I know a big part of my story was that when I was in college my freshman year, I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. And through that, God continues to show me things. I think God gives us struggles in our lives to humble us; whether it’s a job loss, a death, or health issues; they make us depend on Him.

There were times dealing with this health issue when I would think about my life and would ask question like, ‘Am I ever gonna get married? How am I ever gonna have kids?’ But I love the part in the Bible where it always goes ‘but, God.’

Now, when I think back to the question, ‘Will I get married?’ I now know ‘but, God’ had a plan that I was going to marry this wonderful Christian husband. And then for a while, when he was going to med school, I thought, ‘But am I going to have children? Remember, I have this underlying issue, God. Will I be able to handle it?’ ‘But, God’ knew I was gonna have three.

I think about that phrase ‘but, God’ and just how God has used my health issue to teach me compassion and to give me a passion for encouraging people—I love to encourage and exhort other people—and to show joy and happiness.

Anxiety will always be something I struggle with from time to time. And I think we as a church body want to hide our struggles sometimes. And so really even talking about it now, I thought, ‘Ya know, should I really even share this?’ But then I thought, ‘Ya know what? This is part of my story.’ And everybody has different stuff whether it’s a health issue or it’s something with their marriage or an addiction. And I think a lot of times we want to hide those parts.

But I think a great story is the bittersweet because we don’t know the sweet unless we know the bitter. And there are times when God has used that to sanctify me and to form me.

God gives us the sweet even in the hard times. We’re meant for community, and I think we just need to be more real and share the rougher parts of our story so that we can truly help each other. Because when we share our struggles, that’s when we can really love each other, and there’s no pretenses that we have to be perfect.

I try to share to be real, because, I feel like we show up and think we’re supposed to have it all together. And I think when we’re willing to say, ‘No, I struggle with this.’ It just let’s us put the mask down and we can go, ‘Ok, we’re at a place where we’re all struggling and who’s our source of strength?’ And we can go back to Christ and go, ‘Christ is our source of strength. Now, how can I encourage you?’

That’s why I always like this passage in Philippians 4 because look what it says… It says, ‘exhortation, encouragement, and prayer.’


In who?

‘...in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.  Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand...’

So here’s where I was I like, well, if I shouldn’t be anxious about anything, God, why am I?

‘...do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’

Well for a long time I was thinking that peace… shouldn’t it be immediate? Sometimes it is, but sometimes it’s over time and then this is my favorite,

‘Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.’ [Phil 4:4-9]

So that’s where we get our peace.

It’s like we come to be saved and go, ‘God, I’m at the end of myself. I need you to fill me up.’ And then somehow once we receive that—I’m going to be a Christ-follower—then all of a sudden we’re trying to earn it again. It’s the most backwards thing.

So I think my goal is to encourage people to embrace the bittersweet of life.  And then just to remember that phrase ‘but, God.’ We have our fears and we don’t know what we’re going to do, ‘but, God’ knows a plan… ‘but, God’ rescues us… ‘but, God’ sent his only son to save us from our sins. And so there’s a hope in that and there’s joy in that.

I don’t think joy means you're happy all the time, it just means you know where your joy is found and where your strength is found.

And so I guess that would be my story. Just to encourage people to find that peace through God and to realize just to be real. And it doesn’t mean we’re not joyful and we’re always walking around mopy, but it just means that we all have real struggles. And in the midst of our struggles, there’s not a microwave society. It’s a process. And that’s sanctification.

As we’re real with each other, and we go along the way, then we can encourage and exhort each other in the Word. And then that’s what binds us together. And all this other stuff that bothers us will be gone one day. And we’ll see each other as we’re meant to see each other. Right? So that’s good stuff.

Simone Lay and her husband, Kris, have been members of Brook Hills since 2013. They have three children: Emery, 9th grade; Asa, 5th grade; and Aubrie, 3rd grade. Growing up, Simone was a self-proclaimed “band geek,” specializing in the bassoon and was even the Drum Major in high school. In college, she started out as a music major, then, later, had plans to become a doctor, “but, God,” had other awesome plans for her life. Now, Simone enjoys being a housewife and homeschooling her three children.