Some people who meet me treat me like I’m a miracle working saint. They tend to be the naive type. Others treat me like I’m from the evil one. These tend to be the very religious type. Those who know me know that I’m neither. I’m simply a faulty human who is saved by the grace of GOD. I did not grow up going to church or reading the Bible or hearing the Word of God.
In fact, I come from a disconnected and mentally ill family, many of whom are quite religious (in a negative sense). We had a Bible, somewhere in the house, that was covered with dust and we attended church on a “rarely” basis. Life was always lonely, confusing and hard. I grew up somewhat ahead of my time. My parents divorced, my father never had anything to do with me and my mother was alone and drowning in her own problems. Essentially, I was left alone frequently and I coped the same way that my mother coped, by watching TV.
Am I the only one who used TV as a supplemental support group, AKA family and friends? We can turn on this magic box when we want and turn it off when we want. Inside this magic box are other people and other worlds for escaping. We usually can find something on TV to fill the empty spaces. It’s almost like having people in our lives. We hear their voices, hear their stories and music, see their faces and can imagine that they are talking to us personally. It is so easy to forget about our own pain and become wrapped up in this magic world. TV is very powerful and it quickly became my drug of choice.
I grew up more of an agnostic, not really believing in anything. It was difficult for me to believe in the Bible stories because they didn’t seem real to me. As a young adult, I felt empty so I went on a journey to fill the emptiness. I read about and considered other religions like Hindu, Buddhism, some other Eastern ‘isms and even Catholicism but nothing filled the emptiness not even Atheism. Yes, that’s what I said, Atheism. It is a belief system, even though, atheists believe in no god, this world is all that exists and when we die the lights just go out. Even believing in NOTHING did not fill the void. Why did I think that it might? NOTHING is not a filler.
At different points in my childhood I was sexually molested and raped. Needless to say, that caused horrific problems that changed me, stole my childhood completely and put more pain, anger and darkness into my soul. I have been through counseling and the LORD healed me of the emotional pain. Now, my life is better, easier (not easy street) and I no longer feel the pain.
For me, believing that Jesus is truly LORD was a long process over many years. Several different people told me about Jesus, how to ask to be saved and “invite him into our hearts” as some church people say. Throughout all this time, I had my doubts and my failures but Jesus is the “author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). I had to go through much hell in my life before I realized that I must KNOW Jesus in order to change because I knew and felt in my gut that I would soon die and go to hell! Needless to say, I was miserable awake and asleep day and night.
To be saved and truly believe took me years. Several “church” people told me that if one does not instantly believe in Jesus “that’s it” and one is condemned for all eternity. As though, we only get one chance and never a second. That is simply one more lie from hell. It takes time to KNOW Jesus and it is still taking me time. In other words, we learn something each day and grow like a tree.
After I came to the decision that Jesus is GOD I still had problems. Emotional pain is the worst kind of pain and when we hurt we can’t feel happy or accomplish much in life. Jesus wants to heal us (Mathew 4:23; 8:1-3, Isaiah 53:4). It took most of my life to recognize that horrible things had indeed happened to me and that I was in serious trouble.
It is hard for us to look at a gaping wound on our own bodies and the same goes for emotional wounds. I began having frequently re-occurring nightmares with the same theme. My hair began falling out, I gained weight without over eating and had several crying fits that I literally had no control to stop. For most of my life, I had mysterious pains throughout my body that had no apparent physical cause. I went to different doctors all to no avail while the physical and emotional pain grew all the worse.
Once, when I was getting ready for work I suddenly broke down crying and had to wait until I stopped to finish getting ready. The whole time, I didn’t know why I was crying. It was like someone else turned on a water faucet then turned it off. I was almost at a point of non-function and I did not want to live like this anymore. That’s when I finally got help, which is a hard thing to do. I asked GOD to help me, heal me and guide me. He answered my prayers. I also knew that I needed therapy and GOD led me to a great and highly skilled therapist who showed me how to face the pain. They call it “processing” the trauma.
I also got medicated for severe depression and anxiety and for the first time in my life, I gradually began to feel better physically and emotionally. Over time, I began to feel good about myself but it did take time. Why do we think we can say a prayer, instantly be healed, never take medicine and go “a hop skippin” down the road? Getting better is hard work.
Over all this time, I’ve learned that I’m not so religious as much as I am a believer and follower of Jesus. I’ve tried to be “religious” and follow rules, go to church and do lots of church stuff but it wasn’t right for me. Religion simply does not fit me. I have since learned that Jesus did not suffer and die on the cross to give the world another religion. Instead, He came to give us a Relationship with him… something much better than any religion. Religion is more of a man made concept and that relationship with GOD is totally GOD made.
Therefore, religious people tend to be suspicious of me and I tend to get along better with those who are not very religious. I would not have survived during the Inquisition! These days, I have a very poor church attendance record, still cuss but nothing like I did in church or at work but I read the Bible, pray and ask GOD all kinds of questions. Of course, I’ve run into plenty of religious people who are ready to burn me at the stake when I ask questions about GOD. All I can say is, Why?
Does it say in the Bible anywhere, Thou shall not ask the LORD your GOD questions? I haven’t found it anywhere. Jesus spent time fielding questions from followers and pretend followers. So I say, asking GOD questions is the thing to do and then expect an answer. This actually can bring us closer to the one true living GOD. Why don’t you try it? I did.