I just had my 33rd birthday. I'm taking some time this morning to reflect on this year. Maybe not even reflecting. More like carrying on the process of figuring out who I am now.
When I went back to look at our CaringBridge posts centered around Ezekiel, I realized that the last time I posted any sort of journal outside of Facebook or Instagram was a simple, informational piece about the memorial service on September 1st. That's an important time frame for me because it also represents the last time I felt filled with any sort of confident, victorious faith.
In the days surrounding the memorial service, it was like the faith that had been so constant within me even amidst the chaos was ripped out from under me. Like I fell off a cliff. Walked into a dark room. None of the metaphors really fit. But I found myself visiting questions and doubts in God that I hadn't explored in at least 10 years. Deeper than just anger or frustration at God's emotional distance/absence, I started to wonder "Why do I even believe what I say I believe?"
It was a slow train coming. I was a religion major in college, and I honestly enjoy learning about other religions if nothing else than for learning about other cultures. It's kinda fascinating to me. People all across the world develop their interpretations of life through their religious beliefs as a primary lense - whether I think those beliefs are crazy or not. I had started listening to a lecture series on Audible while driving to Tallahassee a few times each month for work. The lecture series was an "introductory" walk through pretty much all major religions across the globe. Not just the ones you'd think of off the top of your head, but Eastern religions that don't have a foothold in American culture like Confucianism, Shinto, and Sikhism, to name a few. As I listened through the progression across the variety of Eastern religions I wasn't too familiar with, I kept thinking, "This stuff is crazy! Why would anyone ever really believe this aside from growing up in a culture where there was no other option?!"
Don't get me wrong, I appreciated learning about the basics of each religion as I listened. I also knew that it was all just introductory. Not much depth. I wasn't going to make any big judgments on each religion just from the 30 minutes to 2 hours of history & cultural impact discussion on each one. I would hate if someone did that for my own beliefs! But as I rolled through the hours of lectures, I just kept thinking the same thing: "How could anyone rationally believe this stuff?"
And then came the discussion on Judaism. The Hebrew Bible. The Abrahamic faiths. As I listened with an open mind to the summary of the foundation of my own faith - which I honestly, really appreciate... I have spent much more time in recent years reading & studying the Old Testament than the New Testament - I just couldn't help but think to myself again, "Some of this stuff is crazy! Why would anyone ever really believe this aside from growing up in a culture where there was no other option?!" But now that "anyone" was me. And I couldn't shake that question. Do I really believe these stories that are foundational to the faith I claim?
I've always been skeptical. Analytical. A thinker. If you read my earlier post "Before the Sad Height" you can kinda see where that comes from.
But my faith has never been comforted much by my mind. It's been the emotional aspects of faith that have pushed past the doubts, questions, and general skepticism of all I read in the Bible. Because emotional connection is so unnatural to me, having an emotional connection to God was enough to silence the internal skepticism. Now that the presence or feeling of God is absent, the safety buffer against my doubts is gone too.
I'm sure it's natural for someone who experiences a tragedy to be shaken in such a way. I'm not beating myself up for it any more. And I'm not scared to talk about my doubts or lack of faith any more. It is what it is. It probably won't define my entire life, but it's where I am right now, and that's legitimate in and of itself.
So, this blog is mostly just picking up.
Picking back up where I left off.
Picking up the pieces of confusion that have been on the floor of my mind.
Picking up the habit I had in high school & early college of journaling my thoughts out.
Picking up my self.
Whoever that may be now.