While I can receive ninety and nine compliments, it’s the one complaint that I ruminate on and chase after. When I’m lying in bed, sleep eluding me, it’s not the memories of love, admiration or the friendship of others that float into my head. It’s the mistakes and moments of shame I’m bust conjuring like angry spirits. The worst-case scenario sticks to us like velcro, and our tendency to believe the worst affects everything, even how we believe.
If you let the bible speak for itself, it becomes a ten-ton nuclear explosion, leveling your cities of shame and guilt. It’s sixty-six books of filet mignon for you starving soul. Over and over, we’re given the promise that we are loved and whatever we needed to get to God has been given to us as a gift. (To be clear: not a trade or an IOU, not a loan or a favor.) Yet, you give me one confusing verse or chapter that seems to be saying something else and I become frantic with fear.
I tell people God loves them in what I write and talk about, but I don’t believe it. I spend my days worrying over the minutiae of my every failure, wondering in the back of my mind if this is the sin that will send God running the other way. And if I run across even the tiniest hint in Scripture that my fear might be true, I know I’ll latch onto it and drive myself crazy obsessing over it. Instead of interpreting scripture as a whole, I take it apart and read my worst fears about God into it.
It’s easier to stay away from God at that point. Even knowing the Truth, my fears loom large. They seem to punch my faith in the gut and stick around to tease it about its flabby gut. My trust in God and his perfect Promise is overturned by my personal failures to live up to my personal standards. And you won’t accept a gift when you think you have to earn it.
Losing With a Winning Hand
To even admit all of this is a fearful thing. Because there’s part of me that won’t let go of the idea that it’s about me earning God’s love. And there’s a cackling jerk in the back of my mind that whispers that this kind of doubt means I’m not His. I can roll my own eyes at that, think of a bunch of verses to show myself that it’s wrong, and I still fear there’s a chance it might be true. It’s crazy–I’ve got twenty-one and I’m asking for more cards.
What’s a neurotic, faithless Christian to do?
Repent. That’s a start. I know that words carries a lot of baggage, but it’s just recognizing that my weak little arms can’t actually lift the load of true belief; that the thing about God loving me because he loves me is true and my crazy bs, lunatic doubt is me judging God to not be that loving. It’s me admitting I’m wrong and God’s right.
I need, more than anything, to then throw myself over and over onto God’s grace. I have to let go of the controls, point my belief at God, and trust his Holy Spirit to do his work in me. Because, the crux of the problem is really that I want to do it myself. I want to be (and at the same time, fear that I am) responsible for changing me.
I fear that giving up control will mean that I have zero control over how I turn out, and that scares me. But, because I won’t let go, I live in fear. I’ve stopped trusting the One who casts out all fear. It’s a sick little circle.
But Jesus is the only hope I have, and the pain of holding on has grown greater than my need for control. I’m always a poor substitute for God, (to say the least). But he loves me enough to pursue me to the bottom (which I usually have to hit before I look up). But I’m thankful that when I do look up, he’s always there.