Drowning in the Questions

18 Comments

I knew I was a Christian.  After all, the Bible says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”  (Romans 10:9)

And, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16)

I knew that.  I believed that.  And yet I doubted.  I struggled.  I worried.  I was absolutely terrified.  I felt horrible, weighty guilt.

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I don’t know how many times I cried to my husband, trying to articulate what I was thinking and feeling.  And I don’t know how many times my sweet husband explained the gospel to me.  Over and over.  Speaking truth to me.

“Are you a Christian?” he would ask, after telling me yet again what the Bible says.

After a long pause, I often responded, “I hope so.”

Even typing this, my chest is gripped with that fear and weight.  I do not wish that kind of doubt, guilt, and fear on anyone.

So I was stuck.  I knew what the Bible said.  I believed the Bible.  So I knew I was a Christian.  And yet my sin plagued me.  How could a true Christian keep on sinning?  How could a real Christian keep on sinning the same exact sin?  How do I know that that last sin didn’t push God over the edge?  How do I know that God didn’t regret saving me?  How do I know He isn’t tired of me?

I tried.  I tried so hard.  I wanted so desperately to be a good Christian.  I spent hours thinking and analyzing and dissecting my thoughts, trying to figure out how to do better.  I tried to pray.  Pray hard.  I tried to pray for myself.  I tried to pray for others.  I tried to try hard to pray.  I tried to read my Bible.  I tried to read books by Christian authors. I tried to believe harder.  Love harder.  Have faith harder.  It all quite often just intensified the mental fog and thus the discouragement.

I hated disappointing people.  Nothing can tear my heart up more than knowing that someone is disappointed in me.  It breaks my heart to see the look of sadness on someone’s face and knowing that I caused it.  It tore me up to disappoint.  How can I be a good wife when I do x, y, or z?  How can I be a good Mom?  Friend?  Christian?

Don’t even get me started on faith vs. works.  I knew they went hand-in-hand…you can’t have one without the other.  But how does it work?  How do you have good works without…trying?  At what point do you know that your trying has become artificial works or legalism?  How do you strive without striving?  How do you work on your sins, faults, and blind spots, without it becoming an attempt to pull yourself up by your bootstraps?

I didn’t know.  But I hated it. I hated thinking. I hated trying to think.  I was so overwhelmed with trying.  And failing.  I became so discouraged.

I knew the answer was in the Bible.  I knew that His Word would point me to the truth.  But at the same time…I couldn’t read the Bible.  I definitely did not feel as if it was “living and active and sharper than a two-edged sword.” (Hebrews 4:12)  It wasn’t “working.”  I felt like any sermon I heard went in one ear….and either got lost in all the muddled confusion in my brain….or went straight out the other ear.  I didn’t know how to think.  I didn’t know how to process.  I didn’t know how to retain.

I looked back with longing at the years of my life that flourished spiritually.  Why can’t I have that again?  How do I get there?  How do I attain that again?

There were moments of peace.  Of joy.  It was absolutely amazing.  But then….how do I know if it’s real peace?  God’s peace?  Maybe I was deceiving myself and it’s false peace.  And the guilt would set in with a vengeance.  The fear.  The fear of relying on false peace was terrible to me.  I wanted genuine peace.  How do I know if it was genuine or false?

It all came to a point when my Christian world came tumbling down.  My next post will talk some about that story.

Part One

-Bonnie

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18 thoughts on “Drowning in the Questions

  1. I think we all face moments of doubt or times of spiritual dryness. For me, there was a moment when I was in Australia when I felt God wrap His love around me. That was the closest I’ve ever felt to God, and it was followed (a few weeks later) by a week of extreme depression and doubt. So yeah, I can understand your questions. We humans can be fickle but God loves us anyway. 🙂

    • It is so strange how we can have those extreme “mountain” experiences followed by extreme “valley” experiences. I love how the Bible talks about that too and some of the Psalms contain accounts of some really dark times that David experienced. I truly hate the valley experiences but I know that God IS at work during them.

  2. Thank you for sharing, Bonnie. I feel as though Christians don’t often talk about their struggles because they’re afraid to be viewed as immature. And yet if we ever spoke more about these things, maybe we would see that we actually have more difficulties in common than we thought. I think it’s actually a sign of maturity to honestly and humbly share weaknesses or trials that we’re going through. It shows bravery and courage and points others to see what God is doing. If anything, it will encourage others to understand that we’re not alone; we all have struggles, which are often indicators of our sanctification.

    • Thank you for your comment, Laura. I think you are exactly right. I know that was a big reason I did not want to post this series….I was so ashamed that I didn’t have it all together as a Christian. But those times where I read other blog posts, articles, or books where people are open, honest, and vulnerable, I am SO encouraged and moved by their words. I definitely think that God gets the glory when Christians praise Him continually (and indeed we are supposed to!) but I also believe that He gets glory when we honestly share about struggles and how He is working in and through them.

  3. Thank you for your honesty.
    I’m right there with you! Growing up in church somewhat protected me from those questions until we moved away and I had to begin my own journey seeking God on my own versus being fed by my home church.
    During these seasons of doubt and feeling like I must be missing something in what I need to do to be accepted, I’m reminded that that’s exactly the point of grace. I can’t do anything but trust that He will do what he said He’ll do.
    Keep trusting Him with whatever tiny bit of faith you have 🙂

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