Monday, June 27, 2016

Holding on Through Doubt

Recent Days
Two things happened this week that are worth mentioning.

It's baaaaaaaack
The familiar nag of OCD showed up again Wednesday morning after being fairly manageable since my medication increase in May.  I wasn't really surprised since stress tends to agitate my mental health and this has been (and continues to be) a very busy month for our family.  Wednesday morning, I faltered.  I gave in to the compulsive praying, because what if I hadn't actually prayed my morning prayer?  Rookie (which I unfortunately am NOT) mistake.  Giving in ALWAYS makes it worse.  It's ALWAYS better to ride out the intrusive thought, because giving in to compulsions just heightens the anxiety.

Here are two of my tweets from that morning:

struggling with doubts

Later that morning, I heard (and sang along with) Mandisa's rendition of the very applicable-to-my-situation song "Take the Shackles off my Feet so I Can Dance."  I didn't feel anxious nearly as much after that, and the rest of the day was fine.  I don't know if it was the song or simply refocusing my brain, but I'm grateful either way!

The Magnitude
Also this week, during one of my morning prayers, the magnitude of what I was doing hit me.  I was talking to the living God.  I was praising Him and communicating with Him.  So often I pray out of habit or ritual, and my words sound very familiar to previous prayers of mine.  But I felt the weight of the words I was saying and what they actually meant.

Returning Doubts
My salvation and relationship with God has been a consistent theme throughout my battle with mental illness.  I started down this road again in church yesterday, which brought on the anxiety. 

question markWhat if we (Christians) have it all wrong?  I mean, from the world's eyes, it must not make sense, right?  So what if they're right and I'm wrong?  Why can't I just have faith?  Truth is truth whether I believe it or not, right?  Did God really send His Son to earth to be a sacrifice for my sins?  Did He really rise from the dead after three days?  If I lived during Jesus' time here on earth, would I have followed Him?  Or would I have followed the Pharisees with their laws and standards of perfection?  I'm not supposed to question God, because doesn't it make Him angry?

The Struggle
My whole life has been built on what is taught in the Bible and in the church.  I have been attending church since before I was born.  My whole family is part of the faith, and I'm questioning things, even Jesus, the pillar of Christianity.  And I feel guilty about that.  Deny Jesus and deny Christianity.  Deny Jesus and I can have no relationship with God.     

Reaching a Decision
I struggled with similar thoughts a couple of years ago when we visited the Grand Canyon in Arizona.  I was with my family in our rental car waiting to enter the Grand Canyon when I made the decision to believe God and His plan for salvation (Jesus) no matter what.  Even if it didn't make sense to me, and even if I had doubts, I was going to believe.

faith in times of trouble and doubtSo, in these times of doubt, I choose to cling to what is true and to stand on that decision to believe.  I want to "keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience" (I Timothy 3:9).  I want to continue in my faith, established and firm, and not move from the hope held out in the gospel (Colossians 1:21-23a).

I'll continue to attend church and listen to good teaching.  I'll keep reading my Bible and sharing in fellowship with other believers.  I'll trust that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died and rose again for me so that I can know God.  I'll trust God by not giving in to compulsions and instead refocusing my brain when the obsessions and intrusive thoughts appear.

And through this, I'm hoping my faith and relationship with God become stronger.

How do you hold on to the deep truths of the faith in times of doubt or trouble?  How do you continue in your faith, established and firm, and not move from the hope held out in the gospel?