The danger of being raised in the church

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3: 5-6

If someone asked me if I fully believed the truth found in those two verses a few years ago, I would confidently reply, “Of course!” And I wouldn’t be lying! Well, not intentionally.

While I am extremely thankful to have been raised in the church, I’ve noticed a silent problem that can arise from this gift. There are so many verses and so many truths about God that I have been reciting since I was able to speak, and because of that, I can easily let powerful, life changing phrases roll right off my tongue without truly processing the weight of what I’m saying.

These verses didn’t come to me when I was in a dire situation of need. I didn’t initially find the treasure buried in scripture after a long search of purpose or meaning. I learned them in kids’ church and after chapel at school on Wednesdays.

The words lived in my head, though they hadn’t quite completed the journey to my heart. Proverbs 3:5-6 is a great example.

When I say I believe that God is good and that I trust Him with my life, I mean it! No one could convince me otherwise. However, there are multiple moments that are popping into my mind where I did not live like I believed this at all. My words represented faith in God, but my actions proved otherwise (1 John 3:18). The words lived in my head, though they hadn’t quite completed the journey to my heart.

Trials would bubble up and that life-saving proverb instantly fell to the back burner in my mind. And y’all. It didn’t even have to be a major trial. I’m talking about the little, sneaky problems we face every day.

Stressful situations at work. Conflict in marriage. Conflict in friendships. Car problems. Honestly, even a busy schedule could derail my joy and peace.

I know that some of you are saying, “Yeah, of course those things can throw me off, too. What’s the big deal?!”

The problem with this pattern of anxiety and easily triggered stress is that it cannot live alongside Proverbs 3:5-6. Disagree? Let’s try it out.

– I trust in the Lord with all my heart, but I’m so worried that I’m losing sleep every night.

– I do not lean on my own understanding, but I know exactly how this needs to go, so I’ll it take over from here, God.

– I acknowledge Him in all my ways, but I’m going to save all my money and not give any away, because you never know what could happen tomorrow.

– He will make straight my paths, but I feel like I will never have all that I need.

At a glance, I believed this verse was true. But one day, after battling stress and anxious thoughts for months, I finally sat down with His Word. While in prayer, it was like God prompted me to review my actions and thoughts in slow motion. I began digging down to the root of my stress, and while I knew what His word said, I was not believing it deep in my heart. I was not trusting that God’s ways were higher and better than my own (Isaiah 55:9) like I had been repeating out loud for years.

I was getting distracted by the waves and losing sight of who He was.

Hear me out. I will, without a doubt, raise my children in church. My parents did an exceptional job at teaching me who God was, and while I didn’t grasp the full meaning of His truth, it was definitely planted in my soul at a young age. For that, I am forever grateful. I do think, however, that we have to be careful in assuming we believe scripture simply because we can quote verses like John 3:16.

The more I mediated on God’s word, the more my faith was challenged. I knew that if I was going to claim faith in God, I had better start actually living like I trusted Him with my entire life. Every single bit of it.

There are definitely moments today that tempt me to depend on myself, on my husband, or on my circumstances for peace. Though, now that I’m continually asking God to store this verse in my heart, rather than my head, I hear a still, small voice in the midst of the temptation:

“Caitlin, trust Me on this one. I know it doesn’t make sense to you right now, but do not lean on your own understanding, for My ways are far greater than your own. I am the Maker of the heavens and the earth, remember? Everything good in your life is from Me. Lay down your life for Me, loosen the grip you have on your plans, and I will make your paths straight. Trust Me.”

Does the stress instantly melt away? No. But if I believe those words to be true, then I have a choice to make. I can choose to let my emotions take over, or I can choose to pause, to remember that my knowledge is limited, that His knowledge is infinite, that He loves me, that He’s in control, and that He will always provide what’s best for me, whether I understand it or not.

When you feel stress and worry closing in on your thoughts and actions, what will you choose to believe?

I pray that you will choose to fully and truly trust in the Lord with all your heart.

Now read this: Do you know why you’re alive?

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