Since Onne and JJ have joined our family, Matt and I have very little time for adult conversation. And usually, the adult conversation focuses on the kids and the issue du jour: the broken foster care system, Onne’s refusal to eat, JJ’s new habit of throwing tantrums in public places.
I’ve been meaning to talk with Matt for months about this whole God thing, because, well, I’m not quite the girl he married when it comes to theology. I had a twenty-minute window of time today.
So this evening, as we were walking into Wal-Mart to buy popcorn and hot chocolate for the movie night we were hosting at church, I said, “So, I think I have officially crossed the threshold into being a way-liberal Christian.”
M: “Isn’t that where we’ve been headed for the past seven years?”
A: “Well, yes, but it sort of snuck up on me.”
M: “What snuck up on you?”
A: “Well, I’m pretty sure I don’t believe in hell. At least not hell as a physical place other than your body and spirit being eternally stuck in a physical grave and separated from the Divine.”
A: “And, well, a lot of other things. Not all of them are big. I mostly still believe most of the big things.”
M: “Okay. Like virgin birth?”
A: “I’m not really sure I believe in the virgin birth. I just don’t think it even matters.”
M: “Well, other than that it was prophesied.”
A: “The translation could have been young girl. Teenagers get pregnant all the time.”
M: “I’ll be right back. I’m going to go get some mayo.”
Yes, this is my life.
And I mostly love this part of it.
Three years ago, asking these sorts of questions scared me to death. I was still asking them, but scared to death and in my head, not out loud, and certainly not in Wal-Mart as if I were talking about buying new socks. Wool, eh, cotton is fine. Immaculate Conception, meh.
Three years ago I felt like my life was slipping through my fingers. Still no baby. Our marriage was on the brink. Family relationships were strained. Work was super stressful. Money was tight. God was silent. The sure faith I once had had faded and what was left was a bunch of questions and doubts. I was losing control of my carefully constructed worldview, you know, the one I could mostly control.
On a whim one day I downloaded a David Bazan album that was being referred to as a “breakup album with God,” half expecting it to seal the deal. Heresy with a side of snarky on the side, please. Perfect. Of all of the songs, there was one line -one haunting line- from the title track that stuck with me.
And why are some so hell bent upon there being an answer
While some are quite content to answer “I don’t know.”
Those lyrics were a healing balm. During a time when I felt like I needed to find hard, factual evidence, concrete proof, unequivocal answers to my God questions in order to continue to be a Christian, came an unanticipated invitation to mystery.
I decided to be quite content with “I don’t know” when it comes to God.
As a recovering control freak, there aren’t many things I am comfortable not knowing. I’m addicted to education of all sorts and I love being an expert. And yet, this incredible peace came with turning to the largest questions in my life, looking God dead in the eye, and shrugging – not because I didn’t care, but because I don’t know.
Because I never will.
And because I know that’s just fine with God.
I began to put one foot in front of the other and embrace mystery. The choice has proven to be one of the most liberating I ever made. I don’t know that my faith – in God, in humanity, in myself – has ever been stronger. I would much rather believe in a God of mystery than a God I have all figured out.