Doubts are incredibly hard to admit, especially when you want to be seen as the person with all the answers.
When I was a teenager, I was very passionate about Jesus, the Scriptures, and proper theology, so much so that I wanted to be an “example of Jesus to my generation”. The reality is, I was not always being truthful about what was really going on in my head (or my heart).
You see, I had severe anxiety over my doubts, my fears, and my confusion over certain aspects of my faith that were unclear. I was a skeptic pretending to be a solid rock of faith, hoping to change the world, as my own world was in chaos. What really ended up happening is that the world within me began to change as my beliefs were challenged by a powerful darkness: anxiety and depression.
It was hard to talk about my doubts and my fears, terrified that someone would think I wasn’t a true follower of Jesus. If I’m being completely honest, I didn’t want them to think I was weird, either. When the anxiety was taking its toll, I would approach a pastor or theological professor to discuss (in private) my questions and my fears. Even when I met with them, it was incredibly hard not to be worried about what they would think, say, or believe about my commitment to Jesus.
So I didn’t talk about the doubts unless it was ABSOLUTELY necessary.
When I was in my early 20’s, the anxiety morphed into many other things beyond my spiritual doubts and skepticism. I was afraid of a million different things, terrified of messing up my life. Panic, fear, and depression were a constant companion…We became too close…Way too close…
After moving to LA, I called a theology professor who I knew to ask questions about some confusing teachings in the Scripture. During the conversation, he interrupted me, saying, “Andrew, have you ever seen a psychologist? Do you have other obsessive, fearful thoughts outside of your spiritual questions? I think you have an anxiety disorder. Another student of mine used to do the same thing and he later discovered that he was struggling with more than just spiritual questions.”
I was stunned…Why couldn’t he see that I was just passionate about my faith, so much so that I made myself miserable for most of my teenage life through my scrutiny? Miserable! That’s commitment! Couldn’t he see that I was a world-changing Christian who simply had a grand case of curiosity???
After meeting with a professional psychologist (who was also a Christian), guess what? I learned that I was suffering from an EXTREME anxiety disorder. What can I say? I either go big or I go home. No, I didn’t want to believe it, but the writing was on the wall the more and more we talked. In fact, the guy knew EXACTLY what I was going to say about my doubts and fears before I even opened my mouth! It was freaky…
So, what’s the point?
It’s not strong to pretend to be alright when you’re suffering. Outlandish strength occurs when you’re honest about the pain and you ask for help.
And here, all that time, I had thought I was the strong one. Amidst doubt? I would analyze Scripture and theology. During fear? I would consider myself to be more spiritual than my friends who weren’t panicking along with me.
I was the weak one, not the strong one. Strength began manifesting itself in my life when I came clean about my brokenness and my need to find help. It took others – the theology professor and my Mom – to push me there, but I guess you can say that they helped me become stronger.
I don’t write these posts to merely amuse you, nor will I pretend that I’m some awesome self-help guru. I’m sharing my story with you because I know what you’re feeling when you can’t explain what’s taking place on the inside…I know the pain of telling someone the darkest parts of your mind, scared that they will toss you aside…I know how lonely it can be when you’re lost in your head, desperate for answers to the questions.
I also know this with 100% certainty: I found healing (which has taken time) when I became honest about my pain and asked for help from someone who was actually able to help. Talking with a professional who understood my brokenness, yet also knew God, was one of the most wonderful rays of light I’ve ever experienced.
Are you hiding your depression, your anxiety, your addiction, or your pain, terrified of what others might see?
What if you actually believed that healing was available for you (which it is)? Are you willing to accept that you’re broken? Everyone is broken, but not everyone is honest about their struggles.
Isn’t it time to admit that you need healing and to ask for help from someone who can lead you towards a better future?
Healing is real. One of the greatest steps towards healing is admitting that you’re hurting. It’s alright…Take that step…Most people want to do the exact same thing, even if they don’t show it. Be an example of an honest life.
“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” – C.S. Lewis