Those of you who know me, know that my faith in God (and more specifically my belief in Jesus’ claims), has always been the starting point from which I make all other decisions in my life. Although I came to this faith as a child, I have continued to actively pursue it in my adulthood as well. It has helped shape my priorities, my career path, my marriage, my parenting, and even my depression. However, what many of you may not know, is that I have also had my share of doubts and difficulties with my faith.
As the wife of a full-time pastor,
I can feel torn between admitting my doubts and deciding to sweep them under the rug. My dirt is my own – no one else wants to see it! However, the trouble with the sweeping technique is that it doesn’t allow me to truly be myself. I end up walking around feeling like a Stepford wife, pre programmed to be, say and do what I should (according to my own restrictions or expectations – definitely NOT imposed by my husband OR my faith). My decision to be honest about my doubts and struggles has actually opened doors to greater healing in my life, and has allowed others around me to have doubts and difficulties as well.
I have questioned, studied, listened, prayed, and pleaded, hoping to find greater certainty and a firmer foundation. For the most part, my seeking has brought me to a much richer, deeper, and more personal faith than I have had in years passed. However, this year it was more intense. It felt as though the beautifully constructed plush woven carpet of my faith, warm and inviting beneath my feet, was violently ripped out from under me. I was left, abandoned in my doubt, trading comfort for the hard, cold, damp ground; feeling every ounce, every inch of my humanity.
Suddenly, I saw my humanity without the lens of purpose that God had afforded me in the past. I started to see things differently. I truly felt the frailty of my heart. The reality that my body, moment by moment, with each successive tick than tock, was moving towards an inevitable end (a poetic way of saying I realized that I was going to get old). I started to identify with the naturalist’s point of view: we must only be a pile of nerves, chemicals, synaptic gaps, and impulses.
This confrontation with my humanity sent me desperately grasping for the now drifting, weightless thoughts and beliefs that I once held, only to have them pop like childhood bubbles in my fist. What was I to do? Well, I chose to run and hide. Hide from humanity’s ugliness, imperfection, and unpredictability. My logic, I believe was this: perhaps if I hide long enough, I can escape from the inconsistencies of the world and unpredictability both of myself, and others. I stopped seeing God in everything and everyone, and the world became bleek. My faith, once a raging fire, was now a tiny ember that was easily extinguished by a simple drop of unkindness or a the drizzle of the daily news. It was not pretty.
But that was where I was. I now find that I am authoring a different story. I have become tired of the cold, lifeless concrete below me, and so I crawl, searching for the meadow. Even if I begin to see it one single blade of grass at a time, I once again believe that even the mere presence of the blade of grass itself, though sparse and inconsistent, must be evidence that a meadow can’t be too far beyond.
I will still wrestle. And similar to Jacob in the old testament, I will live to tell my tale always carrying a gentle reminder of where I once was, and where I could find myself again. But instead of white knuckling my present circumstance, I am learning to accept what the great Charles Dicken’s knew when he penned his classic novel A Tale of Two Cities:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.
Life can be glorious, miraculous, and darn difficult. But that’s okay. That is the way it’s supposed to be. And I no longer feel compelled to change it, OR hide from it! But I am more determined than ever to grow from it. Like the father in one of the stories found in Mark’s gospel – I believe, but will always need help with my unbelief!
Becoming Ordinary: Day 244