What Do I Even Believe Anymore?

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Q_Holly

It feels like a ribbed seam along the neckline, this awareness. The thoughts, they come among my everyday movements and they rub, this way and that. Sometimes they tug and distract, other times, they just chafe. And other days, I’m numb, not unlike skin that has felt too much for too long.

But always, like an ink drop slowly dissipating in a glass of water, the question hangs: What do I even believe anymore?

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I can still remember the smudge of emerald on the bottom of my feet that grew larger with each slow pass on the swing. My dad had cut the grass earlier in the evening and the blades were still giving up their juices.

In my hand, I fingered a square piece of blue card stock, already curling from moisture. I stared at my signature, made official by the jerky cursive that my hands had recently mastered, and read all the words again.

I had just come from an old school revival, held in a real tent on the lawn of my church. Never before had they held an event like this one but it was summer and the visiting preacher was full of energy and it was not beyond the scope of our denomination’s varied history to seek a reawakening among its congregants. My mother had grown up attending such gatherings throughout her childhood in the American South and she wanted me to experience it, too. Plus, it was good theater.

I ate it up. I was simultaneously fascinated and frightened. I sat, enraptured, as the preacher sang of life and hope and Jesus. And, unbeknownst to anyone else present in that overheated white canvas tent, the fissure I didn’t know existed in the deepest part of my heart cracked right open and Love came down. Lit from within, I squeezed the piece of paper I had quietly and secretly signed as a testimony to the miracle.

I believed.

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But then there came a day when I didn’t believe in the same way. I questioned that child faith of mine, became ashamed, even, of its simplicity. I tightened the reins and established some ground rules and I began to make a job out of loving God. My faith became personal and there was fallout.

I changed.

I felt compelled to make others see exactly as I saw and I didn’t have a lot of patience for those whose vision differed from mine. My heart was pulled in tight as well. I turned my need to please into a fervent way of being and I didn’t have a lot of room for grace.

Over time, however, I began to cycle through mini faith crises, silently questioning the status quo of those with whom I kept company or wrestling with how to reconcile the person at my core with the public me who wanted to be right. It all began to feel so hard.

The working out of my faith looked so different over the years—beginning with the fervent desire to minister to unreached people groups and eventually progressing to the decision to live in an intentional community and share all my goods in common with others.

I’m not exactly sure how I got to the place I am now.

We are a family without a faith community. So many of the things that I once held as paramount to my Christian faith feel more like rigid trappings that no longer serve a world that is desperate for connection. Now, when I visit churches, I just feel empty.

I don’t understand why this is. It feels so surreal for me to voice the question but it’s always there, like that ribbed seam: What do I even believe anymore?

Rilke says that we have to live the question now with the hope that, eventually, we will live into the answer.

So, what do I believe?

I believe that God loves me. I believe that Jesus loved walking outside. I believe that the man who stopped to help me when my car broke down on the side of the road was a legitimate angel because he also bought me chocolate and smelled like wood smoke. I believe that watching a baby being born is a miracle every single time. I believe that my husband’s decision to love me every day is proof that we can do hard things. I believe that chickadees and guinea pigs and frozen blueberries and pulled pork point to heaven. And I believe that people change and morph and grow and evolve and all of that is proof that God is moving and alive.

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