Friday, September 19, 2014
When God Isn't Enough
Sometimes there's a pressure on Christians to be perfect. If we act imperfectly, we hide it. If we feel imperfectly, we hide that, too. If you don't, rock on, but I've been there.
People might hide or pretend for any reason, but for me if I was honest about the bad things I did, I feared I would be a "bad witness". It would look bad to my friends who didn't beleiev in God. "Oh my gosh, she did whaaaat? That's not what Chrsitians are supposed to do." And it would cement their belief that God is not real. (You just gagged or rolled your eyes, right? Me, too...)
I was afraid to show any bad feelings or emotions while going through a hard time because I was afraid how that would look to everyone--Christians and non Christians. "How could she feel that way? She must not be praying or reading her Bible or listening to the Spirit." Or "Well, I feel that way, too. There's no difference between us, and if God's not making a difference to her, it's because He's not real."
That pressure comes from ourselves and our insecurities and worries and from other people. That pressure is never ever placed on us by God.
Let's cover some basics real quick. Everyone does good and bad things no matter whom/what we believe in. Everyone has good and bad feelings and emotions no matter what.
Then what's with the fronts?
I wrote a post before (that is now lost with the taken-down site) about my depression in 2010, and how I almost hurt myself, but I surrendered to God and He took me out of that. That happened. And I do believe that God can change us from the inside out if we give up control. He was enough that day. But how long did it take me to relinquish? How far did I almost go because I didn't let myself reach out for help?
It's not shameful to be sad or depressed or angry. No matter what your beliefs.
And if you're a Christian, it's not shameful to need someone/something outside of God.
So I've been reaching out more when I need help. I've been more honest about my struggles. Because while I believe Jesus perfected me on the cross, that's my spirit He perfected. On earth, I have a body that has hormones and chemicals and feelings. I live on the same planet as people who hate and hurt, and as much as I try to not let it affect me, sometimes it does. Bad things happen to all of us.
So. To me, is God everything? Yes. To be clear, who He is is enough. He has the ability to be enough. But do I always trust Him or know how to let Him be everything? Honestly, no. I don't have perfect faith. I believe in God with a fire because I have seen Him in my life. But that doesn't mean I believe in Him perfectly. And that's okay. He understands, and He's helping me grow.
That's where needing other things comes into play.
We are made for relationships. That means we need people. (Introverts, come back!) It doesn't make God less when we also seek the support of people. It's nice to hear a voice and feel a hug.
As some of you know, the hubs and I are trying for a baby. I know in my mind what the right answers are. Sometimes it takes a while. God gives life, and if I'm trusting Him with my life, I need to trust His timing.
But sometimes I don't feel that in my heart. Sometimes I'm scared something is wrong with one of us. Sometimes I get jealous when I see pregnancy announcements. Sometimes I get angry or sad, and I think about giving into the feelings of hopelessness. I don't understand what God is up to, and I know that's why it's called faith, but it's hard.
It's because of those times I joined a support group for women trying to conceive (TTC). The women I know haven't gone through this (or they don't talk about it), so they don't know how to give me the support I need. The women in this group know I don't need to be told to trust God. They don't tell me to relax or quit trying. They say, "I know. Me, too." Sometimes all I need is to know I'm not alone.
(By the way, if you have ever said those other things to me, I understand you meant well!)
The other day a friend of mine (not from the TTC group) said the best thing to me. "I have never gone what you're going through, but I imagine it's frustrating and sad and angering, and I'm here for you any way you need." I cried for five minutes because I so badly needed to hear that.
A lot of times it seems like people try to make tough situations better by sharing their own pain or by trying to make sense of it and saying things like, "God moves in mysterious ways." or "Everything happens for a reason." Let me take the pressure off. You don't have to try to "make everything okay" to be a comfort. Just be there. It can be a pat on the back or a hug or just saying, "It's okay you feel this way." This super short and humerous post says it better than I can.
Anyway, talking to people about things does not make you weak or a bad Christian. Needing to talk is not shameful. Maybe it would benefit you to find a therapist. Medicine is an option, too. Medicine isn't my cup of tea just because I try to avoid side effects at all cost, and I only use meds when I feel like I'm dying. But if you're depressed or anxious or anything, it's okay to seek treatment. It doesn't make you less of a Christian. We take Tylenol for headaches, so I don't see a difference when it comes to mental health. Veronica Roth, one of my favorite authors and a Christian, said something like that at her Q&A in Lansing, and it brought tears to my eyes. The entire room fell into shocked silence and then erupted into applause.
God can be everything, but if we're honest, sometimes He doesn't feel like everything to us, right? We're everything to Him, but we don't reciprocate well. So reach out and talk or take medicine if you need to. Don't suffer in silence because you're embarrassed. We give a lot of talk about religion VS relationship. Well, religion is saying. "I don't need anything else because God is everything" while you sit there in stubborn agony. Relationship is, "God, I know you're supposed to be enough, but thanks for still being cool with me when I need other people or things."
Thanks for reading! And not minding that I went from the suffer-in-silence type to the over-sharer...