I’ve been lost before – while driving, choosing a major, finding a career, finding a mate. That kind of lost doesn’t scare me.
But now I am a kind of lost that I haven’t been before.
I grew up Christian. Fundamentalist, Evangelical, Charismatic Christian. The kind with bible drills and flannel graphs, vacation bible schools and week long revivals, southern gospel singing and dinners on the ground. The kind that meets Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night with other nights thrown in for auxiliaries and youth teams and drama rehearsals.
I was saved at an early age. Of course I was. I was a good girl, born under a church pew. My parents put me in piano lessons so I could play hymns. My grandparents were founders of the small church we attended. My dad taught Sunday school. My mom kept the books. They both gave their heart and soul and energy to the place. Even when it didn’t make any sense. Because that was where we belonged. It was where God wanted us.
I knew Jesus. Even though I didn’t believe he really looked like that picture over the choir loft, all flowing brown hair and lily white skin and well trimmed beard, lit from inside by a bulb that never seemed to burn out. I still felt him in my heart. In high school, I wrote an essay about how he was my best friend.
I toyed with other denominations. I embraced the orthodox version of the faith. I loved the ritual of it. I felt closer to God there. My parents were furious that I had left the faith of my fathers. Or of my father at least. I couldn’t see any big difference other than my personal preferences. I couldn’t see why anyone would think I was going to hell for changing addresses. After all, I was now in the church that originated the idea of hell in the first place, at least in our religion.
Later I transitioned from orthodox Roman to a lower form of the Anglican branch. I still loved the formal service, but my new husband was divorced – a no-no in the Roman church- and an Eposcopalian. What difference does it make, I thought. God hasn’t changed – he loves all of us – and if it makes me able to worship with my family, so be it.
Our church became less and less about the rites and more about the worship band. I was a part of it, at least for a little while. Then we agreed to serve at a satellite church. We went as support. Within a few months, I was leading worship and my husband was an elder who helped me out with the music. Things were fine at first. Then they got tense. We had huge fights – the biggest of our relationship – over that church and specifically over the music. One night at rehearsal I lost it and cursed at him.
I was burned out. I turned in my resignation. I was a failure as a worship leader. I was a failure as a Christian.
Oh, the pastor didn’t say that. He said I wasn’t a disappointment to anyone. But I still felt that way. That was the first time I thought about ditching God.
One Sunday, while visiting another church, that’s exactly what I did. I broke up with God.
I wrote about it in my notebook. I told him thanks for all the love, but I just didn’t need him anymore. This church stuff sucked, the world sucked, and I just couldn’t reconcile myself with all the crap in the world existing while a supposedly loving god was reigning on some mythical celestial throne. Especially when I was pretty sure there was no throne in space.
Our breakup lasted less than 24 hours.
I likened it to being hounded by God. I felt like he was breathing down my neck, whispering sweet words in my ear, like he loved me too much to let me go.
So I went back to him.
I threw myself back into worship. I played piano, I led worship, I tried to become part of the team again. But I never really felt like I fit in. I always felt awkward. I asked questions that were met with silence or sideways glances. I persevered. I prayed harder for God to show me how I was wrong, to correct my thinking, to show me his ways. I leaned in. I experienced healing. I let go of old wounds. I grew.
So how am I now, at my age, doubting ALL OF THIS, everything I have ever based my life on?
How did this happen?
I don’t want it! It isn’t pursuit of science or the influence of some bad person. I don’t want to doubt! I don’t want to give up my entire effing identity! I don’t want to be alienated from my family and friends and community!
God – if there is a god – have mercy on my. I need a sign, a feeling, something…..
Help me believe again…..