If I heard about salvation at the age of 9 and decided to myself, “Wow, I want that!” and then prayed what the preacher said to pray, is that when my soul was saved? Or was it at 12, when I said that same prayer for the last time, after years of saying it, hoping that each next time it would “work”?
It was in 6th grade, I overcame my intense social anxiety and went up for the invitation during a school assembly. I figured if an adult helped me pray one-on-one, I most definitely would get it right. The problem was, afterwards I didn’t feel any different.
I didn’t know that I was mentally ill as young as perhaps 9? The first time I prayed for salvation, I expected to not feel so bad anymore, for the inner burden to be lifted. Yes, a 9 year old can have inner burdens.
I prayed so much over the years for God to save me. I also remember praying to God to let me just die. That breaks my heart to remember sitting in my closet, hugging my legs to my chest, crying, and praying for mercy from God above to just take the pain away.
I believe that memory is from when I was around 10 or 11. I know I had seen a psychologist or therapist once or twice by then after my parent’s divorce, but I don’t remember if I ever trusted any of them enough to tell them such things. I would assume not, else I think I would have received therapy for such thoughts.
I wonder though if the issue with me accepting my salvation was my mental illness or how it was presented to my little distressed, traumatized, mentally ill younger self. This wonderful gift from God above, yes, which it is. But it was presented as a life changing event of Jesus saving me and transforming my life. Everything from that point forward was going to be different!
The thing is, everything was different, but not in the way my young mind understood. I wanted to live for God, but I misunderstood the concepts and thought my inner hurt and turmoil would be lessened immediately and I would feel what I heard others describe they felt. I do feel they were misleading in their descriptions, if I’m being honest.
I am in a few Religious OCD and Scrupulosity online groups and I see a recurring theme of folks questioning their salvation. This hurts my soul deep inside. I want to shake them and tell them that because they do indeed choose Jesus and want to follow him, they are saved. I know it’s mental illness giving them (and younger me) those obsessive thoughts of doubting whether or not what they prayed worked, or if they accidentally committed the unpardonable sin, or if they didn’t mean to repent and just thought they repented out of fear of hell (oh my heart breaks and bleeds!).
Even recognizing parts of Scrupulosity that I have overcome (accepting my Salvation is real), there are parts that I have not and I don’t know if I ever will. The thoughts that I have always done something wrong, committed some unknown sin, especially anytime something bad happens, thoughts of being a bad person, and the compulsion to apologize for being a burden.
I am hoping with time and therapy I will improve the parts I struggle with. Because I did eventually accept that I was saved and I did stop praying along with those preachers. I have learned to try my best to dismiss the thoughts when they come, that seek out in my life any sinful areas when misfortune hits, assuming they are punishment from above.
My God is a forgiving God. It is not what I can do for him or how good I can be, though I want to serve and be a good person, it is what Jesus did for me, despite that I have sinned and will continue sinning until I die. It’s his actions, not mine. I need to get it through my thick skull and stop the mantra in my head that I’m a horrible human being.
My thoughts are like worms on a hook and I need to swim on by.