A Work In Progress: Elizabeth’s Story

I woke up with a start – my heart pounding, still half asleep, with the thought, “God isn’t here”.

I didn’t believe my thoughts. I reminded myself of the scripture “God will never leave us or forsake us”. God is always with us.

It was an illusion and I didn’t buy in.

This strong faith has been a process of an ever-increasing trust in God. In 2008, I moved into the neighbourhood and a friend suggested I try First Alliance Church. I remember the first sermon I listened to, given by Pastor Terry Young.

He said,

“In your mind, you have a mixer like a stereo for the different channels to listen to: the conscience, the Holy Spirit, and the critical voice.”

(I have extra input because I have schizophrenia and hear voices and so this idea was very helpful).

He instructed us to turn up the voice of God and positive messages and turn down and ignore the rest of the channels. It has been a practice and discipline to be careful about which thoughts I attach to. Not all thoughts in my head are mine to grasp. My ability to manage my mental illness has been better over time including my ability to manage my thoughts. My trust in God’s voice is crucial, but even so, my trust was new and I could falter.

Being a new born-again believer, sometimes I had odd bouts of doubt. I remember phoning the staff of FAC, crying, on many occasions. My faith wavering, my trust sinking, and my illness trying to take over my mind. Fear and paranoia were plaguing me and I didn’t have anyone to turn to. I wanted to trust God. The staff were patient with me, reassuring and their faith began to inform mine.

Several years into my faith journey, God gave me a promise, “I will protect you”.

One day, I was looking for something I had lost. I was paranoid and was sure someone had taken the item. It made me doubt God and His protection. I concluded these thoughts were of the enemy to make me doubt the goodness of God. I changed my mind and made a conscious choice to trust Him. It was a decision – one I am asked to make again and again. As I get better and better at discerning the lies, this process takes a shorter and shorter amount of time.

As I trust God more and more, I have concluded things happen for me, not to me. I am not a victim. In mental health circles, we call this post-traumatic growth. I know that God can take anything and redeem it and make it for good. I have had a lot of trauma. Trauma, diagnosis after being newly married, and then the long road back to recovery. I haven’t always known God was there working behind the scenes. I haven’t always trusted the process.

God has been trustworthy. I had the right counsellors, the right medication, and the ability to work part-time telling my story to school children. I helped a woman with Down syndrome learn how to tell her story for a conference she was speaking at for parents of children who shared her condition. I had mentoring with my return to university. A paper I wrote turned into my memoir. I have 2 awards for my body of work. I am a CTV Inspiring Albertan and a Lt. Governor Circle on Mental Health and Addiction True Grit Award recipient. This year, I will also celebrate 30 years of marriage!

When times were tough I would double down on my faith. It has been tough but I have always tried to follow the voice of God and ignore all other inputs.

I haven’t always trusted God fully and I am still a work in progress.

I hope you trust God for whatever you are facing. He is transforming us from the inside out, little by little, glory to glory. All He asks is for faith the size of a mustard seed. The reward is great – peace, joy, hope, and freedom. Praise Jesus!

Elizabeth Anderson is part of our FAC Deerfoot community. One of our core values at FAC is sharing God’s love; one of the ways we do that is through telling the story of God’s faithfulness in our lives. Ready to share yours? Contact Angel Castillo to learn more.

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