Did you know that the dates in 1995 fall on the same days as the dates in 2006? If I've figured correctly, the same is true for 1989.
I don't have detailed journal entries from 1989 for the most part, and those I do have are not very serious. They might be fun to peek at sometime. Right now I'm thinking about 1995. I looked at those entries last night because there are some interesting parallels in my life right now.
I was 22 years old in early 1995. I don't always like my writing style at age 23; but if I can get past it, some of what I read is very interesting.
I was attending a Pentecostal church at the time, and my journal is littered with notes as I struggled to address questions and issues in my spiritual life. Some of them are things I now know I will face in some form or other throughout my life. Others are things I have come to understand, at least in some way. I have since then changed my church affiliation; but I have not stopped believing in some of the things that led me to the Assembly of God.
January 15, 1995
I need to be taught to worship God. If I obey Him even when I don't understand or feel like it, then I will start to learn how to worship. God doesn't want me to have only head knowledge, but if I let that keep me from reading the Word, I am not allowing Him to draw near to me.
What are the gods in my life? Healing, music, friendship, and a family. Even things that God calls me to do or wants to give to me can become gods.
If I am following Him to the best of my ability, I should not feel condemned when my sin is exposed. I need to repent and change what I am doing. God has given me the power to stop sinning.
Worship is most important when God is not moving.
January 19, 1995
The Jewish idea of the Holy Spirit is that the Spirit is the One who brought God's truth to men. It is the One who taught the prophets what to say. It also enabled people to recognize the truth when they saw it. Open my eyes, Holy Spirit. The Spirit is also the agent of creation and recreation. (William Barkley)
January 22, 1995
Like a shepherd, He will lead me where the food and water are. When a lamb goes astray, the shepherd will break its leg and carry it until the wound is healed. Then it will not leave. God will cause pain in my life in this way. But He does not leave me... He will carry me until my wound is healed. Then I will not want to leave Him.
Satan gets into our minds like flies in sheep's heads. Sometimes the sheep even try to kill themselves to get rid of the flies. The shepherd "anoints" their heads with ointment that causes the flies to leave. Dwelling on thoughts that Satan brings changes me. Dwelling on thoughts that God brings also changes me.
Obedience to God is better than sacrifice. Sometimes obedience is a sacrifice.
"Sanctify yourselves; for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you." What God does tomorrow is based on today's preparation. God tests my obedience by telling me to do things that seem futile.
January 25, 1995
How can I live differently without looking weird? I ask this all the time. For a few days You have been answering. In the last days there will be a great falling away. There will also be a drawing near. Now is the time I must choose which road I will take. My actions will make the decision for me. You are coming for a people who are sold out to You.
The teaching of Jesus is for believers, for people who can understand and apply it.
I enter into the kingdom of God through tribulation. (Acts 14:22) To whom do I call during my times of weakness? Where do I find my strength. The choices I make now cause me to enter the kingdom. This does not mean that I have to "do enough" to get into the kingdom. It means that I show my commitment to Christ by what I do. The kingdom is here when God is in control of my life. Life must be tested in order to be revealed. The kingdom of God is only seen under pressure.
January 29, 1995
To be cursed is to be without the blessing of God. If I do not come to Him, I am cursed. I have created this situation for myself.
I cannot expect God to do what He has told me to do, and I cannot resist doing what I have been empowered to do. Doing nothing allows Satan to get in.
The entries themselves are disappointing to me for a reason. They show a step back in maturity compared to entries from 1990-1993. I have always wondered what happened to cause me to lose my maturity. Some people would be quick to blame the Assembly of God. But if I was truthful, I would say that the problem was not the church or the denomination. It was inside me. I had placed something else in the seat of Christ. What I despise in those entries is the evidence that I gave up so much of my spiritual maturity--and the knowledge that I thought I could continue doing the same work for God that I had done earlier in my life. It doesn't work that way. If I'm going to work for Him, I have to remain near Him and fellowship with Him. If I give up my fellowship with Him, He WILL close the doors of opportunity for me; and that is exactly what happened.
I'm not angry or bitter about this. I'm just sad because it seems like such an obvious thing and I can't believe that I ever did it! If I look back at the entries from earlier in my life, I was so absolutely dedicated to the cause of Christ! I've talked before about feeling that I lacked a foundation; and in many ways I think that was and is true. But there was no lack of commitment to building the house! God was the center of my life, and doing what He called me to do was all I cared about.
I don't understand what happened, and that's why I am experiencing angst over this. What is it that made me so vulnerable to doing this? What changed me? Several people asked me this over the years. Even my mother has asked me. I wish I knew how to answer her. Reading these entries, I see exactly what she saw. And I am as confused as she is. I wonder if she sees me differently now... I hope so... I'm not the bubbly 18-year-old anymore; but I'm not the despairing 22-year-old! And I am thankful that I was continuing to go to church and take those notes! Doing that probably kept me from completely losing touch with who I had been, with the self I appreciate.
The truth is that as I write this, I'm acutely aware that the temptation to put something else before God, to satisfy my own desires right now, never goes away. Now that I am aware of this problem in my life, I need to fortify myself against it.
In February, I read a book called How to Conquer Fear. I remember reading it... It was a little book and I would probably now find it simplistic. However, reading my journal responses to it, I am alarmed by seeing the person I had become. I had grown from a confident teen who had everything going for me into a young adult on the edge of suicide. I have no idea how it happened... How would my life have been different if I had stayed at AU instead of going to SFA? I'll never know. I'm just so glad that God carried me through that time! The amazing thing to me is that all of the things people assume made my life so difficult later weren't the causes of my problems at all. The problems obviously started much earlier. I can see the demise in my writing already. I don't really know how to describe it. My tone is distant, and my prayers sound lofty. I'm not sure if that's the right word... I want to use the word stilted, but I'm not sure what it means. Hollow perhaps. I talk a lot about feeling dry and empty, and it shows!
Fear... My response to reading this book shows that I was very aware that fear was a problem in my life. I was afraid of what people thought of me, afraid that people would stifle me when I tried to live as I thought I should live. I was afraid of people's reactions to my blindness, afraid of being alone while the rest of the world got married, afraid of not being able to control my emotions... But the only response the book offered was to "give it to God" and "walk in power." The concept is good, but the above-mentioned fears represent deep emotional needs that should have been addressed properly in some kind of healing environment--probably through multiple healing relationships. God can work miracles, but more often than not He chooses to use the community of believers to heal by bearing one another's burdens. I was not helped by trying to simply lay these significant issues aside and live spiritually as if they did not matter.
In the long run, I was helped by deep self-examination and counseling and psychotherapy. Fortunately, some people came into my life who were more interested in helping me learn to experience the love of God and learn the truth regarding myself and my needs rather than make me into a "joyful" (aka smily) Christian overnight. Bible answers are wonderful things to know. Good communication skills and ways to regulate my emotional responses are equally wonderful things to know. "Do not fear," is important. However, sometimes fear is a cover for deeper emotions; and getting beyond the fear is necessary to discover what else lies underneath. Trying to live without fear, pretend to be confident, can keep me from discovering real confidence.
On the other hand, when fear controls me, I am vulnerable to doing things that may bring about what I fear. For example, if I fear losing a relationship, I may do and say things in order to cling to or test the other person that actually are damaging to the relationship; and as a result, the relationship breaks down and is lost. Learning to live with confidence matters because it disables these patterns of behavior. This principle was expressed in the book, and it was something that was significant to me at the time.
I had a very strong fear of criticism; and it drove me to do things for other people obsessively. Unfortunately, this made it impossible for people to recognize when I did anything for a legitimate reason, and this caused major problems in my life later. I needed desperately to learn that setting boundaries was ok and even that boundaries were sometimes necessary. It wasn't always about the fact that I needed the boundaries but sometimes about the fact that other people needed the boundaries so that they would respect my limits and abilities.
More in another entry... This is getting long...