By Kelsey Klepper

Do you ever struggle? Maybe you have a bad body image day or feelings of loneliness or confusion? Is it just me?

Whatever it is that seems to be tipping you to a negative place, what are you doing about it? How are you coping with these emotions? 

I used to use food and exercise as my only coping mechanisms. I was either coping by restricting to feel “in control” of what I ate, or I ate all the things that I never allowed myself to have. I coped by exercising insane amounts. Trying to control my size made me feel safe, but in reality, it wasn’t safe or helpful.

I used those coping mechanisms for years. I considered nothing else. Although food and exercise are not healthy coping strategies by themselves, they did allow me to survive that phase of life until I figured out I wanted to thrive rather than just survive.

Fast forward a few years. I have found more tools to add to my coping toolbox: listening to worship music, crying, processing my feelings out loud with someone else, eating, moving my body, dancing with my toddler, taking a shower, praying, putting my phone away and more.

It’s easy to let negative feelings consume us for hours, days, even months. It’s easy for the enemy to take cheap shots and attack us where we are weak again and again. And although we may feel swallowed up by these destructive feelings, we can also just as easily speak truth to our hearts and minds. God is already fighting our battles. He is our defender. We are not alone in this dark place. He is there and has been all along.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31)?

So do not fear, for I am with you: do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10).

I believe seeking God’s truth and letting it penetrate a little deeper into our hearts is the number one way to cope with any struggle. Does it have to be the only way? No, but put truth first and then use your other strategies. I know I respond best to all of my other tools when my mind is first centered on Jesus.  

I currently like to sing these words of truth to myself when I’m feeling consumed by negative thoughts: It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by You. This is how I fight my battles. (Surrounded-Fight My Battles by Michael W Smith).