I Didn’t Change Myself

When I first took hold of Jesus and promised myself I would never let go, I realized that everything would have to be different. I didn’t know how, but I had to run toward him forever. From my perspective at the time, I felt that I had to trust my grip on him. I had to pursue Jesus, and the only way I knew how was through service. It was a very intentional turn from satisfying my own needs to meeting the needs of others. As a result, when I couldn’t see a need, I was anxious. If I didn’t pick up a piece of trash I saw, I felt it meant I was running away from him. I had to do everything right because the slope is slippery.

 

Somehow, I moved beyond that into a season of wanting to see the salvation of my high school, revival. I preached the gospel everywhere, led a prayer group every morning, fasted every Thursday. God did nothing. It was his grace to me. I was enthusiastic, moved, passionate, even joyful, but I am not convinced that I loved him yet. The joy, the wisdom, the fervor, the way I was able to lead my peers to Christ in that time, those were gifts and I didn’t deserve them. I still believed that if I sacrificed enough for God, he would come. I would see the mighty works of his hand. I loved those works more than I loved God.

 

One day after youth group, I found myself sitting in my car in the church parking lot, praying. I was listening to a worship CD. I had never gotten to the end of the last track. There was a lot of blank space and some piano background music, then, finally, a mini sermon. I will never forget it said: “Jesus didn’t say ‘Blessed are those who do really cool things in my name,’ or ‘Blessed are those who seek the works of God,’ he said, ‘Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.’” Having been so directly called out, I saw that this was the revival I desperately longed for. Revival wasn’t and isn’t the Holy Spirit bringing about spiritual craziness. Revival is one heart after learning that God himself is more captivating than all other things.

 

I have changed so much since Jesus found me. I found freedom from my religious fumbling. I found freedom from my need for worthy young men to validate me. I have found freedom from my pride. I didn’t do a thing. Not one single fucking thing.

 

My prayers feel more and more to me like poking a hole in my heart and letting the blood spill out along with everything else I hold dear, asking him to please pick out the evil things, asking for the pain that brings life. My prayers look like standing naked, saying, “what now?” with confidence that he will continue to lead me.

 

I didn’t change myself. I have been on a journey since God first took hold of my life and promised that it would be for good. And the times I grew the most were the times when I rested.

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About Jacquelyn Barnes

Former English Literature and Writing major at Whitworth University. Spanish Language minor. Browne's Addition Resident. Editorial Assistant at Gray Dog Press. Interested in postcolonial, multicultural, and feminist theories. Former ski racer. Longboarder. Runner. Member of Vintage Faith Community Church (we have no building). Painter. Morning person. View all posts by Jacquelyn Barnes

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