Miller, Traci

I grew up in rural Kansas in a blended family of Christ-followers. From my earliest years, I knew of God’s love, but somehow I failed to really grasp the gospel and what it meant for my life.

I had the typical 90’s church kid sort-of-conversion moments. When I was three, I prayed for Jesus to come live in my heart while prompted by a cassette tape called, of all things, “The Gospel Duck.” At ten I sat at a campfire praying and singing (I kid you not) “Kumbaya” and “got saved.” High School faith experiences including crying and praying while listening to Jars of Clay, while feeling really, really desperate and horrible. My “salvation” emotions were a bit cyclical. I would feel guilty about something and determine to do better.

I will pray more! Give more! Read my Bible more! Whew. NOW I’m saved.
Then I would screw up almost immediately and fall back into the comfort of doing what I wanted, all the while knowing God couldn’t be happy with me. I was a failure. I should be punished. I struggled through middle school and high school with cutting, depression, and deep self-hatred. I was a fairly high functioning depressed person, though. I lived a relatively normal life and would even feel really happy at times.

During my senior year of high school, I confessed to my mom that I was cutting and ended up in counseling. I remember vividly the counselor asking me to name something I liked about myself, but I wracked my brain and came up with nothing.  What a desperate time that was for me.

In college I experienced times of spiritual renewal and healing. God continued His work in my life during what felt like the process of unlocking a highly complicated combination lock. With every step and experience, He was clicking another number, always pulling me closer to Him.

I married my best friend in 2007 and later began full-time “mommy-ing.” Even then the nagging feeling that I wasn’t enough and never would be was always hovering over me. I tried very hard to control my surroundings and my people with little success.

Depression has stolen much more from me than just my own peace of mind, it also took my mother. She died by suicide in 2014 when I was pregnant with my third child. She was my dearest friend and mentor, and that loss was (and continues to be) excruciating. My mom and I talked on the phone at least once a day. She was like my human journal; if I didn’t tell her, it felt as if it had not happened.

Naturally her death left a gaping hole in my life, along with a wonderful opportunity to start living in constant communication with God. In the worst times of grief, I clung to Psalms 73:23-26. (Let’s be real, I also ate a lot of chocolate, screamed in my car, and let my kids watch way too much TV.) But back to the verse.

“Nevertheless I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel and afterward you will receive me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart my fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

In many ways, God used her death to wake me spiritually. I had wasted way too many years suffering from gospel amnesia. I had gone to church and felt a surface-sort of love from God and wanted to be kind and DO ALL THE GOOD THINGS. But it never was enough. Then one day while sitting, watching my children play at the little museum in our town, I had a clear thought:
“It’s all about Jesus. It’s all about Jesus? No, seriously, it’s ALL about JESUS!”

Really. How I missed that in the 846,000 sermons I had heard (I went to Bible College for crying out loud), I have no idea.

But there it was. Life changing, radical truth, that, to quote the honorable Fresh Prince of Bel Air, “turned my life flip-upside down.”
My prayer over the past year or so has been that God would reveal truth to me. I want Him to call me out on all of that garbage I’ve been believing. I want to stop shifting my hope from Jesus onto other things.

When you do that, you start to breathe deeply and easily in a way you didn’t know you weren’t doing before.

My kids can fight at the store and I don’t have to feel like I’m the worst mom in history. Why? Jesus has got this!

I will never be perfect–ever. He died for all of the ways I screw up and His love covered it all 2,000 years ago. I can rest in that.
My identity is not in being a mom who has perfect children,
or the wife of the best man in the world,
or saying the right things,
or having a scale read the right number,
or in what people think of me.
My identity, my hope, is in JESUS.
You know, just as I’ve sung since I was little, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ  the solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

Behavior will not save us.
Bible reading will not save us.
Pulling away from others who are different will not save us.
Dressing in a certain way, writing the right blog, and singing the right songs will not save us.
Jesus alone will save us and He HAS!

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” – John 14:6

Now THAT is the good news of the Gospel.

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