The Squeezings of my Brain Grapes.
Take Time To Remember

Memory is a funny and unreliable thing.  And that’s true for every one of us. 

When we get into a situation where we’re afraid, we tend to suddenly forget all the times that we were afraid before, and everything ended up working out ok.  The only thing that comes to mind in the moment is all the ways our current situation could go wrong.

I bet you can remember a time in your life when you were discouraged, sad, afraid – where you felt like everything was going to crash down on top of you.  And then, God came through for you. 

I can remember plenty of times like that.

But, when I’ve got a new challenge, or struggle, or tough situation before me, I tend to forget all those times.  It’s almost like there’s a fella with horns and a tail that doesn’t want me to remember those times.  Because, if I start thinking about how God has come through for me again and again in the past, then I don’t really need to be afraid this time.

So, what do we do?  Here’s what I think.

When you’re in a situation where you’re facing something tough, and you’re feeling afraid, and beat down, and you’re wondering how you’ll make it through, hit pause for a second.

Leave the fear in your bedroom, and go for a walk.  And, as you walk, remind yourself of all the times God’s come through for you before.  Remind yourself of the things you were scared of, and how he protected you.  Remind yourself of the sudden, surprise blessings that he brought into your life when you least expected.  Remind yourself that He’s good, and that he loves you.

Then, go back to your bedroom, and tell God about what you’re up against this time.  And thank Him for all the times he’s come through for you in the past, and ask him to protect you and watch over you this time, just like he always has. 

Ask him to carry the fear for you, to take it off of your tiny shoulders, and place it on his great big ones.  Then take a deep breath, and say “Amen.”

“You may say to yourselves, “These nations are stronger than we are. How can we drive them out?” But do not be afraid of them; remember well what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt.  You saw with your own eyes the great trials, the miraculous signs and wonders, the mighty hand and outstretched arm, with which the Lord your God brought you out. The Lord your God will do the same to all the peoples you now fear.” (Deuteronomy 7:17-19, NIV)

How Do I Move Past A Terrible Period In My Life?

hisharilyn asked:
lately I’ve been going through some hard things, really, really difficult things in life. And it sucks, a lot. But through this, I’ve grown closer to God and gotten back into church, started making new, better friends. But still find myself constantly thinking about those really difficult things almost every minute of my day. I want to focus on God and his plan for me, not only to keep me distracted from thinking about these things, but because i know that Gods plans for me are beneficial to me and for his kingdom. How would you recommend i fall more and more in love with Jesus. I just want to be on fire for Him, if you know what i mean. i know its kind of a vague question, but anything helps :)

Jed Brewer replied:

Hey Shery,

Thanks for your question.

Sometimes, spiritual growth can work like a rubber band.  If you put one end of a rubber band around your finger, and pull on the other end, the rubber band will stretch, to a point.  And then it won’t go any farther.

In our spiritual lives, when there’s something in our past that needs addressing, it can work like the end of the rubber band that’s around our finger.  We can stretch forward to a point, but then we stop.  There just isn’t more give left.

I mention all that to say that I’m guessing the issue for you isn’t one of falling more in love with Jesus.  I bet you love Jesus a lot.  I’m guessing that what’s causing problems is that we need to fully address those “really difficult things” in your life.

Grief, trauma, and fear, when they go unaddressed for a long period of time, tend to lead to depression, constant low-level anxiety, and emotional numbness.  Well, that’s not a good way to go.  So, how do we avoid that?

The first thing we need, when we’re going through a rough time, is a safe place to vent about it.  And, as a Christian, you’ll want to have that safe place with both some older Christians, and in your prayer life.  If you haven’t before, now would be the perfect time to start getting really honest, and really raw with God.  Don’t hold stuff back, don’t couch things, don’t say what you think he wants to hear.  Tell him the ugly truth of your emotional reality.  If you’re feeling squeamish about that, go read Psalms 13 and 22.  And then sit down with God and do what David did: keep it real.  Tell God in intricate detail how you feel about what’s happened in your life, what you hate about it, who you’re mad at, who you want God to smite, and so forth.  Pour your heart out to God, and keep pouring until you’re tapped out. 

The second thing we need is to ask this question: what am I afraid to look at?  Rough times in our lives can provoke hard questions inside of us.  And, often, we’re afraid to ask those questions and hear the answer.  What kind of questions am I talking about?  I’ll give you a few examples…

“Does God really love me?” 

“Is God really a good person?” 

“Am I damaged goods?” 

“Are there still good things in my future?” 

“Do my family/friends truly care about me?” 

“Is there something wrong with me?”

If you’re wondering about one of those questions – or any other really hard question – but you’re feeling afraid to look it full in the face and hear the answer, you’re going to find it dang near impossible to find real peace.  Because, deep inside, the question is driving you crazy.

The solution is to ask God for courage, brace yourself, and get with a Pastor and ask the question.  My job involves counseling people with unbelievably hard life situations, and I promise that the answer to the hard question is always something you can live through.  It will not kill you, and on the other side is peace. 

The final thing to look at – and, this comes only after steps 1 and 2 – is forgiveness.  And let’s be honest about forgiveness for a second.  That’s something that Christians talk a whole lot about, but almost never practice.  Real forgiveness requires working things out between you and God, being honest about your feelings, and asking the tough questions.  It’s only when we’ve surveyed the full impact of what has occurred, and the damage it’s done in our life, that we’re able to relinquish our claim on that wound and allow God to have it. 

By contrast, when Christians talk about forgiveness – generally – what they mean is “pretending that something bad didn’t happen.”  It sounds a little bit like that’s what you’re trying right now, and, as you’re seeing, that doesn’t work.

Sis, I don’t doubt that you love Jesus.  And you will learn to love him more.  But, right now, I’d take a look at if the challenge before you isn’t one of confronting your past full-on.  I think it is.

If you have more questions on any of this, hit my ask box.  Stay strong, sis.  The best is yet to come.

I Have Social Anxiety, But I Want To Show Love Anyway.

ddandylion asked you:
Hi Jed. I truly love your blog. I am writing to you because I feel ashamed. I suffer from social anxiety, a mental illness that causes me to freak out in social situations, and it makes it really hard to reach out to others. I am slowly recovering but I feel so terrible because at work nobody knows that I am Christian. With all my heart I want them to know. It’s not good enough that they find out that I’m a Christian through Facebook. I pray everyday for boldness but its not working :(

Jed Brewer replied:

Hey Danielle,

Sis, I truly love your blog.  I just spent some time reading your last few posts, and you’ve got a good mind and a good heart.

So, because you’ve got a good heart, its no surprise that you want to reach out to your co-workers.  And yet we have this thing in the way.  So let’s dig in and figure out what we do.

First of all, mental illness is not something that you just “try harder” with.  I’m sure you know this, but I’m betting from time to time you’re tempted to think, “maybe if I just really pushed myself I could do xyz”.  And that isn’t true.  A guy with a broken leg needs to heal up before he can run a marathon.  And those of us who have experienced mental illness need to recover before we’re at full capacity.

That said, step one is to do what I sense you’re already doing: commit yourself to be diligent in your recovery.  Go to your counseling sessions and engage.  Take whatever medications you are prescribed.  On the spiritual side, pursue the Lord, day by day and bit by bit choosing his will for your life over fear and anxiety.  Cast your cares on him and receive his strength.

And then – and this is very important – don’t judge yourself.  If you’re committing yourself to the process of recovery, and you’re making progress, then you don’t have a single thing to feel bad about.  Because it’s only a matter of time.  You’re going to get where you’re going.  Period.

Now, in the meantime, you still love your co-workers, and you still want to reach out to them, and you’re still in recovery.  So, what do we do?  Simple.  We just need the right strategy.

Social situations are hard, but we want to show God’s love.  No problem.  Let’s show love without bringing a social situation in to play.  Let’s say there’s a gal in the office going through a divorce or other tough time.  Bake her a plate of cookies, and wait till she’s not at her desk, and then leave the cookies with a little note, “Hey, I know life’s tough right now – I’m praying for you and who doesn’t love cookies?”  Boom!  You just showed some love, girl!

Truth is, there’s a lot of ways to show love without having to have some big, anxiety-provoking face-to-face encounter.  An email note of encouragement.  A plate of cookies.  Bringing somebody a coffee when you return from your break.  And, Danielle, those actions speak a whole lot louder than any words you could say anyway.

I would actually bet, sis, that your coworkers already know you’re “religious”.  People pick up on that rather deftly.  What they’re all wondering is, “What’s she gonna do with it?”  If you start turning that religion into Love (which sounds right – I think I read a verse about that somewhere) then you will be ministering to your coworkers, with or without social anxiety.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.  You have God’s love in your heart for these people.  All you need is a strategy to let it come out in a way that fits your situation.  Allow yourself to relax and have fun with that process, and I think you’ll find it’s a whole different ballgame.

How Do I Deal With Feeling Far From God?

snickleefritzz asked you:
Hey Jed, would you have any advice for someone who is going to a Bible school but recently feels far away from God? Not mentioning who it is or anything ;)

Jed Brewer replied:

Hey Tiffany,

Thanks for your question, sis!  And, just as a side note, I dig your photography!

The first thing I would offer, in terms of feeling far from God, is that it’s not something you need to feel ashamed of.  David, who the Bible describes as “a man after God’s own heart”, wrote both Psalm 13 and Psalm 22.  And those are pretty dang “feeling far from God” Psalms!

So, let’s take a deep breath, and set down that sense of shame.  I know that, particularly somewhere like a Bible school, there can be pressure to act like everything’s OK all the time.  Well, it isn’t, and it ain’t gonna be, so let’s just let that go.

The thing we want to determine is: where is this feeling coming from?  You and I, as human beings, are capable of having strong emotions for a wide variety of reasons.  Some of them stem from rather simple things.  Ever had a rough night’s sleep, and spent the next day pretty sure that everyone hates you?  Ever been really hungry, and you inexplicably find that you hate everyone around you?  See what I mean?  Huge emotion; small cause.

And, sometimes, our emotions are dislocated – there’s something substantial behind them, but the connection isn’t obvious.   So, in your life, family drama, a sense of uncertainty about the future, loneliness, and discouragement – just as examples – can all lead to feeling far from God.  None of those things are related to actually being far from God, but any one of them can lead you to feeling that way.

Now, Tiffany, I should note that, when Christians ask about feeling far from God, very often, they’re quietly afraid that the emotional distance they feel is the result of some secret and terrible sin, and, perhaps, one they’re not even aware of.

For what it’s worth, I haven’t found that – the secret sin – to be the case very often.  But, the generalized guilt that a lot of Christian carry around – feeling bad just cause – will absolutely, no question, mess with your head, and lead you to feel not only far from God, but unworthy of his love and grace and acceptance.  And it’s a nasty little lie.

So, what I’d encourage you to do is, first, for the next few days, get enough sleep, eat regular meals, and drink plenty of water, and see how you feel.  If you’re still feeling off, spend some time praying and journaling, and talking with a trusted friend or mentor, and try and get a sense of “where is this coming from?”  In particular, look for subjects that come up again and again.  If your parents’ troubled marriage – as an example – keeps coming up as you think, pray, journal, and talk, then that’s a good sign that that’s what you’re concerned about.  And then you can start dealing with that situation directly.

Lastly, sis, here’s what I know: God is not far from you.  Even if the worst was true, and you felt far from God because you were running away, you just turn around, and He’s right there.  That’s the kind of love he has for you.  So don’t be ashamed, and don’t be afraid.  Your Father is crazy about you.

How Do I Deal With Fear and Anxiety?

princessaguzie asked you:
Hey Jed, do you have advice for someone dealing with fear and anxiety?

Jed Brewer replied:

Hey Princess!

Fear and anxiety, huh?  Well, you know, of course, that anxiety isn’t God’s will for your life.  You’ve probably heard this verse before, but it’s a good one:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:6-7, NIV)

But, what is anxiety, exactly?  Well, anxiety is the thing you feel when you’re trying to control things over which you have no control.

The reason this verse tells you to take your anxieties to God is that, when you do that, you’re reminded that He is in control.  Of everything.

You know this, but, just as a reminder, there is nothing God can’t do.  He can bend the laws of nature to his whim, he can raise the dead to life, he can speak the cosmos into existence with a word.  In short, he can handle it.  Whatever it is, he can handle it.

The funny thing to me, Princess, is that in my life, I’m often anxious – worrying over things I can’t control – as a way to keep from dealing with what I can control.

Let’s say for a second that you felt anxious about your family.  Maybe your folks are fighting and arguing and there’s a lot of drama.  Well, now, anxiety will get you wound up on the idea that you need to fix it.  Except, you can’t.  You don’t have any control over your parents – you don’t determine what they do or how they act.  However, you have complete and total control over finding a place you can go in your life where there isn’t drama, where you can relax and be at peace and be yourself.  (A friend’s house or a church youth program would be examples.)  And the important detail here is that finding that place and going there regularly will actually help a lot in terms of coping with drama at home.  And anxiety keeps you from seeing that.  That’s why the Devil’s tempting you to it.

So, how do we deal with that?  Good question.  To start, take the things you’re afraid and anxious about – one by one – and start asking, “What do I actually have control over in this situation?”  Make a list.  Sit down with a trusted friend or mentor and plot what concrete actions you’re going to take on those things you can control.

On everything else, sit down with you and God, and tell him how you feel.  Pour out your heart to him – worries, fears, anxieties, concerns – and then ask him to take it off of you.  Thank God that he’s in control of every one of those details, not one of them beyond his power or grip, and that he loves you.  Ask him to give you peace.  Then, leave those concerns with God.  Refuse to pick them back up, to play them through in your brain, to examine little details.  Put your mental energies into working out the stuff you have a measure of control over.  And then go have some fun.

There’s a famous meditation called The Serenity Prayer, and it encapsulates all of this really well:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

I’m Praying for you, sis.  Hang in there.

Can I Tell God I’m Scared?

Anonymous asked:
Can I tell God I’m scared?

Jed Brewer replied:

Of course you can, anon.  He wants you to!  As it turns out, the Bible says (repeatedly) that what God really wants is for you to be honest with him about what’s going on in your life…check it:

“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you.” (Psalm 55:22, NIV)

“Throw all your worry on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7, ISV)

“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” (Hebrews 4:16, NLT)

I think, my friend, that the key question before us is this: why wouldn’t we tell God when we’re scared?  There are a few possibilities here.

For some of us, I think we’re concerned that God would reject us.  That our fears would be too much, or too weird, or too frequent, and God would tell us to get lost.

For others, we feel like we need to first get our act together, and then, present ourselves to God as a fully-formed, squared-away Christian.

In either case, we’re not quite grasping who God wants to be to us, and who we are to him.

Anon, you and I are great big balls of need.  We wake up in the morning, and we need stuff.  We keep on needing more and more all day long, until, at last, we go to sleep, where we remain needy.  Then we wake up the next day and do it all again.

You’ve seen this pattern before if you’ve ever been around a baby.  Babies are born helpless, vulnerable, and completely needy.  They can’t protect themselves, provide for themselves, comfort themselves, or reliably move their limbs.  In everything, they are in need.

No (good) parent has ever resented their baby for this.  That’s what babies do!  They eat, sleep, and poop, and they cry to alert Mom and Dad that, once again, they are in need.

Well, now, as Christians, you and I are little, itty-bitty children, and God is our Dad.  And God knows that, as a little child, you are in need.  You were designed to be that way. 

God is not bothered or put off by your needs.  To the contrary, it’s a joy for him to hook you up.  That’s what a good Father does, and we most certainly have a good Father!

I think, anon, that the challenge for you – and for all of us – is to embrace the fact that you are – to God – a little child.  And that little children need, and when they need, they cry for their Papa.

The next time you’re afraid, go straight to your Dad.  Tell him what you’re scared about, and let him give you the comfort he has waiting with your name on it.  There’s nothing he wants more than that.

Should I Tell People About My Depression?

thebeautifuladdiction asked you:
I’m almost positive I have moderate depression, but I don’t want to tell my parents…I’ve been praying, but that desire and fire I once had, just isn’t as strong. I know only God can pull me through this. But still, I feel really lost, I need advice.

Jed Brewer replied:

Hi Madi,

Thanks for your question, sis, and I’m sorry you’re going through a rough time.

I can understand not wanting to talk to your parents about this.  And truth is, depending on your parents, it may not be the best idea anyway.  (Parents vary pretty widely in quality.)

But, here’s what I know for sure: you’ll want to tell somebody.  And I’m talking about somebody there in your actual real life.  (E.g. Not just folks on Tumblr.)

When we’re going through a rough time, we need other people to walk that mile with us.  And the thing about depression (which I’ve experienced no small amount of), is that it often times warps the way we see things.  That means that “getting yourself out of it” can be very difficult.  Having other people to talk to can help you get some sorely needed outside perspective.

You said: “I know only God can pull me through this.”  Well, I suppose, theologically, that’s true.  But, sis, God isn’t generally looking for you to solve problems in isolation.  And definitely not in this case.

God’s way of pulling you through this is almost certain to include a support network of people who love and care about you, some trusted advisors who know what’s up with you, and a spiritual mentor that’s helping you grow in the Lord.  In all of those things, it will be God at work, but he tends to want to use human beings as his hands and feet.  (See 2 Corinthians 5:20)

One of the reasons you need those other people surrounding and supporting you is so you can stay encouraged.   When it’s just you and the thoughts-in-your-head, it’s easy to believe stuff that doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.  Here’s what I mean…

You said: “The desire and fire I once had just isn’t as strong.”  Now, you tell me if I’m wrong, but I’m guessing that’s freaking you out, making you feel like there’s a problem with your walk with God, and making you feel guilty, ashamed, and afraid.

What other people can reflect back to you is that feelings come and go.  For all of us, without exception.  In fact, Jesus described this – see Matthew 13:20-21 in The Message Translation.  Because of this, as you know, we rely on faith, not on feelings.

The funny thing about relying on faith is it lets us be unemotional about solving our problems.  Rather than viewing things through a lens of, “Probably I’m a sinner and God hates me and that’s why I’m having a rough time”, we can say this: I have a problem, and with God’s help, we’re going to solve it.

Because we’re relying on faith, we can just figure this thing out, rather than being freaked out about it.  We can find a person who knows what they’re talking about, and share with them.  Based on that, we can begin to sort out if my depression is a normal response to events in my life, the result of something going on in my body, an outgrowth of a difficult living situation, or something else.  Then, we can begin to fix those problems.

I’m proud of you, Madi, for being brave and taking the first step in solving this problem.  Now I want to encourage you to take the next step, and find a community of people you can trust, right where you are, that can help you conquer this depression and live into the amazing life that your Father has for you.

Why Does God Use Suffering?

Anonymous asked:
Jed, I know that God does everything to His glory but why does it have to cause so much pain to us to show His glory to others?

Jed Brewer replied:

Well, my friend, I think there’s a few different parts to answering that.

If you’ll permit me to say so, I think what you may really be wondering is: “Where is God in the midst of my suffering?”  That’s a great question.  And we’ll get to it just as soon as we’ve covered a few basic things.

I think, broadly speaking, there are four different kinds of suckage here on planet earth, and we want to think about each of them a bit differently.

Life on a fallen planet
We live in a fallen world where everything breaks down.  We stub our toes, get pimples, and can’t find a good parking spot.  Although, yes, God is at work in all things, we may not want to expend too much energy in trying to understand the role of the Divine in having a bad hair day.  That’s just part of life this side of eternity.

Suffering you aren’t meant to go through, but choose to anyway
If you go shoplifting and get arrested, we probably don’t want to put that on God.  That’s probably on us.  Certainly, God is with us in the midst of it, but He’s most likely trying to get our attention so he can ask us: why are you settling for a life that’s so much less than what I want to give you?

Somebody’s not doing their job
Quite a bit of suffering in life comes from the people around us not doing what they’re called to do.  God is in the constant business of giving people the opportunity to step up and live into their calling.  Unfortunately, few do.  And, consequently, we suffer.  Whether its parents not being emotionally nurturing, a church pastor not discipling his people, or a wealthy man not sharing his resources, when people don’t live into their calling, we all suffer for it.  Ultimately, God makes sure those needs can get taken care of through an alternate route, but in the mean time, it sucks for us, and the suckage is on the person who isn’t stepping up.

A hard time God’s asking you to go through
This is the really tough one, per your question.  Suffering that’s significant, unavoidable, and nobody’s fault.  A friend is diagnosed with cancer.  A grandparent passes away.  Dad’s company closes down and he’s out of a job.  What do we do with that?  Where is God?

As you know, God is right there with you in the midst of it (Matthew 28:20).  He sees every tear you cry (Psalm 56:8).  You know that God is always close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18).   But, still, why?  Why suffering?

Well, the witness of scripture is that God uses suffering to shape us, to mold us, to strengthen us and make us into the people he made us to be (1 Peter 4:12-13, MSG).  And, so, we know that we can’t lose.  We know that, in all things, God is working to our good (Romans 8:28), bringing about our absolute best.  But, still, why suffering? Is there no other way?

On this question, the Bible remains silent.  I suspect that the answer, which we may find in eternity, is beyond our ability to understand as mere and fallen human beings.  But God offers a different – and deeper – answer to the question of, “why suffering?”  His answer is to go first.

Jesus led by example.  He submitted himself to suffering that he could have avoided.  He was obedient to the point of a death he could have refused.  He cried out to the Father for any other way, for the cup to pass from him, yet he still chose to follow a path of sorrows he could have declined. 

Jesus went first.

Because of that, we have a God that understands.  A God who knows what it is to sweat, to bleed, to feel sick and tired and cold and hungry and exhausted.  And this God wants you to pour out your heart to him in the midst of your suffering.  To cry and vent and rant and rail and be honest about the burden of living in a fallen world, and being shaped by suffering.  And in that moment of honesty, you may begin to discover that what truly stills the questions is encountering the still small voice and unfathomable love of Jesus that whispers, “I know, child.  I love you, and I know.”

Jed Presents: Your Verse For The Day (November 6, 2011)!

The Verse!

Joshua 1:9
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

What do we know?

  • We may feel alone, isolated, outnumbered, but we are not.  Ever.
  • Courage – and the refusal to give into fear or timidity – is not a good idea.  It’s a commandment.  That makes cowardice a sin.
  • Real strength and courage come from God, but getting them involves a choice on our part.  We choose to take a hold of them, to receive them from God and start using them.
  • In the same way, giving into fear, giving into timidity, and giving into discouragement are a choice.  We all feel fear and discouragement whether we want to or not, but letting them be in charge is a choice we don’t want to make.
  • God isn’t telling us this stuff as a tough-guy football coach who’s yelling at us from the sidelines.  No, He’s saying we don’t have to be afraid precisely because he’s right there with us – in the chaos – every step of the way.

A bit of context!

  • When God says this verse to Joshua, he’s in the midst of asking Joshua to do something impossible: go into a foreign land filled with angry, violent people, and just take over. 
  • The phrase “Be strong and courageous” has already occurred twice before we get to this verse!  God seems to think this is an important idea!
  • If we skip to Joshua 6 (The Battle of Jericho), we find God making good on his promise to be with Joshua, and to do the impossible.

So what now?

Take 5 minutes today to go for a walk, have a cup of coffee, and think about this verse.  Daydream with God: if God can do the impossible, what impossible things might he want to do through your life?  Be honest: what are the things that get you wound up on fear and discouragement?  Ask for wisdom: how would you confront those problems if you knew God was standing right by your side?  Finally, ask for courage and strength to do just that.

Dear Lord,

I confessed my sins, and then I asked for forgiveness… But I still feel guilty. All the time. I mean, it’s not like I’m supposed to be happy, or even at peace, after what I did, right? On the other hand, I’m starting to realize that by carrying all this emotional guilt, I’m basically calling you a liar when you said you’d forgive me completely and unconditionally. So then I feel all guilty about feeling guilty, which is like some kind of weird meta-guilt, and I think maybe I’m going insane.

In many ways it seems like these guilty feelings keep me in line. If I was happy and pleased with myself, who knows what I might do? How would I behave, if it’s not about avoiding this crushing guilt? The only problem is, I feel guilty all the time anyway, and none of it brings me closer to you Lord. In fact, all this guilt makes me feel like running away from you. And that can’t be good.

Bottom line, I feel like I have to punish myself for what I’ve done. Yes, I know that Jesus was already punished for my sins, but why would He want to die for a sinful person like me? But then, even as I say that, I know good people don’t need anybody to die for them, so if Jesus died for sinners, it must be for sinners like me. Dang, I dunno. Could it be that you want all this guilt and condemnation out of our relationship? If so, that would be weird… and… good. So please help me work on that.