I’m often told by friends and blog readers that my “vibrant Christianity” is inspiring, that I “maintain remarkable stability in the face of incredible odds.”
But I wonder if they’d still say that if they knew the me who sometimes wonders if spirituality is real or just a coping mechanism for survival, the me whose panic drags her to the toilet the morning of an exam. The twenty-something whose anxiety causes her to still jump and feel a rush of shame redden my ears when a supervisor approaches me at work, even if nothing is wrong.
So why do I stay? Why do I cling to Jesus?
The other day, I admitted to my friend Cynthia Jeub:
I explained it to my friend Aaron, who recently wrote a blog series on coming out as an atheist, like this:
“I know none of the things my heart wants to be true can be scientifically proven. I believe there is a God because I think I have experienced His presence. And I really admire this guy Jesus whether he was God or not. I think he was an incredible guy who didn’t take religious bullshit, and who wanted justice for the oppressed. And more than anything? I’d like to be like him and to shake the world up. But that’s all I know for sure anymore.”
But this is my story, and my other friends have different stories. I am finding healing within the context of Christianity, and my fragile faith is becoming my own. But not everyone does.
I’ve heard many people say your view of God is nearly identical to your view of your father.
So when friends have needed to leave their dysfunctional homes, sometimes their healing journey makes it necessary for them to leave Christianity entirely.
One friend described it as “ditching God” to “unravel the Good and Bad Shepherd.”
R.L. Stollar, community coordinator for Homeschoolers Anonymous, writes in his post The Scarlett Letter of Unbelief: “It’s hard enough on its own, this thing called belief. Life is filled with pain and suffering and when those elements get overwhelming, they reveal how fragile belief can be.”
Like my friends, I have tossed out all but the raw heartbeat of my faith, eliminating the poison for the cure. Finding what remained after the shattering. And only now can I safely rebuild.
Modern evangelical Christianity often values faith so highly that it fears the doubters. But as I commented on R.L. Stollar’s post last year, “the church needs to recognize that it is okay to be sad and okay to be messy and okay to be broken.”
What shows a “doubter” the Jesus we’ve read about more: an understanding hug, a cup of hot chocolate and Kleenex, or some memorized Bible verse thrown at them over and over until it has lost all meaning?
I don’t know how to explain the beautiful friends who were Jesus for me after I got kicked out of a church two years ago: some were agnostic or Buddhist or Catholic or Baptist. One of them was my pastor friend who played Jesus over 20 years ago.
And as I replied to Cynthia Jeub: