My Struggle with Christianity.

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For the past half-year or so I've really struggled with being a Christian. I came to Christ my freshman year of college & it's indescribable the new life I found. I was happier than ever and accepted an inner peace I didn't believe previously existed. My faith had ups and downs through the years, and it actually a pinnacle this past summer while living in NYC. Never had I felt closer to Christ, or felt the pull to do His work than amid my hectic days as a fashion intern.

However, when I came back from my whirlwind summer in New York my faith seemed to wither. It came without a warning or an explanation, and I chalked things up to being in a "dry period" as I transitioned back into my ordinary life.

Whether just a dry period or not, it's been a long and despairing one. If I'm being honest, I've not picked up my Bible and read it in months, not prayed, and have completely stopped going to church. How did I fall from being a dedicated follower of Christ, laying my life down for Him and promising to remain true, to nothing more than a sham of a Christian? 

I don't know.

If I had an answer I wouldn't be writing this post.

 I could point my finger to multiple directions to explain why I'm no longer a practicing Christian. They're thoughts I've turned over in my mind many times because it distresses me to no longer feel  passionate about something I once had such fervor for.

One setback is my pride. I never thought myself to be a prideful person, but examining myself reveals the pride I have possess in who I am. I'm so prideful I will distance myself from any type of relationship to be alone: just so I can keep intact my "whole self" without outside influences. Since I'm very in my head, I tend to believe no one knows whats best for me but me. Including God. I get angry thinking about Him not giving me the things I want when I know they're what's right for me. My main hang up: thinking God will keep me from getting to New York. 

Another set back has been witnessing the backward lives Christians tend to fall into (some definitely not all!). I've never wanted a life of marrying early, having kids, and abiding to a husband who defines who I am as a woman. I know it doesn't have to be like that, but the Christians around me tend to be. Consequently, I've associated being a Christian woman with not being allowed to be progressive, independent, and goal driven. Some (again, not all) Christians use what they believe to be "God's plan" as an excuse to not go after their goals and dreams and end up living a mundane life, If they get a no for an acceptance into a school or a rejection for a job, some chalk it up to not being in God's plan. I've never been like that. If I don't succeed, I will keep trying. This lack of motivation and self advancement of a lot of Christians turns me off.

Finally, I think it comes down to having no foundation. I've bounced around churches the past few years without finding a good footing in any. With my graduation impending in a few short months, I feel as though it's pointless to get further connected into a church here when I'll soon need to start somewhere else. Not having a community go drove me into avoiding church. When you avoid church, you falter. No one can be everything a church is on their own. 

I'm honestly not sure the next steps I even want to take. I've contemplated meeting with someone to discuss the things I'm feeling, but in a disappointing way I don't even want to do that. It's been such a scary and shameful thing to think, but these last few months I've been fine without being close to God. That has me contemplating, "Do I even really need to get reconnected at all?" It's such a despairing thought to even contemplate not being a Christian anymore, but there's seems to just be such a disconnect. Perhaps sometimes we must fall quite far to see just how much we need saving. I still believe in God and know this may be a turning point to develop a newfound strength in my faith. 

With much love, Lauren.
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Anonymous said...

Lauren, I've been reading your blog for quite some time, but have never commented until now.
This post, however, struck a chord with me.
I've been a Christian for a few years, and believe me, I know that those dry times can be so hard. But I just want to encourage you.
Christ is so faithful. When you are truly His child, you don't have a choice whether or not to be His anymore. Those who are called as true believers can never be plucked from His hand, not by worldly things, not by others, and not by yourself.
Just like it says in Philippians 1:6, "He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion in the day of Christ Jesus"
Christ doesn't save us and then leave us to our own devices. He has given us the Spirit to carry us and strengthen us as we walk through life.
So I guess I just wanted to encourage you, that even when it is hard, and the road seems unclear and God seems distant, don't give up. Press on and fight the good fight, because the Christian life isn't easy. We don't always get what we think is "best."
God has a plan that works all things for good for His children, and He makes beauty from the brokenness. There has been so many times in my life when God has taken a situation that I thought was awful and wrong and He used it to refine me and most importantly, trust Him.

Your humility in this post was beautiful. Being able to admit the struggle is hard, and so from one struggling Christian to another, I just wanted to encourage you.
Reading the book of John is very encouraging, Philippians is one of my favorite books, and the Psalms are so refreshing. They are all books I would recommend restarting Bible reading with
Life is so busy, I know, but take even just a few minutes to pull up a few chapters on your phone and meditate on the love letter written to you by the Creator of the universe!:)
Just a few other recommendations for books that might be encouraging to you: Humility: True Greatness by CJ Mahaney, Mere Christianity by CS Lewis, Basic Christianity by John Stott, and When I Don't Desire God by John Piper. They are all wonderful reads.
Sorry this comment was outrageously long, but I'll be praying that you can draw close to God and seek Him out!

Kaylee

Lauren | Musings of a Flower Child said...

Thanks for sharing your heart Lauren. Times like this are no fun at all. What you said about tending to believe you are the only one who knows what's best for you really resonated with me because I do the exact same thing. One thing that has helped me lately when I feel that God will prevent me from ever getting what I really want in life is a passage in Matthew 7. Jesus said "What man among you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" For some reason I get this picture of God as someone who will actually prevent me from having what I most want in life, but that isn't who he is. He is a good father who is for us! It sucks when Christians are backwards and are hard to be around.
Anyway, sorry for such a long comment, but I'll be praying for you as you look for the next step in your journey-- you are strong and God is faithful. :)
-Lauren

Lauren said...

Shoot I feel you, haha why do I always feel like we're the same person?? Haha I don't really have any spiritual words of encouragement because I'm terrible at talking about spiritual stuff, but just know that you're not alone. And it's totally possible to be a Christian and feminist and progressive and not get married and not have kids and also be successful. I think the pendulum swings all the time and it's perfectly fine to not be practicing. That's just one of the seasons of life we all go through and it's totally normal.

Kezzie said...

Faith is certain of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see. That is in the bible written by Paul somewhere. When I don't go to church, though I never stop believing in Jesus, certainly my motivation to do God's will wanes. Even if it is only for a few months, it would be good to try and go. My prayer and bible-reading life is virtually non-existent at the moment and I understand that but I want to get it back. Yes, a church community is so important. I think maybe I haven't seen the 'backward Christians' you refer to so it seems a strange concept to me. There ARE people who have more motivation than others in life, that is just human nature, not necessarily 'Christian human nature', but then perhaps some people do settle for less.

Sometimes God gives us something at different times, his timing, not ours. You will make it to.NY, he is faithful even when we are not for he cannot be false to himself. I've had a pretty rough new year, having to move house in a month, I've largely had to do it by myself as my husband has had so much going on. But. My blog friend Angle sent me a message telling me that God will provide (rents have gone up by £400 on the type of house we live in and there wasn't much available) and Lo and behold, a church friend offered a place for half our current rent. Things don't happen always the way you'd expect but sometimes you have to have faith and persevere. My new home has such a beautiful garden.

Anyway, don't separate yourself from your faith is my advice, try to persevere if you can. I will make the effort to pray for you. Persevere if you can, you are strong and have a good foundation.

With love from one who also struggles.
Xx

Minnie Muse said...

Wow Lauren, thanks for sharing this! I can completely relate to you. I find that in College it is hard to stay in a good place with your faith and be passionate about God when you don't always have a strong support system or connections. However, I have recently been reminded by a powerful verse in 2 Timothy 2:11-13 in which it says "if we remain faithless, he remains faithfull--for he CANNOT DENY HIMSELF!" That verse has meant so much to me that even when I am wavering in my faith and sometimes think I can get along without it that God never loses faith in me even when I might tend to loose faith in him....no matter what he is always there rooting for me and waiting for me to come back to him, because only in him can I ever feel true peace, joy, comfort, drive, worth, and a passion for living!!!
I think the hardest times and trials of our faith are when it comes to the future and wanting something so badly but not knowing if it is God's will and plan for our lives. However, I always refer back to the verse which says "if we ask anything according to his will he hears us." Sometimes all it takes to have a peace in trusting God with the future and with out dreams is aligning our desires with his....asking him to show us where he is leading our feet and asking him to give us the faith to recklessly abandon our life to him because in reckless abandonment we truly find freedom! I know that when it comes to your future if NYC is a dream that you have and a desire God has placed on your heart he will get you there!!
I will keep you in my prayers:)
Thank you for being so transparent and sharing your heart!!
-Madison
www.1minniemuse.blogspot.com

Lauren said...

bah all these comments annoy me. It's one thing to give someone a billion Bible verses or book recommendations from evangelical Christians, certainly there's a time and a place for that.

I think you might like reading the works of Wendell Berry, if you're at all into environmentalism / agrarianism. His texts have really changed a lot about how I view humanity's relationship with God and with nature, and has given me a lot of piece of mind about my spirituality, especially during times when I'm not "reading my Bible" or "praying" or "going to church." Because just doing a list of things does not make you any "better" of a Christian, whatever that means. I honestly think God is truly happy when we are simply making art (Wendell Berry said that art is "all the ways by which humans make the things they need. If we understand that no artist -- no maker -- can work except by reworking the works of Creation, then we see that by our work we reveal what we think of the works of God. How we take our lives from this world, how we work, what work we do, how well we use the materials we use, and what we do with them after we have used them -- all these are questions of the highest and gravest religious significance. In answering them, we practice, or do not practice, our religion." (This is from his essay called Christianity and the Survival of Creation, from his book Art of the Commonplace)

So honestly, if you are creating, that is your worship to God. I know waaay too many Christians who read their Bibles, pray, and go to church, and they are some of the most shallow, hypoctricial, just all around terrible human beings. Sure, doing all that stuff is important, but you can find the truth of God in anything, your worship service can be enjoying a good cup of coffee or just being in nature, and your worship is the work that you do.

Okay, I'm done for now, haha. I know I just hate it when people throw Bible verses at me and tell me to "trust God" because that's waaaay easier said than done, and I have never been good at doing the typical evangelical Christian thing anyways.

Lauren said...

p.s. especially with spiritual adivce, you kind of have to take everything with a grain of salt. Everyone comes from so many different backgrounds. For me, I grew up in an Evangelical Baptist church in the Bible Belt, went most of elementary/high school at at Presbyterian Calvinistic school, now I'm at a Quaker college, and I live in liberal, progressive Oregon. So here's just one person who has a ton of different theological beliefs telling you how to live your spiritual life, and everyone else will do the same. But it's true, only you know what's best for you. Like for me, I don't really like church communities. I've always found them super contrived and mostly boring and not very informative. I'm hugely introverted, especially with spiritual stuff, and very much keep to myself when it comes to these sorts of things (haha, which is probably why I'm bombarding you now because I never talk about this kind of stuff with anybody). Aaaaaall that to say, you know what's best for your spirituality, and maybe a break right now is what you need. That's perfectly fine and normal.

Okay, now I'm really done. But if you ever want to talk about this kind of stuff, haha apparently I love talking about it too. <3 <3 <3 Okay that's all. You're fabulous.

Hannah Rupp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amber said...

Hi Lauren! As others have said, we all go through stuff like this. Just wanted to let you know I'll be praying for you. I definitely struggle with going for months at a time without reading my Bible, and have gone through periods of not going to church for months too. The cool thing about being a Christian is that it means being a part of a family - a family spread out all over cities, states, countries, the world. I would encourage you not to forgo church just because you're moving in a few months. You don't have to become a member, or sign up to help with stuff, but going somewhere, or visiting several different somewheres over the next few months before graduation will at least give you a chance to hear the Word, and hopefully be encouraged. Doesn't have to be every week either! Life is crazy sometimes :)

Lyndsey said...

Before I met my husband, I had my period of dryness. We all have met our match with it. I went through a divorce at a young age, battled a debilitating illness that I could possibly die from, and I lost everyone around me all at the same time. I felt miserable and alone with no direction in life. I had such bitterness in my heart towards those who wronged me. Through all of that, the number one thing I learned more about myself more than anything else was that I am a fighter. I chose to no longer devote my time to people or things that wasted it and to fully 100% seek God without waiver. I NEEDED God more than I needed life. It's 6 years later and I still continuously seek God, yearn for Him, and fight for my faith. My faith is THE most important part of me- without it I am nothing. It's not just a title I carry, it's ALL I am. God wants all of you, not just when you want to be loved or "have the time to be a Christian". He wants the good, the bad, the ugly, the crazy, the sad, the lost.. everything you have. As long as you give it your all, He wants all of it. All of YOU. You will have that peace in knowing that God is in you wherever you choose to go.

When you first accepted Jesus as your savior, what were the exact things you were doing that made you a believer? Were you attending church regularly? Reading your Bible? Surrounded by believing friends that encouraged you? What made you choose Jesus over the world then? If you can remember that and write down every emotion you had, if it was real, you'll feel it again. If you're not doing these things, of course it will seem like you are distant from God. Believing in God is just like having a fitness journey or a goal that you have to constantly work for. God's knowledge isn't learned freely- it has to be learned just like everything else in the world. You didn't go to college to have the professor tell you his lesson plan and then immediately take the hardest test that summed up the whole year's worth of lessons, did you? No. You went to class, took notes, & studied them. Month after month you did this, with pop quizzes/tests in-between. This is the same way you have to look at practicing your faith. It is a journey that you have to continue to fight for. Read your Bible to know OF God. Pray to be WITH God. Worship God to KNOW God. There will be dry moments. You will ultimately face hard decisions and trials in life, whether you believe in God or not. The fact of the matter is, believing in God gives you undeniable hope and strength to get you through.

Don't be willing to give up on your faith. Don't let people or material things or places or boyfriends or any of that let you waiver off the straight and narrow path. You will find all of your happiness and more when you choose to rely solely on God and not your own understanding. Yes, it is possible to find happiness without Him, but it will not be a whole-filling happiness or peace like you had before. There will always be a void where you will need something more. I encourage you to study your Bible or go out and buy one that makes it easier to read. I bought a God's Word Version Bible (God Girl Bible to be specific) that is extremely easy to read and chock full of study lessons, "Know Yourself" bits, and prayers to practice. Music is SUCH a huge part of my faith, so try going to a Christian concert. They are THE BOMB. I hope this encouraged you in some way. If not, I am proud of myself anyway for reaching out to you because I have never commented on something like this before, but I believe that faith is worth fighting for. I just hope and pray you choose to believe that too.
XO
Lyndsey

Anonymous said...

Along with first anonymous, I've read your blog for a while but rarely comment. Lauren, I can see the change you experienced when you became a Christian, and I think a lot of your followers can too. Unfortunately,these dry spells happen to all Christians, but we have a loyal and loving God who will pull us towards Him when we ask. Please don't compare your Christianity to others', I promise you everyone is just trying to figure out their faith, but in the end God's way will remain.
A great song I would suggest listening to at this time is Faithful by Brooke Fraser - it is an honest and wise response to those dry spells.

Adriana Gomez-Weston said...

Thank you for sharing Lauren! I've been following your blog for a while now, but I am just now commenting. It takes a lot of courage to admit your stance with God right now. I can really relate to what you wrote.

Fun fact: I used to go to Kent State (For fashion as well), and I was saved my freshman year there. Later, I transferred nearer to home due to finances. I live in North Carolina now! I too am a senior- and I am taking my last class online. I am living at home right now- working to save to move to either NYC or LA (Probably NYC).

As someone who is in the same spiritual situation as you- I wish I could tell you to pray about it, but I know it's extremely hard. All I can say is surround yourself with the right people- people to hold you accountable and encourage you- and don't let anything or anyone get in the way of your dream of NYC. I don't believe in the whole "Well if it doesn't happen, it must not be God's will" thing. While I do believe He has a plan for our lives, He gives us free will too. We all are given unique talents and desires. It's OK to not want to get married right away (or ever), and want to be career driven. I am the same way. Going back to the talents we all have- not everyone can lead a campus ministry or a church, or travel to third world countries, and not every woman is meant for motherhood or marriage- contrary to what churches want us to believe. Some of us are meant to shine elsewhere. And that does include places among the fashionable, wealthy, and successful of NYC too.

I'm sure many Christians go through a "desert" phase. Nothing seems to be happening. There's a huge disconnect. You're wondering what it going to happen next. Any real relationship isn't going to be perfect, and that includes the one you have with God.

I really hope you are happy with whatever you chose to do, and I wish you the best. Just remember, the feelings you have right now, and this stage in your life is only temporary. I'm sure things will get better for you.

- Adriana

birdywordy said...

Dear Lauren,

Thank you for sharing. I've been a Christian for a while, and believe me having seasons is real. Something my dad has always told me (and which I know is true from the Bible) is that once you're saved, you're always saved. But sometimes God certainly *feels* distant, even though He isn't in fact. I'd encourage you to do something small consistently, like praying once a day or reading a few verses. I am praying for you as you go through this season--please know that I care! :)

Matthew Swaby said...

Hello Lauren,

I hope that you read this. I feel terrible that you ate having a desert season in your faith. Most assuredly the cause of a lot of disillusionment in our faith comes from looking at others. I know the American church today displays a culture of stunted women. However, I find that the exact opposite of Bible teaching. God used everyone. It was women who found the empty tomb. And Paul's teaching was more about non distracting worship than keeping women down. I think it was the Christian faith that help spark the women's liberation movement.

All that being said, I know that when I feel lost in NY faith it's my hearts problem. You've mentioned not paying or reading your Bible. The Christian faith is all about a relationship with God, without a relationship we cannot live the Christian life. Bible study and prayer are ways to connect with God. Imagine if you were dating someone but never called, wrote, texted, email it anything. Would it really be a relationship?

Just a few things to ponder. I struggle with the same things every so often. It helps us grow. However, God loves you so very much and cannot wait for you to come back to Him. He is thrilled to see the day that you bring Him your struggles. He wants to show you how to be a strong, independent, and progressive Christian woman. I have great faith that He will do great things through you!

Praying for you

Dana said...

Hey Lauren!

Wow. Thanks for the honest blog post. I was going to give you some hope/advice, but quite honestly after reading other people's comments, there's not much else to say. They hit the nail on the head. I'm so sorry you're struggling. You're not alone. I'm struggling too. It comes in waves though, and it's not the first time I've experience lack luster and dryness in my relationship with God. I think most Christians put on a front that they're happy all the time, and that's a frustrating thing for me to constantly be exposed too, especially when I feel like I struggle so much. I believe if people were more real abut their faith, things would be different, and community wouldn't be so hard to find. I always just try to remind myself when I'm struggling that it doesn't make me "lose" my faith, and it doesn't mean I'm not a Christian anymore. A relationship with God isn't static. It ebs and flows, just like human relationships. So just because it's extremely hard right now, doesn't mean it's gone. I hope some of my words help, as well as others. I know what it's like to struggle with faith. I've been on a roller coaster ride oowith God for more than 8 years now. But regardless, I know I'm still a Christian and I love God, no matter how hard it is... Let me know if you want to meet up soon. I'd love to get coffee with you to talk about God, all things fashion, and just to catch up. So let me know! I'm pretty free and available. lol Anywat, hang in there! You're almost done with college! Congrats!

Love,
Dana

Celina Tolbert said...

Hey Lauren! It was great seeing you this summer, and I'm glad I read your post today. I've been feeling the same way. I go to a Christian school and am honestly extremely jaded by many of the Christians here. I feel pretty much everything you're saying. I still seek prayer when I need comfort, but I haven't read the Bible in quite a while either. I never found a good church that wasn't cheesy/hypocritical/crazy/boring/unbiblical. I hope we can both figure some things out as we move towards graduation and post grad life. Feel free to visit me in Paris whenever

Victoria / Justice Pirate said...

Here's the thing really. . .don't look towards how others who say they are Christians live. They'll fail countless times and will let you down. I have seen pastors do things I never thought they would, I have seen people backstab and kick people out and yell and taunt. . .church is messy just as life in general is. No one has it together and those who pretend they have the answers don't. Definitely a big part of why you may feel as you do is because you have not been talking and communicating with God and reading His word. I learn the most from doing those things than anything and I am dry when I don't. I find that too many try to have a feel good feeling when it is all about glorifying and praising Him overall. You will go through this often probably. Don't let it get you down. God WON'T fail you.
+Victoria+
justicepirate.com

Claire said...

Just want to say, wherever you land in faith (or not), I hope you find happiness and peace. For some people, faith is a requirement for that, for others (like me), admitting you just don't believe it is what brings it. Either way, I do hope you find what you need. All the best in your searching.

Alyssa Mullon said...

Hey Lauren!

You are such a big encouragement! Thank you for sharing your struggles they really help us in our Christian walk. All I can say is never give up on God! He will never give up on you. :) If you can, surround yourself with other mature Christians who can really help encourage you. Also, it might really help if you went to another Christian camp sometime. I have often found that when my faith feels dry, that is often what I need.

<3 Alyssa

Jamie Rose D. said...

Just remember you don't have to follow any religious dogma to be a good person and have a fulfilling life, whatever you decide. (My two cents from a non-religious person, which is a lesser-seen point of view.)

AND I also had to say how awesome this outfit is. The plaid jumper is glorious!

Jamie | PetitePanoply.com

Alyssa Mullon said...

But you can't get to heaven by being a good person. If that is your aim your gonna fail miserably Jamie. And by the way, nobody is a good person, including me.

River Wilson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
River Wilson said...

I recently visited a priest, and receiving the sacraments has completely changed my experience of Christ. Especially reconciliation. Ostensibly, anyone can come to Christ open-hearted and be wholly absolved. As a cradle-episcopalian, I knew this to be true, my entire life. But no one had ever placed their hands on me and told me that Christ knew my heart and my every regret and forgave me for all my sins, even those unknown to me. It truly is an outward sign of an inward grace. I can't begin to tell you how my own will has kept me from Christ, and church. Then I realized that in order to truly live my life I had to WANT my will to conform to His. It has been the beginning and end of everything, my conversion.

Anonymous said...

There are so many good things written here already - I can tell that just by looking at the first post! So let me just put in my words from my own experience - which yes is different, as I'm much older than you and have a different pathway! - but in another sense, it matches:

My ex-husband was a minister - with a calling, certainly, but no truly lived-out Christian experience - much to say on THAT! Be that as it may ... it didn't rock my faith in God - it rocked my faith in any "body" calling itself a church. Oh sure - I got close a few times, but... I continued to pray, to read my Bible, to study - especially having the computer, and books!, was extremely helpful! Also, I can certainly find videos of sermons and even services online, and that has surely sustained my faith, and also a recommendation to you!

A few years ago now, a woman I met in a non-church setting (at a support group for persons with physical disabilities) invited me to her Friday night Bible study ...well! These people have become my dearest friends and truly my church! The actual church is too much of a distance for me to consider traveling every Sunday (altho I surely know I could get a ride if I just asked!) - for right now, for the past two years, a Bible study in someone's home has become my direct pipeline to God. And when I say dear friends - I'm talking the type of dear friends you not only share secrets with - but also the type you ask to be your primary contact on your living will! Years ago there was a contemporary Christian song that talked about how true friends are those about whom 'the Lord is the Lord of both of them', and that's what I've found here!

Also, don't let anyone's misbehavior ever steal your joy or your Jesus!!!

Love you, girl!
Jeannee Sparkle4Jesus@outlook.com

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