So P&W tonight - wow.
I've been praying all week that it would be something I need to hear. I just feel like I'm getting a bit too comfortable where I am. I want keep growing and learning new things; I don't want to stay where I am.
So it's a good thing God answers prayer because I needed to hear what was said tonight. Bad.
The message tonight was on "Climbing down the ladder" about our dependence on our reputation. Well, I thought that was something I had already gone through, already learned. My senior year of high school, that was something I really struggled with. That year, when things with Dad fell apart, I felt like my whole life was being ripped to shreds. I realized that my life, for the last few years, had been almost entirely lived for my reputation. I wanted to people to think that I had it all figured out, that I was this perfect, smart, kind, Christian girl. I wanted to be that girl that people looked at and they thought "Wow, I want to be like her." But then things fell apart. My dad was in constant pain, depressed, and came close to committing suicide. This was mostly because of a back problem that he's been dealing with for more than ten years. In the winter time, because of the cold weather, his pain becomes much worse. Things deteriorated until it got to the point that he couldn't work. First he was on medical leave, then he applied for disability. When it became clear that moving to a warmer climate was going to be the solution, that's when my whole life fell apart. I didn't want to move for so many reasons, but one of them was my reputation. I had worked so hard to be that person and I realized that when I moved, no one would know who I was or that I had been a main part in Cinderella, or that I sang the Star-Spangled Banner at basketball games, or that I was valedictorian. What was the point of the last 5 years of my life? It was all a waste. Or at least that's what I felt like. I really, really, really wanted to stay in Elmwood. And once it became clear that we were no going to be able to stay there, I kind of got a little angry at God. I felt like he had betrayed me a little bit. I didn't understand why he was tearing my life apart and why he would take away everything that I knew. I like to know everything that is going to happen. I like to have everything figured out in advance. Slowly, I began to see that God was trying to teach me something through this difficult time in my life, but I still had no idea what it was. Over the nest few weeks and months, I finally starting to get what that was. I think that God was trying to teach me to trust him. Before, I thought that I had everything under control by myself. I was trusting in God somewhat, but I didn't have that much to trust him with - my life was fine. I didn't need God's help when I could do it all by myself. But when things came apart at the seams, I realized that it doesn't matter what you can accomplish here on earth.
Tonight, the speaker asked us at the end of his message "How many of you admit that you let your reputation take over your life?" Most of the crowd raised their hand. Then he asked "How many of you know that Jesus loves you?" Again, most everyone raised their hand. "Why do you do it? Isn't Jesus all that matters???" I think he got it right.
In this American society, we are taught from a young age that the point is to be better than everyone else - to climb all the way to the top of the ladder. But this guy said that we should do the opposite: we should climb down the ladder. That's what Jesus would do. After all, he said "the first will be last and the last will be first."
I desperately needed to hear that tonight. I needed to be reminded that none of this matters.
So tonight, I was reminded of what I thought I already learned. And I was reminded that we are always learning. It doesn't end. It's not like "Oh, I'm done with that. Now I'm good to go for the rest of my life."
And so I sang at the top of my lungs "Everything I once held dear, I count it all as lost."
Thank you for that reminder.