Who Am I? Christian Identity Crisis
I was raised in a wonderful service-oriented family where we participated in ministries serving the church in praise & worship, giving food to the less fortunate, and praying with the bitterly broken. It is a virtue I value most and one for which I’m grateful for parents who instilled it within me. I never questioned our beliefs because the proof was in our actions. We sat as a family studying various teachings about God and morality. But while some of those teachings were derived direct from the bible, others were borrowed from insufficiently tested commentaries. Sometimes these teachings would lead me in the right direction and other times it didn’t; I could not have known then because the tests I used to compare my actions were subjectively confirmed. In some instances, this led me into problems when my faith was questioned by others. I could not give adequate answers, having only feelings and experiences to justify my faith. When faced with moral decisions, I could defend my conclusion with “faith”, even though it may have contradicted the Word of God had I examined it. I even pardoned myself for foolish decisions believing that God would not go against what I felt was right or wrong. And this is the issue, because I, like many in charismatic congregations, believed that how I felt was the litmus test for moral decision-making! I had a good heart, after all, since I was a daughter of the King. I later found out how prideful and self-actualized that belief truly is. My sincere heart was sincerely wrong.
The testing of my faith and my pursuit of truth really began shortly after my wedding in 2010 when I learned that all the service I had done, while good, was not the ultimate test of a saved person. I had never really questioned my understanding of God or the bible. I didn’t understand how to think critically or know how to defend my beliefs; I simply believed them. So long as they were labeled “Christian”, I didn’t really challenge what I heard, either. The start of our marriage was the end of my time under my parent’s roof and I was forced to reexamine my identity in Christ as a wife rather than a daughter. I slowly began to study scripture for the first time on my own. My husband wasn’t feeding me spiritually at the time, and I was used to being fed. But motivated for my husband and our relationship, I desired to know what God said of the role and value of a wife and to better understand God’s purpose for such a covenant. But as I read the bible, I began to see inconsistencies in what I had been taught growing up. All of the books on marriage and womanhood I had read did not always teach what was written in the bible! In fact, in many instances, they contradicted some fundamental instructions and rewrote the very purpose for which God created women – for which He created me! My charismatic upbringing was heavily influenced from these kinds of books, but the bible began to alter the image I painted of a Godly marriage.
The Cord was Cut
I was shocked. For the first time, I started to honestly questioning my beliefs. Even my understanding of the concept of faith was challenged. Originally, I had imagined faith as an intangible, and at times, mystical thing. The testing of my faith was only supposed to be in situations where I would endure the world. It was not where what I believed was ever in question. Besides, the signs and wonders I had seen were proof that what I had faith in was right thing, weren’t they? If someone didn’t agree with me, they simply lacked the faith that I had. But reading the bible made me realize that I had misdirected my faith. It scared me. My Christian identity was in crisis.
When I first began reading the bible on my own, my first study revealed faulty conclusions. Perhaps I was so distraught about the realization of much of what I was taught the bible contradicted that I assumed that everything I was taught was wrong. I even began to question the Trinity and the New Testament Covenant. Everything was up for debate. Those with superior knowledge attracted me and my lack of understanding led me into a Hebrew Roots group. This group believed that Jesus came not to bring about a New Covenant, but to renew the Old Covenant. I was talked into believing that we are still obligated to observe the Mosaic Law. Understand that their arguments were only convincing at the time because they were able to twist the Scriptures in my ignorant mind so that I was made to think that the bible supported their beliefs. I was basically starting out my Christian walk all over again.
On My Own, Independent of my Husband
During this phase, I inadvertently undermined my husband in his role. I was, in fact, convicted at this point, to let him be my spiritual leader, but my heart was resistant to handing over that authority and be dependent once again. My struggle was really with God, trusting Him to lead me through my husband. I should have given them both the honor and headship to carry out their jobs in our home. I know that I am flesh, and on this earth, I will be challenged daily to lean on Christ and follow Him.
Christ leads through the husband in many matters of the family unit and this is a significant element provided in the Word to instill harmony in the Christian home. Aaron was stretched and he patiently loved me while we endured my new interpretations, even though he knew that there were major biblical errors. At my request, he hesitantly took me to see a Hebrew Roots group on Saturdays. I had insisted to seek outside sources to further discover myself through numerous new doctrines.
I was so disappointed over being out of sync with him on such important matters regarding the Faith. So, I began asking Aaron to instruct and test me. I thought that if he was right and sure of his conclusions of the bible, then I wanted to understand how and be shown my errors! He didn’t regularly believe something unless he had evidence. But it took me a few months to get into that place of humility, because truthfully, I was hoping to win him over to my side. He painstakingly explained to me the correct meaning of the new covenant in relations to the old covenant and I finally grasped it! He was right! (I’ll have to explain this in another post.) This is only one of the many examples I’ve had in dealing with my sometimes-inept studding skills and resistance of my husband’s wisdom and instruction.
He Needs Me as Much as I Need Him
A little while after leaving Hebrew Roots, my husband confided in me concerning a past habit he had put away before we were engaged. But it crept up on him during our struggle together causing him to slip back into the addiction. This hurt me tremendously and was a complete shock since I had never been exposed to it before. For the first time, our marital intimacy was tainted and our relationship underwent another struggle. I rigorously confronted this damage of trust between us, trying to work past my pain so I could best help him through his struggle. After all, he confided in me, and I wanted to help him; not to be a hindrance and cause him to fall further! It was my turn to rescue him as he did me.
I tried to handle it soberly, watching someone I loved in Christ fall into a slippery slope of sinful behavior. Aaron and I both believe that ongoing sin is very dangerous for any believer, no matter what type it is. And so, to the best of my ability, I put my own feelings aside and he asked me to hold him accountable. Later, after the issue had been resolved, he told me that by digging into God’s Word and doing Kingdom work, his temptation faded and lightened the burden. And while the struggles remain from time to time, just as my own remains, they only have power over us when we lose focus of the truth, just like the waves which nearly consumed Peter when he lost sight of Jesus.
See, when I stepped out of the boat in my own story, I found that I had no way of knowing what I believed was true or not. And that thought scared me. I began reading the bible, but with an urgency to apply what I read without knowing what I was reading. It’s like a composite artist taking in descriptions at random and comparing his sketch to criminals before the sketch is completed. (My husband likes to remind me that the more observation, the less there is need to interpret.) Only now am I beginning to realize that the only way I’ll know who I am is to know Whose I am; and to know Whose I am is to know Who He is.