Saturday, May 3, 2014

Hope for Hurting Hearts

This post is part of the Fly a Little Higher (book) blog tour which I am delighted to be a part of along with hundreds of bloggers raising awareness and giving hope to those with cancer. To learn more and join us, click here and grab a copy of the book here.

Fly a Little Higher is a book written by Laura Sobiech who is the mother of Zach Sobiech. Laura spent the last three years walking alongside her teenage son Zach throughout his journey with cancer and blogging about their battle with the disease. The song “Clouds” was Zach’s farewell to family and friends and it hit #1 on iTunes the same week he passed away in May 2013.

Hope for Hurting Hearts
A blog tour post written by Alexis A. Goring

“The worst thing you can do when you’re discouraged is isolate yourself.” 

- Holly Furtick

Holly Furtick, wife of Steven Furtick who is the lead pastor of Elevation Church in North Carolina, preached a sermon on discouragement—how to recognize it as an attack from the enemy and how to overcome it. Essentially, Holly said when you feel discouraged, don’t isolate yourself—get around people. It is important to reach out to others and make effort to be in social situations such as volunteering for a cause close to your heart because participation in community can help heal the human heart.

There was a time in my life when I felt I could not get around people to ease my discouragement because people would not understand what I’d experienced nor be able to help me with what I went through. But in those dark moments, I learned about someone who could help me in a way no human can. His name is Jesus Christ. It was through the traumatic time in my life that I learned more about who Jesus is…a Comforter, a Savior, and the Truest Friend I’ll ever have in this journey called life.

Growing up, I was surrounded with people who knew Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. My ears constantly heard stories about how God was working in the lives of those around me. But I didn’t come to know Jesus Christ on a deep and personal level until going through the dark time where He was the only one who understood me and was there for me when no one else could be present.

The dark time for me was having a nervous breakdown at the age of 16. I had to be hospitalized for about a week or two (the exact dates I do not remember). A lot of issues were going on at the time, issues that made me feel completely alone and isolated. After being diagnosed the doctors prescribed me a medicine that I’m supposed to take for the rest of my life as long as I’m battling this illness. The medicine helped me manage my illness but it also created a deep, ravenous hunger within me and for the first few months of returning home from the hospital, I ate like there was no tomorrow. I craved carbs. I craved sugar and anytime I had access to those items, I ate like eating was going out of style.

But even with the constant eating, I was not satisfied because the hunger felt endless. The major affect from the medicine is weight gain and my size ballooned—I gained more than 100 pounds in less than six months and it’s been difficult to lose the weight ever since. Clearly, going from a size six to double-digit clothing and shopping at plus size stores like Ashley Stewart and Lane Bryant did a number on my self-esteem. And as for dating? I knew no guy was going to ask me out looking the way I did so I didn’t even act interested. My depression from the side effects of the medicine caused me to withdraw from social situations and walk around in a metaphorical bubble. I figured that if I didn’t let anyone get close to me, I couldn’t be hurt. I knew that if I acted like the stares and whispers about my new bloated figure didn’t bother me and if I used humor and laughed a lot then most people would consider me simply as another fat and happy person when inwardly the opposite was true.

Sometimes my mom and I have conversations about my illness, the medicine and my experience. During those conversations, sometimes the question arises about “why” God allowed this to happen to me. The question often isn’t entertained because God is Sovereign and He knows what He’s doing however one day, the answer sprang up from the depths of my soul. “Because He (God) wanted to birth a ministry,” I said. The words just flowed up from my heart into my throat and out of my mouth. Instantly, I knew God was speaking through me and realized that those words are completely true. It was a revelation for me because I finally realized that the dark time I went through was purposed to help me grow close to the heart of God and inspire others to know Him as their Lord and Savior. Near to the heart of God is the place where I learned of His endless love, healing compassion, grace and mercy for not just me but ALL of His children.

Since that time, I endeavor to tell the whole world about the goodness of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s a message of HOPE, FAITH, LOVE and proves that at the heart of Christianity is an altar call. A call from the heart of God asking you gently to come to know Him for yourself and to come just as you are. God will not judge your looks because He sees your heart and knows exactly who you are and what you need. I believe a need for Jesus Christ is nestled deep inside each of our hearts and only He can satisfy our hunger for Him.

In closing, I’d like to share with you the story of Zach Sobiech. I believe His life was a blessing to all he encountered and his death was the beginning of something powerful—God using Zach's story as one of His ways to encourage, uplift and save lives. But it doesn't stop there, it continues in the life stories of every person who reads Laura Sobiech's book, Fly a Little Higher or listens to Zach’s song, “Clouds” on iTunes. I encourage you to buy the book and write a review telling the world how reading about such a selfless and brave soul (Zach) encouraged you in your life’s journey.

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