I was indoctrinated from a young age into believing that I had a “God-shaped hole” in my heart that only a personal relationship with Jesus could fill. In its way, teaching the exclusivity of this theological belief (as if it is a one-size-fits-all salvation package) is very deceptive, because when a “relationship with Christ” didn’t fill that hole, I was led to believe that there was something wrong with the way I was praying, the way I was worshipping, the way I was reading my Bible, etc.
Then I looked around the people in my churches and realized that we were all being taught to pretend — that our strategy was to bury our real feelings deep and never actually talk about them. That so many of my fellow evangelicals seemed to feel the same doubts I did, but we were all afraid to admit it out loud because to do so would be to admit that we were giving into desires of the flesh, our sinful nature, our inherent human weakness to doubt.
We all felt pressure to keep pretending, because otherwise it was an admission that we indeed had done something wrong in our walk with Christ to feel this way. Or maybe He was just testing us, and we had to push through to pass the test. To speak it out loud was to be told by those in our community that the only correct path away from these doubts was back into the arms of Jesus, because only He could fill that hole in our hearts that they kept insisting was there, waiting to be filled.
And after many, many years, I got tired of believing in something I was pretty sure just wasn’t true for me. Admitting that emotional and mental exhaustion was the first step in realizing that I didn’t have a God-shaped hole, but that rather I was made whole just by being true to myself.
I suspect many reading know exactly what I’m talking about. I see you. Your doubts are not weakness, or a temptation, or a test, or a sign your “walk with God” needs repairing. You don’t need fixing, at least not by the Church’s definition of us all being sinners incapable of truly experiencing life without Christ. Rather, you need to find the wholeness that can only be experienced in being true and kind to yourself. You sought first the Kingdom of God; now I encourage you to seek after your own kingdom for a while. You deserve to find your own path that works for you.
I love you.