I am a terrible Christian. I don't go to church at all anymore (even though I make plans to sometimes), I only pray when I'm scared or hurting, and I do things I shouldn't all the time.
But as some of you know, I go to BibleGateway.com almost every day to see the daily scripture. Some piece of me feels like God picked it just for me, because I needed it. Sometimes it just doesn't make a difference, but in light of how tonight went, the verse from earlier today was a my rainbow; a sign that He still loves me.
When I was a junior in high school, I was in a senior-directed play in the spring semester, and my best friend at the time, Juliette Talley, was too. July was a freshman that year, but a clear talent who stood out. Because of a block scheduling and GT (gifted and talented, higher than AP but lower than IB) rules, we had Mrs. Dershem's GT English together. I'd transferred to that high school in the middle of the school year (I was going through a very tough time emotionally and my eating disorder had become clearly visible, so my parents threw me a rope and let me switch schools) and I loved it because of people like Juliette. She was smart, she could sing, she loved to act, and her faith was blossoming just like mine, so we quickly became close. We often had to compete against each other for parts in our theatre company's productions, but there was no animosity; we loved doing shows together, and whichever of us got the bigger part never gloated. Near the end of the year, our teacher, Mr. McCoy, would select seniors who were interested and in Theatre Three or Four choose a play and direct it. Lindsay, an adorably quirky girl who played Chip in our production of Beauty and the Beast, chose a fantastic excerpt from Neil Simon's "Some Girl[s]". I was cast in a leading role and I dove in. July was cast in a different show, so our rehearsals weren't together, but we ran lines together before school and hung out on weekends, excited and hopeful, as the final month of school and our play series loomed ahead. On a balmy Saturday in May, our theatre company presented the Senior-Directed Play marathon. Each show got just one run, and the plays ran back-to-back, but they were incredible. On a black wooden stage, we poured our hearts out to the small audience of family and friends who came and sat in the makeshift bleachers in our classroom. I must say, the play was one of many exciting and happy things going on in my life then. In most ways, that spring and summer were the happiest times of my life, and my relationship with God was hopeful and growing. I felt like I was "on track" to be who I was supposed to be, and my friendship with July mirrored that. July and I often had religious discussions and encouraged each other all the time, so it came as no surprise when, backstage during the performance of the senior-directed show, July handed me a lime green post-it note with a scripture written on it. She told me she'd found it and that she knew it was meant just for me, and for us. I read it and agreed. We prayed before we went onstage, and we had a blast (and got a standing ovation).
A little less than a year down the road, after one of the most difficult things I'd ever experienced, my world shifted. Out of school through an early graduation program, I spent my time with a girl that became my other half. She, like July, was all about Jesus, but she was more worldly, less sheltered, and I felt like she understood me more than anyone on earth. I thought Heather was the most gorgeous, cool, free-spirit who'd ever bothered to befrIend me, and I was nearly glued to her side that spring. Because of that, fell in love with her church, a more progressive, "trendy" megachurch with a campus near my house called LakePointe. Heather had a big sister in her early twenties, and since Heather and I had graduated early, we went with her sister to the college group at the church every Sunday evening. That first night in the dimly lit room changed my life forever (in ways I can't begin to explain in one post), and I felt free, singing along to the modern praise music every week. She and I both loved a song the worship band played all the time, and it became somewhat of an anthem. Earlier in the year, when she and I were able to go to the Revolve tour, we sang it with a thousand other young women, as well as Natalie Grant. When the song resurfaced at MERGE, I felt a swell in my chest and gave it everything I had, even playing it at home on the piano and singing.
As you can probably guess, there was a link between theatre with July and MERGE with Heather. I eventually put two and two together and realized the song we were singing was taken directly from the scripture Juliette had introduced me to, and in my darkest times for the last nine years, I've listened to it, sang my heart out, and cried. Lately it's been hard for me to listen to, because it reminds me of a time when I was a better person, a devout Christian, an innocent young girl with a heart for God and none of the weight of the world on her shoulders. It pops up sometimes, though, and occasionally I'll turn it on and hum. The lyrics are everything I've ever needed to know or feel about God, and it made me feel like I was right to place my everything at His feet.
Tonight, more than ever, I know it to be true:
The Lord [my] God is in [my] midst,
a mighty One who will save;
He will rejoice over [me] with gladness;
He will quiet [me] by His love;
He will exult over [me] with loud singing.
My Savior, He can move the mountains. My God is might to save. Forever, Author of salvation, He rose and conquered the grave.
Jesus conquered the grave.
Despite the years between the words, the tiny piece of paper handed over in the dark and the music that brought me into the light, there is just something about the verse, both scriptural and melodically. The empty, broken girl who fought so hard to get here, who is struggling to hold on, those words are for her.
They are for me.
They are the truth.