When I Feel Guilty or Beyond Forgiveness


A Testimony

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From an E-mail Sent in Response to this Website
(As always, this is shared only by the permission of the person who sent it.)

I wanted to thank you for what you have done for me. About eight or nine years ago I found your website. I was going through a miserable and terrible time where I kept having these terrible thoughts about God Ė cussing at him, thoughts of blasphemy, bad thoughts about others, and many other things I was too ashamed to even mention. I was horrified by these thoughts, I hated myself, and for a long time I thought God hated me too. I couldnít get past my nagging conscience. It felt like every moment of every day was just one more horrible or blasphemous thought on top of another. I thought it would never end. I though God could never forgive me and I thought I was doomed and alone.

I still believe to this day God led me to your site. I remember when I found your page about the unforgivable sin, and how you talked about Godís mercy and forgiveness. I had then finally felt relief. I realized that I wasnít the only one with this fear, and while I wish no one else would have to go through this, I was relieved to know I wasnít alone or just completely warped.

The issue didnít go away immediately. I still struggled for quite some time, going back and forth, my mind cooking up new ways that would prevent God from forgiving me. In time I grew convinced, and God helped me with the struggles. For the first time in a long time I was genuinely happy.

Recently these thoughts have sprouted up again, as they have done so from time to time. I often come back to your site for a refresher and find comfort. Even today I did, looking over one of your pages Ė it seems as if you were talking to me right here in person. You truly understand, and that is a huge relief.

Thereís definitely good days and bad days but thereís always that desire to keep hanging on no matter what. I have always found John 6:37 to be encouraging when I feel guilty or too far gone, and that has helped me to keep things in perspective.

    John 6:37  . . . whoever comes to me I will never drive away.

Looking back on my own life, I realized if it werenít for these trials I may have not come to know Christ. Growing up, I didnít go to church and I always thought if I were a good person God would let me into heaven. Years down the road, when a lot of this started, I felt more and more pressed to seek God, despite feeling so condemned. I took more time getting to know Jesus and who he was and what it meant to be forgiven and saved. It took a while to finally sink in, but I can attest that God really does use trials to bring us closer. Itís amazing how that works. Itís so contrary to human thought but wonderfully effective.

Though I wish at times I didnít have to deal with these thoughts and anxieties, I would have rather gone through this than to go through life without knowing God. One day it will all make sense. Your writings have really changed how I look at these situations and they inspire me to keep pushing ahead trusting God.

I am one of those people who are constantly checking locks on doors, even after I know it is locked. I now realize that by constantly asking people and seeking affirmation from them that God accepts me Iím only making my compulsion worse. I guess everyone thinks they are the one case scenario Ė that they have somehow managed to be the one person on the planet who is an exception to Godís grace. I need to stop thinking like that and stop giving into my fears and compulsions.

I always feel refreshed by your writings, even reading a few more pages today has given me great peace and reminders to keep my eyes on God and his love and not on the size of my mistakes.

I think most people fear rejection, they fear if they tell someone they will think they are just awful sinners or doomed lost causes. Your work to bring people to God is wonderful. You must get a lot of e-mails but, I just wanted to thank you and let you know what you write and say really is changing peopleís lives. I thank God for his mercy and forgiveness and also for you. Thank you so, so much!

I would be perfectly fine if you wanted to use the email for your webpage. I hope it will help someone else. Itís okay if you use my name.

With sincerest gratitude and peace,

Nicole


Comments I sent Nichole about her e-mail

Her quotes are in a pinker color.

I couldnít get past my nagging conscience

It feels like oneís conscience but it is actually just anxiety.

The issue didnít go away immediately.

It never does. As I have written:

    Until you realize that false feelings will continue no matter how devoted you are to Christ, youíll be so vulnerable to false feelings that the tempter will keep piling them on more than ever. None of us ever gets to the point where we are no longer tempted. Unwanted thoughts and feelings would only slightly taper off if the tempter has tried so often without ruffling your feathers that he begins to believe that such an attack will never succeed with you and is a complete waste of his time. If he got mileage out of that approach in the past, he will take a lot of convincing.

    Satan is a sore loser. 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. When, finally, he seems to leave, it is only to bide his time for a surprise attack. His persistence is so very unpleasant. The positive side, however, is that this will make you stronger and stronger as you keep resisting his lies.

    One of the most important things is to focus on Godís great love for you and not let deceptive spirits trick you into thinking that God frowns on you when you fall into sin. Yes, God is disappointed, but when a little child with good parents runs off and falls, whatís the first thing he does? He looks to mommy or daddy for comfort. You, too, should run into Daddyís arms for the comfort you need. God is on your side. He cares deeply for you. Your spiritual enemies, however, want to make you feel uneasy about running to God. They know we instinctively recoil from anyone we fear might be angry or displeased with us and we will keep that person at armís length. Your enemies want you to be standoffish from the only One who can truly deliver you and defeat their attempts to bring you down. They donít want you to rejoice in Godís forgiveness but to feel miserable and isolated from the warmth of Godís comfort.

    To nurture your awareness of Godís love for you, read How Much Does God Love Me? and all the links listed there.

    Just as a hypochondriac insists he is sick, no matter what a doctor says, and someone with anorexia nervosa insists she is fat, no matter what the mirror and scales tell her, anyone suffering the type of attack you are under will insist he is guilty, unless he stubbornly refuses to believe what his conscience tells him.

    You need to keep reminding yourself that no oneís conscience is perfect, and the attack you are suffering has given you a particularly faulty conscience. You have to get used to going around feeling guilty. It is not an indication that anything is wrong. It is simply normal for you. Giving into the guilt feeling by apologizing, or whatever method is usual for you, is like an alcoholic giving into a craving for drink. Youíll feel an immediate relief but it will not last for long before the craving returns. Moreover, giving in worsens the addiction.

 . . . my mind cooking up new ways that would prevent God from forgiving me.

Yes, this is what happens. Anxiety acts as an alarm that goes off within us indicating that something is seriously wrong and causing our brain to keep seeking the reason so that it can be corrected. Clinical Anxiety, however, means that the anxiety is driven not by a rational reason for concern but by a chemical imbalance.

When, for example, a fire alarm goes off, it sounds the same regardless of whether it was triggered by an actual fire or by a technical malfunction. Since a false alarm sounds exactly the same Ė highly unpleasant Ė as when it is triggered by genuine danger, it is very tempting to feel disturbed about the alarm continuing, even when you have checked and confirmed that there is no danger. So it is with your anxiety. Unfortunately, for as long as you suffer from this anxiety you will just have to keep reminding yourself that it is a false alarm and get used to it blaring and being unpleasant and refuse to treat it as if it were real.

When anxiety is a false alarm it is not only unpleasant, it can confuse us spiritually. Anxiety feels like a torturously guilty conscience that keeps nagging away no matter how utterly we are divinely forgiven, cleansed of all sin and made holy by faith in Jesus. God has promised to forgive all the sins of everyone who puts his/her faith in the forgiving power of Jesusí sacrifice. Since anxiety is far too incessant to be ignored, however, it is hard not to slip into believing the persistent, overwhelmingly strong feeling, rather than keep stubbornly believing Godís promise. Add to this the fact that anxiety keeps telling us that something is seriously wrong when everything is actually fine, and the foundation to our entire relationship with God Ė believing that through Jesus our past failings no longer hinder our relationship with God Ė is under attack. The spiritual confusion can be serious if we cave in to believing our powerfully deceptive feelings rather than resolutely clinging to raw faith in both Christís eagerness to secure our full forgiveness and his ability to do so.

Recently these thoughts have sprouted up again

Thatís not surprising. As I said the devil doesnít give up easily. It is also true that anxiety is a health issue and our health tends to fluctuate.

I often come back to your site for a refresher and find comfort.

Thatís an important key to continued victory

It took a while to finally sink in but I can attest that God really does use trials to bring us closer.

Yes.

I would have rather gone through this than to go through life without knowing God.

Indeed! Those who have an easy life are not to be envied. See God Isnít fair? and the pages it leads to.

I now realize that by constantly asking people and seeking affirmation from them that God accepts me Iím only making my compulsion worse.

It is hard for people to realize this. They imagine that if they could get an answer to just one question, anxiety would vanish, but it never happens because, despite how it feels, anxiety stems not from a question but from a medical issue. Itís not that a nagging question drives anxiety; it is that anxiety drives the questions, and if that question is answered another will appear to fill the vacuum.

As I have to keep telling people who write to me with questions:

    I am desperate to help you but despite what one might expect, my very many years of experience with hundreds of Christians asking such questions has proved over and over that answering your questions will not end up helping you.

    Your questions will end up being literally endless. This is the nature of the tricks your mind is playing on you. You will never feel sure, no matter what experiences you have (angel visitations, or whatever) and no matter how well you know God. It is obvious from your questions that you suffer from excess anxiety Ė a medical condition Ė and this anxiety will remain no matter what I say or anyone else says. So, unfortunately, the unavoidable fact is that I would be wasting your time and mine answering your questions. You will feel sure that an answer will give you peace Ė and it might for a day or so Ė but the doubts will then start up again. So what you need is not answers to your questions but an understanding of the real source of your anxiety Ė OCD.

    OCD is called the doubting disease and it goes to absolutely ridiculous lengths. Your OCD takes a religious form but to understand it, consider someone who checks locks over and over because of OCD. He locks the door and is sure it is locked. Then in just a couple of minutesí time he begins wondering if he really locked it. The doubt grows until, rather than put up with the doubt, he decides to ďput his mind at restĒ by checking. Phew! Itís locked. He is now at peace and can get on with life. But then in a couple more minutes he begins to wonder if maybe the door had not been correctly locked. He puts up with that nagging thought for a while but the worry grows stronger and stronger until he is again convinced that the only hope he has of finding peace is to check all the locks. It would only take one check and then he would be really sure and will never have to check again that night. He checks and feels so much better. Then a couple of minutes later . . .

    What feeds this ridiculous addiction to checking is that checking temporarily feels good because it relieves all the anxiety. But, like all addictions, the good feeling is short-lived and it just inflames the yearning for more. The only way to break this addiction Ė and any other addiction Ė is to stop feeding the habit Ė refusing to ease the anxiety by seeking reassurance that everything is okay.

    Someone whose OCD focuses on religion, rather than on locks, will keep seeking reassurance over and over that he/she really is saved but no matter how often he/she asks and what convincing proof he/she receives, doubts will quickly return.

    When people keep writing to me about this, I am forced to tell them: Like everyone else with OCD, you will never be able to ask enough people or get answers that satisfy you. No matter how certain you are that one would suffice, not even a thousand angelic visitations would prove enough. No one should keep pandering to your OCD. It will not only wear them out but in the long term it will not only end up achieving nothing for you, it will actually make your OCD worse.

    To reassure someone with OCD is like buying drugs for an addict, when what is needed is for the addict to simply endure the craving for drugs because giving him the drug will give no more than temporary relief and it will then end up increasing the craving. You simply have to accept as a fact of life that you will be repeatedly harassed by doubts, fears, anxiety, guilt feelings, etc, and learn not to believe them, no matter how convincing they feel.

    The only permanent help is to seek medical help (in itself this will not be a complete cure but it can help) plus break the addiction to seeking assurance. Like the breaking of any addiction, this will be agonizingly tough and there will be severe withdrawal symptoms Ė anxiety Ė but every time you give in, it will strengthen the addiction. You simply have to hold out, putting up with anxiety and refusing to relieve it. Eventually Ė after days or weeks Ė the anxiety will begin to fade, but do not expect it to disappear. The longer the anxiety lasts, the more our wonderful Lord will use it to build within you faith that far exceeds the puny faith of those whose supposedly great faith is artificially propped up by feelings.

    So for me to feed your OCD by answering your questions would be for me to act like a drug pusher. And donít you dare feed it Ė and hence inflame it Ė by, for example, asking other people, going to other websites etc.

    All of this and much more is carefully explained in my website and it is important that you keep prayerfully reading it until you fully grasp this concept because I know of nothing more I can say or do to help you understand than what is fully expounded in those webpages.

The Support you Need
As a doctor prescribes daily medication, I prescribe daily reading of these webpages.
Ensure that your reading includes Scrupulosity: Serious Help When Worried about Salvation, Blasphemous Thoughts or Persistent Guilt Feelings and all the pages it leads to, but there is much more listed: Condemned? How to Cope When Riddled with Guilt and How Much does God Love Me? Receiving a Personal Revelation of Godís Love for You.

Next:
When a Christian Commits Gross Sin

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Not to be sold. © Copyright, 2014, Grantley Morris. Not to be copied in whole or in part without citing this entire paragraph. Many more compassionate, inspiring, sometimes hilarious writings by Grantley Morris available free at the following internet site www.net-burst.net Freely you have received, freely give.

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