Community Question: What Do You Do When You Want Faith and Can’t Find It?

Nov 19 2013

I wasn’t going to write another serious piece today, because I wrote about the Ladder out of Depression yesterday, and who really needs to read another lyrical, sappy, heartfelt post so soon? NO ONE. No one is who. But then you all RUINED EVERYTHING. And by “everything,” I mean you ruined my plan to write about the One Main Difficulty in Sharing a Hotel Room With Friends, which, specifically, is Farting, because When? and How? and Windows That Don’t Open! And, frankly, I could’ve used the advice, folks, because I cannot for the life of me figure this one out, but nnnooooo…

You had to RUIN EVERYTHING by being the Very Best Momrades EVER to our friend Marian last night, sitting with her wherever you were and holding out your hands to her and helping All of Us feel Less Alone which completely DISTRACTED me from our planned discussion about natural gas and got me thinking about Loving Each Other, instead, and especially about a letter I received recently from a friend of this blog whom I shall call Not Nadia, in our tradition of Not Evan and Not Rebecca and Not Brooke and their questions about Joy and Inferiority and Failure… and now, Faith.

You have only yourselves to blame is what I’m saying, so buckle up.

Every once in a while, I get a letter from a friend of this blog that touches a tender place in my heart. Usually a place that’s been well worn or is still a little sore or takes me back to the desolation that was there before the consolation. This is one.

Dear Beth,

I have been reading your blog for about a year now, and it’s really impacted how I see a lot of things, but mostly how I think about faith and God.

I’ve been angry with God for a very long time, probably most of my life. At some point it just became easier to not believe at all, than reconcile all the awful things that happen every day with a loving and all powerful maker. But I can’t seem to have faith in anything anymore, and I’m so tired of feeling angry and helpless. I’ve made myself unlikeable and bitter because I can’t let go of how unfair it all seems.

When you write about faith, I can see that there is something more to it than a fairy tale to dampen the fear of death and justify the evils of the world. I want to believe that too, but I’m stuck in this cycle of disappointment and failure. I know I have to stop being so angry and trust that there is a much bigger game being played than what I can see, but I am scared of changing basically my whole worldview, even though my current view is dark and lonely.

Will you pray for me? I don’t even know where to begin, I just admire your faith and I would like to find something that makes me want to get up in the morning and take on challenges instead of constantly feeling angry and alone. I know you have a very full life, but I would very much appreciate if you could take a few seconds to ask for God to start to work in my life so I can be a better, happier person.

Thank you very much for reading,

Not Nadia

And yes. Yes, of course I’ll pray for you, Not Nadia, except that I’m very bad at prayer, or very good at prayer, depending on how you look at it, because as much as I love words – adore words, am enamored with words, am captivated by words – I most often pray without them, so I feel we should set our Prayer Expectations to YES, PRAYER, ABSOLUTELY, but Not Very Much “Dear Jesus, Help Not Nadia.”

Instead, Not Nadia, as the Quakers say, I will hold you in the Light, which, to be totally honest, is going to make some of my non-Quaker Christian friends want to vomit because saying I’ll “hold you in the Light” instead of  I’ll “pray for you in the name of Jesus Christ” sounds squidgy and scary and what’s this liberal, gooey Light nonsense, anyway?

Well, I’ll tell you; this Light Nonsense is the same thing to me as the Love Nonsense, which I keep blathering on about, both of which give me words for the core of God and of Jesus when the words “God” and “Jesus” are co-opted by petty politics or tiny theologies or asshat arguments. Light and Love* bring me back to the center – to the soul of my faith – when I’m lost in the stranglehold of weariness.

Here’s my main problem with my faith: I would like Jesus to be a Magic Wand for waving over the things of this world that trouble me – hatred, disease, disasters, poverty, the way my boobs keep sliding lower and lower through the years – and Jesus just never, ever is willing to play to my Magic Wand fantasies. Like, EVER. Which is SO ANNOYING because I’m pretty sure I could do LOADS of Good with a Magic Wand, Jesus, and, no offense, but your usual shtick about Learning to Love Our Neighbors and figuring out that Everyone is Our Neighbor takes too long and doesn’t always work all that well, in case you hadn’t noticed.

But when I discard my Magic Wand expectations – when I see that Jesus never promised to be one, and, in fact, reminds us over and over that that was hardly his point – and when I fall back into the reality that faith is Learning Love, I am less destitute. Less despairing. Less disappointed and disillusioned. Because in this life, Learning Love is all that’s asked of me.

Does this mean I’m not angry or afraid? Sadly, no. Or in less need of anti-depressants and therapy? Nope; ’cause there’s no Magic Wand, damn it!

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But clinging to Light and to Love does mean that when I’m sad or lonely or have a friend, Not Nadia, who’s suffering, I can stand in the deep, dark forest of my fear or my failure or my frustration, without any words at all, and cup that feeling or friend in my hands and hold us in Light which streams into the darkest places, and is even more brilliant to behold while the dust and the dirt still swirl around us.

And so I sit at my dusty desk on a misty, cold, gray day in Oregon, friend, and I hold you in the Light of Love. The Light of Love which is already at work in you, because you’re made in its very image.

xoxo,
Beth

……….

So, friends, what do you say to Not Nadia?

Community Question:
What do you do when you want faith but can’t find it? 

I know you already know this, but as this community grows, I wanted to remind us that we’re not here to try to convince Not Nadia to either have faith or to abandon it, nor to insist that our conclusions for ourselves must become Not Nadia’s conclusions. We are here to tell our own wild, weird and wonderful stories and, always, to LOVE each other, which are more powerful acts than we sometimes know. Like April wrote on our Facebook page just yesterday: “Honestly, ever since I heard from some of you amazing fellow mommas, I have been feeling so much better. Above water and even breathing 🙂 my whole family is grateful I’m sure; if nothing else, I know I am! I felt so loved and that seems so strange to receive that through blog comment-ers, but I love it :)”

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Sunrays in the Forest image credit dan via freedigitalimages.net

*Jesus is Light – John 8:12, God is Love – 1 John 4:8

Special thanks to my friends, Quaker and otherwise, who helped me source info on holding folks in the Light. This means you, Monica, Jere, Paula, Carol, Meghan, Phyllis, Julie, Nate, and Linda.