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Switch to Forum Live View Desperately Need To Repent - Can't Feel Godly Sorrow
4 years ago  ::  May 20, 2011 - 8:09PM #51
tawonda
Posts: 4,367

Arabianhorselover: The website you like, number one, is just one guy promoting a particular theological point of view.  That is going to color every answer in his collection of FAQs -- which, despite giving the impression that this is some sort of objective source of information on Christianity, is one guy's opinions. (His treatment of "end times" theology, just as one example, does NOT reflect mainstream Christian thought.)


  I'm not a conservative Calvinist or Pentecostal or  fundamentalist. I'm Lutheran. Why would I go to this individual's website for information about Christianity when I'm Lutheran? This is what I'm saying. If I have a question about my health I go to MY doctor; I don't call my neighbor's chiropractor for help.


Is there a reason why you wouldn't go to, say, the LCMS webpage or other Lutheran website or your pastor for your theological information? How did you decide to use this particular website as your reference of choice?


I think you are in part misunderstanding what your pastor has told you about free will. Lutherans don't believe that human beings have no free will at all; of course we do. What we do believe is that, because of the inherent sinful nature that we all share, we are unable by our own power to make a choice for God; our natural tendency will always be to run away from God; to want to be our own god. What we believe, teach and confess is that the Holy Spirit creates faith in us -- by faith I mean, as Luther did, ultimate trust in God.


To believe otherwise -- to think that we're the ones who decide to have a saving relationship with God -- makes salvation a matter of our own effort; our own smartness or insight. And that in turn means that we're not putting our ultimate trust in God; we're putting our ultimate trust in our own ability to pick the right answer on a cosmic multiple-choice test.


I don't know about you, but I wouldn't give myself much credit for being able to save myself through my will, intelligence or goodness. Thank God I don't have to.


(If you're inclined to read Luther, you might want to look up The Bondage of the Will online, or ask your pastor for a copy.)


 You also say you don't think you love God. Yet you're so afraid of displeasing him that you're driving yourself to despair over your overeating issue; you're seeking help for your problem within the context of the faith community; why do you think that you don't love God? "Love" isn't always a fuzzy, happy feeling. I can love my better half even as I'm about to throttle BH with my bare hands!


I have to tell you that I'm having a hard time understanding your need to condemn and punish yourself for a behavior that can be rooted in a very complex set of factors ranging from organic to psychological; and why you somehow find this behavior more sinful and damnation-worthy than all the other sins that ALL OF US commit every single day. Perhaps what you are interpreting as your pastor's lack of seriousness in addressing your concerns is his own confusion about why you are so upset. I frankly don't get it either, and am feeling really frustrated trying to understand.


Have you ever talked to a therapist about your concerns and fears? I have had short-term cognitive therapy for anxiety, and I found it very helpful. Cognitive therapists can provide you with the tools you need to reality-check your feelings and fears; they can give you some practical techniques to overcome those feelings/fears when they begin to feel overwhelming; and they're a good, objective other person to share one's thoughts and feelings with; and that's worth a lot. If therapists are hard to come by in your area, or if money is an issue, your local Community Mental Health can provide therapy on a sliding scale.


Also: Have you talked to your healthcare provider? As mentioned before, they can also be a good, supportive resource for you in your wellness goals.


(Another frustration I'm feeling right now is the sense that you are understanding overeating purely in terms of a moral failing and not in a clinical way. Fact of the matter is, there are numerous medical and psychological factors in overeating.)


I really and truly want to help you, but I'm feeling as if you're determined to condemn yourself, and are getting angry whenever anyone suggests to you that God's grace outloves and outforgives all our sins and weaknesses. Why would you be angry at the suggestion that God loves and forgives you more than you think God does?  Why do you think that God's default attitude toward you is one of contempt and condemnation? Who has told you this? Why would you believe that rather than believe what EVERYONE on this thread has told you about a loving and gracious God?

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4 years ago  ::  May 21, 2011 - 1:07AM #52
AFskypilot
Posts: 352

I find you comment about feeling fear and abandonment ever since you were a child may be a key to your problem.  I am not sure what happened back then, but I work with people who have also had similar experiences.  For most of them they resorted to drugs or alcohol to fill that gap, sounds like you resorted to food.


Thing of it is, I fear no matter how hard your tried to make it right with God, you will always have a nagging doubt that you will never be good enough.


Several years ago I had a friend who claimed he was born again.  He said he really felt God's presence.  Then, all of the sudden, he became very depressed, even suicidal.  He ended up in a psyciatric unit.  I visited him while he was there.  He was very upset because all of the sudden he did not feel God any more.  He feared he was damned to hell for all time.  It took some time, but he finally recovered.  He came to understand it was not a matter of feeling God's presence all the time, but he knew he was God's child by virtue of his baptism.


To the point of the Lutheran understanding of free will: You might want to read Luther's Bondage of the Will, which was in response to Emmaus who argued for a free will.  Basically Luther would say when it comes to civil matters we do have a free will to make decisions.  It is not predetermined that I will or will not plant a garden tomorrow.  I have to decide that on my own.  However, when it comes to spiritual matters my basic Old Adam nature will always want me to do the exact opossite of what God wants.  It is God coming into my life, announcing God's love to me through Jesus Christ, that breaks the chains of the Old Adam.  It is still a struggle to deal with the Old Adam, but the victory is already mine, not because of anything I have done, but because of everything God has done.


 

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4 years ago  ::  May 21, 2011 - 8:40AM #53
tawonda
Posts: 4,367

And, again, cognitive therapy can be a real help here.


When I was getting therapy, my therapist and I did spend some time thinking/talking about aspects of my upbringing that may have contributed to my own anxiety level. (Interestingly enough, never feeling as if I were meeting my parents' high expectations was a big factor.) But unlike the stereotype of psychotherapy where patients never get beyond blaming their parents for "making me this way," once we identified this as one factor in creating an anxious personality (there are many, including our inherent chemical makeup; studies have shown that some babies are simply naturally anxious personalities), we quickly moved on to how to successfully manage those feelings. And most of the "fixes" we worked with were behavioral; learning to respond to anxiety-provoking feelings and situations in healthier, rational ways. My therapist was kind and supportive, but firm. If I got stuck in some self-recriminatory way of thinking, he quickly challenged that and offered other ways of understanding what I was experiencing. I did get prescribed anti-anxiety meds, but I was able to stop taking them after about a year; what they did for me was level up the profound "lows" I was experiencing, which helped me actually do what my therapist was telling me to.


And -- see -- this is the danger in turning what are medical/behavioral issues into matters of moral rectitude and religious legalism. Overeating is largely a medical issue; anxiety is largely a medical issue.  Choosing to frame them solely in terms of some cosmic battle for your soul is not helpful. It's not even good theology. Yes, spiritual counseling can help you deal with some of the spiritual fallout you experience from not feeling in control of your food choices or feeling anxious about your relationship with God; but that is only one facet in what to me seems to be a multifaceted thing.


My own pastor has also worked as a clinical social worker; and while I hesitate to put words in his mouth, I'm fairly certain that, if you had come to him with the same concerns that you've brought to us here, he would have told you the exact same things, and also referred you to some other, non-faith-based helping professionals in the community.

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4 years ago  ::  May 22, 2011 - 3:35AM #54
TomeReader
Posts: 70

Lisa


Three things. I have a PhD in New Testament and the info you've been getting from these other websites is decidedly nonbiblical. Remember God loves use even while we are yet sinners. I won't get into an extended discussion with you about the Bible because others here have explained it better than I can (I do better in a classroom setting) and I don't have the energy, the time, or the space to discuss this at length from a biblical perspective.


Second, repentance is not "feelings of Godly sorrow". True repentance is struggling each and every day to follow Christ and remembering his saving grace when we screw up.


Third and last. I'm not a psychiatrist or a psychologist. But you may want to be tested for some component of obsessive compulsive behavior. There is excellent and relatively simple therapy for this problem (I know because I have OCD).


Do you still love your children when they screw up, even if they do so deliberately? I've heard of the parents of serial murderers who still love their sociopathic child.


Yes we have a responsibility to live our faith. But we are not responsible for our salvation and God still loves us even when we sin.


Lynn

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4 years ago  ::  May 22, 2011 - 4:47PM #55
AFskypilot
Posts: 352

Hi Lynn


I think you make some very good points for Lisa.  I think the problem she seems to be struggling with goes to that Old Person which continues to insist that a person has to do something in order to earn salvation.  As we have pointed out it does not work that way, but Lisa, I think, was caught off guard with our replies.


I am interested in the therapy you talked about that helped your OCD.  If you would not mind, you can send me a note through my profile page.

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4 years ago  ::  May 23, 2011 - 8:32AM #56
arabianhorselover
Posts: 81

Reading your responses, I must say that I feel frustrated, as well.  I really can't see that what I'm feeling is all that complicated or hard to understand.  I have been dealing with this problem of overeating for about as long as I can remember.  I have tried many different ways of giving it up.  None of them has worked.  I like the idea of looking at it from a biblical standpoint.  To me, when I read the Bible, I get the message that a person is supposed to love God more than anything else, take care of the body God gave them, and basically strive to not sin.  I have not been doing any of these things in the area of food.


I came across the Setting Captives Free website, and everything I've read there sounds biblical and right to me.  I have not read anything where I thought, "What?  That doesn't sound right".  And believe me when I say that I am one to question things.  Whatever guilt, fear, etc. that I feel was with me a long, long time before I ever found that website. 


I have done a lot of reading at the LCMS website, I have seen a couple of therapists and a Christian counselor in my life.  I have attended OA meetings.  And I have talked with my doctor.  I have been taking antidepressants for the past 13 years.  It is not like I have not tried to find help for the things in my life that have bothered me.  And I do not go to the Buddhist or the Catholic websites to do it.  However, there are some things that I hear in church that I just can't buy.


This whole idea of God creating faith in us does not make sense to me.  Why would he just create faith in certain people?  How fair is that?  When Jesus walked the Earth, the whole point was that some people would CHOOSE to follow him, and some would not.  He did not pick and choose certain people to be saved.  He died so that those who believed in him could be saved. 


Why does it bother all of you so much that I choose to take my sins seriously?  I believe God wants all of us to do that.  I don't feel that I can ask God to forgive me for the same sin over and over again unless I am actively trying to do better.  I appreciate you all trying to make me feel better, but who says I should?  Just maybe the guilt I feel is the Holy Spirit convicting me.


Yes, I do seem to feel more guilt and worry over who I am than most people, but I don't think I'm all wrong.  I think sin is taken way too lightly by most people.  I think people want to forget how much God hates sin.  And I think that attitude has gotten us humans in a lot of trouble.


As far as my love for God goes, I think I know what love feels like.  I love my husband, my children, my parents, my friends, etc.  I don't ever remember feeling any of those kinds of feelings for God.  I only remember feeling respect, gratefullness, fear, mistrust, and anger.


 


 


 


 


 


 

God Has Always Been With Me - Even Though I Haven't Realized It.
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4 years ago  ::  May 23, 2011 - 9:49AM #57
AFskypilot
Posts: 352

Lisa


Thank you for continuing to come back.


We know you are frustrated that you cannot seem to get control over your eating problem, that things you have tried have not worked yet.  We really want to help, but we are also feeling a little concerned that so far we haven't been able to give you the key to unlock your chains.  The deal of it is, in our experiences we have found that there is no simple solution to such problems in our lives.  We have offered suggestions of what has worked for us.  That is all we can do.


Yes, you are to love God more than anything else, but for you food just seems to be getting in the way of that.  What we are saying, though, is that inspite of the food, God loves you more than anything else.  Your sin over missing the mark is covered.  No need to feel guilty about it. 


Once I was working with a man who was struggling with alcoholism.  He knew he was condemned by God because of his compulsion.  I told him that God actually wears glasses.  That's right--glasses.  On the lenses of those glasses are etched a cross.  Whenever God looks at a Christian, it is not the person God sees, but the cross that is etched on the lenses.  God says because of that cross your sins are forgiven.


Yesterday, at Sunday School, we were watching a video by Dr. Mark Powell on stewardship.  In it he discussed how a woman came to him and was asking how she could love God more.  After some thought--and biblical study--he got back to her and replied--Confess your sins daily and expect the grace of God daily as well.


You continue to insist that the Setting Captives Free website is Biblical because it sounds right to you.  Change the word "sounds" to "feels."  You are saying the SCF website is biblical because it feels right.  The reason it feels right is because it appeals to the Old Person in you who insists that you have to do something to earn God's love. 


I am not the Biblical expert that Lynn is, so maybe Lynn can explain in more detail what is unbiblical about Setting Captives Free than I can, so I will leave that between you two.


When I look at the stories of Jesus calling his disciples, I don't seem them choosing to follow Jesus as much as Jesus calling on them to follow him.  It is that call that compells them to drop what they are doing and start on the path (Remember Jesus' calling James and John?  They had just finished fishing when Jesus called them.  The story presents and interesting question: what did Zebedee do with all those rotting fish?) 


God wants all to come to the knowledge of truth.  God does not pick some and ignore others.  God gives the Word which Christians proclaim through the world.  It is in hearing that Word God creates faith in those who hear it.  As we Lutherans were taught in our catechism; I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts.  Yes, there are people that choose to not follow Christ, but it is not for want of God not wanting them but because their old sinful nature contining to rebel against the Word.


However, Christians also continue to struggle with continuing sin.  As Paul says in Romans 7 he knows what he should do, but something is preventing him from doing it--his flesh.  He laments:  "Who will rescue me form this [struggle]?  Thanks be to God in Jesus Christ."


It is not that we don't take sin seriously.  We very much do.  But we have found release from our sins in the love of Jesus Christ.  But we also know God continues to give us tools to help us work through our struggles.  This can take the form of the mutual fellowship of believers, but it can also take the form of secular therapies.  Several of us have talked about REBT or Cognative Therapy being a simple tool that might help you.  Here is a link to what a Christian Psychologist says about how it can work for over eaters:www.ehow.com/how_2095165_use-behavior-th...


You said:  As far as my love for God goes, I think I know what love feels like.  I love my husband, my children, my parents, my friends, etc.  I don't ever remember feeling any of those kinds of feelings for God.  I only remember feeling respect, gratefullness, fear, mistrust, and anger.


I find this comment very interesting--and it can be a key to all your confusion.  I hope you will be willing to expand on it some more.


Wayne

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4 years ago  ::  May 23, 2011 - 9:54AM #58
tawonda
Posts: 4,367

Lisa, no one here is not taking sin seriously.


What we're suggesting is that you are, in a sense, trying to be holier than God, who forgives us our sin and walks with us, imperfect people that we are, as we live our lives trusting in his goodness and mercy more than in our own effort to "get it right." We all want to get it right. But we're not going to. And if your overeating problem disappeared tomorrow, you'd still be struggling with other areas of your life where you "fall short of the glory of God."


We are sinners by virtue of our human nature. We are saints by the virtue of God's grace. That is a tension that all of us live with for our entire lives; as my pastor says, "We're all bozos on this bus." We don't fully live into the promise of our baptisms until we pass into life eternal; that is the reality of our enfleshed existence. It seems to me as if you want to be something other than what you are -- a sinner-saint, saved by grace. You sound very much like young Martin Luther, subjecting himself to all sorts of self-recrimination and self-punishment because he didn't feel "good enough" for God.


What you find an untenable idea about faith being something initiated by God and not by yourself is something that millions of Christians, not just Lutherans, teach and confess. It is also an idea with biblical roots -- read the Gospel of John! It's not some goofy fringe concept.


Let me play Dr. Phil here. This idea that you're the captain of your fate and master of your soul -- "How's that workin' for you?" Because this topic thread is an indication to me, at least, that it's not working for you at all.


BTW: Did you direct your pastor to the comments here?

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4 years ago  ::  May 23, 2011 - 10:19AM #59
arabianhorselover
Posts: 81

I know about Cognitive Therapy.  Also, when I started taking Prozac 13 years ago, I really hoped it would make some difference in my need to overeat.  However, it did not.  For the last couple of years I have been taking a different drug - one for depression and anxiety, which has also had no effect on my eating.


I realize that I am never going to be free of sin.  There are other things in my life that I have regrets about, and wish I could handle differently, but I don't feel that they come between me and God like the overeating has.  I have felt convicted about this for so many years.


I really don't feel comfortable enough with my pastor to ask him to look at this.  I have come a long, long way in talking about my problems, and asking for help, but I don't feel comfortable doing that.  I don't think it is because I am afraid that he will agree with all of you.  I think I would like it if he did.


 


 

God Has Always Been With Me - Even Though I Haven't Realized It.
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4 years ago  ::  May 23, 2011 - 2:53PM #60
tawonda
Posts: 4,367

Lisa, I truly think that your pastor could be a real spiritual ally for you if you would let him. That is his JOB. And if he's like my pastor, he'd want you to talk to him.


I'll tell you a story. I used to work with a guy who, as a student, spent his summers as a lifeguard in northern Michigan. He really enjoyed his work, and had actually saved a few people from drowning. But he shared with us the observation that one of the hardest things for him to do as a lifeguard was to convince a drowning person that he was in the process of saving them. Because for him to get them to shore he had to calm them down to a point where they would stop flailing in the water, and just lie back and float. He said that sometimes the person in trouble, instead of listening to him and relaxing, would frantically grab at him,  which would pull him down under the water with them until he could break free and start again.


I'm feeling like one of several lifeguards on this topic thread, telling you to stop thrashing around in the (baptismal) water of God's reconciling, redeeming grace and just trust it, just float in it while you're getting some guidance in what is going to be an ongoing, lifelong process for you.


I'll also share with you an illustration of what being called into the family of God through Holy Baptism is like.


You didn't choose to be born into your biological family. Your place there is a given. And even though a child can always choose to alienate her- or himself from the family, that doesn't negate the fact that s/he is still part of that family. And in healthy families children aren't killed or "fired" from the family for being less than perfect. They're also not killed or "fired" for going through periods where they don't like their parents or don't think they deserve to have their parents or don't know how to feel about their parents or are otherwise confused about the nature of their relationship with them and their place in the family.


In Holy Baptism you were born into the family and household of God. Nothing can change that. You can think that you don't deserve to be in that family (guess what -- nobody deserves it), but that doesn't change the reality that you are a member of God's family. And God, the most loving Parent of all, isn't going to kill you or disown you because you're a child who has an eating isssue; that's crazy talk. God isn't even going to kill or disown you because you don't think that you have the right feelings toward God. (Which one of us has ever had less than warm, wonderful feelings about our own parents?)  God's love is  not dependent on your feelings. It just is.


You are not only in the family and household of God, but right now you have several of your siblings in Christ -- not only that, but siblings who've been given various degrees of responsibility for teaching, encouraging and counseling family members -- having a kind of online intervention with you to help you understand that you are a loved, valued member of the family. Do you think that's an accident?:-)


 

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