Greg Robbins: The Disgusting Lies

Posted by in Faith,Temptation | January 21, 2013

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Editor’s Note: Greg, like many deep thinkers, has struggled with doubt and self-worth, and has written a lengthy post taking us through his journey of claiming the truths of God, in spite of the deeply entrenched lies of the evil one. The sincerity in his voice is evident throughout as we relive his anguish and struggles in fighting against his old mindset as he becomes a man of God.

“It is now winter break, and since spending time as a brother of IRON and FIRE over the summer, a lot of things have happened in my life. Though I have done things that I am not proud of, God still, over the last few months, has worked on me greatly in growing me away from my fearful flesh and more into a man of God. I am learning to trust and receive His love and truth and to fight as the warrior He created me to be in The Spirit, adding onto what He did in me over the summer as a brother of IRON and FIRE and what He has done throughout my life. 

Here is a little about where I came from, before I started doing community with Iron and Fire. All throughout my life I have greatly struggled with very heavy amounts of fear, insecurity, constant doubting of almost everything, a misplaced self-identity, and a lot of anxiety, stress, worry, self-hatred, and confusion. Much of this came from a rocky childhood in which my biological father left me at an early age. Though my mother got remarried a few years later, and my step-dad adopted me legally as his own son and treated me like it, there was a lot of damage in me that was never resolved, and which has carried into my life even until today… Throughout my childhood I believed that I only meant something if I could do something great in the world that everyone would remember for generations to come. I placed my value in eventually becoming famous, in being loved and well-known by the world. I also placed my self-worth, like many others have done, in what the people around me thought of me. Because I put my self worth in unstable things that I could not count on, I grew up constantly afraid that I would not measure up to the standards of society and even more to to my own perfectionistic, impossible standards. I constantly tried to prove myself in everything I did, whether it was with sports, music, or school, and I never measured up to my standards; and so, I hated myself and believed that I didn’t have value. I would “beat myself up” over pretty much everything I ever did, and I constantly doubted that my efforts were good enough. My entire time in this body on earth has been marked by beliefs in disgusting lies about who I am and where my value and worth comes from, and it has been deeply driven by fear. 

In high school I started going to a small group at North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, GA. Before high school I cannot recall having an intimate relationship with Christ. I had been in church on and off for my entire life, but in the ninth grade, in this high school ministry, I started taking my religious questions more seriously; and at a church camp I decided to accept the invitation to trust and follow the Gospel, and Christ, and believe that my sinful past was now forgiven and I am able to truly live freely in Christ. However, I continued believing pretty much all of the lies that I had believed before, and though I think I had new affections and beliefs about Christ, my life looked very similar to the way that it had before. All of my previous struggles carried into my relationship with Jesus. It was very hard to accept that I was actually saved, and I would come up with a million different excuses (or rather I would ascribe to myself a million different lies that satan threw at me) regarding my salvation. I doubted whether God and Jesus were really real, whether I should trust the Bible, whether faith in Jesus was the only way by which a person can know God etc.; and for the most part, I would just stay stuck in these doubts, letting myself wallow in a state of self-punishment, self-hatred for never measuring up (still believing deep down that I needed to earn His love), and constant fear and confusion. On multiple occasions I tried to be “re-saved” to resolve the doubts I had regarding my salvation. 

Going into tenth grade I started heavily building up my false identity based on a self-centered, “self-made man” mentality, focused on music and guitar, and intellect (I partly wanted to be a famous philosopher). I started playing guitar and would play for hours every day, wanting to be someone like Jimi Hendrix, worshiped by many, a musician that made it into the history books. I stopped claiming Christ as my God and explicitly denied my faith, leaving my small group and church; and my views on God became confused and ambiguous and slanted towards universalism. I wasn’t sure that Christ was the only way to know God. I dabbled a little in researching other religions and philosophies, and got heavily into myself and music as my gods. 

At that point, many things in my life that I had relied upon started, or continued, to crash down; and my false identity was thwarted, a very central part of which was when I had arm/wrist injuries that made me virtually unable to play guitar anymore. Over a period of several months, I went through serious bouts of depression and anxiety, passing out from anxiety attacks and having very evil, impulsive thoughts that satan threw at me (and which I swallowed whole) causing me to spiral deeper into fear. This fear was at a level I have never before or since seen. I got on my knees and sought out God because I realized that I really, really needed Him.

In my search for the true God, I looked at a few different faiths but ultimately went to what I had already experienced. I believed that I had a relationship with God (whether I ever had at that point is up for theological discussion, though I do now!), and in time, through prayer, with the help of other believers at my school, I searched the Bible and researched in other ways to determine whether Jesus was God and whether one can only know God through Jesus or not. Despite drowning in a deep pool of darkness and lies, GOD, over the period of months, loved on me and revealed to me (through the previously mentioned avenues of search) that Christ is God and is real, that His love is a real presence (such as through seeing it in the lives of people), that His Love is greater and thicker than every other faith in the world, and that He is the only way through which one can actually live and know God. He gave me faith in these things, and my life has changed dramatically since then.

That was the turning point in my life. I started really taking Jesus seriously; and I had much more trust in my faith in Christ; and started really wanting to follow Him, no matter what the circumstances were. My levels of anxiety diminished, as did my depression, though many of the same lies I had believed my whole life were strong influences in my life and carried into my walk with God. Though I had more love than I had ever before experienced come into my life, and I loved God and people much more than I ever had before, I was still heavily guided by fear and a lack of trust in my security in God.

At the end of my freshman year of college, by the grace of God, I had moved on from doubting whether or not Christianity is the Truth, but I still had constant doubts as to whether I was saved (still) and also whether I would have that salvation forever. I also still had a very hard time receiving love from God and from others out of my self-hating, self-punishing lack of trust in Christ and what He did for me on the cross, paying for my many mistakes. I also really had a hard time receiving many other truths about Christ’s promises for my identity in Him, and I did not really believe my sonship and that I am who HE says I am, and that my worth is found in Him. I had prayed and fought with God alone and with brothers before about these issues (especially the salvation one), but the same strongholds of fear and lies that I had had for years (with roots coming from my childhood) were still there. Once again, I had taken some of them somewhat seriously for periods of time, and while I wanted them to be gone, I was still running from God’s love and “fighting for the wrong team.” I wasn’t relying on God and exposing those lies to the truth on a daily basis, but rather, wallowing in self-pity and self-hatred, even enjoying the punishment.

I became involved with IRON and FIRE during the summer after my freshman year, introduced by a good friend of mine. Through IRON and FIRE, Jesus spoke, both fiercely and gently, the truth of God into my life with a very blunt, but much needed, intensity regarding the issues I had been struggling with. My true identity as a son and heir of God was spoken to me at a time when God was making me want to cut all the crap out in my life. God showed me the level of crap that I had been choosing to receive for the entirety of my spiritual and physical lives. Between the book Wild at Heart, a “Young Guns” mens’ retreat (both of which I was encouraged to read/do by IRON and FIRE), and my previously existing church community, God really placed in my heart a desire to be a man of God who receives God’s truth and love and trusts God above his own desires, and one who takes on and does not run from responsibility.

A major way in which God was working was by continuing to make me unsure of the things that I shared my trust in God with, such as school and my future in general. I was not sure if I would be able to financially afford to go back to the college I had been attending; and though part of me was trying to give it up, I was shown that I was not in control of whether I could afford the school or not, and that I had been trying to hold onto my future heavily. A few similar things were happening too, and the only thing that I heard from God regarding these worries was “trust Me.”

Though it almost didn’t happen, I chose to go to my expensive college for one more semester and then transfer to a cheaper one afterwards. On the fourth day of school I received a phone call from a scholarship program out of the blue, (seemingly) which I had applied to and been denied to two years in a row saying that they wanted me to be in their program. The scholarship pays for almost all of my schooling, room and board included. A few days later a relative told me that her family wanted to give me $2,000 a year for me to stay at this school. This was one of those moments (a big one to me) in which God showed me that He is in control of my life, and that I should trust Him! However, I had eighteen credit hours and between the scholarship and the need to pay various bills I worked about 20 hours a week. I went from telling God that He is in control to slipping back into the school idol, and I found myself placing school and work before spending personal time with God and my brothers and sisters in Christ, which led me to put God on the back burner. Also, for the first five or six weeks of school I decided to experiment with going to a church in which I could use my vocal abilities to serve God, and this ended up being very bad for me, in that I did not try to get any communion with the body of God, but just showed up to sing and listen to the sermon and then left. At school I would go for whole days without having even a short conversation with anyone about God, and I would go even a whole week without having a deep conversation about God (and I have many people who I could have done this with). Also, my time with God became more superficial (though definitely not completely). I was burning out very quickly. 

However, even in this time God was working on me. My scholarship was community service based, and so I worked at a homeless shelter. Through these experiences, God worked greatly on my heart, teaching me to “…be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19), and making me into a person who relies on and finds my confidence in Him to be faithful and to fight in that context and in every part of my life. At about halfway through the semester, I decided that I needed to go back to my old church, the one where most of my best friends were and in which I had a great amount of community. I got more community then (though I remained fairly antisocial for most of the semester), and God convicted me about this idolatry and I tried to fight more and put God in His rightful place with being intimate with Him and the Church. However, my battle in and with Christ against this idol of trying to earn God’s Love and also against my identity and trust issues were not going like I wanted them to, because I was trying to do it on my own for the most part. I was once again trying to prove myself to the world and to God, all the while feeding my self-punishment and rejection of God’s love, all in the name of honoring God with my grades and work. I was running from God and from responsibilities and hard situations, such as with paying bills on time and keeping in touch with the outside world and certain family members in particular.

Once again, even while I was running from Him, God loved me and worked on my heart and kept giving me gifts of repentance. He was continually showing me what it means to be a man, giving me a greater desire to stop letting satan and my flesh step all over me, and to submit to God in doing what is right even when it is hard and painful. I started looking in the Bible again for truth that spoke against the lies I was still holding on to, especially about my sonship. The main Bible quotes that carried me through the latter part of the semester and that I read or recite to myself pretty much every day still include, “there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear,” “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” and “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ…” (1 John 4:18; Romans 8: 1, 14-17). I am His!  The main theme of this season of my life is one of deciding by the Spirit of God to more and more claim God’s promises for the faithful as promises that apply to me, even when my flesh and satan make it seem much more sensible to believe otherwise. He has exposed the lies, especially since this past summer; and God has given me more and more strength and the will to search out His specific promises, to hold onto them, and continue to fight the lies with them. 

The lie that I am not saved barely shakes me at all now, and I have much more rest in my security in Him, though there is a great deal of work to be done still. Towards the end of the semester, I started dealing with some of my financial issues and family issues that I had been avoiding out of a desire to honor God above myself; and though I still have a lot of issues in these areas, much progress has been made. I am a new creation, made 100% adopted son by Jesus’ punishment on the cross in my place, and I matter because He says I do. There is a lot of sin in my life, but there has been a lot of growth in trusting my identity in Christ and His love and promises to me. I am more confident in Him and in my true identity and worth as His child than I have ever been. I used to divide a lot of my trust in God between various people and things in my life and with myself; and I tried to get others such as my mentors and friends to fix all of my problems for me. Now, walking more in my true identity in Christ, I often (and this is definitely a recent development) seek to have two-sided relationships with other Christians where we both fight alongside each other for God’s glory, in Christ. God has made me look more to Him, and more to the benefit of the other person in my relationships. 

So, despite continuing to run away from God this semester and trusting in myself, people, and other things such as school to bring me life and security and peace, during and since my time spent with IRON and FIRE (and also again during this winter break) Christ has made huge strides in freeing me from the chains I have been putting on myself. He has opened my eyes to the lies and darkness that has had a strong influence in my life ever since I was a child, and has grown me into a deeper walk in my sonship with my Abba, molding me into the man that He is calling me to be.” 

Sincerely,

Greg Robbins

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