I think that we can all agree that the last 15 months have challenged us in ways that we never thought were possible. Everything has changed in how we live our daily lives. Because of this people are rethinking even the smallest of details. Why? Because life as we know just doesn’t feel quite right.
Popular author and speaker Christine Caine wants to help people figure out how they ended up in their current situation, but more importantly, show them how to “course correct” their lives to find better days. In her latest book, How Did I Get Here?, she offers practical advice on how to “find your anchor” when you feel like you are drifting away from the goodness and grace of life.
I recently spoke to Christine about why it is so easy for people to arrive at these places in life, how we can move closer to God by moving from a “what if” mindset to an “even if” kind of faith, and the most important thing God taught her during the pandemic.
We seem to have a growing epidemic of people who feel things aren’t quite right in their lives for one reason or another. It’s easy to point at the global pandemic we’re in right now as a cause. But there seems to be something greater. What is going on in our world that seems to be causing an upswing in this area of not feeling quite right?
Chris, that is the $50 million question, right? I think it’s basically like a storm. To use a better phrase, it’s almost like the tectonic plates of the earth have shifted in every realm, politically, economically, socially, morally, environmentally, physically, relationally, and spiritually. So, I think it’s just that so many shifts and things are changing so quickly that most people are still disoriented and have been impacted personally. Obviously, the last year in particular because of the pandemic, everything changed. Literally, everything changed from how we do life and even re-enter back into life from all the stops and starts. People are rethinking everything. In society, there is a sense we’ve got our personal things that we’re all going through because there’s pain and suffering. While all the big global things have been going on, people have been personally experiencing loss and grief and working through pain and suffering, dreams that have not worked out, a physical illness, or relationships that have fallen apart.
Because we’re so connected by our phones, we know what’s going on all the time and it seems so overwhelming. We’re more aware of social injustice now than at any time in history, just because of the way that we get access to news all of the time.
On a personal and societal level, when suffering happens, when pain happens, it causes a lot of people to really think about God. Where is God in all this? And if you are a believer and perhaps you are feeling particularly shaken, now is a time to really evaluate. What was my faith anchored in because storms have come, trials have come, tribulations have come, and where am I in this? Where was my hope? Was Jesus this hope I have as an anchor for my soul? Or was it either my position, my title, my business, my relationship, or was it the fact that we’ve lost so much that it has really made us question and ask where are we anchored?
Many times, despite our best intentions, we find ourselves in a place we never meant to be. This can be in our relationships, our careers, and even in our personal goals and dreams that we have for ourselves. The end result is anxiety and depression … and sometimes worse. Why do you think it’s so easy to arrive at these places in our lives?
There isn’t a one answer fits all, but part of it is we live in a fallen world. There’s no doubt about that. I think one aspect that we often forget is that there is a real enemy of that wants to steal, kill, and destroy our purpose, our future, and the abundant life that Jesus came to give us. But I think a lot of times it really does come back to the fact we get weary at times in doing some of the basic things that actually keep us stabilized. It comes back to some of the basic spiritual disciplines and practices that often we tire of doing, but they are very things that keep us anchored in Christ. We’re not meant to do life alone.
Sometimes we underestimate things like bitterness, anger, unforgiveness, hurt, rejection, shame, and guilt. I think we underestimate how much punishment we can do from the inside out. It ends up taking us off course and you just become overwhelmed. I think this last year has been a lot of that for people. We are just feeling so overwhelmed and so weary. It’s like you can’t catch your breath. I think sometimes we might devalue the importance of needing to stay in the word of God. I think sometimes we tend to spend more time on social media, which is actually depleting us of our spirits. There is so much animosity, chaos, and division out there that if you are not getting the truth of the Word, then you end up forgetting that you are who God says you are, that you can do what God says you can do.
In writing this book, you chose to share stories from your own life as well as stories from your friends. Why did you choose to make this book so personal?
I really want people to know that no one is immune from drifting. You can be me, 30 years serving Jesus on the front lines. If I don’t do the exact same things that are written in this book, I can drift just like everybody else. (The book) is very transparent and it is personal, but the thing that made me really write this book was to say to people, look, in 2017, I came close to taking my foot off the pedal. I can understand why you would be feeling this but let me share my experience of not only how I got through that, but what has ultimately sustained me my whole Christian life.
Jesus is true. Jesus holds. I know a lot of other things are shifting and changing, but this holds. This is why I think people would be more willing to listen because sometimes people can sort of just have a perception of you and think, “That’s just Chris Caine. She’s strong and she can just get through anything. And she never has any obstacles or hurdles.” I want people to know that this is as real for me as it is for everyone. I think the issue of today is the whole issue of drifting. So many people who are drifting from faith, deconstructing their faith, and walking away from their faith. And I wanted people to know that we’ve got some common ground here and here is how I process this. I think it just will help bring a different perspective.
Changing gears, you write in your book about staying the course as a means to overcome some of the challenges that we’ve been talking about here. What does staying the course look like for the average person?
It’s different for every person, but at the end of the day it’s running your race and finishing your course. We have to make sure that we are not just concerned with the here and now, our own satisfaction of the here and now, and our enjoyment and pleasure of the here and now. And there is so much of the spirit of the world. It’s all about self-actualization, self-fulfillment, and self-determination. But then, sometimes you can get your eyes off the fact that actually I’m here for a reason bigger than me. I’m here for God’s purposes. So, whether you’re a stay at home mom, a single student, a corporate CEO, a minister, a doctor, or a lawyer, whatever you are, it is secondary to the fact that we are followers of Jesus, living our lives on a mission and on purpose on this earth for the glory of God.
We are fighting the fight of faith because Jesus is worthy, and we are going to run our race. We’re going to finish our course. Then we’re going to cross that finish line. And we’re going to look into His eyes and hopefully hear the words “Well done, good and faithful servant.” I feel like the world with all the pressure that we’re in right now, people are getting their eyes off our eternal purpose and getting into the temporal challenges and circumstances of how we feel and what we want. We are admitting that we’re actually here for a reason bigger than us. And so, part of running your course and finishing your race is don’t just bail out because it’s hard, uncomfortable, or unpleasant right now, but consider your decisions in light of eternity and crossing the ultimate finish line, not just instant gratification here and now.
How can we move closer to God by moving from a “what if” mindset to an “even if” kind of faith?
I think in order to endure in the days in which we live, we have to make that shift. What if I do this? What if I do that? What about my whatever? Insert in the blank. What we have to go to is sort of like what Daniel did. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were in the fire and he determined, “You know what? God can deliver me.” In the middle of the pandemic, that’s where I was. You know, even if this thing takes us, it’s okay, because I am not going to ultimately die because I’m born again and I’m going to live for eternity. You’ve got to learn to play things out and go, even if this thing doesn’t work out the way I am hoping and believing that it’s going to go, Jesus is still Lord. Jesus is still my heart. Jesus is still good. And I think that is going to be the kind of faith that sets believers apart. That is going to make a lost world look at us and actually believe that we really believe what we profess to believe.
What did God teach you personally during the writing of this book?
That Jesus never fails. Ultimately, there is no other ultimate hope than Jesus Christ. When Scripture says that Jesus is this hope, we have that as an anchor for our soul. He reminded me of His faithfulness. The fact that there is nothing else like it. There is no ultimate eternal hope but Jesus. He also showed me just how easy it is for anyone to drift. All you have to do is nothing and you will drift. For my marriage to drift apart, I don’t have to necessarily do anything bad. I just have to neglect my marriage. And for my children to drift away from me, I don’t have to do anything bad. I just have to neglect them for my health or fitness to drift down a negative road. I don’t have to do anything bad necessarily. I just have to do nothing. I think the reminder is that small thing do make a big difference. In a world that is so overwhelmed with so much pain, so much suffering, so much injustice, and so much chaos, I am reminded of what are small things that we do every single day that make the difference between us drifting or not.