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Authentic Faith:Sit Down Darling, Sometimes You Don't Need To Stand

I strongly believe that a big part of chasing fulfilment rather than happiness is relating to a higher power. In my case that higher power is God or more accurately Jesus Christ. I am as a friend of mine likes to put it " not a normal Christian but a CHRISTian none the less"  

This is going to be a personal post because this is the best and only way to truly be authentic while writing about this topic. 

Let's get to it! 

October 3rd 2016 marks 25 years since I left my dolls and ran downstairs to ask Jesus in my heart.  I grew up in a Christian family, but my very first steps in faith were taken at just 3 years old.

Since then, I have learned a lot about this whole being a Christian/Walking with God thing. I've thought a lot about what to write about in relation to faith, and the only thing that seems fitting is to make a very clear point about some things that have been on my heart for a long while now.

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling - Philippians 2:12 (NLT)

Growing up, this was the verse my mum used most to explain the importance of being responsible for the results of my faith and how I grow. This along with seeking out the origins of all things( and another scriptural advice given by my dad that I will talk about next post), is something that will always be a guiding voice for me.

Working out one's own salvation is a very personal thing. 

While there are foundations to stand on within the faith, I do believe that God created us all different and therefore our individual walk with God will be unique to us.

With that said, the pace of our walk is a very individual thing and if I may, I would like to remind any other believers out there that everyone has the right to walk with God at their own pace. He knows what is best for each person and is incredibly patient with us. 

For people in the struggle of faith stage, the struggle is necessary. Faith that has been shaken, can no longer be shaken. Some of us go to some pretty dark places during our search for God and you know what? That's okay.

God doesn't love us any less because we fall in the gutter once in a while and just because you did something sinful, Jesus is not going to fall off His throne! 

It is a sad reality that well-meaning Christians make other believers feel awful because they are not as far along the narrow path as the culture would have them be.

Sheep bite and spiritual abuse is a very real thing....

....and that right there is what this post is going to be about. 

So to start, let me be clear everything I am about to say is from experience, and wow do I have a lot of it. You see, I am a church-hopper. ( Yes thank you 50% of my readers leaving right now without hearing me out on what I mean by this, on the grounds of this hopefully see you next post)

I've already got a post defending Church-hopping but just quickly, what I mean by this is that I grew up jumping from church to church, (for some very good reasons) and now that getting church is up to me, I still haven't found a church that I can call home, largely because I am still dealing with some very real and painful wounds from my past church experiences.

I almost hesitate to write this post because the last thing I want to do is put someone off Christianity because of the fact that spiritual abuse happens. One thing I have got to make really clear here is that you do NOT have to go to church to be a Christian, and God is all about love, it is just, unfortunately, a  minority of misguided people that make Him look bad at church by hurting others (although I am sure most do it unintentionally)

Getting hurt at church is such a damaging thing. It can cause many people to walk away from God altogether, and many of those that keep their faith even after such hurt, don't go back to church at all.

As I have said already, sheep can bite!

What really doesn't help though, is when someone has been hurt by a church and then other people tell them that walking away is "doing what Satan wants" or that since we know offences will come, they need to be the bigger person and forgive. When someone has made up their mind that leaving a church is best for them, others really should just let them go gracefully. It is between them and God. 

Why is that so hard to understand??

What really tickles me is that in any other area of our lives we wouldn't put up with this. 

If we felt uncomfortable somewhere we would leave, guilt and consequences be damned! 

With church though, we tend to let the guilt sink in and stay in a situation we feel is hurting us, a lot longer than we should and this isn't good for anyone. 

I just want to throw it out there that if you feel uncomfortable or hurt by the way a church and/or its members are treating you, you have the right to leave ....and you should! 

If you are of an age where you need your parents/guardians permission to leave the church, talk it over with them, explain why you want to leave, be respectful and very clear.
It can be a really hard place to be between churches, it is very easy to get branded a church-hopper and you often have to deal with a lot of misunderstandings.

It can be lonely and painful, and guilt can cause us to think we really should be in a church which doesn't help.

What is really important to remember though, is that Jesus has been in the worldliness, He gets it. He can and will heal you if you are willing to work through some things with Him.

You absolutely DO NOT have to forgive until you are ready to, and even then forgiveness does not mean you let people hurt you again, you can set boundaries. 

We are told to guard our hearts. Proverbs 4:23

You may not even want to read your bible for a little while, and that again is okay. 

There are many other ways to grow your faith, and God is able to speak in ways you wouldn't necessarily expect.

When you are hurting, please take extra care of your heart

I know this is controversial but sometime's Jesus can call us aside to heal awhile before moving on to a new church and there is NOTHING wrong with you if you feel the need for this. God still loves you and has a plan for your life, you are not off track, you exactly where you need to be for this season.

Everything happens in God's perfect timing.