Tap tap tug tug

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It’s happening again. It’s this dance that is both boring and dizzying. And embarrassing, humiliating, humbling. I am feeling this tap tap on my shoulder, this tug tug on my heart.

It’s God. Or perhaps it is just my desire for God.

There are certain things that will trigger it, and oddly enough they are generally to do with the Bible. I have a friend on social media, an old friend of my son’s actually, who posts photos of her husband with a Bible on the table in front of him, a pen in his hand, a notebook to the side. Yesterday I went to breakfast with my family, and there was a young man in the restaurant with the same, Bible open on the table, well used and underlined, a pen and a notebook. I couldn’t help myself. I kept turning to look at him. There is simply a very visceral reaction that occurs when I see these things, a deep, deep longing, a desire.

Sarah Bessey writes:

“I open my Bible, just like my father did every morning of his life. I know that this very morning, he was also in what he still calls ‘the Word.’ And I am my father’s daughter. I am in the Word, just not quite in the same way anymore. I spend these moments reading Isaiah and I pray. I write and I refill my cup, I bow my head over these sacred words that i love all the better for the wrestling to release them from the prison I built for them…. I cling more to the Bible now than I used to; I lean more heavily on the stories and promises, on the visions and the hope. I am challenged and changed in ways I never was when I took every word literally — now that I take them so seriously. Now the Bible places a demand on both my mind and my heart; now I finish with my hands open and prayer in my throat, a fire in my bones and worship rising up, and the ferocious appetite to be transformed, even more, into the likeness of Jesus, into the heart God has for humanity.”

Sarah, Sarah, Sarah what are you saying? How did you do this? How do you divorce the oft times viciousness of the ancient tribal understanding of God from the reality? Where do you draw the line? What is God and what isn’t?

And if it is not all true, why oh why would we spend so much time and energy on it? If there are cracks in the foundation, how can you build on it?

I am still angry. I feel kind of like a wife who is continually lured back into a relationship with a husband who is just slightly abusive. What is it? Why is it? I have been down this path before. I have said, no, no, no, I don’t want to go. Yet I have been slowly drawn back. Each time, though, there has been that little bit of extra distance. I have never forgotten the betrayal, so that when I see the signs again I may choose to not give attention to them, but I can’t just ignore them. They are big, black, glaring spots on my field of vision.

I don’t see the point really. It’s just that this desire keeps stirring in my heart, and desire is beyond reason.

First do no harm

pour water on the fires of our fearsI posted an entry recently on my blog for my missing daughter, http://www.DearMichaela.com, in which I talked about my feelings of my faith in God having been betrayed. When I posted it on facebook I received a reply from someone I care very deeply for, who said she had been having some of the same kind of feelings. I immediately felt a deep sadness, because I was afraid that I might have influenced her in this way.

It is a well known fact that I like to post my thoughts on the internet for everyone to read. I’m not always sure exactly why I need to do this. I think sometimes I am looking for validation, and at other times I am actually looking for answers. I am looking for people to tell me I am right or I am wrong, and why, because anybody who has known me for any length of time can tell you that I go back and forth a lot. I may be very adamantly strong in my faith one day and a rabid unbeliever on another day, with a number of very painful steps in between. When I am strong in my faith, however, I still always have questions that bother me, that have never been adequately answered. And when I am a rabid unbeliever, I still sometimes feel that mysterious tugging at my heart, tapping on my shoulder, that calls me to belief. I can’t tell you how much I hate this back and forth back and forth. Wherever I am, I feel like a fraud. Wherever I stand, the ground always seems ready to open up for a fall. And because I talk about this on the internet, everybody know this, and everybody, I’m sure, thinks I am dumb, unstable (double minded in New Testament parlance), and they don’t want to talk to me anymore.

Oh well.

But what has really bothered me over the years has been the fear of being a negative influence on other people. The first person I felt this with was my son, Robbie, who was a warrior in God’s kingdom, who was on track to become a pastor. We attended the same church, and I was very proud of him. Then I left my faith. And then he left his. And I was broken hearted about it. Over the years I haven’t impacted many people that I know of, for better or worse. I hope that I have not impacted my dear friend in this case.

Why this is, I can’t tell you. It’s one of the eternal mysteries to me, why I want to toss my own faith out the window but feel so devastated when someone else tosses theirs. But I especially don’t want to be the cause. At this point, on this particular day, I genuinely do not believe. But there are people I know who do believe, whose faith is a thing of beauty, something that makes me feel warm and safe and just plain happy.

I will undoubtedly continue to blabber on about whatever is going on in my head, and be forewarned that I may be prepared to argue for it like I know it to be true. I really appreciate it if you take the time to read my words. I appreciate it even more if you write back to me, whether to agree or disagree. I am always looking for thoughtful answers to all these things that bother me. But if you are considering being influenced by what I may have written today, read what I wrote on several yesterdays, and know that I don’t know, and also that I know I don’t know. In fact, not knowing has kind of become my go-to position on God, faith, belief.

So hear me, but don’t feel you should listen to me. Listen to your heart. And then, if you don’t mind, tell me what you heard it say!