Monday, April 19, 2010

My Authentic Self - A Few Months in the Making

Yesterday, I sat down in front of my computer to write. I spent the day listening to Joyce Meyer podcasts and reading my Purpose-Driven Life book, and I had many things on my mind that I felt I needed to get out. I type around 70 words per minute, so when I have something on my mind that I want to put on paper, it's way too tedious to write it out slowly when I can just blast it out in a few minutes on my home computer. Well, it turns out I haven't put pen to paper...eer, well fingers to keypad, since the end of January! I re-read this post that I had completely forgotten about. When I typed it out, I had the intent to publish it but "chickened out" because of how open I was in my writing. It's been a few months, and now I feel stronger and more confident about sharing my authentic self. goes:

January 31, 2010
For one of the first times in my life, I let the spirit live through me. I had no agenda, just Jesus on my mind. I sat in front of my computer, and I began to type. And I typed. And I typed some more. The end result was 1,223 words, all of which transpired from a place of chaos and overwhelming pain into a heart-felt diary of my healing soul.

Friend, before you read this, do not judge and do not assume you understand. If anything, let this passage leave you wondering what hides in your own heart. Let it leave you yearning to unlock the musky guilt-ridden, cob-webbed fears and rotting regret that lingers behind the hidden doors to your own soul.

On February 10, 2008 I was baptized. This was a “wow” moment for so many reasons, most I cannot put into words. I always considered myself a Christian, because I did (what I thought) Christians did. I believed in God, I went to church, I prayed to God when things weren’t going my way or when I needed something, and I prayed for sick family members. And then…at the age of 25, God spoke to me like never before.

I was in church at First Baptist Church of Lubbock, and I was overcome with emotion. The words in the songs, the words the pastor was speaking, the words running through my mind and the feelings in my heart…they all “clicked”. I accepted the invitation the pastor gave to declare God my Lord and Savior, I walked to the front of the altar in front of hundreds of Sunday church-goers with tears streaming down my face; I could barely speak, and I was sucking in air with gasps between heavy sobbing – my flesh was a wreck, but my soul was calm. I was home.

And as much I thought I now knew what it meant to be a Christian, I was even more lost than ever before. My soul was home, but I still felt lost. And now I had even bigger battles to face. Now I was a Christian, and the devil had new problems to serve me, new ways to try and break my faith, and try to make me question God. Since February 2008, my life has felt like one big battle. I have always felt like my life was a battle, but now, as a Christian, I was facing battles confused and asking, “God, where are you? Lord, I believe in You. I have declared You the leader in my life. Why are things still so hard? Why aren’t you keeping these problems out of my life?”

God’s answer was this: “I never promised that you wouldn’t have trials. I only promised I would see you through it.” And while each day brings new trials, each day also brings new light. Since my baptism, I dived head first into a spiritual journey filled with reading Christian books and listening to various pastors preach the word. I attribute much of my understanding to God through those he has promoted to serve him and whose purpose is to help others understand Him and live for Him.

The first of these individuals is Joyce Meyer. Words cannot describe what her ministry has done in my life. She helps me “get it.” I love listening to her because she motivates me to look to the Lord and nothing and no one else. She talks about the tough issues that really help me evaluate my life. And she came from a place of such pain. She talks about being sexually abused by her father for years and years. In one of her teachings, she says something to the effect of, “Who would have thought, me, a girl who went through I went through, who was being sexually abused every day for years and years, who would have thought that I would be where I am today, that the Lord would use me for his glory?” This makes me think of my tribulations. “Who would have thought, that me, with no stability or security in my entire life, living each day in the pits not sure if I was going to make it through my self-hatred and pity and hopelessness, who would have thought that God would use me to……..(I’m still trying to figure this out)?”

Also, authors of spiritual books have done wonders that I could have never imagined. Experiencing God, Inner Voice of Love, Purpose-Driven Life – each of these books have a special place in my heart. God led the authors of these books to live out their purposes He set forth for them in order help someone like me; this is an amazing feeling, and makes me look outside of myself – what is my purpose? How many days have I wasted away moping around, depressed, and beaten down by life instead of living out God’s purpose for my life? In order to help others and to play an intricate part of God’s plan that he laid out for me before I even took my first breath? See, when I first picked up these books, it was about “What can this book do for me? How can this book help me feel good about myself?" Chapter after chapter, book after book – I realized, it’s not about me! It’s about God. It’s about His plan for my life. It’s about “dying in the flesh” and allowing the spirit to live through me.

I have struggled with depression my entire life. I don’t say that lightly. I mean, my entire life, as long as I can remember, since a young, young child, I felt unhappy. I felt unsure about myself and my surroundings, I felt unloved; I felt lost in a midst of chaos. Depression. This is how I defined myself. “I’m depressed.” “I suffer from depression.” “I take medicine every day to cure my depression.” “I visit a counselor once a week to talk about my depression". It wasn’t until fairly recently that I got sick of being sick. Depression consumed me. Depression made me focus all of my energy on how depressed I was. Needless to say, I didn’t get much done in life. I just got more and more and more depressed. Then I read something in my Purpose-Driven Life book. “Lord, if what I am going through is meant to help others love you, to help others find the purpose you set out for them to live, then please don’t take this pain away.”

I was dumbfounded. What? Lord, I am supposed to be thankful for my depression? All of these years I’ve been asking you take away my depression, and now I’m supposed to ask you not to take it away? Then I heard Joyce Meyer’s familiar phrase – “It’s not about you!” See, depression is about me, feeling down and tired is about me. But God did not put me on earth to glorify myself or my depression. The Lord put me on earth to glorify Him! To carry out his purpose for my life, to make a contribution to the world, to act as his hands and his voice, to allow his love and grace to shine through me; this is why I am alive.

God has also spoken to me through the people he has brought into my life. I thought my counselor came into my life because of me, that my counselor was here to help me overcome my depression. But no! My counselor was brought into my life by the grace of God so that I may come to know Him, and understand him, and understand how to live for him so that I may enjoy a purposeful life serving him.

With all of my spiritual guides leading me through this new journey, I no longer see my depression as defining me. Depression is about choice and comfort—choosing to be comfortable feeling uncomfortable. Depression does have a way of taking over my life, stealing my energy needed to do much of anything. But at some point, I realized, I have to get up out of bed only to fall on my knees begging the Lord for mercy. Medicine and counseling won’t do much for my depression. Those methods of healing will help ease the pain to a manageable level, but I don’t want to merely get by in life by managing to get through the days. I want to LIVE! God is about life; depression is about death. I have to make a choice, and I choose life.

It was in dissatisfaction that I came to truly relish in God’s blessings for my life. A perfect, happy life didn’t bring me to the understanding and peace I write about today. Suffering did. Pain brought me here. It wasn’t until I finally started thanking God for my trials and tribulations that I came to experience peace. I didn’t know what light the fruit of the spirit provided until I experienced the darkness.

A couple of Joyce messages that have touched me recently:

1) Respect yourself enough to make other people respect you. Don’t let people walk all over you. Have respect for yourself. Take care of yourself. Take care of your health. Take care of your body. Take care of your mind. Take care of your life. Do some things that you enjoy because if you don’t, you’re going to end up bitter and resentful.

2) I think a lot of Christians don’t want to give in to the full will of God because they’re still trying to protect their life as they know it. Even though it’s a low life, they’re hanging on to it because they are afraid to give up life as they know it. They don’t know what it’s really going to be like to totally give themselves to God.

1 comment:

  1. Your words are very encouraging (and honest).