I snuck into Jami Amerine's launch team and ended up with a book I don't think I was supposed to get. I requested the digital version, hoping they wouldn't notice that I was a stowaway, but a shiny new cop of 'Stolen Jesus' arrived in a tan envelope at my doorstep, and I felt like the vandals Jami so often writes about.
I put it on my lowest book shelf above the couch, the only safe space in my house for the pile of notebooks, papers, and other materials I need to keep from my curious toddler.
I had bought a box of gluten-free cookies that morning, knowing full well each bite was placing me farther away from my contract with God that I shall not eat over a certain amount of cookies in a single setting.
Each morsel of expensive gluten-free chocolate chip goodness was creating an insatiable need to eat the next and the next and the next until there were 2 cookies left. I wanted to be able to tell myself I exhibited some self control, and so I stopped there.
You could practically hear the screeching sound of the brakes.
After flailing for twenty minutes in her pre-nap fury, Little One finally succumbed to the deep sleep mamas everywhere wait for. Irritated with myself and feeling like a failure, I sat down with her in my arms, not daring to face God or pray. Because. All. The. Cookies.
Similar to Jami's Mormon Jesus was my Jehovah's Witness Jesus that was not really happy with me. Ever. I spent the first 26 years with this Jesus, before being kicked out of the religion (that's a thing). Don't ask.
I then had I-Just-Got-Saved Jesus who expected many things, and I was constantly falling short. This created a hungering in my soul, especially as those there were many things to give up.
This void was further compounded, because I had had family and friends not understand my salvation, resulting in an estranged relationship. I have no friends or family from before I got saved. The stress has been traumatic. When you're an ex-Jehovah's Witness, that is also a thing.
The book fell off the shelf and hit me on the head.
I wasn't in the mood to read, but I saw this as a sign, and began. Jami's antics are funny and remind me of me, as I also did foster care and dreaded THE VISITS. I also know what it is to lose so much sleep you literally become a crazy person. But mostly, I recognized the stress from trying and failing and trying and failing to not eat every single last chocolate chip cookie in the box.
In her book, I read this verse I have read a thousand times and even wrote a song about: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:3.
The dam broke. I. Was. So. Very. Poor. In. Spirit.
I failed. With the cookies. With the bad language. With rushing the toddler. With hating the husband (not really, but yes, really. But not. It's complicated). With my weight. With being nicer. With eschewing all the music I'm not supposed to listen to.
I was stressed even though I knew about the good news of Jesus for several years.
And yet, I was blessed and did not know it. Happy in some translations. I was alright. Jesus didn't hate me. He wasn't annoyed with me. My poverty was a blessing, because the kingdom of heaven was mine. I seriously did not get it until that moment.
I sat with a baby, a book, and my ill-gotten copy of Stolen Jesus, and I wept. A boulder was lifted off of my shoulders. I ate the last two cookies. I cried some more. I was free. I knew His grace.
I was having health problems in the midst of this. The disease-that-shall-not-be-named was raging in my system, amid doctors' visits and test. And tests. And more tests. It would only be several days later when I called my husband to tell him to come home, because I needed to head to the doctor.
He came home and minded the baby, and I went to the doctor. They prescribed scary meds, and told me to go for testing to the hospital. Joe bought me a bag of potato chips, because scary meds were supposed to be taken with a meal, and when you're gluten-free, you can't just eat on the go.
Scary meds could cause seizures and other problems, and so, scary meds, were, um, scary. Joe said to take scary meds. The doctor had said to take scary meds. I felt a strong sense of peace.
I knew I should take scary meds. Potato chips in belly, water in my mouth, I popped one half of the dose and then the other and gulped hard.
It was done.
I have yet to see the conclusion of the tests and have more doctors appointments scheduled, and I should mention that I have had horrible allergic reactions to foods and drugs, so there's also that.
As I breathed in and out those few times there at the hospital, waiting to see if an allergy would ensue, a song I used to love before I got saved came powerfully into my head, as if I could hear it on the radio. And it comforted me.
I didn't feel rejected because of the song I felt comforted by or because of the fact that I had eaten half a bag of potato chips or for any other reason. I had the peace I needed in those moments to know I was accepted. I felt His grace, sweet grace.
I am poor in spirit. The kingdom of heaven is mine. God loves me. And He loves you, too.
You can like Rosa's facebook page for daily content not on the blog here: www.facebook.com/rosahopkinswriting
You can find Jami Amerine's book, Stolen Jesus at the following links:
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