Recovering (From) Faith: Not Missing God

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I thought it would be a lot harder, a lot more traumatic. I thought it would be like falling off of a cliff forever but it wasn’t. The truth is that I was never a very good Christian. The truth is that the things that I miss are way more about my place in a world that I knew than they are about God. I don’t know really what that means. In some ways, if I’m honest, it makes me feel bad. Which is strange, it shouldn’t matter. What difference does it make now if I was a bad Christian then? Obviously it all ended up as nothing in the end. I guess I feel like it was more of a waste. I want to say that I dedicated my life to this and that it was all a waste of time but the truth is that I didn’t. Honestly I just coasted in the reality I was in.

I can’t escape it even now. I know that I may believe in evolution but when I think about the beginning of the world, on a core level I think of Adam and Eve. I know that I think Noah and the flood as a literal story are kind-of nonsense but I believe it. Some strange, tiny part of me believes it. Maybe always will. I don’t fight that. I don’t see a reason to. We are who we are. The stories that shaped us stay with us, they’re the dna that formed our world. I don’t always need my stories to make rational sense, they just need to resonate on some other level. I don’t even mind that those stories directly conflict with the things that matter most to me. I have other stories, new stories, and I think someday those will probably burrow deeper. It takes time.

But the point is that I thought all of this would hurt more. I don’t talk to God anymore. I did for the first couple of months, occasionally. Not even like asking him to say something, not begging him to ask me to stay, just… out of habit. I don’t know if God is there. I think if there is a God there, it’s not the one I was raised with. I’m not afraid of him or her anymore. I think they’d understand. But you know. It was supposed to matter. Do you know how many hours of my life I spent on this? Because I don’t. I’m embarrassed to admit that maybe it wasn’t even passion, maybe it wasn’t even need. Maybe it was just habit. Maybe it was just the sheer force of programming. When I said I didn’t believe in God anymore, that I didn’t believe in these things it seemed like the bottom fell out of my world but it was just a framework. It wasn’t really God. I had to struggle to regain my equilibrium not because I was missing anyone in particular but because I had identified as something for so long and now I didn’t. I still struggle with that sometimes but it doesn’t hurt.

I read blogs about people leaving faith. I read a lot of turmoil and I’m fascinated by it. I’m empathetic. I also feel like I’m doing it wrong. Or, more likely, that I was doing it wrong. They miss their faith because their faith mattered more to them to begin with. They left something that was more real to them, they felt like they left someone. It was a death, it was a loss. I have lost a lot of things in the last year or two. I’ve lost some friends, I lost my parents, I lost whatever community I was part of. But I don’t feel like I lost God.

People told me it would be different. I mean, partly I assumed that it had to be a disaster because how can giving up something that central not be a disaster but also people told me that it would be. I was told that they hoped I found my way back to God before I hit bottom and was alone, I was told that they just didn’t want me to get hurt, that this would end badly. Always there was this sense of impending doom. It had to be a really huge deal. I didn’t realize, at least not for a while, that the reason it had to be a huge deal may not have been entirely about me at all. I believe people were genuinely worried about me when this happened, that there are people who still are. It’s just that maybe some of that is about them, not about me.

But on that note, do you know what I hate most about this? Because I know how this goes, even though this is not the point and shouldn’t be the point at all. I hate knowing how certain people would interpret this experience. “Oh. Well. She was never really a Christian to begin with.” And that would make them feel better. That would be the explanation for why I did this thing and that would somehow make it okay. I don’t want it to be okay. In truth, there are people I know my story makes very uncomfortable and I want them to be uncomfortable with it and I hate that this gives them an out. I mean, there’s a split of course. People who believe you can lose salvation vs. people who believe you can’t. But no matter what camp you’re in, it’s a lot easier if you believe I was just never “saved” to begin with. If you look at my life and say well, it’s very sad she wasted all that time, maybe God will still get to her. It devalues my experience, it’s a way to write off the genuine things that happened. But unfortunately you can’t stop other people from trying to define your experience for you, especially if that experience makes them uncomfortable.

I don’t miss God. I feel better than I ever have. I feel like I should feel differently but I don’t. And I guess people will interpret that however they need to.

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