I have spent most of the past few hours just thinking and praying and reflecting on my life, and I think I have come to the realization that my relationship with God didn't really feel real until a few years ago. I grew up in a Christian home, as most of you probably know, but.. I wasn't “born again” until I was almost 13. Even then, I didn't really understand what it meant to be a Christian, and I didn't really feel God close to me. I thought I was a good, strong Christian because I went to church, read my Bible and didn't do bad things, but I was wrong. Aside from occasionally “experiencing God”, my Christian life was pretty hollow and lackluster. My motivation for doing the right thing was simply because doing it was the right thing. I didn't do it because I wanted to please God. I did those things simply because they were right, and that was what I was taught to do. I never realized just how lonely my life was. I dealt with depression for most of my life and couldn't figure out why. My marriage was miserable. I was depressed and lonely and completely unhappy with everything. The only times I felt happy were when I felt close to God which became more frequent, but.. was still lacking in my day to day life.
I'm not really sure exactly when all this changed, but it was some time after I left Jon Paul in the summer of 2011. It was after I hit my rock bottom and had nowhere else to turn and no one else to turn to. Sure, I had people I could talk to, but.. they couldn't fulfill my deepest longings and desires. I guess it was then that I figured out that true peace and joy only comes from having an intimate relationship with God. It was only after I found myself crying out so desperately for Him that I began to be filled, and not just a temporary filling, but one that lasts. Most of my life has been filled with depression and loneliness, but I don't feel that way anymore. I find myself with peace and hope and even joy in the midst of the most difficult circumstances because I know without a doubt that God is right there holding me up. He will never leave me, nor will he ever forsake me. He will never turn His back on me, no matter what I do. Thank God that He is so merciful and loving. Oh to be so in love with God that nothing else matters! That would be so amazing. To be able to love others simply because you are overflowing with love for your Heavenly Father!
I will tell you that I still have problems with loving others, especially ones that I feel don't deserve that love. It is hard for me to forgive somebody who just does not want to change, but God tells us to forgive. In fact, He commands us to forgive. I think at the heart of my unforgiveness lies disrespect. I found something out about myself earlier while answering some questions in a workbook I'm going through: I do not respect people, and really, I do not respect God. That is painful for me to say. Don't get me wrong, I love God, but I just don't find myself giving Him the reverence that He deserves, and that really bothers me. I have had a hard time respecting people all my life, and I think that is why I have such a hard time revering God.
I will let you in on a little “secret”. Throughout most of my life, the main, if not only, reason I did the right thing was because I was afraid of the consequences of doing wrong. I rarely went out with my friends in high school because I was afraid I would get in trouble. I didn't obey the rules because I respected them or because I wanted to do the right thing. I did them because I was afraid of getting in trouble. Fear has been my biggest motivator for most of my life. Not love, not respect. FEAR! I hate that realization, but it is true. I'm not really afraid anymore. Well, not as much as I used to be. But I'm pretty sure my motivation is still not where it needs to be. I want to follow God's commands because I love and respect Him and simply want to do them out of that love of respect. I need a lot of help in this category though. But at least there is hope for me, right? If you think about it, please pray that my love and respect/reverence for God will continue to grow daily. It bothers me that I can love God but not revere Him. If you go through the same thing, remember that you are not alone. If you need somebody to talk to, let me know. I am far from being where I need to be, but.. maybe we can figure this thing out together.