I'm not going to say how I became a Christian; I will say that it was fairly recently (less than a year ago). I feel as though this is correct. I can confidently say that I feel God with me, and the sensation that I get when I think about Him is unlike anything I've ever experienced. I'm not here to say what is right for you, but I will say that this is right for me, and I can only offer my own testimony to that fact.
I need to let out my frustrations. Most of the people I know (including my own family) are secular, and so this subject is quickly shut down, or I simply don't get any useful advice. To be fair, this is a complicated and constantly evolving thing, my faith.
To sum up everything: I'm a weak person. I won't go into specifics, but I do shady things. I'm basically a deviant. Do not ask me what these activities consist of; I will not answer the question. I can feel this deviancy warring with my faith every day. It's spiritually and emotionally exhausting. It's almost a compulsion (as is everything I do, essentially) and takes a great deal of effort and intellectual firepower to control. I was close to doing something tonight that I would have regretted (wouldn't be the first time), and it was my faith that stopped me from doing it. For that I'm grateful; however, I also feel as though God is disappointed with me--well, that He was disappointed, since I honestly believe He's compelled me to share my testimony as a sort of repentance, and now I'm feeling, what's the right word, fiery? It's like I feel fire in my heart; that's how I know I'm doing something at least close to right when it comes to God. Whatever your views are, you cannot argue the feelings that I experience, since they're mine. I'm not asking you to agree with them, just don't waste your time trying to change them (my feelings).
I'm tired of being weak. But I also understand that my weakness is a necessary component of my faith (and Christian faith in particular); that my weakness glorifies God by comparison. The image that comes to mind is one of me weeping at the feet of my Father. I want to be strong, righteous, and unwavering in my faith. My favorite class in any RPG is the Paladin (except when I play D&D, in which case it's the thief, but that's beside the point. Or is that the point? That I love the idea of playing a righteous warrior but end up falling into a darker, more "practical" character?); I want to be like the Paladin. I guess the question I'm wrestling with is: What would I trade my assured salvation for? My head says Nothing, but my desires say Everything. Money, power, sex--everything worldly. The point of faith isn't to stop this constant battle, but to subvert it, to change weakness into a conduit or opportunity for testimony. So me writing this must be an example of that exact subversion. Which I thank God for. I thank God for everything. I see the patterns in my life that God has arranged.
A passage in David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest comes to mind (to wit; I don't have the book in front of me and I don't want to google it): "Hal thought it was some sort of black miracle that people could care about something, and go on caring about it for their entire lives. It seems everyone is dying to give themselves away to something. An escape from in the form of a diving into."
That is basically what happens when my faith causes me to avoid certain disasters. I literally have to dive into it in order to escape unscathed. Like right now, I have to remain completely focused on this testimony in order to make it to bed without making any mistakes tonight. Of course, my desire to do stupid things is slithering around my thoughts like a snake, but I'm fighting to keep it in the background.
And I hate that it takes effort. I wish my faith and the strength I find in my faith was effortless. In many ways, it is effortless. I don't have to try to believe. But I do have to try to actually practice those beliefs. I wish that part was easier. I pray that God uses my weakness for good and as an example to others.
The bottom line is that, according to my beliefs (and I'm tired of qualifying every statement with that phrase, "according to my beliefs." Just assume that I'm saying that), my salvation can't be put into jeopardy by anything I do. I was taught that my salvation is a free gift, and nothing I do could ever change that (unless I actively reject the idea). Everything is forgiven, etc. I feel as though this is correct. But that doesn't give me a free pass. I know that I don't have to earn God's love, and that nothing I could do would ever put me closer to God, but at the same time I'm disgusted with myself and I'm tired of sinning. If God doesn't erase my desire to sin, but only forgives my sins, then I hope He uses that inherent weakness for good. However, I pray now (and have prayed many times before) that He changes me. Whatever the case, I suppose it is as it should be.
I feel as though there's something else to say, but I can't figure out what it is. Love each other? Stop fighting? That feels right. So, love each other as brothers and stop fighting, please. Thanks!