I Forgot to Decrease

I’ll say it, this has been and continues to be a hard year.

I’ve grown apart from people I thought I would be super close to forever.

I’ve felt lonely and discouraged.

I’ve felt my heart get bruised.

There have been many nights where my doubts set in–doubts about myself, about others, about God and His love for me–nights where I want to say “I can’t do this” and just stop living.

I realized my problem the other day: it’s all about me. 

IMG_0726

My sadness. 

My loneliness.

My struggles.

My insecurities. 

I make it all about me, and forget about Him.

His sacrifice.

His suffering for us.

His love. 

His people. 

His purpose for me. 

His plan. 

Of course, I feel worthless when I have forgotten the One of whom my worth is found.

Of course, I feel hopeless when I have forgotten the One whose love and righteousness is what my hope is built on.

When you don’t cling to what is good, you start to slip back to what is bad, even if it’s just a mindset at first.

37944B79-6E18-41AE-B5A6-7DD800F25DFE

I don’t have anything to really write today, I haven’t in a while, which is why I have been a bit absent, I’m sorry. There’s so much in my head but it is all just a tangled mess–a scribbled note across a piece of paper that isn’t coherent in the morning to the one that wrote it.

I wish I was some inspirational person with something helpful to put out there, but one of my insecurities with writing this blog is that I’m not.

Sometimes, I get caught up in the idea that I’m supposed to be perfect to tell others about the God who is, but that’s not true.

People have called me inspirational, but that’s not me, that’s just God and His word.

I’m not one to give advice, I’m not one to look to, so why do I put my thoughts out there like they will help someone when I still click off and do the exact same thing I wrote about not doing?

Why do I give encouragement when I am just as discouraged? What gives me the right to think I, another flawed human as any of the rest, can make a difference?

I don’t know… 

I used to want to be a writer, I used to dream that my words would mean something to someone. Now, I only pray they mean something to God, and maybe just maybe, I can be a light to someone who takes the time to read blogs anymore.

All I know is I want to bring glory to God in all aspects, even through the tips of my fingers.

So if you’re reading this, thank you.

We’re in this battle together.

We’ve got this.

Don’t lose focus of Him.

My Story // Part 5: The Start

The day after I was baptized I really wanted to find a way to tell others about my change of belief.
I sat down and created a video, which I find embarrassing now due to my lack of editing skills, but then I just wanted something to post.

What End When This Pandemic Does (10)

My mom shared it on her Facebook shortly after I uploaded it to my youtube account and it wasn’t long before it had ten likes… and hundreds of comments. 

All of our old friends and people we use to worship with were commenting that we had joined a cult, that we had been tricked into legalism, and that we were brainwashed.

I found the last comment interesting because looking at and evaluating everything, I realized I had been brainwashed into never thinking for myself for years, not the other way around.

It was overwhelming.

Then a few of the men and women from our new church started responding to those comments with verses, Greek words and definitions, it was amazing to see how logical their responses were versus the knee-jerk reactions of “This is untrue! How could you?”

I got a text from a friend, “Hey, I heard about your baptism… my parents and my siblings had a bible study together today, I don’t want to really talk about what you believe so our friendship isn’t ruined, but they warned me that you would try to convert me.” 

I didn’t really know how to respond, that wasn’t the last time a friend told me that their parents had “warned” them about me and my “cult”.

So Grace, do you believe the rest of us are going to hell?” Became a question a few people would ask me in front of everyone. 

The first time, I was taken aback, “I am not God,” I told them and the people listening in, “I do not see your soul. Have you obeyed the Bible?” 

“You know, according to what you believe now, your dad is going to hell because he hasn’t been baptized like you and your mom.”  they retorted.

“I have to get to class.” 

I noticed that a lot of my friends started keeping their distance.

“Where’s everyone else?” asked one of my friends as he walked up to me in the hallway.

“I don’t know,” I told him.

I looked up and noticed that he was staring down at me, “You seem different, have you seen my friend Grace? She’s super short with curly hair, freckles, and usually is sad and making sort of funny jokes.”  

“Nope, haven’t seen her,” I told him, and then added, “I became a Christian over Christmas break.” 

He looked confused, “Weren’t you already a Christian?” 

“I was wrong about a lot of things. We should sit down and talk sometime.” 

“I’m pretty sure you’ve been a Christian, but as long as you’re happy, I’m happy, and I’m glad you’re finally happy.” He told me, patting me on the shoulder.

I opened my mouth to say something, but he stopped me, “I’m not interested, sorry, Grace.” 

IMG_2560

Obviously, when I heard that my congregation was going to have an evangelism class, I jumped at the chance to join.

I not only wanted to know how to tell others about the truth, but I wanted to know how to respond to my friends when it seemed like any conversation about the Bible with them was just a minefield.

“You’re doing too much,” my therapist told me one session,

“allow me to play devil’s advocate: you right now are on a high, but are you ready for a low? Are you ready to crash?” 

That was my second to last session.

Her words rang in my ears though as we drove away after my last appointment.: “You’re doing too much. You’re on a high. You are going to crash.” 

Did I crash? 

I’m not going to lie and say that I healed automatically.

I’m not going to lie and say that I never spent another sleepless night, crying, and struggling to breathe because it felt like my chest was caving in along with the world around me.

I’m not going to lie and say it was easy. 

Going to services was hard, being around people who grew up in truth and didn’t seem to understand that I hadn’t, was hard.

“Who doesn’t know that?” people would scoff in Bible class, and I would sit there quietly because it was the first time I had ever heard anything like it before in my life.

“I wish I was like you and hadn’t grown up in the church,” someone told me once. 

“No, you don’t,” I told him.

Sometimes I felt like I would never catch up, sometimes I still feel that way and forget being a faithful Christian is a marathon and not a sprint. 

There were so many times I cried to my mom because I felt so alone like no one understood how confusing it was, and how hard it was to lose everything I once held onto.

I’m so behind, it’s evident that I’m so behind. I feel too jaded to be among some of these people. I don’t feel worthy to be here. Those were all thoughts that went through my head when I walked into our church building. I don’t think people understood why I cried through a lot of the hymns, I was so thankful but tired and discouraged at the same time.

IMG_2551

I started using the evangelism class I was taking. 

My first study was with my dad, throughout studying with him, I couldn’t read him at all. He said very little. I couldn’t get him to talk about religion, when I did, he would refer to it as “what your mom and you believe” and leave it at that.

I’ve always been close to my dad, he was the one I went to with all my problems, my rock, my foundation, and not being connected to him in the most important way, and knowing that every time he left for work could be my last to ever see him in all of eternity, was so hard.

I would cry and beg God for him to listen during church after every study. I would beg for God to give him time.

One day, I was riding with him and we had been riding in silence as usual, when he broke it. “If it’s true, then what about Billy Graham? What about all the people who I know are way smarter than me and know their Bible better? How can they be wrong when they are so much smarter than I could ever be?” 

“It’s the Bible versus the doctrine of men, Dad.” 

He didn’t say anything again for the rest of the drive.

“I don’t think he’s even listening or reading his Bible,” I told a friend in tears one night after worship.

Months passed.

One Wednesday night, I heard the sound of water filling the baptistry after services, “Who is getting baptized?” I asked, but no one knew.

“Grace,” an elder walked up to me and hugged me, I looked at him, confused, “your dad is about to be baptized.”

I stared at him, what?

I felt my whole body go numb. It didn’t feel real as everyone found a place to sit back down in the pews, I looked across the room and made eye contact with my mom, she was in shock as well.

I felt disbelief and joy as I watched my dad get baptized for the remission of his sins that night.

“I was listening to the sermons and to you and your mom,” my dad told me afterward, “I’m sorry for being so stubborn.” 

It was surreal.

Our family was fully a Christian family, finally.

signature

Don’t Be Pulled Down

When I was younger there was this overgrown shrub/tree that we kids use to climb after church services. I remember once trying to pull a friend up from the ground onto the limb I was on because she couldn’t get a grip to climb up herself.

Obviously, that didn’t work.

Another time though, I remember sitting on that limb, legs dangling, and a boy who I fought on and off with at the time (I wasn’t the sweetest kid) came along, looked up, saw his opportunity,  grabbed one of my legs and yanked.

I remember being on that limb one second and on the ground the next.

As a teacher said at summer camp once: It is easier for someone to pull you down to their level than it is for you to pull them up to yours. 

Sadly, at the time, I wasn’t clever enough to come to that conclusion so I didn’t use it as a comeback, but the story and the point in it still stands.

I wasn’t able to lift my friend up to me, but with one tug from that scrawny boy’s arms, I lost my balance and came crashing down to his feet.

Don't Be Pulled Down

Have you ever felt like you were sitting on a limb?

I’m not talking about one of those broad, sturdy tree limbs, but those small, might-break-off-with-the-wind type of limbs.

You feel unstable like you could accidentally slip off at any second. You’re unsure and you’re clinging onto that limb for dear life.

Sometimes there are weeks where I feel like I’m clinging onto the Bible for dear life.

 

Do you feel that tug on your leg? 

-A friend tries to get you to go to that party.

-Someone tries to convince you that it’s okay to wear shorter shorts, don’t be a prude.

-A family member says “what is the harm of listening to this music?” while turning up a song that wouldn’t honor God.

Do you feel that tug turn into a yank? 

IMG_0620

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul had a problem.

The problem was that Christians were starting to believe false teachings, people were tugging at their legs, trying to pull them down.

In verse 30 Pauls asks them, “And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?” 

In verse 33 he says this:

“Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.”

I like to go through verses and look at the Greek words and find the full meanings behind words, firstly because it helps me understand better and not risk taking it out of context, and secondly because it makes me think about it more, so that is what I want to do briefly here.

  • Deceived, Planao: to be led astray from the right way.
  • Evil, Kakos: of bad nature (habit), not as it ought to be, mode of thinking, feeling, or acting.
  • Communications, Homilia: companionship.
  • Corrupt, Phtheiro: to be destroyed, to perish.
  • Manners, Ethos: morals, character, habits.

Don’t be led astray from the right way, evil and not as it ought to be ways of thinking, feeling, or acting in a companion will cause destruction and death to your good morals, character, and habits.

I know that was a terribly structured sentence, but please bear with me.

IMG_0576 (1)

 “Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.”-Proverbs 9:6

Also, Proverbs 13:20, Ephesians 5:6, 2 Thessalonians 2:10, 1 Corinthians 5:6.

Forsake the foolish, and live, and go in the way of understanding. 

Those are powerful words, aren’t they?

Yet, it can be hard to forsake the foolish, especially when they are your friends, family, and people you once looked up to.

In verse 34 of 1 Corinthians 15, Pauls says:

“Awake to righteousness and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.”

When I was growing up, my family and I believed that the Bible was a mystery in so many parts, that it was impossible to fully understand anything, we lacked the knowledge of God and His Word.

God isn’t the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33), man is.  

Don’t be pulled down by false beliefs.

Don’t be pulled down by what man says when you know what the Bible says. 

Man says pray a sinners prayer, the Bible says that God doesn’t hear the prayers of sinners (John 9:31), the Bible says arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins (Acts 22:16).

Forsake the foolish, and live, and go in the way of understanding. 

 

signature