I (still) believe in Jesus
A humid summer night and I can't fall sleep. But it's not the heat keeping me awake. It's my restless heart. Ever since Katherine took her life back in January, I've been in a death match with my faith. This isn't new, exactly. Seems like I've always struggled with my faith. It has never come easily for me (growing up in a fundamentalist cult probably didn't help). Faith—and especially a belief in a loving, truly good God— is something I have to fight for, something I have to CHOOSE each day.
What was new after Katherine's death was indifference.
I've never experienced that. Whether I'm losing faith or finding it, I've always had strong feelings about my relationship with God. I thought about God all the time. But that all changed after Katherine died. For the first time in my life I was indifferent toward Him.
In n the days following her death and heartbreaking funeral, I felt numb. I don't think it was a conscious choice, really, to turn away from God. I just kind of shut down and shut Him out.
Here's what I learned (again): life without God is hard. It's harder than it's meant to be. Trying to live my life without a trusting faith in a loving God is riddled with anxiety. It's easier to let the lies in:
I'm not good enough
I don't belong here
I'm not lovable
Incidentally, these are some of the same things Katherine believed about herself. In her goodbye letter to me, she wrote that she always felt like she didn't belong. I can't tell you how many times I've wept over that line.
It shattered my heart because she did belong. She really, really did. She was so loved. She was a good, good person. A truly kind, gentle, sensitive soul.
Months later, those same lies were creeping into my thoughts.
The good thing is, I knew they were lies. Sometimes I struggle with believing I'm ok, that I belong, that I'm deeply loved. This time around, though, I began to see that the reason I was struggling so hard with these lies was because I wasn't asking for help.
I'd tried my best to do life by myself, without God. And this is where my best efforts had landed me: unable to sleep at night, restless, despairing.
That night, lying in bed, I felt a gentle whisper: How about you just talk to Me about it? I'm here for you.
Jesus is so gentle with us, isn't He? It's how I know it's Him.
It was a simple, quiet invitation. It was the invitation to rest, to lean against the everlasting arms and talk about what was bothering my heart.
I got out of bed and got on my knees. It's been a very long time since I did that. My knees were out of practice. My knees weren't super thrilled to find themselves on the floor at one in the morning.
But somehow, I knew I needed to kneel. The physical posture of kneeling is important for me. It connects my body to my spirit. For me, kneeling is the quickest way to get honest about reality; mainly, who God is and who I am. Kneeling helps me get honest about what I've done and what I have failed to do. The longer I stay away from God—the longer I don't spend time on my knees— the more dishonest I become about myself. It's not even intentional. It's just a casual slide into unawareness. Kneeling is a way of saying with my body: God, I know I'm not God.
Kneeling is a simple beginning.
There on my knees, I began with confession. First, I admitted I needed help. Second, I repented of trying to heal from this grief all on my own. My confession wasn't dramatic. It was simple. God already knew. It was just time for me to acknowledge it that I need Jesus just like everyone else.
When it was over I stood up and got back in bed. I could feel the tiniest crack of light enter my soul, the tiniest beam of hope....the Lord my God will illuminate my darkness (Psalm 18:28).
I still miss my beloved friend. I still struggle with unbelief and trusting that God is good and that I can trust Him. But I'm no longer struggling alone. I'm grieving with Jesus by my side. He has become such a good friend to me. A friend that sticks closer than a brother....