I’ve kept a journal since I was ten. Over the 20+ years of writing down my thoughts, struggles, hopes, and daily activities, there have been a lot of changes.
Reading my journals from my late teens-early twenties can be especially cringe-worthy. Not because they were bad years. Not at all. Those were some great years, no doubt about it.
Those were the years of stepping out on my own in college. Of falling in love with my husband. Of marriage and our first adventures together. Of welcoming children into our life. Of miscarriage and depression. Of feeling lost and not knowing why, of feeling guilty about feeling lost. Of thinking I had to be ‘only’ a mother in order to be a good one. Those were the years of not knowing that I was worth developing as a whole person. Of not even knowing who that whole person was.
It’s my thought processes that I wrestle with from that period.
When I read those journals, I see a young woman who genuinely loved God. A woman who had been studying the bible for many years of her young life. A woman who read and prayed often. I also see a woman who tried so hard to say, read, and think the right things. Who clutched at the formulas and habits taught to her over the years like a life-line that kept her afloat. A woman who constantly measured herself and found herself wanting.
Been impatient with the kids again? Say these words. Find yourself discontent? Read these words. Force your thoughts and emotions back to the place of happiness and joy Christians should have, before you get a chance to really look at them and let Jesus love you in the midst of them.
Shame, shame, shame.
I’m a deep thinker and feeler. I have a lot of emotions all the time. If, according to J. M. Barry, a fairy is too small for more than one emotion at a time, then I am the opposite. (All right, I am on the short side, but that’s not the point.) All the feels, as they say. Learning to let them be and also not be ruled by them is a journey. Learning to interact with God not as if he’s herding me away from my negative feelings with a cattle prod is fairly new to me.
Let me tell you, losing that shame is half the battle. Since when did God shame his beloved? Never.
Funny how much easier it is to be lead by love when you know God isn’t ashamed of you, even when you’re so angry you could break something. (Or maybe you did…)
My bible reading and praying look different than they did a decade ago. That could be its own post. Some of it is freedom, some of that has room for growth. It’s ok. God leads me, like the Psalm says, beside still waters. (Not with a cattle prod.) He restores my soul.
So I can look back at younger me with the compassion he always shows me. She was trying. She was loved where she was. Just as I am now.
And I, I will walk with God forever.