the real story…
In my last blog about humility, I totally glossed over how the reading the Word has changed me. I said, “It brought me back to life. It filled me up. It changed my whole countenance. It showed me where my weak areas were. It gave me a deep awe and appreciation for God’s love. It softened my hard edges. It made me a bit radical. Ok, a lot radical.”
I made it sound so… nice.
IT’S SO MUCH EASIER TO MAKE IT SOUND NICE than talk about the reality behind what I said. The real stuff is ugly and hard to admit. But, I had a few people ask me to clarify what exactly changed… so here it is. Here’s what really happened when I starting digging in and reading the bible for over an hour a day.
“It brought me back to life” was code for I was battling depression and losing. Since my last baby was born, I’ve been stuck at home because he is so fussy it’s almost impossible to leave the house (It’s not fun to be the mom in public with the hysterical baby who won’t calm down). Sleep? Well, sleep is a fun memory I have from years ago, but it’s not something I do much of now. In case you were wondering, sleep deprivation does not help depression. Plus, my hormones were (and are) completely crazy and seem resistant to normalizing; kind of like my toddler is resistant to obeying. Hormones = not my fav.
I’m pretty sure the postpartum depression never lifted because it was too tired, just like me.
But seriously, I felt like every part of me that was me, died. There was no time and no energy for anything “Minta.” I was a mom-machine, and my existence felt so unimportant.
Sometimes, when I was home alone with the littles, I would find a pillow and scream into it as loud as I could until I would lose my voice. That’s super embarrassing to admit, but it’s the truth. I had reached the end of myself.
I’m not exactly sure why, but after a few weeks of diligently reading the Word, the depression started lifting. I felt something I hadn’t felt in a long time: hope. When I read the word and prayed in the morning, I could tangibly feel life coming back into me. It might sound crazy, but it’s the truth.
The Bible says the Word of God is alive and powerful (Hebrews 4:12) and IT IS.
It replaced the lies that I was believing with the truth…which let light into the darkness.
It reminded me of how sovereign and majestic and glorious God is…which became my anchor.
It detailed how loved and cared for I am…which made me feel valued.
Let me be clear, I am NOT saying that reading the Word will fix all depression. There is a time and a place for medication and seeking professional help. I’ve been there also, and am so grateful for how God used both of those things to help me. But this time, the Word made all the difference.
“It changed my whole countenance” was code for I was harboring bitterness toward a few people who had hurt me and carried resentment for my circumstances. No matter how hard I tried to hide it, both were manifested in my words and behavior. I could get angry so fast, even when trying to stay calm. It was always there, lurking just below the surface, ready to pounce.
I have a quick mind and a sharp tongue: which comes in handy when writing a blog but gets me into trouble when dealing with people.
So.many.people say they can never come up with the right response in the heat of an argument, and are frustrated because it comes to them later, when it’s over.
I can think of it at exactly the right moment and hurl it viciously out of my mouth and land it squarely on the heart of my victim and cause the intended damage. It’s awful. I sit around afterward and think of all the kind and graceful things I should have said instead. #remorse. Trust me, be SO THANKFUL if you cannot find the “right” words in the heat of battle; it’s a gift.
Even though I was trying to follow Christ, the unforgiveness in my heart was slowly seeping into other areas, making it harder and harder for me to demonstrate the kind of love we are called to give. It was like a weed taking over a garden. It made me feel justified in my righteous anger. It blinded me to the power of the radical love and grace Christ asks us to extend.
It made my heart hard, so I was unable to tame my tongue. James 3 says that if we could control our tongues, we could be perfect and control ourselves in every other way… and my tongue revealed the true condition of my heart: it was overgrown with weeds.
But the more I read the word, the more convicted I got about my lack of forgiveness and grace for others. I came to the passage in Romans 12 that explains we are to pray for, bless, feed, and help our enemies. OUCH. That was not me. I heard this quiet voice asking me to give grace to everyone…especially the ones who don’t deserve it…especially the ones who hurt me. And it took me a few days, but I received it and started to extend it. And as I chose to do that again and again, over time, it changed me.
My husband, bless him for putting up with me, said that he has noticed I am less angry, way quicker to apologize, extend more grace, and am more stable.
That’s a lot of “weeding” I had to do, huh? Thank goodness God is patient. And also my husband. I still have a long way to go. In all honesty, today was not my best day, so it’s hard for me to write that I have made progress when today was more of a setback in the tongue department. Fix me Jesus.
Finally, “it made me radical” is code for reading the Word made me so on fire to share what I have found that I absolutely refuse to keep quiet. The more I read, the more I understand that we serve a God who loves us with an unconditional and monumental love that is beyond description. He wants our entire being, our whole heart, our everything to be devoted to him alone.
You know what I’ve found? It is worth giving up EVERYTHING for! So I am doing just that. I’m selling out. Running in reckless abandon. Talking about it all the time (ask my kids – I can find any excuse to preach). I am determined to not be lukewarm or watered down or half-hearted about my faith because I believe we are called to be more.
Reading the Word has given me the courage to overcome my fears and start writing about the redeeming love of God in my story. I was too scared to write for most of my adult life; scared about what people would think and say if they saw the real me. The Word helped me realize that none of that matters – I seek his approval alone. It’s a pretty great feeling to overcome a long time fear.
So there you have it. The ugly, messy, really beautiful reality of how the Word has worked in my life. The more I study it, the more aware I become of how extravagant God’s love and grace is, and how badly I need him. And it has humbled me.
Before I end this post, I want to invite you to be “radical” with me. There is nothing in life that will fill up your soul like chasing Jesus will. Nothing. And it starts with reading the Word. If you aren’t in the habit, try reading a Psalm and a Proverb every day and build from there. I promise it’s time well spent.
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