Throughout majority of my life I have struggled to find how God fits into my life, even dating back to my childhood. My relationship with God and religion has been inconsistent much like many things in my life. I would at times admire those who were able to blindly believe that God was watching them and supporting their every move. Even as a child, I wondered why I was abnormal in a world that appeared to have the answer that I didn’t possess.
There was one definitive time in my life where I felt God and God’s love. It sounds silly but I was watching a televised sermon and the words from the pastor rang true to my ears. I remember having the warmth of God’s presence in my life and having a sense of being protected. I don’t remember my exact age but I was very young at the time. I’m not sure what happened to that feeling, maybe it was other events in my childhood that came about like becoming homeless or constantly moving but that feeling had left me.
As I entered my teenage years, I saw church as a boring place to go to on Sundays so I was happy when we didn’t attend church. Due to us moving around a lot, I never had a consistent church environment and when I would attend I always felt like a stranger in someone else’s home. My skepticism in God’s existence grew the older I grew. Even with this growing skepticism, I still felt jealous that of anyone that was able to seemingly blindly believe in something that you can’t see or touch.
When I reached my mid-20s, I had a long talk with myself to figure out what I actually believed because my whole life I claimed to be a Christian but I felt like a fraud claiming a title that I did not deserve. At that point in time, I could not wholly believe that there was no God much like I couldn’t wholly believe in the existence of God. I essentially stayed neutral in the matter believing in the possibility of God and reserving the right to say “I don’t know”. Basically, I started to identify as Agnostic in which I felt solace in my new life decision. I no longer felt like a religious fraud while feeling comfort in not choosing a particular denomination as the righteous winner.
That should be the end of the story but it wasn’t for me. Like many young people in their 20s, I not only struggled with the question of God but I struggled with knowing who I am and how to be a man. I became a father at the age of 21 and I had to quickly find the answers to the questions that most people can take their time on solving. I now understand that my struggle with myself was the struggle of God trying to present himself to me.
My 20’s consisted of homelessness, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, agoraphobia, thoughts of suicide, struggling to find a career, the end of my relationship with my father, unemployment, failed relationships and finding the best way to handle all of these matters while being a good father. These were times of ultimate lows, yet I was able to overcome these odds. At my lowest point, I was overweight, unemployed and living in my friend’s basement, yet somehow, I was able to overcome.
They say that God doesn’t give you anything that you can’t handle; a phrase that I used to think was bullshit but I believe in it now. I believe in the power of perseverance instead of victimhood. My internal struggles with depression and anxiety was me fighting God’s will and his ability to give me the strength to overcome. Much like any other child, I was stubborn towards my heavenly father and I chose the hard way out.
What made me understand clearer of his presence was the constant fortunate coincidences in my life once I stopped victimizing myself. For example, I lost my job after 3 weeks of employment which made me ineligible for unemployment benefits. My old victimized self would have fell into depression but I fought even harder. After 3 months of no income, chasing down job leads and even considering joining the military, I found a position in the career I had been trying to be involved in for nearly 10 years. It was like God was giving me my test of perseverance and handing me my reward at the end.
My struggle with God wasn’t about finding him but accepting him. I now realize that God was there the whole way through and was trying to show me the path but I was refusing to travel down it. My struggle was creating a constant internal conflict. I also see the similarities with me not having a relationship with my paternal father and lacking the relationship with my heavenly father. Not having my father in my life left me lacking in confidence and missing fatherly love, making it more difficult for my heavenly father to have an influence in my life.
I want to make it clear; I still struggle today but I do accept God in my life again. I don’t have all the answers but I do know that my growing love for God coincides with my growing love for myself. I no longer have anxiety because I know that God has always been there to protect me. My struggles throughout my life were tests of strength, at which I passed them all. The scared boy of long ago was fatherless but, today I accept my heavenly father. The tough lessons that I experienced and lack of an existing father has been a great motivating factor to be even a better father for my son.
I think about our society of people who are taking all types of powerful drugs to sedate themselves from their living situation or to prevent themselves from experiencing any pain but it is essentially them trying to avoid God’s test. There is no success without struggle and accepting God by your side is not a sedation but a comforting strength. Feeling pain is natural and we shouldn’t hide from it. If I had to live it all over again, I wouldn’t change anything because those moments of pain made me who I am today. Those moments of pain showed me that I can withstand anything and becoming fearless in life is the ultimate drug.
You think I didn’t have the opportunity to take prescriptions for depression and anxiety? I chose not to because it felt unnatural. I chose therapy instead of sedation. I worked through my issues instead of remaining as a victim. I chose the hard work of reflection rather than throwing my hands in the air and blaming others for my issues. If you are able to accept responsibility, you become the one that is empowered because you are able to make the necessary changes.
I blame no one but myself and that makes me stronger, not weaker. It matters not what my paternal father did or didn’t do, because as a man, I am the master of my own destiny. Failure or success, I can live happily with having the freedom to decide how my life turns out. I know, no matter what decision I make; God will continue to be by my side. I will soon be joining my hand in marriage with a wonderful woman of which wouldn’t be possible without God helping me to empower myself and becoming the man that she also deserves.
Maybe you are someone that has had this battle with finding God in your life, at which I understand. You are not alone in this experience. Our world is becoming more secular and it’s leading to people finding Gods in those walking among us that do not have our best interests in mind or ideologies that care more about virtue signaling than actual virtue.
Even if you are one of those who chooses to refuse God’s love, you should respect others that see him as an example to live righteously without judgement. I would implore you to understand that someone like myself sees all mankind as family even if you don’t see us at the reunion.
God is love and we are in his likeness as his children; creatures of love.