In the early pages of my baby book you can find a church bulletin. It was saved by my mom from the first church service I ever attended. I was a Baptist Brat. Growing up in a Christian home has many blessings. I chose Jesus to be my Savior as a wee child of 5 years. I saw my parents fight for more of Jesus in our family. It didn't always come easy. Sometimes there was more fight than there was Jesus in our home. But we always were part of the Church body. Every Sunday and many days in between. Sometimes those fights happened on the way to church but sure enough the Johnson's would be there with smiles on our faces (even if it was fake smile). I grew up knowing about Jesus and genuinely loving Him but I had only a mild awareness of my NEED for him. Like I NEED His salvation to keep me from Hell (that's a scary place for anyone...especially a kid!) and I NEED His laws to help me be a good person.
But honestly, by high school I thought I pretty much had it together. This whole Christianity thing seem simple enough and I was cruising along. Self motivated. Strong work ethic. Things came fairly easy for me. I was enjoying the good life. I had good friends and excelled at most things I set my hand to. I was pretty sure that life would continue on this path of ease.
Did I need Jesus? Being a good Christian girl, I would have said, "Of course! We all need Jesus". But I don't know if I really believed it In the truest sense of the word. I am a true Texan girl and had completely bought into the "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" mentality. Think smarter and work harder. I foolishly believed that I was able to make things happen in and of myself. I had it all together (so it seemed) and I was taking too much credit for it.
Off to college I went. Sure it would be a movie-like collegiate experience. But instead a wave of depression hit. Something I had yet to experience up to that point in life. I suddenly wasn't enough. I needed. And although other things temporarily filled the void, ultimately I came face to face with my NEED for Jesus. I couldn't control the emotional roller coaster I was on and the more I tried in my own power, the messier it was. Jesus was there in the pit with me and could handle my darkest thoughts. I shared my struggles with people which is helpful, but my deepest, darkest thoughts were placed at the feet of Jesus. The one who bottled my tears during that season of darkness. And I don't question that he totally understood me and loved me through all the ranting I did. (All my journals from that time in my life have sense been destroyed...no need reliving THAT mess...or having anyone else reading my must up theology!) :)
Then Jody Cash happened. Marriage bliss! I thought I was a good person. Well...lets be brutally honest: I thought I was pretty squared away in the whole "sin department". Obviously my pride was a pretty thick blindfold. Marriage brought up all this messiness I had been oblivious to. Things I wasn't aware of: selfishness, pride, arrogance. Oh, Jesus. I NEED you! Why was loving someone else so hard? I couldn't figure this out by thinking smarter and working harder. My need for Jesus was even greater than ever before. I didn't just 'need a Savior' in a flippant off hand, churchy kind of way. I NEEDED a Savior. I came face to face with my flesh. My sin. I wasn't as set apart as I may have religiously thought before. I needed more than religion. I needed Jesus.
First was love, then marriage, then miscarriage. Wait? What? That wasn't how it was supposed to go. Here came the tidal wave of depression again. A time of questioning and coming to terms with the goodness of God despite the mess this world is. I NEEDED Jesus again. To hold my bruised heart and to teach me to trust Him in all circumstances.
Then came babies...babies...babies! Holy cow! Life just got real busy, real fast. And holy cow! I am just flat mean. Seriously, I am a mean person. I am quick to anger, disgustingly selfish, and a major control freak. I NEEDED Jesus. To teach me the things I had been hearing about my whole life in church. Things like: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I knew of these things. 15 years ago I would have said I had those things...Check! Having children was like looking in a VERY clean mirror and seeing my true self for the first time. I Needed.
And here we are. Sweating it up in Haiti with limited electricity and no running water. 2 kids in cloth diapers. A nursing baby. A wild man toddler. Trying to homeschool 2 other kids and love my husband. Am I aware of my need for Jesus? You betcha! More than ever before. Moment by moment.
I think I had a twisted mentality that the longer I knew Jesus the less I would need him. Because I would have it more and more together. Or something like that. It is a bit messed up, I know. But I was the one trying to drive this ship with religion.
Then I fell to pieces. And I fall to pieces daily in my own strength. I am only made whole with the pieces just right when I allow Jesus to be my core. My central. The older I get and the more of life I experience the more I am aware of my need for Him. And that is okay...even good! Because we were created to need Him. I do not have to have it all together. And just can't. I've tried that. It doesn't matter how hard I tug on those boot straps...I still need him. My independent self is slowly learning the value of dependence on the one who is greater, wiser and who has it together.
Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.
I need you more today than yesterday and even more tomorrow.