I’ve often heard people discuss the concept of hearing God’s voice. They would share their own struggle with this ability. I’ve even been asked directly, “Nicole, how do you hear God’s voice?” To which I stammered out, “Well, uh…I just know.” I didn’t understand when people said they didn’t hear God or they struggled with knowing how to hear God because since the moment I decided to give my life to Him as a college student, I “heard” God pretty clearly. Often, I just had a knowing of the direction He was leading me in. Sometimes this knowing would be confirmed by others, dreams or the Word.
Like the time my boyfriend cheated on me and I still wanted to be with him but God said “No!” Instead of continuing on in a toxic relationship as I would have preferred (because that’s how emotionally unhealthy I was) God directed me to walk away from the relationship and onto a path of singleness that has gone on 11 plus years now. I really hope I heard God on that one…
Or the time I was looking for a job after graduation and no one would hire me, but then a friend of mine gave me a contact to call and I knew this was the place I was supposed to work. I ended up working there, connected with another company and received two promotions, bonuses and half of my graduate degree paid for. Yep, that was definitely God.
I thought receiving dreams and having the gift of knowledge and edifying words of others pouring over me to direct me on my path was a natural part of this spiritual journey. Yes, God gives us these gifts of His Spirit and loves to give good gifts to His children, but what happens when there is a season He chooses to speak differently? Or maybe, not at all?
At the end of last year I stopped hearing God. Instead of a loving Father filling my heart with His encouragement, direction and love, I heard anxiety, which ultimately led to depression and a very dark place. I had memories of His goodness but I couldn’t feel it. I couldn’t feel Him.
I could however see Him. I saw Him in my community. I saw Him in His provision when I was laid off from my employer of 9 years. I saw Him in my purpose and the open doors that kept happening in my writing career. But where was the knowing? Where was the feeling? It was gone.
I soon learned that feeling God is a wonderful experience, but since feelings are temporary they could not be my foundation. The only stable force we have in our relationship with Christ is His Word. I had to stand on the Word to get out of the darkness. I am still learning to stand.
When you’re single and you struggle with mental health issues you don’t have the luxury of having a life partner to fight for you. You don’t have someone to encourage you with the Word and speak to you the truth when all you hear are lies from the enemy. So since I didn’t have just one person to fight for me, I chose to let all of my people fight for me. I opened up about my struggle with my church, with my best friends, with my mom, and with a professional counselor. I let everyone in on the fight because I knew I could not fight this battle alone. And I felt so very alone, not hearing God’s voice.
I had people pray for me when I couldn’t pray for myself. I had people speak truth to me when I couldn’t remember truth. I did not have the gift of marriage but I did have the gift of community and that proved to be a much-needed weapon for the battle over my mind.