Ever since I came undone I have had regular times when I really really struggle with doubt. The kind of doubts that Christians don't talk about. Like, "all this God stuff sounds ridiculous--why am I even pretending to believe or convincing myself that I believe it?" or "How can I really believe that Heaven and Hell are real--that is just silly" or even "I don't believe that a good God would choose to save some people and not others when he could save everyone." It's hard. I feel like a bad person when I think those thoughts. It makes me question who I am, my purpose in life, THE purpose OF life, everything. I try to press those thoughts down, but occasionally they spring up. Honestly I feel like I'm being blasphemous to even admit that I do struggle with this, but I feel like I'm supposed to share this.
Last night I was thinking about these things again--having skipped time with the Lord for 12 days (how ridiculous is it that 12 days can shake me!?!?). I don't know why I let myself get in that kind of pattern...no, I do know...it is how Satan gets a foothold in my life (is it bad that I feel silly to even type that? why do I have such a weirdness about admitting the reality of hell and satan and all that??) but that is where I have been. So I decided that instead of wasting time reading things that do not matter and allowing myself to get deeper in this pit I would spend time with the Lord instead. After reading Psalm 76 I picked up Brennan Manning's Abba's Child and started reading again--he deals a lot with doubts and faith and learning to find our true identity as a child of God. Here are a few things that really struck me last night:
This fear of ridicule paralyzes more effectively than would a head-on attack or an outspoken harsh critics. How much good is left undone because of our fear of the opinion of others! We are immobilized by the thought: what will others say? The irony of all this is that the opinions we fear most are not those of people we really respect, yet the same persons influence our lives more than we want to admit. This enervating fear of our peers can create an appalling mediocrity. p. 134So I definitely struggle with this fear of looking stupid or being thought ignorant because of my faith. That just breaks my heart--when i think about it clearly...unfortunately not often enough... Back in college when I was in those classes with people who openly criticized Christianity I was silent. Embarrased. Confused. Ashamed to admit my true identity in Christ. Just plain stupid. Now I am sad to say that I have adapted my relationships to be "in and of the world"--in my desire to relate to friends who are not believers or who are not walking with the Lord I have not been set apart. I just try to blend in. And that is not okay either.
The truth of faith has little value when it is not also the life of the heart.~Abba's Child. p. 135Manning goes on to quote Soren Kierkegaard, a philosopher about whom I studied much in my philosophy minor but now remember nothing! But this quote rings so true:
We artful dodgers act as if we do not understand the New Testament, because we realize full well that we should have to change our way of life drastically. That is why we invented "religious education" and "christian doctrine." Another concordance, another lexicon, a few more commentaries, three other translations, because it is all so difficult to understand...Now I'm not knocking the pursuit of Biblical knowledge and theology--those things definitely have their places--but so often we lose sight of truth in search of information.
The measure of our depth-awareness of Christ's present risenness is our capacity to stand up for the truth and sustain the disapproval of significant others. p. 137So if I truly comprehend (though I don't know that as humans we ever can...) or even begin to appreciate what Christ did for me, I should be not only willing, but EAGER to look foolish to others by proclaiming truth. But it honestly scares me.
So what do I know? When I fail to pursue a relationship with the Lord, I am opening doors and windows...basically knocking down the walls of protection...to invite Satan to bring these doubts into my mind. It doesn't matter if it sounds silly to others or even if it makes sense or is logical...it is the truth and has been proven and shown so many times...and even if it wasn't proven, it's about having faith! I mean, how silly would it be if every time that hubs and I were apart or not connecting the best I would all of the sudden doubt his existence and the legitimacy of our marriage?!?!
I have so far to go, but I hope that by sharing this someone else will be encouraged to travel the road beside me...