As I studied my Bible this week, focusing on Psalms because, due to a busier work schedule, I needed easy-to-digest scripture study to keep things on the slow living side. Making adjustments is fairly easy to do without sacrificing substance. Two separate scriptures stood out. Psalm 5:3 “…I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation,” and Psalm 6:5 “No one remembers you when she is dead. Who praises you from the grave?”
However, the order should be reversed. First, “No one remembers you when she is dead. Who praises you from the grave?” is quite logical. If I’m dead, I can’t think, let alone praise anyone or anything. But death is relative. I was once “dead” in Christ. I focused on the ethos of this world, what the world valued. I did my best to conform. Misery resulted. I tried to please people that didn’t care for me. I tried to be like people, look like people who were essentially as desperate as I was to be valued, people searching for meaning. Searching for value in a world whose focus on values changes day to day becomes an exhausting, futile, and worthless endeavor. This wasn't slow OR faith living.
Just look at social media or the news. On top and valued one day, no value or attention the next. The world grows bored easily enough, always looking for the next fresh thing. I wasn’t thriving. I wasn’t spending time with Christ each day. I wasn’t studying my Bible. Yes, I was a Christian. I lived honestly, with integrity, but I battled my mind each day. I practiced no purposeful thought management. Flanked by familial DNA for anxiety, depression, suicide, nervous ticks, stuttering, agoraphobia, alcoholism, mixed in with just pure craziness on occasion, my genetic code had set me up to fail in all ways or to damn near come close. If I woke up sad, angry, or bitter, for example, then I was sad, angry, and bitter for a large part of the day. My thoughts took control of me, and I let them. So, I was “dead”. I was in a “grave”. I was grateful for things, appreciated what I had, etc., but I struggled terribly for balance and peace. I wasn’t looking in the right place.
When I made the decision to pursue Him daily, my entire life changed. It continues to change. I’m no longer “dead”, but alive in Him, in His Truths about me not this world’s. I live according to His goodness not what I think I’m supposed to be doing because a celebrity or academic expert espouses a new, trendy ideological concoction.
Jesus is about Truth, about love, about mercy, about compassion, about setting beautiful standards for self and others. If anyone is about slow, faith living, about being a thoughtful person who considers each day, it was Christ. He’s not about judgment, finger pointing, shaming, rigid rules, nor conditional love, especially love based on performance. When I knew that I knew that I was good with God, my sins were forgiven, permanently – He doesn’t bring crap back up to remind me what I loser I was, and when I knew the Truth of how if He is for me then who is he that is against me (Romans 8:33-34), and when I began to meditate on those Truths every day, my life began changing exponentially. I’d been surrounded by people in great pain; to make themselves feel better I often became the focus of their judgement. It was a terribly painful time in my life. I’d given people power they didn’t deserve, nor did they have. I bought into an illusion of humanity’s perception of reality, not God’s.
That’s why is it is so critical to get healthy in self through Christ. This leads to greater clarity and discernment, leads to the ability to know that I’m not people’s problems, not the cause of their problems, and I no longer accepted being made to feel responsible to create their happiness. And I learned I couldn’t expect others to be responsible for my happiness either. I cannot burden another human being to meet all my needs. That is God’s job.
Once I became alive in Christ, no longer “dead”, then I could live out Psalm 5:3 “…I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” I have no patience with someone who says, “I don’t expect much because then I don’t set myself up for getting hurt.” I used to say and think the same. There are two problems with this. I am CALLED to expect great things. I have a big and POWERFUL God. Second, the easiest way to “get hurt” is by being weak in self, in relying too much on outward things to bring me joy. The fact that I’m not going to hell brings me joy. Interestingly enough, Christ talked more about hell than he did about Heaven.
The fact that Christ died for my sins, that I’m totally and completely forgiven, that I’m totally, unconditionally loved by Him, that He teaches me each day to grow stronger in myself and to grow in wisdom, strength, and power keeps me from “getting hurt”. Oh sure, I get disappointed at times. But I’ve never sat in my bathroom at midnight, on the phone with my psychiatrist, wanting to end my life due to despair and confusion, like I did one night when I wasn’t walking in Christ each day.
Psalms, they seem so simple, but they deliver such great depth and beauty in easily digested segments. I never underestimate the Word of God. I never underestimate the power of “death” and its destruction of a human soul. I no longer measure myself according to this world, seek my value through its eyes. Today, I know my value in Him. I know how cherished and worthy I am. I know His power and love. I no longer look to others or “hang my hat” on what they think of me. I don't need to find the next best method of something or wear the next best thing to create joy in my life. And while some days can get rough, there is no power in human negativity over my Spirit that is sealed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Have a beautiful day ~