Life as a New Christian
Here are some interesting journal entries about faith from my first year out of college:
6/20/12: Dear God, thank you for Chelsea and for creating dogs. Thank you for her companionship. Please help us get through this by making us emerge stronger in the end. In the meantime, though, I realize we may be a little confused about why life is so painful, and even if we do gain an understanding about why, I realize that the grief will still be there and that is ok because grief is honesty. Grief is good as long as it doesn’t drive us to do crazy things like alcoholism or suicide. I think that is why I don’t want to start grieving, because I think it will lead to the worst. However, I need to have hope, that You will not let this happen. If I go through this in denial and numbness, then I might actually be worse off if I got angry and punched a wall. I am so sad, but I haven’t really cried too much yet because I’m afraid that it might go too far and I might become angry with You and think life is unfair. I don’t want to be ungrateful – we had 12 joyful years with her and that more than makes up for our sorrow. I am so blessed to have had such an awesome dog that I want to be able to praise You for this, but I realize I also have no choice but to go through the grieving process that I unfortunately need to go through to heal.
7/5/12: I just don’t understand why the concept of Christianity is so hard for me to understand. I mean, I know the basics, but it usually doesn’t produce the right kind of emotions in me so I must not be digging deep enough. Theo only problem is, digging deep takes time and I just don’t have it. I can’t tell you how long it took me to write those blog posts, and those blog posts are some of the only examples of times I actually understood Christianity and was emotionally affected by it. Do I have to spend that much time every time I want to draw near to God? I mean, I will if I have to, but if there is another way, if there is a way to develop a more immediate sense of awe at the mention of his name, then I would greatly prefer that. I would greatly prefer faith that doesn’t come after hours of writing and thinking. Sometimes, it is necessary, but I don’t think it should be necessary all the time.
7/6/12: I should probably start making a list of reasons I believe since I think that would really help. I had list somewhere, I just have to find it.
7/27/12: So this is irony at its finest. I have a job, more friends than I can count and essentially two bible study leaders all to myself. You’d think I’d be doing great. And yet, I’ve never felt farther from God. I’ve never felt more stressed out and I’ve never had such a negative attitude about a job (except Macys).
10/15/12: I need to understand the greater purpose of everything I do day to day, including my job, since that would help me not focus so much on the fact that some things are not enjoyable but focus more on how everything, good and bad, has a purpose. I still don’t see a purpose to my job, though, other than the fact that it is a stepping stone to where I would like to be and it is a way to make money. Yes, I am learning things, and I may be building up endurance to face the real world but beyond just myself, what are the greater things that my presence at my job accomplishes? How can I demonstrate love through a desk job with no human interaction?
2/1/13: Recently I have become confused about what it means to be saved. I know it doesn’t mean we don’t sin anymore but it does mean that we are set free from being a slave to sin. How can you tell if you are still a slave to sin? And if you are a slave to a certain sin, does that mean you aren’t saved? I am a slave to fear and rejection. It is so deeply ingrained in me that five minutes after I have a close encounter with God, His peace slips away. I really felt like God was with me when I walked into that hallway, but before I knew it, the negative thoughts started and I gave into them.
4/12/13: I have been depressed because in the back of my mind, I’ve been believing that I haven’t been given the freedom to be confident. I compare myself to others and look at the lack of good fruit in my life and it makes me believe I have no reason to be confident when in fact, I have every reason to be confident because Jesus has covered my sin and beyond that there is nothing that should make me less confident than other people even if they are producing more good fruit or do not have as many issues. The simple act of accepting Jesus gives me a reason to be confident so I need to stop feeling inferior to other Christians or I will continue to be depressed.
4/26/13: Christianity it not a behavior control program but it is also not a thought-control program. Perfectionism and Christianity do not mix. some days, I think I am going to go insane because I am trying to apply my old thought process to something totally other-worldly.
5/17/13: My brain is going to explode. I feel like the last few months I have been learning things that have a very similar theme. God has been teaching me more and more about His grace through sermons, friends, mentors, and simply life experience and writing. While I do not regularly sit down to read the Bible for long periods of time, guided study and teaching have had a big impact on me. It’s very hard to resist something that has constantly been taught to you over and over again during a short period of time. And yet, I’m still resisting it seems too good to be true. How can I be sure I am saved? How can I be sure I believe? And yet, all the signs seem to point to a loving God who accepts me no matter what. My doubts about my salvation have again and again been challenged by honest and reliable sources and life experience and reflection. I think God is trying to tell me something. I think He is trying to tell me to stop trying so hard. But I JUST CAN’T STOP! I don’t know why.
6/14/13: I may not understand God all the time (in fact, I rarely even understand the basic Gospel most of the time), but as long as I believe, I am still redeemed by God. It’s frustrating though because it seems crazy that I can actually still call myself a Christian when I spend 90% of my day totally confused about the Gospel. There are definitely times when I do understand (not everything but at least the basics). I don’t think this understanding comes from any particular logical argument because it seems to come spontaneously from a particular song on the radio or a view of the mountains and suddenly the Gospel message seems clear.