Growing up on a Midwestern farm in a very loving family, I was blessed with Christian parents, extended family, and friends in our little country church. I knew Jesus loved me. Throughout my childhood and teen years, I was often at the altar weeping over my inability to live the perfect life, as I perceived it. I couldn't live up to the expectations of those around me.
The church standards were so high, and things that mattered little to me seemed to matter much to others. Concerns that seemed vital to me were never addressed. Following a list of dos and don'ts, having a critical spirit and judgmental attitude, basing the spirituality of a person on outward appearance, and weekly church attendance--none of this satisfied my quest for holy living.
I certainly identified with Much-Afraid and her friends who lived in the village of Much-Trembling portrayed in Hannah Hurnard's book, Hind's Feet on High Places. The frustration of not being able to reach my understanding of perfection followed me into adult life. I thought it would be better not to try at all than to try and fail. This feeling of continual defeat affected my walk with the Lord and every area of my life. Such thought patterns were constrictive and clogged any creativity and contentment.
A depressed spirit affected my role as wife to my pastor husband and as mother to my children. Legalism just did not fit in with the loving God I saw in scripture and in my husband's victorious life. As I searched the scriptures, sought the Holy Spirit's guidance, discussed this with godly friends, and read helpful books, my focus changed.
He who began a good work in me was continuing the work.
I was on the journey. True love for God and His Word became my obsession, joy, and release. Seeing the great price He paid to atone for my sins, I was free to follow Jesus without fear. I no longer had to struggle to conform to the standards or convictions of others, only Jesus! With freedom, I felt the powerful desire to love others and share the joy I'd found in Jesus Christ with them. Freedom is guided by love and respect for others.
I realized others' convictions were not for me to judge, that is the work of the Holy Spirit. Walking in openness, honesty, and obedience before God brings true joy and freedom from fear and legalism. What a journey!
An Anonymous Christian