I have lived practically all my life in what many like to call the “Christian bubble.” This means being enveloped by Christian teaching and Christian people, rarely interacting with secular society. From Pre-Kindergarten all the way through graduating college I have been in private Christian schooling, so most would say I’ve lived my life in the bubble. That would be fairly accurate.
I have loved growing up in Christian environments. I’ve learned so much about God and his Word, and I have been able to learn from many Christian examples and developed close friendships with other believers. I particularly loved the atmosphere at my college, William Jessup University.
But there has been side-effects.
The side-effects haven’t been what some people might expect: a compulsion for rebellion, hyper-conservative indoctrination, or a lack of knowledge about the “outer world.” But there has been a dangerous outcome otherwise: apathy.
I’ve realized that I have developed a large amount of social pressure towards Christianity over the years. This social pressure reached further than just a pressure to portray a Christian life. It was even a pressure to be internally genuine. A pressure that had developed at the back of my mind telling me “If you are not reading your Bible and praying daily, that is unacceptable. If you are not excited and passionate about God, that is unacceptable. More than that, you will likely end up going to hell.”
This summer in particular, I felt exacerbated about my subtle but continual decline of interest in Christianity and closeness to God over the past three or four years. I reached a point when I honestly stopped trying. Through my growing disinterest I had lived with a disturbing motivation at the back of my mind, “If you don’t at least try to read your Bible, you’ll be going to hell.” And at one point, I stopped listening to that voice. It seems ironic to say that my first step towards growth was to stop reading my Bible and stop caring, but that’s what it was. I had to let go of unhealthy motivations in order to develop the right motivations.
I have gone through the phase of letting myself not care for a couple of months, and now I’m beginning to care again. I find myself actually looking forward to church on Sundays instead of seeing it as an automatic routine. Now I crave listening to worship music as a way to seek encouragement from God, instead of guilt-tripping myself to put it on because “that’s what Christians do.” I find myself recognizing tangible areas of my life in which I need God’s help and direction, and seeking guidance and connection through prayer and scripture.
I’m beginning to experience a sense of freshness and rejuvenation in my relationship with God, but I don’t have it all figured out. If you’re struggling with a cycle of apathy and guilt, there is no one solution that will strengthen every person’s relationship with God. But don’t give up. Know that God knows how to get you back on track, and don’t ever forget that he loves you and forgives you through all of it. His invitations to relationship are not filled with guilt-trips.
In Christ’s love,