You made a reference in one of your recent blogs about having had questions regarding your faith (while others around you didn’t seem to be questioning the same things). Have you resolved those questions, concerns, if so, how?
I think most people have questions – I’d be concerned if people didn’t. Each person is (typically) different in their journey, growth and change from point A to point B, and that’s fascinating to read about… –D.C.
My first and most honest reply is that I think I will always be questioning my faith. I don’t believe that it is something that has to been entirely resolved, and doubt that it can be in this life. There is just so much we don’t know and can not understand.
Theologians have developed ways to help people organize their worldview in terms of level of importance; compartmentalizing items into categories that help determine how much a person needs to believe in one particular aspect of their belief system. Terms like “non-negotiable” and “absolute” are used to highlight what can not be argued or given gray space. The scales move along to include preferences and likes or dislikes that aren’t actually believed to affect the religion as a whole.
When it comes to my personal faith, there is nothing off limits of being questioned and sought out.
I once thought there had to be a list of things I knew to be true, things I would adhere to at all costs. I thought I had to have an answer for anything and everything and that I needed to be able to help people sort through their own lives in order to be good at my life. It was a religion of explanations. I took a lot of responsibility in being that person that could explain and neatly package things – someone that would provide answers to life’s questions.
When I started really digging into major social justice issues, I started facing my own humanity. I really mean that I came face to face with the fact that I am a human being, limited in scope and able to disconnect from my priorities, able to fail, able to mess things up and get things wrong, and that I absolutely didn’t have any answers. Actually, I sometimes couldn’t even offer a helping hand. That was a huge shock to my belief system.
I am sure a lot of people know they are limited before they are 25, which is when I started realizing it, but it hit me like a ton of bricks in the face on a cold day. I get a headache just remembering it. (Even as I write this I giggle a little remembering the 24 year old girl who thought she had figured it all out…)
Once I was shocked awake, several events opened the door and I began to question everything.
This is where it gets lonely because I was actually on the mission field, as a missionary, when it happened. I had experienced so much of the world in a few short years and found myself standing on the beach in South Africa one day saying to myself, “But, how do I know these other things are not real?”
That has been the biggest question of my faith, actually. I am not trying to rid myself of what I have experienced and believe to be true as much as I am trying to sort through some other beliefs and systems of belief that seem that they could be true, at least in part, as well. This is dangerous territory when it comes to telling your Christian church back home that maybe you think aspects of other religions have a good explanation of who God is and what this life is all about and how to live on this planet and with other people.
But this is my stance – I am not interested in living an American Christian Republican Faith. I am pretty convinced that God isn’t interested in that, either. I am interested in a pure and complete set of beliefs and that means going through some times of question, disconnect, seeking, studying and loneliness.
I am currently reading Songs of Kabir. It is a book of poetry written by an Indian mystic and translated into English. Kabir was a Hindu, a man said to have these powerful connections and reflections of God in the 1400s. Just writing down that I am reading a book of poetry written by a Hindu in my own quest for connection with the Divine will probably make some of my more conservative friends sweat. They also probably don’t like that I just capitalized Divine.
I guess, what it comes down to at this point in my life, is that I am so interested in connecting with the God I believe to exist and influence and have dreams for this world that I am not willing to box him into a church or gathering or specific set of principles that would reduce his divinity, or my role in the spinning wheel of life….
So, in answer to your question ( 800 words later ) I have not resolved the questions, but I no longer am concerned that I am asking them…
IX I.104, Kabir
O, how may I ever express that secret word?
O, how can I say He is not like this, and He is like that?
If I say that He is within me, the universe is ashamed:
If I say that He is without me, it is falsehood.
He makes the inner and the outer worlds to be indivisibly one;
The conscious and the unconscious, both are His footstools.
He is neither manifest nor hidden, he is neither revealed nor unrevealed:
There are no words to tell that which He is.