Recently, I have felt burdened and conflicted about a lot of things to do with faith, religion and morality. It’s like a war raging in my mind of whether what I’m saying and doing is right, whether what others are saying and doing is right, whether anything anyone says or does is right at all.
Even now as I write this out I feel so confused about whether what I am feeling is okay to feel; am I okay to be feeling an immense doubt and uncertainty?
This may or may not be true but I feel like I’ve built myself up as person of unwavering faith and hope, especially when it comes to God, when in truth I am one of the most faithless and hopeless people I know, especially in recent years.
Watching tragedy after tragedy, injustice after injustice play out on the news causes me to cave in on myself. There is a hollowness that takes over, asking: did we fight for all of this for nothing?
Wanting God’s favour
Continually, I try to sort myself out and think about what I believe, and as soon as I think I’ve got it figured out, that idea is bulldozed by some other challenging perspective.
It feels a lot like life is a battle between my own existentialism, Christian perspective, the idea of “truth” and a deep seeded desire to earn God’s favour. Truly, that’s what it boils down to, that need and desire to earn whatever it is God or anyone else offers me.
If I am unqualified for God’s love then why, oh why does he offer it freely to me? I am constantly doubtful of him and all he does. Can I instead, try to scrub away my sin before I meet him? Can I try and meet his standard of perfection? Can I walk through my storm of doubt alone? Can I just sort myself out, just so I’m not embarrassed by what I bring him?
When I look at the world and myself, my heart is filled with hopelessness. I feel there is no answer to my questions. The one given seems too good to be true. Grace and the sacrifice of Jesus is a scandalous act that sits uncomfortably in the hearts of many, including myself.
Everything in our world is based on a belief that you get what you deserve; you do good, you get good; you do bad, you get bad; it’s transactional.
Yet amidst this philosophy is injustice; you do good and you don’t always get good; you do bad and sometimes you don’t get bad and from that action grief, death, pain and more begin to fester and such a wound leaches out into the lives of others.
So, how then does a God, look at the blackness and disregard in people’s hearts and go, “yep, I still want them. I love them and am willing to die for them” after seeing us for who we are? Of course the answer is unconditional love, for us, the people who nailed him to the cross out of ignorance, fear, and hatred.
Something I’ve learned from all these thoughts is that God isn’t asking us to disregard the injustice in the world but instead fight such injustice with the same unconditional love that Christ offered us when he died for us.
He is not asking us to be made perfect anymore before we come to him. He for one pursues us, then calmly calls to us in our imperfection, our rags and tattered clothes, with mud and dirt smeared on our faces, grime under our fingernails, and darkness still in our heart. Then when we answer there is Grace and new creation.
It is a daily act to say no to darkness within ourselves, to choose good and stand for it in the face of a world that tells us otherwise. This doesn’t get rid of the darkness inside of us, but it brings out the light, a light that comes from his grace. Salvation is a daily act of surrender to say “I am going to live for Jesus today” not because of who I was yesterday but of who is forever.
Just as I wake up every morning and tell myself I’m going to live that day, I also make the decision to live for Christ. But this decision is also, I am trying to learn, not dependent on rules and regulation but on grace.
Grace requires nothing of us except a willing heart to live for him. When we fall, when we break, when we run away, it’s always there to catch us and call us back. When I start to spiral into dark places, when I become overwhelmed by the complexities of religion, theology, the world’s problems, my own vices, Jesus is the constant in all that.
Amidst a stormy gale, that I am trying to walk alone, somehow he is there waiting for me when I’m tired and pulling me out of the waves when they become too much. I cannot do it alone, whether that be reaching heaven or simply coping with life. I need him. No matter how small the spark is, it’s still a spark, it will always be there, glowing, reviving and healing.
I am an American Australian starting my first year at University. My family and I lived in Afghanistan for 6 years before moving to Australia. I am currently living in Sydney, which has been my longest home yet.
Hope Pratt is an American Australian starting my first year at University. My family and I lived in Afghanistan for 6 years before moving to Australia. I am currently living in Sydney, which has been my longest home yet.