As you consider Thanksgiving, are you filled with joyful anticipation, anxiety, or a mixture of both? Are your thoughts of the special moments and memories you’ll share accompanied by reminders of past conflicts? We probably all have that one family member who seems adept at pricking at our insecurities, challenging our peace, and poking at our emotional bruises.

In response, it’s easy to self-protect, to pull away, or to fight back. And while some measure of self-protection may in fact be wise*, every tense encounter provides an opportunity and reminder to seek God’s heart and perspective, and then to “power up.”

Years ago, someone I interacted with seemed angered by me and everything for which I stood, only this individual never told me this directly. Instead, after each encounter, she’d flood social media with posts regarding the hypocrisy or “hatred” displayed by Christ-followers–whether or not we’d talked religion or discussed personal beliefs. Feeling as if this person was passive-aggressively attacking me, I shared my hurt with a mentor, who replied, “She’s not fighting with you. She’s wrestling with God.”

Her words reminded me of Ephesians 6:12-13, which states,

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Our struggle–every and any struggle–is not ultimately about us. Yes, our actions and reactions do affect others, but even those have a spiritual root. We, and everyone we encounter, is either living yielded to Christ or in opposition to Him. They’re (and we’re) either living in then living out His love and grace or we’re giving in to self-obsession.

As Scripture states in Galatians 5:19-26:

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

This reminds me to always examine my heart first. Which portion of that passage do I most resemble–the person who is easily offended, who feeds my bitterness, and easily loses my temper, or the one who speaks with gentleness, kindness, grace, and self-control?

If the former, God doesn’t want me to live in condemnation. Instead, He calls me to lean deeper into His grace. To prayerfully invite Him to search my soul for places where His love and grace, the only gifts with the power to transforming me in the core of my being, haven’t reached so that He can heal every wound, expel every lie, and illuminate every lurking shadow with His glorious light.

A light that will push back the darkness, within me and also around me.

This is a glorious, beautiful truth. Every time a Christ-follower enters a room, she carries with her the light of Christ-simply through her presence. She changes the dynamics, on a supernaturally spiritual level, whether she speaks or remains silent.

She amplifies that light, however, and becomes a strategic weapon against the evil seeking to devour her, the person who seems so opposed to her, and the joy and peace God wants for us, when she remains in step with His Spirit.

That’s our only assignment. God doesn’t ask us to change people’s minds or to convert their thinking. That’s His job, one He’s quite capable of, by the way. Nor do we need to defend ourselves. That’s His role as well, and in Christ, we have nothing to prove.

What God does invite us to do, however, is to live so filled with Him, with His love and acceptance and grace, that every precious gift Christ pours into our souls gushes from us and onto others.

Which brings me back to Ephesians 6:12-13, remembering that the struggle within us stems from the same over-arching battle. Scripture makes it clear, you and I have an enemy to our souls, and his desire is to tarnish and destroy everything good God created and to thwart God’s very good plans. But Christ is calling us to life. To hope. To healing and to freedom.

This means, whenever we resist Him, whether that means speaking up when He tells us to remain silent or remaining silent when He tells us to speak up, or plunging ahead when He asks us to quietly sit with Him, we are slipping toward increased dysfunction. Whenever we follow His lead, however, pushing past surface-level reactions to prayerfully evaluate what lies beneath those displayed by us and others and to accept His grace in those areas, we actively progress toward increased health, freedom, and vibrant life.

Let’s talk about this! As you anticipate Thanksgiving, are you doing so with joy, angst, or a bit of both? How is God speaking to you in regard to this? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another!

*Please note: I am not encouraging people to engage with abusive people. There are times when God does indeed encourage us to distance ourselves from others. I don’t know your story, your heart, or your hurts, but God does. Seek His guidance, because He knows the perfect, healthiest action for every scenario.

As you prepare for the holidays, specifically if they stir anxiety within you, I encourage you to listen to the latest Faith Over Fear Podcast episode on fighting anxiety through praise.

Fighting Anxiety and Fear Through Praise (with Becky Harling) – Ep. 129 Faith Over Fear

When battling anxiety, fear, and depression, countless people have turned to the Psalms for comfort. In them, we read raw and honest emotion, soul-deep prayers, and about a God who sees, cares, and has the power to lead us to greater freedom. While fighting cancer, guest Becky Harling learned to use praise, often guided by what she read in the psalms, to fight her fear and increase her peace. In this episode, she shared her experiences and the Bible study God prompted her to write: The Extraordinary Power of Praise: A 6-Week Study of the Psalms for the Anxious Heart. (Scroll down to find the group discussion questions)Find Becky Harling at: Jennifer Slattery at:http://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com Wholly Loved, at:https://www.WhollyLoved.comFind Wholly Loved Ministries at:WhollyLoved.comJoin the private Faith Over Fear Facebook Group: the Private Wholly Loved Community Group (also on Facebook): Discussion Questions:1.What resonated with you most in today’s episode?2.What Bible passages do you turn when you feel anxious or afraid?3.How does (or can) praising God in difficult seasons help to decrease our anxiety and increase our peace?4.What are some ways you remember God’s goodness and love in hard or frightening times?5.Why is important to understand God’s heart for us when we feel afraid—that He responds to us in love, not anger or frustration?6.How can prayer deepen your intimacy with Christ?7.How can memorizing Scripture help you fight anxiety and fear?8.What is one action step God might be asking you to take, having listened to this podcast episode? Discover more Christian podcasts at and inquire about advertising opportunities at

Some battles are far too important, far too consequential, for us to ever attempt to fight them alone.

This has become clearer to me now more than ever. God recently called me to engage in a battle so far beyond me, where the opposition felt so fierce and unconquerable, I knew Christ was my only hope. Therefore, I’m seeking Him and His will like I never have before, and I’m refusing to fight alone. I’ve gathered a group of women, nearly 30 in fact, to engage in the most powerful way possible—on our knees. And we’re experiencing Christ in a way, frankly, I never have before.

woman praying

Something miraculous, completely mind-blowing, occurs when we come together, seek God’s heart, and diligently pray as He leads. He moves in powerful ways. In ways that remind us that He truly is our all-powerful, loving, sovereign faithful God.

And I’m wondering why I don’t pray more. The only conclusion I’ve come up with is that I tend to make far too much of myself—my wisdom and efforts—and far too little of God. Because if I truly believed everything I claimed, that He indeed is the God over all of history, who knows the best course of action for every situation and has the power to bring His hope-filled, life-giving will to pass, then prayer would be my first response. Always.

Prayer isn’t about us convincing God to act in a particular way. Effective prayer is about us surrendering our hearts to Christ and inviting Him to mold us so that like our Savior we’re able to say, “God, not my will but Yours be done.” When we do that, our prayers become strategic, and you and I become empowered warriors in the battle against darkness.

Consider this quote, from the anonymous author of the Kneeling Christian: “When Christ is all in all—when He is Savior and Lord and King of our whole being, then it is really He who prays our prayers.”

Lord, guide us. Move us. Empower us. Use us. We know this battle before us ultimately belongs to You, and we know You have already won. Help us to always walk as victors, with the confidence and assurance of knowing that we belong to the Lord of lords and King of kings. And help us to trust, to hold tight to faith, even if that means disregarding “sight” while we wait for Your victory to unfold. (Hebrews 11:1)

For those following my Thriving With Chronic Illness podcast, make sure to check out my latest episode with Wholly Loved team member Victoria Mejias on knowing when to rest and when to push through. You can listen here:

Episode 13: Knowing When to Push and When to Rest Thriving with Chronic Illness

Balancing our time and energy with chronic illness can feel challenging and confusing. If we never push through when feeling unwell, we’ll likely never accomplish anything. However, we can easily overdo things, stealing our “jelly beans” as Jennifer terms it, and thus leaving us too fatigued for our highest priority tasks or activities. In this episode, Jennifer Slattery speaks with her Wholly Loved Ministry partner Victoria Mejias on how Victoria manages her time, energy, and symptoms as a single mom with progressive multiple sclerosis. Find Victoria online at:https://www.VictoriaElizabeth.comFind Jennifer Slattery at:http://jenniferSlatteryLivesoutLoud her and Victoria’s ministry at:http://whollyloved.comAdditional Resources:Faith Over Fear: Living with a Limp: Over Fear: The Courage to Have Hard Conversations: Discussion Questions:1. How unpredictable are your symptoms?2. What are some ways you can leave margin for unexpected difficult days?3. How accurately does your schedule mirror your priorities?4. What most challenges your ability to “push through” difficult days when necessary?5. What most challenges your ability to rest when necessary?6. In what ways do you struggle with guilt related to your limitations or necessary boundaries?7. What lies are tied to your guilt? 8. What truths regarding Christ, His plans and power, and who you are in Him, can speak to your guilt?9. What other fears are tied to your limitations or necessary boundaries?10. What truths regarding Christ, His power and plans, and your identity in Him, can speak to those fears?11. Is there anything God might be asking you to do in relation to what you take on and what you release?Episode Image Credit: Getty/Biscotto87 Discover more Christian podcasts at and inquire about advertising opportunities at
  1. Episode 13: Knowing When to Push and When to Rest
  2. Episode 12: How Chronic Illness Can Deepen Our Intimacy with Christ
  3. Episode 11: Thriving with Chronic Illness in Marriage
  4. Episode 10: Growing Intentionally Instead of Giving Up
  5. Episode 9: Pursuing Health in Our Relationships

You can check out my latest Faith Over Fear podcast episode on Finding the Courage to Obey here:

Discovering the Best of You for Healthier Relationships with Dr. Alison Cook Faith Over Fear

Do you have difficulty telling others no? Do you find yourself frequently pushing your needs and desires aside to meet the needs of everyone else? Do you ever struggle to know how to love others as Jesus desires while also setting healthy boundaries? In this episode, Dr. Alison Cook shares biblical wisdom on how we can discover the best of ourselves and how doing so leads to healthier and more fulfilling relationships. (Scroll down for discussion/reflective questions.) Resources mentioned: The Best of You: Break Free from Painful Patterns, Mend Your Past, and Discover Your True Self in God Boundaries for the Soul The Best of You Podcast episode: "Should I turn the Other Cheek? Why It's the Opposite of Being a Doormat" Find Dr. Allison Cook: On her website On Facebook On Instagram On Amazon Find Jennifer Slattery: On her website Instagram Facebook Amazon What resonated with you most in this episode? How might you answer Dr. Cook's question: What do you want? How reciprocal do your relationships tend to be? Where might you land on the selfless, self, selfish scale Dr. Cook mentioned? How comfortable are you with setting healthy boundaries? When do you find it most challenging to set healthy boundaries? How can strong, clear boundaries lead to relational health? What is one action step God might want you to take, having listened to this episode? Discover more Christian podcasts at and inquire about advertising opportunities at
  1. Discovering the Best of You for Healthier Relationships with Dr. Alison Cook
  2. A Faith That Won't Fail with Michele Cushatt
  3. God Won't Give up on You with Max Lucado
  4. Why We Have No Reason to Fear Evil
  5. Fear of Other People's Judgement

And make sure to connect with me on Facebook and Instagram! Find Wholly Loved Ministries HERE.