I won’t lie to you, friend – I’ve been struggling recently. I’m not one to share negative feelings, I usually opt for ignoring them or shoving them in boxes to gather dust. I’ve recently been learning, however, that those aren’t included in Dave’s Great List of Practices That Promote Emotional/Spiritual Health and Further Relationship (I’m sure that exists, right?). So in the spirit of change I’m writing this and am going to try to be as candid with you as possible.
Through your eyes (whoever you are), I’m fairly certain any of your thoughts upon seeing me out and about in the world didn’t sound anything like “Man, that dude is going through some stuff” or “He really looks like he’s struggling” or even “I honestly don’t think that kid knows who God is anymore,” although any of those would have been true.
I mean, this is supposed to be a happy time, right? I graduated. I’m done with school. That means no more homework, papers, tests, and Senior Project. I even got to move up to a beautiful city with some of the greatest people in the world, and am staying free of charge with a wonderful family purely out of the goodness of their hearts. I’ve almost found a job, I’m this close to finally owning my first car, I’m within throwing distance of getting my own place – life is looking fairly good right now. But beneath all that, under all the good circumstances, lies a darkness that has largely been unnoticed until about two months ago. It’s actually fairly funny, I think writing this blog is what started me seeing what was actually going on (although the wheels had been set in motion long ago, by whoever sets wheels a-motionin’).
Now that you know the background I’ll just come out and say it: I don’t know who God is. I thought I did, but I don’t. I’ve had questions for a long time, but I’ve never taken toll of them until now. And I feel like any time I try and pursue answers I’m met with shrugs or inconsistent opinions from a lot of people who think they’re the only ones right.
Does God interact with us? How? Do we experience him? How? Are miracles legit? If so, and if God loves us all so much, why don’t they happen more/can’t I do any to love people? Why do we pray? And what the dump is the Bible and is it really God-incarnate like everyone treats it (like Jesus had some long-lost sibling that got turned into a book)?
Can God actually be trusted? I feel like that really sums up the bulk of my struggles. I had based almost everything I thought about myself on the idea that God thinks I’m special, that he likes me and enjoys me. I thought I understood him (but by no means completely, I’ll be the first to tell you I don’t know everything). I thought I was figuring out how he worked. Then it felt like that rug was just whipped right out from under my feet with the onset of these questions. It was like getting sucker-punched in the gut by an ape.
I saw that my faith was completely based on what I wanted to be true, a God I wanted to exist so badly I would go as far as convincing myself he existed, ignoring any supposition that could possibly contradict my idea of him. I realized any experience I had was no more than emotions that were read into too much. Any “words” or “messages” from him were no more than over-spiritualized thoughts that were either perfectly logical or perfectly illogical depending on what I did or didn’t want to be true.
All of a sudden I saw that nobody around me was actually talking about the same God. I started distancing myself from those who claimed they and only they knew the truth. I started feeling alienated from systematic Western Christianity, a group of organized people who existed only because borders existed, borders set in place to keep those within comfortable and those outside at arms length.
I started feeling more and more distant from my friends who either chomped at the bit to learn more about God or were perfectly fine however they knew him to be. I felt like a stranger at worship, after all how can one worship if it feels like who you’re worshipping betrayed you? I slowly entered into a state of depression as what I had deemed my purpose and significance in life dissapeared over the horizon. The very point of my existence was contained in that ship that seemed to be quickly sailing farther and farther away, shrinking into the distance.
I had lost all motivation for anything, other than to keep up appearances.
Do we believe in God because we experience him?
Do we experience God because we believe in him?
Does he exist because we believe in him?
Does anyone else realize most of the experiences we tout as evidence of our faith seems to be total happenstance?
So here I am. If I’m being straight with you, I don’t really know why I’m writing this. I don’t have any answers yet. I guess I can hope that if you are struggling with these same questions (or need to be struggling with them, as I wish upon nobody and everybody at the same time), you can know you’re not alone. I’ve come to the conclusion that God does exist. Not because I’ve met him/spoken to him/seen him/heard him/felt him, but because I really, really, really need him to. It’s not much, but it’s a start.
I also have certain requirements of him. I require that he be the very embodiment of love. That he’s trustworthy. That he has everyone’s best interest (even those that don’t give a rat’s behind about him) at heart. That he is so much (and only ever) better than I could ever imagine. In my mind, a God not meeting those isn’t a God worth loving. I’m hoping the rest will come with time. And that it will be based on more than what I want to be true.