Ministry Major Malaise

I wish that I could write a post that fully shows how much depression sucks. I wish that there was a way I could let you take a peek into my world and what it’s like living in this world. A world where you don’t trust anyone, lest of all yourself. A world where it’s like you’re reaching and grasping for something, a shred, a spark, but perhaps it just doesn’t exist. A world where it feels like a game of Jenga, and that you never know if the next block being removed will cause you to wobble, collapse, or stay sturdy.

But yet, I’m taking a break from writing about depression to try and write about something else. Because it all interlinks together. It all fits together, somehow, someway. It all overlaps and it’s all a part of the same puzzle.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t talked a lot about my week at IHOP. How it completely shattered my faith. How in so many ways, it screwed up how I view God. How it completely broke me. How it played mind games with me. How I went on such an emotional roller coaster. And frankly? I feel stupid! HOW could one week, “onething”, affect me so deeply? It was just a week, for God’s sake! There’s no reason it should have shattered my faith so badly, that it should have so badly demented how I see God. There’s no reason, and I beat myself up constantly for it. I know who God is. I know logically, I know all the facts, but convincing my heart to believe what my head knows is a struggle.

I find myself on the brink of self injury. Why, you say? Your scars are fading. You’ve been free for so long. Why would you throw all that away for just a few moments of solace, of false serenity, of bittersweet relief? IT HELPS. It lets me out of my inner hell, my inner demons, for just a little while, and that is help enough. It’s not worth it in the long run, but sometimes we do things that aren’t worth it in the long run just because we don’t know better. But no, how dare I ruin God’s temple. How dare I screw up the gift God gave me. How dare I turn to myself! I’m a pathetic excuse for a Christian because allegedly His blood was enough so I don’t need to shed my own. (You will see how this relates, I hope, and this paragraph isn’t just random).

I’m struggling to keep my head afloat. I’m struggling to keep normal sleep patterns, eating patterns, living patterns. I find myself escaping to books, video games, TV shows, and movies just to try and get a break from my brain, from my crazy self. And what I hate the most? Several years ago, I’d turn to God. Several years ago, I’d pray. Several years ago, I’d find refuge in my faith. And now I don’t. Now my faith, the very thing I’m studying in college, the very thing I desire more than anything to do with my life, is what is scaring me and plummeting me deeper into the pits of despair. I find myself angry at God: angry at Him for allowing that week, angry at Him for allowing all the hellish moments of my life. Then I get angry at myself for getting angry at God because who am I to be so angry at Him? I find myself angry from events at old churches that shook, shattered, and tore my faith to shreds. I find myself furious of what people do in the alleged name of God, the horrible hurtful things they do – some intend to hurt, some because people are just sometimes dunderheads.

And yet, I hurt myself. Because I see how I am not worthy. I see how I am a bad Christian, and maybe all those terrible lies I believe in reality are true. Maybe there’s a reason I went through those various church and ministry-place-related struggles, because they’re the truth. Logically, I know that’s a bunch of bullcrap, but who said my brain is always logical?

And worst of all, I’m terrified. What if I make some mistake in the ministry? What if I totally screw someone up, shake their faith, tear their soul to shreds? How would I ever live with myself? What if I mess someone up as badly as I was messed up? Am I being rational? Am I irrational? Would I have these fears if it were not for how badly I’ve been hurt “in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?” What would church pastors say to me? What would fellow Christians say to me? What would atheists say to me?

It’s difficult. I’ve been hurt in so many ways, by so many people. And an age-old saying is “hurting people hurt people.” What if… what if I hurt someone? What if my hurt ruins someone else? Is it just a vicious cycle that will never be ended?

4 thoughts on “Ministry Major Malaise

  1. Wow. Okay. Let's see if I can address everything without going over the character limit.

    First of all, please don't give in to self-injury again. I think I can understand what it means for you based on how you explained the temporary relief it provides (I nearly succumbed to self-injury in high school, myself, so maybe that helps the understanding, too). It's tempting, SO TEMPTING, to lapse back into that practice. I get it. But you'll only hate yourself more after doing so, because then there goes everything you accomplished since you stopped in the first place. And then you'll have to start over from scratch, and it will be a billion times harder to get back to the point you're at today. Don't give in!!!

    I get that it doesn't seem like you've accomplished anything at all. I get that it seems you're sinking further and further down the hole. But from what I've learned about you since we first started talking, I can tell you've made a TON of progress and are climbing the ladder to get out of it. It's slow, sometimes you get set back a few rungs, but you've persevered and continued. Right now, you seem kind of stuck, like you're not sure you're climbing the correct ladder. Great thing about ladders, though: There are only two directions to go, and well, you know what's waiting when you go down. All you're left with is up, and no matter what ladder you're on, they'll all lead up and out of the hole. You're making progress. 🙂

    As for being afraid of making mistakes… It's NORMAL to be afraid. I would think you're crazy if you WEREN'T afraid! Dr. Cox told JD that being afraid makes him a better doctor. Being afraid makes you a better person, more aware of the souls, troubled or not, around you. But you're going to make mistakes. You have made mistakes already. And that's OKAY, too! Remember our friend, Rafiki: Mistakes are part of the past, but the best thing to do is learn from them rather than dwell upon them. You gain wisdom from mistakes to pass on to others so they don't make the same ones. Think of it as you're trying to find your way out of a forest. You'll eventually find your way out, but when it's time to lead others out of the forest, you'll know a better, much faster route with fewer obstacles and road blocks. Maybe right now you need to reach out to someone who has found their way out, and take their path for a while. It's okay to ask for help, especially from people who have been down that road before.

    As for hurting other people… I believe your life experiences, the good, the bad, and the ugly, will only help you guide people who are going through the same shit you did/are, not hurt them or shatter their faiths. They'll be able to relate to you, and for someone who feels completely alone in their feelings, that could mean everything to them, that one thing that stops them from succumbing to worse than self-injury.

    I'm sure it doesn't feel like you've made progress, and I wish I could snap my fingers and make you believe it. But belief cannot be forced. That has to come from your heart, and I promise your heart will get there again. It gets better.

    Sorry I rambled for so long. 🙂

  2. P.S. The only way you would be a bad Christian is if you started thinking like the Westboro Baptist Church, Mercy Ministries, IHOP, or any other radical, extremist "Christian" organizations. I don't know anything about IHOP, but the fact that you escaped at all says you're nothing like them and you won't let them take away anyone else's faith again. It may have shattered your faith, but you're working to put the pieces back together, not leaving all the pieces scattered for someone to cut themselves on (I'm a huge fan of metaphors 🙂 ). That makes you a good Christian.

  3. I can relate to so much of this.

    I wonder if your week at IHOP was perhaps kind of the straw that broke the camel's back – that it wasn't so much that week itself that shattered your faith, but that on top of your other experiences where you've been hurt by the church? Please don't think I'm trying to minimize the damage that week did – I fully believe it was damaging and what happened there was not of God! I'm just thinking that, on top of everything else you've experienced, it makes sense that IHOP broke you the way it did, despite the fact that it was only a short amount of time.

    What you said about how several years ago, you'd turn to God in difficult situations…oh man, me too. Back in middle and high school, the tougher things got, the more I depended on God. But now? I run away from Him and hide in stories and distractions instead. I don't know how to change that. I'm not sure how to get myself to a place of depending on God again. Maybe it's something He has to do in me, rather than me having to try harder. I know He's still there and still working in my life, even if I can't see it right now. I always seem to want to rush things, but God's timing is slower…I think because He knows that it'll take me a while to catch on, it'll take a while for it to really sink in. I guess I've come to a point where, in some ways, I'm tired of trying, and I think in this case, that's a good thing. I think right now what I need is to sit back and let God work, even if I can't see it right now. Anyway. Kinda went on a tangent there. Sorry.

    I'm totally with you on being terrified of making a mistake and hurting somebody. I think that's part of the reason I keep subconsciously sabotaging myself when it comes to school stuff. I don't feel like I'm ready to be out there actually working with people, especially people who have already been hurt. What if, instead of helping them, I hurt them worse? One thing that helps me sometimes is the thought that maybe because I am so afraid of hurting people, I will be extra careful to make sure that doesn't happen.

  4. I didn't mean to wait so long to reply to you guys, but I wanted to put something together.

    Steph, you clearly know me well using both Rafiki AND Scrubs in the same post. *grin*. Well played, my friend, well played. It's just hard to believe my heart will get there again, you know? Oye. It's just scary to think of how much power I could possibly have and I could possibly accidentally hurt someone because I don't think that all the people who hurt me in the faith had the intention of hurting me, 'ya know?

    Grace, it makes sense. That was also Fall 2009 where a bunch of crap hit the fan all at once. I'm kind of in the same 'sit back and let God work, evne if I can't see it right ow' thing, because I want to do things MY way! I'm stubborn, 'ya know? Doesn't matter if my way isn't right and god's ways are better. I want MY way! 😉

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