Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Trip to the Wizard, and I got a HEART

I was raised in a home where alcohol was "from da devil".
Crude language was ANYTHING that might offend ANYONE...ever.
A clean house had "a place for everything and everything in its place."

Life was very black or white - grey wasn't even discussed.
My parents had the BEST of intentions. They did an awesome job.
But the eyes of this little girl saw things very differently than they MEANT her to see them.

I became very good at following the rules (except when I didn't...but I made sure to hide that side of me as much as possible.) I got very good at outwardly jumping through hoops while inwardly hiding my temptations or struggles. I couldn't let anyone think less of me. (OK, I still fight with that kind of thinking sometimes.)

From birth, I loved the idea of God and all the facts I knew about Him.
I also learned to fear Hell... and I KNEW that the way to a peaceful life, true joy, and eternity in Heaven was found through following Christ.
So...I committed my life to Him when I was in elementary school.

Unfortunately, God was still pretty vague to me.
He was a mass of wonderful, happy feelings mixed with judgement. He was sacrificial love mixed with a set of rules to follow. My view was limited, skewed, and immature.

I loved the God that others had told me about. 
The Biblical Jesus was POWERFUL, compelling - I genuinely wanted THAT God in my life, but I had only experienced Him in fleeting moments on my own. 
I depended heavily on the church and my parents to show me how to live out my faith.
The thing is, the church and my parents are very human - and flawed. I still ended up seeing Christianity as a set of expectations to meet and felt a need to "earn" God's love.
I knew I could never be perfect, so I fought against that flawed version of God, because it didn’t seem RIGHT…and in my fight, sometimes I ended up fighting against the TRUE God as well.
In Hebrews 5:11-14, scripture compares spiritual maturity to the growth of a child.  A baby drinks milk and moves on to meat as he grows. New Christians start with the basics of faith and move on to a deeper, more mature faith over time.
Honestly, I was a spiritual milk drinker for 30 years. 
Once in a while I might chew on a piece of meat...but my diet consisted mostly of milk that others gave me.

Without diving into God's word on my own, I became what my old pastor referred to as a tin soldier. I was a soldier for Christ that still felt a bit hollow. A soldier who wanted something REAL – but I wasn’t sure how it was supposed to happen.
I looked like a lot of my fellow church attenders - We knew how to “look good” and how to “fight the battle”, but we weren't filled with the LIFE and POWER found in the heart of the battle was HARD. I was a Christian with an inside that was still needing MORE. I was a tin soldier.

There were weak moments when I was tempted to fill my yearning for more with sin...and I gave in. The conviction of the Holy Spirit rocked my world each time I climbed into the muck...but in I would climb. I told myself I was an ANGEL compared to my peers...I RARELY crossed the "acceptable" line. (Anything to justify my weak moments.)
I loved Jesus, but since my view of love was that of an infant - confused, uneducated, needy - I also acted like a child at times and rebelled. And I didn't rebel by swearing or by gossiping (or any of the more "acceptable" sins). If I was going to feel guilty, I might as well make it count. I would get drunk or fool around with my boyfriend...I even tried smoking pot a few times. *insert shocked faces by many people who know me*

Knowing truth and choosing to act against it…is one of the darkest places a person can be.
In a spiritual battle, choosing the losing side is bound to cause pain.

God was able to use the pain I experienced to help me understand that there really IS supposed to be MORE to faith. I started seeking this "more" through accountability groups, church services, worship music. It helped me feel like I was DOING something. Getting married and becoming a parent also peeled away a few more layers that were keeping me from finding MORE. (It really changes things when you realize you are a child of God and that HE feels toward you the way you feel toward your hoops required).

FINALLY, in my 30s, I led a Bible Study group and was “forced” to read my Bible and journal my prayers daily for over a year. I did it because “I had to be an EXAMPLE to others in the class”.
It was the first time EVER that I actually spent consistent time with God for more than a month or two.
When you spend time with someone, you start getting to know them…and when you spend a LOT of time with someone, you can even take on some of their characteristics - without even trying. (just ask Clay, he’s turned me into him)

I quit just knowing ABOUT God and started realizing how His heart beats.
I studied about Jesus and the example He set for us when He walked this earth. He showed love to sinners. He let them disagree with Him. (They had that choice.) He kept leaders in the church (Pharisees/Sadducees) accountable. He made it clear to them that faith is not about “looks” or laws.
In my time reading and praying, I built a relationship with Jesus - and became a REAL, LIVE soldier with a heart that is at peace (most of the time) and that beats for something bigger than myself. Something bigger than the world. Something bigger than my own marriage or family. (THAT was a hard lesson to learn and a whole other blog.)

I wish it hadn't taken me 30 years.
I wish I would have avoided some of the pain I caused myself in my rebellion, but wishing won't change my past. Instead, I choose to revel in the fact that God can use our pain for HIS GLORY.

Ephesians 2:10 says, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
God has work for ALL of us to do.
Yes, we have ALL probably taken a few rabbit trails on the paths He has for us, but all is not lost. We can help others AVOID those same rabbit trails through sharing our experiences and by modeling the life of REAL soldiers - with hearts that beat in rhythm with God's - fighting on the behalf of others, defeating the enemy, and giving our lives for the FREEDOM we can have through a relationship with Christ.

Part of MY work is writing to you…and loving you even if you think I'm ridiculous.
I plan to encourage you on your path EVERY CHANCE I GET.
I will show you love  – even if you still have more hard lessons to learn. 
And I will pray that you can escape further pain, by knowing TRUTH and God’s perspective and plan for your life. (Not the plan the world has for you OR the plan your parents may have had for you OR the plan you've been scheming about while seeking more...but the plan that GOD has for you.)

I shared a bit about my journey in hopes that you also might experience making a commitment to Christ, or by seeking spiritual meat on your own rather than being satisfied with mere milk, and by KNOWING God. I'm so thankful He's not just a set of rules.

OK, that’s enough words..for now.
Press on,


  1. What an incredible post! It certainly struck a cord with me...although still caught off guard with you and pot :) It was like this post was written just for me. Thank you for your honesty and for sharing your heart!

  2. Becky, yet again I'm stunned by how much we are alike. My story mirrors your story... almost exactly. Raised in a Christian "black and white" home, 'became very good at following the rules (except when I didn't...but I made sure to hide that side of me as much as possible.). ..accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior (maybe as a preschooler?) but still just a tin soldier looking for something to fill the empty (which would occasionally take the form of self-indulgent rebellious behavior that would then lead to very unsatisfying and unfortunate consequences – I’m sure you and I could compare some interesting stories.)

    Insert here a “rocking me to my knees (or maybe that should be flat on my face)” life experience, and being dragged to a Bible Study/Discipleship class at the age of 30… there’s where I first really started to get to KNOW Jesus. Like you said “It was the first time EVER that I actually spent consistent time with God for more than a month or two.
    When you spend time with someone, you start getting to know them…and when you spend a LOT of time with someone, you can even take on some of their characteristics - without even trying.” Yes – finally in my 30’s I came to have a real relationship Jesus.

    What a wonderful adventure it is to know Him and be filled by Him. I love how he changes us… and you’re so right that he gives us a heart that beats for something bigger than ourselves, bigger than my own marriage or family (but I’m thanking Him for THAT even) – even bigger than the world. I’m only about 10 now. SO there’s still a lot of changing going on. That’s true for all of us. We need to encourage each other, and share our stories with each other.

    Thank YOU so much for sharing your heart. God is so good… and I too am so thankful He’s not just a set of rules!!! 

    I love you!


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