Darkness and Light

This post will be a bit dark and personal. I’ve been writing this post on and off for a couple months now. I’ve debated whether to actually post it, but honestly I don’t know what else to write. This is what’s been on my mind lately.

I’ve been in a dark place lately. I go in and out of depression on a regular basis, and lately it’s been pretty bad. When I’m in a mindset like this, I become very reflective. I think of where I used to be, which was a really dark place mentally, and where I am now. I am in such a different place from where I used to be; I am such a difference person from who I was. However, I still get into some pretty dark places. I’m in one of those currently.

About a year ago, I was memorizing some bible verses with one of my best friends. I remember when I originally started to memorize these verses I felt so convicted and highly uncomfortable. To this day, I still do.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word had no place in our lives. 1 John 1:5-10

These verses bring so much to mind for me. They are both convicting and uplifting. They’re very hopeful to me, but a little uncomfortable to read because of the bluntness. I don’t know about any of you, but when I begin to think about the contrast of the light and darkness here, my mind goes on a little tangent. Light and darkness. Heaven and hell. Angels and demons. Good and evil. Happiness and depression.

About three years ago I was diagnosed with depression, social anxiety, and generalized anxiety. I don’t try to think of myself as someone with depression or anxiety because if I think about it I get consumed by it. It’s still there, though, and I’m often very bitter about it. I think of depression and anxiety as personality traits of mine because, to me, they are. I forget that I can fight them, and they really get in the way of me living my life in a way that represents my faith.

In a few months I get the opportunity to study God’s word at a university that I’ve wanted to attend for a little while now. I want to do mission work, and I’m excited for it to help prepare me to do so. When filling out some paperwork, though, it asked about issues that might interfere with what I want to do. I felt compelled to put down my depression and anxiety, because if I didn’t it would have felt like a lie. I almost never put down that I have depression or anxiety on forms, even if it asks, because I feel so ashamed about it.

I have had a very lucky life. I have a great family and live in a nice house. I have the best friends in the world. I have way more clothes, shoes, books, music, etc. than I need. If I want something, I tend to get it. I’m ridiculously spoiled, and looking at my life I don’t really have a reason to be unhappy. I feel like such an ungrateful person because I’m like this. I don’t feel like I am allowed to be sad or anxious. It sickens me that I am so lucky yet still feel this way.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst. 1 Timothy 1:15

This is one of my favorite verses, because I often feel like a pretty terrible person for feeling depressed or anxious. There is so much more that I could do with my life that I do not do. I don’t share the gospel as I should because I have a fear of talking to people. I don’t make the grades I should because I spend most of my day avoiding my life. It sometimes seems so meaningless to do everyday tasks, but I know those every day things add up to something so much bigger.

There was a post I read somewhere where someone said something to the effect of “God forgive me for not always reading my bible like it’s vital.” That has stuck with me, because it’s so true yet so neglected. I know I neglect to read my bible on a regular basis, and that’s something that I really need to work on.

I am such a sinner and I deserve so much condemnation. Because of Jesus, though, I am saved. Jesus came to save sinners. Jesus came to save everyone. Jesus came to save me.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 1 John 1:5

There’s so much darkness inside of me. There’s so much sin, sadness, and shame. It’s crazy to me that a perfect God sees me with all of my sin and all of my darkness and still loves me. He sees His people constantly choosing things of this world over Him, and He still loves each one of us and would welcome any one of his children back home in a second, like the prodigal son. God is so perfect. God is light.

If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 1 John 1:6

This is the verse that really gets to me and condemns me. I know the difference between right and wrong, and I still sometimes choose to do wrong. I get so tempted by the darkness. It’s so intriguing to me. Even though I know that I am already a rather pessimistic person I read depressing books, watch depressing movies, and listen to depressing songs. It’s almost like I try to perpetuate the darkness in my life. I have a human inclination towards sin. I’m so much happier in the “light”, but I’m so intrigued by the “dark”.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 1 John 1:7

I see the difference it makes when I’m focused on God. I am infinitely happier. A problem is that I don’t normally live very openly. It’s easily to fall back into darkness when I’m not open about it. No matter what, I should live openly and honestly. I should walk in the light.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:8

I know that I am sinful. When I was in elementary school this used to be such a difficult concept for me to grasp. I was a good kid and I knew it. I was also stubborn and never saw where I was wrong. One time in Sunday school, my teacher asked all of us to write down a sin we had committed that week. I genuinely could not think of anything, and told that to my teacher. She gave me a look that said “Seriously, you’re not perfect.” But I really didn’t understand. I knew that I wasn’t perfect in theory, but in actuality it was so hard for me to see that. I remember making something up so that I had something to write down.

Now, I’m overwhelmingly aware of my sins. In worldly views, I’m a pretty good person. In actuality, I’m no better than anyone else. I’m deeply ashamed and I like to hang onto that shame for some reason, instead of just letting it go and handing it over to God. I don’t like to let other people know my mistakes either, and that goes directly against what this verse is saying. Anyone that knows me even slightly knows that I hate to be wrong. When I’m wrong I just pretend that nothing even happened. Again, this is not living openly, which I really need to try to do. I’m not perfect and I don’t want to pretend to be.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

Through Jesus Christ, we are made righteous. That is so wonderful. Each one of us are deserving of nothing but death, but Christ died for us. I mean, that fact never gets less amazing. All we have to do is ask for forgiveness and we are forgiven.

If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word had no place in our lives. 1 John 1:10

This verse is so blunt. If we claim to be perfect, then a huge part of Christian doctrine is a lie. None of us are perfect and none of us can be perfect. Through Christ, who was perfect, we are made perfect. I don’t want to be someone who goes through life ok with my faults. I want to constantly strive to be like Christ. I don’t want to ignore my faults or be content with them, I want to face them and fight them.

because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. Hebrews 10:14

But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation. Colossians 1:22 

Because of Jesus, I am whole. I don’t want to take that for granted or dwell on negativity. I don’t want to continue to be so content with living like I’ve been. I want to live much more openly so that I can properly show what God has done and continues to do in my life.

 

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Ignorance isn’t bliss.

I hate the saying “ignorance is bliss”. That saying is ignorant. Ignorance is terrible. Ignorance is stressful.

I’m the type of person that likes to know everything. Like, literally everything. I aspire to be that obnoxious know-it-all. With God that becomes a bit complicated.

This past year has felt like a giant “pause” in my life.

I’ve been at home going to a community college until I can go back to a university next semester. I haven’t done much. I’ve been pretty unproductive. I feel a bit useless.

It’s hard for me to see the meaning of this past year in my life. I have to constantly remind myself that God’s still working in my life even if I can’t see it. It’s ok if I don’t always understand why something happens. It’s ok if I’m sometimes “ignorant” about my own life.

I feel like I’m pretty good at looking back in my life and understanding why things worked out the way they did. In the moment, though, I don’t. I mean, I understand why I’m here. I see what has brought me to the place I’m in. It’s just the constant question of, “What’s the point?”

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. Isaiah 55:8

My way of wanting to know everything, including everything about my own life, is not God’s way. Sometimes it seems like such a basic request, wanting to know my own life. But then again, my life is not my own. It’s God’s. I remember last year in my sociology class the teacher had us plan out our lives. I made a plan for my entire life. I was actually SO proud of it. It was a good plan. I loved it. Not too long later on, I noticed God pulling me in a new direction. Basically, the complete opposite direction. It was almost like God looked at my “plan” and was like “You’re hilarious but that’s actually not even close.”

In the long term I’m ok with this. I know that whatever God has planned for me will be so much greater than anything I could have planned for myself. Would I have planned to come back home for a year? Definitely not. But there’s a reason for it.

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21

God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding. Job 37:5

I’m sure that eventually I’ll look back on this year and say, “Wow. I’m so grateful for that extra year with some of my best friends.” or “Wow. It was great to spend that time with family.” If this was God’s plan for me this year, it’s no doubt the best plan. There are good things about being here, they’re just overshadowed by my lack of desire to be here.

Which kind of leads me to one of my favorite verses:

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24

It’s one of my favorites because I like to pray it. I’m often blinded by things in my life. I let my emotions get in the way. I stop searching for God’s plan in my life. I inadvertently add to my ignorance. I know that I’m being blinded by things in my life. When I can’t see the good, that’s not God’s fault. I’ve blinded myself. So, I ask God to lead me. I ask God to show me my faults. Show me where I’m blind and where I’m ignorant.

I don’t need to know everything, but I need to make sure that I’m not the one keeping myself from realizing God’s plan. I want to continually try to prepare myself for whatever God has in store for me. I don’t want to continue dwelling on what I don’t know or what I don’t like. THAT would be ignorant.

 

Something to Say

This morning, after finishing a Spanish test early, I was walking around campus somewhat bored but on a mission to get Starbucks (because coffee).  I got stopped by this very friendly lady who was standing next to a girl who I assume was her daughter. She said, “Excuse me- do you know God the mother?”

“What?” I, of course, immediately replied. I was sure I misheard her.

She then told me she was doing a project, which I assumed was for a class since we were on a college campus, and was wondering if she could talk to me for a moment. I told her that of course she could. She asked if I was a Christian, which I quickly said I was and, now thinking she might be doing evangelism (and selfishly really wanting my coffee), I told her that I didn’t want to waste her time. As I started to walk away she said “no, no” and motioned me back. “Ok”, I thought, “This will be a nice conversation at least”. She asked if I believed in the bible and I said that of course I did. She then asked me again, “Have you heard of God the mother- it’s in the bible?”

Still thinking I misheard her and quickly becoming very confused, I asked her to repeat herself about five times. When I was sure of what she asked, I stood with a blank look on my face trying to figure out the implications of what she could possibly mean. I know God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit- the trinity, three in one. Surely, I thought, she must mean God the Father. Maybe she was taking a more “gender neutral” stance on religion? Maybe she was doing a project to see how easy it would be to get someone to believe something? I was curious to see what she was talking about and how she intended this conversation to go.

As all this was going through my mind, I neglected to actually answer her question. So, she asked again and (thankfully) clarified what she meant. “Many people know God the Father but there is also God the mother.” she said, very enthusiastically. At this I stopped. I asked her what denomination she was, and she told me non-denominational. “It’s in the bible!” she kept saying, “Many people go to church every Sunday but don’t know about God the mother.” So, I decided to let her do her spiel out of great curiosity of what she meant. I was hoping she didn’t mean what I thought she meant. She did.

I later looked up everything she told me to find out what her exact religion was and discovered that it all fit with something called The World Mission Society Church of God, a Korean religious movement that started in 1964. So, it is a bit different from mainstream Christianity and does not agree with much of what Christianity teaches.

She opened her bible, asking if I have one and if I’ve read it. At this point I’m feeling a little guilty for not having my bible with me. I’m also feeling guilty because I’m still working on reading the entire bible straight-through. Because of both of these, I’m feeling very unprepared for what I know is about to occur, so as she finds the verse she wants to show me I pray a quick prayer that I try to pray quite often- God, give me the words to say and the wisdom to know how to react. By this point, I knew that I would need something to say.

The first verse she showed me:

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. Revelation 22:17

She asked me who the bride was and I replied with the church. She told me this was wrong, but I know it’s what the bible tells us:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. Ephesians 5:25-27

She tried to say that it had more than one meaning, like how the temple can refer to Jesus’ body as well as a physical temple. She asked me what the water of life was in the Revelation passage and I replied with the Holy Spirit and, basically, eternal life. She agreed with the eternal life aspect of that, and turned to another verse of the woman at the well:

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14

She said that it doesn’t make sense that the bride in the Revelation passage could mean the church, because we cannot give others eternal life. That’s very true- we as people cannot give anyone eternal life. Here’s the thing, though, and I wish I had thought to say this to the lady I was talking to: we are not alone. That passage says “the Spirit and the bride” and the key is the Spirit.

She turned to another verse in Revelation

One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, and I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. Revelation 21:9-10

and she paired it with a verse in Galatians.

But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. Galatians 4:26

At these, she eagerly told me that Jerusalem is the bride- and that’s true because Jerusalem in these verses is referring to the church as well. What I don’t agree with was her then saying that this meant Jerusalem was God the mother. She’s getting this from the Galatians verse, which, while a clever way to present this, is misguided. When taken literally, that thought process she demonstrated makes sense, but Galatians 4:26 is very figurative and is talking about the church. These verses are all being drastically taken out of context.

After showing me these verses, our conversation quickly ended to my dismay.

When I told her that I didn’t see what she was seeing in this verses, she told me that how I was reading them was “adding to the bible”. While I told her that I was not and I was very curious to see where else she saw this connection she replied with, “All 66 books of the bible prophesy this.” After telling her that I myself have read much of the bible and have failed to see this but would love for her to show me more, she told me again that it was there. This time, though, she said something that really bothered me. She said that salvation depended on it.

Now, if there’s one thing I’m confident in when it comes to my faith, it’s that salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ alone. The bible makes this very clear. It’s not a secret; it doesn’t try to hide it.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

“then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:10-12

They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved- you and your household.” Acts 16:31

And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Acts 2:21

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” Luke 19:10

So, immediately after she said that my salvation depended on it I said very pointedly that salvation comes through Jesus Christ alone.

At this, she glanced at her daughter and prepared to go. I asked her to show me more. I said that I always love having spiritual conversations and was happy to hear more of what she had to say. She told me that if I wasn’t going to believe in what the bible says there wasn’t a point. I again told her that I do believe in what the bible says and have a close relationship with God, but she simply told me to have a nice day and walked away.

I wish that I could’ve said something to convince her to stay longer. I wish that I would’ve had more educated responses in the moment to the verses she showed me. I wish I was a more articulate person. More than anything, though, I hope that something I said stood out to her and helps her learn more about who God is. I know that God was helping me through this encounter.

I learned that I really need to make sure I have something to say in these situations. I need to become much more prepared for spiritual conversations- especially with those who disagree with me. After several hours, my thoughts cleared up a bit and I felt like I finally had something to say, which made me feel compelled to write this post. Next time I just hope it doesn’t take me quite as long.

A quick thing about fear.

I live in a constant state of fear. I am an overly anxious person. I like to tell myself that that’s just how I am and it’s ok, but I know it’s not. God tells us not to fear and not to worry, however I’m sure that at some point all of us have been afraid. All of us have been anxious. All of us worry.

I have this devotional app, and yesterday I opened it for the first time in a while and was shocked by the connection I had to a particular devotion. It was titled “Where I’m From” and it was all about anxiety. Some particular quotes stood out to me, and I really wanted to expand on them:

-“I crave anxiety because with her, I feel alive.”

At first when I read that phrase, “I crave anxiety”, I was conflicted. I don’t want to be anxious. I’m well aware that as a Christian I should go to God with my worries

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 4:8

but I don’t always do that. In a way I do crave anxiety. Why?

-“She keeps me running and chasing for meaning and purpose.”

Anxiety can fool you in the moment. It can seem like a good thing. It might seem like you’re just concerned about meeting your goals or finding your purpose. It doesn’t always seem like pointless worrying.

I don’t like to admit when I’m anxious. I confuse anxiety with caution and motivation. I claim that my fears are reasonable, and sometimes they are. More often than not, I create them. I have created a fear of going to places by myself, I have created a fear of talking to classmates, I have created a fear of annoying everyone. I have created a fear of life. These fears aren’t realistic, these fears aren’t productive, and these fears aren’t reasonable.

I try to place blame on other things to lessen the ridiculousness of my anxiety. A lot of us like to put the blame on something other than ourselves. My favorite excuse is: “It’s just this place.” I have plenty of variations of that statement that I use to “explain” why I’m so anxious. For my hometown it’s “I know too many people here.”. When I was living in Texas last year it was “I don’t know enough people here.”

-“You need to get out. …And somehow, no matter where I move or what job I have, I still need to get out.”

Even earlier today I was thinking that things will somehow be better once I get out of this town again. Then I stopped myself, realizing that the problem isn’t the place. I always seem content in a new place for a while, and then I always find something to complain about and I feel like I need to “get out”. I don’t feel like I can succeed there, so I want to go someplace where I think I can. I shouldn’t be seeking an earthly place though, I should be seeking a heavenly one.

“Instead, they were longing for a better country-a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” Hebrews 11:16

-“Without God, life is only what I make of it.”

That statement filled me with dread. Without God- who gave us life and guides us through it- what can we do? We’re completely hopeless.

“Not that we are competent in ourselves, but our competence comes from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:5

“He is before all things and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17

“So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” 1 Corinthians 3:7

-“My hope and ambitions are outlined by what I can do on Earth.”

God’s plan doesn’t always line up with our ideas. He takes us to places we never would’ve expected. God is certainly not predictable, so why am I afraid about not meeting my goals? If I seek God plan for my life, I know He’ll work through me. It’s God’s plan, not our own, that we need to focus on.

“However, as it is written: No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” 1 Corinthians 2:9

“God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” Hebrews 11:40

-“If I don’t harness these anxieties- if I let them rule my emotions, my energy, my care- then I show myself to be fighting against God. …The God who saved me from an otherwise drifting existence and gave it meaning.”

God can do infinitely more than we can. So when I fail to go to God with my worries, I’m fighting against him. Working with him would be following what I know he wants me to do. I’m not just hurting myself, I’m hurting what could’ve been accomplished while I was busy worrying. God will work, I just need to trust Him.

“By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.” 1 Corinthians 6:14

“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

🙂

Returning to God- again and again and again

Hi! I’m Bailey. I’ve started blogs on and off for about the past three years. This one, though, is going to be much different from the rest. My old blogs- those were all about me. This blog is all about my God.

I’ve been struggling lately with reading my bible and studying His word. I’ve been caught up in school, friends, and (if I’m being completely honest) Netflix. Those things are all fine and dandy and all, but not when they keep me from more important things- THE most important thing.

In the past few weeks I’ve dug myself into a sort of spiritual hole. I stopped doing my daily bible studies and progressively felt worse about doing so. Since I felt bad about not doing them, I avoided doing them more. I’m not sure why. Did I think God was mad at me? I looked through some of my favorite verses today and here’s what I found.

“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Joel 2:12

Even now. Those words always stick out to me as so beautiful.

I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you. Isaiah 44:22

I’m a sinner. We’re all sinners. I am a sinner. By not focusing on God, I’m sinning. I constantly sin when I put small, meaningless things ahead of Him. When I choose to watch Grey’s Anatomy instead of reading my bible that day, I’m sinning. I know this but I do it anyways. Even though I constantly sin, God constantly forgives.

The fact is, God just wants me to come back to Him. No matter how far we stray, God always wants us to come back to him. Whether you haven’t picked your bible up in weeks or decades- God just wants you to come back to him. When I get to these points, I always like to think about the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) and how the father rejoiced at the sight of his son returning home.

But we had to celebrate and be glad because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. Luke 15:32

The son didn’t expect this welcome- he didn’t deserve this welcome. We don’t deserve that welcome.

I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men. Luke 15:19

I am not worthy to be considered a child of God, but I don’t have to be. I forget this a lot. In this world we’re supposed to earn everything, but we don’t have to earn God’s love. We can’t earn God’s love. Thank goodness. He loves us when we don’t deserve it. He just wants us to come home.

So that’s what I’m trying to do right now. That’s the purpose for this blog. To help document my growing relationship with my perfect God and to share it with anyone who might want to read it. I’m excited to see what comes from this little blog adventure.