I’ve been journaling since 1997. You probably don’t want to read those journal entries since they were all about beanie babies and birthday parties, but some of my journal entries from when I was exploring Christianity (2008-2011) are worth sharing. The only insight you’ve had into my doubts during this time has been what I’ve revealed through my blog. I do not have a perfect memory so it has been helpful to look at old journal entries to remember my exact struggles before I decided to believe.
It’s time for an uncensored look back . . .
2/22/09: Maybe it’s because I haven’t been saved; maybe that is why I can’t hear my calling. If there is a God, then that is truly amazing and a blow to my mind. That’s not to say that after I get used to the idea of there being a God, I won’t go back to my old ways. I’m just saying that, initially, I will be a changed person, and that is something that would be wonderful to experience so I hope it would last. It’s not that I am at the end of my rope and I want to change everything about myself. My life isn’t a complete mess, but I do want to change the negative thoughts that are consistently plaguing my mind.
. . . Even if I end up lifting my hands up to praise something that isn’t real, I don’t care because at least I have faith in something that makes me feel good about my life.
5/3/09: Making the decision to become a Christian is not a decision I should be making right now. I know that the only one who can make the decision is me, but I think it would be better if an older, more mature me made it. I don’t think someone as confused and naïve as me should make such an important, life-changing decision . . . So yeah, if the decision doesn’t feel right, I shouldn’t follow through immediately because there is a reason for my hesitation.
. . . I am not totally committed to remaining secular because my mind is starting to believe in God. I won’t let anything penetrate my belief in animal rights, but I am willing to let God penetrate my secular beliefs because, in my heart, I prefer God to atheism.
5/5/09: Besides my immaturity, the other thing that is preventing me from becoming Christian is my lack of motivation. There are so many things I want to do with my life: I want to be able to play guitar; I want to be a famous writer; I want to be able to sing. The only problem is my lack of motivation because I tell myself that I am content as I am. When I decide to dream of the future, it seems so far away and I am too lazy to make anything happen.
9/27/09: I don’t know how to be a Christian without being self-righteous. Sure, some people can do it, but I am certainly certainly not one of them – I presume. Why would I become the type of Christian that I despise? Because I can see something developing in me already, and it’s not something good. It’s something that makes me want to set myself apart from “the crowd” – the atheists and agnostics that dominate our society. I want to be different; I want to achieve something great in terms of faith; and unfortunately, with achievement, for me, comes pride.
10/1/09: Another reason I am not ready is because I don’t want to do it with the wrong intent.
10/5/09: If there really is more to Christianity than a change in perspective and lifestyle, then I am VERY jealous that I am unable to experience it. All I’ve ever wanted in life was to experience something supernatural – well maybe that’s an exaggeration, but I have always been very intrigued by the supernatural and always wanted to get inside the mind of someone who experienced the supernatural. Currently, I feel really left out of the loop like I’m missing out on some big secret. I wish I could ignore it, but it’s too significant to ignore and much too intriguing.
10/13/09: I guess there are different degrees of believing in God, but personally, I’m aiming for the highest degree. I want there to be not a shred of doubt in my mind – I’m a perfectionist; can you blame me? When there is not a shred of doubt, I will be able to say comfortably and with conviction that “I believe in God.”
10/17/09: If I could predict the future, I would bet on the fact that I’ll not move a muscle in the direction of God until I set foot into the real world and experience its cruelty. When I’m penniless and unemployed after college – that’ll be the day I’ll seriously consider giving my life to God. So far, the problems in my life that have made me desperate for God’s grace haven’t been severe enough to motivate a life-change.
11/16/09: Church makes me angry with myself because humbling yourself is a simple task, and I can’t even handle it.
. . . I’m still looking for that logical fallacy that makes me able to discount Christianity. So far, I haven’t found it. Until I find it, which isn’t likely, I will continue to be intrigued by Christianity, and I won’t be able to say with any conviction that Christianity is a lie. That would be the easy way out. Even if I were to declare it was a lie, my heart would know better.
11/20/09: I doubt that I am really capable of a love so great as is described in the Bible about how your feelings toward God and Jesus should ideally be. The reason I am doubting my ability for love and appreciation is that I even have trouble showing it to my family. In my heart, I am appreciative for everything they’ve done for me, but I often don’t show it.
12/11/09: We can’t choose to reject something until we’ve understood or experienced it in a non-stereotypical way.
1/29/10: I don’t think I have ever lied to Rosey about my belief in God, but by continuing to meet with her for Bible studies, I feel as if I might be deceiving her about the strength of my beliefs. I feel as if my motivation is strong, and my belief is weak. I continue to go because I don’t want to give up.
However, there is something about the way I am interacting in Bible studies that I think is peculiar. See for yourself:
We sit down and talk about the week. Then, we go through the Bible study packet while I answer questions like a robot. A robot, because I am simply employing the resources I have (the Bible) in order to answer the questions I am asked. I write down the “answers” according to what’s in the Bible, but that doesn’t mean I believe every answer. Finally, Rosey asks me if I have any questions so I spurt out some random ones I have been saving for the occasion. We then discuss the questions in depth for a while until Rosey is ready to wrap things up. Near the end, she always asks me what is stopping me from giving my life to God. This is my cue to rattle off some excuses – which I have also been saving for the occasion. Since the beginning of my Bible study days, I have thought that the more we discussed my questions, the more clarity would come. But I’ve found that the more questions I ask, the more there are to ask, and to me, the unanswered questions I have seem important enough to continue searching after.
2/7/10: I’m trying to be more honest with myself and others, and honestly, going to church does not produce the feelings in me one would expect. (ie. “Someone loves you, Jennifer.” Jennifer: “Huh, I don’t understand.”
8/22/10: Is Bible study and church a waste of time if I’ve been going there for over two years and I am still not a Christian? It’s probably not a waste of time. I think a challenge is good for my heart and mind.
9/20/09: “Just do it,” is not the right way to think about it if you are waiting to give your life to God until you have developed the right motives. In my case, it is worth the wait because those motives of mine could use some cleansing.
10/6/10: I learned a lot of good things tonight at covenant group: First, my perspective on God’s love was changed by the soft voice of one girl explaining how God encourages her to get up in the morning, “Come on Amara, get up.” She said it very soothingly and lovingly with a very soft and patient voice, and that went up against all my conceptions of God’s persona. I guess I imagined His encouragement to be more along the lines of commanding, but I can now see that, even though God doesn’t have a girl’s voice, His voice can still be soft and loving and patient and kind.
10/24/10: I am only wanting to change for the sake of alleviating my own suffering, not God’s. Now that I’ve identified the problem, I really want to fix it. The only solution that is coming to mind is God. I am amazed that nothing else is coming to mind at the moment.
11/27/10: I feel like the purpose in my life now is not deep or important enough for me be passionate about. I feel like I need a deep and important mission in life like Harry Potter has because I am just not as fired up about my current endeavors as I would be about more dramatic ones like combating evil. Fortunately, if I decide to believe in the Bible, then I will be provided with a very urgent reason to combat evil. More specifically, I would like to be provided with an urgent reason to combat the evil inside of me rather than in the world. It is a realistic and worthwhile goal to want to improve myself, but the reason I am not committed to it now is because I don’t know the best way to go about it. I know the options but all of them require patience and self-discipline which I sometimes struggle with.
1/30/11: I’m just not sure what I could do differently. I feel like I’ve tried everything that is recommended for a person who wants to know God, but He is not responding to me like He is everybody else. What haven’t I tried?
4/2/11: Sometimes I assume the worst of myself. I assume that my motives are all about bettering my life and finding deep meaning. Maybe there is more to me than this selfishness.
4/16/11: Even though I have a very negative attitude toward life compared to the others in church, God will take me whatever way I am as long as I surrender and repent? Ever since my last entry, I have been thinking about God’s love a lot more, and it’s not only an interesting way to look at life, but it’s made me want to surrender and repent. Looking at life this way is so interesting that it makes the world seem “fresh” and new for however long the perspective shift lasts – which isn’t long if you’re still living in “the world.”
4/26/11: A big excuse is that my life is good enough. However, that ignores the fact that Christianity is mostly about finding truth and not living a lie. Whether or not your life is tolerable, makes no difference.
Next week, we’ll take a look at some journal entries from my first year of being a Christian.