The deeper our faith, the more doubt we must endure; the deeper our hope, the more prone we are to despair; the deeper our love, the more pain its loss will bring. These are a few of the paradoxes we must hold as human beings. If we refuse to hold them in the hopes of living without doubt, despair and pain, we also find ourselves living without faith, hope and love.Parker J Palmer
I have found this past year difficult, and I’m not one to pour my heart out, so writing this blog has been quite tough. Being vulnerable is scary as it leaves me exposed to the judgment of others. However, one of the beautiful yet challenging parts of being part of this blog is that I can put into practice what I believe. Which is that I am fearfully and wonderfully made by God, and that I am His child with purpose, so it doesn’t matter if others judge me because that is not where my worth is found. I pray that as you read this you feel more comfortable not being perfect, and not only that but realise that you can talk to others about the season you are in, regardless of whether that makes you susceptible to judgment. Because to be blunt, it is only God’s opinion that holds any eternal value.
This year I experienced heartbreak and wondered how that situation could be used for good. I questioned how and why that would be in God’s plan for my life. How could I trust someone else with my heart? I wondered why people I love have hurt me and why God has let them. I felt the increasing shame of the self-destructive thoughts and actions I have battled and continue too. I felt overwhelmed by all the burdens I was carrying, both mine and others. I also realised I had spent my whole life living with idealistic views of the church. I saw church as a totally safe place full of people who only committed ‘little’ sins, sin with small consequences. The church had always been this safe place to me yet, this past year I have been exposed to very painful realities of how sin within the church has and does manifest itself. Unfortunately, the church is full of people who commit sin with devastating consequences. I had just thought it occasionally occurs in big mega churches in America, as you sometimes see scandals like that in the news. However, this is far from the reality, this sort of sin also occurs in our home churches. This may seem obvious to you, and if so, I am sorry from the very depth of my heart that you have been exposed or affected by this. I have grown up unaware of this reality until recently. Not only did it feel like my whole perception of the church was a lie, I began carrying all the burdens of those who I loved who had and are being hurt by the church.
I have never questioned God’s existence or character so deeply. I wondered what the point was in following a God who would allow all this to happen. I genuinely desire to be someone who can share the gospel with confidence and excitement, yet I felt so unable to do that as I was so full of doubt and questions. I would say that the two quotes I shared at the beginning and end of this blog were able to put into words what I have been feeling yet had been unable to articulate.
As much as this season of questioning and doubting has been spiritually and emotionally difficult, I can now say that I see the fruit it will reap in my life. I thank God that eight months later I am beginning to see purpose within the confusion and pain I have felt. I can’t say that I understand everything that has happened or that I’m glad it happened. However, gradually as I wrestle with these questions and realities of life, I am gaining more clarity and peace that I can take forward into the future.
This year I feel as though God has taken some huge things, but also blessed me more than I could imagine. Even though everything feels as though it has been falling around me, I trust God will and can rebuild was feels broken even more beautifully than it was before. I see glimpses of this already:
I have felt God’s presence more than ever. In our hopelessness and vulnerability, we can no longer rely on our own strength and must learn to draw our strength from God as He too draws close to us.
Psalms 34:18 [NIV]
“The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Although relationships have ended, God has abundantly blessed me with many more new and exciting friendship than I lost.
While people have hurt me God has given me the grace to forgive others, as I have been overwhelmed by my own sin and how undeserving of forgiveness I am.
“While I was still a sinner Christ died for me.”
Although I have not always loved myself as I should or treated my body as a temple, God has placed women around me who demonstrate what it looks like to treat your body as a temple and who have encouraged me to do so too.
I’m not perfect.
My life’s not perfect.
My relationship with God is certainly not perfect.
I cry a lot.
Sometimes I don’t feel wonderfully and fearfully made, and sometimes I feel very lonely.
And finally, social media is a lie. You may read these amazing blogs written by a bunch of awesome girls and think we have it all sorted. The truth is, there is so much that is unseen. Whatever season you’re in whether that is a wonderful one or a really tough one, my hope is that you will lean on God even when it doesn’t make sense.
I am praying for you all and here is another quote that helped me though this season:
“You see sometimes faith means running wide open and sometimes it means walking slowing through the pitch black but refusing to quit moving. Sometimes faith means climbing a mountain and sometimes it means just dangling and hanging on. Sometimes faith baptises us into imagination like tongues of fire and sometimes it’s just tenacious obedience. Just resurrection hope in the midst of real grief.”