The Ugly Truth

Sometimes I go down roads in my head I don’t want to go. This usually has to do with big questions about life and God. Several years ago I suddenly couldn’t shake the fact that the Bible doesn’t say explicitly what happens to babies that die. I couldn’t just believe something happy to soothe my fears, I had to know. And until I worked it out, I had a hard time thinking about anything else.

When thoughts like this come along, I don’t usually want to share the journey with anyone because I fear several unpleasant things. Mostly I fear that they will label me or decide something about me based upon my current feelings and thoughts without recognizing the journey of it. I fear this from others because I tend to do it to myself.

“THIS IS A BAD PLACE AND I WILL ALWAYS LIVE HERE.”

That’s the thing I tend to think when I’m wandering down the miry path called Crisis Of Faith…

So, in order to expose any lingering hypocrisy, or misconceptions about my magical life based purely on my Instagram posts, I admit to you now that I’m having a crisis of faith. In this state of vulnerability I will ask you for grace to hear the process of my thoughts more than any definitive statements about God or the things of God.

As a matter of fact, God himself isn’t much a part of my struggle. It is Christianity that has become a terrifying caricature of itself in my mind. Has it always been thus to the world? Have I been a part of that garish cartoon?

When I am full of joy and focused successfully on some spiritual goal, more of the well-used phrases seem to make sense. People demanding that I pray in faith seem less judgmental and more like cheerleaders. Scripture promises on inspirational pictures seem truly heartfelt and less like cliched clutter.

But in this place where I spend more time than I’d care to admit, I’m quite stripped bare of all motivation to look holy. I can’t hear the victory music pumping up the righteous hearts of the chosen. What I do hear are the jeering voices of the angry mob, mocking God, the cackle of irreverent masses, a little too high or drunk to feel their own black holes. I see the gleam of gold watches on celebrity pastors- famous, influential voices criticizing or defending the church, dressed for battle against other humans instead of those dark spiritual forces Paul talked about.

Real words of encouragement and truth are rare, but I eat them up like a solid meal after weeks of eating only candy and stale bread crumbs.

I don’t want to be preached into an emotional fervor. There are too many questions still lingering. Walking with God is not about being absolutely sure of all of your doctrinal stances and if it were, most of us would be failing. I can’t tell you where I stand on so many social issues and I’m totally uninterested in your debates about proof texts. I do want to feel better, but not by blinding myself to reality.

What I know when I know nothing else, is that God is good. God speaks. God is a living personality and not a cosmic force. God loves me right here in the midst of all my selfish doubts, childish questions and erroneous assertions. Those are things I have seen in the Bible, but as importantly they are things I have experienced for myself too many times to pass off as “getting caught up in the moment.”

All of this is “ugly” to me because I’d much rather be the constant and joyful voice of encouragement. I’d much rather be an undaunted cheerleader for others who are struggling, than myself be struggling. This morning I read Psalm 51 from The Message and was struck by this;

Bring me back from gray exile,
put a fresh wind in my sails!
Give me a job teaching rebels your ways
so the lost can find their way home.

I have lost my way. My most articulate prayer is that I may find the way and help others find it, too.

6 Comments

  1. Erica
    Nov 30, 2014

    It is so hard to be in the struggling time rather than the encouraging time. Yet, a friend of mine who is suffering so that she says if we were to cut her open all we would see inside is a howl of pain recently wrote such encouragement to me that it has been able to still the smaller howl in my own chest. Perhaps these to states are not mutually exclusive but rather interdependently linked. May God bless you on your journey and transform every crisis and time of suffering into something meaningful, beautiful, and encouraging. May God give you grace, patience, stamina, and comfort along the way.

    • pegster
      Nov 30, 2014

      Thank you, Erica!

      It reminds me of The Wounded Healer by Henri Nouwen. Sometimes it’s quite hard to see.

  2. Bethany Graham
    Nov 30, 2014

    In some ways I feel as though your speaking from my heart not yours. I’m in a similar place and though somedays I wish for those cheerleaders to bring me hope and understanding, I know it probably won’t help me all that much. Would you like to think ponder life and drink tea with me?

    • pegster
      Nov 30, 2014

      Bethany, absolutely I would love to ponder and drink tea with you!

  3. Angela
    Nov 30, 2014

    God loves your childish questions. As do I. 🙂

    Thank you for sharing this.

    • pegster
      Nov 30, 2014

      Thank you, Angela.

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