I’m slowly coming to the realization that the faith of my childhood: the Evangelical, middle-of-the-road, straight and narrow faith that was passed down to me by my parents and community, no longer fits. My faith has gone through a myriad of transformations, and I’ve always prided myself on having an adaptable faith. But this feels different: the faith itself is no longer working. It’s an old, trusty Toyota that has carried me through forests and over deserts, but it’s sputtering now, starting to break down.
Does this mean I’m not a Christian anymore? I don’t know. While I might be more Buddhist than Christian at this point, I still feel tethered to the Christian symbolism and language of my upbringing. I still see the world through a Christian lens, and I still find myself praying, less out of habit and more out of instinct, out of love for God.
So perhaps I not “not Christian”, but rather Post-Christian, which is a state you can only reach by passing through Christianity itself. It’s a sort of evolution in which Christianity is a crucial ingredient. I haven’t grown past Christianity, but my Christianity itself has grown, has turned into something that I can no longer recognize.
The internet is full of stories of the victorious freedom from religion; stories of people who felt enslaved to their religious upbringing, enslaved to their religious worldview, and found a joyful liberation from that slavery. I don’t relate to these stories.
Losing my faith – if that is even the right word for this, and I don’t know if it is – feels like a terrible loss. It doesn’t feel like a victory, but rather like losing a family member – a matriarch who wrapped me up in love, wisdom, and meaning. It feels like a death, instead of a victory. This is a lament, not a victory march.
It leaves a painful void in my chest. What is the world, if not created by a loving God? What is life, if not directed by Jesus? Maybe it’s disillusionment, maybe it’s growing up to something more expansive, maybe it’s a death. But no matter what it is, I can only grieve.
And then, I find myself coming home again. I wander away, and inevitably, migrate back to where I came from – back to my faith, back to my mother. But each time I wander away, there is the terror – increasing now – that I may not find my way home again.
Do you experience doubt? Have you grown beyond your spiritual home? How have you navigated the new territory?