“…pray to whatever god you believe in that you don’t lose…”
Right now, I’m not sure if I even believe.
I’m used to feeling that tug of resistance when I am headed towards doubt, but this time around there is only a feeling of hollowed-out acquiesence. I started singing the line from Les Mis that goes “What’s the use of praying if there’s nobody who hears?” and the silent, sinister echo of “…nobody…” actually sounded like it made sense.
Today’s the first time in all the years since May 28, 2006 that I don’t feel like going to church tomorrow, and can’t even find the strength to push myself to do so because “…following God means dying to self.” I already feel dead. What is there to die to? Instead, what rings in my head is the memory of my Revelation classes, where the punishments for the damned are plagues and a pit of fire and brimstone. Where those whose names are not in the Book of Life are judged according to their deeds and found wanting.
That last bit? Isn’t that called “living?”
I think what little feeling of faith I had has been snuffed out, and it should scare me that I feel no horror at that fact but I’m too numb to care. I’m not reading my Bible App. I’m not reaching for the “armory” of verses scribbled in my journal. I do not even have the strength to weep and wail at God, can’t summon the energy to be mad at Him.
Right now my feelings say “there is no Him.”
Maybe I’m trained too well. The instinct is to think the verse from Proverbs that goes “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”” The words are severe enough that I should recoil, but then I remember crying before and there not being an answer.
“He puts you through dry seasons to test your faith.” is what I remember, but that is honestly nothing but cold consolation. I don’t need a test right now; I need a father. Facing the kangaroo court of public opinion, I have to ask where is the Advocate who would be with me to the end of the age? Where is the One who would mount my defense?
The sky is silent, and inside I feel empty. The words are on repeat: “…pray to whatever god you believe in that you don’t lose…” You are nothing, the subtext screams, you are worthless.
I am nothing, I answer back, I am worthless.
Maybe these are the moments that make angry atheists. This is where the rage comes from. You put your faith in something and in the moment you need that faith the most it fails you, and you fall. You are angry at yourself for believing. You are angry at whatever you used to believe in for not being real. You are angry at the years you wasted, thinking that maybe if you’d realized everything means nothing you would have had time to get used to the idea. But the truth is you wouldn’t have.
The truth is, faith isn’t a feeling. It’s a decision.
The feeling is gone. I can’t summon up the strength to believe. Evidence at this point points to me being alone, friendless, full of flaws I don’t know how to deal with. The impulse is to run for the bottle or the shopping mall or something to dull the pain. But I don’t know if it’s my training or perhaps the God I don’t know how to believe in is pulling through…I decide to try and believe anyway.
“Help my unbelief,” I say.
I’d like to think this is me giving God another chance ,but who am I to give the Creator of the Universe chances? The truth is probably more like he isn’t letting me be governed by my doubt or anger or sadness.
Those are all feelings. Faith, I think, must be a little stronger than that.