I have had to face some of my anxiety issues head on; it became unavoidable. And for those of you who knew I was off work, that issue goes way deeper than what I am going to write about here, so this isn't "why" I was off work, just something that came up during that time. And since this is a public blog, we're going to avoid the "why I was off work" issue. Oh and this is NOT an invitation to ask why I was off, either :)
write the disclaimer. check.
I have had some deep struggles with God these past few years. Well, I've had them longer than a few years, but now, I'm finally admiting it. And it's not so much me struggling with God as me just avoiding the fact that I need to struggle with God. I have been extremely frustrated with not having answers to hard questions. Tough questions that many pastors would avoid... like, how can we know that something is an answer to prayer versus a happening that would have occured even if I was a tree-hugging-must-do-yoga-and-be-one-with-the-earth-athiest? Why, when God promises peace (assurance) of salvation by simply "believing in your heart and confessing with your mouth Jesus is Lord," would someone have to pray for years to receive that peace? How can we be sure there is a heaven when no one (I'm talking no one who is still alive AND I can see face to face) has been there and then came back to say, "Hey earthlings, I've got good news and bad news: Heaven is real. So is hell."
These questions just scratch the surface of what I deal with in my head. Day in and day out, I have questions like this. Sometimes I avoid thinking about them, and other times, I have tearfully poured over these questions with friends and family. But what has remained consistent is this: no matter how much I question or how hard it is for me to have faith (if I have any at all) I KNOW that the Bible is true, God is who he says he is, and even if I don't "get" Him, it doesn't make his Word any less true.
Having said that, I still have to deal with this stuff. God created me and gave me what I'd like to call the "Clark Personality" - I over analyse everything, I want facts, I need things and people to be tangible, and any explanation needs to be logical, to the point and without fluff (hey, I didn't say that is the way that *I* will always explain something to you haha). I wish I had the "uncomplicated" faith type of personality: take things at face value, trust everyone, and believe that everyone around me is doing their best to make everyone else feel warm and fuzzy. Maybe this personality wouldn't be able to debate theology as well, but they wouldn't need to; they know whom they believe in and that is enough for them. Wouldn't that be great!? =) I am jealous of people who are like that!
So, here I sit, needing answers about a God who I know is real and living and true but many of the questions I'm asking don't have the kind of answers that I like to have.
This struggle of mine has freaked some people out... like mom. Don't worry mom, I understand... you are on the outside looking in, seeing me, your daughter, struggle with something that used to be so easy for me. Seeing me making changes in my life and you fear that I won't find my way back to God. I don't blame you for questioning my committment to my faith.
But this whole thing kind of came to a point where I really needed my faith to be real and if it wasn't, I was not going to continue pretending. What would be the point of that? I have a feeling there will be lots of people who went through life doing and saying all the right things, while secretly having questions about what they believe, and someday, they will stand before God, shocked that their name isn't found in the book, because while they were damn good at doing and saying the right thing, they never really trusted God... I don't want that to be me (or anyone for that matter).
So. I decided to ask the questions and stop pretending.
Something I've always known but that has become very apparent to me is this: you can't talk someone into believing in Jesus. Sure, God might use a conversation you have, but it is not something you can talk to someone about, have them repeat a special prayer and bam! saved! Often times those conversations and prayers get the ball rolling and sometimes, God uses those moments to bring people to himself. But when God gets your heart, I am confident that you will just know it. You will have that peace of salvation (even if, for some reason that only God knows, God makes you pray for that peace for years and years). I don't have that peace; which doesn't necessarily mean I'm not "saved" but it concerns me enough to seek that peace. And I might have to pray for it for a while but I am counting on God to deliver on that promise!
And I don't want to be the cookie-cutter Christian. I might read this someday and "lol" that I am saying this, but I doubt it. I want to be *real* because guess what, I have issues. We all do. Yet when you walk into a church many people hide their problems (granted, some issues you want to hide, at least from most people). But I am so tired of the facade. I am tired of people cringing and looking at me funny because I said a bad word (sometimes, I am emotional and I swear because it's the best word that fits in that moment. And YOU do too!!! You may not admit it. You may not say it out loud. But 4 letter words run through your head sometimes. Own up to it. haha). I am tired of people freaking out because I didn't go to church for a week, month or, wait for it, a year. Basically, God didn't give us a check list of do's and don't's on how to live our lives (yes, there are laws and certain things that are sins, but he didn't say: wear skirts, don't go to bars, never dye your hair blue, always judge people who smoke, etc).
So, my goal is this: seek answers to the questions and trust God with the rest. As someone who likes to have total control, this is never going to happen in my lifetime, but hopefully, it will get better. And just as a side note, just because I am writing this post, doesn't mean I am going to get my church clothes out and join a church next week; it doesn't mean I want to talk about this kind of stuff all the time; it doesn't mean I want to pray together or read the Bible together.
It's a step.
Kind of like the AA program... Step 1: Admit you have a problem. Check. I have a problem. A faith problem.
To get to the title of this post... I wanted something to remind me of this endeavor, my "faith journey" if you will... something so that I don't forget. Something that can be a permanant reminder that I choose Jesus, even if he confuses the crap out of me sometimes! So, even though this will cost me $300 when my dad finds out (a whole other topic for another time), I felt it was something I wanted to do... for me... so no one else has to like it because I do.
And so.... since I can't literally write God's Word on my heart, I figured I do the next best thing... put a Christian fish and cross on my foot (in PINK of course).
I know what you are thinking... "You're going to regret that someday." Sure. Maybe. But here's the thing... first, there are bigger things in life to regret. second, even if I regret the permanant marking, I will never regret my reasons for doing it and what it reminds me of.