I’ll be the banks for your river

God used to speak to me. And I used to write about it on this blog. 

I use the past tense here because lately I’m not so sure. I don’t know how to be sure that it’s really God’s voice that I heard. 

It’s not that I believe I never heard from God or that I was wrong about it all. I’m just less…certain. More cautious. (16-year-old Aly would have been horrified by this “lukewarm Christian” talk and wishy washy faith). 

I’m currently in treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and one of the themes of my obsessions and compulsions is Moral Scrupulosity. 

“Scrupulosity is an OCD theme in which a person is overly concerned with the fear that they are doing something that goes against their religious beliefs or is immoral.”

Simply put, I have a deep and distressing fear that I am not living out my values. And I have developed compulsions to alleviate this fear. I have been convinced that I must find the right answer–the right action–in every situation and God will make this known to me through signs and certainty if only I pray hard enough, believe earnestly enough, and am faithful enough to figure it out. (Spoiler alert: this is not actually figure-out-able.)

I didn’t know this was part of a disorder until six months ago. To me, the anxiety and the fear and the worry and the rumination and the second-guessing was just my normal experience of faith. Or more accurately, an indictment on my failed faith.

So now I find myself asking the disturbing question, “Was it the voice of God or a mental disorder?” 

Before recovery, I would have rushed to find this answer. I would have NEEDED this answer to be okay. I would have rejected all the good and beautiful and redemptive things I learned about God.

I am learning to live with uncertainty. To hold space for the messy.

I can believe God loves me and also be confused about how He chooses to speak or not speak. 

I can embrace my belovedness even if I don’t know all the answers. 

I can be bewildered by violence and war and racism and still believe that God is good and there is goodness inherent in all people. 

What I cannot do is be certain that my faith or my politics are right. That my way is more holy.  And conversely, I cannot be certain that the other side is wrong.

If God is as big and powerful and loving and grace-filled as I believe, won’t He* understand that I don’t understand? That prayer might be hard right now? That grief lingers in the corners of my recovery? 

Needtobreathe** has a beautiful song called Banks. Some of my favorite lines go:

I wanna hold you close but never hold you back

Just like the banks to the river

And if you ever feel like you are not enough

I’m gonna break all your mirrors

I wanna be there when the darkness closes in

To make the truth a little clearer

I wanna hold you close but never hold you back

I’ll be the banks for your river*

Maybe God’s not judging me. Maybe He’s okay with my ebbs and flows. Maybe He’s the banks to my river. 

*you can see I’m still scared not to capitalize He for God 😉

**Don’t worry, I haven’t backslid too much–Needtobreathe is a Christian band!). 


This post is part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to view the next post in the series “Lyrical”.

3 thoughts on “I’ll be the banks for your river

  1. […] of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to view the next post in the series […]

  2. mrskfit says:

    Thanks for this refreshing honesty!

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