Religion is such a sensitive topic. It can divide or bring people together and has always been such a huge identity marker.
I have always called myself a Christian, it comes right out without much thought. I believe in the beginning it was mainly because it’s all I knew, Christianity that is. But was I a Christian. I guess because I did believe in God, maybe.
I spent the majority of my life as a lukewarm Christian, at some point I questioned it so much I nearly became an agnostic. I doubted religion, but I never doubted God, spirituality or the existence of a high being. It became quite the roller coaster, my spiritual journey.
Interestingly enough I was more drawn to God and church when things were ‘good’ in my life, but the minute I face a problem I was back to questioning it. I recognised his hand in things going well but forgot he could help me out of tough times. it was never that I get mad at God, I hardly ever felt any sort of anger towards him, but I felt inadequate, I needed to be good, to make things good and when it isn’t good I was hard on myself and I would hide.
At the start of the year, I made a decision to get right with God, I wouldn’t say it was a calling, I, unfortunately, don’t know what that feels like, so I don’t know maybe it was, but I made a decision to figure out why I’m warm and cold with faith, you see I hated the person I became, and when I realised that I hated who I was, I started hiding, from myself, from the world and from God. Maybe I was just tired of living in hiding, I had been living like that for almost 3 years, I know I certainly felt empty.
So I started. the first thing I learned was that going to church every Sunday doesn’t make me a Christian, especially if I didn’t look at the bible throughout the week. So I got in the habit of listening to sermons and reading as much as I can. I meditated to verses and pretty soon it became second nature, I didn’t just read through them, I actually started seeing them speak to my life and circumstances, the way I responded and reacted to things around me started to change. I started to feel like me again, to feel alive.
But it’s all well and good when things are moving relatively smoothly right. It wasn’t until my first real hump and hurdle that I truly began to put in the work and rely on God. They say God’s timing is never wrong, if you asked me on the day I would have said otherwise. I had an encounter with God, and right after that I was thrown into the pit of temptation and my sinful nature truly overpowered me. I was hurt, ashamed, disappointed, embarrassed and felt like the biggest failure. I was pulled in two different directions, I could give up on what I was doing because I failed and return to the person I used to be that I hated so very much, or I could cry and hide again and hide from God since I was such a disappointment.
I cried, a lot. I made a decision not to hide, to be open about how I’m feeling to myself. Then I decided to fall on my knees, and I cried some more, I prayed every day and cried every day, often at the same time. 1 Corinthian 12: 7-10. These verses rang in my head day in and day out. ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness… That is why for christ sake I delight in weakness, for when I am weak then I am strong.’
It wasn’t until this moment I truly realised that for me to say I am a Christian I should learn to actually rely on God. I learned that for me to really be a Christian I need to be open about my struggles, to my self and to God, I learned the true power of confession, I learned that God cannot take you to the ‘promised land’ when you cannot be honest about where you are. He meets you where you are, not where you wish you were, so while I could maintain positive thinking and affirmation and tell myself I’m healed and saved I had to first acknowledge that I’m broken and lost.
This was hard, I’m not going to lie, it was hard and it was a mixture of trying to do right and falling into old sinful habits and constantly trying to convince myself that even though I’m failing and just not doing well it worth keeping on. One night I realised, I cannot do this, I truly cant so I called someone and I found myself a spiritual guide, and I have held onto this person since. They help guide me back to the bible when I’m losing grip, they help me make sense of the many things I’m encountering that I have never seen before, but the one thing she gave me something that stuck with me was ‘God will draw you, do not resist him. It was hard on me because God was drawing me and I was holding on o my comfort zone, my ways of dealing with things, my habits, my defence mechanisms, my protective habits that I been using, but even more scary, I was holding onto my own control. Accepting that these things were not serving me it became slightly easier.
I have had so many different encounters in this journey, so many beliefs that I had for so long, proved wrong. I remember the day it was revealed to me that I do not have to get right with God for me to receive his favour. It was that day I rephrased what I was dong since then I never said to anyone that I’m getting right with God, I was just simply going home. I also remember the day I felt his peace, the peace that surpasses all understanding, things were well and truly falling apart around me but I was peaceful.
I also remember the times I fell back into old habits, times I try to control things, times I start to question God. This interestingly has been both satisfying and frustrating, I have been frustrated so many times and in my attempt to fix things and the answers would come to me just as quickly as the questions, the Bible verses that came out of nowhere, that most of the time I didn’t even get right, just a vague idea of what it says.
And the biggest one, having God answer a question I had, but not in the way I wanted, yes i prayed hoping God will endorse what I want, the fear that came from that answer and knowing that I now have to do what God tells me to do though I was not given a step by step guide on exactly how I’m supposed to do that.
I am still learning obedience, I’m still learning how to let go of trust, I’m still learning how to not be conceited, I’m still building this relationship with Christ, but I’m mighty proud of my journey so far.