“I’m having a major crisis of faith.”
These words I’ve said to myself more times this year then I can count, and several times to a select few safe, inner circle people.
With my hands full as a stay at home mom to these awesome littles, there’s been little time to pick up my pen and journal to wade through my feelings but I’ve done a lot of thinking — especially in the dead of night as I nurse James back to sleep. There have been a lot of questions, a lot of prayers, and a lot of curiosity.
Recently, my crisis of faith started to drift to a fear of losing my faith. Was I losing it? Could I lose it? After over a decade since baptism and an eleven year stretch of feeling like I’d been so close to God, was I moving away from Him?
Even though I’d mentioned “I think I’m having a crisis of faith” to a few key people I was most afraid to let them in to the deeper stuff I was wrestling with. I’m a card carrying, flag waving, blog broadcasting, Jesus-loving Christian. How could I vocalize my questions?
Why do we go to church on Sundays? What’s the point of a sermon? Am I a bad Christian if I don’t read my Bible regularly, let my 2 year old take communion, or get annoyed when every conversation I have with a particular person is about God? Am I really supposed to try to be like Jesus? Is salvation important? Is it a really a moment of decision? What if Him loving me is a bigger priority than me loving Him? Is it my job to obey or to receive His gift of obedience? Is it possible everyone goes to heaven, that heaven isn’t actually a place, that the process to get there isn’t this instant moment of perfection I’ve believed it was for so long? How can people claim the Christian faith but be so silent in defense of their fellow man, the image bearers of the King of Kings they proclaim? What if Christianity isn’t the only way to the Father? What if there are multiple paths to God? What was Jesus REALLY like?
I kept asking questions in my own brain and landed on the Truth that right now, amidst my doubts and questions and lack of certainty, I actually feel closer to God than ever before. How could this be? The THINGS (primarily my focused, hour long Bible and journal reading every morning) I had done in the past to maintain that relationship weren’t there anymore and this felt I was on “a slippery slope”. But was I slipping? Was I on a destructive path? Was I losing my faith? My relationship? My card carrying membership?
How was I MORE close to the Father than ever before when the things I’ve always done to maintain that relationship were LESS?
I’ve been asking this question for at least a year. In my questioning I keep coming back to the idea, the truth, the reality, that I am closer to His people and His church, than ever before.
I’m celebrating five years with a church community, the longest in my adult life, the longest community I’ve ever been a part of in general, actually. It’s diverse. It’s not perfect. And yet, I’ve experienced Jesus’ message from these people, collectively, in more powerful ways than I could have ever dreamed up.
They speak life into me through their daily living out of scripture. They show up at my door when I’m hurting. They call when they haven’t heard from me in awhile. They send their kids to my house when I need a helping hand with my own kids. They change diapers and feed me lunch and hold my baby while I take a bath and babysit and answer the phone when I’m in the middle of an anxiety attack.
And they let me love them back in the imperfectly perfect ways I can manage in this season.
Through them, I encounter compassion, comfort, and assurance that I’m okay and not alone. Through their words and actions, we minister to one another in a way that proves Holy Spirit is living among our Tri-Cities church family.
Then there is the Church that’s right in my household. I hold my kids, breathe in their scent, and feel the love the Father has for me. I do life with my husband and experience what the Bible might be talking about in the Jesus/Church/bridegroom/bride relationship. We keep showing up for each other, day in and day out, ESPECIALLY when it gets hard. ESPECIALLY when we are difficult to love. ESPECIALLY when we are low on sleep and patience. We don’t give up on each other.
The same exact way the Trinity doesn’t give up on us.
So yeah, my faith looks a little different then it has in the past. Another season, another part of the journey with the Lord leading the way. And He IS leading the way. I know because of the fruit that my 3 foot tall mirror who wears sparkly dresses and politely demands I call her princess Tabby, reveals to me.
The other day I asked her, “who loves you, Tabby?” Fully expecting her to say mommy or Nigh Nigh (her name for her dad) and she yells “JESUS!” I was floored. I asked again to see maybe this time she’d say mommy or Nigh Nigh and she yells “GOD!”
Every Sunday after that same 3-year-old is brought upstairs at the end of our service, she runs to the back of the church and brings me a little “to go” COVID safe cup of communion. She says “open it” (we’re working on learning please) and I open both my cup and hers. She chomps down on the tiny wafer and peels back the next layer to reveal a delicious cool-aid style purple drink. I look her in the eye balls as she consumes it’s delicacy and tell her, Jesus loves you SO MUCH.
My guess is there’s plenty of literature out there that rejects the idea a 3-year-old should be taking communion. I’ve heard the argument you shouldn’t really go to the Lord’s table until you fully understand what it means. But I’m (almost) 34 years old and I don’t fully comprehend what I’m doing there. Some days I go just because it’s a habit. Other days I sit in contemplation for 5 seconds and try to wrap my brain around what the bread and the juice represent. Other days (well, pre-kid days) I might actually feel something deeper and a tear would roll down my cheek at the profoundness of my King’s sacrifice.
As all of this rolls around in my brain, as I experience this different way of communing with the Lord through the eyes of my little girl and the wide open arms of my church family, I recognize I’m not having a crisis of faith, not at all.
I’m having a “crisis of religion”. As I investigate what I’ve been taught all my life about Christians, Christian faith, the Bible, God, etc, I have chosen to unlearn some stuff in order to relearn what I really believe about all of the above. I’ve questioned some (or a lot) of the “shoulds” and “have tos” and “this is the only ways”, and most of them crumble away when challenged.
But my God? He doesn’t crumble. He doesn’t change. He doesn’t falter or fail or fall short. Every time I’ve hurled a doubt or question in His direction, He’s revealed another side of Himself. He’s never judged my questions and if anything, I have experienced that He welcomes them. He welcomes them because every time I ask a question my heart seeks Him for an answer. Often times the answers I receive are so not clear, so not certain, so not simple, or even can be considered answers at all. But rather, when I turn to to ask the questions, I’m face to face with the Father. And THAT is what I believe He desires all along.
My religion, yeah, it might be in crisis. But my faith? Oh no. My faith isn’t in crisis at all.