She is Searching
Several years ago I lost my religion. Not like ‘Oops, where did it go? Is it under the lounge?’ Rather I decided to loosen my grip on everything except the few things that I thought to be most true and which I had experienced for certain.
It started almost ten years ago. I had believed a fairly common version of the Protestant Christian faith since around the age of nine, with a touch of niggling about the validity of the Bible. Early on I’d sought to answer the many questions I had about where the Bible came from and what may be missing from it and why God kills so many people when he’s so loving and so on. But I was able to keep my doubts in one hand and open my other hand up to see what the deal was with God. I’d had a sense of experiencing Him as a child that I couldn’t shake and things like nature, really amazing people, delicious food, gorgeous flowers, shells and the like gave me the feeling that He’s real.
So for years I lived believing and questioning with grace as my main doctrine. Grace, I figure is what God is all about and His grace is so big that it doesn’t matter that I can’t believe everything I was ‘supposed’ to. He loves me anyway, and everyone else for that matter. This is the God I fell in love with.
Many times along the way people tried to tell me that that God wasn’t real. Some Christians told me he wasn’t real because he was more selective, and other people told me he wasn’t real because it just doesn’t all add up, it’s too mystical and inexplicable. Of course I listened with respect to everyone. I wasn’t born knowing the truth all I could do was love people and hope that one day they would get to know the God who already loves them, and me.
This continued for years, then I started to have ‘spiritual experiences’. Honestly, you can believe what you like, but some things happened that are just inexplicable without some other plane of existence. One night I had a dream and only days later someone I didn’t know come and told me all about my dream. Another time I spoke in Spanish and my best mate understood me even though I didn’t even understand what I had said. I had someone tell me something that I’d only ever confessed to God in my heart. Crazy wacko stuff like that. I mean, seriously, let’s be honest, it sounds nuts. But if you can get past that, at least I truly believe these things happened to me, and they’re the things that kept me having an open mind toward others and their experiences and beliefs about God. And they keep me believing in the person of God throughout this next stage of my life.
Which is? Well, I don’t really know yet. During that last period of my life I stopped reading the Bible very much and instead turned to teachers who knew much more about it than I did. Not the ones who continued to reiterate the infallible, literal viewpoint, but rather those who looked at it with fresh eyes and new ideas that resonated with my understanding of a loving God. I continued to go back to the Bible on occasion, mostly because it seems to have some sort of mystical power for me to hear God to speak.
So in this new season of my life I believe in the broad narrative of the Bible, the one where God loves everyone and sends Jesus to show us that. I believe there’s this mystical, spiritual side to life that we sometimes get a glimpse into but can’t control. I’ve got a husband who has also let go of God in order to find him again, but struggles with sifting through the inauthentic experiences he’s had to find the real and the true. He’s also terrified of death. Who knows what happens? He’s afraid of the void. He mentions it just before bedtime. And as he snores quietly beside me, I lay awake terrified. I’m hoping that it’s all true. God loves us and we live on, right?