For years I’ve avoided writing too much about my faith. I’ve avoided, for the most part, thinking too much about my faith. And now, on the back end of this year, it’s the only thing I can think about, the only thing that is bringing me back to the blank page over and over. It’s not a renewed sense of hope that is driving these sentences, it’s the deepest doubt.
I awoke in the middle of the night last week, restless after another trip down the hall to a child’s bedroom, my body rhythms out of sync for most of this year. I wasn’t thinking about anything coherent, was probably loosely formulating the next day’s schedule or replaying an earlier moment, when a thought dropped heavily as if from the roof and down through the ceiling fan:
I don’t believe in God.
It was so big as if to ring out through my ears. Of course I’ve entertained an atheist notion, or suffered through valleys of doubt, but this was charcoal in certainty. This made me feel foolish for recent conversations, ideas for change within our family, things I’d put out on the internet. Who was I to celebrate Jesus and feminism? Why do I keep pretending to be something I’m not?
I do not believe in God. I do not believe in God. I do not believe in God.
But of course I do believe in God. I think. I can’t imagine one single other explanation for the beauty of this world, for the miracle of my children, for the thread of humanity that connects us.
It has been a long time since I’ve broken from the Christianity of my youth. The legalism taught with smiley sing-songs was so much easier to swallow when life was more homogenous. But as I’ve aged some, traveled some, made friends who didn’t look like me, held in my arms and called friends Jews, Muslims, gays, Democrats, my view of God expanded, quadrupled, became bigger than I was able to digest. So I didn’t.
Since I’ve moved to Los Angeles, I’ve never stopped missing Oklahoma and I’ve never stopped missing Jesus. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve confused the two. Is what I miss about church just what I miss about childhood? The innocence? The faith like a child? The community?
A moment ago, I pulled my hands back from the keyboard and stared out the window to a warm California day. Instinctively I prayed about these words. Should I post this? Should I even think this?
I do believe in God. I do believe in God. I do believe in God.
Some part of me does, anyway. I believe something is listening, somewhere. What to do with that, with all the rest of it, I’m still wrestling. I want to seek, but that is tiresome. I want God to come to me, but then again I really, really don't want that at all. My crisis of faith began a long time ago, I've just ignored it. If I could, I promise you that I would just keep on ignoring it.
So I guess God has come to me. If I believe in that sort of thing. Which I don't.
UPDATE: This post garnered such a strong response, I wrote a follow up called Are You There, God? It's Me, Laura.