At the end of 2015, I made a confession about something that had terrified me to both face and admit. I was having a crisis of faith. Everything I thought I had believed about Christianity and church was flipped on its head. Bitterness from hurts I faced was rearing up and overpowering my drive to live a Christian walk. My foundation shook when I realised I could no longer reconcile the Jesus of the Bible with the church I saw in front of me.
Facing something capable of shaking you to the core of your foundation is difficult. The best way to describe the feeling is an uprooting of everything you are and hope to be. Although I did not question my faith in God himself, I began to question the very fibres of the life I grew up in.
This struggle, which has now lasted more than two years, has been my proverbial desert.
Wandering from space to space, book to book, community to community, trying to figure out where my heart and beliefs lie.
One of the biggest things I’ve come to realise during this is how closed much of the church is to this kind of faith deconstruction. Rather than welcoming this period in the desert as a time to find the root of one’s faith and strengthen it, it’s often seen as a tool of the devil to pull you away.
Why question what’s clearly there in the Bible?
For me, it’s not questioning what’s in the Bible but rather how it is applied by modern Christianity.
Because of this, I no longer know where I fit in. For a time, this scared me. Now, however, I am able to recognise I am not alone in this odd sort of crossroads.
This crisis of faith, for me, has been a slow progression, a culmination of experiences and questions bubbling to the surface throughout my life. While at times it can be frustrating, upsetting, and confusing, I don’t consider it a bad thing.
My spiritual life has certainly taken a hit, and my relationship with God is nowhere near where it used to be. These things are not results of my faith crisis, however, but a personal choice. I don’t even know if it’s fair to say my choice is a 100% conscious decision, either, though. I naturally distance myself when I am unsure. It’s a defence mechanism I developed in my youth and have not grown out of.
Despite those things, I feel like my faith has never been stronger. I am fully aware God is impossible for us to fully comprehend. Although much of what I now believe goes against the beliefs of mainstream American Christianity, I have peace about it. I believe, much like they do, that I am correct.
However, I am perfectly content with being able to accept, when my inevitable death occurs, that I am wrong if I am.
The way I see it, these things I believe do not impact living out my life in an attempt to emulate Christ’s. They don’t change who he is, or what he did. What they do is actually allow me to more fully pursue living in his footsteps, trying to be the kind of person he was during his time on earth.
I believe however well-intentioned the modern church is, many Christians are very misled. Until recently, I was angry with them about it. Much of my digging has included asking God to allow me to feel grace towards those I disagree with. While I still can neither understand nor fathom some of the behaviours, words, and beliefs, I no longer feel animosity towards them.
One other conclusion I have drawn is I am not comfortable calling myself a Christian. I battled with this for nearly a year but made the decision I had to accept this in order to move forward. My decision to remove this label is not a slight against Christians. It is not meant as a malicious attempt to paint Christians with a wide brush labelling them wrong or unChristlike.
Rather, I believe it honestly reflects where I am at.
I am a follower of Christ first–one who believes in digging deeper into who he was and what that means for us.
Church still plays an important role in my life. Although I stand on different ends of the spectrum with many of the beliefs of those in my own church, and even the foundation on which the denomination was built, I believe it is a crucial part of growing in faith.
Over the last several months I have struggled greatly with writing this post. With how to convey the message and what it should say. The fear of how some will react has held me back many times. This fear is also what often holds me back from speaking about many of the things on my heart.
But I can’t be honest as a writer and hold these things in any longer. As I said in one of my previous posts, I expect there will be a backlash. I expect somewhere along the line I’ll be called many things, but that is okay.
I’m not asking you to agree with where my faith has taken me. I’m not even asking you to believe what I believe or to question your own beliefs.
For the most part, I am writing it in the hopes that those who are in the same boat as me will know they are not alone. I am also writing it because I believe the best way to grow in faith is to challenge yourself to examine different interpretations and understandings and seek God on them.
Some of you may think this is a bad thing. Others may believe a crisis of faith is the worst thing to happen. For me, I think a crisis of anything is almost always the beginning of something new. Something stronger, something bigger, and something capable of creating a stronger foundation within.