Yes, it is!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Need Him: Finding God

For the past 2 weeks, I've been following this Bible reading plan with the same title.  I like it because it is just a 15-day reading plan and the devotions are short and sweet but relevant to today's issues.  Today's devotion talked about the difficulty of leading a Christian life.  Oh, yeah, it's difficult alright.  Especially for somebody who was brainwashed with wrong teachings during their childhood.  I can relate.  Today's devotion also talks about the importance of seeking other SINCERE, Bible-believing Christians to help one sustain their resolve.  Church and Christian friends are essential, according to today's devotion, because God will continue to work in my life through the lives of other believers. Is that really true?  Not so much here.  SINCERE Christian friends are a dime a dozen here. 
I have struggled with faith issues since childhood but my 20s were some of my stronger faith years.  Or so I thought. Looking back, it was actually a tumultuous time for me.  But as difficult as life was for me, I actually depended more on my faith at that time.  I began to experience severe panic and anxiety attacks and I often felt depressed.  But I always asked God to help me through.  And I had a handful of really good church friends who helped me pray and who would encourage me. I always asked God to heal me.  I went to church regularly.  I volunteered in several areas of ministry.  I tithed faithfully. I gave so much to people in a variety of ways.  I never asked for anything in return and I never received anything in return from anyone. However, at that time, I really believed that because I tithed faithfully, I was blessed enough financially to own my own home, my own car, buy decent clothing, and to pay my own bills.  I didn't drink, smoke, or swear.  I was a good person.  Surely, God would answer my prayers and heal me of these attacks of anxiety and panic. 
On the outside, people thought I had my act together when it came to religious matters.  In all actuality, though, I did not.  I was a very angry person inside.  Angry about my past, angry at my parents, angry at those who had previously violated me in some way.  Angry that I kept sabotaging relationships with others, especially with men.  I sought out counseling.  It helped.  I learned how to let go of my anger toward my parents and I eventually redeveloped a relationship with them.  I learned that marriage did not have to nor should it be riddled with violence and dysfunction.  I wrote in my journal.  I wrote letters to my various abusers in my journal, letters that were never meant to be sent out.  They were mostly a way for me to gain closure in some ways.  I was put on medication.  I was on my way to happiness.
For the next few years, I continued to be faithful to God, to church, to other people.  Although I never really felt like that church was where I truly belonged, I continued to rely on my faith to get me through life.  However, a series of events started me on a path of questioning God again.  I finally "wised-up" about my current church at that time (pride issues, divorces, affairs, etc).  I had gotten involved in an abusive relationship, my parents' were becoming increasingly violent with each other.  I just wanted it all to end. 
For some time before I met Tim, I had quit attending church.  I enjoyed my freedom as a single person, no longer being taken advantage at church, and enjoying my time to myself.  I occasionally ran into others with whom I previously attended the same church.  It was always the same, "So, where are you going to church now?"  Me: "Nowhere."  "Well, now, we need to get you back to church."  Nobody seemed to be genuinely concerned about ME. They were more concerned with how many people could fit into the pews.  More people = more money.  Right?
It wasn't until after Tim and I married that we started attending church on a regular basis.  We eventually became members of a very large church in Florida.  I truly enjoyed attending this particular church.  The pastor was phenomenal but yet, he was so humble.  I had never felt like I truly belonged in any one church until we attended Bell Shoals Baptist.  I didn't feel judged.  I didn't feel like I was sinning if I didn't give ALL I had.  I didn't even have to volunteer in the church nursery as one way to earn my ticket to heaven.  I was able to truly enjoy attending church and meeting some neat people.  I joined the choir.  I eventually volunteered in the English as a Second Language ministry.  I finally felt at home.  I grew in faith.  I learned more about the Bible than I had in ages.  I learned that just because I didn't "speak in tongues", I could still make it to heaven.  I really found God there.  My faith felt stronger than ever then.
We moved to Illinois in August of 2004.  At first, my faith continued to stay strong. It had to.  I knew nobody.  I had no one except Tim and we were expecting our little miracle soon.  I had to be strong for her.  And for awhile, I was.  But as time went on, things changed.  I'm not sure where things went wrong.  But there have been some major life situations since our move here.  I started to struggle with my faith. 
People here in the Midwest are just a different breed.  Church people don't seem to be as friendly.  They seem to form more cliques here. They seem to be more judgmental.  I've been confronted about the state of my own faith in a not-so-gentle manner. Perhaps, more like a judgmental manner. 
We have been here for 7 years this month and I have yet to find where I truly belong at any one church.  I have actually made better non-church friends here than I ever have.  The same holds true for Tim and my children.  I really want them to enjoy church and make good friends there, not just acquaintances. But alas, the kids at our current church are already close friends whose own parents are all close friends.  There is no room for one more.  Or two more.  Unless they are related or on staff.  Or popular.  And sometimes, it's all about who is better than who, whose kid is smarter. Or who their husband's rank is.  I know we're judged and I know we're outsiders.  It's been made clear to us. Nobody truly cares about our religious condition. Well, actually, there are exceptions and they know who they are.  I'm so truly appreciative of the time this one person invests in trying to help me stay on track. I can't really explain why but these past 2-3 years have been one of the most difficult journeys in my faith search.  But I just continue to try to find God in my life because I've been needing that lately.   So when I do finally find God, then I can be there for somebody else. Sincerely be there for somebody else. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I know exactly how you feel on so many levels. I will have to email you privately to chat. :) Thank you for your post and being honest. Sometimes not so easy for us but it does have comfort to know your words out there will touch many people feeling the same way.
much love
april nicole