Thursday, January 16, 2014

"I got chills, they're multiplyin'"

This is a re-post...because I'm doing a new Bible study, and we've been asked to share our Jesus stories.  You know you want to read it again - so...you're welcome. ;)

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Before I get to the meat of things, I thought I'd share with the world what an epic dork I am.

I love the X-Files.

A lot of people already know this about me - especially people I grew up around.  Some of those poor people (including my parents) had to put up with years of fanaticism.  Sorry, Mom.

Something about Mulder and Scully still makes my heart 'squee' with delight, like I'm a teenager all over again.  I love the conspiracy, the romance, the scariness...the overall depth of the show.  I am also totally not above a spontaneous weekend trip across the country for a fan event where I get to see and meet members of the cast.

(That totally happened, by the way.)

But this post isn't about the X-Files.  It's about something Scully said, once...something I felt the weight of back when I watched the show, but I never grasped until recently.

"I'm afraid that God is speaking and no one is listening." - Revelations, Season 3, Episode 11


Before 2006/2007, I was pretty good at putting on a show.  That's not to say that people very close to me in life didn't see that something was really wrong behind the scenes - but everyone else seemed to buy that things were generally fine.  Everyone struggles, right?

Professionally, I think I was pretty convincing.  I was good at whatever job I was in at the time, and even after being laid off three times - I was never unemployed long.  I was determined to climb the corporate ladder, even with no degree and no clear path.  Unfortunately, because I had no degree, I didn't make much money either.  I can't even say I was living paycheck to paycheck, because there were plenty of times when I had absolutely nothing (except cigarettes - because those were more necessary than food, of course).

The truth?

For about seven years, I was completely lost.  I rebelled.  I was an emotional roller coaster, on and off of medication for depression, anxiety and panic attacks.  I self-medicated with drugs and alcohol.  I stopped eating properly, lost a ton of weight, and my stomach was wrecked.  I found comfort in relationships that weren't always the healthiest for me, or for the people I was with.

(Sidebar: Some of my past loves are still the most important people in my life today, and I would never change anything about my past even if I could...because it all led me to where I am this very moment. Just had to say that!)

And then there's that thing...that 'straw that broke the camels back.' That moment when you think you might possibly get yourself together, but you wind up falling apart instead.  The moment when you think you're at the bottom, only to realize there's another floor below you giving way.

Did you ever have someone hurt you so deeply, so personally, and so publicly that you felt - quite literally - gutted?  In one day, my closest friend had become my greatest enemy.  I was so hurt I couldn't think straight. I felt so betrayed that I didn't know who to turn to.  Not only that, I was being evicted from my home.

Immediately.

To say I was broken would be a grave understatement.

Eerily enough, a few days prior, a friend of mine had broached the subject of God with me.  He was a brave man lol.

Back then, I couldn't separate God from man.  Christian people offended me deeply.  There were so many different kinds, too - those who expressed their faith quietly, and those who were loud about it.  There were those who were condemning and those with a message of love.  Some churches said the same things again and again, while some encouraged dancing in the aisles.  Some practiced what they preached, but the majority that I had met did not.  I saw them all as hypocrites.  How could all of these people be so different but be followers of the same God?

Diversity.  How human of them.

I took every Christian I had ever met and put them in a box labeled 'Jesus freaks'.  These people offended me - so their God must not be for me.

Then, I met Lester.  Lester was one of the happiest guys I had ever met in my life.  His personality was infectious.  We'd sit in his office at lunch and chat about nothing in particular - until one day he asked me where Jesus was in my life.

I about broke in half right there on his desk.  I had such a visceral reaction that I actually felt bad for this man.  I literally cried so hard that I probably left a puddle on his desk.

Where did THAT come from?

I totally couldn't comprehend why I was crying.  I had buried God so far down, I had forgotten He existed.

So when one of the most important people in my life, one of my best friends, threw me out the window - I did the only thing I could think of.

I called the man who spoke to me about Jesus.

My friend had written me a very hateful letter...six pages spewing acid all over me.  There were so many lies that I couldn't find the truth.  I would never claim to be completely innocent about anything, but this crossed so many lines.

It was a head trip and a half, if you know what I'm saying.

Was I going insane?  How could I have not seen this coming?  How did I not know things were this bad? What should I do now?  Do I respond?  Do I run away?

Lester gave me the best advice of my life.  He told me to tear up that letter.  If it didn't make me feel good - if it was full of lies and hurt - why would I entertain it a moment longer?

Why feed the darkness?

It was that moment, when I tore up the evil splashed across those pages, that I realized I really was - finally - at the bottom.  I had no home to go back to, my best friend was gone and I didn't know what to do.

Friends - when you're at the bottom, the only logical place to look...is up.

You know what's even freakier than hearing Christians talk about their relationship with God?  Actually having a relationship with God.

I cracked open a bible for the first time in years, and the first verse that jumped out at me was Matthew 6: 19-21.

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and dust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

I remember sitting there thinking...well what the heck does that mean?  I have no freakin' treasure - I am broke as broke can be.  Maybe this God thing isn't for me, after all.

I didn't put too much stock into it at the time, but I did say a prayer.  A simple one.  God, please...please help me.  I don't know what to do anymore.

My friend Lester invited me to his church that weekend.  Inside, I was hesitant.  You would think, perhaps, I would have already been convinced - but no.  I'm pretty stubborn, and there were a lot of years spent trying to be everything *but* a Christian...I was walking in to enemy territory.

I sat down with Lester and his wife, Susan.  The church was different from any I had ever been in - there were butts in the seats.

Thousands of butts.  In seats.  At church.

Great, I thought...probably hootin' and hollerin' kind of people...the kind with a Pastor who had gold rings on each finger.

Nope.  The music was contemporary but reverent.  The Pastor came on stage in jeans and a Hawaiian shirt...he was an older man, in his late 50's, early 60's, I guessed.

He began to speak, and I listened.  I liked that he gave the history behind what he was reading, and even gave the different translations of words...Latin, Greek, etc.

Then, he said it.

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and dust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Now, please tell me...what are the odds?  With over 30,000 verses in the Christian Bible - what are the odds that that day, he would speak the exact words that I had read just days before?

I was covered in goosebumps and it was suddenly very hot in there.  My mind was completely blown, and completely clear at the same time.

I understood.  I had spent my entire life putting my faith into human beings.  Into jobs.  Into material things.

Human beings, however lovely they may be, are imperfect creatures.  They will always disappoint...even if they have no intention of doing so.  Even if they don't mean to.

Jobs?  They go away too, or they change...or one day you realize that you're getting paid thousands of dollars less than the guy next to you who does half the work.

Material things?  Please.  I won't insult your intelligence...if you don't know by now that material things disappoint, you've never had a computer hard drive crash.

You see...the only perfect thing in the universe - the only thing that never changes - is God.

I might be stubborn, but I'm not bulletproof.

The old me died that day.  At the end of the service, I found myself walking to the front of the church in tears and asking Christ for forgiveness.


To this day, that is still the craziest thing I've ever done in my life.  Lester and Susan are still in my life, too - for...forever, I hope.  Even after I talked their ear off and cried all over them for hours.

The next week was insane.  I decided to be honest about everything I was going through, rather than hide it.

My friends came to my aid.  My real friends.  They knew me, and they knew that the horrible things being said about me just couldn't be right.

My parents came to my aid.  There was a lot of past hurt there, and I had also put them through quite a bit with my rebellion - so this was something I wasn't expecting.

My friend Valerie was my saving grace.  Even though I had been a wayward friend, choosing instead the friend who hurt me to be around the most - she helped me.  Within a week, she had me lined up for an apartment in her building.  She even found me a dining room table!  I don't know if she really understands, to this day, how much I appreciated that.  I'm sure I was really crappy at expressing my thanks.  Thank you, Val.

Because I lived paycheck to paycheck, there was no way I could save up deposit money as well as first and last months rent for the apartment.  My parents stepped in and took care of that - it was hard for me to accept that money, but I put my pride down that day.  Thank you, Mom and Dad.

I even got a free couch! lol

Within a week, I was moved and had a place of my own.  Something I never could have imagined.

Could it be?  Was this help divine?  Were these angels placed on earth just for me?  Did God really love me this much?

Maybe.

You see, I was still human.  After all that, part of me still wondered if I really *was* 'saved'.  Part of me wondered if I had manufactured all of these coincidences in my mind.

This, to me, is proof positive that seeing is not believing.  It took...probably years, to accept the fact that God loved me and I was saved from my sin, and from Hell.

Over the years, I have pursued a relationship with Christ.  I've been through so, so much and have come out incredibly blessed.  I still have so much sin - but that isn't the important thing.  The important thing is that I'm no longer ignorant to sin, and no matter what I screw up - God can fix it.  He already has.

Little by little, God showed me what was wrong in my life and walked by my side until I righted those wrongs.  He still does it to this day, because I still screw up all the darn time.

And God still gives me goosebumps - often.

Am I risking looking like a nutcase to a lot of people by telling this story?  Sure.

Does it bother me?  Not really.  It is what it is.  Anyone that knows me, knows that I'm the safe kind of crazy, if anything.

What I get now, that I didn't get back then...is that I didn't understand.  I didn't understand that church was 'for sinners, not for saints'.  I didn't understand that the 'hypocrites' I had labeled so long ago were, most likely, just trying their best...even when they fell short of practicing what they preached.

I didn't understand that bad Christians (truly bad...like Westboro Baptist Church, which I'm not even going to link to, because they don't deserve the traffic) were not synonymous with Christ or His teachings.

There is no darkness in Christ.  Nothing bad comes from God - the bad stuff comes from the other guy.

I never separated God and man.  I had put the sins of the world on God, when He was the one washing them away.

Silly human.

So if I have any advice for anyone reading today...it's just to pay attention.  Pay attention to every moment and die to the past every day.  You don't live in the past.

You don't deserve a thing, and you can't earn happiness...happiness is not something you achieve, it's something you decide to be.

And grace...grace is free to the masses.

You just have to know where to look.








6 comments:

  1. What an amazing story! Love how God works! It should not fascinate me when I see it, but it does - every time! Thank you for sharing your story and your heart! Glad you are with us!

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    1. Why, thank you! I really appreciate that. God never ceases to blow my mind - and I hope He never stops, either!

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  2. Thank you for sharing your heart and how amazing our God is to meet us just where we are. God is awesome. Blessings as you continue to journey with Him .

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    1. Thank you, Marilyn. What an amazing journey it has been so far - and what lies ahead will be just as amazing, I'm sure.

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  3. I absolutely loved reading your story. It is very inspiring. "Why feed the darkness" just jumped off the page for me. Thank you so much for sharing!

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    1. Thank you , Angie! I'm always blessed to hear that!

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