Today's post is from Courtney Warren. You can find her on Twitter as @CDub30 and you can find her blog here. Check it out!
It's easy to write about church dysfunction because it allows me to place the blame for my pain primarily on something outside of myself. When I write about how much the church as an institution has hurt me, has really scarred my soul in some ways, it makes it easy to forget how the church is made up of wounded people who usually cannot see that they are bleeding out and dying.
Writing about doubting my faith? That’s such a vulnerable topic. It means I am displaying to you the ways in which I question the authorities in my life. I’m showing you my scars, my wounds from the war that is being fought for a life fully lived. Most of these wounds point to how I wanted the church to validate me as a woman in some way, and the scars points to the fact that my deepest longing of validation did not happen.
Doubting my faith? Yes, I had doubts. Hell, I have doubts, and I believe that I will always have doubts, but I also find that to be a healthier place than blindly following a specific denominations teachings.
I wrestle with the fact that I truly believe that I have walked away from church, and yet I am in graduate school at a seminary.
I find it ironic that I hate the God of my youth but find such love and grace in the God my school teaches about. I really want to know this God.
It’s funny how angry I can be at a religion that I cannot seem to fully shake.
There are so many days that I feel the pain of Jacob [Genesis 32:22-31] because in the darkest times of my life I isolate myself and wait for God to show up; then, we wrestle. This is not the wrestle that you would do with a child, or any for of wrestling for entertainment, but a wrestle for survival. There are always tears, there is always pain, and I will forever walk with a limp because faith is messy.
Faith is made in the throwing of plates against a wall in rage because you’ve just received horrible, heartbreaking news.
Faith is made in the weeping into your pillow because words won’t do justice to the pain you feel.
Faith is made in the deep confusion of trying to make God fit into our human-made boxes with our clearly defined labels.
Faith is made in the midst of the doubting, in the anger, in the sorrow, in the rubble of what you thought your life would be while life actually moves at light-speed towards what it is.
Faith is made in the wrestling and faith is lived out with a limp, because that limp is a reminder that we met with the Divine Creator.
So where does the church fit in to my current struggles? The honest answer is that I don’t want it to. There is so much pain and anger still towards the church from myself that I cannot fathom being a part of a faith community again. My hope is that churches would stop teaching such a definitive understanding of God and allow space for mystery, for emotion, for doubt; that the church would stop claiming to have all the answers and would allow room for conversation rather than debate. My hope is that one day I will find a community of faith where my scars will not asked to be hidden so that others can be comfortable but that all of who I am, my whole story, could be loved and honored. My hope is that the church would be less like an institution and more like Jesus, full of radical love, grace, forgiveness, and desire with more stories and parables than answers and rigid boundaries.