Last week I got an e-mail from a dear friend who just started graduate seminary studies. At one point she said, “I’ve learned that many…students stop going to church as they go through the program, because they get so conflicted about their views of God, and how God fits in to the distress and pain of the clients that they interact with.” She then expressed her determination that that should never happen to her and what she would do to prevent such a fate from befalling her.
I’m not sure why this hit such a strong nerve with me. I think it’s the pirate voice projecting itself onto my dear friend (DAMN you, pirate voice!!) and calling me a degenerate heathen for having wandered from the fold. Or else it’s shame’s twin monster, pride, telling me I’m so much more enlightened than those who stay in their holy huddles, when I am the worst offender! In any case, I wrote a response that echoes a prevalent theme in my life lately.
Having gone through many seasons of doubt and depression, I have to say from where I stand now that I don’t regret them. Maybe people on the outside thought, “Oh, she’s lost her way,” but I think that learning to trust my instincts and find my own way back has been one of the most important things I’ve ever done. And the best thing my friends could do was wait for me on the other side. I’m not saying everyone goes through something like this. But don’t be afraid–for yourself or your friends–if it ever happens. God is god enough to call anyone back, or he wouldn’t be God. I recently read something by Francis Chan that said something about how most Christians structure their lives in a way that renders [true] trust unnecessary, because they always stay safe. Call me a heretic, but maybe church can be like that too sometimes. I had to face the question, “What does my life/faith look like without my parents or pastor or church or friends?” And, more important than finding a precise answer, I had to realize that the question wasn’t the end of the world.
I’m starting to think I may need to let God mess up my life a bit. Oh boy.