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Monday, April 25, 2011

Losing God To Find Him

James 1:6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

The question on my heart today is wondering whether there is a difference between holding our truths with a relaxed and open hand, and doubting?

I've been on such a roller coaster ride the last three months, and that roller coaster is one to be expected. I feel confident residing in the understanding that most of those who are witness to my grief process, although they may not be able to empathize, can show compassion for the undertaking that I am going through. There have been moments in the last four weeks where I have completely lost my faith. Yep, I have been broken to a place of complete and utter loss of my faith in God. . .and this is a statement I never thought I would speak in my life, and yet it has happened. It has happened more than once, and I wouldn't be surprised if I wasn't out of the woods yet.

A specific moment comes to mind, and although there are many it's this one I will share. During worship we were singing a song with the idea that through troubles we would be waiting on God. It was in that moment, tears streaming down my face, that I felt deep in my soul that I wasn't waiting on God. I knew, at that very second, amidst loved ones worshiping their God, that there was no one there to wait for. God wasn't coming for me, he had no plans to prosper me, all things were not working out for good in my life. These moments are the scariest, the lowest, and still they are the most real.

This moment, and the others like it I've experienced, are not what I hold in my heart now (in this second at least). But to experience the complete loss of God in my life is to journey to a place I have never known. Jesus has always been there for me. As long as I can remember I have prayed. For the last fifteen years conversations with Jesus have been deep seeded in my mind to down right audible and often. Signs, understandings, revelations have been something I have relied and trusted in for years. Yet in this grief God has been silent, Jesus unseen, and the Spirit within me almost absent-feeling at times. My hope is that looking back on my life I will see God's work in this too, but right now it is unsettling.

With this breaking of faith comes challenges that I am doing my best to not turn away from. I will need to rebuild my faith, and this time it will be with a more open hand. I had my truths held so tightly in my hand had they been a coal I would now have diamond studs to show for it. As I start to reengage with Jesus, as I start to rebuild what was broken within, and as I start to trust again I'm going to choose to place each brick carefully back. In other words, I will give myself grace.

Grace in the fact that I do not know it all (bet Matt wishes he was here to print that statement off, and hold it in his pocket for the appropriate moment:) There are things we do not know while walking this Earth, and in this process I will remind myself that is okay. It is okay to not have all the answers about God. It is okay to hold beliefs firmly (or loosely) enough that a question can be asked without fear, or a conversation can be held without anger. It's okay to understand at a very deep level that we all think we have it right, and likely none of us do. It's okay to hold to ours, but realize that there are things far more important. . .and that is to live life now in fellowship with the people He has given us. To love, and restore, and help, and further, and comfort every person that finds themselves around us.

So I have doubted, doubted deeply. It is a hard thing to do. It makes you feel less than, it makes you fear judgment by those around you, and worst of all is it makes you angry at yourself. And during this journey of doubt I have wondered if this is where it would end for me. Now that these thoughts, this brokenness, has overtook me is this where I was destined to stay? The answer, I'm starting to see, is no. It will, however, change me. Transform me. I have already learned at least one very valuable lesson. The truth of who Jesus was, the sacrifice he gave, and the resurrection are central and need to stay that way, but almost every other piece of truth is up for conversation. I will still hold many truths the same as I always have, but you will no longer find them hidden in a white knuckled fist - they will be held in a hand relaxed, one that beckons for the Spirit to fill it up with the things we can not know. One that loves everyone, regardless of the doctrine in their hand, because loving one another is all I really know how to do right anyway.

5 comments:

John said...

Thanks for sharing :) I can relate a lot to what you've expressed - coming to terms with the reality that I could be wrong about almost all of my beliefs, and wrestling with where to go from there.

Ultimately I rest in the conviction that a life of self-giving love as exhibited by Christ in his healing the sick, eating with the outcast and his death on the cross is the best possible way to live, and the only way I possibly could now that my eyes have been opened to its beauty.

But as far as everything else? I don't know! I have beliefs, and they are beliefs I would defend and argue for, but at the end of the day I might be wrong. Strangely, when I embrace doubt and fully accept that I might be wrong about my religious beliefs, I often find myself having more faith in them - when I no longer need them to be correct in order to feel okay about life, they shoulder less weight and thus, I don't worry quite as much that they might be wrong. Interesting!

The Bible's emphasis on love and community/the body of Christ is something that no amount of doubt or deconstruction of doctrine can dismantle, and for that reason I'm confident I will always be a Christian even if I don't have the same assurance that my beliefs will always remain the same.

I love this: "I will still hold many truths the same as I always have, but you will no longer find them hidden in a white knuckled fist - they will be held in a hand relaxed, one that beckons for the Spirit to fill it up with the things we can not know. One that loves everyone, regardless of the doctrine in their hand, because loving one another is all I really know how to do right anyway."

MomAlone said...

thank you for sharing ... ive been in doubt sometimes, too. take care

Xaris said...

Faith assumes the possibility for doubt. Doubt assumes the possibility for faith. God's love is big enough to handle our anger, doubt, and even our denials. Whenever we take the risk to love another human being, we accept the risk that we will at times hate God.

A Young Widow's Rant said...

Well said John. What you expressed is truly where my heart longs to be. In community with those who are facing life's struggles, who can take upon one another's burdens, and through it/in it show the love of Christ.

Xaris - I love your words! They are so beautifully woven together. They always seem to reach me, and remind me, of an unspoken and unseen truth.

TheMooreFamilyBlog said...

Stephanie,

Oh as a widower who lost my spouse unexpectedly 18 months ago I can completely relate to this post. Death and loss shakes our life to the core because it touches the parts of our lives that matter so deeply to us. I know I was really encouraged to hear in griefshare classes that God was not afraid of the questions and that there are so many examples of people doing this in the bible and that the Lord never rebuked them. There were so many "why God?" or "Where are you Lord" questions in the psalms I was amazed I never saw that before. I think what Xaris said nailed that and was well said.
I do know for me that while there are so many things you and I may never fully understand on this side of heaven in our respective losses we can know with certainty that the Lord loves us and promises to carry us in this journey and that when we see all as he sees and knows we will only be able to say Lord you did everything right. May you Find his comfort today.

One last thing someone sheared with me, They said if I went into a house with a basement with no widows on a bright sunny day it could be dark and cold and potentially painful bumping my head and such but that the sun was still shining even if I could not feel it. It was there in spite of my not feeling it at the time. I know for me in the first 6 months I help on to so much only by faith as I did not feel it. But I can say he was there shining the whole time just like the sun does over the house. Bless you and dont be afraid of your hurt or questions. Its natural and real and God says its ok to bring them to him... His answers may simply be Trust me, but he is in control and right there in this dark and painful journey you are on.