Oh Right… Jesus…

As you might know, I’ve been having a lot of problems with anxiety over the last few months. Well, I think I might have discovered that “thing” that was missing from my life and contributing to my anxiety issues. For me, that missing “thing” is religion. And since I’m talking openly about anything and everything, this post had to happen eventually. (Disclaimer: I’m not trying to force my beliefs on anyone, this is just my experience. By all means believe what you believe, I wouldn’t suggest anything less!)

Okay, let’s get right into it.

Growing up, my parents used to force me and my 3 siblings to go to church. We are Lutherans, which falls under the wider category of “Christianity”. Well, they all hated it, and would openly mock the people there as well as their beliefs. When my sister and I were sent to a week-long Christian summer camp, I never had the guts to tell her that I actually loved it. I liked the singing, the sense of belonging, the possibility that there is someone out there keeping you safe and looking out for you. I found it humbling.

Bible

(Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

At around 16, though, my parents stopped forcing us to go to church with them. I love sleeping in, so when I was no longer forced to go, I just stopped going. And although we always go on Christmas Eve, I didn’t really notice whether or not it made a difference in my life. I still held my beliefs, but was no longer expressing them openly because people stopped asking me questions or telling me what to believe.

Now that I’m on my own, though, I came to a desperate place within myself. I was so anxious I was afraid of going to work. I would dwell on things I had to do weeks in advance, worrying myself literally sick. I was scared of the next attack, and didn’t know when it would come. And although I’ve started going to anxiety group therapy, I still felt a sense of unease. I was sick of feeling sick.

That was why I made a resolution for the new year that I would take up yoga, and that I would start going to church again. My theory was that the only way to help my anxiety would be to relax the body, and relax the mind. Well, I’ll admit that it hasn’t been easy for me. I’ve been standing there in church, even more anxious than before. I almost didn’t go that first time, because I was afraid. What if I wasn’t welcome? What if God was mad at me for not keeping him in my life? Was this some sort of punishment?

That first day that I went to church, I was more anxious than I had felt in a while. About 20 minutes into the service, though, I started to relax. I remembered to breathe. And I felt this sudden sense of relief wash over me. It was so powerful that I felt my eyes welling with tears as I begged God for forgiveness, and begged him to help me. I didn’t know where else to turn.

My prayer was answered that day. I felt that same sudden surge of relief again a few days later. I was driving, and as I went over a hill and got a good view of the beautiful trees, again my eyes welled up, and I felt at peace within myself.

My anxiety isn’t gone, not by a long shot. But it’s getting better. I can go to work and do my job without having an anxiety attack. I can go to my classes, learn what I need to, and handle the stresses of living on my own. I feel like I belong to a congregation now, and the 20-somethings had a dinner and movie night that I went to and really enjoyed. I am going to bust out my sax in a couple of weeks for a special rendition of “Shine Jesus Shine” with the other musicians.

And on the days that I feel like there is just too much I can’t control and I don’t know where to turn, I think back to that sense of peace I felt, and I say to myself…

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

…and I know that I’m going to be okay.

Source: http://bible.cc/isaiah/41-10.htm

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About janinerussell

The transition to adulthood; reflecting on the past to create a better future.

28 responses to “Oh Right… Jesus…”

  1. Drops of Ink says :

    I envy you your peace.. no matter where and how you found it.

    • ppurplesnow says :

      Very nice read Janine! I remember the shine song too 🙂
      p.s y can’t I post a reply w/o stealing space — sorry Drops of Ink

    • shirleyliseblogspot says :

      Thanks Janine for this post. I have just recently begun blogging and so ventured through some of other’s blogs to get a feel for it. I stumbled on yours, the title having caught my eye. Although suspicious at first that this would be another attack on Jesus, I continued to read. And am glad I did!… I, too, have experienced the love, provision, peace, and joy that Jesus gives….. don’t know if you have experienced all this yet, but it is what Jesus offers to those who love him…

      Just wanted to share my heart with you and a word from the Bible confirming the experience… “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28, New International Version (NIV). And this is not the only scripture that confirms entering his rest. There are others and even more regarding the peace he gives, one being, Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus,” 2 Thessalonians 3:16. The good news is that God gives us peace through Jesus.

      So to end this response, I encourage you to keep on with Jesus and don’t be disuaded, for there are many who would try to discredit him…. remember, he was crucified by those who did the same thing… Keep the faith and “may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way!” 2 Thessalonians 3:16

  2. travels with mary says :

    before I converted to Catholicism, I would pray and realize that the more I prayed, the better I felt and the more good things happened to me. that bit of scripture is just what I need sometimes, thank you for including it!

  3. Amba Nair says :

    I’m so happy for you. Finding peace within one’s self is very rare and oh so important. I’m glad you are freling better.

    • Erich says :

      From reading this post it doesn’t seem that she found peace within herself, but rather from God.

      • Amba Nair says :

        Where you find peace, doesn’t matter to me. But ultimately what matters is the fact that the peace you find, will help soothe yourself, strengthen yourself, find yourself. So ultimately, this peace rests within one’s self. I don’t talk for Janine of course 🙂 But simply my interpretation of her thoughts. 🙂

      • TechChucker says :

        There are those who believe God lives in all of us and if we just stop to listen he will speak to us. Thus, one could interpret that as finding peace within themselves because God is inside you. Some people call this your conscience others call it the Holy Spirit. Not to put words into anyone’s mouth, but I believe there may be different ways of looking at things. Erich, your comment just rubbed me the wrong way. Perhaps I’m being a dork and not getting your point, but it seemed unnecessary.

        • Erich says :

          It seems to me that the point of her post is that the peace she found did not come from inside her. It’s right there in the title “Oh Right… Jesus…” It is an extremely beautiful post, and to focus on the self and the ability of the self to create its own peace is to diminish the beauty that our hostess has experienced. I’m sorry if this rubs you wrongly.

  4. australopith says :

    It was the opposite for me. As soon as I accepted that there is no god, no one to guilt me into serving him/her, no one to be accountable except me, no one to feel worthless next to… that’s when my anxiety went away and I truly accepted who I am.

    • Erich says :

      The god you describe does not sound like the Christian God. Yes, Christians do have the Law, but the Law is there to condemn. It is there so that we can see that we are sinful, and so that we can recognize the Grace freely given by God.

  5. Tyler Lehmann says :

    As a fellow Christian, I really enjoyed this post. I believe we as humans are designed with a missing part that only God can give us. And when you open yourself up to him, it’s the best feeling in the world – you finally feel … whole.

    As a gay man, I’ve had a huge struggle keeping God in my life – so many people try to tell you that faith and homosexuality are incompatible, and I almost started to believe it myself. But when I finally stopped listening to those people and started listening to God, I felt the greatest inner peace surging over me.

    God bless.

  6. Tess Ross says :

    Thank you for sharing your search for God … from the heart Janine. It was honest and true and I loved that. All of us have to find our own way through the difficulties of life; it sure isn’t easy. I cannot imagine my life without God in it though! All the best.

  7. yinjuan says :

    Reading your story made me cry (in front of a lot of people, let me say that!) I don’t know if i’m just such a cry baby or maybe because you hit a mark. Honestly, I don’t know where I am when it comes to spirituality or religion or my personal connection with God. I believe there’s a higher being looking over us but i know that’s not enough. I dreamed of having inner peace and contentment and I can’t seem to have it. You opened my eyes through your experience and now i’ll PRAY that my heart be open to receive God’s grace. Thank you.

  8. purpleperceptions says :

    I’m glad you’ve found sometihng to believe in, Lord knows I would be lost without my faith. I don’t even know who I would be. Like Nicki said ^, welcome home, and I know you’ll find that this is where you belong.

    Have a great day. 🙂

  9. lexsborgia says :

    Gee! And you were doing so well. I’ve had those experiences as well, being ‘forced’ to go to church for my conditioning. The summer camp too, as a teen-ager, where devout christians tried to cast out my demons; as it turned out, those demons were nothing more than than a teenager going what a teen does. If ‘digging deep into your innermost being’ translates as your ‘God thing’ then good for you, but noone can answer your prayers but you. I see it already: I’m the odd man out here with all these believers, but you’re honest, and I have never left a dishonest comment on any of your posts.
    Freeing myself from God was a difficult process, it took time; now I’m not afraid anymore of the hellfire that wants somewhere for people like me, but seriously, if having faith(in yourself) is working for you, then, by all means, dig in.

    • Erich says :

      janinerussell,

      I’m curious about the point in the service that you had this feeling.

      The Lutheran church is very suspicious of feelings. Feelings are usually misleading or unreliable, and it’s important to remember that even in times of doubt that we are loved by God. Even in the times of greatest anxiety when we don’t necessarily feel the Grace of God we can still believe that it is shed upon us because God keeps His promises.

      I found your post especially inspiring as I’m in the middle of reading Law and Gospel by CFW Walther: one of the founders of the Missouri Synod. In this book he goes in to great detail about the difference between Law and Gospel and how they should be understood and preached. I’ve been considering original sin lately and asking the question: If we are in bondage to sin, is the sign of this bondage depression, anxiety, fear…? Are those feelings, our “bad feelings,” a result of that sin and are our cries of pain from these feelings a form of repentance?

      This morning I was reading all about Absolution and the feeling of joy and comfort that comes from the sure knowledge that our sins are forgiven.

      I know it seems a bit contradictory to say that feelings are unreliable and to then talk about joy and comfort, but I understand the joy and comfort to come from sure knowledge that God has forgiven you.

    • Erich says :

      What you describe is a sort of Ayn Rand Satanism. Satanism is not the same as devil worship, but rather self worship.

      I doubt that quoting scripture as used in the liturgy will be terribly meaningful to you but…

      If we say that we haue no sinne, we deceiue our selues, and the trueth is not in vs. If we confesse our sinnes, hee is faithfull, & iust to forgiue vs our sinnes, and to cleanse vs from all vnrighteousnesse. (1 John 1:8-9; 1611 King James Version)

      • janinerussell says :

        This is not a place to tell people what they believe is wrong. We are all sharing our experiences, and I would appreciate it if you did not tell other commenters that they are committing actions of satanism for believing what they believe.

        • Erich says :

          I’m sorry. I suppose that the inclusion of the Bible verse does imply a certain sort of wrongness.

          I do not understand what you mean by telling other commenters that they are committing acts of satanism. I Identified a philosophical stance. I don’t see it as being any more offensive than someone identifying my philosophy as Lutheran or Christian.

          I did not mean the identification to be judgmental. The inclusion of the Bible passage probably was. Once again, I’m sorry for that.

  10. mamiesepulveda says :

    “John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
    The peace of God that passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7) – I’m glad you found it.

  11. TechChucker says :

    What a wonderfully honest and brave post. I think your story can give hope to all who get to read it. I hope you continue finding peace.

  12. Theresa Jewel Ammons says :

    Amazing post. I hope you continue to find peace and calmness.

  13. Tee says :

    I really enjoyed reading your blog, particularly this post. My life has been in turmoil for the last two years or so. I can’t even figure out the exact time period. I stopped counting. I’m a writer, a very determined writer with a YA book that may have a good chance of getting published. But I have lost my drive. Both of my parents died within three months of each other. I’m an only child. I also stopped attending the church where I worked with the youth praise band. My entire life changed. I went back to church Sunday and felt the same renewal you described, but I’m scared. Of what? I don’t know. I just have daily bouts of anxiety. I try to trust. I don’t do so well. But like you, I’m hoping for a fresh start. Thank you for being honest and transparent.

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