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There is something you must know. I’ve refrained from writing this post for a long time because I didn’t know how to form words for what I wanted to say. Emotions are strong, but finding the right combination of letters to represent our emotions, isn’t always as easy as authors make it look.
On one hand, I don’t want people to read this post and make assumptions. I also, however, don’t want them to try and interpret between the lines or twist what is plainly written. I’ve always been an author who tries her best to communicate authenticity and vulnerability with her audience. I am still that author.
Over the last four to five years, I’ve written about what it means to be a suffering Christian. From mental and physical illness to catastrophic events or trauma, I’m not immune to sharing the hard roads of life. They are known to all of us, and they are real. I truly believe by sharing my experiences, I can attempt to help someone else not feel alone. But today, I am the one breaking. I am the one who needs to know she’s not alone.
Am I Supposed to Have Doubts?
When I was in college, I felt on top of the world. And although I was stressed out a lot with assignments, projects, field experience, and extracurriculars, I loved every minute of my collegiate experience.
During my freshman year, I went to the altar for the very first time in my life. Our revival speaker preached on clearing the stage, and when she did, God began to clear mine. Not only did He free me from an obsession, but a mere year later, He would pry a deeper disorder from my fingertips. I’ve never experienced the move of God or His sweet freedom as I did those first two years.
By the time I reached graduation, it was no surprise that my relationship with God had blossomed deeper than I knew. I was saved at the age of eight, but I never knew He could speak to me without physical, audible words. From fellow classmates and professors to the calling of a mission trip or picture images in my mind, God radiated over my life. I was confident I was attending to His will for my life, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.
But shortly after I graduated college, something teetered me. And not like a small storm out to sea, but a full-on tsunami, knocking me to my knees. Constant stomach pain landed me in the ER dozens of times. What feels like a thousand diagnoses codes later, here I am, broken, weary, wounded, sick, and far from myself. I wonder where Amber is, and when I’ll ever find her. My hollow mind and faded eyes search for hope but doubt clouds my vision.
In the book of Matthew, beginning in chapter 10, Matthew talks about a woman who bled for 12 years. Though she is unnamed, she spends all she has on Doctors, looking for a cure. Yet, she still suffers.
It might sound like an exaggeration, but oh, how I can relate. Oh, the pain I feel reading her story because I’ve experienced my own. And though I don’t personally know her, she makes me feel seen. She inspires me:
” Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment”
(Matthew 10:20-22, New International Version).
Today, I wish I could say that I have been fully healed from my mental and physical distress. A recent GI flare-up made me remember that I’m not. The pain is so agonizing that I contemplate checking into the ER on my drive to Church. Persistence to stay strong compels me to live anyways. To press on. To endure. To be resilient.
In the dark places of my mind, I’m still doubting. I feel like I’m in a faith crisis, where I try to know and understand the God I’ve always loved, but I’m struggling. Pain makes it hard to concentrate. Chronic illness has a way of making itself more present than the Holy Spirit you’ve been taught is within you. God is always with me, but so is the pain.
How Should I View God?
With all of these thoughts in my mind, anxiety paralyzes me. I constantly question my salvation. Who God is. What I know about Him. What He thinks of me. And I am left to wrestle with the question: “How Should I View God”, especially amid pain and suffering?
All my life, I have struggled to see God as a father. I have a lot of trauma from my childhood involving paternal verbal and emotional abuse, and this is especially painful. It’s said that your relationship with your earthly father and or parents can form your view of God. I can’t help but ponder if this is partially why I struggle.
On the other hand, I’ve always struggled to accept myself. I struggled with an eating disorder in my teens, yet I still struggle today to love the person looking back at me. I know that God says I am fearfully and wonderfully made, but I often can’t accept it. I try, but when I see a person looking back at me that I hardly recognize, the girl I’m now, I shutter. I know God loves and sees me. I know He made me and made no mistake, yet I wrestle with everything in between.
Is Wrestling a Part of the Process?
As I pen these words on an early Monday afternoon, it’s my prayer that someone else will read these words and be able to relate. But it’s also a stance of bravery. This is me acknowledging that I am struggling. I am fighting for my faith. I am wrestling as I’ve never known before.
Wrestling, I’ve been told, is a normal and healthy part of the Christian faith. It’s essential to walk on a fallen earth, while still serving an eternal Father.
I’m still struggling to know who God is.
To further and deepen my relationship with Him.
To get back to knowing the girl in the mirror is the same girl He crafted with intent and purpose, despite what I feel inside.
I’m still struggling to hang onto my faith.
I know it’s what I want.
I know it’s what I believe.
Yet many days I feel like a fake.
I feel scared.
I question what I know.
I question what I don’t.
I question what I see.
I question what I can’t.
Today, if you’re struggling. Today, if you’re in a faith crisis, I want you to know that I’m standing with you. I’m clinging to Jesus with all I have. I’m putting one foot in front of the other even when it’s hard and makes no sense. Even when I’m too tired, too sick, or in too much pain to move. I’m clinging to Him. And I will cling to you in this process.