Choose Joy – Some Thoughts About Faith

Whatever God there is, it's big enough to handle it. | SundriedTomatoe.Wordpress.com

The faith-based infertility and adoption conference I attended this past weekend was such a positive experience. I’ve already posted about how wonderful it was to feel a sense of community and have an ability to share more openly about infertility and our first steps into adoption.

I honestly expected to struggle more with the whole faith-based thing during the event. Instead, I had a peaceful weekend. There was lots of food for thought, but nothing particularly challenging or agonizing.

I want to explain why.

Six years ago, two years into infertility, I hit a wall with the whole notion of God and my faith of 20+ years. I could not reconcile the things that were happening to us with the God I was so familiar with. I was also beginning to recognize that I was in the throes of a significant grieving process. The loss of my faith wasn’t something that I had the ability to grapple with right then. So I “put a pin in it” with the understanding that I’d come back to it later.

Some people hit rock bottom and their faith in God is deepened. I hit rock bottom and God was not there. I couldn’t deal with both rock bottom and the absence of God. So I triaged. I told myself, “Deal with rock bottom first, the God thing will still be there when you are ready.”

And it was.

Strong at the broken places... | SundriedTomatoe.Wordpress.com

Two to three years ago I started to unpack “the God thing.” I gave it a lot of thought, I read, I studied, I analyzed. I was open (kind of hopeful, actually) to a different, better understanding of the Christian God I had grown up with. I was actively searching for a place to plant my feet, the “solid foundation” I spent most of my life hearing about.

What I eventually came to was that the things I “knew” about God, and had learned about God, and continued to hear about God – these things are incompatible with what we have been through.

It’s a 1+3=2 situation.

There are so many ways to talk about unexplained loss. But no matter how Christians conceptualize it, it’s still a 1+3=2 equation. I’ve heard it said that this is the foundation of belief – trusting that one plus three really does equal two because God – and I can allow for that. I think that a God of Everything can probably handle that kind of math. But whether God can handle it is not enough for me to accept the dogma of Christianity and live my life according to a Christian framework.

What I’ve been through and what I knew about the Christian God – those things don’t jive. They just don’t. I grappled with the whole framework: the dogma, the tenets, the teachings, the practice of Christianity. What I hit on, about a year ago, is that I have serious questions about the basics. I simply cannot get over the 1+3=2 problem. And the answers of the Christian Church are not sufficient for me.

I realized that if God exists I’ve had it wrong for a long time.

Initially, I really didn’t like this. For several years I sort of hoped for some divine revelation that would make the 1+3=2 thing work. I like having something to believe in. I like the idea of a Plan, of something controlling or orchestrating the events of my life. I took comfort in the notion that our pain was not a wasted thing – that it meant something. But no matter how I looked at it, thought about it, prayed about it… the equation just did not work.

If I can't change a situation, I am challenged to change myself. | SundriedTomatoe.Wordpress.com

At this point I am a lot less sure about anything than I ever was. I believe that any God that might exist is way bigger and more complex than how we conceptualize It. What I believe these days is pretty much a rejection of Christian dogma as a whole. I believe in the possibility of God… and that’s about it.

What’s interesting is that, for the very first time in my life, I have peace about my “walk” with God. I don’t feel like I’m missing something. I don’t feel like I should be doing something I’m not. I don’t agonize over it, I don’t feel gypped or wronged, I don’t feel like an idiot, and I don’t feel guilty. I just have peace. It seems ironic – Peace is something Christians talk about a lot in relation to God.

Back to the reason all of this was not much of a struggle this past weekend – I had fixed on some things after much work. And I had fixed on them well before my trip to the faith-based conference. I didn’t have a hard time because I believe that each person’s understanding of God is fundamentally limited. They were speaking what they know, just like I speak what I know.

This is not Facts; this is Belief. I can extend graciousness and possibility to anyone in terms of their Beliefs.

Here’s what I believe:

I doubt God exists. If God does exist, God is very different from the way Christians talk about God.

God will not punish me for thinking this way.

I’m the master of my fate – God is not a conductor orchestrating my every moment toward some grand, yet unknown crescendo.

Infertility is a biological event, not a consequence of Original Sin or a side effect of Free Will.

Adoption is not a calling, a ministry, or a way to “do your duty” or “glorify” God.

Suffering is not divine.

I believe that if any God exists, it’s a big God, a huge God, a God way past my ability to understand, comprehend, correct, or even argue with. I don’t have to get it right, because the kind of God I believe in is fully aware of how tiny and limited I am in relation to It and just how ridiculously difficult something like 1+3=2 is for something like me.

And what if I’m wrong?

God can handle it.

I hit rock bottom and God was not there. | SundriedTomatoe.Wordpress.com

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5 thoughts on “Choose Joy – Some Thoughts About Faith”

  1. I also came to the realization that God will not punish me. and that “God can handle it.”
    Those who do not know this, have not experienced this particular kind of agony.

  2. I know how you feel. I “found” God in high school, and was part of a youth ministry. I was even contemplating going to college to become a youth minister. Then one day I confessed some typical teenage rebellion, and they sent me to a therapist who tried to “exorcise demons out of me”. For smoking, drinking, and basically being imperfect. I now believe in… something. But it is not the Christian God. It is a being greater than that. I believe that “God” presents himself in different ways, but that in the end the being we call God is the same as Allah, Buddah… and every other deity worshiped in every other religion. This being does not have time to worry himself over the details of our lives. He just wants us to live, be happy in this life, and do as little harm as we can to ourselves, others, and the world around us. And if there’s an afterlife… I certainly don’t want to spend it in the clouds signing praise songs for eternity.

  3. Wow, I have a lot of similar thoughts to yours ” doubt God exists. If God does exist, God is very different from the way Christians talk about God. God will not punish me for thinking this way. I’m the master of my fate – God is not a conductor orchestrating my every moment toward some grand, yet unknown crescendo. Infertility is a biological event, not a consequence of Original Sin or a side effect of Free Will. Adoption is not a calling, a ministry, or a way to “do your duty” or “glorify” God. Suffering is not divine.” Your words, these words spoke very strongly to me today.
    I was raised in a Christian family, but in the years after my mom and sister died for a large number of reasons I made a conscious decision that I was unable to believe in the way that others in my family did/do. I made the decision that while I respect those who are religious, it’s not something that will play a large role in my life and that doesn’t make me a bad person. In fact, it’s okay that I feel this way. I have no idea what the future will bring and how I might feel in 10 or 20 or 50 years. But I do know that for my entire adult life thus far, I have been at peace with this decision.

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