Over the past week I’ve gone back over 7 years worth of journals. In them, there are countless entries where I am crying out to God, asking questions, wondering why I’m not seeing results or answers to prayer, etc. Then sandwiched in between them are entries where I am trusting, surrendering, and thanking Him for what I believe He’s doing. But when I look back, those times I’ve laid in bed crying haven’t really been about the circumstances of my life. The circumstances of my life haven’t been that bad! In fact I’ve had a pretty good life (other than all this emotional turmoil!). The truth is, those times of desperation were because of my belief in God. I felt abandoned. Any painful memory from childhood that I have is magnified by the feeling that God didn’t rescue me. And all my present painful circumstances (sickness, financial problems, etc) have been magnified by the feeling that He wasn’t intervening.
So what happens if I remove God from the equation? Poof! Suddenly the things that happened in the past (my mom’s mental breakdown and illness, my parent’s inability to nurture me at times, sickness, financial difficulty, etc) all become just part of my life...just hurtful things that happened as a result of my environment, my own decisions, or interaction with fallible human beings. And when I look at my present circumstances, I can draw the same conclusions.
When I think back to how J and I have never been consistent about talking to our kids about God, I realize that we didn’t talk to them about spiritual things because deep down there was this disconnect for us on a personal level. Despite my deep and abiding faith, every time I’ve imagined sitting with our kids and really explaining “the gospel” to them, I just couldn’t figure out how to do it. How could we as parents convince them that they needed God? Any time we did talk about spiritual things with them I would feel uncomfortable and could tell they did, too. Why? It wasn’t that we were trying to teach them “law” – it was all grace and love. But in order to get them to actually trust God and interact with Him, we would have to convince them that they were depraved and hopeless without him.
Yesterday at church our pastor said something that really startled me – it’s something I’ve believed my whole life but suddenly heard with new ears. He said in the Old Testament that God had to give people the law so they’d behave in a righteous way. That was the only way that He could get near enough to them to interact with them without having to kill them (because of His holiness and their unrighteousness). This suddenly sounded shocking to me. I wrote in my notebook, “So if I stop believing in God and don’t follow the law to the letter, He will have to kill me.” For so many years these concepts made total sense to me. I'm cursed because of the fall of man and redeemed because of Christ. Without him I would be completely lost and broken. But now these are ideas that don't make sense. I just can’t seem to reconcile it all anymore.
I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to have these thoughts and feelings. I have so many questions my head is spinning. It is so hard to be in a room full of my friends who are worshipping God, while I stand there feeling like an outsider. I've never felt that way before. But what’s interesting is that I don’t feel that deep sense of loss and pain anymore. It seems that the more my belief in God erodes, the less pain I experience.
J and I have realized that in order to find truth, we can’t just limit our search to one place or one perspective. We must be willing to objectively look at what we believe, and actually look at the findings of others who don’t agree w/what we’ve always been taught. We are on a quest for truth. And we believe that if the God of the Bible is real, we will determine that for ourselves.
But in order to find the truth we must be open to the idea that what we have believed is actually wrong.