Confession of my shattered faith
I’ve been learning some very painful lessons recently. I’m learning to stop thinking so highly of myself. Think you will always love God? Think again. Know that your commitment to Christ is certain? No you don’t. Promise that you’ll never have sex outside of marriage? Don’t be so sure.
I’ve broken many promises and I’ve been proven wrong in more ways than I can count. I can start acknowledging my shortcomings and talk honestly about them, or I can keep lying to myself and to friends and to God.
The fact is, we like the neat and tidy gospel of “lost & saved” or “dead in sin and alive in Christ.” But the path is not that simple. What if being alive in Christ doesn’t look how we imagine? We like to think of life as vibrant and active and joy-filled, but there are many qualities of life.
What if life is more pain than joy and we are struggling to draw each breath?
My faith is hanging on a quickly fraying rope. This is my attempt to pull it up before the rope snaps and I lose it forever.
So friends, I’m struggling for spiritual breath. I can honestly tell you that I want to live. I still think God is there. I just don’t feel him. I want to believe God acts, but I can’t see it.
Before you can help me live I think you need to know the state of my broken soul: I’ve had to confront hard truths, especially in the past few months. The fact that I committed myself to God and sexual purity, and yet God stood by as a man raped me. I’ve had to think through the possibility of having STIs and HIV. I’ve had to consider abortion because the man who raped me didn’t use a condom and I took the day-after pill too late.
I’ve had to watch my father and little sisters shift uncomfortably as I tell them what happened to me. I’ve felt broken and dirty as I sit in awkward silences with people who don’t know what words will make this unpleasant situation go away.
I’ve felt suffocating anger towards God. And even more anger towards people in the church. I’ve had people respond in ways that left me crying in my bed alone later that day. Conservative Christians have advised me to quit the Peace Corps, telling me that these are the things that happen when women travel like I have been, implying that I brought this rape upon myself.
And then there’s this: I’ve had sex outside of marriage with someone I’m not even dating. Repeatedly.
And it felt wonderful, both physically and emotionally. I’ve had to process the fact that I felt no guilt. I’ve had to consider the possibility of pregnancy from one of these encounters.
I feel like I cannot trust my mind or feelings. After being raped, something I had no control over, I felt mentally tortured and ashamed. But after deliberately sinning I felt peace. The insomnia and nightmares stopped.
Through all of this, I’ve felt more love and support from my Muslim family than from any other person I know. I’ve had to think about the fact that these people, who demonstrate the truest form of love, are condemned to hell according to my faith.
Even though my spiritual flaws are in abundance, I feel like God has brought me into this turmoil. Which is why it is all the more painful. And I feel certain that my fellow-Christians will not understand any of this. My thoughts will be neatly categorized as “backsliding” or “descending into liberalism” or “irrational response to trauma.” But please friends, don’t simplify my suffering. Try to walk with me through this and hear me out.