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I’ve always been a Christian.
I was born into a Catholic family, baptized as a baby, and I’ve gone to church nearly every Sunday for the last almost 3 decades.
I’ve never doubted if God was real, and I’ve always believed in Jesus as the Son of God.
And yet, if you asked me how strong my faith was, up until a few months ago, I’d have said, “It’s ok, but I wish it was stronger.” When people would talk about their relationship with God, I wouldn’t really know what they meant, because I didn’t have that deep or that much of a relationship with Him.
Hitting Rock Bottom
Because of the illness I have weathered these last five months, I was brought to my knees in almost every way. Mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. In my life so far, this was my rock bottom.
In those darkest of days, when rarely an hour went by without me bawling my eyes out, I spent a LOT of my time in fear. Fear of what was wrong with me, fear of the future, fear of there being no cure or no healing.
Through those dark days though, a spark was ignited. Well, more truthfully, a spark was always there. But the flame was fanned and it grew.
Through discussions with my therapist, conversations with family and friends about God and faith, and through a challenge with my sister to read 5 chapters of the Bible per day in 2015 in order to complete the Bible in a year, a change began.
I knew that I desperately needed God to get me through my time at rock bottom.
I don’t know if God “gave” me an illness to cause me to wake up and seek Him. Some people might think that. Others might say the enemy [Satan] gave it to me to pull me away from God. My own personal opinions lean more to the side of God not actually causing it, but He may have allowed it to happen because He knew He could use it and work it for good.
I guess it doesn’t matter where the illness came from or why. What matters is what happened because of it.
Fear versus Faith
This is really a topic that deserves it’s own post, but just a quick point about it: I’ve had many discussions with my therapist and others about faith-based vs fear-based thinking.
Fear is the opposite of faith.
You can’t be in the fear camp and the faith camp at the same time. They’re at opposite ends of the spectrum and each can pull you to the other side.
So when you are in faith-based thoughts, that means you’re NOT in fear-based thoughts.
The Beginning of a Change
So little by little, as the calendar rolled from 2014 into 2015, my health didn’t improve but the number of times my thoughts were faith-based went from only a time or two per day to dozens.
My sister and I began our exploration through the Bible starting in Genesis, reading 5 chapters a day.
I dug out my Jesus Calling daily devotional book and read the passage each day.
I had many faith-centered discussions with family and friends who have relationships with God that I look up to. People who knew more about the Bible than me, and who seemed to be more connected in their faith than I was.
Days passed, medical tests came and went, symptoms continued and I battled fear-based thoughts every day. But little by little, I spent more time in faith-based thoughts; in the faith camp. I spent more time in prayer.
I started listening to a Christian radio station when I was in the car. I started listening to a Christian music station on Pandora when I was at my computer.
I replaced my iPhone background with a scripture verse that reminds me of my faith every time I look at it.
And most recently, I downloaded a couple faith-based apps and I’ve created an early morning routine to get my day started on the right foot.
For the first time in my whole life, I can honestly say that my faith is moving in the right direction. I have never had as deep of a relationship with God than I do right now.
And it feels GOOD.
Making New Habits
I am at the beginning of my faith journey.
I am starting to learn more about the Bible so that I can really apply it to my life.
I’m just starting to form new habits of seeking God in all things, and trying to put Him first in my life instead of someplace near last.
I believe this will be a lifelong journey, and one where I never really reach the “end” of it.
But it’s been five months now, and the changes I’ve noticed within myself and in the world around me are significant.
I’m excited. And I think God is too.
P.S. Do you have a faith story to share? I’d love to hear how you found faith in your life.