Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Taking 1 step back so I can take 2 steps forward

I think so far this year I've taken one more step toward getting over myself. My ultra-spiritual self, that is. Somehow over the years, I put myself in a spiritual category to which I never live up. An intellectual Christian, or something like that. I like to read the works of these amazing men and women of the faith and imagine that by reading their stuff, somehow we're on the same level. These people set the standard high and I look up to their example. They are super-heroes in my book. They don't memorize Scripture by the verse or by the chapter... they memorize entire books at a time. They don't sit down to do their quiet time out of the NIV, they read it in the original language. They don't do touchy, feely, emotional studies, they parce Greek verbs, read scholarly commentaries and find the true meaning in the Text. Deep down THIS is who I WISH I was. And for a VERY brief time during my college years, it's who I was on the path to becoming. God put some amazing and very intellectual girls in my life whom I love dearly to this day. They challenged and encouraged me in these endeavors and it was a great time for me. Then something terrible happened. I graduated. I left my little bubble of security and had to wake up to a job serving coffee or decorating cakes everyday. I didn't sit in class and get spiritually fed and challenged all day anymore. I wanted to continue what I had begun, but felt paralyzed by the thought of it. I couldn't sit down to do a quiet time with the Lord without my Greek Bible, a good commentary and 2 different translations of Scripture. Then I'd sit there and journal as I read and feel numb. What if I were misinterpreting something? I didn't have my Greek partners to bounce questions off of anymore. I didn't have professors to correct my erroneous thinking. I wasn't ready to be out on my own. I felt I had just enough knowledge to be dangerous. I couldn't "go back" to the way I'd done Bible study before because now I "knew better;" yet the thought of continuing down the path I had begun paralyzed me. Fast-forward to today and not much has changed. Sure, I've had some times of growth, but the overarching theme of my last half decade has been a sense of dissatisfaction and guilt. Guilt that I'm not doing more. Not doing it the "right" way. But God is working. At the beginning of this year, my pride reared it's ugly head, only this time I recognized it for what it was. Hideous sin. My dear friend, Jen, asked me to join her and some of her friends in a commitment to memorize 24 verses this year. We would be joining Beth Moore's Siesta Scripture Memory Team. The first awful thought that raced through my mind, "Ha! Only ONE verse every TWO weeks! That's for amateurs!" Seriously people, I've got issues. To top it off, I got an e-mail shortly after encouraging me to start a plan to memorize the book of Ephesians over the course of the next year. Ooooh... very spiritual sounding and very tempting! In all seriousness, I do think that memorizing entire books at a time is an incredible goal, but the last time I memorized a verse was either through one of Isaac's kiddy cd's or one of the verses that our Awana kids have repeated to me about a millions times. I can't quite say which. The last time I actually made an EFFORT to memorize? Hmmm.... I'm gonna need a while to answer that one. So, I heartily agreed to join Jen and I'm so glad I did! I'm on my second verse and am already seeing the fruits of my labor. I'm trying to choose verses to challenge me where I'm at right now and let me say, the Holy Spirit has been (sometimes gently, sometimes not so gently) reminding me of what I've hidden in my heart. I took a "step back," but now I'm definitely moving forward. Another area I'm working on is taking time to be in the Word again. I'm pretty hit and miss to say the least. Another one of those things where since I can't do it "right" I just don't do it at all. Today I got up when Matt's alarm when off and read Philippians. No journaling. No commentary. I just read and savored the words. It was good... I plan to continue getting up and beginning my day with Him. I don't know what all that will always entail. I can guarantee I won't be whipping out the Greek Bible at 5am (though I am taking small steps to freshen up on that rusty area a bit), but I will strive to start my day with my Savior. Not super intellectual of me and I've taken a step at "step back," but am definitely moving forward. So, I guess the sum of it is: I'm simplifying my "growth methods" so that actual growth begins taking place again. Sigh. That feels much better!