I thumbed through the pages of my new journal catching words here and there on each page. I've only had the journal four weeks, yet every entry seems like a completely different person is doing the writing.
How is it possible to be this many people?
One journal. One pen. One hundred recorded emotions.
Waving the journal at my husband, I admitted to him that if anyone were to ever read the pages, they would be convinced that I needed to be medicated or seriously analyzed.
I waited for his standard comment when I mention my ability to encompass all sorts of varying emotions within a very brief window of time.
Usually he says something like, "I love all your different personalities. I just wish I got to pick which one met me at the front door when I come home from work."
Ha. Ha. Funny guy.
But he held his tongue to his usual comment and offered a new twist.
"I think your journals are your medication."
I contemplated being offended by that comment.
But it's an interesting thought.
Maybe he's on to something.
Maybe it's just me, but fully living life can be EXHAUSTING.
To fight constantly for stability and God's peace against the ebb and flow of ever-changing circumstances.
I'm always cheerful. Always.
Except when I'm crabby.
Or easily offended.
Or running late.
Or tired, hungry, and stressed.
Other than that, I'm always, mostly, usually, sometimes cheerful.
I remember my mom talking about the gift a woman is to her family when she is the thermostat of her home, set and constant, versus the woman who is the thermometer and constantly fluctuating based on outside circumstances. My sweet mama is a thermostat. She's full of peace as a storm rages around her. If I didn't have some pretty solid proof that I came from her belly, I would think I was adopted.
Because I can find myself an attitude just walking down the stairs and seeing a pile of shoes.
Four weeks ago, my journal entries are filled with anger. Anger at a disappointment. A self-pity tirade. A whole paragraph that might resemble that of a martyr. Except my definition of martyr is a little flawed. There's no mention on the pages of any persecution for my faith. It has everything to do with not being "properly appreciated" by my family. Oh my goodness. Woe. Is. Me.
This rage happened to be written Easter weekend. In the midst of this dark, scribbled, irritated entry, there's a lovely paragraph on the hope of the resurrection. I wrote of the disciples--grieving, hiding, and raising their hands in despair--the Saturday following Good Friday. They didn't know the end of the story as we do. Two thousand years later, we have the blessing and comfort of knowing that if they just hang on until Sunday morning their weeping will turn into rejoicing. In my need for dramatic writing, I pen the disciples a little note of encouragement, "Hang on a little longer, Disciples. He's alive! You just don't know yet how this is all going to play out." Lovely little writing of hope. And then I continue with the irritation of not being "appreciated."
The Easter paragraph doesn't seem to fit in the midst of my self-focused writing. How does an appreciation for the resurrection fall in the midst of a pity party? I truly have no idea how I can make the transition so seamless. But I do. Both expressions are written on the same page within the same hour. I might as well have written, "Hang on a second, Hatred, I've just thought about the beauty of Easter and I need to comment on that before I get back to my rant. Thank you, Lord, for sending your Son. I'd spend longer thinking of you, Jesus, but I've got to get back to wallowing. If I focus too much time on the cross, I'll lose my irritated momentum." And the pouring out of frustration continues. Pen pressing a little harder on the page with every frustrated word.
Then a week later, I've plastered the pages with verses on contentment. I must have been discontent with something, although I don't write of the situation and I can't remember far enough back to know what was bugging me. Verses appear from Philippians like, "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." First Timothy 6 is written, "Godliness with contentment is great gain." The verse from Job 1, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised." In the recorded pages of my discontentment, He shows up through His Word as the Lord over all. He bestows contentment regardless of my circumstances. I'm reminded that He gives and He takes away. Blessed be His name. By the end of the entry, there's evidence of peace.
There's an entry with praise. Followed by an entry of regret. Then a confession. A joyful song. A disappointment. A hope. A fear. A strand of bitterness. The next day records thankfulness for the same event that led to bitterness. All capital letters written pleading a prayer. Tiny letters barely asking God for something desired. Small initials of someone laid on my heart. Bold names written begging God to save. All written within a couple weeks.
Browsing through my words...the record of my inner journey...I can't help but wonder...
Which one of these people am I?
The one who praises or the one who is angry. The one who is joyful or the one afraid. The content woman. Or the wanting woman. The loved woman. Or the insecure one.
Which one? Bitter or forgiving? Hopeful or apathetic? Generous or greedy?
It's all there on cream colored pages written in my own handwriting.
Which one of these people am I?
Am I the woman at the well needing water that will never lead to thirst again?
Am I Martha? So busy serving that she misses the worship.
Am I the pre-resurrection Peter? Boldly following, but quick to deny.
Am I the woman cowering at the feet of Jesus with her own set of sins that deserve the stoning of the crowds?
Am I Leah? Desiring to be completely loved.
Am I Mary? Heart aching for the road a child will be asked to travel.
Am I Gideon? Seeking God's "signs" because of my faithlessness.
Am I Ruth? Steadfast in her commitment to her family.
Am I David? Praising God unabashedly.
Evidence of each of those people are all there...written within just a month.
So, which one am I?
All of them.
I guess I'm all of them.
And every one of them is met on my written pages by a Lord who comes to meet us wherever we are.
That's the beauty of looking back over my journals.
I don't just see who I am and all of my weaknesses.
I see who He is and all of His strength.
When I write with doubt that God could save someone with a hardened heart. Saul shows up. His heart absolutely unmoved toward Jesus. Set in his own righteousness. If I had been Saul's friend, I would have written journal entries about his hard heart. I would have assured God that he was a lost cause and placed bets that he was one who would never exalt Jesus as Savior. Never. Ever. All evidence pointed to "unsaveable." But God works in our "never" and His saving power replaces hearts of stones with transformed hearts that serve Him. There's never someone so far from Him that he or she cannot be found. As I write with sorrow at the hardness of someone's heart, God's Word points me to Saul and his great transformation to the Apostle Paul. And I leave the pages of my journal with hope.
When insecurity fills the lines. Pages written of my own inadequacy of doing the tasks the Lord has asked of me. Failure after failure written leading to guilt, shame, and some despair. How can I love Him and yet stumble in such ways? Verses of His unconditional love and grace are revealed. Jesus says to me in Matthew 9:12, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." Then Romans 8, "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." The final words of the entry filled with hope from Lamentations 3:22-23, "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." And the entry ends with renewed joy.
When the insecure woman turns into the judgemental woman on the very next page. The pages filled with anger and unforgiveness about wounds from the past. When I stand on my pillar of pride and desire to see my version of justice. The pages hold written words that would throw stones if they only had the power to leap off the page. I stand ready to judge, and Jesus leads me to the gospel of John where others also stand ready to condemn. Jesus is standing between a woman on the verge of being stoned for her sins and all of her accusers. He speaks to the crowd gathered and one by one I can hear the stones of the Pharisees fall. Sometimes as I write, I wait a little longer than the others to drop my stones. Fists clenched. Let me throw just one stone. One stone. I want my justice. But it's impossible to read too far about the grace of Jesus before gradually the stones in my hands loosen. Who am I to cast any stones? My stones of judgement finally lay dropped paragraphs later. Having seen Jesus and all His grace, there's no place for the woman who judges.
When I'm the mom struggling with watching her kids grow up. God, the Father, comes and I read about His one and only Son. The Son who left the glory of heaven, wrapped himself in human clothes, and came to this sin-filled earth. To be a testimony. To witness to the world. To die. To save. How could He love us that much? I can barely stand the thought of sending my firstborn son to school. The thought of sacrificing him for the salvation of others? No way. Not happening. God the Father understands the heart of a parent. And He knows how much it hurts. Reading about Him as a Father brings comfort because I know He understands the way my heart aches. And I rejoice in partnering with Him as a parent.
Inside the journals, the pen reveals the extent of the weaknesses.
The evidence that I need a Savior.
Inside the journals, God's Word written reveals how He works through weakness.
And demonstrates to me the depth of God's great love for His children.
The healthy don't need a doctor.
The strong don't need a Savior.
We rejoice in our weaknesses because "'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9
Who am I in the journals? A mess.
Who is He?
When I am weak, He is strong.
Maybe I need to write that on the opening page of every single one of my journals.
Just in case someone reads them someday...