I’ve never been ready. I’m still not ready. I don’t know how to express what’s inside and I’ve never been able to prepare myself for the responses I may receive. I’m still not prepared. This was an immensely difficult post to write and share, and my only request is that any responses could be thought out sensitively and lovingly. I’m battling this out the best way I can, and I fear that in sharing, I may retreat even further. I know that as soon as I share this, I will want to wither up into a ball. I will feel small, judged, useless, and far, far away from where I want to be. However, I also hope that in sharing, I leave some of this darkness behind. With that hope leading the way, here we go.
There are parts of my story that I just can’t talk about yet. This part of my story has been clawing its way out for a while now and I suppose the monster finally got out. I’m sorry in advance, this is not an uplifting post. I know that this blog has served to bring light and love and hope to some, and that has always been my prayer and my purpose. More than that, I’ve always made it my purpose to be honest and genuine, no matter how raw it may be. There is a gaping hole in my soul that can’t seem to be filled, and to keep it inside seems to be untrue to you and untrue to my journey.
I don’t know how to start, because the brokenness of my spirit seems so fragmented that I’m not sure I can.
The gaping hole? My faith. It’s gone. It wasn’t a decision. It can’t be forced back in. (Please, I beg of you not to try.) I’ve tried. I’m still trying. Oh if I could only describe to you the desperation in which I have called out to God, the broken-hearted tears that I have sobbed, the emptiness in scouring the Bible for that glimmer of truth and light that used to always find me in the darkness.
The best way I can describe how I feel is as if someone has died; someone so dear to me that a piece of me died with them. I suppose that is true in a way.
I’ve had dark moments, but in those times- the light always shone in the window to guide me home. Today, I am lost in the woods and the candle has quit burning.
It’s not like I’ve become a drug addict, I’m not sleeping around, and I don’t party so hard that I don’t know what day it is (all things thought to lead to a lack of faith within the church world) My life looks the same. I just. Don’t. Feel. God’s presence anymore. Surprisingly, life didn’t end there.
But I won’t sugar coat it either and try to tell you that everything is ok. I’m less patient, I’m less kind, and I’m less capable. My depression, which used to hit me hard somedays but always lifted shortly after, has become persistent, overbearing, and debilitating at times. I’m not going to deny that this isn’t a massive battle for my mental health as well as my spiritual life.
I am just a girl who has had some crappy things happen. In the midst of the pain I sought God’s comfort. I sought Biblical counsel. I desperately ran after healing. I busied myself with things that I love doing. I tried to do the right things and often failed, I’ll admit that. I tried to find meaning in the healing, and purpose in the journey. More and more, as the feelings of being lost, hopeless and the overwhelming desperation settled in, I felt myself floundering and often wondering why I was doing what I was doing, but I was just trying to survive. I still am. I needed a break from feeling completely, and utterly broken. I think the worst part is having grown up in the church. I know all the answers that I could possibly hear:
1. I need to pray more.
2. I need to go to church more.
3. I need to just let God love me more.
4. I need more time in a community (which is effing hard when you are dealing with external and internal demons)
5. I’m probably making sinful choices that block me from sensing God’s love.
6. “Here are the top 10 verses when faith is hard.”
(I even know that some people will be thinking, “no, you don’t do anything– it’s God who does the work”)
I would be lying to you if I didn’t tell you that I resented every word. Songs that used to encourage now discourage. Quotes that used to inspire now breed hopelessness. I always wanted to be a better version of myself, because I was never good enough– and now I just wonder why I felt that way? Outside of the church, I have never felt more loved for my brokenness and struggles– loved Just as I am. Seem backwards to anyone else? Please hear me when I say that I don’t think it was the fault of any church body that I attended. I just wasn’t in a place where being at church seemed to help more than hinder. (I attended an amazing church for the past few years, I want to say that right now.) I don’t understand how being in the midst of those people made me feel terrible, while being with non-christians felt more uplifting/less judgmental/more safe. I think it’s because so many people within the church seek to live honestly with their struggles, and I didn’t want to think about what I was going through, I didn’t want to be asked, I just wanted to hide from the pain.
Oh what I wouldn’t give to just love Jesus and walk with him like I used to. We were so close. He was my best friend. And now, I feel like He’s moved on. Like he was my imaginary friend and has decided to make me grow up from my childhood fantasies. I feel like I’m the desperate one post break-up who just doesn’t get why things had to end.
Right now, there are so many people who think I’m still the girl who loves and leads with a godly heart, and earnest faith. Oh if I could only just BE that person again. What I wouldn’t give to go back in time. There are moments, when I feel so lost. Because now, with all of these questions- if God isn’t real. If Jesus didn’t live and die for me. If my whole relationship with this “living” “loving” God has been a lie, then my whole life’s purpose has been shattered. I still live for love. I still live for people. I still believe every person is created/here with a purpose. I just don’t know what is at the root of that purpose anymore. And I’m not saying that I reject the idea that God exists either, I’m simply admitting that I struggle with it immensely. This is NOT where I wanted to be at 26 years old. This is NOT how I wanted to feel, and this is a faith journey/struggle that I NEVER expected, perhaps that was my problem: believing that this “Blessed Assurance” would never leave me.
I’ll leave you with my last journal entry, I think it really captures the internal battle that wages on. I can’t face the thoughts in my soul, but maybe someone else is struggling with this too. Power to you, my fellow desperate faith-vagabonds, my soul aches for you and with you and our journeys. I hope and pray (to anyOne who will listen and care) is that your souls find rest and peace.
December 14, 2015
I’m back. It’s been another long haul. I wish I could blame my silence on the fact that I can’t find my journal, but the fact of the matter is that I was avoiding the act of journalling. I didn’t want to self-reflect. I didn’t want to think about the things that have been consuming my mind– the questions and fears that I have been relentlessly pushing as far away as possible. There is a dark, ugly, black pit in the midst of my soul and I fear it grows everyday.
I lack faith in all regards. I lack it in a way that I have never known; In a way that terrifies me, yet brings me to a new horizon of true, honest questioning.
For the first time, I’m standing in an understanding of how calloused, insensitive, and ridiculous Christianity can sound to an unbelieving mind. Sadly, that is because I currently possess such a mind.
Although, most days, I still can’t admit it. It hurts too much. I still possess all of the “Biblical, Apologetic knowlege” that my hungry mind and eager soul has consumed over the years. My mind, when I allow it, is wrought with an internal struggle; an endless debate. I desperately long for intimacy with Jesus, yet feel hopelessly lost in the thought that He might exist solely as an imaginary character that I have loved, cherished, and clung to all of these years because a religion enabled it. Simultaneously, my flaws are both embraced and disgraced. I love and hate myself because 1. God is love, yet 2. He “calls me to be Holy and Righteous, which are attributes far from how I would describe myself these days. I celebrate and despise myself because we should love everyone, including ourselves but I still wonder how that lines up with conservative Christian opinions on many topics.
However, in the midst of this struggle, I have never felt more earnest, genuine, or willing to be unbiased in my questioning. Is THAT love? Am I ignorant? Who is right? Can love and righteousness co-exist? How can/does love have limits? Can faith and science be reconciled? Where does faith come from?
For the first time in my entire life, no answers bring me peace. Nothing makes me feel safe, nothing makes me feel sure of anything except that I am sure that I will never be the same. I will never fit in where I once did– and I will never fully understand any of the ideas that I currently question.
I say this out of desperation, not of arrogance– I’m not sure if there are any answers that exist that I haven’t heard, nor speeches that could help me in this journey. I’ve always been one to enjoy the journey of life, but this one can’t help but feel like a massive shackle that I will never shake. It all seems too big.
I still find myself talking to whom I used to call Jesus. I still call Him Jesus. Because I’m not prepared to give up on “It” being Him. He’s all I’ve ever known– But I can’t deny this growing knot inside. “What if I just needed Jesus to exist? What if I just believed that He is there so that I could feel more at peace about the unknowns in life? What if I want to be a Christian so that I can be the person that everyone has thought me to be?” I’m trying so hard. I only hope that if I’m totally wrong, and that the God I’ve loved and served with my whole heart for over 25 years is truly there listening and loving me- that He truly is as patient and kind as I always used to say that He was; As kind, and patient, and loving as I believe that He would be.
God, if you are real, I desperately need you to show me. I don’t know how I go from believing with every fibre of my being that you love me and hear me and care for me, to this listless sense that I’ve been living a lie and talking to an imaginary being for my whole life.
What is happening? Why can’t I feel you? I know, I know.. it’s not you, it’s me, right? You’ve never left.. I’m the one who “turned away”, right? But why, when I’m turning and turning and turning around, I still don’t see you? I still don’t feel you?
Emotionally, everything inside of me wants you to be true; to be real; to not be a fairy tale. But I can’t wish you into reality anymore than I could with a dragon. I want to be sure that you are real- that would be easier. All I know is that my so-called faith as of late is nothing more that this: a desperate hope that you are true. But for my lack of trust, I can’t help but feel as though I wouldn’t really deserve your love if it is there.