What are you living for?
To make a mark in this world, or to live eternally in Heaven?
There is nothing wrong with wanting to make an impact here on Earth. I understand the desire for this - my goal, my dream, my mission here is to leave a legacy of encouragement.
If that’s not wanting to make a mark in the world, then I don’t know what is!
But my priority, what is most important to me, isn’t living a life I love, but living a life God loves.
What’s funny is when you live with your focus on eternal life in Heaven, you end up living a life you love.
You can have both a life God loves and a life you love.
Finding Peace and Harmony
Do you compartmentalize who you are?
As a Christian and as a black woman, I spent a lot of years juggling “student Jamila”, “work Jamila”, “church Jamila”, “family Jamila”, “friend Jamila”, and “wife Jamila”. I know this makes it sound like I have multiple personality disorder. Praise the Lord, I do not. These are just some of the masks I’ve worn to fit into the different parts and places of my life.
They weren’t masks I chose to put on, they were kindof unconscious self-defense mechanisms. Each mask was a part of me, but only a part. Sharing only that part of me helped me feel accepted in the different environments and around the different groups of people in my life.
It wasn’t until starting loved+blessed and then leaving my corporate job at 42 years old, that I finally allowed myself to be fully myself in all aspects of my life.
Side note here: I am not recommending you quit your job to find peace and harmony - your journey is unique and God’s calling and direction for your life is unique to you.
I loved my life before, but when I surrendered to God’s call, the conviction and loving pushes I felt to move in a different direction than I had planned, I eventually surrendered to a life God loves and I have ended up loving too.
It’s a life where I am less concerned with the world and more concerned with His Kingdom.
I am less worried about what other people think of me (notice I said less worried, I still struggle sometimes) and more focused on what God thinks of me.
When my desires aligned with His, I found the peace and harmony and ultimately the joy I had always wanted. I have delighted in the Lord and He continues to give me the desires of my heart in a way I could have never dreamed of. He’s allowed me to throw away those “masks” I felt I needed to wear in order to be accepted and loved. And He replaced them with a crown that doesn’t elevate me above anyone else, but humbles me because it symbolizes His love for me and the value and special purpose He has assigned to my life - my journey here on Earth until I spend eternity with Him in Heaven.
Cultivating A Sound Mind
I look forward with great anticipation to that glorious day. I also know that only He knows when that day, that time will be.
In the meantime, here on Earth, although I live a life I love, that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle. We all do.
For me, the hardest part of my struggles isn’t the actual situation - it’s the negative or pessimistic or fear-filled self talk that goes on in my mind.
Unhealthy, demotivating, anxiety provoking, worrying thoughts compound any challenging situation in my life and make it harder for me to live in the world, but not be of the world.
Many of you have reached out to me and shared that you struggle with maintaining a sound mind too. That stress, anxiety, worry, depression, fear, anger and other emotions impact your life in detrimental ways.
My fear of being fully myself in all circumstances, in all situations, in all my relationships, held me back from so many things in the past. The biggest thing it held me back from was fulfilling God’s good and perfect plans for me.
When we think about having a sound mind, many of us have been led to a familiar verse in 2 Timothy…
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
But let’s back up and start from the beginning of Paul’s letter to Timothy. He is writing to Timothy, someone who he has known for many years and considers like a son. In the first part of this letter, where we find this familiar verse, Paul is encouraging Timothy. He talks about Timothy’s “sincere faith” that his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice also had. In verse 6 Paul tells Timothy to “fan into a flame” the gift that God has given him to minister to people and then he says those encouraging words.
For God has not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
In context we can see that Paul is talking about not having fear around using the gifts that God has given us. The Message translation of the Bible puts it this way:
He is calling Timothy to not be ashamed to share the Gospel and to keep going because of the power of God that lives inside of him.
So I see this "spirit of fear” that Paul talks about as a fear of living life boldly for Christ. And what I’ve found is that when I take every thought I have captive - every fear, every angry thought, every sad and hopeless thought, every funny thought, every excited thought, EVERY THOUGHT - and I consider it in the light of God’s gifts in my life, I am reminded of the power of Christ that lives in me, the love of Christ that lives in me and I can look at everything with a sound mind.
(I know that last paragraph is a total run-on sentence, but you get what I’m trying to say!)
When we set our mind on Him, when we trust Him enough to be fully ourselves, knowing that He made us who we are for His Glory, then everything else falls into place. And we can maintain a sound mind, because we don’t allow any thought to drift through our mind without running it by Him.
I hope you are reading this and yelling “Amen sister!” as you read.
But I know someone might be reading this that says, but I can’t run every thought by Him because He has abandoned me.
God has not abandoned you
I struggle with clinical depression and anxiety. So I know what it’s like to have thoughts running through your mind that you can’t control.
I have found ways to take these thoughts captive and share lots of tips and strategies and tools inside our online community and at our events. I invite you to join me and find a strategy that works for you. But for those who feel like you’ve tried, but feel disconnected or abandoned by God, because you can’t seem to cultivate a sound mind, I want to speak directly to you.
He has not abandoned you. He has not moved away from you. When you accepted His Son Jesus Christ into your heart, He sent His Holy Spirit to dwell there also and that Spirit has not left. There may be stresses and pain and discouragement from life that have taken up residence in your mind, but God is still there. His still quiet Spirit is that mustard seed of hope that helps you get through another day.
You are not abandoned, you are not alone, but there are so many distractions in your life right now that you can’t see Him. This happens to all of us from time to time, and you have the power to choose to refocus your attention on Him - to reconnect with His Holy Spirit in your heart. It might be hard at first and take vulnerability and humility and dedicated time. But when you turn your focus to your relationship with Him, He is faithful to open your eyes and help you see that He has been there all along.
He is faithful to put the stress and pain into perspective. And He is faithful to replace your discouragement with peace and everlasting joy.
And He will do all of this every time you seek Him, because He loves you. Because He cares for you. And because He is God.
God who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all we could ever imagine or even think to ask for.
Stop searching as though you are abandoned.
Be still and abide and know you are loved.
Jamila is the founder of loved+blessed. On her personal mission to leave a legacy of encouragement, she blogs about her own life lessons with the hope that it will bring joy into others’ lives and help them find the courage to keep walking in faith knowing that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord. Read her testimony of how God turned her misery into ministry.