Friday, June 25, 2010

For the Wages of Sin Is Death

I was raised to believe that everything the Bible said was literally true. And I followed that advice. After all, what is an 8 year old to believe otherwise? Thus the reason my view on theology is a bit off kilter and tends to lean towards the legalistic side when things go bad. Basically, I was taught if the Bible said to do it and you did, good things would happen. If you disobeyed and did wrong, you were punished.

I had my first kiss about 4 weeks before the car accident. I was 21 years old. Yes, I know. A late bloomer. For about two years (maybe three) after the accident, I believed that because I kissed that boy, God was now punishing me by making me paralyzed and now have to use a wheelchair. Yes, I really believed that to be true. You see, I had never done anything "bad" before. I wasn't a "bad" child, I didn't do anything against the rules, and I did everything I was told. I never pushed the boundaries or limits. I did exactly what the Bible said, or at least I tried. So my mind told me that it should be expected that when I "went out on a limb" and kissed this boy and took an unplanned trip back to Georgia on a whim with my best friend from college that I'd be punished and in a wheelchair, but my heart didn't want to believe it because how could God do this to me?

My 10 year anniversary is coming up. Rather, I should say "our" 10 year anniversary is coming up because there were two people involved in the accident - me and Jennifer. She walked away, and I was unable to walk. July 29th will mark the day my life changed. So it was around this time 10 years ago that I had my first kiss. There are times I wonder "what if" on many things. However this year, I proposed the idea to Jennifer that we travel back to the place where the accident happened (or just get together somewhere in the USA) as we have both healed a lot through our own growth and timing. I was so hopeful and ready... and excited. Excited to move forward and past it all with her. I was ready for closure.

I got an email a few weeks ago that said she wasn't emotionally or physically ready. This sent me spiraling downward into deep depression. I couldn't stop crying for days, and everything triggered me. I was thinking in my head, "I'm the one who's paralyzed, and you're not physically or emotionally ready??" I was worthless that week. It's only gotten a little better since then.

In November, I took part in something with someone that I knew wasn't right, and I now believe it is what is causing all these physical iniquities within my body. Since that time, I have bruised the bones in my hand, sprained my back, had a concussion, fallen back into depression, broken my leg, torn my MCL, and now have 2nd degree burns on the bottoms of my feet.

And it's only June.

If only....

I wonder if this other person is going through the same hell I am. I hope so, because I'm so sick of this pain, especially when I knew I shouldn't have done it. But the legalistic side of my upbringing tells me, "Alyson, you knew that you would be punished because you did something bad. What else did you expect?"

It is true that "the wages of sin is death," however through the blood of Jesus and His death on the cross and ascension into Heaven, I know with my heart that He is a God of forgiveness and not a God of punishment, that He loves me deeply and wants to protect me from all harm and evil. He is not a God of punishment, but He will discipline when necessary. That verse in the Bible is meant for those who do not believe in Jesus Christ.

I just have to get my mind to believe that, as I believe right now that the reason I'm having all of these physical problems is because I committed that sin. And I hate that this person caused me to stumble, thus creating all of this bad stuff to happen, in my opinion!!

It's only June. I can't and don't want to deal with any more physical pain. I just want to be healthy again. And with the 10 year anniversary of the car accident upon me in just 34 days, it makes me spiral back to... just... wanting... my... old... life... back. If nothing else, at least walk through it with me. But no. Not this anniversary. I guess I'll wait until another time. Afterall, I guess I'm still paying for that sin in November. Or maybe that sin 10 years ago.

I hope life is as hard for you as it is for me (and this is not directed at Jennifer), because my life has been hell since.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My Soul in Green Pastures

(Photo by Alyson Roth)

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters.

He restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for His name's sake.

Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and love with follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
(Psalm 23)

Such a familiar passage in the Christian world, yet it is one that I've drifted away from. I have not allowed myself to rest in that scripture. It encompasses all phases of life, and right now, I'm trying to figure out my place. Late quarter-life crisis? Maybe.

I went to my most favorite place this weekend - Yosemite National Park. I was looking forward to finally being there in the Springtime - the last season to conquer as I have been during the Summer, Fall, and Winter. So as one can imagine, I was extremely excited to follow out the "lay down in green pastures and beside still waters" part of the above scripture. I wanted to be alone with nature, my thoughts, my past life, my current life, and my God. My Yosemite. Well, the opposite happened.

I was so thankful for a friend to allow us to stay at his cabin in Bass Lake, just south of the southern entrance to Yosemite. There were six of us that went, and four had never been before. So, I became the tour guide. I partially knew this was going to happen. Perhaps I was in denial about the role, but I really didn't want to be the tour guide once in the park. I needed and wanted time by myself. Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the flip side of it and enjoyed hanging out with my friends in a new and personal way. But watching them climb up fallen trees and splash across the streams, climbing rocks... well... it made me miss my old life again. Yosemite isn't what it used to be for me anymore, and that makes me sad when I'm around friends who are experiencing it for the first time and seeing their reactions as if watching my own back in the day ten years ago.

Thus the reason for looking forward to being alone with myself, my God, and my Yosemite for a moment. I'm sure the opportunity will happen again, and I really did have a good time seeing waterfalls I've never seen before but only heard about (because they are usually dried up by Summertime), and laughing, exploring, and telling stories about the in's and out's of Yosemite.

So I know I'm comforted by the Lord. My old life is just that... old and in the past. The memories are still there, and I'll never forget them. They were some of the best times of my life. But every so often it creeps up on me without warning, and I get sad.

He has anointed me and prepared a place for me at His table, so I know I'm going to feel that overflowing feeling of goodness again soon. It is always there, but there are times I reject it because I'm human.

It's time for me to get back in touch with my Shepherd so I don't "want" for anything else but Him. Teach me, Lord, that I don't need a physical place like Yosemite to lie down in to feel your presence, but that you are everywhere at all times at every moment when I need you. Forgive me for my selfishness, and teach me to lean on you in all settings, surroundings, and opportunities.