A New Backbone: Robin Minton
A New Backbone: Robin Minton
Robin learned, 28 years ago, the difference between knowing Jesus as Savior and abandoning her life to Him as Lord, at which time the burden of striving to please God and man was laid at His feet. She has been running with abandon the adventurous life in Christ ever since. Robin is a Bible teacher, but only because she is a passionate exhorter. Her greatest desire is that the lightbulb go off in others as they recognize Jesus, experience the power of His Word and choose to join her on this amazing journey, following Him. Robin is grateful every day to be married to God’s man, Lyle Minton, and to be the mother of their four children. She is active in Rivertree Church where she teaches in the Women’s Ministry. She is Area Director for Community Bible Study in North Alabama, shepherding the Teaching Directors of the CBS Women’s Day Classes of Huntsville, Decatur and Florence. Robin would rather be known as a learner than a teacher, and a sheep than a shepherd. She knows full well that God has assigned her to teach and lead only because this is the ideal place for her to learn from and be humbled by His Spirit and Word and the ones He gathers around her in that calling.
A New Backbone
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted and Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:3-6)
I am blessed to have been born into a safe, loving home with parents who follow the Lord. I don’t remember a day when Jesus was not real to me. But, the enemy is very good at using whatever materials he has at his disposal. In my case, it was a Christian home. The typical traps set by the enemy often go least detected in Christian environments where it is assumed there is spiritual security. But, it only takes one cleverly disguised lie planted at an opportune moment, and the enemy can get a foothold anywhere. In my case, the lie was, “you must earn the favor of your parents.” This lie nursed and reared a new lie — “others’ perceptions of you determine your value.” This ushered in the thief who walked confidently into our safe Christian home right under our noses to steal my right understanding of God as Heavenly Father and to establish in me the false belief that I had to earn God’s favor in order to be loved.
I spent my childhood years endeavoring to please my parents, friends, the wider world and God according to Satan’s cleverly disguised “standards.” And, as I failed over and over to perform according to this self-imposed criteria, I grew deeply insecure. I developed the ability to pretend on the outside while concealing and suppressing my fear, self-doubt, sinful thoughts and behaviors in order to avoid rejection. Simultaneously, there was an increasing need to prove to myself that I was acceptable and accepted, which often meant compromising my own convictions and beliefs in order to gain favor. Knowing the gap between God’s truth and my secret life, a mounting burden of guilt and shame was suffocating my freedom and my potential. I was being locked up in deep insecurity, enslaved to the whims and opinions of others, but no one would suspect the hell I had created for myself. Not even I would recognize it until decades later.
God has mysterious ways. He will use the physical world around us to reveal unseen spiritual truths. The unseen truth, in my case, was that I had become bent and distorted by the burdens of deception, guilt and shame. I had no spiritual or emotional backbone. Ironically, in the middle of this crushing, oppressive season of my life, I was called out of my 8th grade science class to be handed a slip of paper. In a routine screening, I had been diagnosed with scoliosis, otherwise known as curvature of the spine. All my efforts to be normal, accepted and loved by the world were shattered when I was prescribed a Milwaukee brace which consisted of a plastic girdle strapped tightly around my abdomen and hips to which were mounted metal bars that extended up my torso and held a ring around my neck to keep my chin up. I was to wear this brace to properly position my spine for 23 hours a day until my growth plates fused. Being a late bloomer, I would be sleeping in the brace my sophomore year in college.
This brace was not attractive. It necessitated a whole new wardrobe that was not attractive. it ended my brief stint in cheerleading and shut down all potential sports except swimming. It was not particularly intriguing to boys, nor was it a crowd pleaser. I was fitted in my brace the summer before moving to a new High School campus which promised an expanding universe of peers whom I expected to have to please. I will never forget stepping out of my mother’s car and making the long walk across the school lawn toward the closed circles of students who had already found their way into appropriate social niches. I was alien. I had nothing to offer. For the first time in my life, I couldn’t fake a performance for love.
What I considered my worst nightmare was in fact a beautiful gift hand-crafted by God, and delivered just in time to save me. My spiritual life had been locked up by the enemy and was enslaved to my need to please and perform for love. God used a Milwaukee brace to pull me up under the shadow of His wings and lock down what would have been a perilous path in pursuit of the favor of man. As difficult as this season was, it was during this time that I learned about genuine friendship and the Christ like qualities that have eternal value like empathy, tenderness and kindness, and it was durning this time that I discovered courage I never knew I possessed until it was pressed into play.
There were still many miles to go before these lessons would be watered and mature. I went away to college and my newfound freedom combined with a new playing field of peers and opportunities served to resurrect all the old man-pleasing demons. Losing the brace my junior year, I was set loose to wander again down the dark paths of social and worldly expectations. But, I carried with me God’s truth taught to me by my parents and the life-lessons I had learned from my brace, and by the time I graduated, the double life was too intense to bear. There is no one more miserable than a man-pleasing Christian. I wanted to be a follower of Jesus. But, I had no idea how to do it. I still believed He expected me to perform. I knew I had certainly not lived up to His standards for years.
Praise God, He was ready for me. I agreed to attend a retreat with my family that summer. Between teaching sessions one day, I shared with a friend that it felt as though every speaker were looking in my eyes and saying my name before each sentence. This friend asked, “Have you ever given your life to Jesus?” I said, “Of course! Lots of times around youth group campfires.” He said, “No. I mean have you given it ALL to Jesus. Your WHOLE life. Are you willing to let Him make all the calls in your life and use you as He sees fit?” Now that, I couldn’t answer. Without hesitation, he asked, “why don’t you do that now?” I found myself bowing my head. As my friend prayed out loud, I remember saying in my heart, “God, whatever he is talking about right now. I want it. I just don’t know how to do it. I have tried over and over and failed every time. I know I am not able to do this. If this is going to work, you’re going to have to do it for me.”
Later, I would come to understand that, in that moment, God flipped the tables on the enemy and used his tactics against him. In all those years of being locked up in my man-pleasing, self-justifying prison, I had learned that I will never perform well enough to meet the expectations of the world and certainly not to meet the standards of God. By admitting in my prayer and asking God to do in and for me what I knew I couldn’t, God used my brokenness to teach me an eternal truth. I was never intended to perform. Jesus has always been sufficient. He is my righteousness. He is my acceptance. He is love. Knowing this has made me new. In Jesus, I have discovered a strong spiritual backbone and deep abiding peace. He is even redeeming those “lost” years (all that hurt, the spiritual sensitivity it caused and my former ache for approval) by using them to help me identify others who desperately need His love and to know how to gently lead them into His sufficiency.