I was ranting to my brother tonight about religious people who say “Oh yes, I had questions like yours a few years ago, but I finally came to the point where I just had to say “God, I’m believing in you. I know you’ll show me the truth.” and ever since then I’ve just KNOWN he’s real.” Or something similar to that. The other night I was chatting with an acquaintance and my unbelief came up. He had wanted me to pray about playing violin on a worship team he was organizing for some event. I said I wasn’t the kind of person he’d want on the team, so naturally he wanted to know why and I told him. After sharing a few of the questions that lead me to where I am today in my current state of uncertainty and unbelief, he said something like the above-mentioned annoying anecdote. To be fair, he was very nice about everything and the conversation remained congenial.
On Facebook, a friend posted a status about his recent deconversion, and I noticed a comment someone left that ran along the same lines as that of my acquaintance. Again, the comment was far from harsh or condemning, just an “I’ve been where you are, but I still believe.”
I am not going to argue that the believers who say they’ve been where I am and have questioned the things I question are lying or mistaken. I cannot say that they haven’t questioned things like I am. It offends me when Christians claim I never really believed, because I know for almost my entire life I DID believe completely and passionately and based my identity in my belief in God and my faith in the Bible. I have no intention of doing that in return. The thing that bothers me is the suggestion or implication that I should stifle my questions, turn to this god I am not sure even exists and say “God, I have these questions, but I’m going to put them aside now and believe that you are real.”
Perhaps I am just too far gone now.
For twenty-odd years I believed whole-heartedly that the God of Abraham was real and good and that the Bible was absolute truth and infallible. I believed Christianity was the one true religion. That therein lay truth and any who seek for truth would eventually find their way there and to God. I believed it unquestioningly. But no more.
I owe it to myself to find answers to my questions.
A couple of weeks ago the café I was working at closed shop, so my boss and I have been job hunting. Yesterday morning she had an interview at a local coffee shop but found the shifts won’t work for her, so she mentioned me to the shop owner and gave me a glowing reference, and after leaving the interview she called me and said I needed to get my résumé in ASAP. Around noon yesterday I was able to go in and talk to the owner who gave me an interview and I got hired right away! And it was all thanks to my former boss.
Sounds pretty straight-forward, right?
I was thinking last night about how I would have viewed the above-mentioned events a couple of years ago. When the café closed, “obviously God has something else in mind for me.” And when I got the job after my boss sent me up with my résumé, “God just works things out so well!” My boss’s kindness in suggesting me for the job would be overshadowed by whatever I thought God was planning for me, even though my boss is OBVIOUSLY a part of the event and God has to be fit in there somewhere…wherever I can make him fit….
It’s just nice now to be able to give credit where credit is due. God, if you want some credit too, you have to do more than try to piggyback on my boss’s kindness.
“We cannot be ourselves unless we know ourselves. But self-knowledge is impossible when thoughtless and automatic activity keeps our souls in confusion.” –Thomas Merton
Honesty is important. It is vital for freedom. One of the hardest things I’ve had to do is to learn to be honest with myself. Honest about my questions. Honest about my doubts. Honest about my failings. The absolute hardest, though, is to be honest about my successes and my good qualities.
As hard as it is to be honest about both the bad AND the good, that’s what I want in my life. I want to live honestly. Be myself. Live intentionally. I think this ties into my earlier post about experiencing life. I can sit all day and think about who I am or who I seem to be and write pages and pages and pages of self-analysis in my journal…but until I go out and start experiencing things and testing my limits, I’ll never really know who I am and what I can do. I hate saying that here because someone will read it (I know my mom does) and make me go out and do something. And honestly….that just sounds scary and uncomfortable right now.
I joined the “Free Believers Network” page on Facebook a while ago and have found some interesting and thought-provoking posts and comments and articles there. Today a quote someone posted caught my attention:
“…an error made on your own is safer than ten truths accepted on faith, because the first leaves you the means to correct it, but the second destroys your capacity to distinguish truth from error.” -Ayn Rand
I think she makes an interesting point. I have mostly not been an experientially-focused person. Even from a young age I have lived (or have tried to live) by the saying “learn from the mistakes of others.” I still see a lot of merit in that. After all, life IS rather short to go making all the mistakes myself….but I have found that I’ve gone to the other extreme and am now often afraid of making my own mistakes. And having to live with the consequences.
For most of my life I have accepted the “ten truths on faith”, not having the wisdom of experience to evaluate the validity or merit of those “truths”, and now I find myself having to re-evaluate. But what standard am I to use to distinguish truth from error? Experience, apparently. Which means I need to actually experience something. Will I survive?
Actually, this is something that keeps coming up in the things I read, the stuff I’ve been listening to, and many of the conversations I’ve had with people lately. That is, the idea of relaxing and letting myself make mistakes. Allowing myself the freedom to live life, make decisions, and learn from the “bad” or “foolish” decisions I make without condemning myself.
It’s almost as though the universe is trying to shake me awake and say “Hey! Get up and go live your life!”