Part of me yearns to return to the days when my Christian faith was easy. When it was so neatly partitioned into little categories that were so neatly placed inside a package and that package was wrapped up tightly and prettily, never to be opened. Part of me yearns for the ease and confidence with which I could answer every hard question about God and life and suffering and existence. Christianity felt so much simpler back then, so much easier to nail down and understand. I yearn for that simplicity, that time when everything made sense and God felt a little more comprehensible.
And I mourn all those things too. I think more than anything, I mourn the ease with which I used to fit into my community of Christians, the ease with which I understood them and they understood me. Because I don’t anymore. Church isn’t a comfort to me anymore. I listen to the sermons, and where before I would have been nodding my head in agreement and scrambling to write down the pastor’s “words of wisdom”, now, instead, I sit through the sermon and analyze it to pieces. I see red flags once every like five sentences. I write challenging questions in my notebook instead of words of support for my pastor’s ideas. And after the sermon, I look back and find that I disagree with more than I agree with.
So I mourn that sense of community, that sense of corporate belief. Instead I feel compelled to keep my mouth shut while I’m in church, because voicing my new differences of opinion would be met with nothing but discordance, or concern, or trite, easy answers that don’t make sense anymore – and I’ve found that out the hard way. Church used to be a place where I felt comfortable and safe and understood. Now it is a place where I feel frustration, and loneliness, and a sense that I don’t belong anymore.
So there’s a lot that I’ve lost as I’ve taken this huge step back from the doctrines I’ve grown up with. Ideas that were once crystal clear, black and white, are now hopeless shades of gray. I feel trepidation instead of comfort now every time I walk into a sanctuary.
But. Oh, thank God for the “but”. But I have gained so, so very much more than I have lost. I have realized and rejected an ingrained sense of homophobia that I didn’t realize I had. My eyes have become opened to the true meaning of Christianity in a way I had never fully grasped before because my vision was so clouded by doctrine. God. Oh, God! God is so much bigger to me now…so much more glorious and incomprehensible and loving and just. And I have a much more open heart, a heart that is willing to listen to people and hear their take on things. A heart that has as big a place in driving my exploration of doctrine as my mind does.
I miss fundamentalism sometimes. I mourn its loss. But I’m also so glad, gladder than I can begin to express, that God has freed me from it. Because I’m pretty sure that He is just as present in this new doubt-filled, questioning faith that I have as He was in that old, stale, doctrine-driven faith that I have left far behind.