Firstly, I am honestly privileged to have found such a website as this where we can all share together, so thank you for doing so.
Secondly, this blog has been a long time coming. Before Christmas a fellow blogger (I apologise I cannot remember whom exactly), was writing about being completely transparent and open about events going on in his life through blogging. I knew after reading the blog that God wanted me to write this; I hope through writing this I can figure out why.
Some background; I grew up as an only child and, whilst enjoying many aspects of this (not least many presents that didn't need to be shared) I was also extremely lonely. I didn't have many close friends as a child, was excluded and used by others, and bullied slightly. As a predominantly extraverted person I couldn't stand being alone so much and found no solace in imaginary play as the props I used weren't real enough, so I couldn't force myself to believe in them. So, I made up stories instead, initially on paper, and then, when ideas flowed faster out of my head than my hand to paper, purely in my head. This continued until I was just under sixteen when a range of things suddenly brought me literally crying to God in the middle of the night begging Him to stop me feeling so lonely. I knew I had to give my stories up, but I relied on them so heavily I felt it was like a smoker being asked to go cold turkey, I couldn't find enjoyment without them (especially in boring lessons in school!). That night God told me He was always with me and He would never leave me. The next morning I was a new person and the world was a different place. I never wanted to go back. Every morning I'd wake up, chat to God, meet Him in the kitchen (which was always fun considering that my mum doesn't believe in God), and go about daily life with Him. My prayer time increased, faith abounded and I found an amazing CU to join in 6th form, as well as going to my first Christian festival. All in all, if you hadn't gathered from my gushing, I was loving life.
Things with God just got better for a while. I didn't have a perfect record with keeping away from stories, but I never went to the same level as before. About half a year ago, however, things got bad again. I started going through a cycle of making up a story, becoming entirely wrapped up in it to the point that I didn't want to message anyone and got annoyed when I was interrupted in constructing my narrative, feeling like crap after a couple of days of doing this, running back to God, apologising and not listening to Him, feeling great for a while, and then starting it all over again. Sometimes this would last for a week, sometimes two or three. Every time I was left alone there was a chance my mind would wander. It might not seem like a big deal to some people, but because when I made up stories I lived in my head I had no time for God, and this was obviously what I was worshipping, not my King.
I hated it. I hated myself for being so stupid, for wanting something that deprived me of true joy, the tangible presence of the Holy Spirit and the love of interacting with actual people. I hated myself for being weak and not being able to say no to the temptation. And I hated that my perception of God changed so much. I was desperate to feel Him, to know He loved me, but as I've already said, I wasn't listening to Him. It was at this point that I realised how simple things that we say and do have affected the way that I approached prayer. I believed I always had to come to God and say something, a thank you, or apologise for things that I have done. After several rounds of apologising however, this didn't mean much, and I hated that I would most likely be back the next day saying exactly the same thing. I just couldn't for the life of me figure out what to do.
Finally it got to a point where I knew I needed God, like the Psalmist said, my soul felt like a desert and I was gasping for a drink of His spirit. I just felt so helpless, I had nothing to offer God aside from the crap that I was and all of the pain I'd caused Him from running away from Him, serving another master. I literally sat on my bed and said 'I have nothing to say to you,' not because I was angry at Him, just because I couldn't formulate a meaningful sentence.
But isn't God amazing? Isn't His mercy boundless, and Grace like an ocean that we are sinking in? I don't think I have known His grace and love so deeply since going through all of this. That day was the first of a few days where I began the road back. God replied simply saying 'I don't need you too (say anything)', and His embrace took me. I genuinely felt like I was one of the soldiers in the valley that Ezekiel saw being breathed back to life, and it was glorious. I've learnt so much about God, His love, His grace, and His character over the past few months, and I hope to share a few insights over the next few days, right now, I'm out of characters!
It is amazing that something as innocuous as making up stories, could become an idol. Even MORE amazing that you recognized it and did something about it!
God Is So good.
Thank you for sharing this.
Being transparent IS challenging. I remember when God told me I needed to be transparent and in fact needed to be vulnerable. It was at the time when I was in fact, the most vulnerable as I had just been diagnosed with cancer and God told me I needed to write about that here as well as the "good stuff". I shed many tears over that during the time I was in treatment in particular because while most people were receptive and encouraging, there were others who were critical and hurtful. That's going to happen when we are transparent. There will be people who criticize and there will be people who lash out because your transparency will make them feel uncomfortable or even guilty. Persevere regardless because someone, somewhere, as well as yourself, need you to be transparent. We need to be honest and real.
Thank you April. I tremble when God calls for transparency and rejoice knowing God uses far beyond my ability to even imagine. in Him, Les