Whenever I’ve heard someone talk about why they don’t go to church anymore or what changed for them, it often seems to hinge on some personal slight between the person not going to church and some representative of the church. For others the reasons dig much deeper and are far more personal. Dr. Bidlack, a member of the James Randi Educational Foundation, said on a recent Skepticality podcast that he believes in God but has a hard time seeing how a personal God would have caused or allowed the suffering that his beloved wife endured as she died of cancer. So he calls himself a theist who believes in God, but not one who is responsible for every little thing. Dave Slusher, from the Evil Genius Chronicles podcast and IT Conversations network, shared candidly his journey from Fundamentalist Christian Faith to Atheism via the suicide of his father. Powerful stuff, that most of us probably ignore and just shuffle on in our day-to-day existence. Obviously I’m not that way, these blog “pages” being filled with my rants and questions. I certainly cannot bring myself to judge the experiences or choices of others, but at the same time I stumble at the thought that I’m continually assessing the validity of my own spiritual path based on my own personal disappointments, frustrations and failures (though they are far less dramatic and on the surface much more mundane). I mean, it’s not about me. What right do I have to question God because things aren’t the way I think that they should be? But the nagging questions persist and I find myself back in that place where I walked away from it all twenty-years ago.
I bared my soul and received resounding… silence. I confessed that my faith was being wounded because I have a hard time experiencing the love of God when I have been feeling so unloved in the here and now. Reading through Matthew’s gospel Jesus said that if we fallible human know how to give good gifts to our kids, how much more does God know how to give us what we need. Well, having discovered that I was “meant” to live a life-shared and my former rogue existence had been a lie. I have a hard time with God’s promise in view of my persistent failure to have a fully functional relationship with the person I have loved. And before I go any further with this, I’m not saying that any of this is her fault: it’s just the way things are. But this unmet need digs into my ability to trust and give back.
Before, when faced with this hope-yet-unrealized, I would examine my own life to try to figure out what lesson I needed to learn, trying to find what thing I yet lacked before I would fully enjoy this desired love. No one ever told me to do this. That was my natural response every time I was separated from her. What yet do I lack? It probably helped that it seemed like she had little choice in her circumstances, but in the time following her divorce that line of reasoning has been more difficult to maintain. I mean, it was funny how perfectly I could see areas in my life that needed “renovation,” just when some set-back would happened, And I would soldier on. Yeah, that got old and I eventually reconciled with myself that this lesson learned, the lesson that I’m not supposed to be alone, wasn’t dependent on her or her responsibility and so I did the e-Harmony thing. Well, in that I’m writing these words, e-Harmony or more directly, meeting people at church hasn’t worked out too well. And going through the upcoming holidays is going to be a bitch.
So, it’s become harder and harder for me to maintain my vigil, It’s getting to the point where this stupid little thing is getting in the way of my expression or experience of Faith. I mean, he promised it and I endeavored to maintain my end of it. I know we can be legalistic about it and find all the areas where my stupid human nature gives Him an escape clause, but that would be the way a shitty father would treat his kid, “Yeah, I was going to give you a PS3 for Christmas, but remember that one time when I told you to take out the trash eight-years ago? Well, you didn’t or at least didn’t until your mom nagged you to death. So that’s why there’s no PS3 under the Christmas tree.” Nah. That won’t fly. What yet do I lack?
My friends are really looking forward to 2008 and I’m afraid that it’ll be a year filled with the same emptiness and excuses. JBB