Deeply Personal

I am about to write a post that may be the most personal I have yet to publish.

I picture a huge auditorium of women. They are of every age, culture and church denomination. There are thousands of them.  They are all there for one purpose and reason–to learn about and worship God. 

I’ve been there, I have gone to the conferences and concerts many times. And enjoyed them. But today, this day? I can’t imagine going, or wanting to go, ever again.

Something has happened over the last few months. I have gone from ambivalent about my faith, to just not caring.

I know what I believe to be true. I know Jesus is the Son of God, born to the Virgin Mary, lived a sinless life, died on the cross for our sins and rose again on the third day. I know it to be true, I just don’t care. And I don’t care if I ever care again.

I have believed this since I first went to church at age 4. I went to a Christian liberal arts college and was a missionary in my 20s. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have questioned God about things, but I have always cared about my faith; my response has always been to pray. This, this is different. I don’t even know what it is.

I am not mad at God. I am just done. Going to church is so hard. Last time I went I had to take anxiety medication to get through it. Some of it is because of a crowd, but some of it is this serious disconnect between what I believe and what I care about.

There is no feeling left. There is no sense of direction. There is no hunger for the things of God.

Verses I have known and found comfort in seem hollow and empty. I know all the right things to say, they just fall flat. Now, more times than not, I find my comfort in music like P!nk, Cold Play and Adelle, not in Christian artists like Wayne Watson, Steven Curtis Chapman and Mikes Chair.

Will I ever find myself drawn back to the Bible? To prayer? To church? To large conferences? To concerts?

More importantly, will I feel a tug toward the Lord, toward His truth? Will my walk with the Lord come out of this intact? What will it look like if it does? What will I look like?

I have no answers. I am quite rudderless right now. I put one foot in front of the other to walk, but don’t know where I am headed or if I want to go there.

 

 

 

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39 Responses to Deeply Personal

  1. Ah Charity I can’t imagine how this must make you feel as your faith has always been such an anchor for you. I am not one to talk to concerning faith as I no longer hold those beliefs and waffle between being agnostic and atheist.

    That being said, I suspect that this disconnect is being created by the depression and the bi-polar. Don’t push yourself, be gentle and take comfort in whatever helps at this time.

    Finally, hugs to you!

    • Thank you. I am hoping it is the bipolar and depression. My husband married someone who believes and he deserves to still have that in a wife.

  2. You are brave & strong for sharing this, Charity. I suspect many people feel this way, or have felt this way, about their spirituality. I’m like Jenn, waffling between agnosticism and atheism, despite my Catholic upbringing. And I also agree with what she wrote so eloquently in her second paragraph, about this being created by your illness. Remember that nothing is permanent, and everything changes. You may get back to your faith, you may not, but love yourself either way; be kind and forgiving.

  3. My faith has always been my bedrock through good and bad and to realize I don’t care is shocking, though, eerily not painful.

    Thank you.

  4. I, too, have really struggled with my faith during these many months. I just met with my priest this week to discuss the steps I should take in mending my relationship with the Lord. I have been SO mad at God for the PPP and PPD and everything it has taken from me. What I forgot is that God does care and he doesn’t promise us a life without pain and hardship. He promises us that he will be there to walk the journey with us. He has never left your side and he has never left my side! He is forgiving and He understands. When you are ready, he will receive you with open arms. The times when we need God the most are the times when we tend to turn away from Him. You need Him right now! It took me almost 2 years to realize this. You will get back to Him. I know it. Thank you so much for sharing this post with everyone. It really helped me not to feel like I was the only one who stopped caring about God during my battle. Hugs to you!

  5. Lots of hugs to you, Charity. I know this must have been very difficult for you to write. xo

  6. Charity, knowing what you believe and making it FEEL like something is there isn’t easy. I went through something similar when we lost our first baby. I was so mad at God, and mad at the people who said stupid things like, “It was meant to be” and “It is for the best” that I completely forgot to grieve. I didn’t ever move past the Denial/Mad stage of grief for over a year. When I did, it completely freaked Daniel out as he had already gone through his grieving. So then I was mad at him for a spell. Throughout that time church was the LAST place I wanted to be and church people…even being around my parents was tough. I was so hurt that seeing happy people (even if it was just a facade) and hearing about their blessings in life was just too much. It made me physically ill to be near or hear of pregnant women. The pain was almost too much to physically carry. When I prayed, it was just to ask “Why, God? Why them and not me?” While I never questioned what I believed (Jesus, the Son of God, died for my sins), I questioned if God truly loved me or if it was just about the sinning with Him. I mean, if He really loved me, then why wasn’t I holding my child in my arms instead of just my heart?

    It took a financial class held at my former church for me to open up at all. The class was based on Biblical principles and most everyone in the class attended a church. Still, it took another 9 months after the class for me to feel ready to attend a church again.

    What helped the most was the love I received from the people that were in class with me. Surrounding myself with people who also believed and who were praying for me just because they knew I was struggling financially, spiritually, and occupationally (I got fired in the middle of all this) helped ease my tension and panicking. While I rarely speak to any of them now, they were, in essence, angels for me when I needed them to be.

    Why do I ramble on so much about me when this is all about you? 🙂 Because I hear myself in your words. Granted, I did not also have a diagnosis of bipolar and depression. But I still believe, if you continue to surround yourself with people who believe what you believe, you may find a way to hold onto your faith. For your sake and for your marriage and children.

    Living your faith is, as others have said, very much like living in a marriage: you don’t always feel the spark that was the initial catalyst of your love. However, you keep the lines of communication open and be honest about your feelings.

    I will add one more thing that my dh and I learned in our pre-marital counseling: Always run toward each other, never away, no matter what the issue is. I can’t tell you how that has saved our marriage or how it has made us stronger as a couple. Apply that same principle to your faith when you are ready. Right now you are tumbling in a sea of new diagnoses, new meds, a change of routine, and understandably, you are tired and struggling with emotions. Experiencing emotion is hard and painful and exhausting. I don’t blame you for feeling numb about losing your passion for your faith. I just don’t want to see your write it off.

    Instead of trying to get yourself to a place you have already been in your faith walk, take a moment to just be numb. Read for fun. Pick something completely fluffy and also something that may make you think. Pick something you have read 20 times and something you have always wanted to read. Instead of sewing, pick up cross-stitch again. Go to a farmer’s market and just people watch for an hour. Just do something different for everything you do in your normal routine. Doing something different may ignite a spark you didn’t know existed.

    As I said, I was fired in the midst of my faith crisis. Like that was going to help my mental state. In some ways I was relieved as my boss was a mind-controlling, micro-managing, passive aggressive control freak. Three weeks after I was fired, I started a new, temporary job. It was 45 minutes closer to home, it offered me a raise, and my boss was efficient but realistic and laid-back. I have now been here over 4 years and it has been the best job ever! I needed that catalyst of pain, however, for me to WANT to make a change and re-evaluate what was important. It took me 6 more months to want to go back to church, but eventually I got through to the grieving stage of Acceptance and was interested in being involved in corporate worship.

    Many people are numb in their faith and don’t ever realize it or state it aloud. You are light years ahead of them. Just because you aren’t feeling the relationship as you once did, it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

    Like always, I will be praying for you.

  7. Thank you Amy. Thank you for sharing your struggle too. Thank you seems like too little, but my heart is full of thanks for what you have said.

    • My dear, dear friend, I am on your side. Just don’t curl up and run away. That is often easier than being honest with yourself about the yucky stuff of life. If you keep sharing with your audience here, we will continue to virtually hold your hand through this journey.

      I have a very short Pray For Them Multiple Times A Day prayer list. It is just you and Chad Cole. You two are both on journeys you never chose, and you both write so eloquently about the stops along the way of grief and emotional pain. Until either of you are “okay” and on brighter paths of happiness, neither of you gets to get off the List.

  8. I wish I had an answer for you. The best I can say is that what you feel right now is where you are right now. You aren’t any less for it, and you shouldn’t feel guilty for it. I know there is a longing for that connection and that you miss it, and I hope that you feel it again. Right now the best you can do is trust your heart right now, that it is doing what you need right now, and that God understands that. You believe in his eternal forgiveness and grace. It’s your own forgiveness and grace you need right now.

  9. Charity, I could have written that all myself- word for word. Right there with you.

  10. Hi Charity,

    You know my views, so it is probably not necessary to outline them here. However, I would echo those comments made by a number of folks here and tell you that focusing on yourself right now, anddealingwith your faith at a later time. You have obviously tried to focus on your faith to help with the depression but it has yet to work. I don’t know enough about depression to advise on what else to do and will leave that to your doctors and others with more experienc to do that. However, I would say that the added pressure of feeling like you have let down god isnt what god would care about at this point. He would want you to get well and then resume your spiritual life at that point. Your family is pulling for you and I am sending good thoughts your way!

  11. Oh so could have written this word for word. Exactly. During the worst part of my PPD? I was just going through the motions. Doing what I thought people wanted me to do, but I didn’t feel it. I didn’t care. I would pray, but it would be empty prayers cause I “knew” God wasn’t hearing me. I would read the bible as more of a skim read than a real read. I would sing the songs – but they meant nothing to me. Just like you, I was relating more to P!nk and Cold Play and Katy Perry and Adele and whoever else was playing what I was feeling at the time. I couldn’t even fathom to play my favorites of Newsboys, Third Day or Audio Adrenaline.

    Girl, I can’t even tell you what happened. I cant even tell you what happened. I cant tell you how it changed – but it did. Slowly but surely, I started listening to Third Day more than the radio. Slowly but surely, the bible? Started to make sense, started to cut deep into my soul. Slowly but surely? I started to get my relationship back with God. Not gonna lie, I’m still working hard on it now- especially with this bipolar diagnosis. Sometimes I am so mad I could scream. But hey, I ain’t perfect. Just forgiven.

    Now that I’ve bored you about me? Let me challenge you with this. Open up to someone in your church who you admired spiritually. Someone who knows about your new diagnosis, and doesn’t think you are possessed with demons (for me it was the pastors wife and my mom) and be honest with them. Let them know your struggles. If you dont feel comfortable with that, then tell your husband. Someone who will pray for you – but let you find your own way.

    I will keep you in prayer cause I know. I know how hard this can be and how alone you can feel. But you can and will find your way.

    • Thank you. I do have one friend at church who also struggles with bipolar whom I have shared my struggle with. Thank you for the encouragement. I look forward to the day…

  12. I don’t have any advice but I appreciate the honesty of this post. I think so many people feel this way (including myself). I believe what Jaime said in that nothing is permanent. I have a friend who never went to church, never prayed…nothing her entire life. She then went through some really bad times & through that she actually ended up attending church & has now changed her life around, works at her church, prays a million times a day, attends concerts & trips etc. Then my mom who has gone to church since we were little went through some hard times & now does not go anymore. You are definitely not alone & I am sure in time you will find what you believe & need in your life, no matter what that is. Huge hugs to you.

    • Thank you Andrea for sharing the different stories. I don’t know where or how the Lord is leading, but I’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other.

  13. I just want to simply say that walking by faith is just that. It is walking when you don’t feel it. Continuing on with what you know to be true (as you listed in your post) even though you feel like you’re walking through the valley of the shadow of death. David felt just as you are now and he was the “man after God’s own heart.” I wrote a post on this a few months ago. http://www.ourspecialneedslife.blogspot.com/2012/03/what-helps-in-times-like-these.html

    Also, C.S. Lewis wrote in “A Grief Observed,” sometimes we bang on God’s door for so long and hard and throw our tantrum that if he’d just answer now, we’re ready. But the problem is, we’re making so much noise by ourselves (banging and yelling at the closed door) that we are unable to hear what God wants to tell us. We have to slow down, quiet down, and just wait and listen. It is then that we are prepared to hear what he has to tell us.

    (I imagine a woman who is just so tired, fists bruised and swollen, voice breaking and cracking from the yelling – who just looks at herself and slouches down to the ground and draws her knees up and her head down ). That’s the place God can do most of His work. We’ve met our match strength-wise. There’s nothing left of us. That’s where His Strength begins.

    • I only know how to believe what I believe so that is what I will do. Your post you listed above is really excellent. Thank you for sharing it.

  14. Sometimes taking a step back to breath is what needs to happen. It doesn’t mean you’re turning your back…you still have those core beliefs…it’s just that you need a moment to figure things out for yourself.
    I don’t talk about God much…it’s uncomfortable for me…I do believe in a God…and I know that my God doesn’t turn away on his people.
    I know how much your faith means to you and I can’t imagine how hard this is.
    Sending you so much love

  15. That’s a really difficult place to be in. Hive yourself some time to think it all through and do some processing. I think that will help you find a resolution you can live with.

  16. I wish I had some answers for you. I know God cares deeply about your pain and I know your pain is so loud right now that everything else is drowned out. Honestly, when I go through my rough patches, being at church is the last place I want to be b/c I feel like I have to be “happy” when I’m there–not for God but for all the shiny happy people. And I realized I was looking at the people there and not at God, who is so much deeper than my pain. But I also know how frustrating it is, to be knocking on God’s door, wanting answers and feeling like you’re not getting any. I know it’s discouraging and faith shattering. I really loved what Amy had to say above. I agree with every word she said. Right now, it’s ok to take care of you. God is still there, even when we can’t feel it. I do believe you’ll find your way back some day. No, we’re not always hungry or thirsty, but someday you might be. I’m so sorry you’re hurting, my friend.

  17. What an honest post!

    Though it feels like I have always believed, I don’t always feel close to God.

  18. Dear Sister,

    All I can do is pray for the one who was so sold out to her new BFF that when we were young (about eight and nine if memory serves me well) asked me if I would give my heart to Jesus. I don’t have any words that you don’t already know. I don’t have all the answers- that is a large part of faith and growing trust.

    But I know that if He did it before, He’ll do it again. God is a gentleman and He will not shove you but when you are ready to seek Him, you will find Him. In the meantime; He will carry you. God encourages questioning; we all do that at some level at various points in our walks. Heaven knows that every sinner has a future; every saint a past- even those appearing to have a very righteous robe.

    Something that has held me up when my world has fallen apart:
    “you’re never too far down
    I promise you’ll be found,
    i’ll reach into the mud,
    the miry clay
    pursue you to the end,
    like a faithful friend,
    nothing in this world,
    can keep me away”
    – lyric from “Leaving 99” by Audio Adrenaline

    Love you always. (Hugs)
    Min

  19. Hi Charity,

    I’m new here but I really wanted to send you a little love and support. This must have been SO hard to write, so I admire your honesty and courage. I’ve been in this same place you are in now, and let me tell you, I don’t approach it in the same way at all. I rebel. I cower and hide from my church and from people from the church (which is difficult considering my Dad is a pastor). I absolutely do not open myself up like you have here. So good for you!

    There is so much I could say here, but I keep backspacing my thoughts. What I really want to do is just leave you with encouragement and love.

    No matter what, no matter how you feel or what place in your journey you’re at – God loves you. He loves you with an infinite and an unconditional love. And he absolutely will not be mad at you for these things you’re going through right now. He grieves for you. He feels compassion for you. And He knows your pain. So whenever you feel the need or the desire to turn back to him, don’t feel guilty. Just run back into his open arms and pour your pain into Him.

    I don’t have the answers. I just know that I’ve been there. And at that when I was there, there didn’t feel like there was a way back. But at some point, there will be. For now, just stay open to God. You don’t even have to believe, but just don’t close yourself off to the possibility of God.

    Praying for you with all the love I can muster.

  20. Charity, you have been in my prayers. Before the girls were born, I was heavily involved in music ministry. I also did community theatre. Different artists speak to me in different ways. Just because they are considered secular artists doesn’t mean that their music isn’t imbued with faith. I love Pink & Adele. They have lived through heartbreak & depression. Give Dave Matthews Band a listen. He has struggled with depression, and he sings about God. I fell away from the church for a while. I am still using my way back. My relationship with God stayed the same, but I didn’t feel as connected to the church as an institution. I hope this makes sense. My anxiety was too high to try to attend mass on a weekly basis.

  21. Growth doesn’t always cling to what has inspired us in the past.

    You have had a lot of great comments here already and I don’t want to repeat what they’ve already said so brilliantly.

    But I want to add that even Jesus walked alone in the desert for awhile. God is not forsaking you, he is not letting go of you right now. Course changes sometime require a moment of pause, of hindsight and reflection.

    As I read your post and the subsequent comments, the song which popped into my head was Amy Grant’s “Better Than a Hallelujah.” He is there, will always be there, and even if you’re not sure where you’re going right now, keep moving forward and trust He is there with you. There may only feel like there’s one set of footprints right now, but there are two, even if you can’t see them. He never lets us go, knows our journey, knows our hearts, and will always love us no matter what. When you’re ready for Him again, He’ll be right there. In the meantime, it’s okay to step back –just as everyone else has said.

    We may not always understand our journey but that’s okay because HE does.

    Love you.

    -lauren

  22. Sometimes God works through our earthly friends. Look at all the angels you have here. take care, kathy

  23. I do have so many angels. So many!

  24. Pingback: Sometimes Life Comes Full Circle | Our Giggles and Grimaces

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