Monday, April 11, 2016

Boxspring God

it's been on my heart for some time to write out my testimony of faith in Christ and in doing so I hope to not only remember all of this beautiful Grace that keeps me going each day, but to pass this on to our children, that they may walk in the Truth of this perfect Love all of their days. 

I guess my testimony really starts tangled up deep in the boxsprings of my mattress underneath the old Jenny Lind bed.
I was maybe three years old. And I was afraid.
I could here things hit the wall. 
They were fighting again. 
Hurting again.
And I was hiding, again.
At that moment I can remember Someone there with me in the boxsprings. 
In my heart I knew it was the One who created me and gave me life. 
I don’t remember anyone talking to me about Him. 
I didn’t know His Name. 
But I knew He was there. So I asked Him to please stay with me.
Not so long after that my mom packed a U-haul with a few of our things and we left our cabin in the woods of the Sierra Nevada mountains and headed down to live with my grandparents in desert hot Murrieta, California.
I have only seen my dad a few times since.
My mom worked at a local bank full time so my brothers and I spent most of our time at school and then day care.
Some days I went to a psychologist who watched me play with shapes.
I wondered why my brothers didn’t have to come with me.
I felt like everyone was trying to unlock me. Whatever it was that I wasn’t telling, or choosing to forget, made me damaged and untrustworthy. 
I could see it on their faces looking down at me. 
That was where the tiny seed of self consciousness was first planted in my wondering heart. No one trusted me. I must be awful. How could I make them all happy with me? And if they weren't happy with me how could God ever be happy with me? 
Down the country road from my grandparent’s house there was a small church. I would walk down to the Sunday school there on my own. There was a flannel board and an unhappy looking teacher who talked about how the world was created by God. And then the world was flooded by God. And then a man from God named Jesus came and was nailed through his hands and feet to a wooden cross with a mocking crown of thorns on his head. And there was a flannel about the cave grave that He was put into, dead. And there was another flannel of a glowing Jesus levitating between earth and heaven. And they loved talking about the 10 commandments. And the wrath of God. And hell. And from what I could tell I was hosed because I could never keep the 10 commandments and I wasn’t too sure about that pasty looking Jesus either, all white and glowing, so far removed from all of this brokenness in me and all around me. What I received from that Sunday school was a good dose of guilt and a heart full of dread. But I kept going back...always searching. 
Things turned around for me when I was nine years old and my mom remarried. 
For me the first proof that I was loved by a God somewhere was my new dad. He loved my beautiful and broken mom and he loved all three of us naughty rug-rats. 
He was not perfect but he talked about being loved by Jesus.
This was something new.
Not being perfect but loved by Jesus? This couldn’t be the far away flannel board Jesus I had heard about. And how did this all relate to church or God? 
I had not met anyone like my new dad at the church down the road from my grandparent’s house. 
I noticed right away that he wasn’t trying so hard like everyone else. He just had faith that he belonged to a loving God. 
After my mom and Mike were married we moved and started going to a new church together in Vista, California. It was in that Sunday school class that I first heard the message of the gospel, the love of God, and the forgiveness we have in His Son Jesus. I first put my trust in Jesus that little classroom.
From fourth grade until I was a senior in high school we attended that fellowship.
I know that for the most part the church was doing their best to love others and to share the love of God with the world. Unfortunately, I missed a few key points and my faith became tangled up more in the movement of that church than the unfailing love of Christ. 
Although the people at that fellowship said they loved others outside of the church I didn’t really see them trying to live outside the church in someone else’s shoes long enough to even understand how to love them. 
There was an unspoken thread of self righteous theology that began to weave a web of spiritual misunderstanding in and out of my heart and mind, the theme of which being, “we are the best Christians around because we really understand what it means to love Jesus.” (What about what it means to know we are loved by Jesus?) 
That kind of doctrine along with that damaging seed of self consciousness planted all those years before was slowing growing out of control and the only way I could keep it under wraps was to keep pretending like I was a “good girl” and that everything was ok and that I would do anything for Jesus. 
At that time within that church movement there were these “Purity Conferences” where we had to pledge our virginity to Jesus and stay away from boys until we found the one were were supposed to marry and then not touch that boy until we had free reign on our wedding night. (Free reign just because we are married? Heaven help me if I ever teach our children that kind of damaging lie. Kids, purity is only from Christ and Christ alone...unmarried or married.) I remember really struggling through these kind of messages because I didn’t know if I was pure enough.  Anything that may or may not have happened to my body as a young girl, may or may not have disqualified me for a pure marraige or worse yet, made me vulnerable to allowing other men to take advantage of me. I began to ration in my head that if I was the kind of child that allowed myself to possibly be abused than I would never be pure enough for marriage and that marriage, most likely, wasn’t for me. Game Over.
Throughout my high school years, I threw myself into my faith and in following Jesus as never before. Maybe I was trying to prove to Him or maybe to myself that I was of use. 
At my youth group on Wednesday nights I was taught that the way to be a true follower of Jesus is to let go of all your dreams, your talents, your interests and leave it all for Christ. 
To even consider going to a University after High School would be thought selfish unless it was Bible College. 
By the end of my senior year I stopped going to my high school counselor who advised me to use my grades and creative gifts to apply for scholarships.
There were a few universities that she felt would suit me very well and that I could develop and grow in. 
I remember trying to explain to her that I wanted to be a missionary and that going college would keep me from that or worse yet “stumble me” in my faith. She argued that going to school would possibly prepare to be a better missionary. She was a wise and kind woman but in my developing self righteous naivetĂ© I stood up and left her office inwardly shaking my head at her lack of spiritual understanding.
With a hard earned "Jesus Freak-Purity Ring-Nun-like" reputation I graduated from high school and left my sunny Southern Californian life and dear friends for wet and soggy Oregon with only my guitar and yellow VW bug for Jesus. 
I was a “missionary” sent to serve at a newly planted church fellowship related to the one we had come from in Vista with my older brother and his new wife.
I found a job at as a preschool teacher in the mornings and I worked at a nursing home in the afternoons. Every evening I was at church, leading worship or bible study with a group of young girls who became like little sisters to me.
I will say that in all of my stubborn zealousness the God of grace was at work and leaving California for Oregon was clearly His way of getting to me.
I was working hard (sometimes up to four jobs at a time) and serving even harder. I was struggling with homesickness and that self conscious sapling was now a deep rooted ugly growth of the soul. 
Everything took so much effort. 
My love always fell short, 
my words weren’t enough, 
my sacrifices lacked any genuine emotion. 
I was a phony and I hated myself for it. 
Any words of affirmation were gobbled up in an attempt to boost my deteriorating spirit and likewise and criticism crushed me. 
I felt out of control. I began to loath being looked at. 
I felt like everyone was judging every inch inside and outside of me. 
I stopped eating in front of people. I stopped talking to old friends. I continued to serve and tried my very best to love the people around me but deep down I knew I didn’t. Not the way I should. I was miserable. I wasn't being honest with God or myself and I knew it. 
I was beginning to feel restless and anxious. 
Sometimes I would come home after a long day, curl up in my closet hugging my knees completely overwhelmed with what my life had become. 
What would happen to me or to my faith if I just got in my car and left it all? Would God follow me? (I know now that He would have followed me to the ends of the earth and back again.)
When I was 22 my heart surprised me and fell in love with a gentle giant of a soul. Aaron was the opposite of any man I was supposed to fall in love with. 
If I were to be married someday shouldn’t it be a missionary or a pastor? Nope and Nope. 
God had a beautiful and unexpected rescue plan for my tormented soul and it came in the form of an offensive lineman from Oregon State University. Even better than that, this guy was new to the church I was serving in and was (gasp) raised Catholic... the cherry on top? He was majoring in Psychology!  Psychology was like taboo to the church that I was raised in. (Just typing that out makes my heart sick. I was clearly holding to a tight-wire act of faith and it was only a matter of time before I would fall.) 
But Aaron loved me for me. He loved my laugh and the fact that I had broken out two front teeth laughing. He loved talking with me and we generally just loved being in the company of one another. When I realized that my heart began to love his heart I was afraid. Deep down I knew that I would have to commit to trusting this man..and trusting anyone was my worst fear. Still my heart pressed on in this love. Aaron was demonstrative without apology. His love was like an ax slowly chopping away at the rock hard root of that self conscious growth taking me over. The deeper his love cut into me the more of the ugly was revealed and Aaron wouldn’t stop loving me. No matter the ugly he saw. He just kept chopping and loving until that ugly old thing that had defined my life for so long came crashing down. And I was left, just me, naked and vulnerable, excepted and beloved. Aaron looked at me with trust and believed in me. God used this love to break through my brokenness and allow His healing to begin. 
We were married when we were only 21 and 23 years old. 
Obviously there was so much learning that we went through together. 
I can say that it was my marriage and vulnerability with my husband that started me in on seeking the old and safe voice of my boxspring God once again. Aaron is by no means my Savior, but my Savior used my husband to teach me how to allow my heart to be loved. We have fallen and failed one another countless times, but Grace keeps picking us up and dusting us off and bringing us together again. And I'm learning that to truly love and allow another person to love me I must first understand that I'm loved by God.
Being honest and truthfully coming to God with everything and watching Him take those things and transform them into something beautiful is still an ongoing process.
Aaron and I have been covered in this grace and love in marriage for almost seventeen years now. We have moved all over this country together, even traveled over much of this small world hand in hand. 
We’ve been blessed with three beautiful souls who call us mom and dad and that is humbling to say the least. 
My deepest desire is that they will know His voice and live to hear Him speak everlasting love over their hearts.
My faith has slowly but surely become a genuine thing.
I still struggle with my anxieties but I’m learning not to flog myself for it.  I’m me, and God loves me for it. 
In my weakness He is strong. 
He knows all about those dark things that still war against my soul form time to time and He is always ready to protect me and set me free.
When I allow His truth to sink into my life I naturally want to walk in that truth, not in a religious way but in a melody of liberated dependence on Him…the Savior of my soul.
I’m continually seeking the heart of God as a follower of Christ. 
In the seeking I come to understand just how very close He has always been.
I know without a doubt that it was His voice  that I heard in my three-year old spirit, tangled up in the boxsprings, and I have come to believe for myself that He is the only Way, the Truth, and the Life.
I’ve seen Him in action. 
I don't fully understand Him but I trust Him.
Every mysterious layer of His character is held together by all that is Good and all that is Love. 
I'm grateful for the church that we were a part of for so many years but at this point in life I shy away from movements, non denominations and denominations. 
I still go to church and I know that worshipping together with the body of Christ is important but I don't want the church that I attend to be my identity. 
I simply want my identity to be in Christ alone. 
I want to live simply knowing, by faith, that I’m loved by Him and that I am the apple of His eye.
Not because I’ve earned this but because He chose me to be His.
And so I let Him carry me and I cling to Him.
I’m chosen by Him and I’ve chosen Him.
By grace I have been saved not by works, 
but I rejoice when the way that I live reflects the fullness of His love over me. “This is my story this is my song praising my Savior all the day long.”

I’m loved by a God Who lives beyond the vastness of space and the confines of time and yet makes Himself small enough to fit under the bed, untangle my broken heart, and carry me out safe into to His marvelous light.
"Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine" 
Isaiah 43:1

ps...lots of typos because I'm just fine with not being perfect:) 


  1. This is a beautiful story. Thank you for being vulnerable and raw and sharing it with us- I know it isn't easy. It is just so amazing to see how God works in us, using all the ugly and the weakness in us for our good and for His glory. Praise Jesus we are saved by His grace and mercy and nothing we do!

  2. Thanks for letting me get to know you even more! Love you dear friend!