How Christianity Ruined My Life

I had a very clear vision of what my life should look like.

I was supposed to be married by now, for one. There was someone I had called the love of my life. And even though I had known for years that I had no peace from God about marrying this person, I did my best to ignore it. I called the absence of that peace so many things: fear of commitment, of change, of moving too quickly. Eventually the pain of living with my heart split in two became unbearable. The day I chose God and ended that relationship, I felt certain I’d just exchanged the person I’d loved most for a lifetime of loneliness.

I was also supposed to have some sort of brilliant career by now. What was the point of graduating with top honors, only to be saddled with middling part-time work, and no career progression, benefits, or opportunities to build any kind of legacy? Meanwhile, my more fortunate peers have landed jobs that put them in places to move financial markets, fight for justice, and heal the sick. I know I’m not without intelligence, but God so firmly closed all the doors to work I considered significant, that I really did wonder if He thought me incompetent.

And I certainly wasn’t supposed to have been sexually assaulted for four years by a senior staff of my home church. Or to need to look for a new place to worship so that I could heal from my post-traumatic stress disorder. At the lowest point of my life, I didn’t even have the familiarity of community I’d come to call family. And God didn’t seem to be in a hurry to provide a new one either. He gave no word on where I could find another church family. It felt like God was content to kick back and read His newspaper while I drowned at sea.

This wasn’t supposed to be my lot. I’d served Him faithfully all my life and lived within the boundaries He’d set for godliness. Yet on all the things that mattered most to me, He stayed curiously silent over the years. I wasn’t asking for much: just someone I could love, work that I could be proud of, a community where I could be safe. These things were biblical, surely, and good. And what was it that Scripture said? “No good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. (Ps 84:11).

As the years went on, that verse increasingly felt like a joke. Around me there were people who didn’t give any thought to God and His ways, but they were getting everything that I wanted! Why did God seem intent on frustrating all my attempts to carve out this life for myself?

Crushed, and furious that I’d “wasted” my life living for Him only to get nothing valuable in return, I eventually left God.

My circumstances had led me to misinterpret God chronically: I thought that He was not good because He refused to give me the good things that I needed to thrive. But after three miserable years of trying to find happiness apart from Him, I realized that I’d gravely misread the situation.

We don’t hear much about idols these days. It seems like such an antiquated idea, people bowing to wooden statues and expecting to be saved. How can they not see that those things are useless?

But what I didn’t realize was how much having a spouse, a job with career progression, and a church community to alleviate my loneliness, had become idols. If only I had these things, my heart unknowingly thought, I’d be saved from pain. They’d meet my needs for significance, love, belonging, and value. God + (insert idol) would make me content. And, if I really had to choose, it wasn’t God who I believed was the more effective of the two.

As He held those things back from me, and watched me rage and rail, God must have been rubbing His temples wondering, “How can she not see that those things will not save her?”

I can’t be certain, but I have a hunch why God ruined all my plans. If He had let me have those things I had wanted so badly, I would have depended on them to meet all my needs. I would then have to spend every waking minute ensuring I didn’t lose them, so that my needs could keep being met. Was I putting enough into my job to make sure I kept getting promoted? Was I being a good enough partner to make sure I wouldn’t be left? Was I meeting the expectations of my community to make sure I stayed valuable to them? Enslaved to a life of frenzied scrambling, I would have been reduced to a mess of insecurity and fear.

And when these idols failed to complete me—as they were bound to fail—I would have been completely shattered. What kind of damage would being so overwrought with fear have done to me? What kind of damage would I have done to the people I loved by expecting them to fill a need no human could fill?

It was out of His goodness that God upturned my life: to expose all the idols that I was relying on to save me. God refused to leave me deceived, clamoring for things that would not work. Instead, He led me to Himself: the True Satisfier (Phil 4:19). I’ve come to learn that being married or having a successful career or a church community aren’t dreadful things to want. But if I couldn’t survive without them, I know I’ve made them my idols.

Since I left my relationship and returned to God, there’s not been a day where I haven’t felt an excruciating loss. But there’s also not been a day where I’ve gone to bed without peace. God has come through, without fail, in quiet and surprising ways to meet the needs of the day. He turns my attention to the beautiful things He already has given me—my family, close friends, the work that I have—and lets me feel His presence through them.

 They aren’t consolation prizes, God tells me, but the very best things I know you need right now to heal. Sometimes He shows up in the books I’m reading, giving me answers to painful questions I haven’t even properly articulated. He even orchestrated an elaborate object lesson once, on my evening walk, to demonstrate how walking with Him will lead me into a life that suits me better than the one I had left behind. These things give me hope that I’ve not been forgotten.

Even without the things I thought I needed, I’ve been sufficiently . . . filled. In letting go of all the crutches that made me feel supported and safe, I can finally give God a chance to reveal His power and make my life whole.

I don’t have a clear vision of what my life will look like anymore. But I am starting to see that I am in safe hands. And perhaps this is as good a starting place as any.

11 replies
  1. Jayktee
    Jayktee says:

    I’m so sorry to hear that you were assaulted by someone trusted and respected in your community. I hope you know that that act is NOT something that the church community should have allowed, and that our God is a God of Justice. I also hope you know that whatever happened was NOT your fault and ABSOLUTELY NOT something ordained or in God’s plan. It is not an idol to desire a community where you can feel safe and whole. Yes, it cannot be the main driving force of our faith, but it is a God-given, holy desire to have people around us who represent His love and grace. That is NOT something you should be ashamed of, and I hope you are experiencing a better community than the one you left behind.

    I hope that you are receiving kindness and grace and healing from your current church community. I’m glad that you are receiving peace from God, but I also hope you are healing from this trauma and that the person responsible is facing atonement for their actions. Justice is mine, says the Lord. May you rest in the knowledge that our God is a God of peace and Justice and love.

    Reply
    • YMI
      YMI says:

      Hi Jayktee, thank you for taking the time to write this. We will be sure to convey it to the author. 🙂

  2. Hanna
    Hanna says:

    Thanks for this sharing. I’m so blessed by this story
    Today i felt so sad, my love left me because i didn’t meet his standard. Moreover my study hasn’t finished yet, then on the next month there’ll be civil servant recruitment. Yes that’s career
    This story… God talks to me. I know He’s very good Father, He loves me and love you so
    Obey Him is the one that He wants, because He has the best in store for His people who love Him

    Reply
  3. James M. Johnson
    James M. Johnson says:

    The words I just read was heartfelt. There is nothing like when you put your trust in someone and have them in turn into a monster. A church is a building, Jesus is the head of the church, put your trust in Him at all time. With all this said, trust in God, and everything will turn out all right.

    Reply
  4. David A Akers
    David A Akers says:

    If you ever read the book of Job in the Old Testament, then you will get a sense that “bad things happen to good (righteous) people”. As God said to Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” In the book of Ecclesiastes, we hear the words of King Solomon tell us that sometimes the wicked prosper and the righteous become poor and die. We live in a broken world, where I see my fellow Christians suffer and die in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and elsewhere. A pastor was recently killed by an crocodile while baptizing in Ethiopia. A 20-year old man is killed in a car accident on our local highway. These are daily events which we do not have control. The circumstances of your life are not unusual to many people. A young Christian woman is raped, tortured, and killed by Muslim terrorists in the Middle East. These things are out of our control. We cannot reach into the mind of the eternal Godhead and search for answers in our limited capacity. We have to wait for the answers to the questions in our lives: “Why did this happened to me?” “Why did not God answer my prayers?” “What is He waiting for?” The fact is that our wait is limited to our short lives on earth. Our lives are but a mist that comes in the morning and is gone by noon. We can focus on the eternal hope that all things will be rectified in God and in heaven at the time of the Resurrection of the Saints and the Rapture of the Church. That time is near with the events taking place around the nation of Israel in the Middle East. As God said in His word, “I will bring all nations to come against Jerusalem” and “I will judge all nations in the Valley of Decision”. Our redemption from this evil world is near. We hope in the 2nd Coming of Jesus to gather his Church to Himself. As the time is short, for everyone’s lives on earth are nothing compared to eternity, we must tell the world of Jesus’ plan for salvation (Matthew 28:16-20). We can focus on ourselves and our problems, as we all do, or we can focus on letting people know the truth of God’s plan of salvation for all mankind.

    Reply
  5. Lyn
    Lyn says:

    I understand how you feel, I too know what it is like to be disappointed I have been thru the same.. I am glad you have put this in God’s hands and let him workout justice on your behalf. I believe he will restore everything that was taken from you.. there is nothing like God peace.

    Reply
  6. Gilbert
    Gilbert says:

    I wish I could sympathize with your story and have a happy ending or some type of redeeming lesson but it does not. I decided to leave God, it won’t be easy as growing up in a christian home it has been drilled into my subconscious that he is the first person I talk when I need help by instinct. I am married with an 8 yr old boy and ever since I can remember, God has set me up only to let me fall, getting progressively worse each time. God let me down in my moment of need, he has allowed so many bad things to happen to me and my family over time. I can honestly say that he did forsake me when I tried to always do the right thing, to uphold his commandments, to forgive my enemy after they destroyed my life. I’ve watched atheist friends rise up to have a happy marriage, financially secure and great health. I battled cancer, lost my job, ruined my credit due to medical bills, no help came except from my family. My family developed a disorder as a result of the levels of stress we had and I’m sure my son was affected as well. No thank you, keep your God who has been missing in action my whole life.
    I have neither joy, happiness, peace, love nor salvation. I honestly believe that in order for God’s chosen ones to have a fulfilling life, he chooses others to suffer, kind of a sacrifice, some people must be sacrificed for others to live better. I do believe God is real but he does not care for everyone the same, he picks and chooses who gets to have a life of suffering and who does not.
    Believe me when I tell I’ve studied the bible, I listened to the well known preachers, theologians, apologists and evangelical leaders. I’ve defended the faith among friends, college professors and other religions, yet I got nothing but pain, suffering, humiliation and bitterness for my services. The only conclusion left is that I was not chosen, not saved, as the bible clearly states not all who say Lord, Lord will be saved, I am one of those. Matthew 7:21.
    There were times when I felt good as a faith warrior, full of hope for the future, always thought God had good things in store for me, sure I expect to have problems and some suffering but I also expected days of Joy, Peace and Love, none of that ever came.
    I no longer pray that my cancer doesn’t come back, if it does then I will welcome it, death is better than living in a world that is not for you, where suffering seeks you day and night. The only people who truly love me unconditionally are my parents, they were always there for me. I won’t tell them of my decision as it would break their hearts and I will pretend so they can live out their last years thinking I love and serve the Lord.
    I do hope they make it, I hope my son makes it, I tell the Lord to take my soul as sacrifice but save my son. Somehow I know he won’t and my son will have the same or worse fate than me.

    Reply
    • Nelle
      Nelle says:

      Dear Gilbert,

      I’m so sorry to hear about the challenges that you’ve had to face in life. I won’t even presume to understand the pain that you and your family have gone through. I can relate to the frustration of not finding God anywhere amidst the pain, especially after trying over and over again.

      In the years that I left God, a former mentor never tried to drag me back to church or to God. She let me figure things out in my own time. She only encouraged me to keep company with people who really loved me, so that I wouldn’t have to go through it alone. I appreciated that advice; it really helped me through some of the despair and anguish. So, I’m very glad to hear that you have wonderful and supportive parents. Family like that is such a gift.

      Feel free to drop us notes at YMI; we’ll be happy to keep in touch and hear about how you’re doing. We definitely don’t have all the answers, but we’re more than willing to listen.

      Best,
      Nelle

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