Something happened to me in Mexico recently. Don’t worry, this is good news.
In early December we took a trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. We hadn’t taken a real vacation for about two years. It was so-oo-oo-oo nice! It refreshed all of us!
And at some point, something happened!
I changed. I became happy again.
The last four years have been a time of major transition in many ways. One of the transitions has been the re-evaluation of my faith and religion and the loss of much of that faith and religion. So it has been a time of deep reflection accompanied by a gamut of emotions. But somehow, in December, I think that I moved on. I accepted myself for who I am at this time in my life.
I also became comfortable in my skin – AGAIN! I feel I’ve lived about seven different lives or phases and each comes with its own adjustment period. I think I have grieved over the faith and religion that I once had and I feel ready to move on with much less regret.
I hope that all my friends, family and loved ones will love me no matter what my philosophies and religious views are on any given day but I am willing to risk that. I can’t pretend to be someone or something I’m not. I have little use for friends who are more like fickle theatre critics – friends who will only like me if I can skillfully fulfill some kind of expected role or performance. I’ve never been very good at playing any subdued scripted role. I can’t memorize a script to save my life and nor do I want to. I’d be much more at home on the stage of an Improvisational Comedy show – or even better off in the circus! It’s much more of who I am. One of my talents or gifts in life is to bring joy to others by loving and accepting them, and by making them laugh! And I can only do that if I can be myself!
For now, I’m sort of an agnostic. Maybe I’m an agnostic Christian at heart. Or an ignostic christian. In the words of the old gospel tune, “Jesus is still alright with me! I know he’s all right.” I don’t have a problem with Jesus, per se. I do see a loving Jesus (for the most part) in the gospels. However, there is so much else I find objectionable about the bible, christianity and the churches that to call myself a Christian would represent myself as part of those things.
I could call myself a follower of Jesus. I am fine with that. But what does that mean? If I assume Jesus was a real person and he is accurately depicted in the gospels, I think he sets a wonderful example for us. But was he born of a virgin? Was he adopted by God? Was he a product of the Holy Spirit impregnating a girl from Palestine? Did he do miracles? Did he rise again in bodily form? Did he appear to many and then ascend into heaven? (Where did he ascend TO? The moon? Another galaxy?) Was Jesus half God and half man? Did Jesus exist before our material world and help God create the world in six days? Although these things are all POSSIBLE, they are not PROBABLE. Maybe in later posts I can discuss the many problems and inaccuracies of some of the bible’s claims and the doctrines of orthodox Christianity and why my rational mind cannot swallow them whole.
I just can’t assent to believing all those things. And I can’t struggle to try anymore. I can believe in some magical things about Jesus and God. I still have a little faith left. And that is where I am on this journey of faith and doubt. And I am at peace with that.
This may sound funny to those who know me because those that do might say, “Hello? Didn’t you leave christianity and church a long time ago?” Well, sort of.
It’s been over two years since I resigned from my former church and took a leave of absence. I had served as the youth pastor, was a part of the worship band and have played in many other roles there. My husband was on the church board. It’s been more than one year since I stopped visiting churches trying to find a new one. My recollection may be poor – it may be much longer since I left my church and stopped looking for a new one.
But I didn’t feel settled or at peace until now.
For a long time I haven’t been sure whether God is real and whether Christianity is what it claims to be. That is one aspect of questioning and doubting one’s faith. Another aspect is the need to resolve the emotions, sorrow and fear that accompany that loss of faith and to find an alternative outlook which enables one to continue their journey. I think I have wrestled with the deep questions of life and faith and have a working philosophy that enables me to be at peace, for now, and to keep walking this road of life.
I just don’t know whether there is a god. I don’t know if the Christian God is real and if Jesus was a real person as depicted in the gospels. I do know that the bible as an accurate, consistent, cohesive, continuous depiction of a NEVER-CHANGING god is a farce, at least to me and many others.
Many years ago, I committed my life to the Jesus of the gospel stories, as I perceived him to be. Perhaps I focused on the good parts only – maybe MY picture of a loving Jesus in the gospels is irreconcilable with the text (assuming there is anything trustworthy about the gospels we’ve received). However, if Jesus and God are real and have ever spoken to me in a voice of love and kindness, then I think I’m still following that voice. THAT voice tells me to accept and love others. Add that to accepting and loving myself and that is about all I can do right now. . . If Jesus and G-d are real, then I hope they are happy too. It’s the best I can do with the information I can access and understand combined with the spirit of hope and goodness which I hope is G-d.