Just so you know

All right. I have ideas. I think about stuff. So here is the spot for stuff I'm thinking about and want to be able to share more broadly and possibly promote. Like I have time for this.

Everything is provisional at this point and subject to change in the future - as far as the blog is concerned. In real life some things will remain unchanged.

Also, our children are not really named Lenny and Linus. We are not that cool.

Feel free to share, rant, disagree, but please remember that I'm an actual person who tries to be respectful. I'd love it if you are and do to.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Faith and the Vacuum: An Unguarded Moment of Pain

 I wrote this yesterday but didn't post it because it was so raw and I felt so shattered.  After seeing my therapist today I'm feeling a little more hopeful but still pretty vulnerable.  As much as I'd like to feel "special" though, I know I'm not the only one who has, is, or will be in this place.

I knew I shouldn't read this post by Sarah Bessey.  I skipped over the link a couple of times on my Facebook and Twitter feeds.  She's a very talented writer who often moves me to tears.  Plus, the post was about sadness, which I am trying to avoid thinking too deeply about just now.

But then I saw it one more time on Twitter and clicked through.  Of course it was good and much of it resonated with me.  Although I didn't grow up in a "Charismatic" environment I can still relate to the need in Christian circles to come across as joyful - overcomers, those who are richly blessed by God.  When she talked about those who felt like failures - who felt shame because they didn't measure up - I felt validated by her words.

I wasn't good at pushing my sadness to the side. I often felt that if I could just push a little harder - read more scripture, pray more, believe better - I would step out of the shade of my own sadness and into the joy that God intended for me.  If I needed to place blame I always placed it at my own door.

But then I read these words and the tears that had been gathering in my eyes spilled out:
"I am still charismatic, I still believe in signs and wonders, I still believe that God is for us and that we were meant for shalom."
 I still believe.   And the first thought that scudded through my head was "I don't believe."  And it hurt like a knife in my chest.  It hurts like that.  Actual physical pain.

I hope it's not true.  I hope it's like other "intrusive thoughts" that I've been having lately that I assume will vanish when the depression lifts.  I don't want it to be true that I don't know how to believe something that has been at the core of who I am for my entire life.  I don't feel able to walk through that door.  But I don't know how to stay where I am now.

I can remember when my faith was a balm to my struggling, hurting heart.  I remember standing in worship with fellow believers and being filled with joy and a sense of the rightness of it all.  I thought and felt and even said, "This is what we were created to do.  This is why I exist."

But now when I join the body of Christ and listen to the music and look at the words on the screen and try to sing I feel blankness or pain.  When I try to picture, as I could in the past, the loving arms of a strong, sure heavenly Father I feel a vacuum and reach instead for the wiggly, solid body of my baby.  I know at least that my love for him and his need for me are real.  They comfort me and calm my fears that the pain will break my mind.

It's true that I have so many questions.  I want to make sense of what the Bible says and how Christians behave.  But I fear that some mystical, spiritual element of belief - some desire or need or ability that I cannot name - has left me.  Maybe there are no answers left for me and I should just accept the peace of not knowing or even asking.

I was brought up to have answers for people who needed to believe.  If reason fails, look to experience.  If experience fails, look to reason.  If they both fail I have no answers.  I just have to pick Lenny up from school and put chocolate frosting and rainbow sprinkles on sugar cookies.

Blow your nose.  Dry your eyes.  Choose the joy you can find in life.  Live the life you have.  This I can grasp.  I think.


  1. I wish Gary would talk more in this series about the chronic suffering and sadness that people have. He says 'where was God when my loved one was dying, where was He when x was happening?' I say 'where is He RIGHT NOW? Where has He been?' How do we deal with God when the bad stuff isn't a singular event or short period?

    1. Good questions. I think that Gary would say that God is in the midst of it, but I'm not sure what that's supposed to mean on a practical level. God chooses to work through His followers, so I think the logic is that we can see Him through "the body." But this is disappointing sometimes. It also doesn't answer the question of why God lets the difficult situations happen to begin with or continue to happen.

      I'm just trying to think it through.
      (Deleted comment was because I couldn't figure out another way to do a simple edit.)

  2. Well. I'm not even sure where to start, there is so much packed into this post. Walking through "that" door is not the end of your life, or of your core ideals, or of your morality. Don't be afraid to follow the path you are traveling in your mind to it's logical destination. There really is freedom, and hope, and joy there.

    1. You might want to walk through this door: just a few miles down the road. At the very least there will be people who understand what you are struggling with.

    2. Thanks. I don't want my belief or lack of it to be motivated by fear. I believe that a faith worth having can stand up to examination - including considering the option of letting it go completely. Wherever I end up I would like to think that it can be, as you say, a place of freedom, hope and joy.

      I'm thankful for the support I have in the church we are part of now. I have seen that the UUC has been really positive for your family. I think of you all whenever we drive by our local one, which is pretty frequently.

  3. I wasn't actually suggesting that you change churches, just that you might benefit from conversations with people who have approached faith from other perspectives, or gone through similar struggles and made decisions different than those of people in your home church. ANY church tends toward becoming an echo chamber, so getting out of that comfort zone might be useful.