I remember in the fall of 2008 I was in a very dark place. I felt like God took all my views, opinions, thoughts and beliefs and flipped them upside-down. I remember feeling like God had a restraining order against me and we weren't allowed the be in the same room.
I remember saying to a friend that this was my "Job moment"*. I told my friend, that I know you can't compare your life or suffering to Job's life, but the way I see it is that if God only gives you what you can handle, Job could handle way more, and I was tested by what I could handle.
I remember going to church and thinking "it's either I am wrong or everyone else is", which I know could sound arrogant, but I just didn't agree with the words they were saying.
On top of this all, extremely heavy/personal family situations came up and I had to come home to comfort instead of be comforted. I remember hearing some people talk about their relationship with Jesus and knowing how much they were trying to convince themselves and others that they had it all figured out and have no doubts about Jesus. I thought, "I want so badly a church that isn't just for truth but also is for honesty, a group of people that can come together and talk about their flaws and doubts instead of getting together and having a contest of who can say the wisest words". Though I had some close friends that were there for me and let me just speak out my most frightening doubts and not judge me I still lacked a community or a group of people that would also speak out on their doubts so that I knew I wasn't alone.
One day I remember driving up to the parking lot of my church and sitting in the car thinking of ways to get my faith back or ways to explain why I don't agree with the 2-D, plastic faith that a lot of people seemed to have. I desperately needed someone to talk to and I texted a few of my closest friends to see if they could talk or get into my car and just drive for a few hours so I can tell them everything. I received a text from a friend that said, "God really put you on my heart, I am praying for you", I texted back saying "can I call you I need to talk" but they were busy. My other friends were in church and experiencing a community that was limited to sitting next to other Christians and I was desperately trying to get any of them to just join me in my most needed 'iron sharpens iron' time yet. Some were set on the routine of church [or didn't understand where I was at].
I decided I needed to drive and pray to a God that I didn't feel like was listening, I was talking into a dead phone. I put on some mewithoutYou, which one song, Torches Together, talks about how we shouldn't burn poor and lonely but we should burn together. While singing along it hit me how much I needed community, how having people over to my house for card games and high fives is nice, but I need people to share some heavy stuff with. I sang along and just started balling crying.
I have always thought it to be interesting how literal people take some parts of the Bible but seem to brush aside "God is love". I think the people that brush that aside are worried they are tip-toeing to closely around new age beliefs or may dislike admitting that some of the crazy stuff they say may have truth in it. Regardless, I think when I believe that God is Love and Love is God, the rest of the Bible and this world makes a lot more sense. But basically, I felt the need for God/Love, at this time of my life I have been failing to love but also I know that all my friends cared for me, but I guess in this trial I saw the human ability or lack of ability to truly love on our own.
In the early church of the Bible of the whole community nobody was lacking in anything, they shared everything, I also believe that they were sensitive to each other's spiritual needs.
When someone is hungry it's a lot of work to have them over to your house for a meal, it's easier to just buy them a sandwich, it's even easier to just give them a few bucks. But true love for another is to meet their needs and to carry their burdens. Not cut corners until you feel fulfilled, but until they feel fulfilled. I have taken a homeless guy out to lunch and did it for my own fulfillment, but I think I really need to focus on his fulfillment. If I see a homeless guy and I am feeling spiritually fulfilled sometimes I just keep walking, because at times I have made it about me and my needs not his. I think about whether or not my conscience is aching and but I should think about whether or not his stomach is aching.
Jesus said "the world will know you are Christians by your love". It's not what church we go to, whether or not we swear, what hats/shirts we wear and what music we listen to. To love someone because they need love not because you want to shut up your conscience.
The church is the body of Christ. Jesus didn't cut corners. Jesus didn't come to get us to stop smoking and then leave, he died to change everything about us.
All this to say, when someone needs me to talk about their flaws and doubts, I pray that I will be able to put my Christianity aside so I can let Jesus love through me. That I will be able to miss a church service or even risk looking like I am a Christian with doubts and flaws, just to show them they are not alone in their journey and search for truth.
All the best, your friend,
After writing this I randomly came across an Anathallo song that I have owned for years but never looked at the lyrics until now:
"looking only for a faster way to advance and pay, threw the deadly smiles, such things that will never suffice. Their spirits cry, "All I want to hear is that I'm ok. But the light burns me." To these people I owe my greatest apologies, for I have been made aware of their needs but I'm afraid that I might share His disgrace. In these thoughts the truth is stripped away."
Basically God may put someone on my heart and I look for the fastest way to move on. When I learn their needs and move on with my life, the Love of God is not in me [1 John 3:17 paraphrased]. In these thoughts is when the truth is stripped away.
*Job is a person in the Bible that lost his family, wealth and health as a test from God. Read more in the book of Job