Archive for April 23rd, 2007

There’s Hope For Us, Yet

Monday, April 23rd, 2007

Today’s scripture: Romans 7 (NRSV) (The Message)

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me in this passage? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two.

My thoughts (Theresa Benson):

My Mom’s Bible, which I inherited when she died, is probably my most favorite and treasured book. It’s an old “hippie” Catholic Bible from 1976, and amazingly, it was printed right here in Huntington, Indiana. It has pictures of college-age kids from the 70s, with Farrah Fawcett and Dorothy Hammil haircuts, and my favorite part, the little quotes in the beginning, like “When you want to find out what true love is: 1 Corinthians 13” or “When you’ve been offended: 1 Corinthians 6” .

There’s still a bookmark that I snuck into this particular place, right at the page where Romans 7 begins. Sometimes in the middle of the night, I would steal into the living room, take the Bible off the shelf, and read Romans 7 over and over again because in the front of the book, it said, “When you’re struggling to do right, and can’t quite make it: Romans 7, 8.”

I was nine, I think, when I first found passage, and I read it over and over until I was 17 and moved away from home. And even though I had my own Bible that someone gave me in college, Romans 7 never spoke to me the way it did in my Mom’s Bible.

When I was nine, my parents split up, and all the abuse my half-sister — who moved away with my Dad — was getting from my Mom was now all directed toward me, with no other real outlet available for her anger. No matter how I folded the towels, it was wrong; if I got less than a 90% on a test, I was stupid. When the popular girls at school started confiding in me about boys they liked through notes, my Mom found them all, unfolded them and laid them carefully on top of my bed so there would be no mistaking that she found them, read them, and had a particular opinion about my behavior.

At the same time the psychological and physical abuse was going on at home, I was putting on weight and getting breasts, hips and zits before everyone else because of steroids I’d been on for asthma since I was five. So, I got the nickname “Big Butt Benson,” just one of a few they piled on me over the years. Secretly these girls would share with me their nervousness about boys, or school work, or their parents, but then still pick on me when anyone else was looking.

It was a confusing time, and as children do, I came up with the only answer I could think of to explain what was going on.

I decided there was something wrong with me. Since there were so many data points telling me I wasn’t loveable, it MUST be me. I’m not doing something right. I’m not saying the right thing, being the right kind of person. And so when I saw this in my Mom’s Bible, I read it over and over and over again, searching for some kind of hope for me. And while my intentions may have been misguided and warped, the hope and comfort I found in the author’s words made me feel like he could have been around today — struggling to do right, screwing up, and realizing that following Jesus helps to free him from sin and his sinful ways.

I am so blessed to have found Romans 7 when I was a girl. And in reading it for today’s Be Still, I feel even more blessed to see how much its meaning has changed for me. It still rings true for me today. How grateful I am that the author put pen to paper and got his thoughts down to share with me!

Today, when I’m frustrated because I’m not doing what I think God wants me to do, or I screw up in my relationships with others, or my willingness to serve gets weak, I turn to Romans 7 again and again to remind me I’m human, and that for thousands of years we’ve struggleled to get it right — and that in Jesus, there’s hope for me yet.

Thought for the day: In Jesus, there’s hope for us — no matter how badly and how often we mess up.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to start, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
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