It’s been 5 weeks since my miracle occurred. None of the circumstances in my life have changed, but EVERYTHING has changed. Why? What changed?
If a full emotional “love tank” is a 10, I used to wake up at a -5 every morning, just trying to get back to 0 again. If I couldn’t accomplish something pretty quickly, or if something happened to derail my day, I’d feel like I was sliding backwards on a slippery hill, grasping to hold on, but ending up with hands full of mud that I now had to go wash up before I could even continue up that hill again. -10? Oh, how can I ever get ahead?
I would explain to John that I had this “ick” inside me and I couldn’t get rid of it. I was all tied up in knots inside and it would fester until it came out in some sort of hissy fit. Inwardly, I would manufacture situations that would lead to a fit, just so I could to get it out. But there was no relief in it, only anger at myself and guilt over throwing the fit, heaping on top of the ever-growing pile of “ick”. When will this cycle end?
Maggie Youngs put this cycle into words in her song “Far From Perfect” from the K-Rock original album, The Beginning: Songs from Young Hearts. At 15 years old, Maggie nailed what I’ve been struggling with for 43 years:
Sometimes I wonder
How I got stuck in my flaws again
And I often ponder all my sin
Feels like I’ll never win
So I’ll try again and in the same old trend
It feels like the end
I keep falling short but somehow you see
Past the imperfections and just want me
I’m far from perfect
But you think I’m worth it and see beauty in me
I’m miles from flawless, and to be honest
Sometimes I’m cruelly and brutally mean
So now I’m on my knees
Saying forgive me
But I had stopped saying “forgive me.” For most of my life, I had a voice in my head that said, “Don’t say you’re sorry, just don’t do it.” In other words, “Don’t do anything that you’ll need to apologize for. Just be perfect!” I wasn’t perfect, but I kept trying.
Early in my relationship with Jesus, I figured that I was new at this and he’d cut me some slack for a while. But the longer our relationship went on, the more I felt like a failure, making the same mistakes over and over again. I could see God slowly shaking his head at me, so disappointed in me, saying, “Don’t say you’re sorry, just don’t do it.” The harder I tried, the worse it got. As Maggie wrote, I got “stuck in my flaws again” and again and again.
I could quote scripture, trying to convince myself that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1), but I didn’t believe it because I FELT condemned. Even though I have this “cake” life and I “should” be more grateful, all I felt was hopeless to ever get it right and guilty for not being more grateful.
On September 9, 2014, I answered a survey on Beth Moore’s blog. These were 2 of the questions I answered:
1) My biggest struggle as a woman is: my emotions. Just the smallest thing can set me off and “ruin my day”. But wonderful things can transform my day. I wish I were more stable.
2) One word that describes me right now: Irritable. I make my family walk on eggshells way too much. I think I’m too controlling over my kids and my husband, but I don’t know how to keep the peace without losing mine.
How do I keep the peace? Well, Jesus didn’t ask us to be peace keepers, but peace makers. Switchfoot has a song called “BA55” that repeats over and over again:
I believe you’re the fire that could burn me clean
And let my soul fly
That’s what I wanted. “Burn me clean and let my soul fly.” One time. Get it over with. Give me an “ah-ha” moment that will change everything. Everywhere I looked, I was searching for that “ah-ha” answer that would somehow “fix” everything. Make peace in my mind.
I heard the phrase “Let Go and Let God” and it intrigued me. I kept asking, “What does that mean?” and one day few years back, I believe I got my answer. Walking down the hallway with a basket of dirty clothes, I asked, “Lord, what does it mean to Let Go and Let God?”. I dropped the dirty clothes basket in the middle of the hallway as I heard the answer clear as a bell: “Moment by moment”.
I’ve thought about those three words over and over again, but somehow I kept tying them back to “Don’t say you’re sorry, just don’t do it.” Moment by moment, just be perfect. Yeah, how’s that working for you, Beth?
In the Apostle Paul’s 2nd letter to the Corinthians, he talks about “taking captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Here’s that verse in context:
3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NIV)
Did I have a stronghold that needed to be demolished? You bet I did. So, how do you let go and let God? By taking every thought captive, moment by moment.
When God chased me down 5 weeks ago with the words “Jesus redeemed that”, He gave me a way to take every thought captive, moment by moment. Every time a negative thought, guilty thought, anxious thought, condemning thought, hopeless thought, overwhelmed thought came into my mind, I would declare “Jesus redeemed that!” Jesus bought and paid for every single one of those thoughts. They don’t belong to me. And, moment by moment, God redeemed my mind. Every time I spoke “Jesus redeemed that,” it was like God took out a “Paid in Full” rubber stamp and slammed it down on that thought that didn’t belong to me and filed it away in the “circular file”. Gone!
I noticed right away that it became very, very quiet in my head. When I described to John what it used to feel like to live in this body, with these voices in my head screaming at me constantly, he said, “Honey, that’s called Schizophrenia”. Yeah, no kidding. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. I know what that is.
And now I feel like the man from Mark 5 who lived among the tombs. After Jesus redeemed this man’s mind, the people saw him “sitting there, dressed and in his right mind.” That’s me. The voices are gone and I am sitting here, dressed and in my right mind. Jesus told that man, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” That’s what I’m doing. The Lord has had mercy on me. I know He can do the same for you.
Maggie Youngs ends her song with these words before the last chorus:
I’m so thankful I’ve been redeemed
I’m so thankful my slate is clean
I’m so thankful I’ve been set free
Me too, Maggie! Thank you for sharing your heart with us.
If you’d like to support our 15 year old friend and rest of the K-Rock kids, here’s a link to their album on iTunes: The Beginning: Songs from Young Hearts.
And if you’d like to read more about how God chased me down 5 weeks ago, click here for “The Whole Story“.
2015 update: Here’s what I learned about the difference between saying “forgive me” over and over again and saying Thank You.