I knew and accepted God as a child but later drifted away. But after I separated myself from church and from God, there was definitely a season of Him stirring and working to draw me back toward Him.
At the time, I was in college, and I was going through a season of feeling hugely disillusioned about Christianity. All of it felt tinny and false to me, and I began to wonder about everything, right down to God’s existence. At that time, a friend of mine bought me a documentary about my favorite Christian songwriter, Sara Groves. Somehow I still liked Sara; she was authentic and real to me, so I respected her music.
I remember lying in my bed in my student apartment and crying through that entire DVD. In the film, Sara and her husband pack up their tour bus and drive down to Louisiana right after Hurricane Katrina. They didn’t know where they were headed or what they would find, but they had the resources, so they just went. I realized that night that in the midst of my emotional turmoil and spiritual confusion, I had all but lost faith in humanity and God’s ability to redeem it. I realized the real Jesus Christ is different from the stale and hostile religion that I’d encountered so frequently.
I think I was struggling with doubt. I was worried that maybe it was illogical and silly to believe there is a God. I worried that this whole religion thing was a construct designed to assuage the fears and shortcomings of the human race. There were so many things I didn’t know about science and philosophy and life in general, so I worried about blindly buying into something that so many people consider to be nonsense. If they’d searched, studied, and analyzed and found it all to be impossible, then maybe it was. What could I know that they didn’t?
I wrote this in a blog back in 2008: “I’m just desperately looking for answers to questions— I am not looking for anything other than the truth, and whatever that is, I’ll follow it passionately and wholeheartedly.”
In the midst of this time, I started a conversation with God. I think prayer came before anything. I wanted to find a way to communicate with God honestly. I figured that He knew my heart and my confusion in all of it and that He would help me sort it out. I had a very strong conviction that God would prefer my honest doubt over any kind of pious insincerity, so I decided to just lay it all out on the table before God. It felt a little weird at first because I still had some nagging doubts and wondered if maybe I was just praying to the wall, but something kept me going even so.
I also began attending church every once in a while … and I was very timid and reluctant about it. I would roll my eyes, squirm uncomfortably, or stifle a gag during just about every sermon—I had such a low tolerance for any kind of “churchiness”—but I did manage to leave feeling somewhat encouraged.
I don’t really know how it happens or how it all logically works out, but the closer I get to God and the more I find a way to be authentic with Him—to let go of all of my needs for control and power— I see that I really am worth something. To Him, to the world, and I guess to myself, too. I still have my moments of struggling, but it feels like there’s been a shift in my core, and those kinds of changes can’t be faked or brought about on our own.
I’m never going to find all the logical guarantees that I might want, but somehow, through the mystery of God, His presence is unmistakable in my life.
Today’s story comes from Paige Butcher, who shares her journey of faith in Chapter Two: Obstacles.