Question

I love God, but I seem to stray from him a lot. I do cut myself. I have bad thoughts, and I don't want them. I sometimes hear my name being called. What should I do? I don't want to go to hell. I don't want to hurt God. What should I do?

My father killed himself. He was a good Christian. He used to go to church every Sunday until he got depressed and took his own life. Can you tell me if he is with God? It haunts me every night.

I don't go to church anymore because I feel like I don't belong. How can I stop these things? Please, can you help me to return to God? I want peace. I want to be with Him again. I used to go to church when I was little, but I haven't felt close to God in awhile, and I really want to be back in His presence. I want to feel Him. Please, can you help me? 


Answer

I'm sorry about your father. Losing someone close to you is always heartbreaking. I can't tell you whether your father is with God or not because that would require knowledge about your dad that you and I don't have. God alone can make those decisions and they are based upon what a person does, as well as the reasons why he does them (II Corinthians 5:10; I Corinthians 4:5). What I can be certain about is that he would want you to be in heaven with God and that is what you should focus on.

The problem with not going to church is that you are cutting yourself off from the very people who could help you. You are trying to handle all these emotions by yourself, and they really need to be shared. "Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2).

When it comes to living a life pleasing to God, it isn't about your feelings. In fact, feelings can get in your way because they are often wrong. "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, But he who walks wisely will be delivered" (Proverbs 28:26). Feelings can quickly change, but the truth doesn't change. Thus, instead of choosing whether to go to church based on whether you feel like it, you go because God said that is what we need to do. "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near" (Hebrews 10:23-25). Many people understand that when you have a job, you go to work regardless of whether you feel like doing it that day or not. The same attitude should be applied to all deeds of righteousness.

People who hurt themselves typically do so because they feel they need to punish themselves. More often than not, the feeling that they need to be punished is irrational; that is, they are looking at the situation wrong. Often bad things are happening to them, for which they are not the cause, but someone is pressuring them to think that they are responsible. It becomes a trap where they think they are bad, but since it isn't really their fault, they can't correct it. Hence, the feeling that they need to punish themselves. It is a way to cope with what feels like overwhelming problems.

The problem is that cutting is wrong because you are harming yourself. You are acting as judge, jury, and executioner in your own case, but you are biased because you are involved. Your own emotions get in the way of seeing things accurately. The result is that you are going against what is in your nature, and I believe you know it. "For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church" (Ephesians 5:29).

Cutting also doesn't solve anything. It gives the illusion that you are doing something, but nothing really changes; instead, you have yet another thing that you feel bad about. So in the long run you feel worse.

God forgives when we turn away from sin. "Again, when I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' if he turns from his sin and does what is lawful and right, if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has stolen, and walks in the statutes of life without committing iniquity, he shall surely live; he shall not die" (Ezekiel 33:14-15). Thus, to get forgiveness for harming yourself, the first thing you need to do is stop harming yourself.

"No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it" (I Corinthians 10:13). I'm willing to listen, if you would like to talk about what is going on in your life. Perhaps I can suggest better ways to deal with problems -- ways that actually will make your life better.

I feel like God has abandoned me. My mom's old boyfriend used to take my clothes and had me walk around naked in front of him, my brother and my mom, while they all laughed at me. I would get called dumb and stupid by him every day we were there. My mom used to call me the devil's daughter because I was not obedient.

I don't want pity from anyone. I just want help. I try to live peacefully, but my past keeps haunting me. I tried to please everyone around me, even when I don't want to.

I live with my grandparents now. They mean the world to me, but I feel like I am a burden on them. I drink sometimes just to get the pain away. I even lied to my grandmother about my school fees just so I could get money for alcohol. I regret that. I don't like lying to her or anyone.

I don't want to live like this anymore. What can I do to be better and to live better with Christ?

I'm sorry that your mother dated an evil man. We can't change the past, but you can be thankful that he is no longer in your life. You don't have to let the past haunt you because it is only memories. It can't harm you anymore if you don't let it.

Trying to please everyone doesn't work because everyone doesn't have the same goals. Instead, Christians seek to please the Lord, which most people like -- but not all people. "Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more" (I Thessalonians 4:1). God is consistent, He doesn't change His mind, and He tells us through the Bible what we need to do.

Drinking doesn't remove any pain. It only numbs you so that pain seems less for a short while. But the problems remain and often get worse because you were drunk. That is one reason Christians are told to remain sober. "For you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness;so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night.But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation" (I Thessalonians 5:5-8). Instead of trying to numb any pain, it is better to solve the problems that are causing the pain.

"For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome" (I John 5:3). Thus, the first step out is to decide to live your life in the way God directs, give up the lying and the drinking because they hurt you and instead become an honest and clear thinking person.

Today I finally went to church. I was welcomed with open arms. I even confessed my sins and they did not look down on me. They prayed for me and it made my heart warm. I confessed my sins openly to God, and I felt like my heart was lighter than it has ever been. I also told my grandmother that I lied and deceived her, and she forgave just like that. She forgave me. She was not mad, she was just hurt.

I used to think if i ever confessed my sins to anyone, they would look at me with disgust and hatred, but that was not the case. I am a sinner, but I learned that Jesus will walk with me until the very end.

I am very grateful to you. My past would haunt me day and night, and I let it take control. I will do better. Ii will walk with God, and I will try my best to do God's will. Thank you so much for listening to me and helping me realize that I need not turn away those who can help me, and that I need God with me. You opened my eyes. I will not drink anymore. I gave my knives to my grandmother. I will start a new and better life with God, for now I know that God truly loves me, and that I am a part of His big plan.

I know it's just going to get harder, but I know I can conquer my own evil heart as long as God is with me, I can do anything. Thank you so much. Do you have anymore advice for me?

You're welcome. Any time you need someone to talk to, start with those around you, but also know that you can always write to me as well, especially if the temptation to do bad gets strong again. I'm glad you are on your way to getting better.