There comes a point in everyone’s life, even though at different ages or stages, in which they need to stop. Put down the phone. Close the laptop. Turn off the TV. And just exist in silence.
Some may need to do this for a weekend or year or, in my case, several years now. I had to slow down, which might send you for a loop. I am in a wheelchair after all. How slow do I have to be?
Well, my brain had to slow down to where my body was. It was in pain. I had no idea how much. I don’t quite feel pain the way that everyone else does, according to pain scales at the doctors. Instead of Oww, it really hurts, I tend to say things like I just can’t move this way anymore. I can’t twist. I can’t turn my head far enough.
So, in 2014 I had my gallbladder removed,. In 2017, a complete hysterectomy, the discovery and removal of endometriosis and ovarian cancer.
Health scare after health scare combined with daily pain and a complete loss of motivation, drive, positivity, productivity and a healthy dose of depression for good measure.
Just how far does God have to go to get my attention? LOL
I would have thought it wouldn’t have to be too far. I thought I paid attention. I thought I listened. I believed. I read the Bible. I studied. I thought I was doing good.
It’s really interesting how far off track we can become even when we think we’re following the path were supposed to. I set out to write about love and God and how God IS love and how we need to bring more love into the world. More God. More faith.
And yet I did not want to be secluded off into Christian bookstores, following approved Christian guidelines because I felt they produced stories that were not exactly true to Human Experience. Unrealistic? Or a little bit holier-than-thou? Sanctimonious? Off-putting? Self-righteous? They have held a standard that most people couldn’t even try to reach. Like they were better than, but maybe the truth was that I was worse than. So low I was almost irredeemable.
I apologize for any pain those words might have caused. I’m not sure exactly how to express the opinion that I used to have. I’m not even sure where I got that opinion. Why did I have it?
Whatever the reason, I chose not to write Christian books with that label. I stuck with mainstream novels, feeling that I could still put God in my books. Not quite realizing that God puts Himself where He needs to be. Creativity and writing is a gift that I was given. It is not something that I gave to myself
How did I get so far off track? Where did all these thoughts come from that don’t even line up with what I truly believe? When did I start letting them take over my worldview?
As much as I had studied and read the Bible, I had never read the entire Bible straight through. I didn’t know exactly what all the books were about or in what order they were. I’d made it through most of the New Testament, beginning towards end, comparing it to several different versions of Bibles, but I was pretty clueless overall.
Easter of 2014, I visited a nearby church. Liferoads has been wonderful in encouraging me to read the Bible. They give sermons in series so we can explore a subject fully in-depth and I can get an idea, an overview of what I’m going to be studying. Like last summer was entirely studying the book of Galatians verse by verse. I was able to get an insight into what it really said and how to apply it to my life. They just did a sermon series on meals with Jesus. They looked at different stories in the Bible in which Jesus was at a meal and what he taught during that meal.
I’ve been to many churches before, across many denominations, in which they have done a different sermon every Sunday based on whatever has occurred to the pastor during that week. And then they will jump scripture to scripture, book to book throughout that sermon to hit whatever point they’re trying to make. I would find myself flipping through the Bible so much trying to keep up that I lost everything that was being said. That style works for some people. Just not me.
Last year I read through the entire Bible and I learned one very important thing:
“Imprint these words of mine on your hearts and minds, bind them as a sign on your hands, and let them be a symbol on your foreheads.”
Deuteronomy 11:18 HCSB
Ahhh. I finally understand the purpose of having a Christian book store, Christian music, and Christian clothes. They’re not staying separate because they’re superior or because they are inferior. They are separate because they are trying to keep God’s word up front and foremost in books, and games, and clothes, scripture on cups, and cards.
Why is that so important? Because Christians are human. We are sinful, fallen beings, imperfect and full of mistakes and we need help. We believe we have someone to apologize to who will forgive us and help us be better in this life and the one to come.
We believe that someone, God, has given us the blueprint for life in the Holy Bible. And if we know what it says and if we have reminders, then we can stay on track. We can protect against the thoughts and worldviews and doubts that suddenly appear in our head and in our work without any conscious thought.
I’m so stupid.
No one cares what I think.
The world doesn’t work the way I think it should and I need to just accept that.
No one wants to hear about God. They’ll think it’s just my opinion anyway. My opinion has no more value than anyone else’s.
It’s offensive to discuss religion or politics in public or at family gatherings.
But I’m now beginning to realize how oppressive and silencing these thoughts are. The self-doubt. If anyone else in my life tried to shut me up I would fight to the death to keep that from happening. I am a woman, hear me roar! So why am I silencing myself?
Christians used to be burned, hung, crucified, banished, imprisoned. Oh yeah, I would totally face that and refuse to lie about my religion. Right?
But now I am silenced by what? A scowl? A poli-sci class I took over 20 years ago that taught me my thoughts and feelings and opinions don’t matter because I was just one of billions? A standard of behavior dictated by… Who exactly?
Whatever you want to call them they are still just as damaging.
I was pulled down to the rock bottom. Overwhelmed by pain and exhaustion because I could not sleep more than an hour or two every night due to pain. I was depressed and binge watched about 11 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy so I could cry all the tears I have ever needed to cry in my life but had held in. I couldn’t write, couldn’t focus, quit dreaming. Lost any and all sex drive.
Now, at the beginning of this post I asked the question:
Just how far does God have to go to get my attention?
I think the more accurate question is just how bad does life have to get before I ask for God’s help? Before I quit trying to handle it all on my own according to whatever is best in my own eyes? I don’t blame God for everything that has happened to me, if anything else I think He was tapping me on the shoulder for years, trying to get me to turn around and see Him there.
When I was a teenager in high school I learned about the Shield of Faith and the Helmet of Salvation and the Belt of Truth. I kept those very close, near and dear to my heart. But I somehow missed the rest of the scripture. I was trying to go through life with only half my armor on and that just does not work. Ask any soldier in the trenches.
What did I forget?
“Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. In every situation take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word. Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints. Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel. For this I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I might be bold enough in Him to speak as I should.”
Ephesians 6:10-20 HCSB
God is my strength – I pretty much know that one! I’m in a wheelchair and incredibly weak. I can barely make it through a day, so for me to have made it 43 years, it’s all because of Him!
The rulers and powers and authorities and the spiritual forces of evil in this Darkness – there are many books and blogs and counselors that will talk about demons, be they spiritual or personal or inner or just negativity and bad thoughts. I am really beginning to learn how that kind of misery spreads throughout every area of life and it is something that I have to fight against because, if I don’t, then at some point, it will overwhelm me.
Belt of Truth – mental, physical, emotional, vocal, literary truth. It has always been very important to me. Pretty much a point of pride. And therein is one of my deepest sins.
Righteous armor on my chest – wait, you mean that doesn’t say self-righteous? Cuz I was really trying to do all the right things! But the difference between righteous and self-righteous is who is justifying my actions, me or God? Who says I am doing the right thing, me or God?
Feet sandaled for readiness – you mean I have to put on my shoes? That was one of the biggest moments of whining I had when I started doing FlyLady years ago. And now God is telling me I have to put them on again. Do you know how long it has been since I’ve put on my own tennis shoes? LOL I will never be ready to go unless someone puts my shoes on. (Although, funny story, I now have to wear my sandals all day for everything. Every transfer, in order to make it safe.) And in this case that someone putting on my shoes is me. And this post is my readiness.
The shield of faith – My husband and I loved role playing video games. That’s how we spent a lot of our bonding time for years. We would take a person out for battle and collect all the loot we could and find out the whole story. And the whole way through we would have to upgrade armor. When we played Diablo, we would have to go and get armor repaired. My shield of faith was pretty dented. All the slings and arrows of the world telling me how all the religions were the same, they all pointed to the same God, the Bible was just an allegory full of myths and science had proven they were not true… I’ve had to repair my shield. It was long overdue.
Helmet of salvation -When I accepted Christ, as a teenager, I received my helmet of salvation. It’s not something I can lose. It is not something that can be taken from me. It cannot be knocked off. But people do always have the choice of taking it off themselves. I think somewhere along the lines I did and didn’t even realize it. So, I read the entire Bible and watched video sermon after video sermon and learned all kinds of things about apologetics. I have done the work to get many of my questions answered and at the end of March I got re-baptized.
Sword of the spirit – The word of God. I’ve always been good at many different memory games but I thought that scripture was one of the things I was just unable to memorize. I have come to realize lately that I remember a lot more than what I ever thought. I remember enough words to use the search feature on my Bible app.
I’ve heard since I was little that no one has a manual. We don’t have a manual for parenting. We aren’t born with a manual for how to take care of our bodies. But the real truth is that there is a manual. The Holy Bible. I have gotten enough experience as an author To Know that when you come across a book that is so completely contested, torn apart and studied word by word there are going to be people who do not hesitate with the criticism. We might just be recently able to read books like the Quran but the Holy Bible has been read and commented on and evaluated for centuries. If it did not have anything of value to offer, it would be glaringly obvious by now.
But I have also learned the lack of people reading the Bible is not the Bible’s fault. It is a beautifully written piece of literature. And has something to offer for everybody whether they are into romance, poetry, history, genealogy, astrology or more.
In my case, I think part of the problem was I did not want to take the easy road. I wanted to do my part and do my work and not constantly pray to God to take care of it for me. Little did I understand He doesn’t take away the obstacles I see. He takes away the obstacles I don’t have a clue exist. The ones that really stop me.
And on the heels of that one is my stubbornness to not want to be told what to do.
The best thing anyone can do in their lives is spend some time in silence, understanding their questions. And then do the work to find the answers. In my opinion.
I tried to do it the easy way and just ask other people more “in the know” than I was what the answer was. But that didn’t work. I was too stubborn to accept the answer. The answer created more questions because I didn’t understand why the answer was the answer. Or I just plain didn’t like what I was being told because either it was opposite what I wanted or was opposite what I had already learned in school or out in the world.
That is what I have been doing and will continue to do. And I wanted to share my journey in case anyone else finds it helpful. And because life is often lonely enough. Facebook just does not fulfill all of our social needs. LOL