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Into the Depths: Trust or Not So Much

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Trust or Not So Much

I had another good question asked of me today. I began to answer it in comments, but realized rather quickly that it was going to be a long one. Here is the question that Shayne
asked:
"I have read your posts for the past week though and I'm wondering...why exactly is it that you don't believe God? Do you know? If you sat down and really concentrated on it, could you pinpoint the reason you're afraid to trust Him?"


To me this was a huge question. I drive all day for work, so I have a ton of time for contemplation, well, when I am not on the phone, anyway. Today, one of our crews hit a gas line. As you might imagine, that is taken pretty seriously. So, I had two hours of sitting in front of a house watching gas spew...the vapors anyway...while waiting for the repair crew to get there. I got out my notepad and just started writing my answer. Three pages later, the repairman showed up and I was able to go about my day. So, I will type all of that and see where I end up from there.

Firstly, the foundation upon which my knowledge of God was built had nothing to do with the love and faithfulness of God. I was raised knowing that God was holy and I was worthless. "God only helps those who help themselves", "How could you do that to God", "If you aren't good than you are a disappointment to God", and "If you don't forgive others, God will not forgive you." These were sayings that were drilled into me and I learned quickly that I would never, ever be good enough for this demanding God. Grace was and is a foreign concept to me. Keep in mind that mine was not a Christian home. We went to church sometimes, in fact, I would cry on the Sundays that my mother wouldn't take us. I remember when I was six and wanted to make my first communion. The priest gave me a quiz to see if I knew enough about the Bible to make the decision to love God. He asked me "How many animals did Moses take on the ark." My answer of course was two of every kind, which I am sure you know, was wrong. So since it was stinkin' Noah on the ark, I wasn't allowed to make any God-based decisions yet. As silly as it sounds, that made a huge impact on my view of God. Since to a young Catholic girl the priest is very much a picture of God, I began believing then that God was confusing and enjoyed playing tricks on me. However, at home, God was someone far off in the distance that you pissed off anytime you didn't do what mom told you to. It didn't matter what she or my father did, that wasn't the point. God didn't care if my parents were bad, only if I was. When I left the Catholic church at age 13, without any other member of my family, I was told that I was going to hell, in those exact words, and my aunt made sure I knew that she could no longer be my Godmother.
My point here is this, by the time I was of an age that I could have made the decision to decide if God were trustworthy, the foundation had already been laid. While a weak foundation in Christ seems to be like shifting sand, the foundation laid on the false beliefs that are my childhood, seem to be set in stone. I saw God as a condemning, angry, vengeful Being who couldn't wait to exact His judgment on me, so He didn't. He began punishing me the day I was born and hasn't stopped for a respite yet.
Secondly, any trust I had, was destroyed long before I even knew what trust was. As is standard in the circumstance of any blatant abuse, my trust was crushed. Beyond that, however, were just the basic needs necessary for any child to find security that simply couldn't be met in my home. Financially we were at the very low end of the barrel. I remember a time when we would rent a motel room for an hour once a week so that all eight of us could take a shower as we had no water at home. We weren't allowed to touch anything or sit on the bed because they would charge my dad more money if anything were disheveled when we left. I lived in 9 different houses by the time I went to high school. We would get so behind on rent that we would be evicted and have to move again. We often went to school with no lunch and I would lie and say I wasn't hungry when asked because I was too embarrassed to tell anyone the truth. I remember one specific occasion where my dad only had five dollars left. He decided he needed a pack of cigarettes so we all went to school with out lunch once again. When I was in the eighth grade our electricity was once again shut off. A year and a half later, someone anonymously paid the bill so it could be reconnected. That was our longest outage but there were many more for weeks and months at a time.
Emotionally speaking...........well, we didn't. The only emotion allowed was anger. I remember being sent to the cellar "if I wanted to be a baby and cry." I was four. Crying equaled weakness. There was always someone screaming and shouting in my house. ALWAYS. This is why today I am horrified at the thought of confrontation and often avoid it to my own detriment. Affection was nonexistent in my house. I do not remember ever, ever hugging my dad, that remains true to this day. My mother tells me that I was affectionate with her until I was five but I do not remember that. My question is, why, as a mother, when your five year old suddenly becomes unaffectionate, do you not realize that something is wrong......but I digress. I have already mentioned how needs were met....or not....in the spiritual realm. Here is where I believe this adds to my inability to trust. If a child can not depend on anyone to meet their needs, be they physical, emotional, psychological or spiritual, she has very little choice. I personally decided, though probably not consciously, that I would have to meet my own needs. For those that I could not even meet on a temporal level, I simply learned to deny there existence.

I suppose my answer really is as simple as experience. There isn't one moment to pinpoint it down to, it is the compilation of my life that lead me to the belief, or lack there of. I could have probably saved you the trip down memory lane and simply said that I have no reason to believe that He is in fact trustworthy. As I have said, I know He is, because He says He is and He is perfect and can not lie. However, in my life, I see no evidence, which I suppose just reiterates my lack of faith. Being that 'faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things NOT seen.' If I could form my beliefs based on the opposite of most events in my life than I would probably be a very trusting person. I have 'accepted' Christ as my Savior more times than I can count. The time I choose to tell everyone was the one that saved me happened when I was eighteen. That was the last time I asked Him. I figured that if it didn't work that time, then it never would, so why keep trying. I still don't know if it worked, probably won't ever know. I know that a life change never took place because I could never really trust Him. So I guess that is the question. Is asking enough? If I can't trust that He forgives me, if I can't trust that He loves me, can I truly say that He saved me? Only He knows, I guess. I have really rambled this time.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Queen Beth said...

We had a pastor come once to our church to talk about God. The essence of God. And he brought up the very real point that some people who have suffered greatly in relation to their families, especially fathers, have a difficult time believing that God will not treat them the same way their parents (fathers) have treated them. Trust is a huge issue. And rightfully so. It then becomes necessary to see God in not a fatherly role, but as a friend and savior. Not someone to rule over you, punish you and hurt you like earthly fathers, but as a friend who cares deeply about you.

God did not cause these bad things in your life. These bad things are the result of sin and Satan. If anything, God has been using that hurt to obviously cause you to seek him in some manner. God has not forgotten you or forsaken you in anyway. It all comes down to, are you willing to simply accept him for who he is, without placing expectations upon him? Sometimes letting go of preconceived ideas and beliefs about God help you to see him in a new light.

Do you read your Bible much? The New Testament is so full of Jesus' love for us and the softening of the harsh God sometimes visualized in the Old Testament by us. But one thing about the Old Testament is God's never ending grace and never letting his people go, no matter what they faced. He even says in Joshua "I will never leave you, nor forsake you." That is something I hold dear to my heart.

God is not going to let you go. If he did, you would not feel the longing your soul is feeling. And God is not the person represented by your family. He loves you. He forgives. He gives grace. He gives freedom. He gives peace. But you have to give into him with abandon and accept what he has to offer. No strings attached, no expectations, no preconceived ideas.

I am praying for you. Your blog just touches my heart.

June 30, 2006 8:44 PM  
Blogger Paulette said...

Stephanie,
As you know if you read my testimony, my Father was a severe abuser. Most always when we are abused by our father it is hard to trust our Heavenly Father, that does have an impact.
You had alot of conflicting things going on growing up and I am sorry for that. I will promise you that if you seek out a good church and get involved you can learn about a God that I know, that you can trust, and all you have to do is let him be your source of guidance, The rest will fall into place. It is sooo difficult to trust when you have been abused.
I said in my testimony that God did NOT cause the abuse, He gave your parents free will which caused them to make bad decisions.
I will tell you this, God changed my life, I wanted to grow in Christ so my Children would go the way of the Lord without my baggage affecting them.
I believe God will show himself to you Stephanie if you open yourself to trusting him. I would be glad to meet with you and share how it worked for me. No pressure attached. We live close to each other.
I understand where you are so comming from,and I am glad you are open to speaking your truth.
Keep writting!!

June 30, 2006 10:33 PM  
Blogger joyfuljourney said...

I'm so glad you wrote this! I get you a little bit better now. Not that I was completely baffled, but I really wanted to understand more.

Have you read Beth Moore's book Believing God? Being an avid reader, it might answer some of your questions about faith. Sure, we believe IN God, but do we believe God?

July 01, 2006 8:44 PM  
Blogger Shayne said...

Stephanie,

I totally understand. I want to comment, but it's gonna take a blog post to do it. Give me a little more time, 'cause I really want to hash this out, not only with you, but with myself.

I've never met you...I don't even really know you...but I love you girl. I know I say this every time, but just keep hanging in there.

July 02, 2006 5:11 PM  
Blogger Bttrfly1976 said...

I am looking forward to it Shayne. Thanks to all of you for your kind words and encouragement. I wish it was enough to fix what's broken, regardless, it is good to hear.

July 04, 2006 12:18 AM  

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