I grew up in a church that wanted to know exactly when and where you were converted, and from what. The deeper the degradation, the more your story was valued. Unfortunately, I had no dramatic story. Sometimes I wondered whether I was a ‘real’ Christian.
In November 2013 I wrote the following brief piece to read at a church meeting. I read it this morning and teared up. A timely reminder of how God works in my life.
I don’t remember when I received Jesus into my life. I do, however, remember times when I was lost, and God came looking for me. One of these was a huge turning point in my life.
I was in my 40s. Outwardly I seemed to be following Jesus; inside, I was lost.
- I was filled with shame and terrified that any day I would be exposed as a fraud, an imposter.
- I was plagued by chronic anxiety about events at home and at work.
- I was harshly judgmental toward myself and toward others.
- I felt my life was out of control, yet I kept trying to make it work.
In my mid-40s, I learned about family matters over which I had no control. Secrets I’d been carrying inside me for years began to eat away at my gut. I fell into deep depression. At home I sat for hours doing nothing but staring out the window, or weeping uncontrollably. At night I frequently asked God to just take me while I was sleeping. I didn’t want to wake up the next morning. I wanted to die.
I had always survived by being a good girl on the outside, and hiding what was on the inside. This took great effort. I had also become addicted to running my own life and thinking I could run everyone else’s too! But it wasn’t working; my body, my emotions and my spirit were in turmoil.
I believe God was trying to get my attention. And there was a price: I would have to come out of hiding and ask for help. I was terrified. What would people think of me? Fortunately, I was also desperate.
So I began attending a 12-step program to deal with some of my family matters. At my first meeting no one frowned, judged me, or expected me to perform. They weren’t shocked when I told them why I was there. They just welcomed me, smiled, listened, encouraged me, and said to keep coming back.
So I did. Slowly, I began to relax, join the rest of the human race, and trust that God was in this process.
Today I’m still a recovering human being and a grateful follower of Jesus Christ. Sometimes I still struggle with shame and anxiety, and try to control my life or change other people. I don’t, however, suffer from deep depression or pray that God will take me while I’m sleeping. I remind myself daily that I am God’s beloved daughter child, and that this is more than enough to bring God delight. When the time comes for my final home-going, my only hope will be to appear before God then as I do now: just as I am without one plea.
If you’re feeling lost or despondent today, God may be trying to get your attention.
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 30 July 2017