I’ve come to a crossroad in my Christian walk where the is this humbling realization that I have thought very highly of myself. Where actually I’m not as versed in Bible stories and Scripture memory as I actually thought myself to be. Realizing where I’m actually at and being okay with that information is a relatively new concept for me. I can be ok with knowing where I’m at and I can hate it enough not to stay there.
My fear was if I questioned the fact that this whole Christian thing was a sham then I denounced my faith and when God turned out to be real I was pretty much done for. Grappling with that fear and these questions I’ve found is pretty much a necessary step in the this journey where I have to utilize my own head and heart knowledge to arrive at a conclusion that this faith is something worth losing friends, not being liked, and possibly even dying for. The core Truths of Christianity are being sewn into my children because I firmly believe Jesus lived, died on a cross, rose from the dead three days later, and will return to bring us home to Glory. However, the faith aspect of having to accept that I wasn’t one of the Twelve Disciples, I didn’t grow up with the Lord and see Him work miracles has lately been something for me to stop and ponder.
This season of starting over and being leveled down to just myself and the Lord has brought me for this new journey. One of battling a mild depression and trusting God to bring me out on the other side more sure of who He is and who I am in Him. Learning things like Pilate is pronounced “pilot”, the racism involved in the story of The Good Samaritan, to name a few, is honestly just embarrassing. Like, I should already know this very basic stuff if I’m going to train and raise up my children to love this God I talk about so much. Watching K’s Bible story shows and reading her Jesus Storybook Bible has taught me the Christian fundamentals right alongside her. As someone whose pride had puffed her up into some Pharisee, just accepting that the foundation for my faith is still being built is monumental.
I don’t have to have all the answers to be an effective leader for my children. Nor do I have to know it all to be assured of my salvation. There’s no Old Testament Pop Quiz you have to get at least a 70% on to spend eternity in Heaven. That removes the need for grace and the cross. If all I had to do was memorize the names of all the New Testament books and tell you which author of the Gospels was a doctor (Luke, by the way) then I’d be set and could go on not investing in deciding for myself why it is that I believe what I do.
And maybe it’s not even doubt about the existence of God. Whatever it is, I’ll journey through the grappling of what it means to have a relationship with Christ that’s more important than girlfriends, social media showing me what you did this weekend, or a date with my husband. Maybe it looks like kicking it old school and watching some Veggie Tales and picking up my on version of a children’s Bible to highlight and make notes in the margin. But there has to be a deeper foundation than this. And there’s going to be.
So here’s the premise: 40 days to a deeper foundation. 40 days to read all I can get my hands on starting with A Hunger For God by John Piper (there’s a free PDF download if you don’t want to shell out the cash on Amazon for a hard copy), The Ragamuffin Gospel, Desperate, and obviously, the Bible. To abide with Christ and disconnect from the world as best I can. 40 days to limit distractions, to Sabbath frequently, and be all in. I’ve gotten really good at having one foot in the world and another in The Word. It’s a horrible place to be. I’m so over it.
Social media-blogs (besides my own to track progress, insights, etc), Facebook, Instagram, and the like are unnecessary distractions. The desire to sit idly on my phone or computer spacing out is just a behavior with no edifying purposes. In fact, for me, it’s a huge stumbling block to not be present with my family. So my phone will stay in my room and during times of boredom or a desire to escape the screaming of my children my prayer is Scripture and Biblical commentaries will help not only validate the convictions in my heart that I need to make leaps and bounds in my faith, but also allows for Christ to reveal to me my anger, discontentment, and desire to be most anywhere but where He has me.
Desserts/Drive-Thru Latte’s- It’s so not a secret that my addiction to food and emotional eating is a huge part of my life. May I find that the sweetness of time with the Lord far surpasses some Starbucks or lemon cookies. And I love me some lemon cookies. This should be fun.
Unnecessary spending- This one is the hardest for me. But I have to do it. Not only from a financial standpoint does it just bless my family but the level of discontentment in my life is at a record high. I’ll have to discuss some in depth ways to get some accountability from Chris here but initially my thought is I create a list, discuss the list, and buy only what’s on the list one day a week. Emergency trips or added items to the list are to be discussed beforehand. This sounds a bit controlling and legalistic but if I have you a glimpse into my spending habits you’d wonder why I hadn’t put myself on lock down before. I don’t do well with grey area. Chris put it perfectly to me this week: “Just because we could use something doesn’t mean we need it.” Touche, yo. I can use 80% of what’s at Target. I don’t need extra throw pillows and storage bins and clearance coffee mugs. They spruce up our home but do nothing more than feed my addiction that’s, quite frankly, out of control
It’s not about legalism or in some way seeing how holy I can be. It’s about denying myself the things I ultimately idolize in an effort to recognize the goodness and fulfillment of Christ. Loving the Giver, not the gifts. Ultimately phones, technology, food, and possessions are gifts-good things. But over time they’ve distracted me and I’ve begun checking the box of what I think God wants from me instead of just listening. And obeying. Because I don’t obey very well. At all. Ever.
All in hopes of having God make Himself more real to me. I’m reminded of Matthew 4:7: “Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” If He chooses not to do so in the confines of my little experiment then then that doesn’t disprove Him. I’m not testing the Lord. I’m earnestly seeking Him, so incredibly optimistic that He’ll show up and totally wreck my life for Him where I can find joy and rest instead of trying to be my own means to that end. Because God will not fit into my genie bottle. But I’m praying with great hope and expectation specifically that He delivers me from fears and anxieties, lays aside my doubts of my salvation, and genuinely builds a love for Him above all His gifts.
My fear in verbalizing any of this is that God will call my bluff. That He WILL stretch me. That I WILL face hardships and opportunities to depend on Him alone. I’m afraid I’ll actually NEED Christ because for the past 28 years things have gone alone fairly well and I’ve lived in this comfortable bubble where I’ve managed to get through life pretty decently. My fear is I will have a Job experience and my world will be turned upside down. Deep down it sounds like I just want Christ to come alongside me and let my life continue with prosperity and menial growth as opposed to realizing that regardless of my home, our income, my marriage, children, or health going along swimmingly and committing to saying, “God You alone are enough. You can have my stuff. Even my new shoes. And my health,” sounds a lot like “Take everything I love and then make me love You more.” Real talk: I don’t know how to say that. I have no idea how to face my own mortality and lack of control and whole-heartedly mean that apart from Christ I have nothing. But I’m optimistic that it’ll happen. Maybe not in 40 days or 40 years but ultimately Christ will be enough and I’ll be kicking myself for idolizing the meals I create and my Target trips for so long.
How can you help? Please pray God will show up in ways I can’t even put into words. That I’l be more accepting of myself and all the quirks God created within me. I’d love to persevere and look back on this time sweetly and be reminded of all the ways God has infinitely blessed my life without looking for my own ways to add to His provisions. Please check in and be kind to me as I deny myself in an effort to grow deep roots in Christ and decrease my reliance on the world to fulfill me.
I already jacked up the “don’t buy coffee rule” today so tomorrow we start tomorrow. I’ll probably not return phone calls and text messages promptly. I’ll forget to tell you happy birthday or congrats on your pregnancy. I’ll maybe even get a bit catty without my sugar and my Target but I trust you to be gracious to me, spur me on, and allow me to disconnect in an effort to reconnect to what matters. I’ll document and update as I feel led and would love encouragement along the way. It’s in God’s hands. And I’m so looking forward to what He’s got in store. Come on with it, May 25- I’ve got high hopes that as I wrap this up and reflect that the post will be so good, so full of thankfulness and insight that my world will be less about repeating what I’ve been taught and more about making this faith my own. Here we go.