Sometimes we do things so that no one else ever will…
This is hard to write…as it should be. Something this deep, this important, should never be easy to explain or talk about.
I’ve gone a year without God.
No, I never stopped believing in God. I never stopped loving God. I never stopped worshipping God.
I did stop living for God.
The past year has been a whirlwind. It has been the definition of an emotional roller coaster. I went to a foreign country, was in and out of a relationship, was finishing my final year of college, gaining friends, losing friends, finding myself, and facing reality one day at a time.
I’ve been a Christian for almost 7 years, but I have grown up in church and always known what was “right” and that I had to be “good.” I was basically born into it, for which I’ve always been thankful.
However, I’ve always been so intrigued by those with powerful comeback stories of those who had it rough and found The Lord. I recently realized that everyone’s story of salvation is powerful.
I’ve spent the past year living for myself and for the world. I wanted to have a fun senior year and make memories. Instead, I made myself miserable.
Living for the party and for the thrill of it all is fun in the moment and only then. No, I never did anything crazy wild or bad, but I sure wasn’t doing anything to glorify God. And the worst part of all is that I knew I wasn’t fulfilling my purpose.
I kept thinking I should share my struggle in hopes it would encourage others, but something kept telling me not to. Something kept telling me that others looked up to me and that I couldn’t let them down. That something was a someone named Satan. His lies filled my head and convinced me that everything was fine and I was just having fun and figuring myself out in the time of my life when it was ok to do that.
Twenty-something is for fun and freedom and finding out who you are, so the world tells us. But I knew it should’ve been the time I was making an impact when I had probably the largest access of people to impact that I ever would, which I feel I had done until now. Until now, I have always done my best to spread God’s love and His message, but now I feel like it has all been ruined. I feel like my mistakes have ruined my witness.
I’ve fought an inner battle every single day. I tried to make more time for God. I tried to pray more, study more, go to church more, go to more church events, but I just kept slipping into my worldly life. I felt so lost.
The worst part of all was some of the Christian companions I had turning their noses up at me and making me feel bad for not being a perfect example of a Christian. I learned then and there to never make anyone feel bad for their sin but to always encourage in love. I was humbled.
No matter how much I tried and wanted to be close to God, He wasn’t present. I wasn’t letting go of the world, and He wasn’t going to be squeezed in. He wanted all of me.
Toward the end of my year without God, I got lonely. I was at the lowest point I had ever been in my life. I was more than unhappy and it wasn’t just a slump. I wasn’t the fun-loving girl everyone used to love. In fact, I didn’t love myself or anyone else the way I used to. I was so bitter and had to really try to be kind, and that just wasn’t me. That’s not to say I never had happy moments. I had had one of the best and worst years of my life all at the same time. I had formed deep relationships with amazing people and had learned so much about myself and life. I had done some incredible things and made wonderful memories in the midst of the turmoil. I had truly enjoyed my last year of courage, but deep down, something had been off.
I had so many happy moments, but when I was by myself, it all hit me. I was letting what I thought others thought about me, and what others probably did think about me, consume my thoughts and my life. I was focusing on everything but my relationship with my Father. I had breakdowns all the time. I finally had the final breakdown on the phone to my mom.
I complained about my life and how unhappy I was and how I couldn’t handle it all anymore. She told me how evident it was that I was further away from God than she’d every seen me. That smacked me right across the face and I knew I had to let Him back in to change me. It’s not often that you hear this, but I wanted so badly to go back to my old ways. My old ways were pure and godly and faithful. I missed me so much. I constantly thought of the Taylor Swift lyric, “I’d like to be my old self again, but I’m still trying to find it.” All this time I had been “finding” myself, I was losing myself too. My mom told me it was never to late to live for Him. She told me how my grandpa had been faithfully attending church and that when she told him his stroke was a blessing because it pointed him to God church, he cried because he knew it was true and that his life had almost been taken in order to be saved. It inspired me. He couldn’t walk and couldn’t do the things he used to, but he was following God, and that is ALL that ever matters. I had to redirect ASAP.
Later that night, I went to Bible study. I apologized to a room of about 20 people for not being the servant I should be. I cried. I prayed. I was happy. I was happy for two weeks after that and knew my joy was restored, even in hard times.
Then I watched God’s Not Dead. It inspired me and showed me how much impact one person could have when he stood up for God. It assured me that Christ was renewed in me. I am currently in a Philosophy of Religion class, similar to the Philosophy class in the movie (minus the harsh professor), that I took as an elective for my last collegiate semester. I didn’t really want to take it, but before Dr. Nelson died, he told me I would like it, and it is in his old classroom with his old podium and his friend Dr. Fitzsimmons is the professor. So, I have sucked it up and tried to pay attention and tried to understand even when it was difficult. I have been frustrated by the atheists and heartbroken for them. This movie encouraged me to love them and show them why God is so good all the time. It made me realize how important this class was and how my purpose was being fulfilled through it. (I also get extra credit for writing a paper on it, which I can’t wait to write). I was in absolute awe of how God works. I knew then in that theater that I was doing what I was supposed to do in life, and that it was not too late for me to renew my love for Christ and tell the world. I felt the joy of The Spirit and couldn’t wait to get home and write about it. I knew that my year without God had certainly happened for a very good reason. This renewal didn’t mean I would never sin again or never feel lost again, but I knew I would strive every day to fall more in love with God and strengthen our relationship just like I would with any other friend of mine.
This is the longest blog I’ve ever written, and I hope someone that needs it takes the time to read it. This isn’t to say that you should take a year off from living for God, but it is to say that everyone has struggles and times when they aren’t walking with God. It is to say that perfection has only ever been achieved by One. It is to say that we go through struggles to make us better and help us learn, even if we thought we would never “be like that.” “Being like that” is what we are and what we have been saved from. Being perfect and making no mistakes is impossible, and that is why a perfect sacrifice was given. Not only am I thankful that Jesus rose from the grave, I am thankful that He is no longer dead in my heart. He rose from the grave I put Him in.
The thing about the year without God is that God was there the whole time.
(This blog was written as a preface to the book I will be writing over the next year: The Year Without God. It will be the story of the real journey and struggle of a college student in today’s society– without sugar coating it. I hope for it to be picked up by a publisher and I hope it will reach and touch many people.)