I feel like my first few weeks of blogging were easy. I had so many things stored up to write about. Once I had gone through those, I had things which presented themselves for the written word. Lately, though, I haven’t had any strokes of culinary “genius”. I haven’t felt the need to write anything down. Nothing terribly inspiring or funny has happened. Days have been filled with play dates, grocery shopping, choosing between peeing and household chores, and repainting our front door.
Ancient Druid symbol for “We’re coming for your young!”
Rather than peeling and cracking paint, we now have peeling coating on the lock and handle from the tape we covered them with to protect them. Because, of course we do.
But the truth is, I have had something to write about, I just haven’t been ready to share. I feel certain it will cost me or hurt others, but I don’t feel like I’m being entirely honest about myself until I do share. To put it simply, I’m agnostic.
To some, what I’ve just revealed is a giant anti-climactic ball of “so what?”. To others, like my family, it’s a heart breaking admission. To me, it’s freeing.
I’ve wrestled with this for the past several years. It began with doubt, as these things tend to do. I started taking a harder look at my faith and things slowly stopped making sense. So much of what I had “known” when I was younger was wrong. The more I read and studied the Bible, the more I realized that the “faith” I had was not my own. It was as if I had borrowed a coat many years ago and still had it. It may be hanging in my closet, but it doesn’t belong to me. So I tried to build a faith, convinced that it was something I needed. I immersed myself in Bible study, prayer, going to church, and surrounding myself with others who called themselves Christians. But as time went on and I put myself through the motions, I found myself gripped by anger, fear, and guilt, rather than released by peace. Every time I came to gather for worship, I felt out of place and heavy hearted. Easter was particularly depressing for me. Rather than responding with, He is Risen, indeed! every time someone proclaimed He is Risen!, I wanted to dully quip, Yeah…maybe.
Breaking Up is Hard to Do
I can’t say that finally letting go was like a death, because that would imply there was something worth mourning forever. No, it was more like a breakup. Like a toxic relationship with your college boyfriend, I realized that trying to stick with it was doing more harm than good. I needed to let it go. It wasn’t easy at first. Old habits die hard. I would remind myself as I cried for help during those desperate nights as Zoë screamed that I didn’t believe that anymore. (Incidentally, I felt a lot better once I stopped waiting for the cavalry to arrive.) I did go through the classic stages of grief: “fear, denial, horniness, wisdom, sleepiness, and now, depression.” (You always learn something from 30 Rock!) Now that I’ve let go, I feel so much better. The angst is gone. I finally have the peace I’d been craving.
I kept it from Mike for awhile because I didn’t want to hurt him. Fortunately, given our conversations and his knowledge of my struggle, I think he knew it was coming and has handled it well. At least, I think he has. I usually find out he hasn’t handled something well a couple of months later because of a meltdown over something completely unrelated.
How You’ll React
I tend to have conversations in my head with other people when the subject is stressful. I imagine how they’ll react based on what I say and what I know of them. So, here we go.
1) Agnosticism is just a poor man’s atheism.
No, seriously, swinging from one faith extreme to the other doesn’t make sense to me. Just as I am not confident in declaring there is a God, I am not confident in declaring that there is no God. I’m open to either path, so long as it’s one I choose. For right now, I’m settled and content in the “I don’t know”.
2) I’ll pray for you.
If you would like to do that, that’s fine. Maybe yours will work out better than mine ever did. But if you do, please don’t tell me, I’ll pray for you. Even if you mean well, it usually comes across as condescending. And the times it doesn’t come across as condescending, it comes across as dickish. It’s the Christianese version of Bless her heart. Ooooh, and then there’s the mash up of, Bless your heart, I’ll pray for you.
I was kinda sad when they canceled this show.
3) You’ll go to hell and be separated from God forever!
Fear had always been a motivator for me when it came to being a Christian. While I certainly drank the Kool Aid for awhile, (Oh, yeah!) the main reason I held on for so long was a fear of hell. Growing up evangelical, the fear of hell and Satan was drilled into you. I used to be tortured at night by the fear of demons engaging in spiritual warfare for my very soul as I prayed to God to help me fall asleep and keep me safe. So you can imagine my relief when I came to learn that the devil didn’t enter into Judaism until their captivity in Babylon. The devil was an aspect of Zoroastrianism that they took into their faith and lore. Gone was my fear of hell, demons, a devil, and eternal torture. So you can say I’ll go to hell, but my reaction will be shrugged shoulders, an Mmkay, and something about Pascal’s Wager.
4) Scripture! Arguments! Reasons!
I’m not trying to convince anyone to believe there isn’t a God. So I’m not going to argue with you about it.
Ah ha! You don’t want to argue because you know you’re wrong!
Nooo….. That’s kind of the point of agnosticism. I don’t know. I’ve just argued it with myself for so long that I’m kind of done. I’m not about to waste breath (typing power?) in a war of attrition.
5) But the children!
I was raised in the church. For the first several years of my life, my father was a pastor. So we see how well that turned out. I have no intention of discouraging faith for the girls. I still let Rachael say a prayer at bedtime, but I let it be her choice. I will do my best to answer and encourage questions. If they come to faith, great! I feel one of the best things I can do for them is, if they come to faith, to let them have a faith that is authentically theirs.
6) But more scripture and arguments!
Dude, apologetics with clobber verses make you sound like a dick. Seriously, let it go.