Conviction

Have you ever had the wind knocked out of you? When I was growing up my best friend and I made a game out of it. I swear we loved eachother but the rules of the game were vicious- if you were the last person to knock the wind out of the other then you were winning. I had the wind knocked out of me probably once a week. 

If you've never experienced this, let me explain. When you get hit in just the right spot, your diaphragm spasms and breathing becomes almost impossible. If you're lucky it will last a minute before you can breathe deep again. But if you grew up like me, with an incredibly strong best friend, then you might be on the ground for a few minutes. 

When I get the wind knocked out of me (which thankfully happens much less now), I am all of a sudden very aware of how little control I have over my body. I can't will myself to breathe slower or stand up straight. My face is probably going to go through all the colors of a sunset and I won't be able to form a sentence until my body allows me to breathe again. 

The crazy thing is, this is how I feel after I sin. Not usually in the moment it happens, but the dust starts to settle and conviction sets in which is healthy. Conviction is a good thing, but I have never been able to sit in conviction without letting shame creep in. Shame is really crippling, it's the kind of punch that knocks you off your feet. In this relationship I'm learning the difference and I'm really thankful for that but I'm not a fan of the way I've been learning it.

Last night was Joey's birthday and we hung out and it was great, until it wasn't. We went to whole foods and got a vegan chocolate cake, listened to country music on the drive, sat and talked about boundaries and laughed SO much. I honestly have the time of my life with Joey and it's really cool because neither of us are really trying to. Have you ever been on a date or even just friends with someone and in your head you're trying to figure out how to make it fun? I've never had that thought with Joey. I don't even really try to make him laugh, it just happens. Wow, what a blessing. 

Anyways, we were having a great night. And then we weren't. We had just set up these boundaries (post on that coming soon) and they're great, really die to yourself kind of stuff. But you see, last night was Joey's birthday. And those are definitely the boundaries that we are going to adhere to in general but today? This is a special occasion! We can definitely handle kissing (which we haven't done in a week so it's extra exciting), taking a break to eat some cake and then cuddling late at night. What could go wrong? 

So much friends. I'm having a hard time figuring out how to explain this, because I don't really want to go into the details. But I'm afraid if I'm too vague you'll think we had sex. Okay listen, we didn't have sex or any variation of it. The mark of too far for a Christ follower starts in the mind. How far is too far? It's not even a matter of where your hands can go, it's about keeping your thoughts pure. Part of boundaries is keeping what's true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable and praiseworthy in your head. And you can't have both impure thoughts and pure thoughts. One will win, because darkness and light cannot coexist. 

So anyways, we look at the time and it's 2 something in the morning. And reality sinks in. We had not been wise and we had not been honoring God. The drive back to my car was rough. I apologized for ruining Joey's birthday (I know that's dramatic but it's really how I felt) and Joey took my hand and prayed. When we parked Joey reminded me that even though this sucks, Jesus died for this sin too. I knew that was true but I was having a hard time believing it. 

How many times will the Lord forgive me? I should know better by now. I was sitting and praying and begging God not to leave me. I have a real fear of abandonment, and I've come to really believe all I need is God but for some reason I'm afraid He'll leave me too. I know it's not true guys, but saying that to myself doesn't usually help. I'm learning that God can handle my insecurities, so I really try to just tell Him what they are- He is much better at assuring me than I am. I worry that God will leave because I let Him down again. I heard something really great at the Celebrate Recovery Summit this year in response to the fear of letting God down- you can't let Him down because you were never holding Him up. Wow. I hope that helps you as much as it helps me. 

I got down on my knees and gave Jesus my heart, broken over my sin. I was so sad because I'd lost sight of Him for a moment and without Him I can't see anything. I can't see who I am, or where I'm going. I can't breathe.

He understood and He held me. I wish I had better words to describe that, and I know some people may think it sounds a little crazy. But I think it's important to tell you that the Creator of the Universe comforts me so deeply because I wasn't held as a child and I'm not the only one. I use to run into relationships to try to make up for the deficit of physical affections I had from the way I was raised. I know in that moment, I could have turned to Joey and he would have held me. But I needed Jesus, and He really is enough. If you've lived your whole life running into unsafe arms, for whatever reason, I want you to know that Jesus is safe. He knows your needs and your longings. He created you for more than just surviving, and if you can go to Him in your honesty, I know that He will meet you. Because He did that for me. 

I couldn't breathe, spiritually I was trying to get back to the thing that sustains me. My soul needs Jesus more than my lungs need oxygen. And after a few minutes on my knees, I had peace. Joey and I had a great rest of the night, I got up from my knees and walked in the grace I had received. We worshipped and prayed and went home. 

Conviction is hard. It's the next day and it still stings. Sometimes your sore for a couple days after being punched. But I'm grateful for the reminder- it's great motivation to get our boundaries solidified. I'm not complaining about conviction because my Saviour is so sweet. He shields me from shame, while at the same time teaching me through the pain.

I think little Sam might have had it right. As a kid I didn't try not to play the game, I wasn't afraid of the pain. The punches were coming, but I knew I could choose to stay alert and block them. Sometimes I didn't, I was focused on other things and left myself open to get hit. It might have left me on my knees for a moment, but I knew I was going to catch my breath eventually. And when I did, I was back on my feet waiting for my moment to fight back. 

And that's what I'm doing right now. I'm getting back up on my feet and I'm fighting as I'm typing this. I'm fighting for our purity with honesty. I'm fighting by getting back on my feet and not listening to shame. I'm fighting by finding my comfort in my Saviour. And the best part? It's already finished, I'm on the winning team.