I did have one before. I’d had it my whole life.
I kept thinking this was my first one. It was so new to me. But it wasn’t, really. I’d had one since I was born. I still have it. I just never really saw it. It’s white, faded now. With precious moments characters adorning the cover. Very similar to the one I bought at the coffee shop before my 28th birthday, but different too.
The first one, the old one. It’s a bible. A King James children’s bible.
When you have children, that’s what you do for them, you dedicate their life to the most important thing in yours, your beliefs, your faith. And my parents dedicated mine to God when they had me. That’s how I still have that bible from when I was a baby.
I was prayed for, prayed with, and taught to love. But sometimes, a loved person doesn’t see. Sometimes, a loved person gets lost.
And I was so lost. So, so lost for such a long time.
But that’s not how all stories go – maybe you never had a bible, or a family to pray for you, or the path laid out before you to even have a chance to step away from. I’m just telling you my story because I think it’s important to understand that there are no guarantees in this life. You can do all the things for someone you love, but you can’t choose their path. You just can’t.
Being lost in life doesn’t always happen as the result of some great injustice or tragic circumstance. Sometimes, it just happens, little by little, without even realizing it. Like a little one walking by her mother’s side in the store, looking all around, singing along – who doesn’t see that her mom has turned into the next aisle. She keeps walking, looking around, singing, not yet knowing she’s lost. And then, it hits her. At first, little by little, and then, all at once.
I remember when I believed God wasn’t real.
I was young, very young. I learned of a place called Purgatory, at school, and was told that’s where babies go if they aren’t baptized on time. That broke my heart. And I didn’t believe it. I still don’t believe it. But you’ll have to keep reading to understand why.
As time went on, I started to mess up. A lot. And from what I had perceived about God – His place, was no place for a person like me. I didn’t know how (and didn’t want) to stop messing up, so I didn’t want to believe it – that I would go to hell for not figuring everything out and cutting all the mistakes out.
When I met my husband, we talked about God once, in the beginning. We decided none of it was real – we didn’t believe it. And it was settled. I didn’t think about God after that. For years.
At least, that’s what I thought. But really, at every rock bottom, in every lonely, empty moment of feeling worthless after a failure or being hurt or disappointed – I was.
I was thinking about Him. I just didn’t call Him by His name. I called him a new car, a new degree, a new wardrobe, a new baby, a new house, a raise at work, a better marriage.
I banked on all of those things being it.
But after getting each and every one of them, I was left in the dust, still searching, still longing, still looking and thinking all day and night – about Him. About His promise of perfection. I was seeking it here in this world when it doesn’t exist.
Read that again if you need to – perfection doesn’t exist. But I bet you your perception has told you it does – in the face of a stranger, in the success of another, in the pictures and filters and crafted images we accept as reality. I know, because I believed it.
But friend, perfection is not a thing of this world.
I don’t know exactly when I began to question perfection’s validity – maybe it was when we spent every last penny building our dream house after having three healthy, beautiful babies and buying my (cringe) “dream car” and checking all the boxes – even as I stood in front of our new home with my family, I felt imperfect emotions. “But wasn’t this supposed to be it?” I asked myself.
I kept thinking, the next big thing would be it. But really, honestly, beneath it all I was so tired. I was so broke. And I was so, so lost.
When I was finally able to admit that to myself – that I was tired of the bottom always dropping out of my hopes for the next best thing. And I was a 28 year old woman with three little children who loved and adored me and needed me to teach them what to believe in….and I didn’t even know what I believed in. When I admitted that to myself, I remembered His name.
I don’t know the day, but I remembered His name. God. Who was He? Even though I thought I knew, I really hadn’t done any first hand research, so who was HE? I wanted to know. What was there to lose? Nothing, I supposed.
I googled “churches in my town” and picked the first one.
I got the kids dressed on a Sunday morning and we went. Just us. Me and the kids. I was embarrassed to tell my husband and he was already gone to work on our new house.
I don’t remember much that first Sunday, except that my kids were awful and I spent it in the cry room.
So much for that, I thought.
But His name, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. So I said to myself:
one more Sunday. one more try.
And I went again. Me and the kids. I still didn’t tell anyone.
As I was walking across the parking lot, I saw her. She waved. I’d seen her at the gym before. She said: “do you go here?”
I said: “No, not really – I mean, this is my second time.”
“Do you know about the children’s ministry?” she said.
My new friend took me under her wing, and showed me around this new church. She helped me check the kids into their respective Sunday school classrooms, and told me I could sit with her and her husband.
It was that Sunday, that I heard His name again, and it changed everything. I don’t even know what the sermon was about – I can’t remember. But I remember the God they spoke of was unlike the one I thought I knew.
He was kind, and gentle. His love was unconditional. He was like a loving, caring, protective, unfailing….Father.
I thought, “I think, this…maybe this, is it.”
And it was.
I could tell you the rest of the story but its so long. It goes something like: getting to know God isn’t a quick fix to being perfect. It’s a comforting journey of knowing you’re loved, accepted, and have a place in Heaven if you want it even though you’re not perfect.
Somewhere in there – I found the book, the one that changed everything.
I think I will save the story of how I bought my first bible for another day because it’s such a special one to me, and so clearly orchestrated by God.
But buying that bible – the second one, the one I read and share on my stories now, that’s when the change really started to weigh on me.
As I began reading God’s truths in His word, I remembered that unconditional loving Father I’d learned of and began to understand that His love was bigger than anything I could comprehend.
But there were still so many questions.
“Is this a rule book? Where do I find the rules and how to follow them perfectly?” Spoiler alert – I’ve had some wise counsel and learned that it’s not a rulebook and you can’t be a perfect Christian! Thank goodness, because who could live up to that pressure?
“Can I never have fun again? Do I have to dress differently, act differently, not be myself? I’m so confused….” Once again, God has blessed me with some really wise friends who have shared that there’s no dress code or script required to be a Christian and Jesus was a pretty fun guy. But, if you truly seek God – He will transform you in some pretty amazing ways.
“Who’s fault is this that I didn’t find God sooner, who can I blame?!” Yeah, old habits (like blaming) die hard. Remember that story about the first bible? He was always there, right on my nightstand, on my bookshelf, in the box of things I threw in the basement when I moved out of my parents’. God has always been there, but we each see Him in our own time.
“Is there a fast track program to this? How quickly can I figure this ‘life’ thing out and be perfect?” Seriously, again with the perfection obsession. Another spoiler – the Bible doesn’t instruct us to become perfect in this life, it teaches us to accept the perfect grace and salvation through Jesus as a gift from God & that we can be perfectly loved by Him and have an eternity of perfection in Heaven.
“What if I’m not good enough for this?” Well, no one is ‘good’ enough to meet God’s standard, that’s what my bible says. But we are all loved enough. Yes, even you reading this with eyes rolling or a mind set against this whole thing. You are loved enough by the God I know.
The questions don’t stop. I think, with every new day life brings, it brings more questions.
Some light, some heavy. But there are always questions. That’s why the book changes everything.
Because before, when I had a question I’d go to a person or a podcast or a self-help book or whatever guide to doing life perfectly, and try to choose the answer that made my situation the most favorable, bearable, or desirable in my eyes.
But the opinion and “knowledge” of others is ever changing. Even the best scientist will tell you true science is never “settled.” So of course, human opinion can’t be worth much. Before, when I put stock in these things, I felt like a wave of the sea being tossed back and forth, not knowing what to believe or where to stand.
But when I came to accept God’s ultimate truth in His Word – He showed me what clarity and calm look like when I seek His Word before seeking what the world says.
And I wish I could tell you that battle of seeking God before whatever is trending in this world was one I had won – but it’s not. It’s one that I still fight, that we all…will always fight here in this life, until the end.
But the book….the book did change me and show me how to really find grace and truth that can weather any storm.
I’m so thankful for it, because I might have a lot of life ahead of me and I’m really going to need it – the book that changed everything.
Sometimes I share on my stories what I’m reading in my bible for the day – and without fail, I get lots of messages asking: “what bible is that?” So that’s why I wrote this post, to share about the book in the pictures – my bible. It’s the Inspire NLT and I’d recommend finding a local Christian bookstore if you can, to buy one. But if not, you can order it here too.
I’d love to hear your faith story, whatever it is – so leave a comment below!
P.S. I told my husband about church eventually. He comes too now, sits by my side, and he believes.