1. Look Inward & Examine Your Heart

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” Looking directly at your heart will show you what you believe about yourself. You need to be honest, coming to God with all of your fear and shame. He will meet you there, and He desires to take those aches and pains and bring renewal to what you believe about yourself. If your heart is a place that was meant to bring life, how can you do that when you can't even believe the good in yourself? Make room for God to bring healing, so that you can find freedom in knowing who you are based on who God says you are. 

2. Look Upward & Come into the Presence of the Lord

You were made for the Presence of God, to sit, enjoy, and learn simply by being with Him. It isn't a formula you have to learn, but desire to simply be in His presence. When you are fully embraced by who God is, the way that you see yourself . In C.S. Lewis’s “Last Battle,” one character encourages another by saying,

But courage, child: we are all between the paws of the true Aslan. - CS Lewis

This applies to us today and how we relate to God. It’s easy to say, “I trust you, God.” I’ve found it much harder to live those words out. It starts with believing that the presence of God is a safe place to turn to. No matter where we are, Jesus always meets us right there. Whether it’s a good day or terrible one, whether we’ve fallen short or not, Jesus shows up and gives us security. When I’d get stuck in a cycle of letting shame and fear control me, it was easy to stop doing the things that would help me. I would run away and hide from the Lord instead of seeking him out intentionally.

God reminds me that he is always the shepherd who will go out and find the lost one of his flock. It is only in God’s presence where he can shed light on my heart and expose what is false. There in that place, he goes even further reminding me of his love for me. He sees us with His perfect perspective, as we truly are: His beloved children. He desires to give us this vision, and He doesn’t take it away when we fail. This is the beauty of God. He doesn’t relate to us like an angry school teacher but as a loving father, a faithful redeemer, and a steady friend. He meets us where we are, and there we can find the strength to move forward and walk in that gold.

3. Look Outward & Let Encouragement be Given & Received

In a painful season have you ever isolated yourself from others? I know I have. It is crucial to surround ourselves with trusted friends and spiritual mentors who can listen and empathize with our stories. Author Brené Brown states:

Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen. - Brene Brown

It’s scary to open up to others, but being vulnerable with each other is one thing that helps hold us together as the body of Christ. Community gives us that starting place to be encouraged, begin to walk in the gold and share our gifts within that community. John the Disciple writes “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). It’s a simple but powerful reminder: love is meant to be shared. We should be actively listening to the Lord in how we can encourage and love one another. From there we can look beyond the safety of our community and have the courage to take God’s love and light further and further to those who do not yet know Him.

What are some next steps?

Jesus has called us into a redeemed identity. It’s hard at times, but we can grab hold of it! Yes, sometimes I run around in circles and come into hard seasons where I forget these lessons. My YWAM Discipleship Training School (DTS) gave me the tools to discern my heart and again listen to the Lord. I am not a slave to my mistakes, brokenness, and sin: I am a brand new creation in Christ who loves me. This gold He has given me encourages me on this unfolding journey ahead.