Where is your dwelling place? Where do you find yourself returning to everyday? This isn’t necessarily a physical place as much as it is a mental space. Through the highs and lows, what is your first instinct to find comfort? To find consistency?
This mental space can manifest in the form of thought patterns or behavioral tendencies. And sometimes, this mental space isn’t always the prettiest. This place may be familiar to you, even if you haven’t actively thought about it.
Think about the way you acted the last time you were so stressed out you couldn’t get a hold of yourself. What narrative started in your mind? What words stuck to you, no matter how hard you tried to shake them off? (For example, overdramatic and weak are some that stick to mine.) At that moment, what did you crave? Where did you want to be? Did you even want to be anywhere at all? Sometimes, if we don’t have a healthy dwelling place for these moments; that is, if we don’t have a healthy mindset or thought process, we might find ourselves spiraling downwards.
Lately, when I get stressed out, I’ve found that my dwelling place isn’t all that pretty either. I fall into a mental cycle that tells me countless lies. “There is no way out. You’re not doing well. You have no reason to do well. Why try at all?” It feels endless. Whatever I’m doing feels aimless. And, ultimately, I feel completely helpless. And when I am worried, when I am hurt, that is my dwelling place. For me, I try and escape it by watching a bunch of YouTube videos or anything that keeps me from being truly productive. For others, it’s bingeing onNetflix and hours of TikTok. Often, these things are escapisms and not actual relaxation that relieves us from the stress inside.
What I’m about to tell you is not a “cop-out” coping mechanism. I’m not saying it is easy to drag yourself out of a dark dwelling place. In fact, at times it feels impossible. While I was figuring out what to write this article about, I found myself making my way into this dark dwelling place. That is, until my friend shared with me a devotional she wrote the night before on where we find our dwelling places. In it was Psalm 91:9-16, which reads:
“If you say, ‘The Lord is my refuge,’
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
‘Because he[b] loves me,’ says the Lord, ‘I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.’”
In our trouble, in our darkness, we are still protected. By recognizing that our ultimate dwelling place can be found in our inherent worth and the Most High’s love for us, we can be reminded that at the core of who we are, we are secure. No matter how far behind in homework we are. No matter how badly we think we did on that test. No matter the external circumstances.
However, it is our choice. We are the ones responsible for choosing to change our dwelling place, and it takes serious work. We always reach for what is familiar even if it’s bad for us. We will never be satisfied by the external comparisons that this world has to offer. But by choosing to find our dwelling places under the shadow of the Most High’s love for us, we will witness His salvation from lies uttered in the darkness.