Friday, August 10, 2012

In Which I Overshare. No, Really.

Sometimes things come to head in life and you have to do something about it. Today is that day for me. Perhaps its a cop-out to do it through a blog. But, I actually feel quite the opposite. I am terrified to post this, and also relieved. I have always cared what people think about me way too much. I don't want to disappoint people. But I'm going to set that aside because confession is good for the soul, and because the consequences of disappointing people are dwarfed by the consequences of remaining alone in this. And I have never been regretted being honest. So here goes...

I am hurting. I've been hurting for a really long time. There are several reasons why, and they are all doozies, including anxiety, depression and codependence. But the main reason for my hurt is a deep-rooted, overwhelming, persistent disappointment with God.

For years now, I have questioned God and his love for me. Not for anything I have done. It's not shame or a self-esteem issue. I know that the basis of God's supposed love, if it is real, isn't based on my actions. My problem is His actions. How can I trust that God loves me when he lets so many bad things happen to so many people? How can God care and simultaneously allow so much suffering in the world? How can He allow so much suffering in my own life? Why doesn't He just fix it all? So its not just His love for me that I question. It's His loving nature. His sovereignty. His desire for good in my life and the lives of others. His ability to change people. All of these things I doubt.

Doubt isn't really the right word. Question isn't either. It would be more accurate to say I don't believe that God is love, even though I guess I know it's true. How's that for a completely weak belief in God? Believe me when I say this isn't some small, niggling, passing doubt. This doubt has been my thorn for years, and it has eaten away at the core of everything I believe in.

I still hold Biblical values as the foundation of my life, however much I doubt. But my doubts are so serious that I cannot practice more than token Christianity because, deep in my soul, I think that if it were true, things would be so, so different. In the world, and in my life. And yet, I call it doubt, because I know that it is my belief that is wrong, not my belief system, if that makes sense. In other words, I believe that if I get past this, I will not find myself an agnostic or an atheist or a Hindu. I will find renewed faith in the real Jesus, not the one that I am disillusioned with, but who He really is.

There have been moments of Light here and there that have kept me from completely losing faith. I truly believe these moments are from God and He is giving me crags in a rock to hold on to. I know He can handle my doubts. I'm just tired of doubting. I want so much more for my life. I want more for my family and more for my children than the picture of God I am showing them. I am a shadow of the person I was. I am tired of being stuck at this point for so long. Tired of being disappointed and the resulting apathy.

One thing this has taught me is that people are never what you see. Everyone has a past. Everyone has hidden struggles, and we often feel quite alone in them. I heard something yesterday that rang so true for me, that "we compare our inside to other people's outside". We think that no one can relate to us. It's not true. I know that most people have deep struggles that, like me, they feel alone in. The problem is bridging the gulf between our islands. Personally, I think my struggle would be less of a burden if I just had close friends who were going through it with me. But how do you get there with people you've just met? And how do you just dive in with friends you've been estranged from for years? I can't seem to figure that out. There is a Part II to this post, and that is the topic. I was hoping to post it tomorrow, but an impromptu camping trip might throw a wrench in the timing.

I actually see a light at the end of this tunnel. He does love me. And I think I'm getting to the point of really believing that again. Joshua and I have been attending Celebrate Recovery, which has been good. It keeps these struggles in my face, so I can no longer push them back for months at a time. I have such a heavy weight on me, and I want so badly for it to be gone. I'm not sure how to get there, but something is changing in me. I feel paralyzed by the fear of moving forward. Of what I will find about myself that is ugly and seems better left hidden. But in spite of that, I also feel terrified by staying where I am. It is so bad for me. It is so bad for my family. So in spite of my fear, I am writing this post to reach out.

I have this feeling that in order to move forward, I can't stay in the solitary place where I've been. So, in lieu of feeling free to share this with a friend over coffee (or better yet, having a friend that has been walking with me through this for the last seven years), I am putting it out there in this not so anonymous, but slightly less vulnerable way. To let whoever cares to know that I need your support. Your prayers. Your friendship. Feel free to reach out. I am hoping for it actually.

P.S. I know that not everyone who reads this is someone that I would choose to confide in in "real life". And that is a risk I take. But please think twice before you hit SEND. Don't preach at me, feed me platitudes, shame me, or minimize my hurts. Limit your response to that which is truly loving and helpful. Please.

AND if you feel so inclined, I would love a comment letting me know you read. Writing a post like this feels scary, and it helps to know that people are actually reading it.


  1. 1 Peter 4 "8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
    Suffering for Being a Christian

    12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name."

    Sister, thank you for your sweet heart. Know, others have your struggles. I am trying my best to live up to the above scripture.

    HE will bless you for your boldness in your words above.

    Peace & Love.

  2. Sandy, I've read just about every time you've blogged. You are certainly NOT alone in this. Is there an email address those of us who want to can write to you at? There may be words that we do not want to post in a comment section? Just let me know. If you'd rather I respond in the comments, I can do that. No platitudes here.

    1. Didn't realize I could reply directly to you. In case you don't see the other one:

      smwgrasty at gmail dot com

      or facebook me.

  3. Thank you Amber and Jessica.

    smwgrasty at gmail dot com

    or facebook me.

  4. Read! It takes a lot of guts to post something so vulnerable on the web. Especially when you can get a lot of people misunderstanding you or judging you. In the least-platitude-possible way, I hope that you will continue to see/feel/know how God is love and to be able to connect that conflicting doubt/belief & belief system. In the very least, I hope you start to have more and more people (via the web as well as those local) with whom you can build or rebuild relationships and friendships that are deep enough to share fears, failures, and doubts. Thanks for sharing, Sandra!

  5. I've never been one to have the exact perfect words at the perfect time, as you well know. Just know that I've had a lot of similar doubts and still do sometimes. I don't judge you at all. If I were home I'd come over and hug you. But since I can't do that now, I'll pray that someone else DOES say the right thing at the right time today.

    Love you!

  6. Life is a trial Sandra...that's how I view is hard at times, but one of it's (earthly life) designs is to purify us for heaven...if that makes sense. One of my favourite books to read when I start finding myself doubting His love, or His "methods", is the book of Job. Hope this helps!

  7. I suggest the book of Job Too. We all go through trials but they usually strength us.
    When the potter{jesus} is molding us it hurts but we become a better vessel.I've been going through a trial for years but God said not to give up so I stand still. I wanted a child for years but couldn't have one, then he gave Victor to us and what a blessing but still more trials. Begin to thank him for the trialsamd the victories. Bev

  8. I appreciate your honesty and so does our heavenly father. It has become increasingly difficult to live in this world and unfortunately, it will get tougher. Christians need to be honest with each other and encourage each other in these tough times. I have experienced these feelings in my life and God did bring me through them, with a deeper walk and a different walk afterwards. Remember, this life is a vapor and probably a small part of our eternity. Keep your eyes to Jesus and know that prayers are going up for you. I am sorry that you are experiencing this but I know that God has a plan for you and with Him keeping you in the palm of his hand, protecting you and walking right beside you ...then all is well. (I am a friend of dumpysunshine(Jessica) and have been praying for her during her trial. She is a dear friend of mine and am glad she referred your blog on FB for others to read. Thanks.)

  9. Read your post. Everyone is not who they seem. And if you ever need someone to talk to you can call me. I have been through lots since my freshman year on your hall! :) love you.

  10. Thanks for sharing Sandra. I've heard some of these same doubts expressed by my brother, but he isn't seeking the truth the way you are. Keep searching; remember, Jesus is a light unto our path, but he only lights the next step. Suzanne

  11. Hey girl, I do appreciate your honesty and hope that you are able to somehow get over the slump. I struggle with God's sovereignty, love and suffering too, and what I am finding is that there's no easy answer, like I want there to be. But I am picking up little pieces of understanding here and there and am slowly coming to a fraction of an understanding! I hope too, that you are able to find a community of people that will walk with you and be with you where you are. It's a very real way to experience God's love and care. Big hugs to ya. Wish we lived closer and could share this part of the journey! :)

  12. Sandra, I have always admired your stark honesty, and today is no different. How you managed to put into words what I have struggled with since 1998 is validating to me as well. I know there may be other variables for you, but know that I too am in this place, and though it has been years, I am happy to reach out to you or have you do the same to me. I think that we'd find that we would both be picking up where we left off 14 years ago. And that some of that hurt can only go away if it is brought into the light. Love you to pieces girlie.

  13. Sandra what you shared is beautifully written. You put the gut wrenching anguishes of living out your faith so eloquently. I relate to so much of it and greatly appreciate your honesty. I know it is such a rough place to feel stuck. I reached the peak of my 15 year struggle with it last year. It's hard to put into words exactly how I found my way out. But in a nutshell, clinging to God and fervently seeking Him in my darkest hours made me realize how faithful He is as he led me through. Now, even when I feel like doubting I can't fully go there because I've seen His goodness and faithfulness. You are obviously along the same path. But encouragement from other believing women carried me through sections of that journey where I would not have made it if I had been alone. Not that it's all easy going now. I have just reached another mountain in my spiritual journey to work my way through and it is just about as painful. I think that is what that verse or combination of verses means that paraphrased says," work out your own salvation in fear and trembling before the Lord." It's a journey and a very very very hard one at that. Although you may feel like you are faltering, I don't see that from what you wrote. I see the tension of you working out your salvation (and by salvation I mean spiritual growth not literally being saved or not). Anyways, I think you are a pretty amazing lady and please feel free to call me anytime to try to get together and talk if you want. I think the stage of life you and I are in with small children to care for constantly makes it even tougher, but none the less it is really needed and I'll figure out a way to meet if you want. I know I sure could use it too. Also, one book that really helped me a lot was "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp. It is written sort of poetically and is beautiful to read. I wept and was filled with joy at different times as she holds no punches in dealing with this matter. I have a copy if you want to borrow it.

  14. hi Sandra,
    first of all, you are a great writer! Did you know that about yourself?
    I am not a great writer, but I will try to communicate what I have on my heart.
    I know that we don't know each other very well and that I've only been at your church for less than a year, but the first time I met you, I really sensed a kindred spirit. Not that we would agree on everything or do everything the same, but just that for whatever reason, God speaks to us in the same way.
    What I mean is that in this past year, I have also been really struggling with doubt about the very nature of who God is and why bad things happen to good people and is God really sovereign and does He even care about me, etc.
    Some of the same of what you are sharing.
    I think that at the heart of what God is doing on earth is that He is really putting everything on the line when it comes to us Humans. In Job, Satan makes a wager with God and God allows his own reputation to be put at stake for our sake because He really does believe in us despite all our sin and distrust of Him. God deeply cares about His own reputation in the cosmic realm (which as Humans we forget about that side of things) and that is actually tied up with our relationship with him - and more than that - how we as the Church (not as individuals) actually LIVE as the CHURCH. So, our Church and how we are Church to one another really matters. That is why I'd really like to talk more with you in person about my own struggles (too much to type right now)
    I also read this book by Philip Yancey called Disappointment with God. It was one of the best books I've ever read because I felt like the author was really talking to me and to all the questions that I had - and that made me realize that if he was writing that book, then there must be thousands (if not more) of other people who feel the same way.
    Here is the Amazon link:

    Anyway, one thing he clarified in the book was that God allows Life to happen. He doesn't usually interfere as our life unfolds (whatever Life gives us), but when we face trials of many kinds in this life, He has compassion enough to give us strength through His Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit. And, most of the time, this help is communicated to us by the Church - you and me. It's daunting - but thrilling too that we can be a part of something so cosmically significant.

    I'm not even sure if I'm making sense right now, but I also wanted to reach out to you. I will pray for you and I'll wait to for to respond to me if you want to talk more (I don't want to pressure you into talking about something so personal except if you choose to do so).

    Love to you and your family,
    -Lucy (sherwood)

  15. Sandra - Just want to let you know that you are 'not alone' in your thoughts. Her I am 57 years old and I could have been the one who wrote this instead of you. I have had some of the same thoughts about god that you do and I still do to this day. Life seems very confusing at times, and I lets myself get stressed out everytime I read about some of the horrible things that go on in the world. Sometimes I feel so 'inadequate' and wish I could do something about all thesae 'injustices'. I don't know exactly what you are referring to in your own personal life, but will pray about it. I have learned over the years that praying doesn't always bring about the results we hope for, so I feel just as confused as you do along that line. Sometimes I don't know what to do, but all I can say is "Hang in there" - sometimes thats about all we can do - just "Hang in there and pray". Sending you and Josh and Malachai lots of hugs, and tell Malachai that Grandma Debbie loves him and misses him! P.S. - I can't remember my Google password so am having to post this anonymously. Lots of Love - Debbie

  16. You are not alone. I struggle as well. Every time I ask questions, and get answers, more questions arise. Life is so confusing.

  17. Wow Sandra,

    I couldn't have said it better myself. These are my exact struggles recently! I feel like God definitely put you in my life for a reason....