I spent 20 years attending a church that preached a works-based theology. I was nineteen when I was baptised into this church. That's a pretty young age to dedicate one's life to being a disciple of Jesus. I was told anybody could be a Christian but being a disciple was going to get me to heaven. I bought this theology wholly as I tried to die to myself and be a perfect disciple. I had a major obstacle to overcome, though. I have a mental illness. I left the church briefly after my diagnosis but returned determined to overcome my disability. Having Bipolar Disorder means never being in full control of your moods and emotions. Medication helps but depression and mania still can overtake your life. I bought the idea that God could help me overcome my illness and allow me to be the perfect disciple.
I felt guilt and stress everyday as I constantly failed to be joyful and in control of my emotions and moods. I couldn't understand why my prayers weren't being answered. It took a monumental effort for me to attend the regular meetings of the church and hold down a job. I felt like a complete failure. I would pray fervently every day for God to help me control my moods so I could be constantly joyful and full of spiritual energy. As the years went on and I realised the futility of my thinking I felt more and more run down and burned out. Finally I couldn't keep trying to be a perfect disciple so I quit.
At first I held on to my faith thinking I just needed to find a different church. After a year of not going to church I found that I just didn't want to believe in God anymore. If I went to a different church it would still be preaching from the same Bible. I would still be living the same cunundrum that I was living for the past twenty years. I just wanted some rest from Christianity. I decided that God didn't exist. If He did exist he would not force us to live our lives in constant pursuit of an impossible ideal. I gave up my faith over time.
So now that I am no longer living for God who can I live for? My husband? I thought about that and decided that although I want to please my husband I don't want to live for him. I needed a reason to get out of bed. I needed a purpose and a life. It's hard because I don't have a job or career. I don't have children. I don't want children either. I found out that I was not living at all but just waiting for a disaster to overtake my life. I would simply exist and wait for my husband to come home.
As I continued in my non-belief in God I realised that life is not guaranteed for each creature on earth. I realised that I needed to be thankful for the good things in my life. This made me feel better. I also understood that I was in recovery from my last manic episode and this is why I was unable to function completely. I needed to cut myself some slack for having to go through a recovery period because of my illness. It's difficult to get motivation when I have felt so down on myself for so long.
I felt better over the recent year and was able to think about how I wanted to live my life. I want to live life and enjoy it. I don't want to simply exist and wait for disaster to strike. I spent the whole of 2009 worrying about my husband's job and whether he was going to be able to keep it. I couldn't enjoy life because I was constantly worried. I needed to stop worrying and enjoy life as it happens. Bad things happen that's a part of life but I need to think about what's going on in my life in reality. I need to stop creating worse case scenarios and worrying about what might happen. I need to live for myself and do things that make me happy. I don't want to waste any more time worrying or being depressed. I want to be happy and live my life for myself not for a God or a church or a group of people. I just want to wake up with a purpose and a new vision for what my life could be.