I am frustrated. I feel like I should know my own mind better. This faith questioning gig is hard. I need to prioritize my mind space. Finish school, then doubt God’s existence. Also, why do I feel compelled to make an all out, one time only, no going back decision? I need to give myself permission to not know things, and to change my mind. That might help.
I was reading an article the other day, something about raising Christian children, and I strayed into the comments section. Always a dangerous place. One theme I noticed, and it rears it’s head on Christian articles all the time, is that Christians have this habit of saying, “Well, that person obviously does not believe in God like I do. Their faith is wrong.” Wait… what?
How in the world do you know that you are being Christian the “right way” and they are being Christian “wrong”? Even when I was certain of my belief in God, I was still not convinced that I was absolutely right. I never viewed my beliefs as infallible, or the ideas I held to be true as universal. Maybe that’s why questioning it all has come about. Maybe my doubt was deeply seeded and inevitable.
But I am still curious. How can someone look at their religious beliefs, their faith, for which there is no empirical evidence, and say, “Oh, I am right. And that person is obviously wrong.” Why? Admittedly, I much prefer my Christian friends who love gay people, women’s rights to reproductive health care, and have a strong sense of social justice; as opposed to Christians who hate gays, oppress women, and talk incessantly about “teaching a man to fish” while children starve and die. But it is those very people that I love who are saying that other Christians are serving the wrong god or being too literal or giving Christianity a bad name or whatever. I think this misses an important point.
Faith is supposed to change you, right? God or Jesus is supposed to change your heart and make you a better person. Unfortunately, in a world where we can personalize everything from a kitchen mixer to our bath towels, remember- people personalize their faith too. I did. I made up my mind about how I felt about the world and then twisted my faith to make it fit my view. Therefore, if I was more conservative, more male, and WAY less tolerant of everyone who was not those things, I could probably tailor my faith to that world view. In short- maybe that person is not doing Christianity wrong. Maybe it isn’t that their beliefs are kind of asshole-ish. Maybe they are just assholes. And I am not convinced that belief in God has ever made someone who is an asshole suddenly stop being an asshole.
*side note- I am not dissing all conservative males, I was just referring to a particularly loud and irritating segment of people who fall into that category.
It occurs to me- I don’t think I believe in God anymore. I have stopped looking for God in all the tiny good things that randomly happen in my life. But I don’t remember ever having looked for God in all the bad things. Luckily I still don’t. Ugh.
I know it’s been a while since I posted. Life is crazy.
I told my best friend (who is a pastor) that I was questioning my faith. Her response was a bit better than the one I got last time. She asked me a question that has had me thinking. She asked why I love my children. At first I thought she was looking for a biological explanation, so I gave her the reason why we have emotions, etc. That wasn’t what she was looking for. So I described their character and habits and all the things that make them fabulous individuals. That wasn’t what she was looking for either.
She wanted to talk about the gut feeling- the compelling, mother-y, indescribable bond that we feel towards our children or loved ones. Once I understood that was what we were talking about I said I couldn’t really explain it outside of the biological explanation I had given before. She didn’t seem to find the mechanics of how to be a good enough origin for what she feels. She told me that she feels that the depth of those emotions are evidence of God.
I am still chewing on it. I have never, even as a believer, ascribed my emotions to God or anything other than biology. I wonder if people have the impression that their love will be made smaller without God in it? I wonder if I think that? No. I don’t. Because I have been questioning God for months now, and I am still fiercely in love with my kids. I am fully committed and in love with my husband. I treasure my friends and family.
Doesn’t the lack of a deity make it all more precious? I still feel compelled to help people better their lives, even though I might not name this feeling as a “calling.” I do not think the emotional richness of my life has suffered since I began to question faith. Am I wrong? Is God in disguise? I don’t know.
In the end, she was very sweet. She said that life is a journey and that she knew God would be on it with me no matter where I went. Which is nice. 🙂 I think that if there is a God, he will be fine with me reading Dawkins and critically examining my beliefs. And if he’s not, then he’s probably not worth believing in anyway.
There is so much that can drag you down. Stress, pain, tragedy, loss, grief, loneliness, depression… aaaaaand religion. Sitting across from people in my professional life, I have seen the results of years of guilt and shame that religion has inflicted on people. I say religion, not faith. I should think more about that use in this context though, because I think both words apply. Religious structure has a well documented history of wreaking havoc on populations. Faith is more personal though, and less tied to one specific doctrine. But faith can still be deeply hurtful; especially when the negative aspects get turned inwards. It can stagnate your growth and development as a person (as a blogger rightly pointed out in some comments on an earlier post).
Right now, I am writing for my sanity. I am clinging to my pieces to hold myself together. And it helps. So does this community. I can’t have a community of non-believers in person yet, but I will happily accept the thoughts and input and wisdom of this online community. Gotta keep looking up. And not for a deity to fix something that is inherently broken in me- but at the blue sky, the sun, the clouds, the bigness of this amazing world. Depression lies, and I choose not to listen. I will wait patiently, and it will pass, and I will be stronger.
So I am struggling with my faith. I am not sure that I still believe in God. And the whole thing is quite a shock as I was raised by a pastor, married a man who wants to be a pastor, and he was raised by 2 pastors. So yeah. Can you say black sheep? But tonight, that is so NOT in the forefront of my mind.
Here are a few unasked for facts about me. I am a mom, I am in grad school working on my Masters in Social Work, and my husband is serving in the US Army. He is deployed right now. And that is really when I started to realize that I was in the midst of a full blown “crisis of faith.” My timing is impeccable. You don’t get a magnifying lens on your strength, faith, and beliefs quite like the combo of Graduate level Social Work and deployment. It’s a roller-coaster of fun I assure you. And this was the time when I started to realize that my source of comfort was not God, my peace was not found in Jesus, and my feelings of being lost were not healed by prayer. Crap.
So now, when I encounter a night like tonight (i.e., twenty page papers due, children wired, me exhausted, one too many glasses wine, and a bit too honest with myself) I put on some gloriously sad music (Radiohead mostly) and have myself a good cry at my computer while I look at old pictures. Depressing right? But honest. Or I call my sister, or I hang out with a friend, or I actually DO my homework, or I just watch TV. That is how I cope with the loneliness. That is how I cope with the stress. And it has taken me years to realize that I no longer see God in that. And I guess… right now… that’s fine. Because that works for me.
This might sound cliche but I am diving in anyway. Be warned, I have had a long day and am feeling a bit heart broken and angry. Tread softly and be nice in the comments please.
I have a lot of questions, and a lot of philosophical, big, fancy points to research and inquire about as I figure out my view of faith and religion and God. But I have one big problem that is outweighing them all tonight. And it is such a cliche. If there is a God, why is there so much suffering?
I know, I know- free will, master plan, used for his glory, tests so that we can grow, one set of footprints, I was carrying you, original sin; believe me my faithful friends, if you have an answer to this question, I have heard it. I have probably even said it. But lately… none of that is good enough.
Has anyone else ever reached that point, where they look at the world- the pain, the horror, the ugliness, the oppression, and said… why? The God I believe(d) in is so loving, so just, so powerful… why would God allow that?
What suffering, you may ask? Ever heard of the missing women, or the missing generation? This term refers to a lot of phenomenon, but I refer to the hundreds of millions of women and girls that should be in the world population and are not. Logic (and math) dictate that the world’s population should be roughly 50/50 between the male and female genders. But it isn’t. Because hundreds of millions of women and girls have been victims of gender genocide.
This thought overwhelms me. Add that to the hundreds of millions of women, girls, boys, and men who are brutalized, victimized, and oppressed every day… it makes my stomach hurt and my head spin. Want to add more desperate confusion to it? Okay!
It is a fact that the human race evolved into our current state at least 100 thousand years ago. My faith proclaims that God sent Jesus to save us, redeem us, and free us 2,000 years ago. So for 98 thousand years God was… watching? waiting? busy?? If he can watch us flounder as a species for 98 thousand years, and then continue to allow the increasingly horrific oppression and murder of millions of people, why would I think he would take any time for me? And how can I ever find hope and comfort in that God? How can I cultivate a “personal relationship” with Jesus under those circumstances?
Again… feeling very heart broken today… if you couldn’t tell.