I’m having a crisis of faith right now. I believe in God and I believe in Jesus. I just… don’t believe in all the stuff that comes with Christianity. I don’t want to do the stuff that comes with Christianity, such as:
- Attending church
- Praying regularly
- Reading the Bible
Church often feels like a social gathering—a way to meet new people. I love my church. If I could pick any church to attend, it’d be the church I’m a member of. So why do I choose sleep over worshiping God on Sunday mornings?
I’m constantly trying to figure out who I am. Should I go by my Twitter bio?
Jesus follower, wife, mother, daughter, Haitian-American, Presbyterian (PCA), Beatles fan, pop princess, non-mommy blogger, suicide survivor, and more…
My Twitter bio only allows 140 characters so I’ve always wondered what I would add as “more” if I had unlimited space. But I also want to define how I describe myself in my Twitter bio. So here goes nothing… Read more…
Faith plays an odd role in my life. It’s the thing that has brought me back from the brink of death. In case you’re not aware, I’m a born-again Christian who believes in Jesus Christ as her lord and savior. Or in more politically correct terms, I’m a Jesus follower. I believe in the teachings and commandments of Jesus. I believe that he has fulfilled Old Testament law and that I don’t need to adhere to everything to be a good Christian.
I used to think, in order to be a good Christian, that it was necessary to pray every day and read the Bible every day, but Jesus didn’t say any of those things. Jesus said the ultimate commandments were to love God and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-40).
Faith, for me, is sort of an odd duck. I have it. Then I don’t. It’s a process. I believe in God, but I’m lousy at attending church regularly. I read the Bible as often as I can (though not every day), and I pray as I think of it.
There was a time I would’ve said faith was central to my well-being. And in some ways, it still is. It’s one of the most important things in my life. But if I’m honest, I don’t rank God first through my actions. He’s often secondary to other things. I don’t mean for things to be that way. I try to put God and government first when it comes to money (although, if I’m honest, the government comes first most of the time). But when it comes to time, God only gets a small portion of it. He should really get a much larger portion but I don’t know how to spend time with him that isn’t meaningless.
Maybe I should just sit in silence and see how he speaks to me.
I’ve been thinking that it’s next to impossible to be an American (or a Westerner for that matter) and not be judgmental. We pride ourselves on “judgmentalism.” With shows like American Idol, Survivor, and X-Factor, Americans play judge and jury on contestants. We are the civilized form of ancient Romans eagerly watching which contestant will dodge the tiger each week.
I am paranoid about people judging me. But as Jesus challenges me to pull the beam out of my own eye (Matt. 7:4-5), I find that not only am I judgmental but I encourage my judgmental attitude by watching TV shows that propagate the cycle. I cannot call others out for being judgmental when I am guilty of the same and expose myself to viewing that enables my sin.
I don’t know how I will be able to fully extricate myself from a culture of judgment. But I must ask forgiveness for my heart and try to remain pure so that a beam isn’t so badly poking my eye when I see this fault in others.
“I can’t trust God right now.” — a 7-year-old I know
How many times have I wanted to say this? How many times have I even thought it but was too afraid to speak it?
I am reading A Praying Life by Paul Miller in which he encourages his readers to pray like little children, blurting out whatever’s on their minds—unpolished and unvarnished. There’s no double-speak like the Pharisees. God would rather hear from me, “I can’t trust You right now” than “Lord, I am trusting You” when it’s really not true. Of course, it’s always good to follow up “I can’t trust You right now; help me to trust You” like the man prayed in Mark 9:24 “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!”
I am in a time in my life where things aren’t exactly how I planned them. I planned:
- To be married at 25
- Have kids at 30
- Have a thriving career in the newspaper/magazine industry
I got married at 23, almost 30 without kids, and ZERO career in the industry of choice.
The career thing often bothers me most, in some ways, more so than dealing with infertility. There should be a support group for people mourning the careers they never had or could’ve had.
My career is on the fringe as a proofreader for an ad agency and a manuscript editor. Yes, I get to do more than some people do, but at the same time, the income is unsteady. There are many fits and starts. I don’t know if and when the next job will come through. I work at the library to support these goals, but I know God is telling me to be patient, to trust Him in these uncertain times. To trust that He will provide the next job if and when he does so. It’s a scary thing to know that if your husband dies, you may not be able to support yourself.
I can’t trust God right now. But I hope He will give me grace and strength to trust in Him anyway.
I’ve been going through an incredibly difficult time on a personal level and have been really struggling in my faith. I often function based on feelings (yeah, yeah, I know, feelings aren’t reliable) and lately I’ve had the need to feel that God loves me. And I’m constantly met with… silence. Read more…
Before I became a born-again Christian at 16 years old, my problem at that time was that I didn’t have enough “self-esteem” and “self-confidence.” I didn’t believe in myself enough, and I didn’t try hard enough to believe in myself (which to be honest, I didn’t because I was an angsty, grungy teenager who thought it was cool to revel in my depression and suicidal bent).
Enter in born-again fundamentalist Christianity.
Fundamentalist Christianity says that one must not believe in self and only in Jesus Christ. Fundamentalist Christianity has no room for self-esteem, requiring a believer to place his or her trust solely in Jesus Christ.
Then I entered Protestantism and encountered a softer version of the same thing: Solo Christo! (This really refers to a theological belief of salvation, but this is the prescription of many orthodox Christians when it comes to problems with self-esteem.)
For a long time then, I believed self-esteem and self-confidence were wrong. I eschewed these things because my sole worth should be found in God and not in myself. I engaged in “worm” theology: Oh, I’m such an awful, terrible sinner. There is no righteousness in me. All righteousness is found in God, and I’m poor, pathetic, pitiful soul. I suck at life and I’m so lucky God saved me because I’m totally worthless otherwise.
Beginning last week, I started reading Jillian Michaels’s book, Unlimited: How to Live an Exceptional Life, and started seriously thinking, Maybe it’s time for me to walk away from Christianity because I like what Jillian’s saying about reclaiming and recapturing my life. I want to have self-esteem. I want to have self-confidence. I want to stop obsessing and feeling like a poor, pathetic little shit all the time.
But as I got further and further into Jillian’s book, I realized that a lot (not all) of what she says actually lines up with scripture. (Her chapter on Forgiveness and Accepting Responsibility was so solid, it blew me away.) And I realized that self-esteem and self-confidence do NOT need to contradict Christianity and God’s word. How?
In Mark 12, a scribe comes up to Jesus to test him. The scribe asks, “What is the greatest commandment?”
Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” —Mark 12:29-31
So Jesus lays it down: we are to love God with everything we have first. Then we are to love our neighbor as ourselves.
The assumption is we already love and esteem ourselves. If we do not, how are we able to love and esteem others better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3)? So one must tackle the challenge of learning to love and esteem oneself first before being able to truly love and esteem others better. Consistently treating others better than you treat yourself leads to an erosion of self-love and a path to possible codependency and people-pleasing (needing the approval of others).
An example: think of the mom who sacrifices herself on the altar of her children. This mother is constantly shuttling her kids to soccer practice, gymnastics, ballet class, and Boy Scouts but never takes any time for herself, investing her life in her children at great detriment to her health. She will likely be one stressed out and unhappy mommy. She may have high blood pressure, feel dizzy, and tired all the time. Yet think of the other mom who shuttles her three kids to the exact same activities (still investing immensely in her kids) but once a month, goes to a spa to relax and get pampered. Three times a week, she jogs outdoors for 20 minutes simply to clear her head. Maybe she’ll even join a bi-monthly knitting group so she can engage in her own hobbies so she is invested in herself enough so that she can take care of her children. The latter mom is likely to be in an overall healthier position (mentally and physically) than the former.
A person who invests in herself first is better able to love and serve those around her. I do a better job helping people on 7 hours of sleep than I do 4 hours.
All this talk of self-love is probably making some Christians twitchy. It sounds odd and new age-y. But remember, Jesus assumed that we would already love ourselves and from that, commands us to love our neighbor. As Christians, if we don’t love ourselves, we are sinning. Read more…