I couldn’t sing yesterday.
My husband and I attend a church plant. It’s a small group, meets in a school cafeteria, and we are part of the actual plant team from the big church across the river. I’m a musician and singer, but not for the plant. They got someone younger and hipper to do that. Which is fine. Especially now.
So yesterday the leader started playing his guitar and singing (beautifully, I might add – really, no sour grapes) the familiar lyrics of songs I myself have lead in other services. Words of God’s beauty, God’s breath of life, God’s wisdom, God’s blessing. At first I sang along.
And then I couldn’t.
I felt like I should. What if someone noticed I wasn’t singing? What if someone started asking questions? What if….?
But I couldn’t open my mouth. I couldn’t sing those words, words that I didn’t feel about a God I was no longer sure I believed in. Not even to keep up appearances. Not even to add my harmony.
To do so would have felt like the most heinous hypocrisy ever.
I listened to the words. I thought about them, mulled over them. I screwed up my courage, asked God if he/she existed to convict me of it, to return to me the warm fuzzy feelings I used to have when I sang for him/her.
Even though I tried to keep my body neutral, I found myself standing with my arms crossed. I uncrossed them. I didn’t want to look like I was blocking out anything, anyone. Then I saw my husband look over at me.
“Are you ok?”
We were in the middle of service, with singing still going on. When we were done, we would pass the peace. What should I say?
“I’m fine.” That was all I could come up with.
He knows me too well. He didn’t buy it. He kept looking at me.
“Ok, no – I’m not ok.”
“What’s wrong with you?”
Tears flowed down my cheeks. “Nothing. Ok something… It’s just…. I’m not sure I believe any of this is true any more.”
I braced for his reply. He looked at me.
“Then what are we doing here?”
I pondered that question. Were we only there because of me? What about his faith? What about our children? Sure, he started going to church way back in the day because of me. I had gone to church and been a person of strong convictions my whole life. If he was going to be married to me, he was going to go to church, end of story. So he did.
At first it was out of obligation, but it was part of his history as well. He grew up in church, in youth group, served as an acolyte, was confirmed, had his kids baptized. It wasn’t exactly new to him.
But then his heart changed. He became calmer. Nicer. His temper got better. He began to actually believe. He invited friends to church, worked with prison ministry, went on mission trips with the youth. He took my faith and made it his own.
So what did it mean for me now to consider abandoning that faith?
“So what are we doing here?”
The answer exploded from my mouth in a ball of spit: “Because what if I’m wrong?”
I had a child to think of, grandchildren, god children. Friends who are friends because of our common faith. Family. People I influence. People who have been affected positively by the faith I have always – Always – lived out.
What of them? What do I say? How do I explain? Should I be honest about what I’m wrestling with? I don’t want to answer a bunch of questions or feel like I have to defend myself. I always felt like an expert on believing. I wasn’t. And now I am a non-expert on non-believing.
Which leaves me…. absolutely nowhere. Lost. Weeping. Afraid. On the brink of losing my center of gravity, the foundation of my life, the hope of heaven, the source of love, the assurance of eternity.
That’s what is wrong with me.