Sometimes it’s like there’s a huge elephant in the sanctuary; a subject that is oftentimes too taboo to ever mention, let alone think about. If one ever gathered the courage to broach the subject – or God forbid admit their thoughts or struggles regarding it – they would surely garner tight lips and stern stares from some of the self-respecting super saints in the house. What is this issue that has caused many to walk with God in name only and silently question or worry whether or not they are truly a child of God? What is this forbidden subject that sometimes causes shame or guilt in those with whom no one will share sound instruction? I will tell you! It is wounded faith or lack of faith; the fact that there may be times when you struggle to believe/trust God.
I was born and raised in the Church of God in Christ and spent nearly 20 years of my life in a little COGIC church in a rinky dink, Alabama town. I heard a lot of church clichés about believing God and what He will do for those who trust Him. I heard a lot of talk about Faith; there was even a song about “all you need is a little more faith.” They told me to read my Bible and pray. I began to read and realized the host of scriptures that they never turned to or mentioned because they applied to the life they were supposed to, but were not, living. I had needs, not wants but needs, and was told to ask God for them. I asked, repeatedly, and nothing happened…..oh, oh!
When you are young and you listen, read, and pay attention to all of the words and actions but see nothing come to fruition, you begin to put 2 and 2 together. When you pray as instructed only to be left in the lurch – you put 2 and 2 together. For me, 2 and 2 added up to mean I was cursed and unloved by God; He just didn’t like “me.” It also meant prayer and Bible reading were powerless practices that church folk forced people to do in order to be “good members.” My faith was damaged very early. I learned to do what I had to do to “fix” things because it did no good to “put it in God’s hands.” As I grew older I knew God was there, I just believed He didn’t really care as much as people said He did.
Since the struggle to believe God was treated as a taboo subject, because surely everyone who goes to church believes God, I found no help for my dilemma. Who was I to talk to when the same clichés were used for every issue? When there is no listening to understand, only hearing to respond with the same canned answers? Or when the very ones you could turn to were major players in your struggling faith?
So, I trudged on, as so many in my condition did and do. Knowing God was there, I did not leave the church. I would struggle to read my Bible, struggle to pray, because I really believed it was a waste of time. I would compare myself to those who “seemed” to have found the answer; of course you know I never measured up. This only gave me more things to beat myself up about. When these individuals turned out to be made of tin instead of gold, it further jaded my view. Although I had never really gone out and tasted of “worldly things,” I was a mess. I was walking wounded and discombobulated, and no one had a clue – all because to admit or broach the subject of a struggle with faith is such an unmentionable thing.
Why is it such a distasteful subject in many churches? Why is the struggle to believe never, or hardly ever, addressed across pulpits or in group meetings? I think it goes deeper than people not knowing what to say. I believe the main reason is Pride.
Pride – Inordinate self-esteem; an unreasonable conceit of one’s own superiority in talents, beauty, wealth, accomplishments, rank or elevation in office, which manifests itself in lofty airs, distance, reserve, and often in contempt of others.
Pride rears it ugly head in the lives of church folk in ways such as,
- Keeping up appearances
- Looking the part while not walking the part
- The desire to be great in the eyes of other church folk
- Not wanting to admit they struggle/struggled with the same issues
- They don’t trust God and don’t know how to tell you to trust God
- They don’t want others to know that they have ever dealt with doubt
- They don’t want others to consider them weak in the faith
- Not wanting to admit they don’t have all the answers
- Some get angry because they don’t have an answer and shut you down!
It is pride and a lack of love that causes church folk to hinder the walk of newbies. It is pride and self-centeredness that cause questions of faith or admittance of doubt to be ignored or forbidden territory. It is a recycling of canned sayings and responses that have slammed the lid shut on spiritual growth in many churches across this land. It was slammed on me, but thank God for releasing me from that trap!
WALKING IN NEWNESS OF LIFE
As I look back over my life I can see that God never let me go. It wasn’t that “I” knew God was there and, therefore, didn’t walk away from the church; it was that God kept His hands on me and didn’t let me stray too far away. It has taken over 25 years for me to begin to see clearly. With God’s divine intervention I am finally able to separate truth from fiction and embark on a journey to really know God – to understand what it means to live for Him. I had to come to the end of my rope and grab hold of the hand God held out to me. My rope was tattered and frayed, with only a thread left to hang by. Before I literally hit rock bottom, I grabbed hold to God’s outstretched hand – a hand that was strong and sure. He is the one who removed the blinders from my eyes and is helping me, every day, to see the truth. God will do the same for you, if you let Him.
After so many years of seeing, hearing, and learning the wrong thing I have to fight to keep my mind right. I always remind myself of what I know to be true. Every day I choose to put my trust in the God of the Bible. My previous way of thinking tries to regain its place, but I quickly cast it down (2 Cor 10:5). I cannot afford to go back there; I’ve come too far to retreat now. I now practice putting my trust in God – even with small, seemingly insignificant things. It is a gradual process, just as it is with getting to know another person. We never learn all there is to know about a person in the first meeting. We never come to a place of trust in another person after one or two times in their company. I have learned that building a relationship with God works the same way. It takes desire, time, and willingness.
My faith in God has grown from dry and practically dead to alive and progressing with every passing day. I am so glad God did not just let me go. I am so glad He has been loving, compassionate, and loooong suffering towards me. If you are in the same shape that I was in, just know that He is not a respecter of persons; He will do the same for you. Try Him, not another person’s version of Him. Take Him at HIS Word, not another person’s word regarding him. I promise HE will not disappoint you.
Until next time,
TALK ABOUT IT!
- Have you struggled with your faith? Are you struggling now?
- What did you do to overcome?
- What suggestions would you give to someone who is struggling to trust God?