NDTD- Jessica Thompson

Sometimes the darkest darkness is the one that you aren’t even aware of. I was so blinded to dark and to light that I didn’t even know the difference. I would even say in some ways I thought the dark was the light; that is how accustomed I was to it. I loved my darkness. I loved feeling hidden from the gaze of those around me. I loved that people only saw what I wanted them to see. My darkness was masquerading as light.

I grew up in a Christian home. My parents loved Jesus, and they did the best they knew how. We were all taught that “being good” was the point of Christianity. Accepting Jesus was just another step to becoming that good person. I learned really early on that the best way to have people accept and love me was to be that good girl. I gave it all I had. I pretty much always did the right thing, and on the rare occasion that I didn’t, I would lie about it so that no one would know I wasn’t that good girl. I was enslaved to this image. I joined my family and church in worshiping my own goodness. I was the girl with the Bible verse on her letterman’s jacket. I was the girl that would always give a testimony. I was the girl that led the jr. high youth group. I was that girl. I propagated the “be good” mentality. I went so far as to go to Bible College to earn a degree in theology. All the while, I knew I didn’t love God. I knew that my heart was far. I settled into my darkness and pretended it was light.

When I was nineteen, God came bursting into my cave and amazed me with true Light. He showed me that all of the goodness I was trying to procure, all of the accolades I had received meant nothing before His command: “Be perfect.” My goodness wasn’t good enough, and I needed the goodness of Another. All of the love and acceptance that I worked so hard to get from family and friends could be mine in Christ by just believing that I couldn’t do it. He gave me the faith to believe what I had fought against my entire life: I needed more than myself.

Since that day, I have had to fight that same battle over and over again. I find myself so easily falling back into the trap of thinking I can earn an “atta girl” from God by my own works. I do this now by thinking if I can just have the right theology, if I can just love the gospel enough, then finally then I can earn my own righteousness.

I have struggled to contribute to the No Darkness to Dark series. I have read others stories and thought, “Wow. That was dark.” My story is nothing like that. I have wrestled with this thought for a month or so. Last night slapped me in the face. I was believing the lie again. I was believing that my enslavement to my own goodness actually wasn’t all that bad.

Reverend Thomas Scott said it best, “I cannot pray, but I sin; I cannot hear, or preach a sermon, but I sin; I cannot give an alms, or receive the sacrament, but I sin; no, I cannot so much as confess my sins, but my confessions are still aggravations of them. My repentance needs to be repented of, my tears need washing, and the very washing of my tears needs still to be washed over again with the blood of my Redeemer.”

And thank God that we do have that Redeemer who loves even those who avoid Him by trying to be him. Those who, like me, just need to hear every day that they can rest in His goodness and forgiveness.

Minute Clinic Pt. 3

In this series, we started at the minute clinic and we saw our desperate need for help in relationship, next we moved on to the truth that Christ also understands broken relationship. He felt everything we feel, he knows how we hurt for he himself was hurt in relationship. Today I want to give you some more good news. It is good news for the relationship failure; for the one who is self-focused; for the one who is impatient with the change in others’ lives but is comfortable with the slow as molasses change in their own; for the one who reopens wounds daily, for the one who is demanding with those around them; for the one who feels like even when they try, they never get it right; for the one who has given up on all relationship because of the pain relationships bring; for the broken; for the down-trodden; for those who have called it quits: You are loved, you are forgiven, you are not alone.  Continue reading

Minute Clinic Pt. 2

“If you want love, give love. If you want friends, be friendly. If you’d like to feel understood, try being more understanding. It’s a simple practice that works.”

Seemingly good advice for the one looking for relationship. I would venture to say everyone would agree with that statement. I know I have said something very similar to my children as they have bemoaned the fact that they don’t have many friends. I have preached that to my own heart. And yet, there is a man that wrecks that entire paradigm. Continue reading

Minute Clinic Pt. 1

Why I wish all of my relationships were like the Minute Clinic at Wallgreens.

I love the minute clinic. Let me tell you why, I love just walking into the store and signing in, without talking to anybody. I love that you don’t have to make an appointment–all of that planning stuff throws me. I love that you give that little germ-encased touch-screen your phone number and they text you when it is your turn. I love that while I am waiting to be seen I can meander around the store, lingering in the “as-seen-on-tv” section marveling at the ingenuity and utter ridiculousness of all that is there. I love getting the text letting me know that it’s my turn and then walking to the back of the store. I love the fact that the doctor that is seeing me doesn’t know me, so there is no need for small talk or any “how’s the husband, kids, writing, etc.” I love that it’s all business. I love getting my prescription filled right outside the door. The minute clinic fulfills a need without any work on my part. It is all so quick, convenient and painless.

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Good Deeds Gone Bad

Recently I was selling books at a conference when a young, sweet girl bought a copy of my mom’s book Helper by Design. She commented that she has read several books about being a wife and is going to be married in just a couple months. She then said what every single one of us thinks before we are married, “I just want to be a good wife.” I assured her that was a lofty ambition and then I told her she would surely fail. She laughed nervously and moved away from the table.

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Psalm 121

“My daughter is pregnant.” The text about a friend’s unwed teenage daughter felt like a punch in the stomach. I was undone. I was also hopeful though; I know how God loves to take the most broken situations and turn them into the most beautiful. So I crafted a text back, one that I thought would be encouraging. After I hit the send button, I knew it was wrong. It was too formulaic, too light, not enough of me entering into her pain.

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Revelation 5

One of my favorite things to do is to hike. Preferably I like to hike up a very large mountain, where I get angry ¾ of the way up and refuse to talk to anybody with me because it’s their fault I am feeling like I’m about to die. I hate the “almost there” part, it’s the worst. But I love the top. I love standing looking down on our city and getting a new perspective. I know that might sound cheesy, but I’m always surprised at how my eyes are opened when I’m standing at the top. I look down and see things that feel so big to me when I am next to them but now they seem miniscule. I feel like I can breathe differently, more freely. Though, that may be because I am out of shape and lightheaded…but whatever.

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The fear of failure is a powerful and destructive thing. It keeps us from trying, it keeps us from living, and it shackles us to ourselves. Recently, I have cowered from fear repeatedly. I have listened its voice—my inner slave driver—telling me that my best won’t be good enough, that no matter how hard I try I will not succeed. It has kept me paralyzed in a dungeon of darkness. The world’s solution to this fear is, “Just give it your all!”, “Find power in the trying!”, or, the karma principle, “If you do your best you will find success.” Don’t get me wrong, it is easy to find momentary and fleeting strength in these tag lines. I resolve once again to give it a go and then once again find myself wondering what went wrong. The failure to get out of “failure mode” only pushes me deeper into my fear. I want to be a less angry mom today, and then I fail, I have an outburst, and I am distant from children. I don’t want to gossip and then, inevitably, it’s the first thing out of my mouth when I meet up with someone, so I just decide it is best never to talk to anyone again. I want to love my husband selflessly and then I find myself being more selfish than ever, so I withdraw from him and protect myself from the deepness of my depravity.

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Led To Repentance

“Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance” (Romans 2:1-4)

Recently, I decided to take my kids to Disneyland. We have annual passes and live fairly close, so this is a pretty common occurrence in our house. As I was driving along, thinking about how awesome of a mom I am, I was surprised by a policeman standing in the middle of the road, hand outstretched indicating to me to stop. At first I couldn’t figure out what was going on; had something dangerous happened ahead, was he redirecting traffic? As if his hand came through the windshield and slapped me in the face, something hit me: I was speeding. I was really speeding and in a school zone. I pulled over and received my just punishment. I then texted my husband; I was a bit worried about what he would say. I knew the ticket was going to be expensive, and–let’s just say–it wasn’t my first ticket. My husband’s response? “Don’t let it ruin your day.” He showed me kindness. This act of kindness from my husband reminded me of how God shows me kindness when I don’t deserve it; my heart was softened and I was deeply grateful for my husband and his love for me.

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I have often struggled to understand the concept of asking God for forgiveness. I know it is a command (I John 1:9), but I also know that even before we ask we have been forgiven. This truth is demonstrated within scripture: in the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-33); in various verses like Psalm 103, “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit” (2-4a); and in Colossians 2:13-14, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing to the cross.”

Recently, I read in Brennan Manning’s book, Ragamuffin Gospel, two paragraphs that clarified the concept of asking God for forgiveness. . Here they are, in their entirety; I hope it encourages you the way it has me.

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