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For Terrible Christians Only…

Faith

Have you ever felt like you were a terrible Christian?

I was sitting in a small group last week when a friend of mine spoke up, “I’m just honestly bad at being a Christian these days.”

I laughed louder than I meant to because she was reflecting the scarlet letter that felt like it was burning its way through my chest.

I feel like a bad Christian, and it seems that there’s a different reason to match each day of the week.

On Monday, I’m a bad Christian because I’m focused on work and writing and wedding planning and going to the gym instead of on God. A good Christian would know better.

On Tuesday, it’s my lack of Sabbath. I have no margin in my life – no space to be and breathe and soak God in the way I used to.

On Wednesday it’s a lack of faith. A good Christian wouldn’t worry about the things I worry about. A good Christian wouldn’t spend a second fretting over their bank account or wedding plans. They’d know God was going to provide.

On Thursday, I’m selfish. It’s all about me. I’m working and living for my glory and my benefit instead of God’s.

On Friday, I’m too religious. I am reading my bible out of duty, thinking that if I do A and B and C that God will love me and this nagging feeling of disappointing him will go away for good. But a good Christian knows better than to be religious. After all, it’s not about religion but relationship.

Don’t even get me started on Saturday and Sunday.

I just cannot get it right.

Have you ever felt this way?

The crazy part is, while I’m no Paul, these days my religious resume is pretty stacked.

I’ve traveled the world for God. I’ve slept in the craziest places, gone to the darkest places, and preached to people who have never ever heard the word of God.

Let’s be real — I work for a missions organization.

You’d think I’d be pretty good at this Christianity thing by now.

But the truth is, I’m not.

I’m not good at it. I fall miles short of my own standards and I shutter to think how far short I fall of God’s standards.

I look at my actions and my life sometimes and shake my head with disgust knowing that I should know better.

I know better than to think I can do life on my own. I know better than to think that my energy and willpower and passion are enough to fuel the things I want to do in the world.

I know better than to think I can get away with weeks without intentional time spent with God.

I know better than to pack every single moment full of to-do’s. I know that makes for exhaustion and not the full life I know is waiting for me when I do things God’s way. I know that I need to be resting.

I know better than to find fault with everything around me and within me. I know that gratitude is my life-blood, turning every single moment into an act of worship. Yet my life is distinctly gratitude-less.

I should know better, and I do know better. But sometimes my actions don’t reflect what I know is best.

And when I’m in the throws of that realization, it’s hard to look God in the eye.

It’s hard to come to him with my head held high. It’s hard to feel like I’m his daughter and not a colossal disappointment.

That’s how I showed up to work this morning. I walked into our Monday morning worship service (which of course we have because I work at a missions organization). But instead of participating like a good Christian, I hung back.

And as I stood in the back feeling small and not good enough, I remembered something that seems to escape me constantly.

God loves us. He just does. It’s that plain, it’s that simple. And that’s why he sent Jesus.

It’s not by being perfect that we’re saved, but by believing that Jesus and the grace he died to give us is bigger than any mess we could ever create: past, present, or future. It’s by faith and not by works.

So if you are feeling like a mess of a Christian today, lets do this together.

Let’s remember that God loves us. Not because we’re perfect, but because he is.

Have you ever felt like a terrible Christian? What do you do to remind yourself of what’s true?

Photo credit: So Worth Loving

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Add a Comment
  1. Stephanie, I needed these words more than you could ever know.

    I’ve struggled with this off and on during my past two years with God (because I came from a very religious past), but especially the past two months. I keep flip-flopping between doing Christiany things to make myself more presentable to God (bible studies, worship music all the time, sermons every day, etc.) and then doing nothing (days of barely talking to God at all) out of the shame that I was focusing on works instead of God. Neither are right. Both are out of balance. Neither bring me closer to him. Neither are avenues to his heart.

    And so, that’s where I was yesterday morning in church. Heck, on the way there, I considered turning around and going home several times. One minute I’d have the mindset that going to church would help make me more “Christian,” then the next I’d feel so much sadness from thinking I had to earn his approval that I didn’t even want to look at him, let alone be in a sanctuary.

    Oh, the condemnation we throw upon ourselves.

    I don’t have any tips or tricks to give you. The only thing I know right now is to cling to him. Cling to him in all of your messiness. Be real, raw, and vulnerable with him. Let him know that, although you know you can trust him to provide, you’re having a hard time believing it right now. It doesn’t make anything magical happen, but it feeds that relationship.

    You don’t have to put on a good face, a good show. Just reach out and cling to the hem of his garment. That’s all.

    (Lately, I need to remind myself of these things daily. You’re not alone.)

  2. Sarah Briggs says:

    Stephanie! Gosh girl you’ve done it again, you’ve hit the nail on the head. I’m on the Race right now and my squad leader and I, while getting lost in the streets of Romania, were talking about just this! Thank you for putting words to what I’ve been feeling in month 9 of the Race. I love knowing that I’m not alone.

    Ps–know that the girls of Q squad love love love your blog!

  3. Amy says:

    God must have lead me to your blog because I always walk away with reading exactly what I needed to hear that day! I love you and your honesty which seems to always comfort me. I look forward to each and every one of your posts…keep ’em coming!

  4. Caroline says:

    Have I felt this way? A hundred times, yes. Thank you for being honest about God’s loves for us – because we (thankfully) depend on His perfection and not ours.

  5. Catherine says:

    I was just saying to my mom the other day: “Every Sunday I sit in church and think: ‘Ugh, this sermon’s for me. This is what I’m struggling with.” I do this Every. Sunday. It’s like the litany of sins gets longer and longer. But part of me is gal I’m feeling convicted because not feeling convicted is a dangerous place to be.

  6. Natalie says:

    Stephanie,

    This is literally exactly what has been going on in my life recently. I recently had spring break and so while at home, away from college, I became complacent and fell into a lot of old habits: watching tv, indulging in food, some more TV, and absolutly no time for God. I actually reached a point where I was afraid to go back to God becuase I felt as though I wouldnt know what to do…and that was the very problem. I got so caught up in my “God Time” that I forgot that its all a relationship. God very gently reminded me to go back to when I first discovered how awesome He was, back to when I first started this journey with Him. The phrase” Just Be” is how I remind myself of whats true; When I “just be”, when im not forcing anything but letting God do what He wants with me, not turning it into some sortof agenda, thats when I fall more in love and things just work out. It allows humility and gets rid of pride. makes life more fun 🙂

  7. Jen says:

    Love this post. I feel the same way so many times. But I love that reminder, ‘God loves us. He just does. It’s that plain, it’s that simple. And that’s why he sent Jesus.’

  8. addy says:

    Girl, you really dig how I feel most of the time. haha. Learning really to authenticate myself as a real christian! Nice blog! Just passing by! 🙂

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