When I was in my 20s, I was obsessed with the fear that I was not actually saved — that my so-called “faith” was nothing but an elaborate web of self-deception that would end in eternal damnation.
Here’s a tough memory verse for all of us social media users: “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless” (James 1:26). “Worthless.” Whoa.
I spent a lot of my early Christian walk hiding the areas of brokenness of which I was most ashamed. It was like I believed the worst stuff would go away if I simply didn’t acknowledge it. All it did, however, was cover up the symptoms until my issues bubbled to the surface, causing me to sink into shame. But over the years, the Lord spoke a lot of comfort to me with this Bible story about a man who was seen as unapproachable.
Yesterday, my wife called me at work and told me there was an animal of some kind in the chimney. “How do you know?” I asked. “There are little pieces of leaves and cotton falling down into the fireplace, and I can hear scratching noises.”
Be careful what you name yourself; and be careful what you allow others to name you. Clown. Dumb blonde.
Last weekend, I got out our trusty, old fake Christmas tree and put it together. But when I plugged it in, I discovered that half of the lights in the middle section were dead.
I know this was stupid, but last weekend, I did two hours of yard work, despite the fact that I had a severe sinus infection. It all happened because my wife was outside planting bulbs, and I just couldn’t handle the fact that she was laboring in the yard while I sat inside and rested (which was exactly what I needed to be doing).
“Margaritas, everyone!” said the worship leader from my new church as she filled plastic cups for the partygoers in her home. I was mortified, and I figured God was too. Then I walked outside where I found our Austrian pastor making conversation and smoking a cigarette. All I could do was put on my best fake smile, bid farewell, and ease away from the party in confusion.
Back in college, I was a high maintenance friend. As I’ve described in my article, “Facing Insecurity, Finding Friendship,” “I always needed a prompt reply to my phone call or email, an enthusiastic ‘yes’ to my invitations. I needed to be coddled and comforted and assured that I was liked. If someone neglected to call back, it couldn’t be because they forgot — no way, it had to be because they were ignoring me and my all-important need for affirmation.”
When I was growing up in Petal, Mississippi, I felt a steady sense of being out-of-place. I didn’t play sports; my dad didn’t take me hunting; I paid the reduced price for my school lunch; and we weren’t Southern Baptists like almost everyone else in town. These were a few of the clues that helped me see that I didn’t belong.
One afternoon when I was 6 years old, I was physically assaulted by a female adult whom I did not know. It happened about 25 yards from the apartment where I lived.
When I was in my late 20s and single, I was afraid I was idolizing marriage, and I had reason to be. I knew marriage was a healthy, God-given desire. But I oftentimes found myself obsessing over it, anguishing over the wait before I met “the one,” and inordinately discouraged when another hopeful romance turned out to be nothing.
The other day, I arrived at the bus stop where four ladies were indiscriminately passing out New Testament Bibles. When one of the ladies offered me a Bible, I tried to decline. But she was insistent, so I tried to change the subject.
I have friends who adopted a little girl from another country, and their child has some significant disabilities that require her to wear a brace on her leg. You would think that fitting braces for a child’s leg wouldn’t be a difficult thing, but it has actually been a long process that has been debilitating and painful for her.
One morning when I was in eleventh grade, I was walking through the school parking lot with Jamie Walker when all of sudden, I saw a big, black Buick Regal come around the corner. It was headed straight for me.