I haven’t read my bible in six months.

My prayer life is inconsistent at best.

I haven’t been to church in almost a year.

I miss Jesus.

I didn’t think that any of those words would ever come out of my mouth. After I started following Jesus I went from one side of the pendulum to the other. It was easy to go from being a drug addict to a legalist because of who I was surrounded by and my own struggle to be perfect.

I have compassion for myself these days and can see why I that swing happened. It was about acceptance and love, I wanted both. I deeply wanted God to love and accept me and I wanted the people around me to accept me. The only way I knew how to do that was to work really hard and not make anyone mad.

When I went forward for the alter call that day in February 2006 I really had no idea what I was doing ie: salvation. I went forward after a rush of emotion, it may have been contrived; it also may have really been from the Holy Spirit, urging me forward.

My early days of faith were spent in a Jesus bubble. I was either at church or with people from church 24/7. Living in the crisis pregnancy home that was run by one of the bigger churches in South Florida gave me the opportunity to change my life. It was a home run by the church so naturally Jesus was the answer to all change.

We were always doing something church related and now I can see why everything seemed so easy in the beginning. I was in a bubble of Christians, church, bible studies and 3 services a week. It made faith simple and without struggle. It was when the bubble popped that those legalistic ideals became stronger.

God seemed like He was who I needed Him to be. He was supposed to fill me with a love that was unequal to human love. That sounded like heaven to me after the first 24 years of my life. I need someone to love me; it seemed at that point like God was the one. He was supposed to be faithful to his promises, He wanted his children to love him but if they didn’t then BAM hell it was.

As the years went on though something didn’t fit. There were things I was told I have to believe in order to “be a Christian.” Those things were paramount to faith and Christianity. I was told to defend my faith, to stand up for what’s obviously right (conservative, right winged politics, giving beyond what you realistically can.)

The ever ready defense of faith started to slip though and I found myself thinking every time I spoke that I was a fake. Still I held on to the hope that every bible study I did, every conference I went to or every time I spoke about God that I was living the way He wanted me too. In my mind I was sure to wind up on a platform like Beth Moore, jabbering away about Jesus.

I had set up a faith life for myself that didn’t really fit and I was so entrenched in believing that I had to do this or that to keep myself in God’s good favor that I couldn’t see that I was trying to wear something too big for me.

I look back now and see all the signs of where I was either led astray by someone else or by my own thinking. The God I was presented with was a pretty, passive aggressive God who was in a faith box with a pretty pink bow around it. Even though He is God that box seemed pretty small for who I thought He was supposed to be.

Everything started to crumble around my faith in 2012 and for a really long time I lost sight of faith and Jesus and even reading my bible again. I heard the people around me constantly telling me to just trust Jesus; however in light of how my circumstances that was hard to believe.

I had to find it out for myself first, and then I do believe I had to walk through this season of not reading my bible or going to church. I needed to miss Jesus, even though He wasn’t what I thought He was.

He was not bound between the pages of the bible; He doesn’t require that I attend conferences or bible studies. He doesn’t even mind that I don’t go to church because He is outside of all of that.

That’s not to say that those things are good or beneficial, because they are. What it meant to me was that I could lay down all the work, all the tired striving, all the mess my faith had become and just sit with Him in the stillness after the storm.

I learned that it doesn’t bother him if my life is messy, if scripture triggers me, or even if my beliefs about homosexuality or abortion have changed. My mess is His mess as He literally is the perfect parent.

As I find my way out of the darkness that my faith had become and the road begins to clear I realized that the missing him isn’t missing who I thought He was. It became an ignition source to light the fire of faith like never before.

Honestly, it’s hard. I want to walk away some days because my circumstances are out of control. I try to believe this and then that happens. None of those things separate who He is and how he loves his children.

When I struggle the most seeing him as the perfect parent helps. I look at my relationship with Abigail and how I parent her and it makes it easier to believe that His name really is love and hope and peace.

I don’t know where this road is going. It’s different and new but I know that He is on this path with me, as murky and muddy as it gets.

As Always,

Bethany

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