I haven’t done this in years. Before this blog flooded with people reading my posts on film and TV, almost no one read it. Leaves in the Pages was a personal journal of sorts. I didn’t have a following or hundreds of regular readers every day. I kind of said whatever I wanted, cause…I could, haha. Over the years, my writing style has changed, but something that I don’t do as much anymore is talk about my personal life. I’m not talking about the people I brag on like my super sisters Nicole and Robyn, or my incredible parents Sharon and Russ. I talk about them plenty. I mean MY personal life. I just felt like I had moved past that on this blog. Today, I’m indulging that younger, beginner blogger’s style and dipping into something that I feel lead to share. A rare internal vulnerability if you will.
I’ve been in a dark place spiritually for about three years. Four years ago now I moved to New Zealand. I moved away from my support; my friends, my family, and my church. Now, I want to discourage people from thinking that moving to NZ shook my faith and drove me to some bad places. Far from it. I found good people to do life with. However, I found myself almost never reading the Bible, praying when I needed to, engaging my faith, or attending church on a regular basis. I became complacent. We’ve felt it before, but I lived in this feeling. I became a Complacent Christian.
I didn’t feel a great sense of guilt other than Sunday that I was not reading my Bible. I prayed when I had to, and I intentionally encountered God in NZ three times 1.) I prayed God give me a job when I was at the end of my rope and he did, right on time 2.) When I joined the Youth Ministry, I had to read my Bible when I did a sermon and generally be a good example to the kids. And 3.) When I had the worst day of my career and also my life, working in Corrections, I cried out to God for strength, and he stayed my hand in not drinking that night. Win.
Notice a trend? I used God. He became a tool that I went and got when I had a problem that needed fixing. I started thinking of myself as a “Sociopathic Christian,” but not in the violent sense. Sociopaths are very good at faking emotions. Unless analyzed, they can slip by undetected and without incident. They can go along with the motions and feel next to nothing. They are capable of fooling many. The reason I used this analogy with myself is not because I am in any way a sociopath…no, I feel way too much to be a sociopath. I just wanted to be, above all things, always honest with myself. I didn’t want to keep fooling myself that I was a “Good Christian,” whatever that means. I wasn’t living out my faith and I certainly wasn’t following what Christ said.
The truth is, we hear God best when we run after Him. But that’s just it…I couldn’t remember the last time I ran.
A little under 4 months ago I started getting real with my religious darkness that had festered inside me for 3 years. The darkness was less evil than it was just an absence of Christ in a way I hadn’t seen in myself before. Still, I didn’t want to keep lying to myself. You may have seen on social media that I have been an advocate for the song “Yes and Amen.” That is in part to do with the fact that God’s promises have been pulling me out of my darkness.
- “And call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” Yes. Amen.
- “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Yes. Amen.
- “For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.” Yes. Amen.
- “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” Yes. Amen.
- “For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, declares the Lord.” Yes. Amen.
He is Faithful forever. Yes. Amen.
Since moving to Colorado Springs, I have been on a mission to reconnect with my Father. I can say that it has been filled with anger, tears, rejoicing, pain, joy, learning, stumbles, humility, and reverence. Life with Jesus isn’t about wishing we were that “on-fire” teenager that first met Him all those years ago, it’s about growing WITH Him as life unfolds. It’s about finding identity in being HIS child NOW, not living in the past. It’s about walking with Him when life craps all over you and leaves you in heap. It’s about knowing that when I turn around in my shame to greet Him again, He is standing there, like the Father eagerly waiting for his prodigal son, with a robe, a ring, and a party of people welcoming you back to Him.
God keeps NO record of my sins, He waits patiently for me, forgetting my shame and accepting me back.
This is my message to you reading. The prodigal son. We all know one, have been one, or are waiting for one to come home. If you’re going through a dark time, maybe the darkest you’ve ever felt, and you don’t feel Him…you are most certainly not alone. If you’ve wanted to come out of the night and walk in the truth…rest in His promises. Don’t isolate yourself. Talk to those you love and trust. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” My heart was broken. Jesus is putting it back together. Trust the Father.