Sometimes, it just happens. We allow ourselves to become so comfortable floating along through life, and we get lost. I don’t mean we lose track of the destination. I mean we get lost. We forget who we are.
For me, I usually struggle with this the most as a great season of life is coming to an end. When everything at least appears to be going my way, I forget. For the sake of a few emails I may receive from a reader trying to explain my identity in Christ to me, I need to be clear about something from the start.
Yes, I am a child of God. There’s no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, and the world doesn’t get to put a label on me. All of that being said, there are several things that make me who I am. I have a Creator, and when this all started, He made me into exactly what He wanted me to be. He also loves me so much that He gave me free will. As a result, there are several seasons of my life that have become part of who I am today.
As I said earlier, more often than not, I have to be reminded after things have been good for a while. That was the case again this time. A while back, I had several publishers interested in a book I am finishing up. The opportunity came for me to be on a few radio shows and maybe even a television program if I was willing to make the trip. These opportunities were all through EWTN. If you’re Catholic, you’ve heard of the network.
My marriage was getting better. I was playing a bigger role in my daughter’s life than I ever have before. Work was good. I was breaking my goal for the number of words I was writing every week. When you’re a writer, that’s an accomplishment. Looking back through my journals now, I can see that’s when I started forgetting.
The hour and a half I would spend a few days a week at 12-step meetings and being a part of a fellowship was now replaced with extra time writing. After a full day at work and then several hours a night of doing this, my prayers before bed started being rushed. When I would wake up, the snooze button took up the fifteen minutes that were usually spent with my nose in a Bible.
Instead of spending time getting to know God, my time was spent trying to teach others, maybe building a name for myself in the process. It’s not that God stopped providing me with peace. I simply began looking for it elsewhere. Next thing you know, I was watching online sermons from my favorite preachers. While I enjoyed a 12-pack, the number quickly changed to 18.
Writing lost its importance. God was there. I simply stopped acknowledging Him. Before I knew it, it had been over a month since I’d been to church. Things became pretty dark for a while. Eventually, I was able to get the drinking back down to just Friday and Saturday nights. Last night was the first Friday I haven’t drunk in quite a while. I forgot. I needed to be reminded.
Matthew 1:20, NRS: “But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.'”
No, my wife and I are not expecting. But when I read this the other morning, I couldn’t help but relate. Joseph knew his genealogy. He also knew the prophecy he was waiting on to be fulfilled. Joseph had been waiting his entire life for the awaited Messiah, a child to be born from the line of King David. While Joseph knew all of this, he needed to be reminded of who he was in order to fulfill the purpose God had for him. “Joseph, son of David.”
I needed to be reminded of a few things. For starters, I’m a writer. It’s my purpose. Not to become a famous author or writer. Simply to show others how they can apply the Bible to their daily life. If it were about me, I’d still be writing about baseball.
Secondly, I’ve been blessed with the amazing privilege of being an alcoholic. However, I’m supposed to be recovering. This blessing has provided me with countless experiences of how God’s Word can be applied. It gives me a way to teach others how to experience God in their lives outside the walls of the church. It also keeps my need for Jesus in the front of my mind. I have to be willing to act on that need.
This isn’t the typical way I write. I don’t have a keyword or an outline. Just a question and a message. Is God trying to remind you of who you are right now? Here are two things that have been a huge help to me the last week and a half.
I’m not saying you need to be introduced to Jesus. Maybe you’re like me and simply need to find Him. This won’t happen if you don’t apply an effort. You have to make it a priority. If you’re not asking for eyes to be opened, you’re not going to see Him. This isn’t going to happen overnight. That would be too easy and faith wouldn’t be involved the way it needs to be.
Jesus wants to see that growing closer to Him is important to us. Faith is an action word. It’s not a thought we believe. It’s something we do—over and over again until our faith becomes our reality.
For myself, this means getting back to more of who I was when I first met Jesus. Not drinking becomes important. Writing has to be required. And a non-denominational church has to be involved. No, I don’t stop being Catholic. But I go back to where I found Jesus.
Maybe this lasts for a short season. Maybe it lasts for a lifetime. What’s important is that I don’t put God in a box. I make myself available to Him. For me, expository preaching has to be involved. You don’t get that at mass.
So, in order to show Jesus how important He is to me, I’ll be at mass this evening with my daughter. On Sundays, I’ll be at the Protestant church where I belong. Some Catholics aren’t okay with that and that’s alright. My life and relationship with Jesus aren’t about them. This is how I do the second thing. After finding Jesus again, I have to relearn how to let Him lead me.
My life is still pretty good right now. I could copy and paste one email and have a decision to make as far as picking a publisher. That’s not because of how talented of a writer I am. It’s because I’m willing to fulfill God’s purpose for me.
Things are better than they’ve been in a long time between my wife and me. God keeps showing us that He’s part of what we’re going through and our experiences can be used to help others. I’m more of a dad today than I’ve ever been. I’ve put myself through spiritual hell for about two months. I’ve become good enough at it that even those closest to me are unable to tell anymore. Everyone is a sucker for a fake smile.
I’ve also done this enough over the last seven years that I know how horrible things can get if I don’t do something right now. There’s really just one important question at this point. I didn’t want to write this article. It’s being published for a reason. God’s trying to remind someone else of something. What is it you’ve forgotten about yourself? How does my mess relate to you?
Featured Image by Fabrizio Verrecchia