God has done many things in my life. I wish to remember them, and publicly honor Him for them. This list is incomplete, and will grow.
Probably the most important one, because I think it may have saved my life.
Of all the worldviews I’ve examined, only the following two seem plausible to me, with compelling arguments for their truth claims:
- Materialism is true. Souls are not a thing, people simply cease to exist. So, in the long term everything is meaningless. Random colocations of atoms may interact with pointless sacks of meat, but the results of those interactions have no higher purpose or meaning. Entropy increases, irreversibly, then silence. Forever. The End.
- Christianity is true. There’s something more than this life. Choices you make may have eternal consequences. Helping a human being actually matters. Curing the sick or righting wrongs makes a difference in the lives of people who are of great value, and those differences ripple out forever. And relationship with a personal God is possible - in fact, it is the most meaningful, worthwhile thing in the entire universe.
If (1), then this blog, my life, and the whole universe are all pointless. Points aren’t even a thing. If I truly thought this were so, I wouldn’t write this. I’d eat, drink, be merry, and die.
Because I believe that (2) is reasonable to believe, I bother living.
Positive and ongoing life-change
Lasting positive life-change is hard to achieve .
But looking back over the past decade as I write this in May 2020, I note very significant improvements in health, kindness, confidence/assurance, reduction of anxiety, and competence. And these positive life changes are not simply my perception, they have been repeatedly confirmed by external sources.
I believe that all of these positive effects can be traced, ultimately, to my faith in God.
Victory over Pornography
Probably the biggest one I can point to is the breaking of a long-running and active addiction to internet pornography.
Pornography is a destructive and psychologically-warping thing. For a long time in my life, I struggled and struggled with it. I hated and loved it, and I hated and loved myself too. I despaired of ever breaking its hold, and I didn’t want to let it go. But somehow, through a rather long and painful process, the power of it over my life has largely gone away. I know I can’t take much credit for this, if any! So I give that credit to God. Without his help it would still have hold of me.
If you struggle with something like this, the best advice I can give you is to get help from sincere, Bible-believing friends. And to seek God above all things. It’s not about avoiding sin, it’s about pursuing righteousness. You should know, also, that it really will be a long and difficult journey.
What’s more, I still, to this day, have to remain on guard against it. To borrow a way of speaking from Alcoholics Anonymous… “I am an addict, and it has been years since my pornography”. I guess I might quibble a little with this, since the Bible teaches that “if anyone is in Christ he is a new Creation”. I am not defined by, or identified by sin, but by being “in Christ”! But the point of the AA saying is that the fight continues for a lifetime, and I have found this to be true for my addiction as well. I pray that God will continue to help me fight!
Of course, pornography is far from the only thing God has worked on in my life. Other examples of positive life-change that I attribute to God’s mercy and grace include:
Motivation for productive endeavors.
My dramatic increases in productivity in the 2018-2019 period came not because I wanted to “become more productive”, but because I wanted to stop sinning by wasting my life.
Kindness, somehow displacing selfishness
I credit God with my (apparent) improvements in the realm of kindness to others. Previously, I did not really consider kindness to strangers to be worth my time. Now, I find myself having a reputation for kindness, and somehow actually wanting to be kind to people, even if they won’t provide me any benefit in return. It is very strange, and a bit uncanny. I’m not naturally this way at all… how did this happen? The only one with motive, opportunity and means to enact this change was God.
Hope and Joy, displacing Chronic Anxiety
Chronic anxiety is an ongoing concern for me. No matter the time or place, I typically have a sort of… subprocess running in the back of my head, extrapolating out all the horrid possibilities of the current situation, or other situations. For example, what if my co-workers or boss were to read the section above on pornography? I call this the “worry-circuit”. Some days it is stronger, some days weaker, but it is almost always running.
I have only ever found a few things to help with this. One of them was when a friend offered me the highest dose of alcohol I had ever tried, in the form of two mugs of beer. I experimentally drank them. I did not become drunk, nor did my speech patterns or movement abilities become impaired. However, I was surprised to discover that the worry circuit actually shut off! For an hour or two, I was free!
When the dosage wore off, however, I immediately resolved to not experiment further. Having kicked a pornography addiction, I had absolutely no desire to exchange it for a dependency on alcohol!
The second thing that helps, though, is feelings of deep conviction or relation to God. Meditation on scripture, thinking about what God has done in my life… this is the only other thing that has ever shut the worry circuit off. And instead, it is replaced with feelings of hope, gratitude, and joy.