Thursday, March 20, 2014

My Dirty Little Secret by Christie Smith

Here it is. The truth. I used to hate to read my Bible! When others talked about loving to read God's Word or waking up early just to have an hour or two of "quiet time," well... I thought they were a bunch of liars! Oh, I joined right in, even though I didn't understand how they were so joyful about it. I wanted to have the joy they were talking about, but frankly, I just didn't get it. I had tried everything I thought you were supposed to do to have the right kind of devotion time. I got up before dawn, cued the cheerfulness, had my notebooks and commentaries and different translations all laid out and ready to go, I ignored my grumbling stomach, I would read for 20-30 minutes straight, sit still and wait for God to speak to me...wait to be inspired. And every time I wasn't inspired I felt like a failure. So, when people talked of their love for the Bible, I felt guilt and shame that I didn't love it too. 

Then I started to notice something. There was this voice inside my head that discounted every brief moment I did love the Bible. Like listening to a song on the radio that had scripture in it and totally relating to that verse in a new way. (But that doesn't count as studying.) And I found that I absorbed more and liked it better when I read Scripture a little at a time throughout the day. (But that doesn't count as a quiet time.) All of the journals I had that were supposed to be filled with inspirational thoughts from God, I started writing verses in them. Just verses, no thoughts of my own whatsoever. (But that's not really studying). And sometimes I couldn't get up early because I was tired or sick or the kids beat me to it. (You're so lazy!) Over and over again, I explained away the things I did enjoy about the Bible. I continually discounted them because they didn't meet my definition of what a devotional study time looked like. For some reason I had this thought that if it was fun and easy, if I enjoyed it or it made my heart happy, then it didn't count. I mean, truly devout, "holy" people weren't supposed to enjoy life...right? God wants us to be miserable in our humbleness and self-pity...right? When I finally realized what I actually thought, I realized how stupid it sounded! Did I really think God wanted the Bible to be unpleasant and for me to be unhappy? And who was this person in my head saying all of this?! 

Finally I let go of my preconceived notion of what a quiet time is supposed to look like. Sometimes I have lots of time to spend reading and studying His Word...most of the time I don't. But I know that God loves me either way. And my relationship with God is mine. Not yours. Not my husband's or my best friend's or the so-perfectly-holy-woman on the other side of the sanctuary that I will never be because I'm not her. I'm me! And that's ok with God so it better start being ok with me! 

Here's another little secret: the moment I let go of the guilt and shame and started enjoying those brief moments I found with God, I actually started loving the Bible. I started looking for spare moments throughout the day to read or memorize Scripture. I started getting up early because I wanted to, not because I had to. I was becoming one of those crazy people that loved to read God's Word! And you know what? They weren't liars after all. 

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