Friday, January 15, 2010

A Journey of Grace: Lost in Translation©

Part Three: Lost in Translation:

I continued to disguise my shame, putting all my efforts into being a hard working woman. As I entered into Christianity I was given a “to do” list pretty quick. Words like “if you love God you’ll spend at least 30 min. a day in quiet time, preferably in the morning” were spoken frequently. I was encouraged to do more, be more, give more. As a woman who found value in striving those words were music to my ears. I was always up for the challenge. I strove to be the best of the best.

I began studying God. Maybe if I did enough Bible studies I would learn enough about Him to find that place in His heart. The desire was good, but twisted in the mix was this need. Maybe if I did enough I could be loved.

I took a break from men. The dating scene had done it’s damage on me. I wanted the next man I gave my heart to to be the one I married. A year and a half later I met my husband. We married 9 months after that first meeting.

I waited for the other shoe to drop. I wondered when he would wake up and realize the mistake he had made. Even though I had been chosen, I couldn’t grasp that he could really want me.

When David got me, he got my brokenness and my striving. Not only was I going to be the best for God I was going to take my husband with me. We’d be spiritual together. I became a dominant, controlling, manipulative, aggressive woman. What I wasn’t receiving from God I began to demand from my husband.

Four years into the marriage we began to have children. I poured most of what I had into them. They were after all ready to love me. In fact they thought I hung the moon. I began to forward the expectations I felt for myself onto them. I wanted to make them the best they can be too. After all, what mother doesn’t want her children to be successful?

My studies of God increased. I believed that the more you knew the more mature you became. Knowledge became my friend. It became another covering. After all, knowledge accompanied by performance and striving looked good on the spiritual resume.

Eight years into our marriage the foundation fell apart. In the process, I was exposed for who I was, an unsubmissive, controlling, woman who didn’t have a clue how to honor or respect. I began to pour my efforts into learning to be a better wife. If I could just be better maybe things would change. Something had to change.

No matter how much I studied, strived, performed, I found myself living Romans 7: “the things I don’t want to do I still do.” “The things I want to do I don’t do.” The more I tried the more it became apparent I would never do enough to free myself.

Performance based acceptance and conditional love were the only things I knew. For you see I had entered into the doorway of salvation by grace, but once in, grace became lost.

Grace is about receiving something you don’t deserve freely. I had lost the ability to receive. LIfe had become more about me giving and doing. Truth is I was more comfortable there. It made me feel better. What I didn't know was that you can't really give until you receive.

This went on for years. No one in the “church” knew how to free me. In fact, the answer was often “do more” which wasn’t an answer for me. I’d tried that.

I had a friend tell me once, “you are dead in Christ.” My answer to her was, “and I’m going to be the best dead in Christ I can be.” I’ll never forget her response, “Julie, there’s something wrong with that.” What? What could be wrong with wanting to be the best dead in Christ? I had no clue.

But God did.

©copyrighted: 2009; Julie L. Todd

Next up: Part Four: Let Freedom Ring:

Part One: In the Beginning:

Part Two: My Fig Leaves:


Crown of Beauty said... Reply to comment

Julie, I love the way you began your story with the story of a perfect beginning and how things got messed up. What a beautiful setting for your story... and I love the titles you have chosen, In the Beginning, My Fig Leaves, Lost in Translation...

You are so creative, what a joy and a privilege to get to know you more through your spiritual autobiography.


Amy said... Reply to comment


I love reading the details of how God has taken you from striving to living in His love.

You truly are a "New Woman!"

Love you,

Maureen said... Reply to comment

I'm loving your story Julie, and I can't wait to see how God transforms your life for you. I can relate, and have been on a journey too. Thanks for sharing this with us:))

Beloved of God said... Reply to comment

Oh this is amazing. 'You can't really give until you receive.' That hit such a nerve. God said that in 2010 'it's time for you to receive love.' Receiving takes humility, vulnerability, childlike-ness.. perhaps that means I'm finally approaching this space. I am loving reading your story!!

Anonymous said... Reply to comment

I am so happy you are sharing your story. I relate to so much of what you are saying. So much...

Daveda said... Reply to comment

Julie, The wonderful story of receiving Grace, AFTER we are saved in our everyday lives...BEAUTIFUL!

Thanks for stopping by, I missed you too!!

Paula said... Reply to comment

I'm looking forward to the rest of this series. So much of your story is mine. Shedding the skins of performance and striving is a long journey. Even after I feel I've come so far, I have to return again and again to grace and shed another skin. Wrote about some of that today on GraceReign.

Oh how I appreciate you, Julie!

christy rose said... Reply to comment

It is so amazing how we can understand entering into salvation by grace but we struggle with remaining and excelling by that same grace. Our desire to get our hands in the mix keep us from being able to sit back and let God love and empower us in everything.

I am enjoying your journey Julie!

Mary said... Reply to comment

Man I remember those days - the need to strive, to control, to be the best of the best, to live by the rules and perform.

Grace is just simply amazing - no other way to describe it, ya know?

I'm enjoying your journey. Thanks for sharing it. :)

Anonymous said... Reply to comment

This must be such a common trap among Christian women - striving for your salvation. It's been mine. So glad my eyes have been opened to grace. xoxo

Tea With Tiffany said... Reply to comment

Love the ending.

"But God did."

I'm thankful you are sharing your journey of His embrace of grace..I know many of us can relate. I'm so thankful for my freedom in Christ. I know I'm His. Loved and held by Him.

Hugs and love.

Karen said... Reply to comment

"If I could just be better maybe things would change."

I have thought this very thing before...

So glad I could start back with your testimony again....