2012 has been a very trying year for me. This past year I lost my godfather to cancer, 3 weeks later I lost my grandmother, I have another aunt that’s been diagnosed with cancer, my mom found a tumor in her breast (thankfully it was benign, but this was the second growth she’s found in less than 10 years), I have yet another aunt who just had an aneurysm in her neck which will require surgery, and my younger cousin just got sentenced to 5 years for violating his probation. Add to that being a new business owner while working late nights at the bar just to barely make enough money to cover rent and bills.
Despite all of this going on, I was barely phased. Except for when my girlfriend broke up with me. That break up MESSED. ME. UP. Anyone close to me will tell you they have NEVER seen me so DAMN SAD. It’s something I still struggle with at times.
As fate would have it, 2012 has also been the furthest I’ve been from God. Sure, when I as at my godfather’s and grandmother’s funerals at the beginning of the year, my heart may have had a mini-revival. But since then I had returned to my old ways, living however I wanted. What’s worse is I started to doubt God’s existence. I would look at my family’s problems, and wonder how all this could fit into a loving God’s plan. No matter how strong my family’s faith was, no matter how much we prayed, the outcome always seemed “random”. We prayed for my uncle, but he lost his battle with cancer. We pray for my mom, and her tumor is benign. We pray for my aunt with cancer, and her health is still iffy. My other aunt is a humble, God-fearing woman, but she gets hit with an aneurysm out of nowhere. How can God have a “perfect plan” when everything seems so sporadic and random.
With this doubt in my heart, I would look at other people and see their happiness (mostly from Facebook updates). Non-Christians living life, and being happy. New jobs, new relationships, new marriages, new kids, traveling to new cities, new cars, new homes…and everybody seemed happy. Happiness seemed obtainable without God, we just had to go out and get it.
So with this in my heart I continued to live my way, indulging in whatever I saw fit. Everybody else seemed to be doing whatever they wanted with no repercussions from a “so-called God,” so why shouldn’t I do whatever I wanted while I was alive? #YOLO, right?
Except I’ve never felt so empty. There has been a nagging in my heart that has been growing the more I try to ignore it. Maybe non-Christians can be happy without God, but as one of his chosen children, I can’t ignore him forever. For so long I’ve been putting my faith in other things, hoping eventually things would work out in the end. I’ve put my faith in my career and my store, hoping once I started to make money everything would be ok. Before we broke up I put my faith in my relationship and my ex-girlfriend, believing I had finally found love after so many years of disappointing relationships. Since the breakup I’ve consumed myself with work and trying to find another girlfriend, hoping to take my mind off of missing the ex.
Nothing’s been working though. At some point I had to take a deep look in my heart, and ask myself, “Do I really believe God doesn’t exist anymore? Do I really believe I can do this on my own?”
And finally I gave in. I’ve been praying that God reveal himself to me. I’ve seeked him in reading his Word. I’ve confessed my shortcomings in placing my will over his.
And recently, I’ve had a peace in my heart I haven’t had in a very long time.
The problems haven’t gone away. My family still has health issues, my cousin is still locked up, I’m still broke, and I still miss my ex. But there is peace. It’s like the Holy Spirit has wrapped his arms around me and said, “Yo…you know I got you, right? I am ALL that you need.”
God has to be my priority. He has to be #1. “Our God is a jealous God,” and “You cannot serve two masters.” So on and so forth – I’ve heard it so many times in so many sermons. But I am experiencing it now in my life.
And so here I am, sharing my testimony because I felt compelled to do so. It’s for me as much as it is for anyone else out there. In the same way I wrote the “Hop Out the Matrix” post to hold myself accountable for sticking to the plan, I am writing this to hold myself accountable for this change of heart. Countless times I’ve rededicated myself to God, and so many times I’ve returned to a worldly lifestyle. I pray this won’t happen again. And the fact that I’m going through this struggle once more lets me know God hasn’t given up on me yet.
He told them this parable. “Which of you men, if you had one hundred sheep, and lost one of them, wouldn’t leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one that was lost, until he found it? When he has found it, he carries it on his shoulders, rejoicing. When he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I tell you that even so there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance. – Luke 15:3-7, World English Bible