I told myself I wasn’t going to the class because the boy I liked was also going. Mature people aren’t motivated by such trivial things. I told myself that my reasons for going were genuinely spiritual, founded on a desire to make friends my age in a city I was having trouble adjusting to. However, any day I showed up and he happened to skip, I felt my heart sink a bit.
But I kept going.
Anyone who has ever had a serious crush is very aware of its spiritual aura. You know the heart-racing, the cold sweats, and the energy that keeps you awake at night and messes with your appetite.
You also know what a powerful motivating force it is. You’ve experienced the pull of the unseen hand that drags you wherever he is. Even the best of us can’t keep from succumbing to its power even slightly.
I’ve heard of many stories where God uses the power of a crush to draw someone towards Himself.
He’s sneaky like that.
The fact that He used a crush on me doesn’t bother me a bit. I actually think it’s a brilliant marketing tactic. Especially when the end result was far better than a boyfriend.
Galatians. I’d read it probably 14 times by that point. I was also on my 5th reading of the Bible. I was very spiritual. I’d also never done anything bad. I’d never had sex, gotten drunk, tried drugs. I was an A-B student. Never got fired—in fact every boss I’d ever had loved me because I was always on time, never showed up hung-over, and had a reputation for being a hard worker. I had a more-or-less good relationship with everyone I knew. My parents were proud of me, my siblings adored me, and my community thought I was cream of the crop.
Basically, I was awesome.
And when I read that and think of the discord of what I was feeling while all that was going on, I want to reach for my trash bin and vomit up my lunch.
While that pretty picture was being displayed to the world, I was miserable. I was really good at faking happiness. Anyone who knew me would have called me a happy person. I was a good person and never got in trouble but every day I lived I wished to God I could do something really bad. I watched the girls who showed up to church in strapless dresses and while everyone around me scoffed and whispered about them, I secretly longed to be wearing one of those dresses, even as I scoffed and whispered to keep up appearances.
I righteously judged people who said cuss words, got drunk, or made-out with their boyfriend. While I judged, I longed to let off a string of every swear word I could think of, get seriously hammered, and suck someone’s face off.
I had sticky notes of scripture verses pasted all over my bedroom. I read my Bible every morning and often every night. I kept my promises and did what I was supposed to do.
And I hated myself.
I wanted to die. Literally, I wanted to kill myself. That’s not hyperbole.
And the worst part was I didn’t understand why I was miserable. I was doing everything right. I should feel good and be happy and everything should be going right. The boy I liked should like me back and I shouldn’t feel guilty for sneaking off to a class on the book of Galatians.
This is where Galatians enters. As many times as I’d read it, I had never understood it. As the teacher taught, I remember thinking, “What? This is in the Bible? How come I’ve never seen it?”
It blew me away.
First of all, I found out that all the good things I was doing were completely worthless, pointless, and absolutely contributed nothing to my relationship with God or had any affect on how he felt about me.
Now, this news could have been defeating. I could have thought “Really? All that work for nothing?” But all I felt was relief. It felt so good to find out that I’d failed the test and that it had absolutely no impact on my final grade.
Second, I found out I was a failure. No matter how good I’d been, I was a total screw up. I was no better than a woman who’d spent her whole life prostituting her body for fun. That part was a bit painful to swallow and is still a little difficult to get my mind around, but it was a good pain. The kind of pain that produces something far greater in the end. Like surgery.
Soon I was no longer going to that class to be with my crush. Soon I was going to that class because it’s where I was learning about this loving, amazing God who wanted to hang out with me even though I was a pompous ass and didn’t even want to hang out with myself. I realized He’d long ago planted this seed in my heart—a seed that showed itself as dissatisfaction, anger, and fear—and at the right moment gave me water in the form of a class on Galatians to finally get that seed to start growing roots.
Even though today I’ve read the Bible 7 times and just finished reading Galatians for a number somewhere in the 20s, I feel like that little seed only has small roots and maybe a little sprout. But the freedom of being loved by a God who wants me even though I did nothing to make myself appealing—In fact, I’ve done a lot of things to make myself unappealing—is the most amazing thing in the whole, wide world.
It’s the sort of experience that is more spiritual and far more lasting than a thousand crushes.
And I don't have to fake happiness anymore.
(To be continued.)