Here There Be MonstersSeptember 11, 2016
Sometimes I try to not believe in God. You know, just to give it a whirl. To see if it sticks. To see if the handful of anti-religion atheists who’ve tried to convert me over the years are onto something. I must admit- it would make things so much simpler to only believe in that for which there is empirical evidence. ….except if there is anything that history and science have taught me it’s that our knowledge is so incredibly limited. Every discovery we make opens the door to a thousand other mysteries. I believe humans are so infantile in our evolution and advancement we couldn’t yet comprehend most of what is actually out there.
I can’t close my mind to the possibility (or, in my humble opinion, the likelihood) of a creator of this universe. I believe this creator is intangible, either because it is spiritual, or because humans have millions of years of evolution and advancement to achieve before we can discover or comprehend it. (And maybe THEN “God” can be observed and tested!)
And what if “God’s will” is simply that the human race does survive and evolve and advance to the point that we CAN know the creator (God) personally. WHAT IF God either designed us specifically or just took a special interest in our species as we evolved and decided that he really wanted us to achieve that- he really wanted us to know him. What if he saw that we were really fucking up as a species and setting ourselves on the path to destruction and extinction and he decided to connect with us- through Abraham, Moses, and ultimately AS one of us through Jesus in order to “save us” (read: alter our course- change our mindset to achieve SURVIVAL, evolution, progress, and advancement in order to discover and know him one day.)
I like opening my mind up to those possibilities and the wonder of it all– Therein lies my spirituality! And it’s simultaneously why I can’t be an atheist and why the church is so spiritually suffocating for me. It’s honestly spiritual stagnation for me to continue trying to connect with the evangelical church where the probability of evolution is still a debate. Where gay marriage is still a debate. Where the nature of God and how/what form he exists is NOT up for question or debate. Where the Bible is taken at face value, and where more liberal or progressive Christians are accused of picking and choosing verses so they can live how they like. I’ve grappled with the evangelical church for a very long time. I don’t know what to do anymore. Over the past year I’ve packed my bags and prepared to leave, but here I am- just outside the doors sittin’ in the front lawn of evangelicalism, waving goodbye to all the other ex-evangelicals that keep leaving. I want to leave, too…
I spent 10 years- a third of my life- getting frustrated at genexers and millennials for leaving the church. I felt my generation began blaming the church for fallible people- holding the church to a standard of perfection that imperfect humans can’t achieve- throwing the baby out with the bath water- not being the change we wanted to see- etc. etc.- yadda yadda- blah blah. I held onto the church with patience and persistence and resilient determination for 10 years. But I’m at the point in my life where I’m feeling like there’s a pattern and it’s a big problem, and I don’t think I want to be a part of it anymore…
…When I first met my husband he was somewhat apathetic towards church, but mostly very forgiving. (He’d later open up to me over the years about the hurt he’d experienced within the church, and I won’t go into that… suffice to say he was very forgiving.) He never felt good enough and eventually experienced a particularly crushing disappointment that he didn’t handle very well. He’d subsequently lost faith and became self-destructive. When I met him he was on his way to a recovery- he was involved in a band with some church fellas who were a bit older than him, and I think he felt like they’d taken him under their wing and given him an emotional, spiritual, and creative outlet. I think he felt camaraderie and love. I think he trusted them and looked up to them. Then one day, unexpectedly, they kicked him out of his band because he wasn’t Christian enough. They wrote him letters- on Facebook- explaining just how Christian enough he wasn’t. And that was it for Keith. He was done. He checked out of organized religion and never looked back. When I was pregnant with Eleanor he became even more determined to shield her from the hurt he experienced, and I’ve stopped dragging him to church as I can feel the layers of defense he packs on before he even walks through the front doors. I used to think, ‘Keith had a bad experience with one dude in the church, not the church’ but really, the church breeds that kind of thing– Breeds it, justifies it. Keith simply joined the ranks of those before him who’d been marginalized, cast to the side, and in many cases flat out rejected for not fitting in a tiny little box with a tiny little god. (***It must be noted that one of the guys from Keith’s band later came back and apologized for his part in what happened, and I think very highly of that guy for doing so. He’s a genuine, loving person. It meant a whole lot and I will never forget that he did that for Keith.***)
So… I do think I am ready to leave, but I don’t know where to go. I do fully appreciate and am tremendously thankful for my evangelical roots and upbringing. I do not regret it in the slightest. I will always and forever hold out hope of returning and feeling welcome and comfortable in the evangelical church. But for now I just cannot connect with it, and not for lack of trying. I desire to spiritually connect SOMEWHERE, though. I just don’t know where.