25 July 2008

Marking My Trail

In Philippians 2:12, 13, the apostle Paul gives instructions to "...continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose."

I believe that "working out my salvation" involves putting it into practical expression what God has demonstrated to be true in my heart and life and thus “marking the trail” in my walk as a Christian—like my husband talked about last Sunday.
Over the past few days I've spent a lot of time reflecting on my faith journey and how I've marked my trail. The mountains. The valleys. The good and the bad. And it’s caused me to look at the present and ahead to the future. So, I borrowed some stuff from a few of my old blogs to compose this entry.

I’d been raised in a Christian home since the age of 8, but by the end of my senior year of high school I started acting on negative feelings and began spiraling into a pattern of self-destructive behavior.

It wasn't any one thing in particular that triggered the mindset that led to my decision to participate in these behaviors, but rather a combination of many things: immature emotional reactions to hurtful situations, a desire for belonging and attention, not "owning" my relationship with Christ but rather relying on my parents' relationships with Him instead—and the list could go on. And by the end of 1997, I found myself in a miserable, dark place.
A series of startling and seemingly miraculous events demanded my attention. I reconciled with God and was catapulted from that dark place. That first year and a half was a whirlwind of ecstatic emotion and an intense desire to "make up for lost time" with Him. I felt so alive.

I took advantage of every free moment to read the Bible...breaks between my college classes here, 60 seconds at a red traffic light there. The pages of the Bible I used during that time are covered in fluorescent highlighter marks and notes scribbled in the margins. And it seemed like God was making it a point to encourage me in my faith at every turn. From "healing my car" (don't ask...it was bizarre) to restoring relationships I once thought destroyed, I was in awe of it all.

I've found that segments of the past decade of my life can be best summed up in the lyrics of certain songs. I use songs as trail markers. Disclaimer: The songs I mention are linked to non-Freedom Christian websites containing lyrics and I do not vouch for anything contained in those sites should you venture from the initial link provided.

For me, late 1997-early 1998 are excellently encapsulated in The David Crowder Band's You Are My Joy.

After that initial year, a lot of changes began taking place in my life in a very short period of time. Most of those changes were just a natural progression of life (moving out of my parents' home, graduating from college, getting engaged/married/becoming a youth pastor's wife). But at that point in my life, change didn't come easily. And some of those transitions brought some really ugly circumstances that I wasn't ready to deal with. Then in the middle of it, the death of a close relative caused a rift in my extended family and I was pulled in a million different emotional directions.

As a result, I began taking a tough look at myself. I dealt with some really old issues that had never been addressed—issues that were at the root of what had triggered my downward spiral in the first place. I became very depressed for about a year.

The song that best sums up a big chunk of 1999 and most of 2000 is Jennifer Knapp's Martyrs and Thieves.

By early 2001, God and good council helped me to resolve my issues and crawl out my depression. Since then, I can honestly say that I am very content and happy with my life. My relationship with God is stable and growing. I am thankful daily for what He has brought me through, what He gives me on a daily basis. I know that I can never accomplish anything in my own strength. His grace is sufficient and He has blessed me beyond my faithfulness.

The song that best summarizes my life with Him overall is the David Crowder Band's Wholly Yours.

I know that my hope is grounded in Christ and not my own efforts. But at the same time, I need to take advantage of the ways that God has given me to draw closer to Him. And by doing so, I am able to separate myself from sin and the influences of the world through regular repentance and renewal. As a result, positive, scriptural behaviors become part of who I am.


IssaBeth said...

Roommate was a bad one, so glad she is gone. She was a sideshow act at various goth clubs/festivals. I don't know if she is the correct term, since she was once a man. Yes, you read the correctly. I'm not mistyping anything. I wish I was.
Now it's just me and Nevada and we're happy again.

Lois said...

I like that term "marking your trail". It made me go back in my mind and travel my own trail. We all have our stories, and revisiting those marks is good. I enjoyed the peek down your trail, as well. Thanks!! BTW, that's a great picture of you on the blog. :-)
Love and miss you!

Mary Beth said...

BTW... love you pic. your hair looks great!