My Confession About Faith

Do you ever get tired of discussions about faith? Secret confession: I do

Not all the time. Some discussions I find riveting. But sometimes… OK, often… I’m just sort of done with the arguing. And weary with the rabbit trails. And tired of the verses which are used and abused as “proof.” And eager to get on with my faith and my life without assuming that the theological discussions define either one.

And do you ever feel like Who You’re Expected To Be is at war with Who You Really Are? Because that is SO ME.

As a woman who’s invested in my faith, I’ve felt in the past like I should want to dive into theological discussions online and in my broader Church and, you know, exhort people to do better and believe more and doubt less. But that’s not me these days. It’s just… not.

The truth is, I’m not much of an exhorter, and, quite frankly, if I see you face down on life’s path, spread eagle and mumbling, “I can’t do it anymore. I can’t. Not. One. More. Step,” I’m not the one who’s going to jog in place with pep and vigor and cheerfully shout, “Oh, come on. Hop up! YOU CAN DO IT.”

No, I’m sure not. Because, although I’m as certain as the cheerleader that you can take another step, I’m the girl who’s going to see you down there, covered in mud and exhaustion, and flop down beside you on my back, look up at the sky and the trees, and say, “Can you even believe it’s possible to be THIS TIRED? This DONE? With All The Things?” And I will shake my head back and forth in that mud in disbelief at this much weariness as I tell the others who stumble upon us, “Carry on! Don’t wait for us. We’re just taking a lengthy break right here. An indefinite break. A break to shame all previous breaks. You know, because we’re stretching out our muscles and stuff.” And then I’ll stage whisper to you, “Or we’re dying,” and you’ll laugh, because you’ll know I’m kidding, but barely.

Lots of people will carry on, hurdling over us at breakneck speeds, and we’ll cheer for them as best we can in our wasted state, thinking good for you and, when we can muster the energy, giving them a half-hearted one-thumb-up. But some other weary souls will collapse beside us, and the group of us will lay there together in the mess and just breathe. And shake our heads. And laugh when we can. And breathe again.

Which is a lot what Love looks like to me these days.

A couple weeks ago, I started a series here on faith. “Series” used in the loosest possible sense of the word because we just started five kids at four different schools last week and, whew!, the start of school laid me flat with all of its unreasonable requirements like waking up earlier than “go away and leave me alone,” and wearing not-pajamas, and feeding kids food for breakfast, and arriving at school before it starts every morning.

So I planned two – count them, two – posts on faith and called it a series and then thought later that I probably should’ve mentioned the series was less What Faith Is Supposed to Be and more What Faith Really Looks Like to me because the first post was all questioning, doubt and learning to breathe as opposed to, you know, answers, and this one is about being tired — so flat-on-my-face tired of the nit-picky nit-pickiness, to use the theological term, that the Church seems to want us to walk through.

Come as you are, the Church says, but sometimes they mean come as you are so we can change you. The fancy word for this is transformation. And don’t get me wrong — I absolutely believe that LOVE TRANSFORMS US — it’s just that I’ve come to the conviction that, while it’s my job to love extravagantly and to get muddy with my people, it’s Love’s job to do the transforming work and not mine, not mine, not mine.

The truth is, sometimes my eyes roll back in my head because I can’t take latest sexuality conversation or gender equality conversation or modesty conversation or what have you. Not because I don’t care about those issues. Or because I think they’re unimportant. Or because other people of faith whom I LOVE aren’t doing excellent, life-saving work around them. 

It’s just that, while those awesome people are thinking and discussing and walking upright, I’m lying face down in the mud. Tired.

So I used to spend a lot of time wondering whether I’d missed the boat. Or if something was wrong with me as a writer who’s also a Woman of Faith. But I’ve come lately to the conclusion that no, nothing’s wrong with me because, after examining my motivations for more than 20 years, here’s what I know:

I just want to get on with the business of Love.

Love loves us. Love one another. The end.

It’s not that I don’t care about theology. Or about the structures and doctrines of my faith. I do. I majored in Church History, for God’s sake. It’s just that I’m ready to get on with the business of Love, and I find myself more and more frequently without the time or energy to debate whether I think about God or Love the right way. I’m no longer interested in maintaining the long list of rules. Or in defending my faith. Or in converting others to my cause. I find, instead, the older I get, the more the peripheral stuff gets put on the back burner, and the more interested I am in the real, practical ways of Love.

The real, practical ways of Love.

Which look a lot like less like reasoned arguments and defenses of my faith and a lot more like befriending the fallen in the middle of the path.

And lying down in the mud together.

And laughing into the mess.

I just want to get on with the business of Love.

Only. Ever. Always. The End.

And that is my statement of faith.

……….

Thank YOU so very much for trusting our community with your answers to 5 Quick Questions About Faith, as well. We heard from people who identified as atheists, Christians, Jews, Mormons, Buddhists, agnostics, Catholics, Muslims, Quakers, and many, many more, including someone who said she’s both a Jedi and a Trekkie which I think is a bit of a stretch, but what are you gonna do? 😉 Honestly, it was a great honor to hear your stories of faith and to have you entrust our community with your words. I just wanted to take a minute to acknowledge your profound honesty (your apologies blew me out of the water!) and to note how grateful I am for each of you.

Do you have a confession about or statement of faith? I’d love to hear what’s really going on inside you.

……….

I’ve also written more specifically about my faith here and here and here and here.

 

Next Post
Previous Post

ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
63 comments
  1. Wow I am loving this one. I am mother of 7 children and 11 grandchildren. And I have simplified my faith after all the experiences that have brought me to today. I believe in an ENCOURAGER. I love to be encouraged…and I recognize My Higher Power by the encouragement that is consistently there when I ask. I have dropped all the rest of religion as superfluous…oh except gratitude. I love gratitude from others and to others…The God I grew up with and was taught by others doesn’t fit my experience of life. In a place sweetly deep inside of me I know I am loved and I find encouragement to carry on. I am so grateful. It is enough. I know my Higher Power has my back until my last breath. Day by day it is a simple joy to feel this.

    The fatigue of caring for all the ones I love has beaten some of the pious self righteousness from me. We had 7 children in our home again over the weekend….wow did it ever show me what my life was like with all those children….and all the shame I carried thinking that I should have done better than I did. Wow I did not realize the amazing thing I was doing while I did it. I now understand that I did the best I could…I had forgotten about the wall of fatigue and the constant interruptions and multi tasking….I can forgive myself for not doing better…I am amazed I did it at all. So instead of a list now for what I need to do to feel worthwhile I look to the ENCOURAGER to tell me how it really IS and WAS and see who and what I really am. I want to be like the Encourager…to all these people. That is spirituality. I want spirituality not religion.

  2. […] Jesus here before and the ways I do and don’t fit in with Other Christians. You’ve let me process my faith, and I’ve adored you for sharing yours, especially because we’re sometimes different […]

  3. I just started reading your blog and I just love it. Regarding faith…I am a 63 yr, old mother of 5 with one beautiful granddaughter. I never thought I would find myself in this position. I was raised Catholic and at 25 became an evangelical Christian. I was very active in my faith community over the years. My main involvement turned out to be women’s ministry. Bible studies, lay counseling, leading worship at ladies retreats. As a leader I have been wounded many times by other leaders in the church. Now after 39 years as a believer I find myself not bouncing back in my faith and willingness to serve. As a former Catholic that means I am wading in guilt but confused by the loss of zeal and questioning my faith. I wish I got just jump back in to it but I can’t. I find myself critical of everything and not willing to even attend church. What to do? I’m not sure but I think they call this a “crisis of faith”. So here I am being lectured by well meaning friends to “just go to church” and feeling spiritually dead inside. Its not a midlife crises because I am well past midlife. Thanks for letting me vent and another thanks for your wonderful blog.

    1. Suzy, I too was raised as a Catholic. I too was wounded by church members, a Monsignor and a nun. It took me a while to heal and realize that in trying to keep my religion, I was losing my faith. I had had access to God only through my religion, but came to realize that religion is formed and administered through humans who WILL have faults and WILL do wrong. I had to throw my religion overboard in order to keep my faith. I sometimes visualize Jesus sitting in Heaven looking down saying, “They just didn’t get it.”

      When I consider how to answer the question of “What religion am I,” I truthfully reply, “My own”. I believe that trying to be the most moral, helpful, loving human being we can be trumps any religion.

      I have a “great quotes” wall in my house on which I have framed several sets of helping words. I go to them from time to time for help in certain situations. One I would like to share with you is
      Healing doesn’t mean the damage never happened,
      It means the damage no longer controls your life.

      I don’t know who came up with the words, but they are so true. You don’t have to forgive or forget. (Forgetting is impossible without a lobotomy. Our experiences are part of us and unless we suffer from a brain injury, we WILL remember our experiences.) All we can do is get passed injury, so it doesn’t rule the rest of our lives. I wish you the best and hope we all heal well from whatever injuries life inflicts. As God is likely singing, “I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden.”

  4. Just discovered your site here…Lots of chuckles and warm fuzzies. Thank you! I have 5 kids myself…or, “5 kids have me” as I often say. Because the majority of the time I know that they are raising me, teaching me more than I have to teach them.

    I felt I wanted to comment here, but I am more like you mentioned above, lie about in the mud and wallow around rather than shouting from the street corners of the beauty of faith and love that I’ve experienced. Because, “why would you NOT want to share that with others?” I’ve asked myself. Especially when we can look out at the world, and see so much sadness, so much misery and pain. Why? Maybe because it is something you experience inwardly and it is so simple, yet so true and when you experience and see Jesus in your friends and children. The love. How can you explain that to others and talk about something you don’t feel that you have words great enough to explain. How do you explain how sugar tastes to someone who has never tasted it’s sweetness before? Feels near impossible. But with God, nothing is impossible. I know this. So when it comes to talking to others about my faith…I know I need to have more faith. Not worry about what words I have or don’t have. And believe that if someone is seeking, if someone is knocking, the words will be given. Here’s a poem that I wrote about faith. Faith to me is like the most beautiful song, a song without words, but your heart sings it and with even the smallest infant, you can feel their heart singing this song of love with you.

    There’s a song inside my heart,
    singing beautiful and clear,
    but when I try to sing it,
    for someone else to hear…

    it sounds so very quiet,
    so tiny and so small,
    I wonder if their ears can hear
    anything at all.

    But when I am together,
    with my family and my friends,
    a part we each do sing,
    from beginning to the end.

    So beautiful this song,
    that our hearts they want to sing
    and when we sing together,
    to the heavens this song rings.

    If you’d like to see the illustration that I drew for the poem, you can go to my site, I enjoy illustrating family life.

  5. Love this, my faith is a huge part of who I am, and why I do what I do, and how I run my business. But I get SO tired of the constant debates, and the “God will deal with you, because you think different than I do”.

  6. I am falling more in love with your blog with every post. Thank you for your bravery about being honest…about everything. This post summarizes something I struggle with everyday: wanting to get my Faith right but feeling like I’m never in the right “season of my life” to get started on that. But I’ve recently realized that what I can do well is just love. Just love and leave judgement to Someone else. I don’t need to entertain highly theological questions and debates–I’m way too stressed for that these days. Just love because I am loved. Thanks for getting me without actually knowing me! Be encouraged and keep doing what you’re doing! Blessings

    1. That’s my sister!! How cool is that?! Thank you for reading this blog with me, Ellen. Remember we promised each other we’d never grow up. Let’s leave the theology to the grown ups. Kids are much better at the love stuff!

  7. I find your posts on faith confronting because I don’t know what I believe. And what if what is right for me is actually wrong. Or wrong for my children. But there are other mums out there who are also unsure. And it is okay to be confused. I can just be, and continue sitting in the mud with my hands in the air. So thank you.

  8. I find your posts on faith confronting because I don’t know what I believe. And what if what is right for me is actually wrong. Or wrong for my children. But it is also refreshing because there are other mums out there who are also unsure. And it is okay to be confused. So thank you. For letting me be unsure about my beliefs, and letting me just be.

    1. I didn’t mean to post twice, I thought it hadn’t worked. Feel free to delete one!

  9. Thank you. This. Exactly!! Thank you.

  10. As I lay here in the midst of my third migraine in 17 post partum days, wishing I would just give up on nursing my son so his father could feed him while I lie moaning in the dark and wondering why Jesus won’t pass by me close enough that I could touch the hem of his robe, too, and be healed,
    This post was very comforting.
    Thank you

    1. Sending lots of love to you, Erica. I thought of you as I wrote tomorrow’s post. Know that there are mamas out here mud-sitting with you. xo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.