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Back to Center: I’ve tried my best to be faithful and live a holy life; now I don’t know what to believe

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Sarah Perron, Certified Coach

Sarah Perron, Certified Coach

Sarah Perron, Certified Coach

Life Coach and Writer

Offering perspectives for personal realignment and empowerment.

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Tue, Aug 23, 2022

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So many people’s lives have been completely shattered. When will the people behind all of this be held accountable?

Back to Center: I’ve tried my best to be faithful and live a holy life; now I don’t know what to believe

The purpose of the “Back to Center” advice column is to provide perspectives for personal realignment and empowered living in the COVID era. Sarah encourages you to reach out to her with requests for advice about self-development and emotional and mental well-being in these complicated times. Please send your questions to advice@aflds.org. Looking forward to hearing from you!

For all other inquiries, please direct your questions to info@aflds.org.

 

I am a Christian, and when it comes to my experiences with COVID over the past few years, I have really tried to let my faith be the guiding force behind my decisions. When the vaccine came out, I rejected the idea of getting it, because I felt that to accept this so-called “solution” would be a betrayal of my faith in God to protect me (as well as a form of surrender to the government’s plan to control us all). I stayed healthy for so long; I felt like COVID couldn’t touch me because I was holding on so strongly to my trust in God. 

But then, just a few months ago, I finally got sick with COVID. Physically, it was not an easy experience, but I made it through. The harder part has been what’s happened to me spiritually because of this experience. I can’t understand why God let me get sick. Did I do something wrong? Is there some hidden sin in my life that I haven’t repented of? Maybe my faith wasn’t as strong as I thought, and I lost His protection…I don’t know. I feel like I’ve tried my best to be faithful and live a holy life, but then this happened, and now I don’t know what to believe about where I stand with God. Seeking guidance…

Wow, I can hear what a difficult experience this has been for you. Thank you for sharing your struggle. It’s not always so easy to talk about our personal spiritual battles, so I want to acknowledge your courage and heartfelt sincerity in asking these questions.

What I’m going to share with you here comes from my own personal life experiences and lessons I’ve learned in my own spiritual journey. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I hope what I can offer will be helpful to you.

One of the ways that I relate to God is to view Him as a loving parent – the ultimate Source of goodness who only wants the best for me, who wants to see me flourish and grow into the person He knows I can be, who wants me to live a life of good values and deeds, who is patient with my mistakes, who understands that I’m still in process. I believe God has told me what He expects of me in the Scriptures I read, and what I can expect from Him if I give this relationship my very best. 

Something I do not believe about God is that He’s out to confuse me about how I should live – that I have to guess what He wants from me, and if I don’t guess correctly, then – watch out! – something bad will come my way. I used to believe that way, but I’ve since gone through a long journey of releasing and transforming that belief.

In short, I believe God is a parent who is clear and communicative with His children – not a parent who hits them out of the blue when they don’t even know what they’ve done wrong (which is not a good parenting technique among human mothers and fathers either!)

I don’t know why you got sick with COVID, but what I do think is that if you know you’ve been trying your best to live in close connection with God, living the kind of life you believe He wants you to live, perhaps we can look at your sickness as more of a message of some kind, rather than a mysterious punishment.

Often when we get sick with something, it’s a sign that we’re not taking care of ourselves as we need to. Perhaps we’ve been running around non-stop, never giving our bodies and minds a chance to rest. Maybe we haven’t been eating healthily enough or getting enough exercise and fresh air. Maybe we’ve been extra stressed or worried about something, and that negative headspace has weakened our immune systems. Getting sick is a good opportunity to check in with ourselves about things in our lifestyle that may need changing in order for us to be at our best. 

If you still feel like catching COVID carries more of a spiritual message for you, there’s certainly nothing wrong with using it as an opportunity to take spiritual stock as well. In prayer, you can ask God to show you if there is any place where your life is out of alignment, anything you need to repair or improve. Ask Him to help you be open to whatever answers He wants to give you. But don’t obsess over it. If you are asking with sincerity, really wanting to know, I believe that the answers will become clear to you. God wants us to be close to Him, and if that’s what you want too, He’s going to give you the clarity and direction you need to make that possible. 

I wish you peace of mind as you work through this challenge, and that you will come out stronger on the other side. All the best!

****

I recently found out that I’m pregnant. While my husband and I are overjoyed about the idea of another baby, I have to admit that I’m feeling quite worried and confused too. With my other children, I pretty much went through the “standard” process – prenatal care from an OBGYN, hospital births. But now, everything is different. I feel extremely reluctant and afraid to go near anything having to do with “the system,” having completely lost faith in the medical establishment. I’ve looked into home birth, and it just so happens that I live near a home birth midwife who has an excellent reputation…but this leaves me feeling nervous too. Am I really ready for the experience of giving birth at home? What if something goes wrong? Will I be able to handle a natural birth? I think this is probably the right way for me to go, but I’m still hesitating to commit to it. I’d love to hear any thoughts you have.

First of all, congratulations on your wonderful news! It’s so exciting to hear that your family is growing, and that everything else aside, you are excited about this fact. As you navigate all the other thoughts and emotions, do your best to hold onto the joy of that little person growing inside of you!

I completely understand your concerns about taking the medical system’s route for pregnancy and childbirth, and your desire for something different. It sounds like your biggest blocks to wholeheartedly embracing the idea of a home birth are lack of confidence in yourself and fear of the unknown. Let’s take them one at a time.

First, confidence. I don’t know you, but I’m going to tell you something that I do know about you. As a woman, your body knows how to grow and birth a child. You were designed to be able to perform these miraculous tasks. What’s more, you have a special understanding of and bond with your growing child that no one else has. You can learn to tune into what your body and baby are telling you, and intuitively understand what both need. 

Unfortunately, many women have forgotten that they have this power, which goes all the way back to the beginning of history. In these modern times, the message that the medical system blares out to expectant mothers is that they need to look to doctors and technology to tell them that they and their baby are okay. They let others make decisions for them, believing that they don’t know what to do. They give up their awesome role as the director of this experience and in doing so, lose so much of the connectivity they could have to themselves and their babies. 

In short, if you want to step away from the system and give birth at home, you can do it. You are more than capable, and so much stronger than you know. 

Now, “What if something goes wrong?” Would you be asking this question if you were planning to have another hospital birth? The sense I get is that that question is probably less about home birth itself, and more about it being new for you – fear of the unknown. And the thing about fear is that if we let it hold us in its grip, things are actually more likely to go wrong. Fear leads to tension and stress, which affects so many things in our bodies negatively and can cause a multitude of health problems and complications. In birth, the more relaxed and calm you feel, the easier and safer the process is. 

So, what can you do to release this fear of the unknown? How can you move yourself back into the moment, right where you are at this point in your pregnancy? What can you do to bring yourself into a more relaxed, trusting, joyful place? Be right here with your baby; don’t try to move ahead into a future that doesn’t exist yet. When the time comes to give birth (wherever it happens), take it one little step at a time. Focus on thoughts of goodness and positivity, and how amazing it will be to hold your baby. If you can do that, there will be no room for fear. 

Wishing you a happy, healthy, safe pregnancy and birth for you and your baby!

****

I love to share my faith with others – to tell them about what I believe and how it’s changed my life in hopes that it will impact them too. I’m finding that these times we’re living in are making me feel even more urgency and passion for sharing. Unfortunately, it seems like so many people are blinded from seeing what’s really going on in the world…or like they’re in denial, clinging to the idea that everything’s okay, when it’s really not. I’m not finding too many people who are receptive to the messages I want to share, and it feels really discouraging to me. What advice do you have for someone like me who feels such a sense of mission but isn’t finding any audience for it?

Thank you for your question! It’s a great one – What do we do when we have a consuming passion to change the world…but the world doesn’t seem interested? Here are some perspectives I hope will be helpful.

Let’s leave everyone else out of it for a moment and just focus on you. It sounds like the beliefs you’re talking about are ones you feel deep in your bones. This faith is part of you, and it fills you up with passion and fire. I’m wondering what you personally can do to live more into this sense of mission. What can you do to live in alignment with this fundamental part of you that will bring you fulfillment completely independent of other people? 

Because here’s the thing: At the end of the day, we simply do not have control over other people’s feelings, reactions, decisions, beliefs, and perceptions. We might present what we feel is the most compelling, exciting, life-changing ideas, but the outcome is not up to us. 

What if you were to focus more on your own efforts and less on the outcome? If you want to share your beliefs, go for it, but focus on feeling good about what you put into the conversation, regardless of whether the other person gets excited about it or not.

It makes me think of times I’ve put a lot of effort into making a nice meal for my family, and then the moment it’s on the table, my kids reject it and ask to have something else. I have two choices here. I can choose to get upset, feel like my effort has been a total waste, go into victim mode and focus on how unappreciated I feel. Or, I can appreciate how much love and care I put into that meal, how I did something so wonderful for my family by spending time cooking healthy food for them, how I gave it my all. If I can step into the second perspective, then my kids’ reaction matters far less to me, because I know that I did the best I couldwith the part I could control, and I can release the part I can’t – the opinions and reactions of others.    

So, while it’s amazing if everybody wants to accept the messages you share (or eat the meal you just spent an hour making), that’s not up to you. What is up to you is the way you live, the way you speak to others, the heart you put into those conversations. If you enter your interactions with people with a relaxed confidence that says, “I know who I am and what I stand for,” without any agenda of trying to control the outcome, people will sense that and will also feel relaxed and free to be themselves. Maybe you’ll find you can go deeper with others when you stand aligned within yourself and let go of the rest.

All the best! 

****

I’m writing in because I am deeply concerned for our nation and our world. Back when COVID was at its height, I had such a strong feeling that behind this whole experience was a message to us from God, saying, “Wake up! It’s time to change!” I felt like He was waving this big sign at us, trying to get our attention…to motivate us to rearrange our priorities, to focus on our relationship with Him, on godly living, on our families, on loving our neighbors as ourselves, on a more natural lifestyle, on what’s wholesome and good in life. Now that things have subsided much more, I’m left wondering, “Did we get the message?” and my tendency is to think that a lot of us didn’t. It seems like people who bought into the narrative are just kind of going back to the way things were, like the past few years didn’t even happen. Then there’s the people who saw through the lies – many of them are totally stuck in anger and hurt over experiences they’ve had and can’t see past their pain. I feel like we might have missed a major opportunity for change here, and it distresses me deeply. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this.

Thank you for sharing how you’re feeling. I agree with you; there is a lot of wisdom in looking for messages and meaning in times of challenge and pain when they come up in our lives. If we believe that everything happens for a reason – which is the sense I get from you – it is definitely to our benefit to use difficulties as a way to learn, grow, and as you say, “wake up” and make the necessary changes in our lives. 

I hear how unsettled you are over this idea that we might have missed the message in the COVID experience, and that you don’t see the kind of large-scale societal change you had hoped for. 

I want to challenge you on this point a little bit. I’m wondering if perhaps the kind of change you’re longing to see is the sort that would match the COVID experience itself – sudden, massive, sweeping, global, life-will-never-be-the-same-again sort of change. Wouldn’t that feel wonderful to see a wave of love and wholesome living flood the world, completely overturning the evil we’ve seen over the past few years!

We haven’t seen that happen yet on such a grand scale, but that doesn’t mean that change isn’t happening. Sometimes change is much more subtle, happening person by person. I could tell you stories of many individuals I’ve had the chance to talk with who are experiencing profound positive change through decisions they’re making to live differently as a result of their COVID experience. There is, of course, a lot of pain too, but sometimes pain births the most powerful and lasting changes.

And let’s remember: When we think about “the world,” we’re really talking about almost 8 billion individual people. Each and every person came to the COVID experience with their own unique bag of life experiences, emotions, beliefs, judgments, and perceptions. It’s complicated. Everyone’s working it own in his or her own way. We’re all in a process, and it’s one that requires patience and giving others room to have their own experience of these times. 

Speaking of individual experiences, let’s bring it back to you for a moment. While you can’t control whether others “got the message” of the past few years or not, consider turning the question to yourself. Did you get the message? What message did you get? How has it impacted your own life? What changes have you made in how you’re living? What else do you want to change or improve? 

You can absolutely continue to pray to see a larger positive change in the world; we should never stop hoping for that. But remember that huge change can begin with one person. That person could be you. Taking responsibility for your own life is one of the most world-changing things you can do. All the best! 

****

My wife and I are struggling to be on the same page about some major life decisions. We live in a place where COVID restrictions were particularly severe, and even though things aren’t as bad now, I don’t trust my government anymore; all of it could come back in a heartbeat. What I really want to do is sell our house and move, to go somewhere really remote where we can have more property, more independence, more space to grow our own food. The problem is that my wife is very hesitant to make this move. It’s hard for me to understand why. We aren’t connected to our current community; there just aren’t many like-minded people here. Our kids are grown and out of the house. There’s nothing keeping us here. When I ask her to explain, she can’t really give me a solid answer. She just says, “I don’t know, I’m not sure about this.” I don’t know where to go from here. Ideas?

Thank you for writing in. It’s always a tough situation when spouses don’t feel aligned in decision making and direction in life. I hope what I have to share here will be helpful to the two of you. 

The first thing I would suggest is to try to understand your wife’s perspective more thoroughly. Make time to sit down together and really connect about this issue. Check in with yourself about the tone you’ve been using to this point when talking with her about the move and consider what way of interacting would help your wife feel more open and comfortable.

It might also be helpful to ask your wife different questions, instead of focusing only on the “Why don’t you want to move?” angle. You might try some of the following:

“What is it about our current home and location that makes you want to stay or makes you feel unsure about leaving?”

            “What things are important to you when it comes to choosing where to live?”

            “What does your dream living situation look like?”

“Is your hesitancy to make a change really about the idea of moving, or is there something else that’s holding you back?”

            “What fears come up when you think about moving?”

And then listen, listen, listen. Give your wife space and time to say whatever she wants to say. Listening deeply and compassionately without judgment is one of the greatest gifts we can give to another person. Maybe the vague, “I don’t know” answers your wife has been giving you have been coming from a place of not believing she’ll be heard if she shares what’s really in her heart. 

When your wife has been able to fully share her side, verbally acknowledge her thoughts and feelings, even if they don’t align with yours: “I can see how important that is to you.” “Wow, it sounds like that’s really hard for you.” 

Then, ask your wife if it’s okay for you to share more of your side of the story, and tell her what’s important to you. By communicating deeply with each other in this way, you may find more overlap between your values and goals than you thought was there previously, and it may become easier to reach a solution you can both feel good about. And most likely, it will ultimately bring the two of you closer together and help you understand each other on a new level.

Wishing you a smooth, fulfilling conversation together!

****

I’m feeling really worried about my daughter and her family. She and her husband seem obsessed with being prepared for the “next big wave of whatever’s coming,” as she says. They endlessly stockpile food and supplies and are always worrying and wondering about whether they have enough. Their small home is becoming crowded with it all. Every conversation I have with them seems to come back around to doom and gloom about the world situation, and their general mode of operation these days is to be nervous and anxious about everything. Now, I’m all for taking responsibility, being tuned into what’s going on and being prepared, but I’m concerned that their behavior has crossed over into an unhealthy realm and is compromising their daily quality of life and that of their kids. Do you have any advice as to how I can help them?

I’m sorry to hear about the situation your daughter and her family are in, and how it’s worrying you. I will offer some thoughts here that I hope will be helpful as you engage with them.

From what you’ve shared, it sounds like your daughter and son-in-law are feeling a huge lack of control in their lives. They’re probably feeling totally powerless as a result of things they’ve heard about the global agenda we see being pushed by those in power. In an effort to do something, they’ve now gone into overdrive preparation mode, maybe thinking that buying, and buying, and buying is the solution. The more we buy, the safer we’ll be; the more we’ll be able to ward off “what’s coming.”

The problem is that no matter what is going on in the world, living in a constant state of fear, anxiety, and worry is not a healthy way to live, as you said yourself. It is good to be prepared, but we can’t let ourselves be controlled by fear of the future. It prevents us from living right now, in this moment, which is where life is really happening.

I wonder if you could engage your daughter and son-in-law in more conversations about what’s good in their lives right now. How can they increase their appreciation for their kids, their work, their home, their relationships with family and friends – whatever brings them joy? Perhaps you could help the kids inspire their parents by helping them make artwork about things they’re grateful for and hang it on the walls. You might also try to get the family out more for some fun activities – to just have fun together. Fun is so important to our well-being, and it sounds like your family members could really use a break from all this calculating and preparing. 

It also seems to me that your daughter and her husband might benefit from some conversations about their fears and behaviors with a professional. If they’re open to it, talking with someone who can help them go into their beliefs about life and the world, acknowledge and release their fears, and understand how to healthily prepare for the future while living fully present in today could make a tremendous positive impact.

I hope these suggestions are helpful to you in your relationship with your family members, and that they will be open to working on healing and realigning with a healthy way of being. All the best to all of you!

****

As I see more and more people starting to share their stories online about how they’ve been hurt by society, employers, friends, and family for their decision to refuse the vaccine, I’m getting more and more angry. So many people’s lives have been completely shattered. When will the people behind all of this be held accountable?? They have to pay for what they’ve done!!   

You’re right – there are so many reasons to feel angry. Innocent people have lost jobs, income, connections with family and friends, been ostracized by society, seen their kids suffer from isolation and exclusion, and on and on. It’s so normal to want justice, reparation, apologies…maybe even vengeance. I don’t have any easy answers for you about when/how/if this is going to happen, but I’ll share a few thoughts here that I hope will be personally helpful to you.

I hear your longing to see some positive action take place to help all the people who have been victims of the past few years (and maybe you’re one of them too). Since what you have control over is you and how you live and respond to life, what could you do to help bring healing to this situation? Who do you know who could use a listening ear for their troubles? Is there someone you know who is out of work and would love help finding a job? If you have the means, is there a family you could share some money with to make it easier to buy groceries this week?

I hear that you want to see large-scale justice – and that’s a good thing – but don’t underestimate the power of what you can do to help others, right in your community, right in front of you. Offering kind words, listening deeply, or doing something small to help a person get back on their feet can have a huge impact. Believe me, those people will remember how you helped them for a long time, and hopefully will be inspired to pass the same kindness on to others when they are able. 

When we put too much attention and emotion toward “them” and what they’ve done to hurt us, it’s easy to forget about ourselves and our own power. I believe one of the most powerful things we can do right now is work to create the kind of world that’s the exact opposite of the one they want – one filled with love, kindness, respect, dignity, equality, and freedom. What can you do today in your own life to move us toward that kind of world? 

I hope you find this helpful and inspiring! 

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Sarah encourages you to reach out to her with requests for advice! Please send your questions to advice@aflds.org

Sarah Perron is a Certified Transformational Life Coach. Her passion is to help people create a powerful vision for their lives, identify and eliminate anything that holds them back, and step into their own unique greatness and mission in the world. She believes deeply in the power of coaching to bring fresh perspectives, ideas, and motivation to anyone who wants to thrive in life. Sarah works with clients one-on-one and in group coaching programs and presents exciting workshops on self-development topics. You can follow her on her YouTube channel Find Your Fire.

You are invited to book a complimentary coaching call with Sarah! Please visit https://calendly.com/sarahperroncoaching/45min to choose a time that's convenient for you. She looks forward to meeting you!

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