Skip to main content

Questioning My Faith: Email Excerpts

Earlier this summer, a new friend asked me in an email if/when I first started questioning my faith. This is my response, edited slightly for clarity. I wanted to share it because it is honest but risky, and I want to be honest. I also want to ask you all the same question I ask her at the end... What about you? What's your story?


I think my questioning started in high school, when I was 14 or 15. I had a lot of self-loathing; most of it came from the gap between how others perceived me (the good Christian girl) and who I felt I was (someone who didn't understand if or how my faith worked outside of church walls...)

I didn't admit most of my questions and fears for years, and at the time I definitely accepted teachings that I don't anymore. The more I've seen and interacted with real life, picked up pieces of philosophy, and come to understand the methodology behind historical criticism, the more I've re-examined my beliefs. Having a friend who loves Jesus and is bi, or knowing someone who stops calling themselves a Christian because they are gay and are told they can't be both is very different than theorizing about the issue away from anyone who is personally affected by the conversation, you know? Also, a few years ago, a number of my friends' "Christian" marriages hit crises one right after each other. This caused me to become aware of and question the assumptions I held about the "rewards" for "purity" and why our sexual choices matter. These thoughts, and my experiences in full-time ministry also led to a whole slew of questions about how women are valued and given their identity in the church circles I was a part of.

My approach to all these questions has been shaped by two main tenets:

1. While in university, I was introduced to a perspective on the creation story that rocked my world view in two ways: it pointed out that the Bible is a collection of books from very different genres, and in the same way that I read a book of poems differently than a memoir or critical essay, portions of the Bible belong to different genres and require varying interpretive approaches. (as an English Lit major, this made SO MUCH SENSE.) Along with this, I understood for the first time that embracing evolution didn't have to threaten my belief that Jesus was a real person who lived, etc. The idea that I could examine what I had considered a "threatening" belief and find a compassionate/compatible stance with my central beliefs is one that has shifted how I approach almost everything (theologically speaking)

2. At least every year since the high school crisis, I face the question, "Do I really believe there is a god?" So far, the answer always comes up Yes. And of the options I'm aware of, the one I am most drawn to and trust is the Christian God. This isn't always an easy re-acceptance though. There are many times I've wished I weren't convinced of it all... One of my atheist friends and I were discussing the idea of conversion, and how it isn't as simple as it's often painted; she at one time WANTED to believe, but wasn't able to maintain it, despite her best attempts. I told her I understand because my story is the inverse; despite the mornings I've woken up thinking, "I wish I weren't a "Christian" anymore," I can't escape the internal conviction that there is something to it all. ("It all" being the belief that Jesus was a real person who lived and died and lived again, and that somehow, this makes a difference to how I'm able to interact with a God who actually loves me.)


In the last year, my heart has come to be more at rest with the questions - not that they aren't there, but the sense of distress they once caused me is mostly gone. I think it is in part because of the two things I just mentioned, and partially because I've found a community of friends with whom it is safe to ask pretty much anything.

Ok, this is getting long! Not sure if it answers your questions or not. I hope it does, or at least gives us more to discuss. And of course, I'm quite aware that my position/perspective may shift anytime...

What's your story? What events/conversations switched on the questions, so to speak?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

What About Travis!?

I just watched Hope Floats, the second movie in my I-really-need-to-vegetate night. Now that we have more than three channels, there are so many quality programs on TV! Like movies in the middle of the week. I enjoyed many of the lines in this movie, including:

"I went home and told my mama you had a seizure in my mouth."
(referring to her first french-kissing experience)

"Dancing's just a conversation between two people. Talk to me."
(the conversation in our living room then went,
Girl 1: Only Harry Connick Jr. could say that line without it being incredibly cheezy.
Boy: Without it being cheezy? That's all I heard. Cheez, cheez, cheez.
Girl 2: Yeah, but it was sexy, sexy cheez...sigh.)
"Better do what she says, Travis. Grandma stuffs little dogs."

Bernice: At home we had a pet skunk. Mama used to call it Justin Matisse. Do you think that's just a coincidence? All day long she would scream, "You stink Justin Matisse!" Then one day she just…

I Like to Keep My Issues Drawn

It's Sunday night and I am multi-tasking. Paid some bills, catching up on free musical downloads from the past month, thinking about the mix-tape I need to make and planning my last assignment for writing class.

Shortly, I will abandon the laptop to write my first draft by hand. But until then, I am thinking about music.

This song played for me earlier this afternoon, as I attempted to nap. I woke up somewhere between 5 and 5:30 this morning, then lay in bed until 8 o'clock flipping sides and thinking about every part of my life that exists. It wasn't stressful, but it wasn't quite restful either...This past month, I have spent a lot of time rebuffing lies and refusing to believe that the inside of my heart and mind can never change. I feel like Florence + The Machine's song "Shake it Out" captures many of these feelings & thoughts.

(addendum: is the line "I like to keep my issues strong or drawn?" Lyrics sites have it as "strong," …

Simone Weil: On "Forms of the Implicit Love of God"

Simone Weil time again! One of the essays in Waiting for God is entitled "Forms of the Implicit Love of God." Her main argument is that before a soul has "direct contact" with God, there are three types of love that are implicitly the love of God, though they seem to have a different explicit object. That is, in loving X, you are really loving Y. (in this case, Y = God). As for the X of the equation, she lists:

Love of neighbor Love of the beauty of the world Love of religious practices and a special sidebar to Friendship
“Each has the virtue of a sacrament,” she writes. Each of these loves is something to be respected, honoured, and understood both symbolically and concretely. On each page of this essay, I found myself underlining profound, challenging, and thought-provoking words. There's so much to consider that I've gone back several times, mulling it over and wondering how my life would look if I truly believed even half of these things...

Here are a few …