The Everything Sale

There’s been a lot going on in my life for the past little bit.  I don’t really think I’ll be getting into all of it, at least not in this post.  Maybe soon.  But for now, I just want to tell you about the everything sale.  Trust me, this post will be long enough with just that as the subject.

Circumstances in my life recently have been causing me to desperately seek the face of God…to seek what He would have me do at every juncture.  I knew there were things that I needed to change and do that I was not being proactive about. 

Well, if you don’t know me, you probably also don’t know that I have a history of moderately drastic actions, like quitting jobs with no idea of what I’m going to do and moving to places where I don’t know anyone and breaking up with fiances (yes, that’s multiple), etc.  Some of these things, I really felt like God wanted me to do.  But some of them, I just did because I got bored with things they were, felt that I couldn’t handle another minute of the status quo.  And so, in this last season of desperation I’ve been going through, I was trying to be super-cautious about what actions I took.  If there was drastic action to be taken, I didn’t want it to be just because I was bored, I wanted it to be because God called me to that action.  However, I was considering a few different types of action.

Drastic Action #1) Changing jobs – which I’m actually kind of doing.  I think my Play-Meter has run down on the whole nanny-ing thing.  I can’t seem to engage with the kids anymore.  I just want to look at them and make sure that they are still living and breathing when the parents get home.  That’s not really a super good nanny trait.  So, I’m slowly phasing out that season of my life.  (Although, right now, I’m kind of sad about it because last night one of my girls asked me if I could bring my cat and a business card with me the last time I come.  So sweet!)

Drastic Action #2) Moving to a tent – Yes, I seriously considered this.  It would have been temporary because I am no good in the cold, but I was thinking it would give some time to pay off the already minimal, but seemingly impossible to pay off debt I have.  It would give me freedom from the responsibilities of living in a structure, namely cleaning and paying rent.  The Lord’s Prayer does ask for our “daily bread.”  I’ve been wondering if having my “bread” for a month to come is an extravagance that we just take as the norm in our society.  I was thinking that living in a tent would force me to only have my daily bread, literally.  You can’t store food in a tent unless it’s in an impenetrable container.  The animals would rip your tent up.  Living in a tent would also minimize distractions so I could do something useful, like write a book or work on my art or spend more time getting smarter instead of working so much and taking care of stuff.  However, ultimately, I didn’t feel good about this option.  I felt like it catered too much to my desire to spurn resposibility and my sometimes unhealthy desire for solitude.  It would be a temporary fix, because as soon as I was faced with the reality of responsibilities, the same challenges would arise.  Living in a tent would have been my version of running away.

Drastic Action #3) Selling all my stuff – And we have a winner.  Sort of.  See, I already did it.  But not really.  Haha.  Confused yet?  I’ll start at the beginning.  For the past 3-4 years, at various points, I have felt like God was telling me to sell all of my stuff.  A couple of times, I have half-way done it.  Sold a few things on Craig’s List, told my friends they could buy anything of mine when they came over.  I even sold a few things that I really wanted to keep.  That’s good enough, right?  I guess I just never really looked at it like disobedience when I “sort of” did it, but that’s what it was.  I don’t think I ever fully acknowledged that when God said “everything”, He meant that He did not want me to put any limitations on it.  But I did.  I always said things like, “OK, I will be willing to sell everything except for my keyboard and my favorite mirror.”  It’s a really great mirror, all right?  And, in addition to putting limitations on it, I never went out of my way to sell anything.  Never advertised everything as being for sale…just kind of told friends and stuff.  In other words, I didn’t really leave it in God’s hands.  I was sort of passively willing to do what He said.  And so, when I was seeking Him out, God kept bringing all of this back to mind.  Reminding me of places in my journals where I have written down that I felt like God wanted me to sell my stuff.  It’s written down multiple times over the past few years.  I can’t deny that I have heard it.  I never wrote that God wanted me to sell some of my stuff.  So, God had been reminding me of all of this.  And then I went to hear John Eldredge speak about his new book, Walking With God.  His book is about listening for, recognizing and obeying the voice of God when He speaks to you.  (The Eldredge’s keep cropping up in my life, don’t they?)  After leaving his talk, I couldn’t ignore the voice telling me to sell all of my stuff.  I tried to ignore it.  And I tried to argue with it, and I tried to pretend I thought it was just me trying to do something stupid because I was bored again.  But I couldn’t convince myself of that.  Every time I prayed, “Do you REALLY want me to do that, God?”  It was like God was screaming (not audibly), “YES, I told you that a long time ago.”  It still seemed a little silly to me, like I was trying to prove myself or something; honestly, I was somewhat worried about what people would think…that they would think I was trying to be special or get some sort of award when it wasn’t like that at all.  I wanted confirmation.  And so that night, I tried to go to bed without doing anything about it.  I thought I was justified in wanting confirmation.  But I couldn’t go to bed.  I was uncomfortable.  I knew what God wanted me to do.  Finally, I got up.  I went to the computer.  I posted an ad.  “Everything Sale” it said.  That was a Sunday night, so I knew I would have to re-post it before the weekend came so it would pop back up on the list, but this was sort of necessary for me.  I couldn’t back out once I put it out there for everyone to see.  I was still hoping for a little confirmation, though. 

So, the next morning, I was talking to my mom on the way to work.  She was telling me that she had bought herself a laptop.  (This is related, I promise.)  She was giving me all of her reasons, and I could tell that she was still sort of justifying it to herself…that she felt a little bit guilty for buying something moderately expensive and also pretty much unnecessary.  I should insert here, that I have never, once in my life, seen my mom purchase anything large that was just for herself and completely unnecessary.  My mom was excited when she got to buy a new washing machine.  She sent me pictures of it, if that gives you an idea of her purchasing history.  She always ends up doing practical things with any extra money she gets.  So, although this is NOT related: Mom, when you read this post, I give you permission to NOT feel guilty about buying yourself a laptop.  You deserve it. 

Anyway, so we were talking about that, and she said something about spoiling herself.  Or maybe I made that up.  I don’t want to lie.  Maybe I just thought something like, “Sometimes you have to spoil youself.”  When we got off the phone, I continued to think about this, and I thought about how I spoil myself all the time.  Not that I necessarily buy big things, but I do buy myself just things.  And I thought about how the reason for this was because I feel like no one else is going to do it.  If I don’t spoil myself, no one else will.  So, I wasn’t really thinking about that in conjunction with God.  I was not particularly listening for His voice at that exact moment.  But after this thought, I immediately felt like He spoke: “You’ve never given Me the chance to spoil you.”  And I knew that was God.  He was telling me why He wanted me to sell my stuff.  I have been so busy acquiring things for myself that I have never let Him have a crack at it.  This was confirmation #1.

Then, that night when I came home from work, I was cooking some supper and I stuck Alias in the DVD player.  I have the boxset and I just watch them in order.  It’s not quite as mundane as watching a movie over and over because it takes so long to roll back around to the beginning.  But I still don’t stare at it, so I was more like listening to it.  Anyhow, I put in the DVD where I was in the series…I didn’t look for a particular episode or anything; it’s just where I was in watching it.  Well, if you don’t know Alias, there’s a point when she disappears for 2 years, and when she comes back, all of her stuff has been destroyed in a fire.  She has nothing.  And she’s talking to someone and says something like, “You know, there are benefits to losing all of your stuff…all the paper…and sweaters I was never going to wear….”  This was confirmation #2.  Some of you might think it’s a little out there to think God was talking to me through Alias, but what are the chances that I would be on that episode out of all the discs from all the seasons…and that I just happen to watch it the night after I put all of my stuff up for sale because God told me to? 

Well, I was a little more settled about the whole thing after that.  I did have moments of half-panic, thinking, “What if this sells?” (Specifically my keyboard.)  And I thought maybe I would just have an exception and say I would sell everything except for that.  But as I thought that, I felt God clearly impress, “Trust me.  Trust me with what sells.”  I did make an exception for my computer, just because it has personal info on it that I didn’t really have time to take care of, so it was not for sale.  Just thought I should list that to be truthful…but I felt like God was OK w/ that.  God wasn’t OK with exceptions on the keyboard, though.  Or on my favorite mirror.  After the keyboard, I didn’t try that one out on Him.  I figured He was pretty much set on “everything”. 

I had two ideas of what God was trying to do, with Biblical examples to back them up.  One was Abraham and Isaac.  Maybe God just wanted me to be willing to sacrifice everything, like He just wanted Abraham to be willing to sacrifice Isaac. 

The second example was a little more frightening.  Gideon’s army.  You know, they were completely outnumbered already, but God told them their army was too big, and through a series of events cut it down to basically nothing so that He could show them His power.  I thought maybe God wanted to show me just what He could do if I was cleaned out.

So, Friday came, and I re-posted my ad.  But I still had the issue of what selling all of my stuff was supposed to look like.  I didn’t feel like I was supposed to walk around my house and price everything I own.  I kept feeling like God wanted me to tell people to pay what they wanted to pay.  And I kept thinking, “Surely not.”  I mean, “Take what you want and pay what you feel you should” is like an invitation to be taken by the opportunistic, right?  Some Joe could decide to pay five bucks, come back with a truck and load my house up. But it was the only thing my spirit felt comfortable with.  I got a grocery bag, stapled the top shut where there was just a small opening, and put a sign on it that said, “Pay what you feel led to pay.”  And I made a deal with God that I wasn’t going to look in the bag until the sale was over.  I kind of think God wanted me to do this so that I could be sure my obedience was not dependent on what I thought I might get out of it. 

Pretty soon after the sale officially started, some people drove up.  There were 4 of them all together: a man, his wife, a friend of theirs and their six-year-old daughter.  They came in and asked, “So, why are you selling everything?  Are you moving?”  I told them why.  They didn’t seem shocked or weirded out by it.  They seemed nice.  They also seemed hesitant to purchase anything – like the idea made them a little uncomfortable as buyers.  I told them not to be hesitant…that’s why I was doing it.  The lady said her sister had been looking for a futon for her son.  I had a futon.  So, they decided they’d buy it.  The husband and friend said they needed to go to the store and get change, though.  I offered for the lady and her daughter to stay here while they went, so she did.  We probably talked for 30 minutes, at least.  It was more like someone came over to visit than like I was having a sale.  I’m not very good at community; it reminded me, as I have been reminded so often, that when I am doing what God asks, He opens the doors of communication with those around me.  The guys came back, and they asked me more than once if I was sure about this.  I said yes, so they loaded it up, dropped something in my bag, and went on their way. 

I was kind of like, “Wow, first shot was my couch…I wonder what else is going to go?”  And then the day went on.  And on.  And on.  And that was it.  All day.  No one else even came.  It’s kind of humorous, actually.  I’m calling it the “sacrificial couch”.  It’s like I just had to have a token of my willingness.  I guess God was after the Abraham/Isaac effect.  I looked in the bag at the end of the day.  Fifty bucks.  So, I’m down one very ordinary futon, but I’m up $50 plus a level of obedience that I didn’t have before.

There is also something freeing, even though I still have my stuff, about knowing that I was willing to walk away from it.  (Or let it walk away from me.)  It’s kind of good to know that if I had to, I could.  Or that if someone steals something from me, maybe I can still be loving to them, because I don’t have that thing in a place of priority that takes precedence over seeing a person who needs Jesus.  And I realize that if I am willing to get rid of all of my stuff, then why should I worry about my stuff? 

Someone told me today that they were impressed by what I did…that it says something about where I am in my relationship with God.  I almost interrupted them with saying, “I don’t think it does.”  We both started laughing, and she was like, “Explain how it couldn’t.”  I said, “Well, if God has told you to do something multiple times over three or four years, is it so great when you finally do it?”  She said, “Well, I see your point.  It could be looked at as three or four years of dis-obedience.”  Exactly.  And, is it so great if I finally do it, only because I am at a point where I finally feel such a desperate need for God that disobedience does not seem like an option for me, because I know it would take me out of His plan?  I didn’t feel capable of handling being out of His plan right then.  Like, sometimes, when things are going pretty good, I think I can handle a little bit of disobedience.  “Oh, I’ll just deal with the consequences.  Everything is mostly going smoothly.  I can probably deal with whatever problem it brings up.”  What a ridiculous attitude.  The truth is that I am NEVER in control so much that distance from God should seem like an acceptable option.  I don’t guess that very many people learn this before they get desperate, though.

This has also taken me back to an example from a book that I’ve mentioned in my posts before.  I’ve stolen the excerpt from my “Rebellion” post, so as not to have to re-explain the situation here:

If you’ve ever read Prince Caspian of  “The Chronicles of Narnia” by C. S. Lewis, you will recognize the upcoming reference.  (Although classified as children’s books, the spiritual truths conveyed in these books are relevant and applicable to people of any age.)  In the story, the children are on a difficult journey…no path seems easy and some seem virtually impossible.  They are at the crossroads, if you will, possibly lost, and they all know it is imperative to take the quickest route.  They are having a bit of discussion (actually more like an argument) about which is the best way.  Lucy, the youngest of the group, suddenly states that she has just seen the lion Aslan (the allegorical representation of God), and that He wants them to go up.  The others do not fully believe her, thinking perhaps she saw a lion, but not necessarily Aslan, and, besides, Up is, in this instance, seemingly the most difficult and impassible direction.  Lucy is the only one who has seen Him, but she knows, without a doubt, what Aslan wants them to do.  However, she is out-voted, and they go the logical way…the way that makes sense, practically and responsibly.  Soon enough, they are attacked by the enemy and must re-trace their steps.  Lucy sees Aslan again, and He tells her that even if no one else will follow Him, she must.  She is the only one who can see Him at first, but this time, they have no option other than to believe her.  There is no alternate route to take.  Aslan leads Lucy, and the rest of them behind her, down paths they would’ve never seen, paths that they presumed were absurdly dangerous and that seem at any moment they will cause them to dive off a precipice.  He does not lead them down the “safe” roads, although with Him leading, they are safe. 

I wrote in the other post that I felt a certain kinship with Lucy, and I still do – like God is always trying to make me walk off of cliffs.  Only they’re not really cliffs at all.  But today, He reminded me that if I walk off of cliffs when He asks me to, others will follow me there.  Just like in Prince Caspian, when Lucy saw Aslan again, and he tells her that they must go his way now, this is how the conversation goes:

“Yes, wasn’t it a shame?” said Lucy.  “I saw you all right.  They wouldn’t believe me.  They’re all so….”

From somewhere deep inside Aslan’s body there came the faintest suggestion of a growl. 

“I’m sorry,” said Lucy, who understood some of his moods.  “I didn’t mean to start slanging the others.  But it wasn’t my fault anyway, was it?” 

The Lion looked straight into her eyes.

“Oh, Aslan,” said Lucy.  “You don’t mean it was?  How could I – I couldn’t have left the others and come up to you alone, how could I?  Don’t look at me like that…oh well, I suppose I could.  Yes, and it wouldn’t have been alone, I know, not if I was with you.  But what would have been the good?”

Aslan said nothing.

“You mean,” said Lucy, rather faintly, “that it would have turned out all right – somehow?  But how?  Please, Aslan!  Am I not to know?”

“To know what would have happened, child?” said Aslan.  “No.  Nobody is ever told that.”

And so that is where I am.  I don’t get to know what would have happened if I had obeyed without three years of disobedience first.  But I get to know what happens now.  And I’m pretty excited about that. 

Now, aren’t you glad that I limited this post to one subject?  Is anyone wondering if I know how to write a short post? 

Advertisements

Virtually Symptom Free

I realized yesterday that I had not written to update the status of my physical state since I discussed the acknowledgement of God’s power over the physical as well as the spiritual.  If anyone wants a reference for what what we’re talking about here, check out my Technical Difficulties  and my Last Lesson from “Captivating” posts. 

When writing those posts, I had been battling overwhelming physical symptoms in a lot of random areas, to the point that I was worried they were about to become debilitating.  A few of my symptoms at that point had been going on for years, but this year a lot of fun additions had been occuring, and rapidly worsening for several months. 

Through the lessons mentioned in the other referenced posts, I had started treating each physical symptom as a spiritual attack, immediately claiming the power of Christ’s sacrifice and the authority that He gave us over evil, in addition to praying to God for healing.  I know this sounds crazy…especially if you’re not a Christian.  But Christ did give His followers authority over evil, and our skeptical society has caused even Christians to roll their eyes at this kind of talk.  When you begin to speak of demons purposefully causing people pain and suffering, people start dismissing you off-hand.  Well, dismiss me if you like, but I know what I know.  I know that before I started rebuking the power of evil in Jesus’ name and asking God for healing, I had been feeling worse and worse for months.  And I know that after I started doing this, my symptoms went on a dramatic down-swing, and are now all but gone.  I no longer have the shooting pains in my head, the terrible headaches, the dizzy spells, the blurred vision, the tremors, the twitches, the fatigue, the random other pains or any of the many other crazy things I had going on.  The only lingering symptom is one I have had since I was a teenager (general body aches) and it’s even decreased. 

I know that there is an extreme this can be taken to, and someone could read this and take it to mean that if we just had enough faith and prayed enough, we could get rid of all of the bad things in our lives.  It could be interpreted that I’m saying there’s a demon under every rock, hiding our keys from us and making us sick.  I don’t think this…I think that discernment is gained through prayer and intimacy with God.  Only through maintaining a relationship with Him can you know if something is a spiritual attack or just plain life happening.  I think most of us take this to the other extreme, though, and treat nothing as a spiritual attack.  When we do this, we deny God’s power and allow Satan a stronghold to get working on.  We just live in our trouble, not realizing we have been given the authority to get out of it.

I’m feeling like I’m saying words that are not strong enough to convey how important I think this is, and like I’m not really getting my point across or like I’m leaving something out.  I’m not sure.  I just wanted to give God the glory publicly for my healing.

I also want to say that I think there was a lot that went into this healing.  My boyfriend had been praying for me rigorously, and had been encouraging me to do the same for months before God opened my eyes to the spiritual implications of my physical problems.  I also wrote my Technical Difficulties post before I came to this kind of understanding.  I think there were many factors necessary for all of it to occur.    I’ll mention things that I know were definitely all necessary, but I cannot exclude the fact that there are probably tons of other miniscule things that had to happen.  Consider this a skeleton list.  First, someone else praying for me with a belief that I did not have at that point.  Second, my opening up about my difficulties and being humbled by asking for help.  Third, listening to God’s voice when urged to read a book that I did not have any interest in reading, which led to the breakdown in my mental blinders to God’s power.  Fourth, acting on this newly rejuvenated faith with constant prayer.  And the fifth, I believe, is no less important…giving God the props for it. 

Here’s to You, God.

Last Lesson from “Captivating”

OK, so we’re almost done talking about this book.  I think.  The third major perspective change I got has to do with spiritual warfare as it pertains to the physical world.  I know when you start talking about spiritual warfare, some people tend to look at you crazy…the thought that there could actually be demons attacking and angels defending us seems a little out there.  I’ll just say that I am a firm believer in it, and think that the devil is out to thwart our growth and God’s plan for us at every turn.  I think I’ve had this mental block, though…a block that made me think that only spiritual things are attacked spiritually, and physical things are just, well, as they are.  So, I would generally only pray spiritual prayers.  “Lord, teach me patience.  Guide me in my decisions.  Show me how to be like You.”  Rarely, if ever, would I allow my prayers to overlap into the physical realm, as in, “Lord, help me find a new job.  Give me more energy today.  Heal me of my sickness.” 

A compartmentalization of God…I guess I forgot all of the miracles He worked both in the persona of God in the Old Testament and in the flesh of Jesus Christ in the New.  Well, last week I mentioned all of my physical symptoms in my Technical Difficulties blog.  I won’t list them again, but my point is that I had never seriously prayed about them.  My boyfriend has been trying to get me to see it this way for a couple of months…to see my healing as something to pray diligently for; even that this is something God has allowed in me in order to teach us how to pray as my symptoms have worsened.  I had been praying about it at his prompting, but I don’t think I had much belief that it could affect a change.  I think he started me down the road, and that is why I asked for prayers last week.  But the real shift in my mindset did not occur until after I wrote that blog, as I was finishing up “Captivating,” by John and Stasi Eldredge.  Stasi is writing at this point, and talks about a book on spiritual warfare that she was reading.  The book was called “Bondage Breakers,” by Neil Anderson.  I don’t know anything about that book except what she says.  She says that in the book she was reading, it tells a story about a woman who had dizzy spells.  This woman began reacting to her dizzy spells as if they were a spiritual attack, commanding authority over them in Jesus name, and her dizzy spells stopped.  Stasi says that when she read this, she told her husband that she had dizzy spells, too, which he did not know as she had never mentioned it.  She decided to begin responding to hers in the same way this woman did.  She says that at first they worsened, but she kept praying every time.  And then she had one so bad that she fell down, and she prayed anyway.  And it was the last dizzy spell she ever had. 

It really was like God put this story in here just for me.  I don’t even think if He had used any other symptom, it would’ve had the same effect.  My dizziness is the newest severe symptom…I never really had these dizzy spells until this year.  It’s also the one that seems to be getting the worst the fastest.  A couple of weeks ago, I had one while I was driving and had to slam on the brakes (there were no other cars) because I thought I might drive off the road if I didn’t.  That was the worst one I’d ever had, and it really worried me.  How could I make a living if I couldn’t drive?  Two days later I read this story.  My dizzy spells a spiritual attack?  This was a new concept to me.  It broke down the mental block I mentioned earlier, relegating God to His spiritual realm in my mind.  It reminded me of something I should already know: that just because something manifests physically does not mean it can’t have spiritual roots. 

I’ve heard a fable before about a man who was drowning.  The man began to pray for God to save him.  Just after he prayed, a boat came by.  They tried to help, but he waved them on, “No, I’m waiting for God to save me.”  Then a rescue helicopter flew up.  “No, I’m waiting for God to save me,” he said.  This man prayed for God to help him out of a physical situation, but then expected supernatural means.  If I were the man, with the mindset I was hanging on to before this shift, I would have been praying, “Lord, help me be OK with drowning.  Help me handle it with grace. ”  Not a bad prayer, but just a little incomplete, if you actually believe God can keep you from drowning at all. 

After I read this, I was discussing it with my mom.  She, in turn, told me a story about a woman who was going to volunteer where she works (a Christian non-profit agency).  The lady had gone through her volunteer training, and was scheduled to start her weekly volunteer shift, but she woke up that morning, and her son had a 104 degree fever.  He didn’t have any other symptoms, but they still rushed him to the emergency room.  The doctors didn’t find anything wrong with him.  They sent them home, and, in a couple of hours, the fever was gone.  Her son was fine the rest of the week.  At least until the next time she was scheduled to volunteer, and then suddenly, her son came down with another 104 degree fever.  No other symptoms.  Doctors couldn’t find anything wrong.  Three weeks in a row this happened only on the day she was supposed to go volunteer.  After the third week, the woman directing the center at the time told this lady that she thought it was a spiritual attack.  She told her next time, just to pray, and come on in anyway.  The following week, the son did have the fever again, but the woman prayed, and went on to volunteer.  The fevers never recurred.  Clearly, Satan will use any method he believes effective in keeping us down, keeping us immobile, keeping us inert. 

I am not pronouncing God a magic charm for healing or for anything else, but I am now acknowledging His power in all areas.  I think that sometimes it is beyond our comprehension why we may not get prayers answered, but I don’t think He ever meant for us to not pray them, whatever the subject.  I have been praying, since this, every time I have a single symptom, for God to protect me, to heal me, and for Satan to stop trying to defeat me.  And I’ve felt better.  The symptoms have not disappeared, but they have been noticably more infrequent and less severe.  You can say whatever you want about placebo effects and the power of positive thinking.  I’ve tried the power of positive thinking before and it didn’t do a darn thing.  God’s doing something…not the least of which is teaching me about His power and His love. 

Lesson 2 from “Captivating”

I told you I would dedicate other blogs to more lessons I learned from the book I didn’t want to read to begin with, “Captivating,” by John & Stasi Eldredge.    So, this blog is actually about the first lesson I learned.  (My “Literary Arrogance” having been second, thereby allowing me to recognize the first as it is associated with this book.) This lesson has to do with my relationship with my boyfriend. 

The first thing that I want to say is that I have the most amazing boyfriend in the world.  He does not ever belittle me or criticize petty things or ask me to do things his way instead of my way.  He often encourages me, compliments me, and just, in general, loves me.  Actively.  Not as in the state of love, but as in the action.  Any criticism I ever receive from him is for the purpose of instruction, growth or perspective.  He likes to get me to see things in a different way than I have been seeing it, to look at the other person’s side of a story and stretches me when I am being rigid.  I honestly cannot remember a time he has ever told me a negative thing over something petty.  My point here is that the emotional place I had come to was not his doing.  But you don’t know what that emotional place is yet, so I’ll tell you now, and then wrap it all up in a neat little package. 

Somehow, I had come to a point in our relationship where I was constantly despairing over the fact that I believed I was not good enough for him.  Let me state that this was not always the case in our relationship.  I have been, in this same relationship, one of the most secure girlfriends I’ve ever known, completely relaxed in his love.  I didn’t stress out about losing him; I didn’t worry that I wasn’t doing enough to keep him.  You get the picture.  This despair did not come about because of any change in his behavior…unless it was a change in his behavior for the better.  See, when we started dating, my boyfriend was an alcoholic.  I knew it, and we talked about the fact that he knew I wouldn’t be OK with it long term on our first date.  We can get into the wisdom or foolishness of this from my side on another day perhaps, but I will just state that I prayed much over it, and never felt God saying that I should not date him.  Quite the opposite in fact.  But, moving on….  Let me state that he was also a Christian, and ten months into our relationship (we’re at 2 1/2 years now), he quit drinking.  Since that point, I have seen him grow and mature more than I can possibly explain to you.  He’s become a passionate spiritual leader.  And it’s not that he was immature before.  It was just the fact that he had this barrier of alcohol blocking him from being in constant communication with God, as well as keeping him from spending his time learning or studying.  I guess I thought that since I was confident in our relationship, I would always be confident in our relationship.  I now realize that when circumstances change, emotions are quite ready to follow.  Looking back now, I can see that my insecurities probably began to surface when I saw how well he was doing, how mature he was becoming and how meaningfully he was spending his time and pouring out his energy.  My heart thought it meant that he would not need me anymore.  He had sort of eclipsed me spiritually, so what use was I?  The main problem here was that I did not even realize my thought process had changed.  However long it had been since the insecurity crept in there, by the time I recognized it through the grace of God and the reading of this book, it was bad.  To the point that my heart would twist everything he said.  If he said, “You did well on that,” it meant to me, “You must continue doing that well or he will not love you anymore.”  I didn’t consciously have these thoughts, or I would’ve known I was being stupid.  It was more the attitude I took things in.  I was always scrambling to feel like I had something to offer that he would value.  If I was drained emotionally, I tried really hard to look pretty.  I would go through my day in my mind before I called him, hoping I could think of stories to tell him in which I did something worthwhile, learned something meaningful, improved myself in some way so he wouldn’t think I was a loser.  And if he said something negative in the way of instruction, well, it did its own work.  That meant he knew there was something wrong with me; I was selfish or lazy or not smart enough.  I was not perfect, therefore he would stop loving me. 

I know, you’re thinking, how could I do all of this and not recognize it?  I’m wondering myself, but I have a feeling it was something Satan knew I cared pretty deeply about, and stuck his big toe into the crevice of my fear…got a good foothold and just kept digging it in.  Keep her scared and ignorant of the fact that she’s even scared.  She won’t know what’s wrong with her.  Good strategy.  Thank God (literally) for showing me this.  It was taking its toll.  I was tired.  And I really didn’t know why. 

The great thing about this is that it really is something that I can turn off, like a switch.  My awareness of it was all I needed.  I know it is a silly attitude, and a pointless one.  First of all, attempting to be what you think someone else wants you to be will almost inevitably make you exactly what they wish you were not; insecure and wishy-washy because you’re constantly second guessing what your idea of what they might want is along with a host of other really annoying qualities.  I know that my boyfriend, most of all, wants me to be who God wants me to be and to do what God wants me to do.  So, it’s a re-focus.  “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all of these things will be added unto you.”  God is what I need in order for everything else in my life to be what He’s designed it to be.  And I had taken my eyes off of that truth. 

So, as to me thinking I was so great at not being a “silly girl,” as I mentioned in my Literary Arrogance blog, I think I had definitely adopted what I would coin a very common, prominent and detrimental “silly girl” attitude.  I recommend this book if you find yourself trying to be the woman you think someone else wants you to be.

Lesson 3 from “Captivating” coming soon. 

Update on the Study and Literary Arrogance

So, if anyone’s wondering what’s happening with the study on Feminism and the Bible, here’s the latest.  First off, let me say that I have not gotten very far on actual points.  My friend and I were going to attempt each taking the article point by point and researching one at a time each.  (She’d take one; I’d take one – then we’d both discuss and conclude that segment.)  This was a very naive outlook on how we could manage this.  If only it were that simple.  First off, you find that everything you hunt on one point inevitably leads to really good information on a different point.  Secondly, the very first task is to solidify what we do believe God’s outlook on the role for women is.  Again, naive in thinking that is simple.  A few examples:  Does God approve of women teaching in the church?  I feel like He does and, needless to say, I want Him to, but this is not about feelings or wants.  I’m trying to get a solid understanding here.  I’m trying to get to truth in a way that anyone can grasp it, even if they don’t agree with it.  I’m even prepared to find out that answers to questions like these are not what I wish they were.  I think that if the answer is that God does not want women to teach men or in the church or however you interpret I Timothy 2: 11-14, that there will be a reason (if we can grasp it) that makes me OK with that.  (But then we also get into the question of who decides what ‘teaching’ means.  I’ve seen some pretty ridiculous lines drawn since looking into this, as in “Women can ‘share’ but not ‘preach.'”  Huh??  And also, “Women can ‘talk’ in church as long as they don’t stand behind the pulpit.”  Ummm, OK.)  However, back to the point: as in the submission of wives to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22-29), I’m not ruffled by this statement, because it also tells men to treat their wives as Christ treats the church.  I’m good with that…Christ gave everything of Himself for the church and did everything for her benefit and well-being.  If a man is going to treat me like that, unconditionally, as Christ did with the church, I think I can handle a little thing like submission.  (Although, I’m still wrestling with the questions: “Do you still have to submit to a husband that is not following Christ, and if not, who decides when they are not following Christ?” and “Do you only not have to submit if a husband is asking you to do something specifically against God’s commands and if so, who decides that as well?”)  My elusive point is that I feel there would be good, satisfactory and understandable “footnotes” for God’s decision even if that decision was that a woman is not supposed to teach a man or in the church.  I’ve got to tell you, though, finding a really solid answer to this debate is not simple.  I didn’t think it would be an easy task or even a short task, but I will say that I did not expect to find so many poor arguments for people’s interpretations (and not just for this one Scripture).  I’ve seen a lot of things that make me understand why people often think that Christians are uneducated…interpretations that use poor logic to explain something away or use an argument that fights against itself.  It saddens me.  I guess maybe the question is harder than I think, and I shouldn’t be so disappointed in the Christian community. 

So, I’ve said a lot of nothing about what I haven’t learned.  Let’s talk about what I have.  I’ve learned a lot about myself.  It seems God leads you to study things that maybe you need to know for your own personal reasons in addition to the reasons you study it (in this case, for the defense of His truths). 

Here goes.  I am reading a book someone recommended in my comments, “Captivating” by John and Stasi Eldredge.  The friend I am working on this project with bought it, and gave it to me to read first, as she had some other reading material she intended on starting out with.  Well, I apologize, zephaniah317, because I really did NOT want to read this book.  I’ve heard of it before, and never had any inclination to read it. 

First strike: it’s about girls.  I’m a girl.  OK.  I don’t need anyone to tell me about the fact that I am a girl or about feminity.  Or how not to be a silly girl.  Or how not to be a naggy wife (girlfriend, in my case).  I’m pretty good at those things.  Or am I?  We’ll see, but the fact is that anything “girly” turns me off in the first place.  I don’t like pink.  I don’t like lacy, frilly things.  I hate to get my nails or hair touched by any stranger.  I don’t like massages.  This book is inherently girly.  That’s its whole premise. 

Second strike: it’s also very popular within the Christian subculture.  I have only just now realized how deeply my literary arrogance runs.  This book could not be worth my time because it is “popular” and anything that the general public could enjoy is probably too stupid for me.  Wow.  That’s really how I thought.  What a jerk am I.  I’m sorry, John and Stasi Eldredge, for thinking you were all silly, fluffy things and rhetoric. 

I don’t have a third strike, so we’ll just say that’s the only reason it made it through to the “read anyway” pile.  I’m not through with the book yet, but it has already made me severely aware of three separate very valuable issues. 

One of them was, indeed, my severe case of literary arrogance.  God didn’t cure me of that even by teaching me something important through the book.  (I retained a little bit of my reticence after learning the first lesson because of the fact that the book did not spell it out; it just showed me some other things that led me to a conclusion.  So, really, I figured it out on my own, right?  I still didn’t need the silly book.)  Wrenching my disgusting snobbery out of me did not come until I realized that I was acting patronizing to another individual who had genuine interest in this book, that they could probably tell I was being patronizing, and that it probably made them feel a little bit stupid.  Again, what a jerk am I.  God did manage to cue me into this, and make me feel like I wanted to hide from Him because of my pride in this nominal intellect I have.  I did not hide, but I did repent, and not only to Him, but to the individual. The other two things that God taught me through this book really deserve their own blogs.  And since I’m tired, maybe I’ll give them each one another day.