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“How can I call myself a Christian and still struggle with…”

Updated: Jan 2, 2021

Sis, have you ever asked yourself--How can I be a Christian and still struggle with *insert your word.* Maybe your word is pornography. Maybe your word is comparison. Maybe your word is masturbation. Maybe your word is low self-esteem or even pride. The list is truly endless. But sis, know that everyone has a word to fill in there. You are not alone in your struggle. I can promise you that.

I think Christians don’t talk enough about their struggles, low points, and weaknesses. But on the flip side of that, I can understand why. Honesty and transparency take a lot— It takes strength, bravery, and a level of vulnerability that is extremely uncomfortable. Because of this, some share and others don’t. And that’s okay! This blog post is not to coerce you into baring all of your soul to the whole world. I’m writing this to encourage you and to remind you that you are not alone in whatever you are struggling with.

Maybe you’re like me and thought that all your struggles would magically disappear the minute God came into the picture. I thought the minute I took my relationship with God seriously, I wouldn’t struggle anymore. But that’s so far from the truth because the very reason we need God is that we are out here struggling in some way. Being a Christian does not shield us from the struggles and difficulties of life. In fact, the reason we ALL need God is BECAUSE of them. Truth is sis, even the person we view as the strongest person of faith on earth still has their share of weaknesses and struggles. Why? It’s a part of being human. We all have struggles and weaknesses that we battle, we just don’t like to talk about them.

For me, my battles have included comparison, discontentment, low self-esteem, and lust just to name a few. And guess what, they’re battles that try to pop up daily. But with God, they are all “winnable.” I'm so grateful that walking with God is about progression over perfection. I recently listened to a message by TD Jakes called “Stay in the fight” and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I wanted to share with you a few things he said because I believe it will speak to you just like it spoke to me.

He shared that in life, there is a level of conflict necessary for the legitimacy of our faith. What does that mean? Faith is only faith because we need it in the middle of difficult situations. For us as humans, our conflict comes in the form of sin. I know the word “sin” is a word that brings up so many emotions but sin is a real thing. Sin means falling short of God's standard.

For me, the top emotion that used to come to my mind when I thought of sin was the feeling of condemnation. Condemnation to me is constantly beating yourself up over the same mistake. (Sidebar, if you feel condemned, that did not come from God. God corrects us but he never condemns us.). But I have learned that sin should convict us because if God is in us, his presence inside of us is not going to be comfortable with it. (Conviction is feeling remorseful after you do something wrong.)

Here is something that TD Jakes said that has stuck with me. There are three stages of deliverance. (Deliver means to produce the promised, desired, or expected results. God is the ONLY ONE who can truly deliver us.)—

1. God HAS delivered us from the consequence of sin. (What Christ did at the cross.)

2. God DOES deliver us from sin. (This is a DAILY process where he delivers us from a habit of sin and it is where we ALL are today)

3. God WILL deliver us from the presence of sin. (Happens when we leave this earth and go to heaven)

The part that stood out to me was that God already delivered us. But he didn’t just do that. He continues to deliver us every single day. This list was also freeing to me because it reminds us that we are all in the same boat. We are all at level 2. God continues to work on us. It’s not a reason to keep doing wrong but it lets us know that we are not alone when we wrestle with our struggles.

Another thing sis, if you’re struggling at all, that is a sign that you want to do things right. That’s the heart that God wants us to have. He wants us to know that we can’t fight whatever "it" is on our own and that we can’t stop on our own willpower. We need HIM. And that’s what Christianity is really about—Dependency.

We have to fight every day. That’s basically what a struggle is. It’s a fight to do better. Here’s a beautifully said quote based on Romans 7, “There is no war going on if we don’t have a mind that wants to do right. That’s the divine nature within us and it wars against our flesh. It’s your spirit saying to you, “I know I am better than this.” That is a war and it happens to Christians. Why? Because we wrestle against the holy part within us. This war or conflict within us is not because we aren’t sincere but because we ARE sincere. It’s because our spirit is constantly calling us higher.”

Now, all of that may sound super churchy lol. And I like knowing the spiritual AND the practical. So I’ll break it down. When you identify as Christian, you have two parts—the spirit (Holy Spirit) and the flesh. Our spirit is the part of us where God lives. It’s the part within us that always wants to do right. Our flesh IS our physical body and it wants what it wants. It doesn’t care even if it is wrong (Galatians 5:16-25)

Basically, there is a battle between both of those. It's like the classic example of the "angel" and "devil" on each shoulder. As our relationship with God grows, that battle or fight becomes easier but the fight will always be present as long as we are here on earth. This is why you can still be a Christian and struggle. But guess what sis? That “war” within us is a sign that God is working within us. It’s BECAUSE God is working on you that you feel guilty afterward. It is because of God that you want to do better. It is because of God that you want to quit for good.

As you read this, you may also be thinking—As a believer, why would we still have that battle? Romans 7 explains this best but I will try to summarize it by saying that when Christ went to the cross, he “put to death” the sin nature within us but we still have to live with our "flesh". Basically, we still have a physical body that urges and craves things.

That is why I love Romans 7 and 8 (You should check it out!). It is Paul talking about all of this. It’s him struggling with his struggles. He was human just like us. And God STILL used him. The reason is that God knows that we can’t even try to live “right” without him. NONE of us can. It takes something or should I say someone greater than us to help us with our struggles.

Many times, I beat myself up over the fact that I still struggle. I even question how real my relationship with God is. I’ve asked God so many times, “How can I call myself a Christian and still struggle? Like, am I a hypocrite? But here is something I heard that is setting me free and I hope it sets you free—“Sometimes, you may question your own sincerity like “if I was the Christian I am supposed to be, I would not struggle.” But “sinners” don’t struggle, they do whatever with no remorse. There is something new happening inside of you. You are going through a metamorphosis. Don’t give up. Stay in the fight. In the process, God comes in and takes over. He liberates what you can’t free yourself from.”

(Note: We have all identified as a sinner at some point in our lives. We can't judge others too harshly because we all still need the same grace.)

Truth is, we will fall sometimes. Sometimes, we won’t get it right. Our struggles are the reason we need God. As we stick close to God, we fall less often but we still fall. Only he can help us in our struggles. I have made the mistake of thinking I can pull myself out of my struggles. Nope. Only God can. The first step towards being free is acknowledging it. (Being free in the sense that our struggles no longer run or control us.)

The next step is asking God to change our hearts towards our struggles. This is where I am at. We cannot like our struggle and expect to stop struggling. Why? It makes it that much harder to be free. We can’t enjoy being discontent and expect to wake up content the next day. We can’t enjoy porn and expect to stop watching it. The last step is to have faith that God can step in and break the control of the struggle in your life. And then repeat all the steps. Remember, it’s a daily thang for the rest of our lives!

This is all a process so please, please, please give yourself grace, sis. And give others that same grace! God will never beat us up to make us do right. He loves us into doing what is right. When you love someone, you want to do right by them. You want to make them happy with your actions. So when you love God and truly recognize that when we mess up, it breaks his heart---Your desire to give into your struggle will lessen over time.

I’ll leave you with this quote, “Since when did Christianity become about arriving somewhere rather than walking with someone?”

Keep Fighting, sis.

Helpful Resources:

Read Romans 7 & 8 (The TD Jakes sermon I mentioned) (Link to an amazing book that discusses sexuality from the Christian perspective. I've never heard it taught this way!)

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