Question:

Hello,

I'm a 16 year old girl. I received Christ as my personal Saviour for about 2 or 3 years now. But recently something has been bugging me. I feel as if my conscience has left or something. It sounds crazy or stupid, but I find that I have to force myself to feel guilty or sympathetic about something.

For example, a couple of weeks ago I was carrying a violin that belonged to my school. Then suddenly the case just opened up and the violin fell out and all the strings and the bridge broke. I was shocked at first, but I didn't feel guilty. I just calmly put the violin back in it's case and back it back in the violin cupboard and got another one. Reflecting back on the event now, I realize I haven't even taken responsibility for the damage. I didn't feel responsible for it because someone else had left the case unlocked before me and I blamed it on whoever that was. I know that it's wrong to blame others, and recently I've read a page in my daily devotion book about taking responsibility for my mistakes. A few years ago, I would have probably felt horrible to breaking the violin and scared of the punishment. But I acted like nothing happened and I didn't feel any guilt. I'm having to convince myself that it was my fault and that I should be feeling at least a bit of guilt, after all our conscience is how we know we've done something right or wrong.

I'm also finding it hard to feel sympathetic toward anyone. I used to be a caring child and always worried about hurting others. But recently I find it difficult to feel any sorrow or remorse for others in sad situations. For example, recently my best friend since I was four came to visit me after almost seven years of separation (we live very far from each other). She told me things about how hard her life has been. She's struggling with insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks and depression. She's been praying to God and He has been helping her slowly and she's getting better. But I felt no sympathy toward her, I had to fake it. I had to try and convince myself to feel sorrow for her. I do love her very much, she's my very closest friend. I don't find her annoying or anything, but it's like my heart has turned stone or something, and I don't like that. I want a heart of flesh to be able to love others and cry with them instead of giving a cold shoulder. I've been praying to God about this but nothing has changed.

I do get worried about things and stressed, and I have a problem of fully trusting God. Everyone tells me to put my full trust in Him, but I find it difficult because I worry about things too much. I really do try to trust Him and give my problems fully to Him, but it's just very difficult to do.

Have I not truly been saved? Am I living in false faith? I really am struggling to find the truth. I love God and want to carry out His commands, but my heart doesn't feel into it. I've prayed to Him to try convince my heart to trust Him more, but nothing has happened! I'm yearning for Him, but it feels as if my heart doesn't want to take part in it. Or am I being confused with my heart and the devil?

Please help! Sorry that was long, but I wanted to be very clear about my situation. Thank you.


Answer:

First off, there are some kinds of medication that can make a person feel isolated from their feelings. These medications can be useful when a person has trouble controlling their emotions. The isolation gives them a chance to resolve the underlying issues. But it isn't good when this is a side-effect of some sort of drug you are using.

But regardless of whether this is happening or not, you have made a common mistake. You assume religion is all about feelings. It isn't. It is all about obedience. "Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked" (I John 2:3-6). Feelings should come as a result of knowing you are living the life God wants you to live. Feelings are not the determiner that you are doing right.

Actually, God specifically warns that feelings are not to be trusted. "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, But whoever walks wisely will be delivered" (Proverbs 28:26). Feelings can be manipulated. Truth cannot be manipulated.

Your conscience is a warning system, but it is trainable, and like any warning system it can have failures. It can make you feel guilty when you are not. "For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things" (I John 3:20). It can also not make you feel guilty when it should. "Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, "Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day"" (Acts 23:1). Paul said this despite the fact that he used to persecute the church. His conscience didn't bother him back then because it was trained wrong.

Let's take the example of the violin. While the damage to the violin was accidental, you did nothing to take responsibility for letting someone know. Instead, you tried to hide your involvement. The result is that someone else will be blamed for the damage you did. Yes, someone didn't get the latch properly closed, but you did not check the latch either. You did not do what was honorable. "Providing honorable things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men" (II Corinthians 8:21). Whether you feel guilty or not, the proper thing is to tell the school what happened.

Regarding your friend, you did the right thing by listening (James 1:19). But you do need to work on your sympathy because Paul said, "Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; ... Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion" (Romans 12:9-10,15-16).

Basically, what you are saying by your two examples is that you have become a very selfish person. So long as you believe you are not involved, it doesn't matter to you. "A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; he rages against all wise judgment" (Proverbs 18:1). When you do such a thing, you've stopped following Christ. "For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:21).

Though you desire to follow Christ, you have yet to obey his commands. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that a person becomes a child of God by accepting Jesus as his personal Savior. See: What Saves a Person?

Thank you so much for answering so quickly. Everything you've said is very true (except for the medications, I don't take any). I've been taught that faith alone can save and you telling me otherwise has been very eye opening. I never thought of myself as a selfish person, but now I see that I am one. I've been raised up to not get involved in things, having someone tell me different is very helpful. Tomorrow I'll have to confess to my music teacher. Thank you for your help. It means a lot to me.

Hello again,

I wanted to let you know, if you remember my last email to you, that I did confess about the violin to the music teacher and thanks to God's mercy and grace, she wasn't mad about it and told me "things happen" and forgave me. Thank you a lot for telling me about honorable things. That really helped.