Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Year I Didn't Read My Bible

I know that the title sounds strange coming from a girl who just received the bible degree she's been working four years for, so let me see if I can add a little clarification.

My senior year of college, I did not read my bible.

I think it started when the school year picked up and I realized that I had too many questions that there weren't easy answers for. I had spent the summer reading through a "get through the Bible in 90 days" program, but apart from giving me a distinct sense of accomplishment at being halfway through the Old Testament, it hadn't done much. As the school year dawned I tried everything I could to experience my quiet times in a way that left me feeling content, rested, full, anything that made me feel closer to the Lord. I looked around at my friends and classmates who seemed to be getting so much from so little effort to "do it right" and finally landed on the (drawn from comparison, whoops) conclusion that I must be doing something very wrong. I was frantically flipping pages, attempting to read between the lines, re-reading the same verse repeatedly, viewing the bible as a whole and then in pieces, before finally sitting down exhausted and admitting that maybe I wasn't getting very much out of this at all. So, I stopped trying to read.

I'm not saying it sat on my shelf, untouched and gathering dust for a full 365 days. There were times when I'd take it to class to look up a verse, or grab it on my way out the door to church out of habit. There were times when I'd shove it in my book bag and carry it around with me because knowing it was nearby made me feel a little bit safer. But that was the extent of my interaction, for a full year, with God's word.

What started in exhaustion, blossomed into unfamiliarity. After two months away from it, I found trying to come back and have a traditional quiet time felt like walking into a book club and finding out everyone else had finished the book you were one chapter into. I looked back through my journals to times when I wrote about the depth of joy and comfort I was finding in my time spent with just Jesus, and wondered pretty often what it said about me as a Christian if  I was learning more from my literature classes then I was from Scripture itself. And around October, I finally gave up.

I ignored the incessant voice in the back of my head that whispered I was a failure for not wanting to spend time with Jesus. I scrolled past super artsy pictures of my friends with their bibles and journals and heartfelt captions about how the Lord was working in their lives and pretended that it didn't bother me. Instead, I kept praying that somehow, something would change. I woke up every morning and yearned to meet the Lord in a new way, a way that made me want Him more. I prayed and hoped and wished on every dandelion I passed that I would be able to love those around me in a way that reflected the gospel, even if I couldn't really find it myself.

I kept living my life. And somewhere, the Lord met me.

And I found that sometimes when you're not being bogged down in figuring out what you believe, and which theology you adhere to, and whether something is 100% right or only ok, you look at people and just see people. And all of a sudden loving them becomes more important than anything else in the whole world. I found that when my friends talked to me about what they were struggling with, I could just listen. I wasn't spending half the conversation scrolling through a list of verses I could give them, or trying to figure out how I could lovingly point out to them that the position they were holding was very, very wrong. Several times I found myself wondering whether or not the position they were holding was in fact wrong, or if I was just incredibly proud, incredibly set in my thinking, and incredibly unwilling to consider any other options. And it led me into some of the most beautiful, grace defined relationships I've ever experienced in my (almost) 23 years.

So my senior year, I stopped reading my bible. But my senior year, I also found the Lord in a way I never had before....easily. And I'm not saying that's the answer. But I am saying, if you find yourself struggling to remember why you do what you do, maybe think about taking a break for a second. Don't shove yourself into routine just because it's what you think you have to do as a Christian. Be willing to take a breath and let the Lord work in new ways. Let people teach you, and let yourself learn. Along the way, you might find yourself wishing for that thing that made it so hard to find Jesus in the first place.

No comments:

Post a Comment