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I found myself waking up many nights at 3 o’clock in the morning. My mind was consumed with guilty thoughts of why my life was in this condition and why I was stuck in complacency. The feelings became so overwhelming to the point I couldn’t think, I couldn’t focus, and I couldn’t pray. I lay there tossing and turning, trying to determine what was happening to me. I have always known who I am in addition to being able to pull it together by telling myself, “This too will pass.” Yet for some reason, I couldn’t shake the feelings of guilt and hopelessness. Deep down, something was telling me, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you,” but to no avail. I couldn’t pull it together. I often wanted to cry, and at times I would, yet it didn’t cause me to feel any better about my condition. I began questioning, “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I get over whatever is consuming me?” Every time I attempted to get up, I couldn’t. It was if I was paralyzed.

My mind was racing with thoughts of disappointment because I felt as though I had let myself down. After years of planning, having already lived over half my life, I was now stuck, broke, and ashamed of myself. I began reminiscing over situations that occurred in my life while questioning what it all had become. I continued telling myself, “You should be further along, financially stable, debt free, and traveling the world as you intended by now.” Nevertheless, none of this was happening due to all the unexpected circumstances that had taken precedence. Unfortunately, this struggle went on in my mind for at least six months. It was a battle between me and life.

One day while listening to an audio version of Byron Katie’s book, Loving What Is, it hit me. I began to realize what was happening to me. It was my own fault because I was allowing it to go on. I refused to take responsibility for my actions, and there was no one to hold me accountable. It was easier to lie there in bed, feeling sorry for myself, blaming everyone else for my pain: pain that was manageable. Then, I realized something else was going on; it was more serious than I thought. It was spiritual warfare and it had gone to another level, causing the devil - the adversary, the enemy - to attack me. 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” He didn’t want me to teach others how to walk in freedom; he wanted them to remain in bondage so he could control their minds by igniting their fears. In order to fulfill his deceitful tactics of stealing, killing, and destroying the people of God, it was necessary that he take me out. He used familiar triggers from my past to provoke the anxiety, depression, guilt, and shame - stopping me dead in my tracks.

Now, it was time to fight. I understood remaining free from captivity was going to require fasting and praying; it was no longer business as usual. It was also going to include utilizing the tools that were provided in the Word of God to fight a successful battle. The Bible commands in Ephesians 6:11-12, “Put on the whole armour of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” This battle was real and it was time to fight like never before in order to maintain my peace of mind and to take back my joy. But the most important thing is that I was not in this battle alone. I Chronicles 20:15 says, “Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's”.

I began reading and meditating on Philippians 4:6-7: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” To calm my thoughts, I needed the peace of God to guard my mind as I made my request known to Him: Lord, I can’t fight this battle alone. After being tempted and tried by the devil, I am determined more than ever before to break and stay free. Galatians 5:1 states, “Christ has set you free to live a free life.” Meanwhile, John 8:36 reads, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

Allow your past to be a guide that helps push you into your future. Persecution comes to make you stronger if you are determined to confront it with grace. Instead of letting your situation consume you, allow it to become your testimony of victory. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “‘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’”.

Consider your life a road trip. There will be many bumps along the way. When you run into a bump in the road you do not stay there permanently. You assess the situation, determine the necessary steps to solve the problem, fix it, and continue traveling. In life, you’ll get knocked down, but you must get up, continuing to fight and move along the way. It could be your testimony that will lead others to a life of freedom when you become a powerful mouthpiece for the Lord. Your mission as a determined woman of God is to bring glory and honor to Him.

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