I really didn’t think I would post this piece publicly Doubt is a terrifying thing, and dismantling your faith (and/or worldview) can feel like you’re losing your mind. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that “publicly”. But in working through some of these struggles with friends and loved ones, I’ve become braver in sharing about doubt, faith crisies, and questioning the Evangelical church. It’s still scary. But I believe it’s something we have to talk about if we want to keep loving Jesus and keep showing up for people who are not experiencing the Christian faith the way it was meant to be experienced. The overwhelming support I experienced in writing #churchtoo has shown me that there are plenty of people in and outside the church who can be trusted with this pain, with this mess, with this beauty. I don’t have all the answers yet, but I’m growing more comfortable with at least asking the questions. I hope you can do the same.
In Christ, Brittany.
p.s. I hope to provide an update on the response I’ve received from the church (not previously named) in the #churchtoo post soon. Your love and support has been overwhelming. For those experiencing abuse, spiritual or otherwise, in their lives or still working through the aftermath of the abuse, please know: what you are experiencing is real, your gut isn’t lying, you can trust yourself. “There is nothing that is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known…Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Luke 12: 2,7b
Of all the things I’ve openly talked about on the internet, somehow this is one post that I will write and likely never publish. Talking about doubt, and losing ones faith, is one of the riskier things to talk about when you’ve grown up in a place (spiritually and literally) that to talk about questioning or disagreeing is tantamount to saying THERE IS NO GOD.
Imagine if you were friends with atheists, and you were an atheist, and your whole world view was shaped by atheism. And then one of your friends casually says, I think I’m becoming religious. You’d be shocked, betrayed, maybe even angry. ‘So now you think there’s a creator? You think our lives are being evaluated by some moral code? You think we live for eternity either in paradise or in suffering?’ It wouldn’t be as simple as your friend questioning beliefs you had both held dear for your whole lives; it would feel like your friend attacking everything you base your life on.
That’s what this feels like for me.
Talking about losing your faith, challenging your religion, questioning your spirituality feels like saying, “I don’t think this is working for me; why is it working for you??” And in Evangelical circles, that’s treason.
To be clear; I’m still a Christian. Though I can’t prove that to you in a blog post, or by listing my theology on whatever issue you decide is a make or break issue for your faith. I recently say a podcast episode titled “Why you can’t be prochoice and be a Christian”. I hadn’t realized that Jesus was so clear on this issue in the Sermon on the Mount, his most famous, longest, and most public address; maybe I missed that.
It seems like the more polarized society gets, the more narrow the criteria becomes for labeling oneself as Christian, or not. There are these boxes we must check; if you’re unsure on those boxes or check the wrong one, you might be labeled a heretic.
What I’m losing is the faith of my childhood; the faith of my adolescence; the faith of my twenties. The faith I’m losing is the one taught to me by men who abused me; by pastors who betrayed me; by good Christian men who believe they are inherently more qualified to lead and teach and exist, then me. I don’t want that faith anymore; so where does that leave me?
I don’t know yet. Talking about this isn’t easy; but living through this is much harder. I joked to my husband recently that I can’t afford the amount of therapy I need right now. It’s funny because it’s true.
I feel it’s important to talk about these things because when you go through something hard – when you lose the house, when you lose your child, when you lose your faith because some crisis comes and knocks your knees out from under you (which, by the way, can happen when great and wonderful things come into our lives too) – you might feel like you have no idea how to navigate that crisis of faith. You might feel like you’re doing it wrong because your faith isn’t as black and white as it used to be. You might feel like you have no place in the church or with Jesus because, is it supposed to be this hard?
“There are recovery programs for people grieving the loss of a parent, sibling, or spouse. You can buy books on how to cope with the death of a beloved pet or work through the anguish of a miscarriage. We speak openly with one another about the bereavement that can accompany a layoff, a move, a diagnosis, or a dream deferred. But no one really teaches you how to grieve the loss of your faith, or the loss of your faith as it once was. You’re on your own for that.” – Searching for Sunday
The more I trust the people I love to help me navigate this losing my faith thing (and most importantly, the more I trust myself to sit with the pain of doubt and the uncertainty of dismantling my faith), the more I realize that it’s ok. I’m ok.
We just aren’t taught how to navigate these things, or if we are, the teaching is “Just read your Bible more” or “Don’t listen to outside voices or you’ll cause yourself to doubt.”
Those answers just aren’t working for me anymore.
I guess that means I’m losing my faith.