Monday, December 9, 2013
Avoid the Fatal Thought
A couple of months ago, a professor in my family psychology class said something that hit home for me because of a doubt I've been wrestling with for a while now. He was lecturing on resolving conflicts in marriage and he said that if there was going to be one thing we left this class remembering, he wanted it to be this: Avoid the Fatal Thought. Not that I have any personal knowledge of this, but there seems to be quite a few ways for Satan to crawl his way into a marriage. Or any kind of relationship, really. The final straw of a marriage can be one too many compromises, one too many times of forgetting something important, one too many failures, one too many arguments, one too many hard days. My professor argued that all of those things can be worked out... as long as you never slipped into the Fatal Thought, which is this:
Does he (or she) still love me?
The second you let yourself wonder that is the second you're going to put up every defensive tactic in your arsenal. Oh yeah? Well I just won't love you anymore either. That thought makes trying to work it out impossible, makes any positive effort meaningless. Why try to fix it if he doesn't care? Once that thought enters your head, your heart starts telling you that it's not worth it.
The only thing that stands between a successful marriage and a failed one is that- confidence in the other's love. Certainty. Security.
I'm just going to be really straightforward- for months I've let myself wonder about God's love for me. Intellectually, I know He does. If someone on the street were to ask me if I thought God loves me, I would say a thousand times yes. But there has been a small but powerful voice whispering in my head for some time now. Not a voice that says "No, He doesn't." My Enemy is sneakier than that. Instead it is a voice that asks "Are you sure?" My doubt is not if He loves mankind as a whole. My doubt is more selfish. My Fatal Thought is this: Does God love me, individually? Does He know my situation, my heart? Does He listen to my prayers?
Am I sure? Yikes. Well, of course I'm sure. My Sunday school teacher told me. Jesus loves me, this I know... But do I? Is that what I honestly believe?
Here's the glaring issue with the fact that I'm struggling with this: if I'm honest with myself, I know I'm doubting because I'm not getting what I want. I know how stupid that is. But if life were exactly the way I asked for it to be, if every prayer was answered with a "Yes, you deserve it", I wouldn't question His love for a second. I would go on my merry, ignorant way. But God is a good God and He wants more than a superficial relationship with me. So He challenges me. He disciplines me like the child I am.
This summer I watched two young boys everyday. I remember one day Davies (the 8 year old) asked if he could do something that was ridiculous and I said no. I can't recall the specific request but it involved his new puppy, the pool, and his dad's power tools. He looked at me like I just told him Santa wasn't real and said "You just don't want me to have any fun." Right. Didn't we have a home run derby with water balloons like half an hour ago? But instead of bringing up all the fun things we had done that week, all the trips to the library and the playground and the water park and football practice, I just laughed. Because I realized that this had to be, in a very small way, how God feels when I ask Him the same thing. He has to be thinking "Didn't I just give you a paycheck from the job you begged me for? Didn't I give you a family that loves you? Don't I do countless things for you that you aren't even capable of being aware of?"
I think something I've realized lately is that different people have different kinds of relationships with God and mine should not be the standard for everyone. I think some people have very wide relationships with God- meaning they want to learn everything about Him that they possibly can. They spend hours studying and have rooms full of commentaries and thrive in discussions about theology. That's how they grow, that's how they get their security with their Savior. Others, like myself, have very deep relationships with God. Not that I don't want to study or learn about my Creator- but that's not really how my faith is strengthened. My faith is strengthened through experiences. I gain confidence in Christ when I can look back and say "He led me through that. He'll lead me again." Which is exactly why Satan knows tempting me with this momentary doubt is much more effective than trying to get me to question His existence. And I'd be willing to guess that if you would say your relationship is more wide, you've struggled with wondering if there is a God at all.
I know this post has been mostly questions with no answers and my grammatical errors and wandering thoughts may have made you give up a while ago. I honestly have no answers. I don't know if there are any.
I do know that the only way to believe He loves me, the only way to be in the middle of a storm and think "He's doing this for my benefit in the end", is to fully trust that He is good. If my God is good, He cannot do me harm. He can tell me no. He can make me face fears I don't really want to face. He can test me. But He cannot do me harm. And as long as I avoid the Fatal Thought, I am secure. If I trust in His unbelievable love for me any trial can be faced with courage, any loss can be returned with joy, and any doubt can be overcome.