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I'm not really sure how to explain how I'm feeling right now. I've never told anyone about it, or even thought it all the way through. I've been brought up in a christian home and have always attended church. I've been through the normal ups and downs as a young christian.
But this is different, I feel like I'm not a christian, I really want to believe there is a God and I want to feel Him with me, and have a relationship with Him, but I just don't. It's getting me so down.
I hate going to church because I feel like a fraud, now that I'm at university away from home I've had to start a different church where I don't know anyone and this makes going to church even harder for me. I live in a flat with non-Christians and when i am at uni I don't have any Christian friends. But even at home surrounded with Christian friends and family and just feel like I'm kidding myself that I believe in God or that I'm even good enough to have a relationship with him if I did believe.
I don't even know if there's a question in all that, even some friendly advice or something would be appreciated.
Sorry this is so long, my thoughts are just so muddled.
Thanks
Katherine

Answer
Hi Katherine

Thanks for your email.  I have been praying about how best to advise you.  I'm sorry to hear about the way you're feeling.

You're right that there's not a specific question in there, but I'm going to try and answer the one that says "how can I have a relationship with God deepen my faith".

It's interesting that you say you don't feel like a Christian.  It would be a good exercise for you to sit down with a pen and paper (or on computer) and pray about the question: "What is a Christian".  Write down everything that comes into your head, even if it sounds daft.  Then step back and look at your list again.

Now, once you've done this, ask yourself what you would say if a young child came to you and asked "what's a Christian, Katherine?"  

Some of your answers will be unhelpful things that you really wouldn't want a child to believe.  For example, you might say "a person who never makes mistakes" and then realise that this isn't actually possible, so it can't be a good definition.

When you boil it down, you should hopefully find something along the lines of "a Christian is someone who has committed their life to following Jesus" (or words to that effect).  It's not about being good, or always feeling happy (although a Christian my try to be good and can often experience joy).

Then you can ask yourself if you are a Christian, once you've stripped away the unhelpful things that might be holding you back.  If you are, then you can move to the next issue (below), but if you're not, you can ask yourself if you want to make that step and pray for a re-dedication of your life.

As to deepening your faith, I would suggest a few things:

- try to read small bits of the Bible every day, especially the gospels to learn more about what Jesus was really like.  You might find a study Bible helps to deepen your understanding.
- listen to some podcasts of inspirational Christian teaching (I can recommend some if you need them)
- get to know people at Church by joining some kind of small group

Remember, you don't have to be good enough to be in a relationship with God.  Look at the early disciples and all the people in the Bible who get things drastically wrong.  God's love is never conditional on our good behaviour.  Jesus wants us to follow him (read John 14 for a really nice passage to help understand the new relationship we have with God).  When we become Christians, the Holy Spirit comes and lives inside us and helps us make decisions as we journey along with God at our side.

It's an easy trap to fall into (especially if we've grown up in a Christian family sometimes) that we feel we have to be good to be acceptable.  But one classic example of how wrong this is, can be seen in the story of the thief on the cross (Luke 23:32-43).  Here is a man who has done wrong things and is punished rightly for them, but he still enters a relationship with Jesus.

Remember Katherine - Jesus WANTS to be in a relationship with you (why else would he have died on that cross?).  So you just need to talk to him about it.  That's how relationships start... small conversations and honesty.

I will pray for you and hope that my answer has helped a bit.  God bless <><

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Cudmonk

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I am a committed Christian, based in Scotland (UK). I work as a psychologist and have a real interest in people. My main interests are Christianity, understanding people, personality, spiritual gifts and relationships. I prayerfully respond to appropriate questions on Christian Living. Please pray for me as I respond to your requests...

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Experience in the area: I have been a Christian for over 12 years now and have also been involved with psychology for 13 years.

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Church elder, qualified psychologist (but I'm answering questions as a Christian, not as a health professional)

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