Last night, while facilitating a class on spiritual gifts, I realized that somewhere in the past several years, I had stopped believing in God. This realization struck me like a two-ton brick to my head (perhaps the same brick that started me on this journey in the first place) while meditating on the following words of Jesus from John’s gospel, chapter fourteen:
“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these.”
In meditating and praying with this phrase, I realized that I absolutely believe in Jesus. I believe in what he did. I believe in what he stood for. I believe in the path of self-actualization he modeled and showed us how to live. Most importantly, I believe in the love that he embodied and in the love he calls us to embrace within ourselves and the love we too are called to be in the world.
What I also discovered in meditating with these words is that while I believe in Jesus, I do not believe in myself. I’m human. I’m flawed. I’ve failed myself. I’ve betrayed myself. I’ve made mistakes. I’m imperfect. Why would I believe in myself when I have failed myself in so many ways?
This I could deal with. So what if I don’t believe in myself, I did believe in Jesus. And I believe in Jesus more powerfully than I do not believe in myself. So, we’re good.
But then it hit me….I do believe in Jesus, but somewhere along the way, I had stopped believing in God.
As I came to this realization, I felt the wheels fall off the truck and the life-vehicle I’m riding in crashing head-long into the mountain wall.
I had stopped believing in God!!!
What in the world am I supposed to do with that? At first, I was tempted to shame myself for my non-belief, but then I realized my unbelief was totally justified. For you see, God had betrayed me.
God betrayed me when he called me along the path of ministry. Showed me my gifts. Gave me my passions. Tempted me with a call that gave me at first affirmation and validation for my gifts and all the resources I needed to nurture and cultivate this call. God showered me with love for what I was doing in my unique giftedness and provided me with an opportunity to freely share this gift with those who needed and wanted it. Once, I was joyously happy and content working within the Catholic faith in which I had been raised. Guarded and protected by the Church and uplifted and honored for my gifts and my call.
Then one day, God took it all away.
The person(s) who supported my gifts and who empowered me to use my gifts to the fullest resigned, and I was left at the mercy of the fearful and vocal few (and let me tell you….these people can be MEAN!) – those who did not understand my gifts and who, because of their own unhealed wounds, feared what they could not understand. Instead of being empowered to share my gifts with the world, I came under the scrutiny of those who believed it was only truth if “explicitly handed down by the magisterium.” Where I sought Oneness, they preached separation. Where I supported Unity, they basked in the glory of their specialness as members of “the one true faith.” Where I sought Love, they preached intolerance and fear. It became increasingly clear that the place that had at one time been my home was no longer mine to enjoy. My ONE place of undying and unconditional safety and support had suddenly been torn from my hands and I was forced out into the wilderness – naked and alone. And my heart was broken.
When my Church betrayed me, so too had God for it was God who had brought me there in the first place and who had planted within my heart love for his son and love for the Church in which I had been raised and where I had, at one time, found my refuge.
But it didn’t end there.
For all the years since being forced out into the wilderness, I have tried to live according to God’s guidance. I believed in God’s promise of freedom. I left the land of slavery (many times over and in many leavings) in search of the promised land – “flowing with milk and honey.” I followed the model set forth by his son. I sought first the kingdom of God. I prayed as Jesus prayed. I healed the sick. I counseled the broken-hearted. I gave sight to the blind. I supported people in the discovery, cultivation, nurturing and empowerment of their own gifts. I did what Jesus did and am still doing what Jesus did – all along, trying to find a foothold somewhere….ANYWHERE in this world. I trusted, and I trusted, and I trusted, that in doing what God was guiding me to do, all my needs would be met and my soul’s purpose fulfilled.
But, in this writing, I find that I am still standing alone in the wilderness – starving, thirsty, wondering “what the hell am I doing out here?” While there was energy once in trusting, I find I have no more trusting to give and I am forced to wonder if God has simply left me out here to die.
So, I am confident in saying that it is God’s fault that I no longer believe in him and I have no shame in admitting my unbelief. God did this. God tempted me with these gifts, led me on the path of my call and then God took it all away. And then, when I sought God’s guidance and followed the path of my Soul, I find that still, I am left with nothing – alone and afraid. Yes, I have my friends and my family and for their support I am grateful. Yes, I have my clients and students and for them I am grateful too. But, I no longer have the one Source of support I always thought I could rely on – and that support is God.
So God, if you are out there listening, and if you want me to believe in you…..then it is your turn to show up. I’ve done all that I can do. I’ve tried to hear your voice. I’ve tried to follow your guidance. I’ve been obedient to what you have shown me. And still, there is nothing. So, in this moment, I’m kind of done with you. If you want me to believe – truly believe – then it is YOUR TURN to show up. And you’d better MAKE IT BIG and you’d better do it quick because….YOU OWE ME for what you have put me through and for what I have put up with all “in your name.”
(and for those who have also stopped believing in God, know that you are not alone!)