Previously in this series:
Old habits die hard.
At least, that’s how the saying goes and I believe there’s truth in it.
Those things of old are difficult to kill, but not impossible. They can die; there’s some hope in that.
They say your sophomore year is always the worst year. You come in thinking that you know everything because you’re not the new kid anymore, “I’ve been there, done that. Unlike like these fish around here… You see that lost look on their face? Man, so glad I’m done with all of that!”
You are so clueless about what’s to come.
I thought I had it simply because I already been there before, however I was in for a very rude awakening.
God, am I seriously going to be by myself?
That was the thought that came to mind my first day back to Kids Across America. I learned SO MANY things this summer while working there. The funny thing is, I almost changed my mind and decided not to go. There were so many hiccups that had popped up prior to going to kamp that I began to wonder if God truly wanted me to go back at all.
Oh, by the way, once you’ve worked at KAA you know why ‘camp’ is spelled with a ‘K’.
(Insert wink here.)
In all seriousness, I was afraid.
Walking onto the kamp grounds and seeing so many new faces, very little old ones, and all these new people in leadership gave me major anxiety.
My best friend wasn’t going to be working beside in the office. She had been offered her dream job back home in Texas.
One of the my dearest, little sisters in Christ was there, but she was going to be working in a different kamp as a counselor. So the possibility of us ever really getting to hang out was unlikely.
At my kamp, I only saw a handful of people I knew come back. Well, actually, less than a handful. All of them I only got to see or speak to in passing.
Suddenly as I made my way towards check in, the joy that had overtaken me seem to dissipate. I just wanted to go to my cabin, keep my head down and…hide.
My age also became apparent, as I wondered, “Who can I really talk to or hang out with? I’m like the oldest staff member here!” I would celebrating my 29th birthday come July.
Overtime though I would find out just how wrong I was about all of that…
Looking back, before coming to KAA, I was a spiritual mess. I think my last piece showed that as I had shared how I had drifted away from the Lord. I was in a place of “good enough.” I showed up to church, I made an appearance, I said grace over my food. Good enough for me, good enough for Jesus.
Sometimes even now, I think I waver between wanting more out of myself—out of God—and settling for good enough.
However, because I know what I know now, there is a conviction on my heart. You see the beautiful thing about Christ is that once you’ve been exposed to the Truth you can’t un-know it. You can’t use those old excuses like you did before or say how impossible it is when Jesus has shown you otherwise.
And that is essentially what happened at kamp.
As I rode in the car with my boss, driving up to the Da DEUCE (the place where I’d be lodging,) feelings of joy were almost destroyed by old memories of pain.
It was at kamp when I received the news that my friend and soror Sandra Bland had passed away. During that time it was the roughest few weeks I ever had; every day feeling like you’re being held together by a single piece of tape, jumbling around and trying very hard not to fall apart.
So, the enemy tried it, “This is where you found out your friend died.”
Yes, I thought, it is…but this is also where I found out that God has me no matter what the situation is, even when I feel completely and utterly alone.
Here, I thought, is where I truly became strong when I was willing to admit how weak I really am, that the true source of my strength is not with me but in the Lord.
Here, I thought, is where I met some of the most amazing people that to this day I’m thankful God allowed to come into my life.
Here, I thought to myself, is where I grew more and more. I learned life lessons, I matured spiritually, I discovered things about myself I didn’t know I even had in me—good and bad. Here I learned that I am more capable than I allowed myself to believe.
And it is because of all those experiences I had there at KAA that I have decided I will share as much as I can with you all in a five part series. This, I would say, is the introduction.
I am truly praying, that in this, God will reach and touch someone else. Maybe He can remind you through this that regardless of whatever it may be, He IS God and He is STILL able.
He never stopped being able to do all things; never has and never will.
I hope I’m able to renew or restore someone’s faith the way God did for me.
It’s interesting how backsliding works. One day your seeking Jesus’s face; the next day you’re out in the middle of the ocean. You don’t know how long you’ve been out there; you haven’t even noticed that Jesus isn’t within view anymore. It just happens to be that you catch yourself staring out at nothing, wondering how long you’ve been out of touch with God.
You start asking yourself how much time has passed since you were last with Jesus. Has it been a day, a week—two or three months?
I would say it’s been months, and yet somehow, I think it’s been longer than that.
At least, that’s what it feels like.
I saw all the signs, but it didn’t become real for me until I read the verse Psalm 40:8,
“I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” (Ps. 40:8 KJV)
As the Lord had me meditate on the verse, I began to see that my passion for God had dwindled, if not died. I recall a time when I used to be excited to write poems for Him. I had a bad habit of waiting until the last minute to do the newsletters, but I gave it everything I had. I pushed myself to get the latest issue out even if that meant having to release it late because I missed the date.
I remember having a desire to read and study His Word—a need to study His Word. I can think on those mornings when I started making point to begin my day with prayer. Or when I took my ministry seriously and the assignments the Lord charged me with.
Then somewhere along the way the poems became fewer and fewer. I studied and read less and less. Other things became more important to me; other things were more interesting to me.
And eventually Christ became irrelevant altogether.
Going to church and listening to the message was the highlight of my week. Now they seemed to be dragging. Bible study was a must until it became a monotonous routine that didn’t seem to hold my attention. I struggled to take notes for both Sunday and Wednesday nights.
Even now I recognize that I’m under attack, but I haven’t grasped it because it doesn’t feel like I’m under attack, “I mean, I’m not really suffering; I feel fine…so…”
But that’s one of the devil’s best tricks, isn’t it? The power of deception and making you feel like everything is okay when it’s really not. The house isn’t burning down, so you’re good. Meanwhile the largest hurricane is on its way towards you and you aren’t aware because you’ve been lulled to sleep.
It’s time for me to wake up now. Time to wake up and get back into the fight again.
I need to rediscover my joy for God, to reset and focus back on my purpose, my calling, my ministry.
I need to get back to what’s important. Right now, that is God and my relationship with Him.
If you are in a place right now where serving Jesus seems more like a chore or seeking righteousness genuinely makes you roll your eyes, consider the scripture and what it says. Be honest with yourself—where are you really spiritually? Are you still in love with God?
Or have you found yourself pushing Him away?
Why can’t you grasp it?
I kept asking myself this
You know it’s poison
Slowly killing you from the inside
Like buying the sweetest candy
Known in the world
Hard, crunchy shell
Soft, delicate center
Its glimmer makes every mouth
Its shimmer so appetizing
You feel compelled to take a bite
And you bite
Only to discover it’s rotten
Down to the core
You continue to eat it
You keep buying that garbage
Even though you know
The result is you reeling in sickness
Head stuck in the toilet
As you upchuck every bit of that bag
Of false delights you wasted time,
And energy on…
You know this
You still keep doing this
Why do you keep doing it
If you know it’s only going to make you
I keep asking myself this
Why do I continue to buy into the lie
When I know it’s only going to result
In heartbreak, heartache
And more and more grief
Why, oh why, O’Lord
Do I keep doing this
I remember sitting down one night and I began writing to God. I wanted to better understand why it was I kept falling victim to romanticism. Why did I continuously catch myself up in a snare when I knew the result would mean disaster? I knew ahead of time that runaway fantasy would never come true, but I continued to by into the lie anyway. I went through an episode of this about a week or two ago. I began to grow fond of one of my language partners; it was so nice talking to him everyday, and eventually I started entertaining the thought of “what if.” It didn’t take long before I got ahead of myself (for the infinite time) and had thoughts of us as a couple…until I found out he had a longtime girlfriend.
This is constantly happening to me
I wind up breaking my own heart
For putting all my hopes and desires
That is non-existent
Like taking all your precious
Treasures and riches
And throwing them straight into the
A black hole that devours it
Void of any emotion or sympathy
You can’t even say it enjoys it
Because it’s just simply doing
What a black hole does
—Snippet from “Dark and Twisted Nature”
by Jacqueline S. Sadberry
I was hurt like I had been in times before, but this time was somewhat different. I was extremely angry and bitter, too. I felt myself spiraling into a dark place, thinking, “I just want to be happy…why do I have to go through this crap again? How do I always manage to do this to myself? Why? At this rate I’m always going to be alone! I don’t get it—not again, not again…” After getting everything off my chest, the Lord told me I’m addicted to the fantasy because “everything is perfect. You’re complete. Real life isn’t like that; it’s messy…”
Sometimes the truth is hard to swallow, and ultimately, we don’t want to believe it. We just can’t accept it for what it is so we continue to wallow around in denial. We keep eating that poisonous waste disguised as something delicious. “This time will be different.” “That happened with the last, but this one is sure to work!” “I know I’ll find love this time around. Just wait and see.”
Even when the truth is right there in front of us, and Jesus reveals the devil’s deceptive tactics—detailing every move—we fall for the trap again and again.
I wish I could say that I’ve conquered my battle with romanticism, but I can’t. Right now I wrestle with embracing the truth; God’s Truth.
I have moments of clarity from time to time, “God’s love doesn’t hurt like this.” “The love of God will never deceive you.” “There has to be more to life than fairytales gone bad.” As of late, I realize that I can’t reach the root of the issue for walking in circles around it. Part of that is because I want to know, and then again, I don’t. I’m sure if I can handle it… Somehow I sense once Jesus reveals it to me, it’s going to send me flying.
But I know that I desperately need to end this. This isn’t something I want to take into a marriage…
I can’t un-see
What I’ve already seen
He made his choice
He made it well
I must now go back to waiting
For someone to make that choice
I want to be the one a man chooses
Not out of convenience
Or because it felt right at the time
Or because we’re both two single,
With nothing else to do
He actually fell in love with me
When he looked at me
He saw me right away right as his wife
And he somehow knew
That I would be
I will be
I will, you know?
—Snippet from “Dark and Twisted Nature”
by Jacqueline S. Sadberry
Over the time I’ve been writing this series, I’ve come to see this isn’t something that will affect me and my future husband. My friendships and relationships with my family have been affected to a certain degree, too. It takes; it has taken away so much from the people in my life who deserve more from me. This self quest for self-gratification has damaged me in more ways than one. Therefore it’s highly important that I do something about it TODAY, rather than bury myself in the façade once more.
I may not be completely delivered of this—I honestly didn’t expect this series to go in the direction it did—but I’m glad that I finally listened to the Lord and wrote it. It’s helping me to come to terms with what’s going on with me. I’m not in denial about it anymore.
Time to stop walking in circles and looks towards gaining a healthy future, both naturally and spiritually.
Needless to say, it becomes harder and harder for me to continue this so I earnestly ask that you pray with me for courage to face the things I’ve been avoiding. To remember that this is all bigger than me. When people need a word, I don’t have time to waste on waiting until I feel ready to go forward. That’s not right and we shouldn’t do that.
I wrote a poem today, and in a way it sums up how I feel right about now, but I’ll share it later.
Remember what I said last time about still born children?
Eventually we all have a day when the fantasy comes to an end. It begins to crumble piece by piece, and while the high you’re on is amazing, once it comes crashing down it’s the worst experience of your life. No matter how great those fluttery, passionate waves of desire felt, they were unimaginable to the blows I received when the mirage vanished.
So what happens when you come down from the high?
Pain is right there with its arms outstretched to greet you. They are metal, sharp and pointy blades that slice you up into several pieces. Sometimes you’re chopped, other days you’re minced, and on rare occasions you get sliced so fine you almost like like a whole person from a distance…
Before the pain catches you, however, your thoughts begin to drift in the fall. I have constantly and consistently wonder every time: Why do I always do this to myself? Why do I always have to make myself feel like this?
And for a split second, reason comes to mind. The Holy Spirit speaks to me through this reason and helps to rationalize things, “Jacqueline, this was never real anyway. It wasn’t meant to turn out the way you hoped for because this was not meant for you. It was never meant for you. There is someone else better in store for you—just wait,” but once I hit those blades at full speed all those dark thoughts come creeping back, “You’re going to always be alone. Did you really think this time was going to be any different? You’re so pathetic. There’s no one out there for you.”
Since there’s no solid foundation I accept all that nonsense. Truthfully I am impatient and impatience leads to disobedience. Disobedience lands me in a world of trouble and I end up hurting myself. When Jesus is not what you’re standing on, and you are tormented by the agony you feel, you go right back to what got you there in the first place.
“Oh well—he has a girlfriend. Time to find a new guy to pine over.”
“Dag, that didn’t work out the way I planned. Back to my celebrity crushes.”
“Hmm…maybe I’ll stick to thinking about my dream guy then…”
As I’ve stated before, romanticism is a pacifier. It’s used to distract you from the fact that you’re slowly dying inside, that you need healing and Jesus Christ is the only one who can give it to you. All you know is that the pain is unbearable and you want it to stop. All those sweet thoughts and fantasies become idols—it all causes you to ignore what’s going on inside. You ignore the fact that you are hurt, angry, confused, shattered.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I haven’t fully received the report. I’ve heard for a long time now that Jesus is better than any arousal I get from lustful thoughts, what I sought after when I masturbated. He’s better than what they sell on TV and in film about sex, better than any man will ever be to me. Jesus is better—I’ve heard this more times than I can count, but I don’t believe it because I have yet to fully experience that for myself. I experienced His goodness in the midst of depression, in the midst of my fits of rage that skirted on the edge of violence. I know how good He is when I’m sad, when I’m dealing with the loss of a loved one. What I have failed to experience is His goodness and how infinitely great He is in the parts of my love life, in my singleness.
Though even now I think I’m beginning to catch a glimpse of it. While I have fallen off into those blades again, the Lord reminds me of His grace.
I fell down earlier this week, and I told myself today what I said then, “Not again…not again…not again.”
But for the first time in a long time I’m finally embracing my wounds. I’m acknowledging the hurt. I still wrestle with confronting the issue and going back to pretending like everything’s fine, but still I’m learning to embrace it.
Slowly, but surely, I am finally positioning myself to let Jesus heal me.