Good Christian

God, sometimes I feel
like I’m not a good Christian in Your eyes, 
like You’re a Father disappointed in me,
frustrated, wishing I would do more, be more,
and I wonder are You proud of me?

Am I a good Christian?
Do I make You smile?

I don’t want to fail.
I don’t want to disappoint You.
and sometimes I feel like I’m
not as spiritual as I used to be.
I’m afraid that I’ll slip away from You,
slowly fade and become lost.

I don’t want this.

Can I stop trying to earn Your love?
Can I stop trying to be a good Christian?

-  from my journal, 2008

_______________

For years I tried.

I read through my Bible in a year more times than I can remember. (Once, I spent a New Year’s Eve party reading the entire book of Revelation, beating the deadline by thirty minutes.)

I memorized several books of the New Testament. I was an All-Star Bible Quizzer.

I attended Teen Camp, and went forward at nearly every invitation. Not to get saved (I had prayed that prayer when I was nine years old), but to rededicate my life to God, to repent of all my unconfessed sins, to dedicate my life to full-time Christian ministry.

I carried tracts with me and tried to get strangers saved – at parades, at picnics, at gas stations.

I spent three years in discipleship and ministry after high school. Reading the Bible. Searching for new insights. Memorizing verses. Claiming God’s promises. Trying to be on fire for the Lord.

I attempted to stifle the desires in my heart that competed with God for my affections. My aching for friends, for beaches and mountains, for music, for a girl by my side – I stuffed them inside, repented, tried to find my delight only in God.

I raised my hand when the preacher asked, “Who will commit to pray for an hour a day, every day for the rest of their life?” I raised my hand every time a preacher asked us to make a commitment, really. If there was a way to be a better Christian, I would do it. No matter the cost.

I wanted so desperately to please God.

_______________

It was summer, and we were on the tail end of a weekend camping trip. We chose Hardee’s, because where else can you get a 2/3-pound burger? I sat across the little table from my future father-in-law just a few months before the wedding. Over burgers and curly fries I told him all the worries and fears I carried in my heart.

“I feel like I’m not a very good Christian anymore”, I confessed.

I was in Bible College now, but constantly felt like I was disappointing God. It had been years since the last time I’d raised my hand and made a commitment to be a better Christian. I wasn’t on fire anymore, and it worried me.

“I’m not as spiritual as I used to be. I don’t read my Bible. I don’t pray as much as I should. I’m more worldly,” I told him.

He looked at me and shook his head.

 “You’re right, you have changed. You’re less judgmental now. More loving. Right now, you’re more like Jesus than you’ve ever been.”

I didn’t believe him.

_______________

There is no fear in love, but fear had wrapped itself around me like a chain. Whenever I paused to hear the voice of the Father, only condemnation echoed in my heart.

Am I good enough for You yet? 

The question tormented me. When I knelt to pray, what came out of my mouth was stammered apologies for my inconsistency. I nearly gave up on reading my Bible; all I could think about was all the days I hadn’t. All the days I had disappointed God.

_______________

I always thought it was the big moments that defined my faith – the altar calls, the church retreats, the commitments. The kind of thing you write in the back of your Bible to remember later on.

But it didn’t happen that way.

I couldn’t tell you the day I made that decision, when I gave up on being a “good Christian”.

The best way I can tell it to you is that I was drowning, desperately thrashing against the water and slowly falling limp.

I drifted lifeless. Then He saved me all over again, as if for the first time.

_______________

I don’t want to be a “good Christian” anymore.

The constant wondering if I’m good enough, the nagging fear that I’m not. The guilt. Those were miserable years.

But this, this is life!

I’ve given up on trying to please God, on being good enough for Him.

I’ve given up on earning His love, but it fills my heart anyway.

This is freedom.

Now I’m falling, over and over again, into love that will not let me go.

I can feel the Father’s smile, and I’m smiling too.

[ Image: go2grace.org ]

91 comments

  1. Catherine

    Thanks for the article. Wow, I feel like that sometimes. Still trying to get out of that feeling though.

    Reply
    • I feel the same way too, sometimes. I think getting through that is a constant part of our spiritual journey.

      Reply
  2. Thank you, Micah. Honestly…I could have written this word for word, it’s where I’m at right now. Thanks for showing me that there is hope out of this vicious cycle.

    Reply
    • I’m so glad my words can help you a little bit. I know the vicious cycle all too well.

      Reply
      • Lindsey

        The fact that I am asking this means that I ,indeed, am still trying to be a “good” Christian. I’m one if those people where if I don’t have exact directions on how to do something I stress out. I think that’s why I’m failing in just letting the fear go and loving God. The question is how are you doing it, what did you do to just let go, to allow yourself to be free from fear that you might somehow not be good enough for God. Your article is wonderful. Truly a blessing in disguise.

        Reply
        • This is very similar to how I feel. It bothers me that I’m *not* struggling, that I worry more about some silly argument with a friend but I don’t even think about pleasing God. I don’t think to call people, I don’t think to work on things…I just don’t think or feel *anything*, and haven’t for a long time. Sitting on my couch watching reruns is all I do. I wonder if the fact that I’m even thinking if this and asking these questions means there’s hope for me? A college friend of mine used to say that he thought that God “cares that you care”, meaning that God is more concerned with whether you *want* to do well more than whether you actually *do*.

          Wow, I didn’t mean to write this much! Just good to see I’m not alone in worrying that God doesn’t want me anymore and I won’t go to heaven.

          Reply
    • I could have too Pam…except that I’ve not give up on being a good christian…just left the church altogether over 2 yrs ago because I got tired of feeling like a hypocrite.

      Reply
  3. This. Yes. My heart beat a little quicker this morning upon realizing it wasn’t alone. Thank you. I’m still somewhere between flailing and rescue. Thank you for hope.

    Reply
    • Thanks for saying that, Colleen. I’m so glad that my story can offer a bit of hope for you.

      Reply
  4. This reminds me of a book I just read about a Mormon missionary — THE ELDERS. All the striving to be good. So glad you’ve found rest.

    Reply
    • I love this passage from the Message, talking about rest:

      “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

      I had tried so hard to be good enough to earn my way to Jesus, when He just wanted ME.

      Reply
      • Brenda

        I have had that passage taped to my desk for several years now. I concur – I tried to do everything they told me to do until I was totally burned out – and still could never get to where I felt accepted and “good enough” in that church.
        Now that you mention it – I am less judgemental and more loving since I’ve stopped trying to do everything my previous church told me to do.

        Reply
  5. This is my story too! Everything here, its my journey. Over the last two years I have discovered Grace in my heart. I have always known it in my head but it is now ALIVE in my heart. Thank you for this Micah, just Thank you!

    Reply
    • You said it so well…. I knew it in my head, and tried so hard to MAKE it alive in my heart. I memorized Galatians. I studied “my identity in Christ” from Ephesians. I KNEW that my good works were the result of God’s’ love, not a way to earn it. But it wasn’t until I couldn’t do it anymore, when I gave up completely, that I learned how deeply accepted and loved I am.

      Reply
      • I can hardly believe it! This is my story too! What you’ve written here is my journey too. It wasn’t until I couldn’t do it anymore a little out of my own decision but mainly because of an acute bout of reactive depression/exhaustion. It’s only now I’m beginning to realise how deeply accepted and loved I am and even better there’s a whole load of people out there who really get it! Glimpses of glory :-)

        Reply
        • Yes! Realizing there’s others who know and understand can be the thing that gives you courage, courage to let go of al your effort and fall into the arms of Love.

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  6. Micah, how tender and true the word from your father in law came over that huge burger. That moment is the core of this story, for me. Almost like when you became more easy/gentle on yourself, you became more gentle and loving toward others. Less legalistic fervor, less judgmental of self and others. Love how he saw you more like Jesus and said so.

    I remember when I let go of being ‘a good christian.’ Mine was more intentional – I made the choice in good company. But it felt the same – moving toward freedom, toward more love, moving closer to Jesus and neighbors.

    Reply
    • So true. It’s almost funny now, four/five years later, how I didn’t believe him because I thought the sum total of my “goodness” was the number of minutes I spent praying plus the number of minutes I spent reading my Bible minus the number of times I sinned.

      Reply
  7. Wowwwww I feel this way too! (I was also a bible quizzer and memorized several books of the New Testament.) And now I feel like such a bad Christian, because I’m not obsessed with God like I used to be, I’m not putting all my energy into being the most faithful servant of Jesus ever… Does God even want me anymore?

    And I only recently realized that this line of thinking is about earning God’s presence and God’s work in my life. Like God’s not with me if I’m not doing all the “good Christian” things. Right. (Wrote about it on my blog here: “Never Will I Leave You; Never Will I Forsake You.”)

    Great post!

    Reply
    • Isn’t it crazy how we can “know” that we can’t earn His love, but we keep trying and trying anyhow?

      Reply
  8. This. I have these same doubts. But I recognize the necessity of grace and realize despite that voice in the back of my head, there is nothing I could ever do to be “good” and certainly not “good enough”. It’s so hard to silence that voice, but every day it gets a little quieter, I grow a little more confident. It sure is slow going, though.

    Reply
    • Yes, Silence that voice! When it whispers “God doesn’t love you, you must do more…” tell it to go to hell, because that’s where it came from. Sorry, that was abrupt, but I think it’s theologically correct. :)

      Reply
      • I just wrote the exact same line in my post for A Deeper Family today! And I did not read it here first. Very weird! Thanks so much for this lovely reflection, Micah. This is probably the single most important truth for us to absorb as we walk this way after Jesus – this letting go of the need to earn God’s love. It’s such a tough one to shake and it will rise up and bite you when you least expect it sometimes. Thanks for laying it out here for everyone to recognize and find relief in.

        Reply
  9. I have wrestled with this tension so much in life. It wasn’t until I went to Africa two years ago that I began to peel back the layers. So I read my Bible less now, but I also dance more.

    Reply
    • “Peel back the layers”… what a great way to describe it! I feel like much of my Christian experience these days is allowing the layers to fall off, and allowing God’s truth to get deep into my heart.

      Reply
  10. This is wonderful, honest and so very refreshing to read! I have walked the same path and it inspires my blog about being a Recovering Church Lady. Someone told me I should change the name to “Recovered” instead of “Recovering”, but it is an ongoing battle to stay out of the old legalism syndrome, isn’t it?

    Reply
  11. Tanya Marlow

    This has been my story too. Burnt-out on religion, hiding from Jesus.
    It’s good to find some kindred spirits on this Interweb. Thanks for this.

    Reply
    • “kindred spirits on this inter web”

      sometimes when you least expect it, the internet feels like a church, doesn’t it? i love it. =)

      Reply
  12. I have felt the same way all 54 years of my life that I can remember! I don’t read my Bible everyday, I don’t pray enough, I don’t serve enough, I’m not spiritual enough, I don’t have daily devotions. I have never felt that I measure up and feel guilty about it. Every once in a while I find myself in a guilty spiritual frenzy trying to make up for lost time…The time I have spent taking care of my exhausting multiply disabled daughter, and my other kids, too! my experiences with discrimination against and advocating for my disabled daughter have caused me to become aware of and become sensitive to the plight of all those who are fighting for civil rights. I love and respect all people of all races, religions, and economic statuses. I even love and respect people regardless of their (gasp!!) lifestyle choices, sexual preference or gender identity!
    Thank you for this lovely glimpse into your life, Micah! Blessings to you and yours.

    Reply
  13. Micah, thank you for your honesty! I could so relate to your story. I felt a sigh of relief as I remembered giving up trying to please everyone…even God! He was already pleased with me!

    Reply
    • Isn’t that the beauty of the Gospel? Accepted because of Jesus! Adopted into the family of God. We can give up on trying to impress our Father… he already loves completely.

      Reply
  14. Sheldon

    You hit a cord with me with this post. Thanks for sharing. I find that we who have been saved since we were kids and grew up in the church are easily pulled down by guilt and condemnation because most don’t know a life outside the “Christian” life

    Reply
    • So true. I think that condemnation and guilt can be powerful enemies in keeping us away from the love of Jesus.

      Reply
  15. Antoinette

    Many years ago, I was on an emotional roller coaster of trying to please God. When I thought that I succeeded in pleasing him, I was happy. When I thought that I missed the mark somehow, I was in the dumps. The Spirit said it many times, but one day I believed what he said: that nothing that I do or don’t do, will make Father love me more or less. The day I believed this, I was set free from the trap of religious performance.

    Reply
    • Absolutely! I love the way you put it… “set free from the trap of religious performance.” I think that’s what the Bible means when it says “Without faith it is impossible to please him.” Faith is the BELIEVING, not just KNOWING.

      Reply
  16. Mikayla Dreyer

    Freedom & grace. So refreshing.
    Really there’s not much else to say but “yes!” to this.

    :)

    Reply
  17. hi Micah

    Great post. I love it. I think this point of trying and trying and trying is a great signpost on the way to the grace of God. It’s like moving from Romans 7 (what I want to do I cannot do…) into Romans 8 (no condemnation, having His Spirit).

    There is so much more to discover in Him. See my recent blog post
    http://amblingsaint.wordpress.com/2013/04/04/who-really-loves-you-the-most/

    Let’s not be shy about experiencing righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit…
    Blessings
    Ambling Saint

    Reply
    • I love it! For so long, I took Romans 7 as a sort of guilt-trip, that I should try harder. I knew there was no condemnation, but I didn’t allow myself to receive the freedom of that truth.

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  18. kerri

    Wow. Just this morning I was lamenting to a friend what a disappointment I must be to God. She said (in gentler words) that was nonsense, and that in God’s eyes I am acceptable. Delightful, even. I’m not sure how to make this sink in.

    Reply
    • I’m not sure how either. I KNEW it for a long time before I believed it. I think sometimes we just need to keep disappointing God over and over again and realizing over and over again that He’s not going anywhere.

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  19. beth

    I wrote a blog very similar to this last year. I wasn’t saved until I was a teen. I didn’t live it until I was in my 20’s. I am 49 now and for most of the last 20 years I have been trying to be good enough “to make up for” not being raised christian. I have been trying, trying, trying to be the “good christian woman”. Then one day I was just done. Done with “christianity” and playing the right role the right way. I had lost all of my friends and my church. Everything I had worked and changed for and nothing to show for it. It was during that time I decided to be done trying and to just be. Freedom. Wow. Now, I love God more than I ever have, now I sense God in my life more than I ever have. Now I have peace for the first time since being a “christian”.

    Reply
    • I love it! Thanks for sharing your story. It’s sometimes hard to explain, that feeling of giving up and falling into God’s love in a way you never dreamed possible. Like that song says, if grace is an ocean we’re all sinking

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  20. Clint

    God’s timing is soooo much better than ours. I have felt this way recently and a friend shared this on facebook today. It is exactly what i needed to hear. As one commenter said this is my life and i do know the answers(as you said) and have known them for a long time. Time to start ACTUALLY believing them ! Amen and thank you micah. God bless

    Reply
    • I love it, absolutely love it when God shows His wisdom and love through perfect timing like that. So glad my story intersected with yours today.

      Reply
  21. Brother, you have found the Gospel. OUT. STANDING. Bless you down deep. This was a phenomenal read, and I’m smiling, too.

    Reply
    • Thank you. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I love the Gospel so much… it’s something I’ve known all along, but it gets bigger and deeper and more beautiful every day.

      Reply
  22. Meghan

    Ummm..this is my story. This is my life. This is freedom. Thank you for sharing! No more trying. It is done. LIVE!

    Reply
    • It’s a story so many of us share, isn’t it? I’m so, so glad you’ve found freedom.

      Reply
  23. Nicole Joshua

    It’s as if you climbed into my head, and then shouted what you saw there. Thank you so much for this BEAUTIFUL piece of raw honesty. I could relate to almost every thought and feeling of guilt, doubt and fear mentioned above (but can definitely not relate to your passion for reading through and memorising Scripture! LOL!). Towards the end of last year, I felt as if I had lost my faith completely. But now it feels like God is pursuing me, and in that feeling I have found such freedom and peace, more than I’ve ever felt in my walk with God. God bless you for sharing your story.

    Reply
    • I’m so glad you enjoyed this, Nicole (though, if I had actually crawled inside your head and started shouting, that would have been creepy, no?)

      I went through a season (after the events of this story) where I almost completely lost my faith. Found myself praying “Dear God, if you exist…”

      The awesome thing is, He never lost me. He won’t lose you either. You’re right, he’s pursuing you.

      Reply
      • anon

        Some of it is similar to how i feel – although i don’t think i was ever doing the stuff as diligently as you and i’m not sure i was pursuing it because i felt i needed to earn his approval. I loved him. Jesus. I felt his heart. these days i am numb. i cannot find him. It is as though every word about God has been translated into a foreign language, it is a map I stare at and sometimes even wish i could navigate through, but i no longer understand it. I don’t feel it. I try to connect but the prayers get lost in the cloud that is in my ears and covering my head. I know all the answers. I was raised knowing the answers. friends talk about the lives they are living with passion and excitement and i wish i was where they are at, it would be easier to be able to share that conversation then try and explain where i’m at. fake it. i swing between thinking i am lost forever to hoping one day it will be easier to follow. Recently i have found it easier not to think about it too deeply. to put worship on. sometimes then, i feel my spirit move again. In some ways, these lost years, i feel much the same as your father in law said of you, that i have become far more accepting, seeking to understand another person’s journey for no motivation other than to walk alongside them. a lot of the “christian” talk is not appealing to me anymore and actually sometimes makes me want to run away all together. I have often thought about blogging through this season (and its been years) of numbness. I am glad someone else is doing it! The guilt i carry is that I have 3 children and i am struggling to authentically give them God -to guide them to the water to drink and meet his son, when i don’t know how to get there myself anymore.

        Reply
        • Omg..I feel your pain…even now as I read this, I sit here with tears rolling down my face…most of Micah’s story above could be mine, but it seems now, that your story is mine as well…Because of fear I can not let go of my faith (aka religion), but because of honesty, I fear I must….christianese…I know it well and it often turns my stomach now…is it from the bitterness of a broken spirit from hope deferred or is it just my rejection of God…I’ve thought about blogging as well, but not sure if I should be so brutally honest in a public forum …I don’t want to lead others away from Christ with my doubts and fears and confusions…are we not to bridle the tongue, are we not to bring every thought captive ….yet I can not seem to find it in me any longer to be able to do that…I have to be REAL!!!

          Reply
  24. Stephanie Salvage

    Amazing blog, thank you for sharing! Was that a prayer you prayed about not wanting to be a good christian anymore? I still feel like as much as God pursues us and there’s nothing we can do to make Him love us more etc, I still feel like we need to do something to make a break through like you did in your journey.. ?

    Reply
  25. Dawn

    I really connected with this piece which I saw on Facebook. This is where I am now – I have recently just come out of denial about how damaging and destructive my Christian faith has been over the past quarter of a century, and once I saw how it has robbed me and my Christian friends of many things including happiness (it causes them a lot of angst and misery) I have felt quite defiled by it so have jacked it all in. I am still quite raw about it, I haven’t come through the other side yet. I just about believe in God as Creator and that He has some kind of redemptive purpose through Jesus but that’s about it. I no longer pray or read my bible which I used to love (I too read it several times and knew it well – my KJV full of finely pencilled marginalia). It’s hard for my husband who still has a strong faith, but mine has almost evaporated with the feelings of worthlessness and self-negation and wifely submission my faith demanded from me. I’m not even excited by the prospect ov eternal life any more.

    Reply
  26. Tina/@teenbug

    THISTHISTHIS. :) So good.

    Reply
  27. Erika

    I love this, Micah. And I’m so glad to be getting to know you.

    Love,
    E

    Reply
  28. There is something about knowing God loves you unconditionally…that you don’t have to earn it. Love casts out fear, freedom comes flooding. I don’t think God intended for His children to give themselves guilt trips every time they don’t follow the list of what someone ‘says’ they should do. But that kind of lesson isn’t something I learned easily. I’m still learning. After all, the greatest commandment is pretty simple…love your neighbor, love God. It’s when it gets spelled out for one by others that one feels like they don’t quite measure up. But what freedom in loving others, and loving God. There isn’t much room for judgement. Thanks for this post. It echoes thoughts I’ve had before.

    Reply
  29. Doug Hutchcraft

    We find our truest freedom and joy when we recognize that Scripturally, there is nothing we can do to make God love us more, but that He does instruct us to live a holy life. It is that great love that the Father has for us that instructs us in studying His Word and having boundaries. We experience this unconditional love at its pinnacle when we know there is nothing we can do to earn it, and when we love Him back by obeying His commands. “If you love Me, keep My commands.” (John 14:15) So yes, experience the beautiful joy of being a child of God through Jesus. And experience the beautiful joy of knowing, loving, and living Scripture.

    Reply
  30. Angie

    You will never know the similarities in my story and yours. I am the one with all the answers, I teach 2 classes at church on a regular basis, but I feel so far from the Lord personally. I don’t want to be that “good” one anymore. I want to be real, but I am having a really hard time finding what that is. It hurts! It really helps to know that I am not alone, and that this can be overcome. So much I would like to go into, but just wanted to say thanks for the story, and to let you know how greatly it has impacted my life.

    Reply
  31. Eliza

    SO well said. Yes, the trying and trying and trying……to earn love, acceptance, grace. And then the JOY of finding out I don’t have to! Thanks for writing this!

    Reply
  32. Carlos E Herrera

    What do you do when you find yourself not wanting to be a christian anymore when you feel that you cant turn away from your sin,being tired of stumbling and asking god for forgiveness over and over?

    Not wanting to be a christian anymore because you dont ever get your prayers answered nor ever hear his voice?

    What do you do when the flame is no longer there?

    Reply
  33. I’m in the middle of reading “Sit, Walk, Stand” by Watchman Nee. For years, I’ve been in a place of knowing I don’t need to try to be “good enough for God,” yet not quite understanding what the practical, day-to-day application of this new-found freedom means. Nee’s book is helping with that. I’m learning “active rest,” and it makes so much more sense than the previous, lifelong duality of “you don’t have to work for your salvation…but here, check off all these boxes to make sure you’re ‘right with God!'”

    Another big eye-opener was Frank Viola’s “From Eternity to Here.” Brilliant, beautiful, and so very freeing. We have a God who’s bigger than we could ever imagine, and he’ll never be confined to checkboxes.

    Reply
  34. Stephanie

    This is coming to me at the perfect time. His time. I just stated similar fears to my weekly Bible study group. I sometimes feel like I am trying to force it so much that I am just being fake. I truly want to find that close relationship with him. I know in my head that the problem is me not God. I just can’t seem to find that thing that is in my way. This is the first post I have read and I will be back for more. Thank you very much!

    Reply
  35. Jessica

    Micah, I, too, still sometimes feel that I’m not doing enough kingdom work. But then I remember that my primary work is to love my husband, son, and the other family and friends I’ve been given, and to be a light at my job — um, yeah, that’s quite a lot!
    Thank you for the reminder of God’s never-ending graciousness. He is good.

    Reply
  36. Have you ever read the book “The Prodigal God” by Timothy Keller? He talks about how believers frequently fall into 2 categories of believers: elder brother and younger brother. The elder brother is often people raised in the church or long time believers and have a hard time accepting grace without trying to barder good works, etc. It’s SO good! And I highly recommend it to anyone who is trying to find a healthy amount of self reflection and leave behind the guilt, anxiety, and judgement that sometimes try to mask as a part of faith. It made me feel like my intentions are so much more important that how much or what I am doing, if that makes sense.

    It’s so important for Christians to speak out and admit doubts and struggles in faith. We’ve all had them. It’s so much harder to get through when we think we alone need that extra reassurance. Thanks for being brave enough to share!

    Reply
  37. Suzy

    Thanks for posting this! I can so relate as I have been a Christian all my life and have wrestled with never feeling like i was measuring up in God’s eyes or being enough for Him. In the past couple of years, I have really tried to let go of that and have made a conscious effort to not raise my hand in church when the pastor is asking for specific commitments form people. I have gotten to a much freer place as well and it is definitley a journey, but it is nice to not carry around so much false guilt. I can relate very much to your words and it is refreshing to know that others out there are working through similar things in their walk with God.

    Reply
  38. neesie

    I wrote a long comment, but really all I want is to say that this tension in my life has become completely unbearable. After being a Christian for 25 years, my prayer is that this truth seeps into my bones. I am so tired of trying all the time. The notion of actually feeling this freedom and rest seems incredible to me, and that is an indication of wrong my thinking must be. It really helps to know that I am not the only one.

    Reply
  39. Steven

    Wow! Great article! This is exactly how I feel.

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  40. This is also my story….The day I was actually crucified to the doctrines of “do more”, “Pray more cause you aren’t praying enough”, “give more”…till all I was doing was just “more”. Then, I gave up the ghost cause I saw that I couldn’t help me, I couldn’t be good enough and no amount of what I engaged in, its still gonna board down “you’re not good enough”, “you are not doing more”.
    Someone later told this year that “I think you are now born-again because you are less judgmental, you don’t criticize again”. For me, I just started to learn of my Savior Jesus Christ this year despite the fact that I’ve given my life to him for almost 12 years ago.
    Thanks for sharing this, I could deeply relate with it ‘cuz it is also my story you are telling

    Reply
  41. madhu kumar

    First I would like to admit that “being a good Christian what happens is? first forget about God. Think of the words in Bible like “do not steal, no bad thought in your mind, love your neighbor, respect your parents,.. Doing these things will built up your confidence levels and attitude. You are not just pleasing God. You are also benefited from this.

    You tried to be a Good Christian but you couldn’t do it. But still God loves you brother. Remember one thing that no one is perfect in this world except God. You should not give up though you fall sometimes. He can help you if you kneel and pour out your heart before him. I am sure that definitely you had some spiritual experiences with God which you can’t say no. The way he guided you and the affection he showed. Just recollect them. God will help you restore your old life back if you wish.

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  42. Thank you for sharing the struggles of your spiritual journey; it really resonates deep within me.

    I grew up in a legalistic denomination, trying with all my might to remember and follow all the rules. If I could do that, well, maybe God would feel that it was safe to love me.

    This year I’ll turn 60. What a long journey it’s been from the wilderness of my abused, redheaded stepchild self, through the harsh terrain and loneliness of legalism all the way to where I stand today: no longer attempting to earn the love which was mine before the world began.

    From time to time I still catch myself falling into that old legalistic, got-to-earn-God’s-love mindset but, the difference is that now I can see myself doing it! Such a tiny victory it seems, but oh it’s not.

    Reply
    • Regan

      This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing. It seems that so many people on here are troubled with the idea of “measuring up” and earning God’s grace, which we know can’t be earned at all. Your story is a hopeful testimony. I am on this journey as well.

      Reply
  43. PS I thought this might help someone who is still struggling to be a good Christian.

    The way my former denomination interpreted the verse which teaches us that “perfect love casts out fear” is that once we reach perfection, and thus our ability to love is perfected, we will no longer experience fear.

    It was only a couple of years ago that I realized that’s not what this teaches at all. Only God’s love is perfect, and it is within the realm of His amazing love and grace that we lose our fear, and perhaps for many of us more than anything, we lose the fear of never measuring up.

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  44. Jacob

    What would you do if you reached the point where you were considering giving up on living for God? I want to please Him and make Him happy. I want the life He wants for me. But I don’t know if I will ever be able to accept the fact that living for Him involves a constant denial of everything I want. For example, I want a wife. My dream is to take care of a wife and be a husband. But I am a disgusting person and I do awful things, and even if I were right with God, I have a pretty solid feeling that He doesn’t want that for me. He calls plenty of people to celibacy. He calls plenty to live with unfulfilled desires. It’s hard for me to not be bitter thinking that living for Him will mean always denying my own heart, and trying really hard to not feel guilty when I find myself wanting. It’s just tiring. Starting to not give a shit. And that’s just an example. There are just countless things that make me feel like there’s just little reason for me to care anymore.

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    • Jacob

      Oh yeah, and I know that everything I just said is basically proof that I’m selfish and I idolize things in my life, which just further instills my guilt and the badness of my heart. It’s a funny little circle.

      Reply
  45. Rosa

    Love this article. Really wondering tonight if I have totally messed up being a Christian. Been one for long time now, thought I would have progressed more.

    So many other Christian women I know seem so “good” and do all the right things. I don’t. I still drink a little too much sometimes, I have bad thoughts about people, I get very down and sometimes feel self-pity………………I care about people, the planet and everything and try to do my bit, but wonder if it really is becoming too difficult.

    Perhaps I need to just persevere………….

    Reply
  46. My heart is aching. My church pastor hated me because I wanted to marry his favourite man in the church. He told the church every sin I had confessed to since becoming a Christian. All sins that I thought I was free of as I was a new Christian and I wanted to be clean. He told me if I married this man I was disobeying him and God would never hear my prayers because it was a sin to disobey the Pastor. I am broken. I’ve been married to this man now for 22 years and everything that goes wrong I blame on myself and I believe is my punishment for my being disobedient and I believe God hates me. I believe I’m not good enough for my husband so I’ve built a wall around me to keep him from me and my badness. I feel so alone and so ashamed and he said that I was rebellious and selfish. I feel dead inside as my giving my life to Jesus had been so wonderful for me. It’s all destroyed now. I don’t believe I will ever go to heaven. I don’t go to church anymore cos it hurts too much.

    Reply
    • dee

      Dear Lottie,

      Your pastor is a lying self serving hypocrite. Do not allow thoughts of his abusive ways toward you destroy you and your life any longer. You have nothing to be ashamed of. You married a fellow believer that you love and he loves you. Talk with your hubby to see if you can make a fresh start to renew and revive your love. You owe loyalty to each other, not your creepy obnoxious and hopefully former pastor. You could have looked into suing him for breaching your confidence and spreading gossip about you. You do not owe obedience to a control freak interloper who calls himself a pastor. He overstepped his bounds.
      Best wishes,
      Dee

      Reply
  47. rufonius

    Hello Micah, Thanks for that; at least I now know someone else is feeling as I do now. Most people say they believe and so does Satan, but I’m finding it hard to keep my faith. The trouble is, I feel ill at ease amongst others and christians are supposed to mingle and be welcoming. I’m afraid I’m just not that kind of person, preferring my own company and shrink away from social gatherings. Anyhow, you’ve given me a glimmer of hope to just be myself and not to forget God is there as a guide in my life.

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  48. Stephanie

    I am at that point in my life right now.. I barely read my Bible. My prayers seem so pointless and they’re always apologies to God for being so inconsistent and becoming apathetic about my spiritual life. Tell me please, how did God find you? How did you get back up again? I feel lost right now; I hate my job, im tired of being alone, and I just feel like God doesn’t want to answer my prayers anymore. I need help =(

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  49. Regan

    Thank you for sharing your story–it resonates with me. I have struggled to believe I’m accepted by God through my entire Christian journey–15 years now. Unfortunately, in my early years, I was introduced by well-meaning people to a ministry that was supposed to offer me “freedom” by trying to eradicate all sin in my life (there were lists and checkboxes). Unsurprisingly, I developed an anxiety disorder of epic proportions. The hopelessness of the task soon drowned me. But I think it has also made me very well aware of how useless our good works are, and how silly our attempts to fix ourselves are–they are ludicrous, misguided, and kind of arrogant, really. I still struggle with fear, but the grace is there, too. It is encouraging to know that I’m not alone on this journey, as I have often felt like a spiritual failure because of my fears. But now I’m starting to think that in a weird way, the realization that I can’t do it myself is really a gift.

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  50. As Pam said Micah, I could have written that story…not word for word exactly, but for years I done my best to try and please God and all the while worrying if I was good enough…oh I know well enough salvation is by Grace thru faith…however after that are a lot of rules, and I never felt like I measured up…not matter how much I fasted or prayed or read or studied…always, always that niggling doubt in my mind about my own salvation and mostly about the salvation of the church at large…eventually that doubts and fears and confusion, only left me feeling like I was a hypocrite. so I left the church over 2 yrs ago…and can not bring myself to go back to one either…I can not bear the fakeness of most of them…yet everyday I live with the fear that I’m not going to make heaven my home…in fact I wonder how many people I know and love have or will…I live with the fear that my failure is my own fault, somehow I did not do enough, I did not pray enough, I did not forgive enough, I did not trust enough, I did not have enough faith, etc, etc, etc…

    So how does one get to the point where one can just rest in God, rest in faith, and not worry about being a good christian?

    I was raised in a denomination that for the most part was legalistic, taught faith but preached works, however I can read for myself in scripture about the works of righteousness that we must do once we are saved….the way is narrow and few there be that find it…how does that compute with not worrying about being a good christian anymore? Yet at the same time I have tried being one, and found it seemed to get harder and harder as time went on…Does that mean I never was saved to begin with? That’s about what I’ve come to believe… Instead of salvation, all I got was religion…perhaps.

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  51. Pamela

    Thank you so much for writing this. At first I was reading it afraid, not knowing what the next line or thought would lead to. But for the first time, someone described exactly how I’ve felt for at least 25 of my 56 years. Now because of your story, and Jesus, I believe that I too can go “deeper.”

    Reply
  52. justina

    I don’t want to be Christian anymore. I want my own identity. I tried to be perfect like everybody else but it never got me anywhere. I’m 26 years old and I haven’t accomplished anything in life. I’ve tried really hard but all I feel like is an outcast in my family. I didn’t grow up in a nurturing home where I felt like I was loved. My mom favors my brother more and I feel like a big disappointment and a mistake. My mom controls every aspect of my life and I feel like I will never break free. I don’t trust people in power who call themselves Christians because I have been betrayed on four occasions by people who call themselves Christians. My life does not seem like it’s getting better. I have been in two abusive relationships. Lost two children one through abortion and another through miscarriage. I’ve been drugged in my sleep while sleeping homeless in my car and taken advantage of. I don’t know why I’m still here and I feel very empty. Why me? If you ask someone about me they would tell you im the sweetest person you would ever meet. I just feel very misunderstood and at one time I felt betrayed by God. I’m still struggling with this feeling. I feel really weak right now so it’s taking alot in me to write this. I don’t know what to do anymore. And I’m not really sure if anybody can help. I love God still. I just don’t know what he is doing and I’m tired

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  53. dee

    I am going through similar feelings. I feel I always have to be on. Others always come first even if I am in dire need. I have to beg god to love me, tap dancing for him 24/7. I never measure up, I always should do more and be more. I can’t share sincere negative thoughts and feelings without them being judged and corrected. I can’t be myself but always a better version of myself. I live in a straight jacket and a way too small girdle that I cannot take off. Damn it I am gassy too. (Too much like life with my fleshly father.)I always feel He is taking the side of those who violate me. As a Christian I have to worry about their well being while they systematically and intentionally destroy my life ( abusive neighbors.) . One day that girdle is going to explode and I am going to fly out of my shoes. Then maybe god will love me.

    Reply
  54. Lisa Crowningshield

    I have been this way for years and about to let go completely because i cant be where i am anymore. afraid of everything and afraid to pray, whe i do try to pray i feel rejected and give up after a couple trys. just feel defeated. I go to church and i feel dead and fake, there once was a time you couldnt keep me out of church or any service for that matter. I miss God terribly but he never shows up for me anymore and im just simply tired now……

    Reply

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