Wrecked. That’s how I would describe my life over the past 5 years. The gospel has shown up and
changed ransacked everything. I’ve been wanting to share this for so long that I find it hard to know where to even begin at this point. I guess I’ll just start with “How”.
Hog tied and handcuffed.
Spiritual depression is something that has always been lurking around every corner of my Christian life. I was always failing and hiding from God. Eventually, I’d crawl out from behind the bush, vowing to try harder than before, only to fail and go right back into hiding. Sometimes the hiding sessions were longer than others, though they were always dark and lonely. Looking around, no one else seemed to have this problem. Everyone else seemed to excel at this Christian life deal. Memorizing entire books of the bible, having quiet times every day, always having the right answer and a smile on their face. Big trials? No problem! “It’s better than I deserve!!” And there I was, like a side show failure. Everyone was spinning a hundred plates at once. They seemed so happy about it. My inability to keep up was crushing me. “Look how much they love Jesus! I suppose He is disappointed in my pitiful show of love for him.” I (wrongly) concluded His love for them must be greater than His love for me.
After years on this frustrating roller coaster, I began reading the book of John, looking for Jesus. For the first time in my Christian life I saw him for who he really was. He loved these
disciples goobers he had surrounded himself with. Sinful and ridiculous as they were, he was patient and loving. He relentlessly pursued them. I became painfully aware of one thing: I could not love or follow God the way that I had been, driven by performance. I began to pray, “Lord, help me see your love for me so that I will be free to love you.”
He answered me but not the way I had imagined. His love would shine IN the dark places and then it would set me free.
Miscarriage after miscarriage. Deep physical and emotional suffering. There were days that I didn’t want to get out of bed and face my family. Yet, I was still striving to say the right things, to put on the right face. I needed to be the example. On top of that “Job’s friends” were always faithful to show up and drive the nails deeper. To pour salt and rubbing alcohol into open wounds that seemed like they’d never heal. Words that could cut deeper than any knife could reach, yolks that were beyond bearable. One evening, I just looked at my husband and said, “I want to run away from Christianity. I don’t want to do this anymore. I want to run from everything I know, including our family.” He sat there, staring at me with tears in his eyes and had no idea what to say. I had no idea what to say. The truth was, no amount of devotions, prayers, scripture memory, jumping jacks, or anything else that I could think of to do was changing it. Everything that I had been told to do in moments of crisis were failing me. I was failing to be faithful. I couldn’t take it.
The Lord blessed us with a pregnancy that stuck, though it was a grueling 9 months. (When you’ve had so many miscarriages, you just cannot imagine it ever working out in the end.) On top of that, I had severe nausea that kept me on the couch for 4 months. Medicine only took the edge off. So for that time, I laid on the couch afraid to breathe (for fear of barf) and afraid to pray (for fear of loss). I could not go to church or serve. I could not cook, clean, or do laundry for my family. I couldn’t read or even think clearly. I just sat there…and the gospel came alive. The hope that I had in my Christian disciplines to fix me was completely shattered. It was here that God began to show me his unending, insane, relentless love for me while I could do nothing for Him! The love Jesus had for his disciples that I read about in the book of John was the same love that he had for me. What I was learning to do was not “nothing” at all. I was learning to rest in what had already been done, in the person of Christ. God is pleased with me simply because I am in Christ. God loves me with the same love that He has for Christ and it never, ever changes. I am his beloved child, always. Not because I’m disciplined or faithful enough, because I’ll never be. BUT because Christ was faithful enough for me.
I still struggle with the darkness from time to time as trials hit our lives. Though I’m finding I no longer hide in the darkness out of fear. Instead, I cry out for my Heavenly Father to come and get me.
“As my Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” John 15:9
“I in them, and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” John 17:23