Conviction Crisis

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There is sometimes a point at which conviction experiences a crisis.

We question our motives, doubt our sensibility to God’s Spirit, and mistrust our ability to understand God’s word. Discouragement sets in. And then, sometimes, depression.

This has happened to me more than once. With me, it hasn’t been a “point”–a single moment I can put a pin in–but rather, a blur of ups and downs. Though not yet completely past the crisis, I have learned some coping skills. That’s what this post is about: coping with those devilishly persistent doubts that assail us when we’re at our lowest, when we ask ourselves, “Why am I the only one doing this?”

At the Moment i feel pretty fed up with sticking out all the time. Not sure if it’s worth it. Probably i’m just trying to make myself more special. But special to whom? God? Well, in the end he will not take me into heaven for my ‘speciality’ but for Jesus dying for my sins.
Like you i search for encouragement in blogs but it’s not the real life (we live oceans and continents apart). It can get so lonesome at times.
REALLY long for a fellowship with likeminded Christians.
But the closest group i know is an hour away plus my husband is not open for a change at the Moment.
Going to our (now) mainstream church is such a struggle for me.

Really questioning my motives! Every one else is just fine.
Why is this clothes and covering thing so central to me? I am constantly checking others on their modesty. I am ashamed of myself for that, reminding myself to watch out for myself first. I am angry with myself for it.
Ask God for help to put this topic in its right place so that i could be free for working happily for him.
Nothing happens.

This goes on now for maybe three or four years.
And why would God talk exclusively to me ?
I’m afraid i have a huge beam in my eye while i’m watching for splinters in others.
Still i don’t know what else to do than try to submit to what the Lord (seemingly) put on my heart.
Ever feel that way?

[from a lady who recently commented on my blog]

Yes, I have felt that way! Specifically in the areas of modesty and headcovering, I have struggled to maintain a healthy and biblical mindset in spite of the difficulty and the loneliness. If this sounds like you, keep reading; I have some comforting encouragement in store for you!

 

Why Would God Talk Exclusively to Me?

So, we look around, and we realize, “Everyone else is going happily along on their merry way, and doesn’t even seem to feel a tad bit bothered by the things that bother me. Does their conscience not prick them? Is it that they have a super-hardened conscience, or is it that I have a super-delicate one?” There’s a few approaches to understanding this.

First of all, maybe in certain areas, we are super delicate. Maybe we are making a big deal out of something that is really not a big deal. We may need to analyze our priorities and do some reorganization.

Sadly, though, it may be that the reason so many people aren’t bothered by what bothers us, is because they’ve allowed themselves to become desensitized to the truth. In one huge, insidious sweep, masses have been caught up together in the lies of our age. The changes happened gradually, almost unnoticeably; now, several generations later, the great-great-grandchildren are reaping what their forefathers and -mothers ignorantly and carelessly sowed.

So, it’s possible that we are of the few who haven’t been carried away by the tide. We stand watching from the shore, while mobs of people frolic in the waves, not understanding that the rip current is soon going to drag them farther out to sea than they ever intended to go.

At the same time, it is also possible that there are a few whose consciences are uneasily gnawing at them. They pretend that they’re not worried about their choices, but maybe they are. Maybe they are restless and unsure. Seeing us stand firm might just give them the courage to change direction.

It isn’t that God is speaking exclusively to one of us and not to the others; He’s spoken to all of us, but few care to listen.

 

Fed Up with Sticking Out All the Time

It is hard to step out into a crowd with the knowledge that we don’t fit in. Feelings of insecurity plague us; we just want to run away to be someplace alone, without all those staring eyes (at least we think they’re staring at us). However, it may be that other people aren’t really noticing us as much as we perceive them to be. Perhaps we have overactive imaginations, and are working ourselves into a state of worry over something very small. It isn’t so strange after all for women to wear skirts and dresses. Think about it: many women will wear a skirt to church or a special event, or even just for fun, without being “skirts and dresses only.” So, the main difference between them and us is that we wear skirts and dresses all the time. When you think of it that way, wearing skirts and dresses only doesn’t seem like that big of a deal.

The same goes for headcovering: some women will use a scarf, bandanna or hat just because they feel like it, and not because they’re using it as a symbol of submission. We really don’t stick out as much as we think we do; even when the difference is obvious, though people may be curious about it, they may not be criticizing us like we suspect them to be.

On the other hand, we may struggle with arrogance regarding how we look. Maybe it feels like we are constantly fighting the temptation to be self-satisfied and smug about our “holy” appearance. We should definitely sort through our motives. Are we secretly prideful of our attempts to please God? Do we see ourselves as brave hero-martyrs sacrificing ourselves to mockery and misunderstanding? Do we see ourselves as victims? Perhaps it’s time to stop being so dramatic, and realize that other people aren’t always out to “get” us; sometimes, they’re just mystified by our behavior, and they don’t know how to deal with their feelings. It may be that our actions are truly the right actions, but our attitude needs to be worked on.

Even though it’s sometimes a challenge to look different, it’s a challenge worth meeting. Don’t you think it would be boring being like everybody else? Why should we have to be little robot copies of other people who are also mindlessly copying each other? It’s okay to be different! Different gives interest, flavor, and zest to an otherwise bland experience. Don’t think of it as “sticking out”; it’s more like “shining forth.”

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Not Sure if it’s Worth it   

Here’s where we have to re-examine what the Bible says. Our own human reasoning is like an unstable teeter-totter; there is no absolute standard, only feelings and impressions, which so easily deceive. Will we settle for the feelings-fraud, and the counterfeit wisdom of our times (an accumulation of everybody else’s deceptive emotions)? Or, will we wrestle to find out the truth?

The Bible isn’t really that hard to understand; it’s mostly very clear cut and to the point. I have found that if I just sit down with the Bible in my lap, and read it on my own, ignoring what other people think for the moment (meaning, I don’t read the notes in the margins, and I don’t refer to books and articles), I’m often amazed at how easy it is to understand. Theologians can offer us some great helps, but it’s up to each of us individually to read God’s word and seek His wisdom for ourselves. God didn’t inspire the Bible for mostly scholars and studious types; the word of God was meant for everybody, written to the common folk, in a way that even the uneducated could “get.” Wonder of wonders: the Bible is complex enough for there to be so much in it we can study it our whole lives and never get to the bottom of it’s deep wisdom; and yet, the whole of it’s message is simple enough for even a child to understand.

If God’s word says something is right, then why would we listen to anybody else? It’s what God thinks that matters. It isn’t even what we think (apart from the Bible) that matters, so we shouldn’t listen to ourselves. Choose to listen to God. When we obey Him, it is worth it. Even if it seems like a small thing, remember that if we are faithful in little, He will make us stewards over much.

…Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” Matthew 25:21

 

My Own Changing Attitudes 

I used to feel very self-conscious about wearing skirts and dresses only, and wearing a headcovering. When I first made those changes to my lifestyle, I became more keenly aware of how everybody else was dressing. I think that’s natural. Come now, we don’t live like turtles in shells; of course we’re going to notice what other people are wearing, and we’re going to make some sort of inner judgement about it. It isn’t a sin to make an observation.

Yet, we need to be careful to not elevate ourselves in our own opinion. I still sometimes have to work to overcome the tendency to condemn. The way that I try to overcome it is by reminding myself that I didn’t always wear skirts and dresses only; I grew up wearing mostly pants. As I grew older, I simply continued what I was used to doing. I was just perpetuating the habit, and following the crowd.

During a certain phase of my life, I found myself dealing with disruptive, even traumatic, situations that barely left me room to breathe, let alone care whether I was modest, or not. I also had to deal with some serious spiritual problems before I was even willing to consider changing my attire. I think that changes usually happen one by one, and not all at once. We only have enough energy to devote to making one change at a time, and sometimes we’re so busy with all the other changes, our clothes seem like such a small thing that we leave them for future consideration. In the meantime, life happens, and we take forever to get around to it.

Of course, it shouldn’t be like that.

Modesty and femininity may begin as part of a change in wardrobe, but they are actually integral to a larger transformation of the spirit.

As we begin to examine our motives for wearing the clothes that we wear, and for putting on or not putting on a headcovering, we discover truths about ourselves that we had not been open to confronting before. We realize why we had dressed provocatively, or sloppily, or mannishly. This leads us to understand ourselves better. It also leads us to care about others more.

Contrary to what some might think, a focus on our own mode of dress isn’t necessarily ego-centric; dressing modestly has other people’s interests at the core. A woman who dresses modestly is concerned for how her brothers in Christ (and men in general) will be affected by her. She doesn’t want to excite sensual thoughts in them, but instead wishes to motivate them by her decency to keep their thoughts pure, and to respect and honor her. If they are godly men, they will be thankful that she is giving them the gift of her modest appearance, so they won’t have to tangle with their thoughts when they just want to have a normal conversation with her.

A woman who dresses modestly helps not only herself, she helps others. Similarly, a woman who dresses femininely helps others, too. Think about how dressing according to our God-given womanly role can contribute toward positive movements in society, in the church, and in our own households, specifically in our relationships with our husbands and children.

If the collected effort of

many individual feminists

could do so much damage to our culture,

how much more

could the collected effort of

many individual BIBLICALLY-FEMININE WOMEN 

impact our culture for the better?

As time goes on, my outlook is gradually morphing. Instead of seeing myself as a martyr (as I used to), I now see myself as a pilgrim. I’m searching out the right path, and I’m walking it. The way is dusty, worn by thousands of feet that trod it before mine, thousands of other pilgrims that sought after God’s will. It’s a journey, a mission, an adventure.

Gently, quietly, I encourage others to join me on the path. I invite them to experience the pilgrimage together with me, to respond to the upward call of Jesus, to follow Him and obey Him, no matter if it makes us weird, no matter if it brings discomfort.

Obedience doesn’t cause us to be saved; but, salvation should cause us to obey.

Hopefully, once others are ready to consider the issue of modesty and headcovering, they will not resist the tug of the Spirit on their hearts. Though it is true that transformation is a process that takes time, and is sometimes difficult to initiate, it seems to me that more often than not, the reason that we don’t see more people open to change is because they don’t want to change. I am saddened to see this attitude in many professing Christian women. And that is another reason we can’t give up.

We stand out as beacons of light, shining truth into their lives by our example. We continually present to them the chance to reconsider their choices, and to revisit the topic of modesty and headcovering simply by our presence, simply by standing there in the midst of them being so carefully (and often obviously) different. A hardened heart can be softened.

When conviction comes to a point of crisis, we must open our eyes and see the amazing gift that God is giving us to choose our path freely. Nobody is forcing us to do one thing or another. We get to decide. Isn’t that great?

Take a deep breath…and feel free! This is your life, and you get to live it! See your life from a different perspective: if you’ve done your best to understand the Scriptures and obey them, then it isn’t your choices that are boxing you in, and neither is it your situation; it’s your frustration that what you want to be easy, isn’t. Let go of that, and accept that the pilgrim’s route is never easy; yet, with the challenge comes the reward of a deeper understanding of ourselves, and a more accurate insight into our motives. We our able to cultivate a nobler, more compassionate concern for others. We will also experience the intense satisfaction and refreshing emotional release of not having to live up to everybody else’s expectations, just God’s.

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7 thoughts on “Conviction Crisis

  1. Jessica, thank you for the great post. I think that we are afraid to stick out because in some cases we have greater fear of man than of God.
    When I was 15, I almost drowned. I was swimming and the wave swept me under the surface. Someone pulled me out. It feels so strange to be under the current. I was mortified.
    I also think that we have cultural Christianity: many famous Christian blogs have certain trends that are not focusing on Christ but rather “me theology”
    Irina

    Like

    • Great, Irina!
      Yes, sometimes we need someone to pull us out of the waves. We don’t do anybody any favors by being “tolerant.” Somebody needs to speak up. I hope that my post didn’t sound like I think we should say nothing; however, when people won’t listen to words, sometimes the only thing we can continue to offer them is our wordless examples.
      Thanks so much!
      Jessica
      P.S. I’m so glad that that person saved you from drowning–how scary that must have been!

      Like

  2. 2 Timothy 1:7King James Version (KJV)

    7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
    I’m praying for you, my sister in Christ, that you will be able to follow your convictions without fear or insecurity, that God will give you an overflowing joy and peace and obeying, that He removes from you a heightened sense of self-awareness and insecurity and the fear of man, so you just won’t be thinking of what others think of you. That you will be so rooted and grounded in His love that you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the height and depth and breadth of the love of Christ, know the love of Christ that passes knowledge, so that you might be filled with all the fullness of God. That you will be so filled up with Him, that there’s no room or place in your heart in mind for those condemning and insecure voices and lies. God is with you and will give you strength!
    Ephesians 3:14-21
    14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

    15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,

    16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

    17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

    18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;

    19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

    20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,

    21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

    Like

  3. Psalm 23King James Version (KJV)

    23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

    2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

    3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

    4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

    5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

    6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

    God also brought this passage to my mind when I wrote that I would pray that He would make you overflow with joy and peace in your obedience to Him. He restores your soul, let Him fill you up with His love!
    Ariana

    Like

    • Those passages of Scripture are so full of meaning–thank you for sharing them with me, Ariana! We all need to be encouraged to keep on following the right path, and verses like those sure do help a lot.
      Jessica

      Like

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