The Inner Crazy
Hi, I’m Kendra. And I am a crazy person.
Not always, of course (I think? Don’t answer that). But these past weeks, my husband has been under a deadline at work that’s required 55-60-hour work weeks. That translates into long days filled with noisy little people and quiet, often lonely nights.
I land right in the middle on the introvert/extrovert spectrum. Too much people time is overwhelming and draining; too much alone time makes me a crazy person. This is in large part because I’m an external processor. I have to get all.the.thoughts out of my head so some sane, outside party can hold up a mirror and let me see the crazy for myself and help me arrive at the truth. Usually Jordan is the lucky one to walk with me through this process. Family and friends sometimes get the privilege. Occasionally, my journal and blog fill in the gaps. But lately, due mostly to unfortunate and temporary circumstances, it often stays in my head.
My mom was visiting these past few days and as she was enduring all.the.thoughts, I couldn’t help but notice a look of alarm on her face. She discovered my crazy. Fortunately, she is one of my people and spoke the truth in a way that only Mom can. And while she did, she challenged me to fight the lies. She reminded me of what I know to be true but am quick to forget–that our mind is a constant battlefield and we must proactively, relentlessly tell ourselves the truth.
I try to do this by spending time in Scripture every day, but I learned early in my walk with Jesus that I needed to take the Scripture with me to engage the lies that raged as I walked away from my quiet time each morning. So I started memorizing passages to help combat my inner crazy. And despite my admittance that I haven’t been fighting a very valiant battle as of late, these passages I’ve memorized over the past few years often provide the words that the Spirit uses to bring grace and truth in the midst of hurt and confusion.
When it comes to memorizing Scripture, we are drawn to the verses that tell us what we should do. These are what we write on notecards and hang on our bathroom mirrors in hopes that our behavior will begin to conform to God’s standard. We know many of them by heart; we wish they described our behavior more than they actually do.
But this is not the kind of Scripture memory I am advocating. I wholeheartedly believe in the power of Scripture to renew our minds; the Spirit uses His words to produce the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ in our lives, to the glory and praise of God (Phil. 1:11). But I am persuaded that alongside the imperatives of Scripture (what we should do), we need to know. by. heart. Scripture’s indicatives (what Christ has done). With my own need to be reminded of these things, I’m feeling a renewed sense of the importance of this discipline, and I thought perhaps I’m not the only woman I know who needs some help fighting to remember what’s true. And because I know sometimes knowing where to start is the hardest part, here is my list of 5 verses I think every woman should know.
But before I give you my list, you should know a few more things:
- I don’t actually think you should ever memorize just one verse. Taking the time to memorize whole passages of Scripture allows them to sink down deep as we meditate on each section and start to really understand how they all fit together. That said, I’ve tried to pick just one verse out of each passage that could serve as a starting point because I know a whole passage can be very intimidating. But I will also list the whole passage if applicable and challenge you to consider it.
- I don’t actually think that these are verses only women should learn. There is nothing “pink” about them. I just consider my few readers to be mostly women so I’m writing this to you. By all means, invite your husband, your children, your friends into the challenge. It feels so weird to recite verses to each other AWANA-style now that we’re grown ups, but I’ve found that the verses I remember are the ones where I’ve welcomed accountability into the learning process.
- I don’t actually think you “should” memorize these verses, as in you are sinning if you don’t. I do not believe you are condemned if you do not or cannot memorize Scripture. Nor do I believe memorizing these verses earns you any special favor with God. But I do believe God’s Word is a delight (Psalm 1:2), given to us for our good, the weapon the Spirit uses to fight on our behalf (Ephesians 6:17). So while you do not have to memorize Scripture, why wouldn’t you want to?
- I don’t actually think everyone is naturally inclined towards Scripture memory, just as I don’t think everyone is naturally inclined to run marathons or lift hundreds of pounds. If you want to do those things, you must train for them. It takes work and time and patience, and even then, passages I thought I knew by heart completely escape me. I’ve heard repetitive reading described as the lazy memorization method, and I think it’s a start. If you want to memorize something, commit to reading it every day. Or a few times each day. Or just memorize the reference and the general idea so that when you find yourself needing its truth, you know where to go in your Bible app. But at the same time, I think we ought to challenge ourselves. Even secular brain research supports our abilities to train and rewire our brains through discipline and consistency. How much more through Spirit-empowered discipline and consistency?
Okay, the list:
#1: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1
Condemnation creeps into our days, like a black cloud following us around trying to convince us how badly we suck. But this is the truth: No condemnation! Say it out loud! Silence the accusations with the truth that you are hidden in Christ Jesus. There is no one left to condemn you!
I would add to this Romans 8:33-35 and 8:38-39 as well. Let’s be honest, I would add all of Romans 8 but I’m trying not to be overwhelming.
#2: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved…” Ephesians 2:4-5
If I could pick just one to say, “You must memorize the whole passage,” it would be this one. Ephesians 2:1-10 or Titus 3:3-7. These passages tell the whole story of the Gospel, from beginning to end. You may have heard the phrase, “Preach the Gospel to yourself.” These passages give us the words. They remind us who we were apart from Christ, and then meet the glorious “But,” where Jesus took our mess upon Himself and lavished his grace and kindness upon us.
#3: “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32
When I first started memorizing Scripture, it was to intentionally battle anxiety. I spent months memorizing Luke 12:22-34 and 1 Peter 5:6-10 and as I worked my way through each passage, I found such comfort and rest in the God who is a good, good Father (Luke 12), the one who cares about our every anxiety and who will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish us (1 Peter 5). Anxiety is a theme among so many women I know and meditating on the goodness of a Father who promises us the kingdom lifts our eyes off of our present fears and onto the eternal glory that awaits us.
#4: “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:32
Did I mention Romans 8? Up there with anxiety is the battle for gratitude and contentment in a world constantly trying to convince us we are not enough. Gratitude lists and counting blessings are good, tangible practices to help us to give thanks regularly, but this verse points us to our true source of gratitude. The God who gave us Jesus promises to give us everything we need.
#5: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
This is the runner-up for memorizing the whole passage. John 1:1-18 and Colossians 1:15-20 give us this glorious picture of who Christ is. Really, the Colossians one is my favorite but I couldn’t pick just one verse from it. The section is labeled, “The Preeminence of Christ.” Memorizing a passage that draws us to worship and delight in Christ feels like a tangible application of the call to “fix our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1). It allows us to behold the glory of the Lord in the face of Christ (2 Cor. 3:18), and ultimately it draws us to take our eyes off of anyone or anything else and simply follow Him (John 21:22).
Memorizing scripture isn’t magic. It is possible to do this good thing for the wrong reasons. It’s also possible to do it well and continue to struggle (hence the crazy person). So take this for what it is: a challenge and an encouragement, both for you and for me. If you decide to embark on the challenge to memorize scripture, I’d love to hear about it.