Overcoming Doubt with Vulnerability

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.

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Perfect Love Casts Out Fear

Yesterday I wrote about fear’s power in destroying love.  Thankfully, we can choose which of these worldviews we feed.  And just as focusing on fear can make love shrink, so to can focusing on love banish fear.

Again, this is easiest to see in the world of human interactions.  Growing up in the Midwest, surrounded by white middle class girls and boys, I had a fear of the other that zeroed in on Muslim people after 9/11.  I didn’t hate them, necessarily, but I figured that if I ever met one, I wouldn’t want to be friends with him or her.  I was afraid of the actions of a few, and it kept me from loving a massive population of diverse people.

Luckily, in college I went to Turkey and met Muslim men and women.  I was overwhelmed to realize that they were normal human beings with fears and passions and hobbies. Continue reading

Perfect Fear Casts Out Love

Yes, you read that correctly.  The actual Bible verse is “perfect love casts out fear,” but I’m reading Jonathan Martin’s book Prototype, and I fully agree with him that the reverse is also true.

Perfect fear casts out love.   Continue reading

Unblocking My Creativity

I’ve been hearing a lot of podcast people talking about “being yourself” and how if you want to be creative, don’t worry about doing something New and Exciting.  Just be whoever you are, and people will see that and relate and love it (or not).

WHICH IS VERY DIFFICULT FOR ME.  Whenever I write a blog post, I think:

  1. Will people think this is funny?
  2. Will people think this is deep?
  3. Will people think I’m a selfish asshole?
  4. Will people judge me for using the word asshole?
  5. Will people think my graphic design attempts are childish?
  6. Will people unsubscribe?
  7. Will someone comment?
  8. Will someone stop supporting my work in Greece financially because I say something they find unChristian or wrong?

And let me tell you, those thoughts running through my head are a TERROR.   Continue reading