The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34: 17-18
My eyes glanced up and down the bookshelves in my office. Where is a Bible? I thought. I used to be the one to take a Bible to church, WITH a highlighter and a notebook, so I have quite a few versions that are heavy with markings. I silently found it amusing that I couldn’t locate even one of them. Since I feel more connected to God than ever and much of it has happened organically through writing and prayer and conversations with others.
There’s one! I reached the far corner and grabbed my old KJV Bible, Kenneth Copeland Edition, off the shelf to look up a few verses on faith versus fear for our third Jesus Anonymous Virtual Bible Study, Yep, this one was severely highlighted too! Sitting on the couch I flipped through, and out fell a paper folded in quarters and scribbled on back with the tell-tale markings of a toddler’s hands.
DAILY CONFESSIONS it said up top and it was a page and a half of Bible verses melded together into one flowing ‘declaration’ that you are supposed to say everyday over your life. I remember it well. Here’s how it starts…
I set the course of my life today with my words. I declare today that I will not be defeated, discouraged, depressed or disappointed today…..
It goes on…..
As I speak words today, they come to pass; they go before me, they bring things to pass that I desire; and they stop all attacks, assaults, oppression, and fear from coming to my life.
And it finishes with commanding your emotions “Peace be still,” and removing all mountains of discouragement, depressions, lack, insufficiency.
This provided me with the perfect declaration to escape the pain of my father’s sickness and ultimate death from cancer at a time when I didn’t know how to deal with the storms of life.
Just ignore the storms.
If you have faith you don’t have to feel sad or depressed or discouraged. Because God has a plan and you’re right in the middle of it! Can’t you see that? Faith sees what is not seen. Come on, April. Smile. Have faith!
And so I did. I pretended everything was okay. In fact, I really believed it. I said my DAILY CONFESSION believing in my heart that faith can solve every earthly problem and take away every bad feeling. Afterall, if you have faith, you never need to feel bad.
I became a master of my feelings. Or so I thought. I also lost my ability to identify with your pain. I didn’t understand the nuances of life. I lacked compassion for others who were suffering. Wasn’t it just their responsibility to believe and their own absence of belief that had them in such a bad spot? How can I help that?
So this became my way of living. And it worked until it didn’t work anymore. Now two years sober and seeing this alternate reality for what it is NON-REALITY, I am slowly allowing myself to feel the full spectrum of emotions again. It feels scary. And I don’t want to give myself permission to go to the depths of pain that I have overlooked. I am learning to allow you the space to feel your pain too. When usually I’d just try to make a joke, get you to laugh and write it off.
Jesus felt joy and pain. He felt frustrated when his disciples didn’t understand. He felt compassion for the woman at the well. He felt anguish in the Garden of Gesthemene. He was HUMAN, not a robot. And so are we. Humans can feel and that is where the richness of life unfolds.
I am learning that. One. Day. At. A. Time.
Being fully aware of emotions is not easy. But without that vulnerability and transparency, we can’t live a life of emotional connectedness with others. And that is also painful. I’m committed to looking under the rug and seeing what I have swept under there ‘for the sake of believing’ and dealing with it. And I know that God is with me and I believe the richness of my relationship with Him now is based on the reality that I am finally having some self-honesty.
What a concept.
I am willing to go the road less travelled.