My Spiritual Journey, So Far.
I remember going to church ever since I was little. My mom would wake me up every Sunday morning, and drag me out of bed to attend service. Up until college, going to church and calling myself Christian were just part of who I was. What I thought was the message of Christianity seemed obvious and simple to me. If God doesn’t exist, where do morals and kindness and hope and existence come from?
Naturally, I looked for a Christian community in college. This time, I not only found people who believed the same things I did, but also looked like me. I joined an Asian Christian fellowship that provided a home away from home. I had never met so many Asians my age who were also Christian, and, for the first time in my life, I felt like I belonged.
It wasn’t until the summer after my junior year that I started having serious doubts about God. To put it more accurately, the doubts that I always had started to surface as I spent time away from my bubble. From unanswered questions about free will and divine hidden-ness to the historical and logical consistency of the bible, I desperately tried to hold on to my once strongly held faith as I sought for satisfactory answers to my questions.
Why does the Bible portray homosexuality as a sin if so many people today are having healthy, committed homosexual relationships?
Why does hell exist if God is all-loving? Why did he create us at all if he knew most of us were going to hell?
Why would God punish those who’ve never heard of the Gospel but are decent people with pain and suffering forever?
If God really loved humanity and wanted everyone to reach Heaven, why did he choose to reveal himself through a vague, difficult to interpret book written two thousand years before the information age?
These are just some of the questions that had began to gather in my mind as I spent time away from the institutions of Christianity.
The answers I found were either allusions to Bible verses, recitations of doctrine, contradictions to the bible, theological mental gymnastics, or a simple “I don’t know, but I’ve experienced God and he exists.”
For me, that wasn’t good enough. I was looking for a coherent, practical, and demonstrably true argument for the Christian God. What I found was more confusion, contradictions, disagreements, and anecdotal experiences generalized to the entire universe.
So it shouldn’t have been a surprise when I stopped this so-called relationship with God after graduating from college. Yet, I felt guilty, ashamed, and almost shocked. Though I’ve never experienced a breakup, the feeling of losing an unconditionally loving friend who’d been “with” me all my life must be very close to it. I tried to hold on to my childhood friend for as long as I could, but part of me knew I would eventually lose him.
A voice in my head told me that I was a fraud who had pretended to believe in something just to belong; that my desperateness for love and attention made me inauthentic and delusional; that I had wasted my life believing in something that couldn’t even hold up to my own standards of truth.
That voice dominated my thoughts and emotions for quite a while, but over time I have gradually come to terms with it. People say that your college years and twenties are the years where you change the most, the years when you come to find yourself and what you truly believe in. Perhaps my shift in worldview is a symptom of that time. Perhaps that time won’t end for a while.
I know now that I wasn’t lying to myself during my Christian years. My faith in God was as real as my lack of faith. Christianity was simply the starting stage of my spiritual journey; the very beginning of a deeply human experience.
Maybe one day I will be compelled to revisit the beginning. But, for now, I’m content with moving forward.