10 November 2013

How my faith made me kind of hate myself

I am a strong, successful, independent woman. I work hard at my craft, make a living from my writing, have a good support system of friends and family, and I'm doing what I have to do on my own to take care of my munchkins.

I'm doing pretty damn well, and I'm happy with where I am, and the direction my life is headed. Life is good.

I've come a long way from where I was.

There were moments in my faith in which I was doing everything I was supposed to do. I was reading the Bible and going to church and praying and dressing modestly and going through all the steps I was supposed to. And I was miserable. I was told by my pastor and my Bible study books and my Christian friends that if I had a "right relationship" with God, everything would be good. I'd have a happy, healthy, fulfilled life. And I was miserable.

I believe a lot of it had to do with the fact that in the brand of Christianity I followed, anything I could ever do was not good enough. I would always and forever be a sinner with a sinful nature, drawn to sin sin sin. And when I did succeed, it wasn't me that succeeded, it was the Almighty God who gave me the power, who did it for me. Because the Bible teaches that humans are incapable of doing it on their own.

You can't take credit for your successes because you didn't do it on your own.

But if you fail, if things suck, it's your fault because you didn't believe enough or the right way.

For someone who was trapped in depression and anxiety for quite a while when I was a teenager and young adult, I can tell you that taking the blame for the bad and not being able to take credit for the good can really mess with your head.

Christianity does that. It's designed to teach people they are not and will never be good enough. You can't have "salvation" without Jesus Christ. You can't have a good life without right faith.

And since you're a sinner and will always be tempted to sin and be "bad," you can never be good enough. You will never be the person you're supposed to be through Christianity.

And I felt that fully. I wanted so, so much to be a good, happy Christian. You know, the kind they show on the brochures when they try to get you to join up. And as hard as I tried, I just couldn't do it.

I was miserable.

Because not only was my life not where it was supposed to be, but my faith was teaching me that it was my own fault. And I hated myself for it.

I don't feel that way anymore. I know that I am good enough just the way I am. I know that my successes are the result of the work I do. I know that when I fail, it's okay and sometimes it's not my fault. I know that I'm not fated to be a "sinner," or inherently bad. My life is what I make of it.

I don't hate myself anymore. Funny how that worked out.

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