Nonbelievers, imagine that there is no problem that you can't walk away from because everything is in God's hands. Oh, you're unemployed? Pray about it. God is in control. He'll either help you find a job or not -- either way, He's in control. Are you depressed? Ask God to help. Whatever you're going through is happening for a reason. Are you sick? It's not God's fault, but he will get you through it. Elections aren't going your way? That's definitely the Devil at work, but we can pray about that because God made the Universe and has a plan.
If that sounds petty, it's not. The ability to hand over your deepest problems to someone else is Christianity's killer app, one that has absolutely no equivalent in the secular world. I don't even know if there's an equivalent in any other religion, but I haven't investigated all of them that deeply. Christianity doesn't promise your life will be easy, but it promises that someone is looking out for you, has your best interests at heart, and wants you to succeed. And even if there's no hope for your life improving, your entire eternity will be amazing if you just follow Him.
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
This is a warning: If you're a lukewarm believer considering calling it a day on your faith, know that the warm, gooshy feeling you get after asking God to take care of your problems is irreplaceable.
And the only problems I've confronted since my secularization are unemployment, depression, and this one time when I couldn't find my car in an airport parking lot in the middle of the night. I haven't faced cancer scares or crippling drug addictions or major traumas with my children yet. They're coming, I'm sure, because I'm a human and everybody faces death, sickness, violence, and tragedy at some point. I have no idea how I'll handle those things without God in my life.
(Side note: Christian friends, please don't pray for a major disaster to bring me and my family back to Christ. I've seen you do it. Also, I miss you and we're still friends.)
You Miss Your Best Friend
When Bible Paul (of the Bible) said "Pray without ceasing," the people who eventually called themselves Christians took his instructions to heart. As Christians, we are told God has a pipeline not just to our verbal prayers, but also to the thoughts in our heads. We have the privilege of being able to pray in every waking moment. If you think a thought and then direct it to God, it's a prayer. Those instructions are liberating as a guide to speaking to God without getting on your knees and folding your hands at your bedside like a little child in a Norman Rockwell illustration, but they're also intense in the grand scheme of things.
If you're dead serious about praying without ceasing, you start to condition your internal monologue toward an audience of one. If God is listening, you can ask Him to help you find your keys, get to class on time, pass a test, find the right boyfriend. Also, if God is listening, you can confess your mental screw-ups in real time and ask for forgiveness. And you better be fast about it, because Jesus said that just thinking sinfully is as bad as sinning.
As I type this, I'm realizing the whole "God is in your head" thing might sound ominous and invasive to nonbelievers, but it didn't feel that way at the time. In fact, believing someone is listening to every thought makes you feel like you are never alone. And this was before the internet, when I really was alone for a good chunk of time. Actually, the internet is a good analogue for what having Jesus in your life is like. Suddenly believing God wasn't in my head or reading my journal or listening to my prayers was like suddenly finding out the internet is nothing but your mom echoing back the things you want to hear -- or worse, it's a different version of you. Giving up my faith was Fight Clubbing myself, and I'm not even totally sure it was worth it.
And that's the end of my story. If you were looking for a nice conclusion about finding comfort in science or reason or bullet journaling, I don't have it. Every step has been uncomfortable and weird, and I definitely wish I still believed the things I used to believe. But I don't. I'll let you know if anything changes.
Kristi will keep you updated on every second of her spiritual life and will listen to your stories over on Twitter.
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