Yesterday I filled in the last page of a journal I started a year ago on that date. During last year’s spring break, I bought a red Moleskine journal for the purpose of filling it with written prayers. I found that I was easily distracted when I tried to pray, so I thought that if I wrote out my letters to God, I could focus a little better. At the beginning of the following week, on March 23, I began writing in this journal. Now that I’ve filled the last page, I’ve gone back and read the earliest entries, comparing the struggles of then to the struggles of now.
There was a lot of really, really awful stuff happening in my life a year ago. I try not to let on about the negative aspects of my life on this blog, because I figure that you all have enough negativity in your lives without me adding my worries to yours. That, and this is the internet, and the internet is just a bad place to hang out your dirty laundry. But trust me when I say that a year ago, I was fighting the biggest, meanest, hairiest spiritual dragon I’ve ever had to face.
I prayed about this battle constantly. God was my sole strength. He was all I had. Those were some very dark days, but He was my light. His grace proved more than sufficient. By the end of the semester, He had rescued me, and I was freed from a burden that had weighed on me for about a year.
The rest of the prayer journal was me dealing with the battle scars. The conclusion of the first battle led to a hundred little ones, all hearkening back to that initial conflict. I was relieved. Then angry. Then haughty. Then ashamed. Then angry again. And so on and so on.
And all along, God just wanted me to love. Specifically, He wanted me to love the source of my prior pain.
But I didn’t want to. For reasons best left unexplained, I saw loving what (or who) had hurt you as a dangerous occupation, like trying to tame a dragon. I was Jonah and love was my Nineveh. How could I learn to love what had hurt me so deeply?
Then I remembered. I only love God because He first loved me. I don’t deserve His love. I don’t deserve the gift of grace that sets me free from hell. I deserve death. I deserve a lot of awful things, none of which I will receive because God loves me in spite of my own colossal failings. I’ve hurt God deeply. But He forgave me. He still loves me.
He wants me to love.
So I went to Nineveh. I went to Nineveh and decided that obeying God was more important than hanging on to hate. Hate doesn’t do much good, anyway. Love, on the other hand, heals.
I filled that last journal page with a prayer thanking God for all the things that happened. He can and will teach me to love. He brought me there and back again. He takes us on these journeys for a reason—if only so we’ll be stronger at the end.