This story first appeared on TRC (The Relevant Christian) Magazine’s website https://trcmagazine.org/2017/03/31/obsessions-hell-and-back-again-part-1/
What if I’ve blasphemed the Holy Spirit?
But I didn’t actually say anything. Those were just involuntary thoughts.
But I said something bad about the Holy Spirit. Doesn’t matter if it was just in my head. I still did it. Jesus said there’s no forgiving that.
That’s ridiculous. I know I’m God’s child. End of discussion.
But what if? I mean, I did it. I can’t deny that. Doesn’t matter if it was involuntary thoughts. I still did it.
I feel a pang of anxiety. Thoughts whirl around my head so intensely I can hardly focus on what’s in front of me. I get up off the couch and start walking around. Maybe that’ll make the thoughts go away.
All right, I’m going to end this now. I’m God’s child; he said there’s no condemnation for me.
But what if?
God damn the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is Satan.
I did it now. If I wasn’t guilty before I am now.
He said there’s no forgiveness if I do that. Jesus doesn’t lie.
But he promises.
He also says there’s no forgiveness for that.
He promises never to leave his sheep. He promises he’ll take anyone who comes to him.
But what if? What if I did it? I’ll never know for sure. Not until I die, at least.
This is ridiculous. I’m not going to think about this.
I get up, take a shower, then go to bed.
My alarm wakes me up. I lay in bed for another minute or two while my mind adjusts to the reality of morning. All of a sudden, I feel anxious and the thoughts from yesterday come rushing back.
I’m never going to know for sure. My whole life will be spent wondering whether it’s true. What if I did it?
I let that thought pass as best I can without challenging it. I go to the bathroom, eat breakfast, then hop on my bike to go to class. But on my way I hear whispers in my head.
I gotta think about this. What if I did it?
The exercise from the bike ride helps clear my mind. I feel good when I walk into class. I sit down, get out my notebook, and prepare for the morning lecture.
“Zdravstvuyte! Kak dela?” My professor bellows. This is Russian class. I’m in the second semester, and I love it.
“Khorosho.” Most of the class replies.
My professor jokes around for a minute and then addresses some logistical business.
“Let’s address some new adjectives because God knows we can’t just say Khoroshii all the time. For instance, when something is rea…” But what if I did it? I gotta think about it.
I try to muster the energy to pay attention to class and forget my thoughts, but they’re too strong. All I can hear is my thoughts. It feels as though they’re pulling me down like I’m chained to an anchor. I try to stay above water, but I can’t.
Why won’t these thoughts go away? No, I didn’t do it. Why can’t I believe that and go on with my life?
What if I did it, though? I blasphemed the Holy Spirit. I can’t debate that.
Sweat begins to build on my palms and my chest tightens.
Face it. I did it. I’m going to hell forever.
Maybe I did. Maybe it’s true. What if I am? This is hell. I’m already in hell. I can’t live like this. I didn’t do it. I know I didn’t. Jesus said there’s no condemnation for those in Christ. But what if I did it? He promised to accept everyone who comes to him but he also promises to never accept the one who commits the unpardonable sin. I’m never going to know which category I belong to for sure until I die. Until then I’ll spend the rest of my life wondering. How am I going to live like that? I can’t live like that. And these thoughts won’t seem to go away. My other obsessive thoughts would go away because they weren’t that big of a deal, but hell forever is a big deal so that’s something I can just forget about and how would I get rid of these thoughts when even talking about them to someone probably won’t make much of a difference whatelseistheretodomylifeisoverImeanhowamIgoingtofunction.
There’s a knot in my stomach. I feel like I’m going to throw up. I take a deep breath and focus in on class.
“Tak, skazhitye pozhaluysta…”
The anchor starts dragging me down again. I try to stay above water. But human strength has about a zero percent chance of overcoming the weight of an anchor.
My stomach and chest are tightening so much I’m starting to panic. Deep breaths, deep breaths deep breaths deep breaths deep breaths.
Let’s think about this.
Deep breaths deep breaths deep breaths.
“Otlichna! Ross, what would you say if you went to a restaurant and the food was really good?”
“Ochen vkusnii,” I reply.
“Khorosho, khorosho. Blake, what would you say…”
Focus on breathing. If I just focus on breathing, I can calm down. Then class will be over and I can get on my bike, which will make me feel better.
Class dismissed. I walk to my bike and pedal home. Fresh air, going fast, my heart beating from the exercise and the anxiety, the sweat from the Texas humidity and heat, it all makes me feel better. But I know it won’t last long. I try to enjoy it while it does. I know the oppression is coming.
I unlock my apartment door and walk in. The light from the windows is the only light, although they actually provide decent light. Doesn’t seem like anyone’s home. I catch my breath for a second. In my peripheral sight my right eye hooks onto a set of green books I have on my bookshelf. They are a collection of Charles Spurgeon’s sermons I bought online several years ago. I try to not to look.
Spurgeon would condemn me.
I put my bike up. I want to study for a bit and eat lunch.
He’d condemn me.
I try not to even look in the direction of the books. I’m paralyzed.
Go study. Walk in your room and study.
But I need to think about this.
Go study. C’mon.
I start toward my room, but anxious pressure shoots throughout my body causing me to stop after one step. I stand still.
I gotta go sit on the couch and think about this.
My brain is telling me to go to my room. Everything else in my body is screaming desperately to sit on the couch and think. Almost involuntarily, I walk to the couch. I sit staring at the books.
Spurgeon talks about the sweetness and compassion of Jesus. He believed Jesus didn’t let go of his sheep.
He talks about sinners and damnation, though. If he knew what I did he’d yell me to perdition in classic fire and brimstone fashion.
It doesn’t matter what Spurgeon thinks. He probably would tell you you’re one of Christ’s sheep, but even if he didn’t it only matters what Jesus says, and he says he accepts everyone who comes to him.
Cool. Case closed.
I try to sit up. The anxious weight pushes me back on the couch.
I can do this. Jesus help me do this.
I try again. Same result.
Deep breaths, deep breaths. C’mon!
I get up.
Not done thinking about this. Sit back down.
I force myself to walk to my room and throw myself on my bed.
I feel insane. I’m a normal person, though. Why is this happening to me? I’ve never done drugs in my life. I’ve never even touched alcohol. People like me. I go to church. I share the gospel. I serve at church. I don’t just pretend to be Christian. I have a great family. I’m not mentally ill. I’m not schizophrenic. I played football. I was prom king at my high school. I make good grades. I graduated high school. I go to a prestigious university. I have a 4.0 average four semesters into college. What the heck? What the heck?
I lay there for a minute and just breathe. Then I fall asleep.