I am going through an existential crisis. Strait up in the thick of it.
I have been doubting my church and my religion for a long time now. I finally let myself think deeply and ask the difficult questions last fall. Why did God allow horrible things to happen to me when I was an innocent child? Why did he create men with the ability to do such horrible things to each other? If God is perfect and purely good where does evil come from? Who created evil? Is there even a God? Is everything that my church preaches really justified by the scriptures? There are many others, but the one that has proved to be the most difficult for me is: Is the Bible actually the Word of God?
I have journaled, prayed, cried, studied, researched, and talked to people for countless hours about these questions. The sad truth is that I haven’t come to many conclusions. One thing I do believe wholeheartedly is that there is a God, a divine being who created this world. I believe intelligent design is evident in everything around us. What is becoming more and more difficult for me to swallow is that the Bible is His inspired and perfect word. I have studied apologetics extensively and still I cannot be fully convinced. There is a leap of faith required that I have not been able to make. I have made it in the past out of pure will and desire. I wanted so badly to have an unwavering faith in the Bible and trust in God, but I’ve all but given that up now.
Without the Bible I fear I am left with nothing. Who can I trust? What can I trust? Are we all just running around blind down here like ants, following the stream of society without being able to see above the grass? Walking, walking, walking, searching, searching, searching forever because we’ll never actually be able to see the big picture.
I am a deep thinker. I’ve always thought this was a great quality, but sometimes I wish I could just go around like my parents – not knowing, not caring, not asking. But I can’t help it. My mind will not rest. I remember having this clear feeling as a child that I was suppose to work for God. I didn’t grow up in a religious household, in fact some of my parents (I’ve had a lot of them over the years) have been strait up against religion of all sorts, especially Christianity. I remember a few times though, when we did haul ourselves to church, sitting in the pew and feeling an undeniable and at times almost unbearable desire to work for God. Five years ago I really studied the Bible for the first time. I didn’t just read a few passages, I studied it and decided to become a baptized disciple. I was so relieved to have finally found the one true way. Relieved to find my purpose in life. Being a true Bible based disciple was one of the hardest things I had ever done, but I always told myself it was worth it because I was living in the Light and basing my life on the Truth. Christianity, the way it is outlined in the Bible, is not for the weak!
But the doubts and questions kept creeping back in. Upward eyes turned down, hope was lost, clouds covered me as I cried. I would talk about it, pray, read, journal and time and time again decided to deny my doubts and believe. I wanted so desperately to believe! But now, five years later, I am so tired and so incredibly sad.
When I thought about leaving the church I first felt fear. So much fear. I do not go to a see-you-once-a-week-on-Sunday-and-then-go-about-your-business type of church. We meet almost daily. Most of my friends and many of my best friends are church members. I live with church members. Not long ago I was leading a huge ministry, mentoring many young women. I have studied the bible with and literally baptized many women. Many people in the church look up to me. I am suppose to go on a mission team half way around the world next year. Wonderful people have spent hours and hours training me, mentoring me, loving me. And I don’t know what horrible things they will think of me when I leave. I know how disappointed and sad they will be. What they might say – some of it true, some of it not. I will have zero control over what they think of me. And what about my friends and family outside of the church who have openly criticized me in the past. I can’t stand the thought of telling them. I never knew how much I cared about what people think of me before this crisis. The thing that hurts most deeply in my heart is that I will loose friendships that I hold very dear. I am tempted to say that the last five years of my life will have been for nothing, but that’s not true. I have learned a lot. Certain aspects of my life have been on pause though, and I do feel a bit behind.
All that being said, here is the thing: I can’t live like this anymore. When I finally allowed myself to seriously think about leaving I felt calm in my soul, peace in my heart and hope for the first time in so long. Hope! My soul feels free again.
I have been very open about my struggles with a lot of people in the church, but I have not told them strait up that I have decided to leave. I was just able to admit that to myself a few days ago. When I do tell someone in the church the dam will break, and I don’t know how or where I will be able to gain my footing in the aftermath of the flood.