My faith life has taken a complete 180 the past few years. It started with seeing problems in the general church, and asking questions. But questions were not only put to the wayside, I also felt different and wrong for questioning the leadership. Are we simply supposed to be sheep and followers of our church leaders?
I’ve learned and continue to accept that it’s healthy and okay to ask questions. It’s normal to have doubts. It’s healthy to check the preaching of the leaders. It doesn’t mean I’m a bad or faulty Christian.
God took me through a journey of deconstructing the faith that I had built. I thought living a life after God was measured in how I read my Bible. I thought it mattered how much I prayed or listened to worship music. I thought my faith simply rested in me going to Sunday and Wednesday church and attending the occasional retreats or camps. Not only was I a Christian, I was good at it too.
Then the problems came. I became depressed beyond what I could handle. My eating disorder emerged and my anxiety became unbearable. I didn’t want to attend church because I was the “depressed teen” that was looked at differently. I felt like people saw this as my fault, because I somehow didn’t have enough faith. My hope in God diminished because I believed that prayer would fix all of my mental illnesses. And it didn’t. (Read my thoughts on God and mental illness here)
The actions that previously made me believe that I was an extra good christian crumbled. I stopped reading my Bible because I didn’t have energy to get out of bed and I couldn’t read through my constant tears. I stopped going to church consistently because I was afraid of being the crying person in church and then feeling like no one knew how to handle me. I stopped listening to worship music because I felt that God was distant. I felt like a bad christian. I felt like the weak Christian that wasn’t trying or praying hard enough.
Do you feel this way too?
Through the season of not reading my bible or being a consistent church-goer, I became closer to God and felt like I finally had an authentic relationship with him. I desperately wanted this closeness before, but I was going about it in the wrong way. I was trying harder and working more diligently instead of being authentically myself.
God doesn’t want our perfectly curated life, he wants our authentic self.
I could cry to him. I yelled at him. I felt deep anger towards the Church and God as well, but I learned that God still accepts and pursues me through these emotions.
God brought me through a process of faith reconstruction.
I am re-building my faith in the church community and with Christians in general. I read my Bible from time to time because I want to learn more and hear God’s voice through the stories and words. I listen to worship music when I’m in the mood to, not because I feel more “christiany” when choose that genre.
God has reminded me time and time again that it’s not about what I do or accomplish. He pursues us because he loves us, not because we are good people. We actually are so flawed that we deserve nothing. But through God’s grace and Jesus dying on the cross, we get to be in relationship with God. It doesn’t mean life is perfect or easy– actually the EXACT opposite. Life is so painful sometimes. But with this new perspective and reconstruction I’ve endured, I don’t have to try so hard to be that idyllic “good christian”.
What a relief it’s been.
It hasn’t been an easy process, though. I wish I could still be the starry eyed christian I was previously. I seemed happy. But in the end, I’m so thankful I had my faith breakdown of sorts because my relationship with God feels so much more authentic. Authenticity over perfection, right?
Trust me, God can handle the real you with all the real emotions. God wants that part of you more than anything we can create on our own. Let’s just start by trying today to be a little more honest. Just a little more ourselves, and just see what happens.