the state of my faith

January 17, 2013

devotion time

I was in a spiritual wasteland for over a year after Meredith was born.

My beliefs never changed – I always loved and trusted God – but I stopped putting the effort into the relationship. As a result I experienced a lot of anxiety and frustration.

I have mentioned before that right around the time Meredith was born the church I had attended since high school (and that David’s family had been at for 25+ years) closed down. I never mentioned the reason, but I will now:  the pastor, who we thought of as a very good friend, had systematically alienated and manipulated the members, obtained sole financial control without accountability, and then stole or took all the (tithed) money for his own personal use, quit, and moved away.

It was hard.

I had a new baby, I was full of anxiety, and my second family was scattered. I was lost in the bubble of new parenthood and when it was time to emerge there was no community of faith to welcome me or support me.

I’m not blaming the sad state of my faith on anyone else but myself, but I floundered for a long time after that. I let myself get caught up in the demands of balancing work and parenthood and hobbies and I neglected God. David and I visited a whole slew of new churches and several times we thought we’d found the one where we would settle down at and commit to, only to feel something not quite right after a few months.

In the meantime I wasn’t doing much on my own. Meredith’s birth, while in some aspects reviving my prayer life (Dear God, please keep her safe, healthy, and happy…) in other ways distracted me even more from my faith. At times I felt (and feel) that I was (am) in danger of making her (and her safety, health, and happiness) my god. I feel like if I lost her, I couldn’t survive – and that’s how I want to feel about God.

For a long time I didn’t read the Bible. I didn’t even pray every day. In general I always try to live out the values that I believe in, and that’s good, but it’s not good enough for my soul.

For awhile now we’ve been attending a church that is starting to feel like home. It’s a church plant that meets in a temporary place, which we originally didn’t want because of our past experience, but it feels like a family. We starting attending a small group for young families and made some immediate connections. Next month we will officially join and have Meredith baptized. This is helping.

But my turning point came on our trip to Kansas last October. I was talking to my college friend Ellen about the struggles of daily life – even though our day to day looks much different we always seem to struggle with the same things – and she talked about finally coming to the realization that she wasn’t going to be able to fix everything and how she was learning to give things (and people) over to God and just pray.

I saw that I was trying to do it all. But I can’t. And I needed to release that burden.

So I forced myself to start a daily devotional time. It wasn’t easy. My alarm goes off at 4:30am now. Originally I thought there was no way I could get up any earlier than I absolutely had to, but a funny thing happened. I actually look forward to getting up that early. It is the only time during the week, ever, that I get to be alone in a quiet house. I drink coffee, and I sit in the peaceful room I call the library, and I read. I have been following #shereadstruth (I love it, but one day I may branch out). I read the daily verses and then I write down one that pops out at me and I journal my thoughts.

It has been amazing. I am nicer to my husband now (I think). Bad days don’t affect me like they used to. I have more joy.

I’m not saying I’m doing everything right. I just know that this is a good thing.

***

Ironically today is the first day in months that I haven’t been able to do my morning devotion due to ragey toddler circumstances. God grant me serenity…

Posted in: faith


Comments on the state of my faith

  1. 1
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    From Angie:

    Thanks for posting this Kathleen. It is a wonderful truth that in those dry times God is still holding onto us. And it is so precious to come out of such a time deeply assured of that. Nothing can shake that. Love you and your precious family.

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    From Amanda:

    So my biggest fear is that a) something will happen to my children and then b) I will end up blaming God for it. It’s a weird, irrational thing that I think about way too much. I’m starting to think it’s part and parcel with being a first time parent to super-young youngins, maybe? This is super complicated and now I’m thinking about it and THANKS A LOT, KATHLEEN. JEEZ.

  3. 3
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    From kapachino:

    Haha, no problem. You’re right though. I mean, I can’t even let myself think about something possibly happening to my child because my mind will take me to crazy bad places.

  4. 4
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    From Nora:

    I can relate to this; I did not find a church that I enjoyed when I lived in Wisconsin. Nothing felt like home and I felt totally out of place. Now that we are back in STL, Knight and I are actively attending a church that we both like (thank goodness!). He was raised more conservatively than I was (in all aspects) so it was tough for us to find a good fit but three months and counting and we are happy with it. I’m glad you are finding your away again; I’m sure it will serve you (and M!) well as time progresses. xo

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    From lauren w:

    Thanks for posting, I relate a lot! Been kind of a spiritual dry spell for a long while for me.

    PS I like how the trunk looks there, when I’m all better I’ll have to come see it :)

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    From Stacie:

    Oh wow, that kind of betrayal can really throw a wrench in your faith. But God is so good. So, so good! And when you’re on the other side just think of how great a testimony this will be to other struggling new moms :)

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    From Becky:

    We all floundered, I confess that I still am. Austin is a terrific city, but no spiritual home yet. We were so blessed by our years at FCC. It was a time of growth for all of us, and shaped our family in crucial ways. I was so grieved by the outcome of the church, so many saints affected by sin. We must be ever mindful of how our decisions affect others. You are such a blessing! love and hugs to all y’all.

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    From Naomi:

    Even from afar I have felt the impact of loosing our church. It’s only been in the past few months that I have recognized my need to grieve, and how that has affected my relationship with God as well as my new church. Thank you for opening up about this. I cannot say how much it means to me to hear some of this truth come forward. After I found out the church closed I felt very alone with my anger and grief. Reading your post has made me feel less alone. God is still faithful.

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    From Mindy:

    You’re so not alone… in all of your thoughts about motherhood and your little one, about church, about God… Motherhood can be a lonely, trying time, even as joyous and wonderful as it can be–and to have the church issues too, that is so tough! We went through something similar when our second baby was born. Not fun. But God is merciful and sticks right by us, doesn’t He? It’s cool to see you coming out of your wilderness. :) He is faithful!

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    From Mindy:

    PS. I admire your ability to post so frequently, and to write so honestly. It’s been an encouragement to me as I figure out my own blogging aspirations! Thanks!

  11. 11
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    From Johanna @ These Prices:

    This is a good thing. Thank you for posting it.

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    From Holly:

    Thanks for sharing this! I struggled with my faith for a long time after Nathan and I left our old church after a betrayal of trust – I figured if people in the church could hurt us that much, I didn’t want any part of it! It took me almost five years to get to a place where I could actually honestly say that I forgave the person involved, where I didn’t dread going to church, and where I was actively trying to grow my faith again by regular prayer and devotional time. I’m still a long way from where I want to be, faith-wise – but aren’t we all? I’m glad you’ve found a place that’s starting to feel like home :)

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    From Sarah Johnson:

    Great post- very much can identify with you in the kids can move you closer to God as some days I’m not sure how I survive. I need to commit to getting up early to work out and read- I’ve been spending the morning nap time doing it but I’m so distracted by all the things I could be doing.

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