Over the past week, I’ve learned my title alone will be considered by some as heresy, blasphemy, sacrilegious, and all those other scary bad words. I even debated on changing it for those people, but then I realized those people are exactly the reason I felt I needed to write this in the first place.
I grew up in a very strict denominational church where I learned a lot about religion and the rules of the bible. I’m thankful for that upbringing. Although I have come to learn there is so much more to being a Christ follower, I can’t discount the many things I did learn from my early church background.
I don’t talk much about my childhood or growing up in any particular church because I’ve always been afraid it might be offensive to my mom who brought me up in that church. I’ll start my writing by saying, “I’m sorry, Mom. I’m going there this time,” and I hope she sees my gratitude and growth in the words that follow rather than feeling offended by some of our differences in belief.
From very early on, I read scripture much differently than I read it now. It seemed everything I read in scripture reminded me of what I’m not and how unattainable I believed all the “rules” to be.
Even now, I sometimes catch myself reading scripture about what a wife, mom, and child of God is supposed to look like, but I leave feeling defeated because I know I don’t look anything like that. I try, but I always fall short. In my early years, every time I read scripture I was reminded of how much of a sinner I am. Don’t get me wrong. I know I’m a sinner, but there’s a difference in what I’m reading now vs. then. Back then, the words on the pages of my bible were not viewed so much as loving words to me as they were critical of what I am not and reminding me that I’ll never be what those words say I should be. I was reading through a religious and legalistic lens rather than a relational one.
My strict denominational background did not teach me these things, mind you, but it definitely fostered this way of thinking, and because of that, I grew up keeping a lot of things hidden, like having a glass of wine, for example. I kept things hidden for fear of being judged and fear of people realizing that I’m a failure.
That word is one of the ugliest words I can say to myself . . . and I’ve said it to myself so many times and in so many different ways.
Have you ever done that? Have you allowed your self-talk to tear you down, break you to pieces, chew you up, and spit you out before stomping you into the ground?
Do you know that I can’t find scripture anywhere in the bible that suggests I’m a failure, yet that’s all I heard when I used to read it? Nowhere do I see anything that even resembles this. Instead I find that Jesus set me free from my failures, and through him I can remain free.
What is your negative self-talk? Are you calling yourself a bad name? Are you saying to yourself that because you did something wrong that you are now something wrong? Can you find scripture that says that to you? I urge you to stop reading right now and immediately go to your bible and find scripture that backs up that negative self-talk. Then, come back here. It’s okay. I’ll wait.
Likely you didn’t find anything. However, if you’re like me, you may have read something like this:
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.
James 1:19 (NIV)
But you may have heard this:
Remember how angry you got the other day when your husband did ______ (fill in the blank)? Remember how you yelled at your kids the other day because they were getting on your last nerve? Remember how your daughter was trying to ask you a question that was important to her, but it took her forever to get the words out, and you snapped at her because you were in the middle of doing something else? I bet you really hurt her feelings and crushed her spirit a little, and now she feels like you don’t care about her.
Remember how you heard 3 words from your husband and immediately started yelling because you just assumed you knew how he was going to finish the sentence?
You sure do get angry a lot.
You sure do yell a lot.
You are the reason you made your kids cry yesterday.
You are the reason your husband hates coming home sometimes.
You don’t listen to anybody.
Can you really call yourself a sister in Christ when you can’t even follow this one simple scripture?
If you really were God’s child, you would be able to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.
Are you really a child of God?
You clearly fail at this.
You can’t do it.
You get angry too quickly and too often.
Do you ever really listen to what people say to you before getting angry?
A real child of God wouldn’t get angry so quickly or so often because she would allow Jesus to handle it.
You fail at it too often.
You’re a failure.
You might as well stop trying so hard because you’re clearly going to fail at it every time.
You are a failure.
James 1:19 (MISTY NEGATIVE SELF-TALK; ENEMY TRANSLATION 101)
Sweet friend, this is real.
Remember my personal bad word is failure, and my mind can certainly take me from anything good or bad and somehow end up at failure . . .
. . . If I let it . . .
My guess is yours will take you to whatever your personal bad word is if you let it.
Let’s change our personal bad words and negative self-talk and replace them with God’s loving truth.
I’m writing this book to all the people who live life religiously rather than relationally. I’m writing to all the people who grew up feeling judged by scripture, judged by the church, and who sometimes hide things out of fear of judgment or fear of failure. I’m writing to all the people who read scripture and feel it’s all about the rules and wrath of God rather than the unconditional, unexplainable, unstoppable, never ending, absolutely wonderful and beautiful love of God. I’m writing this book to you. And I’m writing this book to me.
You’ll see my writing is real. It’s not coated with sugar and sprinkles and cherries on top. I’m not a bible scholar. I’m not a theologian. I’m not – by any means – perfect, and that will be very clear as you continue reading. You’ll also see I am not – by any means – a failure. Just like you, I am a precious daughter of the King of Kings. I am just trying to live life to glorify him, and I miss the mark often, but my heart is there. You’ll see I love Jesus so very much . . .
. . . and I sometimes enjoy a glass of wine . . .
. . . or two.