I am allergic to checklists, prescriptions, and rules for Christian living. Come to think of it, I’m not allergic to this mentality. I downright hate it with every fiber of my being.
The Bible is not a rule book. It’s a beautiful record of God’s love for His people and His plan for redemption through His Son. His Word is living and active and cuts open our hearts so that His healing can begin.
And don’t think I can’t spot when I’m being manipulated into something other than what God intended. Don’t tell me the “shoulds” and the “oughts” of your own image of what you want me to be. I will reject them. I will scream. I will run from the trappings.
Such an instance occurred in my life a couple of months ago. It wasn’t an isolated incident. It was merely the final straw in a string.
I couldn’t get to my car fast enough that day. And when the vehicle doors shut, I lost it. Crying. Screaming. I couldn’t catch my breath. How and why do we do this to each other? How can we do it to ourselves?
Later that night, I stomped around my house until my ever-patient husband suggested I contact a trusted, wise individual in my life. So I did.
The message I sent was raw. Honest. Hurting. And she received it well.
Her response dripped with gentleness and grace, a stark contrast to what I had just experienced. I set about taking her advice in all areas, some of which I had been doing just to maintain sanity. She reminded me to keep running to God, and connecting with my husband in all ways, and laughing with our girls whenever possible.
She reminded me that my struggle with not with the men of flesh and blood, but with the principalities. She encouraged me to make and keep regular time with God, and to pray for those around me, imagining them set free in the fullness of Jesus and the Spirit.
So I did. Oh, how I did. I kept opening my book of Common Prayer each morning and praying for others, just as it prompts. She called intimacy with God “deep warfare.” Her words tucked into my heart and became a battle cry of sorts.
Paralleled with these struggles was a quickly approaching disappointment—the realization that the reason we moved to Kansas did not actually exist. Well, didn’t exist anymore. I don’t know. What I do know is that we suffered a great loss when all was said and done.
We wrestled for weeks over this situation. I prayed. Harder than I have ever prayed in my life. I read my Bible. I prayed with Jeff, late into the night. Still, it felt like we lost in the end.
I can’t describe the pain still taking place in my heart.
This is the point when I’m prone to self-destruction. I haven’t opened my Common Prayer book in over a week. I miss it. Truly I do. But I’m angry and hurting, and I don’t hear anything God is saying right now. I tend to have an “I don’t give a flipping care” attitude in this stage, which is generally hurtful to others. It’s probably better for me to just run and hide from everyone and everything.
I’ve set aside some of those wise words spoken to me because I thought they merely existed for that season of two months, with the parallel discouragements and confusion taking place.
Turns out, I’m more confused than ever right now. And lost.
And today, as I was driving around in some fields out here in west Olathe (A place I often get lost, literally. Don’t ask.), it occurred to me—isn’t it all warfare? Isn’t every day and every difficulty a fight for our hearts and our lives?
I reject checklists and rules because the Christian community in the first twenty years of my life built shame into me with these methods, whether they meant to or not, and the disappointments in my life cause me to question if God is good or even exists. But if it hadn’t been those things, it would have been something else the enemy took and twisted, as he always does.