I’ve been going to church every Sunday for the past six weeks. I went to church now and then back when I first became a Christian but I was never comfortable no matter what church I went to. I felt both superior and inferior whenever I attended a church and the discomfort always caused me to stop going in the end. I used to walk away saying church had nothing to offer me and was more of a threat to my salvation than a help to my Christian walk.
I felt superior because the people I met in church seemed shallow and insubstantial to me. None of them had gone through the trials and tribulations I had experienced and they didn’t seem to think any further than “Praise the Lord” which I found shallow and extremely irritating in those days.
On the other hand, I felt intensely inferior because they were all able to do what God wanted them to do and be how God wanted them to be. They seemed, to me, to be more like sheep-dogs than the sheep scripture describes us as. They were keen to do their masters bidding whilst I was obstinate, disobedient and often seriously stupid just like real sheep are. When I went to church I felt like other Christians were trying to round me up and herd me into a place they thought I should go and I didn’t like it.
Recently, however, I have reached a place where going to church seemed like a good idea and worth trying again. Independently of me my son also reached a place in his life where he thought going to church was a good idea. One Sunday he decided to go and I decided to go with him. We have gone every Sunday since then.
The first thing that happened when I walked through the doors was a woman met me and, on hearing I am a psychologist, she said she felt I might have a lot to offer the church. The second thing that happened was they preached about serving God. The service included the statement that we should not be going to church to get, we should go to give, to serve God as He has served us.
A little light went on over my head and my jaw hit the ground.
I’ve never gone to church with the thought I might be of use to the church aside from whatever money I might give. I’ve always gone to church to be spiritually “fed” from the word of God. I always saw myself as unable to help others because I wasn’t holy enough to be of any use in a church.
My perception of myself has always been one of shame. I’m not ashamed of God or of my faith in Him. I’m not worried people might think less of me if they know I have accepted Jesus and believe in Him.
Quite the opposite. I worry people might think less of GOD if they know He accepts and believes in ME!
I’ve always been pretty low-key about my faith because I thought if people know I am a Christian they might think less of God. I also believed nobody would listen to me if I tried to save souls by knocking on their front door but God might be able to use me as a sort of undercover agent if I came in through the back door and didn’t make too much fuss about my faith.
I’ve started to rethink that attitude now.
The other thing that stirred me up was to do with this website. I gave the url to this site to the woman I met who said she thought I might be of use to the church. I saw her again the next week and she said she had come to the site and couldn’t find any mention of God anywhere until she found a blog entry.
When I started this site I had some serious misgivings as you can see if you read the blog entry titled “Why Am I Doing This“.
In another entry titled “Wrestling With My Conscience And My Ethics” I explore the incompatibility between being an ethical psychologist and being a good Christian. In that entry I ask;
“How can I be a good psychologist and uphold the ethics of my profession without being a bad Christian who keeps her “light” hidden? How can I be a good Christian who tells the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about her life without being a bad psychologist who puts vulnerable people at risk of being persuaded to believe something they may not want to believe?”
When I started the site I intended to take a middle road and tell whatever truths I thought would be acceptable to most other psychologists and keep the rest to myself but that resolve soon fell by the wayside.
A lot of people started coming to the site using search terms like “reason to live” and I felt God asking me to share the story of my own struggle with suicidal thinking. I’d struggled with suicidal thoughts since I was in grade school and only overcame them after I cast the demon of suicide out of myself. I struggled with God for ages but could not shake the belief that He wanted me to speak up about that experience so I wrote an article titled “When I Was Suicidal” and added it to the site.
At that point I believe I crossed the line professionally and became someone even religious people might have problems with! Many churches don’t believe in demonic possession and those who do believe take it very seriously and think it is dangerous work to cast demons out of someone. I suspect they would have a problem with the fact I cast this demon out with a simple prayer and that I did not seek any help or advice from anyone but God before I did it.
I have spent almost 33 years in the wilderness with no guide, no pastor, no help but what God himself gave me. It didn’t have to be that way. Help was always available but I didn’t want it. I didn’t trust people. I still don’t trust people. It took me most of those years just to learn to trust God actually but I trust him now. With my life!
I think it’s time to revise this site and make it more obvious who I am and what I really believe in. I think God wants His presence in my life to be obvious to people from page one of this site so I have rewritten the front page and will be changing it when I add this blog entry.
I’m beginning to suspect He is wanting to start using the training, education, skills and experience He has provided me with to do more than just earn me a living. Things are happening around me and that usually means God is moving me in a direction He wants me to go.
When I moved here I couldn’t practice as a psychologist because I was not registered to practice in this state. My current job is crisis counselling which does not involve me diagnosing or treating people so it is not necessary to be a registered psychologist to do the job. I could have transferred my registration but there was no need to and it was more expensive to register here so I didn’t. Every year for the past five years, at registration renewal time, I have been tempted to let my registration lapse altogether but every year I have renewed because I felt I should stay registered.
Last month I received notice that the registration board is going national and, if I am still registered, as of July 1 this year I will be legally entitled to practice anywhere in Australia.
Today I put my name down at church to have my skills used should they be wanted. I can’t be used to diagnose or treat until after July 1 but I can counsel people before then. I also gave them the url to this site so they can get to know me. They might come here and decide they don’t want to use me at all but I feel God asking me to open my mind to His will and nothing short of death will stop me from obeying that request.
I’m strong enough now to cope with it if they get all judgmental and reject my offer to help. I won’t even be hurt or offended since I have complete faith that everything happens for a reason.