This is part of a series I am starting called: Identifying Pain.
First, let’s deal with Bible Issues, and the feelings that arise from it. This post also deals with admitting painful emotions to ourselves in our lives. The insights came pouring out of me in this post, pretty fast.
I have been watching Mark DeJesus(hayseuss) videos, and they have been life changing. I feel God working heavily through this. What Mark teaches is to stop and be aware of your own thoughts. I woke up, and after I prayed, instantly recognized that I was beating myself up about my Bible reading like I do every day. From what I understand and have heard people say through the years, they have issues too, most push it under the rug, and tell themselves that is exactly how they are supposed to handle it! They hear in church also that we are to read our Bible like it or not, ,because we must abide by it. The problem glaring back at us though is this: If we are emotionally upset, not dealing with our feelings about it, we won’t get much out of it, no matter how much we want to.
(For those who are new to my blog, I am a very raw, honest writer who has been struggling with my faith for years, and this year has come to terms with it. I am discovering all of these things and want to write about it, you might find yourself in these writings.)
So the problem is so huge, because we have to put God first, he says so right? But, if we do it grudgingly, scared, and with the perfectionism complex of: “I have to do this, or I will be in trouble”, “I have to read because we are to persevere”.
I come from a church sadly that pushes the classic hardcore sentiment of: “read your bible, and pray”. And if anything is wrong in your life, it is because you are not reading your Bible and praying. Maybe it is that people are tense, clinching their fists in stress, wanting to please God, thinking He is this cruel taskmaster, and this is just how it is.
I for one, can tell you straight up that just reading our Bible everyday will do NOTHING for you if:
It is not sinking in
It is flat and dead to you
You are numb
You don’t really believe deep down what it says but refuse to admit it to yourself
Your emotions are telling you something! This is the part where a lot of Christians, leave the faith, give up, and refuse to go back because they associate being a follower of God with that of a relationship of an abuser. This has been coming up to me more and more lately.
When I wake up to use the bathroom at dawn, my frantic mind goes to the thought: “I need to acknowledge God because we are to put him first”, so I do a strained hello, or think of a verse, and go back for my second sleep. That feels like a dictator, but God isn’t doing it!
Then, later on at breakfast, I pray for my Bible reading, and have zero desire, I am upset, deeply strained at heart, and feel the same misery I feel every time I read the Bible.
“I am offended by half of what it says”
“I cringe at everything I read”
“I cannot handle certain passages right now”
So I know what is bothering me, but I can’t fix it, so I plow forward, read a few chapters, dutifully, feel like I have done my deed for the day, then read a few more devotionals online, there, that should be enough to get God from striking me dead.
I am talking about deep, painful things, and I am realizing if I do not process what is wrong inside, calm down, and tell myself that it is OKAY to be where I am at right now, than it will never be okay. Christians live off a terrorized belief every day and they think that is where God wants them to be. They will hatefully tell other believers that you need to read, and suck it up, because you have to be obedient. I don’t see a single person in my journey other than Mark DeJesus that tries to process what you are feeling.
This is secular and sometimes I beat myself up for looking at secular examples, but this one is good. I follow the music group BTS, and they do interviews for magazines. In Weverse magazine, last year, the leader of the group, who is very intelligent, gave this awesome example of something to think about.
One time, I saw a dark cloud over the N Seoul Tower while I was walking along the Han River. I was with a friend and we talked about where the border between where it’s raining and where it’s not might be, and suddenly, we came up with the idea to run and find that spot. But after running for 10 minutes, the cloud was even further away than it had been. At that moment, the puzzle pieces snapped into place. You think you can go faster than that dark cloud?.-RM of BTS
I read this back in the fall, and it sounded so deep to me, I saved it. I kept scrambling in my mind how it fit in my life because it did somewhere. Today, as I write this post, this came back to me. He was talking about how he pushes himself too hard. So do we, as Christians. We think if we keep going, regardless of how we feel, we will escape our own dark cloud. Maybe we lie to ourselves and think we made it, if we have a good day, or pick up on some great truth in the Word, we think we did right after all.
I had to force myself to STOP, and notice what I was feeling. I feel like garbage reading the Bible. I hate myself and I am humiliated by being offended by verses, by not understanding things, by not getting what “Everyone” else gets. I am seeing though in reading of other articles, people are not really getting anywhere, much they are PRETENDING they are. It is massively painful to actually notice the thoughts that swirl in your head as you sit down to read, but again I ask: If you are not going to get anything out of the word, other than a scraping bit, and your feelings torment you, why not work on your feelings?
It is the forbidden word-feelings. I have had people tell me that my feelings did not matter, because God wants to change it all anyway. They happily blurt out that ridiculous phrase: “God accepts you, BUT he loves you too much to leave you that way”. Yet, it says in Romans, we are “Accepted in the beloved”. Yeah but, you say..yeah but!!! Everyone will throw in that “yeah, but!”…so they can keep up the crazy belief that we are not accepted.
I am working on this, and will be for along time, and I admit to myself fully that I don’t feel accepted by God, I don’t feel loved by God, I don’t understand grace. I can say this and feel my body tense up out of horror, but it is the truth. I said this weeks ago to myself, and have told God, and given it to him, and He is leading me to work on my emotional self, and stop neglecting it.
Why should you work on this? Because..you will never fully know what God’s love is, how he feels, and you can’t walk with him properly if we keep our distorted views forever. It means we will have a fake, strained relationship with God where we lie to ourselves about how good we are doing, but never really let God in.
Reading this can upset someone deeply. They can read it, but if there is a connection, the bigger the connection, the more our insides will twist and turn. You will hate yourself, and the intensity of the emotion will be so severe, you will bury it, and think you are doing the right thing. Maybe you will say a quick prayer and then walk away.
No, please don’t.
To face yourself and talk to your own mind, is not wrong. To fight for peace in yourself, to know straight up you are being deceived by the enemy is more important. If it feels like crap, it is not from God. If it is guilt, shame, despair, condemnation, worry, fear, terror, it is not from us. We think everything comes from us and hardly anything comes from Satan. We assume we know Satan’s access points, but I am learning that we do not. Everyday things we feel, and think our emotions we are to cast aside are the ones we need to work on and face. You don’t cast down your own feelings, you cast out the ones that come from evil! We get that wrong and cancel ourselves instead.
The picture is becoming quite clear to me as I navigate forward here, and ask you to stop what you are doing, take a breath, and say to yourself: “It is okay where I am at right now, I feel messed up, I have things I haven’t dealt with, but it is where I am.”. Don’t berate yourself, be calm, and unclench your tight muscles. Be kind to yourself.
This one shocks me. But with everything in me, I notice that if I ignore my feelings, and don’t figure out where they are coming from, and how to process it, I am dead. If I just push everything aside and think that is how God wants it, it becomes a monster tidal wave, building higher and higher. It lashes out at others in your life, it destroys your very soul, makes you dead inside, and numb. You don’t care about anything or anyone, and you have nothing left to give.
This is all flowing out of me now, I get it.
I have a lot to work on in myself, so?? Just tell yourself, that you are not offending God by dealing with your emotions. If you start paying attention to thoughts that come up, and the feelings that are attached to them, you realize fast, how deep it really goes. How 90% of your thoughts are against you, and are filled with worry and fear, and anxiety. These are things we can give to God, but even if he takes them, if we don’t work on being kind to ourselves, we will not feel better. We will wonder why God is not fixing it, because He can’t. Part of the work has to be done on our part. If He can’t get in, because there is a block there, He can’t heal you. We think we let Him in, we really do not.
So, in reading my Bible I will take it easy. The first day I realized my issues, I sat down and read Psalms 144-146. Oddly enough, It spoke to me, like it was screaming to me who God was, and even though I didn’t understand fully yet, there is a glimmer of hope.
I see all the time female Christian writers trying to have special devotionals like: “How to fall in love with the word”, and it occurred to me this a bigger issue than we realize, because many of us are not feeling it, taking it out of context, seeing it through a fearful or bad lense, and not seeing it the way it was meant. The more I go in this, the more I see most of us just don’t understand and feel all the way down the way the Word was meant for us. The enemy is at play here, and we need to be mad about it,and stand firm.
But, we need to be kind to ourselves, and administer the same fruits of the spirit inward to ourselves! Don’t insult yourself for not reading the Bible enough, or not getting it. You can read ten thousand times and until you fix your issues deep down and face your emotions head on, it will mean nothing but white noise to you.
I had to get to a point where I stopped and wrote myself a note: “What verses DO speak to you?” And all I could come up with was one at that moment. That means you connect emotionally to it. You have seen that verse play our in your life, it has come alive to you. That is the key to getting the word inside your heart, is connecting your emotional state to what you are reading, without the enemies guilt, shame, anxiety, fear, despair, frustration and bad beliefs hitting you.
Everyone says to read the Bible the way God wants us to. We think we know what that means, we don’t.
People like Mark DeJesus had a big epiphany when he prayed and asked God to really show him with new eyes the Bible. Some say this, and they still have blocks, and they will get some out of it, but isn’t there a place deep down that says in you: “Nope, I don’t really get it entirely, but I am supposed to, so I will pretend.”? Mark’s experience he says, hit him so hard that he spent a lot of time crying in shock over how he had misunderstood God, and how good He was.
So let’s begin there. It takes an honest assessment of yourself. You are supposed to squirm in your seat, it is supposed to be uncomfortable, but I am going through it too! Embrace it instead and all but laugh about it! Okay, let’s do this, I am seeing this all wrong, I want to see it better, and have the guts to do it!
What are your blocks that come up when you go to read your Bible? Get a pen and write down what they are, like you are observing yourself.
Does it feel dead, numb, lifeless to you?
Do you read the same passage on repeat only to have it do nothing in your heart?
Do you feel fear, guilt, condemnation, shame, anxiety, despair, frustration when you read certain verses?
What verses DO speak to you truly that you can say with 100% certainty you believe and feel, and connect to emotionally, and there is no doubt or squirming in you? Can you answer that honestly?
Do you feel the phrase come up: “I am not supposed to feel this way!”?
Do you imagine a cruel picture of God or Christ when reading passages about Him? Does it remind you of anyone in your life?
Ask yourself if you are reading the Bible through a lense of your own beliefs. Guess what? You are! The trick is seeing how God sees it. How do you do that? With God’s help. We have to first have his love, and have a trickle down factor into everything else. Without it, our faith is flat. So, to help this I recommend this video and go through several of Mark’s on his YouTube Page. He doesn’t talk about the Bible here, he is talking about thoughts in general.