During the two months that this blog has been down I have still been writing, so over the next weeks I will post some of those writings here so that you can know where the journey has taken me. This first post was written on a Sunday evening about 6 weeks ago.
‘I don’t know if you’ve ever struggled with the verses about denying ourselves to follow Christ. Losing our lives and keeping them ?
“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?”
Luke chapter 9 v 24 -25
Today for possibly the first time ever, I understood what Jesus was talking about.
I thought I was being asked to give up everything I wanted; everything I needed.
I thought that staying in my marriage was going to be an agonising sacrifice that would hurt every single day.
I thought that I was going to go without so much.
I was terrified that staying would mean that I would have to subsume my personality, likes, dislikes, views, opinions, sense of humour, career, in order to make things work.
I thought God was asking me to do the biggest, hardest act of obedience ever.
But I did it. I did it with tears and heartache.
It’s been an extraordinarily tough time, but today I realised that if I had gained what I wanted 12 months ago – release from my marriage, I would have lost my ‘very self’.
I thought that staying would mean I would give up so much that I had re-discovered about myself, but God is such a generous God he gives back many, many more times what we give to him. I gave him my life as it was 12 months ago. In the process of living out the daily commitment of handing over my life to Him as I have stayed in my marriage, my life has changed, almost beyond recognition. Not my outer life – to many that will look very similar; but my ‘very self’, has become even more so. I know that my ‘very self’ is most alive and most fully as intended, when I am allowing myself to be led by God. I could have gained what I wanted but it would have diminished me.
And although others may not see too many changes, I am not just talking about intangibles. Life is opening up to me in ways that would not have seemed possible before. It is almost as if having handed my life to God He is helping me to fully see myself for the first time. I am learning not to apologise for the person I am, but to live fully, understanding the weaknesses of my self, and guarding those areas, whilst also allowing the good in me to flourish.
Today I returned to the small communion service, with just a few people. Today for the first time in an extraordinarily long time I shared communion believing fully that Jesus’ atonement was for me, and that there is nothing I have done which has not been forgiven. I’m welcome at the table.
What good would it have been to me to get what I wanted, if in doing so I had lost my very self ? If that is what it means to deny myself and follow Christ, then it is a richer, fuller, deeper life than I could ever have anticipated.
It is a life full of Godly interruptions and paths I didn’t plan to walk along. It isn’t easy and my life is anything but straightforward, but I am each day becoming more fully myself as I lean in to Him.
I love the contradictions of grace, where dependence brings freedom and denial of self makes us more than ever before, the people we were created to be.’