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.
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.