Thursday, June 02, 2005

I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up

What ticks me of as I re-read yesterday's post is the fact that I, indeed, have been in this place before. It seems to happen every few years, and the cycle continues to perpetuate. Each time, it seems that a little more of me is taken away, and the feeling of despair increases. I'm no newbie to the feeling of hopelessness. Usually it is 100% my fault.
I hate to be so hard on myself, and when I try to talk to those close to me, the reactions are interesting. I wonder how people can't see what I see about myself. My sense of humor and joking keeps most people from knowing the serious side of me, but even those that are closest to me think I am pretty balanced and think I am being too hard on myself.
I have always put up a good front. I have the gift of teaching, and am a relatively good speaker/preacher. I am smart enough to put together a convincing argument for whatever point I am trying to make. No one sees my heart though, and deep inside I know what I am really like.... or what I can be like.
Because of this, I have battled with shame and a low self-esteem. Sometimes I think God doesn't love me, or that I am too far out there for grace. I know that isn't true, but the reality of the feelings and thoughts are still there. I hate it. So I struggle, and with that struggle sometimes comes self-destructive and uncharacteristic behavior. That only causes more guilt and shame, and the death-spiral continues. Before I know it, I am hating myself and everything I am. It's a stretch to imagine that God sent His Son to die for my sins, that He loves me, and forgives me. I find it hard to believe that God has any grace for me at all, and I doubt my salvation.
How can I continue to do the things I do and call myself a Christian? How can I operate as an effective preacher/teacher when my heart is so desperately wicked? The meaning of grace and its effect on my life escapes me. All I want to do is go somewhere that no one knows me and start all over, then run to the next place when it happens again.
I want to be forgiven, I want grace, and I want a fresh start. I want absolution for my sins. I want to be told I am OK, and I am really NOT crazy. I want to know what I face is normal, and that there is hope for healing. I want to know my whole life won't always be this way. I want to know that when I reach the end of my life, I won't look back and think, "Is that all there was?"
And I want to know when that time comes, and my friends and family come to mourn, I will have made a positive impact, beyond what they have seen on the surface. Is this rooted in my lust for acceptance? Do I put too much emphasis on what others think instead of what God says about me? Have I just never accepted the fact that God really does love me and His grace DOES extend to me? And if that's the case, how do I get there? How do I get that into my heart, where I can truly believe that?
Is anyone out there? Can someone give me some insight, please?

1 comment:

Homebrewer said...

I hate that you are feeling this way Pauly, but I'm afraid it is normal. You are feeling it more strongly now than most of us do most of the time, but it is something we all feel.

His promises to us are real and He is faithful. Is it up to you or to Him to fulfill those promises? What could you ever do or resist doing that would cause God to owe you anything? It sounds like you are looking at christian life in a very goal oriented way. When you want to look back and feel like you have accomplished something I wonder if you are putting your personal accomplishments where Christ should be in your life.

His victory (not yours)should be something you can rest in, relax in, have peace about. It should give you hope, the kind of hope that people might wonder about and ask, "Where does that hope you have come from?" When you start to lose that hope, it just means that your focus has been dragged back to looking at yourself, your failures, your shame. The same happened to Adam and Eve in the Garden.

Did God hide Himself from them, or did they hide from Him? Sin and shame separate us from God because we hide from Him. The price has been paid so that we never need to hide from Him again. That is the grace extended to us, that we are not only sons, but joint heirs with Christ. His victory, our hope.

You aren't crazy, You aren't feeling anything that we all don't feel sometimes, but this isn't the burden that Christ put on you. This is the one He paid the price to lift off of you.

This doesn't mean that you aren't a christian, or that you have never accepted grace. It just means that you are human, and like all of us have doubts, and occasionaly feel like its all about you.

I hope I'm not way off base. I don't know you, but I'd be glad to discuss this with you and help in any way I can.