January 26, 2020

A Word is a Word - Marnie Pohlmann

“You know you are a testimony, don’t you?”

Inwardly, I shrunk away from the thought.  This wasn’t the first time someone had said that to me, and it wasn’t the first-time regret, disappointment, and even shame were my responses.
Yes, I was a testimony - a bad testimony.

Over the last few years circumstances have pulled me into a deep vortex of darkness. Physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually; every piece of me has been shaken and overwhelmed. I relate well to Job in the Bible, who had one catastrophe after another spin his life out of control. And while Job did angrily tell God it would have been better if he had never been born, he still, in the pile of mourning ashes, agreed that God is God, even when Job didn’t understand His ways.

In our Christian walk, there will come a time when we must realize God is not only loving but also just. God divides right from wrong. God decides good and bad. While God wants to and does give His people good things, He does so even in what we would consider “bad” ways. God is not mean, He is holy. God is not a “genie in a bottle” who gives us what we want, He is our Father who provides all we need as well as the desires that He plants in our hearts.

And like a rebellious child, we sometimes don’t like the life God leads us in.

A popular worship song speaks of the way we as Christians are encouraged to respond to God throughout our life.
“You give and take away.
You give and take away.
And still, my heart will say,
Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
                                                         (Blessed Be Your Name - Tree63)

Even in difficult times, we worship a God who redeems our struggles. He makes dry bones dance. He waters the desert places. He surrounds us when flames of disappointment burn our soul.

And this is where my testimony fails.

I want to be that faithful Christian who always praises God. And in public, with my hair combed, makeup covering sleep-deprived eyes, and a smile pasted on my face, perhaps it appears I am just that. One doctor commented, “You look very put together for someone who is so depressed.”

It’s not that I am trying to be something I am not or that I put on a mask. God knows who I am when I am with others or alone. And while I may look “put together” in my faith on the outside, I am still truthful about my struggles. Anyone who asks will know what is really going on with me.

I don’t believe I have lost faith in God. I still believe.  Yet I have a difficult time being thankful for the path I continue to stumble along. I do not always feel joy, even knowing there is an eternity beyond the dark moments of despair.

Yet, even though I can be honest and admit I did not actively live my faith during these years, I can also see how God redeems my failure.

I can say I believe but I struggle in my belief.
I can say I believe, and I struggle in my belief.

Do you see the difference?

but… or and

Both are conjunctive, joining two parts of a sentence. The two parts of the sentence say the same thing, so that little word in the middle is what makes the difference in how I say this.

A word is a word is a word. Right? Or is it?

As much as it may be important to choose a word or phrase that will focus your determination towards your actions each day of the year, it is also important to lay aside any word or phrase that holds you back from moving forward.

While on long-term disability from work, I was assigned a counselor who was to help find practical ways I could handle anxiety in my life so I could return to work. She spoke about rephrasing, which my education in communication and counseling had already covered. Catch your thought, recognize the lie, and change that thought to the truth. There is great power in rephrasing. Scripture teaches it as “renewing the mind.” What this counselor shared about rephrasing, though, was a small difference that can have a great impact on me.

But - a word that often begins an excuse, a reason why something will not work or cannot work. But is often used as a word of defeat. “I can go for a walk, but it is cold outside.” But negates the walk because it is cold.

And - this word offers a choice. There are two sides, equal in truth or importance. “I can go for a walk and it is cold outside.” Two truths to consider. One does not negate the other. I can go for a walk and because it is cold outside - I will dress for it. Or I can go for a walk and it is cold outside - so I will use the treadmill.

Struggling in my Christian walk - or in life - is not the failure it feels like. The truth is my struggle is included as part of my testimony. The past few years have been difficult, and I have lost many of my healthy habits, both physically and spiritually. Basic things like breathing, eating, sleeping, journaling, and even reading Scripture have become areas that need to be relearned. I’m glad I was encouraged to memorize Scripture as a child, so God’s word is never far away.

So, I think my word for 2020 needs to be and. I am not in control of all areas of my life, and God is in control of all areas of my life. I still struggle and I have choices.

A word is a word and one small word, whether thought, spoken, or written, can make a difference.


  1. Marnie, you ARE a testimony in that you an be so honest. People need to hear this - that Christians are not immune to depression and struggles. In your honesty there is great strength. Thank you for sharing today. AND... whether you want to hear it or not, you are amazing and awesome. I love you, my friend!

  2. Caran Jantzen9:43 am GMT-7

    Marnie, thanks for sharing this honest, raw account of your struggles with depression. I have diagnosed anxiety and have suffered with times of depression as well. Reading your post has helped me to feel less alone as a Christian who has also felt that her testimony at times has been fraudulent. As I read your post, I was reminded of something I learned about swapping one word for another—when I’m feeling anxious about a situation, instead of saying, “what if?” I can instead say, “even if.” Words, and especially The Word, has the power to help us see our circumstances differently. I pray that in the midst of your storms, you would feel God’s peace, and know His love. Thank you for your encouraging post today. I pray that you would be encouraged today as well!

  3. Sharing with my husband who has been paralyzed with depression. This is an amazing piece throughout but the paragraph that resonated most with me was this one: "As much as it may be important to choose a word or phrase that will focus your determination towards your actions each day of the year, it is also important to lay aside any word or phrase that holds you back from moving forward." Praying that your words will touch many hurting people's hearts and give them hope to move forward.

  4. Hi Marnie. We speak the same language "and" still live by faith. I imagine, like me, you can remember when we as Christians did not feel safe letting other Christians know we were in depression. I am thrilled you know you can be honest with your words here. During my depression life meant lonelines. The words you wrote here encourage me to know in spite of struggles people still love us. We are Christians "and" we can blow the lid off labels like "depressed" and "ankiety." We are more thaan labels.

  5. Thanks so much for your honesty and vulnerability. Words are powerful and influential and we do have the choice to choose those which are encouraging and strengthening. Your words are a gift. Lots to pray for and to think about.

  6. I’m so thankful for InScribe and for the supportive family we are for each other, and for members like you Marnie who have been so honest. It encourages me to be honest with my struggles with anxiety too.
    Pam M

  7. Great article. You set the vulnerability bar high. Which is a good thing.


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