I’m on Step 5 of the 12 Steps, which says we “admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” This step is about confession, obviously, but its also about the connections we form with people when we are vulnerable. Keeping secrets is isolating, and it heightens our shame and our loneliness. The scariest thing – revealing the worst of ourselves to another person – is our only hope. If we risk trusting a safe person with our secrets and they still love us, well. That is simply the best feeling in the world.
I mentioned in a previous blog post that I’ve been going through a faith crisis. This isn’t new; I’m a doubter by nature, and every couple years I start thinking, “Am I wrong about everything? Is there a purpose to life, is God good or even real, can anything ever change for the better?” This time, my faith crisis began with the election of Donald Trump.
It has been so confusing for me to see Christians support a man who is explicitly racist, sexist, and xenophobic. When people who taught me the Bible as a small child defend his actions and even give Christian defenses of his “safety” measures that seem hateful and fear-mongering to me, I just…I wonder why our beliefs are so different. The God I believe in is more loving and grace-giving and patient than our wildest dreams. If other people believe in a God that calls us to hunker down and keep people out in order to stay safe, who’s to say whose God is the real one?
It hasn’t helped that I am reading through the Bible chronologically, and I’m currently wading through the Exodus/Leviticus laws. It’s a crime to kill a fellow Israelite, but if you beat your slave so badly that he or she dies, you simply have to pay a fine. That is…God’s law? That is not something I can stomach, and it’s been eating me inside out that some of these verses seem to support the hateful, elitist God of Trump’s “Christianity.”
I used to be able to see how the God of the Old Testament and Jesus of the New Testament went together, but right now, in the midst of confusion, anger, and sadness, I can’t see it anymore.
All of this felt immense. I worried that I was losing my faith and that I was hating God (I am, a little). It was suffocating me. But then I studied Step 5, and during lunch last week, I poured everything out in front of Luciana. She tried to encourage me, but I told her, “I’m sorry, but right now nothing you say is going to make me feel better.” She assured me that she shared my belief in a loving God, and I said, “Maybe you’re a heathen like me.” Finally, she suggested we share dessert and said, “It’s good to doubt. It makes our beliefs stronger, even though it’s painful. You’re in a really good place right now.”
I didn’t believe her, but talking to her DID make the weight on my chest ease up. I’d told someone that I kinda sorta hated God, and she had shared dark chocolate mochi with me. So a few days later, during a dinner to get to know my new roommate, I casually mentioned that I was going through a faith crisis. Two days later, we went out for coffee, and she carefully said, “You know how you said you were going through a faith crisis? I am too.” My vulnerability had opened a door that allowed us to complain to and encourage each other. We might have sat in adjacent bedrooms for months, not knowing that the person next door was also feeling confused and betrayed and scared for the very same reason.
Nothing is necessarily figured out for me, faith-wise. I’m still in the middle of a period of doubt, but it no longer scares me. I even believe that God timed things so that I would study Step 5 just when I needed it, that he isn’t annoyed by my “hating” him because he is excited for the moment when I see HIM, the real him, again, and love him even more than before.
Our fears and doubts are scary, but we make them bigger than they need to be when we keep them to ourselves. Finding the courage to share them with others can bring relief to yourself, and sometimes, for other people who need to know that they are not alone in their own fears and doubts.
We’re not meant to live alone. It’s only in a community of honesty and acceptance that we can grow and thrive and change, and I’m so glad that I was able to live that this past week.
Couple of comments…I can understand your apprehension and dismay with the election of Trump, but to me he was the lesser of two evils. What is more interesting is why and how he won. There is pretty good size groundswell of folks who have really missed out on the steady increase in living standards that was occurring before the financial debacle of 2008. The Obama administration was content with a low growth rate but Joe average was not. The emphasis on additional regulations (labor, business, health care, environment, etc) did nothing to improve the growth of the economy. The illegal immigrant issue is way overblown, but the “deplorables”, to use Hillary’s term, were concerned and the administration pretty much ignored those concerns. This general economic malaise and concern, and more, led to an election surprise and Trump is now president. The end result we will have to wait and see.
The contradictions in the Old Testament, and there are a lot of them, certainly can make you question your faith. One thing to remember is that the Old Testament is a narrative history of the Jewish people. Narrative is the key word here. You cannot go back and read/translate the original documents, they do not exist. A lot of this was passed orally from generation to generation. Scholars do not agree on many of the interpretations and translations which adds to the confusion. One of my pet peeves is the traditional church-goer who reads from and quotes the Old Testament to justify a current opinion. There is so much in the OT that you can justify almost anything by selective editing and quoting. I can tolerate quotes from the New Testament, sometimes, but quotes from the OT are too much for me to digest. I heard one person say that God must have gone through a mid-life crisis between the Testaments, He changed so much between the two. Tricia, you are using the intelligence that God gave you and that is good. Don’t stop. God can handle it just fine.
Love this! Thanks for sharing. 🙂