When not believing is a constatation, not a choice (part 2)

Sara3
Asking?frightening?questions within a safe environment

During this time I was very involved in a the?Christian?student organization called Ichtus. This was an incredibly enriching experience for me! I met intelligent people who dared to ask questions. I was allowed to doubt, pull out all the stops and I strayed further and further away from the person who I had been and what I had believed. This would have been much more frightening if I had had to do this on my own. I am so thankful to Ichtus that I was able to do it there. Without being cut of, but still part of the group.

Searching for Eva

In that time, a good friend of mine died in a car accident. She was someone I looked up to very much: passionate about her faith,?enthusiastic?about God, very convinced! When she died, I was crushed and by absorbing myself in God and faith, I tried to come closer to her. I tried to savor who she had been, and thought that since she was with God now, she was still ‘accessible’ in one way or another. Later on I realized this was part of my grief process and I ended up a lot further from God than I had ever been. I did not have one jot of understanding for the loss of this dear friend. I had not received a single answer, not one?feeling?of peace or acceptance, no comfort. It is less painful to believe in chance when it comes to Eva, than to believe in a God who decided this and then didn’t even answer any questions I had or relieve any pain. Still, even this is not the reason that I do not believe anymore.

God, where are you?

As chairman of Ichtus, I set aside all of my doubts for one year. Locked them up, you might say. I had to. I had let myself be persuaded to be chairman by good arguments: a chairman with doubts is enriching, human, God can make straight hits with crooked sticks… But whenever I cast a look on my doubts during that year, they were so gigantic, I looked in such a gaping hole that I had to protect myself. I didn’t know where I would end up if I went any further in them. And I did not consider that to be responsible as chairman. I wrote this prayer during that time:
“God,
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I don’t know anything anymore. I don’t know who the good or the bad are.
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Who are the people who believe in You? What do they do with the world you gave them? What do they do with the people who don’t know You? How do they treat them? How do they treat each other? Do they brainwash their children and each other? Do they live on an island? Do they really know You?
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Who are You? I want to know You very much but I don’t. Do people really have a living relationship with You? I want that relationship very much, but you seem to have been absent my entire life already.
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Do You love me? I want to believe it, so much, but I can’t. I want to be touched by Your sacrifice but I am not. I want to love You but I don’t. I want to understand your saving plan, but I don’t get it at all.?
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It doesn’t mean anything to me. I know everything they’ve told me a hundred times, I know what the bible says…I know all the answers to many of my questions but they don’t mean anything to me. They are hollow words. I don’t understand them, they don’t mean anything.
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I want to search for you but I am so afraid that I won’t find anything.
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God, are You there?”
On the edge of the abyss

When I was no longer chairman I gave myself all the room I needed to doubt, to think, but most importantly to finally make conclusions. In the meantime I had met my now-husband and discovered that there was at least one person who understood me. I had a couple of friends who followed me to my abyss of doubts and shared them, but none of them had the courage to jump and see where they would end up. I didn’t have the courage either, for a very long time.

The fact that I met my husband, that my process was so recognizable for him and that we felt so understood by each other would almost make you believe again. Like it was predestined. Together, we realized we couldn’t just speak of doubts anymore. That if we were really honest with ourselves and the people around us, we did not have one single reason to believe anymore. We didn’t ?believe anymore. That was not a choice, but a statement. Looking back on my life, I could not think of one moment in which I had seen God. I had seen beautiful things, touching things and experienced so much warmth… but it was always people: Christians or non-Christians, it didn’t make a difference. I believe in the beauty of people!

Sara4

Where I am at now

Now, we are 4 years down the road. I have had serious panic attacks: how could I say farewell to this life, this comfortable faith in which someone made you, knows all of your thoughts and loves you. How could I say farewell to this community of believers where I could be myself. This world that was my world, that I knew so well and that was my home.

It’s going better now. What I miss most is the?fellowship, the people. How I?loved?going to big events, meet all those people with which you had so much in common just by the fact that you believed. The?church, the side events, the involvement, the social happening. Now that I am not involved in the Christian world anymore, I have noticed that my life is a lot more limited, socially. I miss it to meet new people every month, to be busy, to plan… Of course it would be perfectly possible for me to engage myself in some social thing in my?neighborhood, but it will never replace that community that I was part of for so long. I miss it and it often pains me.

I don’t miss the believing. It mostly discouraged me and it seldom encouraged me. I still think a lot, sometimes I consider and fret and at times I still doubt: but the position which I do it from is a lot more comfortable. I am not an atheist at all, I could never be that: I don’t know. Of course I would like a definite answer, a finished puzzle, because that would give me peace. But I don’t believe in it anymore. I have finally given up the hope so that I don’t continually have to process those disappointments. That gives me a lot more peace and stability than I ever had in my last years as a ‘believer’.

This post is part of my 31 days series ‘More like My Father’.

The series has stories?in which people of all kinds of backgrounds share how they got to know the Lord, and how He can change our life.?

To go to the series page for links to the other posts, click?here

MoreLikeMyFather

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