Fallen off the edge (or more words to eat)

I have been quiet for awhile, because I have been thinking, feeling my way along this tunnel of doubt. Normally I have this urge to document the steps on my journey, but not this time. It seemed as though there was too much at stake, and I have done this too many times in my life already. It’s a journey I take over and over again, retracing my steps.

The difference is that this time, I was a really reluctant traveler.

For some reason, I actually want to be a Christian. I want to be a part of the church, the body of believers. I am so inspired by those who do believe, people I admire who take this faith into themselves and breathe it out like it is the only air in the room, whose hearts are committed. I look at them and say, hey, if they can, I can. They are intelligent, caring people, and they can believe, so there must be something there. There is just some key somewhere that I need to find.

I have been looking for it. I have been searching in the Bible, I have been listening, exposing myself to teachings that might contain that key. But it hasn’t been there.

What really trips me up in the Christian faith is the very thing that is supposed to bolster it, and that is the Bible. I actually read this book. All of it. Not just the gospels, psalms and proverbs. I am bothered very much by the sense of exclusivity. Why would a God who had created the universe choose just one single solitary nation out of all creation to be his, and to hell with the rest? This whole idea is anathema to me. And jealousy? Isn’t that a character flaw, something that makes people behave in unreasonable and unloving ways? Yet I am supposed to accept that it is one of the primary characteristics of God? That because of his jealousy, he directed “his people” to kill every man, woman and child who lived in a land he was giving to them, just so that “his people” would not be tempted by the religious ideas of those men, women and children?  Then because of this jealousy, sent against his own people sieges which caused them to cannibalize their own children, sent them into exile and slavery, and then said, “oh never mind, I really love you, so I will bring you back?” What did that do for those who died horrible deaths in this storm of anger and jealousy?

I think that what bothers me here is that the individual lives just didn’t matter. It was “the nation,” and to hell with the individuals, those who lived, loved, feared, perished. And how about God’s Law? The proper response to a rebellious teen is to stone him?

Death removes the possibility of redemption. It is a theft of possibility. All this stoning for all these various “sins” … this law administered by men, who without a doubt used it to kill people who had done nothing at all wrong.

I read these things and I think, this cannot be God. God should inspire me to be a better, more loving, more forgiving, more merciful person. This God I see in the pages of the Bible would encourage me to be destructive and vindictive.

Surely God must be more loving and more merciful than I am.

Yes, Jesus is a nicer guy than this Old Testament God. But still, he says that the road to salvation is narrow and few find it, while the road to destruction is broad. Even Jesus and his followers taught that only a few, only those who subscribe to that story, will be saved. And honestly, if it actually takes the blood of Jesus to atone for the sins of humans, in order to make them clean enough to enter God’s presence, why did God take so long? How about his chosen people, spending all those years slaughtering sacrificial animals, stoning their children, suffering siege, famine and exile because their sins could not be covered by the blood of the animals? God, all knowing, omniscient? He could not have known this, could not have hurried along this redemptive plan paid for in Jesus’ blood?

That is what Christianity is all about, you know. If it was just Jesus, the prophet, the Son of God, teaching us to be loving and kind and to do good and help each other, I could get behind that 100 percent. But that’s not it. The central message is that we have to accept Jesus’ death as payment for our sins so that we can be saved from the torment God is going to send on the rest of humanity for being sinful. All of Jesus’ teaching about being loving and kind and doing good and helping people was really for the purpose of showing us how miserably we fail, of showing us that we are sinners in need of redemption, because we do not, any of us, feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, visit those who are sick and in prison. Oh, maybe sometimes we do, but every single one of us turns our back most of the time. And that is the purpose of Jesus’ lesson here, to point out that we cannot be good enough for God. He told us that if we are angry, we are murderers, that if we look on another with lust in our hearts, we are already adulterers. Even if we control our negative impulses, we still have the impulses, and therefore we can never be good enough for God, and therefore we need to accept the blood of Jesus to make up for our falling short, of never being able to be good enough.

And if you don’t accept that blood payment, then you are on the broad road to destruction. You lived before Jesus? Too bad. You live in another culture where they don’t tell you about Jesus? Too bad. You just don’t give intellectual assent to the whole story, even though you do feed the hungry, visit the sick, love your sweet little heart out and shed oceans of tears for the suffering in this world? Well too bloody damn bad. Off you go into “eternal punishment.” (Matthew 25:46 for those who don’t believe the Bible says this stuff.)

Again I say, surely God must be more loving and merciful than I am.

I actually had to open my Bible to get that reference right. Opening it, its pages before me, honestly continues to just fill me with desire. I want to read it, to love it, to follow it. But I can’t. I just can’t do that any longer. It has betrayed me. If you can show me a better way, can help me understand what I don’t understand, please, you are more than welcome to do that. But I have struggled and struggled with these things, and this is where that struggle has left me.

I’m on the shore now. I do not, cannot believe. I recently asked for prayer for a loved one, and it kind of gave me prickles.  I prayed myself, and it made me afraid. This is a new thing. I have doubted, walked away before. I have been hateful and resentful even, but never before have I been afraid. Now that God chose to do awful, horrific things God to “his people” has made its home in my heart now. That God is a God to be feared.

I don’t believe this.

But the fact remains that when I pray, I don’t feel my prayers bouncing back to me from the ceiling, or disappearing into a never ending uncaring vacuum. God is real to me, will remain real to me. In the past I have referred to this god as “the universe,” and that is not inaccurate, but I can call this “God,” and I can even refer to this as “him.” They are words, conveniences. In this leg of my journey, I am setting out to discover who this God is.

This is my prayer, to know God. I think it may actually be beyond what is possible in this lifetime, but that is my prayer, my journey. There are some things that have helped me along the way, some things I have observed to be true, some I do feel innately to be true, apart from what I have been taught. I will share some of those things at a later time.

One of the difficult things for me about writing this is that I know there are a lot of people who will be disappointed, not only in me for not believing, but in me for not holding a standard up for Christianity. If my old friend Anonymous has followed me from my older blogs to here, I expect to hear some scathing judgment. It’s bad enough to not believe, but here I am potentially doing damage to others who might believe.

I’m sorry. I will try not to delineate the reasons I do not believe again. I will go on from here to what I do believe, to what I do discover along the way. I’ve honestly been living on the edge for a long time. I have been trying to fit in where I do not belong, and that is just too hard to do. But everybody has their path to follow, and their reasons for following it, and I respect that.

Let’s just try to build love along whatever path we are following. I will fail at this, and you will fail, but let’s try anyway, and let’s agree to forgive each other when we don’t make it.

This is something that is so central to who I am, this limbo has left me tongue tied. Hopefully now I will be able to get back to blogging.

6 thoughts on “Fallen off the edge (or more words to eat)

  1. Sharon – your “faith” story is very similar to mine – I spent years trying to fit the mold of what the Bible and Church told me I should think, believe, behave. I tried so hard to feel it – believe it – but no matter how hard I tried I just never quite got there- so then came the horrible guilt as I tried to pretend but that just sent me in to a further tailspin. It wasn’t until I had my own personal crisis where I had a choice to leave this world or grab that bottom rung and climb – that I finally found my own voice and belief – that I am the source and it’s the choices I make in life that affect me and those I love. It’s called accountability – not Christianity. We each hold the power to make this a better world – not some deity that was created eons ago to help man find his way in an uncertain world. That deity has undergone many transitions, translations, all depending on who’s interpreting in any given moment and circumstance. Anyway – many hugs to you – and I hope you are able to find a sense of peace finally – there is no “explanation” for what has happened in your life. Shit happens. It’s up to us as individuals to find our way thru it stonger and healthier for it – hopefully being an inspiration to others as we go. I know you are to me. We lived just a few doors down from you when Michaela was kidnapped – forever changing all of our lives.

    Like

  2. Sharon,
    I do not pretend to have any of the answers. I do not want those answers! I was raised to believe that to be a true Christian is to stand on the edge of the cliff, close your eyes and jump. To blindly trust that he is going to catch you and help you fly. It is his fallen Angel, Satan, that creates the ugliness that is in this world, that creates the sadness and awful things that happen to each of us every day, that makes people doubt and question everything, Not God. The Bible isn’t meant to be a cheat sheet full of the answers so you can b sure. It a history book that gives you some of the facts and leaves it up to you to have faith and believe without questioning God. The Bible was not given to you so you could demand the answers to be made known to you now. That idea defies the whole idea of faith. I believe it is very simple. A relationship with God, the son, and holy spirit. You believe God exists, then to ask his son to be a part of your daily life and put him before anyone and everything whole acknowledging the sacrifice he made for you, and then letting his Spirit and Love flow from you so others will want to believe, It isn’t about asking WHY, or HOW. The answers to all your questions and doubts is not a gift promised to you on this earth, in fact by demanding them to be answered by the Bible you are losing sight of the very easy simple and ONLY task that God has asked of you. To have Faith, to believe, It is not our place to question, The answers come in the next life. Not here. You will never find those answers here. Nobody will.

    Standing on the edge of that cliff, when I decided to trust him and jump, I knew that wouldn’t stop the world around me from being filled with awful experiences and ugliness, but I also knew I would never be alone in those trials and that in the end, I would have glorious rewards for handing him my trust in him.

    When I closed my eyes and jumped, he caught me and filled me with a peace that can not be compared to anything earthly. I have to seek his face with my heart every single day to remind myself when that faith wanes, or waverers. That happens over and over and over. That is what being human is. Faith is to not let go of his hand or lose sight of his face. It is not my place to question him how or why….just to have faith. That faith has made all the difficulties survivable!

    Sharon, I Love You, God Loves You! The struggle is very real, all you have to do is let go of the questions and trust….

    Like

    • Well, that is a unique take on things, and I’m not sure I agree that it is wrong to ask God questions. However, I did not go to the Bible demanding answers. I just read it. And this is what was there.

      Like

      • Sharon,
        I certainly don’t want to argue with you. I was simply just sharing my own beliefs and telling you what gives me peace. I fully believe that when doubts arise in MY mind and heart they are caused by Satan trying to separate me from God. It is during those doubts that I know the answers are not needed, just my faith and clinging tighter to Jesus. It is what works for me. Resisting the worldly need for having any kind of ‘proof’ is what I believe faith is. I was telling you what I think Jesus wants you to hear. Nothing more nothing less. You can discard it or embrace it. But that is up to you. It isn’t for me to choose or anyone else, just you. It isn’t my job to convince you or to push you, it is just my duty to plant the seed. The rest is between you and God.

        Like

  3. Hi. I call myself a Christian but I guess for me that just means I believe in a higher power. Remember the bible was written by man and passed down verbally for a very long time. Man was trying to make sense of the world. Seek a God or a power that brings you comfort, love and peace. I feel at home in a Christian church where people seem focused on making the world better. I feel at home thinking thoughts of other religions as well. And as I get older, I feel more drawn to how much sense reincarnation makes. Care for yourself, love others, strive to make the world better and seek peace. It doesn’t matter what it is called, your soul will find what brings it comfort, love and light. Give yourself permission to have that be whatever it looks like for you. Mediation can be of comfort.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s