Continued from here.
I had a sincere walk with God for most of my life without actually entering the presence of God very often. I received Jesus as my personal Savior at age 8. I rededicated my life to God at age 27 after walking away for 11 years. Part of my rededication at age 27 was to reread the entire Bible, join a Bible study, and join a church, which I attended weekly. I observed the Sabbath regularly and later started tithing. By my mid-thirties, I was leading Bible studies through my local church. I memorized scriptures and even sought God enough to develop a primitive way to determine a “yes” or “no” response from God about His will for me in particular situations.
Nevertheless, I mostly walked in defeat. I was plagued by the aftereffects of severe child abuse that colored every aspect of my life: my marriage, friendships, parenting, and especially how I felt about myself. Despite leading Bible studies and memorizing scripture, I loathed myself. Even after years of therapy, I believed I was fundamentally unlovable and that if anyone ever saw the “real me,” she would run from the room screaming. I did not believe that God’s love for me was personal. I honestly thought I was an “add on” – that Jesus was already dying for others, so he might as well tack me on since he was going through the pain, anyhow. I actually believed that my brokenness was bigger than God’s ability to heal.
Note how self-focused my relationship with God was. Every aspect was about ME. **I** was too broken to be healed. **I** was fundamentally unlovable. **I** had suffered too much to experience God’s promises. I believed I had suffered more than Jesus had, since there is no record of him having been raped as a child, and I vehemently refused to forgive my abusers, believing that my own sins did not come anywhere close to the sins they had committed against me. **I** was at the center of my relationship with God, my thoughts, and my world.
Note that my faith was sincere. I did believe that Jesus died for my sins and was my only way to heaven. I did not question whether I would go to heaven when I died. My prayer used to be just to get in the door – for God to give me a tiny corner near the very back entrance to heaven. I knew I did not belong there and simply sought His grace in not going to hell, where I belonged. Knowing Jesus was in my heart and that I was going to heaven when I died did not bring about God’s promises in His Word about joy and peace. I was simply a miserable Christian.
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace in a hole next to a sign pointing to her that says, “It Me.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]