This past weekend was one of extreme highs and extreme lows. Sunday morning, I was high on intimacy after spending a romantic, adventurous, fun-filled weekend away with my husband. But within hours on Sunday afternoon, I had descended into hell.
We were on a long (5 hour) car ride, heading home after our amazing weekend together. It’s been too long since we have had real “alone time”, the kind that doesn’t involve cleaning or moving or accomplishing anything, so we were overdue. We took interesting detours on our drive to the city, wandered around hand-in-hand laughing, ate great food, enjoyed great music, and had great sex.
Before we left the city on Sunday morning, we went to a church service. It’s a big non-denominational church founded by a big name hip Christian pastor and led musically by another big name hip Christian song writer. My husband had been before. i had not. When he asked if I wanted to go, I said sure. I was really interested to see what it was like, hear what they talked about, and to have the experience. I think I also hoped maybe something there would jar my spirituality back to life.
I wish we had slept in.
I won’t go into describing the church service itself. It was pretty much what I expected, what I was familiar with. There were a ton of really nice hip-looking people, good music, good speaking, an offering, some baptisms, and words about a campaign to end modern day slavery. I sat there, not really joining in but listening intently and observing everything that went on around me. I asked people why they were there. Most said because a friend asked them.
After we left and were headed home, my husband asked me what I thought about the service.
Oh no, I thought – I don’t want to start a conversation about this right now. I’ve broached the subject of my doubt with him a few times, but those times didn’t go well. I really didn’t want to ruin our wonderful weekend by talking about this on the way home. I still have a lot of questions. I still don’t know what I think or believe. I don’t call myself an atheist. But I know one thing for sure: I have serious doubts about everything I’ve ever thought I knew about religion. My inner dialogue is hard enough. The idea of having external dialogue seemed very dangerous.
So my response was simple and honest without being confrontational: “Well, it was really well organized!”
He laughed and said that probably wasn’t the first thing he would have thought of, but yes they were organized. We talked a little more, and then he brought up my current struggle with God/religion.
I don’t remember the exact course of the conversation, but our closeness made me feel safe enough to be honest with him. It started off ok. But it escalated (or de-escalated) quickly when I likened the idea of Jesus holding the hands of every miscarried baby as “fantasy.” He asked if I thought everything he believed, everything we had always agreed on as the foundation for our lives, was a lie. I didn’t say it was but I couldn’t say it wasn’t. I just said I didn’t know.
He was incredulous that I could have lost my belief to this degree. I reminded him the he knew me better than anyone ever had, that he had to know this was not my choice, that I didn’t ask to stop believing, that I couldn’t point to one person or incident or thing that started this. He looked at me like he didn’t know who I was anymore.
It was a very long and very QUIET car ride home. The man who normally touches me and glances at me and kisses my hand as we drive across town focused only on the road ahead without a touch, without a kiss, without a word.
I was in agony. Our special weekend was ruined, and it was all my fault.
When we stopped to eat, I sat at the table in tears. He asked why I was crying. Hells bells, why do you think I am crying! You won’t talk to me or touch me, you won’t even look at me! He responded: “I have a lot to think about.”
So do I. If thinking rationally, if speaking and acting honestly will always feel like this, if asking questions and admitting my disbelief will always cost me relationships with people I care about….I don’t know if I can do it.
I’m not sure it’s worth it.