Good Morning Friends!
I have so much to tell you that honestly, I don’t know where to start. I am just going to type and pray that God sends the words through my fingertips!
Last year was a mess. Such a mess! It all started last April. I was expecting things to get really good. I had a vision board that I prayed over every morning. I had a plan, a vision, and was certain that it was God’s will and that I would be successful in my endeavor.
A man’s heart plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9
And that is what happened. I had big plans but God had His own plan and that, thankfully, is what I lived out. But make no mistake, it was not in the least bit a blissful experience. No.
There were lessons that I needed to learn and healing that still had to be done. A LOT of lessons and healing. I have learned so many things this past year, more than can be told in a blog post. It’s the most important lessons that God was blatantly teaching that I am going to try to tell you about today. That so many times, when I had said God was doing something, He wasn’t. Because when God does something, it is perfect and unmistakably Him. That I needed to read and learn the actual Bible. I called myself a Christian all those years without wanting to hear from God! I would hear about God in sermons and in books about God but I was not hearing from God because I was not in his word, the living and active vessel of His voice.
Ok, let me slow down.
I Didn’t Know God. I Wasn’t Hearing God.
I have called myself a Christian for most of my life. I went to church, I did devotionals. I even listened to sermons online while doing housework. I read books about God. I listened to sermons about God. But I did not know God and I wasn’t hearing Him either because I was not fervently reading His living and active word.
We have all said, “The Lord told me…” or “I heard God say…”
But did He? Non-Christians have accounts of “gut feelings” telling them things that are extremely similar to the “God told me…” instances that Christians have. So is God talking to all of these people through their gut? Is that the way God tells us things? We just get a feeling? Thoughts pop into our minds telling us the right direction to go? No.
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. Matthew 24:35
Even just typing Mathew 24:35 reminds me that just knowing Bible verses isn’t enough. Before actually reading the whole Bible, I thought that verse was talking about the end of the word. That after the apocalypse, the universe as we know it would be gone but the words of Christ would still be around. NO! It’s the new covenant! Christ died for us. Thank you, Lord! Then forty years later the temple was destroyed. This was heaven and earth for the Israelites. It passed away. The former dwelling place of God was gone and now Christ lives in the hearts of all those who love Him! And what do we still have externally? His words.
But I didn’t know that even though I had heard Matthew 24:35 many times. Without the context, I thought it meant something it wasn’t.
We must read the word. Pray that you absorb every fiber of it.
Unfortunately, not knowing the Bible wasn’t the worst of my problems.
Sadly, I Did Not Know What Christ Did For Me
This third I will put into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.'” Zechariah 13:9
Because I was not in the word, I did not have a full knowledge of what Christ did for me in dying on the cross. Now I know how awful my ignorance was. Last April, it felt as if someone had picked me up and placed me in a terrible nightmare. I was literally fine one day and then consumed with paralyzing anxiety, fear, and obsessions the next! Over what? The fear of something terrible happening to my son, Ryan. I had previously dealt with postpartum anxiety so I expected it after I had my daughter, Anna. It came and with a vengeance. But why was my anxiety centered around my son this time? Shouldn’t I be having postpartum anxiety about the baby I just had?
Then on May 7th, I had a dream that sent me over the edge. I dreamed that my son was dancing around in the basement and then a huge vividly colored snake came out of nowhere and consumed Him but then spit him back out. Ryan then looked at me, he was dressed in white, and said “Look! I have a new body!”
So now, I realize that to you, this dream does not seem very scary except maybe to those of you who fear snakes. But to a postpartum anxious mind, already worried something terrible was about to happen, this dream was utterly torturous. For those of you who do not understand mental illness, I described the nature of OCD in this post. So many questions were racing through my mind. Why was Ryan eaten by snake? Why was he dressed in white? Did that mean that something terrible was going to happen to him and that he would end up in Heaven? Of course, we want our kids to go to Heaven, but hopefully after a long and fruitful life!
*Side note-This is a whole other post in itself, but clinical depression, anxiety, and OCD are mental illnesses. No matter what anyone thinks, it does not change that fact that the sufferer is rendered helpless. If you are unlucky enough to have not experienced the refinement that these disorders bring, please do not interfere with someone else’s refinement by telling them that it is just “mind over matter”. If you would like to sympathize with the sufferer, go slice your finger off. Now, think away the pain.
Do not think about the pink elephant.
(If you thought about the pink elephant, welcome to the human race.)
So in my postpartum anxiety/OCD, I was rendered paralyzed by the dream, wondering if this was a sign that all of my fears were going to come true. I began obsessively Googling postpartum anxiety experiences, dreams, and anything that might ease my mind. But as with all Googling, I only received more and more confirmation that Ryan’s end was near.
I was distraught. At this point, I no longer feared something terrible happening to Ryan, I believed something terrible was going to happen to him. I didn’t know when, I didn’t know how, but it was coming. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t work, I couldn’t think of anything else.
So I did the only thing left, I got on my knees and prayed for mercy. I prayed that God would not take him. I prayed and prayed and even fasted and prayed.
Months and months went by, I still had no peace. My anxiety grew worse and I began experiencing physical symptoms. I was constantly feeling like my legs were going to give out. I had to pull over on the side of the road to let my heart stop racing. I couldn’t make it through a shower without feeling like I was going to pass out.
I know this all seems crazy, and it was. It was utterly insane. But this is what I needed in order to understand what Christ did for me.
There came a point where I knew that there was nothing else I could do. If God was going to take Ryan, I could do nothing about it. Nothing. Even if I lived a sinless life, God is sovereign. He has a plan, a perfect plan, and my plans have no part in it.
This was unnerving in itself, but the fact was that I had not lived a sinless life. I had lived a sinful life…and just how sinful I had yet to find out.
See, the fear of losing my son, drove me to find out what the Bible says about these kinds of things. Does God still give us dreams today? Does Christ’s death cover our punishment on earth as well or does it just get us to heaven? Funny how this suddenly mattered a lot to me.
Well, in reading through the Bible cover to cover, you pass through a little section called the Old Testament. Here, God’s wrath is displayed. His wrath came to those who did exactly the things that I had done. I had not done them once, but many times. The more I read, the more all of my sins came to the surface of my mind and I was nothing less than repulsed by myself! But it was the story of David and Bathsheba that brought me to nothing. David sinned with Bathsheba and their baby died as a result. I was divorced. I had my son with my new husband. David was a king chosen by God. There was no hope for me! I deserved the worst of punishments and the punishment that David and Bathsheba received was, in my mind, the worst. I was terrified. I cannot tell you how terrified.
Now, I know to those of you who are not Christians, this makes no sense. But to those of you that are, my goodness, this is God! This is how God speaks to us. Do you understand? I deserve the worst to happen to me… but God sent Christ. His son. To die instead.
The New Testament came and I cannot tell you how thankful I was for it! Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection had never made more sense and I had never been so thankful for anything in my life! Thank you, Christ, for your mercy and grace and for taking my punishment! You are the Good Shepherd who lies me down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters. You refresh my soul! You guide me along the right path for YOUR NAME’S SAKE.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5
He has brought us peace. I will never forget the morning that I read about the woman and the alabaster jar.
A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. Luke 7:37
Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; GO IN PEACE.” Luke 7:50
Tears!! Tears of thankfulness and joy. Thank you, Christ, for saving me! Though I am saturated in my sin, you let me go in peace!
How in the world did I go so long without reading the word of the Lord? I am so grateful to God for driving me to it! I learned the most important lesson I would ever learn.
But then, to my surprise, there was more.
He Truly Healed Me
For four years, I have been blogging about healthy eating and exercise. I was doing so much better than I had been, worlds better, so I thought I was healed. But now I know that I was still in bondage. I still had fears of gaining weight. I still had many food rules and my identity wrapped up in my appearance. I was afraid of letting go. Even though I didn’t know I was still sick, I didn’t want to be better!
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17
I cannot tell you how true this verse is. When you truly know the love of Christ, you are changed. You are different! And there is no way to keep it to yourself.
What I was so afraid of letting go, was keeping me from experiencing so much joy. This past weekend, my dad was so wonderful to take us to Great Wolf Lodge. It was such a blast! The kids had the time of their life and I was so grateful to God for healing me. I could finally just swim with them, eat with them, act crazy with them, and all of that fun stuff that I was too worried about my image before to truly enjoy. It is the strangest feeling to not have an ounce of worry or anxiety in me or a care for what others think. But that’s not all! My mind is free, and a love of writing and cooking has blossomed. As you know, I spend a lot of time writing fiction and now I even cook with the kids! I was never able to enjoy cooking because it centered around food. All of this is such a lovely bonus because, truly, coming to know who Christ is and the significance of his death and resurrection bring me joy than I could have ever thought possible.
So… Was The Dream From God?
Now, when I think about the dream that spurred all of my anguish, I realize that it was from God. Not in a prophetic, tell the future kind of way, but it was what my Bible illiterate, insecurity riddled, secretly horoscope believing, feeling and thought driven mind needed to send me running and screaming into his infallible and unfailing word.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Proverbs 9:10
But since my natural OCD mind still wants to give meaning to the dream, if anything, I was Ryan. The snake was the year of suffering. The new body was the new creation that I am now in Christ.
Thank you, Lord.