I’ve been struggling for a while with the idea of people needing God: needing Him as some sort of security blanket, needing Him to save them from hell, needing to know He’s there and has a plan for them. In the depths of my mind, I thought that the faith of these people was less valid than the faith of individuals who want God, who choose to believe in Him but don’t need to. I thought that the people in the first group had something lacking in their lives or had a weakness of personality that required them to need something stronger than themselves to cling to. I assumed I was one of the second group, the strong people who believe in God because they want to, but are self-sufficient otherwise.
But when the second phase of my arthritis flare struck on Tuesday, I was brought to my knees (quite literally) with the pain and the uncertainty. I avoided focusing on how scared I was, knowing that crying would just cause my neck muscles to spasm, thus creating more pain. But underneath my apparent lack of fear and veneer of control, I was terrified. In my journal Tuesday night, I wrote the following:
I know that God has a purpose for my pain. I will try to remain open to Him instead of closing my soul with fear’s gates.
Instead of praying for other people, I started praying for myself: “God, please grant me the strength to get through this. I don’t think I can do it without Your help.”
At 5:30 this morning, as I was stretching my knees, I started thinking about the kind of praying I’ve been doing recently. How was it different from “using God as a security blanket?”, I wondered. And then, like a whistle in the dark, it came to me:
It’s okay to need God.
It was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders that I hadn’t even known was there. “It’s okay to need God.” I thought back to previous times when my health, or other situations, have broken me and how I’ve always reached for God during those times… how much I needed Him. I’ve looked to those times to inspire me in my faith, but I never realized that the only thing different about my faith in those times was that I accepted that I needed His help. I let go of my ever-present pride and said, “I can’t do this on my own. I know I can’t. I need Your help.” Needing God isn’t a display of weakness of character. It’s an acceptance of the reality that I can’t do this alone, no matter what “this” is.
When I got the leading months ago to reach out to Rob’s sister, I thought the purpose of the leading was to help her. I see now that God’s hand was slowly bringing me back to Him, in a way that I would accept. I wasn’t ready at that time to accept that I needed God; but I was ready to try to make things better between Rob’s sister and myself. I was ready to trust God to lead me, but in the depths of my being I thought He needed me more than I needed Him.
Through reading “Pretense”, as much as I found the characters’ faiths cheesy and generic, I was able to recognize my own prayers in the prayers uttered by the characters in the book. This allowed me to realize, however subconsciously, that there was something similar between my own faith and the faiths in the book. Looking back on it now, I think what repelled me most about the characters in the book wasn’t their faith, but their apparent inability to think for themselves. They seemed to swallow whatever their church expected of them and whatever the Bible told them without really thinking about it. They never seemed to question their faith or their church, and I think that’s dangerous (but that’s another topic).
My pride is still trying to restrain me from finishing this post, and from publishing it. I know now that I need God, but part of me doesn’t want to accept that. Part of me wants to believe that believing in God is still a choice, something I could change later on if I wanted to. Part of me wants a way out if this way becomes too difficult, too challenging.
You all are my witnesses as I write this: I am not self-sufficient. I cannot get through this on my own. I need God.
And that’s okay.