Right now I am in the midst of reading Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality which maybe one the most amazing books I have ever read. My thoughts about this year might be skewed because of this book. Or maybe I am just enlightened and fired up about next year. Honestly, I am a sucker for metaphorical writing and interesting stories that asks questions and force me to wonder about the existence and meaning of humanity. For example, I read Hyperbole and a Half and I thought it was the most brilliant thing ever written. Or maybe not. I just might have been in a mood which led me to think it was amazing. Anyway the point is mute.
Today is about Blue Like Jazz. I think it is an appropriate end read and starting point for 2016. Recently, someone asked me what I thought of my year. I wasn’t sure how to answer that question. As years go, I guess it was okay. At the beginning of 2015, I was excited because I thought this would be the year I lived with certainty. Fast forward 365 days and I am still not sure about a lot things. I think that is why I love Blue Like Jazz because it is reassuring to know that I am not the only one in the universe who has many thoughts, questions, doubts about Christian faith and living it.
When I was 18, my dad took me aside and told me that he didn’t care if I was successful, rich, brilliant, athletic, or famous. “The only thing I want is for you to love Jesus.” At the time, I was really frustrated by this. All I wanted to do was make my dad proud and I interpreted his words as an impossible ultimatum.
Love was not something I could simply check off a list. It was not something I could really fake without feeling miserable. Plus, I didn’t really love Jesus. My vision of loving Jesus was turning into some religious fanatic who loved attending church, evangelizing on the streets with cliché tracks, avoiding all forms of pleasure, and delivering “God bless you” platitudes even when I felt the complete opposite of blessed. There is nothing wrong with these acts of service, but for me I knew it would be a list of good deeds to please those around me. At 18, making others happy was more important than my relationship with Christ. I was afraid of what I would lose if I truly loved Jesus, and I didn’t understand love. How do you love? I couldn’t tell you.
Today I can frankly say I spent half the year in a fog of discontentment and misery. I thought this year I had been dealt a bad hand of cards. I became caught up in the game of life. I tried to do the right appropriate things to feel accepted and successful. I cared about what others thought of me. I tried to fix me. I also tried very hard to make it not about me and all about God. Nothing worked. I was a little depressed for a while. I always felt on the verge of tears or a rant led on by pent up anger. I became consumed by my dislike of someone.
Then for some unexplainable reason War Room opened my eyes to what was wrong.
I wasn’t focused on Jesus. I wasn’t talking to Him or noticing what He was doing for me.
I wish the truth was more profound, complicated, but this is how it happened. I can’t really describe how or why, but once I acknowledge God I felt different. Suddenly I wasn’t angry at the person who I thought had severely wronged me. Every time I thought of this person, I felt sorry for them and considered ways I could love this person. That really shocked me, because I was very convinced of my negative feelings.
Maybe my circumstances have changed, and that explains the weird contentment I feel. I am scared to write these words, because I feel like I will jinx myself, but I am hoping that maybe I am beginning to understand Jesus love for me and our relationship. Instead of checking a list, I want to do things for God because my love for Him is becoming bigger than my desire to be pleased and noticed. Any way I hope this is the case. It may take a while. I will always have my vices and other triggers, but that is part of being human. I have no resolutions for 2016, only hope. . .
Also of course I want to try something new next year. Plus, I want others to know Jesus does love everyone. There is religion, philosophy, and theories, but Jesus love is the only important part.