This is a piece I wrote for Writer's Craft about my spiritual journey, as far it had progressed at age seventeen. The twists and turns since then have been innumerable. All along there have been peaks and valleys, but no valleys lower than my first profound depression. Dark nights of the soul come to many in life. Emerging from them, you begin to see hope shining out of the darkness and emptiness. Times of spiritual barrenness also come along the way. Then too are times when God seems silent, and heaven seems to be closed to your prayers and entreaties. The trick is to remember in the darkness what you learnt in the light, and always to remember the incredible love of the Saviour. The heart issues can only be handled by One who knows us completely and understands our pain and struggles intimately. Learning to forgive yourself and others is a process, as is grieving what was lost along the way.
In the spiritual journeys of Christians, some are reaching the home stretch and others toddle along near the starting gate. But all have farther to go. My spiritual journey includes a few dark and rough spots through the valley of the shadow.
When I was a child, I had a strong faith in Jesus. I believed in God and Jesus because that's what my parents taught me, since I was really little. It's what I learnt in Sunday school and and school, and I just believed with very few questions. Before each meal I would say after my older sister "Lord bless this food and drink. For Jesus' sake. Amen." After the meal we said "Lord thank you for this food and drink. For Jesus' sake Amen." When I went to bed I would pray "Father in heaven, hear my prayer. Keep me in your loving care. Be my guide in all I do and bless all those who love me too." Often I added some lines to the end. Occasionally, I mixed up the three prayers so that I blessed the food at bedtime.
I loved the Bible stories my parents read us after supper. I especially loved to answer questions about the Bible stories, because I knew all the answers. In other words, I had a lot of head knowledge about the Bible.
At five years old, I decided I wanted to be a missionary. And what better way to start than in my own neighbourhood? Living across the street was a boy named Andy who didn't go to church. I remember trying to convert him while we sat in the play room at my house. I must have been really pestering him, because my Mom squelched my missionary efforts by telling me to leave it alone. Despite this damper, the fire of missionary zeal still burned high.
One night I remember saying a special prayer. I prayed that God would hold onto me and never let me go. I felt that as a teenager I might decide against Jesus. I prayed that God help me to continue to believe when I was older.
As I grew I began to question and doubt. My parents believed in Jesus, but did I really? Did Jesus really die for me? When I wasn't doubting, I was repeatedly asking Jesus to come into my heart. I felt I needed to be good enough in my own strength instead of relying on Jesus' power. I didn't read my Bible regularly. After awhile I only said short, guilt-inspired prayers. I had short bursts of Bible reading and prayer, but the words in the Bible seemed to condemn me. Besides I would much rather fall asleep reading a fiction book than read the Bible.
Near the beginning of my hospitalization, I believed I was in hell. My mouth was parched and and I was stuck in my bed with the iron bars. During that time I believed a lot of weird stuff. I thought Jesus had come back and I had been left behind. One day Dad told me if I wanted Jesus' help I had to ask him. Dad led me in a prayer and I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I sang "Jesus Loves Me". My Mom says that was the turning point of my illness.
Now I know it is God who is healing me. I feel like a baby in my Christian walk, but I know God will finish what he has begun. I'm trying to do devotions every day so that I'll grow. Sometimes I still experience doubt. I doubt Jesus' desire to help me in my situation, and I tend to worry rather than pray.
In the future I want to grow in my faith. I want all the fruits of the spirit to be abundant in my life. I want to have the discernment to see where my sins and sinful patterns are, because a lot of times, I ask for forgiveness for all my sins and I can't even remember even one of them. I want to have complete trust in God. I also want to be strong enough to help other people.