay the same. As it grew, it manifested into anxiety and depression. At one point the anxiety from this seed overwhelmed me. And to think It all started by entertaining an innocent idea.

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Refining Your Dream

Photo by  Quino Al  on  Unsplash

Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

Starting out on my journey I had a very distinct vision of what my dream looked like. I wanted to build applications or “apps” as an Independent iOS Developer. I have loved business as far back as I can remember. Looking back, I can often remember dreaming of starting my own business. So combining the two passions of mine only seemed natural. For the longest time, I had zero desire to work for another company or organization ever again. I remember having serious thoughts about working for Life.Church and even applying for work, but honestly, the idea of working for someone else was often scary.

I applied to work for Life.Church several times in the past 11 years. When something did not turn out when applying, I was devastated! I could not understand why I was not finding success. Many times I would make it past the initial interviews only for things to fizzle out towards the end. It caused me to closely examen what was wrong with how I presented myself. Early on in my career, I had experienced trauma as part of a large corporate layoff and I was deeply impacted by that experience. Initially, these interview experiences only served to drive those wounds deeper.

If my story would have stopped there, I could have easily let my wounds and experiences lead me to become bitter. In many people’s eyes, I had every reason to be bitter. And just as with my battle with mental illness, I refuse to let these experiences define me. I also refused to let my failed attempt at employment with Life.Church rob me of the church I love so dearly. I chose to believe that God was working in me during these failed attempts. I believe His goodness was the reason I was not hired during these attempts. God was telling me, there’s still more work to be done.

Blinded By Emotion

Many times our emotions blind us from seeing what God might be doing behind the scenes. We let our surface-level feelings get hurt and rarely look any deeper. We have a hard time believing in the goodness of God. In the Garden of Eden, Eve shared in this same struggle. Just like Eve, I often have trouble believing in the goodness of God. So I get it. I also understand why some might allow their unpleasant experiences define them. It’s so easy to do!

Choosing To Believe In God’s Goodness

I just refuse to believe what appears on the surface of these experiences is the whole story. I understand there are things I can not see which would drastically shed light on these situations. I also choose to believe in the goodness of God over what I can see. Sometimes we misinterpret God. Sometimes the “no’s” are really God saying “not yet.”

Fast forward to serving on the IT Volunteer Leadership Team at Life.Church. As I began to spend significant amounts of time around staff at the Life.Church Central office, God began to heal part of me. The part in me which wanted nothing to do with working for another organization. I began envisioning myself working there. The fear in me began to dissipate to the point where I was no longer so afraid. God was healing my brokenness once again.

My Dream Refined

Now, I no longer think of my fear first when thinking about the possibility of working for Life.Church. I believe so strongly in the cause, I will wage war against my greatest of fears for the opportunity to be a part of it. God has refined my dream. My dream is to work for YouVersion, Life.Church, Bible Labs as a mobile developer.

Healing My Brokenness

In the midst of God working in my heart, teaching me about serving and generosity, He was working in other areas of my life. My battle with OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) and depression had been raging on all the while these other things were happening. I had decided a while ago I needed to do things differently than in the past. I began seeing a counselor as a way to start doing some of the hard work in getting to the bottom of my battle with anxiety. I had little foreknowledge that God was about to do a miracle in the middle of my brokenness.

Ever since being diagnosed with anxiety and depression, prescription medications have been a part of my daily existence. Originally, these were the only thing which put a stop to me spiraling out of control. So I would not say that I am anti-medication by any means. I do believe they serve a certain purpose, but far too many times they become the only form of treatment. There is also this tendency to stay on medication for far too long without seeking other forms of treatment such as counseling.

So in the middle of God doing such a work in other areas of my life, I felt this need to attempt and work through the anxiety without the help of medication. I believed that getting off of my anti-anxiety medication would allow me to try to properly process anxiety using what I learned through counseling. So I began the journey of weaning off of this medication with the proper support of close friends and my counselor. I also ended up telling my doctor partway through the process who also supported me.

NOTE: I do not recommend doing this without the proper support. This is my story and I share it in hopes of encouraging others. I am not recommending this as a course of action for others. I waited to tell my doctor because I was afraid. Ironic, I know. Now I do wish I would have told her earlier in the process. I believe it would have been easier if I had done so.

During this time of weaning off medication, I pushed myself to do things I normally would not do. I traveled out of state with my friend Wilkey to lead volunteers in launching new Life.Church campuses. This does not seem like a big deal for most, but traveling was something which would invoke lots of anxiety for me personally. I believe in the cause of Life.Church so much, I was willing to put myself in the middle of a storm to lead others to become fully-devoted followers of Christ. I was willing to set aside something I loved, my comfort, for something I loved even more, reaching those who do not know Christ.

Initially, I only wanted to be free of my anti-anxiety medication. After making it through the process of weaning off my anti-anxiety medication, I also wanted to be free of anti-depressants. So, again I went down the road of weaning off of this medication. My doctor had instructed me in the proper step down methods, amounts, etc. NOTE: This can be extremely dangerous if not done properly. This was extremely difficult time for me.

Fast forward to today, where I am now off of ALL of my prescriptions. Praise God! Once God had granted me freedom from anxiety medications, I began to dream about what God could do through my story. A part of this wondering included being completely medication free. This was something I was told was not possible.

Knowing that God could use my story as a means of hope for others pushed me even more. I began to surrender my story so God could tell (His) story through the lens of my life. Once I got to this point of surrender, everything else begin to snowball, in a God way. This past weekend I celebrated my six month anniversary for being medication free! Here I am continuing to tell my story, in hope that (His) story may be made known to all.