I get it. I want it too. To come, to sit, to hear, to belong to a group of faith seeking individuals, to try my best during the week to be good, and for that to be IT. The eternal IT that will get me a passport into heaven and the stamp of approval from the faith associations that blesses the people that fill their pews.
I just started feeling like IT wasn’t actually... IT.
I’m a product of a faith association. I was taught on felt boards in Sunday school, met the right kids in youth group, and perceivably got on the straight and narrow. My greatest testament of God was through the love I experienced in the dysfunctional functioning family I was a part of. I knew early on that the love I was experiencing was a direct result of the faith journey my parents were on. Because of that, I was always very aware of a God who loved me and who called me His child, just as much as my parents loved me and called me theirs.
I felt special because I was blessed with one of the gifts that faith associations love: singing. I was singing on the worship team consistently when I was no older than ten. I got confused. Or maybe deceived? I believed the lie that the best faith seeking individuals are the ones that are on stage with the lights shining on them. I assumed that I was closer to God than the others who didn’t get to be on stage. In that small, deceived child’s heart was a pinpoint of true faith. Just a mere speck of faith, noticeable only through a microscope in that mucus filled heart of mine. But oh how beautiful it was. So small. But glory be to God for that speck.
I’ve done it all. Attended everything. Attended nothing. Half-assed attended. Full born committed and got burnt out. Learned boundaries and had healthy commitments. Tried to follow blindly without questioning. Questioned everything. Been convinced that everything leaders say is truth. Been convinced nothing they say is truth. Been fully aware of God’s presence in those faith associations. Sat questioning if God’s presence was there at all. I’ve pointed fingers. I’ve thought the problem was me. I’ve felt like I totally belong at times and felt like I don’t belong at others. I could keep going, but you get the idea. Probably because you're paddling in this boat with me. Which is okay. And don’t worry, I brought snacks.
My husband had this crazy idea that I should start asking questions. Questions felt like throwing rocks at a faith that I was afraid might break. A faith so shiny and strange that it might not be able to withstand the force and crudeness of the rock in my hand being swung directly at it. Asking questions seemed disrespectful and the opposite of having faith. Faith doesn’t ask questions! What if it falls apart? What if it doesn't last? What if I break something that can’t be repaired? I can’t throw rocks at something that might break!
But I did it anyway. I threw. With all my tears and all my questions and all my doubt. A lot of stuff broke. Okay, it basically all broke. At first, it felt like I was ruining the faith that had stood with me for years. That had loved and nurtured me. That had protected me and allowed me to feel like I belonged somewhere. The process was messy and jagged and it felt like nothing was going to be left. I was miserable and yet I couldn’t stop throwing. I also was pissed. Pissed that what was crashing to the ground was breakable and couldn’t stand up on it’s own. Pissed at God. Because He wasn’t showing up to protect what I considered faith. Was anything true? Was anything real? Was anything pure?
When all the glassy crap fell away, what was left was just a pinpoint of faith not much bigger than when I was a child. Microscope still needed. But no matter how many rocks I flung, that pinpoint of faith held it’s own. So I held it in my hand and I realized it was beautiful. It wasn’t much and it certainly didn’t answer all my questions, but it was beautiful. Even though all the crap is gone and I’m more confused than ever because I still want IT to be IT,… it’s okay.
Because I’m seeing and hearing and feeling God and His Spirit more than ever.
He is real.
He is alive.
He is here.
The rituals I learned and only once did in those faith associations have transferred into my everyday life and somehow become holy. I no longer find obligation and faith in the same equation. My faith looks a lot less like routine and a lot more like a life journey with an ever present God Father.
I am more devoted than ever.