I was taught as a little girl to pray before bedtime.
I would lay there, in the darkness, eyes shut tight, and pray.
Oh how I would ask for things. Keep me safe. Let it be sunny. Let it snow. Help me to be good. Come into my heart and save me from my sins. Keep daddy safe as he drives home from work. Make my hair grow quicker.
These are the prayers I remember as a little girl. Always the same. Repeated night after night until finally the words faded and I would drift into sleep.
The habit of praying before falling asleep has been a nightly ritual for most of my life. Lately, however, I find myself beginning to wonder. Wondering that question I have asked myself occasionally, one that I am sure many of us have – does anyone really hear me? Am I actually just talking to myself in my head? Thoughts going round and round and round, creating feelings which I act upon, sentiments I dwell on, becoming prayers answered?
What are your greatest doubts?
Is your faith – whatever it is – strong enough to face the doubts? Or are you scared to ask the questions, because it may “undermine” or begin to dissolve everything you have ever believed, everything your choices have been based on? When the lens in which you have interpreted your experiences begins to break down and suddenly, you aren’t so sure about what really happened anymore.
Is God big enough?
Is God real enough?
Can God take the doubting?
Are you not “allowed” to doubt in fear that you will lose your salvation card?
Have you ever really believed?
I am starting to wonder.
I am starting to ask questions that I never thought to ask before. Questions that were always answered for me, so I never had to think about them.
And in many ways, I feel like I am dying.
But isn’t that the key? Isn’t Christianity all about dying, alongside with Christ? Have I never really died? So have I never really believed?
Because, what if, I come to a conclusion that is different than I want it to be?
My heart is crying and hoping that this doubting brings me closer, brings me to a deeper and fuller understanding of what I believe, what is truth, what is real, what is false. That it brings me closer to God.
But what if it doesn’t?
What if the answers I find don’t align? What if they don’t support my faith?
Then a huge part of me dies.
This is my heritage. This is my community. This has been everything I have striven for and lived for and based my life off of.
And can it really just go away?
If the answers are wrong, what does it change?
Does my hope vanish? Am I delusional?
It is frightening and freeing all at once. Putting these thoughts into real words that can be seen and read, unlike my thoughts burrowed deep within, which only my husband can drag out of me late at night with the right questions, makes me feel vulnerable and small.
I am in a strange place. I have no label for where I am at right now. I feel numb when I hear religious talk. But I believe so deeply in the good that I have seen in my life. I believe that being a Christian has saved me, in many ways. But I don’t know why I believe what I believe. I don’t know how we know what we know.
This past year, I have discovered so many things that we do just because we have always done them that way. As I have read book after book about nutrition and industries exploiting other nations and peoples and trying to make sense of how I should be living, my heart sinks and I wonder, how can we be so blind about what we are doing, how can we go on doing the same thing, hardly even blinking an eye?
Then I have to ask, is this what my faith is?
Many people do not want to ask the questions, and I don’t blame them. Where does my meat come from? How does this bottled water effect people? Why is Christianity any more believable than Islam or Buddhism or any other faith system? They are just trying to get by and live life and provide for their families. It isn’t easy to ask questions, because many times one question leads to another and everything begins to unravel, and you wonder if it will ever stop and maybe it just isn’t worth it? So we turn away and keep living our lives and going through the same motions.
But it isn’t enough for me.
I found that there are seasons of intense change and questioning, and then times of stillness and peace, but always, another question lingers, another feeling that there is more.
I can’t live my life feeling fake, so even if the answers scare me, even if I don’t know where I will end up, I am going to keep asking them.
Of course I hope – I hope, I hope – that I will come out on the other end of this (does it ever end?) like all of these other people of my faith who wrestled and questioned and seemingly, found truth.
If God is real, if Christ is who I believe He is, I feel that this is the only trust I have – that He will reveal himself to me.