“I was a hollow woman, not a holy woman. I said yes to Jesus being my Savior, but didn’t have a clue how He could be the answer to my emptiness.”
Becoming More than Just a Good Bible Study Girl (p.42)
Vulnerability has always been a sticking point for me. In my family, we never show our weaknesses–we learn to cover them up with our strengths. Change the focus, influence the perception. As I get older (and hopefully wiser), I’m beginning to think that perhaps this smoke and mirrors charade is more harmful than helpful in the search for spiritual fulfillment.
I’ve always seen myself as being a little out of place, a little socially awkward. I’ve attributed it to being introverted, to just having a personality where I am not comfortable sharing intimate details about myself and my life with others. My inability to find my voice (literally) was compensated for at a young age through writing in journals. Consequently, my writing voice became quite pronounced while my verbal abilities remain in an infantile state (figuratively speaking, of course–I CAN talk, I just find myself struggling with carrying on a cohesive conversation with confidence). Writing became a way to explore my dreams, to discover my desires, to work through my struggles. I filled journal after journal (even spending a few too many years creating a Xanga blog).
When my father died, I lost the desire to use my voice at all. I felt broken and empty, like nothing could make me whole again. Now, an event like this causes a lot of people to become angry with God–“how could you let this happen to ____?!”–but not me. My attitude toward God instead became one of apathy. I had grown up in the church, prayed fervently; essentially, I did everything I thought a “good” Christian was supposed to do (aside from actually READ the bible, but we’ll get to that). If all that dedication had gotten me was such devastating tragedy, what was the point? I stopped journaling on a consistent basis, leaving me with snippets here and there covering the next 5 years of life. Then came marriage and babies–each addition seeming to detract more and more from my cognitive function (baby brain–the struggle is SO real!) and my desire to write.
Writing was my way of figuring out the world. Without it, I quickly became lost, acting out in ways I am ashamed to look back on now. As the years went by, I figured out ways to cope, and I learned more about who I wanted to become. Yet something was still missing. There was still a hollow part of me that no person, possession, or action seemed to be able to fill.
My grandmother recently passed away, and while sitting in her funeral, listening to her preacher tell stories about her religious devotion, I realized it had been 10 years since I had attended church consistently. 10 years. Coincidentally, this is also the amount of time since my father died, and the amount of time I haven’t quite felt “whole.” Could it be that that that vital component I’m missing is actually Christ?
I have spent years trying to reason with myself that I have accepted Christ as my Savior, so going to church isn’t necessary. Now, I’m not one that believes the only way to Christ is through the pew, but I do believe that is an essential component. My husband and I have struggled to find a church that “fit” us– I grew up in a straight and narrow Methodist church (8am service, hard wooden pew, hymanls); My husband has attended many churches, but they all are “hip” with large, diverse populations (and contemporary music, comfortable chairs, projector screens). We just haven’t been able to find a church that brings the two together.
When I heard about an online bible study through Proverbs31.org, I was intrigued. I didn’t hesitate to sign up (so I couldn’t talk myself out of it) and downloaded the first few chapters of the book. It is a 6 week study centered on Becoming More than Just a Good Bible Study Girl by Lysa Terkeurst. Just the title alone makes me feel like perhaps it can reach that part of me that is empty. Perhaps it can help me figure out how to BE better, not just go through the motions, hoping to magically transform.
I’m keeping my expectations low, but my heart open.