Last night I went to church with my mom, and the pastor told a lot of stories about people who made dramatic life changes once they connected to God. Members of the church are doing this challenge where they’re supposed to spend time with God every hour, even if it’s just a simple prayer like “thank you for getting me to work safely,” and document the changes in their lives.
The stories the pastor told were about porn addicts realizing they no longer wanted to watch porn, or alcoholics who realized they no longer needed alcohol, and I realized I had an extremely hard time connecting to the message because I’ve never experienced addiction.
I feel like so many Christians have these magical come to Jesus stories, where they were trapped in some deep sin and never opened a Bible or went to church or prayed and then one day they saw the light and turned it all around.
I’m almost angry that I don’t have a story like that. I went to church almost my whole life, I only stopped about 3 years ago. Growing up my family went every Sunday. I sang in the choir, I danced on the praise dance team, and I was an usher. I think I was 8 or 9 when I got baptized, and I made that decision myself, I wasn’t told to do it by my parents.
I feel like I was doing everything right, I went to church and school, I prayed, I read the Bible, I didn’t smoke or drink, but somehow I ended up with 3 boyfriends in a row that either went crazy or cheated on me, I lost all my friends and failed to make close, meaningful new ones, I graduated with what I feel like is a useless degree, and I have a job that I absolutely can’t stand.
It makes me angry.
I’m angry because I know I should be grateful. I should be thanking God that at least I have a job and a place to live, because so many people don’t. Maybe I don’t have a best friend I can talk to every day or who will come over and hug me when I’m sad, but I do have friends I can go out to eat with or see movies with every once in a while so I’m not completely isolated all the time. My boyfriend may live on the other side of the country, work 80 hours a week, and have hardly any time to speak to me, but at least I can say that someone is in love with me and wants to be with me even if he can’t.
So why can’t I be grateful for these things?
Because they’re not what I want.
I would honestly rather not make as much money but have a job that I love. I would rather have one single best friend who knows me inside and out who comes to me with their problems as much as I go to them than have 9 people I can meet for coffee but I’m really only meeting them because neither of us have anything better to do but we don’t really have a strong desire to hang out with each other. I would rather not be in love, than be in love with someone I can’t be with.
It feels like I’m being tortured, and it feels like God doesn’t care, and I don’t understand because I was doing everything right.
It makes me feel like, what’s the point in not getting drunk when all the drunk people are happy and having fun?
What’s the point in praying every day if God’s will clearly doesn’t include anything that I want?
Maybe this is what God wants for me, my life, exactly the way that it is. Maybe this is as good as it gets.
It’s not that I feel like I deserve more than the person who doesn’t go to church and doesn’t pray regularly, it’s more that I don’t understand why I can’t see or feel the changes or impact God is having on my life, when other people seem to have no idea who God is and stumble upon Him the next day and are just instantly filled with knowledge and understanding, and have this great story to share about how He awakened them.
Why can’t that happen to me?
What am I living for, what am I wishing for, what am I praying for? I don’t have the tools to make anything I want to happen in my life happen, and I don’t want to ask God for things He doesn’t want me to have… and if God does want me to have something then I’ll have it regardless of if I ask for it, right?
I just don’t understand, what needs to change, what needs to happen, what I’m doing wrong. Why I can’t have my magical moment where Jesus speaks to me.
I feel like my life is empty and doesn’t have purpose… and this is part of what depression does, I know… but it was easier when everything I did had a deadline, like high school was 4 years then I went to college. College was only for 4 years. Studying abroad was for 4 months. The Disney College Program was for 4.5 months.
Everything I’ve done up until this point has had a definite start and end date, and now for the first time, I can’t see an end to what I’m doing. I’m stuck living at home working a job I hate not having friends, probably never seeing the guy who claims to love me again… and it looks like this is my life for the foreseeable future. I don’t have anything else. I don’t have any defined plans of things I can look forward to. I don’t know where to go from here, how to change, how to make things happen, and I don’t know who can help.
The one thing I’ve found to help is to let all of this out, that’s why I’ve written it here. I used to push these feelings away and they would just creep back up stronger. So I’m saying it’s okay to be sad and scared and overwhelmed. I’m acknowledging how I feel, that I don’t like it, and that I want to change it but don’t know how. And hopefully one day it will get easier. One day an opportunity will come along to change my situation and hopefully I won’t run from it.
I guess here is where the disconnect in choosing your emotions comes from… my mom would say you can choose to accept defeat or you can choose to be happy and keep getting up every day and pushing forward. I say, you can’t change how you feel, but you can choose to believe that this won’t last forever.
I keep praying because I choose to believe that one day God will speak to me. I don’t know if that’s true, but there has to be more than this. There has to be better than this. Right now I don’t feel like there is, but I choose to believe that one day I will wake up and feel differently, and that’s what keeps me going.
My passion planner asked me to write something that would motivate me to complete my goal for the year, which is to complete my novel by December 31st. My motivation is the memory of showing my boyfriend the binder I have of where I planned out my book. I have pages of character profiles, over 20 characters and each has a full backstory, I drew a map of the boarding school where the book takes place, I made a class schedule for every character, and I wrote an outline of the story. He was really impressed with all the work, and told me he was amazed at how much thought I put into it before I started writing, so that’s my motivation – knowing that I’ve already put in too much work to quit now.
That’s how I feel about my relationship with God – I’ve already spent too many years believing and going to church and trying to understand the Bible and my purpose to quit. I don’t know how much longer I have to try, or how much longer I’ll be willing to try, but sometimes all you can do is believe that change is coming, and try to accept that it’s not today or tomorrow.