Bipolar and Feeling Condemned
And Rejected by God
An Inspirational Testimony and Biblical Insights
For Everyone Battling Condemnation
Louise is a highly creative woman in her late fifties who suffers deeply from bipolar disorder (manic-depression). This condition cruelly plunges her into deep depression and even her highs are too manic for her to trust them. Some professionals have claimed she is also afflicted with paranoia, multiple personalities, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Compounding all of this, Louise suffered a most unfortunate upbringing in which she was continually brainwashed into thinking she could do nothing right. Moreover, throughout her most impressionable years she was indoctrinated by the disturbing heresies of a religious cult that kept insisting God is harsh and vengeful. She fully believed that she would not reach adulthood before Armageddon, in which she was doomed to die with her eyes rotting in their sockets.
All of these powerful psychological forces frequently combine to overwhelm Louise with feelings that she is unforgivable. She loves the Bible and yet often, instead of finding in it the comfort she desperately needs and deserves, scriptures leap out of context and seem to condemn her in a terrifying manner.
Her severe doubts over God’s acceptance have occurred while, for life-threatening health reasons, Louise has not been taking medication to control her bipolar disorder. Nevertheless, she boldly declares that she has learned much through this torment. The following was written during this most difficult period and her efforts to cling to faith will inspire many of us to do likewise.
Founder of Net-Burst.Net
I first knew the Lord’s presence in 1974 when, by reading John’s Gospel, I realized that I was his child. That was contrary to the teaching of my religion. So, having found a loving Father by the Bible, I was fanatically loyal to the Bible and only the Bible, and sent away anyone coming in the name of the Lord as soon as there was any small detail that I, to my limited understanding, thought was unbiblical.
I considered Abba Father my all in all, my security, my life.
One day I sat on a chair. It broke and I fell. I decided to pray for protection. The next day I broke my foot. I was badly shaken that breaking my foot had come so soon after praying for protection. The next day some church people came over who make me very nervous since they always attacked my faith. Everything I said that day seemed to condemn them, although I felt as if it was not me speaking. Then all my condemnations stretched to the point where I saw myself as an Antichrist, a Judas, a persecutor of Christianity, although I certainly had no intention of being such. The following morning I was doing my daily joyful and ecstatic Bible study, and as I got up from my bed, I heard a small voice inside me say, “You are rejected.” It was not a thought, but a voice inside me; the only one like it I have ever heard.
Next day, determined not to believe that voice, I tried to do my Bible study, but it bit and bit me with horrible condemnation. I wept violently, having previously been so sure God loved me, so very sure. I spent months of sleepless nights with my heart aching and burning and pounding, with all the most terrible condemnations of the whole Bible thrown at me, and I kept trying and trying to believe there was hope.
I thought of many encouraging scriptures but although I felt close to God some days, the closer I felt and happier I was, the harder I paid for it with agony and condemnation right afterward. It reached the point where if I even touched the Bible I felt not just emotional pain but a terrible, debilitating physical pain in my heart. In my agony I badly blasphemed God.
Just prior to discovering the Net-Burst.Net website, the whole thing came to a head. I lost all hope. I got angry at the God I have diligently sought as my Abba Father for 34 years. I felt he had tricked me.
Six months to the day after hearing that voice of rejection, I found the Net-Burst.Net website.
I was so moved that I wrote in my e-mail to the author of the webpages:
Grantley, how I thank God for you! How can I praise God enough for the answer to prayer that clicking on your website was for me? I was at my wit’s end; so moaning and groaning and depressed and weak. I’ve been longing for the Word of God, but somehow thinking myself disfellowshipped from it. Now I know that, no matter what, I must continue.
This morning, after reading what you wrote, I woke up and wanted to read the Bible as I used to, but I was terrified. I prayed, and the phrase from Scripture came into my mind, “approach with confidence,” and I had a wonderful time and my heart is full of thanks to the God of forever mercy.
As thrilling as this experience was, however, it did not last. I soon plunged back into despair, then regained hope, then back into despair, over and over. I would flip from one to another in just a matter of hours. Even during sleep I would be violently awakened with condemnation. Grantley was not the slightest surprised. His wide experience in helping people keeps affirming that every spiritual advance invites a serious counter-attack from the enemy. Despite an occasional high, every inch of spiritual ground we take is fiercely contested.
During my despairing times the voice that had said I was rejected would seem so believable and I would write such things to Grantley as:
Just when I thought I found freedom, BOOM! Disaster on me. Torture! Hell! Judgment!
I am totally confused, suffering from the worst grief of my life, plus the terrible guilt of my completely unfaithful reaction to this. I kept asking and asking for grace, but it seems to be impossible for me to have any.
I see myself in all the unfaithful, rejected people in the Bible. Around other Christians I feel defiling and defiled, and separated from them whom I would love to enjoy so much.
There is no hope for me. Goodbye cruel world. It is all my fault for getting emotionally high and saying I want to have golden faith. Well I do want it, and I believe the Word, but I am obviously not beloved, and obviously he considers me wicked, and so goodbye everyone who is loved by him, I am too jealous to be your friend.
It is clear to me that I am a demon, cursed since birth. I got so much hope from you, then today, lower than ever.
My mother was right. She knew I was wicked. And so I am. I cannot have any faith without buying it by taking drugs (bipolar medication), and even then it doesn’t last.
I am detested, hated, cursed!
I was in such torment I hit myself in the head with a piece of metal and it bled and bled.
In those down times I longed for death. All I could think about was where it says in the book of Revelation that they will seek death and not find it.
Each time, after sinking so low, however, I would do my utmost to claw out of the pit. Then I would write such things as:
I wrote poems in which I held on, despite the devastatingly strong feeling that the Bible condemned me:
I guess, Grantley, if you, a man, have mercy on me, God, who is greater, must also have mercy on me, although it seems incomprehensible to me.
In my dark times I feel like God has tricked me. But, thinking of how a father pities his children, I remember my father who I only had until I was four. Not once had my earthly father tricked me.
LET ME LEAP THE WALL OF HELL
With my seeing, seeking eye
I see nothing but good
I see your gorgeous reaching sky
I see a piece of wood
And there is nothing there but beauty
Wonderful and sweet
There is no line of hard cold duty
There is a lot to eat
An earth that’s beautiful to look at
Ruined by confusion
Destruction, always looming, that
We live in fear’s addiction.
I don’t believe the book’s cold horrors
No, I won’t, I can’t
The works of Creator aren’t horrors
No, no, I will rant
He must be good, I will believe
He must want life for all
So horrors I will not receive
I’ll dare to leap the wall
Out of the hell of raging men
Who sound forth horror’s voice
Out of the caged and darkened den
For I have the choice
I’ve raged myself in terror wild
But I repent and say
Come to him whose goodness mild
And flesh and blood did pay
I won’t believe he’ll reject me
Nor any other one
I won’t believe I’ll horror see
To have his good will done
No, I don’t care what is written –
All his marvelous works
Contradict horror, e’en though I’m bitten
And in me it still lurks
Upon emerging from despair I would hope my dark acceptance of condemnation was gone forever, but Grantley would tell me such things as:
You can be sure that the feeling of condemnation will return over and over because that is the nature of spiritual warfare and for as long as we are here, we live in a spiritual war zone.
Satan is a sore loser. Despite our victories, once he finds something that shakes us up he keeps trying it over and over relentlessly, until he is absolutely convinced that his tactics will never again work with you. His persistence is so very unpleasant for you. The positive side, however, is that this will make you stronger and stronger as you keep resisting his lies.
So although the feelings will keep returning, they are your opportunity to grow strong in faith. You won’t feel strong, you’ll feel as weak as dishwater during the attack, but by simply holding on you are building spiritual muscle.
I valued Grantley’s reminders because many times in the past, my faith would spring up with joy, only to wither away at the first little problem. Almost as soon as bad feelings would return I would mistakenly conclude that the good was just a trick to make me think God loves me when he does not really.
I am always looking for, “Ahhhhhh, it’s over!” not realizing that maybe I’ll have a needed rest, but there is still more to the journey. I keep hearing in my head, “You have need of endurance.”
During one of my countless lows I wrote to Grantley:
Every Christian is under repeated attack, but by holding on to faith in Christ, we win.
Pray for me. All kinds of scriptural reasons to believe the condemnation fly into my head. Another has just come to me. Is there any end to it? I refuse to believe the condemnation. I should not even consider it, because when I do, it looks so plausible. But he loves me. No father ever rejects his child who longs for him, or he simply is not a father but an orphanage manager.
I reject you, devil, who keeps trying to devour me. Get out of my life!
I’m looking at a rose. Its beauty says, God loves his child and will never ever reject her. And even if the sun does not come out, nor the moon, Psalm 136 still says twenty-six times, “for his mercy endures forever.” My feelings for my children tell me that a mother is only as happy as her unhappiest child. The love of the infinite God must be greater still. Can a mother forget her nursing infant? And yet the Lord says even if that were possible he will never forgot us, and we are written on the palms of his hands (Isaiah 49:15-16). This I will, I will, I will, I will, I will, believe!
A tiny flower is much wiser
Teaches “He loves me”
So I will be a rank despiser
Of frightening threats I see
I will sing only of his goodness
I will shout his praise
Forever is his mercy’s faithfulness
Which will his children raise.
No, I won’t say “You watch out”
No, I won’t say “Toil”
No, I won’t say with a clout
“He might your life spoil”
No, he’s good and I’ll trust that
Yes I will, don’t care
For our God is not a cruel rat
But hears our every prayer!
When I woke up one morning the scripture came immediately to mind, “Harsh discipline is for those who forsake the way” (Proverbs 15:10). I found that comforting, however, since he disciplines those he loves (Hebrews 12:6-10; Revelation 3:19). I felt loved.
I am now seeing a big difference in the way Jesus treated his own and the judgments he pronounced. For instance, anyone denying him would be denied before the Father, yet Peter denied him three times. The Jews were a wicked and adulterous generation seeking a sign which would not be given to them, yet Thomas was given the sign he demanded, even though it would have been better for him to have believed without the sign. I keep seeing how justified God would be in rejecting me. So now I am concentrating on belief in Jesus, and that those who come to him in repentance are not judged, even if they have acted atrociously.
I am now reading the Bible looking only for grace. I’ve named a notebook, “The Book of Grace” and I’m writing in it all the gracious ways our Father treated people in the Bible. Grantley was thrilled, commenting that we need to read the Bible through the right lens. By highlighting grace, I am polishing that lens.
Long ago I had left all religions, feeling they were all false, and believed only the written word. Then, to my horror, I had felt kicked out of the Bible and feared it. More recently, however, God has drawn me to various scriptures, telling me that the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life, and that it is not by cold doctrine alone but the Spirit that one decides if a church is of God, and by the principles in John’s letters, that anyone born of God, loves, acts righteously and so on. (He has also revealed that I could not feel peace until I have gone back into the roots of my whole life in religions, and repented of all the bad attitudes I had.)
I recall the woman who had a flow of blood. Despite having the condition for so long, she refused to believe that some seemingly harsh Scriptures – the letter of the law – meant she had no hope in God:
Pushing through the thronging crowds
Buffeted and weak
A woman touched his garment
A woman very meek
She knew it was not lawful
Unclean she was and sick
But trusting in his mercy
She knew there’d be no trick
He looked to see who touched him
Though frightened, she confessed
And tenderly, he called her “Daughter”
As a Father, he blessed.
Faith overcame the obstacles
The law placed before her
To teach that his heart wants to heal
The dirtiest seeking sinner
No need to fear he will refuse
A heart broken, contrite
To such a one his power he gives
To conquer by his might.
I draw comfort from 2 Timothy 3:16 that says all Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for “teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” It does not say that a role of Scripture is to condemn. So whenever I found it condemning, I was misunderstanding the purpose of the Scripture. The apparent negativity must be a loving warning because there is still hope, not callous condemnation because all hope has gone. Truly, as the saying goes, “while there’s life there’s hope.” When the Bible doesn’t lift me, it must be my emotions dragging me down, not God.
I can approach this matter from another angle and come to the same uplifting conclusion. God’s word is truth (John 17:17) and the truth will set us free (John 8:32), taught Jesus. So if I suppose I have found biblical truth and instead of setting me free it binds me up with burdens or fears, it cannot be biblical truth. I must be misunderstanding what God meant by the biblical passage I’m reading.
O yes, the accusation’s true
O yes, how I have sinned
O yes, I have not known to do
The way God has determined
But I repent and want to turn
And he will not reject
When in humility I yearn
To in his way delect
So Satan, you accuser of old
Get behind me, go
For blood of Jesus makes me bold
To his acceptance know
For I do not want to continue
In a way that’s wrong
I want, my Lord, to rejoice in you
And sing only your song.
I find hope by putting together two scriptures: “He does not want to lose one,” and “With God all things are possible.” This not only changes the way I see myself, but the way I see every human on this earth. I believe now that I should freely give mercy, not wait until I think someone deserves it. My background was so hard that it has taken me all these years to learn what love is. I’m not there yet, but at last I’m beginning to realize that believing God rejected me denies the Spirit and his love. I repent of this. I do not say I stand. I am weak, but as the apostle said, “When I am weak, I am powerful.”
I was writing dark poems to myself the other day, and began to wonder how could I believe in love if I don’t love me. In the highs and lows of bipolar disorder I have always loathed myself or been too enthralled with myself. Even when high, and seeming to like myself a lot, it was phony – just a cover-up for the loathing.
Until now I have been unable to have mercy on others, nor can I love them, as myself. On the contrary, as I continually judged myself, so I judged them. Grantley says in his extensive experiencing in helping people spiritually he has found that three types of forgiveness are closely related: believing God has forgiven us, forgiving ourselves, and forgiving those who have hurt us. He says that an advance in any one of these makes other types of forgiveness easier.
In deep and fiery condemnation
Sweeping and breaking my heart
I seek a secure foundation
To find a reason to hope impart
Its lesson is clear and beautiful:
If I lick my chops and wait
For destruction of the unfaithful
For wicked men I hate
Then wicked is my own heart
Then wicked is my thought
For our dear Lord wants to impart
Life to all, he has sought and sought
He wants to lose no one at all
And with him all is possible
His Words “Forgive them they know not they fall”
Are his Church’s crucible
Hear the lesson, my soul, learn it well
“Forgive them they know not what they do”
Spoken truly, gives peace, breaking the spell
For Devil’s work he will undo
There is no one on this earth
God does not yearn to save
There is no one of human birth
Whose salvation he does not crave!
My next-door neighbor says there are no miracles. She believes in God but asks him for nothing. Having some idea of the extent of my agony, she said, “Why would you believe? I don’t want to go through pain.”
I told her about my first baby. I had been married thirteen years and was doing what I thought was “missionary” work for my religion.
We had not planned a child. In fact, having children was so frowned upon by our religion that I thought it a hideous sin. I had two days of horrendous labor. My doctor did not show up. No painkillers, no support, nothing – just my husband, telling me in my agony to – of all things – go to sleep!
I yelled and screamed my head off. I told God that Eve, not me, ate the forbidden fruit, so this pain should not happen to me. I told my husband never to touch me again. This was not going to happen again, ever.
Finally, my firstborn was placed in my arms, and took my breast. Never have I been in such ecstasy. I said to my husband, “I have produced a man with the aid of Jehovah.” Then I said, “I want more babies.” Next, when I should have been exhausted and gone to sleep, I phoned everyone I knew on the whole continent, many of whom had decided for religious reasons that now was not the time to have babies, and some who were approaching the age when it would be too late for them. I told everyone, “Having a baby is what it is all about! No woman should have to go without this blessing.” I was so convincing that many babies were born as a result.
From all that agony had come the most wonderful joy I have ever experienced. Even to this day my joy with that son continues. Doesn’t Scripture speak of Abraham and Sarah, their bodies both dead, hoping against hope? This is what in my sane times I have been holding on to: hope against hope. Yes, according to the seeming legitimate condemnation flashed into my head, my spirit is dead and cannot bring forth faith; dead dead dead. But no no no. I will hang on: hope against hope. “For in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). I live, therefore there is hope. Jesus said he would not put out a flickering wick, nor break a broken reed. If there is even a tiny spark of hope left, he will not put it out.
My second baby was induced quickly, almost without pain, and I suffered not joy but depression.
The third time, having a terrible labor like the first, I kept my mouth shut. I told my husband, “Go away. I’m having this baby by myself.” Instead of lying down, I sat up and rubbed my legs so hard during the contractions that I bruised them.
The baby was two months premature. He was born dark purple. Dead. They warned that if they revived him he would be brain damaged. I insisted that no matter what the consequences they keep him alive. I had suffered far too much to let it be in vain. For month after month my baby continually stopped breathing, so for a year I carried him on my chest all day and slept with him on my chest all night. Today he is still alive, exceptionally intelligent, and has a baby daughter.
With my first baby, the pain brought me great joy, and with the last one, the pain gave me great motivation to fight, fight, fight, to keep him alive year after year.
Like my labor, I have sure yelled and screamed a lot this year over struggling to have faith. I have wimped and cried and blamed and felt sorry for myself. I pray this will like my third labor, and that I’ll learn perseverance. I pray we all learn that.
I think of how the sea pounds the beach, threatening to strip it of all sand, but the sand it takes is returned again. It has often seemed that all my faith is being stripped from me, but each time, as I have held on, faith has been returned.
Out of all of our ashes, will come beauty: it’s a promise (Isaiah 61:3).
Oh the horrible circles of life
I long for the straight and narrow
Oh the battle to flee from strife
Oh the weak sick sorrow
All I can do, is get on my knees
And face the strife in his power
All I can do, is think of the trees
In his planting awaiting a shower
And wait, but only for a step at a time
To wait, to wait, to wait
Though the thick cloud seem to rot with slime
Sonlight I’ll anticipate
Beauty for ashes, beauty for ashes
I must think as the fire burns
And keep hoping, knowing the lashes
Make gold of faith as one learns
Trust in his love, you wick which is flickering
He’ll never, ever put you out
Remember he cares, whenever you’re bickering
Thinking his is the harsh, hard shout
Trials are joy, O my soul, rise up strong
Shut your eyes to the sight
Though it seems to last all life long
Imagine Daystar at end of night!
“Oil of joy for mourning, a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness”
I remember my husband, during that last labor standing by the wall. He is very inexpressive, as to affection, and I had my eyes closed most of the time. One time, however, I opened my eyes during a pain-free moment, and saw on my husband’s face an expression of love such as I had never seen before as he looked at me. I want to see that look on the face of Jesus as he looks upon me. I want my spirit to give birth to golden faith, but I know, this will probably take a horrendous labor. I have to stop being such a wimp.
I want my Lord’s soul to take pleasure in me. Then holding on to faith gets difficult, and I think, “Oh no! I can’t stand this!” Well I sure didn’t think I would ever survive that first labor. The second, I knew I would survive, but it led to another trial: depression.
I want to treat faith not as an enemy bringing pain and suffering, but as my beloved child born of the Spirit. I recall how, as a mother, I happily endured so many sleepless nights, so thrilled was I to have those boys. And if I treat my faith with the same nurturing love and dedication, keeping it alive as I did my lastborn by holding it 24/7, wonderful things will happen.
How good Abba Father is, to show me this connection between the children I physically birthed and nurtured, and my current trial. When I can’t sleep, I’ll sing lullabies to my faith, to help it in its infancy to become stronger and stronger. I’m always inclined to throw my baby faith away when it cries. Why would I do that when I would never throw my earthly baby away, nor even feel anything but privileged to nurture him?
And when all looks lost, I need to remember my purple, dead son. All authority in that hospital said it was hopeless. Even after reviving him, the doctor told me he definitely would not last a week. And I remember all the emergencies over the years, all the sleepless nights while they desperately tried to keep him alive with his terrible life-threatening asthma.
So with that unearthly voice telling me I’m rejected, and all the scriptural condemnations hurled at me, everything seemed to say that my faith is purple, dead. Even if it is revived it will not be any good. God revived it anyway. Now, Satan tells me continually that it will not live a day, let alone a week.
I remember how determined I was to make those doctors liars. By the grace and power of Abba, Father through Christ, let me be just as determined to have a healthy strong faith, a big six foot two strong man, like that son is now.
Sometimes it seems easier, as John Bunyan said, to just give in and say it’s over for me. Nevertheless, I must continually pray. Regardless of whether I feel God is listening, I pray and pray that I keep pressing on, “from this day forward” in humble dignity, as his daughter, and see trials not as horrific problems I cannot face, but as challenges.
I remember my father holding me upside down by the feet, shaking me because I had swallowed a sucker and was choking to death. He saved my life. And yet as a very small child it must have been frightening to be shaken by the feet, by my Dad. Perhaps my very hard experiences are like that.
No matter what happens, I must wait it out, wait it out, wait it out, and believe, believe, believe, that I am his child.
I have just two choices: I can be a wimp, deciding God has left me (or constantly worrying that that he might have done so), or I can trust and hope. Oh God, help me to stop wimping!
“For the creation was subjected to futility in hope . . .”
Banished from the garden
Refused the tree of life
Earth’s surface did harden
And mankind lived in strife
Would the great Creator
Whose breath and life is love
Allow a tragic crater
’Tween his children to shove
Or was it a wise purpose
O yes it had to be
For nothing is in vain for us
This faith’s eye will see
The nest of comfort perfect
Would not need any gift
Potential of his own elect
Could have no where to lift
But as a wise good Father
Wants his child to excel
Although he might just rather
Rest in a perfect cell –
Out, he said, you go now
Spread your wings and fly
For he will not weakly allow
The inborn gift to die
So let’s rejoice in true hope
That we will be like him
Futility’s challenge has the scope
To light a pathway dim
So let me stop my groaning
My lazy complaints be gone
And rise, and fly high honing
The pathway to the dawn
Be gone fear and weak terror
His wind omnipotent
Will make good of each error
By mighty Son he sent
For his child will recover
From every painful fall
For he is our great Lover
Who will make us all stand tall!
For the mentally ill to put themselves in God’s hands for healing, will be extremely painful, but a true cure. What I need is faith in his tender loving care, and faith that he expects nothing of me that I cannot do, nor will it damage me.
There have been times when in my agony I have regretted my prayers for healing. I still draw back at times but, yes, I do want to be sane, healthy, and a daughter God can be proud of. He alone knows how much more pain this will entail but, since he loves me, he will, at the right time, give me just the right dose of pain that I can take, coupled with tender loving care as the only safe pain-killer.
“Let my beloved come into his garden and eat his pleasant fruits” (Song of Solomon)
A paradise of breath-taking exquisite beauty
Blooms of every vivid hue dazzle the senses
With joy so intense it pains.
Dressed in delicate filmy blossoms in spring
Miraculously transformed in autumn
Into sweet and delicious nourishment
I’m sorry, my beloved Jesus
The blooms of innocent faith are withered
Dead bits of rag
Good for nothing.
And the fruit
In the springtime of my belief
Robed in those sweet-smelling, appealing blossoms of promise
Now, crooked, misshapen fruit, full of worms
I love you, Oh, how I love you
How did the garden die
I wanted, with everything in me
To bring joy to your heart, and hear you say “Well done”
“Blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out”
O my beloved
Send the life-giving Holy Spirit
To blow upon my garden with a healing breath
That you may at least smell a spicy odor
Even the dead blooms give forth scent
The imperfect, polluted fruit’s odor is still wonderful
I still believe with all my heart, beloved Jesus
I’m broken, withered, wormy, but my love for you is pure
“I am my beloved’s and his desire is toward me”
Jesus, I am yours, though damaged
I believe your desire is toward me
Your touch will bring shape and color back into those blooms
And cure the fruit.
Blow, Holy Spirit
Revive me, that I may delight my beloved
With brilliant tinted blooms of faith and trust that banish fear
A garden cultivated, watered with truth
Jesus, beloved, live in me
That the fruit be of you, perfect and nourishing
To ravish your eye and your palate
Fit for the most glorious King you are.
The pain and doubt and lack of self-control
That caused the dreadful blight of bloom and fruit
Ruining the garden.
Oh, Jesus, by you I’ll keep those blossoms whole and glowing
That you will take delight and all will see
And want to plant those seeds in their hearts also
And their beloved you’ll come to be.
“This is my beloved, and this is my friend.”
I have a habit of continually looking for confirmation that God loves me. Grantley warned me against this, saying God wants our best and it is not in our best interest for God to keep giving us signs. It would keep our faith weak. He urged that I just stubbornly believe. God’s love is unchanging.
I discussed this with my husband and he reminded me of how he may be drinking a glass of water, and I say to him, “Do you love me?” I’d wait a split second. “You don’t love me.” I’d wait a few seconds. “No one could ever love me.” Moments later, I’d blurt out, “I’m unlovable!”
Then he finishes his water and says, “Of course I love you,” and laughs.
My insecurity goes right back to my childhood. My mother meant well, I think. I believe that the same accident that killed my father seriously damaged her and whatever she did as a mother was absolutely wonderful under the circumstances. Better than I could have done. Her sad eyes Nevertheless, I was a very serious person whereas she was a great joker. Her jokes were all at my expense, as she laughingly called me obnoxious and said when I was in agony, “Nobody loves a moaner.” I took that to mean I was unlovable.
As a child I was a terrified lonely bookworm, painfully shy, nervous, longing for company, a worm afraid to be stepped on. I adored my mother, but never received a word of approval or love or affection from her except, when she whipped me, she would say she was doing it because she loved me. Instead, my brother and mother had a great time scaring me to death as a great form of entertainment, even though my nerves were shattered and I lived in terror.
My mother’s sad eyes hurt me more than her beatings, so much did I love her and want to make her happy. The disappointment she felt in me, and everyone else’s condemnation, made me hate authority of any kind, while at the same time feeling it necessary to force myself to meekly obey, making my life a series of meek obedience to everyone, then violent temper tantrums punished by the belt and forced apologies.
I am beginning to think that when Peter’s epistle speaks of being redeemed from the empty way of life handed down from one’s forebears (1 Peter 1:18), it includes not only the specifically religious teaching we received but the conception of God’s nature that we unthinkingly gain merely from relating to those who are close to us. In my case, I keep fearing that God does not love me and will trick me, because that is how I perceived my mother and brother to treat me.
In contrast, someone I know who I’ll call John, is passive and peaceful because he grew up as king in his home. He never had responsibility, and his needs were always fulfilled immediately, given priority over the needs of everyone else. So he believes God to be like that and that all he has to do is say, “Forgive me,” and he is forgiven and can then forget the matter.
For many years I used to dream that I was dressed in ragged underwear, hiding behind a transparent umbrella, saying I was sorry to everyone, and them all turning their faces from me in disgust. Not only was this symbolically consistent with my upbringing, I fall many times into saying in shame I am sorry over and over again for the same things, even to God, instead of asking for forgiveness and then forgetting about it, like John does.
Though he died when I was so young, I still remembered my father’s love of the Creator, and I loved the works of God very much. It was like I knew two gods; a loving one who created beauty and a ferocious beast of a god waiting to step on me. The ferocious beast won out, since my mother’s teaching was so much more loud and powerful than my father’s. (I didn’t realize that, as Elijah discovered, God is not in the terrifying wind, the earthquake, or the fire, but in the still small voice – 1 Kings 19:11-12.)
Everyone seems to feel a profound similarity between God and some human they know, whether it be a pastor, parents, friend, or whatever. But if God were exactly like any human, he would not be perfect. All parents, for example, differ and are imperfect and the pendulum swings. Someone grows up despised and beaten, as John’s father did, and the next generation gives their child, what they consider perfection, making John a selfish person, whereas the whipped ones, whip themselves all their life thinking this is how God thinks of them. In all my contact with people on a spiritual basis, I don’t know anyone whose view of God has not in some way been shaped by the behavior of some human who happened to have been influential in their lives.
Our strong tendency to come to a distorted view of God based on our life experiences is why it is so important, and means life, as Jesus said in John 17:3, to know God and his Son personally. How important it is to keep on reading the Word and keep praying for divine revelation to know the Father and Son and receive the Holy Spirit, praying always for that one thing: to know him.
My spiritual agony has shone a bright light on my faith, showing me that I must not connect God with any human except Jesus Christ, our Salvation. Knowing God – not merely knowing about him – is the key.
There is a huge tendency within Christian circles in modern times to over-simplify things and give the impression that we should have easy victories, even though our Supreme Leader sweat, as it were drops of blood, over surrendering to God’s will.
Like war between nations, spiritual war is tough and messy. Easy victories are rare and often produce false confidence. So it is not surprising that even after writing the above, Louise had a sudden attack – no doubt exasperated by an imbalance in her brain chemistry – that temporarily so befuddled her that she again despaired. Here is a condensed version of her e-mail to me.
Horrible feelings come over me. I feel I want to die; that nothing is worth living for. When I feel God’s love, I feel so wonderful, and determined to be strong. But when that dark feeling grabs my chest, filling me with darkness and horror and giving physical pain, I just want to give up, and stop trying.
(The full e-mail, though only 550 words long, contained the words felt, feel, or feeling nineteen times.)
There seems to be no end to the ups and downs. I feel like God said about the Hebrews, that he would show them their sins and they would loathe themselves. I certainly loathe myself.
The thing is, it all fits in with Scripture, kind of telling me, “You think you have hope, ha ha to you!”
I think I am just one of the detestable Pharisees and scribes who betrayed Jesus. I certainly betrayed Jesus’ brethren and, “As you did to one of the least of these my brothers, you did to me.”
I hope against hope. But, when I try to do anything really good, wham I am knocked down to death, spiritually.
I replied to Louise:
You speak of “horrible feelings.” This is all they are, dear sister: feelings. They are an attack from the enemy, but God allows them because he believes in you and he is giving you a further opportunity to grow in faith and multiply the eternal reward that faith brings. This time of attack is your moment of glory; your opportunity to shine, just as it is for a champion refusing to give in to pain and pressing on to glory.
I was firm, but Louise needed to snap out of her slump into losing sight of faith and letting feelings rule. As I expected, Louise responded like the woman of God she is:
Thank you, dear Grantley, for your message. I needed that. Needed, needed, needed. I don’t know why I give in to this. I woke up this morning determined to win the battle, then surrendered. I do believe, right now, that I have him, although I feel nothing.
I’m astounded at how often you’ve used the word feel in your e-mail. To be honest, I’m surprised to see you using such unspiritual language. I expect higher things from you. Going by feelings is the opposite of the spiritual way, which is to live by faith. It is faith that saves us, nothing else. For as long as you keep looking to your feelings you will be pathetically weak, spiritually.
You said, “It all fits in with Scripture,” but the only thing it fits in with is Scripture saying over and over in many different ways that the Christian has no alternative to faith. It is faith or nothing.
Your downs will certainly continue – in fact, you may not experience any ups at all – until the devil is utterly convinced that he cannot shake your faith by messing with your feelings. Currently, he couldn’t be more delighted. You have made his day by focusing on feelings instead of faith in Christ.
You occasionally feeling God’s love is the Lord graciously continuing (for the moment) to baby you, but he requires you to grow up and completely forget feelings. You can expect all good feelings to end so that at last you will stop being led by them and start being led by the Spirit.
Please come to your senses, dear friend, and walk by faith, which is the only way any of us can please God.
Any potential I have, is because of God’s great and continual efforts to build faith in me, despite my tremendous weakness. Without him I can do nothing, and as my favorite hymn says, “One step enough for me.” Anything beyond that blows my cool.
I recommend that everyone enduring a hard time journal all feelings, good and bad. The answer to a horrible thought or event has often come to me while I am writing, and when the memory fails and we think a horror is new, to go back and see how God brought us through the same thing before is strengthening.
While researching the subject of grief I learned that childhood trauma like I suffered can cause lifetime insomnia. I need not think myself a wimp for taking medication to counter the physical effect my trauma has had on my brain. Sleep is vital, even if I must take medication to get it.
I must be careful about what and when I eat. A good diet, together with sleep, gives me strength emotionally and physically, which I need to fight spiritual battles. Jesus fed thousands to give them strength for their journey home (Mark 8:3). Through eating honey, Jonathon was better equipped than the other soldiers to defeat the enemy. Grantley has also reminded me of studies suggesting that exercise is as effective as antidepressants in fighting depression.
I must realize that the war is continuous and I have to be ready at all times to fight, and not just give in because I feel tired. “He gives strength to the weary” (Isaiah 40:29).
Since last spring, when all hell broke loose within me, I have complained loudly that I cannot enjoy the things I used to enjoy. My garden is nice, for instance, but not the thrill it once was to me. But I had a sudden thought: so what? Who enjoys their garden in the middle of a battle? I suddenly realized that I haven’t lost joy. No, the joy was diverted to spiritual warfare instead of the ordinary issues of life. I pray I stop being a complaining wimp, and enjoy the battle in the Spirit, the fruitage of which is joy, along with all the other fruit of the Spirit, including peace in the midst of the turmoil since the battle is not mine but God’s, and he will hold up my arms when they are tired. My prize is a spiritual garden of incredible beauty, laden with the fruit of the Spirit.
Some people suffer from religious Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in which their mind plays tricks, forcing into their minds the exact thoughts that they are most anxious not to think. For them, cursing God can actually prove how desperately anxious they are to honor him. Regardless of the cause, we should remember what Paul said in Romans 7, that even when we keep doing what we hates, Jesus cleanses and rescues us. In my case, however, when I feel strongly tempted to say horrible things about God, it is not OCD, it is because I am very angry at God, and I have said things so bad that I have ended up feeling suicidal over it.
It is a horrible thing to admit to myself, that I am angry at Almighty God, who is love, and whom I have no right to be angry with. But when I face the truth that I am angry over the circumstances of life or things that happen, or my health, or anything, and honestly confess to God that I have been angry at him, it is easier to drain that anger which, when stored, opens the door to temptation to say evil things about him.
I find that all the avenues of attacks Satan uses, are doors I have opened for him. They are all related to my attitudes, my actions, and my emotional health. I see that when a negative thought comes to me, if I consider it even for a moment, it takes me over, and grows, until I become frantic.
I have learned not to feel bad about it whenever I discover I am angry at God. In many of the Psalms and elsewhere in the Bible, godly people expressed their anger and disappointment to God. One Psalm says, “pour out your complaint to God”.
If I am tempted to think myself an enemy of God because I complain to him, I must remember that he told us we must love our enemies. So even if I feel his enemy, God hears my prayers, and nothing can separate us from his love.
If anyone rants and dwells on what he is angry about, it grows until a hatred develops and he will want to curse that person. But if the angry one does as the scripture says and tells the supposed offender what has upset him, it usually is cleared up. So it is in my relationship with God.
I must break any reluctance to admit to myself whenever I am angry with God. Otherwise, all those bottled up feelings, give a real opening to the devil to encourage me to curse God and say hateful things about him.
I see in my warfare, just how even a little hint of a thought develops into trouble, unless I quickly squash it. And I see, in all my attacks, that I opened the door, many times unconsciously, to the devil with his tactics. The Scripture tell us to be vigilant, because our adversary, the devil, is like a roaring lion seeking to devour. That lion, sometimes purrs like a pussy-cat with what we are tempted to think about, but we can’t ever pet him, or he will devour us while we have let down our guard. That is why, in the Lord’s prayer, just before we say deliver us from the evil one, we say “lead us not into temptation.”
I learned from a counseling book another factor behind me saying terrible things against God at times. The book said that a person can fear rejection so much that, rather than having that awful fear dangling over their head indefinitely, they actually try to arrange rejection to get it over with. But they do not want the rejection, so the battle is horrific.
I don't know if you have seen the movie Good Will Hunting. It has caused me to weep for weeks and I watch it regularly. It is about an orphan, who pushes away love, fearing it will not be real or that he will lose it. In my relationship with God I have been like that far too often.
As Grantley pointed out, for years and years and years I have let myself be brainwashed by allowing spiritual lies to go over and over in my mind. All this repetition has sunk deep into my subconscious, causing lies to seem and feel more true than the truth. I must begin to reverse this tragedy by talking positively to myself constantly, out loud if possible; admonishing myself, comforting myself, and praying to my Lord. I should use praise to banish each negative thought as it comes into my mind, even if my attempt is nothing more than thanksgiving for being on earth and not in hell. I must sing, play or listen to Christian music and have uplifting Scriptures displayed to keep reminding myself that God removes my sin. Just as a mother does not keep her child’s dirty diapers, God does not keep my sins, but destroys them, leaving me clean.
When I see things in the Bible that seem condemnatory, offering me no hope, I must tell myself that I am mistaken, since all Scripture is inspired for the purpose of “correcting and training in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16) not for condemnation.
Instead of thinking my failures are the end of me, I must keep seeing past folly and sins as warning examples, powering me to future victories. I must not be afraid of my own weakness, since the battle is not mine but the Lord’s.
I must remember all of God’s glorious promises, such as “And if I say to the wicked man, ‘You will surely die,’ but he then turns away from his sin . . . he will surely live; he will not die. None of the sins he has committed will be remembered against him. He . . will surely live (Ezekiel 33:14-16). God will never reject such a person, and I must keep remembering that every day, I am the wicked one attempting to leave such thoughts and actions, covered in full by Christ’s atonement.
I must overcome despair by fighting the fight of faith. A feeling of condemnation, is actually a necessary first step to saving faith. But the devil tries to keep us there, not stepping on to the rock of Christ, just wallowing in the condemnation. That’s the fight; to get back to the Rock and not let ourselves slip back into slimy condemnation. I am so weak. Pray for me and I pray for everyone else, that we fight in his strength.
Reader, I have shared my heart so that other weak, flickering wicks like me may be stirred up by our Lord, by his Word, and what he brings to mind. I would like to conclude with a poem for you:
When the battle rages
And I sink and fall and lose
The war is never over
But the loss is full of news
Showing all my weakness
That the next time I may know
Just what to pray for help in
That I winning seeds may sow
So let no despair conquer
After a lost battle’s fear
But let me analyze the failure
To prevent another spear
To ask my Lord to fill up
Every weak and empty place
In my shield of faith he’s building
To bring me victorious to his Face!
Abba fights the mighty battle
To save and save and save
His the weapons, sword of metal
His the love that raves
Father up on high o’erseeing
Every move we make
Seeing all the enemy’s being
Fighting for our sake
Raging love of intense yearning
For each child’s good
He – his power, hot and burning,
Let be understood –
Is zealous, with a zeal that’s true
To save and not destroy
His heart is reaching out to YOU
For you are its warm joy!
Please Take this to Heart:
If you spoke with me, Grantley, face to face I could only keep pleading with you to read every webpage in this series. I know of no other way to help you. Even if you find reading very difficult and time-consuming, I assure you that writing these webpages takes far more out of me than reading each page dozens of times takes out of you. Despite me being a painfully slow writer, I have provided you with so much about
support in realizing that you are forgivable that if it were put in book form it would be 300 pages long. And none of this was done to convince myself. I have never even momentarily doubted Jesus’ willingness and power to forgive everyone. And I have never benefited the slightest financially nor ever hoped to benefit. I have done my utmost. It is now entirely up to you to prayerfully read it all however many times it takes to get it to sink deep into your spirit.
Not to be sold. © Copyright, 2007, Louise Plaskett. Not to be copied in whole or in part without citing this entire paragraph. Many more compassionate, inspiring, sometimes hilarious writings available free at the following internet site
www.net-burst.net Freely you have received,
[ [My Shame]