I’m a very private person. Since I was a little girl, I have always felt like I was an outsider. I saw myself as the “ strange kid” that many did not understand or choose to play with. Because of this, I early learned to keep my deepest thoughts to myself.
For a long time this caused me to be bitter with everyone else. (In hindsight, I know that really it was not everyone else’s fault!)
I prayed a prayer to be saved when I was between the ages of 3 or 4. I have no remembrance of this. I do remember going to my parents several times later saying I “wasn’t sure” I was saved – and each time, praying again. I struggled a lot with self-doubts. If no one else wanted to be my friend, why would Jesus?
I was pretty sneaky at home – hiding bad attitudes, outwardly conforming, but inwardly rebelling. At school, I was generally a “good kid” which meant only that I was never in the principal’s office, made good grades, and didn’t cause disturbances in the class.
All the time, I was hurting. I doubted my salvation. I doubted everything. I questioned why was I alive. No one knew these secret struggles. I decided that since I had few friends, there was something wrong with me. I learned I could kind of fit in with some people by making jokes about myself – that way no one else was able to really make the joke, since I said it first. This was my shield. Now and then something would happen to truly hurt me. I cried myself to sleep many nights. I envied everyone else that seemed “normal” and “had friends.” (Again, in hindsight, I realize that I was pretty stubborn – there were things I could have done to make myself more socially acceptable. Sure, people weren’t always kind, but my reactions weren’t appropriate, either.)
My whole life has been spent in a “Christian environment.” I had a Christian family, went to a Christian high school and Christian college, attended a Christian church every Sunday and Wednesday night. I guess I looked like I was a pretty good Christian. Not a “super-Christian” (always witnessing) but I was “pretty good.”
All the while, even through college and afterwards, I doubted my salvation. I never doubted that God could save – just doubted that I was personally His child. How could I know that I was good enough to be called a Christian? I knew that I couldn’t follow the rules in my heart the way Scripture says you should. My heart was not completely faithful to God. I could not understand God’s love. I know – everyone would look at me and say I was a goody-goody – followed the rules, nothing wrong with me. I have never been much of an outward rebel. In college, I even tried the route of “looking good” just to look good. Worked on good sounding prayers in public, went “soul-winning,” and read my Bible almost every day. I worked at a camp ministry one summer. Through it all, I had a lot of bitterness from pre-college days, plus I never really “felt saved.” I wondered if I was going to be one of those people God says: “Depart from me, I never knew you” whenever I finally died.
Then, by God’s grace, miracles started to happen. I met a guy who I became friends with (against my wishes!) I had already had several secret love crushes and nothing ever came of them, so wasn’t really interested in fostering another one!
This guy was persistent in being my friend, though. My new friend had a gift for really listening to people. He heard my pain when no one else did and worked Scripturally to teach me that Christ really did love me; and therefore, I am worth something to Christ. Christ died for me – Christ loves me – These were things I had a hard time believing. I was not a joyful person inside.
Providential circumstances led us to a church outside the camp we had both grown up in. The messages were all about Christ – from the Old Testament and from the New Testament. Over time, I began to realize that I had not been totally trusting in Christ for salvation. I had been trusting in something I had done or could do. My prayer – was it the right one? My faith – was my faith strong enough? My works – if I was saved, surely I should be doing a bunch of “Christian things” (attending more church services, witnessing more, etc…)
All those things really affected my thinking. They made me doubt my salvation and with that doubt, I became a weak and ineffective Christian.
But now I have learned that Christ IS my righteousness. Of course – as I always knew – I can never be good enough for God. That’s why Christ came – He WAS righteousness for me. He lived – perfect – as I cannot. When God looks at me, he does not see my sinful heart. He sees Christ. I am clothed with Christ’s righteousness. I am not my own, I am bought with a price – my heart, my life, everything in me— is God’s!
The people whom Christ is referring to (about to whom He will say: “Depart from me, I never knew you”.) are proclaiming they should get into heaven because in Christ’s name they have done mighty works. They are depending on their good works to get themselves into heaven – not depending on Christ’s righteousness.
Considering that all our best attempts at being righteous are as filthy rags to God, it is an insult to His holiness and glory to tell Him our works are why He should let us into heaven.
I have learned to let go of the bitterness I held in my heart is not worth it – it sours you as a person – and it is sin. It is no one else’s fault that you are what you are. God made you special, unique – for His own purpose.
As a Christian, it is up to you to search Scriptures and see where you do not measure up. By God’s grace, the more you see of Christ, the more you seek Christ, the more you know Christ – the more you will be like Christ!
God hates pride; when we don’t submit to him, that is what pride is. God also hates self-pity. (which is really a lack of humility in disguise.) A truly humble person does not dwell on the evil inside, but rather acknowledges it and searches Scripture to learn how to change and be more like Christ.
Joy and her husband enjoy posting gardening tips and pictures at: