I Feel Torn Between Two Paths…

While I do want to submit to God and pursue salvation, faith has always been one of my biggest struggles and I constantly feel as though I may not succeed at this in the end. I feel pulled in two totally opposite directions: towards worldly pursuits and towards a solid devotion to God. I know this is a common issue, but I would like to go into more detail.
On one end, I find part of myself following the mundane path:
> video games and other forms of entertainment
>acquiring more proficiency in digital illustration mostly in order to produce lewd and perverse art (for both myself and others)
>continue my education and pursue a career in graphic design due to pressure from peers and family (e.g., “you’re already 26 y/o. You’re headed towards 30 and you still haven’t even finished you first year in college!”)
>Things of vanity and pride such as wanting to be perceived positively by others and comparing myself to others while simultaneously despising the reality of my own relational dependence.
As a result I feel as if I would be safer being independent of other humans. God seems to view these things as frivolous in the grand scheme of things and only uses them to serve as roadblocks for me overcome while pursuing Him.

Your interest in producing “lewd and perverse” art is coming from your subconscious mind, which sounds like it’s dealing with a lot of unprocessed stress. Your subconscious prefers to communicate through visuals rather than words, and when it starts obsessing over the same visual themes, it is usually trying to talk about real life events from your past that you haven’t dealt with properly. I would recommend that you try to make some connections between your current artistic focus and your real life stresses by trying the self-help exercise I recommended in this post: Why Are My Own Artistic Creations So Disturbing?.

The stronger your need is to produce your art, the more internal stress you will likely experience if you suddenly try to stop yourself from doing that activity. A strong internal push to keep creating your pictures indicates that your mind feels an urgent need to vent its distress over whatever real life events are bothering you. But without taking steps to try to analyze what your mind is saying, simply producing more art won’t help you resolve your stress. There’s only one real solution here, and that is to try to figure out what real life stresses are fueling all of this dark art and taking constructive steps to process those experiences. Trying to stifle your mind’s attempts to vent will be harmful, as will ignoring your mind’s distress and simply cranking out the images without ever acknowledging them as the cries for help that they are.

Video games can be a constructive form of entertainment, or another means of obsessing over unresolved stress. This field of entertainment is far too broad and varied to categorize the whole thing as “good” or “bad.” Video games can be excellent at providing the kind of mental stimulation that all minds need to remain healthy. They are more interactive than watching movies or reading, and they often involve a lot of decision making and hand-eye coordination. They can also be very educational and even aid in character development. These days more video games are being written with the goal of helping people better understand and sympathize with various types of mental illness, which I naturally like to see as a trauma counselor. But while there are a lot of good games out there, there are also many that have been designed by people who were obviously dealing with severe unprocessed trauma. When traumatized people create video games, they tend to fill those games with very disturbing themes which are meaningful to their own minds, but which can negatively impact yours by exposing you to very upsetting material. You should respect your own mind’s boundaries by avoiding games that cause you mental distress, regardless of how popular they are.

The fact that you’re moving so slowly through college suggests you are having a hard time focusing and/or you simply don’t feel motivated to pursue formal education right now. Stressed minds try to protect themselves by conserving resources. If your mind feels like its resource budget is too strapped, it will resist your attempts to force it to work through class courses. Even if you do drag yourself through college, you will likely not benefit much from your degree as long as your mind is being resistant. Minds that don’t want to apply themselves in coursework will often continue to resist cooperating with efforts to hold down a job. To help yourself get unstuck, you need to focus on dealing with your psychological stress so that your mind can get more of its resources freed up. Once your mind feels less stressed, it will be more cooperative with your efforts to advance yourself socially.

The desire to be viewed positively by other humans is primarily about safety, not “vanity and pride.” Sure, we can get a bit too full of ourselves at times, but your mind also understands that all kinds of social stresses start with other people forming a negative view of you. I would caution you against accepting religious views that try to condone reasonable desires and healthy objectives. Trying to maintain positive relationship dynamics with the humans around you is a reasonable and positive goal to pursue, provided you don’t get too carried away. Some people are simply not possible to please without you accepting or dishing out abuse. Pleasing others shouldn’t be your top goal in life, but it is a reasonable goal to have on your list, and has many positive benefits.

Humans are designed to need relationships. There are many basic human needs which can only be satisfied by engaging with another human. The fact that you “despise” your relational dependence indicates that your soul has formed some harmful false beliefs about the human design. It’s not possible for you to live in total isolation from others without being negatively impacted. Humans are social creatures, and even the introverts and homebodies among us need some degree of social interaction in order to feel calm inside. Do human relationships come with the risk of being hurt? Yes, but the solution here is not to avoid relationships, but get better educated on how to navigate them well. If you want to learn more about this, I’d suggest you read my book What’s Wrong With My Relationships?, which will not only teach you about a lot of important relationship dynamics, but it will also help you analyze your current relationships and identify things you can do to improve them.

The fact that you associate independence from other humans with personal safety indicates you have been very hurt by interactions with humans in the past, and have not had a chance to process those experiences. When we are hurt by humans, there are always positive lessons we can learn which will help us be less vulnerable to that kind of pain in the future. Before we learn those positive lessons, we tend to view our past experiences as evidence that we are guaranteed to be severely hurt again, so we naturally want to isolate ourselves from other people. The problem with this theory is that even in isolation, our fears will continue to haunt us. Pain from the past must be dealt with directly. It’s rather like being burned by boiling water when you’re trying to cook a meal. If you simply refuse to ever cook again, you’ll remain fearful of water and fearful of being burned in the future. You’ll also feel miserably hungry because you’re not feeding yourself good meals. But if you learn about how you got burned and how you can change your management of cooking tools to avoid those kinds of accidents, then you can continue to advance as a cook and get over your fear of being around hot water. Facing your fears and gaining education are two critical elements of the healing process.

On the other end, I’m compelled to follow a more transcendent path:
>Seeking peace of mind and soul through a healthy relationship with God
>Understanding the connections between world events, dark occult themes and symbology, certain supernatural mechanics, and conspiracies within the context of eschatology. Honestly, I dread having to endure the end times and I feel that God wants me to understand this information in order to build a higher level of discernment and a proper frame of reference/perspective regarding prophetic events. I feel it is part of my responsibility to remain watchful and perceptive as Jesus commands us to in Matthew 24 and a number of other Scriptures.

To develop “peace of mind” you need to resolve your mental stress. Your mind and soul are two separate elements which are greatly impacted by each other. Just as you would find it impossible to feel calm and serene while another human who you care about is acting extremely upset in your presence, your soul finds it impossible to feel “at peace” while its partner mind is upset. A lot of the language you use in your question indicates your soul is currently harboring a lot of hostility towards your mind. This is a common issue among souls who have been heavily influenced by religious communities, because most religious communities encourage you to have no respect for your mind’s needs and struggles. To reach the happy balance you’re hoping for, your soul is going to need to adjust some of its beliefs and take a more compassionate view of your mind’s problems. Your mind isn’t stressing out just because it has nothing better to do. Your mind has legitimate reasons for feeling as upset as it does, and it is clearly asking for help through its obsession with negative art and its resistance at being dragged through formal education. Instead of continuing to accuse your mind of being immoral and trying to shut it down, your soul needs to start putting effort into listening to what your mind is trying to say and helping it identify tools for resolving its stress. Since you already know God, I’d recommend that you ask Him for help on this issue. God understands how you were designed and He has great compassion for mental distress. It would be very useful for you to ask God to help you separate His Voice from the voices of other humans who have clearly influenced you with some harmful advice.

I would hate to be one of those that succumb to shock should God require me to live to witness Him unleash the horrors of the end times on the wicked.

Here again your soul is setting unreasonable expectations. Humans shock very easily, and if you were to ever witness your idea of a “horror” then you would certainly feel horrified. Labeling this as a moral failure is like saying it’s a sin for your body to jerk when someone pokes you in the side.

The theory that God expects His followers to stay calm and upbeat in the midst of severe persecution is very popular in Christian communities, but is an absolute lie that God Himself has never promoted. Read your Bible a bit closer and you’ll find that God is very patient and gentle towards those who are having anxious meltdowns in times of trouble when those souls are demonstrating sincere respect for Him. Even towards snarky rebels who are full of irreverence, God demonstrates a lot of patience and compassion for how terrifying His actions can seem to humans.

As for the concept of “the end times on the wicked,” that phrase is a misnomer. When God refers to the idea of an “end times”, He’s talking about the end of the entire planet, not some form of persecution that is only aimed at certain humans. God has always been clear that Divine judgment occurs on an individual basis after death. Understanding when God hands out such judgment is very important because it steers you away from the trap of thinking any hard times that you experience here must indicate God is angry at you. God is not giving anyone their final judgment while they are still alive in this world, and this means you can’t point to someone with a hellish life and say, “Obviously that person is being punished by God.” When God talks about judging us, He is talking about giving us His evaluation of how we responded to Him while we were living in this world. Just as a teacher doesn’t grade your report until after you finish it and turn it in, God is not going to give you a “final grade” until you finish living out the time He has allotted you here.

Now all of God’s creation projects are designed to be temporary, including this Earth. So will Project Earth be shutdown at some point by its Creator? Yes, but when that occurs, it won’t be because God is angry at a few human beings. God already has a justice system in place to deal with snarky souls which He finds very satisfying. So He’s not feeling taxed by rebellious souls here, nor is He going to shut down this entire planet over a handful of bratty creatures. God wants this world to have a lot of tension and evil in it. “The wicked” don’t exist by accident, they exist by God’s choice.

To view the end times properly, you need to have a correct view of God, and that means viewing Him as a very capable Creator who is always in control of what He makes, not as a limited bumpkin who designs creatures who then run amuck and cause Him no end of personal angst. By now human history has gone through some extremely dark stages, yet here we still are, so clearly God is not as flustered by our shenanigans as Christians claim.

There’s nothing “transcendent” about “Understanding the connections between world events, dark occult themes and symbology, certain supernatural mechanics, and conspiracies within the context of eschatology.” Immersing yourself in a bunch of religious conspiracy theories is guaranteed to plunge your soul into a bunch of needless angst. I would encourage you to reconsider your assumption that God is the One encouraging you to digest reams of material in which human being essentially worship the forces of evil and exalt created beings as being more powerful than their Creator.

Dark occult themes is a fancy way of saying “demonic activity,” however fans of occult activity generally talk like spiritual morons who are completely blind to how many demonic deceptions they have personally fallen for. Demons have a deep bench of deceptive cons that they love to use to steer humans away from healthy spiritual development. Many of those cons are specifically designed to target Christians and are extremely effective. If you go surfing the internet for material on the subjects you’ve listed, I can guarantee that the vast majority of information you’ll pull up will be utter rubbish, yet a lot of it will be promoted with a great tone of confidence which your soul could easily be impressed by. So here is where you need to consider what your end goal is. Do you really want to become spiritually educated? Or are you just looking to traumatize your soul by feeding it a bunch of dramatic rot?

If you want beneficial spiritual education, don’t Google information on the occult, because as I’ve said, mainstream teaching about demons is wrong. It’s not only factually incorrect, but a lot of it is very harmful and can have a lasting negative impact on your soul. Demons are very malicious and dangerous creatures. When you go dabbling in their world with your guard down and some misguided idea that you can actually find soul peace by listening to false prophets fill your head with horrifying predictions, you are just begging demons to start targeting you personally. Demons love it when you feel miserable. The fact that your mind is already in a state of stress gives them all kinds of great material to work with. If your soul starts giving them its complete attention as well, they are going to have a field day with you.

Because demons are such dangerous creatures to mess with, I tend to use harsher language when advising people who are in positions like yours. The fact that you think symbology has any legitimacy to it and the fact that you have such respect for end time prophecy tells me that you have zero discernment when it comes to identify demon cons. Symbology is 100% baloney, and most end time prophecy is carefully worded to erode your soul’s relationship with God while encouraging you to become spiritually dependent on a human being who is only interested in spiritually abusing you for his or her own gain. Generally speaking, Christian prophets are very dangerous spiritual influences, especially those who mainly focus on end time themes. Setting aside the fact that it is theologically absurd to suggest that the book of Revelation has anything to do with a future end times, legitimate prophets of God simply do not set up shrines to themselves on the internet and milk people for money while they encourage everyone to sit around stressing over an endless stream of terrifying “what ifs.” Anyone can toss around the Name of Jesus and yank Bible passages out of context, but most of the folks who do this are speaking for demons, not God. So again, you need to think about what your end goal is. If you really want to spiritually mature and develop real discernment skills, you need to focus on material that promotes a correct view of God and right spiritual priorities. For that, I suggest you read my cheap, guaranteed to never be a bestseller book A No-Nonsense Guide to Demons. I wrote that book to make correct teaching about demons available and to help people gain spiritual defenses against the kinds of teachers you’re hanging out with. But learning the truth about demons is not going to give you the adrenaline rush that some juicy prophecy about a rising antichrist will. So it’s up to you: you can either choose to grow up, or you can jump head first into the shark tank. Obviously there is only one wise option here.

Being torn between these things is especially vexing when I know that, whatever path I take, the choice will be a deciding factor in determining my place in eternity. I sincerely believe I may be living in the days of the final generation talked about in scripture and I’m running out of time to truly commit myself. A part of me strongly feels that time is too short to be pursuing worldly careers. How do I gain a singular focus on God and guarantee that I don’t fall into rebellion before it’s too late?

The Scripture you’re referring to does not mean what you’ve been told it means. Christians love to pretend Matthew 24 is talking about their personal futures, when in fact Jesus clearly predicts that He will do His famous Second Coming within a few years after His departure from earth. The most you can possibly stretch His timeline to is several decades after His departure. But there is no way to legitimately argue He could have meant thousands of years would pass.

The whole Matthew 24 package of end time prophecies was an intentional deception on Jesus’ part. His positive purpose for misleading people about when He would return was to bolster His followers with a bunch of false hope that He knew they would need to survive the intense persecution that occurred shortly after His ascension. God often uses false hope to help humans through hard times, yet Christians in general have a major problem accepting this, so they refuse to interpret Matthew 24 correctly. Instead, they claim that Jesus was actually predicting some coming period of tribulation that was in the distant future.

The book of Revelation was written several years after Jesus left and it directly addresses the concern that He was past due to show up again. Unlike Christians today, the folks Jesus gave His end time predictions to understood that when He said He was coming back “soon”, He really meant “soon,” not long after they were all dead. Because they interpreted Him correctly, Jesus followers were naturally quite distressed when it started looking like He had told them a fib.

The book of Revelation focuses on a bunch of religious persecution that was already happening within the Roman Empire at the time–it is not predicting future persecution. The modern nations of Russia, China and the US are not discussed or even alluded to anywhere in the book of Revelation. Instead, the antichrist, beast, dragon, drunk prostitute, and other symbolic characters all had clear ties to people and nations that existed at the time Revelation was written. The infamous 666 was a title given to the Roman Emperor Domitian–a fellow with some severe psychological stress who was unnerving everyone with his tyrannical behaviors. Suggesting that Revelation in any way predicts microchips, the rise of a one world order, or a nuclear holocaust is as absurd as suggesting we can all find the answers to life by staring at our shoelaces. Revelation simply isn’t talking about what Christians pretend it is talking about. But terrifying the masses with a bunch of guff about a coming antichrist and a one world order is a great way to get rich quick, which is why Christian leaders will never stop blathering on about blood moons, Israel, and 666.

So then, are you really part of the “final generation” that Jesus talks about? No, because there was never any such generation. Yes, Jesus talked about it, but He had a much deeper game going on than giving us all an outline of what to expect when He eventually shuts down this planet.

It makes no sense for you to personally stress over when this planet might be destroyed. As far as you’re concerned, you could die tonight, so what does it really matter what God is doing with the rest of the world? When you die, all that is going to matter is how well God thinks you responded to Him while you were living in this world. In such a moment, you’re not going to want to look back on your life and see that you spent reams of hours filling your head with a bunch of horror stories and studying all the ways that various people have squandered their lives on spiritual idiocy. Instead of studying all of the foolish ways that humans interact with demons, you should spend your spiritual energy focusing on the soul attitudes that actually please God (see Understanding Soul Attitudes (Chart)). Focusing on positive soul attitudes is far more productive than focusing on a bunch of theories that only increase your internal anxiety.

This post was written in response to a request.

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