Time for another Hope Dweller guest post! A little bit into the month of September, I realized that the person I was hoping would be able to be our guest this month would not be able to to do it. I thought we might have to go without a September Hope Dweller post because I didn’t know who else might be available and want to do it. Then my husband crossed my mind. So, I mentioned to him that I didn’t have a guest for September for my blog and he said, “Oh, you want me to do it?” And then followed it up with a laugh and a “Just joking.” I said, “Actually, I do want you to do it!” I don’t think it was an accident that he crossed my mind in that moment when I didn’t know who was going to post or if there was even going to be a post. So, for this Hope Dweller guest post, I introduce you to my husband, JP Jobe. He is a precious gift that God has fitted just for me. I’m constantly blessed and amazed by how God saw fit to give me this man who loves me, who I can laugh with one minute and have a serious discussion with the next, who challenges my way of thinking and perspective on things, and who the Lord has used to help shape me into who I am today. He’s the love of my life and I’m so thankful for him.
In the quiet of a 6th grade history lesson, I waited anxiously for her response. I had written a note to a girl that essentially said “Do you want to be my girlfriend?” and included boxes to check for “yes” or “no.” I remember my heart racing as she handed it back and the flush and unstoppable grin as I saw the check mark in the “yes” box. Then came confusion as she asked for it back, and draining devastation as I saw she had changed her response to “no”. I know it’s a cliché, but I can feel those feelings again today as I recall it and put the memory into words. After this exchange, I think she explained that she liked me as a “friend” not as a “boyfriend.” Like I said, embarrassingly cliché. This seems like a minor event that happened to everyone at some point in their life and like there should be no reason to hold onto it. I should be able to “get over it and move on.” And as far as I knew, that’s exactly what I did. The girl and I remained friends, I had other girls I was interested in, and even dated in high school like anyone would expect.
Fast forward through college, dating, engagement, marriage, children, ministry…life was good. Plenty of ups and downs I won’t get into now, but I was married to a wonderful woman (still am…and I get to contribute to her blog ;)), and we had a happy home with 3 or 4 kids by this point. I started reading a book by John Eldridge called Waking the Dead. Somewhere in the second half of the book, he began to describe a method of counseling that I had heard of before, but I had never participated in it. I honestly didn’t think I needed counseling of any sort.
The way it works is the counselor asks the person to describe an emotional response that troubles them, especially something that comes up again and again. It could be anxiety or embarrassment or deep hurt or betrayal. These feelings often get in the way of us moving forward or moving deeper in God’s call on our lives. They often affect our relationships with each other. And they often are rooted in something deeper in our souls. As I was reading this book, the Holy Spirit brought to mind something recent when I had felt embarrassed (I honestly don’t remember what it was, but the feeling was out of proportion with the situation that had occurred). The counselor (in my case, the book) then asks the person to think of another time, an earlier time, maybe even the earliest time, they have felt those feelings. Immediately I was back in the story I shared before. I want to emphasize that this was not a memory I had thought about through the years. I didn’t lie awake wishing things had gone differently. I didn’t think that it had affected my life in any way. But as I was feeling the recent embarrassment, there was a resonance with that moment some 10-15 years prior. Then the book prompted me to ask the question “What did I believe about myself in that moment?” I remembered feeling like I was the “nice kid” that the girls would always like as a “friend” not a “boyfriend.” I felt like I would be liked but not loved. I believed that I would be appreciated, but never passionately pursued. In that moment, I realized I still believed that lie.
I kept reading. The next step is to ask the question, “What does Jesus say about that situation?” I began to weep as He tore down the stronghold established by that lie. He told me “I have passionately pursued you for your whole life. I passionately pursued you long before you were born. I passionately pursued you before the foundations of the world.” As I sat alone with the book, my soul stepped out of the darkness of a subtle lie that influenced every relationship I ever had, into the daylight of the truth that I have been deeply loved all of my life. I saw so many things in this new light. I had jokingly told people I was my parents’ “low-maintenance child,” because I was a good kid who didn’t need their presence at every football game or field trip. I had few friends who could be considered close and made little effort to make friends with classmates and teammates through high school and college. It didn’t bother me to be quiet and unknown (I’m also an introvert); I just accepted it as my lot in life. Even in my marriage, I considered myself as being appreciated for being a good husband and father, but not my wife’s passionate pursuit. This is not an accusation against anyone but the liar who convinced me of this lie. My parents loved me with a beautiful, unconditional love; my friends genuinely enjoyed my company and would have done anything for me; and my wife picked ME, she said YES—and we each feel like we got the better end of the deal.
Sometimes we believe things about ourselves or about others that aren’t true. And sometimes they are so subtle that we go on believing them for a long time. It’s not that we’re blind or stupid or out of touch with reality; it’s that the lie seems like truth based on our experience. Our beliefs shape our behaviors and lies can make us choose wrongly for ourselves and interpret other people’s behavior incorrectly. Lies imprison us to wrong conclusions. Truth sets us free. Jesus is the Truth, and He wants to speak the truth into our lives and set us free to be everything He has shaped and called us to be.
What Jesus did for me in that moment was set me free to have deeper friendships. He liberated my heart to believe I am someone’s favorite person. And He freed me to dream bigger about His plans for my life. I am blessed to serve a God who cares about me. He cares enough to expose the lies I’ve believed about myself. Even lies from a 6th grade cliché.
I’m so thankful that we serve a God who loves us and who passionately pursues us, a God who works to set us free from lies we’ve believed about ourselves, about others, or even about Him. He loves us so much and wants unhindered fellowship with us. He loves you with the same kind of love. He wants to see you set free from every lie that holds you back. He will be faithful to complete His work in you, to bring light to the lie, replace it with Truth, and draw you into a more intimate relationship with Him. What an amazing God and an incredible love!