A Year in the Psalms
On December 30, 2014 I began a journey prompted by the Lord that would carry me all the way to November 21, 2015. When I turned the last page of Psalms, ending my journey, I wasn't sure how I felt. I had spent almost a year in what read like a journal. The words leapt off of the page and directly into my life. The pages that spanned the 150 Psalms were marked up and worn. If you turn my Bible to the side, you can see right where those precious Scriptures begin and end in my Bible. Sticky notes of all shapes, sizes, and colors litter the pages with sweet reminders from Jesus and hard truths that I constantly need reminding of. It was a long year and each day, it seemed as if the Psalm for the day was directly ordained for that specific day.
I wasn't always consistent in reading a Psalm every single day (and if you look in my Bible, you'll see that there were sometimes weeks that I didn't even glance at a Psalm) but God was consistent in showing me what I needed, not wanted, to hear that day.
Looking back on who I was on December 30, 2014, I wouldn't trade the world to go back there. It's not so much that I'm a different person but I've grown into the person God designed me to be. It's hard to explain. There's only a few people in the universe that know the insides and outs of this year and how things have changed. You know who you are and I love you so much for walking this long, hard journey alongside me.
This year, I had to learn to fight for myself. I've spent most of my life putting myself on the back burner and doing for others. In and of itself, helping is not a bad thing but when your mental and physical health suffers because of it, doing for others has become an idol. That was a tough pill to swallow. I hadn't realized that my love for others and making things easier or better for them had come into my heart, built a throne, and called itself god. It was hard work tearing down that throne and I had to reevaluated everything: how I viewed myself, how I viewed my relationships with others, my relationship with God. Ultimately, my relationship with God had to come first. I had to find my rest, my hope, my sanity in Him alone and not outside relationships because they did not give me salvation and hope. Jesus did.
This year, God redefined my definition of worship. He got rid of the rules that religion had put into my mind that had been called truth and replaced with the gospel and my personal relationship with Him. It's not that my definition had been wrong but it had been misguided by years of following religion's rules and not His rules. King David danced before the Lord in his underwear and the Lord was pleased. Why? Because David's heart was in the right place. I may not dance before the Lord in my underwear (because no one wants to see me in my underwear and definitely no one wants to see me dance) but my heart has to be in the right place before my actions can be pleasing to the Lord. I also learned that worship is a lifestyle and not an activity for Sundays and Wednesdays. Worship is what you do when you're showering and you have some alone time with Jesus. Worship is talking to the Lord while you're printing out your English paper. Worship is taking time out of your day to spend time in His Word and in prayer. Worship is intentional daily activities having a heavenly and God-honoring purpose. Wash your dishes for Jesus. Vacuum for Jesus. Get dressed for Jesus. Drive for Jesus. If you start worshipping during the little things throughout your day, it will change your live forever. Trust me.
This year, I've been learning to grieve. I have never truly experienced loss like this. I have friends and church members that have and I have walked with them through it. But it is so so different when you are grieving and your friends come alongside you. For those of you that came alongside me and my family, I am so so thankful for you. Your gifts (the sweet girl who left a gift under my dorm door), your prayers, your hugs, your kisses, your tears, and your kind words have meant the whole world to me. We're so blessed to have you. So, so blessed.
The Psalms have taught me that it is okay to not be okay. It is okay to be angry and frustrated with God and it is absolutely okay to tell Him. He already knows how you feel. Communicating those feelings with Him is part of having a relationship with Him and not just some dude in the sky you pray and sing to. The Psalms have taught me that I am absolutely unworthy of grace, compassion, mercy, healing, and the list goes on and on. The Psalms taught me that God gives us grace, compassion, mercy, and healing because He is grace, compassion, mercy, and healing.
Going through the Psalms was not a walk in the park. It was hard and some days I wanted to quit and move onto something else more comfortable. It was convicting and sometimes David was just getting on my last nerve. But it brought so much healing and redemption and growth in my life that I'm so glad I persevered through the tough days. If you were to ask me which Psalm is my favorite, I would have to say Psalm 103. To me, it is a perfect reminder of what God has done for me and who I am without Him -- a hot mess.
"Praise the Lord, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise His holy name."
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I am currently a teacher and life-long student of Scripture learning more about life and Jesus's marvelous love and boundless grace.