Thursday, January 8, 2009

Insomnia and the Heidelberg Catechism

The Sunday School class I attend at our church is currently reading and reviewing the Heidelberg Catechism (a slightly more updated interpretation of the original 1563 version). Recently, our class has been discussing questions 3, 4 and 5 of part one, Lord's day two. Question 3 asks, "Whence knowest thou thy misery?", and of course the answer to that question (according to the Bible and the catechism) is from the law of God. Logically following question 3, question 4 begs "What does the law of God require of us?". Jesus' reply to this is recorded in the book of Matthew: Matt. 22:37-40, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. This is the first and the great commandment; and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." Question 5 of the catechism is the real kicker: Canst thou keep all these things perfectly? This question always stings a little because the obvious answer to this question is an infinite no. Not only can we not keep the law of God perfectly, but as humans who are subject to evil nature, we are prone to hate God and our neighbors.

As it is common for true followers of Christ to do, people in the Sunday School class began to talk about their former non-believing selves and non-believers they currently know who believe/ed that doing "good" things and living a "good" life is sufficient to merit the saving grace of God. The fact that humans in their natural state hate God and can never be truly good apart from God is a hard truth. It makes sense that non-Christians and even Christians sometimes conveniently forget the glory of God in their works and begin to feel prideful. Of course, for a Christian to do this is sinful. However, to be too far on the other end of this spectrum is sin as well. This is where much of my struggle lies.

Don't get me wrong, I'm am in no way trying to self-righteously imply that I am so wonderful that I never feel prideful. On the contrary, I am admitting (in a highly public and probably less-than-interested forum) that I struggle less with a love of self and more with a love of...well, hating myself. Nearly any time I am alone, I am literally haunted by memories of when I have done wrong or made mistakes or said something stupid or done something embarrassing. Many times, I struggle with why God would even bother with me because I am so unworthy. At the age of seven, I developed anorexia as one of my many forms of self-punishment. I had anorexia and bulimia for over 13 years. I didn't believe that I deserved food or nourishment or comfort or happiness or a normal life. I have had insomnia for weeks at a time because of a mistake I can't forget or someone I upset.

It really wasn't until I got married that God, through his Word and the love of my wonderful husband, showed me that my focus on my faults was just another form of sinful pride and self love. When I spend all my energy and brain power on me, I am not focusing on loving God and my neighbor. I know now that what others call low self-esteem is Satan and my nature trying to pull my focus from honoring and serving God with all my capacity. My life is not about what I deserve or what I am because I deserve nothing and I am nothing apart from the magnificent grace and glory of the Father. My one true desire is that God is glorified and lifted up in my life. As a Christian, I must be made less so that Christ can be made more evident in me. If God will still use me and be glorified in my far from perfect life-praise Him. My goal is to take my eyes off me and put them back on Christ, the ultimate prize. My job is to keep running and trust that God will take care of all the hurdles I've knocked over.

1 comment:

Coffee Snob said...


Funny you should mention the Heidelberg; I made mention of Q & A #1 on this week's Every Square Inch program:

Heidelberg # 1:
Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?

A. That I am not my own, but belong body and soul, in life and in death, to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.

"Someone w/ a Biblical worldview believes his primary reason for existence is to love & serve God" (Dr. Del Tackett).

But of course, none of us REALLY live that way - even if we believe it to the depths of our soul.

Thanks for your transparency!
Coffee Snob